We need Fire and Ice

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In the beginning, in most cultures, there was chaos, from which gradually life emerged. In the Norse tales, in grew from the mist that was created where the Fire from Muspellheim and the Ice from Nifflheim met, and his body was the what our world was made from.

Extremes are scary, and generally not easy to deal with, and often when they meet there is conflict and chaos which are also scary, but that’s what drives creation. Humans live in a central place where we can draw what we need from many extreme energies. We need to proceed not with fear, but with caution, as we negotiate the world between: Middle Earth.

Because we live in the middle, we can draw from the fire when we need more energy, and from the ice when we need to slow down, or chill out. We mustn’t fear these corrections, they are what allows us to live. It may seem exciting to be moving and changing things, but sometimes we need to just wait and be.

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Workshop Spotlight: Fireology

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Fireology: with Ariel Sirocco
Fire has been an important part of all cultures and
religions, from pre-history to modern day, and was vital to the
development of Civilization.  With such a rich and wide landscape, are
we placing “the idea of fire” in its proper mental, esoteric, and
ritual framework?  In this lecture, we’ll look at the very roots of
“Fire” and its Promethean legacy.  We’ll explore spiritual and cosmic
fire, the “terrestrial fire” of the Tartarus, and how human evolution,
both culturally and anatomically, was touched by this divine
elemental.  In this lecture, we will take the swaddling clothes off
our current understanding of the “fire mythos,” taking these beliefs
out of their modern infancy, pass the fantastic, and into the reality
of the truly unbelievable where fact is always stranger than fiction.
This is a TWO-HOUR CLASS with a PowerPoint presentation and handouts.

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Friction makes heat

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Life can be irritating. It’s not always pleasant. Frankly, depending on your mood- simply reading that may be irritating. Let me do it again. Sometimes that irritation can be good. Since this year’s theme is “Feeding our fires in times of need” I think of the image of someone starting a fire with friction- takes work, but if you need the fire, it’s worth it. I prefer the image from my childhood of getting out of the spring-fed lake where we’d stay in the water until our lips were blue and teeth chattering and my mother rubbing us with towels to warm us up. Or think of rubbing your hands together to warm them at an outdoor event. Sometimes the friction is good.

The question I’m asking myself this week is how far the analogy can be pushed? In the old TV show Babylon 5, the overarching conflict was between the Shadows who wanted war because it lead to progress, and the peaceful Vorlons who preferred stability. I think the conclusion we were supposed to come to was that a balance (one less destructive than war) between the two “ideals” was the goal humans should attempt.
Or to refer to an old joke: burning down the hut is the wrong way to cook a pig. We can have the benefits of the heat without an out-of-control conflagration.

Another image from the past is the old idea that to build muscle, you use ‘dynamic tension’- working against resistance creates the muscle. This is a good example of keeping the resistance under control to make it beneficial. Other similar images include the pearl that is created because the oyster was irritated, or the individual who ascribes their achievements to having had to overcome great challenges.

While there’s nothing wrong with learning life lessons or indeed, hard work, I will always recommend finding silver linings- or at least some good to come out of a bad situation, we don’t need to assume that everything extreme is bad, it may simply be how things are. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Learning to adapt to conditions is something humans are very good at. So when you experience friction, it may not always be a bad thing, it might be just what you need.

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Workshop Spotlight: Making Magical Motifs

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Latvian symbols

Making Magical Motifs in Hand Embroidery with Sewmagic Lois 
Some folks think they have no creative fire within themselves. Others are sure they do. Either way, using a needle and thread is a time-honored way to nurture the fire within us. Even though it is an ancient art, embroidery is still common in today’s world. It can be used for anything from decorating ritual garb to covering spots and stains on that favorite T-shirt. ( 90 min)

Come learn some basic hand embroidery stitches. All you need is a small wood or plastic embroidery hoop, some lightweight solid color fabric, a needle, and embroidery floss. (INSTRUCTOR WILL HAVE A LIMITED NUMBER OF SUPPLY KITS AVAILABLE FOR A NOMINAL COST)

(These images are from the web, not examples of what SewMagic does. If you want you can search for images that you’d like to use, once you have the basic stitches down.)

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Embracing “Occult” power

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We are often afraid of power. A common aphorism is that “Power corrupts and Absolute Power corrupts absolutely.” Even when we are not concerned about what it might be doing to our spiritual health, we often wonder just how much power we can control…, and what if it gets away from us?

Our earliest lessons are our parents telling us not to “play with fire”, or “run with scissors” (much less use sharp knives or appliances). We have been raised on the story of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice and science fiction movies about how scientists don’t realize what effects they are creating: Godzilla or giant insects. It’s all too much for humans to control. Now we are looking at Climate Change, and extinction of multiple species, which seem to argue that the dire warnings were correct!

But let’s go back to our childhood lessons: eventually, we are allowed to use the car or the sewing machine, and we’re taught how firearms and medicines work. We are taught the balance between the risks and benefits, because while we could walk or bike everywhere, we’ll probably be able to get a better job if we can drive, and we would rather not be sick or disabled. When you have learned how to use them appropriately, powerful tools are beneficial.

I think most people think that “occult” is a scary word. In the Middle Ages, “malificia” was often used to gloss witch, herbalist, and poisoner. If you had the ability to heal, you had the ability to poison, and the assumption was made that you would do the worst. Having defined women as a “weaker vessel”, it was important not to let them have power, as they’d abuse it. (Similar to the reason it was illegal in the South to teach a negro to read.) A lot of modern Americans fear that if someone is “psychic” that means, not that they get (occasionally) useful flashes of information, but that they can hear what you’re thinking, or know your secrets, and will use that ability to take advantage of them. Since so little is known about psychic abilities, foolish fears find easy environment to grow.

Perhaps a reason behind this fear is that we can all think of times we acted on our worse impulses, and worry what would have happened had we had more power at that moment. Those moments scare us, and stick with us. We tend to forget all the times we had a nasty impulse and decided “that would be wrong/stupid” and discarded it. That’s forgotten (although far more frequent). Reinforce this with times we’ve seen others abuse power, and we can become afraid to embrace power of any sort whether psychic, political, or physical. But it’s as unreasonable to fear our “occult” abilities as it is to fear that if we light a campfire, we will set the forest ablaze. Sadly, the media is far more likely to use examples of things going wrong and getting out of control than mentioning normal daily occurrences. They aren’t “news”; they won’t sell ads. The result is that almost everything we hear about the occult is from horror movies.

There’s another “horror” story many know: Jack London’s “To Build a Fire” where a man caught out in the Yukon alone discovers just how important fire is to man in that environment. The horror comes not from the “unknown” but from that which the protagonist could have known had he been wise enough to learn.

We need to embrace the reality that like any other resource, we will learn how to control the fire, and not abuse it. We can resist our worst impulses. We can use our inner abilities to improve our lives. We do not need to give something up because it has the potential to do damage. The fire that burns also warms us, cooks our food, lights our way. The benefits come with control, from knowledge and practice, not avoidance.

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