A walk in the forest

As I have mentioned many times before, I’m sure, it is very healing and re-newing to spend some time in nature. Today I went for a long walk in the forest. At the start of the walk, I was feeling quite down in the dumps – with all the stresses of the modern world weighing heavily upon me. Bills piling up, work stresses, feelings of disconnection and isolation, and worst of all, feeling a long way away from my true nature. Usually I can spring myself into a more positive frame of mind, but today I just wasn’t in the mood for any inner work. It seemed like such a chore! So after a few yoga stretches, and a spot of breakfast, and toying with some meditative exercises, I decided to go for a walk in the forest.
As soon as I got amongst the trees, I started to feel better. At the beginning of the track was a lovely grove of Sydney Blue Gums, with their cool slate grey trunks marked by wavy darker insect lines. I felt their calmness and un-ruffled presence begin to wash over me, and my poise and equilibrium began to return. As the forestry track wound down the hillside, the Sydney Blue Gums gave way to a mix of Tallow-woods, Grey Gums and Ironbarks, and the feeling of the forest became less lofty or dreamy, to my perceptions, anyway.
As I continued to walk, my worries and cares literally drained away from me, and I became calm, and for the first time in several days, it seemed like I had some space around me, in which I could connect with myself again. It was a lovely autumn day – sunshine in a cloudless sky, just cool enough for comfortable walking, and the sun low enough in the sky to give plenty of shade from the trees on the side of the track.
As the elevation got lower, and the soil became rockier and lighter in colour, the spotted gums came into preponderance, with the odd White Mahogany scattered around. Ironbarks of course, still in evidence. I always like to be in the company of Spotted Gums, with their many different hues from blue to reds and orange, and their dimples which remind me of boiling water swirling around, then snap frozen. Further down the slope, I came to an area of stunted Queensland Blue Gums, getting ready to flower and in amongst them, I was delighted to come upon three Kurrajongs growing in a clump. I am particularly fond of Kurrajongs, which in my system of magic, assist with the telling of stories which touch and/or express the emotional depths. In my experience, I have usually come across Kurrajongs as single isolated trees, so it was very unusual to see the three of them there. Perhaps under the ground, there was only the one trunk. In any case, I christened them the three sisters, and spent quite some time in their gentle embrace. As I said, I feel an affinity with the Kurrajong, perhaps because I have always felt a bit different from the people around me, like the Kurrajong, the only one of my kind, surrounded by other species of people: you know the types – those who are interested in corporate ladder climbing, the latest fashions, making large amounts of money, with little sense of the spiritual, or the artistic, and whose sensitivities have been dulled by food, drink, and immersion in a heavy materiality. Not that I am opposed to a nice meal or a glass of wine on occasion, or earning a living by honest means, mind you. Just that, like the Kurrajong, I have always felt I was the only one, surrounded by other types of people who didn’t appreciate or understand me. Or perhaps more simply, surrounded by people who didn’t resonate with me.

Kurrajong tree
Kurrajong tree

So it was nice to spend time with the three sisters, and draw on their strength and ability to calmly and self-assuredly be themselves, even though surrounded by other types of tree. And as I write now it comes to me that indeed the Kurrajong fulfills an esoteric purpose in its aloneness, within the widespread range in which it is found. For it is like the leaven that makes the bread rise. A small amount goes a long way. I heard a fellow taking about the orders of Hermetic magic this way once – that they were like the leaven that helped the dough to rise – the dough being western society. I think the same is true for all people who serve the Ancient Ones – in whatever way, whether Hermetic, Pagan, Wiccan or any path with heart. There are precious few of us, and sometimes it seems that we are working in isolation. However, together, we help to make the dough of life rise into a shapely loaf – whether through channeling energy, or helping others to recover their true nature, healing or magical works, or perhaps most importantly, having the courage and knowledge to be one’s true self. Most of the people out there don’t appreciate it, or even recognise it. And that is the way it should be!

Kurrajong Flowers
Kurrajong Flowers

Kurrajong Fruits and Leaves
Kurrajong Fruits and Leaves

However it sometimes takes its toll when one marches to a different drum beat to that of one’s colleagues and peers. People’s suspicions and ill feeling are easily stirred by someone they sense as being vaguely different, or motivated by unfathomables. In the old days, it was the teaching amongst the wise that those who followed the path should make every effort to appear no different to a typical person. Their dress should be unexceptional, and as befits their trade. Their demeanour should be temperate, and their behaviour moderate. They should engage in the customs of their village, town or country as befits any respectable person. They should have friendly relations with all, and if such were not possible with a particular person, such a person should be avoided. If one was brought into conflict, in spite of one’s efforts to avoid it, one should give every opportunity to have the conflict resolved fairly. If this proved impossible, due to a person’s ill will, then the conflict should be engaged impeccably if it was possible to win. If, however, one’s opponent was so superior in resources or social position as to make victory impossible, then this should be recognised, and one should allow them the victory, and move on. As tempting as it may seem, one’s esoteric knowledge should not be used in order to revenge oneself on such people. Typically, they lack the knowledge and skills to defend themselves, and the grief or harm that you may cause will undoubtedly spill over to effect others who are harmless and undeserving of ill. Thus the wise teach of old that the power is not to be used in this way, except that those who continually do serious harm, and where efforts by ordinary means to address the situation have failed, then a binding may be conducted to prevent further harm. The web of life will reverberate with their actions, and in time they will reap the rewards due to them, good or ill, as will we all. This guidance is no less true today as it was in days gone by.
The chance to connect with and work with spiritual brothers and sisters is priceless, a treasure without price. In those times when one’s brothers and sisters are far away, or yet to be discovered, one may draw strength from the Kurrajong, who is used to being different, and knows the way of it.
As I walked back up the hill, feeling refreshed and re-newed, I noticed many birds, which had seemed absent on the way down. At one point, two pretty little finches came and sat on a tree branch only a few feet from me, and enjoyed my company as I stood watching them for several minutes. I fancy that they could sense the clear and open energy that I carried, as I walked back, a far cry from the dense and unhappy energy as I started my walk.
So get out into the forest, and amongst the trees! You will feel better – I’m sure of it!

Originally Published April 2008

A Finer Division of Energy

One of the fundamental guiding principles of many Neopagan paths, and indeed the Western Hermetic tradition, is the characterisation of all phenomena into the system of the four elements, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Many add a fifth element – Spirit, which combines, centres, and harmonizes the other four. In my own work, I use the four elements to characterise the energetic essence of all phenomena that interest me. Books and lists of elemental correspondences are an important step in learning the craft, learning to recognise the common energetic signatures of phenomena and entities from the different dimensions of existence. For example, an elemental association can be found for herbs, gems, metals, minerals and trees by consulting various sources of traditional lore.
However the division into just four energetic types is too gross a division to account for all the fine differentiations one finds in the world of nature. For example, there are thousands of different herbs in use, and their characters and properties are all unique. In order to begin characterising energies on a finer division, one system that can be employed is the sixteen fold division of energetic movement. This subdivides each element into four aspects, themselves corresponding to the four elements. Thus we have Air of Air, Fire of Air, Water of Air, and Earth of Air. Where as Air as an element corresponds to beginnings, thoughts, communication, the mental realm, and changeability, Air of Air corresponds to the quintessence of Air, the beginnings of thought processes, the conceptions behind planning, the guiding principals, the rules of logic, the very beginning of any enterprise, etc.
Fire of Air is the next stage, corresponding to the action stage of mental endeavour, such as fleshing out a novel once the plot and characters have been defined, talking about plans with others, developing ideas with others, allowing a touch of inspiration into one’s plans. Water of Air is the next stage of the process. It may correspond to getting feedback about one’s plans, it may symbolise the beginnings of emotional attachment to one’s goals and plans, it may correspond to sharing, or the desire to share one’s plans with others, perhaps to gain their support, or admiration. It may symbolise the contribution that the unconscious impulses may make to beginnings and plans, or which may unsettle the mind and cause changeability, or lack of confidence. Earth of Air then corresponds to the process of bedding down, locking in, and making a commitment to the proposed course of action, which prepares us to move onto the element of Fire, which symbolises action.
First is Air of Fire, which symbolises the initial steps, the beginnings, the first testings of action. It may also symbolise actions which are achieved or take their form through mental processes, such as writing letters, creating works of literature, or other mental activities that are themselves acts which affect others. Fire of Fire is the essence of movement and action, enthusiasm and inspiration. Water of Fire represents responsive action, guided and directed by feedback from its environment, or the things upon which the action is directed. Earth of Fire represents habitual action, action that has been locked into place through habit and repetition, or action that is practical in nature, or actions that build over time and repetition to achieve their constructive purpose. Whereas Air of Fire is changeable, Earth of Fire is solid action, and almost impervious to influence.
After Fire in the sun cycle of manifestation, is the element of Water, generally taken to be associated with the harvest, the rewards of action. Also associated with compassion, intuition and the subconscious, and the womb of the great mother. So we might take Air of water to represent the beginnings of the harvest or the rewards, with more still to come. We might also take Air of Water to symbolise intellectual expressions of compassion, or intellectual descriptions of the psyche – such as various forms of psychology and psychotherapy. Indeed any intellectual description or categorisation of intuitive, unconscious, dream or other non-waking realities, could be described as Air of Water. Fire of Water moves us into the active phase of reaping our harvest, and the activity of compassion, intuition, and delving into the greater self in some way. Water of Water, brings to mind the quintessence of Water, of compassion, intuition, the inner life. It is the returning current, and it is the mystery of connection. Earth of Water brings to mind the practical expression of intuition, compassion, and inner development, inner connection with the Great Mother: the habit of openness, the habit of compassion.
The Earth element then takes us through a period of stasis, of breaking apart, of composting to form the substrate for the next cycle of manifestation, the time of digesting experience. So Air of Earth is the intellectual expression of deconstructing one’s experience in order to do something better next time, a conscious reflection on events. Fire of Earth brings to mind a cheerful reflection on how things went, bringing to bear humour on a situation. It is also the active step in decomposition, perhaps symbolised by a wriggling mass of worms turning vegetable scraps into compost. Water of Earth is the final return, the reward of one’s reflection, and the processing of one’s subconscious mind, and of the group mind, below the level of awareness. Earth of Earth, is the final stasis after deconstruction and reflection and intuitive insights have been digested, leading to a stable foundation for a new cycle of manifestation.
Further insight into this division of energy may be gained by considering the court cards of the tarot deck. For example, the Pages represent Air, the Knights Fire, the Queens water, the Kings Earth. So Page of Coins is Air of Earth, Queen of wands is Water of Fire, etc.
This illustration of the four fold division of each of the elements is just one means of further characterising energies, and refining correspondences. We may apply further dimensions of characterisation. For example, we may characterise people physically, emotionally, intellectually and according to personality, each according to the 16 elemental divisions described, which gives approximately 64,000 different characterisations of a person. While every individual is unique, the richness of such a characterisation is sufficient for most purposes!
If you want to play with this system of characterisation, starting with people is reasonable, as people are something everyone has experience with. You might also like to consider dog breeds, birds, flowers, herbs, trees, classical music or motor-cycles – whatever your area of interest is. Select one example a day. For your example, decide first which element to place it in. Then within that element, which division. Consider everything you know about the item. Consider also how you feel about it, what you sense about it, and your perception of its energy.
Be prepared to revise your assessments as you go!
I am sure you will find this a rewarding experience that deepens your relationship with the elemental energies.
In Her Service,

What is being spiritual really?

Quite a number of years ago now, I became involved in a Spiritual Teaching, and a Guru. It was fun for a while, but then it turned out that many of the groups publications were copied from elsewhere, and re-published under the name of the founder of this particular teaching. I was a bit upset when I found out, and the long and the short of it was that I parted companies with this teaching, which turned out to be a good thing for me personally, so I am not complaining. However, at the time it was a bit traumatic, and I wrote a story about Guru’s, teachings, copying and tried to work through the issues using fiction.

My story was about a Guru called Sri Pompous Q McNinney, and a renegade disciple called Vortan the Deceptor who stole Sri Pompous’s teachings, and used them under his own name to set up a rival religion.

Here are a couple of Sri Pompous stories….


Sri Pompous Q McNinney tells the following story:-

“Once when I was a young man, I happened to read in the back of a comic book that I could send away and for only $2.99 receive a pair of x-ray vision glasses. Intrigued by the prospect of seeing people’s underwear, I promptly raided the piggy bank, and sent for my pair. I discovered the glasses to be a cheap fraud. But I knew that x-ray vision was no less a possibility because these glasses didn’t work for me. I turned to eastern mysticism, as it spoke of the third eye, and I felt that this might hold some promise in achieving my goal of x-ray vision. Not only would x-ray vision allow me to see girl’s underwear, but I could become a super spy, seeing secret documents inside safe deposit boxes and so on. So I practiced meditation for many years, and in the course of life have become an old man. I’m no longer interested in girl’s underwear or being a super spy. I never did develop x-ray vision. However I have a great recipe for savory millet dumplings in a white wine sauce.”


Sri Pompous looked up from his plate of rice crispies, and saw that a group of devotees were gazing at him expectantly, waiting for his pronouncement of Divine wisdom.

“Go away, you silly people,” he expostulated lovingly. “Go and get your own rice crispies. Let me have my breakfast in peace.”

“But Master,” interjected Vortan the Deceptor, “I have a dozen quotes from as many holy scriptures that elevate the master-disciple relationship to a sacred and inviolable trust.”

“Yes,” replied Sri Pompous, “But not at breakfast time.”

“The disciples are arguing amongst themselves about the precise location of the heaven of the Zanslucian lamas,” persisted Vortan, “Surely it is your duty to settle the dispute so that harmony can be restored.”

Sri Pompous merely picked up his spoon, in the bowl of which adhered a single rice crispie, damp with milk. Holding the handle of the spoon between the finger and thumb of his right hand, so that the bowl of the spoon was raised upwards, he used his left index finger to draw back the spoon in the manner of
a catapult. At once he released his missile, and the soggy rice crispy flew through the air, landing on Vortan’s forehead, precisely at the location of his third eye. There was an audible pop, and in that instant, Vortan the Deceptor became illuminated.

The Presence of the Master

Sri Pompous had decided that in order to reach the true seekers, he would set up an office, with a shop window, in which could be displayed various uplifting Spiritual frescoes and models. The centerpiece was to be Vortan the Deceptor’s model train set, which was to loop endlessly on its track to symbolize the tyranny of Karma and the wheel of births and deaths. It was arranged that Vortan could still play with it between the hours of 9pm and 12 midnight, when passing traffic had died down, during which time he would assume responsibility as night watchman.

On one such evening, as Vortan happily played with the miniature railway, there came a forthright knocking at the door, and Vortan opened it to reveal a plump middle aged fellow, heavily mustachioed, wearing thick framed glasses.

“What can I do for you?”, inquired Vortan, wondering if this were perhaps a seeker after truth, hungrily waiting for his words of wisdom.

“I came to warn you,” said the fellow. “I used to follow that master of yours. But he’s nothing but a cheat and a fraud. I’m a Seventh Day Adventist now, and I’ve come to convince you to join me!”

Vortan was overcome by an intense desire to ring the fellow’s neck, so overwhelming was his outrage at the insult to Sri Pompous.

“You shiftless scumbag!”, expostulated the Deceptor, “you hardly deserve to breath the same air. Why, Sri Pompous is the pinnacle of Spirituality, and you’re a dirty dog. Get out of here, before I lose my temper. Seventh Day Adventist! Bah!”

“Does your master teach you to insult and threaten others, and belittle their religion?” asked the fellow.

“Not normally,” replied Vortan, exercising his razor sharp wit, “but I’m sure he’d make an exception for excrement like you.” At this Vortan spat at the fellow’s feet, and shouted “Be-gone, agent of Satan!”

Immediately, the fellow whipped off the false moustache, and removed his glasses, to reveal none other than Sri Pompous himself, with a pillow shoved inside his shirt.

“Good God,” cried Vortan in mortification, “Sri Pompous!”

“None other,” he replied, then turned and beckoned to a fellow across the street. “We thought we’d test out the new video camera,” continued Sri Pompous with a smile. “Should be a hit at the devotee’s Christmas party, don’t you think?”

If you would like to read the entire story, you can download it here…


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