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Striking a Balance: Without and Within

mia van eijmeren

by: Debra Miller

The full moon of July marked the one year anniversary of the first ritual for our new Circle. It began as the result of a year’s study of Magic in its many forms under a wonderful teacher, Matthew Ellenwood of the Brotherhood of the Phoenix. Long story short, the last two years of my life have been all about practicing Magic.

This has not always been the case. While I have called myself Witch since the late 1980’s and have participated in and founded many circles and study groups, I’ve gotten “stuck” several times in my life, and the unresolved questions have always been about the balance between “the way its always been done” and the way that comes from within. In nearly every book on Magic, Water is always in the West, Air in the East; but I live in Chicago where the prevailing wind comes from the west- with everything from gentle breezes to tornadoes and to the east lays the inland sea of Lake Michigan. What’s a witch to do? Call across the circle to the powerful source that demands recognition? Switch the elements? Just follow the instruction manual because that’s the way we do it in the Northern Hemisphere? This very question kept me stuck for 10 years. For 10 years I hardly ever prayed. For 10 years I rarely engaged my Gods. I was riveted to the midworld by one question. The question of balance.

It was a rant on this very subject to Matthew that prompted him to ask if I would like to study with him for a year. And what a year- I learned to find the balance between homework and work, between mandatory meditations and laundry, between required reading and maintaining relationships with friends and family. But what does this have to do with Magic?

As a founding member of a new circle I find myself once more asking the question ‘Where is the point of balance between what has always been done and personal gnosis?’. In Mystery School we were required to write several rituals, and more importantly, daily prayers. I agonized over every word. I searched ancient texts. I questioned every promise and every goal in every line. I am proud of my prayers, and I am proud of what I learned, and that is: that there is a power in countless years of countless witches focusing energy and will in the same direction for the same purpose. But there is a power just as valuable in the heartfelt words that come from within; distilled in tears of frustration and truth, forged by the urge of necessity and inspiration, and spoken with the voice of the poet that first put them to paper. I will still struggle with this question at each planning meeting and in the writing of each ritual as we create our own traditions, but I will never let myself be stuck again. The magic is in finding the balance.

As above, so below; as without, so within; as the universe, so the soul.

I leave you with the first half of my morning prayers- the part non-specific to my Goddess and God. It carries with it over a year of repetition, and at least 3 months of agony.

I rise up

I greet the sun in the sky

I delight in the Earth in its cycle

I am equal to all tasks and all things.


I rise up

I walk the earth in mindfulness

I speak and act in mindfulness

I seek to see the holiness in all things.


I rise up

I work to lift my spirit

I work to lift my neighbor

I work to do the will of the Gods in all things.


I rise up

I rise up

I rise up.

Debra Miller lives in Chicago and is a founding member of the Artisans of the Third Path. She works as an actress touring the country as Mary Todd Lincoln in “Visiting the Lincolns”; and as Jane Austen, Mary Todd Lincoln, Louisa May Alcott, and Dolley Madison for her own company Historical Women of Letters. www.talklikejaneausten.com

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  • Love this.. Its was beautiful.. Thank you for letting us read this..


  • This was amazing, so honest and beautiful, thank you.

    Eruc DeVries

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