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A Year of Ceremonial Magic: Month One

A brief introduction to my religious practices, philosophy and history is required to provide some context for the next twelve months.

For the past three years (or so), a series of events, synchronicities, and experiences have all shaped this particular endeavor. Although it is difficult to say when this chapter began, many things were set in motion on the eve of Winter Solstice of 2010. It was the first time in almost 400 years that there would be a full moon, lunar eclipse, and winter solstice all on the same evening. I prepared myself to take full advantage of the energy.

That evening, in the backyard of my High Priest, I held a funeral. I crafted a coffin out of black construction paper and laid within it a doll I had sewn in my likeness. She was stuffed with personal effects, herbs and oils. Also in the coffin were many scraps of paper detailing all sorts of things: bad habits, flaws, sad stories, traumatic events, toxic relationships, breaches of personal boundaries, and other baneful things. After the funerary rite, I set the coffin ablaze and watched the shadow cross the moon on that darkest, longest night of the year.

Though I had received my Gardnerian initiation, and eventually elevated to Second Degree, it felt more like unfinished business and tying up loose ends, than an exciting future praxis. Instead, I found myself fascinated by Ancient Roman cultus. I read several books on ancient Hellenic praxis, but it felt foreign and cold to me. Like Goldilocks in Baby Bear’s bed, Roman cultus felt just right.

Two or three years ago, at another PantheaCon, I attended a devotional ritual for the Morrigan. I am familiar with that lovely Lady, though I’ve only seen Her once. And though She is not a Lady with whom I have a deep relationship with, my blood recognizes Her. Soon, I found myself dancing, singing, and swearing an oath.

I had been seeing many signs that physical health and athleticism should be a focus of mine. I had taken up running, and was dedicating my evening runs around the neighborhood to several Gods, but most often Artemis. I had been reading whispers of this developing interest in fitness in the Pagan blogosphere too, so that when the priestess of the Morrigan was discussing the importance of physical strength, I took it as a sign. When I approached Her sword, I swore that I would continue to develop and sculpt my body into slender, sinewy grace.

Which curiously, brings me to this year of practicing ceremonial magic. First, in no less than three books by prominent Golden Dawn/ceremonial magicians, I found several passages encouraging would be magicians to develop a fitness routine and maintain physical stamina. Second, ancestor worship is a central aspect of Roman cultus. My grandfather was both Mason and Scottish Rite; he has encouraged me to continue in my studies and practice of ceremonial magic. Lastly – I like it and I just want to practice it. I am attracted to the idea of The Great Work.

Way back in 1988, I picked up a copy of Donald Michael Kraig’s Modern Magic. Back then, it was Eleven Lessons in the High Magical Arts, but now there are twelve lessons. I will be spending each month reading a chapter, practicing the prescribed rituals daily, and maintaining the recommended journals.

January was an easy month. Every morning, I record my dreams in my dream journal. Even if I don’t remember my dreams, I still make an entry for that day. In the evening, I take a ritual bath, perform a relaxation ritual and then contemplate a single tarot card for about five minutes. I record all my results in a different journal – my ritual diary. This month I got a preview of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, which I will begin performing at least once daily starting next month.

I continue my devotional work in Roman style, in addition to keeping my promise to get fit.

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