Ritual Etiquette

434da4168885699dfd73a7d177b0182dAs far as rituals go, I will admit that I am stricter than most and strongly prefer formal, traditional rituals as opposed to those that are more casual and relaxed. However, not all groups work the same way and I adapt whenever I need to. Over the years I have led and attended countless rituals, and there are a number of things I think need to be addressed. Depending on the structure of your coven or magickal group, whether it is casual or formal, some of these may or may not apply. These are just my own observations, you may choose to agree or disagree…

RITUAL ATTIRE

As much as I prefer the traditional robes, the hooded cloaks, the ceremony and pageantry of formal ritual, there are many groups who are more casual with their requirements in ritual attire. What you wear to a ritual will depend on a number of factors. For rituals that are open to the public, casual attire is usually acceptable unless otherwise specified, but those who wish to wear robes and cloaks are welcome to do so. Formal groups, whether public/outdoor or private/indoor will require traditional robes, cloaks and formal ritual wear no matter the weather. This is my personal preference, but admittedly I am more traditional than others,(even though it does get a bit uncomfortable when outdoors in 90 degree heat!)

Casual groups are more relaxed with their requirements and will be less strict in what attendees wear to ritual. Another factor is the amount of space available. Some groups who meet in homes have very little space, with not much room for flowing robes and cloaks. In these cases it would not be practical to wear them, especially when lighting candles or if there is going to be lots of movement. Groups who practice ‘SkyClad’ (clad only by the sky, naked) perform rituals in the nude. Although I see nothing wrong with this at all, it is not my practice and I have never participated naked in rituals, public or private. I am honestly much too self-conscious about my body. For my private rituals at home, I have special clothing set aside for this purpose, and I often wear my robes for these.

My personal opinion is that those who are leading a ritual, whether High Priest/ess or someone else, should always be dressed in proper ritual attire, whether your group is casual or formal, at least until the ritual is over. It doesn’t have to be a long, flowing robe, as long as it is something that sets you apart as the one guiding the others between the worlds. Rituals are sacred acts, it is not something we do for play or just to have fun. If I attend your ritual and you’re wearing jeans and a t-shirt, I will find it difficult to believe you are taking it seriously. (I said I was strict).

ALTAR TOOLS

When you attend a ritual, you may notice the beautiful altar decorated with various tools and magickal items. The general rule is, you may look but don’t touch. Why? First of all, they are not yours. Secondly, all of these items have been carefully chosen for the ritual, and have been placed where they are placed for a reason. They have been consecrated and magickally prepared with specific energies and intentions. By touching or handling them, your own energies can interfere with them and have adverse effects on the ritual. Leave them alone! Look but do not touch. It is very rude to walk up to someone’s altar and start picking things up. I understand some folks are not aware of this, but I am happy to gently remind them…

CONVERSATION

Ritual gatherings don’t have to be solemn and quiet, they are celebrations, of course. However, there comes a point when it’s time to get serious. There is usually a social time before the circle is cast when people can chat and get to know one another. Likewise, when the ritual has ended and the circle has been released, there is a time of feasting and socializing.

But when you are standing in the circle, it is a different matter. Why?

We are about to create sacred space, we are preparing to call on divine forces, and this is where your mind and energies should be focused. It is not a time to be discussing with the person next to you what you’re doing later, what you’re making for dinner tonight or what you watched on TV. Again, this is not a game. When we are in the circle, we are supposed to be of one mind and in one accord. Focus all your attention on why we are here and the purpose for the ritual. Everything else can wait until later. A good circle-caster can cast the circle strong enough to overcome any random energies, but when those in the circle are not focused, it makes his/her task much harder. This is why I like to start my rituals with a group meditation to help get everyone on the same page and in a proper ritual state of consciousness.

CELLPHONES AND ELECTRONICS

When you are standing in the magick circle, please turn your cellphone OFF. Electrical energies can interfere with the energies we are raising in the circle. Magick is delicate. Everything has to be precise and strongly directed for it to be effective. We are focusing on specific intentions and directing our energies toward their manifestation, and when a cellphone starts ringing, this causes a rift in the energy. It would be best for you to stand outside the circle, or perhaps not attend this one if you think you may be urgently needed elsewhere. I know some people like to bring their laptops into the circle (to play music or to read ritual notes, etc), but I am very leery of this practice and personally would not recommend it.

ENTERING OR LEAVING A CIRCLE

When we cast the circle, we create an invisible, energetic boundary between the physical and muggle worlds. The circle contains the energy we raise within it, and blocks out any harmful energies that we do not want. If you arrive late to a ritual and the circle has already been cast, don’t just find a spot next to someone. Please wait for the High Priest/ess or assigned person to create a doorway for you to enter. Likewise, if you need to leave the circle for whatever reason (restroom?) , wait until someone creates a doorway for you to exit and re-enter when you return, By just walking into the circle, you have broken the boundary, and the circle may need to be re-cast. We are working with unseen energies, and it is imperative that everything remain in place.

TAKING PICTURES

If you want to take pictures, please get the permission of the High Priest/ess and others present before doing so. You may be asked to stand outside the circle to take photos, or you may be asked to wait until the ritual is over. Rituals are sacred occasions, and not everyone will be willing for you to take photos that will be posted on Facebook or wherever else. Also, there may be people present who do not wish to be in your photos. Not everyone who attends a ritual is “out of the broom closet”, and would prefer not to have their faces all over the internet attending a ritual. My personal view is that I don’t really mind if people take photos before or after the ritual, I think it is important that we show others how we practice, but we must also be sensitive to others who are present and may not want their photo taken.

PRIVACY

Again, rituals are sacred occasions, and there is often a time of sharing when people ask for healing or guidance. Many times people share things that are deeply personal. Please respect the sacred space we have created, and respect the privacy of those in the circle, do not share their personal matters with others when the ritual has ended.

ARRIVE ON TIME

I am very strict on this issue, and it has annoyed people in the past, but I am unyielding on this one. When I plan rituals, I announce them plenty of time in advance, so that those who wish to attend have sufficient time to arrange their schedules so they can be there. There really is no excuse other than “I don’t want to go”. My rule is, if you think you’re going to be more than 20 minutes late, it is best not to come, and we’ll see you at the next one. I do understand people have jobs, family responsibilities, etc, however, there was ample time for planning, making arrangements to leave work early if necessary, etc. If you miss 20 minutes, you’ve missed alot. It is true that rituals don’t always start on time, and I will wait a few minutes for people who are caught in traffic, but there has to be a line drawn somewhere. It isn’t fair to keep everyone else waiting because you’re going to be 20 minutes late.

RESPECT DIVERSITY

Understand that when you attend a ritual, they may do it differently than you. It doesn’t mean they’re doing it wrong, they just do it a different way than you do. There are numerous methods of circle-casting, and countless ways to lead ritual. Each ritual is as different and unique as the person leading it, with elements from many different traditions and practices. Respect those differences, and acknowledge that even if it is not how you were taught, or what you prefer, it can still be meaningful and you just might learn something and make a few new friends.

RESPECT THE SACRED

Remember, rituals are sacred occasions where we work with unseen energies to create change and transformation. We invite the divine to join with us, as well as elemental forces, spirit guides and animal totems. It is a highly-charged spiritual gathering. Yes, you can laugh, you can have fun, but it is also a time to honor and respect the sacredness of the event. Please treat it as such.

Tarot: The Lightning-Bolt Spread

The Lightning-Bolt Spread uses a total of 9 cards, and draws wisdom from the three realms of the World Tree. The concept of the World Tree can be found in several religions and mythologies. It is represented as a giant tree divided into three realms: Upper, Middle and Lower Worlds. It symbolizes a direct and unbroken link between the realm of matter and the realm of spirit. It’s branches reach high into the cosmos, and it’s roots extend deep into the earth. The trunk of the tree, the Axis Mundi, provides a pathway for higher beings to descend to earth in order to assist those seeking enlightenment. Likewise, it also provides an opportunity for aspects of the shadow self to rise from the Lower World, to receive healing and transformation.

In this spread, the cards are laid out in the shape of a lightning-bolt, as shown in the photo below.

SAM_0965The upper three cards represent the Upper World. These cards reveal information about our own spirituality, our connection to our higher self, our deities and spirit guides. The wisdom in the upper three cards are direct messages to us from our divine guides.

The middle three cards focus on our lives in the material plane, the Middle World, and relate to issues concerning job, finances, career and family. These cards address matters regarding everyday life, and functioning in the physical world. The middle three cards also act as an anchor, adding extra insight to the upper/lower cards.

The lower three cards represent the Lower World, or Underworld, and shed light on issues that we keep hidden in shadow. These are things that we keep hidden from others, things that make us feel ashamed, insecure or anxious. The Lower World is the unseen realm, where we interact with the shadow self, our ancestors, and our own dark nature.

Use this spread for personal readings, shamanic journey work, or to make a connection to the World Tree through divination.

Available Now

This will be a short post, but I just wanted to let my awesome readers know that my new book is now available for purchase. It is currently available through Lulu, but in a few weeks you can also get it on Amazon and Kindle. Just click the photo below to order a copy!

WAMP

 

 

 

New Book Coming Soon!

My latest book, Walking a Magick Path, is now complete. I’ve ordered a proof copy and as soon as it arrives, and I’ve looked it over, I will approve it for publishing. Here is a photo of the cover.

WAMPThis will be my third book release, and I used one of my own photos for the cover this time. I hope it isn’t blurry on the actual book. If it is, I’ll just take another one, but I’m crossing my fingers that won’t be necessary. So far it looks good.

In this book, I explain the difference between practical, natural and spiritual magick. I also share the magick found within each of us, the magick that exists all around us, in the sky above and the earth below. There is a chapter on magickal ethics where I share my personal views about the Wiccan Rede and the Threefold Law. There are meditations in the book, as well as a list of resources for those who are seeking wisdom on their own magickal path. The aim of this book is to help people become more aware of magick and how to bring it into everyday life.

It will be ready for purchase before the month is over…

smallpent

 

The Magick is in You

Summer is Here

After what seemed like delay upon delay, my 3rd book will soon be ready for publication. Near the end of April, my old laptop officially kicked the bucket, and I was unable to continue work on my book. I was sharing my partner Matthew’s laptop, and his doesn’t have Microsoft Word, so my writing (at least on a computer) was temporarily suspended. Pen and paper were my closest friends for awhile. Now, I am happy to say, I am writing to you on a shiny new laptop that I received as a gift for my birthday on June 19th.

Summer began with back-to-back events. First was a public Summer Solstice ritual planned as a collaboration between my own group, The Moonlit Grove and our friends from Coven of the Sacred Path. It was a beautiful ritual, with drumming, dancing, fire, divination and lots of great food, music and conversation. I even took my Bodhran (a sort of Celtic drum) along, even though I am clueless how to play it, but I did my best. During the ritual our two separate traditions blended seamlessly together in a celebration of unity, acceptance and the transforming power of the Solstice Sun. We all drew cards from an oracle deck: my card was The Dragon, and the keywords Power and Strength. As the day drew to a close, we all gathered around the fire pit with our drums and watched the flames flicker and dance, while some of the children lit sparklers and danced in the sand. It was a magickal evening.

10505420_10152465416490465_8730664488337291249_n

The following day, a group of us (12 to be exact) took a trip to Doylestown to visit the Peace Valley Lavender Farm. They grow several varieties of English Lavender, with over 3,000 plants growing in their field. They make many products from the lavender, including essential oil, soap, shampoo, and lip balm. They even have Lavender Dark Chocolate and Dry Lavender Soda (carbonated). Everything is made on premises from the lavender grown in their field. The farm is in a beautiful location, on a rolling hill overlooking a lake and a park with hiking trails. It is a magickal place. We try to go every year in June, because that is when the Lavender is fully blooming, and they harvest it all at the beginning of July. Not far from the farm is a general store that sells Lavender ice cream, and it is made from the lavender grown at the farm. It is absolutely delicious. To learn more about the farm, here is a little clip from YouTube.

Lavender is one of my favorite plants, due to it’s soothing, calming scent. It is great for meditation, or for spells to bring peace or healing. The scent from a lavender plant can last up to 15 years. I use Lavender essential oil in my home-made candles, and often blend it with other scents, such as Vanilla or Rose. Later this year I’d like to make some Lavender Peppermint candles. The blend of Lavender and Peppermint is useful for relieving headache pain, and I seem to know several people who suffer from frequent headaches and migraines. Lavender is very therapeutic, and helps to bring a sense of relaxation and tranquility. Here a few photos from our visit.

10474238_10152466344460465_6356721191291509891_n10463869_10152466344170465_1237126788461140269_n10250147_10152466358825465_5441582451248063366_nThat’s me standing among the lavender, the photo is a little blurry. You can really smell the strong scent of lavender as you walk among the plants.

I promise to try and post more often, as it has been nearly a month since the last one. Now that I have new laptop, I can also complete my book Walking a Magick Path. Look for it sometime mid to late July. I will post a link in the “Books” section of this website once it becomes available.

smallpentThe Magick is in You

5 Books of Witchcraft & Magick for Beginners

There are many books about Witchcraft, and they can be difficult to choose from, especially for those who are new to this path and sincerely want to learn more about it. Witchcraft is practiced numerous ways, and there are many traditions, or specific types of Witchcraft. It could be that the book you picked up at the store didn’t necessarily answer all your questions.  I remember buying a book years ago that claimed to share the “theory and practice” of Witchcraft, only to discover that it was written for a specific unknown tradition. The ‘theory and practice’ expressed on the cover only applied to that tradition, one that I was unfamiliar with and really not interested in.

There are, however, some great books that discuss the overall spirituality of Witchcraft, and will give you the information you seek. I recommend these books to everyone I know, because they are very informative and written by experienced practitioners of the craft. I have been fortunate enough to meet and study with some of them, and I highly recommend their work. A few of these books may be difficult to find, as they do go out of print from time to time, but you would do well if you can get your hands on them. Purchase used copies if you can’t find them anywhere else, or contact the author.

These are my top 5 for beginners:

1. spiritwitchSpirit of the Witch: Religion & Spirituality in Contemporary Witchcraft, by Raven Grimassi.

Raven Grimassi has been teaching Witchcraft for more than 30 years, and has written several books on the subject. In this book, he shares the spiritual element of the practices and beliefs of Witchcraft. This is a great book for beginners who are seeking to understand how Witchcraft can be a deeply spiritual path. He writes in the introduction, “I wrote this book to convey a sense of what is most noble and beautiful in the spirit of the witch”. It is beautifully written, and explores Witchcraft as a religion, the use of magickal tools, deities and spirit guides, and several other topics to enlighten those who are curious about the spirituality of Witchcraft. Learn more about Raven at his website HERE.

2. The Inner Temple of WitchcraftThe Inner Temple of Witchcraft: Magick, Meditation & Psychic Development, by Christopher Penczak.

Christopher Penczak is an award-winning author, teacher, and healing practitioner. He has studied extensively with witches, mystics, shamans, and healers in a variety of traditions from around the world to synthesize his own practice of magick and healing. This book is a must-have for beginners, and I consider it to be one of the most valuable books available on the subjects of magick and witchcraft. In it, Christopher shares the history of the witch, the importance of meditation, the various traditions of witchcraft, and many aspects of magickal practice. It is filled with exercises and meditations to do on your own, as a way to integrate the information in the book. The Inner Temple is the first of a series of seven books that explore numerous aspects of witchcraft and magick. You can learn more about Christopher at his website HERE.

3. 51k9HWifIjL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Natural Witchery: Intuitive, Personal & Practical Magick, by Ellen Dugan.
Ellen Dugan is a Master Gardener, and has been a practicing witch for nearly 30 years.  She is known as the “Garden Witch”, as she has written and taught extensively about the magickal uses of herbs, flowers and plants. She is also a psychic-clairvoyant and High Priestess of a coven in St. Louis, Missouri. Ellen teaches with a no-nonsense style, and often shares from her personal experience. Her books are a delight to read, and her classes are high energy and lots of fun. I recommend Natural Witchery to any beginner seeking to develop their intuitive skills, and learn how to use magick in practical ways.  To find out more about Ellen Dugan, visit her website HERE.

4. powerofthewitchPower of the Witch: The Earth, The Moon, and the Magical Path to Enlightenment, by Laurie Cabot.

Laurie Cabot is one of the most high-profile witches in the world, and one of the first people to popularize Witchcraft in America. She is the “Official Witch of Salem”, Massachussetts, where she lives and continues to teach. Laurie, now in her 70’s, presents Witchcraft as a Science, an Art and a Religion. I met Laurie in Salem several years ago, she is quite an enigmatic figure, walking around Salem in her flowing black robes. She has a strong, energetic presence-you know she is a Witch. A few of my friends have studied with her privately and are now priestesses and priests in her tradition. Her book, Power of the Witch, is another great book for beginners, as it covers several of the religious aspects of witchcraft, as well as history, science, witch’s holidays, hermetics and various magickal practices. To learn more about Laurie, visit her website HERE.

5. 639299The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Celtic Wisdom, by Carl McColman.

I am including this in my top five beginner books, because even though not all witches embrace Celtic mysticism, it plays a major role in my personal practice, and there are many Witches and other magickal folk who identify with Celtic paganism. Don’t let the title fool you-this is a very magickal book,and the author addresses magick in nearly every chapter. This is the perfect book for a beginner witch looking for ways to bring Celtic mystiscm into her/her practice. This book explores everything from Celtic Mythology and Druidry to Celtic Magick and Spirituality. This is truly one of my favorites. (It should be noted that this author no longer follows a pagan path, but it is still a great resource for new witches interested in Celtic Mysticism).

These are my current top 5 books for those who are new to Witchcraft and Magick, or simply want to learn more. If you are unable to locate these books, try searching for used copies, or contact the authors.

 

Witches and Christianity

This is not a post bashing Christianity or it’s followers. I have friends who are Christian, and to be honest, I get along better with some of them than certain other witches. I don’t have a problem with Christians as long as they don’t try to convince me to become one too. Ever since I became public about being a Witch, I have met only a handful of Christians who condemned me to the “fires of Hell”, while most others were merely curious about my beliefs and spirituality as it relates to Witchcraft. Most of them were educated and intelligent enough to know that witches do not worship Satan, we do not even believe in Satan, nor do we participate in human sacrifice or do any of the other horrible things that some people think we do. I have encountered more than a few militant Christians, of the “Fred Phelps” type, who take the bible quite literally and view anything not exclusively Christian as evil and satanic, but I have met many other Christians who have treated me with dignity and respect even though I do not share their beliefs. There are many religions in this world, and I believe everyone should have the right to practice the religion of their choice without interference from others. I don’t necessarily believe that “all paths lead up the same mountain”, but I do believe that if your spiritual path brings you joy and enlightenment, and does not advocate harm toward those who follow a different path or belief system, then it is a worthy and noble one.

First, I’d like to make it clear that I am very secure in who I am as a Witch, and Christianity does not fit anywhere in my personal theology. I know some folks have found creative ways to blend Wicca and Christianity. While I remain very skeptical of this practice, it would not be right for me to look down on those who have chosen such a path, if they sincerely feel it brings meaning to their lives.

That being said, there are certain tenets of traditional Christianity that do not play a role in Witchcraft. One of these is the concept of Grace. In Christianity, Grace is defined as the undeserved favor given to us from God or mercy granted to us that we are not worthy to receive. In Witchcraft, however, we do not consider ourselves unworthy or undeserving of anything. We are not separate from the divine, but rather, we are co-creators with the divine. We view divinity as both imminent (within us) and transcendant (around/above/below us). The concept of Grace does not play a role in our belief system.

Other Christian concepts are Sin and Salvation.  In Christianity, Sin is anything you do that separates you from God, such as breaking the 10 Commandments or doing anything that the Bible says not to do. Those who commit sin are estranged from God until they ‘repent’ (refrain from sin and return to God). Christian theology teaches that we are all born as sinners, and will suffer punishment in hell unless we accept Salvation by becoming subservient to Jesus Christ. In Witchcraft, the ideas of Sin and Salvation do not play a role. We do not need to be redeemed or saved, because we are not in peril. We do not believe in a Satan/Devil figure, nor is there anything in our belief system stating that we are inclined to sin. Furthermore, as witches, we do not need an intermediary to connect with the divine. We are each of us Priestess and Priest, and we have divinity within us. The spirituality of Witchcraft is based on direct experience with the divine, rather than Faith.

Other Christian concepts such as Evil, Judgment and Scripture, also do not play a role in Witchcraft. As stated earlier, we do not believe in the Satan/Devil figure or any other all-evil entity. People have the capacity to do evil acts, but the concept of a supreme evil being does not exist in Witchcraft. Evil is not an absolute power, but a choice that one makes. In traditional Christianity, Judgment is the belief that one day you will stand before God and give an account of the deeds of your life, and by those deeds you will either go to Heaven or be condemned to Hell.  As witches, we do not embrace this belief. Many of us believe in reincarnation, which teaches that we may experience many lifetimes after this one. Wiccan teaching describes a place called the Summerland, where we are reunited with loved ones who have passed on. Celtic mysticism describes a place called the Otherworld, an unseen realm that exists alongside our own, where we join our loved ones after death, and from where we guide and assist our loved ones who still live on the earthly plane. Wicca has such teachings as the Wiccan Rede, which is more of a guideline than an absolute rule, and the Law of Threefold Return, which is based on the idea of cause & effect. We do acknowledge that actions have consequences, but there is no final judgment of deeds in Witchcraft. Regarding scripture, we do not have a holy book of rules handed down to us from on high. Our inspiration comes from Nature and our personal connection to the divine. I always found it odd when people would quote scripture to me, as if that somehow would make a difference. I do not live my life according to the Bible. It is not final authority for me, and has no influence in my life or my path. I have done extensive study of the Bible, I have read it cover to cover more than once, and I think every Witch should be familiar with it’s teachings so that they can respond in an educated way to those who might challenge their beliefs in Witchcraft and Paganism.

As I try to gain more understanding about the whole “Christian Wicca” thing, I learn that most practitioners of this blended path tend to follow it from more of a mystical aspect rather than a dogmatic one. I was reminded by a friend that certain spells in ancient grimoires contain bible scripture and call upon angels to assist in magick. Followers of Christian Wicca seek to be “Christ-Like”, living by forgiveness, tolerance and love rather than as traditional bible thumping hell-fire Christians. And they also happen to be witches. As I said earlier, this concept is something I just cannot wrap my head around, particularly due to the scriptures in the bible that explicitly condemn witchcraft. I do believe it’s possible that certain scriptures were altered or mis-interpreted, such as the famous “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” from Exodus 22:18.  Some have interpreted this as another way of saying ‘do not partake of the services of a witch’ or ‘do not allow a witch to make a living’. In Deuteronomy 18:10 we read, “There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch” and Exodus 20:3, “You shall have no other gods before me“. In my mind, these leave little room for mis-interpretation. Do these scriptures make me fearful for being a Witch? Not in the least, as I do not believe them to be truth. The bible is not part of my belief system and I do not follow it’s teachings.

My only hope is that if you wish to blend Witchcraft with Christianity, that you carefully examine your reasons for doing so. It can be very difficult for someone who was raised in a strict, dogmatic religion like Christianity to transition into Paganism. When you have had certain teachings ingrained into your psyche for so many years, it’s not easy to just cast them aside. “And why should I”, you might ask. They likely have become comfortable and familiar, and you might have many good memories associated with them. Still, it is important to be honest with yourself. How will you decide which scriptures to embrace and which ones to ignore? Do you really believe you can blend these two belief systems in a way that can enrich your life? If so, that’s great and I wish you the best, but you must also ask yourself if perhaps you are keeping one foot in Christianity, out of fear, just in case you made the wrong choice with paganism and you might end up being judged for your ‘sins’? You might have a strong emotional attachment to Christianity even though deep down you feel drawn to Witchcraft and Paganism.

I want to say again that it is not my intention to judge or look down on those who practice Christian Wicca. If it works for you, that is all that matters. Just know that it may take some time for myself and other traditional witches to understand it, but we are trying…

For a further examination of Neo-Paganism as it compares to other religions, I recommend The Living Temple of Witchcraft: Volume Two (Chapter Sixteen: The Wisdom of Sagittarius), by Christopher Penczak.

Developing a Structured Practice

On my own magickal path, I prefer structure and order. Nothing is done randomly. Everything has a reason and a purpose. On the other hand, I’m not fond of doing things by rote, just because “that’s how it is done”. When you find yourself just saying words and going through the motions, it’s time for a change. Routine can be a double-edged sword. Structure and order are good, and I usually do plan ahead for my rituals and magickal workings, but one must allow some flexibility within the structure.

There are times when I feel led by my deities and guides to do something I had not previously planned, but when this occurs, it still falls perfectly into place. Sometimes there are unexpected things. I have had dreams about people in trouble, strangers, and then suddenly find myself wide awake in the wee hours of the morning, with a strong urgency to get up immediately and do magick for their protection and healing. I rarely know who the people are. There are some things you can’t plan for in advance. If you have a strong connection to your deities and spirit guides, and make yourself available to them, you may be called upon in the same way. The more you work with them and follow their guidance, the stronger the bond.

I have met some witches and pagans who don’t really have an established personal practice. They just sort of coast along and do things in a scattered, casual, random way, never really learning or growing. Everyone’s schedules are different, so not everyone can follow the same routine, the same plan. A good way to start learning is to develop a magickal schedule that works for you. You might have to make it work, but over time it will get easier. Stick to it as best you can, but allow room for unplanned things. Make sure you have something scheduled for every day of the week. It can be in the morning or in the evening, but it must be something you can devote 100% of your attention to for at least 1 hour every day. The idea is to bring many aspects of magick into your daily life until you reach a point when you are no longer just doing magick, you are living magick.

In other words, they are not things you should only be doing in the car on the way to work, or while you’re working, or while you’re watching TV or making dinner. If you are really serious about your magickal growth, you will make the time and not view them as a chore. Darn I’m strict, aren’t I?

It might mean you’ll need to get up an hour earlier, or re-arrange your day so you will have time to accomplish the magickal tasks you have set for yourself. Keep a magickal journal to track your progress.

Below is an example of a simple weekly magickal schedule. Eventually you can add more things to your practice each day.

MEDITATION MONDAY: Spend at least 30 minutes to 1 hour in meditation, doing breathing exercises, creative visualization, chakra healing or other meditative work. If you are new to meditation, purchase some guided meditations on CD to help you get started. Light a candle and some incense to help you achieve the proper mindset.

TAROT TUESDAY: Purchase a tarot deck and practice using it, doing readings for yourself and others. Study the cards and their meanings. For beginners, a daily 3-card spread is usually a good way to start. The more accustomed you become to the tarot, the more often you will use it.

WISDOM WEDNESDAY: Purchase some books about the magickal arts, and read at least one chapter. Find authors who write about the magickal things you are drawn to. Crystals? Wicca? Herbal Magick? Read all you can about what you’re interested in. Over time, you will find yourself reading several days a week. Don’t just read these books, put into practice what you learn from them.

THERAPY THURSDAY: Learn about the various forms of alternative healing, and consider which ones you might be good at yourself. Do some work with crystals or aromatherapy oils. Learn about Reiki and the Chakras. Make your own candles or herbal soaps.

FLOWER FRIDAY: Study the magickal and medicinal uses of herbs, flowers and plants. Plant your own magickal herb garden. Learn about the traditional plants and herbs used in Witchcraft. Visit a local nursery and pick out the plants you would like to use in your magick. Take them home and do some research on their magickal qualities.

SCRYING SATURDAY: Purchase a scrying mirror, a pendulum, or a crystal ball and spend an hour practicing your divination skills. Learn how others use these techniques.

SPIRITUAL SUNDAY: Study the various gods and goddesses of ancient mythology. Which pantheon interests you? Egyptian? Norse? Celtic? Learn about animal totems and spirit guides, and how to invite them into your life.

These are just some suggestions for planning a weekly magickal schedule. If there are other magickal topics you would rather focus on, use them instead. I personally do several different things on a daily basis, but I make it a point to do something every day. I use my home altar every day to connect with my deities and guides. I do daily tarot readings to get guidance and direction. I make it a point to do some kind of magickal study every night (I’m currently studying a wonderful book about the Celtic goddess Cerridwen), and I have herbal projects that I work on a few times a week. Once you establish a routine of your own, you can re-arrange it or make changes that work better for you.

Don’t allow yourself to take a passive attitude where your magickal growth is concerned. Be proactive, and do something magickal every day.

 

The Spiritual Dignity of Witchcraft

Those who follow the path of Witchcraft have every right to hold their heads up high, (whether they practice openly or discreetly), and be proud of who they are as followers of the oldest religion. Wicca/Witchcraft is legally recognized by the U. S. Government as a religion, and it’s followers have the same legal rights and protections as those who follow other legally-recognized religions. Those who follow Witchcraft as a spiritual path are worthy of high esteem, respect and dignity. What are the aspects of this path that make it dignified?

1. Witchcraft is a path of personal growth and transformation. This is a path that demands introspection and self-awareness. Witches continously examine their own motives for doing magick and casting spells, seeking only the highest good so that no harm comes to anyone. They are on a life-long quest to develop their magickal gifts and skills so that they can be used in service to their communities. Study of the magickal arts is a life-long endeavor, and Witches have a thirst for knowledge, learning how to apply that magickal knowledge for the good of those around them. Witches spend a great deal of time on personal growth and inner development, honing their psychic/intuitive abilities and exploring the shadow self. Witches understand that the more we know ourselves, the  better we will be able to help others.

2. Witchcraft is a path of service. Witches use their skills to serve the community, through healing (such as Reiki, Crystals, Aromatherapy, Herbalism, Chakra Balancing and other alternative, sometimes unconventional, healing modalities). They offer guidance with tarot readings, runes, divination, astrology, teaching, counseling, writing or leading both public and private ceremonies. It is no coincidence that many Witches work in the health care field. Every witch is Priestess and Priest, and many serve as clergy for the pagan/wiccan community.

3. Witchcraft is a path that respects and honors Nature. Witches view all of Nature as Divine. The natural world is revered as the embodiment of the Goddess. Witches believe that the Earth is alive, and that the trees, flowers and plants are teachers and companions that desire to interact with us and teach us. We celebrate the changing seasons and call upon the elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water to participate with us in our ceremonies and rituals.

4. Witchcraft is a path that embraces individuality. Every Witch is free to choose the manner in which they practice their craft. They are not bound to dogma or a strict set of rules that everyone must follow. While some prefer to follow specific traditions of Witchcraft, others choose an eclectic path that draws from multiple sources. Some witches function better as a member of a coven, others prefer to practice alone. Witches recognize that a system that works for one person may not work for another. It is a path of personal discovery, using what works and discarding what doesn’t. Every witch is unique and not all witches practice the exact same way.

5. Witchcraft is a path of Advocacy. Witches recognize the importance of fairness, human rights, equal rights,  and the humane treatment of animals. Many witches are active in civil rights groups, frequently participating in social activism and speaking out for environmental issues.

6. Witches seek to preserve the myths and legends of the ancient past. Witches embrace the wisdom found in the legend and lore of ancient mythology.  The stories from Greek, Roman, Celtic, Norse and other cultures are treasured and studied, and the spiritual wisdom found within them is applied to modern-day living. Many witches are drawn to a particular culture, and absorb the wisdom from that culture into their personal practice.

7. Witchcraft is a living path that is constantly evolving. Witches honor the old ways of Witchcraft while embracing the new ways of Modern Witchcraft. As Witches continue to grow and learn, they find new ways to bring magick to the world, new ways to bring healing and restoration to their communites.

8. Witchcraft is a path of Balance. Witches recognize that both Light and Dark are necessary for growth. Placing too much emphasis on one or the other puts us out of balance. By understanding the darkness within, we gain a better understanding of the Light. Dark and Light work together, like Yin and Yang.

9. Witchcraft is a path of Magick. Witches use magick and cast spells to bring positive change. That change may be for the intention of healing, protection, prosperity, justice or anything else that brings restoration, balance or growth. Witches believe in the power of magick as a catalyst for positive change and transformation, both inwardly and outwardly.

10. Witchcraft is a path of connection to the Divine.  Witchcraft views deity as both masculine and feminine, Goddess and God. Witches recognize many deities and spirit guides. Not all Witches choose to interact with deity, however those who do have developed close relationships with their deities and guides. Witches also believe that each of us have a spark of divinity within us. We not only interact with Divinity, we ourselves are Divine. Since we recognize the divinity within ourselves and each other, as well as in Nature, we do not believe in causing harm to others for any reason. This divinity is both within and without, and we are guided by it.

Because of these things, Witchcraft is a spiritual path of honor, respect, esteem and dignity. If you are on this path, whether in the broom closet or out, you have every right to be proud and fully embrace who you are as a Witch, a magickal being called forth to be a force for positive change in the world.

The Magick is in You. Always.

So Mote It Be.

There and back again, with a ring

As I write this, it is early Sunday evening, and the setting sun is casting shadows through the trees onto the snow-covered lawn behind our home. I can appreciate the quiet, serene beauty of this scene, but at the same time I know it is several inches deep due to the recent snowstorms we’ve had, and I have no desire to go trudging out in it. It is warmer than usual today, and thankfully much of the snow is starting to melt…for now. Winter has not yet passed. We’ve had an unusual amount of snow this year, it was literally up to our knees. I am looking forward to the Spring Equinox.

A couple of weeks ago we escaped the winter weather and returned to Universal Orlando with two of our friends. This was our 6th or 7th visit there-I have truly lost count by now. We had a wonderful time, despite the fact that it rained much of the time we were there. I wished I had brought my Gryffindor robe along on this trip, because it was actually cool enough to wear it and be completely comfortable. Temperatures stayed in the 50’s and 60’s due to the cold weather front that extended down even into Florida. I don’t mind rain, especially in Hogsmeade, because it keeps the crowds away and adds a mystical atmosphere to the already magickal surroundings. I bought some new gloves to match the jacket and hat I bought there previously, and I also picked up that awesome Wizarding World track jacket.

tjj

 

Also while we were there, this happened…

mematty

As we were standing near Hagrid’s hut, my partner Matthew proposed to me, and gave me a beautiful pentacle engagement ring. I was surprised and of course, I said “Yes”. We’ve been together for 12 years and have always wanted to get married, but gay marriage isn’t legal yet here in Pennsylvania. We have considered going elsewhere to get married, but we aren’t sure if it would be recognized here in PA. Regardless, sooner or later, we will be married…somewhere. Here is the ring…

pentring

I am still studying Kristoffer Hughes’ book, From the Cauldron Born. I truly love this book, which is a lesson on how to apply the magickal aspects of Cerridwen’s cauldron and her sacred brew into one’s life. The Welsh legend of Cerridwen and Taliesin has had a powerful influence in my life for several years, and it is a story that I connect deeply with on many levels. While my personal path contains elements of both Modern and Old World Witchcraft, Spiritual Alchemy and the balance of Light/Dark, it is heavily Celtic-influenced. Much of my studies come from sources pertaining to Celtic wisdom and mystical lore. I wondered for awhile if I was really a “Druid-in-training”, because my beliefs seem to fit Druidry to the letter, but my practices are more in line with Witchcraft. Is there such a thing as a “Druid Witch” ? I don’t know. Philip Carr-Gorman has written a book, DruidCraft, which apparently explains the blend of Druidry and Witchcraft (two separate paths that some folks combine into one). I will be reading this one soon. I don’t really consider myself a druid. I’m just a Witch who draws primarily from Celtic sources, some of which happen to be druidic. Druidry is described as:

a spiritual way and practice that speaks to three of our greatest yearnings: to be fully creative in our lives, to commune deeply with the world of Nature, and to gain access to a source of profound wisdom. Each of these yearnings comes from a different aspect of ourselves that we can personify as the Singer, the Shaman and the Sage. In Druidry, Bardic teachings help to nurture the singer, the artist or storyteller within us: the creative self; Ovate teachings help to foster the shaman, the lover of Nature, the healer within us; while the Druid teachings help to develop our inner wisdom: the sage who dwells within each of us” (from druidry.org, the official website for The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids).

Part of the Druid path is about preserving the ancient tales of Celtic myth and legend, not only learning them but internalizing them and applying their lessons to your life. This is something I have tried to do for many years. There seem to be many similarities between Druidry and Witchcraft: reverence for the Earth, the use of herbs, crystals and divinatory tools, ancestral wisdom, animal lore, etc, but there are differences as well. Many druids do not cast a circle or use the same tools that witches use. There are differing views regarding deity and divinity. In retrospect, I don’t think I could call myself a druid. I am fond of Druidry and I highly admire and respect those who follow the Druid path, as I share many of their beliefs, but in my heart, I am a Witch.

My Witchcraft practice just happens to contain several druidic elements, drawing much inspiration from Celtic lore and mysticism. One of the beautiful things about Witchcraft is that it is a living tradition. It is alive. (I’m sure the same could be said of Druidry). As Witches, we are free to bring our own uniqueness to our path, in a way that works best for each of us. Not in some willy-nilly ‘whatever’ eclectic sort of way, but in a way that encourages spiritual maturity, growth and magickal transformation.

In other news, I am really enjoying the new CLANNAD CD, Nadur. I have loved Clannad for many years, their music is in both Gaelic and English. So beautiful.

clannad

For more information about Celtic wisdom and the Druid path, I recommend:

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Celtic Wisdom, by Carl McColman

The Celtic Myth Podshow

The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids

Ár nDraíocht Féin

Druid Magic, by Maya Magee Sutton and Nicholas R. Mann

Magic of the Celtic Otherworld, by Steve Blamires

Essential Guide to Druidism, by Isaac Bonewits & Philip Carr-Gorman

Damh the Bard

Kristoffer Hughes

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,047 other followers

%d bloggers like this: