Category Archives: soul

Winding Way Intro-A pagan Meme

I saw this meme on Angus’ blog and thought that answering this would help anyone who reads this blog.  Most of these questions will be expanded on in future blogs.

Please describe briefly your Path:

I would say I am a seeker.  A lot of my work does involve the other worlds.  I have had some influences from traditional witchcraft (by authors like Robin Artisson and Paddington) which shows the underworld tradition.  As I am a member of the Temple tradition that tradition plays a lot into my beliefs and practices.   I have also worshiped the Norse Gods.  I feel I should start that over again.  There is some influence of Germanic paganism in my religion.

I worship a 5 fold God and Goddess.  The Goddess may be Frau Holda.  I have yet to confirm that through folk tales and UPG.  I believe in fate or wyrd.  I also believe in all deities. I am a hard polytheist.  I believe all deities to be seperate individuals and not faces of one supreme being. I work heavily with Dragons in my practice.  I have been working under the Hermetic philosophy as outlined in the Kybalion.

My path is constantly twisting and turning, with some criss crossing.  I am a seeker as such my path will change and evolve as I gain wisdom.

Please describe briefly how you practice it:

I practice by holding rituals.  Lately I have been lax in my practice.  I am working on getting back into practice.  Meditation and trance work are essential practices.  When I don’t hold a ritual I typically try and do a bit of journeying through the use of Drums.

When did you first commit to your Path?

I started to explore paganism when I was 13.  My practices back then were quite odd.  I incorporated a lot of the anime I was watching at the time to my practice.  At the time I was moody and quite odd.  I was confused about a lot of things, add to that most of my information came from Teen Witch and my delusions of being those charecters in this day it makes for an entertaining story now.

When I was 18 I first learned exactly what Wicca was and how it was not what I thought it was.  I got in contact with a local coven (now disbanded) which I later found out was associated with Oath breakers.  For a while I looked at being a Hellenic pagan.  Then I just started to read any book I could find on the subject.

I was 21 when I found the Temple tradition through the books.  The next year my mother and I took a weekend workshop with Chris Penczak.  It was after working with him and having some of the most vivid experiences that I have ever had that I knew I wanted to learn more from him and seek the deeper mysteries.  Last year I was enrolled in Witchcraft 1.  I was unable to continue for personal reasons.

It was at that time that I began to remember what I had read from Artisson.  Those things have begun to become included in my path.  If I had to say I would say it’s only been the last 3 years that I have really committed to trying to follow a specific path.  One of the things about the Temple tradition is that I can add in some other practices as I learn and explore.

Why did you choose to follow a path of paganism?

At first I wanted to get out of Christianity.  I was angry at Yaweh or Jehova and thought I should explore other things.  I went through my confirmation, but it was then that I realized I did not agree with the central doctorine of my church.  I was not a trinitarian.  I had always believed in other gods and knew that I should leave the church formally and go my own way.

That was when I was 14.  During my teen years I was at church on a regular basis.  I assisted in the nursery and as a Sunday school teacher.  That church had been family.  So I had a dual faith for a while where I tried to combine Christianity and generic neo-paganism sometimes called “neo-wicca”  a term I hate with a passion.  Though I would call it extreme fluffy bunny.

Today I still believe in Jesus and Jehova.  I am learning about Jehova through a bible study at the local Kingdom Hall.  I feel it is important to understand what other Christians believe.  I consider myself pagan as I do not worship Jehova but I do honor him nor do I follow Yaweh or Allah.  I choose to be a pagan because I feel my core beliefs do not resonate with Christianity.

How is your practice different now than it was then?

I grew up.  I no longer hold the views I did then.  I no longer blindly follow rituals and practices outlined in books.  Today I basically question everything and work based on what I see as truth.  Due to my constant questioning of myself I am constantly changing or revising my views.

Is your practice different today than how you thought it would be back then?

Very much so.  I feel I have learned a lot but I know that there is so much more to learn and explore.  I have my own beliefs and I no longer follow cultural misapropriation.  I have gained wisdom.  I see clearly where I once saw only shadows and clouds.

Does your Path and core belief system differ now than how it was when you first started?

In some ways very much so.  I used to believe in one divine being that was expressed as a God and Goddess who were seen through the faces of all other deities.  That changed when I actually started to read core myths and saw just how different the Goddesses were from each other.  I did see some similarities but nothing to say they were all the same.

I now believe in one being known as The All which is an all enompassing living mind.  We live with in the mind of The All.  I believe in different planes of existence where we learn lessons until we can move to the next plane.  The highest plane is being in full union with The All.  The universe is infinite and there are myrids of reality.

I also believe that the other planes of existence are seen in the other worlds.  In this specific  reality the three worlds are one yet viewed seperate.  We are all part of one reality connected through an intricate web.  Yet we see ourselves as seperate.  This is the key to understanding fate.  I am still working on getting into my full and true self.

My concept of the soul has changed quite drastically.  I include many different philosophies in my view of the soul.  Many of them tie into the concept of Wyrd.  Though I feel there are a few components missing from Wyrd.

What is your heritage and how does this inform your Path?

It wasn’t until I read and seriously took the time to explore Asatru that I felt a need to get back to those roots.  I felt that I should explore those paths seriously.  I have read the Eddas several times and they resonate deep within my core.  I feel close to Odin as well as Niord and Nerthus.  From that point I felt that there should be some element of the religious beliefs of my blood ancestors (and quite likely my Franco-American ancestors as well) in my religion.  I quickly inserted ancestral veneration into my practice.

What are your main influences for your Path?

For books I would have to say:

  • The Kybalion
  • Aradia or the Gospel of the Witches
  • Poetic and Prose Eddas
  • Temple of witchcraft series
  • The Witching Way of the Hollow Hill
  • Sorgitzak: Old Forest Craft
  • Wicca for one (Buckland)
  • Assorted Grimms fairy tales and other folklore
  • Essential Asatru
  • Exploring the Northern Tradition

Which do you do more: practice or research?

Research.  I have to admit it.  I have more academic or book knowledge than I do actual experiences.  That changed and will continue to change as I work with the Temple tradition and other sources.

Do you feel that one is more important than the other?

No.  I feel that they are equally important.  I feel research is good for understanding cultural context and exploring new ideas.  Practice however is how we actually worship the beings in question.  It is how we actually physicalize our beliefs.

What values and ethics are important on your Path and in your practice?

The Nine Nobel Virtues.  They are guide lines to help me live a life where I feel I am being ethically responsible.  These virtues are:

      COURAGE

  • TRUTH
  • HONOR
  • FIDELITY
  • HOSPITALITY
  • DISCIPLINE
  • INDUSTRIOUSNESS
  • SELF-RELIANCE

I am working on discipline.

What sort of cycles do you feel your practice goes through?

Read, ponder, journal, test, reflect, use, nothing….repete

What is one of the greatest obstacles or struggles you have had to over come?

My mental illnesses and my developmental problems.

How do you see yourself practicing in ten years?

Public rituals and writing.

How do you incorporate your practice into your life?

Meditation and energy work.

Has walking your Path changed you as a person?

I think so.  I feel I am more free to be open to new thoughts and thus new ways of conducting my behavior.  It has also helped me understand my own behaviors.  My worldview has changed as well.

Do you consider yourself to be a priest/ess? How so?

No.  I have not been trained in the rites and rituals of my tradition to the point where I would call myself a priestess.

A witch? How so?

Yes.  I practice witchcraft.

A shaman? How so?

I do not call myself a Shaman.  There are elements of Shamanic practices in my practice.  These come from European views and not Native American or Siberian.

Which matters more: getting the vocabulary right or the actual practice of what we are trying to define?

The actual practice is important.  If there are specific terms to be used in rituals then knowing the correct vocabulary would be more important.

One of the most profound things anyone ever said to you was:

“You only fail if you stop trying” which was told to me by my fiance when ever I feel as if I have failed.

A defining moment on your Path was:

The journeys I took during the workshop with Chris Penczak.  I had started to access the mysteries but I was not yet ready to do so.  I needed to start at the beginning, which is where I am now.

Have you ever taken a “leap of faith”?

Yes.  I have and I hope to do more so soon.

Please tell us something stupid, reckless or embarrassing you did once in your practice:

I almost set my bathroom on fire with a spark that fell into an open bag of toilet paper.  It took a few moments but I fixed it.  This happened during one of my ritual bath/meditations.

What is the most frustrating thing about your Path?

I’d say trying to avoid following or taking one authors word with out question.

Have you ever been frightened?

In ritual?  Once.  I was outside and alone at dusk doing a ritual to gain power.

Can you perform ritual without a script?

Yes.  Though I use one when I am trying to invoke a being or try a new evocation that I have written.

Have you ever preformed spontaneous magick/spellcraft?

All the time.  It’s how I was able to get parking at school.  It also helped my fiance and myself in a financial situation.

What are you still exploring or experimenting with?

Everything?

What (or whom) are you the most committed to in your practice and on your Path?

The Gods who choose to listen to my worship and prayers.

Ritual tools are …

Expensive and fun.

Magickal tools are …

Enjoyable and great helpers and often the same as ritual tools

The one thing you can’t do without is:

My mind and a journal with pen/pencil

power is …

With in and everywhere

Politics and you Path are …

Hardly ever involved.  The whole separation of Church and State thing.

One thing you wish people would understand about your Path and/or practice is:

I am a witch.  I work magic.  I will do what is necessary to get what I desire or defend my loved ones.

Do you teach?

No.  I may advise and guide though.

What do you feel is the role of clergy in modern Paganism and Heathenism?

To teach and inform the community about our beliefs at large.

When the Veil (or Hedge!) is thin, how does that feel to you?

I feel hyper and I also feel jittery.  I hear a lot more things than I normally do at these points.

What entities do you work with most? (ancestors, gods, fae etc)

Ancestors Dragons and the spirits of the land.  I also worship deities.

What is your relationship with the Land?

I worked well with the spirit of this land.  She lives in an oak tree in my front yard.  I have given her hair and money.

The most important aspect of ritual is:

The reverence in which you perform the ritual.

The main purpose of ritual is:

To honor and be close to the deities or beings to which the ritual is directed.

What is the purpose of divination/dowsing (or whichever for of augury you use)?

To gain insight as to how things may come to pass.  It also gives me another way of looking at what has happened.  I use an oracle deck based on the medicine wheel.  Though I feel I may start to look back at something more European.

What was the most difficult book you ever read? (Either difficult to understand or hard to face what it said or both)

It’s actually a book I started but decided I needed to give it more attention than I could at that time.  It’s the 3 books of occult philosophy by Agrippa.  The language is odd.

The Witching Way of the Hollow Hill was difficult, but I found the Horn of Evan Wood to be much more difficult.

The book I read on Germanic Heathenry was only complicated when it came to the explanation of the calander.

What book do you recommend the most to others?

That will depend on what they are looking for.

What is you favourite podcast (if any) and favourite blog (other than your own)?

I dont know.  I have only seen a few blogs and heard one podcast

If you could impart only one last piece of wisdom or knowledge, or share one experience with the world at large, what would it be?

Trust your heart.

Is there an additional question you would like to see here?

Yes

Do you have any specific beliefs regarding the afterlife or what happens after death?

Yes, but I dont have a lot of room here to explain it.  Multiple part soul reincarnation and

Please finish this meme with a picture, image or photograph of some sort:

An Underworld Tradition

When it comes to having a mentor in occult philosophy the new student has many people to choose from.  In some ways this is a good thing as it allows people to explore all other options, but there is also the fact that there are some really bad mentors in the Occult.  Robin Artisson is one of the few people who will write about or work with Traditional Witchcraft.  While “Wiccan” witchcraft is a wonderful practice and I still practice it, Artisson’s work has given me a more realistic view of witchcraft that resonates more than the “Wiccan” witchcraft does.

While he has not been studying and practicing all that long (14 years ) his experiences and where he grew up added to his knowledge.  Artisson is of Anglo-Pictish heritage.  His family also had Irish, Cajun and Sicilian heritage.  Growing up in New Orleans he lived in a home that was the last remnants of folklore and supernaturalism in the US.  His college education involved getting a BA in European History/Anthropology and a MA in both Criminal justice and Policy Science as well as Marriage and Family therapy.  He is currently working on Trouble and Pernicious Mischief.  Artisson also is very shamanic (otherworldly) in his healing practices that some call witchcraft.

One of my central philosophies is that every thing has a shadow and and everything has a light side.  To me it’s like looking in the dark at night.  In some way there will be some light and in others there will be pitch black.  Look at light.  A light can not be a light with out darkness and darkness is not darkness with out light.  They are one and light and shadow are shades of gray.  When I apply that idea to the way I view life I grasp the mystery that is wholeness.  All I see is shades of gray which is the balance between light and dark.

The first chapter of his online book The Village  or The Pendulum of Souls outlines this concept specifically.  When he stated :

“Even the good Christ, gentle and loving, dead for the good of humankind, has a dark shadow beyond- Demon Est Deus Inversus– and what a surprise it is for most to realize who he really is…or should I say, who he is, when you see both sides of his mystery, in the wholeness of light and shadow.”

I felt instinctively that some one else knew what I always thought about Jesus and Gods in general was true.  It never made sense to me that God in any form could be all Light with out any Dark.  How Christians could see Jesus as anything other than a Man (a blessed, and enlightened man) but a man none the less.  Gods have shadows and men have shadows so why wouldn’t Jesus?  Understanding the balance and boundaries of each are you can live in a state of wholeness.  According to Artisson experiencing that mystery and understanding it is a crucial point in the journey of the witch.  How a witch achieved that goal plays into one of the many definitions I consider to be accurate explanations of what witchcraft is and what it means to be a witch.

In old English a witch was called an Hagtessa.  Hagtessa specifiably means hedge rider or one who travels freely between the world of the seen and the world of the unseen.  At the time it was thought that you couldn’t travel between the worlds and ever remain the same.  Yet witches were able to live in both worlds simultaneously.  Artisson states in his definition of witchcraft that witchcraft is an other world tradition where you go between the two worlds to gain your power as a witch.  Witches call upon the powers of both worlds to enact the changes they desire.

One of the mysteries of my tradition of witchcraft is based upon the mysteries of the other worlds.  For me traveling to the different worlds is part of my practice.  I feel that my power as a witch comes from the land and the spirits as well as from my own inner fire and passions.  The first training I took as a witch was in entering a trance state.  I have always felt that the other world and this world were not separate.  That which occurs on one world will ultimately have an affect on the other world.

It just feels natural for me to travel between the worlds.  I never really needed training on how get there, I just needed to learn to control those movements.  When I read Artisson’s thoughts on the necessity of other world travels it added clarity to the bonds between the worlds.  His clarification on the bonds has given me a desire to seek this understanding.  To add to this mystery I feel that there are many many realms to add to learning.

Artisson spends a lot of time in his book The Witching Way of the Hollow Hill talking about the concept of Fate.  He explains how everything is a part of fate and how important fate is to reality.  Now before I read the articles in the mentioned books I never really believed in Fate.  I believe in Cause and Effect not preordained matters.  Artisson describes Fate as:

“ …Fate is a unitive system; spirit or life and physical matter or manifestations are not truly alien substances, ultimately separate from each other.  They are complementary, necessary to each other.  They are both interactive and co-create with each other.”

Understanding the mystery of Fate is as important as understanding the dualistic nature of reality.  Witches are weavers of fate and it is because of fate that we have the ability to make those changes to the strands of fate.  This quote:

“ Fate is as a whole the great ‘Field’ of reality that makes anything possible, a great an infinite well of Potentials.  From it all things occur and  ‘on’ it ‘within’ it ‘as’ it and   because of it that things can occur”

is his way of explaining why things work as they do.  If fate is a web and weave where everything builds on everything else leaving something to fate means letting it happen with letting what must be must be.  To me that also means cause and effect as all that will happen will happen based in that which has come before it.

With us all being connected to each other and part of one reality, it made me wonder about individuality.  While the statement of us all being one people gives me a sense of relief, I feel that at times we feel to individualistic. It seems that the many years of Christian Dogma where the Bible states that the Earth is ours to do as we will still has an effect on our relationship with the world on a cultural level.  Artisson explains that:

“To be an individual means to have a sense of separation from things while simultaneously being at one with all things”

This duality of experience seems to have a lack of respect for the land.  I mean the circulatory system of the earth is polluted, trees are cut down everyday.  Those two things water and trees are essential to our life and by polluting them we are essentially killing ourselves and all else.  No one seems to understand that the actual land on the earth or plants or animals have consciousness in some manner and have spiritual presence in both worlds.

I have always held that the land speaks to us.  I have always known that like us the earth has some form of consciousness.  Artisson was able to eloquently explain how this is true.  He also explains about the afterlife and the soul. This quote about the land really explains how I as a witch can honor the earth and really work with the energies of the land that we live on:

“Land itself has the substance of ‘mind’; all things are aware-though all things are not conscious in the same manner as a human being or an animal with a brain is conscious”

Like many witches Artisson and I both agree in reincarnation.  He also believes in the many parts of the soul.   Artisson has made me think about what exactly the soul is any why we reincarnate, though a question did come to my mind as I read his theory.  That question was if we reincarnate does that mean a new strand of fate is created?  In essence the article about rebirth says that rebirth into a new home does not mean you are the same as we are always changing as we switch between different bodies, forms, and states of being.  Each new life brings new challenges and new experiences.  These experiences will change your soul’s understanding of the world and a new form of your strand of reality will be created.

To many this idea might be sad.  That we are never the same again.  The truth is we change a bit every day as every experience will change us.  In essence when I die the body and the personality that is Charity Bedell will be gone.  My spirit will remain, but I will not be the same.  This is not a theory I agree with.  I believe that I am not physically immortal but I am spiritually mortal.  It was Artisson’s article on the soul that started me thinking about what my views of the soul are.

Religiously what makes up the soul is an essential mystery that one must find on their own.  It explains why we have all the parts of the soul and why they have them.  The goal of my religious practices is to ascend to the next state of being.  Each life I have experiences that will add to my quest for wisdom and learning all that there is to learn.

Artisson has a quote that I agree with,  Essentially he states that like many ancients that death is a challenge a mystery and the passage to a new condition of being.  It is true that death and what comes after is a mystery.  There is a taboo that those who have passed from this world can not tell a living person the experiences of death.  It is also forbidden to take the knowledge of what exists and happens after death to the next life.  Death is an experience we must all have and as the beliefs about death are non falsifiable all we have is speculation.

This is where Artisson  and I start to differ in our opinions in regards to the soul.  He believes that there are three components to the soul. I personally believe that there are 5 components.  Each component plays a role in what happens after death and during your life.  I like Artisson believe that if a person is missing a part of their soul that they will die.

I believe in many realms of the other world.  One of those realms is the realm of the dead.  The realm of the dead hosts a faint shadow of all your past lives as well as the lives of every one else who has passed on.  The susoul as I call it only exists here after we are dead.  However because of past lives we are able to gain contact with this realm through trance and dream work.  This is the part of your soul that your descendants will be able to contact once you have passed on.

The body only lasts one life time.  For this reason the body should be well cared for and maintained.  It is our body that allows us to have the physical experiences we need to ascend.  It is my view that in order to ascend to the next state of being we need to experience all types of life and lifestyles.  In this way we slowly build up wisdom regarding the mysteries of physical being.  Once the body dies it becomes part of the land and thus becomes part of sustains our lives.

The mind is also a part of the soul.  The mind is your awareness.  It is your consciousness and your personality.  Your mind is the part of you that will ascend.  While it contains all of our personality it also houses the personalities and thought profiles of all your past lives.  It is the mind that processes the experiences and from those experiences gain access to the deep mysteries of life.  This is what most people would consider the soul.  The mind during life lives both in your body and in the other world on your strand of fate working with Old Fate (The goddess that rules over fate, life death and all of creation).

The last aspect of the soul is the spirit.  To me the spirit is the force of life.  It is that one thing that life can not exist with out.  It is not tangible and it is not provable.  Yet to me the spirit can not leave the body till death where the spirit is then released to the world and given to another life form.  Spirit is what Doctor Frankfurter called the “breath of life” in the movie The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I would agree with that statement.

Artisson will remain one of the most influential mentors I will come across in my studies.  He unlike most other mentors I have had always makes me think.  I read his works one article at a time and take detailed notes.  If I didn’t take the notes and have quotes to refer back to I would not understand Artisson.  He doesn’t give you the information on a silver platter.  You need to work, ponder and think for yourself.  I believe that all good mentors and philosophers should make you think and come to your own conclusions.

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