Date: Wed Jan 9 12:22:49 EST 1985
From: "New Age Moderator"
Subject: New Age Digest # 3
New Age Digest #3
Wed Jan 9 12:22:51 EST 1985
Goodies this time:
Administrivia: Posting Etiquette
Another Contributor Bio
Incense Help Request
Pagan Book List (from USENET's net.religion)
From: The Moderator
Date: Tue Jan 8 20:54:31 EST 1985
Subject: Administrivia: Posting Etiquette
When you send me messages for the list, please make sure of these two
things. First, messages should not extend past column 79; leave at least
one blank space before the end of the screen. Second, be sure that the
subject line of your mail is usable as a subject for the message in the
digest, or that your message starts with a line saying "Subject:
". I know that many participants are more familiar with USENET
than mailing lists, so I thought these suggestions would be helpful.
From: ihnp4!ihuxf!pjs1@seismo.ARPA (Pete Silverman)
Date: 7 Jan 85 13:31:51 CST (Mon)
Subject: Why would I subscribe to this mailing list
To sum it up in a few lines:
I believe that one cannot prove the truth of any religious or metaphysical
philosophy and that truth of such a belief is not important. What is
important is what effects acting as if such a belief were true would have on
me and on those whom I love. I expect that the coorespondents to this list
will either hold similar views about religion or will provide clear and
mind-broadening descriptions of their beliefs, experements and discoveries.
In several postings to net.religion ( about a year ago) I signed myself "A
Judeo-Budeo-Pagan". These three qualities describe both aspects of my past
and current practice, and three important questions that are asked by
First the questions: (Credit must be given here, these ideas were large part
put forth by Peter Gillis during a 16 hour drive with me from Chicago to
N.Y. city. In 16 hours we had a lot of time to refine them, this is short
1) What is the state of non being? What is the nature of the world when I am
no longer alive?
2) How should I live and behave in this world? What is ethical?
3) What is my relationship to that which is not me? How can I love?
Buddism, through its practices will provide an answer to the first question.
The Judeo-Christan beliefs provide what is to me an unsatisfactory even
horrible answer to this question (Doing the same thing forever in Hell or
Heaven, the ultimate torture). "Pagan" (quotes to indicate that the meaning
is somewhat open to me) practices and beliefs seem not appropriate to this
question at all.
Judaism (and Christianity) primarily try to answer though their practices
beliefs, the question of how to live as an individual. (I don't subscribe to
the specific answers they give, but do acknowledge that they ask this
question best.) The answer given is that one must love, but no useful
practice is given.
"Pagan", practices are to provide the answer to this last qustion. ( And
this is what I can talk least about, beacuse my experience is least here).
Now a bit of my history:
My upbringing is as a reform Jew, but my childhood questions (as I remember
them) were primarily about my self and how I worked --example: "If my brain
controls me, How can I make myself do anything?" -- God didn't interest
much. I have warm feeling about rituals from childhood but even then
felt that they were abitrary if important traditions.
After completion of college, I became seriously involved in Aikido,
and through it in Zazen in the style of a branch of Renzi Zen Buddism.
My (at this time unfortunately unsaited) love of rituals and desire to
lessen a feeling of distance between me and the "world of time and nature"
and to learn statagies of extasy, leave me with a facination with with
things "pagan" (I am using this word to cover the range of the occult,
witchcraft, shamanic practices, neopagan beliefs etc.) My main practice
here other then reading has been with simple methods of Shamanic trances
and Journeying, and personal celebrations and rituals.
AT&T Bell Labs at Indian Hill
Date: Tue, 8 Jan 85 13:03:45 PST
From: Ellen Perlman
Subject: Making Incense
i burn incense during my rituals and spells, usually the kind that needs
charcoal. i am interested in creating my own incenses. there are several
questions that i have.
as far as time is concerned, i have resources enough to determine the best
time of the moon, appropriate day and hour.
however, i wondered if anyony has made their own incense? if so:
what do you use as a base? and where do you get it? pure resins
are not a problem. i have sources for most. i would like
to create incense powders, which require some kind of base,
which is referred to in some books as "bamba wood." what is
this and where can i get it?
can i color my own? what should i use as a coloring agent?
i like to add herbs and spices, as well as scented oils, to my
incenses. are there any tricks i should be aware of in the
preparation of these - such as how finely should the
ingredients chopped , ground, or powdered; types of
oils to avoid or which are preferred (in some cases, pure
natural oils are prohibitively expensive
(such as real jasmine), but how safe are the synthetics?)
how long should the incense age before i use it?
i already have a number of books on the subject of herbs, incenses, oils, etc.
i want to know from real practical experience.
Subject: Other Spiritual Paths: BOOK LIST
Date: Mon, 22-Oct-84 12:25:25 EDT
[Reposted from USENET's net.religion by the moderator]
i'm glad to see some people expressing a healthy interest in
contemporary paganism, not necessarily interest in converting
(after all, one has to find the most suitable way for oneself),
but at least an interest in learing more. personally,
i think that the healthiest attitude is a desire to learn more,
not to sit complacently, thinking one has found the final answer.
here are several books i would recommend, of various flavors.
i recommend them because i feel they are well-written, interesting
to read, and useful. i do not necessarily agree 100% with everything
expressed therein. i'm not an occultist nor do i think that
all of humankind's great discoveries and creations were inspired
by little green men from Sirius.
1. `Drawing Down the Moon' by Margot Adler, Beacon, 1981 (paper).
an over-view of paganism in the US. interviews with originators
of various serious sects; good bibliography, although its list
of periodicals is out-of-date. a serious journalistic, book,
not sensationalistic. not flaky. (unless you assume that
beliefs alien to one's own are either fiction or superstition)
2. `The Spiral Dance' by Starhawk, Harper & Row, 1979 (paper).
a BEAUTIFUL book. useful to almost anyone because of its
deep spirituality. very well-written, well-organized,
concise, poetic, expressive. Clear descriptions of the reason
for the existance of contemporary Witchcraft, its meaning and
usefulness as a spiritual path; the tools of the Craft, their
meaning and use; ceremonies; solo and group work; symbolic
associations (color, direction, ritual objects, herbs, days,
planets, spiritual entities, etc.) THE NUMBER ONE BOOK about
the contemporary way of the Craft. Read this before you flame.
(BTW, why HAVE you been eating brimstone?)
3. `Mother Wit: A Feminist Guide to Psychic Development; Exercises for
Healing, Growth, and Spiritual Awareness' by Diane Mariechild,
The Crossing Press, 1981 (paper).
DON'T BE THROWN BY THE TITLE. a friend of mine (a MAN, NOT gay
or a witch) uses it for guided meditation/visualization.
the book is female-oriented but NOT exclusive of males. the
author has two sons and they are included in her spiritual
practice. the Craft is good for men, too. (`Spiral Dance'
explains clearly - relates to Jung's ideas, too.) covers topics
like meditation, healing, witchcraft, self-affirmation, dream
work, spirituality for children, etc... each chapter contains
meditations and guided visualizations on the topic being discussed.
gentle, loving, and lovely.
4. `Positive Magic: Occult Self-Help' by Marion Weinstein, Phoenix
Publishing Co., 1981.
this book is not really about occult matters, but about
alternative methods of self-help and personal problem solving.
the author covers topics such a magic, positive and negative
and ceremonial (she is opposed to so-called black magic);
various coersive religious cults and how to guard oneself against
them; witchcraft as a contemporary religion; using the Tarot,
astrology, I Ching for personal growth; self-affirmation tech-
niques, etc... extensive and reasonable.
5. `Real Magic' by P.E.I. (Isaac) Bonewits, Creative Arts Book Co.,
1971, revised 1979 (paper).
this is the guy who got a B.A. in Magic, from UC-Berkeley,
legitimately, back in the '70's. he's rather arrogant (this
is from personal experience, not mine, but a friend's) and
he believes in things that i don't, such as various psychic
phenomenon (i'm agnostic on psi-phenomenon). he's serious,
intelligent, obnoxious, and VERY FUNNY (huh? well, Magic
is a system of paradoxes that work together. read this book
and see how).
when i have more time, i may post quotes from some of the above books,
or others i have in my library (sure i'm demonic: i am a BOOK FIEND).
contacting Pagan groups is not always easy, because of persecution
on the part of believers in other traditional religions, fundamentalist
Christians in particular, and general lack of understanding on the part
of most people who unfortunately know little about the true beliefs of
less established religions. however, Pagan and Wiccan groups on the
East coast, the Mid-West, in the South are much more overt and aggressive
than they are here in Southern California. one way to find out what's
going on is to go to metaphysical book stores and those bizarre occult
shops which exist in most big cities, take classes, and watch for
flyers and announcements.
there are many sensationalistic books on related subjects (witchcraft,
the occult, ritual magic, satanism) and i have a few of them, too.
in many cases, the authors are believers in the subjects on which they
write, but, unfortunately, these books are not intelligently written or
well-organized. these play right into the hands of antagonistic non-
believers by enforcing old stereotypes, but they can be fun and funny
to read. sure, i get a little angry at them sometimes, but i can laugh
about them, too.
i would like to hear how people feel about these books, after reading them.
i also read on art history, yoga, tantrism, taoism, sufism, gnosticism,
as well as buddhism, and occasionally on Judaeism-Christianity-Islam,
tho' the last batch remain too paternalistic and patriarchial for me.
[I have to throw in my own two cents worth about 'Positive Magic: Occult
Self-Help'. I browsed through it in the book store, naturally looking to
see what it had to say about Thelema, my particular path. What it said was
"I don't really know very much about this, but you should avoid it like the
plague because it has a bad reputation." Needless to say, this did not
incline me favorably towards it, and I did not buy it. -- Tim]
Date: Tue Jan 8 21:50:02 EST 1985
Subject: Re: How have you learned to concentrate?
>Almost all "practices" require an ability to concentrate and a development
>of ones ability to have a discipline to continue the activity over a period
>of time long enough to for it to begin to have an effect. I have a short
>attention span and difficulties with continuing any discipline over a long
>period. If any of you in this mailing list have any personal experiences
>with working on problems of concentration I would enjoy reading about it.
>Specifics about what you did, book suggestions, etc. would be most useful.
I'm no master of concentration, but I have come closer to that goal in the
last year. There really seem to me to be three factors involved:
(1) Concentration per se, the ability to readily dismiss intrusive thoughts
(2) Discipline, the ability to stick with even a stupid and pointless task
regardless of how much you want to stop.
(3) Devotion, a certain "fierceness of mind" which gives strength to any
practice of meditation or ritual.
It is entirely possible to have discipline without the other two. All one
has to be able to do is set a course and stick to it come hell or high
water. There are a number of things which can help or hurt discipline.
One thing that helped me a lot was joining a group with a system of degrees
in which each degree requires certain work. If you don't do it, you won't
get to the next degree. This is a sort of carrot and stick approach, but it
works. (Are we not donkeys?)
Practices to build discipline should be done regularly, that is, at the same
time of day and every day. More complex rhythms such as every other day are
likely to be beyond the grasp of a beginner. A good example is the daily
prayers of Jews, or the sun-adorations of Liber Resh performed at dawn,
noon, sunset, and midnight.
An absolutely critical aspect of practice is the journal. You should keep a
record of every time you perform any meditative or ritual practice. If you
don't, your discipline will slip and you'll never even know it. Aside from
careful recording of your practices, the book may be used for philosophical
contemplation, but treat it as a sacred instrument, not a doodle-book for
jotting down everything that comes into your head.
One thing that seemed to hurt discipline was living with people who would
not be particularly sympathetic toward the practices. Another bad factor is
major changes of environment. However, you may have little control over
these (I sure wouldn't have been living with my parents if I'd had a choice
in the matter...) If you can't get around them, then be aware that you will
have to try harder.
Discipline has to be built up gradually. If you just decide "I will now sit
entirely motionless for three hours a day" without significant prior
discipline-building activities, let's face it, you're going to quit pretty
soon. Build yourself up gradually.
The really destructive attitude, though, is "Oh, I can't do that, so I'll
make it easier." For instance, concluding that one could not possibly get
up at dawn every day to pray to the rising sun. This is the very antithesis
of discipline, which involves forcing yourself to do hard things, not
watering down things so they won't be hard. So how can this be balanced
against not pushing yourself too hard? That's tricky. Roughly, one should
decide on some practice which is complete in itself, which is not trivial to
perform, and which does not take so much time as to interfere with other
things that are important to you, and stick with that. It will come to seem
too hard; that is a reaction you should expect. Ignore it and continue.
Do not under any circumstances go, "Oh well, I guess I've bitten off more
than I can chew, time for something easier." If you do that, you will also
do it on the "somethiing easier", and the thing after that, and so on.
Concentration and devotion can be built up only through disciplined
practice. It should be noted that different people have different intrinsic
degrees of these qualities, but anyone can improve them if discipline is
I hope these notes are some help to someone. As I have said, I am not a
master of any of these three qualities, but what little skill I have may
enable me to construct useful guide-posts for others who are also beginners.
Tim Maroney, Carnegie-Mellon University Computation Center
ARPA: Tim.Maroney@CMU-CS-K uucp: seismo!cmu-cs-k!tim
CompuServe: 74176,1360 audio: shout "Hey, Tim!"
"Remember all ye that existence is pure joy; that all the sorrows are
but as shadows; they pass & are done; but there is that which remains."
Liber AL, II:9.
End of New Age Digest #3