Witchcraft

The Great Rite Invocation

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The Great Rite Invocation

Assist me to erect the ancient altar,
At which in days past all worshipped;
The great altar of all things.
For in times of old, woman was the altar.
Thus was the altar made and placed,
and the sacred place was the point
within the center of the circle.
As we have of old been taught that the point within the
center is the origin of all things.
Therefore should we adore it;
Therefore whom we adore we also invoke.
O Circle of Stars,
Whereof our Father is but the younger brother,
Marvel beyond imagination, soul of infinite space,
Before whom time is ashamed,
The mind bewildered, and the understanding dark,
Not unto thee may we attain unless thine image be love.
Therefore, by seed and root, and stem and bud,
And leaf and flower and fruit do we invoke thee.
O Queen of Space, O Jewel of Light,
Continuous One of the heavens;
Let it be ever thus
That men speak not of thee as One, but as None;
And let them not speak of thee at all,
Since thou art continuous.
For thou art the point within the Circle, which we adore;
The point of life, without which we would not be.
And in this way truly are erected the holy twin pillars,
In beauty and in strength were they erected
To the wonder and glory of all men.

*Altar of mysteries manifold,
the sacred circle’s secret point
thus do I sign thee as of old
with kisses of my lips anoint.

Open for me the secret way,
the pathway of intelligence,
beyond the gates of night and day,
beyond the bounds of time and sense.
behold the mystery aright,
the five true points of fellowship,
here where the Lance and Grail unite
and feet, and knees, and breast, and lip.

-Stewart and Janet Farrar

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Let’s Talk Witch – Magical Principles

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Magical Principles

  • Magic is natural.

  • Harm none- not even yourself- through its use.

  • Magic requires effort. You will receive what you put into it.

  • Magic is not usually instantaneous. Spells require time to be effective.

  • Magic should not be performed for pay.

  • Magic should not be used in jest or to inflate your ego.

  • Magic can be worked for your own gain, but only if it harms none.

  • Magic is a divine act.

  • Magic can be used for defense but should never be used for attack.

  • Magic is knowledge – not only of its way and laws,but also of its effectiveness. Do not believe that magic works – Know It.

  • Magic is love. All magic should be performed out of love. The moment anger or hatred tinges your magic you have crossed the border into a dangerous world, one that will ultimately consume you.

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Let’s Talk Witch – Personalized Magick and Ritualistic Witches

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Personalized Magick and Ritualistic Witches

 

One commonality that Witches and Wiccans share is that both approach magick in personal ways—ways that can be incredibly complex or very simple . Kitchen Wiccans and Hedge Witches, for example, rely heavily on pragmatic, uncomplicated magick, much of which originates in folklore and superstition. Hedge Witches traditionally do not belong to a coven (a group of thirteen Witches; a coven). Solitary practitioners depend on self-study, insight, creativity, and intuition as their main guideposts. Hedge Witches may be self-dedicated, but they are rarely publicly initiated. Similar to village shamans and cunning folk, they provide spells and potions for daily needs.

Some Witches practice magick with more ritualistic overtones, drawing inspiration from the Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism and magick ) and other mystical and spiritual movements. Ritualistic

Witches, for instance, approach every aspect of a spell as if it were part of a huge puzzle: Each piece needs to be in the right place for everything to work as it should. For example, the astrological phase of the moon should be suited to the task, and every part of the working should be carefully constructed to build energy toward a desired goal. Workings such as these have been used for a long time and are honored as part of the tradition from which the Witch originates. That is not to say that a ritualistic school has no room for variety or improvisation. It’s just that the improvisation usually happens within a set framework.

The Only Book of Wiccan Spells You’ll Ever Need (The Only Book You’ll Ever Need)
Singer, Marian; MacGregor, Trish
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Witchcraft 101: Integrity… Making that choice! (part 4)

Witchcraft 101: Integrity… Making that choice! (part 4)

Author: Wren 

Since its inception, the Witches’ Voice, has been barraged with email asking the simple question… “How do I become a Witch”? Although, it has never been the mission of the Witches’ Voice to actually teach Witchcraft we find ourselves constantly shocked at the aweful responses the Teenage Witch or new seeker receives from many that “claim” themselves “elders” of the craft. For this we apologize. We will never preach or claim to “have the answer”.There are indeed many paths and many ways, it is our goal to give you the tools to get started and what to look out for.

Part #4…

Integrity: Making a Commitment

What? Are YOU Still Here?

You have probably noticed -astute students that you are!- that I have made little mention of the Gods and Goddesses in this series. In fact, early on I cautioned you to NOT make a commitment to the Old Ones just yet. There is a real reason for this and it is now time to discuss it.

There has been a small but insistent clamor lately from those who wonder why no one is teaching the “deeper” things of the Craft. The first reason is that these are difficult issues to write about. The second reason is that they are even more difficult to actually work through. And the third reason? (I’m Celtic-I think in threes!) These are the issues that will determine if Witchcraft is really the religion for you.

You may think that you are sure already. “Of course, Witchcraft is for me! Why would I have been studying this for a year and a day if I didn’t think this was my Path?”, you may exclaim. Well, hold off on that impassioned vow. A few more moments will not make a difference…or will it?

What you have been DOING so far is studying and practicing. What you have been LEARNING is what all this study and practice means to YOU. You have been forming your own sense of…

INTEGRITY:

What is “Integrity”? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “integrity” means “The condition of having no part or element taken away or wanting; undivided or unbroken state; material wholeness; completeness; entirety.” Or better still, “The condition of not being marred or violated; unimpaired or uncorrupted; a condition of soundness.”

That is what you have been learning to do in the previous lessons. You have been doing exercises that have helped you to form your own ‘faculty of judgment’, your own ‘condition of soundness’. You have been working on building your personal integrity. You have to know what it is that you believe before you can make a decision on what is right or wrong for you.

Many problems that now exist in the Pagan community would probably never have come about if more people had taken the time and made the honest effort to find out if Witchcraft really was for them BEFORE they made a commitment to it. Instead they find themselves in situations where they are forced to either, 1. admit that they made a wrong choice, or 2. try to change the religion to fit them. Instead of Witchcraft transforming them, some attempt to transform Witchcraft to suit their particular needs and desires. They are ‘continually re-inventing’ Witchcraft and Wicca to suit themselves!

A PROMISE IS A PROMISE“…

If you have decided that Wicca is your religion of choice, you have committed yourself to following its basic principles. One of these principles is, of course, the Rede. If you are promising to abide by the precepts of “And It Harm None..”, have you worked out what you would do if someone attacked you? Attacked your child? Does “harm none” mean you should become a vegetarian? Do you think that it is even possible to “harm none?” Well, that is what you are promising to do, isn’t it?

Traditional Witchcraft may not have a “Rede” of its own, but Witches were known as the “Wise Ones” for a good reason. They were respected. They were fair. They were healers. They helped the community. They changed things. They made good decisions. They didn’t promise what they could not deliver and they delivered what they promised. It is still the same today.

Too often folks make a promise in haste and then spend countless hours justifying why they had to break that promise “just this once” because of “conditions beyond their control.” They have their reasons-lots and lots of reasons. Truth is, they just didn’t give enough thought to their commitment BEFORE they made it. If you haven’t given serious thought and reflection to both the results and obligations contained within a promise, do not make one! And most certainly not to the Gods…

“If someone turned your body over to just any person who happened to meet you, you would be angry. But are you not ashamed that you turn over your own FACULTY OF JUDGMENT to whoever happens along…’-Epictetus

INTEGRITY REQUIRES THREE THINGS:

1. The ability to discern what is right and what is wrong.

This requires reflection, time and effort. It is a difficult process but one which cannot be avoided by anyone who truly wants to be a spiritual person. How much easier it is to find someone else to tell us what to do, what to read, what to think and how to act! But then, who would actually be living your life? Who would be in control? Who is pulling the strings? If you don’t think that you would enjoy being a puppet, then you simply must find out where your limits are, what you believe to be correct behavior and what you yourself are willing-and unwilling- to do.

Whether there is an “absolute” right or wrong is something that theologians and philosophers have been wrangling with for centuries. In fact the very thought that they could be wrong keeps many people from being willing to take a stand on anything at all!

The possibility that you may be wrong is lessened by careful study, investigation and thought. Of course, you may be honest about a belief. Later you may find out that you were honestly wrong! However, approaching each subject with an open mind; examining all the possibilities, answering all the ‘what ifs” will help you sort this out. Make no mistake about it, this is the most difficult process that you will ever undertake.

Most people and societies do agree that some things are just “more” right than others. (See “Teachers and Magickal Ethics” You need to find out the measure of your own “rightness quotient”. You need to do the work of creating your personal code of behavior and ethics. Then you can hold that as a standard for decisions on what religion, what group or what Path is correct for you. And you thought that just finding a coven was hard! Finding the right coven, the right place, the right religion can change your life for the better. The wrong choice can be devastating.

If you have not done this work, then you are basically leaving yourself open to follow anything or anyone -and to do anything that they tell you. Witchcraft and Wicca are religions of personal power and responsibility. If you are not willing to do the work of discernment and introspection-to formulate a set of integrated values for yourself-then Witchcraft and Wicca are probably not for you.

INTEGRITY MEANS DOING THE RIGHT THING:

2. Acting on what you have discerned even at personal cost.

Suppose the teacher that you have been studying with begins to introduce issues or behaviors that you just don’t feel are “right’. Suppose that you now find that having sexual relations are a part of this group’s workings? What if suddenly this loving coven wants you to do a death spell against someone who has given another covenmate a hard time? What about that “harm none’ thing? What if you do not want to participate in this activity? But what if, by refusing to participate, you can no longer be part of this group? What will you do?

You may have put a lot of time and effort into a group. You may have even been initiated or attained a degree. These people are your friends-maybe you even think of them as your ‘family.” Now you face losing all this and starting over. The group may say bad things about you if you leave. You may lose your friends and their support. You have to decide- do you stay and compromise your own code of right and wrong? Do you leave? Where is your soundness, your faculty of judgment, your integrity now?

The truth is that most of us cannot say whether we really possess integrity until we are tested on it. Doing what we believe to be right-determined by the hard work of reflective discernment-even when it becomes personally painful tells us if we indeed have it or not. Didn’t I tell you that there is ALWAYS a test? This is one. There will be others. Get used to it. Witchcraft and Wicca are religions that require that we as Witches and Wiccans are equal to the challenges that life brings our way. If you can easily compromise your ethical principles or can turn your back to what you know to be right action, then Witchcraft and Wicca are not for you.

INTEGRITY MEANS KEEPING YOUR COMMITMENTS:

3. You openly declare where you stand.

Now we finally get to the Gods and the Goddesses! Do you still think that you are prepared to stand before Them and pledge your life, your heart and your hands to Their service? For that is what the religion of Witchcraft and Wicca are all about-SERVICE.

  • It is not about gaining power-although that will certainly be a part of your magickal life! It is about enabling others to learn ways to empower themselves.
  • It is not about “getting more” for you-although you will benefit in untold ways. It is about “giving more” to others in Their Name.
  • It is not about changing others to suit or cater to you-although others will find you nice to be around! It is about changing yourself, so that you are better equipped to do the work of the Old Ones on this Earth.
  • It is not about fame-although others will seek you out. It is about being available to help those in need.
  • It is not about pulling others down-although what is not working will fall before you. It is about building others up and creating new and healthy systems.
  • It is not about financial wealth-although you will always feel “rich!” It is about sharing what you have with the rest of the community.
  • It is about keeping promises, going the extra mile, doing what is correct and for the good of all. It is about uprightness, honor, truth, healing, giving and service.

    It is above all holding high the Names of the Old Ones, keeping to their Ways, honoring all Their children, caring for the Earth and being committed to carrying out whatever tasks that They have set upon you to do. It is about Integrity-Theirs, yours, ours.

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Witchcraft 101: The Rhythmic Practice Phase (part 3)

Witchcraft 101: The Rhythmic Practice Phase (part 3)

Author: Wren 

Since its inception, the Witches’ Voice, has been barraged with email asking the simple question… “How do I become a Witch”? Although, it has never been the mission of the Witches’ Voice to actually teach Witchcraft we find ourselves constantly shocked at the aweful responses the Teenage Witch or new seeker receives from many that “claim” themselves “elders” of the craft. For this we apologize. We will never preach or claim to “have the answer”.There are indeed many paths and many ways, it is our goal to give you the tools to get started and what to look out for.

Part #3…

The Rhythmic Practice Phase

How are you doing so far?

The first two lessons should have taken you about six months of study and practice to complete(if you worked at it diligently). You should now also be fairly comfortable doing the basic ritual from the previous lesson. Remember that you actually have to DO the ritual – not just read it, dream about it or visualize it. Get up on your feet, get your tools together, light those candles AND DO IT!

Effort requires that you either answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Teachers can always tell if someone who comes to them has done the work. The first time that a student will do a ritual or take part in one with others will clearly show his/her experience or lack of it.

If you have done the work, this does not mean that you will not be nervous your “first time out.” You will! But you will also be amazed at how quickly this nervousness will pass as the ritual progresses. Your spirit and inner child. (Him/her, again?) WILL remember all those practice sessions and soon you’ll be enjoying the whole thing immensely!

Along the way, DO Remember these four little things:

  1. Life is always changing. Nothing stays the same.
  2. To Know you have To Do. Experience requires action.
  3. The quality of each experience – as you draw it forth and do it and live it – becomes the substance of your wisdom.
  4. Yes, there will be a test on this. There is ALWAYS a test on this!

O.K., what’s next?

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters,
compared to what lies within us.
” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Rhythms of Nature, Rhythms of Life:

The Neo – Pagan Paths that we are discussing – including Wicca and Witchcraft – are called “Earth – based” religions. The rituals and practices follow the seasonal changes of the Earth. Some Paths use the eight holidays of the Wiccan Wheel of Life; some adhere to the more traditional Four Fire Festivals calendar. Some groups have come up with their own cycles according to their belief systems. What calendar will you use?

When you have decided which Holiday calendar that you want to incorporate into your life – lesson, read all that you can about it. Take one Holiday at a time. Look for resources, descriptions and Myths about each Holiday. Think upon each one as both a special event and as a “marker” for the year.

During the Rhythmic Stage, you will explore the year through the cycles of Nature. And yes, this phase DOES last an entire year. There is no other way. You may begin to reach out a bit more during this time – exploring new contacts, taking some classes, attending public events – but the personal exploration of the Rhythmic Cycle of The Holidays should be your primary focus.

Why? It is in this cycle that you will learn much more about yourself and your place in the Universe. Everything that is exists as vibrational energy. Some things have a higher frequency, some a lower one. You will learn to “feel” the vibrational changes around you as the seasons come and go.( An essential skill to have in Magick! )

Do you get a little “spring fever” around April or May? Look at the earth. She is excited about this time of year, too! Buds are swelling on the trees and flower plants are poking their first leaves out of the ground as if to ask, “Is it safe to come out yet”?

Do you feel particularly invigorated in the Fall crisp air? Watch the squirrels run around and dig into the ground to hide their nuts. Hear the bees as they bob from plant to plant racing down the coming frost. “Hurry, hurry, hurry,” seems to rustle the drying leaves from the trees. (I’m sure you get the idea.)

There Are Patterns

I learn by going where I have to go.” – Theodore Roethke.

Most Pagans have a belief in reincarnation or transmigration of the soul. All things in Nature are born (germination), grow, mature, reproduce, and then decline and die. The cycle begins again. This is why reincarnation makes sense to most Pagans. By observing the Rhythmic Cycle, we reflect on this process and we may come to think that it just “seems right”. Not too surprising really. It’s “natural,” isn’t it?

You have a place in this cycle. You probably were not brought up to think in this way. Most aspiring Neo – Pagans weren’t. This year of study will show you not only where you fit into the cycle of Nature, but how your active involvement in these cycles can change your life. When you come to understand and work with the natural rhythms in the world around you, you will understand what it means to be Pagan.

Here are some reasons why “rhythmic learning” – and possibly reincarnation – works:

  • Effective experiential learning will affect the learner’s cognitive structures (action theories), attitudes and values, perceptions and behavioral patterns.
  • People will believe more in knowledge they have discovered themselves than in knowledge presented by others.
  • Learning is more effective when it is an active rather than a passive process.
  • Acceptance of new action theories, attitudes, and behavioral patterns cannot be brought about by a piecemeal approach.
  • It takes more than information to change action theories, attitudes, and behavioral patterns.
  • It takes more than firsthand experience to generate valid knowledge. Besides experience, there needs to be a theoretical system that the experiencer tests out and a personal reflection on the meaning of the experience.

(The above principles come from the work of Kurt Lewin, one of the important founding fathers of social psychology who influenced the development of the Group Dynamics movement in the early 1940′s.)

I’d add a seventh point – Make It Fun!

Hunt down seasonal objects for your altar. Think about colors for cloths and robes. Make a headpiece for each Holiday. Pick a mythic story and follow it throughout the year. Act it out! Dress the part! Dance! Sing! Write a poem! Cook up a recipe! Adopt a “totem” animal for each season. Make a special storage box for each Holiday’s special decorations. (Every Holiday will feel like Yule as you open your Holiday boxes next year. Add more goodies!)

A man of faithful thought may feel in light, among the beasts and fields,
the turning of the wheel.
” – Wendell Berry

WHY Are You Doing All This?

Transformation!

Transformation begins from within. Many people turn to a religion – or to magic! – in an attempt to change the things that they perceive to stand in the way of their ‘true happiness.” Many a love spell has been cast more to ease one person’s own inner loneliness than as a real desire for an equal relationship with the object of their current “affections.”

Inner transformational work is difficult, messy and anything but instantaneous. This explains the current nervous searching out of “just the right spell” by many a new seeker to the Craft. Hoping to somehow by – pass the true work involved in developing a magickal way of life, they hope for something in the order of a Hollywood special effect. “Just say the magic words…” and your insecurity problems, heartaches and financial worries are over! Uh – uh…it just doesn’t work like that. Sorry, Mr. Spielberg….

As you work through the year of The Wheel, you will learn a lot about yourself.

Such as:

  1. Respect – Both for the interconnection of all Life and for yourself.
  2. Thought – How you can change your life by changing your thoughts.
  3. Examination – Looking within yourself for answers and solutions.
  4. Release – Letting go of old habits and emotions that no longer work.
  5. Synthesis – How an individual can also be part of a whole.
  6. Creativity – Trusting your intuition to help you make viable choices.
  7. Action – Learning how to act rather than re – act.
  8. Love – Being able to give and receive healthy love.
  9. Strength – Inner courage to overcome circumstances without harm.
  10. Transformation! – The realization that only you can change what is not working in your life. Only you can make your life what you want it to be. And only you – through difficult, messy and lengthy work – can make your magickal Life one of Love, Light and Power!

The outstanding error of learners, in whom it is excusable, and of many teachers,
who teach without wisdom is that they associate Occultism with practices
rather than with PRACTICE. I teach the LIFE of concentration and meditation…

- P.G. Bowen

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Witchcraft 101: The Beginning Practice Phase (part 2)

Witchcraft 101: The Beginning Practice Phase (part 2)

Author: Wren 

Since its inception, the Witches’ Voice, has been barraged with email asking the simple question… “How do I become a Witch”? Although, it has never been the mission of the Witches’ Voice to actually teach Witchcraft we find ourselves constantly shocked at the aweful responses the Teenage Witch or new seeker receives from many that “claim” themselves “elders” of the craft. For this we apologize. We will never preach or claim to “have the answer”.There are indeed many paths and many ways, it is our goal to give you the tools to get started and what to look out for.

Part 2…

The Beginning Practice Phase…

Greetings and Welcome Back to Witchcraft 101! Before you begin this next section, perhaps it will be helpful to do a little summation. If you have been working through the “Interest Phase” and the “Exploratory Phase”, you will probably now be familiar with the following concepts and have some rudimentary knowledge in…

 

  1. The basic history of Witchcraft and its cultural origins.
  2. Some of the different Traditions and Ways that Witchcraft is practiced today.
  3. The basic ethical guidelines, such as the Rede or Law of Three.
  4. A basic overview of karma and reincarnation (or transmigration).
  5. An understanding on how Magick works.
  6. Deity Names and Aspects.
  7. The Elements and correspondences.
  8. Basic Tools of the Craft and their use in ritual work.
  9. Some divination, visualization and meditation techniques.
  10. Folklore and Mythology.

Great! This is the foundation from which your continuing studies will build and grow. Along the Way, you will stop often to ponder about new materials and visions. Remember to go slowly and to reflect much on what these concepts personally may mean to you. Again, it is very important to allow these new ideas to become integrated into your spirit. This is the only way that they can become “real’ to you. They become a part of who you are and how you think and feel. One of the ways to help this process along is through “practice.”

THE BEGINNING PRACTICE PHASE:

Chances are pretty good that you have already “dabbled’ a bit with some of the techniques of ritual work. Even if you have only begun this in your mind, you are beginning to feel the stirrings of a desire to actually DO the workings that up until this point you have only been reading or hearing about. Where do you “begin”? Do you dig through your books and find a ritual that appeals to you? Do you have a specific need in your life right now? What have you put into your Journal or Book of Shadows that you have underlined as important or particularly relevant? What do YOU feel?

You will notice a lot of emphasis on “feelings” throughout these articles. What do “feelings” have to do with all of this? Well, Carl Jung said it much better than I ever could:

Feeling informs you through its feeling-tones of the values of things. Feeling tells you for instance whether a thing is acceptable or agreeable or not. It tells you what a thing is WORTH to you….It is, like thinking, a rational function.

BEGIN AT THE BEGINNING:

 

  1. Look for SYMBOLISM-The subconscious mind works through pictures and symbols. This is why the “inner” work that you do is the starting point of all Magick. Look over your magickal tools and objects. Choose one or two at random. Touch them. Hold them in your hands. Close your eyes. What are they “saying” to your inner self? What images do they bring up and what memories do they unlock?

  2. You are using your IMAGINATION-You are not “making things up” when you are using your imagination. At least not in the sense that most of us have been lead to believe. If you have ever been reprimanded for “day dreaming” in class or at the dinner table, you may have to re-learn and “give yourself permission” to unlock this powerful tool again. Allow yourself some “flights of fancy” time each day.

    Imagination is the ability to use your mind creatively. The word “creative” is linked with “creation”. In a very real sense you are creating what you imagine. Just as a sculptor has an image of a work in his or her mind and then seeks to unlock the image from the physical materials at hand, so you create magick from the images that surface as a result of your meditations and desires. Have you used your imagination today?

  3. Now put the symbolism and the imagination together. What symbols came into your mind and what did your imagination do with these images? Ask a question and see if the images change around or become more clear. Don’t be surprised where you may end up. Your subconscious mind is a very rich and fertile place. It is the ‘playground’ of your spirit where anything is possible. And if you “wake up” with a start and realize that you have just spent 20 minutes in reverie, you are really getting the hang of it!

  4. The next exercise will be your first step from the mental/spiritual into the physical/spiritual realm. This is where you begin to actually DO THE WORK. You will start slowly and build on each previous step. Do not rush this process. This is very important. Let me explain a bit.

Do you remember as a child a favorite story that you never grew tired of hearing? You knew the entire book by heart. Part of its “magic” for you WAS knowing the entire story by heart. And remember how you would correct the reader of the story if they tried to skip a part or changed the words? The story for you was a ritual. The retelling of it the same way over and over was important to you. Because there were no surprises or changes, you could relax and really get “into” the entire tale in your…gasp!…imagination. (Don’t tell Grandma, but she was actually your first “Witchy” teacher!)

The gestures, tools and workings of your beginning ritual practice should be exactly the same each time that you do them during your Beginning Practice Phase. This repetition trains your subconscious mind to remember what is coming next. The subconscious is like the child who wants to hear that story the same way over and over. The “ritual”-repeated over and over- provides a safe and comforting setting for both your imagination and the symbolic elements to expand and grow. You’ll have plenty of time to “get fancy” later on.

The Practice Phase Do’s and Don’ts…

DO The BASIC RITUAL OUTLINE something like this:

  • Cleansing the Area.
  • Preparing the Altar.(nothing too elaborate, just a few of your favorite tools). Lighting the candles.
  • Casting the circle.
  • Welcoming the elements.
  • Welcoming the Deities.
  • Stating the Purpose of the ritual.
  • Magickal workings or devotions.
  • Raising the Energy. Releasing the Energy.
  • Grounding.
  • Thanking the Deities.
  • Thanking the elements.
  • Closing(or sometimes called opening) the circle.
  • Eating snacks!

There are many simpler or more elaborate ways to do a ritual. Many Traditions have their own formats as well. But if you know how to do this basic ritual, you will pretty much be comfortable in any open Circle that you may attend.

DO BEGIN! Start at the beginning of the above list. Make notes on each step in your journal as you begin to plan your ritual. How will you cleanse your working area? Salt and water? Besom (broom)? Incense? What will you place on your altar? (Making a list first insures that you will not forget something….”Matches, anyone?”, is the most classical “oops”!).

DO… Take time to sit quietly and center yourself before you begin. Be honest about your feelings. Are you excited…scared….nervous? That is normal. This is important stuff and not to be entered into lightly. O.K.? Now you can begin, but…

DO… Tell the Old Ones that you are “practicing’. Although They already know this (and They are ready to help you), it will be reassuring to YOU to state this in case you end up feeling that you may have “done something wrong”. You haven’t. You are “practicing” and practice involves a certain amount of trial and error. No one ‘upstairs’ is laughing at you.

DO… Perform each step slowly and carefully. Let the symbols speak to your inner self. Take time between each step to feel how the ritual has affected you and changed your surroundings. As you ground, listen for answers…listen for advice…listen to yourself…listen to the phone ringing because you forgot to take it off the hook….

DO… Listen. We ask for things and then we often do not take the time to listen for the answers. Write everything down. Doodle impressions in the margins. These symbols may be important later.

DO… this same basic ritual over and over and over again. Rather than becoming boring, you will probably find that it becomes MORE meaningful each time that you do it. And your inner child’s subconscious mind will be loving it! (Thanks, Grandma!)

DO… Continue to repeat the first Phases again. We are all constantly learning and going “back to basics” is always a good idea.


DON’T… worry about what you will say. Say what is in your heart. Use simple language-remember that “child” thing?-and DO remember to take deep breaths in between sentences. You want to ‘alter your consciousness”, not lose it!

DON’T… take any oaths or make lifelong dedications to the Old Ones. You have not made that decision yet. You are still trying to discover if Witchcraft is the right Path for you. This is one of the most important decisions that you will ever make in your life. Give it the respect and consideration that it deserves.

DON’T… be afraid. All those Hollywood movies may have made you a tad nervous about beginning actual ritual practice. Nothing like that will happen to you. You have done each step slowly and with much forethought. It is only when someone tries to go into places for which they are unprepared that the situation can get unpleasant. That is why teachers emphasize the NEED to go slowly. You HAVE taken the time to prepare yourself and done all the steps in order, haven’t you?

DON’T… do the ritual either too often or too little. Formulate a regular schedule-say once a week- and stick to that for a while. If you really desire to do something on a daily basis, a simple candle lighting ritual in the morning or evening will do just fine. Begin to think about Moon phases, Holidays and other times to do ritual Work. Witchcraft is based on the “rhythms’ of Nature and that will be the next step…

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Witchcraft 101: So Ya Wanna be a Witch? (part 1)

Witchcraft 101: So Ya Wanna be a Witch? (part 1)

Author: Wren 

Since its inception, the Witches’ Voice, has been barraged with email asking the simple question… “How do I become a Witch”? Although, it has never been the mission of the Witches’ Voice to actually teach Witchcraft we find ourselves constantly shocked at the aweful responses the Teenage Witch or new seeker receives from many that “claim” themselves “elders” of the craft. For this we apologize. We will never preach or claim to “have the answer”.There are indeed many paths and many ways, it is our goal to give you the tools to get started and what to look out for.

Part 1…

I Want To Be In A Coven. How Do I find One?

Many newcomers to the Craft begin to learn about Witchcraft/Wicca by reading a few books. It doesn’t take them very long to discover that each author has a different slant on the subject. Information, even about the most basic elements such as history, circle casting or spellwork, can sometimes be not only different, but often conflicting. At this point, the newcomer may throw up their hands in despair and decide to find a real live person to help straighten all this out. And who can blame them?

When newcomers ask the question, “Where can I find a coven?”, they are quite often taken aback by the response-or rather non-response- that they may receive to the inquiry. They are told to read more books, check out various websites and practice working on their own. This can seem like a ‘brush off” to the seekers-sometimes it is!-and they may go away more frustrated than before. So how CAN the new seeker find some help- and perhaps eventually meet other Pagans?

STARTING OUT…

So You Wanna Be a Witch?

There are some real issues that should be discussed right at the beginning of this section. The first thing that the seeker should know is that much of the “knowledge” that we possess today about Witchcraft and its origins is a combination of archeological data, the myths and legends that have been passed down and some historical documents that have been translated. The rest is conjecture and the “best guesses” of scholars who are working on “bringing it all together.” In other words, no one can say for certain what the Ancestors really did or why.

That does not mean that we have NO knowledge-we certainly DO!- just that we do not have THE historical knowledge of the origins of the Modern Craft. Different interpretations will continue to abound both in written materials and in any teachings that you may encounter. There will never be only one Way of practicing Witchcraft. Get used to it. No one has the “one true answer”…and any teacher worth his or her salt will tell you this up front.

The above is your first introduction to what is involved in following the path of Witchcraft. You are expected to do a LOT of research on your own. This is actually a very healthy way to approach the beginning study of any Path you are considering. Read many, many books on the subject-both scholarly and those that some would consider in the “fluff’ category. Why? Because this is your first foray into unknown waters. You should approach it with an open mind-ready to question and probe and ponder. I cannot overestimate how useful this first step will be. It can help you to formulate your own ideas about what this Path may mean to you.

Do not try to incorporate all that you read into one cohesive whole at the beginning. Look at whatever material that you are reading as a “theory” or “hypothesis” of Witchcraft. Some things will appeal to you right away. Others will seem “off the wall” or too fantastic to be of use. Accept or reject nothing at this stage; just keep on gathering information. You are doing “research”. The more you read, the more a “coming together” of certain aspects will begin to form within yourself. Then you will have a foundation from which you can take the next step.



Part One-The INTEREST PHASE:

You saw a movie (which shall remain nameless!), you read a few books, you stumbled onto a website, you talked to someone who said that he/she was a Witch-and now you want to know more! You have an “interest” in the Craft.

Many seekers at this point rush into the nearest message board area and cry out, “Teach me everything you know!” The reaction of others to this plea may range from the semi-helpful, “Do more research” to the out and out rude, “Those Wannbees!”

Either one of these responses will probably will leave you feeling unsatisfied (If not hurt!) and discouraged. Why can’t you get the help that you are asking for? Well, perhaps you did not phrase your request in a way that would elicit the sort of assistance that you were really looking for.

Witchcraft is a Path with depth. It can not be summed up in “25 words or less”. You need to learn how to ask SPECIFIC questions. This is where your previous research comes in. An intelligent and thoughtful question about a specific topic will generate an intelligent and thoughtful answer or opinion in return. Cite your sources. “This author writes that this is the way to cast a circle, yet this other author states it this way. Can anyone give me their opinion or experience on this? Does it matter?”

Interest Phase Do’s and Don’ts…

DO… Read as many books on the subject as you can-on History, Myths, Poetry, Psychology and Science as well as books on Witchcraft or Magick.

DO… Make yourself a research library. Take notes or highlight passages that particularly interest you. If you have a question on what is written, place a question mark next to that passage. You should enjoy what you read at this stage-the enjoyment will actually help you to retain what you read better than struggling through dusty tomes on alchemy (unless you happen to love alchemy, that is!).

DO… start a journal. You can even call it a “Book of Shadows” if you want to. (It can just be a loose leaf notebook, These are handy for creating different sections.) Write down both the things that you have found to be of interest and the things that you would like to know more about.

DO… Look at Nature. Witchcraft and most other Pagan paths are called “earth or nature based” religions. What is Nature saying to you? Bring home rocks, sticks, leaves or other things you find that attract your attention. Now ask yourself-WHY did you bring that home? Write it down.

DO… get organized. Concentration is an important skill in Magic. Disciplining yourself to make regular entries into a journal and writing things down will help you to develop concentration.

DO… learn to ask SPECIFIC questions of other Witches or Pagans when you need help. And ask yourself some questions, too. “What do I think Witchcraft is? What do I find here that has meaning for me?”

DO… tell the truth. Can seasoned Witches tell if someone is “full of it”? Yes, they can and rather quickly, too! Be honest about what you know and what you don’t.

DO… spend time alone to think carefully about how you feel and what you want for yourself. Some people think at the onset that Witchcraft will allow them to change other people or circumstances. But YOU will be the one who changes as you explore this Path. Do you really WANT to change?


DON’T… take it too fast. You have not made any commitments yet. You are doing research into a subject that interests you on a personal level. Jumping into a group situation at this point may hinder your development more than help it. You need to find out where YOU are going before you hit the trail with someone else.

DON’T… get discouraged. Sometimes it is very difficult to “go it alone.” But the Craft is made up of individuals who bring something of value to the Path-as well as receive benefits from it. Many “old timers” have the “Grampa attitude”. You know, the “When I was your age, I had to walk three miles to school every day…in the snow…with no boots…carrying my little sister…and a load of firewood…” Well, in a way that is true. It WAS much harder to be a Witch only a few decades ago. So be forgiving if they are not ready to hand you all their hand gathered “firewood” on a silver platter….you may have to walk a mile or two by yourself….in the snow…with no boots…..

DON’T… ask about joining a terraspace coven just yet. A coven is a close knit group working together. It is a difficult process to create an effective magickal unit. Most covens are not actively looking for new members, as each time a new person is added to the group, it takes time for the unit to re-adjust. There are some cyberspace “covens” that readily accept new members. If you look on it as a “training exercise”, you could learn a few things. Ask around the Internet.

DON’T… be afraid because you are not part of a group. Many, many Witches find out after much trial and error that they actually PREFER to work alone. Traditionally the Witch WAS a loner…and many still are by choice. Often solitary Witches get together to talk and exchange information and then happily go back to their solitary practice. You CAN do a little bit of both.

Still “Interested”? Then you will probably want to go further into…

Part Two-The “EXPLORATORY PHASE”:

You have read quite a few books, taken tons of notes and written faithfully in your Book of Shadows or journal. You have found some resources on the Internet and may have even asked a Pagan a few of those pesky questions that have been bothering you lately. Now what?

This is where you begin to exercise your discretion a bit. As you start weeding out the things that you have decided are not for you and embracing what DOES feel right, you are also making decisions about what sort of group you may eventually be comfortable with. (And many seekers still feel at this point that they DO want to find a group.)

Does the whole circle casting with sword, smoking incense and flickering candles appeal to you? Or would you rather simply sit quietly and let your heart speak?

Are you more introverted than extroverted? All grand dreams of leading a large public ritual aside, do you feel comfortable right NOW speaking to large groups of people? Or do you prefer the company of a few close and intimate friends?

Do you like to mull things over before making a decision? Or are you spontaneous and always dashing off to go rock climbing or roller blading?

Asking yourself these and similar questions will help you to make decisions. What are the reasons that you would want to be part of a coven or group-and what sort of group may that be?

You may also begin visualization techniques at this time. You begin to see yourself in the tales of mythic heroes and heroines. You may visualize actually doing the rituals and circles that you have read about. You imagine what it may be like to be a member of a coven-laughing as you all run through the woods on your way to the bonfire. How do these images and scenarios make you feel? Be honest. No one is looking over your shoulder at this point.

Most importantly, how comfortable are YOU with this Path that you are researching? Does it fit who you are? Not who you would like to be…not who you would like others to think that you are…but you as you are right now. Think about this a lot. It will save you much disillusionment in the future.

You may begin to collect a tool or two or think about setting up an altar area. You start buying lots and lots of candles and incense. You browse the herb shops and look through catalogs for magickal items. You may even buy some things. You are beginning to actually make some outward decisions about what you feel inside. You are “exploring” new possibilities.

Explorer Phase Do’s and Don’ts…

DO… Continue to read, study and record notes in your journal or Book. Why did you choose this athame over that wand? Why do you prefer sandalwood to jasmine? Should you hide your altar when Granny comes to visit?

DO… Begin to think about which Way appeals to you…Celtic? Egyptian? Druid? Can’t decide? Maybe you are the Eclectic type?

DO… Understand that you will be challenged as you begin to speak and interact with other Pagans. It’s our hobby. And it makes you think about what you say you believe in. It will tell you a lot about your commitment to the Path that you have chosen for yourself.

DO… Keep a sense of humor. It puts things into perspective. You will be laughing at yourself for a lifetime as you look back on your early days. We all do. We were just learning when we began and we weren’t always very good in our first attempts. (I’m laughing right now just thinking about the first time I cast a circle by myself!) But we did learn and you will, too. And since we all are continuing to learn each day, you will never run out of things to laugh about!

DO… “Talk little and listen much”. Lurk around the chat rooms. Peek in on a cybercircle. Check out your local area for open circles or workshops. Keep your eyes and ears open…opportunities for learning are everywhere.

DO… Continue to ask SPECIFIC questions. It is easier now that you have some real information under your belt, isn’t it? Instead of a broad-based “I dunno anything about this!”, you can ask “Well, what about THIS?” At last those answers are beginning to make some sense!

DO… begin thinking about Deities and ritual structure. Who of the Old Ones speaks to you? What sort of relationship would you have with the Deity of your choice-or the One who has chosen YOU?! What are the symbols associated with these Deities? Learn Their stories.


DON’T… Get ahead of yourself. All worthwhile lessons take time to become integrated into your spirit. The mind is usually the last to know! That is because your subconscious is learning through dreams and visions and symbols while your conscious mind is still struggling with the words. Continue to spend time alone to allow all your new feelings and thoughts to become clear. Take a walk and enjoy your life!

DON’T… Put all your spiritual eggs into one basket. Even though you may have a favorite author, continue to read other viewpoints. Even though you may respect a Witch or Pagan, continue to listen to other voices. Read about the latest “conspiracy theory”. It may be ridiculous, but it does train the mind to be on the look out for alternatives. (However do know that if you are abducted by aliens, they didn’t hear about you from us!)

DON’T… Tell all that you know and don’t pretend to know about something that you don’t. Complete honesty may be difficult with other people, but it is essential to be honest with yourself. Lies waste energy.

DON’T… get frustrated because you STILL haven’t found out how to contact a coven. That will come later…if it is still what you want to do.

Categories: Articles, Daily Posts, The Witch, Wicca, Witchcraft | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Getting Started On Your Spiritual Education Path

 Getting Started On Your Spiritual Education Path

 

Any spiritual practice requires research and study. Witchcraft is no different than any other path. Here is some basic info, words of caution, and suggestions for reading and starting your research.

How Can I Learn More? If you are one of the many people looking for information on how to become a witch, there are a few things you should ask yourself first.

1. What is your reason for wanting to be a Witch? If your reason is simply so you can cast a spell, it’s the wrong reason and you might find more information if you look for Spellcraft, than Witchcraft. If your reasons are truly from an interest in the faith or you feel drawn to the Craft as a religion, then you maybe on the right path. But you should learn more and make an informed decision.

2. Are you willing to live by the spiritual laws as a way of life? If you are, or if you’re not sure, do a lot of research on your own and find out as much as you can about the path you’ve chosen.

3. How Do I Get Started? Read, learn and read a lot more. Do your own research, and not just from magikal books or reference manuals. Through studying history, other religions and how they all inter-relate and interact. I have a favorite saying for this type of education: “Books can give you knowledge. But only your own personal experiences give you wisdom to decide your own path.”

Words of Warning.

Don’t take one persons word or teachings as the only truth or as the only way on this or any spiritual path. No one person has all the answers for you. Only you know what rings true within your own heart and soul.

When it comes time for you to chose a mentor, be very cautious. There are a lot of novice people claiming to be a High Priest or Priestess. The best advice I could give is find someone who can prove they have practiced the path for several years (my standard is 10 years or more).

Don’t just take their word for it. Find someone who is willing to answer your questions without charging you money.

Taking a class and paying for an instructors time is NOT the same thing as finding a “spiritual teacher”. (Classes are wonderful for making new friends and learning in a group.)

What you should really be looking for is a mentor or guide, not a person who thinks they have the right to tell you what to do or believe.

Lastly, always question!

Question everything you are told and everything you read.

Research other material to validate what you are being told or what you read in a book.

Make sure that a book is supported by other books and by history itself.

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