Welcome to the Order of the Sacred Star! This Pagan/Wiccan group, based in Winnipeg, Canada, is committed to teaching the Craft to all those who wish to learn. Our goal is to provide a complete and fulfulling learning experience. Our public classes are offered through the Winnipeg Pagan Teaching Circle.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How Does Meditation Work?

Meditation is a powerful tool for spirituality and discipline, but how and why it works is sometimes a mystery to even its most advanced practitioners. To begin to understand how meditation works, it is important to first consider the belief that humans are not just physical beings, but spiritual beings as well.

The Spiritual Body as a Key to Meditation

The spiritual body, the part of the human body that cannot be seen with the naked eye, is connected to the physical body at certain vital centers. These centers are called chakras. There are seven major chakra centers, located from the groin up to the top of the head. During meditation, a powerful psychic force begins to flow along these chakras, as each is opened in succession.

The root chakra, located roughly at the groin (the exact position differs according to gender), is the first chakra to open. This is followed by the spleen, solar plexus, heart, throat, and third eye chakras. Finally, the crown chakra, located at the very top of the head, is opened. The exact method by which this occurs is beyond the scope of this article. It is enough to say that this flow of energy is what allows a connection to the divine, and the many benefits that meditation can afford.

The Conscious, Subconscious, and Superconscious Mind in Relation to Meditation

The mind can be divided into three sections, for the purpose of studying meditation: the conscious, the superconscious, and the subconscious. The conscious mind is the part of the mind concerned with the mundane. It is the part that is awake and alert to the physical well-being of the body.

The superconscious mind is also called the higher-self. This higher consciousness is concerned with the spiritual well-being of the soul, and also retains a connection to the divine. The superconscious mind and the conscious mind do not tend to interact, at least for most people. In order for these two disparate parts of the mind to connect, a bridge is needed.

This bridge is the subconscious mind. It is the largely passive part of the mind that is usually subordinate to the conscious mind. The subconscious mind rules the involuntary functions of the body and mind such as reflexes and instinct. It is also the part of the mind that bridges the gap between the conscious mind and the superconscious mind, and it can become truly active during meditation.

The Subconscious Mind During Meditation

During proper meditation, energy begins to flow in an upward direction, through the chakras, awakening the subconscious mind. This energy acts as a calming and relaxing force on the body and the mind. As the chakras continue to open, an awareness of life begins to flow continually. A new sense of energy and well-being is often the result.

The subconscious mind begins to clear, and negative or undesired patterns of thoughts and feelings can be put to rest. The superconscious and conscious minds become actively linked, and a connection with the divine is possible, though the power of the superconscious mind, and with the direct control of the conscious mind.

At the same time, the now-active subconscious mind allows the conscious mind to become calm and open. This allows the conscious mind to solve problems and discipline the body, and brings forth the other benefits of meditation. The conscious mind can also, in a sense, reprogram the subconscious mind, allowing it to become more than simply subordinate to the conscious mind. The subconscious mind can become a channel to the higher self, through the power of meditation.

The spiritual body can be brought to life through the power of meditation. And through the chakras, which connect the spiritual to the physical, the physical body can achieve a sense of calm, relaxed well-being.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What is Meditation?

Meditation comes out of Eastern cultures, at least in its present and most popular form. For many centuries, Eastern people have known of the advantages of meditation, when it is performed on a regular basis. Though the years, meditation has become a practice which can control the mind, gain knowledge, develop psychic abilities, banish sickness, and separate the mind from the body.

Meditation in Today’s World

Meditation, in one form or another, is present throughout much, if not all, of Western society. The modern world has embraced the idea of meditation, and its many benefits. Throughout the Western world, classes and groups are readily available in many different forms of meditation. Yoga, meditation classes, transcendental meditation, and even Silva Mind Control are growing in popularity.

Meditation is no longer confined to use by Pagans and occultists, but is now a part of everyday life for many people. Hospitals and some workplaces routinely offer meditation and yoga classes, as do most universities. A walk through a local park may turn up a group practicing meditation any day of the week. Even doctors will prescribe meditation as a method to calm the mind and quiet the body. Meditation is now available to the masses.

What is Meditation?

Despite its widespread popularity, there is still much confusion regarding meditation, both in its definition and practice. In its simplest form, meditation may be said to be the highest form of listening. Listening to the inner self. Listening to the creative force within. Perhaps even listening to the gods.

Meditation is incredibly versatile, with many different purposes. When done properly, meditation is the most effective method of individual growth, psychic advancement, and spiritual enlightenment. It can be a tool for personal advancement as well, and may be practiced alone or in groups.

The now-deceased psychic, Edgar Cayce, once defined meditation as: “…emptying self of all that hinders the creative forces rising along the natural channels of the physical man to be disseminated through those centers and source that create the activities of the physical, mental, and spiritual man …”

Edward Cayce may have used a lot of words, but essentially what he meant was this: meditation is a method by which the physical, mental, and spiritual selves can be improved. Meditation can do all this and much more.

Meditation, though once an abstract Eastern discipline, is now available to everyone. In today’s modern world, everyone has the ability to solve problems, overcome most illnesses, control the mind, and discipline the body through meditation.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Exploring Voodoo: Myths and Magick of Vodou

For many people, the word “voodoo” conjures up some rather odd images – curses involving bones and pins stuck in dolls; secret societies making sacrifices to their demonic gods; and evil priests raising zombies from the grave. In reality, none of these commonly misconceptions actually reflect true Vodou practice.

Myths in Vodou

Media has created a sensational but unrealistic view of the Vodoun religion. Although some of these are mildly accurate (sacrifice, animal bones and voodoo dolls, for example) they are but a small part of the religion that is practiced today.

Just as in Wicca and many other religions, the Vodoun make charms and create spells for money, health, and prosperity, among other things. Although many believe the Vodoun are strictly in it for self-gain, that’s not true. According to Vodou belief, magick shouldn’t be employed for selfish gain, especially if it would hurt someone else.

As in every religion, there are a few who use it for wrong or self-serving purposes. Although legitimate priests and priestesses are taught both the good and the bad, they take an oath upon initiation, vowing to avoid causing harm to others.

Magick in Vodou

Legitimate vodoun priests and priestesses can perform a wide range of services. This is generally done for a fee, as they must make a living as well.

These services would include:
  • divination;
  • healing;
  • mixing herbal powders, teas and other recipes;
  • constructing charms, ounga, or pakets Kongo;
  • consulting on your spiritual life;
  • giving luck baths;
  • administering the lave te’t ritual;
  • casting spells or making magickal potions; and
  • officiating over private ceremonies, such as marriage to the Lwa (spirits).
Black Magick in Vodou

Sometimes, those who use magick for the wrong reason are considered to be practicing ‘black magick.’ While this term isn’t really accurate, it is one with which most people are familiar, and so will be used here.

The Lwa most likely to assist in black magick are: Kalfou, Ezili Danto, Marinette, Bosou, Ti-jean-petio, Maman Brijit, Ge’de-Nibo, and Baron Krimine’l.

Once a priest/priestess begins to practice black magick, they are known as a bo’ko. A bo’ko has no temple or devotees and performs all of his/her rituals in secret. Bo’ko are said to serve the Lwa with both hands because they practice both white and black magick.

When a bo’ko buys the powers of one of the dark Lwa, he/she must pay a high price, usually life-long service to the Lwa. This pact between the Lwa and the bo’ko is called an angajan. An angajan is like a shortcut intended to quickly harness the powerful forces of the Lwa. Sadly, it's believed that a majority of the time, the bo’ko becomes the Lwa’s slave and has to be at the beck and call of the Lwa.

There are four types of black magick spells:
  • An air spell (kou le) is the weakest of the black magick spells, usually causing a mild illness or a little bad luck;
  • A powder spell (kou poud) is a powerful magickal powder that causes extreme illness or death;
  • A soul spell (kou nanm) enables the sorcerer to capture the soul of a person; the bo’ko can then use the soul for evil deeds while the soulless body slowly dies; and
  • Sending the dead (voye lamo) is the bo’ko most powerful spell; he/she sends dead spirits to inhabit the victim, causing the victim to go insane or die horribly.
Magick is an important component to Vodou practice, and should not be overlooked. Legitimate practitioners of this religion would never use their magick to cause harm to another, despite the rumors that the media often spreads to the contrary.