An excerpt from The Power of Prayer currently a work in progress from Julie Dexter and Melusine Draco for Ignotus Press. Due for publication 2021.
‘Putting out the call’ on the astral is something completely different to prayer. Here we are making a public (astrally-speaking) statement that we are looking for, or are in need of someone or something that cannot be clearly defined in terms of a formal magical rite. We have all sent out a plea on the astral for things; it’s not always a conscious process but every one of us sends a plea out into the void, in one form or another, at some stage in our lives. What that power is we are supplicating, and how it works is a matter for debate – the gods, the ancestors, the universe, the source, the cosmos – it doesn’t really matter. Asking for something can work, providing we keep one or two simple rules in mind.
Generally, the one putting out the call is, more often than not, an experienced magical practitioner who can usually get on their contacts within seconds and without any prior preparation. For all its outwards appearances, however, this is not a knee-jerk reaction and the ‘Call’ has probably received a great deal of consideration and/or agonising over before it is put into practice. Because of the character of the supplicant they have probably decided that the time is right on a subconscious level and that they are willing to accept whatever outcome with good grace. There is a saying in traditional British Old Craft that the witch has the right to ask but the ‘powers that be’ have the right to refuse.
Nevertheless, there are times when the knee-jerk has all the passion and emotion necessary to fuel the Call … like in the case of a missing dog or child, for example. Under heightened emotional states, individuals are more inclined to engage in ill-considered or rash actions than at other times. The building panic and imagination working in overdrive, however, can pitch a plea into a full-scale operation that bulldozes its way across the astral, cutting a swathe through physical obstacles, magical protocol and stellar bombardment! The secret is that this kind of emotion cannot be simulated and so it is pure, unadulterated energy being poured into the Call.
Putting out the call is simple but not always easy. All we have to do is ask for what we want and accept there is always a catch and/or a price. For example, the energy we put into asking affects what may ultimately manifest,because if we call for things in a desperate, needy, or doubtful way, we can actually attract more despair, need and doubt. In addition, if we are too vague about what we desire, we can end up acquiring the wrong things, or nothing at all. This is why it is important to be very clear about both the condition our energy is in, and the seriousness of our intentions before we attempt to put out the Call. It never ceases to amaze us, just how many ‘impure conduits’ there are who fail to realize that the main reason for their magical/personal failures are often due to these impurities.
True, this type of working could defy most senses of magical logic, if only because there are only certain exceptions when it comes to the question of practice or ritual. As Carl Jung pointed out, ‘a great many ritualistic performances are carried out for the sole purpose of producing at will the effect of the ‘numinosum’ – a dynamic existence – by certain devices of a magic nature, such as invocation, incantation, sacrifice, meditation and other self-inflicted tortures of various descriptions’. We all are so used to the implications of cause and effect within magical practice that to activate a working without due attention to the focus we have for powering it, would seem impractical or pointless; since every magical action we take, whether taken consciously or subconsciously, has consequences that will deliver specific reactions in our lives.
Part of that ‘cause and effect’ is to make sure our energy channels are pure and uncontaminated. This can be one of the trickiest aspects of realizing success for many people. When we ask from a place of fear or need, we are not sending out the right energy signals on the astral because our channels are contaminated by fear and/or need. The principle behind the Call is that like attracts like, and if we send out fearful or needy energy, we will actually attract things that will make us more fearful or needy. When we call with doubt in our heart, or think that we do not deserve what we are asking for, we will attract back proof of these beliefs. This is why energy cleansing is the first step in putting out the calland, if our channels are clear, then there is nothing to stand in the way of the cause or the effect.
Once we are clear about what we want, it is time to ask for those desires. It may help to take some time for deep breathing exercises or meditation before we begin because it is essential to be feeling as relaxed and positive as we can so that our energy is good. We can create a mini-ritual around the asking if that makes us feel more connected, perhaps lighting a candle, or going to a beautiful place in Nature where we feel connected to natural and universal energy. Then, simply put out the call for what we desire. The spoken word is very powerful, so it is important that we ask for what we want out loud whenever possible.
It is important to understand that exhaling stimulates our response, so a breathing routine with longer exhales than inhales will be more effective at lowering emotional tension. Routines, in which the exhale is the same length as the inhale while focusing on your anxious thoughts, are usually less effective at lowering the effects of anxiety, although, this is a good form of being mindful about learning how to become more relaxed.
For simple meditation, we sit or lie comfortably and close our eyes … making no effort to control our breath, we simply breathe naturally. Focusing our attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation, we can feel the tension begin to evaporate. It may help us relax if we play our favourite sounds of Nature, or soothing classical music and focusing on the rhythms and the tranquility of the sound.
The uncomplicated ‘Rainbow Chakra’ exercise has absolutely nothing to do with traditional British Old Craft but it calms the mind, and can act as a quick pick-me-up. We make ourselves comfortable on the floor or on the bed, and try to keep our mind completely blank for two minutes. Closing our eyes and visualising a blank area in front of us, pushing thoughts away as they intrude into the darkness; we begin by identifying each of the natural energy points of our body with a colour of the rainbow:
- Genitals – red
- Navel – orange
- Solar plexus – yellow
- Heart – green
- Throat – light blue
- Forehead – dark blue
- Crown of the head – amethyst
Visualise a warm red light rising slowly from the genitals, changing to orange as it reaches the navel, through yellow, green, light blue, dark blue, continuing up until the top of the head is bathed in a warm amethyst glow. During the first attempts we will reach the crown very quickly but, as the concentration develops, the light will take longer between the changes of colour as it moves up the body. More effective than 40-winks or a cat-nap, this exercise can be used as a pick-me-up at any time, whenever stress or tiredness creeps in. Or, it can be used before attempting any form of impromptu magical working, as a fire-break between the mundane and the magical world. Time: 15-30 minutes.
Similarly, the ‘Lucid Dreaming’ exercise is a half-waking, half-dream state, where the witch is fully conscious and aware of their surroundings, but still able to receive images or impressions from the astral. The astral image is often super-imposed over the immediate surroundings like a double-exposure on a photograph.
For the best effect, we sit in a comfortable chair in a patch of sunlight, with a lighted candle burning in front of us. Stare at the candle flame, which will be almost invisible in the sunshine streaming in through the window. We don’t allow ourselves to fall asleep but at the same time we allow our mind to drift, and be open to receive any of the impressions that float into our consciousness. The result is extremely relaxing but also useful for divination. We may feel as though hours have passed but when we look at the clock, the hands may have only advanced a few minutes.
- The advantage of these exercises is that we can have someone burst in on us, and all they will see is someone taking a nap! Because none require any deep form of meditation, it is not dangerous if we are awakened suddenly.
Before we can attract what we desire, however, we have to break down those blockages that stand in our way. One of the main traps that people fall into when putting out the call for something is that we are not 100% sure what we want and why. We say things like ‘I want this …’ or ‘I want that …’, but until we flesh out those ideas, they are not going out as actual requests. We can also feel like ‘they’ are hostile or indifferent to us, and when we have tried to ask and failed, it is easy to believe that the ‘powers that be’ don’t care about us. However, the astral is simply responding to the energy waves it receives. The problem with asking generic questions is that we won’t know what the answer looks like. Until we can say, with some degree of certainty, what we actually want, how can we possibly know whether or not we’ve receive it?
We should let our feelings guide us in deciding what exactly it is we want, but if we don’t get a powerful desire erupting within us when we visualize our request, then maybe it’s not the right request to make. For example:
‘From a large pack of dogs I was down to the last three and for one old lady it was now a matter of weeks rather than months. I needed to start looking for another dog – a greyhound or a whippet – but there were lots of mixed feelings as to the inappropriateness of the action and how the remaining dogs would react to the newcomer. One moonless night, with the Dog Star to the south, I went outside and put out a verbal call for an old greyhound brood bitch who needed a home … and as I stood there I had a simultaneous vision of a friend’s blue dog van pulling up at the closed gate and her getting out leading a white greyhound with red markings.
It was not a good time for us. My old greyhound was getting older and my little mongrel contracted pneumonia and unexpectedly died. I contacted my friendly dog-van owner and found that Poppy – a white and red greyhound – had been rushed into the animal sanctuary for an emergency c-section. It was arranged that when the puppies were weaned she would come to me. All seven puppies were adopted and the day the last one left, Poppy came home in my friend’s blue van because lockdown had forced me to remain locked-down.
Poppy is a beautiful, elegant little lady who is a greyhound/fox terrier cross – the original breed-mix of the whippet – and an undoubted gift from the gods, who has helped me through a very difficult, lonely time. And she came in answer to my Call.’
‘Ask the Universe’ is becoming quite a popular ‘in-thing’ on-line but although many of the techniques are similar to those we use within Craft when ‘calling’, I’ve looked long and hard but there appears to be no substance behind the shadows. Google ‘ask the universe’ and there are some 244,000 results, with most of them telling us that there is a way out of our misery just for the asking. These sites have been written by experts in order to create hope without making any pledge; they foster certainty with never a binding promise. They pledge calm and tranquility in exchange for an act of faith … but in what?
Neither is there any special formula for asking the Universe for help or guidance. Apparently, you can say something as simple as: ‘Universe, give me a clear sign about what action I should take.’… or … ‘Universe, help me to know if I should really take this action or not.’ Even: ‘Universe help me to clearly know if this action is something you want me to do.’ Do people believe that requests to the universe for help in solving problems and couched in this vein, really work? Possibly, if they have a leaning towards a concept that the Universe is partly within our subconscious minds – the collective unconsciousness of Jungian psychology. In other words, we can ask for help and our subconscious will attempt to provide the answers, but it might not have them straight away. Being patient is important …
Gregg Levoy writing for Psychology Today asks an extremely pertinent question: how likely are you to allow yourself a trust-fall into the arms of the Universe. ‘If you say you trust the universe, it would undoubtedly help, for starters, to clarify what aspect of the universe it is that you trust? Do you trust its benevolence, the feeling that you’re somehow looked after? Or trust that it’s filled with endless possibilities? Or is it your own resilience you trust, faith in your ability to choose how you’re going to respond to whatever the universe hands you – which is probably the only kind of trust that everyone is capable of.
The definition of trusting something is believing in its reliability, so there’s a catch here: The universe is certainly reliable (sun comes up, sun goes down, gravity works, etc.). But the universe is also reliably unpredictable (chaos theory, Murphy’s law, entropy, the famous shit that happens). So saying that you trust the universe means trusting it to be itself, which includes chaos and randomness, forces which clearly operate on affairs down here on the home planet, and in your own individual life.’
Belief, of course, is a very personal thing and this kind of ‘blind faith’ thinking will challenge any form of belief. As Jung pointed out, religious belief as an external and objective divine cause always precedes any performance of prayer. Those of a witchcraft persuasion understand that although we have a faith/belief in what we are it is not of the blinkered variety and, we need to know what it is we’re putting our faith in! Therefore, to throw a spoken aloud request into the air – so to speak – goes against the grain and we want to know how it works?
So … after the cleansing of the astral/psychic channels, the main problem with any attempt to put out the call is that lack of clarity about what it is that we want. We may actually have only a vague idea of what we want, or we may have had conflicting thoughts. Once we’ve asked for something, however, we need to relax and put it out of our mind, because there’s no point in dwelling on it. Change rarely happens in an instant; it is typically a gradual process that has to follow its own path. Depending on what ‘ask’ we have made, the end result we have in mind might take days, or months … or it might even take years to reach.
Once we have asked for what we want, it is time to let go of our desire and let the astral energies get on with their own system of working. We need to stop fretting and worrying about the situation because this could impede the manifestation process. Remember that we must be open to new opportunities that come our way and that sometimes things will manifest in a slightly different way than what we expected. When the response comes, it will not always be obvious. We have to keep our eyes peeled for little signs here and there that guide us to where we want to be. For example:
‘Books on witchcraft are awash with money-spells but in Old Craft it’s considered a bit of a no-no to ask for cash. Nevertheless, there comes a time in everyone’s life where the lack of money is causing a serious problem and it’s accepted that even in times of dire hardship, a witch will only ever receive enough to keep the wolf from the door. So save the breath in asking for Lottery numbers!
I remember a time when being strapped for cash was causing untold misery and thought it necessary to put out a call for some help in paying the electricity bill before things had a chance to get worse. It was an ask for a specific amount – no more, no less. The response came quickly but not in a way that I could have envisioned – via junk mail! This normally goes in the bin unopened and unread, but that particular day it was a solitary envelope from one of those ‘gold for cash’ companies who were touting for unwanted and/or broken jewellery.
Needs must when the devil drives and I sorted out several pieces that were beyond repair, thinking there might be enough to cover the electricity bill. Within days I received an offer on what I’d sent them and it came to over £1000, well in excess of what I’d asked for. My reasoning for this extra largess was that I had been given what was, in effect, my own property since I owned the jewellery; I’d just been pointed in the right direction for turning dross into cash but without that garish envelope dropping through the door, I’d have never thought about selling broken bits of gold jewellery.’
Be prepared … the signs can come in many different forms, but they will be ones that we are able to spot if we look hard enough. We should also be mindful of any thoughts or memories that appear randomly when we least expect them – because these can also be important signs that we need to look at more closely. A crucial step that is often overlooked by people is trusting the ‘powers that be’ to do right by us, even if it doesn’t seem that way on the surface.
Traditionally, ‘putting out the call’ was for a teacher or mentor when a student felt they had reached a fork in the road, or that the way was blocked for a variety of reasons. This situation was discussed in an interesting article in Psychology Today by martial arts practitioner, E. Paul Zehr: and we often find reflecting parallels in magical and martial arts instruction of when the student is ready the teacher will appear …
‘Both the origin and context of this quote are somewhat obscure and open to both interpretation and nuance that change over time. When I first heard this quote decades ago, I took it quite literally. I thought of it along the lines of, ‘When you get to a certain level of skill, you need to find the right teacher’. It’s interesting how we can be presented repeatedly with the same technical content, but fail to grasp many aspects until some later date. It’s all a matter of where we are at any given time and what we are open to accepting or understanding.
‘I have seen my teacher do the same sequences of movements hundreds and thousands of times over the years. Yet, every so often I will catch something ‘new’ – or that appears new or different to me – in his performance. Many times when I’ve experienced this my default reaction was: ‘Interesting. I wonder why he changed that?’ Over time I’ve realized that, while there are legitimate tweaks and changes that my teacher may decide to make to technical performance within the martial arts system he heads, mostly it’s down to me for not seeing clearly in the first place. Or that at different times, my focus and appreciation were on different aspects of the technique. The ‘changes’ that I see typically reflect the small discrepancies between what I am and ought to be doing. In these instances, I, the student, was ready for the appearance of my teacher. It just turns out that I was finally seeing something clearly for the first time, despite that it has always been there. Instead of being discouraging, I find this liberating and invigorating. How many other aspects of my life can I take this spirit of newfound vision to?’
Again, we have to remember that a teacher can light the way and, ease the way – in other words, facilitate learning – but the learner has to walk the path. So, although we may put out the call because we may feel we are being held back, or our present teacher isn’t right for us, we may need to stop and reflect where the problem actually lies. We may be reluctant to leave our present tutor out of a sense of loyalty but need guidance on how to handle this delicate situation.
This kind of ‘non-active’ response is still a result. Simply because a visual sign that gets us thinking about other things in a different light, is still a positive result. The association of ideas is a process by which representations arise in consciousness, and also for a principle put forward by an important historical school of thinkers to account generally for the succession of mental phenomena whereby one idea was thought to follow another in the consciousness as if it were associated by some connected principle. The term is now used mostly in the history of philosophy and of psychology but it does still occur quite naturally in the magical world.
When we are given the things we’ve asked for, we should be thankful for them and show our gratitude in our actions. This creates a spiral of appreciation, gratitude, and positivity that will help us to manifest bigger and better things. Gratitude is actually the beginning and end of the manifestation process and in order to be in alignment with universal energy, it is important that we focus on all that we have to be thankful for. This will lift our energy and help us to manifest good things.
We also need to be aware that those things that are ‘god-given’ can just as easily be taken away again and so a show of gratitude is merely completing the circle. Our thanks can be shown by a quite moment of thanks, or the donation (sacrifice) to an appropriate charity but without making a great deal of fuss. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.
Putting out the call is, therefore, neither prayer nor magical application but rather a spontaneous cry from the heart. A sort of ‘Hey guys, I need some help with this!’ and is probably the most informal application of serious magical practice. Is it likely to work for someone with no magical ability? Doubtful … of those 244,000 results on Google, none claim to have had any magical training, or any connection to a magical path or tradition but a larger number were endorsing the practice of asking the Universe if only for the feel-good factor. MD