Today is my 34th birthday. Anyone close to me knows that I am really into celebrating my birthday. I can take a day to celebrate another year of exploration of life and the world I live in. It can also be a great time for reflection.
In my reflection, I’ve been going back to my childhood and the form that spirituality took then. I was raised by fiercely religious folks whose belief system was still rocked by the 80s satanist scare. Magic and other forms of spirituality were sure paths to hell.
My childhood was my first magical training, though. My mother and grandmother would probably be horrified to hear that, but it’s very true. I learned a way to interface with Divinity in those years. I learned how to feel energy. I felt the difference between praise songs, how they felt different, how the people singing these songs with me affected the feel of praise, and how the right mix could lead to a mystical experience. I remember learning that many of the kids in the churches I would attend didn’t feel the same, weren’t looking for the same spiritual experience as I was. While I was looking for connection to the Divine and Divine Love, many of the other kids were there because they had to be. I felt the same for many of the parents. It was a social thing that was expected of them.
To be fair, hypocrisy is a human thing that is not just the domain of any one religion. I saw it in the one I was raised in, though, and that was part of what drove me away. From what I saw when I was young, it seemed that other traditions had more developed ways to explore magic. Now that I am older and have waded through a bit of magic theory and traditions, I’ve learned that I was very, very wrong.
You’d might be surprised to find that most paths of power on this continent have Christian roots. Renaissance magical study abounded in Christian symbolism, and the Church hasn’t always been so antagonistic to its practice. It is heavily present in a lot of folk magic like Root Work (Hoodoo) or Pennsylvania Dutch Pow-wow. Even the famous Golden Dawn magical system uses a mix of Christian and Ancient Egyptian symbolism in their work.
When I began to actively research magic outside of my religious experience, I was pretty sure that I had finished my path with Christianity. I thought that I would be jumping into a world of pre-Christian European deities, and that would be that. That turned out to be yet another thing that I would be wrong about.
I’ve mentioned the Sphere of Protection ritual that I practice in other blog entries. In case you’ve missed them, the Sphere of Protection ritual is a practice created by the Ancient Order of Druids in America, a Druid Revival Order of which I am a member. The purpose of this ritual is to align myself with the archetypal energies of the elements, as well as the planet and the cosmos, while creating balance within myself and banishing unbalanced energetics within and about me. Part of this ritual involves intoning divine names. The original example is written using the names of old Welsh deities. They’ve never called to me, so I tried out names from other Celtic deities. I have a connection to Mannanan Mac Llyr after all, so that pantheon group should make sense to use in my daily ritual. Something wasn’t right, though.
Fast forward to a session of shamanic journeying with a teacher of mine. We were meant to go and meet guides who represented the four directions. We started in the East, the direction traditionally attributed to the element of Air. My teacher started drumming, and I began to journey East in my mind’s eye. I was heading into this with an expectation. I work with Hawk, as I’ve mentioned before. He is often attributed to the East and to the element of Air, so I expected to bump into him. Instead, I found the archangel Raphael.
I didn’t expect my meditation to go this route. Raphael is the archangel traditionally attributed to Air and the East. I started to talk to him, but I told him that I thought I had made a mistake. A wrong turn in the corners of my subconscious, if you will. So, I left to find Hawk. As I did, Hawk laughed and told me to go back to Raphael and talk to him. Confused, I went back to Raphael, archangel of Air, archangel of healing. Apparently, I was not finished with Christianity... or, at least, its archetypes.
This was my first hint that I should be working with angelic energies (not my last). This is now a little bit of a weird concept to me, but I think it’s a way of the universe reconnecting me to a spiritual part of my youth. I now invoke the elements of the Sphere of Protection ritual with the names of the archangels traditionally attached to the directions: Raphael for the East, Michael for the South, Gabriel for the West, Uriel for the North, Sandalphon for Below, and Metatron for Above. It seems to work well for me, so I’m running with it. It gives me a good excuse to delve into old angel lore, at least. Who knows where it will take me from there?
Well, it’s late. May your explorations produce good information, and may your roots help you, not hinder you.
Until next time
The Green Mountain Mage