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THE MEANING OF LIFE
To gather experience over countless lifetimes.

We Realize who and what we really are, and come to behave like That.

Ignorance of That and associated bad habits result in mistakes and consequential suffering.

The accumulation of experience eventually brings us to realize that we are not separate from others, which forms habitual devotion to the ultimate welfare of all.
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A speech on the free stage at the Mariposa festival, on Center Island, Toronto, 1972.  Carlos (not Mer-Amun) explained what it’s all about.  It’s not Wicca, it’s not Hinduism or Buddhism, or any “ism” at all.  It’s just about You.

Click “Be Yourself” under “Western Mysticism” on the menu above, or click here.

I think we can all agree that before 1940, nearly all occult activities, save very few, were performed in complete secrecy, so little of what is published today was available then.

Now, there is a word for “witch” in nearly every language on the planet.  While “Wicca”, as we know it today, did not exist until after 1940, there were certainly “witches” of some sort practicing throughout history, all over the planet, as evidenced in many more sources than the contents of a mysterious room in the Forbidden City, certain initiatory secrets in the ancient Bön religion of Tibet, digs in the Indus valley, and refrences in ancient Egyptian papyri. In Europe, this practice has been heavily affected by a “Burning Time” that no-one can deny occurred during the time of the Inquisition.  This event drove such practitioners into secrecy, and only survived in a significant way in remote mountain regions of Germany, Eastern Europe, Italy, France and Spain. The secretive witchcraft practiced in these remote locations became culturally isolated versions of what we call “Wicca” today.  In these parts of the world, what we today call “Wicca” became a very secret family or community tradition.  Due to the violent forces that created this state of affairs, the tradition that survived in these fragmented and isolated conditions itself became fragmented and differentiated over time.  In most cases, very little of what was a genuine and complete mystery tradition before the Burning Time survived complete and intact.

As a result of all this, a “witch” before 1940 would have been more likely a follower of a “family tradition.”  Such a person would have snatched up whatever occult literature could be found at the time, while hand-copying whatever notes that could be had through family friends and associations. People involved in such family and cultural traditions tended to be attracted to other occult activities that slowly re-emerged over the centuries.  These people were naturally attracted to, and heavily influenced such occult orders as “The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn”, the Fraternity of the Inner Light and the Ordo Templi Orientis , besides other separate and more secret orders.  It is known that such magical orders influenced Gerald Gardner, and through him, the influence came round full circle into the English version of “witchcraft” that we know today as “Wicca.”

This paints a picture of a pre-1940 European occult practitioner, who may or may not have called himself or herself a “witch”, and probably never heard the word “Wicca”.  After 1940, while Gerald Gardner affected English Wicca, the other “witches” hiding throughout Europe had not been so affected. In many cases these people still do practice in absolute family or community secrecy.

In American History, an interesting example of secret European family traditions surviving through an immigration to the New World, is the story of the “Pennsylvania Dutch”, or rather, “Pennsylvania Deitsch” (“Pennsylvania Germans”). From the Black Forest hexenmeisters (folk magicians, or spell-casters) of Germany, a group of families emigrated to the lands which are now called Romania, near Transylvania. Kaiser Wilhelm promised them land, in return for settling there. These farming families continued their secret traditions, with an outward appearance of Christianity. They might hang a rosary on the wall, for the neighbors to see, but they continued to practice their own faith in secret. As time went on, they mingled their faith with the practices of Romanian healers. In the early 1800s, they came to America, where they settled in Pennsylvania, and became part of the community which came to be known as the Pennsylvania Dutch. Among these Pennsylvania Dutch, to this day there remain extremely secretive practitioners of very old family traditions (not to mention cooks of great food!)

In the “New World”, Janus-Mithras was trained in a different family tradition by his own mother, who was a Spanish “bruja” pronounced “bruha” , male form is “brujo” – the Spanish words for “witch”).  Not surprisingly, due to the cross-influence between family traditions and secret occult orders already described, Janus Mithras also received training in various secret German occult orders through his own father’s papers.  The “traditional” Wicca described on this web site, that of the Isis Urania covens, is a direct confluence of these sources – the family tradition, and the secret European occult orders.  

Living in Vancouver in 1960, Janus-Mithras was called upon to teach what he had learned from his parents.  As the raw European material Janus-Mithras grew up with wasn’t very useful to English speaking Canadians, he received help from a Gardnerian witch in Vancouver that year, and together they adapted the Gardnerian language to the European family tradition.  Thus, in Vancouver, 1960, Janus-Mithras formed the first of the Isis Urania covens.

Of the “traditional” Wicca described here, while the language is new (post-1940), the teaching behind the language is from a far older family tradition.  It is this older tradition of explanation, Initiation and Realization that is referred to with the word “traditional”.

So, while “Wicca” was invented by Gerald Gardner in a sense, at the same time in another sense, it existed long before Gerald Gardner was ever born, and in many more cultures than the English.  The language of “Wicca” has changed around the world for thousands of years.  Gerald Gardner’s writings simply present yet another new cultural expression of the very old tradition.  The essential teachings, the mysteries, the meaning and significance of those, and the central myth behind it are all much older, and more pervasive than what we today call “Wicca”.  Wicca, the Ancient Way, is a very old system of Initiation and Realization, older than the word “Wicca” itself, and far older than the actual prayers and rituals we use in English today.  It is this Ancient Way that we refer to with the word “traditional” as in “traditional Wicca”.

Mer-Amun MerAmun

There are three motivating paths in Occult Arts:  Power, Knowledge, and Love.

Those motivated by power cannot realize their own true nature beyond their individual ability.

Those motivated by knowledge cannot realize their own true nature beyond an idea.

Those motivated by love realize their own true nature in every way, because their motivation includes both knowledge and power, and more besides.  It also includes the power to identify with (sympathize with) anything and everything, including Ultimate Deity, because that’s what we are (with all the power and knowledge implied).  It’s one thing to engage the elementals with stern authoritarian commands, and another to feel as the Ultimate Deity does, and entreat those elementals to help, with tears in your eyes, and sympathy in our heart.  (As an elemental yourself, which would you be more likely to do everything in your power to help?)

Often, the motivation of love is an underestimated principle in Wicca (and I do not refer to love spells here, but to caring and compassion for others).  We have the wiccan rede: “An it harm none, do what thou wilt”, and we have the Law of Threefold Return.  Both of these hint at the importance of caring for others, but don’t quite emphasize the importance and significance of compassion in Wicca.

But it is essential, this emphasis on compassion and love for others.

The most obvious place we find this is in the motivation that Aradia herself had, for studying the occult arts, and for venturing into the Underworld, to find and confront Death himself.  Being immortal, she was tormented by the continual loss of those she loved, all of whom died, every one, every time.  She was tormented by the suffering all of her children endured, helpless to make a lasting difference, all of them dying eventually.  It was caring for others that drove her to study the occult arts.  This caring being foremost, demanded that she gain power and knowledge, but those only in service of her prime motivation: to end the suffering of others.  Wicca itself exists only because of this motivation in Her: she came back from the Underworld with the Secret to the meaning of life, and devoted herself through eternity to easing suffering in others by teaching what she learned.

Suffering.  The great motivator.  People eat, ultimately because they are suffering from hunger.  They work, ultimately because they are suffering from lack.  Suffering of one’s own, or of others is the most common motivation for studying the occult arts (more often, one’s own).

We find hidden on the Wiccan altar a great reminder of the all-important motivation of love.  It is the Scourge.

Attributed to Aradia, it is a whip with 7 knots, symbolic of suffering, ritually administered lightly as possible to prostate participants.

Aradia, motivated by death and suffering, studied the occult and confronted Death, necessarily removing seven prized obscuring veils.

Etymology:  “Sourge” comes form Latin “ex – corrigia” meaning “break attachments”.

The scourge is Aradia breaking attachments, reminding of four things:

  • Alleviation of suffering is the necessary motivation for studying the occult.
  • Attachment to loved ones, health or possessions causes the motivational suffering.
  • Breaking attachment to prized ignorant habits and self-opinions brings necessary suffering.
  • Occult training eases suffering, through emulating Her.

“Art thou willing to suffer in order to learn?”
(Book of Shadows)

Readers primarily motivated by power might ask, how does power arise from love?  The answer is simple.  The Law of Three Fold Return holds the secret.  There is such a principle as cause and effect in this universe.  One only amasses anything by first giving that same thing to others.  Only by doing things for others, and enabling others will things happen for us, and will we be enabled ourselves.  (Obviously, motivation counts.  If you give something solely to get something, you are demonstrating greed, and greed will be demonstrated right back at you, threefold.  You have to really care, to be shown care in return.)

Readers mainly motivated by knowledge might ask: how does knowledge arise from love?  Again, the answer is simple.  Direct personal experience is the quickest and deepest way to learn or know anything.  Love includes sympathy.  If you have considerable love and  sympathy for others (things as well as people), by simply casting your attention on something, to the degree that you really care, you will know what it’s like to actually “be” it or them.  You will learn from personal experience, not books, everything you care to know about anything you turn your attention to.  Sympathy is possible because you are a direct expression of the entire universe.  By turning your attention to anything, you are simply becoming aware, subjectively, of being that thing (to the degree by which you are capable of perfect sympathy).

“I wish to know, in order to Serve”
(Book of Shadows)
 

Love and compassion are the automatic inherent qualities of realizing that you are a direct expression of the entire universe.  If you’re everyone and everything at heart, how can you not feel for every single suffering experienced wherever you turn your attention, feeling for it as though it were you suffering?  After all, it is you that’s suffering.  So, if you’re wondering why it’s important to be a witch, look to Aradia: it’s to help others from their suffering.  If you’re wondering what is the secret to making your spells work, look to Aradia: it’s the Law of Threefold Return.  If you’re wondering how to learn anything, look to Aradia: care enough, and you’ll automatically know what matters.

So, if you want to be a witch, if you want to know the secrets of the universe, and be able to do powerful magic, look to Aradia.  Be like Her, and devote yourself to easing the suffering around you.  The more you do this, the more you’ll be a powerful, wise, and loving witch like Her.

Mer-Amun MerAmun