Re: Ancillary Practices
You asked for it. For me my current ancillary practice mainly consist of the practice of Wicca with a Thelemic, Elemental, Norse/Saxon bent. Wicca (sometimes referred to as Witchcraft) is a neopagan religion in which we harmonize ourselves with the rhythms and cycles of the natural world. This idea is similar to those found in Taoism (which I have also studied), Shintoism and Aikido. I specifically was looking for a faith that would enhance my Aikido when I decided on Wicca. Before Wicca, I had studied, Christianity, Kundalini Yoga, Kabbalah trance working, Buddhism and Taoism. To be honest I was giving serious consideration to Shinto, I gave up that option for many of the reasons that George stated, as well as the Japanese tendencies to not readily accept outsiders into their fold.
Anyway to me Wicca was the most readily accessible path that filled my needs and I have not been disappointed. I'm not trying to convert anyone here (not a Wiccan concept), but I really want to establish an open dialog about this concept of ancillary practice. Wicca is a very organic, sensual, and psychosexual religion, and I strongly believe that Aikido should be practice the same way. Like sex, Aikido and Wicca are physical manifestations of the sacredness of life and the body as a tool to explore divinity.
To me casting a circle and calling the quarters have direct ties to the concepts of zanshin, the extension of ki, as well as the idea behind the term dojo. A dojo as well as the individual is a place held sacred to the energies and powers raised within it, a bastion and protector against all force malignant and maligning; as well as a preserver and container of the energies raised. These are the basis elements for the incantation for creating a circle. The calling of the quarters and four elemental powers ties to the Aikidoka ability to change the shape of their energies during a technique, with air being the idea of expansive, fire the will of irimi, water the feeling of yielding, while earth manifests as the principle of grounding and fudoshin. The fifth element Ether is expressed in the formlessness of the Zen concepts of mushin and zanshin at the same time.
I see Aikido as a form a magick, which Crowley defines as, "the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with True (my addition for clarity) Will." Each waza is a spell, and act of personal will, which at higher level becomes an act of True or Divine Will. I only really began to understand the omote version of irminage when I saw it as instantaneous expression of personal will. Almost like the shockwave of an exploding or expanding star consuming a nearby planet. Crowley's creed of, "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law, Love is the Law, Love under Will," is not an open license to wreck havoc on the world, but a statement of ones right to exist, that as Crowley puts it, "Every man and every woman is a star" of one right to be a star." A lot of people have a problem being expansive in their Aikido, and a lot of their techniques collapse because of a lack of an extension of ki (will).