A Call from the Ancestors

A Call from the Ancestors

Author:   Rev.Roman Delgado   

As I sit before my altar, I’ve had a memory, a vague knowing of something past calling me to return to myself. As if the echoes of those gone before call me into a path walked by many in Aeons past. A feeling as if what I have lost to the sands of time and waves of progress and technology as only been forgotten and craves to return.

So many have felt this call before me. I have seen it on the news, then Internet, books. Everywhere people today seem to want to return to the ways that have been lost to time. Revival and reconstructionist religious movements are being seen from the black fertile lands of Egyptian religion and the fields of Greece to the Ancient Aztec world.

The path of the ancient ones calls, yet so much of it is forgotten. Through the Aeons past in which change and progress have changed the landscape of Gaia, those gone before us seem to have been swallowed by sands of time. No longer do we seem to want to cross the river Styx; few are those that delve into the path of transformation and cross the bridge to the land of the dead and return like the true initiates of the mysteries of the ancients transformed and renewed.

Today’s society has rejected death. On a pragmatic level it makes sense. Life is meant to be lived not mourned. Life is lived for its own merit not for the sake of its end. However, in the process of forgetting the importance of death, we have forgotten the reality of transformation. Death and life is not only a never-ending spiral in the great wheel of rebirth.

Death is all around in times when only life can be seen. Death is the forbearer of rebirth and, as each thing grows anew, it is a sign of transformation. It is a sign that something else has come to an end in order to bring forth the light of a new era. In paganism this becomes obvious through myth and celebration of the changes in the cycles of life and nature. We celebrate change, yet only delve into what brings change when we actually face it.

As I sit before my altar every day, I hear a call so many ignore unless they wheel of the year tells them it’s time to hear it. A call to change and transform, to die and be reborn. In my path as a pagan, I come from an indigenous background, I have traveled in body, mind and spirit cross cultures to better understand my own past, to understand the Alchemies of the soul.

Along that path I have understood that ritual is transformational. Every time I am in the presence of the divine I am changed and healed. Yet when I traveled outside of my roots into the modern world so many ignore the call of death in their ritual. The call to let go and surrender to the divine, to commune with the God and Goddess, is a pivotal role: the Alchemy of the soul.

In Mexico, I learned about this alchemy as the rites of Coatlicue an ancestral deity ruling over life and death. Her rites were those of shamanic initiation, the dismemberment of the initiate and his reconstruction as a being that holds the wisdom of the ancestors.

Once that pivotal moment is passed I learned the Alchemy of Tezcatlipoca. His rites are of initiation into the darkest parts of one’s own soul. His mysteries are for the ones destined to tame their own fire and harness it into the power to weave destiny. It is the magic of the Ancestors.

Now in a later stage of my development I learn the Alchemy of duality. My Ancestors called this the teachings of Quetzalcoatl and Xochiquetzal. The ancient Egyptians called it the Alchemies of Isis and Osiris and the Alchemies of Horus. Their teaching is the teaching of embracing change, the inner change that fortifies the soul and life-force in order to withstand the change that is the ultimate test of the Alchemist: the culmination of the alchemical process, the attainment of eternal life. A mystery that can only be lived, a choice moment to be in this world or in spirit. That too is the magic of the Ancestors.

Throughout the world, religion is centered on eternal life. Some along the never-ending cycle of re-incarnation. Some in the rebirth after death into an eternal moment of bliss and rest. Yet there are some that only embrace this moment and this life; it is in this moment and life that some religions find death and rebirth.

In the rebirth of Paganism in the western world, so many have ceased to hear the call of the Ancestors. The teachings of the departed are more or less confined to grieving the dead and honoring their memory when the natural world turns to darkness. I must tell you, there is far more to it than that.

The Alchemies of which I speak are the teachings of those who have lived them and mastered them. Blood bonds or not, we are all descendants of our spiritual lines. The Alchemies of the soul are the legacy of the ancient priests and priestesses of the Gods.

The role of the Alchemies is to prepare the Initiate for eternal joy and mastery, be it in the afterlife among the dearly departed or in the ever-present moment that is this world.

The call to the Alchemical mysteries of the ancients lies through the land of the ancestors. It is a call to acknowledge the need for death in life. Not giving up the joys of the world, but to give up what keeps us apart from divinity. It said among initiates of mysteries schools that the true magician must jump the great chasm to achieve the great work. One of the dual secret meanings of this phrase is that the chasm is both internal (states of mind) and spiritual: the chasm between one’s self and divinity itself. As voodoo practitioners say to westerners under a different context: “ You people go to church and pray to God; we go to church and become God”. You see the inner mysteries path of the ancients is simple. It is found in words of Doreen Valiente’s poem, “The Charge of the Goddess”:

“…If what thou seek that does not find within, thou shall never find without. For I am that which has been with thee from the beginning, and I am that which is attained at the end of desire…”

The path to desire lies through the path of death and rebirth. Through letting go and being transformed, it is a path of internal sacrifice, letting go of what separates us from the Gods, our Ancestors and all creation, sacred from the times of the ancients to this day. As it is said in the Charge of the God:

“Let my name be within the body that sings, for all acts of willing sacrifice are my rituals…”

Let us not forget the call the Gods made to the Ancestors long ago. A call passed on to us. A call to death and rebirth, life and afterlife. A call that shall echo in the minds and souls of the initiates through all eternity…

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Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft -A.4. The Initiation (1949)[Second Degree]

Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft -A.4. The Initiation (1949)[Second Degree]

[Second Degree]
Magus binds Witch as before, but does not blindfold her, and circumambulates with her, proclaims to the four quarters, “Hear, ye Mighty Ones, (name), a duly consecrated Priestess and Witch, is now properly prepared to be made a High Priestess and Witch Queen.”
Magus now leads her thrice around the circle with the half-running, half-dancing step, halts south of the altar, has the Witch kneel, and ties her down to the altar as before.
Magus: “To attain this sublime degree, it is necessary to suffer and be purified.  Art ready to suffer to Learn?”
Priestess Witch: “I am.”
Magus: “I prepare thee to take the great oath.”
He strikes three knells on the bell, and again gives the series of three, seven, nine, and 21 strokes with the scourge as before.
Magus: “I now give thee a new name: _______. [kiss]
Magus: “Repeat thy new name after me, <saying> I, (name), swear upon my mother’s womb and by mine Honor among men and among my brothers and sisters of the Art, that I will never reveal to any at all any of the secrets of the Art, except it be to a worthy person, properly prepared, in the center of a Magic Circle, such as I am now in.  This I swear by my hopes of Salvation, my past lives, and my hopes of future ones to come, and I devote myself to utter destruction if I break this my solemn oath.”
Magus kneels, placing left hand under her knees and right hand on her head, thus forming magic link.
Magus: “I hereby will all my power into you.” Wills.
Magus now unties her feet, unties the Cable Tow from the altar, and helps the Witch to her feet.
Magus: “I hereby sign and consecrate you with the great Magic Sign. Remember how it is formed and you will always recognize it.
“I consecrate thee with oil.” (He anoints her with oil on her womb, right breast, left hip, right hip, left breast, and womb again, thus tracing a point-down pentacle.)
“I consecrate thee with wine.” (He anoints her with wine in the same pattern.)
“I consecrate thee with my lips” (he kisses her in the same pattern), “High Priestess and Witch Queen.”
Magus now unbinds Witch’s hands and removes the cord, saying, “Newly made High Priestess and Witch Queen” [kiss] “you will now use the working tools in turn.  First, the Magic Sword; with it you will scribe the Magic Circle [kiss]
“Secondly, the Athame” (Form Circle) [kiss]
“Thirdly, the White Handled Knife” (use) [kiss]
“Fourthly, the Wand” (Wave to 4 Quarters) [kiss]
“Fifthly, the Pentacle” (Show to 4 Quarters) [kiss]
“Sixthly, the Censer of Incense” (Circle, cense) [kiss]
“Seventhly, the cords; bind me as I bound you.”
Witch binds Magus and ties him to Altar.
Magus: “Learn, in Witchcraft, thou must ever return triple.  As I scourged thee, so thou must scourge me, but triple. So where you received 3, return 9; where you received 7, return 21; where you received 9, return 27; where you received 21, return 63.”
Witch scourges Magus as instructed, 120 strokes total.
Magus: “Thou hast obeyed the Law.  But mark well, when thou receivest good, so equally art bound to return good threefold.”
Witch now unbinds Magus and helps him to his feet.
Magus, taking the new Initiate by the hand and holding the Athame in the other, passes once round the Circle, proclaiming at the Four Quarters, “Hear, Ye Mighty Ones, (name) hath been duly consecrated High Priestess and Witch Queen.”
(Note, if ceremony ends here, close circle with “Hail and farewell.” If not go to next degree.)

Let’s Talk Witch – Self-dedication Explained

Let’s Talk Witch – Self-dedication Explained

Initiation is a process of “death and rebirth” – the old self dies, and the new and magickal self is born. A rite of self-dedication marks a serious commitment and dedication to the path, and should not be taken lightly.

Having followed your path this far, you will have noticed subtle (or not so subtle) changes in yourself, and you may wish to mark this, and affirm your commitment to the path with a self-dedication ritual. Initiation is a process which happens over time, and the rite itself will benefit from being preceded by a daily practice, building up in intensity as you approach the day of the rite, with the dedication rite being the culmination of this ritual practice.

As the rite marks a rebirth, into your witch self or magickal self, you may wish to obtain a new magickal item or items for it. This could be a piece of ritual jewellery, such as a pentagram pendant, or amber and jet necklace (the traditional witches necklace), or a cord you wear around your waist. Some people choose to mark their dedications by having a tattoo in a magickal design, personal to themselves.

It is also good to have a magickal weapon which you will consecrate at the end of the dedication rite. A ritual dagger, or athame is the general tool chosen. Self-dedication can be very empowering, and can produce a feeling of “walking on clouds”, and it is very important to earth oneself afterwards, and then to have a rest from magickal work for a period of between a week and a month.

Simple daily meditation may be practised during this period, but avoid intense magickal work. Time is needed to assimilate the experience, and the dedication process should be undertaken at a time when you do not have too much outside stress, and are able to take time for yourself. It should be stressed that self-dedication is not the same as initiation into a coven, and should you wish to join a coven at a later date, you would still have to go through a probationary period and coven initiation, if accepted.

The Journey of a Wild Witch

The Journey of a Wild Witch

Author:   Eilan   

It has been eight years since I first discovered Witchcraft in a spiritual context. Prior to this Magick was very much alive in my life as I was lucky enough to have been born into a family that understands the spiritual dimension of life. My family also had the insight and experience to see and live this dimension in their everyday. In truth there is no difference between what is conceived to be ‘spiritual’ and that which is apparent and ‘mundane’. It is all one. This is my truth and my wild way.

I am an initiated Witch and Priest of the WildWood Tradition of Witchcraft. This means a great deal to me, as I am also a ‘co-founder’ of the original Mother Coven, based in Brisbane and initiated at Samhain (April 30th) 2006. Our ‘tradition’ and way of living the Craft is deeply interwoven with what many people call ‘shamanism’; derived from the Siberian Tungus word for their medicine people – saman. Mircea Eliade, the late Romanian historian, described shamanism as a “technique of ecstasy” and my coven has come to define Witchcraft as an “ecstasy-driven, Earth-based, mystery tradition”.

Our (and all Witches’) rituals and methods of practice allow us to transcend the illusion of separation and therefore to dissolve the ego and actualize the freedom that lives in the heart of all things. I often call and relate to this ‘All’ as the Great Mystery. The beauty of being a Wild Witch is that nothing is absolute and I have come to realize that all of Life is a holy continuum, which constantly seeks to express itself through diversity. Through expression comes manifestation, which allows us to experience Beauty through Perfection (the world in which we live) and then once more we come to the Wholeness of Unity and the cycle repeats itself.

We are born into a plural world of many and pass into the One only to yearn to divide ourselves once more to grow, deepen and enrich our understandings and experiences of that subtle/overt thing – the Great Mystery.

My coven’s tradition has developed and evolved around this wild-trance-dance-of-wonder. The only consistency between our covens is that we honor and acknowledge our heartland the WildWood, keep holy our covenant with the Sacred Four (the Weaver, the Green Man, the Crescent-Crowned Goddess and the Stag-Horned God) and that we remain open and receptive to personal/group gnosis and to Awen (the divine flow of inspiration) . Other than this there are some structural similarities regarding dedication and priesthood and inner and outer courts.

Essentially however we are wild Witches who fly in the face of authority and seek the wilderness underlying the apparent ‘civilization’ of things. Nothing can be tamed, for the wild is free and the free is divine! As we say in the WildWood – “we have actualized our radness!”

What do Wild Witches do? First and foremost – we live! We breathe, we sleep, we eat, we drink, we sing, we dance, we make love, we scream and we spend time sharing presence and being with our loved ones. ‘Being’ is an important principle to consider. To be is quite simple but so many people find themselves distracted by the “this and that” that they leave ‘being’ behind and pursue illusion instead.

This isn’t the same concept found in various Christian philosophies which espouses a “Satan’s fault!” message when sheep stray from the flock so to speak. Witches understand self-responsibility and are aware of action, reaction and consequence (the Threefold Law) . Why not exist in euphoric awareness of self as Self – the animate Cosmos? You are not only a cell within a larger body of universal wholeness; you are whole and thus a perfect embodiment, expression and reflection of the Great Mystery whose cause, undercurrent and outcome is Life.

When we free ourselves from the illusion of past, present and future and surrender to the Flow of the Continuum (the spirals, the wayward ins and outs, the labyrinthine, serpentine undulations of fate becoming) we make real for ourselves the state of being known commonly as “here and now”. This seems to constitute location and time, however it simply addresses the emphasis of indwelling consciousness regardless of where you are and what frame of time constrains it.

There are moments in my life, which I refer to as ‘Nostalgic Rites’. They are pure, simple, soothing, knowing moments that are like the punctuation points in a flow of sentences. They are the markers and the thresholds that appear along our paths when it is time to pause, reflect and feel. I have them often enough in my life to understand their imminent message of timelessness, peace and overwhelming Love! For what I have learnt above all else thus far is that dwelling within the chaos in the cosmos is the peace which neither subsumes or overrides it, but embraces it and lets it be. Chaos is what happens naturally when the undifferentiated potential becomes “this and that” and peace is the understanding that this is the way of Life. All of this is wild; we dwell in a far-reaching, limitless wilderness.

In a recent priestess training session with two beautiful women from my coven I asked both of them to divulge their feelings and reflections of the journey toward their priestesshood, as they are nearing to the ‘end’ of the beginning – Initiation. One of the women honestly came out and said to us that she feared for us (the other priestess-in-training and I) because we are on the top of the mountain, but because we are risk-takers it is inevitable that we will fall.

I had to stop and wonder in that moment why anyone would not want to fall. In fact I also wondered whether it had occurred to her that surrounding the mountain were vast forests, plains, rivers, deserts, tundra, bushland, seas, oceans and lakes; not to mention all of the beings who inhabit these places.

For me the mountain is not the point. It is part of the whole Great Mystery, but the journey does not lead to a single place; in fact the journey doesn’t really lead anywhere. There is no aim to my wandering, to my blissful dance through the wilderness – I simply embrace every experience because it is worthy of it and I laugh, smile, cry, choke, rage, relax, love, ***, change, grow, and a million other things that I couldn’t possibly articulate or fathom for the purposes of this article.

The other woman, who knows me very well, and is one of my closest friends, then turned to me smiling and said, “You are so glib!” She then went on to explain that it was the “natural, offhand ease and articulate fluency and flow” of how I expressed my truth that made me glib in her opinion.

It wasn’t a criticism on her part, merely an observation. I think it is actually quite accurate. I have such ease and flow in my expression because I don’t have to think too hard about who I am or how I feel because I am and I feel in the “here and the now”. I live and I am, and in my experience Life itself is glib.

To my fellow journeyers of the wild way who know in their hearts that they are heading nowhere, anywhere and everywhere – may you dance the Wander with all you are. My deepest well of love to you all!

The Wanderer

The sages say that samsara is to wander, to pass through,
I say samsara is to know the way and dance it.
To dance is to live, and to live is never “to pass through”;
Dance doll – dance and light up the stage…

Then they came with their wrought-iron weapons
And they pierced my soul, and looked for the mark.
I sang to them to soothe their battered spirits.
They sunk their swords in harder, my heart is in shreds.

The blood ran dry and the old seas heaved
And there in the darkest hour all was forgotten,
And tattered clothes were left in tatters,
And the ashes were left in mounds at the pyres.

Is it a fact that when we are lost we wander?
Is it true that when we are in love we dance?
Or do we dance when we are lost?
And do we wander when in love?

Samsara, O holy wheel of Life,
Keep turning, I want to stay.
I don’t want nirvana in clouds far away
For I feel it already…here.

The Wanderer – the Fool?
I don’t mind, I don’t mind being;
For all the pain and suffering and the attachment to desire
There is a keenness that is not worth losing.

I want to live,
I want to wander if that’s what it takes,
But through all this I will dance
And I will dance because I love.

– Gede Parma, 2007

An Introduction to Traditional Wicca

An Introduction to Traditional Wicca

© 1987, Keepers of the Ancient Mysteries ( .K.A.M. )

Often Traditional Wiccans are asked to describe our religion and beliefs for interested people, who may or may not have confused us with other Pagan religions, with inversions of Christian/Islamic religions like Satanism, or with purely magical traditions with no religious base. There is a lot of flexibility in the ways that we describe ourselves, and one characteristic of Wicca is a large degree of personal liberty to practice as we please. Still, there is an outline that can be described in general terms. Many traditions will depart from one particular or another, but groups departing from all or most of these features are probably non-Wiccan Traditions attempting to stretch or distort the Wiccan name to cover what they want to do.

Mysteries and Initiation

Wicca is an Initiatory religion descended from the Ancient Mystery Religions. A mystery religion is not like Catholicism where a Priest is the contact point between the worshiper and the Deity, nor like Protestantism where a sacred Book provides the contact and guidelines for being with the divine. Rather a Mystery Religion is a religion of personal experience and responsibility, in which each worshiper is encouraged, taught and expected to develop an ongoing and positive direct relationship with the Gods. The religion is called a “Mystery” because such experiences are very hard to communicate in words, and are usually distorted in the telling. You have to have been there in person to appreciate what is meant. Near and far-Eastern religions like Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and Shinto are probably Mystery traditions, but Wicca is very western in cultural flavor and quite different than eastern religions in many ways.

A Blend of Pagan Roots

Most Wiccan Traditions, .K.A.M. included, have particular roots in the British Mystery Traditions. This includes traditions of the Picts who lived before the rise of Celtic consciousness, the early Celts, and some selected aspects of Celtic Druidism. American Wicca is directly descended from British Wicca, brought in the late 1950’s by English and American Initiates of Gardnerian, Alexandrian and Celtic Wicca. These traditions are a little like the denominations in Christianity, but hopefully far more harmonious.

While British Traditions are very strong in Wicca, or the Craft as it is sometimes called, other Western Mystery traditions feature prominently, including the ancient Greek Mysteries of Eleusis, Italian Mysteries of Rome, Etruria and the general countryside, Mysteries of Egypt and Persia before Islam, and various Babylonian, Assyrian and other mid-eastern Mysteries that flourished before the political rise of the advocates of “one god”.

What’s In a Name?

Wicca, Witchcraft, and “The Craft” are used interchangeably at times by many kinds of people. It is fair to say that all Wiccans are Witches, and many of us believe we are the only people entitled to the name. It is important to know that many people call themselves witches who are not in the least Wiccan, and that Masons also refer to themselves as “Craft”, with good historical precedent. Carefully question people on the particular things they do and believe as part of their religion rather than relying on labels. Any real Wiccan would welcome such honest inquiry.

Traditions and Flavor

There are specific Wiccan beliefs and traditions, including worship of an equal and mated Goddess and God who take many forms and have many Names. Groups who worship only a Goddess or only a God are not traditional Wicca however they may protest, although they may be perfectly good Pagans of another sort. The Wiccan Goddess and God are linked to nature, ordinary love and children — Wicca is very life affirming in flavor.

Because we have and love our own Gods, Wiccans have nothing to do with other people’s deities or devils, like the Christian God or Satan, the Muslim Allah or the Jewish Jehovah (reputedly not his real name). Christians often deny this fact because they think that their particular god is the only God, and everybody else in the whole world must be worshipping their devil. How arrogant. They’re wrong on both counts.

Traditional Wicca is a religion of personal responsibility and growth. Initiates take on a particular obligation to personal development throughout their lives, and work hard to achieve what we call our “True Will”, which is the best possibility that we can conceive for ourselves. Finding your Will isn’t easy, and requires a lot of honesty, courage and hard work. It is also very rewarding.

Wicca is generally a cheerful religion, and has many holidays and festivals. In fact, most of the more pleasant holidays now on our calendar are descended from the roots Wicca draws on, including Christmas, May Day, Easter and Summer Vacation. Wicca is definitely not always serious. Dancing, feasting and general merriment are a central part of the celebrations.

Wiccan Ethics

Wiccans have ethics which are different in nature than most “one-god” religions, which hand out a list of “do’s and don’ts”. We have a single extremely powerful ethical principal which Initiates are responsible for applying in specific situations according to their best judgment. That principle is called the Wiccan Rede (Old-English for rule) and reads:

    “An (if) it harm none, do as ye Will”

Based on the earlier mention of “True Will”, you will understand that the Rede is far more complex than it sounds, and is quite different than saying “Do whatever you want as long as nobody is hurt”. Finding out your Will is difficult sometimes, and figuring out what is harmful, rather than just painful or unpleasant is not much easier.

Initiation into Wicca

People become Wiccans only by Initiation, which is a process of contacting and forming a good relationship with the Gods and Goddesses of Wicca. Initiation is preceded by at least a year and a day of preparation and study, and must be performed by a qualified Wiccan Priestess and Priest. The central event of Initiation is between you and your Gods, but the Priestess is necessary to make the Initiation a Wiccan one, to pass some of her power onto you as a new-made Priestess or Priest and to connect you to the Tradition you’re joining.

Women hold the central place in Wicca. A Traditional Coven is always headed by a High Priestess, a Third Degree female Witch with at least three years and three days of specific training. A Priest is optional, but the Priestess is essential. Similarly, a Priest may not Initiate without a Priestess, but a Priestess alone is sufficient. Women are primary in Wicca for many reasons, one of which is that the Goddess is central to our religion.

One Religion at a Time

People often ask “Can I become a Wiccan and still remain a Christian, Muslim, practicing Jew, etc. The answer is no. The “one god” religions reject other paths besides their own, including each other’s. “One-god” religions also do not exalt the Female as does Wicca, and mixing two such different traditions would water them both down. Besides, you’d have to ask how serious a person who practiced two religions was about either one. Being Jewish is an exception, since it is a race and culture as well as a religion. There are many Wiccan Jews, but they practice Wicca, not Judaism.

Magick and Science

People interested in Wicca are usually curious about the magick that Wiccans can do. While magick (spelled with a “k” to distinguish from stage conjuring) is not a religion in itself, it is related to our religious beliefs. Wiccans believe that people have many more abilities than are generally realized, and that it is a good idea to develop them. Our magick is a way of using natural forces to change consciousness and material conditions as an expression of our “True Wills”. Part of becoming a Wiccan is training in our methods of psychic and magickal development.

Because we believe that everything a person does returns to them magnified, a Wiccan will not work a magick for harm, since they would pay too high a price. But a helpful magick is good for both the giver and receiver! Wicca is entirely compatible with the scientific method, and we believe all the Gods and forces we work with to be quite natural, not supernatural at all. We do not, however, hold with the kind of scientific dogma or pseudo religion that sees everything as dead matter and neglects its own method by trumpeting “facts” without honest examination of evidence.

Priestesses at Large?

Long ago the spiritual (and sometimes physical) ancestors of Wiccans were Priestesses and Priests to the Pagan culture as well as devotees of their Mystery. Now that a Pagan culture is rising again, some ask if today’s Wiccans could resume that role. This seems unlikely.

Today’s Pagan culture is very diverse and more interested in exploring and creating new forms than in building on existing traditions. A public role would either dilute our traditions or force them on an unwilling audience. The neo-Pagan community generally prefers “media figures” and rapid membership and growth. This is not compatible with our slow methods of training and Initiation, the insistence that livelihood come from work outside the Craft, or our needs for privacy. Our religion is not accepted in the American workplace or political system, and may never be. The most powerful Priestesses are often unknown to all but their Coveners. While all Wiccans are Pagans, all Pagans are not Wiccan, and it is best that it remain so.

A Year and a Day – Origins and Applications

A Year and a Day – Origins and Applications

Author:   del Luna la Madre’ Temple 

I have seen the following in many, many posts. Competently trained Priests and Priestesses look at these words, and say to themselves – “Oh, You Truly Have No Idea”. The Phrase that I am referring to is:

“I have been studying for a Year and a Day and so I am now close to being ready for Initiation.” or “I am half way through my Year and a Day and so I now have questions about where do I find a group to Initiate into?”, There are other varying forms of this, and if you read through the many thousands of posts, you will surely come across that variety.

The Truth of the matter is that training in the Crafte does NOT take a Year and A Day. It sometimes takes much longer. Wikipedia lists the following information under a year and a day:

The year and a day rule was a principle of English law holding that a death was conclusively presumed not to be murder (or any other homicide) if it occurred more than a year and one day since the act (or omission) that was alleged to have been its cause. The rule also applied to the offence of assisting with a suicide.

• The period of a year and a day was a convenient period to represent a significant amount of time. Its use was generally as a jubilee or permanence.

• Historically (England) the period that a couple must be married for a spouse to have claim to a share of inheritable property.

• In mediaeval Europe, a runaway serf became free after a year and a day.

• When a judgment has been reversed a fresh action may be lodged within a year and a day, regardless of the statute of limitations. U.S.

• Note: a lunar year (13 lunar months of 28 days) plus a day is a solar year (365 days) . Also those 366 days would be a full year even if a leap day were included.

Magickally speaking- the Year and a Day rule is a hold over from the Masons. Their training period for an Apprentice was a year and a day of service and hard work. Gerald Gardner – the father of the modern day Crafte movement derived much of his early work on the Crafte from his Masonic roots, using the model of the Co-Masonic Lodge and its training as a basis for some of the early rules of the Crafte. It is known that in the early texts that Gardner wrote, that there were EXTREME similarities to Masonry, OTO and Golden Dawn.

As I stated before, A Year and A Day is quite misleading when it comes to serious study within the Crafte. It is a guide that is used by most of the Traditions to indicate that this is the MINIMUM amount of time that can be spent working toward a degree. In some cases, it is the minimum amount of time that one is allowed to spend working on one area of training within the Crafte itself.

So before you embark on telling the world that you have spent the last Year and a Day working on your studies of the Crafte, think, will those who I tell this to take me seriously. Can I really hold my own when questioned about what I have learned? Am I still unsure about the names and purposes of Deity within the Crafte? Do I understand that there is much more to learn and that I have only scratched the tip of the iceberg? Have I investigated books and other learning tools that are not just mainstream Crafte?

These are some serious questions that you need to ask yourself. Why? Because, if you do find others who are serious about their Crafte, be prepared to be asked some serious questions in conversation. Remember, they have studied long, and hard for the information they possess, their Oaths in many cases restrict them from passing on the intricacies of their Faith. Many of them feel that it is NOT their job to school the masses about the simplicities of the Crafte and its terminology.

If you want to be taken seriously, then learn the proper terminology, understand the terminology, and by all means – don’t act like a KNOW IT ALL. No One Knows It All. And a Good Teacher, High Priest or High Priestess will never be ashamed to tell you that they don’t know it all, but by their years of practice, not just studying or reading, have given them sufficient knowledge that they know that there is so much more out there to learn, that they will always be a student and practitioner.

So think before you infer that you have been studying for a year and a day, and that now you are properly prepared in the Crafte and therefore you should be granted all sorts of privileges, because of your studying for that year and a day. You now deserve to be taken as a serious authority on some level.

If you think this, say this, write this, be prepared for a good deal of laughter. But also be aware that there may also be some that are not laughing, and those are the ones that you need to be cautious of, for they are the ones that may see you as their next target of humiliation or degradation.

To ere on the side of humility in this case is a good thing…

Something to also consider is that even after you have studied long and hard, that is no guarantee that the information that you have studied is even correct and can withstand closer scrutiny, that, you are certain to receive if you spout off about ‘studying for a year and a day.’ You may have only read all the information published by one author or one publishing company. There is so much more to the Crafte that is not found in any book.

Nothing can replace pure and sincere experience and practice. So think about your Year and a Day, and ask: How far have I come and how far do I want to go? Have I experienced all that I can or do I need to experience more? Your answers might surprise you!

Wishing you Blessings Upon Your Path!

Lady Morgen
High Priestess
del Luna la Madre’ Temple

Rebirthing Ritual (Wolf Moon)

Rebirthing Ritual

(Wolf Moon)
 
 
Winter is not only about death, but also about rebirth. The Rebirthing Ritual is similiar to an initiation ritual, where a seeker leaves behind his or her former self in order to be reborn into her or his new self. The idea here is one of transformation in which you leave your old self behind and replace it with the new self.
 
Collect three things that represent your former self. Before dark, gather them together. Go outside somewhere private, and dig a hole in the earth. Put the objects in the hole, and cover them with dirt. Say three times:
 
Let the earth take my former self,
And let my new self awaken with joy,
So be it! Blessed Be!
 
This process acts as a symbolic death of your old self. Say a few personal words as you bury your old self forever. Now take a deep breath, focus on your new self and who you are becoming. Realize you can become whoever you want to be. The choice is yours to make. If you don’t like who you are allow your new self to awaken and live each night and day with passion.

Becoming a High Priest/ess

Becoming a High Priest/ess

Author: Valerie Voigt

Beginnings: I practiced for a while as a solitary for some years before beginning training with a family tradition Witch in 1978. She saw to my initiation in 1981 (as an eclectic, albeit with traditional background: this because I was not marrying into her family) . She told me to found a Coven, which I did, with her to guide me. After she crossed over to the Summerland, I later studied the Feri tradition, and was initiated by Victor and Cora Anderson in the mid ’80’s. Feri as I learned it is a non-degree Tradition, though some teachers use a quasi-degree system to give their students training benchmarks. I was initiated into a Gardnerian Coven in the late 80’s, and was raised to 3rd degree in 2008. I’ve been running Covens and/or training circles and/or open circles almost all the time since 1981. I continue to study. I lead the Gardnerian Coven Blackbirds.

In my Covens, we’ve always made a distinction between the High Priest/ess of the Coven itself (that’s an ongoing role with responsibilities to the group, and to the daughter Covens, and to the larger Pagan community) and the High Priest/ess of any particular ritual (that role is temporary and includes responsibility only for running that ritual) . Most of the time, the High Priest/ess of the Coven also High Priest/esses the rituals too; but we do require everyone, as part of their training, to design and perform both private group rituals and semi-public community Sabbat rituals.

One reason for a lot of the confusion over terminology is that the terms “priest/ess” and “high priest/ess” are used in multiple ways even within the older Traditions. To wit:

In most of the British Traditions (which I will, for the purposes of the present discussion, define as the Gardnerian Tradition and those Traditions with a clear genetic relationship to it, e.g., Alexandrian, Mohsian, Silver Crescent, etc.) every First Degree initiate is ritually announced to be a “Witch and Priest/ess.” Why, and what does this mean, exactly?

The “why” is twofold.

Firstly, it makes it harder for someone to infiltrate a Coven for the Inquisition and then turn around, turn the Coven in, and get away without any suspicion from the Inquisitors (after all, if any other spies have happened to see the initiation, it will be harder for someone to talk their way out of an accusation if the spies say, “I saw this person ordained as clergy in this religion!”) . Granted, by the founding of the Gardnerian tradition as we have it now, the Inquisition was no longer the threat it had formerly been (it does still exist–it’s now called the Office for the Defense of the Faith, and the current Pope used to head it–but it is much reduced in power and fame, and has softened its methods) . The British Witchcraft Act, however, had still not been repealed–and the legal implications and practical dangers of being publicly discovered as a Witch were very real, and not funny.

Secondly, and more importantly these days, as a Priest/ess you are directly responsible for continuing to pursue your own spiritual development, for listening to the Gods (not just praying to them or asking for Their help) , and for taking control of your own life and accepting and dealing with whatever responsibilities the Gods send.

It is in this latter sense that the widespread idea that “Every Witch (or even every Pagan) is a priest/ess” is true. In a way, “priest/ess” is a courtesy title, given to remind the newly initiated Witch of their responsibility–it does not qualify one to lead a group. It does, however, give notice of the responsibility to fulfill whatever obligations may arise (for example, in time of need, the person might have to step up to higher responsibilities in full knowledge of their own weaknesses) . In such cases, when the person shoulders such responsibility honestly and without pretension, the Gods always provide Their help.

As to what it means:

A First Degree initiate should, at least nowadays, be competent to perform their own rituals, on their own behalf–an activity that requires the basic priestly knowledge of how ritual works, including whatever details are required within their Tradition.

Likewise, in some of these same British Traditions, every Second Degree initiate is ritually announced to be a “Witch and High Priest/ess.” Again–why, and what does this mean, exactly?

There is some “courtesy” aspect to the title, as a Second Degree is not expected, routinely, to lead a Coven. Nonetheless, a Second Degree is expected to be able to lead rituals for the Coven. That is, s/he is able to competently fulfill the ritual role (if not necessarily the administrative, counseling, etc. etc. roles) of a Coven leader. If the regular High Clergy of the Coven must be absent for any reason, it falls to the ranking Coveners (who are typically Second Degree) to carry out the ritual duties. In some cases, a Second Degree will actually lead a Coven (normally under the guidance of the High Priest/ess of the parent Coven) –in this case, “High Priest/ess” is no longer a courtesy title!

Even in these British Traditions, however, the word “High Priest/ess, ” used in normal conversation, refers to a permanent Coven leader, who is always Third Degree.

Because, traditionally, Wiccan clergy are unpaid, most of us have full-time jobs that are not connected with religion–we are secretaries, engineers, factory workers, or whatever. Therefore, in most cases we have not had professional clergy training aside from what our own Elders, with the same limitations, were able to teach us. So, typically only the independently wealthy among us have the leisure to pursue a full-time ministry, or the professional training that allows them to do most aspects of the job well. How many independently wealthy Pagans do you know? I thought so.

As a result, our High Clergy usually have to specialize in only one or two of the jobs clergy are expected to do: administration, ritual, counseling, theurgy, thaumaturgy, teaching, herbology, divination, interfaith work, writing, public speaking, outreach, theology, social work–there’s probably a lot more. We simply do not have the time and resources to be good at more than a small subset of these tasks. Few Craft clergy are good at most of these–and almost all those with deep expertise in many of them have very gray hair, because they have had to learn by long years of experience. It’s not that our own teachers were lacking: but often their own talents were different from ours, so most of us have had to supplement our in-Coven training with outside studies. Sometimes we have the good fortune to learn from several different Craft teachers (I have been incredibly lucky in this regard) . Usually we have to supplement our training in other ways, such as by attending sessions at conferences such as PantheaCon, or taking evening classes in a specialty such as counseling.

The point I’m making here is that even talented, very well-trained Traditional High Priest/esses aren’t usually good at all of the tasks we associate with the job.

In less traditional Covens (including most of the eclectic ones I have known) , the title “High Priest/ess” is still usually given to a Coven leader. In those Covens that adhere to a strictly non-hierarchical approach, the term may not be used at all, or sometimes the term will be used only in its ritual sense–that is, ritual responsibilities are rotated amongst all the Coven members, and whoever is in charge of a particular ritual is “High Priest/ess” for the duration of that ritual only.

(This last use of the term “High Priest/ess” is startling to most Traditionalists, who, as Mike Nichols puts it, “would no more rotate the position of High Priestess in their Coven than they would rotate the position of mother in their family.”)

Like many others here, I have run into my share of kids who have read one book, have adopted a Craft name such as “Merlin” or “Ain Soph” (yes, really!) , and are running around calling themselves High Priest/ess. I usually manage to keep a straight face.

Unless there is good reason, I don’t confront them about it–and if I must confront them, I usually do so indirectly. For example, if I am at a gathering and some clearly unqualified self-appointed “High Priest/ess” is gathering a group of naive prospective students around his/herself–prospective students whom, according to my understanding of my Oaths, I must protect insofar as I can–I join the conversation and ask some question. For example, “How do you feel that elemental correspondences are affected by local geography?” or “How do you approach invocatory Work in your Tradition?” I continue the conversation until the pretender has clearly revealed him/herself. I never say, “You don’t have a clue!” because I don’t have to: they show it. And I don’t scold–there’s no need to humiliate anyone. They just need to be given pause to consider the need to learn more.

Most of the time, though, the Gods seem to take care of it. How? Well, if the person is just clueless and seeking ego-strokes, They usually provide the person with some embarrassing experience (such as freezing up in a group ritual, having to consult their one book, and discovering that the answer they need is not in the book) . On the other hand, if underneath the ego-indulgence the person really has the potential, sometimes the Gods simply dump a lot of responsibilities on the person and force them to handle the situation! I myself have seen this happen. In such cases, I encourage more experienced Coven leaders to give careful and discreet help to the chagrined-but-suddenly-serious person who is trying to be responsible. Why? Because there are far too many more Pagan seekers trying to find teachers than there are qualified teachers to teach them–and if the Gods show me someone who is truly and honestly trying to step up to the plate, it is my duty to help if I can.

I normally do not encourage teens to jump into the Craft, because serious pursuit of Craft studies requires so much time and energy: youngsters should be out having fun, discovering their identities, and exploring a lot of different things. So I tell them they should read widely, be careful, and check back as adults if they are still interested. But teenagers are not automatically unqualified to study, or even to lead a Coven: one Craft Elder for whom I have always had great respect first learned the Craft as a teen in the 1940’s, in an all-teen Coven led by a teenaged brother-sister pair. When the teenaged coveners had questions, the High Priest and High Priestess sometimes didn’t know the answers and had to go ask their parents–who were High Priest and High Priestess of a traditional Coven.

Likewise, I suspect that my own two daughters, who both grew up in the Craft, could readily run Covens: one is now 25, and the other is 19. But both, having seen for themselves how much work is involved, have so far declined.

I never sought to be a High Priestess–I had expected to simply be a quiet Pagan who did supportive behind-the-scenes work. And if I had known how much work (both in the sense of magical/spiritual Work and elbow-grease-type work) was involved, I probably would have run screaming–at least until the Gods dragged me back. Because if They want you, you don’t, in the end, have much choice about it!

To have the title of High Priest/ess, all you have to do is call yourself one. To actually be a High Priest/ess, you have to do the work. The title, by itself, isn’t a goal; at best, it’s really just a side effect.

Blessed Be!

The Journey of a Wild Witch

The Journey of a Wild Witch

Author: Eilan

It has been eight years since I first discovered Witchcraft in a spiritual context. Prior to this Magick was very much alive in my life as I was lucky enough to have been born into a family that understands the spiritual dimension of life. My family also had the insight and experience to see and live this dimension in their everyday. In truth there is no difference between what is conceived to be ‘spiritual’ and that which is apparent and ‘mundane’. It is all one. This is my truth and my wild way.

I am an initiated Witch and Priest of the WildWood Tradition of Witchcraft. This means a great deal to me, as I am also a ‘co-founder’ of the original Mother Coven, based in Brisbane and initiated at Samhain (April 30th) 2006. Our ‘tradition’ and way of living the Craft is deeply interwoven with what many people call ‘shamanism’; derived from the Siberian Tungus word for their medicine people – saman. Mircea Eliade, the late Romanian historian, described shamanism as a “technique of ecstasy” and my coven has come to define Witchcraft as an “ecstasy-driven, Earth-based, mystery tradition”.

Our (and all Witches’) rituals and methods of practice allow us to transcend the illusion of separation and therefore to dissolve the ego and actualize the freedom that lives in the heart of all things. I often call and relate to this ‘All’ as the Great Mystery. The beauty of being a Wild Witch is that nothing is absolute and I have come to realize that all of Life is a holy continuum, which constantly seeks to express itself through diversity. Through expression comes manifestation, which allows us to experience Beauty through Perfection (the world in which we live) and then once more we come to the Wholeness of Unity and the cycle repeats itself.

We are born into a plural world of many and pass into the One only to yearn to divide ourselves once more to grow, deepen and enrich our understandings and experiences of that subtle/overt thing – the Great Mystery.

My coven’s tradition has developed and evolved around this wild-trance-dance-of-wonder. The only consistency between our covens is that we honor and acknowledge our heartland the WildWood, keep holy our covenant with the Sacred Four (the Weaver, the Green Man, the Crescent-Crowned Goddess and the Stag-Horned God) and that we remain open and receptive to personal/group gnosis and to Awen (the divine flow of inspiration) . Other than this there are some structural similarities regarding dedication and priesthood and inner and outer courts.

Essentially however we are wild Witches who fly in the face of authority and seek the wilderness underlying the apparent ‘civilization’ of things. Nothing can be tamed, for the wild is free and the free is divine! As we say in the WildWood – “we have actualized our radness!”

What do Wild Witches do? First and foremost – we live! We breathe, we sleep, we eat, we drink, we sing, we dance, we make love, we scream and we spend time sharing presence and being with our loved ones. ‘Being’ is an important principle to consider. To be is quite simple but so many people find themselves distracted by the “this and that” that they leave ‘being’ behind and pursue illusion instead.

This isn’t the same concept found in various Christian philosophies which espouses a “Satan’s fault!” message when sheep stray from the flock so to speak. Witches understand self-responsibility and are aware of action, reaction and consequence (the Threefold Law) . Why not exist in euphoric awareness of self as Self – the animate Cosmos? You are not only a cell within a larger body of universal wholeness; you are whole and thus a perfect embodiment, expression and reflection of the Great Mystery whose cause, undercurrent and outcome is Life.

When we free ourselves from the illusion of past, present and future and surrender to the Flow of the Continuum (the spirals, the wayward ins and outs, the labyrinthine, serpentine undulations of fate becoming) we make real for ourselves the state of being known commonly as “here and now”. This seems to constitute location and time, however it simply addresses the emphasis of indwelling consciousness regardless of where you are and what frame of time constrains it.

There are moments in my life, which I refer to as ‘Nostalgic Rites’. They are pure, simple, soothing, knowing moments that are like the punctuation points in a flow of sentences. They are the markers and the thresholds that appear along our paths when it is time to pause, reflect and feel. I have them often enough in my life to understand their imminent message of timelessness, peace and overwhelming Love! For what I have learnt above all else thus far is that dwelling within the chaos in the cosmos is the peace which neither subsumes or overrides it, but embraces it and lets it be. Chaos is what happens naturally when the undifferentiated potential becomes “this and that” and peace is the understanding that this is the way of Life. All of this is wild; we dwell in a far-reaching, limitless wilderness.

In a recent priestess training session with two beautiful women from my coven I asked both of them to divulge their feelings and reflections of the journey toward their priestesshood, as they are nearing to the ‘end’ of the beginning – Initiation. One of the women honestly came out and said to us that she feared for us (the other priestess-in-training and I) because we are on the top of the mountain, but because we are risk-takers it is inevitable that we will fall.

I had to stop and wonder in that moment why anyone would not want to fall. In fact I also wondered whether it had occurred to her that surrounding the mountain were vast forests, plains, rivers, deserts, tundra, bushland, seas, oceans and lakes; not to mention all of the beings who inhabit these places.

For me the mountain is not the point. It is part of the whole Great Mystery, but the journey does not lead to a single place; in fact the journey doesn’t really lead anywhere. There is no aim to my wandering, to my blissful dance through the wilderness – I simply embrace every experience because it is worthy of it and I laugh, smile, cry, choke, rage, relax, love, ***, change, grow, and a million other things that I couldn’t possibly articulate or fathom for the purposes of this article.

The other woman, who knows me very well, and is one of my closest friends, then turned to me smiling and said, “You are so glib!” She then went on to explain that it was the “natural, offhand ease and articulate fluency and flow” of how I expressed my truth that made me glib in her opinion.

It wasn’t a criticism on her part, merely an observation. I think it is actually quite accurate. I have such ease and flow in my expression because I don’t have to think too hard about who I am or how I feel because I am and I feel in the “here and the now”. I live and I am, and in my experience Life itself is glib.

To my fellow journeyers of the wild way who know in their hearts that they are heading nowhere, anywhere and everywhere – may you dance the Wander with all you are. My deepest well of love to you all!

The Wanderer

The sages say that samsara is to wander, to pass through,
I say samsara is to know the way and dance it.
To dance is to live, and to live is never “to pass through”;
Dance doll – dance and light up the stage…

Then they came with their wrought-iron weapons
And they pierced my soul, and looked for the mark.
I sang to them to soothe their battered spirits.
They sunk their swords in harder, my heart is in shreds.

The blood ran dry and the old seas heaved
And there in the darkest hour all was forgotten,
And tattered clothes were left in tatters,
And the ashes were left in mounds at the pyres.

Is it a fact that when we are lost we wander?
Is it true that when we are in love we dance?
Or do we dance when we are lost?
And do we wander when in love?

Samsara, O holy wheel of Life,
Keep turning, I want to stay.
I don’t want nirvana in clouds far away
For I feel it already…here.

The Wanderer – the Fool?
I don’t mind, I don’t mind being;
For all the pain and suffering and the attachment to desire
There is a keenness that is not worth losing.

I want to live,
I want to wander if that’s what it takes,
But through all this I will dance
And I will dance because I love.

– Gede Parma

THE TEMPLE LAWS

THE TEMPLE LAWS
          
* In order of precedence, you are accountable to: The Gods, your Self, your High Priestess, your Teacher. Initiates are also accountable to the Craft as a whole.
          
* “Pagan Standard Time” gives you 15 minutes leeway for an announced class or ritual.  If you’ll be any later or won’t make it, CALL!
          
* Questions are expected, desired, and anticipated.. The only “dumb question” is the one the student doesn’t ask.
          
* Common courtesy in all things. When in doubt, it is preferable to err on the side of caution and silence.
          
* Ultimately, you are responsible for your own development. Independent thought and research are strongly encouraged.

                             Comments on The Abbreviated Laws
                                 by J. Random Folksinger
          
The Wiccan Rede, while it has been taught widely, is not a part of the Laws,
although it may be considered derivative of them. There is nothing in the Laws that says that “in case of trouble, the Coven will be disbanded”. There are, in fact, quite a few possible solutions to specific instances, not just for
“trouble”.
             
There is nothing in the Laws about unaffordability equaling inappropriateness in the purchase of a magickal tool.  What the heck are “L.T. Initiates”? Long Term? Why is it OK for them to form a Coven when it is plain that you have to be of the Third Degree?

The traditional way to hear complaints, at least in my set of the Old Laws, is
for the High Priest or High Priestess to convene the Elders.  It says nothing
about whether the HP or HPs are included in this group, but it is assumed that BOTH, not just the HPs, are so included.  There is also nothing in the Old Laws about a “time of waiting” for a decision.
             
In the Old Laws, the only thing the year-and-a-day rule pertains to is the
leaving of a High Priestess.
          
Everything in the “Temple Laws” falls in the good-to-very-good category of
advice; NONE of it is in the Old Laws. And I have known a good many pagans to take PST to mean anytime during the calendar DAY. There are a number of teachers in my experience to whom you NEVER ask a question, at penalty of being kicked out of the class; still, a teacher who can accept this rule is probably a good teacher.
          
In general, this sheet appears to be a worksheet handed to new students and gone over with them for a quick rundown of the Craft in order to go on to other things; in my opinion, giving them this sheet and NOT reviewing the entire set of the Old Laws (in whatever form) is doing the students a disservice; having this sheet around for later reference, on the other hand, is probably a Good Thing.