Monthly Archives: May 2011

The Toxicity of ‘Try’

Most people would, I think, agree that there is power in words.  Otherwise, why speak?  Why sing?  Why use words when we cast a spell instead of stay silent?  Words give an extra oomph to things, and ephemeral, untouchable words can wound just as deeply as any physical weapon.

But there are some words that you just don’t want in your vocabulary because they are so negative, or hurtful, or just plain toxic.  For example, I can’t say the “N” word (think racism) because it feels, to me, like such a horrible, ugly word.  I can barely think it without shuddering and quickly moving on.

There are some words that are subtly toxic.  The word “try” is one of those.  As Yoda said (in his much-quoted admonishment to Luke), “Do, or do not. There is no try.”  We should all be thinking like Yoda here.  “Try” is a toxic word.

Now you’re probably asking why and wondering where I’m going with this.  We use this word all the time, after all, and it has no horrible connotations or denotations, no associations with racism or discrimination, no obvious negativity.  Yet it is negative.  It is terribly negative, and many of us use this word all the time without realizing what it does.

By saying you will try to do something, you basically set yourself up for failure.  You leave yourself open to the possibility of failure or non-accomplishment, and that’s what ends up tripping you up.  I’ve been saying for months that I’m trying to lose weight and eat healthier.  What I didn’t realize then was that by using “try” I was sabotaging myself.  By using “try” I was leaving wiggle room to fudge my eating habits and my exercise routine, and guess what, I failed in my goal.  All because of that insidious little word “try.”

“Try” makes you think that you have made a commitment when you haven’t.  “Try” makes you think you’re accomplishing something when in reality you haven’t.  “Try” leaves open the possibility for failure and by using it, more often than not you do set yourself up for failure because you have not fully committed to the action in question.  No one says “I’ll try to marry you,” they say “I will marry you.”  That’s just an example, but it’s a good one.  “Try” is a cop-out, a halfway waiting place in the mind, an insidious and underhanded attempt to commit to something but still be able to pull out if you don’t feel like doing it.  It is a lazy use of language that has become a common excuse for not doing things we have committed to.  How many times have you heard someone say “I tried to do X, but . . .” or “I’ll try to be there, but . . .”  This word is almost always followed by some kind of excuse or reason for not doing the action involved.  Now think of how many times you yourself have used this word to get out of something with a half-commitment. . .

In magick, we don’t want our spells to only go halfway.  We want our spells to go all the way, to do what we’ve intended them to do.  We don’t use “try” in our spells, so why do we use it in our everyday language?  By instinct, we know that “try” sabotages our spellwork, yet we apparently haven’t figured out that “try” sabotages the rest of our lives as well.  If we don’t use this word in magickal vocabulary, why in the world would we consider it acceptable in mundane vocabulary?


Snapshot Saturday: Baby Birds

While at Brookside Gardens for Mother’s Day, my mom and I noticed a birds nest on top of one of the structures–with three baby birds inside!  I was able to get some pictures of the babies before they settled down and we couldn’t see them anymore.

Review: ‘Practical Protection Magick’ by Ellen Dugan

Practical Protection Magick, by Ellen Dugan
published 2011 by Llewellyn publishing
ISBN: 9780738721682
203 pages
Author information here.
Buy at Amazon
Buy at Llewellyn
Copy is a review copy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5


About the Book: Using humor, personal experience, and a good dose of candor, Ellen Dugan explores the essential topic of psychic self protection.  She helps the reader discover their individual strengths and weaknesses and takes the reader through a detailed discussion of psychic abilities and how to use those abilities for psychic protection.

Dugan covers personal psychic strengths and weaknesses, psychic vampirism, hauntings, the interaction between healthy body and good psychic protection, hexes and curses, and then other various ways for protection that she hasn’t covered in the previous chapters.  The other information includes some of the basics of using cleansings, herbs, colors, stones, and ritual to raise and strengthen protection.

My Thoughts: I very much liked this book.  I only have a few qualms with it.  First, I really hate the prolific incorrect usage of the word “disease” in the metaphysical books I’ve read, and it’s continued here.  People, “disease” is not meant to be spelled “dis-ease.”  I get what the authors are going for here, but really, does no one remember the word “unease/uneasy/uneasiness”?  It’s still a word, and should be used instead of this stylistic version of a word that indicates illness.  I don’t know who started using “disease” in this fashion, but future Pagan/metaphysical writers, PLEASE STOP.  It’s annoying and makes me think you don’t know English.

Now that my linguistic rant is done (and a much shorter one this time than the last), let’s move on.  I found the introductory section interesting, but kind of unnecessary.  I’m going to read the book, so why is it necessary to tell me what I’m going to read before I read it?  If you’re at all unsure of what you’re getting in this book, the intro will tell you pretty much everything you need to know about what’s between the covers.  However, I’m going to classify this as a minor issue, since it doesn’t detract from the book–but it doesn’t add anything either.

Also, I’m curious to know where Dugan gets her information on vampires.  Not that I think it’s incorrect, but simply because I’d like to know if it’s mostly experience or mostly research.  Either one is fine with me, as this section feels well-supported, interesting, and covers a lot about vampirism and what exactly that is.

What I like about the psychic vampire section (chapters 3 and 4) is that the information is presented in a matter-of-fact, sometimes humorous, not frightening way.  The fact that it’s not frightening is important.  This allowed me to assimilate the information and think about it without feeling that horrible stab of fear and anxiety that other books try to instill in an effort to get their point across.

I like that Dugan emphasizes knowledge of the self, because knowing yourself is critical to being a better practitioner as a whole, not just in the area of protection.  This is something that is emphasized throughout the book that I don’t think is covered enough in other works about psychic protection.  How can you protect yourself when you don’t really know what it is you’re protecting?

What I really like is how Dugan explains the link between a healthy body/spirit and protection.  Having a body that is taken care of and respected helps enhance protection magick because it takes away some of the burden of the magick.  Sort of like how having a strong, sturdy base supports and eases the burden on the rest of the house’s structure.

I disagree with Dugan’s assertion that you can do magick while sick.  I’ve always thought it’s not the best idea.  When you’re sick, all of your body’s energy and resources are going toward fighting off the illness.  If your body is fighting it properly, you shouldn’t have anything left over to perform magick, in my opinion.  I know I never do, but I haven’t been sick in a few years, so I can’t exactly test or prove this portion.  I do think it’s unusual that she puts healing under the chapter with fire.  Usually healing gets put in with either water or earth, not fire, though the way Dugan has things organized it does make sense.

Overall, I really liked the book.  I think it’s a very good book for beginning to build and understand psychic protections, and the spells and exercises within are things that I think any level of practitioner could reasonably do and understand.  While I disagree with a few things in Dugan’s book and portions of her style, there is nothing dangerous or greatly objectionable contained within, and I don’t think the objections I do have are great enough to not give it a good rating.  So huzzah, 4.5 out of 5!

Weekly Deity: Pazuzu

Pazuzu statue from the Louvre

Pazuzu is an evil spirit/demigod of the Assyrians and Babylonians.  He is the spirit of the southwest wind and the bringer of drought and locusts.


Pazuzu is an interesting character in terms of his attributes.  He seems to be made of a lot of different human and animals parts.  His body is a human’s, but he has two pairs of large wings, and his head is that of either a lion or dog.  He has eagle’s feet and a scorpion tail.  All in all, a very fearsome creature to behold.  Considering he is often named a demon, this would make sense.


Pazuzu is married to Lamashtu, who is also very fearsome.  She is said to be a nasty creature who brings harm to mothers and children during childbirth.  They are not said to have had any children.  His father is the god Hanbi, and we don’t know what exactly Hanbi is a god of, just that he existed.  Pazuzu is the demon of the southwest wind and king of the demons of the wind.  He brought drought and famine in the dry months and locusts in the wet months, all of which is very harmful to the delicate balance of desert-living humanity.

The demon apparently had another role as well.  Even though he himself was a demon, Pazuzu was also responsible for chasing away other demons.  This made him something like a protector spirit that guarded humans from misfortune and plagues.

Light and Dark Sides

Pazuzu is a very interesting deity.  Well, he’s really more of a demi-god than a full deity, if you want to get technical, but for the purposes of this post we’re going to simplify things and call him a deity (implying some kind of divine being, which it could be argued that he is because of his parentage, despite his label of “demon”).  On the one hand, he brings all kinds of bad things to humankind, such as the droughts, locusts, and famine.  Being a dry, hot wind, he brings all of that with him when he visits, and he doesn’t seem to regret it o regret the harm he causes.  Plus, he’s married to a very malicious lady who enjoys causing harm to mothers and children.  Seems very Dark to me!

But on the other hand, Pazuzu also protects humans.  He protects, or attempts to protect, the women and children going through childbirth from his wife by appearing in the amulets people wear.  He protects people from other demons by chasing away those demons, keeping people from misfortune.  These actions and facets of his personality appear to be very Light and good.

Despite his status as a “demon,” I think I’m going to say Pazuzu is more of a neutral deity.  He causes a great deal of harm, but he seems to make up for it by being a protector as well.  To be honest, he rather confuses me–I think it’s rare to see this kind of absolute opposite behavior in a god.  It tends to be a little more clear about (roughly) where they would stand on a Light-Neutral-Dark scale, but I think it would be fairly safe to put Pazuzu in the Neutral category.  His Light side neutralizes his Dark.

My View of 2012

All the talk about the Rapture and the end of the world got me thinking about 2012. It’s coming up in 7 months, and I’m a little surprised I haven’t seen more people freaking out about it.  I know it was kind of a big deal previously, but the only major incident I’ve seen so far has been Camping and his followers.  Not that I’m complaining, mind, I think it’s a bit crazy; but I am rather surprised.  Especially since most people have some kind of opinion about the end of the world and the 2012 calendar, even if it’s just to scoff and say it’s ridiculous.

With Camping moving his date of the Rapture to October 21, I suppose we’ll be hearing more from him and his sad followers, and much nearer to the end of 2011, too.  But I don’t think the apocalypse will happen on December 31, much less October 21.

Mayan calendar (image from Google image search)

I don’t think the predictions about 2012 indicate that the world will end in fire and natural disaster and billions of people dying.  Knowing what little I do about indigenous religions, and the Maya/Aztec/Inca, I don’t think they would have seen the world’s future as ending in that fashion.  Could they conceive of the world being blown up by a massive volcano or torn apart by earthquakes?  Sure.  I see no reason why they couldn’t have thought of that.  But I do think that that sort of thinking is against their worldview, so I don’t think they would have put much credence in any such prophecy.  I do find it credible, however, to think that they would believe in an “end of the world” scenario in which there is a major shift of some kind, just not the kind that leads to death and destruction.

It’s not the end of the world, it’s the end of a world.

Does that make sense?

I think 2012 is not the end of the world.  I think it signals a major shift in planetary energy, in human consciousness, maybe even in human evolution.  It’s the end of the world as we currently know it to be, but not the end of the world like in the traditional Apocalypse fire and brimstone scenario.  I think we’ve already started to experience this shift; look at the great turmoil around the world, whether that turmoil is in human wars, extinction of species and habitats, natural disasters, etc.  Many people are feeling as if there is a surge in the severity and occurence of natural disasters as well as a change in climate patterns, especially in the past two years.

Really, do we need to be hit over the head before we figure it out?  Nature herself is telling us something is changing, and we may not know what it is, but we know it’s happening.  Pagans especially are attuned to this change in the earth’s cycles; many of us have noticed that the climate in our areas has changed just a bit and have commented on it.  I know my area has been having less of a spring and autumn and almost jumping straight from winter into summer or summer into winter.  That’s unusual for this area, not to mention the higher temperatures in the summer and the VERY unusual snowstorms of the last few years (often nicknamed Snowpocalypse or Snowmaggedon, they were that huge and that unusual for us).

So what am I saying?  I’m saying the earth is telling us there is a shift going on.  Do we need to fear it?  Not necessarily.  But we do need to pay more attention, so that when the time comes for us to be able to do something to help, we will be able to do something to help.  I don’t think the world will end in a few months, but I do think there is going to be a shift of some kind in the planet’s energy and in human consciousness that will affect all of us to one extent or another.

Of course, if the world blows up in a fireball, we’ll know I’m wrong and I’ll be partying with all of you in Camping’s “Hell.”