Some experienced Witchcraft practitioners really struggle with starting training in a new tradition because of the requirement to revisit foundational practice under the scope of that tradition's specific work. They bemoan having to relearn the basics as if they are somehow above it or have mastered every aspect of it. I too used to be this way until I joined a teaching coven three years ago and quickly got over it. Breathing, meditation, and mental focus are all things that are considered foundational work in the Craft. We all have to learn it and we all have to constantly go back to it. If we skip past that stuff to get to what we think of as the "meat of the work", sometimes-dire consequences can follow. Why? Simply put, a strong foundation is absolutely required if you want to build up a stable practice. Much like the Tower card in Waite tarot symbolism, one's infrastructure can be easily tumbled if not for a solid ground it build it on.
Victor H. Anderson himself was very clear about the importance of constantly revisiting foundational practice. In fact, he was so adamant about it that he often warned potential students of the risk of madness by practicing the Craft without such a stable background. While for PR sake we like to say that there is no danger in the practice of magick, there most certainly is. But this is no reason to deter us from it. After all, most of the great things we seek in life require risk in their seeking.
And so every day I extend my daily practice by taking extra time to focus on the foundations. I breath, meditate, ground and center. I focus on mastery of these things before moving forward. And you know what I'm re-discovering? That there is great power inherent in foundational tools themselves. I think sometimes the greatest of all spells are those sent out on a deep cleansing breath. The greatest ritual can be one where you ground into the Sacred Earth and rise up with power anew. No matter how high we rise up, we must always return to kiss the ground once more.
As you can see, this stuff really does have practical application. If your teacher asks you to focus on foundational work (or even if they don't), do it. If you feel like you can't move past the foundational work, perhaps there is need to take more risk and extend outwards. Intuition can help with this as you discern when you need to move and when to stay put. When we lay a strong foundation, the soil has a chance to become richer, and thus the seeds of our Great Work can take root.
- For those reading this blog before the evening of Monday July 23rd, I ask you to tune into my radio show as we discuss this very topic with my Druid friend Teo Bishop, a man who is highly committed to daily foundational practice. We go live at 9:30pm EST. Hope to see you there!
- For those seeking a guided method of building foundational daily practice, I highly recommend T. Thorn Coyle's new Ebook.