Paths to Power and How to Walk Them

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels: , , ,

The title of "paths to power" can mean different things depending upon one's tradition.  Gardnerians hold them as eight methods that are used individually or in combination to create magical effects.  In essence, they are the building blocks of a magical rite.  Another name for that list is "The Eightfold Path," like Buddhism's system for achieving enlightenment.

But what we're talking about here are the methods by which a practitioner improves his/her art. By now, I believe, we're all well acquainted with the ways in which a spell can be cast.  We know about chanting and astral projection and meditation, and even if we don't use them regularly we know where to go if we want to learn more about them.  But what great leap exists for those of us who have mastered the beginner stuff? Where does one go to gain magical edge?  That is just what we're going to talk about now.


Please note that this post is meant specifically to explain my latest chart, "Paths to Power," but all readers are welcome and not just parchment shoppers.  I think I can elucidate beyond what is written there, and the image will be more of an extension of this post and not the other way around.  But I don't want to oversell it, so let's begin so you may see for yourself.

To start, let me be clear that this is no definitive list and there are many more ways to achieve the same ends that I have not mentioned.  Each practitioner has their own favorite methods for nearly any objective in the occult, and this matter is no different.  But what I have outlined are the simplest, most straightforward (though challenging, as you will soon see) methods for becoming a stronger spellcaster with a greater body of power from which to draw.

As you see from the image here, my chart gives simple titles to each of the paths.  Generally, I would recommend deciding for yourself just how to act out these guidelines, but instead I will take you through them one at a time so that the full breadth of my meaning is clear.

Diligent Study
We're starting with one of the hardest objectives to obtain. Witches are all about knowledge, to be sure, but how many of us are really serious about our studies?  The answer should be "everyone," but that's certainly not the case.  Life gets in the way; we are just as easily distracted as anyone else and possibly more so.  The things we're being distracted from can be very hard work.

But dedication to study is dedication to progress, so we should be constantly chasing it.  However you need
to get the job done, do it.  Post to-do lists in your home and workplace reminding you to put time in on your practice.  Combine your efforts with a friend and motivate one another. Give up a favorite time-killer (video games, late nights out, TV, etc.) for a month so you can focus. Whatever it takes.  Reset your mind to make time every day for advancing your knowledge.

Study can take many forms, of course, but don't be deceived by what sounds appealing.  Do not go after study which feels nice (chit chat with other witches over coffee, for instance).  You must strive to make the body of your study based on that which is most effective.  Read the books that make you nervous, take notes, research, compare what you discover with what others have told you.  Listen to all sources, too: work at meeting new people, especially those with more experience, be social in a physical setting even if you have to create one (like forming a MeetUp group to get together in person or organizing a learning coven), ask questions of everyone you meet and record their answers.  This is how you grow.

Clear Goals
Maybe this should be first but, I swear, nothing could be more important than study, not even knowing what you want to do with that study.

Your goals should be both short- and long-term.  In the short-term, know where you're going with your spells. What would be the ideal outcome of this situation?  What will be the next step after your immediate goal is complete?  Plan ahead so that your spellwork becomes a running effort to guide that aspect of your life--and eventually, all other aspects, as well--into the direction you choose.  This makes you the conductor of the orchestra, not a player.

In the long-term, you should take some real time to analyze what you want magic for in the first place.  Why did you become a practitioner?  And I don't want to hear any answers about "coming home" or wanting to "get back in touch with nature."  I'm talking about why you chose to start casting spells.  This is a more serious question than it seems on the surface.  Some folks come to witchcraft because they need something to help them stand up for themselves, they have a hard time relating to others, or they want to leave behind the fatalistic attitude around them that puts the individual as a powerless instrument of an indifferent world.  But there are some that come for more disquieting reasons: a drive for control and/or punishment of others, wanting to feel different or superior to the masses, or as an explanation for strange or possibly dangerous "quirks" (I've met a surprising number of unmedicated Bi-polar sufferers who were deeply into magic).  Not all of these reasons are necessarily bad ones, but each person must know for themselves why they are here.  It can and often does affect their decisions as they delve deeper into witchcraft.

One other aspect I like to think about is just what you see when you think of the "perfect" witch.  I may have talked about this elsewhere but it bears repeating.  Something that kept me going when I was first learning magic was the clear idea I held of just what I felt was the most important and impressive parts of magic one could learn and exactly what a person who had achieved all my dreams would look and act like.  I saw this person in great detail, not only as a hope that someday I might be so fortunate as to meet or even study under her, but that I could possibly become her.  Doing this is more than a mental exercise; it's a direct vision of your future.  Work with it wisely.

Fearlessness
Traditionally, the witch is a creature with nothing but contempt for normality.  She rejects standard ideas on what is dangerous, what is ethical, and the lengths one must go to fit in with society.  Somewhere along the line we've traded that in for something far more safe and tame.

But if you're going to excel in witchcraft, you'll need a little of what she possessed as a birthright.  You will need to do the hard work, try things without a guaranteed outcome, and test the limits of accepted rules and barriers.  Gaining skill and wisdom is work, don't let anyone tell you otherwise, and it requires guts.  You will have to really try for this, and what is more, you'll probably be doing it alone.  There have certainly been some harrowing moments in my history and I had to face them on my own.  But coming out the other side was moving and empowering.

Now, it may be treading on some toes, but I suggest you throw away conventional "rules" about what to cast and how to cast it, at least for now.  Until you've tested it out for yourself, accept nothing as the law.  As you've seen I don't subscribe to the Wiccan Rede or any version of it, nor do I feel indebted to every person I've ever cast a spell for or upon, but that is only because I dared to go against the common thought and see for myself.  For me, these concepts do not hold true.  I've never been dealt 3 times the good or bad I've given out and I've never felt tethered to someone I cast upon.  But that is what it's like for me; you will have to see what it's like for you.  My father (not a practitioner but certainly a magical person) says "If you don't push your limits, you won't know where they are."  This is your life and your practice--know the boundaries.


Strong Focus
This is something spellcasters are constantly striving for in a general way, but I also mean it quite specifically. Don't wish for it, work for it!  There are books and websites full of exercises to help you achieve longer and stronger periods of intense focus, but a way to begin today--with no tools or research--is just to become conscious of everything you do.  When you move and speak and think with awareness, you have taken the first step to increasing focus.  Contrariwise, when you have your mind vaguely set upon your current task but also invested in what will happen next, what happened yesterday, plus fears and hopes about each, you are diluting focus.  Give each action your full attention.  In the words of Ram Das, be here now.

And this translates to magic nicely.  As you cast your spell, watch and feel the movements of your hands, the shaping of ink into words, clay into a human image, herbs ground into powder.  Invite all your senses to the
party and really suffuse yourself with the experience, thinking of nothing but the moment.

Silent Observation
The hidden world has its secrets written in plain sight.  The answers you want are all around you.  But they're not going to scream to be heard.  So my advice is, as delicately as I can put it, shut up!  Observe nature and human behavior.  Learn to look at things without attaching judgement.  See the world and your changing life experiences as though you were a historian looking back 100 years.  Train your mind to see only the patterns and you will discover the pattern to everything.

Vigorous Exercise
Now here's where I might lose you.  As you may have noted from a recent post, exercise has become an important aspect of my life in the past year.  I have by now dropped 50 pounds and have been able to see and feel the vast ways in which I am different.  One of them is that my abilities have increased.  I know now that I have the kind of calm determination required to overcome any obstacle, I have trained my mind to work for me and stay positive and present, and I have turned a soft, sluggish form into a body of light and energy.  This isn't bragging, by the way, it's just how things feel for me now.  And my work reflects that.  If that sounds good to you, I suggest you lace up your shoes right now.

When I say vigorous, I really mean it!  As long as your doctor approves, you should be tackling the kind of workouts that make you think twice about why you got involved in the first place.  Breathe hard, sweat like water, push your muscles to the limit, give it everything you've got.  And do it every day.  If you can achieve this, it's almost like meditation--you're mind simply stops running.  There is no thought, there is only movement.  Only this moment exists.  It is an incredibly powerful technique that will give immediate results.  I don't often talk about auras and energy bodies and things of that nature, but exercise can get you flowing smooth and bright like nothing else.  It's as though you are a tree still dormant from a long winter, then suddenly spring breaks and your sap begins to run.  Then it's woosh! and you're bursting out all over with signs of new, fresh life.  On top of the standard health and beauty benefits of exercise that are so often mentioned, your power will quickly become the number one reason to begin and continue working out.

Humility Before Greatness
After all of this building up, we need to temper.  I can't stress enough how important it is to listen to others.  I have met many witches who did nothing in a conversation but wait for their chance to talk.  A particularly glaring example of such a lack in humility (though by no means an example of "greatness") was a fellow coven leader who contacted me through a public ad about joining our group (yeah, I don't know why she would join a second group either.  I didn't find out that part until later).  I met with her to discuss the focus of our coven's work, our rules and rituals, etc., and to see if she would be a good fit. After all, that was the point of meeting.  But she was not content to relinquish control, even concerning someone else's group, so she spent our entire time together trying to wrestle it from me.  I don't think I cleared the basics of our information in over 2 hours because she only wanted to discuss non-magical topics about herself.  In the end, she absconded with all my personal paperwork and the next time we met told everyone that I had been dying to join her group.  Nothing could be further from the truth, only because she was merely bent on wasting time and holding attention.  That is not how to learn nor how to teach.

So, firstly, listen to others.  Especially when you ask the question, put your teeth together and listen to the answer.  But remember this, too, when going to festivals, conferences, inter-coven gatherings, or any time you have the opportunity to meet with new people who might possibly have different practices and experiences from your own.  Be respectful and polite always, but especially with elders, leaders, teachers, and anyone whose dedicated time in the occult outweighs you own.  It's okay to fall into rank.  It's not a personal judgement and you're certain to be above someone else anyway.  But remember that you learn the juicy information those individuals have to offer only when you show that you deserve it.  Mouthy, self-important, insecure folks don't get the goods.

This also transfers to non-corporeal beings.  The Gods are not playthings, nor are they simple associations to add a little flavor to your spells.  Treat them with the kind of honor befitting a being much larger than yourself. Do the same with beings that are roughly equal to, but different than, humans such as the dead and beings from other planes of existence.

Dedicated Effort
If you have a teacher, congratulations!  You're a rare and wonderful breed.  If you do not, don't feel too bad--being taught in person requires a ton of effort and unless you have that to give, don't even think of it.

On that note, if you have a teacher, get the hell off the internet and go do your homework!  Teachers of nearly every variety give their students important self-study techniques, tasks, or reading material to do between lessons.  Get that stuff done right away, and do it well.  There's a good reason why you're being asked to do it, even if you can't figure it out yet.  Too many students balk at the idea that learning isn't all late night conversations and watching witchy movies.  What you get out of it is in direct relation to how much you put in.  So put it all in, if not just for the hopes of a stunning outcome but also in celebration of how fortunate you are to have someone to guide you.

If you don't have a teacher, however, you'll have to become one for yourself.  Set tasks to be completed, structure your study so that you're always progressing, investigate what you hear and read, experiment with the old and the new, become a student of magic itself.

Self Mastery
By now you see how many times self control figures into the plan.  There will come a time when the only thing standing between you becoming the next great thing or falling back into anonymous witchhood (or worse, leaving it altogether) is your ability to take charge of yourself.

So plan now for the flaws that might hold you back.  We all have something (or maybe several somethings) that become a block in advancement.  Take stock of your behaviors and reactions, your thoughts and your drives.  Your first goal is to be aware of them and then in time to be in charge of them.  Conquer doubts, fear, anger, and pain.

Don't allow yourself excuses like "I'm too shy/busy/old/young" or "that's not really my thing" when what you really mean to say is "I don't know if I can handle it."  Go forward with confidence into what will serve you best.  The only way to move with confidence is to know and have mastery over yourself.

Constant and Concentrated Magic
Here's the crown jewel: cast spells.  Cast them all the time, for big problems and small.  Do it for things that haven't even really erupted into problems yet.  Cast for those you care about, cast for better things at work and home, cast because the spell sounds fun.

And I'm not talking about idle wish-making.  I'm not even talking about lighting a candle and meditating on your intention.  I mean the whole deal--plan, research, gather components, prepare space, cast with everything you've got in you, observe, and then record.  Do it big and do it often.  Magic is a muscle that grows the more you flex it.  And if your goal is greatness, you better flex!


In all of this, I hope that you have been able to consider not only how you plan to walk one or more of these paths but also how much you really want it, how much you're willing to invest.  That alone can decide your fate.  When wisdom is the goal, knowledge and experience are the key.  If you are ready to learn and willing to try, there are no heights beyond your grasp.

Images from:
pinterest.com
legionofpagans.com

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About Me

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My name is Quill and I've been practicing witchcraft for the past 17 years. 10 of those years I've been reading tarot and teaching.  I own a shop on Etsy called Quill's Occult Supply (check it out at QuillsOccultSupply.Etsy.com) full of handmade ritual and decorative items, spell components, and wild picked herbs.

I love to work with my hands.  Magic is a tool to shape our lives, and I'm using magic to shape tools to shape magic.  Cosmic! 

I use a lot of my favorite things in my shop: herbs, candles, wood, fabric, paint, clay.  And I get to carve, burn, grind, mold, think, dream ... I'm in the perfect business!

I've written 3 manuscripts for publication (2 non-fiction and 1 fiction) and am an avid NaNo-er!  I and my husband run a local coven called Orbis Prosapia, and our children are growing up surrounded by magic, mythology, fairy tales, Earth worship, art, open discussion, music, and humor. 

In addition to working on Ex Penna about my experiences as a professional witch, I also write for Scenes from the Circle about being a coven leader. 








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