Posts Tagged With: Nature

The Six Most Valuable Lessons I’ve Learned on My Path as a Witch

The Six Most Valuable Lessons I’ve Learned on My Path as a Witch

Author: Northern Dreamer

I know, I know: who cares, right? Everyone’s experiences, everyone’s path, everyone’s lessons are different- it’s all based on where we came from and where we’re going. But I refuse to believe that I’m the only one who has benefitted from these lessons, these self-discoveries, and I put them out there in the hopes that someone may read them, then smile softly and subtly to him or herself as they remember the truth of the lesson, whether painful or joyful, and when he or she learned it. I also hope someone may get inspired to make a head start on their lesson learning. I’ve been practicing the craft in some form or other for nearly 20 years; much of it was self taught until I was lucky enough to find a wonderful coven and extended spiritual/Witchy family.

1. Don’t form or hold onto idealized versions of people. No matter how much someone excels in one area, he/she is only human, and will have flaws in other areas. This applies to our High Priests and Priestesses, our teachers, our coven members or others in our Pagan community whom we hold in high esteem, and even our own family, spouses, or significant others. I don’t say this to sound jaded. The person who taught me this lesson taught it to me quite unintentionally. I love her deeply, am thankful for her and everything she is and isn’t to me. But for a while I thought she was the best thing since sliced bread, and she was going to work with me, and show me the way, and she was the perfect combination of light and dark that I was looking for in a teacher. She had the spunk, knowledge, and humor that fit perfectly with my own personality. She was ready to teach and I was ready to learn, and advance farther than I was able to on my own. And I did. I grew by leaps and bounds, my confidence expanded, my knowledge, my trust in my intuition.

And then shadow work started. And shadow work can be deeply painful, yet freeing. It’s such important work for Witches to do, in my humble opinion. If we truly wish to affect change in our world- whether our own sphere of existence or the greater world at large- we must first experience change within ourselves. Know ourselves and our faults and work to change them. Through the shadow work, we revealed pieces of ourselves to each other and I gained a greater respect for the people I was working with. Such strong, bold people who have grown accustomed to hiding our pain, sharing it with only each other and a select few in our lives. And I’m not saying that seeing this vulnerability in her changed how I see her and negatively impacted it. That’s just wrong. But it helped me to see the areas where she was weak, where her shadows emerged in her life and interactions, and most importantly, where my own light that I cast upon her and others illuminated her and others so that I could not see the shadows when they were right under my nose. There were no lies, no deception, just a dawning realization that maybe she wasn’t perfect. That maybe promises made were unable to be kept… for perfectly valid reasons, but for whatever other reason, weren’t being communicated. The same traits I had loved and admired had become a source of hurt and disappointment over time. We can’t help this- it’s human nature, I feel, to overlook and ignore traits on someone whom we so badly want to believe will be the next big thing- whether it be boyfriend or girlfriend, boss, teacher, etc. Eventually the illusion has to end. Let it end with a whisper, not a bang; a smile, not a grudge. Your relationship might grow even more for having done so.

2. Know your faults, love your faults- and the faults of others. I know this is hard. From the time we’re very young, we’re taught to fix, cover-up, be ashamed of, and ultimately hate our faults. Unfortunately, no matter what age you are, from the very old to the very young, people still feel remarkably free (entitled) to share their opinions on exactly whatever it is they think you should do to make yourself “happier, ” i.e. change. I know my faults all too well- physical, emotional, mental, and behavioral. I’ve always prided myself on at least being able to acknowledge and be aware of my faults, if not fully embrace them and love them. But again, through shadow work, I’ve come to learn the source of a lot of my non-physical faults, and even some physical manifestations of them. This awareness has brought me to a place where I can step back in just about any situation (I’m still far from perfect, after all) , and see where my reactions and motivations come from, and how I need to adjust my approach. It is such a valuable skill to have.
There are so many things I would love to change about myself, but I don’t want to be perfect. I think some demons, some skeletons in closets, some dust and cobwebs and mysterious dark spots built character and give one depth. I wouldn’t want to be perfect, because I don’t want to be exalted by anyone. I want to be a part of a community, and part of being a part of anything involving humans is being imperfect.

So as you learn your own faults and shadows and ways to navigate around them, be sure to show yourself some compassion for being a perfectly imperfect and complicated human being. And don’t forget to show the same compassion and patience for others. This is something I’m guilty of, but am working on. Try to think before speaking, and avoid using phrases like “you should, ” or “why don’t you just, ” or even the cringe-worthy “you know what your problem is?” Embrace the cliche: everyone is fighting battles that you can’t see, including you. Recognizing your own weak spots makes it easier to acknowledge and go easier on those of others.

3. Not everything is a sign, not everything is not a sign- learn to read the signs. You know when you look at something, and something just shifts and clicks and you get a butterfly sensation that is followed by a feeling akin to a ghost punching you in your solar plexus? Chances are you’ve just been the recipient of a cosmic sign. Congratulations, good luck trying to sort it the *bleep* out! When one first embarks down the path of awareness or magick or work with the divine, it is tempting to fall victim to the belief that the universe is trying to reach out to you in a thousand different ways, get your attention and tell you everything is coming up roses, you’re on your way to greatness, and to pepper your path with flowers and ideas and inspiration. Isn’t that lovely? Remember that talk we had about idealizations… it applies to everything, sweetness.

For a while my intuition was completely blocked, for very good reasons. I couldn’t recognize a cosmic sign if it knocked me upside the head, tripped me, then introduced itself to me as it helped me back up. As a part of healing myself from a very long struggle with mental illness, I had closed myself off to much of what had given me strength. My empathic gifts were far too much for me to handle, and in order to heal myself and conquer my illness, I had to cut myself off. I didn’t know I had, but I built an astral Fort Knox around myself, which was a haven at first, but later began to feel like Alcatraz. Looking back, I can make the connections with experiences that had actually been signs, and the misses and near misses associated with said signs and my inability to recognize them. As I began my work with my coven, and the process of opening myself up again to experiencing energy of all kinds, including people’s energy and emotions, I was careful not to fall back into that pattern. I’ve been careful of a lot since my reclaiming of my sanity, including being extra careful not to fall into delusion.

I’m very aware of the stigma of mental illness, yes- even within the Pagan community, and as such have turned into a proud skeptic of sorts. It gives me strength to really appreciate the times when some cosmic force reaches out to me, whether it be one of the deities I have dedicated myself to, or some other source. We all do receive them, I wholeheartedly believe, but one person can’t receive seven a day while some go years without. I just don’t believe it works that way, because that would be wildly out of balance. In my experience, if a message/sign/symbol/omen hits you in the head it’s wishful thinking, if it hits you in the gut it’s hope or desire (or dread/fear) , if it’s right between the two, chances are you’ve been tapped to pay attention. And if you’re not sure what it means in the moment, well… good luck to you in working out the eternal mystery of the forces that guide us. Turn to divination, or meditate and reflect. If you’ve been on the path and have yet to receive a message or a sign, take heart and have hope. If you haven’t considered changing the way you listen or interpret what you hear (see, feel, etc.) , maybe it would be a good idea to look into ways to do that.

4. Judge not, it’s unbecoming of everyone. This is one I still struggle with, and probably always will. We’re born to judge- ourselves, others- that’s how we shape our world and determine our preferences and values. But I think everyone could use a helpful reminder now and then. At a Pagan gathering, I caught myself easily dismissing someone who was participating in a group discussion just because I thought her to be a little too… intense, and a little too into the drama of it all. Granted, some of what she said was just (from my point of view) attention seeking nonsense, and the rest of it was lost because I started judging her for her that gibberish. But I could have missed something that might have resonated with me, or made me think differently, and I could have possibly lost a lesson that I needed because of my judgment and dismissal, and now I may have to learn that lesson the hard way since I didn’t take in the message the first time around. I get this way around some New Age conversations because some people get so passionate about some things that I write it off as more or less hokey or bordering on the conspiracy theory side of things. I’m getting better at reminding myself of this when I catch myself judging or dismissing, I listen for if there is any value that I can take away, and either make a gracious exit if there’s not (and if it’s appropriate to do so) , or sift through what I find of value and don’t and make the most of my time.

Many people could just as easily think the same of me when I speak (or when they read this) . It’s hard, I know. But this is how we break down boundaries and connect to others from different paths, cultures, and races. Not every Christian is out to get you and tie you up and convert you. Most Christians I know don’t even carry rope with them. Not every Heathen is a beer/ale/mead guzzling barbarian who likes to play Viking. You get the idea. Let’s practice this idea of tolerance, because there’s too much division out there to be creating so much within our own communities. It’s easier said than done, I know, but I’ll try to take the lead.

5. Forgiveness is more powerful. Period. It is more powerful than anything else you can throw out into the universe, because forgiveness is an act of love. Love for yourself, and love for others. Forgiveness is also a process. It’s not like we can say someone is forgiven and all slights and sins and pain is washed clean away. Wouldn’t that be freakin’ nifty? Forgiveness is a process, and it can be a damn hard one at that. Forgiving doesn’t mean that you have to keep someone in your life that hurt you. You can, and I admire the people who work through issues like infidelity, betrayal, abandonment, etc. It doesn’t mean forgetting what harm was done. It means loving yourself, and placing enough value in yourself and your progress as a spiritual, magickal being, and making a conscious decision to begin healing. Grudges, anger, spite, and general malefic feelings are a heavy weight, a toxic blight on your spirit. If you can’t invest that kind of energy in yourself, show yourself that you’re worth it, why on Earth would any higher being want to invest any more time in you? I’m not saying they won’t, I’m just saying you’re sending mixed messages. Also, it doesn’t have to be an outside target, this forgiveness thing. Sometimes the biggest obstacles can be overcome by beginning the process of forgiving yourself. I know this personally. I spent the majority of my life living as a person with undiagnosed bipolar II disorder. I have been well and healthy and stable for 10 years. Before that… I’ve said, done, and been a lot of things that I am not proud of, that cause me shame, embarrassment, and general internal cringing when I think back on it. But that all came from a place of so much pain, frustration, and being in the dark. I was so sick, and I’m able to see that, and work towards healing that side of myself, forgiving myself. Even asking for forgiveness. It’s humbling. I understand certain twelve step programs have something similar. I don’t deal with substance addiction as an issue but find the act of talking with people who knew me then and letting them have a chance to know me now- it’s incredibly liberating. Sometimes. Sometimes it is awkward, and sometimes entirely not worth the trouble. But I put myself out there because I am worth it. And so are you.

So I recommend taking some time to take an inventory, and find a place to start. It doesn’t have to be big. It can be as small and powerful and symbolic as giving a silent thought, willing yourself to let go of that knot inside yourself, even if just a little at first, or as much as writing something on paper- a statement of forgiveness, a letter, a description of the event/person, then burning it as a symbol of release and scattering the ashes to the wind (responsibly, please- don’t burn down your back yard or neighbors house in your quest for healing and empowerment) . When I am ready to forgive, I have two methods that I like to use to symbolically acknowledge the beginning of healing that wound. If you’re handy with wood, you can carve out a symbol or word (s) representing the situation, then willfully wipe the slate clean by scraping/whittling/sanding the carvings off. You can also do this on paper by writing the symbol or words, then covering them with brighter, bolder, more powerful words of a positive intent to cover and replace the negativity. Either way, the media you choose to use is changed forever- you’ll never get that sliver of wood back to where it was, you’ll never be able to erase the marks off the paper, not completely, but you’ve chosen the course of alteration. Good on you.

Which leads us to…

6. You are more powerful than you will ever know, and will only keep surprising yourself. As long you are honest, work with integrity, pride, and keep working towards that goal of self-awareness. Know thyself. No power of three will set you free. You will. If you take the time to know yourself- your motivations, your aspirations (true aspirations, not just what you might tell people to sound impressive or make friends) , your spiritual and magickal work will take off. Honesty with yourself is the best, most solid foundation to any sort of learning you choose to embark on, but especially so with the Craft. Have fun with getting to know yourself. Approach it as method actor tries to get in the head of his character. You might be surprised and delighted by what you find. Love yourself, all your quirks and silly traits, all the things that bring you joy and pride. These are your strengths. When you have a better definition of you, your path will be that much better defined.

But these are just (some of) my lessons. I can’t speak for everyone. I hope you have found value in some of what I’ve written. I wish you much luck on your path. Steady footing out there, friends.

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The Elements As The Rhythm Of Nature and Life

The Elements As The Rhythm Of Nature and Life

 

While the Goddess and the God provide balance and harmony to the earth, the foundation of nature and human life are represented by the elements. There are five elements (spirit, air, water, earth and fire) that symbolize the phases of matter. They are represented in the pentagram and are an important part of any Wiccan ritual and/ or other magickal workings.

Earth is a feminine element that symbolizes stability, nurturing, protection, fertility and growth and is represented by the north point of the compass.

Air, represented by the east point of the compass, is symbolic of the soul, our thoughts and the breath of life. With it comes wisdom, the spiritual connection to nature and the powers of the mind. Because of its lightness it can carry way negative energy such as worry, anxiety, fear etc.

Fire is a masculine element that represents energy. It symbolizes destruction and creation, healing and harming. It destroys the old and give birth to new life. It represents passion, energy, sexuality and authority and occurs on the south point of the compass.

Water is the feminine symbol of purification. It represents cleansing and healing and is marked by the west point of the compass.

Spirit is what unites all the other four elements. Where the others can be represented by compass points and physical earth elements, spirit is in the mind. It is the binding force that exists in everything that comprises the universe.

 

Source:
 Wicca :Wicca Beginner’s Guide: How To Incorporate Witchcraft, Wiccan Beliefs, Magic And Rituals Into Your Life.
Alice Campbell

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Open Letter to the Goddess

Open Letter to the Goddess

Author: Maggi Setti

Dear Goddess,

I come to you as a reflection of the moon and a child of stardust, a tree hugging, dirt worshipping, Pagan. Hear the Pagan drums; see our fires from your starry, moonlight heaven. Hear our acts of love and pleasure as we languish in the summer night’s embrace. We come to you, for humanity is suffering. Our hearts are broken. Society is broken and we seek the wise ways for healing, release, and freedom. Release our bondage of ignorance, judgment, and hate. Shine that we may see in a new way, with new, hidden eyes, the mysteries of your love.

We confuse control with empowerment; we do not tread softly on your green mounds. We have ripped open your caves and not listened to the crystals singing within those dark, silent temples. We seek empathy, discipline, and consideration. We ask to learn to forgive ourselves, our forefathers, each other in our ignorant, haphazard destruction and neglect.

Our men are shamed as children if they don’t fit the egoic image of masculinity. We cut them off from true strength and sentence them to the prisons of ego. Broken, they turn away from love. Teach us love, for our examples are lacking. Show us how to be children of the earth, stewards of Gaia, balanced and whole!

Transfix us in nature’s silence that we can hear you and shut our constant chatter for a time. Help us quiet our minds and ease our fears. Let us be just, teach us to listen.

We know not what we need, but we know that we have need of nothing. The joy and release of pain and suffering is here, within our hearts. The Kingdom of the earth is our birthright, not some time many years from now in a cloud-strewn heaven, but here in this very place, in this moment! We come to you and ask, heal our psyches, our souls. The ways of anger, war, control, power, and money just aren’t working. We recognize that. More and more of us awaken every day, looking for a new way, a new Path.

Your tears have filled the seven seas. We bathe in those healing waters, and wash away old scars. I release myself into your hands, upon your womb, bathing in your starlight. I surrender, all of these troubles, for you have made me complete, a beautiful child of God and Goddess.

You are so patient, so kind, so enduring. You ask of me only an open heart and mind. I struggle. I turn away, I get lost in the filth and darkness of my own miserable, dark fear. The illusions, the battles, the struggling, it is all in myself. I see that. Yet, through that misery, I permit others to project their darkness and their fear for they recognize my fear. Only you give me strength, yet it is of my nature, and within me all along.

I hear you, the rolling cadence of breath, the drumbeat of a heart, the rushing of blood. I will not give into the darkness of fear, the destruction of isolation and hatred. I let it go, to compost, with the bugs and the worms. It will feed flowers for the future, and make joy that much more to celebrate.

Let me sing right now, because I am a part of this beautiful earth. Let me dance with every walk, sing with every breath, listen in the still pause between every breath. I dream in your heavens and shed blood and sweat. My tears are your tears for I am of you.

I ask of you Goddess, stir my spirit. Lift my wings when I am neglecting the star above me. Wake me when I have slumbered too long. I forget, I am just learning. It may not look like it, but I am making and effort.

Send the raven, the snake, the eagle and the bull to remind me. I am looking to the trees, the sky, the rivers, and the dense electric clouds. I forget what makes sense and I get all confused. Show me Mother Nature’s way. When I make everything too complicated, bring me back.

Heartbeat. Blood. Breath. Pause.

You never give up. I will always wake from my forgetting, dust myself off and dance another day.

The stars march on. The trees swoon on your breath. The Milky Way dazzles my eyes, and I am blinded by the glare of its reflection against the darkness of space. In blindness to the outside distractions, we turn within.

Looking, waiting, and breathing. Waiting and breathing.

Here is your temple, made within the deep recesses of the core of my mind. I see your flame and hear your great wings. My sandaled feet dusted with sand.

I forgot again.

I sleep, and wake. I forget to breath. I forget to see. I love, only a little.

But your compassion and patience is infinite, eternal. Again my heart opens, and within is the blackness of the depths of the deepest cave, the heart of the earth, the warmth of the mother’s bosom, and the blackness of space.

I am safe in my warm home, happily distracted by the buzz of machines, the flashiness of Facebook, making me weary, putting me to sleep. Sometimes you don’t wait, and you send a bird flying into my home on the Winter Solstice, making a new home in my Yule tree. I fear for the bird and the family helps it out, coaxing and guiding it. Is this a new totem, this little wren? The whole family came together and felt happy the bird was outside where it should be and wasn’t hurt.

How can we stay awake and not succumb to the pain, to the suffering, the cruelty, and become numb? How do we stay courageous and compassionate? These are your ways we seek. Even when we are tired and lost, cranky and unfair, bring us back to this lesson.

For heaven knows, we certainly all need you.

So Mote it Be.

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WOTC Extra – The Nature of Our Way


Mermaid Comments & Graphics

The Nature of Our Way

 

• As often as possible, hold the rites in forests, by the seashore, on deserted mountaintops or near tranquil lakes. If this is impossible, a garden or some chamber shall suffice, if it is readied with fumes or flowers.

• Seek out wisdom in books, rare manuscripts and cryptic poems if you will, but seek it out also in simple stones and fragile herbs and in the cries of wild birds. Listen to the whisperings of the wind and the roar of water if you would discover magic, for it is here that the old secrets are preserved.

• Books contain words; trees contain energies and wisdom books ne’er dreamt of.

• Ever remember that the Old Ways are constantly revealing themselves. Therefore be as the river willow that bends and sways with the wind. That which remains changeless shall outlive its spirit, but that which evolves and grows will shine for centuries.

• There can be no monopoly on wisdom. Therefore share what you will of our ways with others who seek them, but hide mystic lore from the eyes of those who would destroy, for to do otherwise increases their destruction.

• Mock not the rituals or spells of another, for who can say yours are greater in power or wisdom?

• Ensure that your actions are honorable, for all that you do shall return to you three-fold, good or bane.

• Be wary of one who would dominate you, who would control and manipulate your workings and reverences. True reverence for the Goddess and God occurs within. Look with suspicion on any who would twist worship from you for their own gain and glory, but welcome those priestesses and priests who are suffused with love.

• Honor all living things, for we are of the bird, the fish, the bee. Destroy not life save it be to preserve your own.

• And this is the nature of our way.

Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner
Scott Cunningham

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Self-Teaching: The Inner Requirements

Self-Teaching: The Inner Requirements

Author: scriibe

One principal difference between Paganism and other belief systems is the amount of individual effort involved. These are not “one size fits all” religions where all that is required is weekly attendance in a place of worship and the repetition of memorized lines. Pagans are perpetual students constantly exploring, experimenting, and experiencing; their spirituality a continual process of discovery and renewal.

Pagans often own more books than most people. Not just books on Paganism and occult matters (although there will probably be plenty of these), but a good general selection dealing with such diverse topics as history, science, the arts, and self-improvement. We realize the value of these tools and how seemingly offbeat topics can benefit us.

A cookbook might not seem of much spiritual benefit. But even without taking into account the practical alchemy that is cooking, it does offer insights into our nature. Why does one recipe strike us as bland while another immediately captures our interest? Why does a recipe we whipped together get praise while one we slaved over is only complemented out of politeness?

We also see the value in reading the sacred texts of mainstream religions. It should not surprise anyone that many Pagans are better-versed in the Bible than many Christians. Most of us began as a part of a Christian faith, and an early step toward Paganism is that we’ve seen both the beauty and the ugliness present in the Bible.

I can remember being 12 or 13 and getting a Bible for Christmas. I read it…well…religiously. The Gospels still made a lot of sense. The Epistles less so. Then I came to a part in the Old Testament where God smote an entire city, simply because the citizens were of the wrong religion. I was deeply troubled by this show of inhumanity. This led to my taking a more scientific look at the Bible; realizing it was the work of men, and subject to the conditions present at the time it was written.

Pagans, like artists, allow their minds to explore life’s many possibilities to a greater extent than most people. We can imagine ourselves in situations that would make many people uncomfortable. This allows us a better understanding of ourselves; both the good and the bad; and if we are honest with ourselves, shows us how to improve on our shortcomings.

The upshot to all this is that Paganism is not for everyone. Those afraid of introspection or seeing themselves as less than perfect are probably better off avoiding any religion outside the mainstream. People who dislike study or don’t believe they still have much to learn really are not cut out to be Pagans.

The “what-if” game can be a valuable tool for those seeking to better understand themselves. Take a situation from a movie, television, or written fiction, and imagine yourself in that situation. For example, imagine yourself with an occupation you find distasteful. Would you look for the earliest opportunity to quit? Would you be torn between your ideals and your salary? Or would you adjust, perhaps even learning to enjoy the job?

Another useful situation is to imagine yourself attracted to someone very different in one or more ways than what you’d consider your “ideal mate”- perhaps a different ethnicity, age, occupation, or even gender. Consider how you’d react to this situation.

Then try writing out how you’d see yourself reacting to these situations. You might imagine yourself answering a friend’s questions regarding the matter. This will help focus your concentration and strengthen your writing.

Life can be a wonderful laboratory for those willing to experiment. A couple of years ago, I was walking through the hair color section of a local pharmacy. I saw a box labeled “plum” and wondered how I’d look with my hair that color. Now I’m a short male, 47 at the time, with long graying hair – definitely not in the product’s target market. Yet my curiosity got the better of me, and for the next few months, I was a short, 47-year-old male with long plum-colored hair. All in all it was a very nice and educational experience (and while I haven’t colored my hair since, it is something I would consider doing in the future).

There are other such temporary changes one can make as a way of experimenting, including wearing clothing different from what you normally wear (at least in the privacy of your own home), altering your daily routine (perhaps making it either more or less structured to make it more balanced), and taking up a new area of interest or study. Being Pagan does not mean looking or acting in a specific way. The natural world is a colorful, vibrant place, and it seems fitting that as a belief-system more in-tune with nature, we should reflect that.

Finally we need to experience the magic that exists in the world. This requires being more open to nature. It is too easy to close off ones senses when traveling from place to place – particularly in this age where traveling on ones two feet requires expensive running shoes and an iPod to be socially acceptable.

Yet the lessons are there in nature; in the sting of a cold January breeze, the scent of April rain, and the sound of birds singing just before sunrise. This may seem more difficult for one living in an urban or suburban area. Yet all it really takes is greater use of ones imagination. As I walk down the street, I can imagine it 100 years ago, where milk and coal were delivered by horse-drawn cart. I can imagine it 200 years ago where settlers were building their log cabins and the howl of wolves could be heard in the distance. I can feel my existence at this place as part of a continuum that reaches back through the centuries.

Being your own teacher means learning from nature; that is the natural world, human nature, and your own nature. And it means being open and flexible. There are many books on the topic of Paganism (some of them quite good), that will teach the rituals and traditions. A teacher can help guide one along, the student benefiting from the teacher’s experience. Ultimately though, these will only point the student in the right direction; the qualities that truly make one Pagan come from within.

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The Wheel of the Year and It’s Influences in our Daily Life

The Wheel of the Year and It’s Influences in our Daily Life

Author: MissElphie

Wicca, and many other pagan paths, celebrate the Wheel of the Year. The festivities around the Seasons and the Path of the Sun in the Sky have been a motive of celebration in History. Today I’m going to talk about its influence on modern practitioners and its influence in our daily lives.

The Wheel of the Year is something very important and essential in a Pagan’s life. It celebrates the path of the Sun God throughout the year. We celebrate the different phases: Birth, Growth, Marriage, Aging, Death and Rebirth. We cast spells to bring happiness and wellness to our loved ones and us. We light bonfires to celebrate fertility in our lives. We light candles to help the God rise higher and higher in the Winter Skies… But, do we feel those changes? Has anyone ever wondered how important and meaningful all of these changes in Nature are in our lives?

Some of you might know what I’m talking about, but for those who don’t, I’ll explain. The Wheel of the Year isn’t just eight times a year; it’s in every minute of our lives. We feel those changes in ourselves and eventually we won’t even need to look at the calendar to see that a Sabbat is approaching. All around us we see Nature change; we see the changes that we usually celebrate.

When Autumn is coming you can see that some birds are already migrating, that the leaves are falling from the once full trees, those little animals are getting ready for the cold Winter that is getting closer and closer. You can see that with your own eyes. You can see the flowers growing, snow and rain falling, bees and butterflies and every little thing that changes in Nature. Even in a city, you can see that. I live in a fairly big city and I see that. In the trees and gardens that are scattered around town, in the birds… and even in the weather. When it starts raining, getting colder and colder, maybe even a bit of snow… You can see and feel that.

The Wheel of the Year is part of our daily life.

The modern man has grown accustomed to routine. You get up, have breakfast, take a shower, drive to work, work, get back from work, sit on the couch and watch some lame TV show, go to bed and in the next morning you do it all over again. You repeat this process every single day. Never caring about what happens outside, in Nature.

A Pagan usually does not do that. Yes, he or she has his/her normal routine but with a small change. When getting up in the morning, a pagan might look outside and see how nature is going and maybe even take a few minutes to just watch what’s happening.

When driving to work, or back from work, instead of listening to a radio show and cursing the other drivers, he or she might be more aware of what’s going behind the cars and the smoke and all the pollution included in traffic jams. And even at work he/she might notice those little things, little details, that shows us that something is changing. A co-worker that brought his scarf today because it was getting colder or a friend who dressed a t-shirt instead of a sweater because the temperature was rising.

These are the little details in our life that we usually don’t care. We just don’t notice that all of this is going around us and happening. We tend to ignore it because we are so consumed by this consumerist and materialistic society and way of life that we ignore the simplest things that show us the world and nature at its best.

Life has more to it than buying, selling, partying, studying, etc. It has an essence. And its essence has been getting lost for the past centuries. Mankind has been driving further away from Nature, using it only for its own selfish purpose and not to connect with it. Our Ancestors lived with Nature, felt Nature and saw Nature with different eyes. Why should we, a so-called modern society, forget that we are a part of Nature? That she can, and will, live without us but we can’t live without her? She is part of us and we are part of her.

So, I’m telling you: Be more careful with details. See those little things in your daily life that connect yourself with the Divine and with Nature.

Look at your friends. How are they dressed? What are they doing? Look at Nature. How are the trees? Are they big and filled with bright green leaves? Or are they naked and numb for the cold Winter? How is the weather? Hot? Cold? Rainy? The flowers, the animals, the smell in the air, the heat and love you feel from the solar rays bathing your skin in a warm summer afternoon or the delight of being at home drinking hot coffee while it’s raining outside.

Don’t just watch the World. We are no longer just watchers of the World and Nature; we are a Part of it. We need to live with it. Feel it.

Feel the hot Summer breeze, the cold Winter snow, and the fresh rain in the Autumn and Spring. Try to connect. Go out for a walk on the beach, feel the waves and listen to the seagulls and the splashing of the waves on the sand. Go to the countryside and see the animals, smell the fresh and clean air, feel the sun and the warm breeze…

Paganism, no matter what tradition or path, isn’t just a religion. It’s a way of life. Being a Pagan isn’t just going to be for 4 times a month (Lunar Celebrations) and 8 times a year (Wheel of the Year) or any other celebrations you might have. Being a Pagan is going to influence your entire life, entire way of watching, feeling and connecting to the World around you. No matter where you live, whether it is in the biggest city of the World or the farthest countryside.

So, my advice is just to be aware. Look beyond the obvious and into the core of Nature and its essence. Live the Mysteries that Nature has to offer. Nature is something beautiful and constantly changing. It’s a never-ending cycle. Live it. Feel it. Feel it in your life and all around you. How it influences you, the ones you love, everyone and everything.

Be with Nature. Don’t just watch it.

Blessings!

MissElphie

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Living in Harmony with Nature—The Next Step

Living in Harmony with Nature—The Next Step

Author: Lady Selkhet

When reading the prompting question for this month’s suggested topic, I came across a common phrase: ‘living in harmony with Nature’. Living in harmony with Nature is more or less a mythical goal, like world peace. I say it’s mythical in the sense that, while virtually impossible in practical terms, is still a goal that most Pagans strive for. I believe that it’s a reflection of the Wiccan Rede—harm none. We all know it’s not possible to live without causing harm (something has to die for you to eat—even if it’s the lowly carrot), so in our optimistic way, we try to do least harm, and to harm mindfully if it’s necessary. To many Pagans, the most logical way to apply ‘harm none’ on the grand scale is by living in harmony with Nature.

Natch, with any creed there are about a zillion ways to interpret it- at least one for every believer! How I decide to live in harmony with Nature will differ, perhaps greatly, with what the Pagan down the street does. One rides her bike to work, another eats vegetarian, a third recycles, you get the idea. We’ll try to do many of these things, but will have varying levels of success depending on our personality, upbringing, where we live, and so on. Sometimes we may do harm to the planet out of sheer ignorance or lack of foresight- and when we are exposed to new information, we are given the chance to make another change to help the planet. Does anyone remember those spray cans of deodorant?

It doesn’t take a lot of thought to reach the conclusion that most of the problems we cause to the environment are the result of just too many people. Pollution, clear-cutting and strip-mining, mass extinction and just about every other environmental issue is simply the result of more people needing more stuff—food, a place to live, computers, cars, and whatever else humans ‘have to have.’ The more people, the more stuff we need. The more stuff we need, the more Nature we turn into parking lots and plasticware. What’s a worried Pagan to do? On a global level, there are two solutions: have the people here use less stuff, and have less people needing stuff.

The first solution, use less stuff, is not a bad start. ‘Reduce, reuse, recycle’ is the common mantra. But at six billion and growing, and the worst ‘stuff offenders’ being Americans, I don’t think that’s enough to head off some serious ecological consequences, many of which we’re already seeing the effects of. There’s a lot of different ideas about how much land it takes to support a single human, but regardless of what that figure is, there’s no denying that more people means more land needed for them and their stuff, and to the exclusion of most other Nature. Thus the second solution, less people.

I hope I don’t need to clarify that I’m not talking about killing or allowing to die people that are already here. I hate suffering as much as the next person, and death will claim us all eventually—no need to jog the Dark Lady’s elbow. What I am saying is this: we should stop having so many children. More of us should not have any children.

Many people are shocked when I say this. They say things like ‘but we were meant to have children—it’s the whole reason for our existence!’ Well, if you want to take this statement to its most basic level, yes, any life form’s main job is to make sure and reproduce itself and get its genes out there in as many offspring as possible. This reasoning can be used to justify banning birth control, male-only polygamy, and all sorts of foolishness. One breeds, again on the most basic level, to ensure continuation of the species. But I hope it’s obvious that the biggest threat at this time to the human species is certainly not lack of members. If anything the greater threat is ecological disaster caused by over-population.

A correlated argument is ‘having children is the most natural thing in the world!’ Well, that’s certainly true, but just because something’s natural doesn’t mean it’s in our best interest to run with it—in our case, to literally do it to death. This will sound harsh, but yeast grow and reproduce until they choke to death on their own waste. I would hate to see the human race act with no more intelligence than yeast- and take down countless other species in the process.

It is definitely an uphill battle to preach this course of action. It’s not as if it’s a matter of changing some routine such as spraying aerosol deodorant on yourself or throwing away glass bottles. There is a very strongly ingrained drive to have children. I am reluctant to say ‘instinct’—Mother Nature essentially tricked our ancestors into parenthood by making sex feel really good! She also gave us the instinct to care for and nurture the young. But we have learned to channel many of our natural impulses into less damaging behaviors—aggression is a good example. Aggression kept us alive when we had to struggle to survive, but if I killed every person that cut me off in traffic, I’d be in serious trouble. Aggression is often seen as being ‘bad’, so it’s easier to discuss controlling it. Having babies, on the other hand, is definitely regarded as a blessing by almost everyone. So again, what’s a worried Pagan to do?

First of all, I would never, ever, ever recommend that we shame parents or look at children in the same light as we look at, say, an SUV. The difference between a child and an SUV is that the child is a living creature deserving as much love and happiness as any of the Lady’s children. Regardless of the manner in which they were brought into the world, we must make sure each one is fed, housed, and cherished. We must make sure they have access to quality education- many studies show that the more educated a person is, the fewer children they have. This would be helped by each person having adequate access to a variety of methods of birth control, including abortion. Many children are conceived not because the mother-to-be wants a child, but because she didn’t have access to birth control, or didn’t know how to use it properly. A slogan many pro-choicers use that I strongly believe in is “Every child a wanted child.”

We also need to realize that not having children is a viable (so to speak), respectable option for anyone who chooses it. In countless places where birth control is discussed, it’s often refered to as a way to control the number of children you have—this is especially true of sterilization, where it’s pretty much always described as a procedure you have done ‘when you’ve had all the children you want.’ The language reflects the attitudes of society, which generally views childlessness as abnormal and suspicious. Let’s send that idea the way of the same view applied to homosexuals or minorities—the collective psychic garbage can. If you know someone who says they don’t want children, try to avoid saying things like ‘But you’d make such a good parent!’ (a back-handed compliment, which nevertheless implies that the speaker knows the childless person better than they know themselves) or ‘We need more smart/responsible/whatever people like you having children’ (another back-handed compliment that seems vaguely racist—as if the problem is that the ‘wrong people’ are having too many) or worst, ‘You’ll change your mind.’ Not only does this promote the idea that everybody is destined to have children, but it belittles the path that person is walking. It’s akin to telling a Pagan ‘You’ll come to Christ eventually’ or a lesbian ‘You just haven’t met the right man yet.’ It’s disrespectful in the extreme. It also carries with it the assumption that people who decide to forego parenthood are somehow immature or incomplete—this goes hand in hand with statements like ‘You aren’t an adult until you have a child’ and ‘You can’t know true love until you become a mommy/daddy.’ While that may be true of one person, to assume everyone is like that is, once again, disrespectful. Try to avoid even thinking in the stereotype that not having children is selfish. There are selfish reasons to avoid having children (just as there are selfish reasons to have them), but if the outcome is that some selfish person who doesn’t want to be a parent is not inflicted on some innocent child, (while at the same time inadvertently engaging in the equivalent of something like 72 years of 100% recycling) is that not for the best, after all?

I have heard all these remarks since I made the decision not to have children. When I decided I should back that decision up by getting a tubal ligation, many people asked me ‘What if you change your mind?’ It seems like a reasonable question on the surface, but I would never ask it of a woman who just announced that she was pregnant. When I decided to have it done, my ob-gyn would only agree to perform the procedure after I had seen a psychiatrist to make sure I had considered the decision thoroughly. I didn’t mind, but again the same standard is not applied to people who state their intent to become parents. I also battled the idea that I hated children (and still do, sometimes). This was hurtful, and absurd considering that at the time I was working at an agency whose main job was to feed and heal children. I’m not a very maternal person, but I consider it a simple personality trait, like someone who prefers sci-fi to romances or chocolate over pretzels. I get the feeling some see it as a character flaw.

It shouldn’t be so much of an uphill battle to make this decision.

Spiritually, I didn’t find much support out there either. When I was looking for a ritual to mark my decision, I saw many spells to become pregnant, waxing eloquent about the Mother Goddess and her fertility (not that everyone takes it so literally, but many do), while the Maiden Goddess is seen as a somewhat fluffy young woman or even a girl. There were spells for healthy pregnancy and easy delivery, and to welcome the new mom into the ‘Circle of Mothers.’ There were spells to recover from abortion. There were spells to recover from rape, hysterectomy, and spells easing the effects of menopause, with a few welcoming it with Cronings. I found several spells for healing from the grief of involuntary sterility, but not a one celebrating voluntary sterility. So rather than bitch about it, I did what any Witch would do—I wrote my own ritual.

I decided I would address the Goddess in an aspect as a strong adult, sure in her own power; Diana (accuse her of immaturity at your peril!), childless Goddess of the Moon, the hunt, and the woods, not to mention midwives. The simple ritual consisted of me asking her to transform my physical fertility into fertility of the mind, heart, and spirit. I thanked my physical mother (who was present) for my life and for her nurturing and other gifts, and received blessings from her and my friends for good health after the operation as well as general well-wishes. It may be the only one of its kind in the world, but I really hope it’s not, or that it won’t be for long. A vasectomy ritual might be out there somewhere too- I have yet to see it, but again, I have hopes.

Honor your parents for giving you life and teaching you well (or as best they could, at any rate). Cherish your children, if you have them. If you don’t, realize that you don’t have to- it doesn’t automatically make you any more mature, or in touch with the Goddess, or able to laugh and play, or more of a man or woman, or bring more magick to your life. It might do some of these things, but there are a million and one ways to bring these blessings into your life that don’t take such a heavy toll on the planet. There are also many ways to nurture- by caring for pets, friends, projects, or even by adopting (I am in awe of those who do this—they get extra karma points IMHO for caring for those that are already here). If you already have children, be sure to let them know that not everyone grows up and has children of their own, and that that’s okay. Make them aware of their place in the web of life, and to be ever-responsible and mindful as caretakers of the Earth.

Blessed Be.

Selkhet

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Your Rune For September 9th is Eihwaz

bw-eihwaz

bw-eihwazYour Rune For Today
Eihwaz

Eihwaz represents the Yew tree and its everlasting nature. The Yew may bend, but it does not break. You are on the right course and have the strength and ability to meet your goals. Congratulations!

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