Book One: The Book of Spirit covers chapters 1-7 of Full Contact Magick: A Book of Shadows for the Wiccan Warrior, by Kerr Cuhulain. In this multi-part posting series, I’ll include notes and thoughts on the relevant chapters. (As Book One covers seven chapters, this post will be epically long…)
All good fortune is a gift of the gods, and you don’t win the favor of the ancient gods by being good, but by being bold. ~Anita Brookner~
Chapter 1: Divinity starts by saying that wiccans “believe the divine is imminent in everything around us. We do not separate the divine from the everyday world…. Everything around us is divine.” There is a reference to the physics of everything being made of energy, which connects us to everything else. So wiccans don’t worship in the traditional sense, because the divine also resides within us; “It is in divinity that we find ourselves. Praying is talking to yourself.” The prime example of this is found in the Charge of the Goddess (by Doreen Valiente), which is held as a reminder that everything (including ourselves) is divine.
To reestablish a connection with the natural world around you is to reconnect with divine energy.
The author goes on to state that modern wicca is ditheistic, which means that we recognize both male and female aspects of divinity. (“This reflects the two genders that we see…” Thoughts: What about those folks who don’t conform to the gender binary? Isn’t gender now accepted as a spectrum, and not two separate things?)
It is not a revealed religion, with prophets or holy books. The divine figures we work with are more fluid than those of traditional religions, and “choosing an aspect of deity that represents the magickal work you intend to carry out helps to energize the magick. … Use whatever system [of deities] seems most comfortable to you. These deities are images that speak to your subconscious and they will be most effective if they are familiar symbols.”
Chapter 2: The Wiccan Rede obviously opens with the rede itself:
An It Harm None, Do What Thou Wilt.
It is both plan of action and code of conduct. The first half “requires us to take responsibility for our actions rather than relinquishing them to someone or something else,” which is the key to the wiccan ethical system. We do this by treating everyone and everything as if they are divine (see also Cha. 1), and thus are less likely to harm what we respect.
The second half of the rede is also deceptively simple: Do what you will.
What is your will? Do you know what you want from life? Or are you trying to conform to someone else’s expectations? What direction are you going in your life? Do you have specific objectives and goals to achieve?
But one needs to remember that the two halves go together. “You cannot embrace freedom without any consideration for how your actions will affect others.” Follow your bliss, but take responsibility for your actions. “You cannot be a victim, the pawn of others’ schemes and the plaything of fate, and be a magician too.” ~Amber K.~
“You make up for the things that you can’t influence with the things that you can control…. If you aren’t what you want to be, it is up to you to do something about it…. A Warrior is a person who makes a fearless and objective inventory of his or her personal characteristics and then uses this information to take control of his or her life.”
First Warrior Precept:
At this point the author instructs the reader to make an objective (!) list of personal characteristics in their Book of Shadows. This becomes a tool kit for taking control of your life, as characteristic on the list will (in theory) be useful at some point. (I did this the first time I was reading this book, but I should probably go back and edit it, now that I know more about myself.)
Chapter 3: The Witch’s Pyramid begins a description of a five-sided model that helps explain the five magickal principles: To Know, To Keep Silent, To Dare, To Imagine, & To Will. The principle discussed in the book of Spirit is To Know, but this is not merely knowledge. This is knowing “on a deep psychological and spiritual level.”
Second Warrior Precept:
Nurture the ability to perceive the truth in all matters.
This perception should act as “a personal bullshit detector, seeing through denial and exercising discernment.” The only way to control something is to understand it; “From one thing, know ten thousand things.”
Third Warrior Precept:
You create your own reality.
This is the goal. Do what thou wilt. Be who you want to be. Follow your bliss. “Once you set yourself free, you can accomplish anything.”
Chapter 4: Honor, Karma, & The Law of Threefold Return begins with a discussion of how chivalry is actually a romantic legend, and even Bushido warriors didn’t always live up to their ideals. He defines right action as doing “what is right, just, and true,” and having an impartial sense of justice.
Fourth Warrior Precept:
Develop a sense of right action.
Respect is something that you earn, by giving it to others. The author lists a few ways to show respect:
- Keeping your word.
- Be generous as far as your resources allow.
- Don’t waste other people’s time (esp. by being late).
- “If you want the world to be a wonderful place, do wonderful things.”
The author describes how the Law of Threefold Return came into being. This “law” essentially states that whatever you put out into the world, will come back to you three times over; it started as a PR bid by Ray Buckland, who was using it to help people understand that we’re not destructive cult members.
… it would be more accurate to use the concept of karma than the three-fold law to describe what happens in the real world. What you do gets passed forward by others and will eventually make its way back to you.
“Wiccans are shapeshifters…. You shape your life and behavior to control life’s circumstances to your advantage…. If you want to master your situation, you need to master yourself first.” One does this by paying attention to details and planning for all possible contingencies.
The fact that Wiccans believe in reincarnation makes it very tempting to blame problems in this life on mistakes and circumstances from previous lives. “Study your present life to identify recurring problems. These are the things that you are working on in this life.” Past life regressions might be fun, but they won’t help solve any problems that are occurring in the present time.
Fifth Warrior Precept:
Do not be negligent, even in trifling matters.
The chapter ends with a brief discussion of magickal ethics. The main point is to try not to do magic for other people without their permission. This ties back in with personal responsibility, and how do we know what someone wants for their life if we don’t ask? This is especially true for love spells; “Don’t magick a person for something, magick the universe.”
Following are some brief notes on Chapter 5: Symbols of Spirit:
- Symbols are what make ritual and mythology so powerful. Images and symbols are the language of the subconscious.
- Keeping a journal of your dreams is a good way to start learning the symbols of your subconscious.
- The five points of the pentagram, starting at the top & moving clockwise, are Spirit, Water, Fire, Earth, & Air.
- Wiccans create their sacred space when & where they need it, by casting a circle to contain the energy they raise.
- Esbats are full moon rituals (13 per year), but different phases of the moon are appropriate for different purposes:
- New moon = beginnings, initiations, & divination
- Waxing moon = growth, healing, & increasing
- Full moon = coming to fruition, completion, & fulfillment
- Waning moon = cleansing, banishing, & completion
- Sabbats are rituals that correspond to solar energy. Lesser Sabbats (solstices & equinoxes) were important to farming peoples; Greater Sabbats (cross-quarter days) were important to herding peoples.
- Wiccans normally consider the day as beginning at sundown and ending at the following sundown. (Is this why I’m half-nocturnal?)
- The turning seasons of the year reflect the pattern of resolution-commitment-action-review that the Warrior uses to maximize effectiveness. (More details in later chapters.)
Chapter 6: Experiencing Energy begins the discussion of how to send out energy, because “a Warrior needs to become sensitive to the energy within and without. You must connect to the channels of energy around you and let it flow through you in order to do magick effectively…. The trick is to tap into the natural energy around you and use this instead of your personal reserves.”
The author encourages practicing techniques from disciplines like Tai Chi to get your energy (chi) flowing in your body. “Awareness of the energy flow during the magickal working gives you a much better indication of how effective your magick is at the time that you are practicing it.”
Sixth Warrior Precept:
Your body is your temple. Care for it!
Energy will flow best if your body is in good shape, and a person in good shape has better reserves of energy. Also, your body is a reflection of the divine to which we are all connected. The expression “Thou art God/Goddess” takes on new meaning if you don’t like what you see in the mirror.
The author recommends taking the time to do a daily devotion, to help focus your attention on the body that carries your divine spark. His example starts, “Blessed be my feet that are set upon Her path. Blessed be my knees, which hold me proud and strong….”
… an exercise program should be supported with a healthy diet. A high-fat diet consisting of processed food, or an excess of caffeine, tobacco, or alcohol will affect your energetic levels and thought processes.
The next segment describes some energy exercises, which I won’t describe in any detail as that would make this post even longer. The first is a standing posture he calls “Entering Tranquility,” such that all of the energy channels in your body are free. The next is “Forming a Ball,” which is guidance for making a ball of energy in your hands, followed by “Passing the Ball,” a group exercise wherein all members get practice forming, passing, and reabsorbing energy. The last is an advanced technique that combines the first two into “Holding the Ball,” which is remarkably like a tai chi meditation pose.
The author then describes chakras and how to energize them each in turn, and the subchakras (energy centers) located in the hands and fingertips, and their associated correspondences.
Chapter 7: Magickal Tools and Magickal Weapons begins with a discussion of why we need magickal weapons: “I will suggest to you that what we need to protect ourselves from is our own nature…. Weapons don’t commit violent acts. People do. This underscores the responsibility involved in the Warrior’s path. The Warrior’s path is a peaceful one because he wills it to be so.”
… if misused, these tools can cause a lot of pain and suffering. By naming them Weapons we remind ourselves that they should be respected and used properly, lest we do unintended harm.
Paired Greater & Lesser Magickal Weapons:
- Spirit & Mind
- Sword & Athame (dagger)
- Spear & Wand
- Cauldron & Chalice
- Shield & Pentacle
“Spirit is the source of the energy that the Warrior accesses in magickal work…. It is your mind that provides the intent [or purpose].”
Seventh Warrior Precept:
Minimal appearance, maximum content.
“In real life, the best moves are the most subtle ones. The best moves are quick, hard to see, and devastatingly effective.” You don’t actually need the tools of ritual to do the magick; all you really need to do is raise the energy and direct it. However, using the tools can help focus the energy; they help us feel magickal, and tell our subconscious that something special is happening.
SO. That was WAY longer than I was expecting. Look for a post with my responses coming soon!