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Internet Book of Shadows, (Various Authors), [1999], at

      Subject:witchcraft & Prayer
        Jrohr states that"Magic to a witch is the same thing as prayer to
      a Christian" Then jrohr goes on to say"A witch would use magick in
      the form of a spell or a circle to focus the power of mind that is
      within us all."
        Magick is not the same thing as prayer!Prayer is not used to focus
      the power of mind that is within us all.Prayer is sent to outside
      forces.The benefits are attributed to whatever god or gods the
      supplicant believes in.It is also used without much hope of success.
      It is considered "God's will",no matter whether your god is benevolent
      or a zealous tyrant.I'm speaking in general about religions,not just
        If a ritual{such as the one's described}were being used to augment
      the psychic abilities of us all,given that they exist,I fail to see
      in what way it would be related to prayer,religion,or any sort of
       If a spell or circle were being used to achieve the desired results
      by calling on gods or goddesses in a carefully proscribed way,intending
      to enforce their aid,willing or not,to enforce you will,I would not
      call that prayer either.
        I have read the Mists of Avalon.I thought it was a very interesting
      book,both for her ideas on religion and feminism.I think it helps
      make witchcraft very attractive as a religion.But is it really a religion?
      Is it a science based on natural abilities?What is the role of magic
      in witchcraft?
        Many people object to witchcraft from a religious point of view.It
      doesn't fit their beliefs or cultural biases.Others object to it
      from a scientific point of view because they don't believe in magic.
      Is a belief in magic necessary to embrace witchcraft as a religion?
      Is a belief in religion {,mysticism,enlightenment}necessary
      for the practice of the craft{magick}?
      Subject: What the occult is (or may be)
        As a practicing witch (and I do need the practice!) I simply cannot allow
      a charge (as I saw it) of Satanism to go unanswered.  I don't know if
      the guy was trying to be funny or what, but it did get some discussion
      going, so that's something.
        What I was trying to get at (reading it back) was just how little
      the occult has to do with religion.  Most of the occult is tied
      up in religious beliefs, true, but then so was most of science back
      before the Renaissance and Copernicus.  Before then, the greatest
      .  If we begin to treat the occult the same
      way we would treat investigations int o physics or biology, then we
      Parapsychologists are studying
      occult and psychic phenomena, and coming up with some very interesting
      results.  True, they have not been able to definitively prove or dis-
      prove anything, but please keep in mind that they are working under
      a tremendous social attitude that "there's some reasonable explanation
      for all of this."  I think, that given the nature of this particular
      conference, we can make the assumption that occult and psychic phen-
      omena exist, and can be worked with at a practical level., and therefor
      we can go from there.  (Something I picked up from religion class...
      to keep people from nit-picking over minutiae, you list your assumptions
      at the top of the page.)
        So there we are.  THE OCCULT EXISTS.  The next step is to come up
      with a satisfactory definition.  To me, the occult consists of the
      entire set of ritual and ritualized behaviors intended to promote
      a particular psychic or psychological result.  This can range from
      ritual magic (Beltaine gatherings and the Catholic mass) to personal
      rituals intended to help you get through an ordeal (sports figures
      preparing to go into a game, or me preparing to receive a shot.).
      to receive a shot).
      These rituals (for lack of a better word, forgive) result in a
      change in state, of the people involve as well as possibly a
      d and possibly in the world
      around (if such was the intent.)
        That may not satisfy you.  Remember that at this stage, definitions
      are a highly personal thing., rather like your own personal philosophy.
      I also write this under trying circumstances (a friend is loudly
      championing her views as I type).
        A word about bookstores.  Remember, bookstores cater to the public,
      and try to keep anything controversial off the shelves.  Unless they
      are occult bookstores, DO NOT TRUST THE SUBJECT HEADINGS.  Be careful
      what you buy.  Flub and bunnies Shirley McLaine is next to The Necro-
      nomicon is next to 1400 Ways to Read Your Future in an  Ordinary Deck
      of Playing Cards is next to...  You get my meaning.  Your best bet
      is to find a book someone else has read and liked and to special
      order it.  It may be more expensive, but you know what you are getting.
      It seems that throughout  history different words have been  given meanings
      that are  not really what they mean. The word  "occult" is one of them. The
      word as  Jezebel pointed out  means "hidden"  or "secret".   In fact  early
      christianity was a "occult religion" (I find it interesting and  sad that a
      religion that was so persecuted in its infancy has turned around and in its
      power  persecuted other victim of bad press.  The word "witch" and "faggot"
      are other examples.  Did you ever  wonder where that  word fag come  from??
      Well  its because they  used to  burn the  homosexuals before  that witches
      (hence "flaming  faggot") To  a Brit  the word  means " a  small thatch  of
      kindling" I could go on  but I will spare  you all.... Please keep in  mind
      that language is a powerful thing.
      Enough  of  my babblings..end  note.. I  personally hope  for the  day when
      people can reach a level of  open mindedness that no positive religion must
      be hidden  or secret and  must spend all this  time and energy  saying what
      they are NOT.
      By the way speaking as a future librarian, most bookstores need to have a
      intensive course in cataloging. I, who can find my way around Watson with
      no problem get lost at Town Criers!!
      Subject: witchcraft
      I hope this helps to clarify a few points. Magick to a witch is basically
      the same thing  as prayer  is a  christian..again evidence  of language.  A
      would use magick in the form of a spell or circle to focus the power of the
      mind that is within  us all. For example I  have a object that when  I feel
      some  real negative energy I concentrate that  energy and "put" it into the
      object then  I ground out the  object... another example is  the burning of
      loveletters after  the relationship has gone away. This is a way of purging
      the  focusing.  What  I want to  stress is  that Wicca is  the religion and
      witchcraft  is the  practice. A good book to read is Marion Zimmer Bradleys
      "The Mists of Avalon".  It is basically a retelling of the Arthurian Legend
      though the eyes of the  women. It gives a good feel of the  spirit of Wicca
      and its conflict  with the church (notice I said church not Christ) In fact
      Morgaine says "I have no  quarrel with the christ only his  priests" Please
      keep in mind that  the book descriptions of the  rituals are what it  might
      have been like in the  6th century Witches celebrate the holidays in a more
      modern  manner. Just  as the  christians celebrate  edited versions  of the
      original mass.
      Subject: RE:What occult is
         I don't think that I can leave Jezebel's basic assumptions unchallenged.
      I don't think that they are the minutiae but rather the basics of this
         I still think that you are stirring religion,mysticism,parapsychology,
      and  magic into one  large cauldron of  ideas and beliefs.It's  rather more
      clear  to me that your definition of  "occult"is closer to my definition of
      magic.    I'm  not at  all  sure  that  you can  give  magic  {or magic}the
      categorization of a science.
         Let's start with parapsychology.Parapsychologists do not consider their
      field as having anything to do with the occult.They feel the same way about
      being confused with magic or witchcraft{or ufology or cryptozoology or
      fortune-telling,etc.}as witches do about being confused with Satanists.
      They're having a difficult enough time being accepted as a legitimate
      science as it is,due to the subjective and elusive nature of "psi"and
      it's inability to be reconciled with what we know to be true of"normal"
      laws of nature.
         Their are three main areas of paranormal study.Informational psi
      {telepathy,clairvoyance,precognition,retrocognition},expressive psi
      {psychokinesis and related effects}and survival-related experiences.
      These are rather arbitrary divisions since it is often impossible
      to determine which category of psi may be in effect.
       If we have the given that people have psi experiences in all cultures
      and that they are a common and normal part of human experience although
      difficult to understand,it still requires a large conceptual leap to
      conclude that one could influence their world through the use of magick
      or ritual.
        Witchcraft also has much to do with religion.Many religions have promoted
      and accepted the inborn psi abilities of people,often without the trappings
      or belief system associated with ritual magic.In fact,one anthropological
      division made between magic and religion is the idea that religions use
      prayer{politely asking the god or gods to intercede on their behalf]and
      magic uses ritual designed to coerce or persuade the gods to act{or,if
      you prefer,the universe to change itself to suit you.}Either way,both of
      these things are quite different from the idea that people can sometimes
      know or do things in ways that are as yet inexplicable,but will someday
      be known.
         If you accept the presence of psi as an innate human ability,it still
      doesn't prove the existence of any god or gods,the efficacy of magic or
      magical laws or rules.It doesn't justify one belief system over any others
      although I can understand the temptation to point to PK and say,"see,people
      can move things with their minds,therefore magic works."
      What would be a good example of proof that their is something to"the
      craft"in witchcraft?I don't know.Maybe jezebel or jrohr can answer that.
      Does the acceptance of the existence of magic justify a belief in witch-
      craft as a religion?I don't think so.I think that is an entirely
      different concept.If witchcraft is a religion at all,a belief in magic
      would just be another part of that religion,although it may be necessary
      to it.
      RE: what do we worship?
      No, we do not worship Satan!  The occult (the word means "hidden")
      was a perfectly legitimate field of study among the Magi before and
      during the Renaissance.  But with the birth of "science", notably
      physics and chemistry (from alchemy), the study of the occult fell
      into disfavor because it couldn't be "proved" in the same way that
      the "hard" sciences can.  Remember, the driving quest of the alchemists
      was to discover how to turn lead into gold.  That is now possible.
      It's not easy, but it's now possible.  the study of the occult has
      been revived and renamed "parapsychology", and there are serious,
      documented cases of telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, the
      existence of ghosts, etc..  So there is some scientific (unless
      you don't consider psychology to be science) evidence of "supernatural"
      phenomena, which may prove to be a set of very natural occurrences
      after all.
      If you are studying the occult as a non-scientist, you are probably
      studying ways in which a person can expand her own psychic powers.
      Religion has little to do with it!  Admittedly, the Christian church
      attempts to discourage people from experimenting, but the Jewish
      tradition has a splendid tradition of occult study in the Caballah.
      It is important to realize that the occult is a tool by which many
      things can be accomplished.  THE OCCULT IS NOT EVIL IN AND OF ITSELF!
      A hypodermic needle, for instance, can cause great harm, by being used
      to inject poison or intravenous drugs (and helping the spread of such
      diseases as hepatitis and AIDS.)  But a needle can also be used to
      inject vaccines, and antibiotics, and none considers banning needles
      simply because of the potential harm they can "do".  The same is true of
      the occult.  It is not the fact of its use that is important, it is
      rather the use to which it is put.  An evil action is an evil action,
      whether it is by spell or by physical means.  The Wiccans have but one
      law: An it harm none, do as you will.  The Wiccans are also great users
      of positive magic.
        For a good, non religious look at the occult and its potential, I
      suggest Marian Weinstein's book POSITIVE MAGIC.  I found it at
      Adventure here in lawrence, and I understand it can also be gotten
      through Lamplighter Books.
      Subject: What is the "occult"?
        I'm sorry,jezebel,but your reply to "guest"left me a bit confused.
      Are you trying to define occult,or defend and rationalize belief
      in the paranormal,or give a discourse on the ethics of the use of
      ritual magic?
         It seems to me that there are several issues here{admittedly,none
      of which have anything to do with devil worship}."Occult" is a very
      catch-all term.It seems to have been used for everything from
      the Necronomicon to Shirley McClaine.{Have you ever looked in the "occult
      section"of your local bookstore?"}
        I"d really be interested in seeing more conversation on these
      Subject: occult
      Well, Melisande beat me to it - I too felt that jezebel had magic and the
      occult confused. The occult concerns those forces/phenomena not explained
      by science (if/when they are explained they won't be "hidden" anymore,
      right?). Magic is the ritual manipulation or use of these forces.  Psi is a
      group of related forces (which may or  may not be used in a magical sense).
      Religion  is not  necessarily associated  with any  of the  above. HOWEVER,
      belief  in "supernatural" forces is just that, *belief*, and if you believe
      that when you practice magic, you  affect people/the world about you,  then
      you are accepting  belief in these "supernatural" forces. I  feel that this
      belief presupposes a  "religion" of sorts.  I.e. if  you hold an  unfounded
      belief (not supported by science) then you have "faith"  and "faith" begets
      "religion". So, can there be such a thing as an atheistic witch?
      Go ahead, blast away. This was intended to provoke some comment!
      All of the  above represent my own opinions which are subject to change
      without notice.
      Subject: inspection
      There is a world of difference between a little inspection and outright
      dissection. It seems to me that people must have "proof" in order for
      something to be considered valid. That is the point that I am trying to
      get across.  Education is a good tool for showing people every side of
      an issue. But if their faith (not some half-baked preacher) tells them
      that something is wrong or right that also is valid. The issue is
      freedom of choice (sound familiar??) Although this person may feel one
      way, he/she has no right to impose that on another person. The country
      that we live in is based on the separation of church and state. Period.
      Is a person truly believes that witches are evil and after been presented
      with our point of view still believes this that is his right. But that
      person does not have the right to take the freedom from another person
      I guess that what i am trying to say in a long-winded fashion is TOLERANCE
      is needed on both parties. Why can't we live and let live as long as
      there is no harm being done.
      Subject: 'occult' -- religion vs prayer vs magick
      I, and several other posters, have thus far been playing in the shallows of
      this interest area;  I'm not the only one who's been avoiding the deeper
      issues here set afloat.   I understand the relevance of getting the basics
      out in the  open, where we  may discuss them;   I admire honest  curiosity;
      and I respect most  sincerely the desire to understand each  other's points
      of view.  So:  All right, Melisande!  I'll swim out to meet your questions
      trusting  to some of that faith  in Providence that I'll  not stray too far
      off the course of logic nor yet be caught by the undertow of over-reaction.
      But help me out if I start to stray *too* far from solid ground, hey?
      jrohr is quite right in pointing out that language is a powerful tool.  It
      can be a powerful nuisance  also, at times.  I doubt that any  two or three
      of  us share  precisely  the same  definitions  -- both  in  denotation and
      connotation -- for any randomly chosen set of words.  That is in the nature
      of human thought,  and thus of human  language;  and I  think it is no  bad
      thing, in itself.   I would  find it very  boring to  see the world  always
      through the same eyes as  everyone else, with no more sudden  surprises nor
      the  delicious strangeness  of  another's  way  of  seeing.    I've  always
      preferred  predictability  in   moderate  doses  only.       Generally  our
      definitions  have enough common ground that we can communicate well enough;
      when we  fail to quite understand what is meant, we certainly ought to ask!
      And indeed  we  have some  slippery terms  before us  -- religion,  magick,
      prayer.  I've thought on my own meanings for these, and reached somewhat of
      the premises and beliefs  underlying them.  I  do feel them to be  separate
      and different  things.   Sam, your  input regarding  faith,  belief in  the
      irreproducible  and unprovable,  strikes  a very  loud chord.    And by  my
      definition, to be  'religiously' scientific  is to accept  the results  and
      some of  the method of  science on faith --  as those who  believe that psi
      cannot exist 'scientifically', considering  not the difficulties of proving
      a negative hypothesis.  But  to me faith is a necessary  but NOT sufficient
      condition;  I've put off entering this discussion largely because the other
      half of  my understanding of religion  is difficult to articulate.   To me,
      religion must have also an element of worship, of appreciation or love
      for the object of that faith, removed from all expectations of gain or
      profit.  Prayer can  be an act of worship  -- but "Oh Deity or  Deities, in
      your  infinite  wisdom and  grace  and  general  wonderfulness,  could  you
      possibly assist your humble servant?" is  not in that category, while "Hey,
      nice  universe you got here,  God(ess)(es), really awesome  work, like wow"
      Prayer to me is essentially an attempt to communicate with the object of
      faith and worship.  (By the bye, I'm sorry if 'object of etcetera' is
      beginning to wear on you all,  but I do believe that the object  of worship
      and  subject of religion  may take any  number of  forms for any  number of
      people.) Prayer can attempt to communicate only faith or worship, or it can
      attempt to communicate a desire or request.  But as a purely communicative,
      not an active,  phenomenon, prayer  cannot guarantee  results, nor  promise
      miracles.   If there really are  a bunch of Christian  pro-lifers out there
      praying  for the death  of a pro-choice  judge (I read  that somewhere, but
      I've no idea  if it's a  real-world example), they  may be disappointed  if
      s/he doesn't  die off  soon, but  it  is an  outcome they  are prepared  to
      Magick, on the other hand, is an attempt to DO something.  A properly
      structured spell performed under the right conditions is expected to have
      certain results.  Granted that there's more art than science to it, it has
      still that element of expected repeatability, and of action.  Magick may
      certainly have a place in religion, and it may play an important role.  For
      example, when a clergymember of a faith that takes the literal view of the
      sacrament  of the  eucharist  performs  that  rite, he  or  she  is  indeed
      performing a magickal  act.  I'll  grant you freely  that I have my  doubts
      about  the   cookies  and  grape  juice   really  truly  transubstantiating
      themselves into flesh and blood,  and frankly I'd not care to  partake if I
      did believe it.   (Just squeamish, I suppose!).  But  that's not the issue.
      The issue is that it is real to the person doing this, and that he (or she)
      expects it  to happen --  nay, KNOWS that it  will happen, if  the thing is
      done correctly.  The rationale  for this expectability can vary --  to said
      clergymember, it's  a matter of right,  and a promise made,  and a covenant
      agreed to.   All perfectly reasonable reasons to expect  it to work, in the
      framework of that belief.
      It can just as well be rooted in a belief that the operator is exercising
      some natural ability, just as s/he might push a car or dial a telephone on
      a more mundane level -- although in the latter case, the magick need not be
      part  of a religion.  (By this definition,  psi may be treated as magick --
      my apologies to any parapsychologists out there, in advance!)  It could be
      derived, to the  practitioner, from a  bargain or from  some aspect of  the
      laws  of the universe  that allows  him/her to  coerce a power  to act.   I
      follow beliefs  that do  somewhat concern  me regarding  the source of  the
      expectability in magick;  but we should perhaps discuss that separately, if
      anyone  wishes to,  after we  have  agreed on  definitions of  terms.   The
      current point,  for me, is  that the  rationale behind it  doesn't make  it
      magick;  it's the presence of that rationale, whatever it is, combined with
      the fact that the operator expects results.
      Now, then.  Here are my definitions, and several of my precepts, as best I
      understand them.  What do the rest of you think concerning them?  Do you
      differ on  some points?  Which  ones, and why,  and precisely how?   Do you
      feel that I've  missed something?   And again, where,  in what manner,  and
      why?   Do you found your definitions from other lines of thought  entirely?
      Once more,  what are those lines of thought,  exactly how do they treat the
      subjects to hand, and why do you feel that way about it?
      Whether you agree or disagree, I would like to read of it.  I would like to
      know if  we are  stymied by  essentially different views  on how  the world
      works, or merely each by our  own assumptions of what the other means.   If
      any  feel  threatened  by  this  invitation  to  investigate  further,   my
      apologies:   I  intend none,  nor do  I perceive  any in  this request  (or
      Melisande's, or Sam's).   The one who does not care to  examine his beliefs
      is trapped is  as narrow a  world as he who  declines to dream  of anything
      intuitive  and irreproducible in  his philosophy:  a  world view that can't
      stand to be looked  at once in a while  makes a very poor window  indeed to
      view the world through!   Some of you have said you are active  in Wicca or
      the craft;  I'm  curious to know if you were raised in  the craft?  If not,
      what belief system did you grow up  in?  Didn't you look at those  beliefs,
      new and old both, before you chose  your path?  Don't be afraid to continue
      thinking, then, and to continue to examine what you believe and why.
      Subject: witchcraft
           I really must stick to my statement that a spell is very much like a
      prayer. The diffusion of stems from magick bringing about a altered state
      of  consciousness.  I would not say that they are identical. Each form fits
      the needs of the population that uses it.
      There are some  who say that science  is a religion..If I could  answer why
      people need that facet in  their life i would win the  Nobel...I can answer
      only for myself. Why must we dissect things in order to understand them?? I
      have seen more  things torn apart because  of human fear.  Why can't we  as
      Starhawk says "dare  to dream the dark" Living in  such a technological and
      hard scientific  world (as I sit  a terminal <GRIN>) i find  some solace in
      that there are things that man can not define to  his(or her) satisfaction.
      Thus perhaps the basis for the place of religion.

Next: Magick Vs. Prayer (Salgamma)