In the coming months, the focus of The Pagan Experience will be on what some call the 4 pillars of magical practices. For the month of April, the focus is on the 4th pillar, To Keep Silent.
I first came across these ideas many, many years ago. And discarded them as something that just doesn’t fully apply to my own Pagan religion or practice as a witch.
These pillars of magical practice (you’ll often see it spelled magickal, something that I don’t do) have their origins in the 19th century Hermetic magic. The earliest mention of these pillars is in Eliphas Levi’s The Key of the Mysteries (1861). From there, they were borrowed by Aleister Crowley and eventually found their way into the more formalised rituals of Gerald Gardner, who borrowed heavily from the Hermetic Societies of Crowley, and so they became a part of modern Wicca. This is the reason why my ex-father-in-law, who was a Freemason like his father before him, tells me that there are many similarities between the wording of formal rituals as I conduct them, and the secret rites of the Freemasons. He has not been willing to share with me what those similarities are, and I respect that.
I don’t pay much mind to these pillars of magical practice because I’m not Wiccan. The spellcasting work I do is simple but effective and more in line with the folk magic that cunning women of old might have done. The religious/spiritual work I do is very informal. Oh, I can put up a circle like nobody’s business if I need to, but I don’t invoke and I don’t command.
I do however, think that it is important that I know the history of where my religious and magical practices came from. I’ve said this before, you have to know the rules before you can break them.
While I don’t pay attention to the 4 Pillars, in my own way I do follow the idea of keeping silent.
One of the hardest aspects of doing magical work is learning to let go. I set in my mind an outcome that I want to create, raise the energy and focus the magic on obtaining that outside, then release the energy.
It is very rare that I will talk to others about what spellwork I have done after that, until after the spell has been completed.
Not because I need a rule about keeping silent, but for the same reason that I don’t dig up a seed once I’ve planted it to see if it’s sprouted yet. Eventually, it would kill the seed.
When you spend your time thinking (not keeping silent in the inner world) or talking (not keeping silent in the outer world) about a bit of magical work, you’re not letting go of the means by which the spell can come into being.
I know what I’ve planted when I create magic, I know what I intend to grow with the spell I am casting. If I don’t let go the process once I have set the stage though, the seeds can’t grow and the spell will die.