Trying to understand and learn

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I’ve been reminded recently that Jupiter is currently close enough that you can see the moons with a pair of binoculars (if the clouds allow). Chances are I won’t get out to look up and try to spot them- my eyes are probably no longer up to it. I try to understand things with my mind these days.

I’m enchanted to read that Jupiter has 53 named moons and another 26 awaiting official names. Unsurprisingly, many are named after the many lovers of Jupiter (or Zeus): Io, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto, Leda, Metis, Pasiphae, and more. I’ve been looking at pictures of them, they are a lot more varied than I’d have expected. No matter how much I learn, the mysteries of the Universe continue to expand exponentially as I try to learn more. Our ancestors named things they saw in space after gods, and probably the same could be said of the depths of the sea, and the interior of the earth (realms of Zeus, Posidon & Hades).

When we didn’t have tools to measure them, we used Myths to try to explain natural phenomena, and now we study myth and folklore to try to understand the cultures that explained their experiences in these ways. Studying world folklore also supports the existence of much that’s “unmeasureable”.
Just about every culture has some form of ghost, some understanding of an afterlife, awareness of energy healing. Most cultures describe unseen (or rarely seen) intelligent beings who interact with us. When things happen that are so out of the ordinary an explanation is begged, humans need to understand why things didn’t work the way they usually do.

This is one of the reasons we often look at history, myth and religion in CTCW. Those who came before us may not have had our technology, but they were just as intelligent, just as observant as we are. We cannot dismiss, as some do, that they must have been “stupid” to accept events which have been labeled impossible today, simply because we cannot explain them with current science (which changes constantly!).

A true scientist accepts the evidence before him, and doesn’t attempt to discard any that doesn’t agree with his premise. So when associates mock our interest in the supernatural, paranormal, occult and metaphysical, we should not let it bother us, because we are being better scientists. (Unless we go around accepting every story that’s been blown out of proportion or generated to grab attention. But I’ll probably write about that another time.)

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Panel Proposal forms are up!

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If the workshops are the muscles of the conference, the panels are the bones (and the attendees the lifes-blood). One of the goals of CTCW is to get people to discuss the many different approaches to the supernatural and paranormal that we’ve learned, to compare, and learn from each other. We pick panels that are meant to put forward topics that can be looked at in different ways: shamanism, symbolism, healing, ghosts, divination, magick, psychic abilities. We pick panelists who will probably approach the topic from different points of view, and different experiences.

Please feel free to suggest any topic you’d like to hear explored, whether you want to participate in the panel or just listen. But you don’t need to be an expert on a topic to be on a panel, your experience makes you an expert on what you’ve seen. Perhaps you don’t know enough to do a workshop, but each panelist will probably only get about 10 minutes of speaking time, so this might be a great way for you to “get your toes wet” as it were, and share what you know “a little” about. It still may be something other people didn’t know about and will help them understand the overall subject.

Or you may simply want to hear about a subject from several points of view. Let us know- if four people are interested, you’ll get to hear at least four points of view (maybe more).

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Creating our own needs

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There are a lot of people who seem to think that when you’ve acquired a need by doing something, it shouldn’t be given the same respect as needs that happen to everyone. A lot of people need coffee in the morning. Maybe they weren’t born needing coffee, but when your body is used to it, and suddenly you don’t get it, the effects are there, and it’s best to deal with that need. Did you know that something similar happens when you take a lot of vitamin C? Your body gets used to, and requires a higher level than folks who don’t supplement. They can get scurvy if they stop suddenly.
You may have heard people talking about various self soothing behaviors as being “a crutch”, like it’s a bad thing. Crutches are wonderful for those who need them, and we shouldn’t accept using the term as if most the time people use them it was unnecessary. Our culture has too many habits of disparaging the needs of others.

We can create needs in a positive way- falling in love creates a need to be with the other person, we can feel a need to be with our child, especially when post-partum hormones are swirling through our systems. I have a theory that some sort of hormonal change during menopause makes aging women want to care for babies. (Perhaps that insures the survival of the species when the demands on a young mother is too great?) These are normal, if not universal, and do come with choices we’ve made. So lighten up on both yourself and those around you. If someone is better off with the something (or someone) in their life, it’s a good thing to meet that need, just as if it were air or water. When you figure out what your “invisible” needs are, your life will be so much better, and that will make the lives of those around you better too.

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Vendor Spotlight: Magic Cat Designs

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Magic Cat Designs features a mix of hand-made treasures, ranging from jewelry to to hair accessories to sewn items, in styles from quirky to classic. Most will be one-of-a-kind, while others may be few-of-a-kind. Whatever it is, it will have been made with joy in the Magic of creating something special and beautiful.

How did the name come about?

For several years, Lois wrote articles and sold items under the name of Sew Magical. (She still uses that name at conferences and conventions) When she joined forces with a friend who made beautiful aprons and pieced lap quilts, they wanted to have a new name reflecting both halves of the business. Since her friend’s nickname was Kat, Magic Cat was the obvious result. Although Kat is no longer part of the business, the name remains the same.

What makes Magic Cat special?

Everything sold is hand-made by the owner. Nothing is mass-produced. Each item is created individually, with care and concern for quality.

What about unusual things?

Yup, those too. Items made in the past have included braided wire and bead circlets, folding coronets (for SCA or cosplay ) and minister’s stoles, customized for differing religious/spiritual paths.

You can find Magic Cat Designs online at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/magiccatdesigns. or by email at: magiccatdesigns@gmail.com

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How do you get to Carnagie Hall?

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Here’s the thing I love best about the Harry Potter books: they make it really, really clear that using magick is like almost everything else. Some people have talent for it, and some don’t, but EVERYONE needs to be taught how to do it right, and everyone needs to practice! (You did know the answer to the title question, didn’t you?) Having good working tools helps, as Ron would point out.

Wingardium Leviosa

When I was in high school I read the book Johnathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach (if you haven’t read it- do, and his other books are also great), and while the rest of the world was getting excited about the metaphysics, I was struck by the physics of the book. Johnathan learned that you didn’t need to believe you could fly to fly, you needed to learn HOW to fly. This struck me as the most important point in the book.
The sixties were the Occult Explosion, and folks were exploring all the amazing things people can do from ESP to dowsing to energy healing. I was out there with the rest of them, talking to plants, and trying to have OOB (out of body) experiences. At the same time I was also diving into Science Fiction, and when they talked about people doing telekinesis or controlling their body temperature mentally I had to try it. The more I discovered that all these “crazy” things worked, the more excited I was to try the next thing.

My generation, as so many before, thought that we had discovered these phenomena. Although I discovered that while books on the “supernatural” were sometimes hard to find in the local library, I could find them in stores. I read Hans Holzer and Sybil Leek, and subscribed to Fate Magazine, checked out AMORC, read W. E. Butler, looked into folk magick (the Long-Lost Friend) and voudoo, Spiritualists, and Theosophists, everything I could find by Edgar Cayce and the A.R.E., the Society for Psychical Research, got Richard Cavendish’s Man, Myth and Magick, read Rossell Hope Robbins, Robert Anton Wilson, W. E. Butler, Israel Regardie, Jane Roberts, Dion Fortune, Max Freedom Long’s The Secret Science behind Miracles, Carlos Castaneda (of course), and Issac Bonewitts, Montague Summers, Murray and Gardner. I learned to accept that books on developing psychic abilities were grouped with tales of UFOs, Vampires, Bigfoot and witchcraft. (This rather lengthy list is to show that there were plenty of books on magick out there, although some say there weren’t.) I watched the occult sections of bookstores expand, and have watched them shrink again. I’ve watched the New Age explore The Secret and try to use the Law of Attraction because it’s so much less threatening than (cue spooky music) magick and witchcraft. I’ve also watched the media portray witches from old movies like I married a Witch and Bell Book and Candle, through Bewitched, Charmed, Sabrina, and Practical Magick and on to Harry Potter. They still seem to think that witches are a different race than humans. Go fig.

Still, no matter which direction you approach from, you are going to come down to the important bottom line. Wanting and Believing isn’t enough. You have to actually put in the hours and practice. You may well have to do an exhaustive search to find someone who can teach you HOW to do it right. (I have never found that when the student is ready the master appears.)

Some people have perfect pitch, and some are tone deaf. Some people are clumsy and some coordinated. They have finally admitted that there isn’t just one, but there are many types of IQ: musical, spatial, bodily, interpersonal, and others. The traditional IQ tests, in an attempt to get away from cultural information ended up testing for the ability to spot patterns. We all know that simply being good at math doesn’t make you good with words. I personally know that being good at one type of art doesn’t necessarily mean you’re good with other types. I can catch a likeness, but can’t draw a straight line with a ruler. I’ve also learned from my artistic endeavors (as well as my psychic ones) what any athlete or musician can tell you. You have to learn the technique, and you have to practice.

This is why I love Harry Potter and the other fictional depictions of magick that show people learning the how-to of magick. I haven’t seen the new Sabrina, but the old one ran almost every episode on the trope: “using magick to try to fix your problems will only make them worse”. This trope exists because what non-magick users think of as “magic” is getting something without working for it. (“flick and swish”) Magick users know that you have to work to do it, and that’s how it works. It may be able to accomplish things you couldn’t do with other means, but it’s not “something for nothing”.

So like Itzhak Perlman practicing scales every day, if you want to do magick, there will be daily exercises, and always something new to learn.

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