As we continue to explore the pathways to Grace, I’ve been discussing the customs of many traditions who use the time between Imbolc and Ostara to undergo a period of renunciation, fasting, and cleansing. Besides the obvious food editing, I’ve also written at length about choosing to fast from at least some aspects of the media: perhaps only a news fast, or withdrawing from television for the period, for instance.
We are now in the final week before the Equinox, and so it is time to really concentrate those efforts. Or, if you have not already done so, perhaps now is the time you might wish to retreat into a quiet, preparatory ritual, which may include some kind of fasting, or energetic clearing.
There are so many wonderful ways to do this. For instance, you might want to choose a day or more during the next week that you can spend in silence. There are many traditions that have explored the spiritual benefits of sacred silence, perhaps most well-known being the medieval monks who took vows of silence for many years at a time, sometimes even permanently. But this practice is certainly not limited to Christian ascetics.
The theosophical teacher, B.P. Wadia, writes, “The first requirement of the spiritual life is to learn the value of silence. The conservation of spiritual energy demands that the frittering away of soul-forces be stopped. There are few avenues through which man’s divinity goes to waste as through sound and speech. The dirt and dregs of our karmic nature often find their outlet in useless or injurious speech.”
Recently, I witnessed an unfortunate exchange in which someone unknowingly passed along erroneous information to a group of friends. I am sure many of us, myself included, have made similar mistakes at one time or another, to our extreme embarrassment and regret. The misinformation was very painful, resulting in sorrow and grief compounding an already difficult situation.
It reminded me that so often, especially in a culture where information is the most important currency, we learn to seek attention, admiration, and power by our ability to be “in the know.” Yet the rush to be the first to share news may backfire, especially when that news is wrong.
The ability to listen, discern, and hold our peace is fundamental for those of us walking the spirit paths. The Witch’s Pyramid, sometimes called the Hermetic Quaternary, has been called the springboard to magic. Its four principles are, “To know. To will. To dare. To keep silent.”
The fourth principle, to keep silent, is sometimes considered the foundation upon which the other three are built, or it may be the capstone of the magical structure. It is one of the great secrets of our power — and is, in part, about letting a spell, prayer or intention play out without further tinkering or discussion. Silence is, ultimately, a key component for anyone wishing to deepen their understanding.
As Wadia writes, “In spiritual growth, learning and listening go together. They precede teaching and speaking. In ancient India, the moment the seeker of the peace of wisdom resolved to follow in the footsteps of the guru, the pupil gained the name of Shravaka, a listener. The ancient Greeks named him Akoustikos. He was not even permitted to ask questions; bija-sutras, seed-thoughts, were given him to ponder over and understand to the best of his ability.”
More about this tomorrow, including some ways you might wish to go about exploring this sacred form of ritual that are not as obvious as you might expect.