In his Book of Shadows, Gerald Gardner writes about the witch's Eightfold Way as a means of developing one's magickal abilities. In this contemporary take on the Eightfold Way, author, Witch, and High Priestess Lady Sable Aradia invites readers to explore the eight different components of evolution in witchcraft.
Using exercises, meditations, and practical magick, any serious student of witchcraft will be able to master these eight paths and improve the effectiveness of their magickal work. From spells to sex rites to trance to flying ointments, Lady Sable has created a stepbystep guide to mastering the advanced arts of witchcraft.
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The Witch's Eight Paths of Power
A Complete Course in Magick and Witchcraft
By Lady Sable Aradia
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 2014 Lady Sable Aradia
All rights reserved.
1) Meditation or Concentration. This in practice means forming a mental image of what is desired, and forcing yourself to see that it is fulfilled, with the fierce belief and knowledge that it can and will be fulfilled, and that you will go on willing till you force it to be fulfilled. Called for short, "Intent."
—Gerald Gardner, The Gardnerian Book of Shadows
Magick is the Art and Science of causing change in conformity with Will.
—Aleister Crowley, Magick in Theory and Practice
Intent is the wellspring of all magick. I find that many people believe they know what this means and how to do it, but in practice, forming clear and precise Intent, and willing it to happen, is not nearly as simple as it sounds. It takes training and effort! Quite a few things must come together at once. You must:
Be able to visualize, clearly and concisely, what you want as if it has already happened.
Have sufficient focus to keep this goal clearly in your mind while performing the ritual that announces your Intent to the Universe (what we traditionally call "casting a spell").
Be able to induce a sufficient altered state of consciousness so that your magickal act is happening on both the astral plane and the physical one.
Invest your Intent with passion and direction.
Have a clear enough idea of what you want that you will not get something else instead (this is harder than it sounds!).
Know yourself well enough to be able to trust your own motivations, so that you don't end up accumulating "karmic debt" with the Threefold Law ("What you do shall be returned to you threefold").
Trust that the Universe will fulfill your desire.
Circumvent, or rewrite, any negative programming in your behavior or beliefs that might cause you to undermine your own work.
Do the real-world work to help give your Intent an opportunity to manifest itself.
Not as basic as it initially seemed, is it? Most Witches practice and study for years to eventually achieve a state by which their Wills are effectively manifested. But I am here to tell you that if you persist, eventually you will be capable of simply wanting something with the power of Intent and it will come to you—without spells, rituals, or charms! Just be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it!
When it comes to utilizing magick, the most basic skill I can think of is the ability to clearly visualize what you want. It's also probably the most difficult to learn. With constant distractions and noises clamoring for our attention, is it any wonder we have no attention span anymore? Each day we process a great deal of information, hold it in our minds for a few seconds, and spit it out once we're done with it. It's a twenty-first century survival skill. But in doing this, we lose the ability to completely focus on one thing, let it fill our thoughts, understand every aspect of it, savor its essence, and hold it forever.
So for our first task, I want you to practice really seeing something with your whole being. Try to understand every part of it, and then clearly visualize it in your mind's eye. I want you to be able to recall that item with perfect clarity at least a week later. This isn't going to happen right away, but we'll keep practicing.
Exercise 1: Five Things
"Visualize" is really not the best word for what I'm trying to communicate, but it's the name given to the skill in most magickal books, so we'll use it here as well. If you want to "see" something clearly in your mind's eye, you need to use as many senses as possible. It's like a piece of poetry; the more senses you bring to bear, the better you will be able to visualize.
Let's start by making full use of our senses!
First, look all around you and notice five different objects. Don't focus on the details in this case, just their existence and what they are.
Next, close your eyes. Pay attention to five separate sounds. They must be entirely separate sounds, but they could be related to the things you saw, as long as you are clear that you are indeed hearing them and not thinking that you should be hearing them because you saw them in the first round!
Do you remember everything that you saw and heard? Good!
Now, keeping your eyes closed, pay attention to five entirely different things that you feel. Is there a breeze? How warm are you? Are you itchy? Do your clothes have a texture? What about your jewelry?
Last round: Focus on five entirely different things that you smell and taste! Yes, you really can do this; the air has all kinds of scents and flavors in it. Maybe your perfume has an odor, for example, or maybe the neighbor is barbecuing. Maybe you can still taste a hint of the coffee you drank in the morning. Can you smell dust or moisture in the air?
Now, cycle through all the senses again, this time noticing four things instead of five. They must be different from the first five things.
Repeat this cycle of the senses three more times, noticing three things, two things, and then just one thing for each sense.
Open your eyes. Do you remember everything that you noticed?
Practice this once a day for at least three months. After a while, it will become a habit, and you will always notice the world in this complete and all-encompassing way.
There is no test. Other than you, no one will know whether or not you've done the homework. But if you have the persistence to go the distance, the end result will pay off. And the world really is much prettier than we give it credit for, if you just take the time to pay attention! Consider that a study bonus!
Exercise 2: Onesight
To help us appreciate the real details of things, this exercise will have you practice visualizing one object with complete recall, using as many different sensory aspects as you can.
You will need:
An object, such as a large piece of fruit or a small statue or painting; something three dimensional that has texture and scent
Paper and pencil
A small piece of fabric or a towel large enough to cover the item
1. First, place your item on the table in front of you with no other distractions. Set the timer for one full minute, and then examine the item as thoroughly as you can. Look at it, touch it, smell it, taste it. Appreciate each detail with all five senses.
2. After one minute, cover the item and write every detail you can remember about it. No peeking!
3. When you have exhausted every element you can possibly think of, uncover the item and study it again. Was there anything you missed?
I find that when people start doing this exercise, either they notice only the obvious things (e.g. the orange is orange,) or they notice the things that stand out (e.g. the orange has a blemish near the top of it), and miss the obvious things (e.g. the orange is orange!). Take note of which one seems to be true for you, because it tells you how you look at the world. Are you missing the fine details of things? Or are you "missing the forest for the trees"? In order to completely visualize something, you have to be able to consider both the minute details as well as overall context.
Try to do this exercise at least once a week, and work on the aspect in which you are weakest.
The exercises you have just completed will hone your skills of observation and prepare you for the next step: magickal visualization. This is when you attract something into your life by investing it with emotional energy and the power of your Will. The more clearly you can visualize something, the more effective you will be at bringing it into your life.
How does this work? Well, the answer might actually be found in the field of science. At the quantum level, when you measure subatomic elements as particles, particles are what you get (protons, electrons, neutrons, etc.). But when you measure subatomic elements as waves of energy, waves are what you get! In other words, our expectations determine the nature of our physical reality. The wider implications of this for the Witch are awe-inspiring.
Understanding this essential principle, why don't we now consider how to visualize energy directly?
Creative Visualization and Daydreaming
In your work so far, have you noticed favoring one sense over the others? When you visualize, do you feel things before you see them? There's nothing wrong with that. Just keep it in mind when you begin to sense for things like the movement of energy, or auras, or how a person is injured when you are about to do energy healing work for them. I felt auras as vibrations long before I ever saw them because I'm very tactile.
You were probably taught that daydreaming was bad for you, but this is how new ideas are born! Do you create any form of art? Do you make things with your hands? How do you come up with the idea that you later create? You daydream about it!
The same skills that used to make you a good daydreamer as a child are the ones that make you good at visualization. Shakti Gawain's classic book Creative Visualization explains this very well. If you consciously visualize something, you are actively creating it in the astral plane. You are forming a concept and giving it life. If you do enough work to make it real in the astral plane, it becomes real in the physical world as well, though it does help to do some real-world work to back it up and reinforce it.
Let's make some things in the astral plane!
Exercise 3: Visualizing Symbols
Using the index finger of your dominant hand, draw a pentagram in the air starting from the bottom left-hand corner. From the bottom left, go up to the top, then down to the bottom right, up to the upper left hand corner, across to the right, and back down to the bottom left where you started. Something like this:
Do you see it? Now see the pentagram emitting a brilliant blue gas flame! Does it sparkle and crackle? Does it make a vibration, like being too close to an electrical wire? My pentagrams make a whooshing fire sound when I draw them, like a fireplace being lit.
Now turn to your right and draw another pentagram in the air, identical to the first.
Turn to your right again. Draw another.
Turn to the right once more, and draw a fourth pentagram.
Turn right to come back to your original position. Do you see and feel the four pentagrams on each side of you? Nicely done!
Now, let's create a circle. Starting in the east or the north, according to your desire and/or tradition, extend your index finger of your power hand and visualize a glowing white light radiating from its tip. Draw that line all the way around you and the area you're working in, making a complete circle. Face the original direction you started in. Visualize that circle expanding to form a big, glowing white soap bubble of protection surrounding you top and bottom; first one dome, then the other.
This basic white bubble will serve you well in your magickal practice. You can expand it to cover your entire house (convenient when the coven is over—you can all use the bathroom without breaking circle) or you can contract it to just cover yourself (a good shielding exercise that never hurt anyone to practice).
Practice this visualization every day, at least once a day. And yes, I really mean it!
Most of you are probably already familiar with the concept of meditation. So why is an Eastern mystical practice important to Wiccan magick? Meditation is the simplest way I am aware of to still your mind, remove distractions, and induce a slightly altered state of consciousness that accesses the astral plane.
It is traditionally recommended that you practice meditation in the morning when you are fully rested, but any time of day when distractions are unlikely, regardless of when or where that is, will work. It is better to meditate for even a short period of time, and frequently, than to not do it at all. Find five to fifteen minutes every day to meditate. Relax all the muscles in your body as well as your mind and emotions. It may help to lay on your back with your arms at your sides and your legs straight out, feet relaxing outward. In yoga this is called shavasana, or "corpse pose."
Exercise 4: Candle Meditation
People new to meditation are often under the impression that they need to completely blank their minds in order to succeed. This is only one form of meditation, and it is really more for seeking enlightenment and visions. Most forms of meditation involve contemplation of one particular thing without active consciousness. Let me share the method that my first mentor taught me.
Light a white or a beeswax candle and place it on a table or on the floor in front of you. Dim the lights and make yourself comfortable. Look steadily into the flame with a softened, unfocused gaze. Consider the way it flickers, the intensity of the light, the color. Fill your mind with this, and nothing else. Allow yourself to blink when you need to, and close your eyes if they get tired, but continue to visualize the flame in your mind's eye. If you get distracted, bring yourself gently back to the moment. Allow any intruding thoughts to float away like a soap bubble on the breeze without judgment or emotional attachment.
When you are ready, bring yourself back to conscious awareness.
Practice this exercise whenever you feel the need and desire, and try for that "unfocused focus" for longer periods. And you know what? Congratulations, that's meditation!
Centering and Grounding
After doing the candle mediation, you should be centered. Centering is feeling focused in your energy and your sense of self. There is a place in your body which likely feels like the center of your being; some say it is in the navel, just below the navel, or in the solar plexus, but it's wherever feels right to you.
Centering also involves aligning your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual selves. When you are centered, you feel connected within yourself, and you can access the spiritual and astral plans with relative ease. Highly empathic people often have trouble centering, because they can't discern which of the many emotions they feel are theirs and which are other people's. If this describes you, put up that white bubble of protection around yourself first, and if necessary, add the pentagrams.
Running a lot of magickal energy is a great deal like running an electric current. Sometimes it even has effects in the physical world that people can see or react to: your watch might stop or start in bizarre ways; you might give people electric shocks or feel extremely warm when you touch them; or your computer could malfunction. This is due to the changes of energy in your body, and that's where proper grounding comes in. Once you're centered within yourself, you must establish that connection to the earth so that you can allow excess energy to dissipate into the earth instead of remaining stored in your body.
The next exercise is one example of grounding. You might also simply touch the earth with the palms of your hands or the soles of your bare feet. There are many ways to ground; the key is to establish a physical or energetic connection to the earth.
Exercise 5: Tree Meditation
Picture yourself as a tree. You can be any kind of tree you want—a birch, a yew, a pine, a poplar. Close your eyes, and reach your roots from the soles of your feet through the floor if you are indoors, through the foundation of the building you are in, through the rich topsoil beneath it, deep into the sand and rocks, past the bones of your ancestors. Feel your roots take in the deep, nourishing, rich elements of the soil. Draw them up into your roots, and your trunk, nourishing you.
Now extend your roots farther, through the soil, into the bedrock, then past the rock into the groundwater beneath. Draw that water in through your roots, past the bones of your ancestors, wet and thirst quenching, deep into your trunk and through your leaves or needles. Feel that water wash through your whole being, slaking your deepest thirst. Aaaahhhhhh!
Now, take your awareness from your deep roots, and bring it back up, through those roots, into your trunk, back up through your branches, and into your twigs and leaves. Feel a lively, warm spring breeze running through your leaves or needles. Feel the air giving you breath, absorbing and seeping into you. Smell the scents in the warm spring air.
When you have sensed that, stretch those leaves, twigs, and branches up toward the soothing spring sun. Absorb that life-giving warmth into your leaves, spreading throughout your branches, trunk, and roots, into the very core of you.
You are balanced between heaven and earth, between all four elements, and ready to enter into sacred space.
You can adapt this exercise for a group by having someone read and direct the meditation, and everyone else follows along.
Excerpted from The Witch's Eight Paths of Power by Lady Sable Aradia. Copyright © 2014 Lady Sable Aradia. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
PART ONE THE BASICS OF THE EIGHTFOLD PATH,
3. The Craft,
PART TWO INTERMEDIATE PRACTICES,
5. Dance and Sacred Movement,
PART THREE ADVANCED PRACTICES,
6. Blood and Breath Control,
7. The Scourge,
8. The Great Rite,
Appendixes: Correspondence Tables,
Appendix A: Astrological Correspondences,
Appendix B: Color and Chakra Correspondences,
Appendix C: Elemental Correspondence Chart,
Appendix D: Moon Phases Chart,
Appendix E: Numerical and Color Symbolism,
Appendix F: Planetary, Color, and Music Correspondences,