Perspective

This post will be a bit more personal than usual. In recent weeks I have been looking at where I am in my life, and all the things I do with my time, with teaching, writing and otherwise. I’ve been asking myself some pointed questions, such as, “Am I wasting my time, or am I really making a difference?” and “Do people really give a you-know-what about what I have to share or what I teach?” Where my writing is concerned, I like to think they do, or this blog would not have over 1,100 followers and it would not have won Best Religion Blog (in a contest for local bloggers) for two years in a row. It would appear that my writing has been moderately successful, not to mention the three books I self-published. I’ve always enjoyed writing, and I think I am much better as a writer than a public speaker. I have found that the pen truly is “mightier than the sword” and sometimes even the spoken voice. When I’m teaching a public class, I often have trouble finding the right words to express things I want to say, so I try to write down as much as possible before-hand, and try not to sound like I’m reading! Public classes are always a bit awkward for me, but they are necessary, although you never really know how many people are going to attend. Sometimes it is only a few, and other times there is nowhere left for them to sit. You just never know, but there are advantages to both small and large classes. Another factor is that the type of paganism that I practice doesn’t appeal to a lot of people here. I’m not Wiccan, and I’m not eclectic. My practice blends Druidry with Witchcraft and Celtic Paganism, (also called DruidCraft), it is very specific and it is not everyone’s cup of tea. I do enjoy teaching, but I am honestly much more comfortable sitting in front of a laptop writing than I am in front of a class. However, in some ways, I have felt obligated to put myself out there and teach publicly, if for no other reason than to give local people a viable alternative to certain other teachers in the area whom I consider questionable, to say the least. I do not teach from an academic perspective, but rather from a practical, real-life, everyday living approach, with a little mysticism thrown in. Some call this being “fluffy” but I disagree. I believe most people would rather have information they can work with rather than some kind of arrogant intellectualism. I try to make things simple and easy to understand, and I have had many kind words from readers who say I have done just that.

Here where I live there aren’t many teachers, and classes are sporadic. Bethlehem PA is kind of a small town, and pagans of various practices are scattered all over the Lehigh Valley. It would be nice to see more people who are mature and knowledgeable, with years of experience in witchcraft and paganism step up and start offering classes. It is important for folks to have a number of options to choose from, instead of the same handful of people doing all of the classes. I have decided that as of September 1st, 2015, I will only teach privately and will no longer offer public classes.

A solitary path is much more appealing to me now than working with a group. Group gatherings just don’t hold as much appeal for me as they once did. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and less patient, but it is also because organized groups often have expectations, personality conflicts, and widely varying beliefs and practices. I don’t shun them altogether, as I have many friends in these groups, but I don’t attend them as much as I used to. Even as a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, I am still solitary as there are no OBOD groups where I live. In one sense I am quite on my own, but in another sense I am never alone. Cerridwen is always with me, as Witch-Goddess, Mother, Teacher and Guide. And my partner Matthew has always been supportive of my path. He also shares my obsession with Harry Potter.

This has been a matter of much confusion, and perhaps a bit off-putting for some folks where I live, especially since my last name is also Potter. This is not my birth name, but it is the name I have used for over 10 years since I chose it as a magical name. As far as I am concerned and regardless of what anyone else thinks, it is my name. I have never used my birth father’s name except when I absolutely must. He was absent from my life and I have no personal connection to his name whatsoever. For the longest time, I sought to have my name legally changed to Potter, and I even had the legal paperwork prepared, but there were other issues that made it impractical to change my name just yet. Those issues are out of the way now, and the only reason I haven’t changed it yet is due largely to my own procrastination. I can imagine what people were thinking (Does he think he’s Harry Potter?) Of course not. I just connected to Harry’s story in a deeply profound way, as his childhood and my own were remarkably similar. I have been involved in the Harry Potter fandom for over 10 years, organizing groups and events, lecturing and even writing a book about metaphyical themes in the Potter stories. We have made many friends through Harry Potter and have had some amazing experiences. There is not one aspect of my life that has not been touched by Harry Potter. It has been firmly ingrained into my life. Some find this extremely odd, but as they say, it is what it is.

All of this rambling brings me to this point: After my last scheduled class in August (See the Upcoming Events link at the top of my website), I will no longer offer public classes, and just focus on writing and continue making my hand-crafted magical items, which thankfully have done well. My spell candles and spell bottles have done very well, they have been sold not only in local shops but in Witchcraft shops in Salem, Massachussetts and have been shipped to the U.K. I did have an Etsy store, but when they changed their policy regarding magical items, (You can no longer say that your items produce a result), I closed my Etsy store and now only sell magical items through this website via Paypal.

So, I am doing away with those things that aren’t working and sticking with what is. What I know for certain is that my writing is making a difference for people. My spell candles and bottles, blended incense, soaps and other items are helping people. My name is Rik Potter, Druidcraft is the path I was meant to follow, the Goddess Cerridwen is my guide, and whenever I need to get away, Hogwarts will always be there…

Herbal Magic: Rosemary

rosemaryAt our recent Summer Solstice ritual, the organizers made a pinata in the shape of the Sun, and hung it over the altar. It was filled with bags of various magical herbs, inspirational quotes on small scrolls and other fun things. When the pinata was split open, everything fell to the ground and we all quickly scooped up whatever we could. One of the things I found was a small bag of Rosemary. Someone asked me what it’s magical properties were, and to be honest, I had to think about it for a moment. Up until then I had rarely used Rosemary in any magical workings. I knew it had some properties, such as healing, but I had always thought of it primarily as a culinary herb. I’ve often used it in cooking, but never as a spell ingredient or even as an incense. After the ritual, I felt led to do more study of this particular herb.

In my studies I found that Rosemary is one of the oldest incenses, and is associated not only with healing, but with protection, love, lust, memory and purification. It is used in love spells and in magical workings to remove negativity and bring positive change. It can be blended with sage and ground into a powder to make an incense for protection. It can be used as a substitute for Frankincense.

Rosemary is a masculine plant, associated with the Sun and the element of Fire. This makes it a perfect plant for spells cast during the Summer months, drawing on the powerful energy of the Sun. Rosemary is easily grown in a container, and when fully grown to desired height it can be hung upside down to dry. The dried plant can then be ground up and placed in ritual candles and soaps, burned as an incense, placed inside healing poppets, or scattered around the home for protection.

I like to place the dried leaves in the pool of wax near a candle flame, so they can be burned along with the candle to release their magical properties. For this, I use a yellow or orange candle, as these colors are also linked to the Sun and fire.

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Here are some other ways to draw on the magical properties of Rosemary:

  • Place fresh or dried Rosemary in a sachet, along with a few drops of Rosemary oil, and carry it with you for protection and healing, or hang it somewhere in the home.

  • Place fresh Rosemary in a muslin bag, and place it over the faucet when you shower or bathe. Allow it’s purifying properties to blend with the water as you take a ritual cleansing bath.

  • Hold a fresh Rosemary plant in your hands, and meditate with it, asking the spirit of the plant to share it’s wisdom with you. Be aware of any impressions or sensations you receive and record them in a magical journal or Book of Shadows.

  • Burn dried Rosemary on a charcoal block when casting spells for healing or protection.

  • Grow your own Rosemary plants at home.

Magical Communities Working Together

I’ve hesitated to write this post for some time, but I feel some things need to be said. I even struggled with a title, because this topic intersects with so many other things, but the final title sort of sums it all up. Even though I am writing from personal observation, I’m sure that any pagan community can benefit from what I have to share. If you read this and you think I’m writing about you, then maybe I am.

I am priviledged to belong to a local community of pagans, witches and other magical folk, a community that encourages and supports other magical communities in the area. We don’t think we’re “better” than anyone else, we attend each other’s events, we share and promote each other’s events and we often participate in events together as a whole. For the most part, there is no rivalry and no “competition” between groups. We are equal and we help each other out. Most of us. Unfortunately this is not the case with every group where I live.

Years ago, our community was divided due to the actions of an alleged High Priestess who caused a lot of damage from her desire to control and dominate. Many things were said that were not true and many friendships were destroyed. The community fell apart. When she left town, time passed and people were able to heal. New groups formed and many friendships were restored. But not all. In the spirit of healing and reconciliation, myself and another leader in the community organized a special gathering that we called “A Time for Healing”. It was intended to be a time of truth and forgiveness, of letting go of the past, a time of restoration and of looking forward to new things. We announced it months ahead of time, so people could arrange their schedules. I personally invited several people that I knew had been affected by the actions of the former High Priestess. We wanted to start fresh and new, and put behind us all the drama that had occurred. When the day came, myself, my friend and other organizers of the event were the only ones who showed up. It was very disheartening. Quite honestly, I was angry. It became clear to me that people did not want healing to take place, they preferred to hold onto their resentment. They had no intention of healing the situation. The community was not as mature as I had hoped.

I find it very unfortunate that some magical groups prefer to shun all others and exist in their own exclusive bubble. Reaching out to them is not always productive, and one comes away feeling unwelcome and looked down upon as an outsider. It doesn’t have to be this way. Likewise, I am not fond of pagans who brag about their “years and years of piled on experience” and how academically gifted they are, considering themselves elitist and “better than”, and therefore expect to be placed on a pedestal and treated like a celebrity. Such arrogance. Even though my favorite teachers are fairly well-known, they don’t brag about how knowledgeable they are, and they don’t look down on others who don’t have the same training. They don’t seek the lime-light, they’re not attention seekers. They treat everyone the same and simply share what they have learned. I have lots of training too, I may not have a degree in metaphysical studies, but it doesn’t make me worse or better than anyone else. I learned many things on my own without a teacher, but I have also learned some from teachers, from personal study, and from my spirit guides. In my classes and events I share what I have learned and what has worked for me. I don’t consider myself superior because I’ve had training that others haven’t. I still have alot to learn.

There are many gifted people in the magical community. Some have more training than others and some are more gifted in certain areas than others, but they are all equally important. As a community of magical people, we are supposed to be working together, supporting and helping each other, instead of isolating ourselves or expecting special treatment. No one is “better” than anyone else.

Living Witchcraft

Those who truly walk the path of the Witch do so with reverence and respect, knowing it is a spiritual path to be lived every second of every day. Real witches do not regard Witchcraft as a “hobby” or something one does for fun on the weekends. Witches are witches each and every moment, whether at home, at work, in the restaurant or standing in line at the supermarket. It is not something you turn off and turn on whenever you feel like it. Witchcraft is a living path that is lived through those who follow it. It is not merely something you do, it is what you are.

In this article, I will address many things that witches believe and practice, and address several misconceptions about Witchcraft. It is a many-faceted path and I will surely not be able to cover everything, but I do want to share some things that I feel are important. For some this may be “beginner” material, but there are many new people sensing the call to the Old Ways and I write for them. I have no doubt that some will read this article and will continue to believe witches are evil and satanic, because this is what they have been conditioned to believe by popular opinion, the church and mainstream media. However, what one sees, hears and reads is not always truth.

Everything I share here is verifiable, one need only do further research on one’s own to see the real truth. Education is a good thing. Learn about Witchcraft from those who practice it and not from those who do not.

The Truth about Witchcraft

Witchcraft has nothing to do with Satanism. Witches do not believe in Satan or any all-evil Satan/Devil figure. Witches do not summon demons to their bidding, and Satan is not part of the Witchcraft belief system. Satan belongs to Christianity and is part of the Christian belief system. Contrary to what some may say, Satanists are not Witches. Satanists are Satanists. There are no “Satanic Witches”, though some may argue this point. Fundamentalist Christian groups link Witchcraft to Satan because Witches do not follow Jesus Christ or the Christian God, and many Christian groups view anything not exclusively Christian as “Satanic”. A recent new trend is “Christian Wicca”, which opens another big can of worms and I have strong views about, but that is for another article.

tumblr_mvveesqCrY1rj3x46o1_500Witches do use magic and cast spells. Witches work with elemental energies (Earth, Air, Fire and Water), the planets, symbols, herbs and plants, oils, crystals, cauldrons and a host of other tools to manifest change in the world. Witches typically cast a circle in which to do their work. This circle acts as an energetic boundary to keep out harmful energies and contain the energy raised within it. There is nothing “evil” about a witch’s circle. It is merely a container for energy and a protective boundary. The spell releases an intention into the universe so it can attract the energy it needs to manifest, which usually happens through a series of seemingly unrelated “coincidences”. Spells can be cast in a myriad of ways, and the practice of magic and spellcasting takes some time to learn. In real Witchcraft, spells and magic do not happen the way we see them in movies or on TV, with special effects, explosions and things moving through the air. That would sure make things a lot easier! Spells take time, and there is rarely an instantaneous visible manifestation. Witches cast spells for healing, prosperity, protection and many other things, but never for harm.

Witches do use wands. The witch’s wand does not work the same way we see in movies like Harry Potter. The wand is used to direct energy, to cast a circle or to be a tool for healing. Most wands are made of wood, and traditional witches prefer to make their own. You can also find wands made of various crystals, resin or metal, however, wooden wands are the preferred choice. I have a wooden wand that I use for circle-casting and is always on my altar, a selenite wand that I use in my Reiki practice, and another wood wand that I take along when I’m traveling. I have different wands for different purposes.

The primary role of the Witch is to be a channel for Healing. It is no coincidence that many witches work in the human services field, as nurses, doctors, counselors, herbalists, teachers, etc. Many are skilled in alternative healing therapies. Some offer services with Crystal Therapy, Reiki, Aromatherapy, Massage, Homeopathy, Herbalism, Energy Healing, Flower Essences, Singing Bowls, Shamanic Healing and many other types of alternative therapy. Many witches have unconventional healing gifts that they discovered unexpectedly and are unique to them, special gifts they did not learn in a class or from a book. As witches, we are called to be healers. One of the old words for ‘Witch’ is “Pharmakeute”, a word that links the witch with herbal healing wisdom.

Witches are devoted to a lifetime of study. Witches have a thirst for knowledge and magical wisdom, and have devoted themselves to the study of magic, magical lore, history, mythology, healing, herbs and plants, divination and other similar topics. They do not view study as a chore or “because my teacher asked me to”. Witches understand the importance of setting aside time on a regular basis to read, learn and practice! The best students are self-motivated and do not need to be hand-held.

Witches are at one with Nature. Witches work with the energies of each season, the phases of the Moon and the powers of Nature. They spend a great deal of time outdoors, among the trees and plants, or finding other ways to connect with Nature. Hiking, planting a garden, nature walks, birdwatching, planting trees, visiting a zoo, caring for animals, cleaning up litter at a park…these are all ways to form a closer bond with Nature. Donate to the Arbor Foundation or other environmentalist groups like Friends of the Earth.

Witches are advocates. As witches we are called to speak out in defense of human rights, equal rights, civil rights, animal rights and environmental issues. We stand against discrimination, bigotry and harassment. Many witches belong to activist and civil rights organizations. I personally am a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Campaign, Harry Potter Alliance, Freedom to Marry, Friends of the Earth, the Arbor Foundation and the Trevor Project.

Witches understand the importance of education. Years of social programming, popular culture, mainstream media and religious fundamentalism have given many an incorrect picure of who witches are. It is important that we educate our communities about Witchcraft and Wicca so that we can help replace the false image of the stereotypical witch with a correct and accurate picture, one that portrays the witch as healer and wise one. Let us also recognize when we should not waste our breath sharing our views with someone who refuses to listen objectively and has already decided we’re going to “burn in Hell”. There are times to share and there are times to walk away from those who are filled with hate and have closed their minds.

Witches do not proselytize. We do not try to convert others to Witchcraft, and there will be no Wiccan missionaries showing up at your door with pamphlets to read. People come to Witchcraft on their own free will, and many find they have been drawn to it since childhood. We do not consider Witchcraft to be the only valid spiritual path that all others must follow. We respect that there are many different spiritual paths, and each person must find the one that is right for them.

Witches serve the community. Whether by providing guidance and counsel with divination practices such as tarot or rune readings, offering healing services such as Reiki or Crystal Therapy, teaching classes, conducting hand-fasting ceremonies, rituals and gatherings, fundraising, raising awareness for important social and enviromental issues, collecting food and clothing for those in need, making magical tools such as candles and oils, and offering other magical services, witches have a duty to use their gifts in service to the community.

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You could be living next door to a Witch. Witches come from every socio-economic background and can be both male or female. Male witches are also called ‘Witch’. “Warlock” is not a word that is used often since it has many negative connotations, and I know some are trying to reclaim the word as a positive thing, but I still prefer “Witch”. You may encounter witches every day without realizing it. A witch could be your employer, doctor, lawyer, teacher, postman, neighborhood police officer, coach, delivery driver, the guy who makes your lattes at the coffee shop, that nice old lady you always see in her garden or even a close relative. Not all witches are “out of the broom closet” and not all witches dress all in black every single day.

Witches work closely with the spirit world. Witches walk “between the worlds” of the seen and the unseen realms, and form relationships with spirit guides, animal totems, gods and goddesses of ancient lore, and interact with them on a regular basis. Witches utilize techniques of altered consciousness such as meditation, trance, dancing, singing, chanting, herbalism and incense to awaken the subtle senses, in order to communicate with guides from “the other side”.

tumblr_mqp164Mb5Z1rp21yko1_500The Pentacle is a symbol of Witchcraft. The five-pointed star in a circle is not a “satanic” symbol and has nothing to do with Satanism. The five points are the five elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit, and also represent Man, the Microcosm. The circle represesnts the Universe, the Macrocosm. Witches wear the upright pentacle (the point at the top). The upright pentacle is a representation of man’s connection to Universal Wisdom, and the descent of Spirit into Matter. The upside-down pentacle represent Matter (Man) taking dominion over Spirit. It is unfortunate that some Satanist groups have adopted the upside-down pentacle as a Satanic symbol,which has caused a great deal of damage to the reputation of the Witch. It is because of this that many believe Witches are satan-worhippers, and this is not the case. As stated above, witches do not believe in Satan. Some witches will wear a triquetra or a triskele instead of a pentacle, as these Celtic symbols, while less “in-your-face” than a pentacle, still have a connection to Witchcraft.

The word Witch means “Wise One”. The original use of the word Witch is derived from an Old English word that translates as “Wise One” or “Wise Good People”. Another word for Witch is Pharmakis which identifies the Witch as someone with a strong knowledge of herbs and plants, linking the Witch to healing.

There are different kinds of Witches. Within Witchcraft, there are different traditions and different ways to practice. There are Celtic Witches, Egyptian Witches, Italian Witches, Shamanic Witches, Druid Witches and an entire plethora of Witches whose practice is informed by specific culture or tradition. Some witches are “Eclectic”, drawing on symbolism and practices from several different cultures or pantheons. There are witches who do not identify as Wiccan, and practice a form of European/British Witchcraft (called The Old Ways or The Old Religion) that is believed to pre-date modern Wicca by hundreds of years.

Not all pagans are Witches. There are many earth-based and nature-based paths, Witchcraft/Wicca is only one. Followers of these paths may use magic from time to time, and honor the changing seasons and moon phases, but they may not necessarily call themselves witches. For some, the word “Pagan” is less threatening than “Witch” and they do not feel comfortable using the “W” word.

The role of the Witch carries great responsibility. Witches are role-models, teachers, counselors, healers, priestess, priest and wear many other hats. A Witch is a Witch every minute of every day, no matter where we are. Let us not take for granted our responsibility to ourselves, our gods and guides, and to the community.

A Candle and a Book of Magic…

Spring is here, though it doesn’t quite feel that way yet. It has been rather chilly and windy, and the temperatures have not yet reached 70 degrees. There is magic in the air, to be sure, I can hear it in the windchimes outside and I can see it in the trees just beginning to flower. In my meditations with Cerridwen and my studies in Druidry I have heard the call to a simpler life, a mystical path of discovery guided by the divine voice within.

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Source: tarot-dude.com

I have recently decided, for a number of reasons, that I much prefer a solitary path with no ties to any group other than the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. This is acceptable, as druidry does not require group involvement, and many druids (including druid-witches like myself) prefer to practice alone. OBOD has very few gatherings in the U.S., at least where I live. I’m afraid I won’t be able to attend the gathering later this year, as it sold out in a matter of days and it is still months away! I was so looking forward to meeting Kristoffer Hughes and Damh the Bard. Ah well. I’ll know better next time. Until then, I am content to practice alone, though not entirely alone, the Lady Cerridwen and my spirit guides are with me. I don’t see this as being non-committal, quite the contrary, I have already been a member of numerous magical groups and have served as High Priest of three covens. I have taught publicly and privately, and will continue to teach as opportunity arises, however, there are several gifted teachers and practitioners in my area, so I do not expect to be sought out very often. My practice and magical services, for the most part, will remain solitary and private. I feel this is as it should be. Except for what you see on this little website, I don’t advertise my magical services publicly unless something has been scheduled. I am not on this path to make a name for myself or even make a living. I am on this path because it is who I am. I appreciate the opportunities the Universe brings my way, but I do not seek them out. Even though I see myself as somewhat like the man in the Hermit card from the Wizard’s Tarot, blissfully content to spend his evenings wandering a darkened library with a candle in one hand and a book of magic in the other, I don’t intend to be a complete recluse. I will simply be more selective about what events I attend and which local pagan activities I will be involved in. I never felt the need to attend each and every event that comes along. Quite honestly, there were many occasions when I would rather have been in that library, studying magic by candlelight…

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Source: bbc.co.uk

My partner Matthew and I have been re-watching Merlin (the BBC TV series), and I really love it. Even though Merlin is the main character, I have grown rather fond of Gaius the Court Physician and Merlin’s mentor. He makes frequent references to “the old religion”, is quite skilled with magic as well, and highly knowledgeable regarding herbs and plants. Much more interesting than the bumbling young Merlin, methinks. We were very sad that it ended after 5 seasons.

In a few days, Beltane shall be here and I will celebrate with a local group. After Beltane, however, I will likely not be present there as regularly as before. At home I will celebrate Beltane in the Druid tradition with the lovely solitary ritual they sent me. I do have a few book-signings coming up, a class here, a lecture there, and tarot readings in between. I am grateful for the opportunities.

The windchimes outside are playing their music again, and it is getting dark. A book on the shelf is waiting to be read, and the candle is almost burned out. I suppose I’d better light another one…

Meditating with the Triple Goddess

The concept of a Triple Goddess figure is not a product of modern Wicca, but has existed for centuries in many pantheons and mythologies. Hecate, Diana, Brighid and Cerridwen and many goddesses from other cultures have 3 aspects. In traditional Witchcraft, these are often recognized as Maiden, Mother and Crone. In my book, Walking a Magic Path, I shared a meditation that I use with my students to help them connect to the Goddess in these three aspects. I share it with you now. Feel free to copy it down and record it in your own voice, or have someone read it to you. When doing this meditation, light one white candle and turn off all other lights. You may to wish to burn some Pine or Cedar incense.

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Triple Goddess Meditation

Find a quiet place where you can remain undisturbed for at least half an hour.

Sit down, close your eyes and take several deep breaths until you reach a meditative state.

In your mind’s eye, slowly visualize the numbers 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

With eyes remained closed, picture yourself standing on a path that leads into the forest. The sun is beginning to set.

Begin walking down the path, and as you approach the forest you hear the sound of a young woman laughing in the distance. Continue walking along the path, as it winds it’s way through the trees. Take note of any animals or plants you see as follow the path.

The path takes you into a clearing, which you can see just ahead. Make your way to the end of the path, which ends at the base of a stone altar. Look around you. At your left is a pool of water. The surface is completely still. At your right is a large cast-iron cauldron hanging above the ground. It is not lit.

The sun has set, and as you look up to the sky you see the waxing moon.

You gaze at the altar in front of you, and then suddenly hear again the sounds of laughter, and someone running through the forest in your direction.

Just beyond the altar, a young woman appears through a grove of oak trees. She walks to the stone altar, and sits down upon it, facing you. She has auburn hair and she is dressed in white. She has a joyful expression, and you feel a sense of adventure and excitement. She is the Goddess in her Maiden aspect.

Take the next few moments to communicate with the Maiden Goddess. Ask for her counsel and guidance about new projects in your life, your dreams, goals and ambitions. Listen and be aware of any impressions you receive. These may come in the form of images, words, feelings or just an inner knowing. Take as much time as you need.

When you have finished communing with the Maiden Goddess, give thanks for her counsel. You watch as she rises up from the stone altar and disappears again through the trees, running and laughing with joy.

A strong wind begins to blow, and you notice that the sky above is illuminated by a brilliant Full Moon. At your left, you hear the sounds of rippling water. As you gaze at the pool of water on your left, you begin to a see misty figure rising from the surface. It rises into the air, and drifts to the stone altar in front of you. As the mist clears, you see a beautiful woman sitting on the altar. Her long hair is fiery red, and she wears a red dress. She looks at you lovingly, and you feel a sense of protection and maternal love. She is the Goddess in her Mother aspect.

Take the next few moments to commune with the Mother Goddess. Ask for her insight and guidance regarding anything that is troubling you in your life right now. Speak to her about your career, health, and particularly family. Listen and be aware of any impressions you may receive. These may come in the form of images, words, feelings or just an inner knowing. Take as much time as you need.

When you have finished communicating with the Mother Goddess, give thanks for her counsel. She then transforms again into a cloud of mist, and drifts back to the pool of water at your left, and descends into it’s depths.

You become aware that the clearing has grown completely still and silent. The sky is very dark, and above you is a waning moon. You can barely see what is around you. Suddenly, flames ignite beneath the cauldron on your right. A thick cloud of black smoke begins to rise from within the cauldron. This cloud of smoke slowly drifts to the stone altar. As the smoke clears, you see an old woman sitting there. She is dressed in black, and her hair is white. A crow sits on her shoulder. As she looks at you, you sense that she can read your thoughts, and knows your secrets. Her eyes are full of wisdom and knowledge. She is the Goddess in her Crone aspect.

Take the next few moments to communicate with the Crone Goddess. Ask her for wisdom regarding any area of your life. Talk to her about private things you dare not share with others. Ask for her guidance about those things in your life that you keep hidden, the things you keep secret. Listen and be aware of any impressions you may receive. These may come in the form of images, words, feelings or just an inner knowing. Her answers may be stern and unpleasant, yet full of wisdom. Take as much time as you need.

When you have finished communing with the Crone Goddess, give thanks for her counsel. She transforms again into a cloud of black smoke, and drifts back to the cauldron, and the smoke fades away.

You become aware that the sky is getting lighter. You can see the path behind you, and you begin to follow it out of the forest. Looking up to the sky, you see a waxing moon, and as you leave the forest, you can hear the sound of a young woman laughing…

Take the next few moments to ponder your communications with the Maiden, Mother and Crone.

In your mind’s eye, slowly visualize the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

Gradually bring yourself back to full awareness, and when you feel ready, open your eyes.

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When you are finished with this meditation, record your impressions in your Book of Shadows or magical journal.

Cultivating Mystical Awareness

spiritguide1There are many different concepts of mysticism, and people seem to have different ideas about what constitutes a ‘mystical experience’. Mysticism is one of those words that, although it has many definitions, is not so easily defined. It is a multi-layered experience that is unique to the individual who experiences it. Some see it as an experience of unity with the divine, some form of enlightenment, or receiving sudden knowledge. Many link mysticism to religion, spirituality and the sacred. There are mystics in every religion, and mystical, sacred texts abound. Skeptics of mysticism claim that what people think are ‘mystical experiences’ as simply the inner workings of the brain and psychological processes.

I would define mysticism as a heightened awareness of the unseen, which could also involve the presence of deity or a spirit guide, or some transference of information, energy or healing. Psychics, spirit mediums, witches, druids and those who spend many hours in meditation are highly mystical people, as they engage in practices that increase awareness and work closely with deities and spirit guides.

It is my personal belief that the higher powers, whether one acknowledges them as God, Goddess, Great Spirit, Guide or other names will from time to time reveal themselves to us in both tangible and intangible ways. This often results in a heightened awareness of the unseen realms and things happening around us. A mystical person may see, hear, feel and sense things that others around them cannot. Their eyes and ears have been “opened” and they have an increased sensitivity to the astral realms. A mystical person understands that the reasons why things happen are not as simplistic as others try to make it seem. Mystical people tend to live “between the worlds” in a liminal state. Their lives are guided by their inner awareness, by divinity, and not always according to plan.

In my lifetime, I have been privileged to meet some exceptionally gifted mystics. The one who had the most profound effect on me was a woman I knew over 20 years ago. I knew she spent many hours in meditation and quiet contemplation. She was deeply in tune with the unseen realms and lived in union with her deities, completely immersed in her relationship with them. She often had messages for people, messages of spiritual guidance that often contained specific information about them noone else could have known. The messages were not always pleasant. Some recognized her as a gifted seer and prophetess, while others thought she was strange or on drugs. Indeed, there were times when I was at a gathering with her and she would suddenly be “somewhere else”, gazing up at the ceiling or somewhere in the room. She would mention seeing lights around people or the room getting foggy. There were times that I could see it too. She carried so much energy that at times it emanated from her. I remember leaving one of our meetings, and as I walked past her she began laughing very loudly. Suddenly myself and others around me were almost knocked to the ground by what felt like waves of electricity. I knew it had come from her. She was also the person who revealed one of my healing gifts. I was giving her a hug, with my right hand on her lower back. I was startled when she collapsed onto the floor. She told me that she was having pain in her lower back, and that she felt energy come out of my hand and into her back, and healed whatever was causing the pain. I learned that we ourselves are not healers, but merely channels for divine healing energy to flow through. When this happened, I honestly didn’t feel anything at all, but she was incredibly sensitive. One of our teachers back then told us to start asking our deities and guides to “open our eyes” so that we could see more of what was happening in the unseen realms. I think this is good advice for anyone on a magical, mystical path.

For those who feel they may be led down a mystical path, there are ways to help increase your awareness and sensitivity. You must be consistent and make them a regular part of life. If you are reading this, perhaps you do so already.

Meditation: Develop a daily meditation practice, using controlled-breathing exercises and visualizations to bring you into a relaxed state known as Alpha. Early morning meditations are helpful, I find them to be more productive than in the evening when I am tired and sleepy. Include in your meditation times a period of listening. Open your mind to receive divine guidance or psychic information. Keep a journal handy to write things down, as you may receive bits and pieces of information that may not make sense right away.

Nature: Spend time in Nature as often as possible. Go for walks, hiking, gardening, herb gathering, or sit among the trees and absorb the sights and sounds of Nature around you.

Maintain Balance: To live mystically, a certain level of detachment from earthly matters is necessary, but do not live with your head “in the clouds”. It is important to stay grounded while keeping yourself mystically aware. Live ‘between the worlds’.

Listen: If you are a ritual leader/planner, be aware that even though you have planned everything from beginning to end, your deities and guides may choose to lead things in a different direction. Be open to their guidance.

Ask: Ask your divine guides to open your spiritual, mystical eyes and allow you to see the unseen. This may happen gradually, and may be more active at some times than others.

Commune with Deity/Personal Gnosis: Spend time with your Gods, Goddesses, Spirit/Divine guides. Set up an altar for them, communicate with them. Make time for them and they will make time for you. Place photos of them or objects that sacred to them on your altar. Be open to receive information or knowledge directly from your divine guides. This wisdom may be only for you and is not meant to be shared. At other times, you may be guided to give encouragement or share information with someone else.

Mystical people live between the realms of the seen and the unseen. Humility is of utmost importance. Keep your visions private unless you are guided otherwise. This is not about power but your connection to your guides. The more you listen and learn from them, the more you will be given.