Sponsorship – Continued

2014/06/24

So this is part two of my post about sponsoring Buddhist rituals. While I covered a lot of this simply in the last post I wanted to expand it more now, as some people grasp it, and others find it unusual.

In the Western world, or perhaps more properly with Western Buddhists there is a change in how Buddhism is understood and performed, by the laity and clergy and everything in between. Part of that is the lack of sponsored rituals. In Buddhist countries, and with people from Buddhist cultures (whether they themselves are Buddhist doesn’t matter) the act of sponsoring rituals is very common. People may sponsor them altruistically or purposefully. Meaning someone may just go to a temple, a hermitage, or contact a local lama, ngakpa, priest, or authorized practitioner and give them a donation to support their ability to do rituals. (I include priest because as this is about the cultures rather than religion there is a lot of overlap with Buddhism and non-Buddhist traditions)

In fact there are many stories about practitioners living off in the wildness, locked in a cave or something like that, and people would come by and just leave them food so they could practice. No communication, no request, they merely did it to help themselves, and to accumulate merit.

Or people can go and give a donation and ask that a ritual for a specific broad goal is done for them, maybe they have a wedding coming up so they sponsor a Medicine Buddha ritual in order to help assure they’ll be healthy for the wedding. Even more direct they may go and sponsor rituals for a specific goal, maybe they’re ill with something and would like Medicine Buddha rituals performed for and on them. It’s so much a part of the system that sometimes in the mo dice divinations the advice people are given is to sponsor certain rituals. There are lots of ways and reasons that people sponsor rituals, and the recitation of sutras (holy texts), but in the West, we don’t see that.

Why? There is no clear answer but I have ideas, my lama has ideas, I’ve seen it discussed before. Part of it is the ideal of being self-sufficient: you are you, you don’t need handouts, you don’t need support, and you don’t need monks doing rituals for you, you can handle it.

The latter point I see playing out more with occultists today, overall it looks like more people want to be generalists than specialists, and there are advantages both ways, but I see a lot of people who don’t want help, assistance, or training in a certain area cause they believe they can (or should be able to) handle it. “I don’t need someone to read my future, I have a tarot deck.” “I don’t need help contacting this spirit, I’m my own priest/ess.” While I advocate being well rounded magickally (and in generally) assuming that you’re just as good at healing, divination, banishing, wealth magick, house cleansing, love magick, and whatever is probably a folly. For various reasons, personality, magickal tradition, training, karma, dumb luck, we all seem to have areas we are better at, and others where we’re not so hot. How many famous/competent mages through history used some form of seer? There is nothing wrong with admitting you’re good at one thing, but need help at another, but for some reason the modern Western world wants use to think we can be, or are, experts at everything.

Another potential cause is the demystification of Buddhism in the west, the idea that meditation is all about training the mind and there isn’t really anything spiritual/magickal going on, which maybe makes sense with Theravada, but falls apart with Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. So if Buddhism is all psychological there is no point in sponsoring rituals cause it won’t help you. Of course if you don’t believe there is anything magickal going on in Buddhism you haven’t looked deep enough.

Part of it is just the unfamiliarity of it in a Christian-heritage culture. Sure if you have a minister officiate a wedding or funeral you are expected to pay them or donate to the Church, but most Christian faiths don’t offer specific services/rituals around healing, or dying, or wealth, or whatever. So people might just be unused to the idea of being able to ask for spiritual/magickal help in these regards. Who knows, there are lots of reasons why it isn’t done, and there are lots of reasons why it should be done.

First off a reason why it should be done is that from a Buddhist perspective community is central “I take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma (the teachings), and the Sangha (the community).” The sponsorship is a way of building and supporting that community, keeping the clergy aware of what is going on with the people, it ties everyone together.

It also helps with the development of those performing the rituals. Instead of vague “for the benefit of all sentient beings” they can put a face/name/identity to someone they’re helping, especially when performing rituals with specific focuses. It also helps in the sense that by performing rituals the monks are working towards their goal of enlightenment and developing compassion. A major, and early, purpose of the donations and sponsorships was to free up the time of the monk by providing them with a meal so they could focus on their dharma practice.

It also benefits the person sponsoring in several ways. First off the ritual is done on their behalf, they sponsored it, so the merit accumulated is their merit. To oversimplify matters, the “good karma” created from the ritual is theirs. This can help generally, or specifically, it can “grease the wheels” for them or be targeted to deal with an issue. When a ritual is sponsored in a general sense it isn’t performed on/for the person, but their behalf, but none the less the merit is connected to the purpose of the ritual. So if you sponsor a healing ritual the merit and blessing you receive is connected to health. Obviously then when a ritual is performed on/for a person, then it deals with their issue specifically, so not just the blessing/merit, but a focused magickal working on helping out. Those are just the major reasons I can think of.

That ramble being done, I’ve been authorized to perform rituals in this manner for a while now and I decided to open it up beyond the local community. Now traditionally a sponsorship was in the form of meals, clothing, religious items (e.g. incense), or money for the temple. Now my local sangha tends to support me in this way via meals, I perform rituals, they buy me delicious Greek fries (cause my lama always goes to a Greek restaurant after our early morning meditation sessions). The internet makes it more complicated, so we settled on $5 as the rough cost of meal when eating out somewhere simple. I might expand this later with rituals involving substitutes, but that’s a lot more awkward to handle online, involves mailing stuff, but who knows, if people find the service useful (and so far I’ve had two people make use of the sponsorships, and two who I’m just finishing up some discussion with around it before starting) I might include that.

I list on the etsy page what I’m authorized to do. (Actually, I’m authorized to perform other rituals, but they’re more abstract and harder to explain and not likely to be requested.) So if you’re curious go check that out.


Anniversary and Sponsorships

2014/06/22

I realized Friday was the second anniversary of opening up my Etsy shop, Blue Flame Magick (I’m original with my naming conventions, what can I say?). It’s been a lot of fun running (more than I thought), while I’ve made items and done magickal work for trade with friends and associates for a while in the past this was the first time I publically offered it. I love the variety of different requests I get, the little insights I get into how people live when they ask for divinations, or the variety of different reasons people have behind a custom mala, or just the challenge of crafting a magickal solution for someone’s problems. For everyone who has supported my etsy, be it through purchasing a good or service, or by signal boosting it, thank you.

As a celebration and thank you, for the next week you can use BLUEISTWO as a coupon code to get 15% off on my etsy.

For a few months I’ve been authorized to perform some new services, and I have privately for people, but I never got around to blogging about them, or adding them to my etsy and I guess now is as good of a time as any.

Every time I try to write about this it becomes too involved with me explaining too much of the background information. So I’m splitting this into two posts, this one talking about what I’m adding to my services, and one in a day or two explaining the cultural/historical background of my practice within Buddhist cultures, and the spiritual reasons for doing it, both for me, you, and all. So if stuff is unclear hopefully the next post will clear it up.

What I’m offering now is the opportunity to sponsor sadhanas, or Buddhist rituals. Essentially when a ritual is sponsored that means I’ll be performing it for you on your behalf. This might seem unusual to a lot of people, but is actually very common in Buddhist cultures, but for a variety of reasons (addressed next post) it didn’t catch on as Buddhism spread out of Asia in the last century. You can sponsor in three different ways, I don’t know if these ways have traditional names, I’ve never heard them, but for sake of ease I’ll call them Open, Specific, and Targeted. Sponsoring a ritual has a variety of benefits: the merit or blessing, accumulated in the ritual is directed towards you rather than me; with a Specific or Targeted sponsoring that can be towards a certain goal/arena; and you help in my development. (More on all of these in the upcoming post)

With an Open sponsorship you’re just sponsoring whatever ritual is coming up, whatever is on my plate, is what you get. You sponsor and I’m doing Medicine Buddha that day, you get Medicine Buddha, if I’m doing Vajrayogini that’s who you get.

With a Specific sponsorship you pick what ritual is being done in your name. This has the benefit of giving you a blessing in a specific area of your life depending on what the ritual was for, so if I’m doing Medicine Buddha then the blessing is geared through his healing essence.

With a Targeted sponsorship you pick what the ritual is, and it is performed directed at you. With a Specific sponsorship (or most ritual practices in general) there isn’t a personal target for the work, you’re offering the benefits to all beings. A Targeted sponsorship has you become the target of the ritual, it’s not just being done on your behalf, it’s being done on you. This means you’re not just getting the blessing of the ritual, but the full effect of the magickal work behind it. To put it in a way that makes sense to more Western understandings: Open and Specific sponsorship transfer the “good karma” from performing the ritual to you, where as a Targeted sponsorship makes you the focus of the ritual, not just the “good karma” but all the magick and energy work that builds up to that. You’re both the recipient of the action and the reaction. So again using Medicine Buddha as an example, you’d get the blessing from me performing the ritual, but you’d also be the person I direct the healing of the ritual towards.

I’ve been doing these sponsorships for a while for my local community, but figured there is no reason not to open up the practice to a wider group of people, especially as my lama said when not everyone has access to a community that offers and performs such things. I figure I’ll do them for a few months as a trial and see how they go with people. So if you’re interested in it, or want to learn more about what is being offered just click this link to get to my etsy.


Pendant Sale on Blue Flame Magick Supplies

2014/02/11

So I announced this on twitter, but forgot to make a blog post about it.

There is currently a sale occurring at my etsy store

I feel it is a time for me to change my focus. My malas will still be there, but now it’s time for me to move away from the pendants I’ve been consecrating, so they’re on sale.

So because of this decision all my pendants are marked down to $20, in some cases that’s more than 50% off.

So if you’re looking for healing, help with chronic health issues, or help preventing health problems there are my Medicine Buddha pendants

If you’re looking for help with the financial, increasing wealth and over-coming obstacles to wealth (specifically when poverty prevents spiritual practice) there are White Mahakala pendants

Lastly, more abstract are my Machik Labdron pendants. It is through her practice that “karmic debts are purified” and “sickness, demons, and obstacles are pacified into space.” The idea is that chöd, the practice of Machik Labdron purifies karmic debts, and asks for the blessing of a variety of spirits to help you on your path. While these blessings can be useful for almost anything, I find they’re best for overcoming chronic issues, as they tend to be karmically rooted. So if there is a specific problem that keeps reoccurring without a physical/mundane cause, perhaps a Machik Labdron pendant would be useful.

More information on each pendant is available in the links, including more on what they do, and how they were consecrated. Since I’m getting out of the pendant business (at least for a time) this may be the last time to get some of these. They’re all marked down to $20 –Canadian too, a deal for Yankees 😉 – and supplies are limited. Get them while they last, and help me build up some capital for my next endeavour.

(And any signal boost would be appreciated)


Thangka Very Much: Sale at Blue Flame Magick Supplies

2013/05/27

I recently came across a new Tibetan shop in Toronto and much to my surprise and joy when I was inside I came across a thangka of Machik Labdrön. For those unfamiliar a thangka is a Buddhist religious painting, and Machik Labdrön is the found of chöd, my primary Buddhist practice.

machikthangkaFor three years I’ve looked for a thangka of her without any luck, I’ve found some online, but I’d rather be able to see it up close first, so I’m very happy that I found one. Thangkas of her are fairly uncommon, and this one is a bit more unusual than normal. Usually a thangka has protectors drawn on it at least, as well as a lineage depiction, this one doesn’t and it’s painted on a black background. Very beautiful.

Why am I rambling about this? Because I want it, but I can’t currently justify the cost. So in order to help fund it I’ve turned to my store: Blue Flame Magick Supplies and I’ve marked down all my consecrated pendants, anywhere from $10 to $20.
So if you’ve wanted a Machik pendant for clearing karmic obstacles, or a White Mahakala pendant for wealth and prosperity, or a Medicine Buddha pendant for healing then now would be a great time to pick them up while they’re on sale, plus it means you get to help fund my dharma practice.

So my stuff is on sale in order to help fund my purchase of a thangka of Machik, so now really is the time to pick up a pendant if you’ve been thinking about it. No idea how long they’ll be at these lower prices, so don’t wait too long. (And as always, a variety of premade, or custom malas are available.)


White Mahakala Pendants: Winner and Live on Blue Flame Magick Supplies

2013/03/21

I wanted to thank everyone who entered my giveaway, even those who commented when I said to email 😉

The entries were put into a container, after several recitations of White Mahakala’s mantra I picked the winner.

I’m happy to announce that reader Jacqueline has won the pendant. She also runs a chainmaille jewellery business, Helix Chainmaille, with some beautiful and colourful pieces, so if that’s your thing go check out her website.

If you’re still interested in a pendant they are now up for sale on Blue Flame Magick Supplies.

For those interested in this blog in general, I’ve been trapped in the paper cage that is academia, but I should hopefully resume normal posting in a week or two.


Wednesday Webshare: Corpses, Pants, Sex, and Greeks

2013/01/16

Mercury Web To start off my Wednesday Webshare I thought I’d remind readers that I have a small etsy shop BlueFlameMagick Supplies. I sell consecrated pendants, malas, and divination services. I’ve been thinking of listing more of my services on there to make it easier for people to contact/contract me. Anyways three items I want to call attention:Quartz Mala, of which there is only the one; Custom malas, which are fun to make, I’ve been asked to make them for the Three Rays of Witchcraft, Hekate (twice), Hermes (twice), Lilith, Samael, Lucifer, Vajrasattva, and the concept of Ice; and lastly the Chthonic Mala, because they’re back in stock, and were the first item I had that ever sold out (also jokingly called the most Goth item I’ve consecrated).

I shared this on twitter quite a while back, but it really deserves to be shared again. This is fairly graphic, so consider yourself warned. Below is photo documentation of a sky burial (jhator), an example of excarnation. I really enjoyed it. If you’re unfamiliar with the practice this is a Himalayan form of disposing of the dead. It’s a great reminder of impermanence. In the burial a body is partially (or completely) cut up, and left for carrion to eat. It’s fascinating to watch how it all happens (I love the photo of the guys running away from the vulture swarm), you can also see where some of the idea of offering the body in Vajrayana Buddhism (specifically in Chöd) came from.

Speaking of Buddhism, not sure what to wear to meditate? How about $995 meditation pants? I’m pretty sure Buddha wore them too. And people worry about commercialism and religion.

Such pants may not be on as long as normal pants, as apparently meditating boosts the sex drive. I will say that some of you know me, and no more needs to be explained. Though it does make me curious about celibate monastics, no sex, lots of meditation, poor guys.

While it seems overly simple, and is your basic sympathetic magick, there is some evidence that destroying or throwing away written negative thoughts helps you get over them. Like I said, it’s simple, but considering some of the ideas behind sympathetic magick (not to mention psychologizing and giving form to things) it’s not too surprising.

To go back in time, The Unlikely Mage has recently started his Agrippa for the non-Medievalist. He’s going through The Three Books of Occult Philosophy chapter by chapter and giving a synopsis, explaining some of the background material, and trying to have it make sense to modern readers.

Polyphanes has started a series of posts on the depth and seriousness of magick. It’s an attitude I understand and love seeing expressed, I recommend everyone check out Getting Burnt by the Stars.

Going farther back io9 asks Can we bring the Greek Gods back please? I know more than a few people who are upset at the implication they left, but it’s a fun article on the “advantages” of bringing back the Greek gods.

Also from io9, and also dealing with Mediterranean culture, do you want to look like a Vestal Virgin? A hair-stylist goes out of the way to learn how to recreate the iconic hair style and gives some brief instructions on how to do it.


Celebrations, Sales, and Anniversaries

2012/09/20

As I’m coming up to two years (!) of this blog, and three months of my etsy shop (not to mention the financial fun of the first month of school) I’m going to offer another sale. One random item will be marked down 10% every day (I’ll announce on twitter each morning and update this entry) and you can use the coupon code SEPT12 to get another 10% of everything in the store until September 26th. (Three days before and three days after the anniversary) And yes, those discounts can stack.

Currently marked down:
Buddhist Space Mala
Earth Mala – Buddhist
Air Mala – Buddhist
Wealth Mala
Medicine Buddha Healing Pendant
Fire Mala – Western
Spirit Mala – Western


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