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It started in 1995 when I was researching pre-christian European religions, because I was wondering what in the world my ancestors did before Christianity was “placed” upon them. Anyway, I was finding things like shamanism, druidism, and of course Roman and Greek mythology. [Here comes some history] These things morphed after Christianity and elements of folk magic, herbal healing, and earth magic (among others) grew out of the larger pre-christian religions in the European countryside. During the early rise of Christianity in Europe, pockets of non-christians, who referred to themselves (at least in old English) as the wicce, or the “wise” (those who remembered the old ways of healing, worshiping the old gods and goddesses, etc), were referred to as “pagans” from the word “paganos” which meant “country dwellers” and was used derogatorily. They were the unconverted, the lost, and were often treated to severe abuse and punishment and forced to accept Christianity.
They became demonized in the dark ages, middle ages and others, and associated with the Christian lord of darkness, Satan. Crop failures, deaths, storms, plagues and all kinds of things were blamed on them. The poor country women who worked with herbs and danced to the moon were suspected and often tortured or killed.
Anyway, I could go on, but in the late 1800’s and through the 1900’s, there was a resurgence of interest in the “old ways” and it grew into what we now call Paganism, neo-Paganism and witchcraft (craft of the wise). Some modern practitioners practice reconstructionist versions of old religions such as Roman, Greek, Egyptian, Norse or Druidic. That means they try to recreate as much as they can (and in a modern context) the old religions. Others practice a very modern version of the resurgent witchcraft religions, which can vary greatly from the original country witches, since there isn’t much to go on, but they do what they can. I practice a very eclectic version of modern Wiccan religion, and was trained as a Correlian. My particular variety has grown as I have learned more and reflects my interest in Tolle’s teachings, Buddhist teachings, and some modern writers influences such as Starhawk, C Penzak, M Adler, D Lipp, S Cunningham, and many more.
So that is how I got into being a Witch. I practice a modern interpretation of a resurgent version of a mix of old religions. My rituals may look nothing like what the old country dwellers practiced, and contains influences from many other religions, such as Buddhism (I do Chakra work) and Chinese religions. But it speaks to me, and I like the freedom it provides me. Plus, it will continue to grow with me as I grow. It changes with me. C. h. a. n. g. e .
Energy? …yes Witches do work with energy, but it is the same energy that many other belief systems work with, such as Chi or Prana, or whatever various cultures called it. It is a universal energy recognized by many religions. Witches (and the various religions) just work with it in a different way. We use spells, circle casting, energy raising, chanting, visualization, incense, candles/fire, etc. Christians use similar things, but call theirs prayer.
So what does this look like when working with energy in your body? Very, very briefly, there is the grounding of it, then the calling it up when its needed again. It can be called upon and gathered and sent out as an intention into the universe.
Intention. Will. Energy.
I’ve found the main difference between religion and spirituality. The latter is deeply personal, free (as in freedom) and more self directed. It allows one to determine what is right for her or himself. The former is social, legal, and controlled. It does not allow personal self directed beliefs. The social aspect of religion, is the human desire to share experience. In this case it’s the experience of spirituality. But the laws and controls are the nasty, yet unnecessary side effects. No one or no thing should or could dictate how we experience divinity. Yet it seems that is the role religion does and has played for as long as it has been around.
Religion has gotten a bad rap over the years. But its definition is pretty simple: “a belief in a supernatural controlling power.” That definition does not imply a group controlling your thoughts or a group mentality. It does not refer to a specific religion or belief system. So why is it so maligned over spirituality? Maybe it’s because it represents (in today’s culture) organized, established, mind-controlled, fundamentalist religion. Whereas spirituality refers to organic, flowing, Oprah, sunshine speckled fields of fruity happy white clothed yoga vegan people?
Well, I’m not sure where I fit in that since I am partly atheist, partly Pagan and partly whatever. I hear talk of “God” and think, “WTF, you have no clue!” Then I think, “WTF, neither do I!” So there’s that. But, seriously (if there’s such a thing), NO ONE KNOWS GOD! We’ve made all that up! No single person has seen with their physical body and eyes GOD. We create what we do not know! We imagine what we cannot fathom! We make up what we want to. And we eat way too much candy when it sits in a bag right next to us.
Sooo, the point is, who are we to speak of an all powerful creator-being when we can barely imagine the strange lifeforms under the sea? Or stop eating the candy? Or figure out the complexities of the Universe? Who are we to make god in our image? Which, of course we do. Bottom line? We are imaginative, but it does not equate to knowing a higher being, especially when that being is anthropomorphized. Obviously.
… casts a circle by the light of a full moon, invokes the quarters, and the God and Goddess, honors the ancestors and casts spells?
It is what I do to connect to Spirit. It is what I do to encounter Deity (I and many others). Walking this path is not like anything I have done before. It is self directed. There is no rule book, no dogma, no bible. At times it seems scary, wide-open, anything is possible, as in all possibilities lie before me. I can choose — truly choose — the path I walk on a daily basis. I can enter the darkness or the light and be OK in both.
But with this freedom comes responsibility. It isn’t about the light and the dark — they just are. Both have their purpose and their strength. It is about intention and will.
Magick is all about intention and will. They are a powerful combination, far more than many people give credit. Whether used wisely and for positive purposes, or carelessly and for negative purposes, it works. It molds our reality and shapes our fates. It creates reality into being. It is the power of consciousness. Intention and will are the outward manifestations of the state of our soul. They also feedback into the soul, in effect, “feeding” it. It is that link that make them so potent.
To you it may be “prayer” or the “power of positive thinking” or “law of attraction”. It intertwines with the spinning of fates, the fabric of form. It is the motive force of consciousness; our true selves interacting with the Universe.
We all — every one of us — encounter this in a different way. Some use the various mainstream religions. Some reach out to the more esoteric ones, whereas others reach back for the ancient beliefs. Then there are those who claim to have no belief in anything they can not touch. In many cases, people’s route, the path itself, becomes the end. There is no more for them. They stop on the way, without ever daring to see where the way goes.
Some go further, see farther, dig deeper. Some may see it, some may merely glance at it. It is the Truth that can not be named, that which can not be sought. As a matter of fact, in order to find it you must not seek it. In order to talk about it, it must not be mentioned.
My path is one of the Wise. It is the way I tread this life.
So what do you call that person? A Witch, of course. You do what you do. I do what I do.
Peace and Blessings on both of us.
On my bike ride today around North Hero and Grand Isle VT, I was simply struck by the beauty around me. I felt blessed appreciation. I truly felt it at a deeper than visual level. It was as if I took in the beauty and sent it back into the world as love. That’s what beauty is. It is there (it’s everywhere), but when I (or any person) become conscious of it, it enters reality or becomes reality. It becomes. And my consciousness of it brings it into existence, adding energy to the consciousness that is humanity. Becoming conscious of it transformed it into — a spark of Creation!
Allow me to put it this way: The Universe experienced Beauty through me. Just as it experiences Compassion, Love, and Joy through me. Everything I experience is the Universe experiencing through me.
But the Universe also experiences pain through me. My struggles and misery, my sickness and grief… all of it. And for me to deny it would be to deny the Universe’s moment to experience those feelings through me. To repress and bind such feelings is to keep the natural flow of Universe experiencing through me locked. That’s why it’s so important to let go into the experience, whether it is painful, or pleasurable. Let go fully into it and be in it. That keeps you free and available to all that is.
And when we let go so fully into something like that (and believe me, I am not there yet), we are healthier people overall. And we radiate the energy that so easily flows though us.
As Eckhart Tolle said: We are the Universe becoming aware of Itself.
May I be the channel through which that happens.
Note: The Universe? All That Is, “God”, Spirit, Goddess, Eternity, Ether, Stillness.
I have been given many gifts. I’m an addict (just give me something to be addicted to: alcohol, drugs, sex, sugar, gambling…..), I have struggled with anxiety for 25 years and for the first 5-10 of those had full blown panic disorder. Not fun. Not fun at all. Neurologists, university centers, psychotherapists, pills; I still have this weird and scary symptom of gagging as if my f*cking esophagus is trying to come out of me. Over, and over , and over. That is a huge thing I keep from people. I’ve gone through depression, suicidal thoughts, extreme fear where I was frozen and could not move, for what seemed like no apparent reason. These are my gifts! WTF?!?! Gifts? These are the things in this life that will mold me. The irritating sand in the clam that becomes the pearl.
Somehow I continue, and am consciously choosing a path toward enlightenment. I suppose I could have just as easily chosen a path toward darkness and despair, self destruction, alcohol poisoning, and a slow, agonizing death. But alas, I persevere. And in that, there is the miracle, the jewel that this life sometimes unveils. In my good moments of non-fear (of which there are many), I see it all as the “story” that Eckhard Tolle talks about. But in the midst of the fear, it is more like fear is all there is to life and it will never end. Similar to depression. But even with that, I am getting better. I can be in the fear or anxiety and know that this too shall pass, that the fear is NOT me. I have gotten through it all so far, which to me is proof that I will get through it again. You know that thing that people say that the creator only gives us as much crap as we can handle and no more? Well I guess I can handle a lot of crap!! BTW, I don’t actually believe that a god “gives” us that or tests or hell, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.
My sexuality is such a mess of fear, struggle, ignorance and, well, fear, it’s amazing I have gotten as far as I have. My whole history is full of it. You know what? Living a certain way because you think it will make you one thing or another doesn’t work. I’m still one thing AND another! Oh the humanity! It’s hard enough to choose between blue cheese and balsamic vinaigrette, let alone choosing between a male and a female!
One of my biggest fears is about having a panic attack in front of someone that knows nothing about it. So it is fear of fear, and it feeds upon itself. I know I need to let go of my deepest fears, meaning, allowing myself to HAVE a panic attack in front of everyone! God I just can’t even imagine that yet, even though I know it would lead to freedom in some way or another. It is so reminiscent of my childhood. Growing up in fear in my alcoholic family, if I could have only shared with my small world at the time the fear I had every day; that my dad would disappear for days or weeks without knowing where he was, but knowing he was out drunk somewhere. Not knowing what I was coming home to. It is the same feeling I have now. Having made it this far is proof that I can make it farther. If I have done meds to help me at times, then I have done meds to help me. It is not an admittance of defeat, or that I am not ‘whatever’ enough to just get over it. But maybe you already know all that.
I went on all kinds of meds a few years back (a variety of ssri’s mostly) and will go back on them if I need to. I realize that after a lifetime of training chemical pathways in my brain in a certain way that helped me cope growing up, that I am not just going to be instantly fine some day by willing it. I am SLOWLY reconfiguring those chemical pathways, but not every day, as I still sometimes revert to the old behaviours and fears. I will do meds again if I need to, and am grateful that they are available. I believe that my current conditions are truly a form of my pain body. A pain body that got defined very early in my life. So much so that it physically altered my biochemistry. Also, by dissolving the pain body, I will absolutely gain freedom, but may still have the chemical imbalances in my brain, and maybe it is somehow corrected, but maybe not. I have to remember that this whole thing is a ride, and that I am on it with this physical body that will sometimes work with me and sometimes against me.
I once read this thing that said if you get into the afterlife without any cuts, bruises, or scars (I suppose physical, emotional, and mental), if you don’t use up what you’ve got… what you’ve been given… then you haven’t really lived. I say I’m living. I am truly in line with the Universe… an entity of both creation and destruction.
Right now I’m listening to the entire two CD recording of Jesus Christ Superstar. It’s the best thing to come out of Christianity that I know!! (just kidding and I don’t mean to put down anyone’s beliefs so don’t sue me for defamation!). My favorite line from the musical is “Neither you, Simon, nor the fifty thousand, nor the Romans, nor the Jews, nor Judas, nor the twelve, nor the priests, nor the scribes, nor doomed Jerusalem itself understand what power is, understand what glory is, understand at all.” None of us truly understands what power is.Upon a birth laden deep in agony. Blessed well with life Through underworlds and out Displaced and not Struggled fearful pillar stands Gained not one grain ‘Til thrashed and beaten Thence comes it Life, again, blessed.
As for the Witchcraft thing, yes there is so much to say… SO much. First and foremost, I think a person’s practice of the craft is as varied as the people who practice it. So I can’t speak for any other witches, only myself. You can ask 10 Witches their definition of Witchcraft and you will get 10 different answers. There are many different types of modern Witchcraft too: traditional ones like Alexandrian, Dianic, Hermetic, etc, or newer ones like Eclectic, progressive, or others the names of which escape me at this late hour. Pagans are un-organizable. We do not want to be placed into an organized religion.
Well some do, and some groups fight for “legitimacy”. They want to have church suppers and a building to go to. I’m more toward the un-organized side. I don’t need others recognition to legitimize what is right for me. But I do not begrudge those who seek it. I do prefer the media portray Witches well, but I’m not stuck on that.
My practice is different in different ways. For instance, I’m not really into divination, tarot, scrying or whatever. I lean toward a more Tollian view of acceptance and presence. One who tries to constantly divine the future is not really being present now. But I do work with energy, spells, rituals etc. One of my favorite rituals is when I go out at night and it’s completely dark and I’m just completely open to the night and stars and air. I am completely without the restriction of clothing. I really feel the energy moving through me sometimes and it’s invigorating. I can use that energy, direct it, charge it with intention and send it out.
I don’t use a lot of tools, potions or canned incantations either. I use ritual that speaks to me and works best for me. I use my hands as my tools. That’s not to say I don’t use things every once in a while. I use a wand, athame (knife), candles, incense, earth, air, fire, water. I do weather magick, sea magick and whatever other natural body I’m around that I can draw energy from. I ground, balance, center, protect, shield, cleanse, heal and other spells.
I ceased being a Christian many years ago. I found that it just didn’t speak to me any more. It’s not that I don’t believe in Jesus. As a matter of fact, Eckharts teachings have actually given me a greater appreciation of his (Jesus’) teachings. But I consider myself Pagan. It being, of course, just a label. And religious labels are some of the most dangerous, so take it as you will. It is what I practice. My ritual, the flow of my Spirit. Sometimes I look at the Abrahamic religions and think of all the strife and conflict that have been done under it’s influence. It is mind boggling the amount of suffering that has come into the world through one (real or unreal) man (Abraham).
Here are some links for info about my practice and some other stuff:
My WitchVox profile: http://www.witchvox.com/vn/vn_detail/dt_pa.html?a=usny&id=236414 (I know, weird picture!)
My blog: https://zillionand1.wordpress.com/ (sometimes I vent in it, but it has some stuff)
Something a very cool young Witch wrote that speaks strongly to me (he’s bi and a few years younger than me! Too bad he’s in Australia.):
Ghosts, spirits, apparitions… oh my!
What do you think these are? Are they really disembodied spirits? The souls of those who have died, somehow left behind to roam the earth until freed from such bondage? And what implications does that have for us and our own afterlife?
I have a different view of this. I think that in some ways, whatever it was over human history that has caused people to believe in ghosts, that there is truth to these experiences. However, I don’t believe it is truly the actual soul of a dead person. I think it is the psychic shell of a person who has passed on. What is a psychic shell? It is the layer of all our mental, emotional and spiritual baggage that is shed once we leave this world. It is a form fitting shell, like papier mache over a balloon. When you pop the balloon and remove it, the papier mache is still there, in the same shape and form it was in when it covered the balloon. The thicker the material, the stronger the shell and the more chance it has to stay intact. The less material, the more easily it will dissolve and fade away. That is what the psychic shell is like. Except the psychic shell is energy. It is the remnants of the person’s on-earth personality. It is the remainder of all their hopes, dreams, and fears. All the things that are stripped from us when we die. It is the stuff we do not — and cannot — take with us as we move into the next realm.
But more than that, it is the sum of our intention and will. Were our intentions good while we lived? If so, the remnant energy would be benign and possibly disperse easily and quickly. If malicious, then the energy might not disperse and could be troublesome. The energy does not have consciousness per se. But it does have “memory”. It has a pattern and was formed by repetitive reinforcement. So it “behaves” in a certain way… in a way that is consistent with the person who used to fill the shell. That’s why when we encounter this energy, we may feel a familiar spirit, if we knew the person while they lived. Maybe our old Aunt Mabel. It’s because we are familiar with that part of Aunt Mabel — her energy is what we encountered most, so that is what we recognize and feel first.
That, then, would be her “ghost”. And it is not her soul, that is gone. It can’t be commanded to leave or told that it’s dead, so go to the other-world. No, it is intact energy that, if not dispersed, could hang around for a while. And what doesn’t help is if people feed the energy with their own fear, or anger or constant memories of Aunt Mabel. Such thoughts and emotions can keep the energy as it is. Seances, ghost hunts and other supernatural practices only serve to keep the energetic form going.
Say there is a house where a woman was killed or died a mysterious death. And lets say, the woman was troubled or led a reclusive life (to add wind to the flame!). After her death, people in the town would possibly think of the house as haunted, and through their combined thoughts would provide the intention to bolster the energy of whatever shell the woman left behind. It could have been that no energy was left behind. Or maybe there was, but the people’s thoughts and emotions around the house and the woman would only help to keep the energy intact.
For the most part, such energy is heavy and suffocating. And the person who lived with it was probably dour and unhappy (but maybe not I suppose). If this energy was to be encountered by a living being, especially someone sensitive to such things, the experience of it would be palpable.
So how does one disperse this old energy. First let me say, that when a person dies in true peace, which to me is a final letting go of all the earthly worries, then that person could dissolve much of the psychic shell right then. But people don’t always get the chance (such as in a sudden death, which is why we equate sudden deaths with ghosts), or they are not able to let go before they die, so the energy remains. Ways to dissolve the energy involve thoughts that are counter to those that formed the energy. If the person was truly a miserable, angry, unpleasant person, then the dissolution would involve having several people (who are good at this) get together to mediate in a positive and affirming state with the appropriate incense and crystals. Life positive attitudes, compassion and love can disperse this energy. There is much more to this, but you get the general idea. There are rituals, preparations, proper steps, etc. that would all need to be done.
Is there a danger if something goes wrong? Definitely. If a person is not sincere, or not properly grounded, or shielded, then encountering malicious energy head on might not be the safest thing to do. Remember, this energy is a shell. It could envelop a person who is focused on it. It could become their shell. Such a thing could be undone, but it is best to avoid it in the first place. Having such a heavy overbearing psychic shell overtake your own psychic space would certainly affect you! If left to linger on you, it could really cause problems. But remember, this is not a conscious form. It’s just energy. It flows to where the channels lead. So by your encountering this energy (by trying to disperse it) you are opening a channel for the energy to flow toward you. That’s why it’s always good to have several people working together. At least 3 people. When you think of a channel, think of a puddle being the energy, and the channel is a stick drawn through the mud toward you. The puddle would trickle down the stick drawn channel in your direction, and become a puddle around you! Again, much more that could be said about this, but you get the idea.
So that’s my theory of ghosts. I have not (yet) actually encountered a ghost, but I think they are out there. But they are only remnant energy, left intact by the concentration (or build-up) of years of the accumulation of psychic baggage. What do you think?
I’m not used to this new energy that courses through me in bolts and waves. I’ve never had this sort of pain linked to loss linked to love linked to my universe.
I’ve had pain before, but not the constant, grinding, nagging, persistent pain that I am feeling today.
How is it that so much can change so quickly? Over the weekend, I was in another world for a time. Now, I am back to the decay that is our relationship. It is so like the leaves… shedding from the trees at the slightest breeze. There is nothing that can stop them. They will fall, they will fall more rapidly as time goes on, until just a few remain. Those few stolen remnants that will not be forgotten; brown, dried, skeletons, not what they once were. Up in barren trees they flutter about in colder and grayer winds. It isn’t sometimes until the newness of spring’s NEW leaves, that the old, faded from months of bittered darkness, finally give way. Memories of the past finally letting go into whatever vast portal they go, to be reclaimed, taken back, and transformed.
My heart jumps and flutters, but it is the opposite of the jumping and fluttering of love found. It is pain linked to loss linked to love linked to my universe.
Why I don’t want my daughter to go to a Black Eyed Peas concert.
I want to get honest. I admit my tendency to “control.” It’s about fear. I am scared that my innocent, precious little girl will actually grow up and learn about the pain in this world, the pain that has touched me, that has undoubtedly touched so many of us. Maybe its instinct gone awry. As her father, I want to protect her, shield her, never see that spark of wonder leave her brilliant eyes. But who am I to do that? If I am acting out of my own fears, I am doing it for completely selfish reasons. If I can stop her from learning about sex, or swear words, or violence, misogyny, terror, hate, racism, drugs, addiction, abuse, rape, suffering, and so much more, I can somehow save her. But it is really me I want to save.
I know I know I know… I have to let her go. I have to release her into this world and allow her to be herself. “But not yet” I scream inside. She’s too young, she’s only 11! She should know nothing of Sept 11, she shouldn’t know of war or suicide or genocide. Not until she’s 16. Or maybe 21. How about 30.
Every day I walk this unschooling path is another day of encountering myself. Facing what I hate about myself, facing the foundation of my fears. It comes up when I feel the resistance. Then I see my chance to right all the wrongs done to me, and I turn to my children. No, I can’t use them for that. They can not be my redeemers, and I can not be their savior.
But why does it hurt so much? To let go? My wife knows the “look” all too well. When something comes on the TV, I look at her with the “change the channel” look, or the “why are you letting her watch this are you crazy” look. I mean, isn’t my wife supposed to be with me on this?
We all like the main-stream Black Eyed Peas songs, but I don’t think any of us has heard much more of their stuff. They let the s**t and f**k words fly. Will my daughter start saying “f**k” every time she drops something, in the same self-punishing way that I sometimes do (I never swear around my kids, mostly at work). I don’t want her to hate herself for dropping something.
Listen to me! OMG the control! I have no control over whether she hates herself! What I can control is me (and even that has its limits). Control IS an illusion. It keeps me in a false world, one that *I* create. In that world, I know what’s coming next. In that world, I can keep the pain away.
I’m unlearning 40 years of doing it the way I’ve been doing it. Maybe during the next 40 years, I’ll have unlearned all of it, so I can start fresh. By then, my kids will have kids (or not), and I’ll have fully embraced the gift of letting go. Until then, I’ll keep taking the steps. Things like this concert might just end up being my unteachers. And who knows, maybe it won’t take 40 years to unlearn.
Thanks for letting me get this out.
Fear is never about what is, and always about what isn’t
The power is that it deeply involves ALL of the five sacred elements intertwined and intermingled:
- Earth (north) – body, flesh, bone, structure, terra firma
- Air (east) -breath, the space between, the atmosphere around, scent and sound
- Fire (south) – passion, energy, heat, friction, force, movement
- Water (west) – sweat, rushing blood, juices, fluid, slippery
- Spirit (center) – soul sharing, intimacy, unity, vulnerability
And then I realized… that is the power of THIS LIFE. It isn’t just about sex, it’s about our very lives! And THAT must be why sex, in it’s purest, most beautiful and unadulterated form is so powerful. It mirrors this LIFE. And that’s why, when sex is messed up, it’s messed up BIG time. It reaches so deep into our very being, and is a significant part of us (or more accurately, a mirror of our LIFE).
And that is why new LIFE is created by an act of sex! And that is why sexual abuse in all it’s many forms is so rampant. Because to have the illusion of control over someone else’s sexuality, is to have power over their very soul. But it is just an illusion, because by nature, one can never have power over another’s essence.
And that is why sexual healing is so important and so incredibly powerful. Healing from abuse or trauma is like becoming a new person.
So, if you are recovering from sexual abuse or trauma, I encourage you to incorporate rituals which call upon and honor the five sacred elements. Bring balance back into your life.
May all be healed, may you find freedom and may you find what awaits you in this life.
Peace and blessings of the Elements be yours.