otherworldly

October 27, 2019

Religion by definition has a mysticism to it. No matter what creed or denomination or belief system, it all has to do with the human and supernatural exchange. There’s something otherworldly about it, as with witchcraft, so the two are necessarily linked in my mind. I think people balk at the idea that a belief system like Christianity has anything to do with mysticism or magic, but in my mind it absolutely does. Witchcraft has historically been viewed as the wrong side of the coin, something sinister and dark, but the two work in tandem, and that’s always intrigued me.

Tamara Jobe
Interview with H/M

outside our heads

September 10, 2019

We create the world that we perceive, not because there is no reality outside our heads, but because we select and edit the reality we see to conform to our beliefs about what sort of world we live in. The man who believes that the resources of the world are infinite, for example, or that if something is good for you then the more of it the better, will not be able to see his errors, because he will not look for evidence of them. For a man to change the basic beliefs that determine his perception – his epistemological premises – he must first become aware that reality is not necessarily as he believes it to be. Sometimes the dissonance between reality and false beliefs reaches a point when it becomes impossible to avoid the awareness that the world no longer makes sense. Only then is it possible for the mind to consider radically different ideas and perceptions.

Gregory Bateson
Ecology of Mind

consider a book

August 20, 2019

Books are not made to be believed, but to be subjected to inquiry. When we consider a book, we mustn’t ask ourselves what it says but what it means…

Umberto Eco
The Name of the Rose

That’s a journalistic trick which you can also apply to literature. For example, if you say that there are elephants flying in the sky, people are not going to believe you. But if you say that there are four hundred and twenty-five elephants flying in the sky,  people will probably believe you. One Hundred Years of Solitude is full of that sort of thing.  That’s exactly the technique my grandmother used. I remember particularly the story about the character who is surrounded by yellow butterflies. When I was very small there was an electrician who came to the house. I became very curious because he carried a belt with which he used to suspend himself from the electrical posts. My grandmother used to say that every time this man came around, he would leave the house full of butterflies. But when I was writing this, I discovered that if I didn’t say the butterflies were yellow, people would not believe it. When I was writing the episode of Remedios the Beauty going to heaven,  it took me a long time to make it credible. One day I went out to the garden and saw a woman who used to come to the house to do the wash and she was putting out the sheets to dry and there was a lot of wind. She was arguing with the wind not to blow the sheets away. I discovered that if I used the sheets for Remedios the Beauty, she would ascend. That’s how I did it, to make it credible. The problem for every writer is credibility. Anybody can write anything so long as it’s believed.

Gabriel García Márquez
Interviewed by Peter H. Stone
Paris Review Winter 1981

I want a poetry of knowledge and of thought, not of opinion – and not of belief, which is merely dead thought. Poetry is the musical density of being,  but sometimes it is silent, and sometimes that silence is musically still.

Robert Bringhurst
Pieces of Map, Pieces of Music

trump parts the red sea

Who says what is news and what is not? Who controls the news? Why is a story true if it’s printed, but only a rumour if it’s spread verbally in the air? Why do people want to read about things they already know, but not about things that are new and vital and important? Why do people want to look at pictures of malformed vegetables? Why do people want to read a story if it’s got their name in it? At what point does a reporter, or an editor, get personally involved in a story? What is the difference between reporting and recording? Why do people want to read the stories made up in a cellar by a salesman rather than things that really happened? Why and how can a lie run faster around the world before truth can get its boots on? Why are many of the words used in newspaper stories never used in real speech in real life?

Kate Macdonald
Newspapers, lies, magic and responsibility: Terry Pratchett and The Truth

spell book

I believe in a metaphysical realm. I prefer the word metaphysical to supernatural because I do not see it as somehow “super”, that is above nature, but rather working “meta” alongside the physical world. In my view it is a living reality, and therefore just as likely to emerge from a computer as from an ancient grimoire. Modern technology moreover is constantly trespassing on the ancient world of magic. A few hundred years ago something like a television would have been seen as a “magical” and deeply sinister object. Equally Dr Dee’s “scrying stone” might be looked on by us as a kind of primitive television. All technology, moreover, is a two edged sword.

Reggie Oliver
Interview in Bibliophage 3rd July 2015

belief is the key…

June 19, 2015

witchy group1

One of the most difficult ‘suspensions’ for fledgling magicians is overcoming the nagging doubt that “all this stuff doesn’t work”. Despite hours of talk and reading vast tomes by Crowley and his cohorts, that nagging disbelief can still be heard, and can only be really dispelled by experience – one act that shows you that MAGICK WORKS is worth a thousand arguments.

So my conclusion is that intensity of belief is the key which allows magical systems to work, whether they be related to historical traditions (which are, let’s face it, very often rewritten anyway), esoteric traditions (which have evolved down the centuries as well) or based on fiction or TV. It’s your ability to be emotively moved or use them as vehicles for the expression of your will that counts. If it works for you – do it.

Phil Hine
Oven-Ready Chaos

splash

I don’t know that I believe in the existence of God in the Catholic sense. But my favourite book is the Divine Comedy. And at the end of the Divine Comedy, Dante pierces the skin of the universe and comes face-to-face with the love that moves the sun and the other stars.

I believe that there is a love that moves the sun and the other stars. I believe in Dante’s vision.

And so, in some sense, perhaps I could be said to believe in God. And I think part of the problem with the concept of, “Are you an atheist or not?” is that our conception of what divinity means has become so trivialized and banal that I think it’s almost impossible to answer the question without dogma. And … I’m very, very saddened by the fact that militant atheism has become so to the fore of our society – I think it’s destructive and unhelpful, and I don’t think it does science any service.

[…]

One way I think we can understand the God question in relation to science is this: that prior to the coming into being of modern science, [in] the Christian conception of God, God had two functions – God was the creator of the universe, but he was first and foremost the redeemer of mankind. And with the coming into being of modern science, God’s position as redeemer got shoved into the background, and all of the questions and the public discussion became about God the creator. And that was why Darwinism was so critical – because [Darwin] appeared to challenge the idea of God as the creator of man. And we, I think, [in] the modern West focus so much on the debate about the creative function of God that, outside of theological circles, we don’t seem to be able to discuss, as it were, the concept of redemption… And I think we need to be able to discuss that… We need to start thinking about that.

Margaret Wertheim
“On Being” Conversation with Krista Tippett.

What I believe….

May 9, 2015

darkwood

“This is what I believe: That I am I. That my soul is a dark forest. That my known self will never be more than a little clearing in the forest. That gods, strange gods, come forth from the forest into the clearing of my known self, and then go back. That I must have the courage to let them come and go. That I will never let mankind put anything over me, but that I will try always to recognize and submit to the gods in me and the gods in other men and women. There is my creed.”

D. H. Lawrence
Studies in classical American Literature.