Posts Tagged With: Book of Shadows

Paganism 101: Basics of Pagan Spirituality

Paganism 101: Basics of Pagan Spirituality

Author:   Cu Mhorrigan  

Introduction:

Paganism has received a lot of attention in recent years with the increased use of the internet, television shows like Charmed, Buffy: the Vampire Slayer, Angel and movies like The Craft, Harry Potter, as well as cartoons like Sabrina the Teen-Aged Witch.

Nowadays, it has become fashionable to announce oneself to be a Pagan, or Neo-Pagan, Wiccan or Witch – especially for teenagers, wishing to attract attention, adults trying to follow the latest fad in spirituality, or just as an excuse to justify weird or aberrant behavior.

However, calling yourself a Pagan is one thing; actually following the spiritual path is something else. It is my hope with this ‘class’ that I might explain in practical terms what it actually means to be a Pagan in our modern age and to assist those who wish to implement the following of this spiritual path.

Definition of the word “Pagan”:

The Word Pagan is derived from the Latin word ‘paganus’, which is loosely translated to mean “of the country”. It should be noted however that the usage of ‘paganus’ within the Roman Empire (Where they spoke Latin. Duh!) was always meant to be a slur meaning “hillbilly, redneck, hick, trailer trash, or white trash”. Much in the same way we would talk about guests on the Jerry Springer Show.

Later, when the Christian faith took over the Roman Empire under Charlemagne, it was used to describe those outside of the Christian faith and those in need of conversion. Not an improvement, because paganus was still pretty much of an insult.

Turning a negative into a positive:

It wasn’t until recently that the term ‘Pagan’ gained a more positive use with the resurgence of Pagan beliefs within the European and American Cultures. Those who sought spirituality closer to that of their “ancestors” adopted it. Eventually, it came to mean ‘those who follow the Old religions’ or ‘those who follow a spiritual path outside of the big three Abrahamic religions’. (What are the big Three Abrahamic religions?)

What DO Pagans Believe?:

An it harm none Do as thou wilt.

Speaking in general terms, Paganism is an earth-centered spirituality, which believes in the sacredness of all things, equality of all persons regardless of gender, sexual, and spiritual and social practices. The practices within Paganism are extremely diverse and open-ended allowing individuals to incorporate whatever rituals and belief systems they feel comfortable with.

Since there is so much diversity within our spiritual path, we stress personal liberty, and responsibility for one’s own actions. That as long as a person does not cause physical, mental, emotional, financial, and spiritual harm to others or himself, he/she is free to pursue one’s physical, mental and spiritual development as he/she sees fit.

Which brings me to my next point: Pagans, in general, do not proselytize! That means you aren’t going to get a call from us at three o’clock in the morning asking us if you are going to ritual or not. There is no High Priestess going around smacking people over the head if they haven’t worked on their Book of Shadows or if they bought the wrong candle for a personal ritual. Aint gonna happen.

Why? We are assuming that if you are here, you want to be here. We’ll give you information, let you know your options, and the rest is up to you. We aren’t going to stand on a street corner and scream at folks for not worshipping Athena nor at women/men who chose not to go around sky clad (That’s ‘nekkid’ for those of us who are really new to this).

The Law of Return (or sowing and reaping):

There are no true “sins” within our spiritual practices. There are only things that cause harm (or, as I like to call them, “Stupid Ideas”) and things that are helpful (Or as I like to call them, “Good Ideas”).

When you do good things, good things tend to happen to you (Eventually). When you do bad things, bad things tend to happen to you (Eventually). Of course, since we do not live in a static environment, and people tend to interact with one another, sometimes things get a little ‘fa-kakhed’. However, the Universe always balances Itself out in the end.

This concept is called, karma and it’s a relatively complicated matter, which I have here boiled down to its lowest common denominator. Of course, there are differing views of Karma, one of which is the Three-Fold Law What you do comes back three-fold, or three times, back at you. (If you are not sure as to whether an act will have some kind of repercussion, ask yourself, how much would I really like this done to me?)

(The self-defense caveat: Like all “Laws”, there are loopholes. If someone else is out to cause you harm in some way it would be a really STUPID (Bad Karma) idea not to protect yourself, or your family, or your friends. However, make sure you have as many facts as possible (like the guy is holding a knife and threatens to cut you up) before beating the oneness of all things back into these individuals.

Pantheons, Divinities, Spirits, Energies:

Okay this is where it gets a little tricky, but stay with me. The most common (and extremely annoying) question we as Pagans get is, “Don’t you folks worship Satan?” (Everyone roll his or her eyes here.)

The answer to that is a resounding, “NO!” For the most part, you need to keep in mind that Paganism is a separate religion from Christianity. Hence Satan (Whom I call, the Christian God of Evil and Nastiness) is not a part of our pantheon. Sorry…

For the most part (depending on the tradition you follow) the Pagan concept of Divinity falls under one of the following expressions:

Duo-Theism: (Duo=Two or Dual, Theos=Divinities):

The Worship of a Co-Equal God and Goddess, each having unlimited power, compassion, wisdom, energy or what-have-you, but maintaining different roles and functions.

The God is aggressive, powerful, sexual adventurous, skillful. He handles the Male side of fertility.

The Goddess is nurturing, passionate, creative, sensual and artistic. She oversees the power of creating life through birth and the Female side of fertility.

This belief is widely held by the Wiccans and Wicca-like factions of Paganism.

Poly Theism: (Poly=Many, Theos=Divinities) The belief in multiple Gods and Goddesses.

Many folks see these Gods as extensions of the God and Goddess (i.e. Monism) with each one taking on different aspects at the time of their encounter with the worshipper. Others (like myself) believe that They are actually separate entities with Their own personalities, quirks and motives.

Not every god or goddess is a real people person nor does every god and goddess have a laid back attitude. If you are going to get involved with a particular deity, you had better make sure you do a LOT of research as to what they like, don’t like, and if a particular god or goddess is right for you. Otherwise your life will get extremely interesting in a bad way.

The third school of though in polytheism is the idea of the gods and goddesses being archetypes within a person’s own psyche. This is sort of like a piece of our own subconscious wrapped up in a costume and a mask in order to teach our conscious minds lessons they need.

Of course, there is more than those three Schools of thought, but I’m just giving the basics here.

Pantheism:

Simply put, this is the idea that the Divine is in everything; hence all things are a part of the energy we call god. Since all things are a part of god, all things are sacred and are expressions of the divine in some way, shape or form. When I worship a tree, I am worshipping the Divine; when I give food to a hungry stray, I am feeding the Divine; when I am hurting someone, I am hurting the Divine.

Then there is the Fourth Category:

I-have-no-Friggin-Clue-ism:

For the beginner, this is the best spiritual idea I can suggest. The idea is essentially, “I have no friggin’ clue if there is a Divinity or not, therefore unless I am shown otherwise, I will not say that the Gods are this way or that. I will respect the Power behind the name, but I will not pledge myself to him/her/it unless I have an absolutely good reason to.”

This is actually one of the safest belief systems to take as a new student of the Pagan path because you are open enough to receive enlightenment, but at the same time, you do not run the risk of making a total, complete ass out of yourself. The Gods will instruct you as They see fit.

Now of course, Pagans will usually incorporate not only one, but perhaps two or three of the ideas listed above. This usually comes from personal experience and cannot be learned any other way.
Keep in mind that it’s okay to shift from one idea to another or even to incorporate two or more of these ideas…it’s all good. Just find out what works best for you.

So How the Hades do I Become a Pagan? (Or stupid questions that are commonly asked)

Well, for the most part, it’s a matter of doing a lot of reading and a lot of self-exploration. It took me at least two years of studying online and reading books and attending classes to even consider myself a Pagan. A lot of the traditions under the banner of Paganism will have different views on training and initiation (think of it as baptism), and how one becomes a member of that tradition.

The best way is to start out attending Pagan gatherings, visiting bookstores and such, and talk to other Pagans. Eventually, you will either find a religious path that works for you or you will throw your arms up in dismay and run screaming back to your religion of birth. And there is nothing wrong with that. NOT AT ALL! We realize that the Pagan spiritual path is not for everyone, and we will not be offended. Just make sure you don’t tell people we sacrificed your cat and you’ll be cool with us.

Do I Need to Buy Special Clothes and Dress in Black?

The answer is: Only if you really want to. Yes, there are special robes some folks wear, but unless your coven says otherwise, you can pretty much wear what you want.

Just some basic suggestions: Wear something comfortable and wear something you won’t mind getting dirty. Most of our rituals take place outdoors and, while you may look really good in an Armani suit and Gucci shoes, there is a good chance your clothes will get messed up and your shoes scuffed.

Loose, light clothes in summer and spring is always a good idea, and warmer clothes in the fall are really smart. Most winter rituals will be held indoors, depending on the weather. If it makes you comfortable to wear black Witch clothes and pointed hats and cloaks… Knock yourself out…You’ll be getting lots of stares and odd looks (mostly from us), but all-in-all, if it makes you comfortable, then that is all that matters.

Do I Need to Buy Special Jewelry?

Again, only if you want to and if you enjoy it. Jewelry is a personal matter to the people who wear it. And it’s usually best to find a piece that says, “HEY! I LIKE YOU. WEAR ME AROUND YOUR NECK!” Otherwise, No special jewelry is required to be a Pagan.

Do I Need to Kill Something (like a kitten) and Drink its Blood?

No, you don’t have to kill an animal to be a Pagan. For the most part, we are animal friendly and don’t believe in killing a critter in order to work our rituals. Yes, there are some Pagan groups that practice animal sacrifice and it is left alone…but fear not, the only thing usually killed has already been slaughtered and put on the feasting table in a sacred bucket marked, KFC.

Do I Need to Become a Vegetarian?

Nope, being a vegetarian is a matter of personal preference and what you feel in your heart. While many of us are vegetarians, a lot of us aren’t. It may be a good idea to eat a little healthier, but no one is going to come down on you for eating meat or using meat-based products. However, you might want to do your own research and come up with your own choices.

So, What DO I Need to Do?

Excellent question. One, as I suggested before, do a lot of research, a lot of reading and, when in doubt, do more research. A lot of Pagans keep what is called a “Book of shadows”, which is just a fancy name for a Journal. Write down everything you learn in that book and when you get a chance, read it. If you see a cool article on the net, feel free to print it (for your personal use only, please).

To create a book of shadows, I would suggest buying a loose-leaf binder and fill it half-way with paper. It’s also a good idea to invest in a three hole punch. That way, you can put articles that you printed from the net and use them for later reference. Do not worry about using blood and special things to “make it official”. It is your study guide — your book — and so, make sure you personalize it to suit your needs.

When you feel you are ready, and you have found a religious tradition you feel comfy with, take that Book of Shadows and attend any class you can afford. A lot of places have very reasonable rates for their classes. The Learning Annex is one source, but so is your local Pagan bookstore. Just make sure you talk to the person running the store to make sure he knows what he/she is talking about. If you are not entirely comfortable in studying there, consider looking for another teacher. Remember, this is about YOUR spiritual growth and enrichment and you need to be in an environment conducive to YOUR learning.

Holidays, and Rituals:

There are eight major Holy Days during the Pagan year that a lot of us agree upon. There are also rituals that are held on the New Moon and the Full moon depending on how often your coven (A group of Pagans you worship with) meets.

The Eight Major Holidays are listed in the order they fall on:
Imbolc (February)
Spring Equinox (March 21)
Beltaine (May 1)
Summer Solstice (Litha) (June 21)
Lughnassadh or Lamas (August)
Autumn Equinox (Mabon) (September 21)
Samhain or Halloween (October 31 to Nov 1)
Winter Solstice (Yule) (December 21)

Each Holy Day represents a certain mythological event in our religion, which will be discussed by the High Priest (ess) in advance.

It’s usually a good idea to find out what you would need to bring so that you can best participate in the ritual.

Now most likely you are going to have a hard time pronouncing the names of the days when you first start out, so don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions; it’s the only way you are going to learn.

Tools For Rituals:

Energy: This is the most important, and since I am assuming people know Jack about Paganism, I’m going to make this explanation brief: When we perform rituals and cast spells, we are attempting to gather energy. This energy comes from the universe and ourselves. Depending on what we are trying to do, we use certain rituals, and tools. Think of it this way: It’s like gathering up a whole bunch of snow together. We eventually gather enough to make a snowball and then we pack it in and send it off to impact your friend. It’s basically the same thing. When we perform these rites, they help our minds to focus on gathering this energy and tell it what we want done. Energy is the most important part of any ritual, and without it, we are just looking stupid.

Cauldron: This is basically a black, three-legged pot to be used for burning incense and for other things. They range from tiny to huge and can be used to burn incense, burn paper, and make potions. Now cauldrons tend to be rather expensive, so if you are a bit “Price Sensitive” like me, find yourself one of those old fashioned iron pots that Mom uses to make rice. Make sure you clean it before and after use. If you have one of these in your own home and have had it for a long time, you are pretty much used to it and it is used to you. So, you really don’t have to “charge” it with energy.

Athemae: Essentially, this is a knife or a really small sword. This is used to direct energy raised up during rituals. THESE ARE NOT USED TO CUT PEOPLE (of any species). It can be used for cutting vegetables. Most traditions prefer a double sided blade, small enough to conceal. (You would be amazed how many cops will stop you for carrying a broad sword.) If you’re unable to get an athamae, it’s totally cool to make yourself a wand or use your index finger to direct energy.

Wands/Rods: Okay, these are wooden or crystal sticks also used to direct energy as well as to draw it to yourself. Wands tend to be no longer than your arm, while rods can be longer. Best way to get a rod is to go out on little walks in the park and look for a stick. Once you find a stick you like and that screams out for you to take it, take it home, and sand it and decorate it until you are totally comfortable with it. Viola! You have a wand or rod. If you have as much mechanical aptitude as a slug, ask around your local occult bookstores. Keep in mind they are going to be slightly expensive and you will have to charge it once you get it home.

Candles: Candles are used in rituals to help get your mind into the practice of Magic (No, I am not spelling magic with a K or a J…I’m keeping this as simple as possible. If you want to use the funky spellings in your own notebooks, knock yourself out. You’re not being graded here). Candles are lit in order to help get the mind into a state where it’s easier to put the patterns in for the energy to flow. I would strongly suggest getting candles of all colors and sizes and as many as you can afford. (Usually one of each color.) You can pick them up anywhere.

Incense: Like candles, incense helps the mind get energy together to cast spells. It’s a good idea to make your own incense or to purchase them from a botanica, or occult bookstore. Incense sticks may be colored, but it’s usually a good idea to purchase them based on their smells. Pungent or spicy incense is normally used to send stuff away. (Mainly because they are offensive.) Sweet incense is used to bring stuff to you. Earthy smells help to facilitate healing and to strengthen you.

Divination tools: Things like Tarot Cards, Runes and what not. These are mainly used to help you to make decisions or to gain some kind of insight as to what is going on around you. Keep in mind, these items themselves are not magical in and of themselves, but are based on your own intuition interpreting what you are seeing.

Books, books and more books: Like I said earlier, it is suggested you read religiously. It’s best to keep a library of things you have read or are about to read. Don’t just pick books only by one author, but of different ones. Some people may know a lot about what they are talking about; others are complete and utter horse feces. However, the only way you are going to find out is if you look for yourself and keep your Book of Shadows nearby while you read. If something sounds like nonsense, or if you aren’t sure about whether or not what is true within a book, do some research. It sounds like a lot of work, but this is your spirituality we are talking about here.

It is a good idea to question everything and find out if there is an agreement between the authors you have read. Another thing to keep in mind is that some folks are completely full of fluff and bluster while others deliberately water stuff down to keep from divulging too much about their path. And some are completely straightforward about the things they are writing about.

One of the best ways to learn about an author is find out when they are going to be doing a book signing near you. Get to meet them (Most book signings are free and most will give a short lecture about their book just to whet your appetite for it.) Some of the most intense learning experiences I gained were in attending some of these lectures; it’s also a great way to actually see the person who is writing.

Use your intuition…and don’t be shy about picking their brains. That is what they are there for. In fact, I would suggest doing the same thing at the store where you get your tools and books. It helps you learn a lot faster; especially when you ask Stupid questions. Yes you will get looks. Yes, you will even get the occasional shake of the head, But if you don’t ask, you wont know. It’s worth it.

Suggested Things to do:

Check out different groups that meet in your area. You can do this by attending open (public) circles or classes. Use them as a way to meet other Pagans and eventually find a group that you feel comfortable studying with. If you are Solitary Pagan, it helps to “meet and greet” other Pagans.

Look around for Pagan shops, botanicas and other places where you can get supplies. Most botanicas are devoted to Santeria or Voudu, but you can get some really good equipment at cheap prices.

Check out the local library, as well as the bookstore for things you can read about your particular pantheon.

Ask a lot of questions. Even stupid ones. It’s one of the chief tenets of Paganism to question everything you come across. If you get an answer that sounds like horsesh*t, then verify, verify, verify.

Things Not To Do:

Don’t panic; this seems like a lot of information, but it really isn’t. This is just the primer for your own research.

Don’t sweat if you cannot find a teacher right away, Nine times out of ten, they usually show up when you are ready to learn more about a particular aspect of your tradition.

Don’t start off calling yourself a High Something of a particular tradition. Most systems within Paganism have their own methods of teaching and credentials for clergy and what not. No faking!

Don’t be afraid of getting criticized; it’s going to happen. Learn to grow a thick skin, and if someone points something out to you, listen and check out your own motives and conscience. If the shoe fits, wear it. If it doesn’t, then don’t.

Don’t take everything at face value…Learn how to question what you hear and not be a total jerk about it.

Don’t try and convert people, It rarely works just put out information let people know where you stand and end it there.

Recommended Websites:

http://www.witchvox.com “The Witches’ Voice” –  It’s a great place to start since they have information about everything.

http://pantheon.org –  A great place to learn about the Gods of your chosen pantheon. It doesn’t have all the information, but enough for you to get your feet wet and do some research.

Yahoo.com — They have a plethora of Pagan groups and places where you can talk to people of different walks of life. It’s also a great way to meet Pagans in your area.

Google and other search engines — Another great website with links to thousands of Pagan websites.

Recommended Books:

The Truth about Witchcraft Today: Scott Cunningham
Urban Primitive: Tannin Silverstein and Raven Kaldera
The Book of Shamanic Healing: Kristin Madden
The Celestine Prophecy: James Redfield (Yes, it’s a novel but it helps to get an idea about energy-work and how energy can be gathered and stolen.)
The Wiccan Warrior: Kerr Cucuhain
Witchcraft Theory and Practice: Ly de Angeles
When I see the Wild God: Ly de Angeles
Drawing Down the Moon: Margot Adler (of NPR)
The Spiral Dance: Starhawk
Buckland’s Complete Witches Handbook: Raymond Buckland

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New, Old, or Returning to your Path…

New, Old, or Returning to your Path…

Author:   Darksky   

Firstly, like anything else in life no matter where you’re at in your stage, degree, or practice of the Magickal arts, you’re not the only one that has felt the way you do. We have all been overwhelmed, frustrated, unsure, or confused. New, old, or returning let me say congratulation and welcome! Taking the first step is always a big decision, but you did and now your here.

So now what? You have read everything in print, you have spoken to folks who practice the craft, you have heard from craft store owners, and of course people with their own witch/occult web site. I would say, take everything that you have heard with a grain of salt and do some research. Do not always take what you read or hear so literally. Getting into anything new or returning to it needs a point of origin.

Start with the basics, you cant do advanced work if you haven’t got a good working concept of the basics, and should you be rusty go back and review. True, there is so much to learn, but there are so many paths, traditions, and pantheons to experience. Patience, and being methodical will yield knowledge, safety, and rewards for all your hard work.

So…back to an origin, a jumping off point, Magick is the control of ones own environment, to be able to manifest change in ones self and ones surrounds. So how do we achieve this if we are not in control, distracted, or unsure? To just read books, take classes, buy tools, light candles, deal tarot cards, and attend seminars and book signings are merely actions. Magick without intention and intuition is incomplete and void. A magician needs to have confidence, intuition, and be able to infuse, inject, and penetrate every single aspect of his or her work with intention.

While magick is the art of control in order to manifest, it is also a connection with the universe, nature and the Lord and Lady, that is true, but more importantly it is a connection with ones self.
Self is so vital to magick. True magick is practiced without ego, but without knowing ones self, is it possible?

New, old or returning to your path, your thinking am I ready, have I read enough, how will I know if I doing it right? You may be thinking “I need a teacher, some one to tell me if I’m doing it right.” Sound familiar?

What you need is to learn to listen to yourself, feel the flow of magick, feel nature, feel the universe, and make and keep that connection with the Lord and Lady in your own way. Magick is without doubt, but it’s not without planning, studying, execution, re-evaluation, and perfecting. Never sell yourself short, or underestimate your abilities. I mentioned it before in another post, all the best and great magicians all started out on their journey the same as you and I, with a curiosity and yearning to be more, a feeling akin to something was missing, in short a calling.

You don’t need a certificate, or a degree program that says you are a witch. You will know if you are or aren’t. Would all the great magicians have been lesser practitioners if they had not attended classes? Don’t get me wrong, instruction is good and having someone impart his or her experience and mistakes can be an asset to your practice, if used as a resource. You need to make the magick you practice and craft your own.

Take all you read, hear, try, and are taught and refine it to suit your needs. What works for one witch may not have such a positive outcome for another witch. Write your own spells, your own rituals, make your own oils/incense. Study with out doubt, listen to what the elements, spirits, and the universe have to offer you and make it your own. Practicing the craft and being a witch isn’t the same for everyone. The early magicians that started out with the Golden Dawn took what they learned and applied and formed their own brand of magick. Alex and Maxine Sanders developed their own brand of magick; as did Gardner and Crowley, just to name a few. Christopher Penczak was a Laurie Cabot taught witch and he went on to develop his own brand, as I’m sure Laurie Cabot did.

Magick is personal, intimate, and forever growing. It’s always developing within all of us. Practicing the craft is just that it’s practice, hard work and commitment. Constantly revisit your BOS, and your rituals and styles of writing and preparations to become more in tune with the surrounds and yourself, until you reach a level of proficiency and confidence and belief, but in no way cocky or arrogant. Re-evaluate your workings, combinations of colors, planetary hours, days and nights of the week, and most of all your intentions and intuitions.

We all get a little lax in any en-devour and may look to a quicker way of doing things, and sometimes that a good thing. Magick and the practice of it, is not about the quick and easy way. Slow, methodical, purposeful, with anticipation and excitement. Never bite the magickal hand that feeds you.

So new, old, or returning to your path go slow, prioritize, research, meditate, question, experiment, re-evaluate, and keep silent, remember Crowley said, “Every man and every woman is a star”. Believe it!

_____________________________________________
Magic is believing in yourself. If you can do that, you can make anything happen.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Paganism is wholesome because it faces the facts of life.
Aleister Crowley

A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.
Albert Einstein

Small is the number of people who see with their eyes and think with their minds.
Albert Einstein

“Do what thou will shall be the whole of the law, love is the law. Love under will.”
Aleister Crowley

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Who Inherits Your Knowledge?

Who Inherits Your Knowledge?

Author:   Lady GoldenRaven 

Here is a thought: For us older wytchs, have you ever thought about who you will pass down your wytchy items to when your time comes to cross over? By the time we hit our “golden years”, most of us have amassed a rather large collection of books, articles, herbs, oils, etc. So where does it go?

We have thought about how we divide up the money we leave for our children, which one gets the house and this one gets the car. But, has anyone given thought to the wealth of knowledge we have put into our Book of Shadows?

Who gets the special oils you created? What becomes of the beautiful staff and wand we created with our own hands?

Do we leave our sacred Book of Shadows to our covens?

Is there a special child or friend who will use this information wisely and keep its secrets to themselves?

Has anyone thought of donating them to the military or some other organization?

Will they find their rightful owners or will they end up in the trash or floating around space with all the missing socks.

As I approach my Crone years and since I have taught many students in the ways of the Wise, I have often thought about leaving my stuff to one of them. However, several of my students have been online. It would be hard to leave my trusted Book of Shadows to any of them, since I have only had little contact with them. So, that leaves the students I taught in person, who are now either in my coven or have moved on.

However, I am lucky. I recently met a woman who is 25 years old. She and I have become really close friends. She had several pagan friends (who are also my friends) who had taught her a little bit about their path.

She calls me Mama Beth, since I am older and she can talk to me about things one cannot talk to about with her real parents. Since I have no children of my own, she is now my adopted daughter. She is serious about her learning of the craft, so I am now teaching her my ways.

I thought long and hard about whom would be heir to my wytchy fortune. I do not own a home, so all I have to pass along is my wytchy stuff, my Led Zeppelin/Robert Plant collection, and my car.

All that has been decided. And now, I have made my decision as to where my Book of Shadows and the rest of my stuff shall go. My daughter shall be heir to all I have in my Wytchy World. I have such a huge collection of books on the subject that is would fill two walls!

I started thinking about this when a friend of mine nearly died a few months ago in a terrible accident. I put much thought and many hours of thought into this decision. Once I decided, I made my intentions clear.

When I told Debbie of my decision, I thought she would never stop crying. She was happy yet sad. It was something she did not want to think about.

Well, nobody wants to think about such things, but you must. She is the only one allowed to even touch my Book of Shadows, let alone look in it to read from it. She has come over for her lessons on time every time. She is learning the Craft well. Most of all–I TRUST HER.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I surely do not want my Book of Shadows, which I spent many hours working on, ending up in a dumpster somewhere. I wrote every word in that book in calligraphy. If anything, it is a piece of art. For one, I have the fortune of having bought a grand Book of Shadows from a great company called Brahm’s Bookworks (link enclosed at the end), which is like the one you see on the show Charmed. Mine weighs over 30 pounds. Now you see why I do not want it simply dumped in the trash.

Who do I know who would appreciate this? My daughter!

Where will the hundreds of jars of herbs end up? Herbs that I lovingly planted, nurtured, and harvested. I have many bottles of oils which I have made, not to mention the holistic medicines I have made from all the above.

My staff, which I lovingly hand picked, designed by me for me, blessed and consecrated and has become a part of me, I do not want to end up in a burn pile somewhere as trash. If, my daughter chooses to burn it in memory of me so that none can use my “magickal” staff, then so be it.

A few of my friends may end up with a few things–some of the herbs and oils and such. My stones and all I promised to a friend who also makes jewelry. So he can use what he wants for wytchy works and pick what he needs for jewelry.

Of course, some things, I can leave to the world via the net. Some of this I have accomplished already. But face it, out in the world of Cyberspace, one cannot be too sure of who they are dealing with. A lot of my stuff is found and will be found as I continue, on Pathways Seminary.

But, I thought I would offer up this little essay as a reminder to all not to forget about whom you will leave your most precious Wytchy wears to. Since the baby boomers are now into their Crone years or close to it as I am, there are a lot of us pagans who belong to this age group.

So while you are sitting there, making out your wills, reserve space and time to have it in writing, to whom you are passing down your religious and magickal items to. I know, whomever ends up with them shall appreciate both the deep thought you put into giving it to them, as well as appreciating the work you did, and all the knowledge contained within these items.

I am happy that I know where my knowledge is going to be used and appreciated.

Thank you,
LadyGoldenraven

___________________________________

Footnotes:
Link to Book of Shadows: http://www.brahmsbookworks.com/id2.html

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Paganism 101: Basics of Pagan Spirituality

Paganism 101: Basics of Pagan Spirituality

Author:   Cu Mhorrigan 

Introduction:

Paganism has received a lot of attention in recent years with the increased use of the internet, television shows like Charmed, Buffy: the Vampire Slayer, Angel and movies like The Craft, Harry Potter, as well as cartoons like Sabrina the Teen-Aged Witch.

Nowadays, it has become fashionable to announce oneself to be a Pagan, or Neo-Pagan, Wiccan or Witch – especially for teenagers, wishing to attract attention, adults trying to follow the latest fad in spirituality, or just as an excuse to justify weird or aberrant behavior.

However, calling yourself a Pagan is one thing; actually following the spiritual path is something else. It is my hope with this ‘class’ that I might explain in practical terms what it actually means to be a Pagan in our modern age and to assist those who wish to implement the following of this spiritual path.

Definition of the word “Pagan”:

The Word Pagan is derived from the Latin word ‘paganus’, which is loosely translated to mean “of the country”. It should be noted however that the usage of ‘paganus’ within the Roman Empire (Where they spoke Latin. Duh!) was always meant to be a slur meaning “hillbilly, redneck, hick, trailer trash, or white trash”. Much in the same way we would talk about guests on the Jerry Springer Show.

Later, when the Christian faith took over the Roman Empire under Charlemagne, it was used to describe those outside of the Christian faith and those in need of conversion. Not an improvement, because paganus was still pretty much of an insult.

Turning a negative into a positive:

It wasn’t until recently that the term ‘Pagan’ gained a more positive use with the resurgence of Pagan beliefs within the European and American Cultures. Those who sought spirituality closer to that of their “ancestors” adopted it. Eventually, it came to mean ‘those who follow the Old religions’ or ‘those who follow a spiritual path outside of the big three Abrahamic religions’. (What are the big Three Abrahamic religions?)

What DO Pagans Believe?:

An it harm none Do as thou wilt.

Speaking in general terms, Paganism is an earth-centered spirituality, which believes in the sacredness of all things, equality of all persons regardless of gender, sexual, and spiritual and social practices. The practices within Paganism are extremely diverse and open-ended allowing individuals to incorporate whatever rituals and belief systems they feel comfortable with.

Since there is so much diversity within our spiritual path, we stress personal liberty, and responsibility for one’s own actions. That as long as a person does not cause physical, mental, emotional, financial, and spiritual harm to others or himself, he/she is free to pursue one’s physical, mental and spiritual development as he/she sees fit.

Which brings me to my next point: Pagans, in general, do not proselytize! That means you aren’t going to get a call from us at three o’clock in the morning asking us if you are going to ritual or not. There is no High Priestess going around smacking people over the head if they haven’t worked on their Book of Shadows or if they bought the wrong candle for a personal ritual. Aint gonna happen.

Why? We are assuming that if you are here, you want to be here. We’ll give you information, let you know your options, and the rest is up to you. We aren’t going to stand on a street corner and scream at folks for not worshipping Athena nor at women/men who chose not to go around sky clad (That’s ‘nekkid’ for those of us who are really new to this).

The Law of Return (or sowing and reaping):

There are no true “sins” within our spiritual practices. There are only things that cause harm (or, as I like to call them, “Stupid Ideas”) and things that are helpful (Or as I like to call them, “Good Ideas”).

When you do good things, good things tend to happen to you (Eventually). When you do bad things, bad things tend to happen to you (Eventually). Of course, since we do not live in a static environment, and people tend to interact with one another, sometimes things get a little ‘fa-kakhed’. However, the Universe always balances Itself out in the end.

This concept is called, karma and it’s a relatively complicated matter, which I have here boiled down to its lowest common denominator. Of course, there are differing views of Karma, one of which is the Three-Fold Law What you do comes back three-fold, or three times, back at you. (If you are not sure as to whether an act will have some kind of repercussion, ask yourself, how much would I really like this done to me?)

(The self-defense caveat: Like all “Laws”, there are loopholes. If someone else is out to cause you harm in some way it would be a really STUPID (Bad Karma) idea not to protect yourself, or your family, or your friends. However, make sure you have as many facts as possible (like the guy is holding a knife and threatens to cut you up) before beating the oneness of all things back into these individuals.

Pantheons, Divinities, Spirits, Energies:

Okay this is where it gets a little tricky, but stay with me. The most common (and extremely annoying) question we as Pagans get is, “Don’t you folks worship Satan?” (Everyone roll his or her eyes here.)

The answer to that is a resounding, “NO!” For the most part, you need to keep in mind that Paganism is a separate religion from Christianity. Hence Satan (Whom I call, the Christian God of Evil and Nastiness) is not a part of our pantheon. Sorry…

For the most part (depending on the tradition you follow) the Pagan concept of Divinity falls under one of the following expressions:

Duo-Theism: (Duo=Two or Dual, Theos=Divinities):

The Worship of a Co-Equal God and Goddess, each having unlimited power, compassion, wisdom, energy or what-have-you, but maintaining different roles and functions.

The God is aggressive, powerful, sexual adventurous, skillful. He handles the Male side of fertility.

The Goddess is nurturing, passionate, creative, sensual and artistic. She oversees the power of creating life through birth and the Female side of fertility.

This belief is widely held by the Wiccans and Wicca-like factions of Paganism.

Poly Theism: (Poly=Many, Theos=Divinities) The belief in multiple Gods and Goddesses.

Many folks see these Gods as extensions of the God and Goddess (i.e. Monism) with each one taking on different aspects at the time of their encounter with the worshipper. Others (like myself) believe that They are actually separate entities with Their own personalities, quirks and motives.

Not every god or goddess is a real people person nor does every god and goddess have a laid back attitude. If you are going to get involved with a particular deity, you had better make sure you do a LOT of research as to what they like, don’t like, and if a particular god or goddess is right for you. Otherwise your life will get extremely interesting in a bad way.

The third school of though in polytheism is the idea of the gods and goddesses being archetypes within a person’s own psyche. This is sort of like a piece of our own subconscious wrapped up in a costume and a mask in order to teach our conscious minds lessons they need.

Of course, there is more than those three Schools of thought, but I’m just giving the basics here.

Pantheism:

Simply put, this is the idea that the Divine is in everything; hence all things are a part of the energy we call god. Since all things are a part of god, all things are sacred and are expressions of the divine in some way, shape or form. When I worship a tree, I am worshipping the Divine; when I give food to a hungry stray, I am feeding the Divine; when I am hurting someone, I am hurting the Divine.

Then there is the Fourth Category:

I-have-no-Friggin-Clue-ism:

For the beginner, this is the best spiritual idea I can suggest. The idea is essentially, “I have no friggin’ clue if there is a Divinity or not, therefore unless I am shown otherwise, I will not say that the Gods are this way or that. I will respect the Power behind the name, but I will not pledge myself to him/her/it unless I have an absolutely good reason to.”

This is actually one of the safest belief systems to take as a new student of the Pagan path because you are open enough to receive enlightenment, but at the same time, you do not run the risk of making a total, complete ass out of yourself. The Gods will instruct you as They see fit.

Now of course, Pagans will usually incorporate not only one, but perhaps two or three of the ideas listed above. This usually comes from personal experience and cannot be learned any other way.
Keep in mind that it’s okay to shift from one idea to another or even to incorporate two or more of these ideas…it’s all good. Just find out what works best for you.

So How the Hades do I Become a Pagan? (Or stupid questions that are commonly asked)

Well, for the most part, it’s a matter of doing a lot of reading and a lot of self-exploration. It took me at least two years of studying online and reading books and attending classes to even consider myself a Pagan. A lot of the traditions under the banner of Paganism will have different views on training and initiation (think of it as baptism), and how one becomes a member of that tradition.

The best way is to start out attending Pagan gatherings, visiting bookstores and such, and talk to other Pagans. Eventually, you will either find a religious path that works for you or you will throw your arms up in dismay and run screaming back to your religion of birth. And there is nothing wrong with that. NOT AT ALL! We realize that the Pagan spiritual path is not for everyone, and we will not be offended. Just make sure you don’t tell people we sacrificed your cat and you’ll be cool with us.

Do I Need to Buy Special Clothes and Dress in Black?

The answer is: Only if you really want to. Yes, there are special robes some folks wear, but unless your coven says otherwise, you can pretty much wear what you want.

Just some basic suggestions: Wear something comfortable and wear something you won’t mind getting dirty. Most of our rituals take place outdoors and, while you may look really good in an Armani suit and Gucci shoes, there is a good chance your clothes will get messed up and your shoes scuffed.

Loose, light clothes in summer and spring is always a good idea, and warmer clothes in the fall are really smart. Most winter rituals will be held indoors, depending on the weather. If it makes you comfortable to wear black Witch clothes and pointed hats and cloaks… Knock yourself out…You’ll be getting lots of stares and odd looks (mostly from us), but all-in-all, if it makes you comfortable, then that is all that matters.

Do I Need to Buy Special Jewelry?

Again, only if you want to and if you enjoy it. Jewelry is a personal matter to the people who wear it. And it’s usually best to find a piece that says, “HEY! I LIKE YOU. WEAR ME AROUND YOUR NECK!” Otherwise, No special jewelry is required to be a Pagan.

Do I Need to Kill Something (like a kitten) and Drink its Blood?

No, you don’t have to kill an animal to be a Pagan. For the most part, we are animal friendly and don’t believe in killing a critter in order to work our rituals. Yes, there are some Pagan groups that practice animal sacrifice and it is left alone…but fear not, the only thing usually killed has already been slaughtered and put on the feasting table in a sacred bucket marked, KFC.

Do I Need to Become a Vegetarian?

Nope, being a vegetarian is a matter of personal preference and what you feel in your heart. While many of us are vegetarians, a lot of us aren’t. It may be a good idea to eat a little healthier, but no one is going to come down on you for eating meat or using meat-based products. However, you might want to do your own research and come up with your own choices.

So, What DO I Need to Do?

Excellent question. One, as I suggested before, do a lot of research, a lot of reading and, when in doubt, do more research. A lot of Pagans keep what is called a “Book of shadows”, which is just a fancy name for a Journal. Write down everything you learn in that book and when you get a chance, read it. If you see a cool article on the net, feel free to print it (for your personal use only, please).

To create a book of shadows, I would suggest buying a loose-leaf binder and fill it half-way with paper. It’s also a good idea to invest in a three hole punch. That way, you can put articles that you printed from the net and use them for later reference. Do not worry about using blood and special things to “make it official”. It is your study guide — your book — and so, make sure you personalize it to suit your needs.

When you feel you are ready, and you have found a religious tradition you feel comfy with, take that Book of Shadows and attend any class you can afford. A lot of places have very reasonable rates for their classes. The Learning Annex is one source, but so is your local Pagan bookstore. Just make sure you talk to the person running the store to make sure he knows what he/she is talking about. If you are not entirely comfortable in studying there, consider looking for another teacher. Remember, this is about YOUR spiritual growth and enrichment and you need to be in an environment conducive to YOUR learning.

Holidays, and Rituals:

There are eight major Holy Days during the Pagan year that a lot of us agree upon. There are also rituals that are held on the New Moon and the Full moon depending on how often your coven (A group of Pagans you worship with) meets.

The Eight Major Holidays are listed in the order they fall on:
Imbolc (February)
Spring Equinox (March 21)
Beltaine (May 1)
Summer Solstice (Litha) (June 21)
Lughnassadh or Lamas (August)
Autumn Equinox (Mabon) (September 21)
Samhain or Halloween (October 31 to Nov 1)
Winter Solstice (Yule) (December 21)

Each Holy Day represents a certain mythological event in our religion, which will be discussed by the High Priest (ess) in advance.

It’s usually a good idea to find out what you would need to bring so that you can best participate in the ritual.

Now most likely you are going to have a hard time pronouncing the names of the days when you first start out, so don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions; it’s the only way you are going to learn.

Tools For Rituals:

Energy: This is the most important, and since I am assuming people know Jack about Paganism, I’m going to make this explanation brief: When we perform rituals and cast spells, we are attempting to gather energy. This energy comes from the universe and ourselves. Depending on what we are trying to do, we use certain rituals, and tools. Think of it this way: It’s like gathering up a whole bunch of snow together. We eventually gather enough to make a snowball and then we pack it in and send it off to impact your friend. It’s basically the same thing. When we perform these rites, they help our minds to focus on gathering this energy and tell it what we want done. Energy is the most important part of any ritual, and without it, we are just looking stupid.

Cauldron: This is basically a black, three-legged pot to be used for burning incense and for other things. They range from tiny to huge and can be used to burn incense, burn paper, and make potions. Now cauldrons tend to be rather expensive, so if you are a bit “Price Sensitive” like me, find yourself one of those old fashioned iron pots that Mom uses to make rice. Make sure you clean it before and after use. If you have one of these in your own home and have had it for a long time, you are pretty much used to it and it is used to you. So, you really don’t have to “charge” it with energy.

Athemae: Essentially, this is a knife or a really small sword. This is used to direct energy raised up during rituals. THESE ARE NOT USED TO CUT PEOPLE (of any species). It can be used for cutting vegetables. Most traditions prefer a double sided blade, small enough to conceal. (You would be amazed how many cops will stop you for carrying a broad sword.) If you’re unable to get an athamae, it’s totally cool to make yourself a wand or use your index finger to direct energy.

Wands/Rods: Okay, these are wooden or crystal sticks also used to direct energy as well as to draw it to yourself. Wands tend to be no longer than your arm, while rods can be longer. Best way to get a rod is to go out on little walks in the park and look for a stick. Once you find a stick you like and that screams out for you to take it, take it home, and sand it and decorate it until you are totally comfortable with it. Viola! You have a wand or rod. If you have as much mechanical aptitude as a slug, ask around your local occult bookstores. Keep in mind they are going to be slightly expensive and you will have to charge it once you get it home.

Candles: Candles are used in rituals to help get your mind into the practice of Magic (No, I am not spelling magic with a K or a J…I’m keeping this as simple as possible. If you want to use the funky spellings in your own notebooks, knock yourself out. You’re not being graded here). Candles are lit in order to help get the mind into a state where it’s easier to put the patterns in for the energy to flow. I would strongly suggest getting candles of all colors and sizes and as many as you can afford. (Usually one of each color.) You can pick them up anywhere.

Incense: Like candles, incense helps the mind get energy together to cast spells. It’s a good idea to make your own incense or to purchase them from a botanica, or occult bookstore. Incense sticks may be colored, but it’s usually a good idea to purchase them based on their smells. Pungent or spicy incense is normally used to send stuff away. (Mainly because they are offensive.) Sweet incense is used to bring stuff to you. Earthy smells help to facilitate healing and to strengthen you.

Divination tools: Things like Tarot Cards, Runes and what not. These are mainly used to help you to make decisions or to gain some kind of insight as to what is going on around you. Keep in mind, these items themselves are not magical in and of themselves, but are based on your own intuition interpreting what you are seeing.

Books, books and more books: Like I said earlier, it is suggested you read religiously. It’s best to keep a library of things you have read or are about to read. Don’t just pick books only by one author, but of different ones. Some people may know a lot about what they are talking about; others are complete and utter horse feces. However, the only way you are going to find out is if you look for yourself and keep your Book of Shadows nearby while you read. If something sounds like nonsense, or if you aren’t sure about whether or not what is true within a book, do some research. It sounds like a lot of work, but this is your spirituality we are talking about here.

It is a good idea to question everything and find out if there is an agreement between the authors you have read. Another thing to keep in mind is that some folks are completely full of fluff and bluster while others deliberately water stuff down to keep from divulging too much about their path. And some are completely straightforward about the things they are writing about.

One of the best ways to learn about an author is find out when they are going to be doing a book signing near you. Get to meet them (Most book signings are free and most will give a short lecture about their book just to whet your appetite for it.) Some of the most intense learning experiences I gained were in attending some of these lectures; it’s also a great way to actually see the person who is writing.

Use your intuition…and don’t be shy about picking their brains. That is what they are there for. In fact, I would suggest doing the same thing at the store where you get your tools and books. It helps you learn a lot faster; especially when you ask Stupid questions. Yes you will get looks. Yes, you will even get the occasional shake of the head, But if you don’t ask, you wont know. It’s worth it.

Suggested Things to do:

Check out different groups that meet in your area. You can do this by attending open (public) circles or classes. Use them as a way to meet other Pagans and eventually find a group that you feel comfortable studying with. If you are Solitary Pagan, it helps to “meet and greet” other Pagans.

Look around for Pagan shops, botanicas and other places where you can get supplies. Most botanicas are devoted to Santeria or Voudu, but you can get some really good equipment at cheap prices.

Check out the local library, as well as the bookstore for things you can read about your particular pantheon.

Ask a lot of questions. Even stupid ones. It’s one of the chief tenets of Paganism to question everything you come across. If you get an answer that sounds like horsesh*t, then verify, verify, verify.

Things Not To Do:

Don’t panic; this seems like a lot of information, but it really isn’t. This is just the primer for your own research.

Don’t sweat if you cannot find a teacher right away, Nine times out of ten, they usually show up when you are ready to learn more about a particular aspect of your tradition.

Don’t start off calling yourself a High Something of a particular tradition. Most systems within Paganism have their own methods of teaching and credentials for clergy and what not. No faking!

Don’t be afraid of getting criticized; it’s going to happen. Learn to grow a thick skin, and if someone points something out to you, listen and check out your own motives and conscience. If the shoe fits, wear it. If it doesn’t, then don’t.

Don’t take everything at face value…Learn how to question what you hear and not be a total jerk about it.

Don’t try and convert people, It rarely works just put out information let people know where you stand and end it there.

Recommended Websites:

http://www.witchvox.com “The Witches’ Voice” –  It’s a great place to start since they have information about everything.

http://pantheon.org –  A great place to learn about the Gods of your chosen pantheon. It doesn’t have all the information, but enough for you to get your feet wet and do some research.

Yahoo.com — They have a plethora of Pagan groups and places where you can talk to people of different walks of life. It’s also a great way to meet Pagans in your area.

Google and other search engines — Another great website with links to thousands of Pagan websites.

Recommended Books:

The Truth about Witchcraft Today: Scott Cunningham
Urban Primitive: Tannin Silverstein and Raven Kaldera
The Book of Shamanic Healing: Kristin Madden
The Celestine Prophecy: James Redfield (Yes, it’s a novel but it helps to get an idea about energy-work and how energy can be gathered and stolen.)
The Wiccan Warrior: Kerr Cucuhain
Witchcraft Theory and Practice: Ly de Angeles
When I see the Wild God: Ly de Angeles
Drawing Down the Moon: Margot Adler (of NPR)
The Spiral Dance: Starhawk
Buckland’s Complete Witches Handbook: Raymond Buckland

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Let’s Talk Witch – Pagans & New Year’s Resolutions

Let’s Talk Witch – Pagans & New Year’s Resolutions

Though the whole idea of doing resolutions for New Year is not a Pagan tradition at all, that doesn’t mean we don’t all try to manage few each year. So why not try some Pagan New Year’s resolutions this time?

Attend a Festival

This is a particularly important resolution if you are typically a solitary type of Pagan who doesn’t get to be social in their path very often. Do a little research and find a good Pagan festival that is taking place close enough to where you live and make plans to go. It could be a 1-day gathering or a week-long extravaganza. If you have never gone to a Pagan festival, you might want to try a shorter one to get your feet wet. Gatherings that take a few days usually mean you’ll be doing some camping. These are great for meeting new people and doing some networking in the larger community.

Make a New Altar Tool

Unless you already have an altar full of wonderful home-made goodies, you should try to make at least one new tool for yourself this year. That doesn’t mean you have to master blacksmithing so you can create a metal-worked athame or buy a kiln to craft a ceramic goblet. Use what crafty skills you have and use some basic supplies to create something new. Wands are actually quite easy, and candle-making supplies are common enough in craft stores. Decorate a notebook for a new Book of Shadows or go an extra mile to design a personalized Tarot deck. Work with what you have and make creative magick.

Explore a New Path

Now this doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with your current path or that you have to change your beliefs in any way. But it never hurts to branch out or to see things in a new way occasionally. Do a little study into a path that is different from yours and see what’s different. Read some books or websites, or even try to take part in a meeting, circle or other gathering if you can find a local group. Of course, make arrangements before you just show up so they know why you’re there. You certainly don’t have to change anything about your own practice but this branching out can help breathe some fresh air into your own beliefs.

Make some Deity Time

This may not apply to everyone, depending on your current practice and understanding of the Divine. But many people are so busy these days that quiet time with a God or Goddess can easily be overlooked. It doesn’t have to be daily (though that would be nice), but you should be able to find some time each week for some kind of spiritual pursuits. Meditation or ritual should do just fine.

Non-Pagan Ideas

Well, these are kind of Pagan and I thought they would round out my list nicely. You can make a tribute to Mother Earth by spending some time outdoors helping to pick up litter or trash, or you could find a cause that fits your Pagan ideals and do some other types of volunteering (maybe an animal shelter). It doesn’t have to be a local cause either. Get involved with some online activism to help promote ideas you are passionate about.

There are some ideas to get you started. You don’t have to do all of them, but maybe one or two will peak your interest for the upcoming year.

Ezine Articles

Author:  By Terri Paajanen, About.com

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Witch for Sale!

Witch for Sale!

Author:   Hecatian Nights 

Sure go ahead and laugh, but just you wait – you may have never been in MY shoes. So what puts me here trying to market myself off to the first bidder that would have me? I, Hecatian Nights, am looking for a coven to call home. That’s right – I’m searching for my very first coven.

I live in Alaska, in my opinion the most beautiful state in our marvelous country, complete with unimaginable mountain terrain, more lakes than Minnesota, just about any kind of animal you could ask for, forests galore and last but not least Santa and the North Pole. Tell me, can any other state compete with Santa? I think not!

According to Witchvox there are about eight covens here. None of which are located in my city, which just so happens to be the largest city in all of Alaska. What sense does that make? Well maybe more than I am willing to admit. After all most Pagans I’ve read of prefer to live in nature, and we sure have it up here.

I have been studying Wicca and Paganism for a little over seven years; granted that makes me quite young when I started and sure I will admit that I only seriously began studying and practicing four years ago. But the attraction between the Craft and me was instant. I fell in love with Wicca; it was something that was so different than what I had grown up with, in my church and in the Catholic school that I had attended. I threw myself into the Craft and soaked up all the knowledge that was lent to me though the books that I read.

Throughout my years I never met another serious Witch, I never talked to anyone that was a member of a “real” coven, and as the years went by I began to feel more and more alone. A feeling of loneliness and a paradoxical sense of belonging are things that I believe go hand in hand with being a Wiccan teen. You feel connected to a Pagan consciousness so alive and vibrant, but at the same time you feel utterly alone and shunned the community.

For a few years I knew a girl who also had an interest in Wicca; we practiced together and even did a ritual on the beach once. It was magical – to me anyway. We re-created a scene between the fighting Brothers, sang a song to the one that had fallen, and afterwards we ate and watched the sun set on the Sleeping Lady Mountain across the inlet. I always thought that every year we could come back on Summer Solstice and do it again. But dreams sometimes fade and old friends can change. We never went back to the beach again.

Though my friend’s interest waned and our friendship failed, my interest in the Craft only grew stronger. I was fine with being alone; I enjoyed it, and I felt special and was content. But as time went on I realized that I wasn’t as content as I once was. I found my solitary state warring on me and I began to understand that I wasn’t meant to be alone. I began to search for others out there. I even met a few people but nothing really panned out. They were either not serious enough or not serious at all.

I felt alone, alone as the only serious Pagan teen that I knew. Adult Pagans, who I don’t blame, wouldn’t meet me, talk to me or offer advice on how I could become more involved. I knew that this was my fate until I was legally an adult but as the years came closer and the time finally arrived, I still found myself detached from the rest of the Pagan world. Coven-less.

Sure there are books, wonderful ones. They opened my mind and gave me exercises and rituals to try. I spent many hours hiding in my room with a Pagan book, reading the stories of men and women and how they found the Craft. And I loved them; I bought just about every single book that would give me a sense of what it was like to be involved in a community of Pagans. Phyllis Curott’s Book of Shadows was one of my favorites, and I can happily recommend it to any person who wonders about Wicca. These books momentarily gave me a glimpse of what a connected Pagans life was like, but as soon as I was done with the book the yearning to be part of a group was back. I knew that I couldn’t ignore it forever. And that is what leads me here.

I feel ready to join a coven, if one will have me. Or at least begin to understand what one truly is. I always thought I would end up a solitary Witch by choice, but that feeling of loneliness has only grown stronger and now I feel a definite want and need to be with those who refer to me as their kindred. It’s time for me to learn, and I feel that books and solitary practicing can only take one so far.

I now believe that it is necessary for wiser Wiccans to allot their knowledge to the next generation, not only in the form of books but to also take us under their wings. Teach to us, learn with us, lead us, speak to us and learn to know us. We are your future and the next generation of Witches and Wiccans. No I don’t mean go out and search for the first 13-year-old pentacle-toting teen you see, but don’t forget the of-age Witches out there!

So, where do I sign up? I’m ready and I’m here to learn. So poke me, prod me, see if I’m ripe; but give me a chance to see if I can call your coven home.

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Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft – A.1. Casting the Circle

Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft

The Public Contents of the Book of Shadows

There is really no such thing as the text of the Book of Shadows, because Gardner never bothered to word things the same way twice; whenever he copied something, he simultaneously rewrote it.  But this, of course, is the way that an author treats his own original material; it is not how anyone treats authoritative texts preserved from an earlier generation.
I have grouped the documents according to the dates when they were written; these dates are accurate to within a year or so, and the point to providing them, of course, is to emphasize that these documents are modern creations, NOT anything preserved from ancient or medieval tradition.  Material or comments added to these documents later on I have enclosed in square brackets [these things].

A.1. Casting the Circle (1949)
It is most convenient to mark the circle with chalk, paint or otherwise, to show where it is; but marks on the carpet may be utilized.  Furniture may be placed to indicate the bounds.  The only circle that matters is the one drawn before every ceremony with either a duly consecrated Magic Sword or an Athame.  The circle is usually nine feet in diameter, unless made for some very special purpose.  There are two outer circles, each six inches apart, so the third circle has a diameter of eleven feet.
[1] Having chosen a place proper, take the sickle or scimitar of Art or a Witch’s Athame, if thou mayest obtain it, and stick it into the center, then take a cord, and ’twere well to use the Cable Tow for this, and loop it over the Instrument, four and one half feet, and so trace out the circumference of the circle, which must be traced either with the Sword, or the knife with the black hilt, or it be of little avail, but ever leave open a door towards the North.  Make in all 3 circles, one within the other, and write names of power between these.
[2] First draw circle with Magic Sword or Athame.
[3] Consecrate Salt and Water: Touch water with Athame, saying, “I exorcise thee, O creature of Water, that thou cast out from Thee all the impurities and uncleannesses of the Spirits of the World of Phantasm, so they may harm me not, in the names of Aradia and Cernunnos.”
[4] Touching Salt with Athame, say, “The Blessings of Aradia and Cernunnos be upon this creature of Salt, and let all malignity and hindrance be cast forth hencefrom, and let all good enter herein, for without Thee man cannot live, wherefore I bless thee and invoke thee, that thou mayest aid me.”
[5] Then put the Salt into the water.
[6] Sprinkle with exorcised water.
[7] Light candles; say, “I exorcise thee, O Creature of Fire, that every kind of Phantasm may retire from thee, and be unable to harm or deceive in any way, in the names of Aradia and Cernunnos.”
[8] Caution initiate (if any); warn companions; enter circle and close doors with 3 pentagrams.
[9] Proclaim object of working
[10] Circumambulate 3 times or more before commencing work.
[11] Summon: “I summon, stir, and Call thee up, thou Mighty Ones of the East, South, West, and North.”  Salute and draw pentacle with Magic Sword or Athame, the first stroke being from the top down to the left.

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No, I haven’t left yet, I’m sorry, lol!

I have a collection of old documents some have been seen on the net, others’ haven’t. Most of the documents have been moved over to disc. I had a moment to catch my breath and drug some of the discs out last night. I ran across one that I am getting ready to put on here. It is about Gerald Gardner and a collection of writings that were written down by one of his followers. There was never an official Book of Shadows for the Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft. So you can imagine any piece of writing that was contributed to Gardner was considered very sacred.

Some of the writing Gardner contributed to an ancient clandestine witch cult, which he claimed to have been initiated into. However, modern researchers have concluded that it was composed by Gardner. The text shows influences from English and Celtic Folk-lore, the Enochian system of John Dee, Thelema, the Golden Dawn, Stregaria, Tantric Yoga, the KJV Bible and even Kipling.

I know some revere Gardner as being the father of Wicca, the traditional Witch. I am thinking it so I might as well say it. How do you become the father of Wicca and then proclaim yourself to be a Witch at the same time? Curious. No matter how you feel about the man, love him or hate him. It is very seldom that you have the opportunity to look into someone’s thoughts and beliefs.. I think these few pages will give you an idea of how Gardner thought.

There is a lot of material on this site. But there is no cold, hard information from those who played an important part in our history. That is going to change. When I run across such information from now on, I am going to place it on the site. I know the Elders have probably already read the material. But we have several generations of new witches coming up. They need to know. If we don’t show the info to them and tell them, then who will.

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