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Internet Book of Shadows, (Various Authors), [1999], at



               In order to facilitate clearer communication in an area that very
          often  becomes   very  "fuzzy"  because  of   specialized  or  unclear
          definitions, let us now  define the term Spirituality and the sense of
          its use here.  The term "spirituality" (as used here)  is reserved for
          situations that  involve personal experiences of  unique dimensions of
          reality that give one's life and general existence a numinous quality.
          Jung  used the term "numinous" for the description of experiences that
          feel sacred, holy,  or out of the ordinary (in the  sense of a special
          feeling  of ultimate  meaning  or reality).   Therefore,  spirituality
          characterizes  individual relationship  to the  universe and  does not
          necessarily  require  a   formal  structure,  collective   ritual,  or
          mediation by a priest or other external authority figure.

                    Religionis a form of organized groupactivity that may or may
          not be  conducive  to  (or  even  supportive  of)  true  spirituality,
          depending  on the degree  to which it provides  a context for personal
          discovery and experience of the numinous dimensions of reality.  While
          at  the  root  of  most  great  religions  are  the  direct  visionary
          revelations of their  founders, prophets, seers,  and saints, in  many
          instances religions  have lost their  connection with this  vital core
          over time. 

                    Experiencesand mentalstatesinvolving personalencounters with
          the numinous dimensions  of consciousness are of two  different types.
          Included in the  first are  experiences of the  "immanent divine",  or
          perceptions of divine  intelligence expressing itself in  the world of
          everyday  reality.   All of  creation -  people, animals,  plants, and
          inanimate objects  - seems to be permeated  by the same cosmic essence
          and divine  light.    A  person  in  this  state  suddenly  sees  that
          everything  in the universe is  a manifestation and  expression of the
          same cosmic energy  and that separation  and boundaries are  illusory.
          In theology, this is called Monism.   This is also the core experience
          of the "all is illusion" claim in some belief systems.

               Experiences in the second category do not represent a different
          perception of  what is  already known  but reveal  a rich spectrum  of
          dimensions of reality that are ordinarily hidden from human  awareness
          and  are not available  in the everyday  consciousness.   These can be
          referred  to as experiences of  the "transcendent divine".   A typical
          example  would be  a vision  of God  as a  radiant source of  light of
          supernatural  beauty or a sense  of personal fusion  and identity with
          God perceived in this way.  Visions of various archetypal beings, such
          as  deities, demons, legendary heroes,  and spirit guides, also belong
          in  this category.  Other experiences do not involve merely individual
          suprahuman entities  but entire mythological realms,  such as heavens,
          hells,  and purgatories,  or various  sceneries and  landscapes unlike
          anything known on earth.  This seems to be the nature of many  reports
          of Native American "Shamanic Journeyings".


               What interests those studying practical magic are the practical
          consequences of personal encounters with spiritual realities.  For the
          people   who  have  had  them,  the  existence  of  the  immanent  and
          transcendent divine is  not a  matter of unfounded  belief but a  fact
          based on direct experience - much  as our attitude toward the material
          reality  of  our  everyday   life  is  based  on  fist   hand  sensory
          perceptions.   In contrast, a belief is an opinion about the nature of
          reality  based on  a specific  form of  indoctrination, or  reading of
          religious literature;   It lacks direct experiential  validation.  Yet
          once again we are brought up against the very
          difficult problems of integrating personal realities with consensual
          reality, or at least in integrating them closely enough  that they can
          be discussed in a meaningful manner.

                    Oneof thepractical consequencesof thesespiritual experiences
          is permanent physiological change in the one experiencing them.  There
          are usually  also a set of  perceptual changes, as well  as (often) an
          ability to experience more of these episodes and not always  with full
          control  over  when  they will  occur.    In  other words,  the  whole
          mind-body-spirit linkage takes  on new dimensions  and depth, and  can
          become very  difficult to understand and  manage!  To be  sure, no one
          has an experience of this  type and remains the same person  they were

               A common physiological change that results from these types of
          experiences is a change in the individuals general state of health. 
          Allergies and allergic type reactions are a typical area of change. 
          Someone  who had  few  allergies may  find  that they  suddenly  react
          strongly   to  a  number  of  substances  that  did  not  bother  them
          previously, and (more  often) the  reverse also happens.   There  have
          also been cases of  "spontaneous remission" of long-term ills  such as
          arthritis  and rheumatism as well as even  one case of cancer known to
          the author.  

                    Theperceptual changes that happencan also be very confusing.
          People seem to experience a whole new "tone" and new levels of meaning
          to their  everyday perceptions.   There  is often  an increase in  the
          sensitivity in their sight, hearing, smell, taste, and tactile senses,
          as  well  as  what one  person  described  as  a  new "depth"  to  the
          sensations, i.e. they  felt as if  all of their senses  previously had
          been muffled or distorted, and now those distortions were removed.

                    Anothercommon phenomenonthat resultsfrom directexperience of
          the  numinous  is that  further  experiences become  more  likely, and
          "shifts"  in consciousness become facilitated.  Some people who do not
          have a good  background in self analysis and  "taking charge" of their
          lives, find  that it is very  easy to lose control  and quickly become
          unable to deal with the every day world.  Even those who are  actively
          seeking and  working hard to achieve  personal growth and are  used to
          dealing  with their innermost  thoughts and psychological functionings
          find these experiences causing a lot of hard work!


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