We may not usually think of talking as a need, but there are few things that cause us more unnecessary difficulties than bad communication. It’s easy to think “wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were all telepathic?”. But that requires a lot of good blocking so you don’t get everything at once. Just think how hard it is to block only our own intrusive thoughts! Can you imagine the chaos if we heard every stupid thing that went through everyone else’s mind that they would NEVER say out loud? I’m certainly happy that people don’t hear everything that goes through my mind! (and so are you!)
I’ve learned a bit about communication styles and have learned that not only do men and women speak differently, different cultures speak differently, but also there seem to be inherent personal differences, such as the speed at which you speak, all of which can hamper rather than help communication. I tend to speak fast, two of my kids speak slowly. They are constantly pointing out that I’ve cut them off- even when I thought I’d given them what seemed to me excessive time to start the next sentence, or reply. Even now that we know about the issue and are trying to work on it, we end up being cross with each other for simply how fast or how slowly we talk.
Add to this cultural variation in posture and facial expressions, and our American “melting pot” can result in serious miscommunication. One culture sees meeting your eyes as a challenge, while another sees it as a sign of honesty. One sees a giggle as an expression of embarassment, while another sees it as a sign of disrespect. One employee will say he can do something when he means he thinks he can learn it, while another will only say so when he has mastered the skill. How’s a boss to know which one he’s dealing with? One thing is certain, we often cannot tell what the other person means, even without mind reading!
Still, talking is the best technique we’ve got for understanding each other. Here at CTCW we are hoping to get people from different backgrounds to share their knowledge and experiences in the fields of the “Paranormal”. But since we’ve been keeping it discrete (occult) for so long, each group has developed their own way of talking about it. If someone speaks of totems and another speaks of spirit guides- will we seriously misunderstand each other if we equate them, or can experiences with each inform the others? How do we know?
When Witches speak of working with “shadow” energy, some New Age practitioners become nervous, having been trained to work with only “the light”. Can the witches explain how the shadows are aspects of the whole, and not evil in any way that could be understood? I bet there are at least a dozen ways to describe that work. Or can ghost hunters with their gadgets communicate with spiritualists and their impressions? I hope we can. We need to respect each other, and stop assuming that our group contains the only stable people, while others who deal with the supernatural are nuts. We need to explain our specialized vocabulary and not use jargon unless there are no other words (and then definitely explain them). We must not make fun of each other, no matter how easy it seems, and how much it gets a laugh. That laugh can separate us.
Respect is the key to communication, whether between men and women, between fast and slow speakers, and between investigators of the occult. All humans have these experiences, but until we can talk about them freely, we are not going to be able to combine our resources to study them. Isn’t it worth it to give up our smug egotism about OUR group in order to learn more? We need to talk- so we need to learn how to talk.
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.
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.
“A crack lets in the light” is an expression reminding us that when we create a solid barrier in our manner of thinking, it becomes difficult to introduce new concepts into our world view. What we, the CTCW community, are doing, is opening our minds to the possibilities. This is required in order to change.
For centuries the paranormal and supernatural have been called “Occult” which means hidden. Why hidden? Because despite the awareness when we are children that this is perfectly normal and natural, as we grow we are told to not talk about it. If it is natural and normal for us to see ghosts, to speak to animals, to find things, to heal others, to perceive the feelings and thoughts of others, and influence the world around us by our inner abilities, we are told to hide it, and to pretend that like “everyone else” we don’t believe in it. Some people buy into the story, for others, who use these abilities, we are taught that we need to hide our abilities and perceptions and not let others know about them. If our family or community practice, we are taught to preserve a “normal” appearance to everyone else. This preserves the illusion that our abilities don’t exist.
Why do we do this? There is history of persecution, certainly. If it became accepted that telepathy exists, many would worry that their secrets would be discovered. If energy healing works most of the time, it raises the question that when it doesn’t work, it could be a fault of the practitioner who didn’t do it correctly, or who withheld their healing? These are problems for doctors, but they defend themselves from charges of malpractice by working within established norms. We couldn’t do that with supernatural techniques as long as we don’t understand the mechanisms for how these things work. We see even now the issue of empowerment being twisted into victim-blaming. If everyone “can” manifest whatever they want, it can be seen that any problems they have are their own choice. Their own fault. Sadly, awareness of our abilities should come hand in hand with compassion and awareness of larger forces in the universe, and that seems to lag behind.
The truth will out, of course. Sooner or later, the modern world will figure out that these abilities are real, and may develop technologies to measure them, or even enhance them. Perhaps, like the GBLT community, we have to start by “coming out of the closet” and letting those who worry about us know that we’ve been among them in our millions without doing and evil things to them, and the only thing we want to do to “subvert the dominant paradigm” is too be accepted.
We mediums, telepaths, magickians, dowsers and others often have little problem with this. Sometimes we need reminding not to have “a mind so open that your brain falls out”. It’s sometimes easy, once you discover that the “normal” world has gotten so many things wrong, to run around trying every new thing, and telling everyone about the new things you’ve learned. This enthusiasm is natural, everyone does it, although they may be enthusing about a new diet, or recipe for chocolate cake, or gadget, but that won’t get them “burned at the stake” or prosecuted as a con artist.
As we change the world to a better place, we on the leading edge of the opening must remember to protect ourselves from the push-back of those who we are making uncomfortable. We must not deny what we know to be real, but at the same time, we need to maintain our credibility with those who haven’t had the direct experience we have had, and have been trained by the the modern world to be hyper skeptical. We need to do it, and I believe we can.
You may have wondered about the rather unwieldy name for our conference. When we were designing the conference, we were trying to figure out what we wanted to accomplish. What we hope to do is to change our parent culture in which the reality of many energy fields, many beings and many effective practices that can enhance our lives are rejected out of hand. We were thinking how great it would be if our children’s generation lived in a world where it was accepted that people are psychic and you wouldn’t have to hint about it, talk around it, or pretend that it wasn’t real so that you wouldn’t be considered foolish. That’s backwards! How foolish is it to deny evidence‽
We feel that if we can get the world to accept these realities and both benign and useful (yes, some people still feel that anything “occult” must be dangerous!) that they will be available to enhance daily life. How much better off we are when we know the benefits of using herbs for medicinal as well as culinary purposes. Yet there are still people out there who figure that if a remedy doesn’t come in a box, it “can’t work”.
There are people who scoff at “water witching”, yet many people quietly have a dowser locate their well. The American Dowsing Society has groups that provide this service in third world countries, and their experiences show how well it works.
I know that I use dowsing nearly daily to find lost objects around the house. Our family uses crystals for healing, as well as homeopathy, acupressure and aromatherapy. All of these things are said by critics to be useless, and even harmful if they prevent people from going to “established” practitioners. If they weren’t working, of course we’d go to someone who could help.
But we need to change the story- the dialogue- how people talk about the unknown. At this point anything paranormal in film is still lumped into the Horror genre. As you may have noticed in the last paragraph, much of what I use these ‘supernatural’ techniques for is practical, finding lost objects or healing faster. The world would simply be easier to navigate if we didn’t deny an entire section of available human abilities. So when thinking about the future, think about a world where there is no resistance, no denial, no pretense that magick isn’t real. The world is changing, we just want to make it better.