23 February 2011


I'm back from an amazing weekend at Pantheacon. I'd like to say a huge thank-you to all the Pantheacon organizers and staff for running a really great convention and generally being amazing. Workshops and rituals ran smoothly and almost everything was on time! Being a Virgo I kinda think pagan standard time is an abomination, so I really enjoyed things being quite punctual and fully believe the staff pulled off a minor miracle in making it happen.

I had the great pleasure of presenting a workshop on Magickal Self-Defense on Monday up in one of the big ballrooms. I had a decent number of people attend (maybe 70 or so) and was really impressed by their comments and participation. One of the most valuable comments had to do with my exercise in auric dimming.

Auric dimming is a defensive technique that keeps you from standing out. It's appropriate in situations where you're simply going about your day and suddenly the hair stands up on the back of your neck and you just get the feeling that something not so nice is nearby or is maybe even looking for you. This technique will help you to leave a place where you feel threatened without being noticed magickally – it does nothing for being physically seen.

In my exercise (listed in full below) I have people envision their aura as being made up of thousands of tiny threads originating in the center of the body and then spool them, like pulling in thread. One woman made the comment that for people who are more closely associated with water, it might be easier to envision the aura as a large calm lake flowing out into a stream. Instead of pulling threads into a spool in your core, you can envision the waters of the lake flowing out into a narrow river around the body. By doing so you end up with a very thin layer of fast moving energy very close into the body rather than a large amount of more dispersed energy. This can quite effectively shrink your aura, but you must be careful that that fast moving energy is pulled in to pretty much skin level, or else its intensity might attract attention as much as a larger calm aura would. Definitely something to think about.

Auric Dimming

This can be a bit tricky at first, but will get easier as you practice it. It can also feel very uncomfortable, like your skin feeling prickly or too tight. For starters, I wouldn't recommend doing this for more than a few minutes at a time.

  • First visualize your aura. If you have learned how to see auras with either your eyes or your second sight do so now. If not, visualize your aura extending from your body out into the air by about six inches. You can visualize your aura in several ways: it can be the image of a halo of white light, the feel of static electricity, the smell of ozone, or whatever sensory visualization seems most natural to you.
  • Now see/feel/smell/etc your aura going into your body as a series of individual threads that root themselves in a ball in the center of your body.
  • Imagine that the ball is made up of swirling, spinning energy strands like a ball of yarn. Visualize all these strands wrapping around the ball.
  • Visualize that ball turning very slowly, winding all those threads back up into the ball. Visualize the threads of your aura being very slowly pulled back in towards the center of your body, centimeter by centimeter. It is very important to do this slowly, little by little. You only want to contract your aura until its about ½ an inch out from your skin. This will feel slightly uncomfortable but won't hurt you. If you begin to feel light headed, panicky, or very uncomfortable unwind your aura immediately.
  • To let your aura back out just visualize the ball of energy in the center of your body unwinding and releasing your aura back to its natural state.

It's a good idea to ground after using this technique. I would also recommend eating something connecting you to Earth, like bread, nuts, or cheese afterward.

15 February 2011

The Dangers of Defense

First off, I’d like to thank Daniel Bautz over at The Grand Dark Conspiracy for having me on his show last night.  We talked about monsters, mayhem, magickal protections, and a bizarre zombie creating fungus.  If you didn’t get a chance to listen live, you can download the show as a podcast.

One of the points we discussed last night was the idea of the importance of intent in any defensive work.  Daniel asked the question of whether a novice could screw up defensive work to the point of making things worse, or if the power of intent/belief could make up for lack of experience.  The answer is yes and no.

Yes, focused intent and confidence in your workings can make up for a world of procedural mishaps.  If you accidentally smudge going clockwise rather than counter-clockwise while banishing you’re not going to accidentally create a portal into a hell dimension.  Wands, chants, incantations, and gestures are all just tools that help the practitioner focus their will – their intent – and the power of the will is what actually performs the magick and affects the world.  So yes, if you are truly focused on what you want to happen, know your own will, and are able to project that out into your environment magick will happen and you are quite likely to be successful, regardless of technical proficiency.  Inexperienced but strong intent can be quite effective against low level nasties: imps, pixies, most ghosts, etc. – the kind of beasties you’re actually likely to run in to.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t always hold true.

When dealing with the more rare and dangerous denizens of the dark a strong will alone is not going to cut it.  These are the creatures that, in my book, I rate at a danger level of 6+, such as red caps, the rare malevolent and powerful ghost, and infernals.  These creatures are much stronger than their less dangerous cousins and tend to be quite resistant to amateur attempts to remove them.  In the case of such strong creatures, a failed attempt to defend against them can just make them angry, making things much worse.  To use a really mundane analogy, the difference between trying to remove a weak entity, say an imp, verses a strong entity, like an infernal, is a lot like the difference between trying to remove some dust from carpet verses trying to clean up 10 gallons of spilled motor oil.  The dust can be vacuumed up by anyone with the tools they probably already have, while the motor oil is going to require professional cleaning or new carpets and trying to clean it up yourself is likely to just spread it around.

That is not to say that there’s nothing an amateur can do with faced with a big bad.  Basic shielding and self-cleansing techniques (such as basic banishing and hex-breaking) can all hold back some of the negative effects of malicious creatures and give you the time to find help.  In my book I give fairly detailed instructions for all of those techniques, as well as listing common protective stones, herbs, and oils – all of which can mitigate the effects of a malevolent entity and buy you time.  In the end, however, going toe to toe with high level nasties should really be left to advanced practitioners unless there is no other choice.  At the back of my book I have a section called “In Case of Emergency Break Glass,” which has some seriously potent protective and banishing rituals that can be used if there is no other option.  I hope no one ever has to use them.  Thankfully, the kind of entities that require such extreme removal measures are absurdly rare – we’re talking one in a million scenarios.  They happen, but unless you’re meddling with things you ought not to, you’re unlikely to ever come near them.

So yeah, do what you’ve got to do to keep yourself safe but never be afraid to ask for help.  If you have any questions feel free to comment to the blog or you can email me any time: emily at e-carlin.com.

09 February 2011

Reflections on Imbolc

It’s been a week and a half since Imbolc and I’ve had the hardest time figuring out what to say about it.  Imbolc has never made much sense to me and I’ve always had a bit of trouble celebrating it.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Celtic Wheel of the Year, Imbolc is the first or second of February and it represents the transition from winter to spring.  Those of you suffering in the snowpocalypse back east are probably laughing your asses off right now at the thought.  Until today I probably would have joined you.

However, today I found a story that actually made Imbolc make sense to me.  I’ve always enjoyed surfing the Internet Sacred Text Archive and I took a break to read some Scottish folklore.  Today I found the book Wonder Tales from Scottish Myth and Legend By Donald Alexander Mackenzie on the Sacred Texts site (hooray for the public domain) and the story “The Coming of Angus and Bride.” 

This story is about the winter Hag, Beira, and the King and Queen of Summer, Angus and Bride.  The story begins in winter with Beira holding Bride prisoner because Beira knows that when Angus and Bride marry it will mean the end of winter and her time of power.  Eventually Angus manages to free Bride from Beira and they marry – Imbolc is the day of their marriage.  When Beira finds out she’s furious and vows to wage war against them, against the coming of the spring.  Beira then sends out her hags to send storms and frosts against the coming of the spring.  This battle between the winter and the spring rages on, dumping snow, killing new early growth, etc., until the spring equinox, called Ostara.  It’s not until Ostara that winter’s power is truly broken and the Beira retreats to hibernation to wait for the next winter.

Now this is an Imbolc story that makes sense to me.  Spring tries to come on Imbolc and it’s the first glimmer of hope that winter will eventually end.  Winter then retaliates with more bleak weather until it blows itself out and gives up a good month and a half later.  So, Imbolc isn’t really the coming of spring, it’s just the hope of spring in the darkness.

07 February 2011

A Few Announcements

Hey there folks, I've got a few announcements.

On 14 February I'm going to be interviewed on the FATE Radio show The Grand Dark Conspiracy at 10pm est (7pm pst). I'll be talking about my book, monsters, and magick. You can listen to it streaming on FATE Radio or you can download the podcast a few days afterwards. I'd love to know I've got friends listening in.

Also, on 18-21 February I'll be attending Pantheacon in San Jose, Ca.  I'll be presenting my workshop, Magickal Self-Defense on Monday the 21st at 11am.  Here is the workshop description from the program:

A hands-on introduction to the basics of magickal self-defense. This workshop will include the topics of energetic awareness, shielding, magickal camouflage, and a brief introduction to protective charms. This is a hands-on workshop and participants will be asked to stand, move around, and actually do magick. All experience levels are welcome.