‘THINK on THESE THINGS’ for May 9

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

Have you even known someone whose very presence comforted you? They seem to have no need of words but their quiet companionship soothes like balm to the soul: these are your kindred souls who have already been the route you’re traveling, or are just ahead and leaning back to take your hand.

Wherever you are on the path of life, there have been many there before you. It may seem the loneliness of the road has many empty echoes. But there have been many good people concerned enough to make an effort to mark the rougher places to allow your journey easier traveling.

And like all travelers we must look for those signs and make them more plain to the ones who will follow.

And then, in quiet communication, we can each take our turn by understanding.

How often we see people who desperately need our help. We would like to help them, but we put it out of our minds because it seems beyond our means and beyond our strength. We use the excuse that we have enough problems of our own without going out on a limb for someone else. Charity begins at home and at home and at home.

If we have the true desire, and the welfare of someone else in our sights, we can ask divine guidance, and we will receive help. If help does not come, it is because we were not truly serious. Or perhaps whatever we wanted to do was not in the best interests of all concerned. Our help may only have slowed their progress or weakened their efforts. If our desires are worthy we need to have no fear that a way will come to help.

The desire to help is a divine gift, and we accept it most beautifully by using it.

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Available online! ‘Cherokee Feast of Days’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler.

Visit her web site to purchase the wonderful books by Joyce as gifts for yourself or for loved ones……and also for those who don’t have access to the Internet: http://www.hifler.com
Click Here to Buy her books at Amazon.com

Elder’s Meditation of the Day
By White Bison, Inc., an American Indian-owned nonprofit organization. Order their many products from their web site: http://www.whitebison.org

Elder’s Meditation of the Day May 9

Elder’s Meditation of the Day May 9

“Without a sacred center, no one knows right from wrong.”

—- Thomas Yellowtail, CROW

In the center of the circle is where the powers reside. These powers are called love, principle, justice, spiritual knowledge, life, forgiveness and truth. All these powers reside in the very center of the human being. We access these powers by being still, quieting the mind. If we get confused, emotionally upset, feel resentment, anger, or fear, the best thing we can do is pray to the Great Spirit and ask Him to remove the anger and resentment. By asking Him to remove these obstacles, we are automatically positioned in the sacred center. Only in this way do we know right from wrong.

Great Spirit, allow me this day to live in the sacred center.

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May 9 – Daily Feast

May 9 – Daily Feast

Sentences half spoken and beyond total hearing are the source of difficulty. Only in the bright light of reason and understanding can these cloudy mishaps be corrected. Some are simply tuned to hear the negative – even when it was never intended to be. They hear with an ear that is already bent toward trouble and only too willing to pass it on. We might consider what we want to hear – because everyone has moments when words tumble out with little meaning. Whether it is a slip of the tongue or simply filling in a quiet spell, we are sometimes guilty of speaking when we should have been listening. The tongue is a little member and sometimes kindles quite a fire when it should spit on the matches.

~ We are becoming like them…..all talkers and no workers. ~

BLACK HAWK

‘A Cherokee Feast of Days’, by Joyce Sequichie Hifler

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Daily Motivator for May 9 – Always your choice

Always your choice

When life hands you a negative experience, respond with a positive action. Instead of letting the difficult circumstances pull you down, choose to let them inspire you.

Sure, it’s easy to become dismayed. Yet the truly empowering fact is that it’s just as easy to become determined.

Your attitude is always your choice. So you might as well choose the attitude that will serve you the very best.

When you find yourself feeling angry, cynical, disillusioned, resentful, worried or apathetic, stop. Choose to use those negative feelings as a positive trigger.

Aim your focus in the direction of your best possibilities. Take quick, decisive action in support of those possibilities.

You are in control of your attitude, your thoughts and your actions. So choose to be positive, forward-looking, creative and effective no matter what may come your way.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

Daily OM for May 9 – Using Yourself as a Pendulum

Using Yourself as a Pendulum
Intuitive Guidance from Within

by Madisyn Taylor

 

Using your body as a pendulum is another tool you can use to access your higher wisdom.

Learning to trust our intuition is something that can connect us with our higher selves. Sometimes it might not seem easy to do this. Our thoughts and minds often get in the way. But by accessing our innermost self, we will find that the information we receive is usually what we truly need at that moment. One of the techniques that allows us to really get in touch with our deepest font of wisdom is using our body as a pendulum. The simple act of letting our physical being lead us in a certain direction can offer us extremely deep insights and help us find the answers we seek.

Many of us may have tried using a pendulum or crystal on a chain as a dousing tool to acquire the information we need to make decisions or even find lost objects. Using our bodies puts us much more closely in tune with our being. The process of using your body as a pendulum is to ask your higher self a question and wait for your body to respond in either a forward-tilting or backward-tilting motion. The first step is to really understand how our higher self communicates with us by centering our bodies, asking ourselves the directions for “yes” and “no,” and noting which way our body moves. For a lot of people a forward motion is “yes,” and your body tilting backward is a “no” answer. It is easier to start with simple questions at first to understand how our higher self communicates with us. As we become more used to the messages we receive and how we process them, we can start asking for more specific things such as what dosage of herbs to take or which foods would best nourish our bodies. Using this technique in the grocery store or when shopping for vitamins and remedies can be extremely helpful.

Since we are always present in our bodies, understanding how we can use our bodies as pendulums is a tool we can use at any given moment in our lives. Letting our bodies tell us what is happening inside of us will in turn help to guide us through not just daily but also major life decisions. The more we allow our bodies to open up and share with us the connection it has with our deeper self, the better able we will be to truly access the knowledge we hold so deeply within.

The Witch I Am


Author: Eilan

Witchcraft, the Arte, the Craft, Magick, the Old Religion – what could these names possibly mean to an 18-year-old male living in an age of global warming, rapid deforestation, tyrannical war and occupation, fundamentalist literature and humanist rationalism? They are the faces of a largely spiritual movement, grounded in the sacred powers of Nature, from which the Old Gods themselves draw their strength and mystery.

My name is Gede Parma. I am an 18-year-old male Witch currently residing in Queensland, Australia. I am an initiate and co-founder of the dynamic Pagan wellspring that is the Coven of the WildWood, and I am priest and vessel to my Gods of Blood and of Breath.

My Pagan peers know me as Dobhair (pronounced ‘door’ with a soft accent in the middle), which is the name my ancestors revealed to me during last year’s solar eclipse as I dedicated myself to the Dagda and Morgaine le Fay. In this time of the Greening much will be seen to come to pass and the world will change in a way that none of us could ever have conceived.

I stand as the Rod of Power, as the Menhir, the Tree of Life, to whom my veneration is given in circles with my coven. As I focus inward so does my breath circulate into the outer realms, my consciousness expanding and taking into itself the divinity that is immanent within all of Life. I remember the animating force behind all that is and dance the spiral path of change and transformation into the very heart of the primal womb whose centre is the point of origin.

From the beginning I was Air, from whose new dawn’s breath ‘I’dea was formed. I was then fuelled by the heat of Fire, and light and warmth gave way to the oceanic-matrix that is the Water and blood-ways became rivers and streams in the body of the Goddess.

By Spirit and the Great Mystery I was given form and beauty and Earth’s presence and foundation continued the cycle, and when my thread is cut by the tides of Fate I will fall to the winds once more to decay with the autumn foliage under the slanted glare of a fading king whose sun sets in the realms of Death.

I am resurrected and born again by Love and by Light, and the Two Pillars join the heavens to the broad earth, from whom once more I will spring up as Kore, the sprout. From Death comes Life, and in Life there is Love, and the Mystery knows them all.

These are the mysteries that have been written of and told to others whose minds and hearts are listening, however their far-reaching and infinite truths are not simply grasped by an eloquent intellect or by the ascetics of a world-rejecting discipline.

Witchcraft to a teen in the 21st century has not lost its Great Mystery. We are still as the priests and priestesses of old who stole away to secret orders nestled in ‘tween places. We are still as the seers and shamans whose journeys remain intrinsically-patterned into our wild and unkempt spirits. We are Witches and by solitude or tribe we still raise the Power to celebrate the ecstasies of Life. I have never forgotten this charge and I have made it my oath to the Old Ones to continue to impart this knowledge and wisdom on those who have ears to listen.

There is immense power in the old mythos. They speak of Gods and Goddesses who inspire and protect their own, of ancient magicks whose powers awaken in the hearts of those who embrace the old ways. There is descent into the netherworld, and resurrection in the light of day. There are ancestors who kindle the hearth-fires and who gather us in to be warmed when way-ward our feet have taken us.

There are oceans and seas that speak of death and devotion. There are groves and mounds and stone-circles who whisper of ancient rites and who glisten and vibrate with the dragon-lines that sing through the land. There are wheels that spin and turn, and bring awareness to the cycles of Nature, to the implicit realities and cause us to revel in the wonder that is the blue sky and the green tree.

These things, these memories are not cast out or forgotten by the Witches of today, they are embraced and renewed by those of us who seek to rejoin and reconnect with the Wyrd, whose keepers, though at times stern, remind us to dance and to make Magick in their honor.

When the Pagan community regards its youths and also their influx into the tribes, they often forget that once upon time that was them. There are many who revile and resent the young folk who seek out the ancient wisdom and who practice the rites of the Craft. They seem to think that in doing so we desecrate their sacred power, or playfully twist and manipulate to achieve our own selfish and incorrigible ends.

Anyone who truly kneels at the Altar or draws the Circle of Power knows to what effect their pure Will can achieve. Those who are simply involved for the ‘glamour’ and the ‘prestige’ soon draw back when they discover what perfect love and perfect trust truly means.

So those of us who still remain after the year and a day and whose understanding has strengthened and whose energy has intensified should be known to all others who walk the spiral-ways as honest and humble devotees.

I will never forget the moment when I became a respected member of my community and was taken by my word for my word. It was as if all my potential became actualized and I could evolve and transform into a new identity, into a new persona. But personas are masks and identities fade, and through this time I began to feel again the pulse in the deepest part of me.

The façade had broken.

I didn’t need their recognition, their support, though it helped immensely in times of grief. What I needed was my connection, to awaken the divinity that is indwelling. It didn’t take long before one Goddess chose to love me and to pour into me what was already at my core. She is beauty; she is truth. She is power and she is that quintessential feeling that resonates through all my fragments, and whose veil covers not to hide, but to symbolize the other reality, that is always waiting, on the other side.

My life is enriched through my Craft. I am joined with all of Nature. I breathe on the mountain and I lose all ego-attachment, and it strikes me that all I am doing is breathing and existing, just as all other beings that dance through the cycles are.

My Gods speak to me through my descent and through my spirit. Their names are not written as a list of spiritual acquisitions, but as powers and forces that have revealed themselves to me, and have chosen to become my allies.

To be a Witch is not to forsake the divine bounty that is made apparent when we learn to trust, but to identify and understand the patterns of power that weave through the fibres of Life and manifest as expressions of innate and intimate truths. We celebrate this continuum of divine-play and revel in becoming a part of it.

I am a Witch, not because I was genetically made to be so (though that adds to it), and not because of some deep-set desire to conquer the plain drudgery and live out a fantasy of power and privilege.

I am a Witch because in my heart lives Magick and to deny its passage, its flow, would be to deny the very essence of my purpose here on Earth, and of my many lives before my present that have been sacrificed to continue the charge I was given.

As I dance the Wheel and as I draw the Circle I remember that I am different. It is not merely a contrast I draw between my nature and those of others, or an indulgent delusion I use to place myself higher than the rest. I am different in that the unfeeling, ego-ridden, politically-driven paradigm that our societies are built on rejects or else wholly negates who I am and what I do.

There is no room in this world, they say, for enchantment and Magick. There is no place for story-telling or dancing. Everything I am and everything I stand for is declared non-existent or irrational at best and Witchcraft is made out to be nothing more than a childish game.

Witches were once respected and revered for their skill, insight and power. In a sense this manifests today as the curious intrigue one feels toward the ‘supernatural’. Witches today are feared, maligned or ridiculed.

We are feared by the ignorant, maligned by the ‘pious’, and ridiculed by the so-called rationalists. However there are those among the liberally-minded communities who celebrate us as true visionaries in our right and who are inclined to study our spirituality in a bid to reclaim the lost wisdom.

There are few words that I can conjure that truly define my being. One of these is ‘Witch’. I embrace it wholly, in every way, for in doing so I reclaim the power that was once considered a gift. It is never a curse to realize truth and never a burden to uphold and live by it.

My Magick is a gift that I will pass on to the next generation of Witches, however at this point in time I work to encourage and inspire this generation. In my coven we circle every week and in between the esbats and sabbats we devote our circles to specific topics so that we may expand our knowledge and add to our magickal arsenal.

In the past we have discussed sacred tools, the Elementals, visualization, meditation and divination. Generally I take on the guise of the teacher as it suits me and I have a considerable amount of knowledge and practical experience in these areas.

The Witches of my coven are strong and steadfast spiritual beings, however we are all still human and prone to making mistakes. This is the reality of the Witch, especially as teenagers. We may be able to cast spells, transcend our egos, invoke ancient Gods and project our astral selves, but this does not exempt us from the everyday trials that bombard humanity.

As Witches, however, we make use of our knowledge of the subtle energies within and without and choose to take charge of our destinies accordingly. Perhaps it is this aspect of the Craft, more so than anything else, that truly frightens those who are not privy to the inner mysteries.

I am a Witch, pure and simple. You could tie to me to a stake, throw driftwood at my feet, drench me in gas and light a fire and I would not deny it.

I am a child of Nature, a Pagan and a priest. I dance the spiral-way and as I descend into the holy labyrinth I sing the old songs and chants to the Gods of leaf and bud, hoof and horn. I release tire and stress, exertion and envy to the four winds and I become the glowing scepter, the sword, and the spear. The serpentine force is aroused and it journeys upward along the spine to the crown that is the triangle of manifestation.

There I meet the Great Mystery and kneel to her charge as I feel the edge of her sword cut cleanly along my soul to my beating heart aflame with Magick.

Go in the way of the sacred, Blessed Be~

A Family Struggle With a Fallen Witch

Author: Lady Sindy Aine

I am a 5th generation Witch. I have a bloodline inside of me that derives from Witches as far back as my Great-Great Grandmother. As far as we know, it could go back further I really don’t know the trail gets a little obscured in Italy where my family line comes from.

Having a firm grip on ritual and celebrations we also have a darker side of the family, not being able to give names nor would I want to but I would have to say the power of a determined Witch is unmatchable, very frightening as well.

Do you believe that from a very old family that such negativity could linger through the bloodlines not affecting all of us but enough to cause much anguish? How does one deal with the fall of a family member whom was brought up with all the same beliefs and structure… knowing all that we know, not allowing any room for mistakes that would show a disregard for what we are, what we stand for, or allow?

The subject of a fallen Witch is the pinnacle of what our family now refers to as a disgrace. Over the years, I have seen the damage that negative energies can do, not in such a direct way as when I looked into this person’s eye and saw such contempt for what is good and right in nature and life with such a disregard and hollowness that eludes me to this day.

As an old family of Witches, we know the horrible consequences of these actions. We have seen them firsthand and even with that, no warnings, no obvious signs, or even actual three-fold rules come to light to affect this person. Nothing has made these actions come to a stop. How do the negative energies engulf someone so fully? How does the purity of this beautiful harmonic natural religion fall victim to such darkness?

It is out there, it is seductive, and it is horrifying.

We all know for a fact that the yin and the yang have to exist, but that they have to exist in your own family makes it so much harder to grasp. I know this seems like a fairytale with a wicked Witch. I assure you, no one else can be appreciative of this accept for people of similar knowledge.

I feel an obligation to bring some attention to the other side that we all know too well exists. I would normally live and let live, however we are faced with this in a very personal way that allows me to convey to you that it hurts to watch someone empower themselves in this way.

I know some dabble in this area hoping for something powerful and I see how it is enticing but do they see what the consequences can be? And what if anything can one family do?

Much like an intervention for an addict in your family we have attempted discussions. This is an incredibly difficult situation. This person knows what is right and chooses to continue on this path. I fear for everyone involved. Never have I tried so hard to bring enlightenment to one person.

As a family, we have cast circles in complete dedication to this cause and still nothing. We have tried to dispel all negativity and sought our elders for guidance — again nothing. We are sneered at by this person — laughed at and ridiculed; still we try.

Allowing this to continue is unthinkable. It is eating this person alive like a cancer throughout their entire being. We have been fighting this for many years, not achieving any level of success.

The eldest member of our family, my Grandmother who is in her nineties and still very active in her beliefs has visions, which do not bode well for this person. Her wisdom tells us to allow this. That it is meant to be.

All that we can do as a family is place blessings of protection on this person and all whom may be harmed. We all keep hoping for a much better outcome. Letting go of someone you love is very painful. Not knowing what is going to happen is even more painful.

The simplest offering I have is to allow yourself the right to allow someone else the right to choose their own path without allowing indifference to encompass your being and change your views. Sometimes you have to just let life happen and hope for the best.

“We are no better than anyone else or any other path that is chosen, if all is for the purpose of good we can conquer anything in time, all will right itself”. That is a quote from Grandmother; she is a very wise woman.

I have come to the realization that this is not just a character flaw, but also something much more, very much more. I believe that this is what comes of wading in darker waters and allowing yourself to be immersed by the cold and eventually to drown in the darkness.

We have never stopped reaching out to this person. We all keep trying and we leave ourselves available, but this is a very sad outcome… so unlike a fairytale, there is no happy ending. Not yet anyway.

My hope by writing this is to let others with mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, brothers, sisters or any loved ones who suffer with this know that they are not alone in their struggle.

Feelings of hopelessness are something that we cannot help. But from time to time, we see that the light of protection which surrounds us and we feel empowered to continue on the path we have chosen.

On a positive note, you have to remember that all we have is our inner light and the ability to share that light. Even faced with a certain amount of despair, our light still shines. We still have our positive thoughts and the ability to channel those energies to those who are in need. We can heal. We can enlighten. And we can give offerings to the Goddess.

We know that all is how it is suppose to be.

Hope and Blessings to all from my Family to yours.

What the Heck is a Hedgewitch Anyways?


Author: Juniper

Hedgewitchery is a combination of Traditional Witchcraft (NOT Wicca) and Shamanism, with herbalism, healing, and a deep love for nature added to the mix.

Hedgewitchery is loosely based on the old wise woman (and man) Tradition. The wise woman Tradition is, quite possibly, the oldest eclectic magickal tradition. If you think “wise woman” and picture the strange old lady who sold herbs and magickal charms, acted as midwife and healer in the ancient times, you are not far off.

This tradition never truly died out, and in recent years, more and more people are turning to it and adapting it to modern times.

The word “Hedgewitch” may come from the Saxon word for Witch, haegtessa, which translates to “hedge-rider”. The Old Norse lay Havamal refers to “hedge-riders, witching aloft”.

Some may spell it with a capitol H, and some do not. Others will use a spelling such as “hedgewytch”. A few other names attached to this Craft: Hedge-Rider, Night Travelers, Myrk-Riders, Gandreidh (wand-rider), and Walkers on the Wind.

In the past, towns, villages and farmsteads had fences and hedgerows marking the boundary of the town, keeping the wilderness out. Crossing the hedge meant walking into the wild, where predatory animals, and all manner of fae creatures lived.

Back in the old times, many people never traveled more than a few miles from where they were born, and even then, they stuck to the roads and well-known paths of traders and huntsmen.

For the Hedgewitch, the hedge is a metaphor for the line drawn between this world and the next, between reality and dream, between the Upper, Middle, and Lower Worlds.

In the old days, the wise woman or Hedgewitch lived on the edges of the community, often on the other side of the town’s boundary hedge. They scratched out a living through herbalism, understanding nature, prophecy and divination as well as magick and healing.

The Hedgewitch served her community in many ways including but not only; midwifery, healing, protection spells, house blessings, crop and livestock blessings, through the selling of magickal charms and even curses. A Hedgewitch might sell one member of her community a small curse or ill-wish one day, and then charge its victim a fee to break the curse the next. The Hedgewitch was respected, and likely a little feared, because of these abilities, and because they had such a close relationship with nature and the magickal world.

Hedgewitches use herbs and shamanic techniques, such as drumming and meditation, to induce altered states of consciousness. They work with familiar spirits, their ancestral dead, plant and animal Totems to assist in their Otherworld work.

Hedgewitches often refer to shamanic journeys as “walking the hedge” or “crossing the hedge”. They also have a tendency to spend much of their lives with one foot on either side of the hedge, which makes them eccentric to say the least.

A Hedgewitch walks freely into caol ait (Gaelic), the “thin places” between one world and another. More experienced Hedgewitches learn not only to find such places, but how to use them effectively and how to open them even when the Veil is at its thickest between the sabbats.

For the Hedgewitch there is no separation between normal life and their magickal one, for their normal life is magickal.

In modern times, a Hedgewitch is usually found outside the city, perhaps on an acreage or farm, often practicing by her self or perhaps within the family. They work much as the old wise women of old, helping neighbors, friends and family with ailments, shamanic healing and even blessing the odd field.

Hedgewitches will work a lot in cultivated fields, gardens and farmsteads, but often prefer time spent in the woods and other wild areas. A Gardenwitch, Greenwitch or Kitchenwitch may work mostly in her cultivated garden; a Hedgewitch will likely spend more of her time gathering her herbs and such from the wild places. Although the practices have changed quite a lot, you will find most Hedgewitches practice as close to traditionally as possible in these modern times.

Hedgewitches are very adaptable. You may find a Hedgewitch casting an old-fashioned prosperity or fertility spell on a modern tractor as a favor to a neighbor, for example.

The main distinction between Hedgewitchery and other forms of Witchcraft is that Hedgewitches have less interest in the religious/ceremonial aspects of Coven or group Witchcraft, having an individual and often unique way of relating to life, spirituality and Creation.

A Hedgewitch is less likely to perform formal magickal workings, preferring simpler folk, or low, magic. The only tradition Hedgewitches typically follow is a reverence for Nature, though some may come from a more formal Pagan path originally.

Most Hedgewitches do what ever comes natural to them; they follow their instincts, and their heart. Most use few made man objects in their spells and rituals. Their tools are typically very practical, such as a walking stick or pruning shears, and their tools are hand made by them as much as possible. They avoid complicated formulated magick, practicing an earthy and simple form of ritual and magick. Some Hedgewitches do not cast Circles when practicing outdoors, for they feel it cuts them off from nature.

Hedgewitches usually study herbalism with gusto, as well as seeking knowledge and understanding of the ways of Nature, the cycle of the seasons and the wildlife and plant-life in their area.

Hedgewitches will not only know how to grow herbs in a garden, but also where and how they grow in the wild and how to gather them. They usually have a great deal of lore on trees and plane life, animals and the wilderness in general. Healing, divination, the use of trance inducing herbs and all manner of fertility rites are also a part of this Tradition.

Hedgewitches tailor their Tradition to suit themselves. Some may focus on herbalism, others study midwifery; some may practice reiki, and others may be well versed in healing with crystals. Some Hedgewitches may choose to be a jack-of-all-trades, but a master of none.

Sadly, there are few men called to this Path, and this may or may not change over time.
While Hedgewitchery is typically a solitary path, this is not always so. Even the most hermit-like Hedgewitch can still be found at local Pagan events. Also, some of their practices, especially the shamanic ones, require a trusted friend to watch over their body while their soul is elsewhere.

Hedgewitches are unlikely to become involved with Witch wars within the community, and depending on the individual’s personality, are more likely to prefer maintaining friendly relations with the majority of the Pagan community. Some may have friends or domestic partners who follow another Pagan or Heathen path, and they will often happily join in any ritual or activity if invited.

Spirituality in Hedgewitches varies and depends on the individual; usually they look to their own heritage and ancestry. Most commonly, Hedgewitches practice some form of NeoPaganism. The daily spiritual practice of a Hedgewitch will be adapted to her individual abilities, interests and life style.

One Hedgewitch may start her mornings offering up prayers of thanksgiving to her gods as she collects eggs from the chicken coop. Another Hedgewitch may spend her mornings in quiet meditation on her patio; sipping tea and watching the deer graze in her lawn. A third Hedgewitch may say a quick prayer at the household shrine before racing off to work.

So what the heck IS a Hedgewitch anyways?

Some people may prefer rural and/or wild settings and be a little wild themselves. They may be looking for a Shamanic Witchcraft Tradition that leans heavily on natural magic, understanding the wilderness and the practice of healing lore. They may have little interest in organized religion. They may wish to blaze their own Path, like the wise women of old.

They may just be ‘Hedgewitches’.


Footnotes:
Source:
Wikipedia

My Path, My Truth


Author: Winterswan

I’ve thought often about writing an article such as this. There are so many different religious paths in existence in our world and so many venues available for spiritual research. I’m also familiar with the difficulty experienced by some of us when involved in the quest for a spiritual path that truly mirrors our mostly deeply held beliefs and understandings, as well as our heritages.

That said, I feel this piece needs to be written, although I will admit that I was hesitant to write it-hesitant to admit that I was not one of those people who immediately understood what I believed, chose a path, and stuck to it!

To provide the reader with a bit of my background and thus lay the groundwork for why my spiritual quest has been so involved and, at times, so difficult, I will tell you that I come from a family that is half Irish Catholic and half Jewish (although my Jewish grandmother was Irish).

I was raised with a strong connection to my Irish roots and feel most at home within Irish traditions in my current spiritual work. I am, in fact mostly Irish and have always longed to find a connection between my Celtic heritage and my spiritual path. Because I was raised with a sprinkling of combined Judao-Christian traditions, I was always open to different concepts of what a spiritual path could entail.

My father always advised me that it was important to have a belief system, but that it was more important to have a belief in God than it was to follow any one particular religion. Religion was never forced upon me and any knowledge gleaned was the result of my own initiative.

I was first introduced to God/Goddess traditions during my first year of college. I naturally gravitated toward the closeness with nature and emphasis on feminine/masculine energy as an equal balance that these paths offered.

At the time, however, I was involved in largely selfish endeavors and don’t feel that I was really able to make the connection with true spirit. I believe that becoming close to the Lord and Lady involves a level of being able to truly and deeply give of one’s self.

Living a happy spiritual life requires being willing to do more than simply cast spells to make one’s own life more satisfying (although I do believe that the God/Goddess does want us to be happy as individuals and to live prosperous lives).

I drifted for awhile, always reading books and trying to learn more about the path I was trying to walk but never really engaging; I never celebrated the various holidays of which I am now so wonderfully aware, never cast a circle to celebrate Imbolc, Litha, etc.

Thus, I never became fully immersed in the Pagan life; I never really connected to that part of me that’s made of spirit and never made a real connection with the spirits who govern the elements. I think that I believed that they existed, but I never spent enough time outside of myself to be able to really reach out to them or to the God/Goddess whose illuminating presence I feel today.

Over the years, I studied both Catholicism and Judaism. Some of the traditions of both religions were interesting and even beautiful, but neither spoke to me wholly. Neither encouraged a belief in the Fair Folk who I just knew lived in my gardens, or a belief in the spirit guides and wise ancestors who I today feel guide my readings when I turn to Tarot to help answer some of the difficult questions life throws in my direction and who are always with me offering their wisdom and protection.

I flip flopped for years between both, feeling like somewhere along the way I would have a breakthrough, a “white light” experience which would show me which path I was supposed to take. I felt like because I’d been born into these two religions they belonged to me somehow, but I was forever torn because I could identify with aspects of both but not the complete ideology of either.

Before my daughter was born in 2004 I knew that I needed to make a decision with regard to which spiritual path fit me best. Because Judaism encouraged the delving and question asking that Christianity seemed to discourage, I chose that as my path. I went to synagogue, lit candles on Shabbat, whispered guided prayers, and looked for confirmation from the Higher Power that I was on the “right track”.

Still, something was missing.

I was going through the motions but still not feeling wholly engaged. I would attend services at the synagogue and, although the people there were for the most part kind and friendly, I didn’t feel a true part of the whole scene.

I believed in tattooing as a connection to the world of spirit but I had to hide my body art when attending religious services. I possessed a freedom of spirit, which felt crushed by the dogmas of Judaism; I was being told that modest dress was required of me but I didn’t feel comfortable or natural wearing “modest” clothing.

I didn’t view my body as ugly or my sexuality as scary thing. I didn’t see magic as an instrument of evil and I didn’t feel that people who were homosexual were unnatural or unloved by the Blessed Ones of the Universe.

I saw my homeland not as Israel, but as Ireland. I once joked with my husband that I felt guilty feeling that if I had a choice of anyplace to where I could travel, my choice would absolutely be blessed Eire. And, there were so many other beliefs that I felt I was compelled to follow without really believing them in my heart and soul.

In short, I felt a bit like a hypocrite, believing one thing and mouthing another, following rituals which were beautiful but not completely who I was.

Eventually, my longing for a return to my Celtic heritage drew me toward the religion of my husband, who is Catholic. I thought that maybe it would be easier for my daughter to be raised with two parents who believed the same thing.

I thought that I could go to church with my husband and soak up the elements of the Mass which reminded me of my Irish roots and focus on the traditions which were derived from Irish Pagan culture. In the end, of course, this brought me only a deeper sense of being a hypocrite and a further sense of unease.

As all the other congregants were staring at the huge likeness of Jesus on the cross hanging over the altar (an image which from the time I was a child I found horrific and violent), I was gazing with love at the statue of Mary, envisioning her as the Goddess rather than as the mother of God portrayed by the Catholic church.

I would cringe at various parts of the sermons, for although the priest spoke with a thick brogue, his words offered me little comfort. I found little of my own truth in the words I heard during those church going days, and felt suffocated by the dogmas being bandied about.

I felt like I was being mentally lashed for my own beliefs, but my Pagan beliefs felt so natural and so normal.

No one could make me believe that they were evil or wrong, for I knew that they were coming from a place of love and peace. At this point in my life, I knew my own spirit enough to understand that I couldn’t be a horrible person simply because the church said being a Witch was evil; my ideas couldn’t be completely off base just because they didn’t correspond to how I was being advised that I should think and feel and behave.

In my heart, I was a Celtic woman of the wild, and I loved that. I could NOT let that go at any cost.

In the end, I returned to the Pagan roots that I explored during my college years, although on a much deeper level. In them, I find truth and comfort. I find a natural avenue toward the spirit. I feel enriched by the connection I have with the earth and with the elements, by the uninhibited connection I feel with my wise ancestors and my spirit guides.

I know that I don’t need to feel guilty about the spiritual gifts I’ve been given, gifts I feel we all possess but that we can’t all access because we’ve been told by certain organized religions that they are a pathway to Satan, or whatever.

I hate that there are religions out there that cause people to feel guilty for being different, for being gay, for being lesbian, for being able to communicate with the animal world and see that world as equal to the human one. For trying to force people into unnatural behaviors and stirring up hatred deep within the depths of humanity by telling people it’s their duty to convert “non-believers” and even, in some cases, to kill those who refuse to repent to their religions.

My religion is one of love and tolerance. I believe strongly in the law of return and in sending out good, positive energy. I believe in love as the only real pathway to understanding others and to relating to the world in a creative rather than in a destructive way.

I want to raise my daughter as a free little spirit, to nurture a belief in the magic and wonder of the world (and the otherworld) that she naturally, as a small child, believes to be real. I want to teach her that it’s important to be concerned about the health of our environment and that it’s important to stand up and speak out when events are unfolding that she knows are unjust.

I want to teach her that there is something inherently wonderful about being a woman, and that the discrimination she might face at the hands of those whose religions tell her that women are somehow inferior to the male species are wrong (and, oftentimes, very misguided).

My sense of wonder has been renewed and at last I feel wholly able to connect on a spiritual level. My hope is that this piece might help others who have experienced similar quandaries with regard to their faith. There is no need to be afraid of what you know in your heart to be your truth.

The Lord and Lady are waiting patiently for you to reach out and let go of your fears, guilt, and shame.

Once you’ve set your spirit free to wander the beautiful path offered by them (whatever your own particular path might be-there are so many fabulous ways of connecting to spirit within the Pagan community), you will find that the universe is a magical place indeed.

Brightest of blessings.

–Winterswan