Don’t forget to attend some panels.
Our panels will consist of three or four panelists and a moderator talking about some subject, and also taking questions and comments from the audience. This is one of the ways we can exchange perspectives on what we have in common, but we’re coming to from different directions.
One of the goals of Changing Times-Changing Worlds is to foster communication between different groups. When we share what we’ve learned with others, we can build on this shared knowledge and experience to achieve more than we could have done separately. When it comes to paranormal studies, I’m reminded of ultra secret government projects where each group is purposely given only a part of the task so that none of them knows what they are working on. Or a room with a thousand cubicals where no one communicates. If we can just share what each of us has learned separately, think how much faster we can progress, and how much greater our ability to go farther will be!
In the past we’ve had shamanic practitioners from different traditions and backgrounds , and healers of many sorts discussing challenges in healing, diviners discussing techniques, and dancers talking about how they use movement to express spirit.
We are still accepting panelists. You do not need to be a speaker to be on a panel (although we try to recruit those who are knowledgeable in the topic). If you have something you’d love to share on one of the subjects of our panels, and are a bit nervous about public speaking, remember panelists only probably speak for about five or ten minutes- this could be the perfect venue for you. You can sign up on the yahoo group or email Tchipakkan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Magic in Fiction: Bane or Blessing?
From Harry Potter to Harry Dresden, wizards are popular in books,
movies/TV, and gaming. When the new person shows up at your open circle
dressed as Harry Potter, do you gnash your teeth in frustration, or smile
and see it as a first step that you can work with? Is the popularity of
magic in fiction a good thing, making people more aware of and open to the
idea of magic, or is it trivializing something very serious and important
in the popular imagination? And what about the people who are trying to
practice the magic described in these books? Is invoking someone like
Galadriel dangerous, merely a waste of time, or can it work?
Blocks- what turns off your abilities?
Human abilities to heal or read or “see” are sometimes affected by the environment, whether you’re hungry, tired, that time of the month, where you are, or even by who’s around. (I’ve often suspected that some researchers put off “anti-psi” static.) Many people say that they can’t read for themselves, can’t heal themselves, or that charging for psychic abilities can cancel them out. Are these blocks real? Are they physical or psychological ? How can we work with them? Could there be a good reason for them?
Communicating with various entities
With which non-humans do we speak, and how? Prayer, sacrifices, omens, ritual and dreams enter in here. We find these in the Bible, Koran, and Talmud, as well as in other religious practices. Dropping a coin, votive, or amulet into a well along with a wish for healing or luck enters in here, as well as trance Voyaging and meditation. Direct communication can be through prayer, or channeling, or can be mediated. Dance, songs, chanting, theater and other arts can communicate with beings, offerings of service or sacrifice are communication, and many people just talk to gods, ghosts, and fairies. Our panelists will talk about who they talk to and how.
Communication difficulties between different groups of practitioners
Scientists mock psychics, pagans make jokes about New Agers, Heathens scorn wiccans, it’s politically correct somehow to criticize whites, males and Christians. How do we get past our prejudices and assumptions about the people we don’t know as well as we know our own groups? When we create “community” do we risk defining those not within it as “Other”? How can we work for interfaith if we don’t respect the point of view of those with whom we are working? How damaging are the jokes we tell about each other? Where do our assumptions come from? We use the umbrella term Pagan for all non-monotheists, but many, including Hindu, Native American, and even Heathen don’t want to be included under that umbrella- what is it they perceive about us that makes us suspect?
Could it be as simple as words? Many times one word means a different thing to several groups. Defining words in terms that both parties can comprehend is a start. For example, the word “magick” to some folks means ritual/ceremonial Work and not stage magic; to others, it sounds contrived. Let us brainstorm how to enhance our inter-group communications.
Energy moving/creating gadgets, cages, structures
Psychics are work without tools, but ghos-thunters like their measuring devices. A magician can work magick with no tools, and a doctor may not need tools to diagnose and prescribe, but if tools help, why not use them? I immediately thought of characters from Bob Asprin’s MythAdventures series. The protagonist, Skeve, is a magic user, and his apprentice, Masha, is an expert in the use of magical items, and can often get more impressive effects than he can. Certainly the natural properties of metals and stones and different shapes help with the creation of magical objects. Perhaps another advantage they have, is that in an item you can take a month, or six months and take advantage of astrological and lunar influences, and take as much time as you need to prepare the spell, attach connections to power sources, and use the item to trigger it.
Filters/ personal and cultural
How do we interpret what we see and experience? Are cultural or personal filters harder to notice in your own experience? How do filters get in the way of our ability to use our talents? One example of this is the Wiccan “Rule of Three”, some witches are sure that everything comes back to them threefold, yet karmically, shouldn’t it be the same for everyone? What filters do different subcultures have? (for example modern scientific resistance to psi and magick).
Are ghosts spirits of the dead with unfinished business, or simply impressions, films of the past preserved and re-run on an endless loop of what has gone before? Are poltergeist ghosts? When we use a medium or ouija board to contact the dead, is it ghosts that we reach, or only when they initiate the contact? Why do some seem bound to one place, while others are seen in many places. Why do some dead become ghosts and others not? Is it true that a ghost can’t hurt you? Bring your questions and your stories to share with our panelists while we explore this phenomenon.
Handwork as a spiritual practice
Weaving, spinning, embroidery, carving, and many other kinds of handwork are not necessarily mundane practices. There is a whole body of lore regarding spiritual intent in performing these skills, such as making altar cloths, carving statuettes of various divinities, and more. When making an item to be used in sacred space, one often calls in Deity to enhance the spiritual part of the creation process, but even while working for non-religious purposes, there is a spiritual aspect of work/creation. Some forms of handwork like spinning can induce trances, and the energy is set into the material. In the Dark Ages priests tried to get women to give up spinning and weaving because they were in the habit of putting protection into the garments while they worked. Artists often say that any act of creation is divine. Our panelists will discuss how they blend their handwork with spiritual work.
Occult in popular culture /Old and Nouveau Witch
Occult practices may be found in essentially every religion. In the old days, it was the (usually old, poor and marginalized) women who got accused of being witches; in modern times it seems that witches are the practitioners of Pagan traditions, new, reconstructed, or old. Thankfully, witch hunts are over in MOST of the world, and the word “witch” as applied to a person isn’t insulting or a prequel to punishment by religious bodies. The image has been well polished in the last decades. Aside from how the term witch is applied, many “muggles” use techniques and traditions they don’t see as magical, just traditional, like dowsing, burying a statue of St. Joseph in the garden, or using the Law of Attraction or The Secret. What has changed in media portrayal of magic and magic users, and how much has actually changed in the kitchens, gardens, and bedrooms of the modern world?
Psychological problems in psychics- how do you differentiate?
“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” (Nietzsche?) If you are a medium, seeing or hearing dead people is normal for you. All the books on enhancing our psychic abilities tell us to listen to our inner voices. But suppose you’re psychic, then you become depressed, or get PTSD, or schizophrenia? How do you explain to a medical doctor that some of the things you experience are symptoms, and some are normal (for you)? How do you get the help you need, while not having the “shrink” try to medicate away your abilities?)
Request vs Compel magic and prayer
Some people say that “magic compels and prayer requests”. Others disagree about whether all magic is done by otherworldly beings, or it’s something anyone can do by learning the right techniques. Christians have traditionally stated that natural laws can only be overturned by the intercession of Christ, his angels, or saints, all other deviations from natural process is magic, and thus diabolical, (and at times have said that it is all illusion). Many modern practitioners say that magick is simply using or working with the energetic characteristics of the natural world. Do magick and prayer work by the same mechanism or not? We certainly can’t settle it, but we can examine the question.
See no evil, speak no evil, think no evil
Our words and even thoughts and emotions, create effects even beyond our own bodies, this is why modern Reiki as well as The King’s Touch heal people without medicines or other physical therapy. But folklore also warns of a glance or jealousy harming without touching. The evil eye could be used intentionally, or (in modern Africa) witches were accused of harming people even without being aware they were doing it. In the modern world, scientific experiments have shown that what people think about you (nearby) has a positive or negative effect on your white blood count, and Kinesiology shows that it can increase or decrease your strength. What can we learn from the traditional remedies against the evil eye, and what can or should we do to prevent from inadvertently hurting anyone?
Sorcery vs witchcraft-
Is magick learned or innate? Sorcery and witchcraft are terms anthropologists use to differentiate between magick that studied, and innate abilities. It is not the way most modern practitioners use the words. Some would argue that the ability to change things by “occult” means, is a natural human talent or ability, like ESP. Others argue that magick is like science, practitioners learn what the properties of materials, times, etc. are, and techniques for using them. Currently there’s a plan to put an “anti-esoteric” filter on computers in England (“to protect the public”), this certainly argues that they think that this is learnable. If it’s innate, then sooner or later the pre-disposition will be linked to certain genes. If it is innate, does that make it less threatening? Clearly magick is both innate AND learned for many people, so how useful is this differentiation? If magick/psi occurs naturally in all populations, can we find what creates a predisposition for it? Is it like artistic talent or leadership, a natural trait occurring in different amounts that can be developed?
“Swallowing Frogs”, anger/emotions and illness
In northeast Brazilian women use the term “swallowing frogs” to describe the act of suppressing anger, hatred or irritation, and putting up with unfair treatment silently, and it is known that this will make one sick. Modern science has shown that stress kills. We will talk about how repressing your emotions can make you ill, and how we can safely release anger/frustration in a way which harms none?
Urban vs Rural practice
100 years ago, only 20% of people lived in cities, but now 82% of Americans are urban or suburban. Most of us are city dwellers, how are country traditional practices (mostly aimed at fertility) applicable to our lives? Urban practice in many ways was quite different from what folks did in rural districts. Many times the city folks avoided the rurals as hicks; the rurals avoided the elites and city folks as snobs. Rurals struggled to make good lives for themselves, and didn’t necessarily have the leisure to explore sophisticated or ceremonial magic as embraced by the city folks.
You can’t do that during readings!
From predicting certain doom to answering a text, there are things psychic readers agree are not acceptable during a reading, whether it’s private or professional. Warning signs include any suggestion that you are under a curse that they can remove (for a great deal of money). But other stories may serve as reassurances that no matter how psychic they are, readers are as human as you. Let’s pull our readers in from doing it to share their advice, and their pet peeves, about other readers, and about people who consult them.
If you think of a topic for a panel for next year, do let us know!