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Emptying the proverbial cup.


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#1 Phaedra

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Posted 02 May 2018 - 03:38 PM

... At one point Ryutan re-filled his guest's teacup but did not stop pouring when the cup was full. Tea spilled out and ran over the table. "Stop! The cup is full!" said Tokusan.
"Exactly," said Master Ryutan. "You are like this cup; you are full of ideas. You come and ask for teaching, but your cup is full; I can't put anything in. Before I can teach you, you'll have to empty your cup."
 
I've been thinking a lot lately on the relationship between the witch or magician's pursuit of book-learning and their first-hand experience in the craft. My pondering has mostly been in regards to contact and communication with deity, spirit(s), fey, haints, and any other configuration of The Other Folk that are often a part of one's craft in at least some capacity. The witch does well to seek out teachers wherever they can be found, for one of the advantages of #witchlife is that we don't have to mine our wisdom from fellow humans and worldly obersvation alone; we can form bonds with the stones, the greens, and the unseen things all around us and learn from them all sorts of awesome mess. This hasn't changed since the days of the early primordial shamans, but what has changed is our completely unprecedented access to information. 
 
The hermit magician scouring books and caves lustfuly for more and more knowledge to add to their arsenal is a time-honored trope, and Seekers today are largely characterized by lots and LOTS of reading. This site alone has a vast trove of insight passed down from experienced folks across all sorts of fields of sorcerous and witchy study, and that's not even counting the areas yet unaccessible to guests and newer members. Of course, it isn't just the internet; books have made second-hand mystical insight accessible since the printing press, telling folks what to do, how to do it, and what to expect. It's easy to lean on all of this information like a crutch, a safety blanket of book-learning which you feel you can trust at least somewhat because it's apparently true for loads of more experienced practitioners. 
 
This is where I find myself. It's not so much that I soak in some subjective information or read about someone else's experience with X and at once take it in as a personal truism; I've worked on my discernment over the years. But an issue, I think, is literally that what has been learned or heard cannot be unlearned, unheard. The moment one begins to take in information of a subject, they begin to fill their cup on that subject, so to speak. Unlike the oldest ancestors who had no choice but to feel around in the darkness to slowly learn of the unseen world all around them, I can grab a few good books by reputable and seasoned authors on the Runes or on the spirits of Wolf or Crow and feel superficially like an expert on these entities afterwards. I know in my heart that these entities, from Henbane to Hecate, are unparalleled teachers to those who seek them out in earnest, but I feel as if contact with the truth of an entity comes against the obstacle of my head's expectations of them, and of in what way they can be experienced.
 
I feel like a solution to the 'brain barrier' can be found in trance states or by means of alcohol and entheogens, but I can never seem to get myself quite 'out there' enough to really get away from my right brain's interjections, and I don't want to have to booze up or smoke a bowl until I'm unintelligible to be receptive to how Other wants to present itself. I have been tending to ancestors, to the folk in nature around my local area, and to deity as I see it for years, and I'm ready to try and deepen these relationships. If you're still reading, thanks for bearing with me! I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter. 
 

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#2 Oroboros

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Posted 03 May 2018 - 11:33 AM

I think just keeping this insight at the forefront of your consciousness will go a long way to overcoming it, as much as is possible.  I think sometimes we are largely unaware of how much we are influenced by our pre-conceived notions.  On the one hand, it is our cumulative experiences that grant us wisdom.  On the other hand, as we go along collecting input we create many "blocks" and mental "rules" which become the lens through which we experience and learn new things.  Certainly the tint and granularity of the lens can prevent us as seeing things as they are.  I was recently noting myself, this is not just true of study and "intentional" learning, but also our perception of self in general.  For example, I had a pretty horrible experience with the Christian church, which I was recently pretty pissed off to realize is STILL influencing certain perceptions of mine on a subconscious level.

 

As far as intentional study, I have approached topics before by consciously choosing to try and go at it with the thought "lets assume everything I know about this may be wrong" then proceeding with the intent to not assume the new information is correct either, but as though everything I am reading is opinion and therefore, any concepts of interest should be looked into from several different angles and using as many sources and resources(including teachers human and not) as possible.  That may be simplistic in a way- but it seems to work for me.


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...From ev’ry depth of good and ill , The mystery which binds me still...— Poe

#3 Phaedra

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Posted 03 May 2018 - 12:26 PM

Thank you very much for your input, Oroboros. It's such a real analogy, what you say about the lenses we pick up to view the world through. It does chalk up to being a part of the human condition, doesn't it? In retrospect, my feeling that there is a big ugly wall of conditioning between me and 'Truth' is maybe just me really noticing and acknowledging the great big honking gulf of distance between what my brain processes concerning the natural world, and all of the unfathomables that it consists of in actuality that are less apparent in the day-to-day. The two-dimensional art of ancient Egyptian gods is telling; we are only presented with a particular view of Other, with the rest remaining a great mystery to be enjoyed, riddled out, or what have you. 

 

Your simple way sounds like a good and practical one. Usually when met with an exciting or interesting new area of study, I just eat the whole hamburger and find out later where all of that new information actually lodged itself in my headspace. Not necessarily the best way about it. I might go back to some of the works that have been the most influential and inspirational for me and go through them again, more slowly, with as non-assumptive a process as I can muster.


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#4 Michele

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Posted 06 May 2018 - 08:18 PM

For me furtherance mostly comes from asking and interacting with nature and/or light-trance-states/meditation (whatever one calls it). It seems to open me up a bit, as long as I am consistent with it. For now I am doing 20 minutes daily with respect to divinity, and after I move ad everything is out of boxes and life gets back to normal, hope to return to more in-depth nature and ancestor work. I speak with my ancestors daily - even if just to give them their coffee and say good morning - but among the boxes and empty shelves and the resulting chaos it is getting harder and harder to do anything other than keep packing and wait for the moving truck!

 

M


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#5 Michele

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Posted 06 May 2018 - 08:20 PM

P.S. I have told my house I am moving, so it knows and anything that wants to come with me has an opportunity to do so. I also know the person moving in, and they have been introduced to the house and have been told of the little things it likes that make it happy :-)   Just little things like that, living what I believe, seem to open doorways...


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#6 Phaedra

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Posted 07 May 2018 - 11:50 AM

Thanks Michele, I appreciate the input. I'm grateful that I have had the freedom to carry on with a similar dedication; I have space and time set aside for familial reverence daily, though my outward expression to deity has been in a state of flux for about a month now. I've built up and tended to this aspect of my practice for several years now, and its paid off in more ways than I know. Thankfully, daily practice and stick-to-itiveness isn't much a problem for me at this stage in my life. I just need to not let all of the information I think I "know" get in the way of my ability to experience and see with clarity!


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#7 Phaedra

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 05:35 PM

I found a reply to another thread (http://www.tradition...hl=+horned +god ) which I feel also serves as a hoppin good addition to this conversation, so I'll drop a borrowed quote here. Hope that's fine!

 

    RapunzelGnome said, in regards to one inquiring of a 'horned god' vision in dream:

"We reach out to deity using the methods and traditions that we know will get the attention of certain entities to work with them. And we wait to see who shows up. One of the teachers in my tradition warns that if you've romanticized one of the gods or goddesses of our pantheon in your mind, the less likely they are to show up and work with you. It's going to be difficult for you to see them as they truly are (or have chosen to be in the moment) rather than how you've imagined them to be. Or perhaps you will close yourself off to the deity that wants to work with you because you are reaching out in earnest to a silent god who has no interest in your time and place. It's possible that whatever spirit or entity that wants to work with you took this guise of a Horned God because it knows it will get your attention and that you will recognize it as a helpful, powerful spirit by the horns you associate with Pan or Cernunnos."

 

 


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#8 Oroboros

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 05:50 PM

Huh, now there is some synchronicity. I literally just read that thread this morning. Nice.


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...From ev’ry depth of good and ill , The mystery which binds me still...— Poe

#9 Zombee

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Posted 26 May 2018 - 02:40 PM

Responding to the concept of emptying the cup I'm thinking in terms of using a bigger cup & expanding the field. We aren't limited in what we can mentally process to "this OR that" ... Either this is the way it is OR that is the way. Our brains can handle "this AND that" as multiple concepts being valid at the same time. We're being told the brain is multi-dimensional and able to process in 11 simultaneous dimensions. The 12th doesn't need the brain. Ive been reading things like quantum physics for dummies.

Focusing matters. Like my cat believes his bowl is completely empty and starvation is immanent if he can see a 1/4" area at the bottom that isn't covered with crunchies. That's 2-dimensional focus. If he'd focus on a larger field he'd see there's plenty of food to meet his needs. Obviously his brain can handle 3-D or he wouldn't be here. 4-D doesn't seem to be a problem for him either. He knows when it's feeding time.

Edited by Zombee, 26 May 2018 - 02:49 PM.

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#10 Phaedra

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Posted 28 May 2018 - 12:11 PM

Oh, absolutely---"this OR that" thinking is the definition of self-limitation, and I try to keep on top of any compulsions to entertain dualism like that in my mind. That being said, dualistic thinking is very much a deeply-embedded way for many people, and I'm no exception; rewiring myself to effortlessly accept things under a "this AND that" lens has been a continuous source of growth for me, as its been an easy concept to understand intellectually, but integrating it into my reflexive thought processes has been a slower matter. I'm reminded now of the Buddhist notion of being liberated from attachments...the attachments to associations, in this case. I can see the Devil as simultaneously a wild and lusty beast and trickster and also as a wise teacher and a guide to deeper understanding and compassion. These associations touch on something deep in me, and so I am naturally attached to them, though I endeavor to free myself from the clinging to these particular attachments as they may limit my view. Emptying the cup or fetching a larger one...I feel like Master Ryutan could have suggested either to his guest and the meaning remain the very same, teacups just typically adhere to a pretty standardized size so the metaphor made the most sense as is. It's all about getting to a place of non-duality.


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#11 Zombee

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Posted 28 May 2018 - 03:21 PM

Nature is full of dualities - man himself is bipedal & some body parts are mirrored (eyes, ears, hands &'feet, ovaries, testicles, the brain, lungs & kidneys) - so the duality principle has an observable function & fits into the bigger picture. How it fits and the role duality serves is part of manifesting. I think it's all done with mirrors. It's an "as above, so below" concept. The Physical realm is a reflection of the astral realm (i don't have a better word). The astral reflects thought energy we put out-there back to the physical plane. Will gives thought form. Form is determined by function. The Stang and the Cup symbolize these processes. Man himself is the mirror, holographically duplicating. I know I'm mixing concepts like soup, but I can't 'splain it otherwise. My monkey-mind toad hops.

Edited by Zombee, 28 May 2018 - 03:32 PM.

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#12 Phaedra

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Posted 28 May 2018 - 03:32 PM

Toad hopping is highly encouraged, lol. The concept of duality is an interesting and odd one for me. I personally hold to the belief that the duality principle has an important function in regards to humans being able to categorize and simplify matters for ease of communication and understanding, but beyond that, it's purely a construct that has lent itself to endless symbolism. Everything exists on a spectrum, and the spectrum has no terminating poles or extremities.


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#13 Zombee

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Posted 28 May 2018 - 03:56 PM

Yet it's both polarity & full spectrum simultaneously. Wave and particle depending on focus. I think polarity only applies when manifesting into 3-D physical plane. Outside the plane and yet imbedded as the flow, the spectrum applies. How we observe a thing is impacted by where we focus...I.e. My cat and his food dish starvation meltdown dance.

I think language probably evolved from observations of the physical realm. If you focus on 3-D dual polarity (as needed for survival) then those are the words you need to invent. The more we observe the more words we need. Y'know, like in English there's just one word for snow but the Inuit language has 8-9 words describing the quality of the snow itself. And English uses ice, slush and snow as separate things. Ayeee! There I go again. But now we have tools so we can observe the spectrum, and new words are needed for what has always been there but we couldn't see it. Primitives have observed it & Aussy aborigines call it the dream-time, which is the realm that holds everything...like the spectrum. When we program the dream time we program mass consciousness evolution.

Edited by Zombee, 28 May 2018 - 04:08 PM.

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#14 Phaedra

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Posted 28 May 2018 - 07:20 PM

Of course, it is all grounded in our perspective and how fine-tuned our focus is in the given moment. I'm a person, but I'm also an amalgamation of parts and functions, which themselves can each also be divided into sub-parts containing cells each as complex as Tokyo and it goes on like so to the sub-atomic and beyond. I can say that one half of my body mirrors the other, but even there the perceived duality is an illusion; among other things, my right eye differs distinctly from my left, and my right hand is fine-tuned for detailed tasks the left would only carry out clumsily. Nature tends towards symmetry and utilitarianism, but I feel like the constancy of change and the prevalence of inconsistency nevertheless denies true dualism to exist anywhere beyond the simplifying ideals of human thought...the dualism which dictates objective differences between this and that and creates separation. It's these simplifications that I wish to dissolve from my reflexivity when I try to trance out and commune with Spirit; so that it may be precisely as it is and that I might see it as merely that, unfettered by preconceived notions.

 


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#15 Zombee

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Posted 28 May 2018 - 08:48 PM

Bingo. That cycles back to the discussion on initiation IMO bcs that's the state a well managed initiation experience hopes to produce.
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#16 Phaedra

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Posted 28 May 2018 - 09:24 PM

Haha, in which case initiation could be taken as an intensive shortcut to the state that many Buddhists seek to achieve and maintain via contemplation and meditation. I do love when harmony is found in the core between practices.


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#17 Zombee

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Posted 01 June 2018 - 12:25 AM

That's initiation in a nutshell. :)

My brain keeps coming back to duality as polarity. Something else about apparent dualities is the function of balance. This theme of balance runs through magical teachings. We balance the elements to get predictable results in spell casting. From personal experience i know when I've overlooked keeping the elements balanced, those are the spells that come back & bite me in the caboose. Energy moves from negative polarity to positive polarity. From what I can figure out, that's the reason for magical altar layouts having a negative/left and positive/right format, with the pentacle in the center of the altar to ground the poles & condense the power. The Western Occult school of thought practically runs on the theme of balanced polarities. Light/dark. Day/night. Over world/ Under world. Myths depict the underworld as the reverse of the mundane. To die in the earth plane is to be reborn in the underworld, and to die in the underworld is rebirth in the physical realm. Death is the opposite pole of life. Polarity is part of the observable cycles of Nature. Cycles or circles have opposite poles for balance. Like the wheel of the year; the calendar freeze-frames the orbit of the earth around the sun but it's always in motion. The earth wobbles on its axis and it's tilt toward or away from the sun gives us the opposing seasons. Winter Solstice is 6 months apart from the Summer Solstice. Samhain is 6 months from Beltane. So looked at in this way with polarity as a means to balance, the result is a wholistic fluid unity rather than a divided fracture. Nature's cycles are in motion. The fluid motion is what maintains balance. Grr! I'm seeing unity in polarity but can't find the right words.

Edited by Zombee, 01 June 2018 - 01:05 AM.

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#18 Phaedra

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Posted 01 June 2018 - 01:59 PM

Western magical traditions in particular really are inclined towards the theme of balance. It goes beyond and into Sufi, Buddhist, Hindu, and several other branches of mysticism and Craft, also...maintaining a sense of balance and homeostasis is a natural inclination in general, from what I observe. I enjoy the mental gymnastics of pulling apart illusory polarities and seeing even the most seemingly basic of understood dualities as mere emptiness in disguise. Life and death, for example. It does appear that birth is the stark opposite to death, but strictly speaking, a living organism begins to die the moment it is first conceived. A child who is just learning how to take their first, shaky steps towards mama is growing, aging, and heading unwaveringly towards the moment of their bodily death with every passing instant. As concepts, life and death can be powerful symbols to lend towards your Craft and your cosmology, but I feel it is important to keep somewhere in mind that life and death are in fact one, and the distinction between them are mental constructs which maintain order. 
 
The cycles of nature, too, are always relevant. Where we live, we may observe apparent balance with a cold season, a hot season, and the transitioning seasons inbetween, but change is forever imminent and even in my own area I find that I can often be quite comfortable in short sleeves and sandals one January afternoon, and bundled up with a scarf thrown on for good measure three days later. Two years back, I had iced tea on the eve of the Winter Solstice, and saw premature flowers opening on my dogwood tree during Yuletide proper. Yet, regardless of how the season is behaving in actuality around me, I maintain the story of the Wheel of the Year because it contributes to my sense of an orderly Nature. The story wobbles unsteadily in regards to the many regions which do not have drastic temperature changes as a part of their yearly cycle, and it crumbles apart entirely when even the dry and rainy cycles of those regions don't keep in line with what the farmers and herders were absolutely expecting. The tilt of our Earth promotes seasons, and the rhythms observed over the ages of man have made us expectant of them...but, here too change is at hand in every instant, only it seems to be a far more slowly-turning ship due to our perspective. Once, the Ice Age was Earth's "normal", and it is forever changing across both hemispheres into a new manifestation that we, eventually, will name and categorize and add to our earth science textbooks. 
 
I get the feeling that you and I are in agreement with one another, we just frame the concept we're trying to get to in different words. Existence can be imagined as a great, spinning ring. An observer can reach out and catch this ring anywhere along its band and look at the section of it they are holding, and then look at the part of its curvature which is now opposite to them, and call the two sections opposite poles. But when you let go again, it just keeps on spinning, each inch of the ring indistinguishable from the rest. 

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#19 Zombee

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Posted 01 June 2018 - 07:32 PM

Yes we do agree. I like that phrase you used that seeming duality masks emptiness. Very Zen. :) emptiness unmasks duality.

Edited by Zombee, 01 June 2018 - 07:34 PM.

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#20 Phaedra

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Posted 01 June 2018 - 07:44 PM

Haha, yep, can't get the Buddhist out of this witch! Our conversation here prompts me to dedicate some meditative time to the concept of illusory personhood as it relates to spirits and divinity. Rabbit holes unending.


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