27 September 2014

What is Shadowkrafting?

In exactly one week I will be launching Shadowkrafting.com, the website for my online correspondence courses in magickal defense and shadow magick.  This sort of begs the question: what is Shadowkrafting?

First off, Shadowkrafting is not a tradition.  I believe that magickal practice is deeply personal and thus should be different for each practitioner.  What works for one person may or may not work for someone else, so there really is no one "right way" to practice magick.  I believe that it's my job as a teacher to help my students find what works for them rather than asking them to slavishly do everything exactly as I do it regardless of how effective or comfortable it is for them. 

Though not a tradition per se, Shadowkrafting is essentially my magickal philosophy.  There's no disputing that there is darkness in the world that comes from both within and without.  There are three ways of dealing with this darkness: pretend it doesn't exist and hope for the best, run away from it and hide, or put on your big kid pants and face it.  Shadowkrafting is the art of facing the darkness magickally. I teach defensive magick, which is about facing the darkness that comes from the outside world, and shadow magick, which is about facing the darkness that comes from within.  It's about facing your fears, whatever they may be, and turning them into strengths.  It's about being truly empowered.  The ultimate goal of Shadowkrafting is living an empowered and authentic life while maximizing magickal potential.  It sounds a bit lofty for a simple series of courses, but I tend to have a "reach for the stars and you'll climb mountains" view of this sort of thing.

In the pursuit of these lofty goals you'll find certain values to be inherent in my lessons.  My number one value is personal responsibility - the idea that you are responsible for making your own choices wisely and then dealing with their consequences.  This is the main reason that I don't like giving explicit homework.  I prefer students to choose just how much effort they're going to put into a course.  I like to give a series of optional exercises and it's up to the student to choose to do them or not.  I only require certain work in a class if I believe it is absolutely critical to understand the subject or to do something safely.

Shadowkrafting is also about being flexible and responsive to whatever situation you find yourself in.  The real world is unpredictable and ever-changing, so to be truly useful your magick needs to be adaptable and responsive.  I try to make sure the techniques I teach can be adapted on the fly to changing scenarios.  Need to do a house cleansing in a pinch but you don't have your florida water on hand?  No problem, try smudging.  No smudge, how about about asperging with salt water.  No salt water...well...what have you got?  Olive oil, a q-tip, and a stalk of rosemary from the neighbor's bush.  Ok, I can work with that.

The bottom line for any magickal practice is that it has to work.  Magick is about manifesting our will in the world - be it in the world around us or within ourselves.  If a technique doesn't actually do that for you it's not worth the bother no matter how how impressive its lineage or who taught it to you. Magick is only useful if it is effective, so I only teach techniques that I know actually work.

Shadowkrafting is also about holistic magick.  It is my goal to teach my students information and techniques that will change their lives.  Effective magickal practice is a way of life.  Once you know how to effectively use magick it becomes a part of who and what you are as a person.  That makes it important to really understand how and why magick works, the full spectrum of its effects, and to choose the practices that fit with both who you are and who you want to be.  I want my students to think deeply about the practices I teach and really understand them, only embracing the things that fit holistically in their existing practices and their lives.

Ultimately, Shadowkrafting is my term for the type of magick I do.  It's what I know and what I teach.  Shadowkrafting consists of eclectic magickal techniques that effectively empower students to both affect change in the world and further their own spiritual growth.

12 September 2014

Why I Teach

As I prepare to launch my correspondence courses (shadowkrafting.com coming soon!), I've been reflecting a lot on my own personal philosophies and the reasons why I teach magick.  So I'm going to tell you the story of my very first ever Pagan ritual and why I teach magick the way I do.

Emily at Wellesley
Me my first year at Wellesley
It all began back in the fall of 1999 during my first semester at Wellesley. I'd been interested in magick for a little while at that point, but had only read a few books and tried a few things on my own.  Then one day I saw a friend of mine draped out in a flowing black cape and I asked where she was going.  She explained that she was on her way to the Pagan Students Group (PSG) Samhain ritual.  I asked if I could tag along, she allowed it, and we made our way to the ritual.

I wasn't exactly prepared for what I experienced.  I'd read about the Sabbats and rituals, but I had zero experience.  I hadn't really started my formal practice and only knew the bare minimum of how things were "supposed" to go.  So I just followed along what everyone else was doing and followed the HP's instructions...for the most part. 

Oh yes, my very first ritual and I was already doing my own thing (not exactly a genius move in hindsight).  We did a meditation to go to your astral temple and do something I can't recall.  Well, I didn't really have an astral temple per se, but I did have a spot that I would go to that would later become my astral temple.  While the HP led the group in whatever astral activity we were supposed to be doing, I went off on my own down a path into a dark forest.  As I said, I knew almost nothing and had no idea how dangerous that could be.  Luckily enough, when I got to the end of the path I found myself in a clearing surrounded by what I can only describe as my true family.  There were perhaps a dozen people there, all magickal folk, all welcoming me home.  It felt like being bear hugged by a star.  I felt my entire being shake and shift in that moment and I knew without a doubt that I had finally found my path.  To this day it is one of the most profoundly sublime moments of my life.

As the ritual ended I was excited and vaguely terrified (but in a good way) by what I had experienced.  I pulled my friend aside and explained what I experienced.  She was rather baffled by it and we went to the HP to ask her opinion of what had happened and to see if she could advise me.  I'm not sure what I expected from her, but what I got was: "Well that wasn't what you were supposed to do."  No understanding.  No advice.  No help whatsoever.  I had just had the most profound magickal experience of my life and she was totally uninterested.  Needless to say I was less than impressed by her leadership.

From that day forth I made it my mission to make myself available to anyone who found themselves in my former position to give them the help I wish I had gotten.  So I did what I do best and I obsessed with every fiber of my being until I was an expert.  I've now been teaching for almost a decade and have seen many students grow into powerful practitioners.  It's been a long and difficult journey, but a rewarding one. 

Me by my Junior year - President of PSG

That is why I teach - because when I needed a teacher the most there wasn't one to be found.  That is why I will answer just about any question people will put to me. I teach defensive magick because the things I experienced at Wellesley freaked me out and there was no one to advise me.  I try to make sure my courses are easy to understand and as practical as possible.  The most boundless knowledge is nothing if it can't be understood.  All the theory in the world is useless if it can't be put into practice.  I put exercises in my lessons so my students can get real practice so they can be prepared when they need to be.  I'm happy to talk to students about the issues they face in their lives because I would have given up favored body parts to have had that back when I was new.  I teach in the hopes of helping people to not be the frightened newbie that I was.