WOTC Extra – Maintaining Cohesion in a Solitary Practice


Gothic Comments

Maintaining Cohesion in a Solitary Practice

 

It can be very lonely working as a solitary Wiccan, no matter what your reasons for the solitary path may be. At times it can seem that there are more obstacles, more frustrations, more opportunities for self-doubt. It’s all too easy to let your practice become lax and unfocused, because there’s no one else to monitor your progress and encourage you when you need it.

Giving yourself smaller daily rituals to engage in—no matter how short and simple they are—keeps you in touch with the gods and your spirituality on a more regular basis. If you touch the Divine on a daily basis, it’s much easier to touch the Divine on the big occasions. The human mind can be remarkably apathetic when it comes to actually stirring ourselves to do something requiring energy and input. Doing a sabbat every six weeks can be a really huge undertaking if you haven’t trained yourself with baby steps in between.

Wicca should never be something you take time out of your regular life to practice. The point of a spiritual path such as Wicca is to incorporate your spiritual practice into your daily life without fuss and drama. Your spirituality should inform your thoughts, opinions, and action in daily life as well as in ritual. Practicing Wicca every moment of the day should make your life more harmonious, not more complicated.

So often a solitary Wiccan becomes more of a philosopher than an active participant in the dance of life. It can be very easy to think about Wicca, and to slowly cease your actual ritual practice. While thinking and reflecting upon your spiritual evolution is essential to further development, maintaining your regular daily practice is paramount. Your ritual practice is your interface with the world beyond.

Solitary Wicca For Life: Complete Guide to Mastering the Craft on Your Own

Arin Murphy-Hiscock

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WOTC Extra – Maintaining Cohesion in a Solitary Practice

Maintaining Cohesion in a Solitary Practice

 

It can be very lonely working as a solitary Wiccan, no matter what your reasons for the solitary path may be. At times it can seem that there are more obstacles, more frustrations, more opportunities for self-doubt. It’s all too easy to let your practice become lax and unfocused, because there’s no one else to monitor your progress and encourage you when you need it.

Giving yourself smaller daily rituals to engage in – no matter how short and simple they are—keeps you in touch with the gods and your spirituality on a more regular basis. If you touch the Divine on a daily basis, it’s much easier to touch the Divine on the big occasions. The human mind can be remarkably apathetic when it comes to actually stirring ourselves to do something requiring energy and input. Doing a sabbat every six weeks can be a really huge undertaking if you haven’t trained yourself with baby steps in between.

Wicca should never be something you take time out of your regular life to practice. The point of a spiritual path such as Wicca is to incorporate your spiritual practice into your daily life without fuss and drama. Your spirituality should inform your thoughts, opinions, and action in daily life as well as in ritual. Practicing Wicca every moment of the day should make your life more harmonious, not more complicated.

So often a solitary Wiccan becomes more of a philosopher than an active participant in the dance of life. It can be very easy to think about Wicca, and to slowly cease your actual ritual practice. While thinking and reflecting upon your spiritual evolution is essential to further development, maintaining your regular daily practice is paramount. Your ritual practice is your interface with the world beyond.

 

 

Solitary Wicca For Life: Complete Guide to Mastering the Craft on Your Own

Arin Murphy-Hiscock

 

Let’s Talk Witch – Getting Started On Your Spiritual Education Path

 Let’s Talk Witch – Getting Started On Your Spiritual Education Path

Any spiritual practice requires research and study. Witchcraft is no different than any other path. Here is some basic info, words of caution, and suggestions for reading and starting your research.

How Can I Learn More? If you are one of the many people looking for information on how to become a witch, there are a few things you should ask yourself first.

1. What is your reason for wanting to be a Witch? If your reason is simply so you can cast a spell, it’s the wrong reason and you might find more information if you look for Spellcraft, than Witchcraft. If your reasons are truly from an interest in the faith or you feel drawn to the Craft as a religion, then you maybe on the right path. But you should learn more and make an informed decision.

2. Are you willing to live by the spiritual laws as a way of life? If you are, or if you’re not sure, do a lot of research on your own and find out as much as you can about the path you’ve chosen.

3. How Do I Get Started? Read, learn and read a lot more. Do your own research, and not just from magikal books or reference manuals. Through studying history, other religions and how they all inter-relate and interact. I have a favorite saying for this type of education: “Books can give you knowledge. But only your own personal experiences give you wisdom to decide your own path.”

Words of Warning.

Don’t take one persons word or teachings as the only truth or as the only way on this or any spiritual path. No one person has all the answers for you. Only you know what rings true within your own heart and soul.

When it comes time for you to chose a mentor, be very cautious. There are a lot of novice people claiming to be a High Priest or Priestess. The best advice I could give is find someone who can prove they have practiced the path for several years (my standard is 10 years or more).

Don’t just take their word for it. Find someone who is willing to answer your questions without charging you money.

Taking a class and paying for an instructors time is NOT the same thing as finding a “spiritual teacher”. (Classes are wonderful for making new friends and learning in a group.)

What you should really be looking for is a mentor or guide, not a person who thinks they have the right to tell you what to do or believe.

Lastly, always question!

Question everything you are told and everything you read.

Research other material to validate what you are being told or what you read in a book.

Make sure that a book is supported by other books and by history itself.

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Trancework and Journeying

Trancework and Journeying

Author:   RuneWolf   

I came to Paganism directly through the practice of “core shamanism, ” so trancework was a foundation stone of my spiritual practice even before I consciously thought of myself as Pagan, and it remains so to this day. It is the third leg of the cauldron, so to speak, in my communication with the Gods, especially my Patron, the other two being prayer and meditation. I personally see these three practices as separate and distinct, although they are quite similar in many respects and overlap considerably in my practice.

Meditation, to me, is just plain ol’ Eastern-style void-stillness meditation, and I use it to give myself a break when the chatter of Talking Self gets to be too much. I use it to wind down the “rat wheel, ” to reestablish my spiritual equilibrium and to center and ground out the toxic energies we so often encounter—and accumulate—in the workaday world. I have been known to “slide sideways” from meditation into a spontaneous journey, but I do consider meditation a discipline, much like regular exercise, and when I set aside time to meditate, I try to stay focused on just that practice.

Prayer, for me, is nothing more or less than talking directly to the Gods. I have regular times – morning and evening, for instance—when I pray, but I don’t limit my contact with Deity just to those times. Depending on what’s happening in my life, I may be in prayer pretty much all day long, and I talk to the Gods “just as if” They were right there in the room—or the car!—with me, because in my understanding of reality, They are. Sometimes They answer, sometimes They don’t, but They are always there, and They always hear.

Journeying is what I do when I want to meet the Gods “face to face, ” in Their own Realm, and the majority of my journeys have been very vivid and very powerful. I have always been a very visually-oriented individual, and I conceptualize in pictures. So the imagery of journeying comes very naturally and powerfully to me, and it’s only a small step from there to incorporate sound and texture. The subjective realities of my journeys are so immediate, that I react physically to my surroundings—I’m told by observers that I “twitch” during journeys, as my physical body attempts to mimic the responses and movements of my Otherworld form.

Initially, I was concerned that small details—and sometimes large ones!—appeared to be inconsistent between one journey and the next, or even during the same journey. My Patron advised me that this was a matter of experience. Our minds, conditioned to this reality, have to adapt to the sensory input of the Otherworlds, and apparent inconsistencies in the appearance, texture, smell or whatever of Otherworld localities and entities is due to this process of adaptation. Over time, with practice and repetitive journeys to the same destination(s), our perceptions grow more acute, more vivid and more stable—if such a word can apply to the Otherworlds.

The other side of the trancework coin is “invoking for possession, ” or “channeling” Deity. I don’t normally trance in this manner, as the sensation of Someone co-habiting my body is unsettling to me. It can also be a dangerous practice, I’m told, although I have never had any unpleasant consequences myself, aside from the aforementioned discomfort. Indeed, on the three occasions I have invoked for possession, the sensations have been nothing short of ecstatic and transcendental. Perhaps the danger lies in that; I might easily get hooked on the “buzz” of channeling!

In all seriousness, invoking for possession is something to be attempted only with a foundation of experience in other forms of trancing, and with expert and caring guidance and companionship in this realm.

To prepare for trancework, I normally create some form of sacred space, usually a simple circle, invoking the Spirits of place and my other Allies to watch over my physical form while I am away. This is my “launching pad, ” and ensures that I have a safe point of departure and return, and also serves as a “homing beacon” when I’m journeying deep into the Otherworld.

I usually take a few minutes to stretch and massage out any kinks or stiffness that I may have physically. I also take time to consciously set aside any intellectual or emotional issues that may not have to do with the purpose of the upcoming journey, but which may create unwanted “static.”

After a few years of experience, I have found that simple breathing techniques, coupled with the appropriate visualizations, are enough to induce the trance and begin the journey. I have always used the cave/passage or well/pool theme as my entrance into the Otherworlds—lately I favor the well, as Brighid is becoming an increasingly important part of my life. For deep journeys, or when I’m having trouble “launching, ” I use a simple single-beat drumming CD. I prefer the CD as it doesn’t have the hiss that a tape does. Live drumming would be great, but I don’t usually have access to a drummer.

Of course, it always helps to take the phone off the hook, put up the “Do Not Disturb” sign, and so forth; the fewer distractions the better. And I try not to journey on a full stomach—I tend to slip from “journey” to “dream, ” and while that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I might not get done what I wanted to do!

On returning, I take time to jot down a few notes, capturing the “high points, ” as it were, of the journey. I do this even if the impressions seem vivid and lasting, as things will sometimes become jumbled or fade in the most unexpected ways. After that, I often find a bit more stretching to be in order. As I have said, I respond physically to my journeys, and I have come back stiff and sore from particularly lively trips. I do a pretty typical grounding and centering before I release the sacred space, and then I make it a habit to have a light snack. I don’t usually eat heavily for at least half-an-hour to an hour after a journey, as I have found the effects unpleasant on one or two occasions.

One thing I practiced early on was “bailing out”—hitting the astral Panic Button and returning to normal consciousness at a moment’s notice. I practiced this to get used to the sensations—often unpleasant—of this kind of emergency exit, in the event I had to do so unexpectedly during a journey. I’ve never had to, but if I do, I believe I will be better able to handle the situation, having practiced on my own. Sort of like fire drills in school. One caution—I did my “fire drills” on my own; I would not recommend this! If possible, do these with a partner or teacher.

Journeying is, for me, a mystical, ecstatic practice. We often associate “ecstatic” with extravagant physical movements, but the physical stillness of a journey trance can mask incredibly powerful sensations. And I sometimes journey simply to experience that ecstasy, to replenish my internal reserves in a most emphatic way. I also use it to commune, in a very intimate and personal fashion, with Deity. I am not one of those who can “see” Deities and other Beings of Power in this realm. I can only do that when I journey to the Otherworld. So it is an affirmation, if you will, of the reality of Deity, and of the profundity of my relationship with Spirit. I can meet with the Gods in Their Realms, face to face, to question and learn, and sometimes just to socialize. It has been my experience that the Gods crave an intimate relationship with Their children, of a kind that cannot be experienced through the filter of dogma and liturgy, however “spontaneous” and “unstructured.” Just as Mom prefers a visit to a phone call, the Gods prefer to meet us “in the flesh, ” no matter how fervent our prayers or how reverent our ritual.

On those occasions when I have journeyed for the specific purpose of healing others, I can only say that it apparently did no harm to the subject of the healing. Was it “successful?” Did it “work?” That is difficult to quantify. Everyone I helped in such a fashion had been exploring every possible avenue for healing—if they hadn’t been, I wouldn’t have agreed to help. When we need healing, for whatever reason, I believe we must use every possible resource. To rely on one technique or body of knowledge to the exclusion of others is to limit the ways in which the Gods may help us. So I can’t say that my journeying alone, or the acupuncture alone, or the prayer alone, or the vitamins alone, or the chemicals alone, were what ultimately helped one person or another. I tend to think that everything positive we do for ourselves helps in some way. So I feel that, in journeying for those in need, I did indeed contribute to their wellness.

In Their Service…

RuneWolf

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Trancework and Journeying

Trancework and Journeying

Author:   RuneWolf   

I came to Paganism directly through the practice of “core shamanism, ” so trancework was a foundation stone of my spiritual practice even before I consciously thought of myself as Pagan, and it remains so to this day. It is the third leg of the cauldron, so to speak, in my communication with the Gods, especially my Patron, the other two being prayer and meditation. I personally see these three practices as separate and distinct, although they are quite similar in many respects and overlap considerably in my practice.

Meditation, to me, is just plain ol’ Eastern-style void-stillness meditation, and I use it to give myself a break when the chatter of Talking Self gets to be too much. I use it to wind down the “rat wheel, ” to reestablish my spiritual equilibrium and to center and ground out the toxic energies we so often encounter—and accumulate—in the workaday world. I have been known to “slide sideways” from meditation into a spontaneous journey, but I do consider meditation a discipline, much like regular exercise, and when I set aside time to meditate, I try to stay focused on just that practice.

Prayer, for me, is nothing more or less than talking directly to the Gods. I have regular times – morning and evening, for instance—when I pray, but I don’t limit my contact with Deity just to those times. Depending on what’s happening in my life, I may be in prayer pretty much all day long, and I talk to the Gods “just as if” They were right there in the room—or the car!—with me, because in my understanding of reality, They are. Sometimes They answer, sometimes They don’t, but They are always there, and They always hear.

Journeying is what I do when I want to meet the Gods “face to face, ” in Their own Realm, and the majority of my journeys have been very vivid and very powerful. I have always been a very visually-oriented individual, and I conceptualize in pictures. So the imagery of journeying comes very naturally and powerfully to me, and it’s only a small step from there to incorporate sound and texture. The subjective realities of my journeys are so immediate, that I react physically to my surroundings—I’m told by observers that I “twitch” during journeys, as my physical body attempts to mimic the responses and movements of my Otherworld form.

Initially, I was concerned that small details—and sometimes large ones!—appeared to be inconsistent between one journey and the next, or even during the same journey. My Patron advised me that this was a matter of experience. Our minds, conditioned to this reality, have to adapt to the sensory input of the Otherworlds, and apparent inconsistencies in the appearance, texture, smell or whatever of Otherworld localities and entities is due to this process of adaptation. Over time, with practice and repetitive journeys to the same destination(s), our perceptions grow more acute, more vivid and more stable—if such a word can apply to the Otherworlds.

The other side of the trancework coin is “invoking for possession, ” or “channeling” Deity. I don’t normally trance in this manner, as the sensation of Someone co-habiting my body is unsettling to me. It can also be a dangerous practice, I’m told, although I have never had any unpleasant consequences myself, aside from the aforementioned discomfort. Indeed, on the three occasions I have invoked for possession, the sensations have been nothing short of ecstatic and transcendental. Perhaps the danger lies in that; I might easily get hooked on the “buzz” of channeling!

In all seriousness, invoking for possession is something to be attempted only with a foundation of experience in other forms of trancing, and with expert and caring guidance and companionship in this realm.

To prepare for trancework, I normally create some form of sacred space, usually a simple circle, invoking the Spirits of place and my other Allies to watch over my physical form while I am away. This is my “launching pad, ” and ensures that I have a safe point of departure and return, and also serves as a “homing beacon” when I’m journeying deep into the Otherworld.

I usually take a few minutes to stretch and massage out any kinks or stiffness that I may have physically. I also take time to consciously set aside any intellectual or emotional issues that may not have to do with the purpose of the upcoming journey, but which may create unwanted “static.”

After a few years of experience, I have found that simple breathing techniques, coupled with the appropriate visualizations, are enough to induce the trance and begin the journey. I have always used the cave/passage or well/pool theme as my entrance into the Otherworlds—lately I favor the well, as Brighid is becoming an increasingly important part of my life. For deep journeys, or when I’m having trouble “launching, ” I use a simple single-beat drumming CD. I prefer the CD as it doesn’t have the hiss that a tape does. Live drumming would be great, but I don’t usually have access to a drummer.

Of course, it always helps to take the phone off the hook, put up the “Do Not Disturb” sign, and so forth; the fewer distractions the better. And I try not to journey on a full stomach—I tend to slip from “journey” to “dream, ” and while that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I might not get done what I wanted to do!

On returning, I take time to jot down a few notes, capturing the “high points, ” as it were, of the journey. I do this even if the impressions seem vivid and lasting, as things will sometimes become jumbled or fade in the most unexpected ways. After that, I often find a bit more stretching to be in order. As I have said, I respond physically to my journeys, and I have come back stiff and sore from particularly lively trips. I do a pretty typical grounding and centering before I release the sacred space, and then I make it a habit to have a light snack. I don’t usually eat heavily for at least half-an-hour to an hour after a journey, as I have found the effects unpleasant on one or two occasions.

One thing I practiced early on was “bailing out”—hitting the astral Panic Button and returning to normal consciousness at a moment’s notice. I practiced this to get used to the sensations—often unpleasant—of this kind of emergency exit, in the event I had to do so unexpectedly during a journey. I’ve never had to, but if I do, I believe I will be better able to handle the situation, having practiced on my own. Sort of like fire drills in school. One caution—I did my “fire drills” on my own; I would not recommend this! If possible, do these with a partner or teacher.

Journeying is, for me, a mystical, ecstatic practice. We often associate “ecstatic” with extravagant physical movements, but the physical stillness of a journey trance can mask incredibly powerful sensations. And I sometimes journey simply to experience that ecstasy, to replenish my internal reserves in a most emphatic way. I also use it to commune, in a very intimate and personal fashion, with Deity. I am not one of those who can “see” Deities and other Beings of Power in this realm. I can only do that when I journey to the Otherworld. So it is an affirmation, if you will, of the reality of Deity, and of the profundity of my relationship with Spirit. I can meet with the Gods in Their Realms, face to face, to question and learn, and sometimes just to socialize. It has been my experience that the Gods crave an intimate relationship with Their children, of a kind that cannot be experienced through the filter of dogma and liturgy, however “spontaneous” and “unstructured.” Just as Mom prefers a visit to a phone call, the Gods prefer to meet us “in the flesh, ” no matter how fervent our prayers or how reverent our ritual.

On those occasions when I have journeyed for the specific purpose of healing others, I can only say that it apparently did no harm to the subject of the healing. Was it “successful?” Did it “work?” That is difficult to quantify. Everyone I helped in such a fashion had been exploring every possible avenue for healing—if they hadn’t been, I wouldn’t have agreed to help. When we need healing, for whatever reason, I believe we must use every possible resource. To rely on one technique or body of knowledge to the exclusion of others is to limit the ways in which the Gods may help us. So I can’t say that my journeying alone, or the acupuncture alone, or the prayer alone, or the vitamins alone, or the chemicals alone, were what ultimately helped one person or another. I tend to think that everything positive we do for ourselves helps in some way. So I feel that, in journeying for those in need, I did indeed contribute to their wellness.

In Their Service…

RuneWolf

The Daily OM for Oct. 21st – Sustenance for the Soul

Sustenance for the Soul

Taking time for yourself

by Madisyn Taylor

Making time for the activities that contribute to your spiritual growth has little to do with being selfish.

Modern life compels us to rush. Because we feel pressured to make the most of our time each day, the activities that sustain us, rejuvenate us, and help us evolve are often the first to be sacrificed when we are in a hurry or faced with a new obligation. It is importa

nt we remember that there is more to life than achieving success, making money, and even caring for others. Your spiritual needs should occupy an important spot on your list of priorities. Each task you undertake and each relationship you nurture draws from the wellspring of your spiritual vitality. Taking the time to engage in spiritually fulfilling activities replenishes that well and readies you to face another day. Making time for the activities that contribute to your spiritual growth has little to do with being selfish and everything to do with your well-being. Regularly taking the time to focus on your soul’s needs ensures that you are able to nurture yourself, spend time with your thoughts, experience tranquility, and expand your spiritual boundaries.

It is easy to avoid using our free moments for spiritual enrichment. There is always something seemingly more pressing that needs to be done. Many people feel guilty when they use their free time to engage in pursuits where they are focusing on themselves because they feel as if they are neglecting their family or their work. To make time for yourself, it may be necessary to say no to people’s requests or refuse to take on extra responsibilities. Scheduling fifteen or thirty minutes of time each day for your spiritual needs can make you feel tranquil, give you more energy and allows you to feel more in touch with the universe. Writing in a journal, meditating, studying the words of wise women and men, and engaging in other spiritual practices can help you make the most of this time.

Making time to nurture your spirit may require that you sacrifice other, less vital activities. The more time you commit to soul-nurturing activities, the happier and more relaxed you will become. The time you devote to enriching your spirit will rejuvenate you and help you create a more restful life.

The Daily OM

Daily OM for August 12th – Evolution of the Soul

Evolution of the Soul

Life Lessons through Reincarnation

by Madisyn Taylor

Often we reincarnate on earth with our soul family and often our most intense relationships are with our soul family.

You meet someone for the first time and feel as if you know them already. You’re in a town that you’ve never been to before, yet you recognize streets and buildings. You start playing a new sport and amaze everyone, including yourself, at your natural abilities and intuitive knowing of the rules. We often describe such experiences as déjà vu: the experience or feeling that a new situation has happened to us before. Then again, the possibility does exist that we have actually lived these experiences in the past or, rather, in another lifetime.

Many spiritual practices believe that reincarnation is real: Our souls return to this earth over a series of lifetimes to evolve, learn, grow, transform, and become more spiritually attuned through the course of each life. When we reincarnate, it is believed that we tend to cycle through our different lives with many of the same people. Often these traveling “soul companions are the ones we enter into relationships with; we work through our unresolved issues together so that we may heal. When we struggle or keep encountering blocks that keep us from reaching our goals, there may be a specific lesson that we are supposed to learn in this lifetime. Being naturally blessed with a musical talent or another gift can be a special ability that you worked hard to develop in a past life. You may even have lived before as another gender or as part of a different social or economic class. Each lifetime brings with it specific lessons that are necessary for our spiritual evolution.

Past life recall can give us valuable insights into our past, present, and future lives. The knowledge of how we lived before can help us overcome present obstacles, understand phobias, and resolve relationship issues. There are workshops you can take to learn about past lives, and past life regression therapists can guide you on your journey backward in time. You can learn to visit your past lives through your dreams, meditation, and trance work. It is even possible to see full scenes of a former lifetime flash before you in your mind’s eye as if you were watching a movie. While looking back at your past lives can be exciting and enlightening, it is important to remember that the answers you are seeking to this life can only truly be found by living this one. Look to your past to see where you’ve been, but remember that the life that matters most is the one that you are living now.

Daily OM

Let Me Breathe: A Simple Abundance Meditation

Let Me Breathe: A Simple Abundance Meditation

It’s okay that you feel afraid, wild one, but it is not serving you. Pause  for a moment to release it now, and then return to this meditation any time you  feel the shadows begin to creep back in. Take a long, deep breath into your body  and then release it. Wonderful, do that again… breathe in even more slowly and  more deeply, holding it in for a moment and the release that breath from every  corner of your being, and hold that emptiness for a moment as well. Good. Now,  read along as you continue to breathe these same deep, cleansing breaths.

Let me breathe in the transformative love that flows with ease through  the universe, and breathe out the fear that aches in my chest. Let me breathe in  the healing light of the thousand angels who are holding me in this moment… and  breathe out the dark whispers that echo in my mind. Let me breathe in the warmth  of my spirit community and breathe out the lie of isolation. Let me breathe in  the simplicity I long for, and breathe out the hurt and complexities of  yesterday. Let me breathe in my wild and passionate nature, and breathe out  every obstacle to openness. Let me breathe in the truth that I AM, I AM… and  breathe out resistance to love. Let me breathe in divine abundance and then,  breathe out the need to deny the divine within. Let me breathe in the eternal  flow of love and abundance… and then breathe out to  release all that no longer  serves me.

Witchcraft 101: The Beginning Practice Phase (part 2)

Witchcraft 101: The Beginning Practice Phase (part 2)
Author: Wren

Since its inception, the Witches’ Voice, has been barraged with email asking the simple question… “How do I become a Witch”? Although, it has never been the mission of the Witches’ Voice to actually teach Witchcraft we find ourselves constantly shocked at the aweful responses the Teenage Witch or new seeker receives from many that “claim” themselves “elders” of the craft. For this we apologize. We will never preach or claim to “have the answer”.There are indeed many paths and many ways, it is our goal to give you the tools to  and what to look out for.

Part 2…

The Beginning Practice Phase…

Greetings and Welcome Back to Witchcraft 101! Before you begin this next section, perhaps it will be helpful to do a little summation. If you have been working through the “Interest Phase” and the “Exploratory Phase”, you will probably now be familiar with the following concepts and have some rudimentary knowledge in…

The basic history of Witchcraft and its cultural origins.

Some of the different Traditions and Ways that Witchcraft is practiced today.

The basic ethical guidelines, such as the Rede or Law of Three.

A basic overview of karma and reincarnation (or transmigration).

An understanding on how Magick works.

Deity Names and Aspects.

The Elements and correspondences.

Basic Tools of the Craft and their use in ritual work.

Some divination, visualization and meditation techniques.

Folklore and Mythology.

Great! This is the foundation from which your continuing studies will build and grow. Along the Way, you will stop often to ponder about new materials and visions. Remember to go slowly and to reflect much on what these concepts personally may mean to you. Again, it is very important to allow these new ideas to become integrated into your spirit. This is the only way that they can become “real’ to you. They become a part of who you are and how you think and feel. One of the ways to help this process along is through “practice.”

THE BEGINNING PRACTICE PHASE:

Chances are pretty good that you have already “dabbled’ a bit with some of the techniques of ritual work. Even if you have only begun this in your mind, you are beginning to feel the stirrings of a desire to actually DO the workings that up until this point you have only been reading or hearing about. Where do you “begin”? Do you dig through your books and find a ritual that appeals to you? Do you have a specific need in your life right now? What have you put into your Journal or Book of Shadows that you have underlined as important or particularly relevant? What do YOU feel?

You will notice a lot of emphasis on “feelings” throughout these articles. What do “feelings” have to do with all of this? Well, Carl Jung said it much better than I ever could:

“Feeling informs you through its feeling-tones of the values of things. Feeling tells you for instance whether a thing is acceptable or agreeable or not. It tells you what a thing is WORTH to you….It is, like thinking, a rational function.”

BEGIN AT THE BEGINNING:

Look for SYMBOLISM-The subconscious mind works through pictures and symbols. This is why the “inner” work that you do is the starting point of all Magick. Look over your magickal tools and objects. Choose one or two at random. Touch them. Hold them in your hands. Close your eyes. What are they “saying” to your inner self? What images do they bring up and what memories do they unlock?

You are using your IMAGINATION-You are not “making things up” when you are using your imagination. At least not in the sense that most of us have been lead to believe. If you have ever been reprimanded for “day dreaming” in class or at the dinner table, you may have to re-learn and “give yourself permission” to unlock this powerful tool again. Allow yourself some “flights of fancy” time each day.

Imagination is the ability to use your mind creatively. The word “creative” is linked with “creation”. In a very real sense you are creating what you imagine. Just as a sculptor has an image of a work in his or her mind and then seeks to unlock the image from the physical materials at hand, so you create magick from the images that surface as a result of your meditations and desires. Have you used your imagination today?

Now put the symbolism and the imagination together. What symbols came into your mind and what did your imagination do with these images? Ask a question and see if the images change around or become more clear. Don’t be surprised where you may end up. Your subconscious mind is a very rich and fertile place. It is the ‘playground’ of your spirit where anything is possible. And if you “wake up” with a start and realize that you have just spent 20 minutes in reverie, you are really getting the hang of it!

The next exercise will be your first step from the mental/spiritual into the physical/spiritual realm. This is where you begin to actually DO THE WORK. You will start slowly and build on each previous step. Do not rush this process. This is very important. Let me explain a bit.

Do you remember as a child a favorite story that you never grew tired of hearing? You knew the entire book by heart. Part of its “magic” for you WAS knowing the entire story by heart. And remember how you would correct the reader of the story if they tried to skip a part or changed the words? The story for you was a ritual. The retelling of it the same way over and over was important to you. Because there were no surprises or changes, you could relax and really get “into” the entire tale in your…gasp!…imagination. (Don’t tell Grandma, but she was actually your first “Witchy” teacher!)

The gestures, tools and workings of your beginning ritual practice should be exactly the same each time that you do them during your Beginning Practice Phase. This repetition trains your subconscious mind to remember what is coming next. The subconscious is like the child who wants to hear that story the same way over and over. The “ritual”-repeated over and over- provides a safe and comforting setting for both your imagination and the symbolic elements to expand and grow. You’ll have plenty of time to “get fancy” later on.

The Practice Phase Do’s and Don’ts…

DO The BASIC RITUAL OUTLINE something like this:

Cleansing the Area.

Preparing the Altar.(nothing too elaborate, just a few of your favorite tools). Lighting the candles.

Casting the circle.

Welcoming the elements.

Welcoming the Deities.

Stating the Purpose of the ritual.

Magickal workings or devotions.

Raising the Energy. Releasing the Energy.

Grounding.

Thanking the Deities.

Thanking the elements.

Closing(or sometimes called opening) the circle.

Eating snacks!

There are many simpler or more elaborate ways to do a ritual. Many Traditions have their own formats as well. But if you know how to do this basic ritual, you will pretty much be comfortable in any open Circle that you may attend.

DO BEGIN! Start at the beginning of the above list. Make notes on each step in your journal as you begin to plan your ritual. How will you cleanse your working area? Salt and water? Besom (broom)? Incense? What will you place on your altar? (Making a list first insures that you will not forget something….”Matches, anyone?”, is the most classical “oops”!).

DO… Take time to sit quietly and center yourself before you begin. Be honest about your feelings. Are you excited…scared….nervous? That is normal. This is important stuff and not to be entered into lightly. O.K.? Now you can begin, but…

DO… Tell the Old Ones that you are “practicing’. Although They already know this (and They are ready to help you), it will be reassuring to YOU to state this in case you end up feeling that you may have “done something wrong”. You haven’t. You are “practicing” and practice involves a certain amount of trial and error. No one ‘upstairs’ is laughing at you.

DO… Perform each step slowly and carefully. Let the symbols speak to your inner self. Take time between each step to feel how the ritual has affected you and changed your surroundings. As you ground, listen for answers…listen for advice…listen to yourself…listen to the phone ringing because you forgot to take it off the hook….

DO… Listen. We ask for things and then we often do not take the time to listen for the answers. Write everything down. Doodle impressions in the margins. These symbols may be important later.

DO… this same basic ritual over and over and over again. Rather than becoming boring, you will probably find that it becomes MORE meaningful each time that you do it. And your inner child’s subconscious mind will be loving it! (Thanks, Grandma!)

DO…  to repeat the first Phases again. We are all constantly learning and going “back to basics” is always a good idea.

DON’T… worry about what you will say. Say what is in your heart. Use simple language-remember that “child” thing?-and DO remember to take deep breaths in between sentences. You want to ‘alter your consciousness”, not lose it!

DON’T… take any oaths or make lifelong dedications to the Old Ones. You have not made that decision yet. You are still trying to discover if Witchcraft is the right Path for you. This is one of the most important decisions that you will ever make in your life. Give it the respect and consideration that it deserves.

DON’T… be afraid. All those Hollywood movies may have made you a tad nervous about beginning actual ritual practice. Nothing like that will happen to you. You have done each step slowly and with much forethought. It is only when someone tries to go into places for which they are unprepared that the situation can get unpleasant. That is why teachers emphasize the NEED to go slowly. You HAVE taken the time to prepare yourself and done all the steps in order, haven’t you?

DON’T… do the ritual either too often or too little. Formulate a regular schedule-say once a week- and stick to that for a while. If you really desire to do something on a daily basis, a simple candle lighting ritual in the morning or evening will do just fine. Begin to think about Moon phases, Holidays and other times to do ritual Work. Witchcraft is based on the “rhythms’ of Nature and that will be the next step…

 

The Nameless Path

The Nameless Path

Author: Celtic Crystal

I have no name for the Spiritual Path I follow. I started off seeking the Wiccan Path, but I have a tendency to see shortcomings and limitations in following a specific set of rules. I would start reading/ learning/ practicing about a particular Path, and then begin to “see” the pattern- and conclude that following x-path is similar in nature to Y-path with a twist of whatever other path. Then I would mentally chuck the X-Path out and lie still, mentally for a while.

I create my own. Really. Yes I understand the power of ritual, and the stages that the individual’s mind gets into at every step in the ritual process. But I always feel the need to go with the flow, and when I come upon people who begun to speak about how things must be done, I really get turned off.

How can any other being dictate what a spiritual path is for someone else? In knowing myself, I have come to realize that visuals are extremely important for me to connect to the All. As a Painter, I feel most connected to All Things, when I am conceptualizing and executing a painting. As such, I incorporate drawings and pictures in part of my ritual. One of my most effective ways of magicking away a nagging problem is by drawing the object and burning the bugger in a spell.

Is this a disciplined practice? Not yet- but it may become one in future years.

I feel an affinity to blues, purples and yellows and gold. Colour Therapy indicates that these are spiritual colours, wisdom colours and leadership colours. Nothing makes me feel more connected to All Things like swirls of those colours together. And yes I do feel a sense of power in the creation of anything using those colours.

I feel an affinity to my herbs. These are carefully collected, based on whatever I happen to be working on inwardly at the time. I prefer to grow mine from the seedling, and create a psychic bond with them as they grow. This way part of me is in them when I use them. Once I attempted to use moon blood to nourish them, but somehow I got the feeling they didn’t like that.

I create my own gods, my own entities that assist me in my work. I craft them out of energies of air, fire, water and spirit. I also craft them in memory of the dead…. the creativity of Monet, with the tender care of Mother Teresa…. you get the drift. This way, if I don’t find a god or goddess that is applicable; I make up my own.

I once envisioned a spirit being, which lived in one of my plants, and did my bidding, as I needed. But I became guilty about leaving Selena (as I called her) trapped in my basil plant and let her go free. I hope she is happy; I couldn’t stand to feel her trapped in the plant. The plant died though…lessons learnt.

I have toyed with creating my own Tarot cards, which would be more applicable to the challenges that I face, and the goals that I wish to attain. The ideas behind them: the need to keep focus on my goals and to remind my mind to continuously vibrate my desires. This project is still in the conception stage of sketches because my goals keep changing.

The sign of an undisciplined mind? Perhaps. But I would rather be flowing with the waters of change, than boxed in by ritual and process created by others and followed “religiously” by most that none of it becomes part of me.

As such, I am often “The Fool” starting back at “0” and beginning a new path again.
Why am I writing this? Not too sure, definitely not for reassurance that I am doing the right thing. It’s just my point of view that Tradition, while a launching pad for a journey, should only be a base from which you fly. What you add or subtract to give a different flavor is what makes it part of you, from you… you giving back creativity to the All Creative.

Speaking of flavours…I cook too- as part of a spiritual practice. Cooking to me, is my connection to the women in my life who have taught me, who have passed on. I fill my cupboards with spices and powders and dried leaves. I try as much as possible to gather things fresh. I dry my own herbs, and label them in “Witchy” names because it’s more fun! (My dried chili peppers are labeled “Dried Tongue of Fire Dragon!” LOL!)

Cooking is a creative process limited only by my imagination. I whip up a breakfast for breaking barriers, or a lunch for conquering “lack”, my butter being to add richness to my spirit, and the salt to purify my thoughts and body.

Understanding yourself, and the symbols you find in things around you is key to the creative magicking process. You need to read into the things around you: the animals you see, the birds that come near to you. There are messages in the Universe, and there are constant conversations around you if you know how to listen.

I have no desire to choose a label for this thing I practice as a Spiritual Path. Our minds are such that to place a label, will start to exclude the things that it is not. No label leaves it open, free to add or take-away whatever is needed at the moment to affect the spell. ‘No label’ will leave my mind open to interpret things from various magickal angles. If I decide that a ritual involving the roasting of marshmallows will work, I am free to do so — because my mind cannot tell me that the task is not magickal.

Be free in your spirit; be childlike in your spiritual expression. Be blessed…blessed be.