Sunday, October 27, 2013

Emflame Thyself

I am no stranger to prayer and devotion. In my Catholic upbringing, It was taught to me as a small child. I was taught to clasp my hands, bow my head slightly and do the words by rote memory. I was expected to do it every night until I got it right, and then regularly thereafter. As I got older, I learned the Stations of the Cross and to say my prayers with meaning and understanding. At that point, I could light my own candles in the shrine and it was a real treat to drop a coin, "clink", into the candle money box and light a new candle from the fire of another candle with a little stick. I still remembered the first time I lit a candle. My hands shook and the fire seem to blaze with such power. I could not light it at first because I was afraid I would set the church on fire and I would die a long horrible death and forever live in Hell.  I learned to adore the candle shrines, they seemed to glow with more Light, than just from the candles and held wishes and prayers for loved ones.

When I was a pre-pubescent youth I was expected to confess my sins to the old guy behind the shroud in the dark hot, stuffy and scary confessional booth and then do the equivalent of two "Our Father" prayers and the associated Hail Marys on my plastic set of colored rosary beads before God struck me down for my sins. My confessions consisted of things like french kissing a boy in the remote handball courts made of cool concrete or stealing a dollar from my mom's coin purse to buy Bubble Yum . Some of my Wiccan friends see confession as traumatizing but I assure you its no more scarier than the mall Santa Claus "good list or bad list" confession or the scary birthday clown with the freakishly large feet or some Halloween costumes. Yes, it is very scary.

During confession, the church was usually filled with the little old ladies, whispering swiftly their words of atonement. It is said the Sound of Silence, actually has a tone, which is similar to a hissing sound. In my heart, the sound is similar to those whispered prayers I used to hear during church. During confession, the tone is ominous, like the whisperings of demons in a scary demonic movie. Don't ever mess with those little old ladies. They are forces to be reckoned with. They have a phone line to God connected by the line of their rosary beads.

What got me thinking about prayer and devotion was a recent FB post from a Christian muggle, an old high school friend. She is quite the Baptist now and studies the literature from her faith quite often. She quoted a book she has read:

God invites us to pray in such a way that it scares what is scared within us. God loves when we pray boldly without a shadow of a doubt. If you are not praying the type of prayers that scare you, your prayers are certainly not frightening our enemy. - Lisa Bevere, Girls with Swords, How to Carry Your Cross Like A Hero

The quote was surprising to me because it made a strong statement about prayer. The quote reminded me of an adage that I have read in different forms during my own CM studies and the adage has been stuck in my head: "Inflame thyself with prayer" I found a couple of quotes pertaining to this idea.

"INVOKE OFTEN! INFLAME THYSELF WITH PRAYER" - Israel Regardie, The One Year Manual
"And when, invoking often, thou shalt see
That formless Fire; when all the earth is shaken,
The stars abide not, and the moon is gone,
All Time crushed back into Eternity,
The Universe by earthquake overtaken;
Light is not, and the thunders roll,
The World is done:
When in the darkness Chaos rolls again
In the excited brain:
Then, O then call not to thy view that visible
Image of Nature; fatal is her name!
It fitteth not thy body to behold
That living light of Hell,
The unluminous, dead flame,
Until that body from the crucible
Hath passed, pure gold!
For, from the confines of material space,
The twilight-moving place,
The gates of matter, and the dark threshold,
Before the faces of the Things that dwell
In the Abodes of Night,
Spring into sight Demons dog-faced, that show no mortal sign". - Liber Samekh, reference to Tannhäuser by Aleister Crowley 
"Humiliate yourself before God and His Celestial Court, and commence your Prayer with fervour, for then it is that you will begin to enflame yourself in praying, and you will see appear an extraordinary and supernatural Splendour which will fill the whole apartment, and will surround you with an inexpressible odour, and this alone will console you and comfort your heart so that you shall call for ever happy the Day of the Lord."  The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage Translated by S.L. MacGregor Mathers
"A similar Fire flashingly extending through the rushings of Air, or a Fire formless whence cometh the Image of a Voice, or even a flashing Light abounding, revolving, whirling forth, crying aloud. Also there is the vision of the fire-flashing Courser of Light, or also a Child, borne aloft on the shoulders of the Celestial Steed, fiery, or clothed with gold, or naked, or shooting with the bow shafts of Light, and standing on the shoulders of the horse; then if thy meditation prolongeth itself, thou shalt unite all these Symbols into the Form of a Lion." -Chaldean Oracles of Zorastor
The definition for prayer and meditation has always been fairly clear to me, however, the word "inflame" was a bit more obscure to me. Here it is:

in·flame (verb)
  1. provoke or intensify (strong feelings, esp. anger) in someone. "high fines further inflamed public feelings"
  2. cause inflammation in (a part of the body). "the finger joints were inflamed with rheumatoid arthritis"
Everything started to become more meaningful after I understood a prayer that I perform before a regular ritual:
I am He! the Bornless Spirit! having sight in the Feet: Strong, and the Immortal Fire!
I am He! the Truth!
I am He! Who hate that evil should be wrought in the World!
I am He, that lightningeth and thundereth.
I am He, from whom is the Shower of the Life of Earth:
I am He, whose mouth flameth:
I am He, the Begetter and Manifester unto the Light:
I am He, the Grace of the World:
"The Heart Girt with a Serpent" is My Name!
Come Thou forth, and follow Me: and make all Spirits subject unto Me so that every Spirit of the Firmament, and of the Ether: upon the Earth and under the Earth: on dry land, or in the Water: of whirling Air or of rushing Fire: and every Spell and Scourge of God, may be obedient unto me!"
The idea of inflaming oneself with prayer is a process. One, like when I was a child, that starts with rote memory of the prayers, understanding the meanings of the words and  leads to fearful reverence of what we pray for in the first place. After that we can begin the process of purifying ourselves, detaching ourselves from fear, accept and transformimg ourselves into the roles as an ominous entity of purification and consecration. We have to make that strong emotional statement to ourselves and God that we are the controller. We become the Flame, like that Fire that I used to be awkward and fearful with as a child as the candle altars, beautiful and powerful.

We are the FEARED and POWERFUL and no longer the fearful and meek.

After this process of affirmation, we understand our enemy, the Darkness Chaos, the evil wrought in the world and our issues, The process of being the fear becomes our strength and beauty, and therefore our Lion. We become the reconciler.

Finally, since I love throwing in references to science, I found the following quote from Niels Bohr, a Danish physicist who made foundational contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum theory

Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real. If quantum mechanics hasn't profoundly shocked you, you haven't understood it yet." — Niels Bohr


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