‘THINK on THESE THINGS’ for October 9th

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

It has become increasingly noticeable how the power grab has reached even the lower levels of living. It is a right thing for us to try to raise ourselves. To fail to try would earmark us for failure….and yet up the shaky ladder of success climb so many bodies without spirits, so little understanding of what is ahead….and often less of what is past.

If we could only realize our power comes not from grasping the coattails of others, but from a higher source that knows the way….that places before us the right steps, the correct manner, the much needed wisdom and inspiration.

Why is it that when all this guidance is available to us, we let the littleness of our souls hold us back, believing all the time that any forward motion is because we have learned how to twist situations to our own avail.

How sad the lot of those who discover all the rungs on their ladder are on the same level. “Power will intoxicate the best hearts, as wine the strongest heads,” wrote Caleb Colton. “No man is wise enough, nor good enough, to be trusted with unlimited power.”

 

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 – October 9

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – October 9

“That spiritual power I wear is much more beautiful and much greater. We call it wisdom, knowledge, power and gift or love. There are these four parts to that spiritual power. So I wear those. When you wear that power it will beautify your mind and spirit. You become beautiful. Everything that Tunkashila creates is beautiful.”

–Wallace Black Elk, LAKOTA

When I was young, I asked my grandfather, “What should I pray for?” He thought for a long time and then he said, “Pray only for wisdom and for the knowledge of love.” This makes a lot of sense. No matter what happens I ask the Creator to show me the lessons I should be learning. I pray for Him to help me learn the lessons. By doing this everyday we become beautiful human beings.

Great Spirit, grant me Your wisdom.

October 9 – Daily Feast

October 9 – Daily Feast

Never take on more than is yours to handle. When you are a caretaker by nature, it can appear that the whole world rests on your shoulders. Some of it does, of course, because no one is without responsibility. But when you begin to think you have to do it all, it is time to back off and reassess your position. Life is a matter of give and take – and if you try to do all the giving, someone is going to get the idea they don’t have to do anything. The only way they can receive is to give first. And if someone else does all the giving, there’s something amiss – and it may be you.

~ Our patience….is exhausted, and we are discouraged from persevering any longer. ~

JOSEPH BRYANT – MOHAWK, 1800s

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

Daily Motivator for October 9th – Richer and richer

Richer and richer

The way to be rich is to realize how rich you are. The way to be rich is to  express and to live the unique abundance that is yours.

It’s not what you get that makes you rich. It’s what you do with all you  have.

The way to be truly rich is to make good, meaningful use of what you have.  The way to be exceptionally rich is to be generous with all that you are.

The abundance of the universe is literally everywhere. What transforms that  abundance into real richness is your choice to make purposeful, loving use of  it.

Each day is overflowing with possibilities for new richness. See the best  possibilities, act on them, and find true delight in making life richer and  richer.

Make joyful use of each moment, and sincerely give the best of who you are.  Live a life that is rich indeed.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

Daily OM for October 9th – Restorative Slumber

Restorative Slumber

The Importance of Napping

by Madisyn Taylor

A short nap during the afternoon is common in many countries and can provide an energy boost and clearer senses.

As we focus on the many obligations we gladly undertake in order to create the lives we want, sleep is often the first activity that we sacrifice. We’re compelled by both external and internal pressures to be productive during many of our waking hours. While this can lead to great feats of accomplishment, it also disrupts the body’s natural cycles and leaves us craving rest. Napping represents a pleasurable remedy to this widespread sleep deprivation. Though judged by many as a pastime of little children or the lazy, the need for a nap is a trait that all mammals share and an acceptable part of the day in many countries. It is also a free and effortless way to improve our health and lift our spirits. A nap is relaxing and can improve our mood, vision, reflexes, and memory.

Lack of sleep, whether ongoing or the result of a single night’s wakefulness, puts stress on the body and mind. It can negatively impact your physical and mental health. At one time, napping was considered a natural part of life. In the past hundred years, however, electricity and modern conveniences have provided us with more time to engage in personal and professional activities. Consequently there is now less time for sleep. A mere ten minutes of sleep in the middle of the day can leave you feeling more cheerful and alert. A half-hour long nap can sharpen your senses and refresh your energy reserves, and a shorter nap can even sustain you through a long day. Napping can help you make up for lost sleep and serves as a supplement to your usual sleep schedule. You may need to give yourself permission to nap by making naptime a part of your day.

Feelings of guilt about napping or being preoccupied with other activities can keep you awake when you are trying to take a nap. If you need help, surround yourself with soft pillows and blankets or soothing music. Try to take a nap at the same time each day and use an alarm clock to ensure that you don’t fall into too deep a sleep. Learning to nap and enjoying its benefits can help you reclaim your natural right to nap. You nourish your being every time you take a nap.

The Daily OM

Simple Magick

Simple Magick

Author:   Morgana Shades   

The first thing I have to say is that I am not a traditional ‘pagan’ as the term is used today. I celebrate the Sabbaths and Esbats along with the moon cycles, yet I cast no spells. I respect nature and do not wish to interfere with it, or the gods. I believe in the gods more than most things and my faith in them has helped me through hard times. I have cried into the bosom of the Shining One and been comforted more times than I can count.

Yet, in my journey, I have often wondered as to whether I am a true “neo-pagan” because I do not attempt magick. So many people ask me if I cast spells once they find out my beliefs, and are immensely disappointed when I say no. I own books of spells, such as Scott Cunningham’s Book of Shadows, yet I do not use them. I have not even put a protection spell on my house and family… I suppose I believe the love we have is strong enough to protect us.

Recently I realized that I do have my own form of magic: cooking. I am by no means a wonderful chef, however I am known to wake up in the morning and make scones or pancakes for breakfast. It is nothing much, but it is healing. I put on music- usually Irish pub songs or show tunes- and bake to my heart’s desire. While I bake, I feel the energy sparking around me and going into whatever I make. If I am sad or upset, I feel better as whatever I make progresses (especially if I can knead it etc.) . If I am in a good mood, the room nearly sizzles with good energy. No matter what my mood is whoever, the energy and magick that comes from the simple task of binding ingredients together into something nourishing is always good. I mean no ill will and my creations have never harmed anyone.

When we think about magick today, we tend to associate it with great works… the occult if you will. Even household protection spells have to be done with exact precision: walking around the circle umpteen times during the moon’s waning period. Although there is meaning to the time of the day and moon cycle, and I do not deny this for I base many of my grounding and remembering rituals around the moon’s cycles, simple acts can have great power in them: A kind word can make somebody’s day; the smell of baking bread can sooth the aching heart; a cup of chamomile tea can help the aching head; the sound of someone you love laughing and singing or a hike in the woods can make the soul rise and fly. We do not need to follow the phases of the moon to do these things or perform rites at certain times… the magick is within us and all around us.

Many though tend to forget it, as the lure of the occult draws them into what is almost an organized religion with specific rituals for specific times. Yet, as followers of the Earth, we should not be limited; we should use the resources around us to their full potential. We can still have our rituals to celebrate the moon and the changing seasons, but we need to remember that our ancestors would have performed simple everyday tasks with what they had at hand, which may not have included a cauldron or athame. They remembered the greatest magick of all- life and the forces that drive it- and used that, rather than a silly spell book.

To me, that is the greatest magick of all: those simple everyday tasks that we transform with our energy and good feelings. It is not using athames, crystals, and cauldrons to perform great feats, but rather living and cherishing life and taking those little moments which the gods give us all the time and using the magick within us to transform them into something special: when you’re checking out your groceries and smile at the tired cashier; when you hug the ones you love; when you control your temper; when you make a home cooked meal; when you recycle rather than throw away that slip of paper; when you walk down the road to the shop to pick up milk rather than take your car; when you stop and smell a rose; when you smile at a stranger; when you sit beside that person in the cafeteria who is alone and looks upset. That is the true magick: the true spirit of the pagan- to take the everyday and make it something wonderful. Yes, we all need our rituals- it’s part of being human- but we need to remember the everyday magick around us.

Of all the everyday magick, love is the strongest. To me, I don’t need to place protection spells around my house to protect my family because love does that already. I feel the energy around my home, protecting us. The only jewelry I wear, I consider charms because they were gifts given to me by those who love me and I feel that I can do anything knowing the love is there. The charms are just there to remind me of it. This magick won’t solve everything and won’t keep the inevitable from happening, but it is strong enough to keep us going every day. And, to be honest, my dog coming up and curling up to me when I’m sad does me more good than any spell ever would.

In the end, we only need the gifts given to us by the gods to make the world a better place. We just need to remember that, and not get caught up in our rituals. By remembering who we are and using the energy all around us, we can tap into deeper forms of energy that take us beyond this world (through mediation etc.) But we need to get back to our roots first and use the magick around us.

Blessed Be.

Spell Casting: The Witches’ Craft

Spell Casting: The Witches’ Craft

Author: Jason Miller (Inominandum) 

The Greeks made a distinction between theurgy and thaumaturgy. Theurgy literally means “God working” and refers to spiritual work that leads one into illumination or gnosis. Thaumaturgy means, “wonder working” and refers to the conjuration of spirits, casting of spells, blessing, cursing, curing and harming through practical magick. The balance between these two aspects of the craft has been an issue since the emergence of Wicca in the 1950’s. Does spell casting overshadow religion? This debate has been heating up in online groups and blogs recently due to a story on beliefnet.com by Carl McColman entitled Is Wicca Under a Spell, which deals with both sides of the issue. Many people in the Pagan community that I have spoken with feel that magick and sorcery do the religious aspects of Wicca no good and should be downplayed. Some I have spoken to have no interest in spell-casting at all, or perhaps don’t even believe in practical magick, and thus see this aspect of the craft as an obstacle to Wicca taking its place as a major Western religion. I would like to take this opportunity to present the opposing argument.

What often gets overlooked is that Wicca and Witchcraft are not the same thing. The terms are often used interchangeably but Witchcraft is a craft that can be, but isn’t necessarily, part of a religion. Wicca is most definitely a religion. While not all Wiccan traditions stem by lineage from Gerald Gardner, by and large they use a constellation of terms and beliefs that were first put in place by him and those that came after, thus we can say that we can trace Wicca more or less back to him. Witchcraft is a larger area than this. Isaac Bonewits once provided a breakdown of the types of Witches in America, which can help put this into perspective:

10% Neo-Pagan – Revivalist traditions, including Wicca.
70% Neo-Classical – Those who practice folk magick with mixed Christian and Pagan roots without regard to Witchcraft as a religion.
1-2% Classical village healers who practice completely non-religious folk magick.
1-2% Neo-Gothic – Practitioners of Satanism which is based on the Gothic Witchcraft of the Witch Hysteria Era.
1-2% Family Trads.
1-2% Immigrant Traditions: Pow-wow etc.
10% Practitioners of Vodou, Santeria, etc.

For example one of my ancestors was allegedly a “water witch” who told people where to dig wells. While in Venice I was offered a charm to obtain by a Witch. In both of these cases the Witch in question was a devout Christian. According to this breakdown Neo-Paganism and Wicca account for only %10 of American Witches but even within that scope there are many Witchcraft traditions that make it very clear that they are not Wiccan: The Feri Tradition, The Clan of Tubal Cain and the Cultus Sabbati all represent traditions of the craft that have non-Gardnerian roots, and do not fall under the umbrella of Wicca.

I have an enormous respect for Wicca but I am a Witch, not a Wiccan. I object when the terms are used interchangeably and when Wicca attempts to speak for all Witchcraft. I got involved with the craft during the mid 80’s in North Jersey, just outside of Manhattan. Paul Huson’s Mastering Witchcraft, Herman Slater’s Magickal Formularies, and the little spell books from Original Publications had much more of an influence on my Witchcraft than Scott Cunningham or Ray Buckland. This is not to say that I am not religious: I am. But I learned to use practical magick at an early age and was successful at it. I have traveled all over the world to learn traditional magickal techniques: from New Orleans, to Europe, to Nepal. Today I do magick professionally and consider traditional techniques of spell-working to be just as important as religious and spiritual traditions.

I would argue spell-casting is just as sacred as Wicca and Neo-Paganism and far more ancient and widespread a tradition. So where McColman asks the question: “As publishers produce more books about casting spells, is the spiritual message of Witchcraft getting lost?” I ask the opposite: Is the popular influence of Wicca and Neo-Paganism negatively impacting the tradition of spell casting, or if you will, the Witches’ Craft?

I think it is, on a number of levels. I will give just three examples:

Ethics:

The Wiccan Rede provides a very strong ethical principle for Witches to follow. As such, any mention of curses, jinxes, or harmful magick is frowned upon by the Pagan press. Some take this even further and extend it to spells that influence another’s will or reverse a curse back upon its sender. Very often in modern books I read “A REAL WITCH would never do harmful or coercive magick…” While I can applaud the good intent of these writers, and understand that authors are trying to paint a picture of Wicca that is acceptable to mainstream America, the fact is that this type of magick IS part of a “REAL” Witch’s repertoire. From the lead curse tablets of Greece, to the Gospel of Aradia, to more modern Witches like Sibyl Leek and Andrew Chumbley, cursing and coercion have always been a part of the Craft.

When my teacher taught me my first pieces of harmful magick, I was surprised. I had no interest in harming anyone but she told me, “You have to learn how to harm, in order to learn how to heal. The power comes hand-in-hand.” Apart from that lesson, life has taught me that a curse can be justified, and that in rare instances it can be down right compassionate. It is the use of knowledge that determines whether it is good or evil, not the knowledge itself.

To my mind allowing Wicca’s religious stance to determine what gets printed about traditional Witchcraft is wrong and pollutes the baraka of an ancient art. For instance Paul Huson’s book Mastering Witchcraft is one of the only early books of the craft that deals with the subject of vengeance and attack, and was given a horrible reputation in the Pagan community because of it. I have been to stores that refused to even carry it. One that did felt the need to put disclaimers all over it stating that it was “Not Real Witchcraft.” The book didn’t endorse vengeance and attack. It merely tried to present the full scope of the art it claimed to teach. In doing so, it put the preceding chapter on counter-magic and protection into great context. If anything, the craft teaches personal responsibility. Why then can we not trust readers to make their own ethical decisions about the craft?

Materia:

In the aforementioned article on beliefnet.com, Gardnerian Priestess Judy Harrow, author of Spiritual Mentoring, was quoted as saying:

“I remember once a man solemnly informing me that if a spell calls for, say, blue candles, and the candles are whi

te candles dipped in blue instead of being blue all the way through, the spell will fail or maybe even backfire… People who believe that (magic) power is in ‘the stuff’ will not be able to access the power if ‘the stuff’ is not handy.”

A proficient Witch learns to substitute items that can’t be gotten in time. We also learn the magics of breath, gaze, gesture and incantation that can be cast without materials of any type whatsoever. While I agree that not all the power is in “the stuff, ” there certainly is quite a bit more than many modern writers would have you think. Many modern books make the case that “it’s all in your mind” and that the materials are just props with no real power of their own. This to me is disrespectful to the Witches and sorcerers that painstakingly wrote down formularies and philtres over the centuries. If this was really the case, why bother getting the ingredients right at all? Why not just write down “Devils Shoe Strings” on nine pieces of paper and use them instead of the herb? Try it and see what kind of results you get. Having lived in Nepal and worked with various Ngakpas (sorcerers) and Jankris (shaman) , I can tell you that they take their ingredients very seriously. I can say the same about the Bokors and Root Doctors of New Orleans.

Flying ointment made from mugwort in a carrier oil may be safer, but it is not just as good as one made from hemlock, belladonna, and other baneful herbs carefully mixed and applied. A stone with a hole drilled in it will not work as well as a real hagstone formed by running water. A twig from the backyard will not provide as good a basis for an influence charm as a whole High John root. These things have a tradition that goes back hundred of years and should not be cast aside so easily.

Psychological Reductionism:

Australian sociologist Douglas Ezzy was quoted in the beliefnet.com article regarding the effect of spells themselves:

“In his paper ‘New Age Witchcraft? Popular spell books and the re-enchantment of everyday life, Ezzy notes that spell books ‘encourage individuals to take control of their lives through self-exploration and self-affirmation. Furthermore, ‘performing magical spells functions as a way of re-discovering the enchanted and mysterious aspects of life.’”

McColman further interprets this:

“In other words, spells are more than just magical recipes for getting your own way; they are miniature rituals designed to foster a sense of mystery and wonder (what Ezzy calls ‘enchantment’) in everyday life, and to evoke a positive sense of power and hope in the spell-caster’s life. Even if casting a spell doesn’t make you rich or win you love, it could give you hope that such blessings really are possible in your life.

There are many Pagans and Wiccans that have no interest, belief in, or talent for spell-casting. That’s okay. I don’t believe that Witchcraft was ever meant to be a widespread practice. It may be elitist of me to suggest it, but I don’t think that everyone can cast an effective spell. Some can, some can’t. What we have today however are people drawn to the purely religious and spiritual aspects of Neo-Paganism and mistaking it for Witchcraft. They need to find a way to explain the place of spell-casting in a modern world, so its gets explained away in psycho-babble.

Many teachers today will explain that spells don’t actually offer outer change, only inner change. A spell to help you get a job will perhaps build your confidence but not affect the mind of the interviewer. The claim is that the magick is providing mystery, wonder, and self-affirmation. These are all good things, but it is clear that Witches throughout history did not feel this way about their craft, and neither do I!

I and many others know from experience that a well placed and executed spell can alter future events, affect the mind and spirit of a target or a client, and generally deliver the goods that are traditionally attributed to the craft. The effectiveness of this depends on the ability of the practitioner, knowledge of the art, and skillful application of that power and knowledge. Some people have a talent for practical magic. Some do not. Not so long ago, if you didn’t have a gift or calling for Witchcraft, you would not have been drawn to it. Now that it has become a popular subculture and religion, I wonder if people that don’t have much talent for spell work feel the need to write it off? To be clear I don’t think that you need to practice spellcraft to be a Pagan, or even a Wiccan, but that doesn’t mean we should reduce the classical art of Witchcraft to therapeutic drama.

McColman quotes writer Laura LaVoie as saying: “One of my fears with the spell books is that they send the wrong message to those looking for answers on how to be Pagan.” I have heard her fear echoed often in the Pagan community but very few consider the other side of the coin: Neo-Pagans can sometimes send the wrong message to those that just want to practice Witchcraft.

It’s pretty easy to tell whether a book is religious or is a collection of spells. I find it difficult to believe that someone looking to get a start in a new religion would pick up an Encyclopedia of Spells. On the other hand I do know of many people who came to a spiritual path, Wiccan or otherwise, through a desire to cast spells that opened up deeper questions.

I have what I consider to be a very rigorous and serious spiritual practice. I also am a professional Occultist who does readings and magick for pay. If Wicca doesn’t want to be confused with spell-casting, then they should stop using the term Witchcraft and Wicca interchangeably. Wicca represents one tradition of Witchcraft, not the whole practice.

There is room for both spells and Spirit. Keep the spell books coming! Keep the Pagan books coming! Keep the Wiccan books coming! Let them all get better researched and lead people deeper into the mysteries, from whatever angle of approach they choose.

May the Blessing, Cursing, and Cunning Be!


Footnotes: McColman, Carl, Is Wicca Under A Spell?”, beliefnet.com, 2005.

Solitary or Coven?

Solitary or Coven?

Author:   Silverwolf 

Solitary or Coven?

One of the key choices facing pagans is the decision to be a solitary or to join a coven. Obviously a third option is to do both: you can have a practice on your own and still work with most Covens, but for many the practical answer is one of the other.

As Pagans, we generally enjoy a great deal of freedom in the development of our own particular path, and one of the decisions we all face is whether we want to or even feel we need to work with others in our path.

A solitary path brings complete personal freedom and the ability to truly work on a path that fits with your own beliefs. On the other hand, a coven can bring collective knowledge and experience that you may never obtain on your own, as well as the energy that a group can tap into.

The nice thing about Paganism, however, is that most will agree that there is no right or wrong answer for us. If a Coven works for you, so be it. If the path of a solitary works for you, so be it. Of course, you cannot call yourself a member of an initiatory tradition if you are a solitary, but that’s o.k.

Part 1: “Alone but not lonely” – by Silverwolf

Why do people stay solitary Pagan practitioners? Of course it you wish to join one of the initiatory traditions then you have to join a coven. There are other traditions that do not require direct initiation, and you can be a solitary and still practice that path. Of course, most solitaries simply create their own path, which is why they decided to remain solitaries in the first place.

As a matter of terminology, some people refer to solitary practitioners as “solitaries” and some as “solitaires”. I use the former here, but there is nothing wrong with either.

The vast majority of Pagans do start out as a solitary of course. At what point to do you realize you are Pagan? This usually comes on slowly and often as an act of discovery.

You may have had some leanings towards Paganism, but you were not familiar with what exactly it was. Then you read a book, or talked to someone, or ran across a web site that described being Pagan and you realized that that was what you had been feeling already, but didn’t have a name for it. A coven member introduced some people directly to Paganism, but even there these people usually were Pagans in their beliefs already, they just didn’t realize it.

What level of commitment?

The decision to not join a coven usually comes from simply not having the opportunity to join a like-minded coven. Just because you want to join one doesn’t mean there is one nearby with similar beliefs or that they are interested in new members. In fact, it is really incorrect to say that some people decide *not* to join a coven – most simply never decide *to* join one.

Some people practicing solitary would prefer to join covens but simply have no opportunity. Some are simply not involved enough in their practice to want the regularity of coven life. Just like a Christian who only goes to church on Christmas, or even not at all, but still considers him/herself a Christian.

Many people hold Pagan beliefs, but not everyone feels the need to actually “practice” anything and of course there is nothing wrong with that. As part of deciding on a Pagan path that is right for us, the level of activity and involvement that we pick is also a personal decision we need to make. A coven may simply require more activity and involvement than some Pagans are willing to invest.

A variety of traditions to draw on

Being a solitary has both pros and cons. The benefit of being able to construct a tailored path that fits you also means that you do, in fact, have to create this path yourself. You will undoubtedly take inspiration from other works, but you will create the path yourself. Now that is not to say that you can’t get help. Instead of learning about one tradition, you will probably need to research and learn about many traditions in order to find the parts that you wish to incorporate. Of course, you can also simply create your practice by following your own instincts without basing your practice on any previous works. Personally, I enjoy learning about different religions and beliefs, so I view this as part of the growing process as opposed to a chore. But it is work, no mistake.

Community for Solitaries

Being a solitary does not mean that you are without others to help you. You can discuss history, philosophy, ritual, and other aspects with other pagans – solitaries and coven members alike. Their views may match your on some issues, and diverge on others. You ultimately need to pick the pieces you will incorporate into your own beliefs, but you can still discuss ideas and solicit comments and opinions. This is part of the key attraction of a solitary path for me – the ability to take the best of all worlds to construct a path that fits me perfectly, and one that can grow and evolve as I grow and evolve.

A solitary is, by definition, alone and this potentially means on missing out on the benefits of community. However, there are several options to get the benefits of community that come automatically with a coven. There are on-line communities where you can meet on neutral ground, the Unitarian Universalist church is quite Pagan-friendly and I am actively involved in the one near me. Of course, a UU church welcomes Pagans, and many of the practices are purely Pagan, but it stops short of the more religious aspects of Paganism. Still, it provides a great place to explore beliefs and to put social and ecological beliefs into action.

The Solitary Path

Would I ever join a coven? Perhaps – I have nothing against covens and I believe that covens are absolutely the right path for some. If I ever found one that I felt matched my own path closely enough, and that seemed supportive and still flexible, I would certainly consider it. I enjoy attending public rituals on occasion and wouldn’t mind having a group to participate with regularly in rituals more closely aligned with my own path.

Having others to help craft new directions and explore new aspects of my faith could be fun. Joining a coven is also not permanent, and if my coven and I moved in different directions later I could simply leave the coven. With the tight community that a Coven forms, however, this would not be a step taken lightly. But I feel no need to join a coven today, or even to try to seek one out. For now, I continue to explore my faith and my direct relationship with the deity.

Part 2: “Hold Me As I Spiral And Spin” – by Chicoryflower

There are so many solitary versus coven arguments available, so pointing out something novel is challenging. However, it’s the language we’re looking for. An opinion that seems hip in a way that we value.

So with that in mind, I’ll explain that I wasn’t looking to join a coven when I stumbled upon one that I adore.

I had two brushes with covens that left me feeling that coven life was not for me. I wanted to hone and caress my own sense of divinity, explore my own boundless spirituality and not be hemmed in by the conceptual spirituality of others at different stages in life, from different backgrounds, with different (not lesser or greater) emotional and intellectual needs.

I don’t want to sound like I felt it would be an inferior experience, far from it. But I worried that others might feel the need to explore avenues, which I was less interested in, and I might be attracted to areas that they didn’t wish to learn about.

When you “sign-up”, it may seem that the 101 classes are beneath you. You might feel like you’ve been forced off the 10-speed and back on to the tricycle, but this is another benefit of being in a coven. There are precious gems of information about the coven within those classes. Take your time, go to as many as have been assigned, or more, you won’t be sorry. By the end of a year, you’ll realize it was beneficial and a great value of time, effort and expense. You can ask questions, and they will be answered. You can’t get that out of a book!

Covens can meet a lot of needs, and the first one is that perfect love and perfect trust doesn’t exist within the larger community of witches, it can only exist in covens where that is part of the vows you take. Otherwise, it’s just down to you and your divinity to have 100% certainty that all is done with the best you have to offer.

When we meet in perfect love and perfect trust, this has a lot to do with recognizing the intrinsic divine in others. It’s an exercise that makes us better people, better witches, and better friends, everywhere else in our lives. When we love and trust in this way to recognize the divine within others, and we also stretch our own understanding of divinity.

While we don’t necessarily agree with others, often some thought or idea is planted in the back of our mind that later might bloom and we find that it has made our consciousness expand effortlessly.

Community is something that “churches got and pagans ain’t”, in many quarters. When pagans go out looking for a safe, secure, intelligent way to grow as Wiccans, there aren’t a lot of options. As Silverwolf pointed out, there are a limited number of fully hived High Priestesses willing to take on new dedicants. So it follows that of that small number, it’s just not likely that the perfect coven is necessarily going to be one of them.

To me, this seems the greatest reason for witches to drive that extra mile to be a part of a tradition with degrees. There might be a day when the world has plenty of good covens with excellent High Priestesses, but until then you will need to be willing to make a little extra effort.

However, a group doesn’t need a degreed High Priestess from an established tradition to create a culture of love, trust, and sharing among other witches. It is possible to take vows, create new traditions, share knowledge and become tomorrow’s elders in a new tradition.

Coveners can hold each other somewhat accountable to learn the ways completely, and in a way that is generally agreed upon by others. Almost every tradition recognizes that you may have a personal pagan path that doesn’t match everything perfectly, and when we hive, this becomes a part of the heritage of the tradition. This is the same way that your High Priestess’ personality, knowledge, and idiosyncrasies helped form and guide your learning experience.

Being a part of these rites of passage enriches the experience of a witch. We know what we’ve mastered, but it certainly helps to have a group of elders second the notion and reassure us. Having the benefit of being seen by others and having the reality reflected back to us helps us grow, embrace ourselves, confront our shadows, and ultimately be enriched.

To be perfectly honest, I’m a very new dedicant, but these were the points and counterpoints that helped to form my decision to join a coven. I met the High Priestess several months ago, and it took a few stops and starts to be sure that this was the path I wanted to take. At each return, when I pulled back to be sure this was what I wanted to do (and for other more personal reasons), I was greeted with warmth and welcoming. It was easy to follow my instincts as they all uniformly voiced approval.

Conclusion

Solitary or coven, solitary plus coven, solitary and later coven, coven and later solitary…how you pursue your spiritual path as a Pagan is a decision that you and you alone can make. There is no right or wrong, no good or bad, only what is right and good for you specifically.

One of the truly special things about being Pagan is that we do have this freedom to choose. This is s fundamental given and part of what distinguishes us from most other religions: we do not believe that someone else is wrong because they follow a different path.

We have not received any commandment from our Gods to convert others, and eternal pits of fire do not await those who decide on a different way. So make your choice based on where your heart leads you.

Look inside yourself to make these choices, and make sure that you are making them for all the right reasons. Others can help provide advice or insight, but only you can make the final decision. And if you change your mind later, that’s o.k.

— by Silverwolf and Chicoryflower

Goddess Invocation

tripleGoddess

Goddess Invocation

I am the Maiden.
The East, The Winds,
The New Moon.
Gentle and Pure
Maiden Bride, Hear me!
 
 
I am the Warrior.
The South, The Fire,
The Waxing Moon
Powerful and strong
Warrior Vesta, Hear me!
 
 
I am the Mother.
The West, The Sea,
The Full Moon.
Fertile and Loving,
Mother Diana, Hear me!
 
 
I am the Crone.
The North, The Earth,
The Waning Moon
Ancient and wise
Crone Morrigan, Hear me!