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

     To: All
     Re: Re: Tools Etc.      

     This was originally a post by Song Bird in the Herbalism echo.  I
     thought it was interesting enough to cross-post it to some of the
     magical echos.
     Note to all:  I appologize for the exceedingly lengthy nature of this
     post. My thought was that unless you, dear reader, have been following
     the posts on this topic, an edited response would be really obscure.
     And thank you, Song Bird, for this post to which I am responding.  Gave
     me pause for thought, for sure!  Bless you!

     SB>> SH> It is much easier for the student to concentrate on
     SB>> SH> their true value if they already know that they can work
     SB>> SH> the magic without the tools.
     SB>PW> I approve!  Bravo!  I tend to agree with the folks I know
     SB>PW> who insist that you're not much of a magician if you depend on
     SB>PW> something outside of yourself for your magic. Not that tools aren't
     SB>PW> useful! I tend to feel that learning energy movement through your
     SB>PW> mind and body is the foremost important thing in beginning.

     SB>Hallo.  I'm aware that this conversation is mostly directed towards
     SB>workings (correct me if I'm wrong), but if I may I'd like to insert a
     SB>into it.

     Wiccan, ceremonial magic and generic Neo-pagan, yes...

     SB>Being that there are many forms of magic, and some of them religious,
     SB>how do you respond when challenged that there are some forms of magic
     SB>that are integral to ritual.  Without the ritual and it's working
     SB>tools of power, the end result of the magic is less well worked.

     I suppose I would say that theoretically any magic that can be worked
     with ritual and/or tools can also be done without.  The caveat with this
     is that most of us (self included) don't have the skills, knowledge
     and/or power to do without the ritual/tools for certain complicated
     powerful working, IMHO.  Though perhaps if we worked without tools or
     ritual more often we'd get better at it... ;)  Seriously, though, I'm
     not advocating dropping the tools or ritual --- they're useful.  And I
     think it's better to do what's useful than to work until you're ninety
     before you finally get good at it!

     SB>Tools sometimes mean much more than just a focus, more than just a
     SB>way to get to where you are going. Ofttimes the tools themselves are
     SB>invested of the very life necessary to work the magic.

     You're speaking here of tools which carry energy or intelligence, I
     assume?  I was refering to tools which are made by the worker or by
     another worker for the purpose of someone else using them.  In my
     understanding tools are more useful if they carry energy or
     intelligence.  If they do, it's because the worker put it there.  I
     differentiate these from tools which acquire energy or intelligence
     through a process other than human intervention.


     SB>Shamanistic paths use tools in this way, as an example of one.  There
     >is soul invested in the very wood and in the nature of the stones, and
     >in the casting of the light, and in the movement of shadow, and in the
     >rippling shudder of sing-song rhythm.  Without these, with only a
     >wo/man alone and reft of surroundings, how much are we depriving
     >ourselves of?

     It sounds to me like in that circumstance we are depriving ourselves of
     the opportunity to work with another intelligence. When you use the word
     "soul" I presume you mean "entity" as well, to which I attribute some
     level of intelligence.

     SB>Any tradition that believes in the vesting of power down through the
     SB>centuries, in the passing of knowledge, known or unknown, unto it's
     SB>fits into your definition of the use of tools to enhance personal power.

     Not tools.  The vesting of power and passing of knowledge is through (as
     I comprehend it currently) the partnership of human and deity.  As I see
     it, the process of initiation (which many workers use, including all of
     the shamanistic paths that I know anything about) does several things:
     1) charters the individual with membership in the group with all the
     rights and responsibilities involved thereof.  2) Passes power or
     knowledge from the initiator to the initiate (sometimes the power or
     knowledge is seen as coming from elsewhere, such as a deity).  3)
     Formally introduces the initiate to the energy and/or deities of the
     tradition.  4) Creates a new personality for the initiate which
     sometimes supplants the old one.  I'm sure there are points I've missed
     and not all initiations do all these things.

     SB>What is this personal power you use?  Certainly that power is from
     SB>within, utilizing nothing from without, if you deny the use of tools.

     Not necessarily or entirely; I don't consider the ambient power of the
     universe a "tool" per se.  I differentiate between energy and a tool.

     SB>What, precisely, is a tool?

     Good question!  Does this fall into the same kind of discussion as "what
     is a witch", perhaps? :)   IMHO a tool must be an object, either
     physical or an astral representation of a physical object.  If it's not
     an object, if it's an entity, energy, intelligence, spirit, or whatever,
     it's not a tool, it's a partner (or servant in some circles).

     SB>What, precisely, is personal power?

     I think of personal power as the ability to exercise one's abilities.
     To whatever degree you have the energy, skill and knowledge to do so,
     you have personal power. This includes the energy, skill and knowledge
     to draw on power from outside your physical/astral/whatever being.

     SB>Are the gods a tool, or power, and can we cast without them?

     The gods I deal with are real entities with minds, thoughts, feelings,
     histories and agendas of their own.  They aren't psychological
     constructs, or sheer power, or tools.  If by "cast" you mean what I mean
     by "work", I say yes.


     SB>Is inherented knowledge passed through the centuries personal power, or
     SB>tool, and can we cast without it?

     I think of power as energy, but perhaps the power passed by initiation
     is both information and energy (thus including knowledge).  I conceive
     of the power of an inititiatory line (of whatever flavor) as a stream, a
     line of connection to which all members of that line, living and dead,
     connect.  We can draw on the knowledge and energy of the line, or we can
     work without it.  I don't think of it as exactly personal, as it belongs
     to everyone in the line.

     SB>Are the spirits that surrounds us a part of us and a power to be used,
     SB>some seperate entity and a tool to be cast aside?

     Spirits are entities, as near as I can figure, and that makes them
     neither powers nor tools.  There's a difference, for example, between
     drawing on the energy of the moon and making a connection with the
     spirit of the moon.

     SB>At times, the definitions of tools and power become too intermixed
     SB>to seperate.  Perhaps, we are nothing without our tools.  Perhaps,
     SB>there really are no tools.  Perhaps, we are the tool.  I challenge
     SB>that what we are comes from without and that there is nothing that
     SB>we do today or any other that will increase or refine our power one
     SB>wit *unless* we reach outwards.  What we become will pass to the
     SB>generations.  What has been is within and a tool as surely as any
     I have real difficulty accepting that all I am comes from without.
     That makes me too much defined by that which surrounds me, and binds me
     to be what the outside (parents, friends, society) says I am.  I don't
     believe I am a tool, even of my deities.  I do agree that without input
     from that which surrounds us, we don't have any opportunity for growth
     and development.  That is where connections are so important, and why it
     is so important for us to connect with that which nourishes us,
     rather than that which stunts or devours us.  What we pass to the
     generations depends on the quality of our lives and works.

     SB>And when an oak is dead or felled to earth
     SB>By one to whom a tree is but a tree,
     SB>Where is this treasury of loveliness?
     SB>I think it passes to another birth.
     SB>The rugged pine that overlooks the sea
     SB>May know the charm the desert palms confess.
     SB>--Grace Brown

     This was too gorgeous to omit. :) --- Phoenix


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