As you probably know, the Order of the Mithril Star was a group that broke away from the Church of All Worlds. They wished to remain closer to the feeling of “Stranger in a Strange Land” as written by Robert Heinlein. Around 2000 they began to be drawn into the orbit of the Reformed Druids, which also shares waters amongst its members. Since then they have actively participated for about 3 years, adapting parts of our liturgy and sense of humor
When the author of this study course asked me to include these materials, I was at a loss of where to put them. The text was too large to go in Part Three, didn’t seem right in Part 4 or 7, and wasn’t quite a Part 9 text. As a result, it ended up here. This should be appropriate, especially if they see fit to continue to produce more materials, as I hope they will. As with all Orders and Groves, they speak only for themselves and not for other Reformed Druids.
I'd like to be able to say that the Mithril Star is an ancient tradition handed down from generation to generation and practiced by the Druids of ancient Gaul. I'd love to be able to say that, but it's not true. The Mithril Star is based upon some person's experience and training (actually a collaboration of seven people, including myself) and with little historical background to support it. We also drew from a lot of other traditions, and reinterpreted a lot of data to make it all work. Gerald Gardner basically did the same thing, incorporating some ceremonial magick techniques with what he could glean from different family trads in Britain, as did the originators of the other famous traditions of Wicca.
The fact of the matter is, no one really knows what the ancient Druids did because there is no written record. The medieval ceremonial magicians left written records in the form of grimoires and tomes such as the "Lesser Key of Solomon," but the traditions of folk magick practitioners such as Witches and shamans were oral. The "Book of Shadows" is a modern invention. The Alexandrian, Gardnerian, Fairy, Blue Star, etc., are all someone's "best guess" at what the ancients did. Likewise, the Druidic orders like Ar nDraiocht Fein, OBOD and Henge of Keltria are someone's ideas of what Druidism should be, or might have been. Anyone telling you otherwise is either deluded or a liar or possibly both. Or they may have their own agenda. There are a lot of control freaks out there in Paganland (just like religion in general.)
Our mother organization (or really, "dis-organization") is the Reformed Druids of North America. Back in 1963 at Carleton College in Northfield, MN USA,
some students objected to a mandatory attendance of religious services, so they protested by making a bizarre group and attending it regularly. The requirement was thus mocked and was withdrawn. Members found it groovy and continued to participate in the group in order to explore world faiths and personal paths in an open and honest way. As they graduated, they started groups in other states. By the 1980s there were about 10 groves scattered across the country. Then Isaac Bonewits left to form Ar nDraiocht Fein (ADF) Druidism, which later splintered, and soon Henge of Keltria Druidism appeared. Nowadays, there are lots of sophisticated groups in America that can trace their roots to RDNA, which still putters about.
In a sense, OMS is a "protest" group that became its own institution, like RDNA. As a member of the Church of All Worlds, I began meeting with Adam Rostoker (who was the official "Bard" of CAW) back in the early 1990s. We both had strong misgivings about CAW and about how its "nests" weren't anything like the nests in Michael's CAW. We were both seeking community in our chosen paths, and the structure of CAW "should" have been conducive to the formation of strong intentional communities. But it wasn't there, and though we both strived to find it there, it was like seeking the proverbial needle in a haystack. In a series of meetings over a six-month period, OMS (then known as the "Covenant of The Mithril Star") was implanted in the womb of Gaia. It was later, after Adam's tragic and untimely death, that Gaia gave birth to the ever changing, ever evolving (as any living thing should be) Mithril Star tradition.
I have a friend down in Southern California named Jim Fox-Davis. He is the High Priest of the Ancient Keltic Church and more or less a scholar of Celtic religion. His maxim is "We're doing religion the old fashioned way, we're making it up as we go!" That's our maxim as well. Any one of you can start your own tradition - right now in fact. Whether the magick will work or not is a variable we will be discussing later on. But all of you are just as qualified as anyone else to start something completely different. The key is belief (again, we'll be discussing that later on.) Now, there are lots of folks out there who will differ with me on this. They'll say that you need years of training under the tutelage of such-and-such master so-and-so who trained under who's-it's from the whatever-tradition. It's mostly poppycock.
Some time ago in an edition of the now departed publication, Green Egg, Oberon Zell editorialized against Pagan clergy who are ordained under the auspices of the "Universal Life Church." He used the same argument I just outlined, but Oberon (named after the character in Shakespeare's "Midsummer Nights Dream," and formerly known as "Otter," and before that "Tim") fails to mention that he is self-taught and self-ordained and therefore no more qualified than anyone else. If it makes you feel better, you might want a teacher who was taught by a more formal tradition, and initiated and ordained with ornate credentials and such. But the reality is that religion is the stuff of fantasy in the first place. There is very little difference between Mythology, Fiction (or Science Fiction) or Fantasy. Someone made it all up. Then someone else (or lots of someone else's) believed in it. And presto! You have a new religion; (more on that to come.)
Let the discussion begin....
Lesson 2: Ethics
(Part 1 of 2 parts)
By Ellis “Sybok” Arseneau /|\,
and Frater Iopanus
"And it harm none: do what thou will," goes the Wiccan ethic known as the "Rede," widely adapted by Pagans in general. It's a kind of cross between Aleister Crowley's "Law of Thelema" and the Hippocratic Oath. As Druids, we are healers as well as shamans so a link to the oath that doctors take seems very appropriate.
The Mithril Star position is that when at all possible we do whatever we wish so long as we hurt on one. The Rede is a voluntary ethic. There is no "Rede Police" to enforce compliance, nor do the Gods or Old Ones care. And although there is Karma to deal with it's still totally between you and yourself how you interpret and apply the Rede. We recognize that there are times when someone will be harmed in some way by our actions, that this is something that can't always be helped. So we've come up with some guidelines to help sort out this ethical dilemma:
1) If that action about to be taken will harm yourself or a member of your immediate family, don't do it. Find another way to accomplish the action without harm.
2) If the action about to be taken may harm someone outside of your family unit, decide how important the action is to your well-being. If you can live without it, then don't do it. If you can't, then you must.
3) The action about to be taken should never harm the environment in any way, nor may it violate a natural law. As Druids we are guardians of the Earth; environmentalists by default.
How do you interpret that though? That's where a lot of controversy and fighting comes in. An examination of the history of the Rede will shed some light on all this.
The Rede's history is somewhat fuzzy. Aleister Crowley's Law of Thelema states: "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law." His buddy, Gerald Gardner, while reinventing Witchcraft, wanted to tone down Crowley's maxim, and at the same time put a positive spin on Wicca (there are only GOOD Witches, you know.) He thus came up with "An' it harm none." Later, Doreen Valiente is said to have given it some teeth by inventing the Threefold Law. Inventing? Weren't these ideas always part of Goddess/Earth worshiping religions? Didn't Gardner and Valiente just codify a universal principal? Weren't these traditions channeled to our ancestors by the Gods? Perhaps not.
Consider the ancient Celts. Here is a culture whose idea of tasteful decorating included displaying their enemies' heads on pikes. And let's not forget the infamous 'wicker man' tradition. The Saxons are widely acknowledged to have raped, pillaged and plundered their way into British society. Not exactly "harm none" ethics at work here. Yet these two cultures are the main "historical" context for modern, or "neo" Paganism.
As we have said, the Rede encapsulates a good idea. But how does it bear up under scrutiny? Crowley was no one's idea of a warm and fuzzy guy, but he does back up his "Do what thou wilt..." with its companion expression, "Love is the Law. Love under will." In this system there is no assurance that harm will not be done, but at least the magician is operating from a foundation of love.
With or without conscious use of Magickal principles there always exists a distinct possibility that our actions may harm others. Our modern lifestyles impact ourselves and the environment in many subtle ways. Even a person living in a cabin with no utilities, growing her own vegan food, and using only a bicycle for transportation might often unwittingly violate the Rede.
The Rede, as interpreted by most traditions, is a blanket solution to an extremely complex ethical dilemma, which varies enormously from moment to moment for each thinking individual. A sincere attempt to live by a strict interpretation of the Rede would immobilize even the most powerful magick.
This is not to imply that we should go on a free-for-all of revenge against our enemies. On the contrary, if love is our touchstone in every moment, ethical questions will resolve themselves.
Some say that all 'true' Pagans follow the Rede absolutely. Poppycock! Every religion was made up by somebody (usually somebody with an agenda.) The discerning student is well advised to remember that being ordained in one tradition or another does not necessarily impart spiritual superiority or wisdom. The traditional interpretation of the Rede becomes a convenient rationale for non-action used by those who fear their own divinity and the power therein.
What about the "Three Fold Law"?
Among most Wiccans and many Pagans, the three-fold-law goes hand in hand with the "Wiccan Rede" as the basis for ethics in the magickal community. The law as stated is simple: whatever you put out comes back to you three fold. But what is the basis for the three fold law? Where did it come from? How does it operate? Is it live or is it Memorex?
You already know how we feel about the Rede: a nice sentiment usually over-interpreted to the point where magick is no longer an option. The three-fold-law gives the Rede some clout. It's no longer just a matter of being a nice guy and harming none. No, someone created a "law" that exacts an automatic penalty for breaking the Rede. Whatever you do, good or bad, will come back on you three fold, or three times. An example would be if you cause Jim Smith to lose his job, then you will lose your job and the next two as well. On the positive, if you give Jim a gift of $100, the cosmos will give you back $300. However, it rarely works that way, and apologists for the law of three will say that somehow material gain is exempted, or that your return on the gift to Jim may come in a form other than money. As you can see, this so called "law" is already rife with loopholes. I wonder if it has anything to do with one's status in the Pagan/Wiccan community?
I know of High Priest/esses who have worked magick to bring down the law of three on someone they feel has violated the Rede in some way. This proves that it's not really a law, since a law (like gravity) would operate without magickal invocation. It also suggests that the operator is immune, since drawing down a "three-fold" whatever on another would seem to trigger yet another "three-fold" event upon the operator, since this operation of "artificial karma" violates the very "an it harm none" ethic that is held so dear. But it doesn't seem to work that way.
The basis of the three-fold law seems to be karma. Karma is the spiritual equivalent of TANSTAAFL*. Like actions receive like rewards. But the actual doctrine is deeper than that. Karma originates in the ancient Hindu religion. It basically says that in this life you are paying for, or being rewarded for the mistakes or good deeds you did in your previous life, and that you are also learning how to live more perfectly with each new life (the doctrine of karma being intimately linked with Hindu reincarnation/transmigration of souls.) Each life therefore is a cycle, and you ascend or descend upon the ladder of enlightenment in each life, until you reach a state where you no longer need to reincarnate. In practice, karma is a really handy way for the high Brahman caste to justify the state of the lowly Untouchable caste in India's caste system. This is just another religious tool the rich and powerful use to keep the masses in line. Western occultists borrowed Karma from Hinduism and reinterpreted it for their own purposes. This happened during the occult awakening in the early years of this century. Aleister Crowley, H. Spencer Lewis, and others are credited with the importation of Karma and Reincarnation from Hinduism into the modern western magickal thought. Both ideas proved popular, and were incorporated into a number of magickal systems, including Rosicrucianism and Wicca. To be sure, the evidence suggests that the ancient Celts believed in a form of Karma as did the ancient Egyptians. It was Doreen Valiente who was credited for the Wiccan version of Karma, the three-fold law.
Generally, the westernized version of karma is less nasty than its Hindu forebear. It takes the form of the Christian idea of "do unto others ..." or the American folklore idea of "what goes around comes around," or giving "tit for tat" ("What is 'tat'? And how do I trade it for the other thing?" -- George Carlin.) Karma therefore is something we can definitely count on as being a force to consider when contemplating action. But Doreen felt that Karma didn't offer enough clout as it stood, so she reinterpreted it as the three-fold-law, making it thrice as effective. Thus this so called "law" becomes an effective tool to keep the "little people" of Paganism in line with what the "Lords and Ladies" want. Yet another example of religion being used to control people. Ironic, since this is the reason many of us left the religions we were raised in.
The "Law of Three" works the way all magick works: it runs on belief. In other words, if you believe it works, if you do not it doesn't (we'll be discussing this principle later on in the lessons.) It may be that it works on the principal of mass belief; i.e., if enough people believe in something it becomes a law (or in the case of an entity a God,) and therefore may work on people who do not believe in or even know about it. In the later case what we have is a curse, not a law, since it would bring down misfortune on any hapless person who came into contact with it (rather like a landmine a child stumbles upon.)
My solution to the tyranny of the law of three is two fold: 1) stop believing in it. And believe that your active non-belief is stronger than the corporate belief of the community at large. 2) Stop teaching it.
So what about Karma by itself?
How does it affect me when I do magick?
First of all, magick is a gift from the universe to us. It is a gift in the same way that a cougar's hearing and speed are gifts. Gifts such as this are survival oriented; they are given to enable the recipient to have an advantage over others. Therefore, to NOT use it, for whatever reason, is the say to the universe, "we don't need this - take it away." NOT using magick may have the same karmic consequences as using it. Not taking action can be just as harmful as taking action, and I would suggest, an even higher karmic price may be exacted on you if you can use magick in a situation and choose not to. Magick is a gift given to you to use. Use it or lose it.
Lastly, because of our unique place in the universe, our gift of magick, and our acknowledgment of our own inner deity (as we'll discuss in lesson 4.) We are the agents of Karma. Our deeds and non-deeds do have an effect on others and on our selves. It is only through grokking ourselves in fullness that we can act rightly when the time of cusp comes. And this, too, is our karmic responsibility.
[Acronym, from Robert Heinlein's classic SF novel "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.” Meaning; "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch."]
Ethics of the Druids
(Part 2 of 2 Parts)
By Ellis “Sybok” Arseneau /|\,
AD - Cylch Cerddwyr Rhwng Y Bydoedd Grove,
If the Rede and the Three Fold law are mainly Wiccan, then how do Druids approach this problem of ethics? Of the few things written down by the ancient Bards, the most famous and oft quoted are the
Triads. There are Irish Triads, Scottish Triads and Welsh Triads. Most of these are concerned with history. The Triads were a method used by the Bards to remember things by associating them in groups of threes. A large body of the Triads concerns ethics. Following are some examples we found were the most pertinent:
Three rejoicings that are worse than sorrow: the joy of a man who has defrauded another, the joy of a man who has perjured himself, the joy of a man who has committed patricide
Three things which justice demands: judgment, measure, conscience.
Three things which judgment demands: wisdom, penetration, knowledge.
Three things for which a friend is hated: trespassing,* keeping aloof,** fecklessness.
Three rude ones of the world: a youngster mocking an old man, a healthy person mocking an invalid, a wise man mocking a fool.
Three ungentlemanly things: interrupting stories, a mischievous game, jesting so as to raise a blush.
Three deaths that are better than life: the death of a salmon, the death of a fat pig, the death of a robber.*
Three laughing-stocks of the world: an angry man, a jealous man, a niggard.
Three ruins of a tribe: a lying chief, a false judge, a lustful* priest.
Three preparations of a good man's house: ale, a bath, a large fire
Three preparations of a bad man's house: strife before you, complaining to you, his hound taking hold of you.*
Three props of obstinacy*: pledging oneself, contending, wrangling.
Three characteristics of obstinacy*: long visits, staring, constant questioning.
Three maidens that bring hatred upon misfortune: talking, laziness, insincerity.
Three maidens that bring love to good fortune: silence, diligence, sincerity.
Make up three triads of your own, and discuss them in class.
Lesson 3: Magickal Theory
By Frater Iopanus
That is the key word to magick, prayer, religion, healing and metaphysics. What you believe and the degree to which you believe it determine the parameters of your universe. What you believe and the degree to which you believe it is also influenced by society at large, and what Jung called the "cosmic" or "universal" "consciousness." Some mystics also refer to this as the "Akashic Record."
In computer metaphor then, belief would be the "source code;" the 1's and 0's (the bits) of the universe. No matter what platform you are running, be it Mac, IBM, Unix, etc., the source code is still 1's and 0's. And so it is with metaphysics. No matter what religion or philosophy you subscribe to, the bottom line is still belief.
Since religion is all made up anyway it's possible to set up new parameters for belief and for magick anytime and in anyway you wish. We touched on this idea in Lesson One. The extent to which you believe a given idea, and the influence of "cosmic consciousness" and society are the only things that will limit you. It is possible to transcend even those things, but it takes years of mental discipline, and it's not something anyone can teach you. You are on your own here. You might decide to believe that you can fly (without an airplane.) You may truly and with all your heart believe that, but unless you can cancel out the influence of "cosmic consciousness," that first step off the top of Sears Tower is going to be the longest one of your life (and possibly your last.) On the other hand, you can ask yourself this question: "Am I going to hell?" Unless you are a Christian, or someone heavily influenced by the popular paradigm, your answer will be an assured no. However, if you have any doubt, you might actually end up there. I don't believe that would happen to too many Pagans I know of though.
Belief creates your universe. Christians create a universe where they go to heaven and everyone else goes to hell. Moslems go to Paradise, Buddhists reincarnate. Atheists just cease to exist. And those Heaven's Gate people are probably on a UFO somewhere (assuming their belief was strong enough.) Can anyone prove otherwise? I think not. These beliefs about afterlife are part of the "software" running on each person's religious "operating system." Some programs will run on more than one operating system but most will not. For example, there are some Unix commands that will work under DOS. In general though, it's best not to try to mix things. So it is in religion. The idea of Karma will not run under Christianity. Generally, eastern ideas do not run well under western paradigms. I think that possibly this is the reason why so much is screwed up in the world today. The dominant religion in the western world is Christianity; an essentially eastern paradigm. Western folks would do well to start with the Gods of ancient Europe and leave the Eastern and Middle-Eastern deities alone at the beginning. Later on you can add other pantheons to your mix, depending upon your personal taste. After all, some Celtic and Norse deities evolved from Eastern and Middle Eastern pantheons.
In looking at the different religious belief systems, and the different Pagan traditions, you can see common denominators among them. The kind of magickal practice one uses in Gardnerian Wicca can be used in Alexandrian, but only some of it in Druidism. So too do all of the Pagan traditions have commonalties. Yet, there are some things that work in one and not others. For instance, some traditions permit mixing pantheons (for instance, Egyptian and Celtic) others do not. Some teach you can influence events or people from long distances, others that you cannot. It is all a matter of belief, and belief determines what will work and what will not, just like the operating system you are using determines which software will work on your computer.
Ideas that you think are universal are not necessarily. You may say "Oh no! The Law of Three is universal," and indeed, it operates in your life. But that is only because you believe in it. Stop believing in the Law of Three and it will no longer affect you. If you are a Druid this is easy – none of the Druids I have ever known have believed in the law of three or the rede. Period.
Now to "stop believing" in something is a lot like trying to stop smoking. It's best if you never began in the first place. Something you are convinced you no longer believe in can affect you, simply because you believed for so long that there is some residual "belief" left in you. It may be impossible for you to get rid of that. You may have to do a complete banishing ritual over and over again. It's totally dependant upon your will. Beliefs that are truly ingrained in us from the Cosmic Consciousness can only be removed by years of discipline. Since most of us have jobs, and some of us have families, it is not likely that many of us will be flying without an airplane really soon.
What do you believe? How does it affect your life? How would your life change if you dropped a belief? Can you?
The Nature of Deity
By Ellis “Sybok” Arseneau /|\, and Frater Iopanus
Thou art God/dess.
Keep that statement in mind.
Religion is a method those of us on this plain use to relate to the deities. It's like software for cosmic relationships, and there are many different versions (or religions) for relating with different pantheons.
According to the Mithril Star, there are three classes of deity: The Archetypes, The Old Ones, and Us.
The Archetypes comprise all of the famous Gods and Goddesses of old. They are the heroes and heroines of myth and legend, who represent human attributes, desires and ideals. You know many of them from school: Zeus, Isis, Thor, Yahweh, Kwan Yin etc. Newer deities from modern literature have joined them as well: Celeborn, Galadriel, Elrond, Gandalf, and others from the Tolkein books are called upon by different groves from time to time, and I've even heard of folks who invoke Klingon deities. For the most part, the archetypes are made up out of whole cloth. They are entirely fictional beings; inventions of the human psyche. They can have great power however, depending upon the number and intensity of belief of the people who believe in them. Belief in this case energizes these beings and makes them real and powerful. A really good example is Asphalta, the parking place Goddess. Someone somewhere just made her up. A lot of people started praying to her, and it works. This made up Goddess will reserve you a parking place. It even works for me, and I know what she is! It can work for any deity. Try it -- make up a deity and start praying to her or him. Tell others about it. Pretty soon you'll have a cult following. This is guaranteed.
The second class of deities, The Old Ones, consists of entities that have actually lived among humans. One thing I like about the Celtic pantheon is that for the most part, it is composed of this class. The ancient Celts recognized the principle of "Thou art God/dess,” and as heroes and leaders of the Celts passed on to the Summer Lands, they took on the title of God or Goddess. Lugh and Cernunnos are noted among these. Your own relatives; grandfathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, who have passed away, belong to this class. When you pass away, you will become a part of this group. These are the folks who are recognized at Samhain, channeled via Ouija boards or via scrying.
The 3rd and highest class of deity is YOU. Thou art God/dess. You have the responsibility and you have the power. This is why it is solely in your discretion whether you'll cause harm or not. It's your life, your universe, your creation. You can't run from this responsibility. You can live in denial (most of the planet does,) but look around: the rape, pillage and plunder of this planets ecosystem is the result of subservience to other deities. We are the caretakers of the universe. It is we who are ultimately responsible for the way resources are used or abused. But we are basically good. Humankind is basically good. People who learn and accept their inherent divinity will not do harm. They will do good. It is only those who have been taught from day one that they are bad, that they need a big God standing over them with a club, who do harm, because they know no better path.
As awakening Gods then, we may need some guidelines. I suggest the following, written by Oberon Zell, former Primate and founder of the Church of Al Worlds, which we consider to be our ‘sister’ organization:
“No matter how we formulate our philosophy, the true test of our strength lies in our behavior; our ability to embody the principles we hold dear, and apply them in our daily lives to the building of relationships and community, the integrity of our actions, and the strength of character that inspires others to grow and transform the world around them. To these ends we advocate the following principles of behavior:
1. Be Excellent to Each Other! Thou art God/dess. To truly honor the Divinity within each other is to treat each other with respect, kindness, courtesy, and conscious consideration. This involves honest and responsible communication, including the avoidance of gossip and rumor-mongering, and the willingness to reach for understanding rather than judgment. Learn how to communicate in a positive, life-affirming way. We prefer to avoid us/them and either/or thinking, and to instead take an inclusive systems approach that sees the Divinity in all living things. To this end we also deplore coercive behavior that does not respect the free will of others. We prefer to lead, not by guilt or coercion, but by inspiration and example; not only to be excellent to each other, but to strive for excellence in all our endeavors, no matter how seemingly insignificant. Tribal values we hold include Loyalty, Generosity, Fairness and Hospitality.
As Gods, we can no longer cling to outmoded, archaic identity labels. These would include racial labels (like black, white, yellow, red,) ethnic labels, (Asian, African, Chinese, American etc.,) and even political labels (conservative, liberal, socialist, libertarian etc..) These labels may be useful to explain where we came from, but as Gods, we have transcended all these. We are Gods – a separate and unique race, culture and politic.
2. Be Excellent to Yourself! Again: Thou art God/dess. Divinity resides within as well as without, so how you treat yourself is how you treat that Divinity. Self-abuse, whether through irresponsible use of substances, overwork, self-denial, self-deception, or simply running those tapes that undermine self-esteem, are all insults to the Divinity within. Treat yourself kindly, with compassion rather than judgment, and it will be easier to treat others that way. Take care of your body, home and possessions, as a piece of Gaia that has been entrusted to you. Be a conscious guardian to the Temple and the God/dess within.
3. Honor Diversity! In Nature a diverse ecosystem has more stability. There are many styles of living and ways of living, each of which has something to offer to the overall puzzle of life. Be open-minded and receptive to new ideas because this usually manifests in growth of the spirit and the mind. Learn about differences rather than judge them. Be willing to explore others creative abilities to manifest a sense of well-being and confidence in their own Divinity. Sexism, racism, or rude remarks directed towards others sexual preferences; body type or personal habits (insofar as they do not harm others) have no place in this community. All life is sacred.
Once again, we can honor our BACKGROUNDS, but who we once were is not who we are now.
4. Take Personal Responsibility! ("With great power comes great responsibility!") The necessary counterpart to individual freedom is the willingness to be personally responsible for all of our actions, and for our effects upon the planet. Only through the practice of personal responsibility can we become responsible collectively and live a life of freedom and maturity. We are not a religion of gurus, Mommies or Daddies who can tell you what to do. As a religion that respects equality, we must take equal responsibility for making things happen, preventing harm, or cleaning up mistakes. To this end we also advocate one of the principles taught in kindergarten: Clean up your mess!
5. Walk Your Talk! (and, talk your walk!) Talk is cheap. It is fine and well to proclaim to be a feminist or environmentalist, to preach heady Pagan gospel, or to play holier than thou. It is only in practice that words become Truth, and change becomes manifest. But do not be afraid to fail, for in order to grow, our reach must exceed our grasp, and it is through failing that we learn.”
Yet another way of saying all this, briefly and succinctly, is:
"'Thou art God/dess.' It's not a message of cheer and hope. It's a defiance—and an unafraid unabashed assumption of personal responsibility." --Mike to Jubal, SIASL by Robert A. Heinlein
By Ellis “Sybok” Arseneau /|\, AD –
Cylch Cerddwyr Rhwng Y Bydoedd Grove,
We don’t need tools per se, in order to do magick. For some of us, our best tool is our mind. However, we try to have fun in OMS, and tools are fun to own and use. They also make public and group rituals much more impressive.
The tools used in western magick are for the most part very old. They are depicted on the Tarot deck, and predate all of the modern magickal traditions by hundreds of years.
I have found that you acquire tools over a period of time. They "call to you," or draw you to them as you feel the need. My own gwialen is a good example. My partner and I were traveling in Northern California and visiting a redwood grove along the famous "Avenue of The Giants." It was about dusk when we were there, and I was walking the length of the fallen "Garberville Giant" (listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's tallest tree.) I felt drawn to the top of the tree, and near the top on the ground I spotted my gwialen. Or rather, it appeared at my feet. It was a branch from the giant itself. I picked it up and placed one end in the crook of my arm. The other end was at the tip of my middle finger (the traditional length of a gwialen.) Redwood groves are very magickal places inhabited by all kinds of fairy folk, so I can't say that I was at all surprised to be given this gift of the little people.
Tools can also be acquired as gifts, or you can buy or make your own. Let your intuition be your guide. You will find that tools will come to you as needed and sometimes in ways you do not expect.
Once acquired, a tool needs to be prepared for use. On the New moon, at midnight, cast a circle. Light your favorite incense and have a vessel of salt water and your favorite essential oil (if it happens to be something you wear, so much the better.) Invoke your favorite Old Ones (as witnesses.)
Pass the tool through the smoke of the incense, saying:
"I purge this (name tool) by smoke and fire to bring to me my heart's desires." (Do this three times)
Sprinkle the tool with salt water, saying:
"I cleanse this (name tool) by water and earth to help me bring my desires to birth." (Do this three times)
Anoint the tool with the essential oil saying:
"I anoint this (name tool) to be my own, to help me bring my desires home." (Do this three times)
Sleep with the tool from the New moon until the Full Moon.
The following is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list. Many Druids come up with their own tools that no one has ever heard of. We are an inventive folk, if nothing else. The list following is meant to be suggestive, not written in stone. YMMV. Once again, tools are not 100% necessary, but they are fun to own.