“On Earth there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it.”
– Jules Renard
Neuroscientists speculate that dreams are necessary for our physical and mental health, but they are also potent sources of magical power. In dreams, we can receive answers to prayers and communiques from other realms — from beings like angels and ancestors. But did you know dreams can be a lot more than that? For example, dreams can be:
• a platform for astral projection
• prophetic or show visions of the past and future
• useful for replenishing our psychic power and personal strength
• a useful starting point for exploring our inner worlds
• a tool to bring new ideas, insights, and revelations
• a way for us to cast dream magic spells
In order to cultivate a rich dream life, use a few basic skills:
• Practice sleep hygiene: make your bedroom an oasis for sleep. Pre-modern humans took shelter at night in caves; try creating a cool, dark, cave-like environment when you go to sleep. Other aspects of sleep hygiene include going to be bed at a regular time, making sure the air is fresh in your bedroom, and ensuring that the linens are clean and comfortable.
• Create a calming routine: a few hours before bedtime, begin winding down. Turn the TV off, take a hot shower, listen to some calming music. A bedtime snack that is high in fat [but low in sugar] can also help you become sleepy; vitamin B6 has been linked with increased incidence of lucid dreaming. Relaxing before bed can be difficult for those who lead a stressful life. Discover what helps you put aside your stress, whether it’s writing your troubles in a journal or engaging in some tough exercise.
• Begin keeping a dream journal: upon awakening, dreams can be fleeting. But by recording them as soon as you wake up, you can train yourself to remember them. Furthermore, recording dreams helps with recognizing patterns, symbols, and recurring themes, which will help you embrace the power of your sleeping mind. A dream journal is the most powerful tool you can use as you begin exploring this type of magic: instead of
After you have established healthy and productive sleep habits, the dreamworld is yours to explore. Techniques such as lucid dreaming or dream incubation will be much easier after you have developed these habits.
A lucid dream occurs when you realize that you are dreaming. With practice you can take control and shape the dreamworld however you want. Lucid dreaming can be a platform for casting spells while asleep. It can also be used as a gateway for astral travel.
There are several ways to induce a lucid dream. Experiment to find the method that works for you.
Dream incubation is the practice of asking for a specific dream. From ancient Egypt to Tibet, many cultures sought to incubate dreams: sleeping at a particular sacred site was a common method.
This ancient method is not the same as lucid dreaming: with dream incubation, you may not realize you are dreaming and it is not necessarily within your control. But is a great tool for receiving advice or finding solutions to problems. There are three steps to successful dream incubation:
1. Set your intention: this is the most important part of dream incubation. Whether you seek the answer to a mathematical proof, clarity about a situation, or help deciding between various opportunities, the clearer you are with your intention, the easier your dreaming mind will pick up on it.
2. Prepare for sleep mindfully: create a sigil for the dream you want and place it beneath your pillow or use other magical dream aids. The point is to fall asleep with the intention in your mind.
3. Practice, practice, practice: dream incubation is an advanced technique and can be difficult; a lot of people have trouble remembering their dreams and without that basic skill, dream incubation will be that much harder. But with practice, you will develop this worthwhile tool.
We tend to dream about what we have seen and experienced in the waking world. Use this to your advantage by reading about what you want to see in your dreams.
Often times our subconscious seeks to communicate with us through dreams. By keeping a record of your dreams, you can sort the “meaningless” dreams from the meaningful ones. You don’t need a dream symbol dictionary to figure out what your night time visions mean; symbols are very personal. Pay attention to how you felt in the dream – this is a big clue as to the meaning.
When dreams are rife with difficult emotions and symbolism, use divination to discover the meaning. Tarot cards are perfect for this because their vibrant colors and layers of meaning help trigger our intuition.
Many magicians believe that our subconscious is the powerhouse for magic. With sigils, the goal is to implant the image into the fertile ground of the deepest part of our mind. It is no surprise, then, that dream magic can be very potent.
Here are some ideas for incorporating dreams into your magical rituals:
• Cast spells while lucid dreaming
• Communicate telepathically with your friends: such activity may result in a shared dream
• Explore your inner world to discover power objects: symbols and images received while dreaming can be used in the waking world as talismans.
“Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in. When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world.
Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds. Their point of view comes from all the programming they received during domestication.”
from “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz
When the ancients looked into the starry night sky, they saw the vault of heaven, a place where gods dwelt. But what are gods and how do they come to exist? Like modern-day superheroes, they often have an “origin story” that attempts to explain such details.
Yet these stories rarely explain how deities arose to godhood in the first place – I mean in a physical, real-world way. What process makes them gods? What was Odin before he was the Norse god of war and poetry? Some say he was a tribal god whose sphere of influence included storms and passion. Others say he might have been a tribal leader of some sort. How did he become a god?
How do gods come to be?
Many theories abound as to how deities come into existence.
Maybe deities come from us, from the power of our thoughts and actions. Artists and writers often speak as if their works have a consciousness or a will separate from the human who “birthed” them. This possibility implies that deities are rather like egregores or tulpas.
Another possibility is that deities have an existence separate from humans – they just take a form we can understand and appreciate. Whether that form is much-loved [such as Isis or Jesus] or from pop culture [like the Pokémon Arceus], these forms might just be “masks” that actual deities, who are beyond our comprehension, take to communicate with us.
From a panenthiestic point of view, one might believe that God is all things and is in all things – maybe even permeating fictional realms, endowing modern creations with a bit of godhood.
Then again, maybe this whole “deity” thing is all in our heads, a crutch needed to fill some hole in our psychology. But, as Professor Dumbledore once said, “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on Earth should that mean it is not real?”
Perhaps deities need energy from those who honor, love, respect, and worship them, and like all things that are given energy and devotion, they become “real” and they live through us. In this way, modern gods – those inspired by pop culture – might be created.
Take Superman, the original superhero. His origin story is very much like a god. His mythos is rich and complex. Like many deities, he even has a dying/rising storyline, tales of miraculous power, a good and generous heart, and stories of epic battles against demonic forces. No doubt he has inspired many with his stories – “The Death of Superman” is the best-selling comic of all time, and it moved even non-comic readers to tears.
Modern deities are just as worthy of honor and respect as their ancient counterparts – perhaps even more so, considering how pop culture has a much more powerful impact on our society at this moment than ancient culture. Deities cannot be separated from their culture any more than humans can be separated from their ancestry; taken out of context, things just don’t make sense. Magic works best when we use symbols that resonate powerfully with us. Our own culture has already produced spirits and gods. Why dig through articles on ancient deities when modern ones will likely work just fine?
The dark side
The flip side to the idea that gods can be “created” is that perhaps demons, negative spirits, or dark gods can be too. Left unchecked, our collective fascination with violence may create vicious entities that exist only to destroy.
Many witches and magical people subscribe to the idea of Elementals, beings presiding over Water, Fire, Air, Earth, and sometimes other natural forces. But with pollution run amok, is it possible that these mostly benign, ancient beings might become corrupted?
In some parts of the world, the air is so contaminated with heavy metals and industrial toxins that it is dangerous to breathe most of the time.
And with the epidemic of water pollution, coral reef destruction, acid rain, and overharvesting of fish, how content might the guardians of water be?
During the Cold War, the stockpiling and detonation of nuclear weapons was commonplace. Could these actions have created negative, fearful Elementals presiding over War or Nuclear Fallout?
Great and amazing things can come about from our collective belief. But perhaps we should also beware the darker side of our collective consciousness lest we unleash monsters.
Maybe well-established gods started off as entertaining stories written by an ancient scribe, but once the stories were told to those who loved them, they grew greater and more powerful. Therefore, pop culture deities could be the future of polytheism.
Quantum mechanics has many interpretations, one of which is the multiverse hypothesis. This is the idea that there are tons – maybe even an infinite amount – of universes out there. Some of the universes are basically identical to ours; others are different in every way. We’ve all heard about it, but you may not be aware that a lot of big brains think it might be true.
Could fictional realms exist in one of these other universes? Furthermore, one of the implications of the multiverse interpretation is that we collectively make reality. This is such an amazing idea because it implies that the depth of humanity’s power is unimaginable and untapped. Maybe in the future technologies will exist to better enable us to harness our thought-powers. As the apothegm goes,
Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions.
Our thoughts might also create our world.
After recently discovering “pop culture paganism,” the question of what is a god? has really intrigued me, but I don’t know if I was coherent in this post. Hopefully I made some kind of sense!
Pop culture paganism and magic is so fascinating to me. Just like ancient gods, modern mythology comes to life when given energy in the form of time, love, devotion, and attention. This energy, born from love and imagination, means that modern myths and entities are just as real as a more established, ancient tradition.
Originally posted on chaoticpaganism:
If there was ever a question I get far too often, it’s this: Why pop culture paganism? Why not “normal” paganism? Why use fake characters to inspire you when real ones are just as inspiration, if not more? Why bother?
While often delivered rudely, these are perfectly valid and intriguing questions. I asked myself the same thing when I first began delving into PC Paganism. Why can’t I just worship a pre-established God or Goddess? Why not join a pre-established religion? Why make my life harder and expose myself to further ridicule from my peers? These were the questions that kept me in the broom cupboard for some time, and I know they keep others from exploring their path. While I certainly can’t speak for other pop culture pagans, I can tell you how I came to realize this was my path, and how I believe others may have found…
View original 745 more words
The destruction of this planet would have no significance on a cosmic scale: to an observer in the Andromeda nebula, the sign of our extinction would be no more than a match flaring for a second in the heavens: and if that match does blaze in the darkness there will be none to mourn a race that used a power that could have lit a beacon in the stars to light its funeral pyre. The choice is ours.
— Stanley Kubrick
What makes a reader afraid to turn the page of a book, hands shaking in terror? What makes a reader cry with the protagonist in a story?
The answer is mood! Crafting mood — or an “atmosphere” — in writing is key to creating an unforgettable reading experience. Writers have at least three tools to create mood: setting, diction, and tone.
One of the most powerful ways to create mood is through setting, the physical location of the story. In book two of Strange Spark, the characters discover an abandoned subterranean laboratory. This setting is perfect for creating a dark, creepy mood. The characters and reader alike wonder what lies in the flickering shadows.
This kind of mood-creation is used to great effect in many Japanese horror films. Dark, dank areas — like the well in “Ringu” [or “The Ring” as it was known in English] — are common motifs.
Another example of a different type of mood can be found in Charles Dickens’s “Pickwick Papers.”
“The river, reflecting the clear blue of the sky, glistened and sparkled as it flowed noiselessly on.”
The details of a clear sky and a glistening, quiet river evoke a serene mood.
Think of a few details your setting contains. Then pick specific verbs and adjectives to convey the mood you want. For example, if Dickens sought a sad mood he could have written the above passage thusly:
Storm clouds twisted in the river’s bone-white waves.
Diction is word choice. Listen to how the words sound together. Select euphonious words that flow well together to create a happy mood, or select jarring, cacophonous words for a negative mood. Take note of emotional associations [“connotations”] of words too:
Bunnies bounced in the garden as clouds loomed overhead.
The word “loomed” doesn’t work very well in this sentence because the connotation is of something scary or impending. A better choice might be something like this:
Bunnies bounced in the garden as clouds floated across the horizon.
Sentence construction is another part of this. Short, clipped sentences can add to a tense scene. Long, flowery sentences with lots of semi-colons and commas slow down action; they work well when you are trying to convey a pleasant mood. [See what I did there?]
Tone is how you approach the theme. It helps you create the mood of your story. Your viewpoint character’s attitude toward story events is key in achieving tone. Manipulate tone by manipulating your character’s attitude: what do they see and how do they feel about it? How do their reactions change as the story progresses? Use the viewpoint character’s reactions to sensory perceptions to build up your mood.
Take a look at this description of a first kiss:
The cramped car seat pinched my legs. Dread curled in my stomach. She leaned in, matted hair falling across her eyes, and opened her mouth. Hot, cloying breath rolled out and I nearly gagged.
Doesn’t sound pleasant, right? The viewpoint character is in an awkward position and trying not to vomit.
To create a tone that works, be sure that your character’s reactions make sense in the moment.
By building mood, you can clarify themes and evoke a powerful reader response. How do you convey mood in your works? Tell us in the comments!