I was recently on the Alexxcast to talk about Christmas, protection magic, psychic attack, and magic defenses. Then Alexx surprised me with something amazing that I really don’t want to give away! Check out episode 332 of the Alexxcast for a very special treat.
After listening to my conversation with Greg Marcus on Mussar, you might be curious about giving it a try. Mussar is an excellent and effective technique for improving your ethical and moral values through the development of soul traits. It is easy to get started.
The simplest way to begin a Mussar practice is to incorporate its basic techniques into your daily ritual or devotional practice. Mussar requires a brief period of reflection in the morning and evening, along with some reading and journaling. Here’s how we get started.
Making a Plan
Mussar practice works with one virtue or “soul trait” every week. You cycle through your chosen list of thirteen virtues on repeat, completing four cycles per year. Many Mussar practices involve methods for selecting a list of thirteen virtues, but since we’re keeping this easy, we will use the list that Benjamin Franklin used in his autobiography.
|1. Temperance||Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.|
|2. Silence.||Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.|
|3. Order.||Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.|
|4. Resolution.||Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.|
|5. Frugality.||Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i. e., waste nothing.|
|6. Industry.||Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.|
|7. Sincerity.||Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.|
|8. Justice.||Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.|
|9. Moderation.||Avoid extreams; avoid resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.|
|10. Cleanliness.||Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.|
|11. Tranquillity.||Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.|
|12. Chastity.||Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.|
|13. Humility.||Imitate wise teachers such as Jesus and Socrates.|
Franklin’s views might be outdated, or they might not match up with your own spiritual aspirations. You should adapt these virtues and sayings as you see fit. If you need inspiration on how to adapt these virtues to modern life, The Art of Manliness has a series of articles discussing each.
In the Morning
In the morning, you should read the brief statement for this week’s virtue out loud several times. Try to memorize the phrase and repeat it to yourself throughout the day. It can help to do research on the virtue as you’re working on it, and to build up a collection of readings and thoughts from philosophers and Mussar practitioners about each.
Contemplate the virtue during your morning meditation. Remember that many virtues are abstract, beyond straightforward definition, and allow yourself to be surprised by nuances and meanings you discover. Record these thoughts.
In the Evening
Before bed, look back on your day and think about times you were successful in practicing this week’s virtue, or faltered in your practice. Record these briefly. This simple act of mindfulness will, over time, result in an increase of both your awareness of virtue and the integration of the virtues into your life.
For more on Mussar practice, I recommend reading the following books. They are straightforward and easy to tackle and will get you going on the next steps in increasing your virtue.
- The Spiritual Practice of Good Actions: Finding Balance Through the Soul Traits of Mussar by Greg Marcus
- Everyday Holiness: The Jewish Spiritual Path of Mussar by Alan Morinis
- Benjamin Franklin’s The Art of Virtue: His Formula for Successful Living edited by George L. Rogers
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Mussar is the practice of increasing ethics and morality, and joining me to discuss this topic is Greg Marcus. Mussar is a thousand year-old Jewish spiritual practice. Greg is a recovering workaholic and the creator of American Mussar. He offers guidance on living a life of mindful harmony and spiritual integrity, drawing upon Jewish teachings and contemporary wisdom alike. Today he is a writer, speaker, coach, workshop facilitator, stay at home father, and full-time rabbi in training. He’s the author of
The Spiritual Practice of Good Actions: Finding Balance Through the Soul Traits of Mussar
- The American Mussar website
- Greg is @americanmussar on Twitter
- American Mussar on Facebook
- Greg Marcus on LinkedIn
Join me as I sit down for coffee with Greg Traw, a local Portland artist and musician who has created an incredible Tarot deck: the Dracxiodos Tarot. We talk about Greg’s history with the Western esoteric tradition, Eastern religions, artwork, Tarot, and how it all comes together in his work. We also dive into the connections between Tarot and Kabbalah.
“Dracxiodos comes from another planet!”
Andrew B. Watt joins me on this podcast episode to discuss various visions of the future and how we as magicians, occultists, and wizards can prepare for the future — any future! In particular, we discuss the competing ideas of John Michael Greer and Gordon White, futures both pessimistic and optimistic. We also take a look at the 200 and 800 year Jupiter-Saturn cycles proposed by noted astrologer Austin Coppock. How valid are any of these future predictions and what can we do to get ready?
Andrew B. Watt is a blogger in the northeastern United States. He and I first talked about sewing and magic on episode 48 of My Alchemical Bromance, and he convinced me that I should make my magical robe during that conversation.
This conversation was a blast. Andrew is a great thinker and we really dive into some current topics in a way I’m not sure this podcast has ever explored before. Let us know what you think in the comments — and in the meantime, here are some links!
Recommended reading before diving into this episode is book 4, chapter 5 of the Picatrix — yes, ultimate nerds that we are, our entire discussion about your future does end up rooted in an ancient book on pagan Arabian astrological wizard junk. Enjoy!
- Andrew’s Blog, Wanderings in the Labrynth
- Find him at @AndrewBWatt on Twitter.
- Andrew’s AMAZING Etsy Shop
- Andrew B. Watt’s books on Amazon:
- Gordon White’s Rune Soup
- John Michael Greer’s Ecosophia
- Austin Coppock
Keeping it spooky for Halloween, I once more teamed up with Alexx Bollen to summon a cartoon demon! Here’s his description:
Hey ghouls, it’s me AHHHHHHlexx! Welcome to the Alexxcast Halloween episode. This year Erik Arneson joins us to try and summon a cartoon demon… a different one this time! Enjoy!
And if you want to listen to our first Halloween special:
In this spooktacular podcast episode, Montana Jordan joins me for a live Ouija board session. I really don’t want to give anything away about our session — let’s just say that we make contact, and it’s an interesting contact. Even more interesting is that we set up the Ouija board in my ritual space, and Montana has some stuff to say about that, too! Montana also shares some very special news about an upcoming project.
Listen to our special Samhain-Halloween Spooktacular, my friends, and enjoy!! By the way, the intro is remixed with some piano by me.
I first met Ingrid Kincaid in 2017 when she visited my Masonic lodge to give a lecture on Yule and ancient Northern European traditions. Her name kept coming up in conversation after that as many of my friends and associates told me I should talk to her about runes. I finally reached out to her and we met in her home to record this podcast episode in the shadow of her giant mounted caribou head.
Ingrid Kincaid has been studying the runes for 40 years. She has published two books on the subject. Her expertise is held in such high regard that she is known as the Rune Woman. In this episode, Ingrid and I discuss her unique approach to the runes and to ancestral knowledge. We talk about how she discovered the runes, what wisdom they have brought her, and how her ongoing work with them has changed and influenced the world around her.
- Ingrid Kincaid’s website
- Lost Teachings of the Runes: Northern Mysteries and the Wheel of Life (Ingrid’s latest book, released October 1st!)
- The Runes Revealed (Ingrid’s first book on runes)
- @therunewoman on Instagram
Coleman Stevenson of the Dark Exact joined me at the Rose City Book Pub for a live podcast recording, and it was great! We filled up the venue and more than forty people were in the audience. We talk about Tarot, art, the process of creation, creativity, cats, and all kinds of great stuff. The Q&A session with the audience was particularly invigorating.
Recording and sound was done by my very talented brother, Nick Arneson. Go check out his music!
- Coleman Stevenson’s website
- The Dark Exact Tarot
- The Dark Exact’s Etsy Page
- @darkexact on Instagram
- The Dark Exact on Facebook
- Rose City Book Pub
This was our first live recording and we didn’t always do a great job getting the microphones to some of the questioners! However, overall this was a great event and I look forward to doing another one.
Make sure you check out A Small Collection of Specialized Spreads, edited by Coleman and featuring a Tarot spread by me!
Through all of my writing on Hermeticism and Hermetic philosophy on this blog, I’ve recommended a number of books. In this post, I’ll pull them all together to create a reading list for those interested in the subject.