Category Archives: Pagan Blog Project
Pagan Blog Project: E is for Ethics the rede and the Nine Nobel Virtues
This week we are going to discuss Ethics on my blog. Now many people believe that the only witch ethic out there is the Rede which states “An it harm none do what you will”. This is not true. There are many paths and traditions which all have their own unique ethical content and practices. The rede of Wicca is only one out of many ethical paths and choices out there.
I do not follow the Wiccan Rede. The rede to me is great advice. I use the rede to basically look at my actions and my beliefs. The rede isn’t a law or guidance. The word rede means advice. Its a set of words meant to advise you of your actions. The rede then doesn’t prohibit harm at all. The rede to me then is a guide to actions. The rede does permit actions that wont harm others. It doesn’t prohibit those actions. It says if it doesn’t harm any one go ahead an do it. It doesn’t say never harm anyone.
My ethics are a bit different. I use the rede to think about my actions before I take them. This is my ethical practice. If I can accept the consequences of my actions and if I can live with any effects they have than I will perform the act. If I can’t accept or am not comfortable with even one of the possible consequences of my actions I will not follow that path of action. I also look at the consequences of inaction. Sometimes not acting can be worse than performing an action.
For me I look at magical works as another tool in my pocket for dealing with challenges and situations that arise in day to day life. If I can use a spell to aid a friend or family manner in some fashion I am going to. If some one threatens my family or loved ones I will use magic for a tool if I feel it is worth it. I believe in using any and all tools I have to making my goals come true.
Now I mentioned using magic as a way to protect and help my family in defensive actions. This is true. I believe in the right to strike back and or the right to defend myself and my family. If someone is gossiping about me or my family I may use a spell to get them to stop the gossip. However I will never strike first. I will only use magic to attack some one if they have done something to me first.
For me its important to protect and care for my loved ones. For me that is part of my honor. Honor is a high ethical consideration for me. If some one has disrespected my family and friends then they have earned what comes their way. I would prefer to use means like shields, mirror spells, and bindings before moving to a curse or a hex. Each situation is different so each working would be different.
I like to think that I am an ethical person. I live on the whole mostly by society rules. I care for myself and I work hard to keep my home clean. I treat other people with respect unless otherwise shown. I am nice to people and I help those I can in need. These are all things I do to try and live an honorable and good life.
Honor and respect are more important to me than ethics actually. That may be because Germanic pagans actually have a series of virtues that they use as their ethical code of conduct. This ethical code of conduct has inspired me in my life. Following those virtues is one of the ways Germanic paganism has influenced my life and my path.
Now that I have discussed the rede and how I don’t follow it and how I am honorable I am going to actually discuss the nine noble virtues. These virtues as I have mentioned form the basis of my ethical practices and considerations. They are for me sometimes difficult to follow, but they are important to me and to my Gods. So I do my best to follow them.
The Nine Nobel Virtues are: Courage, Truth, Honor, Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Industry, Self-Reliance, and Perseverance. Each of these virtues works together. In many ways if you are not working well on one virtue, the other virtues fall and fail a little as well.
Courage basically means having the strength to face the challenges given to you and to know when to ask for help. It also means trying over and over again when you have failed in order to succeed. Being courageous does not mean you don’t have any fear. It simply means that you act courageous when you are in the act of facing your fears.
For me in my life courage is facing emotionally difficult situations and dealing with them as they arise. This also means for me working through some difficult issues in my past to see past the pain and to face all emotions related to some of those situations. Courage is not being fearless for me. Courage is facing your fears even when you are scared and coming through the situation on the other side.
Truth is basically self-evident. To me it simply means that you should always tell the truth and that means being true to yourself as well. In many ways it is about making sure your actions are honorable. You should not be making excuses for doing acts that you “know” are wrong. Truth here is also in stating what you remember about situations when asked and not exaggerating them. Its sticking to facts and not perspectives.
As a witch I need to be true to myself. In being true to myself I need to accept all aspects of myself and my personality. Some of these aspects I don’t like. I use courage to face them and work with them. Being true to myself is also knowing where my heart really lies. Its also in knowing what my real desires are and what my true dreams and goals in this life are.
Honor is something that can be difficult to explain. Honor goes hand in hand with respect. Honor means acknowledging that you respect a person’s actions and how they live their lives. Honor also means living your life the way you would like others to live and a life that you would see as respectful and honorable.
In my life I am honorable by keeping my word. I am honorable by respecting the wishes of other people. I am also honorable in that I keep work to protect my loved ones. I live honorably by being respectful of others. I may not always agree with someone but if I can respect their views I can honor them by respectfully disagreeing with them.
Fidelity is not something many people would think of as a virtue today. However I personally find that it is a very important virtue. Fidelity is loyalty. I take loyalty very seriously. When I give myself to a cause or an idea and it rises to an action I do what I can. Loyalty is staying true to your friends and your allies.
I am loyal to my friends. When I say I am loyal to my friends I mean I am to the best of my ability there for them when they need me. I am loyal to my friends by not sharing information they give me on subjects. I also show them loyalty by helping them. In some cases it may mean supporting them in situations you don’t want to deal with, but you help them out because they are friends and or family and that is what you do for friends and family.
Discipline is one thing I think that many people in today’s societies are lacking. Discipline does not have to mean making people behave a specific way through punishment. Instead in terms of the Nine Nobel Virtues it means working hard to change a behavior, and shaping a behavior. Discipline here is also about steady practice and continuing behaviors.
In my life I am actually actively working on cultivating discipline. This is one area I have lacked. When I have had difficulties on something I have taken a break rather than work through it. Discipline for me also means keeping a steady schedule with practices and keeping up steady routines in spiritual work. If I start to lag or forget one day discipline is starting back up again the next day.
Hospitality is something people don’t often think about. In the ancient times when the tribal religions were being practiced, even if you had your own land, everything you did was also for your community. Today it is about helping out when at a friend’s place or when they are at your place offering drinks or snacks or things to make them be at home. It is about sharing what is yours with someone else.
There are many ways I work with and include Hospitality in my life. When I go over to any of my families houses for the Holidays I always bring something of my own. This is a contribution to the event allowing my host or hostess to not have to do all the work. I also pick up after myself when I am over there. I offer any guests food and drink when they enter my home. Its also about offering to get something for my fiance’ if I am out getting a drink or something.
Industriousness is basically spending your days working towards something. It means doing more than the minimum in order to get things done. It means giving your all and being productive. It also means taking time to play. Playing is how we explore new things and ideas and recharge our energies. It’s a balance between work and play making sure you get the most out of everything you do.
Industriousness for me is working on my blogs. Its working on my small business. Industriousness is also about managing my time. By managing my time when I do housework I am able to make sure I can get housework done as well as any business work or other work I wanted to get done that day. Industriousness is about having a productive day. Though occasionally having a day to just relax is industrious as we can not always work or always play. A balance is needed.
Self-Reliance is something I think every person needs to work on in some areas. It means being responsible for yourself and your actions. It means doing as much as you can by yourself and knowing when you need help to do something that you cannot do yourself. Self-Reliance also means that over time you will learn new skills to do what you can for yourself.
I like to consider myself to be a very self reliant person. I do what I can on my own. I don’t drive so I work hard to try and arrange rides with buses, taxis, and family or friends as needed. I work and buy most of my own fun items like game systems or even books. I don’t like asking for things. I do my best to do what I can on my own with what I have for a living situation and transportation situation. One way I work on self reliance is I pay all of my own bills. I also put money towards the house but I pay the bills in my name with my own money.
Perseverance is probably the most difficult virtue for me. This virtue is the one of keeping with something until the job is done. It means trying and trying over and over again. It also means knowing that you may need to start over with a new idea and begin from the start. It also means that if your project is futile and not worth the time and effort that you need to move on to something else. You don’t get credits for stupidity.
This for me goes hand in hand with discipline. I have had difficulties with math in the past. I used perseverance and was able to learn the math and pass the classes. I just didn’t give up. There are many things that are difficult for me to do. Learning them and working on them for me takes a lot of patience and perseverance. By working on this skill I can become better at dealing with frustrations and I can ultimately end up completing goals and accomplish my dreams.
Now you see that there are ways of being a witch and living and ethical life that is not limited to the rede. One can work offensive or baneful magic and have it be an ethical and moral choice. It all depends on what your virtues and your values are. In the end so long as I am respectful of others, treat others as I want to be treated, and do my best to embody what I hold as a virtue I feel I live not only ethical but also honorable.
Pagan Blog Project: E is for Effort
Once again we have a weekly post for the Pagan blog project. This weeks topic is all about spiritual development and practices. Its about why they call it working magic and working rituals and not just reading the material. Today we are going to talk about Effort and why Effort is so important.
Effort in spiritual studies
This is a lesson I have learned myself. Spiritual development and the development of spiritual and magical skills are like every other skill set and practices. You need to actually work at them and practice them to develop them. You can read the theories and some of the exercises and gain a type of knowledge. When you actually want to make the changes you need to do the actual exercises and work in order to have the experiences.
I’m saying that you need to put effort into the work. You can’t just do a meditation once and get everything you need out of it. You cant just do a practical exercise a handful of times and expect to get anywhere spiritually. In order to really have mystery experiences with spirits and to really develop skills in meditation and mental focus you need to put in effort.
The more effort you put into your spiritual development the stronger your outcomes will be. The more time you put into development of your skills the sooner you will be able to see results. There is a lot of work in spiritual development. In many places you will have to face your darkest sides and deepest fears. This is hard work. This is why it is important to put your all into it.
Often there are meditations to meet Gods and Goddesses. The more often you do those meditations the more you will learn from them. The deeper your relationships will grow. These are part of how mysteries are experienced and spiritual truths are found. If you only do the meditations a handful of times your relationships will not be as deep as they could be.
Putting effort into your practice and into your studies is going to pay off in the long run. The better you are at learning to enter a meditative state eventually you will be able to achieve the state any where and at any time by using physical triggers. You will also be able to manifest thought changes instantly and be able to know how to train yourself to shift one emotional state into another through working vibrations and other techniques.
Pagan Blog Project: A is for Angels
What are angels? This is a question I have found myself asking myself recently. I once believed that I knew exactly what angels where. Then I heard conflicting stories of them being servants of only one specific God, the God of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism and there for bound to only help and work with those who follow Yaweh/Allah/Jehova. Other people claim that they are simply servants of divine forces and are not limited to a specific set of religions or religious beliefs.
I personally believe angels to be servants of the God Jehova/Allah/Yaweh. Other Gods do have servants or minor Gods that work as messengers and intermediaries between them and humans but I don’t necessarily believe they are angels. That being said I believe that so long as there is a connection in your life to those three religions (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism) they will help and work with you. This connection could be continuing family celebrations, a belief in them, and or a belief in Jesus or that God as a God just not the only God.
I have always held a belief in angels. Though I have not worked with them since the early years on my path as a witch. I knew others still worked with them magically through enochian magic, ceremonial magic, and at times Hoodoo. These three magical traditions are associated with Christianity and angelic magic and angelic work for spiritual practices as well as magical practices. Now I have started to work with angelic forces again.
If you want to work with angelic forces and angelic spirits you simply need to be open to their force. The force that angelic spirits are made up is pure unconditional divine love. If you have any sort of connection in your life to the three paths of Abraham you can work with these spirits. You just need to open yourself up to working with them. They will make themselves known to you.
Pagan Blog Project: E- Entheogens
We live in a world filled with a rather large variety of plants and animals. Learning about them and their lives is a fun and exciting thing to do. Working with the energy of plants and animals is something that witches do. Lately I have noticed a trend of people looking away and wanting to throw away some aspects of religious and spiritual traditions. The one aspect I see people ignoring more than others is the use of substances in spiritual and religious practices. This is something I personally want to preserve and keep around.
So today’s post is going to be on the use of Entheogens in spiritual and religious practices. As this is my personal blog I feel free to discuss this topic here. On my other blog (Seeker sight) I focus on topics and posts that can help beginners find their paths. I focus there for on subjects that are appropriate for people just starting out in their spiritual path. For me the practice and use of Entheogens even as a curious study and exploration is not something that a beginner needs to read or worry about So it gets posted here.
Using substances to experience Gods and spirits
As I mentioned the use of substances in ritual to achieve a trance state where one can engage with spirits and Gods effectively is a practice traditional among many different cultures. Different cultures have different substances that they use to engage in spirit flight or spirit activity. The various tribal shamans and witches who use these substances are instructed on their use by their masters and their teachers as well as by the plant spirits themselves.
Before I begin to describe an explain why some people may engage in the use of Entheogens let’s look at exactly what Entheogen as a term means and why the uses of these varied herbs is so successful. If the technique and uses didn’t work people would not continue the traditional practices. So they do work for a reason. Lets see what that reason is.
In his book Hedge Rider Eric De Vries defines Entheogens as:
Entheogen means bringing forth the God and is the name used for herbal substances that are used for spiritual and or magical purposes. The important thing to remember is that entheogens are rarely used for recreational purposes. Not because they have limited effect, but because they aren’t really fun
This definition right here says all that needs to be said. Entheogens bring forth the experiences of God and spirit. They are used ritually to create a trance where they can experience, interact with, and work with the force of God. Each herbal substance is going to be different and have different effects on the mind and the body. For this reason it is important to study the substances and their uses. It is also practical to actually be instructed by some one who engages in this practice. Some herbs can be very dangerous if not handled and processed properly.
At the end of the statement about not being used recreational De Vries makes a very good point. Entheogens are not used recreational. Its not that they don’t have an effect that people enjoy or can get use out of. That’s not the issue at all. The issue here is that the experiences are not “fun”. Its not something to do because you are bored. Entheogens are sacred and using them in recreational ways takes away the sacred.
In order to effectively work with the entheogen and the God force you need to work hard to establish a specific mind frame for the work. You need to train yourself to be sensitive to spirits, to calm your mind, and to be able to visualize the experiences with the Gods or spirits. Its difficult to train your mind.
The other thing is that there are some entheogens that take a lot of time and energy to prepare. One of the legendary entheogens associated with witches and witchcraft is the famous flying ointment. This was a salve that the witches spent a long time crafting and making. When the herbal mixture was applied to the body astral travel and spirit work could commence.
Sometimes these mixtures contained deadly herbs. Most of the flying ointment recipes we have found scraps of related to traditional witchcraft involve herbs like belladonna, wolfbane, nightshade, and yew to name a few. The actual recipes and proportions have long been lost. Crafting the flying ointments of the past traditional witches with those herbs is dangerous. This is why today softer and calmer herbs are used in modern flying ointments.
Today there are other more effective herbs that we know cause the same effect as the herbs mentioned above and are safer and better known. While I personally find the past recipes interesting and worth study, and I would watch some one make them, I personally have no interest in working with those. I have found other herbs give me just as powerful of a trance state while being safer. These are also herbs I have studied and done other work with.
My experience with entheogens comes in the form of herbal smokes. I have worked with catnip, mugwort, and Capillaris Herba
Artemisia capillaris also known as Yerba Lena Yesca. My smoke blend currently has a mixture of all of them for a balance. When I smoke this blend my awareness of my mental state increases. My sensitivity to smells and surroundings increases. I can through this also have more control over my awareness and more easily reach an out of body astral state for communication with spirits and deities.
Entheogens alone do not make the experience work though. I also use mental training as well as incenses, sound, lighting, and seated position to engage in trance work. The entheogens give me easier access to these mental states and often allow for more clarity of experience and extended experiences. I am relaxed which allows the trance states to come more naturally. This is also why they last longer.
Entheogens for me are one tool that I have in my bag for working with spirits. I have found it to be an effective tool. I do not smoke the mixture outside of doing some sort of spiritual work. The mixture was crafted and blessed for that sort of work and to use it on anything else to me is a waste of the mixture. It also takes away from the sacred ritual of the preparation, the working, and the blessing that comes with its use in spiritual work.
For years I was interested in the use of substances in spiritual practices. I was well aware of the use of peyote in a Native Church. I was also aware of the fact that shamans and spirit workers for centuries had engaged in this sort of spirit work. I was interested in the use and workings of substances in ritual. I was afraid of trying it, and it also felt taboo. All of the books and websites I had read on my spiritual path had all said that substances of any sort were not a part of witchcraft at all and anything saying such should walk away from that material.
There has been a trend in the modern new age and spiritual practices to discount any experiences had under the influences of any sort of substance. There have been arguments made that today we can leave those tools and practices behind us as we have other less damaging methods of gaining trance. They also claim we have a better understanding of the mind and mental processes today and through that we have learned how to get in and out of these trance states at will without the use of substances.
While all of what they say about mental processes and the ability to get in and out of trance at will without substance use today is true, it doesn’t mean that there is anything less spiritual about experiences under substances. They are sacred plants and it is a sacred tradition for many cultures. I see no reason to ignore this aspect of spirit world work traditions. I have simply chosen to work a combination of the ancient traditions and modern work for effective means of contacting spirits and doing spirit world work.
The use of all aspects of plant medicine and plant properties has always been a part of magical practices. I see no reason to change that now. To ignore traditions and valid ways of gaining knowledge and experience for me is to ignore an aspect of the practices and cultures I have studied that was sacred and important to them. If I am gaining spiritual guidance and inspiration or influences from these cultures and practices I need to be informed of all aspects of practices associated with the cultures.
So I stand outside of many people with this view on entheogens and substances. I know that and I accept that. For me I know that not everything I do and study will appeal to everyone. Not everyone will feel the same way about things as I do, and they don’t have to. So long as no one tries to stop me from using legal herbs in my entheogen work I have no problems with their objections to my use.
Pagan Blog Project: A-Altar management
One of the things that I have been lacking in my practice is proper altar maintenance and management. Now what is altar maintenance? Not to mention what is altar management? Well that depends. There are many things that it can mean. It can be as simple as remembering to pray there regularly to build up power. It can be washing the items on the altar regularly so that dirt or dust don’t accumulate. It can be many different things. Proper altar maintenance is part of establishing a healthy spiritual practice with regular applications in daily life.
For myself altar maintenance actually means all of those things I mentioned and more. For a long time I have had my altars set up as a part of my house decoration. I would nod at them in the morning occasionally as a reminder that each day is a gift from the Gods but aside from that they weren’t used often. Seeing the altars set up did make me feel connected to my spirituality so it did serve a purpose but I wasn’t letting it serve its main purpose which is to serve as a focal point for workings with the various spirits that I work with.
I have lacked altar maintenance. Altar maintenance would be cleaning the dust off the altar. Making sure that there is fresh water daily for the spirits, cleaning the altar cloths on a regular basis, bathing the statues ritually, cleansing and consecrating the place on a regular basis. These are all little ritual items that I could have done and should have done on a regular basis that not only would build my connection to my spirit allies but would also keep my spirit soaring.
Altar management for me is a bit more complicated than that. Altar management is the actual use and working of an altar. Here we have decorating for rituals and sabbats, we have performing offerings, prayers, and magical workings. All of these things are part of altar management.
This is yet again and area that I have lacked in my spiritual progress and development. I rarely decorate the altars for the sabbat or esbat at hand when I do work those rituals. I haven’t been good about praying at my altars as a regular communication practice and as a way to build a relationship with them. Nor have I been particularly good about giving them offerings either.
Altar management is also for me changing the altars around periodically. For me it is about really letting the Gods and spirits know what sort of items they want on their altars. Each spirit and altar is going to be different so its important to make them all unique. So if the Gods and the elements tell you to use one tool over another in ritual and on the altar that is altar management.
Most of my magical workings are not done on my altars but on any space I can find. The only times they are is when I am typically doing a healing work of some sort and need the assistance of my guides and allies. Then I work at my altar and pray. The rest of the time its not done at my altar. Though I may occasionally burn the incenses I have made on them. Working magic on the altars would also be a way of deepening spirit contact and relationships.
These two things that seem simple are things that I have been lacking in my life. These are also things that I have been working on correcting in my life. For me right now I have a goal of working on developing a more consistent daily practice of my path. I am really working to integrate my beliefs and my studies into everything I do part of every day. Its a challenge but its been worth it.
The first real thing for me has been developing my new ritual room and ritual space. There is still some more work I would like to do and things I need to get. For now though it really looks like a sacred space or at least a place for performing and working various rituals. Part of getting this room set up was finally getting the altars to where I like them and what I want to do with them.
In setting up my ritual room I now have a place to perform daily rites and workings with spirits. So now I can really work on digging into my spirituality and developing those relationships. The first thing I am working on is altar maintenance and altar management. These two things can be worked on together by creating daily prayer and offering routines.
The first part of the maintenance though was in the creation of some new altars and some new sacred space for those prayer workings and ritual workings. Here now are the new altars and shrines I have created for my new ritual area.
The first altar I am going to discuss is my main working altar:
This altar is where all my actual worship of Gods and Goddesses occurs. On the wall there is a Pentacle with a Stags head for the God and a clay plate impression of a Goddess who is mother earth. These are on the wall to show the places of the God and Goddess as well as to form a background. In the center of the altar there is a birch wood circle which I use to hold the candle lit for prayers and devotions. In the back you can see my wand. My stang and my broom are on either side of the altar. This is set up and basically ready to go for any ritual at any time.
The next altar is my Dragon altar:
Here I am actually performing altar maintenance and management by burning incense for them and lighting a candle. You can also see how that altar is clearly focused on being there for the dragons. The incense that was offered was Dragons Blood. Dragons Blood is a favorite incense of many dragon spirits and they feed off its scent and love. I’ll get into working with dragons another time. For now I performed maintenance then by giving them an offering.
This is my ancestral altar:
Every item on my ancestral altar has importance to me. This altar is actually a new design. My original ancestral altar was much smaller and less formally organized. This altar on one side you see several different pictures. Those are the photos of my deceased loved ones. There is also a photo on there of my biological mother and her father. I don’t know if either one of them are still alive. The photo is there is symbolic of my ties to my blood ancestors so that they know they are not forgotten. The large goblet there is the chalice for them. It contains water I give them as an offering or any other liquid. The candle next to them is light and fire giving my prayers a vessel. The skull actually serves as a place for them to manifest during working rituals. The bottle of GlenLivet on there is a connection to my fiance’s grandfather. Finally the red tie across the altar comes from my grandmother’s robe. I use the red color to be symbolic of blood but also of spirit and all the ties and bonds that we share together.
The next two altars are works in progress. They will grow as my relationships with these spirits grow. I am also going to see about getting more storage containers like the one my Dragon altar is on so I can set up a few more altars and shrines. I feel I should set up one for my Norse God practices. I also sort of feel like there are other spirits wanting to work with me and have altars built for them.
This is my altar to the arch angel Micheal:
Micheal is the protector. He is also called the prince of heaven and is the leader of heaven’s army. This is why there is a sword on the altar. The candle is lit for is prayers. The candle also symbolises the element he is most often associated with which is fire. The water is there to offer him a drink. The plate is there for offerings.
This is my shrine for Moses:
The large staff there is going to be a conjure/hoodoo tool that I am making with the power of Moses. This staff will be used to call on his name and power in basically any rite that I would associate with him. The candles again serve as a place to show the prayers the water is his drink and the plate holds offerings of various forms.
You have now seen my altars. Part of my altar management now and altar maintenance now will be regular saying prayers at these altars. I will be offering fresh and clean water every day. I will wash the altars physically and make sure that they stay clean and fresh. I will in some way work at my altar each day building a relationship with the spirits therein.
Altar maintenance and management now to me is the simplest way I can work on making my religious and spiritual practices an active part of my day to day life. All in all it doesn’t take a lot of time. Its maintaining the practice, the sense of the sacred, and giving the time that becomes the issue in our lives. By writing this essay I have given myself some tangible tasks to do each day to work on my altars and with the spirits there in the altars.
Pagan Blog Project: Beginnings
The most common question I am asked is how did I actually begin my practice. I’m sure that you readers are now wondering the same thing. You have looked at your own beliefs. You have come to have a decision and a direction, and you have figured out your concept of the divine. Now that you have all of those choices and all that work done what do you do? You actually begin your practice.
Beginning Your practice
The first step on your path is to perform a rite of introduction to the Gods and spirits of your practice. By now you should have read a few books on the practices of the path you are taking. If you have a reference for this then that is great. If not I am going to give an outline for an introduction rite. Yes before you begin performing offerings on a regular basis it is important that you at least introduce yourself to the pantheon and the spirits you intend to work with.
Now it is important to note that an introduction rite is not the same as a dedication rite. That is something we can cover another time. An introduction rite is a more formal way of saying hello. You may have prayed and gave offerings before as part of your decision making. Thats good. Its a start. Now you are formally declaring your intent to study their ways and work with them. Before it was a “Hi this is for you if you want”. Now its more formal.
So what was the point of the ritual before hand if we are beginning with a deeper more direct ritual? This ritual is a step below actual dedication. You have not completely dedicated yourself to their service but you are basically promising to study their ways for a year or so. During that year you will perform rituals, pray, meditate, read, and reflect. If after your year of studies you have formed strong bonds and feel called to do further work on that path then you will perform a rite of dedication. For now a rite of introduction is still important.
What does this rite entail? It entails preparing yourself mentally and physically before the ritual. Its going to entail blessing the offering in their names. Its going to entail prayer and meditation. Its a very simple and basic ritual. However when you put all your emotions into the ritual you can find that even the smallest ritual gesture like lighting a candle with intent can produce substantial results.
- Candle to represent your passion and your flame
- Note book to write down the ritual and any personal messages you get during the meditation
- Fresh soap for the ritual shower & your normal shampoo and conditioner
- Candle for the God and or Goddess
- if you are 21+ an alcoholic drink to share as a communion if not sparkling ciders are good
- An incense you find appealing
Here is the rest of the ritual
- Set the shower at as high a temperature as you can stand and get in.
- Begin to wash your body with you soap. Using the soap suds see the soap becoming all negative energy and all doubts from the day. See them coming from your body into the soap. Put the soap down and rinse your hands. Let the soap stay on your body for a moment and let it continue to absorb your negative energy and thoughts.
- Take your shampoo and lather your hair. Do the same thing you did with the body to your hair. This time focus on intense emotions and thoughts. Focus on stress and frustrations during the day. See those items become the suds in your hair.
- Rinse your hair and place the conditioner in it. Let the conditioner soothe those thoughts and feeling. Let the conditioner bring you a sense of peace and relaxation. Work that sensation all through your hair. Let is set for about five minutes.
- Stand in the shower in a position where your hair wont get wet but parts of you can. Start to rinse yourself off. As you start to rinse see the shadowy soap bubble run down the drain and fade away.
- After a few moment step under the shower directly and rinse completely, This time seeing everything run down that has not already gone away.
- Repeat the shower one more time. This time chanting “Water Water Wash Away. Water Water Cleanse today”
- End the shower. As you towel off wrap yourself up in a white light of positive energy. This will replace and replenish the energy that was removed through the cleansing shower.
- Get dressed and set up the altar or place for the ritual. Make sure you have a container for the water and a container for the salt as well as your offering of food and drink to the Gods.
- Mix a pinch of the salt into the water. You are making Holy water right now. As you mix the salt and the water see any impurities in the water be gone. See the water being filled with sacred light from the great divine forces out there.
- Light your incense
- Take the salt water and either in a circle or simply by sprinkling the water in the four directions dedicate the space as being sacred. Call upon any guards and guides as you see fit to witness this rite.
- Repeat the process with incense. Now you have consecrated the space with all the elements. Earth and water in the holy water and fire and air with the incense. The place is now set for spirits and gods to come and answer. At this point it is best to remain in the ritual area. You should only leave in an emergency situation. If you do say a quick prayer for exiting and a prayer for entering. Other traditions have other ways of entering and exiting the space in ritual but this prayer will work for now.
- Light the Candle for the God and Goddess (both or just one depending on what you had chosen to do)
- Call to the Gods. If you have read an invocation or prayer to them for calling them to a ritual now would be a great time to recite that work. Basically ask them to come with you now and to join the rite.
- Light the candle to represent yourself. State your intention to learn the ways of those Gods and their followers. State who you are and why you are serving and learning their ways. Promise to do your best to learn all you can and integrate what you learn into your life.
- Bless the drink and pour a drink for them and for you. Share this drink with them. You can praise them or you can silently meditate on their presence and the meaning of the rite. You should have an idea at this point if they are accepting of you and listening to you,
- When you are ready thank the Gods and the spirits for attending the rite. If you formally laid a circle or walked a circle you can release it now. If you just sprinkled some water and consecrated the ground by extinguishing the incense and the candle the space is being released. You can then extinguish the candles. You can pick up and put away. You may now say a final prayer of thanks and wishes for continued guidance as things get put away and cleaned up.
- Record the ritual in the notebook. Write down everything you did all your feelings and all your emotions. Write down what you think about what you did and how you felt before and after.
You have now formally introduced yourself as their student. You have now taken a step into letting the Gods lead the way and be your teachers. Now you just need to listen to what they have to say. You may find the lessons come in very strange forms and you may find that things come into your life for no reason after doing this. These actions are a result of your introduction and prayer manifesting. The Gods are listening.
Pagan Blog Project: D- Divinity
Divinity-What is it?
The question I just asked here with the beginning of this post is a very difficult one to answer. In my post about Questions and answers I gave several different questions that deal with you as the seeker trying to figure out and understand what the basis of your view of the divine is. There is a reason I leave this question basically open ended and up to you the read to decide. The idea is that by the end of this post I will have explained a few concepts of the divine and divinity that will allow you the reader to understand more about the possibilities out there.
The world is full of various concepts of the divine. In some cultures you will find multiple views combined and worked together. This post is going to illustrate some of the most common concepts of the divine. By posting these concepts any then looking at the question asked about the divine previously I can point to which views are associated with which questions to help you further understand your path options and choices.
Concepts of the divine
Animisim is the view that all things are composed of a spirit aspect. This belief means that everything is alive. Every tree has its own spirit as does every other plant, animal, rock, and mineral. This belief further can be expanded to have individual places like lakes, streams, mountains, ponds, ect to have their own spirits as well. This was a fairly wide spread belief among ancient pagan religions and was a large part of the very first religions.
Pantheism is the believe that the universe itself is the divine. The world and everything in our reality makes up the divine. The Divine is not personal or considered to have human form or a form to basically interact with.
Panentheism is the belief that God is in the world. The belief here is that the divine is found in everything. It is a part of everything in the universe yet also extends beyond the universe. Here we are also part of the divine. Everything in the world is divine. The world is divine.
This is where you believe in and worship one God while accepting that other Gods exist and may be worshiped that are not your God. This is where monotheism and polytheism can co exist simultaneously. You may personally only acknowledge one god and worship one god, yet you acknowledge other people believe in and worship other Gods. So its acknowledged other gods while not believing in them yourself.
Being Agnostic means that you believe that the nature of the divine to be unknowable. It is not something that can be either proven or disproved. This is a stance that can be applied to spirits as well as to the divine and basically any spiritual or metaphysical stance or belief. There are stages of this like there are agnostics who believe divinity to be unknowable but personally believe more in the possibility and are more open to it. You also have some agnostics that believe that because divinity is unknowable there is no reason to spend any time on the thought or concept. If its there its there if its not its not. There is also a state in between where you just aren’t sure and leave it at that.
Atheism comes in a few forms. In one form it is the completely lack of belief in divinity. In another form it is the disbelief in any deities. Basically it comes down to the fact that Atheists do not believe in any deities guiding the world and the universe. This does not necessarily include a lack of belief in spirits or spiritual forces but specifically divine forces.
Monotheism is the belief in one high and all mighty God. There is only one God. This god is the one who created everything and who rules everything. There are no other divine beings in this world than them.
This is the belief where all gods are one god and all goddesses are one goddess. Within this view there is also a view of the divine where there is one supreme creator that manifests as a God and Goddess in order for humanity to understand it better. Here the various other Gods and Goddesses throughout history are simply facets of this one Goddess and one God. Here it doesn’t matter which God or Goddess you call on in your ritual and work as in the end you believe them to all be one person.
Hard polytheism is where you believe in multiple Gods and Goddesses. here you believe they are all unique and specific individuals. Here Freya is different from Frigga who is different from Juno etc. In this way each God and Goddess have unique personalities and work specific unique roles in their pantheons. With this view you can not simply pick and choose your deities to work with. Its more specific as they all have likes, dislikes, proper offerings, and many other things to consider within cultural contexts of the deities.
Deism is the belief that through reason and observation of the natural world one can establish and determine the existence of a divine creator. Along with using reason and observation of the natural world to determine the existence of a divine creator a deist rejects revelations (sacred texts and the like) as religious authorities. They use their observations and reasoning to come to their own conclusions on the nature of the divine and or the existence of multiple deities or one divinity.
Where to go from here
By now you have a pretty good idea that there are many different ways and different concepts involved in understanding the divine. It is up to you to figure out what your personal view of the divine is. Twelve step programs out there have it right when they have a step in the process to come to understand God in your own way. Not everyone who follows a twelve step program will understand God the same way. Some may not believe in a God per say but they may believe in their own personal divine spark or higher self.
The concepts of the divine I listed above may be able to give you a name for your own beliefs and concepts of the divine. As I said before in this post several of the forms of divine concepts can work together. You can be a hard polytheist, animist, and panentheist at the same time. Its all about thinking of your personal beliefs. There is no right or wrong way to experience the divine.
In the end the divine is a mystery that we must all come to experience for ourselves. The various religions and spiritual paths out there serve as ways to experience these forces. In the end we must all come to our own understanding and our own relationship with the divine. This can take work but in the long run the relationships formed are well worth it.
Pagan Blog Project A: Altars- Temporary workings
Altars- temporary setups
One of the common issues many people come into when they first start seeking paganism, witchcraft, and alternative spirituality is that they might not have space for an altar all the time. There are also many people who live with unsupported family members, or have room mates, or many other factors that do not really allow for having a full time altar set up. This leaves them asking themselves and other pagans what can they do about this? Some people feel they are less pagan or witchy if they can’t have a full time working altar or shrine. If you fit into any of these, then this post is for you.
It is perfectly acceptable to only have your altars set up when you are going to be doing an active working. Many people have to do this sort of practice and work. There are many reasons why people don’t have full time altars (children, family, pets, room mates, room size, ect) set up in their lives. For some it can be a hassel and for others they embrace it and make it apart of their actual rituals. In this way they can build more power. They will not be suseptable to any and all energy of day to day life when in storage, as such the ritual and power charge in them remains and builds.
In having your altars up only during working its important to still build a powerful personal connection with the tools on your altar. When you have to set up an altar for each working you make that part of the work itself. The set up will help you get mentally and physically prepared for magical, spiritual, and religious work. The set up and placement triggers the body to know that certain actions are going to happen next. The mind gets told that a different sort of mindset is needed and the transition from normal consciousness to ritual consciousness comes a lot easier.
By making the altar set up and preparation a part of the ritual you start building power and energy for the ritual the moment those items are touched and sent out. By unwrapping the items and placing them reverently on the altar they get full of sacred energy. This energy will build in those items and radiate when they are used. This process also puts mental and emotional energy into the item that serves as triggers for magical, spiritual, and religious actions.
Ritual preparation is as much a part of the ritual as the meat or actual working is. By treating this process as sacred and reverently as you would the actual ritual you create an even more powerful ritual working. The power will start building the moment you start setting up your altar and get it complete for the working. The blessing after the set up will seal the power in and set the tone for the ritual.
Yes. That is an important part. If you are not going to be having a permanent altar the altar should be physically cleansed before and after each ritual. This is yet another part of the ritual prep and the building of power over the altar. This will remove any mundane or day to day energy that has built up on the surface of the altar making it sacred and suitable for workings. The blessing when the altar is set up charges them for that specific ritual.
When you take the items down and put them away you have an action that serve as a way to transition in and out of ritual consciousness. This serves to finally disperse any energy raised in the ritual that was not directed. From here the sacred energy can be placed into the objects to be used again. Anything not wanted to be kept will be dispersed into the ground as the altar is taken down and day to day life returns. This is why the blessing and cleansing of the altar items and actual altar surface is essential.
I hope that now you can see that even if you have to use temporary altars you can make the most of it and still perfor very powerful and effective rituals. The spells and ritual workings may take a little longer, but if you put all your intent and focus of the ritual into the items from the beginning the power will still be there. It will not diminish. It will only grow the more you feed them.