Perseverance

Perfectionism is the persistence of will in obtaining the optimal quality of spiritual, mental, physical, and material being. The perfectionist does not believe that one can attain a perfect life or state of living. Rather, a perfectionist practices steadfast perseverance in obtaining the best possible life or state of living.

There are no universal parameters of perfection. Individuals and cultures choose those values that, for them, represent the ideal of perfection. For example, one individual may view education as leading perfection, while to another beauty is the highest ideal.

The idea of perfectionism is that there is an unattained but attainable self that one can strive to reach. Perfectionists believe that the ancient question of living as one is supposed to make all the difference in the world, and they describe a commitment in ways that seem, but are not, impossibly demanding. They do so because it is only in keeping such an impossible view in mind that one can strive for one’s unattained but attainable self.

Certain properties constitute human nature or are definitive of humanity. They make humans human. A good life develops these properties to a high degree and realizes what is central to human nature. Different versions of the theory may disagree about what the relevant properties are and so disagree about the content of a good life. But they share the foundational idea that what is good, ultimately, is the development of human nature.

Equivalence

Mental energy is the concept of a principle of activity powering the operation of the mind, soul or psyche. Energy in this context is used as the literal meaning of the activity or operation. Mental energy has been defined as the driving force of the psyche, emotional as well as intellectual.

Just as physical energy acts upon physical objects, psychological energy acts upon psychological entities or thoughts. Psychological energy and force are the basis of an attempt to formulate a scientific theory according to which psychological phenomena would be subject to precise laws akin to how physical objects are subject to laws of physics. This concept of psychological energy is completely separate and distinct from the mystical eastern concept of spiritual energy.

In The Ego and the Id, Freud argued that the id was the source of the personality’s desires, and therefore of the psychic energy that powered the mind. Freud defined libido as the instinct energy or force, and later added the death drive, also contained in the id, as a second source of mental energy. In 1928, Carl Jung published a seminal essay entitled On Psychic Energy. Later, the theory of psychodynamics and the concept of psychic energy were developed further.

Studies have found that mental effort can be measured in terms of increased metabolism in the brain. Mental energy has been repeatedly compared to or connected with quantitative physical energy. The concept of psychodynamics was proposed with the idea that all living organisms are energy systems also governed by this principle.

Location

A magic circle is circle or sphere of space marked out by practitioners of many branches of ritual magic, either to contain energy and form a sacred space, or as a form of magical protection, or both. It may be marked physically, drawn in salt or chalk, for example, or merely visualised. Its spiritual significance is similar to that of mandala and yantra in some Eastern religions.

There are many published techniques for casting a circle, and many groups and individuals have their own unique methods. The common feature of these practices is that a boundary is traced around the working area. Some witchcraft traditions say that one must trace around the circle deosil three times. There is variation over which direction one should start in. In Wicca a circle is typically nine feet in diameter, though the size can vary depending on the purpose of the circle, and the preference of the caster.

Circles may or may not be physically marked out on the ground, and a variety of elaborate patterns for circle markings can be found in grimoires and magical manuals, often involving angelic and divine names. Such markings, or a simple unadorned circle, may be drawn in chalk or salt, or indicated by other means such as with a cord.

The four cardinal directions are often prominently marked, such as with four candles. In ceremonial magic traditions the four directions are commonly related to the four archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel or the four classical elements, and also have four associated names of God. Some varieties of Wicca use the common ceremonial colour attributions: yellow for Air in the east, red for Fire in the south, blue for Water in the west and green for Earth in the north, though these attributions differ according to geographical location and individual philosophy.

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Tendency

Numinous is an English adjective describing the power or presence of a divinity. The word was popularized in the early twentieth century by the German theologian Rudolf Otto in his influential book Das Heilige. According to Otto the numinous experience has two aspects: mysterium tremendum, which is the tendency to invoke fear and trembling; and mysterium fascinans, the tendency to attract, fascinate and compel.

The numinous experience also has a personal quality to it, in that the person feels to be in communion with a wholly other. The numinous experience can lead in different cases to belief in deities, the supernatural, the sacred, the holy, and the transcendent.

Mysterium tremendum is described in The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley in the following terms:
“The literature of religious experience abounds in references to the pains and terrors overwhelming those who have come, too suddenly, face to face with some manifestation of the mysterium tremendum. In theological language, this fear is due to the incompatibility between man’s egotism and the divine purity, between man’s self-aggravated separateness and the infinity of God.”

Nostalgia for paradise was a term used by Mircea Eliade to help bring understanding to the numinous. This idea was based on the theory that a person has a sort of longing for perfection or paradise, which creates a platform for experience of the numinous.

Carlos Castaneda deals with a related concept in his books dealing with a particular Native American tradition of sorcery. According to the teacher Don Juan, there is just such an inconceivable dimension of human existence whose presence may be sensed but neither grasped by the senses or any rational framework. He refers to this as the Nagual. This Nagual is a power that may be harnessed by a man of knowledge, the shaman or sorcerer who has undergone an arduous spiritual training.

It may be viewed as the intense feeling of unknowingly knowing that there is something which cannot be seen. This knowing can befall or overcome a person at any time and in any place – in a cathedral; next to a silent stream; on a lonely road; early in the morning or in the face of a beautiful sunset.

Payback

The afterlife (also referred to as life after death or the hereafter) is the idea that the consciousness or mind of a being continues after physical death occurs. In many popular views, this continued existence often takes place in a spiritual or immaterial realm. Major views on the afterlife derive from religion, esotericism and metaphysics. Deceased persons are usually believed to go to a specific realm or plane of existence after death, typically believed to be determined by a god, based on their actions during life.

The afterlife played an important role in Ancient Egyptian religion, and its belief system is one of the earliest known. When the body died, parts of its soul known as ka (body double) and ba (personality) would go to the Kingdom of the Dead. While the soul dwelt in the Fields of Aaru (a heavenly paradise), Osiris demanded work as payback for the protection he provided. Statues were placed in the tombs to serve as substitutes for the deceased.

Arriving at one’s reward in afterlife was a demanding ordeal, requiring a sin-free heart and the ability to recite the spells, passwords, and formulae of the Book of the Dead. In the Hall of Two Truths, the deceased’s heart was weighed against the Shu feather of truth and justice taken from the headdress of the goddess Ma’at. If the heart was lighter than the feather, they could pass on, but if it were heavier they would be devoured by the demon Ammit (a female demon with a body part lion, hippopotamus and crocodile).

Egyptians also believed that being mummified was the only way to have an afterlife. Only if the corpse had been properly embalmed and entombed in a mastaba or burial chamber could the dead live again in the Fields of Yalu and accompany the Sun on its daily ride. Due to the dangers the afterlife posed, the Book of the Dead was placed in the tomb with the body as well as food, jewelry, and ‘curses’.

Reflections

Pleroma refers to the totality of divine powers. The word means fullness and is used in Christian theological contexts, both in Gnosticism generally, and by Paul of Tarsus in Colossians 2.9.

Gnosticism holds that the world is controlled by archons, among whom some versions of Gnosticism claim is the deity of the Old Testament, who held aspects of the human captive, either knowingly or accidentally. The heavenly pleroma is the totality of all that is regarded in our understanding of divine. The pleroma is often referred to as the light existing above our world, occupied by spiritual beings who self-emanated from the pleroma. These beings are described as eternal beings and sometimes as archons. Jesus is interpreted as an intermediary aeon who was sent, along with his counterpart Sophia, from the pleroma, with whose aid humanity can recover the lost knowledge of the divine origins of humanity and in so doing be brought back into unity with the Pleroma. The term is thus a central element of Gnostic religious cosmology.

Carl Jung used the word in his mystical 1916 unpublished work, Seven Sermons to the Dead, which was finally published in an appendix to the second edition of Jung’s autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections in 1962. According to Jung, pleroma is both nothing and everything. It is quite fruitless to think about pleroma. Therein both thinking and being cease, since the eternal and infinite possess no qualities.

The Egyptian sage known as Hermes Trismegistus’s Pymander gives an interesting account. Hermes states that the divine sovereign showed him that this world is a copy of an ideal world in heaven, created by the darkness to ensnare mankind.

Evaluation

The Summerland is the name given by Wiccans and other earth-based religions for their conceptualization of an afterlife. The common portrayal of the Summerland is as a place of rest for souls in between their earthly incarnations. Some believe that after one experiences life to its fullest, and has come to know and understand every aspect and emotion of physical human life, usually after many reincarnations, their deity will allow them to stay in the Summerland for an eternal afterlife.

Another common element is that the soul has little, if any, recollection of the Summerland once it arrives on the mortal plane again. The Summerland is also envisioned as a place for recollection and reunion with deceased loved ones.

As the name suggests, it is often envisaged as a place of beauty and peace, where everything people hold close to their hearts is preserved in its fullest beauty for eternity. It is envisioned as containing wide fields of rolling green hills and lush grass. In many ways, this ideology is similar to the Welsh view of Annwn as an afterlife realm. However, the Summerland was also viewed in traditions of Spiritualism, where Wicca got the term itself.

The essence of the Summerland is that it is a resting ground where souls can reflect on the life they led, see if they learned the lesson they had intended on learning, and then try again in due course. The Summerland is not seen as a place of judgement, but rather, as a spiritual self-evaluation where a soul is able to review its life and gain an understanding of the total impact its actions had on the world. Some may believe each particular lesson and life is chosen and planned out by the soul itself while in Summerland, whereas others may believe that lessons are planned by an external party such as deities or spirit guides.

Fields

The Odic force is the name given in the mid-19th century to a hypothetical vital energy or life force by Baron Carl von Reichenbach. Von Reichenbach coined the name from that of the Norse god Odin in 1845.

As von Reichenbach was investigating the manner in which the human nervous system could be affected by various substances, he conceived the existence of a new force allied to electricity, magnetism, and heat, a force which he thought was radiated by most substances, and to the influence of which different persons are variously sensitive. He named this vitalist concept Odic force. Proponents say that Odic force permeates all plants, animals, and humans.

Believers in Odic force said that it is visible in total darkness as colored auras surrounding living things, crystals, and magnets, but that viewing it requires time first spent in total darkness, and that not everyone has the ability to see it. They also said that it resembles the eastern concepts prana and qi. However, they regarded the Odic force, not as associated with breath, like India’s prana and the qi of Eastern martial arts, but rather mainly with biological electromagnetic fields.

Von Reichenbach hoped to develop a scientific proof for a universal life force, however his experiments relied not on scientific instruments but on perceptions reported by individuals claimed to be psychically sensitive or psycho-kinetically adept. The “sensitives”, young women recruited from the poorer social classes, worked in total or near-total darkness, and were forerunners of the Spirit Mediums who appeared all over Europe 10 years later, in the 1850s.

The Odic force found no favor among mainstream scientists, and belief in it survives today as one among many concepts of spiritual energies associated with living things. The Odic force has been mentioned frequently in European books on dowsing, such as Reveal the Power of the Pendulum, by Karl Spiesberger.

Indicator

A Ouija board is a flat board marked with letters, numbers, and other symbols, theoretically used to communicate with spirits. It uses a planchette or movable indicator to indicate the spirit’s message by spelling it out on the board during a seance. The fingers of the seance participants are placed on the planchette, which then moves about the board to spell out messages.

Users subconsciously direct the path of the triangle to produce a word that is in that person’s subconscious thought process. This subconscious behavior is known as ideomotor action, a term coined by William Carpenter in 1882. It is also known as automatism. Some people may be convinced that the powers of the ouija board are real because they are unaware that they are in fact moving the piece and therefore assume that the piece must be moving due to some other spiritual force.

The subconscious thought process may produce an answer that is different from what the user expected in their conscious thought process, thus perpetuating the idea that the board has mystical powers. One experiment was conducted using unbiased participants. Questions were asked of the late William Frawley with very strong answers. The participants were then blindfolded and the board was turned 180 degrees without their knowledge. With continued questioning, the planchette then traveled to bare areas of the board where the participants believed the Yes and No marks were located.

The first historical mention of a Ouija board is found in China around 1100 B.C., with a divination method known as fuji or planchette writing. Other sources claim that according to a Greek historical account of the philosopher Pythagoras, in 540 B.C. his sect would conduct seances at a mystic table, moving on wheels, moved towards signs, which the philosopher and his pupil, Philolaus, interpreted to the audience as being revelations supposedly from an unseen world.

There are several theories about the origin of the term Ouija. The Oxford English Dictionary states that the origin is unknown, but mentions three possibilities. According to one of these, the word is derived from the French oui and the German ja, both meaning yes. An alternative story suggests that the name was revealed to inventor Charles Kennard during a Ouija seance and was claimed to be an Ancient Egyptian word meaning good luck. It has also been suggested that the word was inspired by the name of the Moroccan city Oujda.

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Involvement

Ecstasy is subjective experience of total involvement of the subject, with an object of his or her awareness. Because total involvement with an object of our interest is not our ordinary experience since we are ordinarily aware also of other objects, the ecstasy is an example of altered state of consciousness characterized by diminished awareness of other objects or total lack of the awareness of surroundings and everything around the object. For instance, if one is concentrating on a physical task, then one might cease to be aware of any intellectual thoughts. On the other hand, making a spirit journey in an ecstatic trance involves the cessation of voluntary bodily movement.

For the duration of the ecstasy the ecstatic is out of touch with ordinary life and is capable neither of communication with other people nor of undertaking normal actions. Although the experience is usually brief in physical time, there are records of such experiences lasting several days or even more. Subjective perception of time, space and/or self may strongly change or disappear during ecstasy. The word is often used in mild sense, to refer to any heightened state of consciousness or intense pleasant experience. It is also used more specifically to denote states of awareness of non-ordinary mental spaces, which may be perceived as spiritual.

Ecstasy can be deliberately induced using religious or creative activities, meditation, music, dancing, breathing exercises or physical exercise. The particular technique that an individual uses to induce ecstasy is usually also associated with that individual’s particular religious and cultural traditions. Sometimes an ecstatic experience takes place due to occasional contact with something or somebody perceived as extremely beautiful or holy, or without any known reason.

People interpret the experience afterward according to their culture and beliefs: as a revelation from God, a trip to the world of spirits or a psychotic episode. When a person is using an ecstasy technique, he usually does so within a tradition. When he reaches an experience, a traditional interpretation of it already exists. The experience together with its subsequent interpretation may strongly and permanently change the value system and the worldview of the subject.