The “Law of Three” Is Wrong

If you are interested in studying the occult and magic, you will quickly run across the “Law of Three”.

Summed up, this rule says that what ever you put out into the World using magic, will be returned to you three times over. Put out good vibes and spells of helpfulness, and you will receive back three times the joy and happiness. Put out curses and ill will, and you will receive back three times the hurt and misfortune. Its repeated some much so in the occult community, especially from supposed wise elders to the beginners you’d almost think it came down from the mountain with Moses.

Its wrong though.

That rule grew out of the 60’s resurgence of paganism and Wicca, as a rather good little bit of public relationship. Remember Christianity burned witches not too long ago, and even in the 60s, if you were living in a small town and got the reputation as one of “those” people you could count on being shunned, if not ruined before being run out of town.

The Counter Culture embraced many things the Establishment disapproved of, including occult practices, astrology and Eastern mysticism as a way to rebel but then not rebel too much that it got them burnt at the stake. True, the push back from the “good” people against those long hair, freaky hippy types was still pretty intense but it wasn’t long before such interests were tolerated. Housewives lighting candles and saying love spells seeped into suburbia.

The “Law of Three” then became a way to differ the good witches from the few that were “bad”. If the Stevie Nicks looking flower child at the corner book store said that if SHE did a curse, it would come back three fold onto her, then obviously she was a good witch. And wouldn’t be corrupting the young people who were patronizing her shop.

The problem is there isn’t any indication in history that is is the case In fact just the opposite. Many of the wizards and sorcerers advising kings were using their magic to bring ruin on that king’s enemies with no sort of consequences. Not only no consequences but actually they were being rewarded. Movies and television only re-enforced this fact.

And yet, there are examples, more than a few, where magical practitioners of recent history have experienced blow back for obviously harmful spells against others.

Where does that leave the occult beginner?

A bit of background for a moment,

Recently I read a discussion on the morality of intent and the raising of power with magic that I think better explains the dangers for a beginner in using magic to affect their reality.

I am in the process of paring down the collection of science fiction and fantasy art which I have acquired over many years of going to conventions. I plan on moving into a much smaller residence by next Spring, and just won’t have the wall space to display my collection.

Many of the pieces I’m selling but a few are ones which have an occult significance. One of these is this piece by the artist Mitch Foust.

The title of the piece is “Morgan LeFey”. She is known from book and film as a powerful sorceress and sister to the legendary king Arthur. She is also a spirit you might as a shaman work with, though in Celtic lore there is some argument whether she is a separate spirit or merely a facet of the larger spirit “The Morrigan”.

For some time, I had been thinking perhaps that the Morrigan was connected with the goddess I worship, Hekate, as a reimage of Hekate in a far off land from her birthplace, Asia Minor. Both goddesses are triplicate goddesses, having three faces and aspects. Both goddesses are considered to be Queens and powerful.

I wondered if this print could then be used in my devotionals with Hekate?

In researching this relationship I picked up Courtney Weber’s book “The Morrigan, Celtic Goddess of Magik and Might”. It didn’t take me much reading to see that the two are separate, unique and the print would be better passed on to another person. If the Celtic deities are of interest to you, and if the Morrigan calls, Weber’s book is a good place to start.

That said, Weber has a chapter which discusses working with spells and magic (she uses a K, to differ the spiritual side from the sleight of hand variety) and its from that chapter that I want to reference about why the “Law of Three” is wrong.

Celtic history is one of great passion, especially on the battle field. It was a place that not only did the warriors fight but also the magic users. Druids and shamans are often seen there, adding their spells and magic in an attempt to sway the tide in their tribe’s favor. The gods too took an active part.

And yet there is very little mention that when a shaman cursed a foe, or made magic to affect the battle against their foes, that their magic rebounded back on them. Especially not in a three times way. If they were not affected, then why would a shaman of today be faced with such a restriction?

There are clear times when people try to do you wrong, and just as skill at arms or intellectual prowess is useful to protect yourself, so too is any magical knowledge you might have. I doubt a war goddess like the Morrigan would look kindly on you for neglecting a sword in your belt just to appear virtuous.

Not that there are not spirits out there who wouldn’t want you to only do pacifistic good.

Weber makes the distinction that it is not the intent of the magic working which causes problems but the underlying issues that the magical practitioner has and has not worked to address.

She likens your mental state to a large concrete room.

In that room are the issues and problems you still have. Are you taking care of your body and mind? Plenty of rest and healthy food? Are you being a good friend to your companions and family? Do you address wrongs you have committed in the past and try to not do harm in the present? Any and all of these can leave clutter in the room of your mind.

And as a magic user, even more importantly, how is your spiritual center?

Are you right by the patrons and allies you work with, or do you neglect or even abuse those relationships? How heavy is your walk on the natural world and your conduct towards the animal, plant and earth realms?

All of this kind of mental and physic clutter will affect the way the forces of magic and the actions of the Spirits have in your life. A life that is balanced and in harmony, is like a concrete room that is bare, well sweep and clean. An unbalanced life though, fills that concrete room with distractions and misdirections.

Magic and the power that Spirits have is like Fire.

Fire is a tool.

It can be a warm fireplace on a Winter night or it can be a hot raging bonfire. Fire can be the gentle flame of a candle, or the spark which burns down your home.

Fire has no morals. When properly handled it can do useful work. When treated without respect, it can do great damage and harm.

Magic is like fire in that concrete room of your mind.

In an uncluttered room, it can be managed well. Magic like a fire tends to throw off sparks at times. In a clean room, those sparks tend to quickly go out and do no harm. The fire in a clean room is there to be put to useful work and purpose.

In a cluttered room, those scattered sparks have a chance to catch and find fuel. Quickly they can grow and spread, and soon they can overwhelm the useful work you are trying to do. The magic goes off track, sometimes with disastrous consequences.

Even well intentioned spells can misfire when you have an unbalanced life. Intent, a magic user’s most important tool, can go off course and cause results you don’t expect or don’t want.

Add to that is the fact that Spirits, especially the more powerful ones like those we would call deities, sometimes have real difficulty understanding humans. Even the ones that love humans. They hear what we say we want, but under that intent are distractions. If you have issues yet unresolved, I can see how perhaps a spirit would wonder if what we say isn’t exactly what we want.

What many have seen then as a response the “Law of Three”, is then not a wrong response to a selfish or evil purpose but a proper response to a desire we didn’t realize we had.

Those of you who decide to walk the dark path of the occult realms, need first to know yourself well and work to make yourself better.

That is the Law you should obey.


Sleep and Dream Journals

Before we get back to discussing Energy Work and Protection, I’d like to take a couple of blog posts to talk about another useful skill that a shaman needs to develop, that is “shamanistic dreaming”.

To do that we must first talk about something we all do, that is sleep.

Unless you have a physiological or health problem, the act of sleeping is something you spend a significant time doing almost every day. Hopefully you don’t.

(If you do, you may want to delay any study of shamanism until you have worked through those. While some shamanistic practices can help with basic insomnia or irregular sleep patterns, you’ll be dealing with altered states of consciousness in your study which should not be attempted lightly.)

Most of us sleep about a third of our life in a sleeping state. I usually average 5-6 hours a day, though I been trying to increase that to at least 8. Not only does getting 8 hours keep you more rested and relaxed but in a time of pandemic, it can keep you alive. Your immune system actually requires a certain amount of sleep to reset itself and work at top form. Scrimping on that sleep can contribute to becoming ill.

Not only is sleep important for your physical health, they are also important for your mental health as well. Your mind uses the downtime to process the day’s events and filter out what’s important and what’s not. Dreams play an important part in that upkeep but how is still subject to much debate.

For shamans, sleep and dreams are an important realm to learn to work in effectively. Remember, I said shamans don’t have to understand “how” something works to use it, just that it “does” work. Dreams are the same, you might not know how or why you dream, but you can learn how to use that time to get stuff done.

Getting a handle on your dreams isn’t something that you can do in a weekend, like the basics of energy work. Its going to be something you will work on day to day for probably a year or so but its an essential skill you should master.

Understanding Dreamtime

We have all had dreams. Some are just random collections of images while others are detailed and clear to the point we think it is the Real World. Why this is so, is complicated if you ask scientist who study dreams.

What they really means is “We just don’t know”.

Yet you don’t have to know why we dream to use them but it is helpful to understand a bit about the how we dream, primarily the various stages of sleep and how to recognize them.

Most people have heard of REM sleep aka “Rapid Eye Movement”. This is the period where we have our dreams. Its called that because during this period, you can be observed having movement of the eyes under your closed eye lids. Perhaps you are experiencing your dreams as if it were real, and like the Real World, you are looking constantly around.

What some might not know is that during REM state, your mind actually locks the body up from moving. The tossing and turning you do in your sleep happens in non REM states. I’m guessing the mind knows you might get up and wander off if it let you move, lol.

More importantly for developing your skill at using Dreamtime as a shaman tool, is to recognize the two pseudo dream state, the hypnagogic and the hypnopompic state. The first is the state you are in when first falling asleep. Its that semi sleep phase where you aren’t quite asleep. Your mind as it winds down, can throw up images and scenes that seem like dreams but aren’t. The hypnopomic state is the period when you are just waking up, and you can have similar false dreams. Neither of these are useful as a shamanistic tool as lucid dreaming, though the hynagogic phase can help you pre-load a situation you wish to work on into your mind before fully dreaming.

Pre-lucid Dreaming and The “Reality Check”

“Lucid” dreaming is the state in which you are fully conscious that you are dreaming and can affect and direct the outcome of that dream. Most of us only have 2 or 3 such dreams in a year. Often the moment you consciously realize you are dreaming, you will awaken. With practice you can stop that, and even increase the number of lucid dreams you have.

More common is a state of “Pre-lucid” dreaming. A point where your dream is so vivid and real that it you almost question whether it is. What we want to do is cross the divide between those vivid almost waking dreams and the complete package of lucid dreaming.

Strictly speaking, being aware you are dreaming is not lucid dreaming. You can be aware that you are dreaming, and yet be a passive passenger to your unconscious. These dreams can be quite fun, but are not what a shaman needs. There must be a measure of actual conscious control to be able to use dreams as a tool.

One method of taking control, is to train yourself into a habit of questioning whether what you are experiencing is a dream or is it reality through. You do this by intentionally asking yourself “Am I Dreaming?” through out your day, and tying that question into certain events which happen in your Life on an everyday occurrence.

We all use our keys each day. We all open a door each day. We all check the time. We all do many repetitive tasks each of which can be used as a trigger to ask the question “Am I Dreaming”.

James Endredy in his article Shamanic Dreaming: How to Expand Into Higher Consciousness While You Sleep recommends twenty one triggers, but you can make a list of as many as you need. The objective is to have 3-4 easily remembered triggers for each day of the week. Review that day’s triggers in the morning after you get up, then as the day progresses when ever a trigger comes up, stop and consciously ask yourself “Am I Dreaming?”.

Naturally the answer is going to be “No”. What is happening though is you are establishing a habit which with luck, will carry over into your dreams. If one of your triggers is “When I open a door”, and you’ve done that repeatedly for several weeks, when you come across a door in your dream state, there’s a good chance your will reflexively stop and ask yourself “Am I Dreaming?”. This will give your conscious mind the opportunity to take control of the dream.

The more intent and energy you put into performing your reality checks, the more effective they will be. You can even pair them up with a physical gesture. One good one is to immediately look at your hands. Hands are one of those things which you never seem to notice while dreaming. Intentionally making the gesture a part of your reality checks will re-enforce the act.

Try to do the checks about twenty times a day. If you find an action which doesn’t happen much, then replace it with one that does.

Preparing Yourself To Dream

Just as you wouldn’t try and go on a jog without some preparation (and practice), you shouldn’t try and do focused dreaming without some appropriate preparations.

– Bedrooms Are Special

Too many people just lump their bedrooms into the generic “its a room in my house” when in reality your bedroom is the one room you spend the most time in during your day.

Why not treat it as such?

Clean out the distractions and especially get rid of the television or your computer laptop. Get some good sheets and comfortable pillows. Put on some incense. Turn your bedroom into a place you can relax and not some place cluttered with distractions.

– Clean Your Body Of The Day’s Debris

Just as the air outside has a host of contaminates and pollution that’s good to get off you at the end of the day, your mind picks up a load of mental and physic gunk that you should rid yourself of before bedtime. Its actually residue which stains your ethereal body, not the physical but we’ll talk about the different layers you have in a later post.

If you are sweaty and physically soiled from your day, then unless you’ve done it on coming home, take a cleaning shower. Wash up and get the normal grime off you. Make it hot if you like and let the water work out the aches of your muscles.

Before you do though, gather a wash cloth or two, a large bowl, some ice and some kosher salt. Put these on the basin before you shower.

Once you’ve finished your physical wash, and this can include brushing your teeth and other personal hygiene, add water to the ice. Then add a little kosher salt. Stir this up.

Cold water is the best for removing physic gunk, the colder the better actually. Take the wash cloth and begin wiping your body down. Start with the face and neck, rinsing the wash cloth as you do. Imagine it picking up the stresses and interference you felt throughout your day from where it stained your inner body. Rinse out the cloth regularly.

Don’t be surprised if the water in the bowl begins to get dirty. Physic gunk can manifest itself when you do this. Continue down your body until you get it all. I like to spend a bit of time on my feet. One, I’m on them all day long and giving them a bit of tender care is good for them, and two, the World we live in has so much random energy and stress out there, its good to separate our bodies from it.

I’d recommend if you can turn out the light and use a candle to see by while you do the cleaning. It puts you into a more relaxed mood and unnatural light of your computer or television. That light disrupts you body’s natural rhythm and contributes to poor sleep.

Greer recommends you take this water outside, to pour it onto a large and healthy tree. The tree will act to dissipate the gunk and render it inert. Might not be easy, depending on your situation. If you need to, flush it down the toilet. You can say a brief banishing like “May this cause no harm” three times over it if you wish.

– Cleaning Your Mind Of The Day’s Debris

Once you’ve done your body cleaning, you will want to do the same with your mind. Here is a simple ritual which will help you.

(Again, this is from James Endredy in his article Shamanic Dreaming: How to Expand Into Higher Consciousness While You Sleep .)

  1. Find a comfortable position on the edge of your bed. Begin by just letting your mind go where it will. I like to do some simple breathing, in through the nose, hold briefly, then exhale thru the mouth, hold briefly and repeat.
  2. When you are ready, begin visualizing the day’s events. How was your morning? What problems came up and how did you deal with them? Did you handle them well or is there something you would do differently, now that you are looking back? Allow yourself the time to process what went on. Forgive yourself if you felt you did it poorly and congratulate yourself on things you did well.
  3. This second part is something too many of us forget. We dwell on the negatives and not on the positives. This just reinforces that which we give attention. Let go of the negative but by all means give yourself a pat for the things you successfully.
  4. If a certain problem or event sticks with you, take both hands and put them to your face, palms inward. Imagine the problem as a ball of energy. See it collect in between your palms. Once you have it visualized, cup your hands over it and draw it away from you. Push it out and imagine it gently dissipating in the air in front of you. Do it again if the problem is still in your mind.
  5. Don’t rush, take your time and try and put yourself in a clear and positive state of mind.
  6. When you are ready, stand. Take your hands and slowly bring them down your body, beginning at your head and working to your feet. Imagine the stress and energy flowing out of you. Do this slowly or rapidly, what ever feels correct for you. Do it several times until you feel yourself relaxed and refreshed.

Just before you get into bed and get comfortable, say to yourself with Intent “I will remember my dreams tonight”. Say this several time. This will remind yourself to do just that. I add a personal part which is a brief devotional to the spirits who are my patrons and allies, thanking them for their protection and guidance.

You should be ready to dream now.

We’re going to stop here, and continue into “Mugwort and Lucid Dreaming” in our next post.

For now I did want to cover one final thing.

Dream Journals

Recently, I began to keep a Dream Journal. You should too.

The act of writing on a regular basis aka “Journaling” has become popular in the last decade for all sorts of people as a way to relieve stress and solve problems in their mental and physical life.

For practitioners of the occult its an even more important activity. Writing down your experiences is a much older tradition, one stretching back to pre-history. Those early journals are one way we know so much about the practices of those who came before us.

Starting your own journal will provide you with a way to go back and review what happens to you. When you start to explore magic and the occult, strange things happen. You won’t always know why they did when they do occur. The reasons and causes may take time to manifest.

With dreams especially, you are traveling an ocean of dark and murky waters at first, and like old seafarers the navigational “Rudder” or book you make will be invaluable.

Buy a journal. Buy a good pen too which you just use to write in it. Keep it handy but also keep it safe where others won’t come across it. Write your name and something that speaks to you on the first page.

For now, just begin by writing what you remember each time you awake about any dreams you had. Don’t worry too much about form or content. Don’t worry if you can’t remember it all, or even if you don’t have a dream the previous night. Just focus on the act of writing.

We’ll talk more about your journal and the things to put in it, in the next blog post. Until then, Dream.

Spirit Animal – Rat

The pandemic threw my plans for a loop back in January. Everything including my further study of shamanism took a back seat to making sure my extended family and I got ready for the disruption and then survived it.

The virus did surprise me. I expected based on early information that the pandemic would be much worse than it was, though the recent reemergence looks pretty bad.

One good thing, long hours of introspection has refocused me and I’m ready to begin my journey again. I hope to begin posting here each Monday, so check back then.

The Spirit of Rat

It is important things for everyone, not just shamans, is having some order to your life. There is just too much chaos out there, even worse than a few years ago. Very few people can live in a whirlwind.

We are heading into a “Grand Mutation” later in the year. This is according to John Michael Greer, who wrote the book “Green Wizardry” which my other side is based on. Along with being a druid, he is also an astrologer.

“It’s not just you. The energies are definitely in flux. I’ve made certain changes in my practices over the last year, mostly intended to make use of the changing energies for the sake of my own self-transformative work, and I know other people who’ve had to do the same. Astrologically speaking, we’re about to have a Grand Mutation — a shift of the cycle of Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions into a new element, from Earth to Air — and in traditional mundane astrology that was seen as a major turning point, the end of one era and the beginning of another (The last one was in 1842, and brought in what we might as well call the modern world; the upcoming one will be on this year’s winter solstice; the one following won’t be until 2219.)”

Time to get a little order in your personal life then.

One of the things I’ve begun doing to promote order in my Life is while having my first couple of cups of coffee in the morning, to take time and read from my small library of occult and Craft books. I’ve been neglecting my studies.

I live in a rented duplex, whose driveway leads up to my front door. I have a chair where I can sit and look out that door. I usually toss bird seed, mixed with cat food out first thing. The smaller birds like the seed and my neighborhood murder of covids (crows and starlings) have developed a taste for cat food. They also know when I do it, and are on the electrical wires awaiting me.

I work with a local animal shelter and currently have several foster cats in my home. They like to sit at the door and watch the birds eat.

This morning I choose to read from Raven Kaldera and Galina Krasskova’s book “Neolithic Shamanism”. Its one of my recommended craft books and one that I go back to a lot. I had planned on reading about the herb Mugwort, since I’ve been using it lately as a purifying smudge. Mugwort is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, plant spirits and can be a powerful ally. Grandmother is a little difficult to work with, since she is happy to let you make your mistakes. She has the attitude that failing at something, is often the best teacher.

Ratatoskr, in the branches of Yggdrasil

Instead, I ended up reading about the World Tree Yggdrasil and the squirrel Ratatoskr. There is a huge tree directly across the street from my home, which always reminds me of Yggdrasil. Ratatoskr is one of the three animals who reside in Yggdrasil. The other two are Vedrfolnir, an eagle who lives in the branches above, and Nidhogg, a dragon which lives in the roots below. Ratatoskr lives on the trunk and among the branches and carries messages (and sometimes insults) back and forth between the two.

(The World Tree’s name is pronounced “Ig-Dra-Sil”, the Ygg is like the “ig” in pig.)

As I was meditation on that, the cats sitting in front of the screen door became agitated as they do when a bird or squirrel are close to the house but out of my view. I’d had small birds and some starlings eating, as well as a male cardinal.

To my surprise, a rat ran out from in front of the concrete step at my door. It grabbed a piece of cat food and ran back. As I sat there the rat did this several times.

Now having a rat in the neighborhood is not unusual. I have a small garden at the side of the house and where there is a garden you can have small animals. Rabbits and squirrels are common but rats are showing up more and more. Enough that internet articles on how to deal with them have appeared.

Rats, like squirrels, are prey animals for a host of predators and because of that they have evolved over the millennium to be smart, swift and crafty, watching their environment constantly. Nothing ruins your day like getting eaten. They are very intelligent, a trait which makes them great lab animals. Rats in a maze is a recognition that they know how to get out of a difficult situation.

If Rat comes into your Life, it may be time to look at the dangers in your Life you haven’t been watching out for. Is there something in the background that you have been ignoring. A situation that has you stymied. Someone who might have eyes on you in a harmful way. Time to look around and use your wit and intelligence to find a way out.

Rats are also great adventurers, knowing all the little places to hide and the good places for food and shelter. European rats colonized the New World right along side the first Europeans. Asian rats did the same from their side of the World. Consider what kind of skill it would take to crawl up the anchor rope of an early sailing ship, hide among the bales and bundles of the hold, coming out only when it was dark and the crew was asleep to eat a little food here and there. For weeks you hide and avoid being seen and when the ship arrives in a far off land, you scurry out along the anchor rope to begin your adventure again.

If Rat has appeared in your Life, he may be saying its time to expand your horizons. Time to leave the nest and seek your fortune beyond. Perhaps you have been a bit complacent lately. Get off your butt and explore.

Rats are also considered signs of abundance and fertility. They have been with humans from the first farmer’s huts. When the harvest is plentiful, then rats will breed and multiply. A female rat can have many litters over the course of a year. Some of her young won’t survive birth, some will be eaten by predators or even her own kind, but a few will live and go on to spread their species.

If Rat has appeared in your Life it may be time to review the abundance in your Life and how you can contribute to your Family or your Community. Rat does not hoard, and you should not either.

If times have been tough and the bounty scarce then perhaps you should see where you can join forces with those around you to seek what you need. Rats are not choosy, they use what ever the World offers them. And if nothing is offered, then rats go out and find it.

The Spirit of Rat marks new beginnings. Time to let loose of the clutter in your Life and embrace change.

Yggdrasil, the World Tree in my neighborhood.

Final Note: I’ve not seen the rat since that first day. Not surprising because I’ve been leaving food for her at the entrance to the spaces below my front step, so she doesn’t need to venture out during the day. I suspect its a female, with a litter of young. That’s why she ventured out that first day. I have to be careful, since if the neighbor sees her, they will call the landlord and he will put out poison. Rat though will survive.