Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Charmed Theology

Interesting coincidence: as I'm writing this entry, I'm watching an old Charmed rerun. One of the things I've had on my mind lately is wondering where one of my flash drives is, that has been lost. This flash drive contains within it digital copies of all of my spells, spiritual research and studies, that has been done for the last 3-4 years. There isn't a *lot* on it, surprisingly enough, since some of my spiritual contemplating/growth/study was put on a bit of hiatus due to major life changes going on at the time that took priority: being unemployed, in a new city, and having just broken up with my girlfriend of a year and a half, most of my spellwork focused on finding a job and deciding where I should live. Maslow's hierarchy at its finest, I suppose.
Anyways, this episode looks to be the season opener of season 2, or at least somewhere near it. It's the one year anniversary of their becoming witches, and their Book of Shadows is stolen by a demon, who reads it backwards in order to undo all the spells the characters have performed, thus bringing back to life all the demons/warlocks they have defeated. A Book of Shadows is basically a spellbook, most commonly used by Wiccans and Witches, and includes spells, the results of those spells, rituals, holiday information, and anything else the particular owner finds relevant to his or her spiritual path. The title "Book of Shadows" is most commonly used by Wiccans, although many non-Wiccan Witches have been known to use that label as well; Christian Witches often call it their "Book of Light" or "Book of Shadows and Light". I personally call mine a more masculine, and more generic/encompassing "Grimoire", which is more commonly used by Ceremonial Magicians and other followers of the more ritualistic spiritual paths. When first starting my experimenting, I used my regular hardback journal that I was already writing in. Once I knew that this was a path that I was going to be practicing fairly long-term, I bought a binder and notebook paper, and organized it and began using that. Some people buy the big expensive, elaborate books that can be found in New Age stores and online, but many of us who are poorer and/or more practical, just use notebooks and binders like any other journal. This way, if I decide to dispose of some sections or reorganize, all I have to do is take the pages out of the binder and put them where I want them. My current book has sections on languages/symbols, prayers, spells, spell results, and rituals. The now-missing flash drive has those sections as well, as well as a few forum posts in past forums I used to frequent, which I found meaningful; research into holidays, spiritual beings(gods/goddesses, saints, etc.), correspondences, etc. As I'm no longer a polytheistic Pagan, much of those sections are no longer relevant to my spiritual practice. Still, I had planned on using it for my current spirituality as well and updating it. So I'm kind of sad, and annoyed, at losing it, and I'm debating whether to buy a new flash drive, or use a second notebook.

The other coincidence is that the demon in this episode was named Abraxas . Abraxas is a prominent character in Gnosticism. In ancient sects he was often considered the greatest Archon, the ruler of the 365 heavens. In those systems, his name spells out Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn - the 7 astronomical entities that can be seen in the night sky without a telescope. In modern Gnosticism, he seems to be seen more the way psychologist Carl Jung described him, a representation of oneness, kind of the Gnostic version of yin-yang.

In the episode, Abraxas was sort of used as a rite of passage on their one-year anniversary, with his theft of their Book of Shadows being the catalyst for them learning about witchcraft's connection to their inner selves and nature, and the "real meaning" behind their powers. Charmed unfortunately has always been kind of cheesy(like, honestly, most 90s shows of that genre), and it did get cheesier as it progressed. But in the early seasons, I did always like how they somewhat incorporated actual elements and informatin of the genuine spiritual practices that are often found in modern-day Wicca, witchcraft, and Paganism. The problem, of course, comes with the New Agey stuff that inevitably sells the show, and with people who are drawn to such spiritual practices thinking(or claiming) that they actually *can* do things like the Halliwell sisters do. Spellwork and magic doesn't work like that. To me, spellwork is like another way of praying. It's just more interactive and focused.... kind of like, if you're in a Catholic/Episcopal church, you pray by standing, kneeling, crossing yourself, and take the Eucharist("The Lord's Supper" to most southern Protestants), whereas in a Protestant church you just stand there passively listening to someone else pray. It's meditating to focus yourself on a desire or goal. It's using that energy, that desire, to work(through a spell as well as "less spiritual" or "mundane" means) towards that desire or goal. Just like many Christians believe "God helps those who help themselves", so do many Witches and Druids believe that if you cast a spell for, say, a job, but don't fill out applications or send out resumes, then you can cast all the spells in the world and you'll still be unemployed.

But it would be nice if life really were like Charmed, though. Just not Buffy. I'm happy without the vampires.


Angel said...

Refreshing post! You sound a lot like myself before I had my gnostic revelation. I was polytheistic as well and then somewhere along the way I discovered the ... oneness... of the aspects I was communing with. It felt like a mild form of astrological compartmentalization after that. Why separate when it doesn't have to be done?

I have a dozen empty 'journals' which never got filled, as was intended, with my spellwork and thoughts. The majority of my books went on eBay. I gave my empty journals to my stepson to dabble in as scrap paper. But I do still keep some of my traditions alive. Color magic and coordination, a more .. macrobiotic... eating scheme, aromatherapy/incense, and collecting shiny things. In hindsight that makes me sound like a Martha Stewart reincarnated raccoon. But I'm ok with that. Evolution is quirky and comes in fits and starts for all of us.

I can still look at the magical elements in shows, movies, books, etc and pick out the various originating themes from antiquity. It's nice not being ignorant- that is one definite positive factor I've taken with me as I move along my own path to enlightenment. Hollywood is entertaining but all their fluff has to come from somewhere.

I hope you retain your love of history, Chadly. It will serve you well.

Onward and upwards!

All the best,


Chadly said...

I've always loved history, and I think that has definitely been a factor in my religious areas of interest(since I'm still just starting out this blog, my first few entries give a little more of a "life story", I think, of how I got to where I am today). I think I would've come to Gnosticism a lot sooner, except that the first time I looked into it, I was still dealing with bitterness over my fundamentalist upbringing, and the Christian terminology that Gnosticism uses, still had me seeing red. It wasn't until after some time with Paganism and developing the Druidic and nature-centric aspects of my spirituality that I could give Gnosticism a second look.

So far most of my spells have been candle magic and mental/emotional magic.