In the last post discussing veiling during rituals, I focused upon why one would or would not veil during religious rituals. There are many different forms of rituals that one would engage in aside from formal worship. Small devotional activities at shrines or as part of one’s daily habits can fall under many of the same conditions as formal worship, provided that the mode of prayer remains relatively the same and the same expectations are made upon the practitioner by their faith’s precepts, the cultural expectations attached to their worship, and the established expectations between the Divine and the worshiper. Other rituals that are not explicitly connected with one’s faith hold different expectations.
One could discuss the conditions where veiling would be considered acceptable in rituals created by the society one lives within. This, however, poses some problems because the conditions where veiling is accepted (if not demanded) vary between cultures and subcultures. I leave the consideration of those rituals to the anthropologists, whom I know have spent an admirable quantity of time upon studying things such as this. I will focus my second article discussing veiling during ritual upon the situations where veiling might be appropriate for magical work, including but not limited to spell craft, divination, and energetic manipulation.
The first thing to note is that magical work happens within the context of one’s religious/spiritual background and their cultural setting. This influences what expectations are present for the practitioner and the mental architecture that the magical work is constructed within. A person who comes from a setting where magical work is an explicit extension of prayer (the Judeo-Christian practices of praying for events to happen are an excellent example of this type of situation) will find that their demands from religious worship will carry over into their magical practice. As such, one who veils for worship would continue to veil whilst conducting their magical efforts via prayer.
There are those who have a measure of division between their religious/spiritual situation and their magical efforts. (A good number of Chaos mages I know seem to fall upon this category.) In a situation where magical efforts are somewhat independent of religious activity, one finds a fairly broad array of positions upon the matter of veiling. In modern paganism, the bias leans towards the practitioner being unveiled because of the belief that being bareheaded facilitates access to ones spiritual environment and their magical gifts. There are those within the various pagan faith systems that take the position that conducting magic whilst having one’s crown chakra (the energy center associated with the crown of one’s head) covered will be less effective then magical undertakings done bareheaded.
The veil’s capacity to serve as a barrier to magical energy is used as a tool to filter out a significant amount of input along one’s psychic senses for many people who are especially sensitive. It is also used at times to carry energy, wherein the veil is charged magically to hold or otherwise contain energy. These veils could be described as talismans, though they are not immediately recognizable as such. Sometimes, veils are used to direct energy away from the wearer. These veils could be described as acting as psychic shields or mirrors. Other times, veils are used to redirect the wearer’s energy back to themselves.
The latter is used in cases where a person finds themselves suffering from low magical energy. In these instances, the veil acts to not only shield the wearer from the psychic actions of others but to boost their own magical potency by retaining energy that would otherwise be lost through daily activities. The veil could also be used to draw energy. This is an uncommon magical practice, however.
The Western occult practitioner community (which includes many pagans) tends to frown upon persons who engage in drawing energy to themselves from others. These people are known as psychic vampires and the community at large tends to view these people poorly. It is, however, possible to draw energy to oneself with out drawing from other people about you. Indeed, with some careful and intentional efforts, it is possible to fashion a talisman that draws magical energy from a specific source and that source alone.
If the veil is used to block, reflect, or draw energy, it is still functioning as what could formally be called a talisman. While the practitioner using the talisman could engage in what the talisman is doing for them, the talisman serves as a tool to allow the user to focus their efforts upon other activities. It is akin to a person using a recording to provide music for something instead of singing themselves. The talismanic qualities of the veil will have subtle variations that are informed and influenced by the cultural background of the practitioner fashioning the talisman and that of the wearer.
In general use, a talisman is most effective when used within the cultural setting it was created in. While it is possible to use talismans across different cultural settings, they become less effective because the connection to the original thought-forms that power the talisman are diminished. In these instances, the wearer’s focused mental and magical effort to maintain the talisman’s attributes will act to fill in the energetic gaps left by the cultural distance between use and origin.
Veils have a rich history of functioning as protective talismans and magical shields. They have been used not only for personal protection but for that of other items. They serve the dual function of protecting the item wrapped or covered by them from physical contamination and from spiritual contamination. The veil has been used in this function in Western society since antiquity in a relatively unbroken lineage. This, perhaps, adds to the effectiveness of the veil as a protective barrier.
Veils can also be used to obscure. The division between the living and the Otherworld is colloquially known as The Veil. This is another example of veiling serving to obscure, even if it is within concept only. The veil as disguise or something to obfuscate is not as recognizable as the use of a cloak for that function. This, however, is an occurrence within relatively modern thought. Traditionally, the veil has functioned as a disguise for the female identity, again, since antiquity. This can be something that is useful to one who is engaged in magical practice and attempting to hide themselves or something/someone else.
1. Energetic manipulation is a broad term that encompasses things such as Reiki, chakra alignment, and any form of psychic activity that utilizes the body’s energetic biofield that is commonly referred to as the aura.