Category Archives: Deities/Divinity/God

A: Altars Phase 2-specific practice and path requirements

Last week my post was dedicated to the beginner and the start of building an altar.  As I said building an altar can seem very overwhelming to a beginner.  The same problem can be seen to occur with people have have been on their path for a while or have finally chosen their specific paths after a lot of exploration.  This post here is going to address how a more advanced pagan can develop altars specifically dedicated to their paths.

Phase 2:

Path specific altars and specificity

Last week I mentioned that some paths have very specific altars and there are some times reasons why you may need to change your altar for a specific sabbat, spell, rituals or activity.  The more you read and research the more ideas and concepts you may want to try.  For this reason it’s important to understand the rituals and the magical practices you are exploring .  You may need to have different supplies from those supplies that you started with.

This post will cover a few specific points on the topic of seasonal, magical, and path specific points.  Each one of these points will illustrated why there really is no wrong way to set up your altar unless you are on a very specific path.  Like I said in my previous post exploration, trial and error are going to be all you need.

The topics covered here will be:

  • Eclectic witchcraft altars
  • Brittish Traditional Wicca altars
  • Traditional witchcraft altars
  • 8 sabbat altars (Wicca and witchcraft)
  • Ceremonial magic
  • Asatru altars and items used
  • Hellenic (Greek worship)
  • Religio Romano (Roman worship)

Each of these paths have very specific altars and ritual tools.  Each of these paths have specific ritual forums for which their altars are designed.  Each of these altars has a different use and different specific ways to be used in the altars.  I’ll start with what I practice myself.  That way I can ease into the paths I have explored but have little to no personal experience with.  I am always studying and I am always willing to try something new, but lets start with that which I know.

Eclectic Witchcraft Altars:

Eclectic altar 1

As an eclectic witch there are really no real limits and style for the altar.  However there are some common themes in the altar set up.  Ultimately each witch has to choose how to make their own altar based on what works for them and how they worship the God and Goddess or the spirits they work with.  This is where the comments of my last post and directions of my last post come into play.  I will however list a few of the common traits and guidelines I have come across for more dynamic and specific worship set up.

Altar direction:

One of the most confusing things about an altar can be what direction it’s supposed to face in ritual.  Some authors say the altar should face north.  Other say it should face east or west.  Very few authors I have encountered over my studies have suggested that the altar should face south for fire.  When a seeker or an advanced practitioner may set out to set up their altar for ritual they still may ask themselves where they should place the altar in the circle and if they want to have the altar face a certain direction.

I have found for myself that ideally my altar would be placed in the center of the circle facing no specific direction.  While yes the altar will ultimately be facing a direction I find no reason for me to be worrying about if my altar faces the wrong way.  For me the altar is the center of my worship structure.  It is there where I place my offerings and where I place my tools during the altar.  Which is why I would prefer to have it in the center of my circle.  Unfortunately that doesn’t always work when you have limited space for ritual and moving all the furniture is not a reasonable option.

One of the other reasons I like having the altar in the center of my circle is that during ritual if I am going to use ecstatic practices such as dance, scourging,  movement, or even the basic circle dance it becomes much easier to move around.  It also makes it easier for me to define a very specific ritual area and I’m able to work ritual with in that area thus creating such a special sacred space.  For many reason this makes it easier for worship and magical practices.

Elemental symbols on the altar

Most of the books out there mention that as part of ritual and practice there should be some basic symbols of the elements on the altar.  Much of the modern witchcraft philosophy plays into the thought that each of the elements is involved in every part of magic and worship.  Many witches believe in the Gods and elemental spirits that rule the winds and the powers of those elemental. This practice was firs seen in the Golden Dawn.  Since modern witchcraft as we know it has its origins with the OTO and other forms of ceremonial magic as well as the local natural magic and folk practices of the Isle of man I can understand how Gardner (father of the witchcraft renaissance) formed the practices together.  I appreciate this practice and have come to my own understanding of the elemental spirits and guides.

As a witch or magician there are many ways to work with the elements in magic and ritual.  For many people there is a red candle for fire, a bowl of salt for earth, a bowl of water for water, and some form of incense for the representation of air.  In my early days on my path this was something I had chosen to do on my own. It was simple and it was a very effective mode for my early years and some of my time when my living arrangements were less than grand for  my religious and spiritual practices.

Aside from symbols that are literal representation of the elements there have often been tools used in ritual to invoke and call in the elements during the practice of circle casting.  Sometimes the water and salt mentioned above are used in the invocation, but more often than not there are other tools involved within the rituals.  Typically these are the athame (ritual dulled dagger), the wand, a bell,  and occasionally the drums.  There will be more talk of the elements and the common elemental tools when I make my post on the elements.  For now I’ll post an altar that has the elements mentioned and get on to the next type of altar, a traditional Wiccan altar.

My semi typical Eclectic witchcraft altar

My semi typical Eclectic witchcraft altar

British Traditional Wicca Altars

There are only a small collections of  BTW traditions.  The traditions that are identified as BTW are:

  • *Gardnerian
  • *Alexandrian
  • *Mohsian
  • *Central Valley (a collective term for the traditions named below)
    • -Silver Crescent
    • -Kingstone
    • -Daoine Coire
    • -Assembly of Wicca
    • -Majestic

    there are some very specific structures to the altar and it has to be set up this way.  One of the reasons for that is that Wicca is a tradition defined as:

  • *Inititory
    • *Lineage
    • *Oathbound
    • *Orthopraxy
    • *Mystery
    • *experiential
    • *fertility
    • *witchcult

It is the orthopraxic nature of Wicca which is addressed in this post.  The set up a BTW altar is going to be very specific.  While they may change with various rituals in general the set up of BTW altars is set up a specific way.  This plays largely into how they work rituals and how it’s vastly different than how eclectic practice rituals and use their altars.  BTW is a coven based religion as such there would only be the coven’s set of tools on the altar and personal tools would be on your person.

BTW altar

There are different set ups for initiation and different sabbats.  The Farrar’s in their book A witches Bible they had diagrams for the various altars that they were using.  While it’s true that there are oathbound practices and lore, the Farrars gave enough information to get the concepts needed behind the placement and purposes of the items that a seeker would be able to have some concepts behind what they were exploring.

I have never been initiated into a Wiccan coven.  So I have nothing more than the understanding of a seeker.  I have a few friends that are initiates and I have been seeking more and more.  While I am not specifically seeking Wicca at this point I am seeking truth and wisdom found in witchults and witchcraft traditions.

Traditional Witchcraft

Traditional witchcraft is yet another form of witchcraft.  The basic difference between those who identify as Wiccan and those who are practice the common form of Eclectic witchcraft is that Traditional witchcraft is more focused on the practices of witches that occurred pre-Gardner.  Traditional witchcraft focuses on folklore from various cultures and the central theme is ancestral worship (which is discussed in my other blog).  In many ways the tools and the actual worship is more land based and more nature oriented than the typical eccelctic path as it explores in depth all aspects of life and creation as well as death and destruction and the relationships between them.

This is reflected often in their altars.  There are two ways traditional witches can set up their altars.  The first is:

altar in a more traditional sense

altar in a more traditional sense

The second type of altar is the prefered style of many traditional witches.  Traditional witches in many ways prefer to have their worship outside as the conection the the land is much more powerful.  Even a few of their sacred space techniques would be much more powerful outside than inside.  It’s the nature of their practice:

Stang as an altar

Traditional witchcraft altar

The third image is what the second image often starts out with during the initial prep.  Instead of a table the Stang (the forked staff) when planted into the earth is used to hold ritual tools and items as well as be the center of the worship.  The stand is often associated with the world tree and thus is a central part of the worship in traditional witchcraft.

I have a stang and a staff.  One day I will use them in ritual together.  For now I have other influences from traditional witchcraft in my path which I will get into little by little in these posts or in my other blog.  My main influence from traditional witchcraft now aside from my underworld views, is having an ancestral altar:

My ancestral altar

My ancestral altar

Now I am on the last topic that is directed specifically towards the nature of witchcraft religions and practices.  This last practice is tied directly into the lore of each of the sabbats and how each witch practices those sabbats.  So here we go,

Altars for the 8 sabbats

The 8 sabbats in the various forms of religious witchcraft are one of the primary ways they connect with and worship their deities. Each sabbat leads into a key point or mystery of the nature of the universe and the cycle of life from birth to death to rebirth.   The sabbats also go over the nature of the dynamic relationship of the God and Goddess they worship.

Each sabbat will there for have a unique altar setting.  In many witchcraft traditions the winter solstice or Yule is considered to be the start of the cycle.  I however feel that the cycle actually begins with the midwinter holiday of Imbolc.

Imbolc

Imbolc has always been associated with the birth of new animals.  There is the symbolsim of milk being the first food for mammals and it’s prcesseses.  Here we are able to really plan for the start of the year and the growing season to come.  Its where in ancient times Farmers would finally start to have a source of income from the milk and cheese which would provide needed nutrition and additions to the diet that has been upon them since the last harvest.

I see this as where the God is born of the Goddess.  That is why I believe the wheel of the year starts here at Imbolc.  The altars at this time of year are decorated with signs of the light really returning and plans for the future.

Imbolc Altar

Altar 7 Imbolc& Spring Equinox Altar

Ostara: Spring Equinox

The next sabbat in the cycle is the sppring equinox.  The sun has really returned.  The day and night will be of equal length.  The light has been increasing slowly since Imbolc but now it has returned.  Here is really the symbol of rebirth.  The trees have spread their leaves and there are more buds coming from the ground.  Planting is in progress and the animals born at the time of Imbolc are starting to be more independent (baby chicks and bunnies for example).

Ostara Altar

Here at Ostara the Goddess is as a maiden young and innocent and the God is a boy of around the same age (I typically picture between 4 and 7).  They are just starting to explore and understand the world.  This sabbat is essentially about the freedom of inspiration and imagination that is often lost after childhood.  Its about growth and development hopefulness and a zest for life.

Beltaine

This is one of the highest holy days in many of these traditions.  Here sex and sensuality are explored and celebrated.  In the cycle of the year the God has reached sexual maturity and is going to be taking the maiden he met at Ostara and enjoying the nature of sexuality and sexual contact.  This is also known as May day.  Here the God will give the Goddess his seed and she will be carrying his child (to be born at Imbolc).

Beltaine Altar

Litha: Summer solstice

Litha is the height of summer. Its the summer solstice.  The light is in full swing.  Crops are starting to be grown and some are being harvested already.  The Goddess is pregnant with growth and glowing with maternal pride.  The sun gives her fertility for growth every day.  As the sun heats so do the crops grow and develop.

Summer solstice altar

Summer solstice altar

Lammas or loaf mass:

This is the first of the three harvest festivals.  The summer is reaching it’s end.  The grains of the summer are ready to be harvest at this time.  This will be ground and separated into feed for the animals and flour for bread and biscuits and the like.  Some fruits are enjoyed and loved at this time.    The rituals here are typically around harvesting the first hard work of the spring and enjoying the fruits of that labor.  There are a lot of rituals involving the sacrifice of grain and the blood of the “sacrificed king”.  It is believed that the God is sacrificed here so that the land will remain fertile between now and the end of the growing season.

Lammas altar

The lord of the grain has been given up so that the lord of the animals and winter could take over the land slowly.  The blood spilled will nourish the land.  This can also be seen in how the sun seems to be dying at this time of the year.  The difference in light has started to be more noticeable with more night starting to be more in control.

This summer I experienced that change and power during the camping trip that I mentioned in my welcome back post.  I was able to forget everything and just revel in the power of nature and the dying of the sun enjoying the last of his life before the darkness takes control and his real underworld journey to be reborn begins.

The wheel continues to turn and we turn to where the light and the dark are equal.

Mabon: The Fall Equinox

Mabon is the second harvest.  The majority of the harvest is being harvested and enjoyed.  There is plenty of food to go around.  In many ways this harvest has been described as the witches thanksgiving and I wold have to agree that that is true.  The god’s essence is being given to the people through the food they eat.  The Goddess is mourning the loss of her love and is nurturing his son growing with in her womb.  Here the focus starts to be more on the animals.  This is the time of year when hunting and gathering would truly begin.  This is why we have hunting seasons to this day.

Mabon Altar

Mabon Altar

Samhain/Halloween/Ancestor night

This is the most famous holiday of witches.  Many of the traditions associated with the Halloween stories and decorations have roots in various witch lore and history.  The green skin, the crooked teeth, the hat, and many more come from witch trails and lore as well as other folk lore.  The dressing up as goblins or other “scary” spirits was done when traveling from place to place at this time to scare away malevolent spirits crossing over.  The essence of the “haunted season” is in that spirits of all sorts are more active on this week.

This is also the last harvest festival.  It also the night where the ancestors can cross over and visit their living loved ones.  This is why there are so many traditions relating to crossing over at this time of year.  The veil between the underworld and the world of the living and life as we understand it is at its thinest.

Samhain altar

Samhain altar

As you can see the altar both represents that which is alive and that which is dead.  The seeds of the harvested plants can be gathered and prepared as the stalks and leaves fade and dye.  The  seasonal leaved trees have almost all lost their leaves while the evergrees are still vibrant.  Life and death are equal here and now.

The God has descended into the Underworld and is ready to start his journey to be reborn.  Part of his essence remains in the land and in the forest as the Lord of the wilderness and in the Goddess as the Lord of the sun and grain yet to be born).

Yule: Winter solstice

This is the final sabbat in the wheel of the year,  This sabbat is the day when the night overcomes the day.  Here we are now in a time of the underworld.  Nothing can really grow at this time of year and we are dependent on the food that was stored during the harvests.  The animals have been slain so that now only the strongest and best remain.  It is the time to reflect on everything that was done that year and to start thinking about how the new year will bring new opportunities and will be a time for changes of what will be needed.

In essence the spirit of the God is reborn with in the people.  They feel the sun and inspiration and hope for the future growing with in them.  They also start to understand that even though some real tough times are ahead until planting begins they can get through it.  It will be the last time they can really celebrate and renew themselves for the next year.

The sun is reborn on the morning after the solstice as it is from that that we know the sun will overcome the darkness.  This is how we know the God lives and will exist again.  His shadow is still slightly in power as the symbols of this time are reindeer and evergreen forests.  These are symbols of the God as the Lord of the Hunt and the Lord of the animals and how they live together.

The first altar will be one of my own Yule altars and the next altar will be one for a generic concept of the season

My Winter Solstice Altar

My Winter Solstice Altar

Yule altar

Yule altar

Now the wheel turns and brings us back to Imbolc which was the first seasonal altar I posted.  I hope this gives you and understanding of how different altars can be made and created for specific holidays and celebrations,  Now I will get into the last real magic and directly Occult type of altar I planed to discuss.

Ceremonial Magic

Ceremonial magic is one where the altar has direct symbols for the elements and is focused on a connection with the God head.  In many ways it is often connected with Christianity and Christian mysticism.  The truth is the early forms of ceremonial magic were based on Christian Occult and mystery practices.  Here was where you could find the practices of “Christian Magic”.

Many of the rituals are based on calling in the arch angles and the invocation of their power into the magical space and to help empower the magical actions being taken.   This rite can be traced back to the Ritual in short hand known as the LGBRP which means the Lesser Greater Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.  I am trained in this ritual and have used it many times. This is a complex ritual which I will go over in length when I have my post on ceremonial magic. In essence you call in the four arch angles to protect the space while vibrating the various names of Yaweh to sanctify the space and prepare it for magical ritual and practice.

I have said before that I practice a form of dragonic witchcraft and magic.  This is very true.  That practice is very ceremonial.  The opening ritual is very much designed after the LGRBP.  I call upon the dragon guardians and guides that I have a relationship with rather than angels.  The symbolsim is in the structure of the ritual, the tools used, and the altar.

The tools mentioned in the eclectic witchcraft altars can trace their origin to the LGRBP and many other rituals performed by the OTO.  Gardner who was the one who crafted the new form of religious witchcraft as we know and see it to day was a member of the OTO and other occult practices.  This played into how he crafted the religion of Wicca.

The altars I have shown above may very much resemble this altar:

Diagram of ceremonial magic altar

Diagram of ceremonial magic altar

Ceremonial magic altar

It is what I would use more often than not in the presence of a Christian friend who wished to attend my ritual.  This is also where the heremetic philosophies of the Kyballion allow for there to be witchy changes and views.  All of them are essentially the same practice, but the rituals are designed to be related to be specific to that path and that practice.

Draconic altar

Draconic altar

Finally I can start getting into some of the more path specific altars regarding more culture specific altars.  This next section is directed more towards those who have found the deities and the paths they follow.  Some of these are more recon style (recreating in modern day to the best of their ability the ancient religions of various cultures) and some are still semi inspired by previous eclectic practices.

Asatru & Other Germanic faiths

Asatru is the recon of the Norse beliefs and religion.  The focus is typically on the Aesir.  The primary sources of their lore is the poetry and the sagas of the Norse and Germanic people.  These inclde the Poetic and Prose Eddas, the Sagas of the Icelanders, The Vinland Saga, and many more.  The altars and worship style is very simple and elegent.  Their rituals are known as a Sumbel or a Blot depending on the content and the like.  Both of those are other topics I will bring up over the course of this year.

I have two sample altars to show you:

Asatru sample altar 2

This is an altar that some one shared online.  The tools are simple and the ritual is still rather joyous and intimate.  The next altar shows what each item is called and as I said I’ll be going over this in more depth when I discuss Blots.

Asatru sample Altar

The next two religions are often discussed together as they are very much associated.  The first is Greek reconstruction often known as Hellenismos and the second is Religio Romano which is the reconstruction of the Roman paths.  There are some very substantial differences between the two paths.  To be honest I haven’t explored either of these paths as indepth as I would like.  While I do have an interest in both of those as they were the first deities I met and worked and worshiped as a teen my path and practices have lead me in other directions.

Hellelnismos

Hellenic Altar

Hellenic altar 2

Both altars are dedicated to the Olympic or Cthonic Gods.  There are very interesting cleanliness restrictions of these rituals and in their worship that in some ways to me is ridiculous.  However they also had the most sophisticated sanitation and irrigation systems than any other cultures of their time.

Religio Romano: Roman Reconstruction

The altar in the traditions of ancient Rome was called the larium,  There are specific designations for what goes on the larium and in the practices of their religion.  They also have very strict cleanliness requirements.  They also hold that if there is any mistake in the performance of a ritual they must cleanse themselves and the larium and start the ritual over from the begining.    It is a orthopraxic religion much like Wicca though they focus on any and all of the Roman Gods.

Religio Romano Altar 2

Religio Romano Altar

As you can see there are some very different altar structures and set ups for the different paths one may encounter as they seek.  You may find yourself attracted to one culture and want to learn more about how they were worshiped in ancient times and then find that you may find it’s to strict for you so you do something inspired by them.  That is why the first post was about seeking and basic introductions and the second post was mostly directed at specific paths and how they are different.

Samhain and Hallowmas- The festival of the dead and the ancestors (Pagan Blog Project)

Samhain and Hallowmas:

The Holy Week:

Death and Rebirth in the cycle becomes complete

Part 1: The Spiritual Aspects and implications

I write this as Samhain and Hallowmas come to a close.  The festivals of the dead and the transition from the lords of the land to the lords of the underworld completes the transition.  I figured that as part of my job to help seekers on their search for questions I should provide some insight as to exactly what this sabbat is about and why people celebrate the sabbat in the ways that they do.  Like everything else there are many ways to explain and experience the mysteries of these sabbats and not every ones view will agree with yours or even make sense to you.  All I can do is provide my own insight based on my personal experiences and sources.

As I have started to develop my own personal theology this sabbat has come have a different meaning to me than other people might have.  That is why in my own practice I call the holiday I celebrate Mortedon.  However since most people are familiar with the names Samhain, Halloween, All Hallows Eve, and All Saints Day that is what I will use here.

According to many sources this time of year could easily be considered the witches new year.  The God is officially dead and in the underworld.  He wont be born again until the Winter solstice and as such he is dead and in the underworld.  This is the time to transit between one working season and the other.  It is a time of completion and reflection that may bring about the planning ad start of the new planting season for the next harvest.

In many ways the major difference between those who call themselves Traditional witches and those who consider themselves Wiccan is that the majority of the rituals in traditional witchcraft deal with ancestral veneration and ancestors as divine while the rituals found within Wicca focus on the God and Goddess or Lord and Lady rather than the ancestors.  This is alright.  Not every one is meant to worship and venerate the ancestors.  Anthropologically it has been said that ancestral worship was the first form of worship, which is why for me it has become a source of my foundation.

I actually appreciate these different theological styles.  There is one holiday in which they both meet and they both share the same view.  It is viewed by both paradigms (Wicca and Traditional Witchcraft) as a day to honor both the dead and the ancestors as well as the God and Goddess.  It is also an acknowledgement by both sides that the season of reflection is upon us.  It is now that we must spend our time upon reflection and preparation for the new year and seasons.

Samhain, All souls Day, All Saints Day, Ancestor Night…all of these are names for essentially the same festival.  This festival is an acknowledgment of every one who has gone before us.  It is also an acknowledgement that there is life after death.  It is here we can really see how even though the people we love and cherish may have passed on from this life, they really are still near by and watching us.

In many ways this is the time of year where the festivals a person honors and celebrates explains at least in part what their view of the afterlife is.  For some people who believe in reincarnation this is also a time to connect with any of their past lives so that lessons they have to impart may be gives.  This is the second festival where the veil between the worlds of the living and dead as well as spirit worlds is lowest.  That is why contact with spiritual allies at this time of year.

Part Two: The Theology and Mythology of the Sabbat

Folkore and myth united

This is according to many sources the last sabbat of the year.  For many witches the year starts at Yule and ends at Samhain and begins at Yule.  In reality there is no real start or finish to a cycle.  Cycles are circles and will always come back to a point and start again.  This is how the world and the universe exist.  Everything in the universe will be used again in the universe at some point in time.  Every thing physical you see on this planet is made of of a star that existed eons before we were born:

Theologically, spiritually, and mentally it makes sense that the world as we know it would work in cycles.  The physics at work in the universe simply provide a non-disputed example of how reincarnation exists.  Here at Hallowmass and Samhaintide we are really able to see and understand how death and destruction/decay are essential to the growth and development of future lives and crops.

According to the Cycle of the Year and the 8 sabbats within Wicca and Eclectic witchcraft Samhain is when the God is dead.  He was sacrificed at Mabon to ensure the fertile grounds of the next harvest.   At one point in history it was believed that the king was sacrificed to bring life to the land for the next year.  This was symbolic of the God’s death for the fertility of the land.  Latter corn dollies were sacrificed instead of a human.

Blood was and still is the essential life force.  If a creature is alive it bleeds.  By the God sacrificing himself his blood (his life force) goes into the land giving life to the land.  He knows that he will be reborn in his son in the end of winter and he will from the underworld guide and symbolize his son’s birth and his return by the return of the sun’s light starting at the Winter solstice (Yule).

It was believed that once a person died their body became the land.  The blood of the sacrificed victim nourished the spirits of the land for the winter and would gain their favor for the spring.At Samhain the ancestors and other spirits from the land of the dead returned to give their blessings for the following year to their descendants.

The God at this time was in the Underworld understanding and being reborn.  At Beltaine he had impregnated the Lady, his lover and wife, who would bear the child of promise who would carry and light the way for the Lord to be reborn at Yule (the light returning slowly) with his actual birth at Imbolc.  The rest of the sabbats continue along this line.   So in some ways Samhain is both the start and the finish.

The knowledge that there is life after death and life in death is symbolized no better than with ever greens (one of the reasons why those trees are decorated at Christmas).  It’s also one of the reasons I feel that the hope to get through the winter for the spring exists.  To see something that is alive and producing chlorophyll in the winter while the rest of the trees are inherently dead proves that there is life in death.   It is one of the reasons I can see that death allows for the continuation of life.

With these thoughts in mind it is time to get to:

Part 3: A sample ritual

Ways that honoring the ancestors can be done

Now that it has been established why honoring the ancestors is so important I can start to give you some ideas as to how you as a seeker or as an active Pagan could honor your ancestors and the Gods and celebrate this sabbat and simply begin or further expand your understanding of this sabbat.  For myself I gained even deeper insight into the mysteries this Samhain.  As I post this the gates start to begin closing and the path seems to close, yet the creepy and spooky nature that is Samhaintide and Hallowsmass remains, the time to honor the ancestors comes to a close.

I have had a week to reflect on what I wanted to write for this entry and I have finally come to the last part of the entry where I can really start to explain how one can go about celebrating this sabbat.  For many years as a seeker I was honestly unsure of what to do with my offerings for any sabbat.  Samhain was another one that left me confused, so now I feel it it is time to give some sort of explanation as to how you can give your offerings to the Gods and the ancestors.

So here is a very simple ritual:

Ancestral Ritual For Samhain:

Materials:

Apple or Pomegranete Juice/alcohol

Red Apples or Pomegranete fruit & Seeds

Two cups

1 tree

Ritual:”

As you pour your drink concentrate and think of your ancestors and the Gods and the land.  Focus intently and place this light into the food and drink blessing it in the names of the spirits, the ancestors, and the Gods.  You then pour two drinks one for the Spirits, ancestors and Gods and one for your self.

As you take your drink say a prayer for what you are thankful and towards any ancestors you wish to contact and communicate with.  Take a moment and think of them.  Then get into your trance position.  For this it may be best of you lie facing down with your hands working as a head rest head in a comfortable position.  After you get into position think and state to your self:

“I Vibrate in harmony with the Underworld and the Gods of the Underworld”.

Repeat this statement over and over until you reach a state where you see and become one with the God or Goddess of the Underworld.  Continue the trance until you have gained all the insight you will receive.  Slowly reduce your vibration into yourself.  Once you are back into yourself take another drink in honor of the Gods and the lesson you learned.

Eat the red apple or the pomegranate seeds.  If you eat the apple place the seeds aside till the morning.  If you eat the pomegranate seeds place a few aside till the morning.

Go to bed expecting dreams based on the rite you performed.  The following morning write down any dreams you may have had.  When done and dressed for the day take the seeds and the same drink you had the night before and place them in a whole at the trees base.

Reasoning behind the ritual:

By taking in that blessed drink you understand that the drink is the fruits of the Gods who you worship as well as the ancestors who literally are the land.  This drink is their blood after the sacrificial blood of the god had been spilled, this is their response.  When you eat the fruits of the land or drink of the liquids you are taking in the essence of the land and your ancestors.

When you let a drink in a cup evaporate overnight that drink is consumed by the air and the essence of life.  The ancestors who have returned to visit partake of this liquid.  In the morning the seeds and the remaining liquid are returned to the ground.  This nourishes the ancestors and the spirits as well as the gods.  This is how we can honor and nourish them.

Part four: My conclusion:

For me this really explains a lot.  Through the ritual expressed above I was able to understand the roles of the Gods and the Goddesses that I worship.  I was also able to understand exactly what the underworld does to work with rebirth and reincarnation.  Finally When I look at astrophysics and how the creation of new universes begin and what black-holes really are I can see how my theology and philosophy line up with science.

I really recommended that any seeker of the wisdom of the cycle of destruction, reformation, creation, growth, and development take a basic physics course.  This course will explain how the various galaxies came into being, how stars and suns are born, and how new universes are created.  In some ways it may also lead a seeker to see how magic could be seen to be the force that keeps all of these things working in balance.  That is what Samhaintide and Hallowmas is all about.

Frigga-All Mother

Frigga: The All Mother

One of the things I have mentioned is that I have a connection to the Nordic deities.  The three deities I have the most connection with are Frigga, Odin, Niord. The first Blot I ever held was in honor of Odin and Bragi as poets.  I have since honored Nirod at school.  Nirod being the God of the seas is quite at home on my college campus (which is on the ocean and has three beaches on the campus).  Odin and Nirod came first.  Then I started to be open to Frigga as there were mother issues I have had to over come.

My relationship with Frigga came out of a desire to help heal my abandonment issues from my biological mother.  I am adopted.  When I was two and a half the state took me away from my her due to the abuse and living situation.  I had never really forgotten the pain that caused me.  Since that day I had abandonment issues.

It got even worse when I was six and taken away from my Foster family that had raised me for four years.  Those wounds were things that have hurt me deep.  Several years ago my adoptive mother (from now on called mom) moved away.  I felt abandoned as she had always been about half an hour drive away.  Now she was almost three hours away.  I felt alone and abandoned.

With Frigga’s love and embrace I was able to start to forgive my parents for the abandonment I was feeling.  I started to feel the pain that they had for leaving me.  I began to see that it was their love, the true unconditional love of a mother that was what let them have me go under the care of another family.  The immense anger and rage I felt towards them was dissipated.  There remained a bit of anger, but it was towards the men who abused me and not the mother who let the abuse happen.

When my mom moved back into the area develop a more mature relationship with my mother.    My mother until that point has still been controlling and wouldn’t accept no as an answer to a question regarding what’s going on in my life.  She even still unrolls my pant legs when they get rolled up…It for me was really annoying.

I called on her to help me develop a relationship where she would respect my boundries as an adult.  I didn’t want her to ask about my finances or my therapy or anything any more.  That stuff was no longer her daily concern.  After giving an offering to Frigga I started to have the courage to stand up to my mom.

It was her devotion to Baldur that got my attention.  When she heard of the prophecy of Baldur’s death she traveled all the worlds and made all the plants and animals vow that they would not harm Baldur.  Even though she forgot the mistletoe she was still devoted entirely to saving her son’s life.

While my relationship with Frigga started out asking for her advice on helping me with a mother, there was much more that developed.  When I found my love for philosophy and began to understand what true wisdom was she started to become stronger.  It is said that Frigga is the wisest of the Goddesses and that she knows the Fate of all things though she speaks it not.

Her wisdom is one of the reasons I have continued to have a relationship with her.  She is wise and I aspire to be as wise as I can in her honor.   I feel that she has forced her hand in my life towards become a philosopher and ultimately a teacher and priestess who helps others find wisdom.  I also feel her arms wrapped around me as my own mother.

I have also felt Frigga angry with me when I have been highly disrespectful to my parents.  I feel as if her eyes are looking at me coldly.  I then end up getting calm and apologize and try to explain what my feelings were much easier.  I try to do my best to honor Frigga by being a good daughter and learning all the lessons that come my way.

Fairy Tales and Folklore: How they work within a Modern Pagan path

Fairy Tales and Folk Lore

For many years my only sources for the mythology of witchcraft as a religion came from the typical Neo-Pagan Eclectic witchcraft books. I felt that they were lacking in many areas. For a time I thought I could force the myths of other deities into the 8 Sabbats I was following as a witch. While the practice worked for a while, it was unsatisfactory. I felt as if the Gods were hearing me, but were telling that there is more to do and elsewhere to look.

For a long time I had considered looking into fairy tales for the missing pieces of the mythology and lore I was looking for.   At the time I was of the mindset that fairy tales were for children.  After being exposed to the Disneyfied fairy tales for so long it seemed to me that the only reason an adult had to think about fairy tales was for their small children and not for fun.

A friend of mine told me that if I was interested in the path of Traditional witchcraft beyond what I had read in Artisson and other places I should look into fairy tales.  He even gave me a few to look into.  That was when I first started to consider it.  yet at the time I still couldn’t figure out the connection myself.  So I waited and the answer did come to me.

Ok. You may be thinking whats the connection? Witches in many fairy tales are nasty things. Why would looking into fairy tales and folklore be beneficial to a new witch or even an experienced witch?

The simple answer is that the lore found with in many folktales about elves and dwarves contain a lot of lore that is applicable to the understanding of the beings that traditional witches work with, as well as witches in general. Many ideas of the Witches Goddess can be found in folk lore and fairy tales. There are hints at what these beings are like, what the role of witches are and why witches do the things they do.

I have found that Robin Artisson’s The Withching Way of the Hollow Hill to be very useful in understanding the importance of reading folk lore and fairy tales.  In Artisson’s other book The Horn of Evenwood he also continues to explore the importance of  folk lore and fairy tales as sources of a witches knowledge and wisdom.  HedgeRiderby Eric De Vres is also another book that goes into details about the importance of fairy tales and folklore.

Those were the Pagan author who have helped me to see the importance of fairy tales and folklore.  Last semester in school I took a local inspired fairy tale and folklore class (New England Folklore and Mythology).  That class has inspired me to learn more about folklore.  I became adept at analyzing and studying folklore for any of the possible myths and fairy tales I have read over the years.  This had confirmed my position on continuing the path of a philosopher, folklorist, and anthropologist.

While I am still sorting through and coming to my own analysis of various tales and folklore that I will eventually pass on to my own students, I have started to gain a deeper understanding of the path of the witch and the various roles we have had over the years.

Ok.  So what does folklore entail?

Folklore contains local legends and superstitions.  I can be simple things that people grow up doing because every one does it in an area but doesn’t know why.  It can be legends of people that lived there who were either detested or respected.  They can be practices and customs.  Folklore comes in many forms.

Many people wouldn’t consider the witch trials to be a source of lore and wisdom for witches.  This is actually quite far from the truth.  While I have not read many of the transcripts of the witch trials, I have learned much from books which have cited trials as sources for lore and practices.  While that was a dark time for witches (and most if not all of the people accused were not witches at all) and the craft, it still has rich history and events that can become a part of witch lore.

Fairy tales by their very nature are magical and thus hold keys to the mysteries of the magic out there.  They provide clues to how the magic was worked and those who ruled magic.  There were only a few of the adults that ever remembered their entrances into the fairyland, and these became the magicians/witches and the storytellers.

So, I see how they can be useful.  What sorts of fairy tales should we be looking into?

That depends on what cultural background you are coming from.  Strega witches will use Italian folklore, fairy tales, and mythology to form the basis of their practices.  If you are practicing a Celtic form of Witchcraft you would work with that mythology, fairy tales, and folklore setting.  If you are an eclectic witch you would work with which ever cultures you chose to work with.  I myself use the Germanic fairy tales and folklore most because that is my ancestry, and those have been the tales which have given me the most insight into my own beliefs and practices.

While you should start with a specific culture in mind, that doesn’t mean it should be your only source of information.  I also use English fairy tales and folklore.  I also find inspiration in rewritten fairy tales and folklore such as the tale of bearskin.  I just said you should have a single culture as a starting point.

I have covered why I read and adapt folklore to my path.  As for when I first started to use and truly understand the role of folklore and practices in my own path, that is harder to pinpoint.  I think it’s started to happen slowly over time since I took that folklore class and started to look at fairy tales in a new light.  Still there is much more for me to learn and explore.

There are many great books out there. I suggest starting with Grimms Fairy tales as they are the most well known.  It is in the unknown fairy tales found within those books that you might find the most interest in.  Once you have done that you can start looking at any fairy tales from any culture.  They may still provide you insight.

For moral and ethical tales Aesop’s fables are an excellent source of ethics and morals or important lessons that should be learned.  In many ways the very first stories that children are exposed to such as fairy godmothers, and the like will come back to be the source for hidden wisdom and insight found within those tales.

While they may be dark, you should still read them.  Darkness and depression are simply parts of life.  In many cases in the darker tales the more important lessons are learned.  It is not a requirement, but again simply advice.  After all life is not all roses and sunshine.  Life is confusing and painful.  The fairy tales that include those aspects of human life are just as important as the ones that focus on intense happiness and joy.

Ascension or spiritual Evolution

I must be honest right here and now. My theory of ascension is in some ways based upon the theories of ascension and the philosophy behind ascension that is described with in the TV series ” Stargate SG-1″ . With that in mind if I take those theories and add them to the theories behind reincarnation that I employ (which will be discussed in my two part posts on Fate) my idea of ascension comes to have reasonable logic behind it. This post is coming now because it is directly related to my last post education and experimentation. Based on some of the things I mentioned in that post my ideas may actually be understood.

So what is ascension? How do we ascend? What does it mean to ascend? All of these are questions I am going to answer in this post. There are many things and aspects of my personal philosophy I am going to be sharing here. While many witches are not concerned with “enlightenment” or reaching the next stage of evolution (some traditional witches consider this to be an aspect of the witches path to succumbing and cheating fate) I am. This is one aspect of my path that I can trace to ceremonial magic. Ceremonial magic is all about reaching a higher state where you become closer to one with the Gods you work with. This is part of the path of ascension. I actually use my witchcraft to help me on this path through utilizing the principles found within the Kybalion.

My thoughts about ascension where made even stronger upon reading the Kybalion. If you read my post: principle of mentalism. I will get into this aspect even more after I post individual responses to the various principles outlined in the Kybalion. For now I can at least give a basic idea as to what I mean by ascension.

Ok. So the first questions I mentioned that I am going to cover is what is ascension? The second phrase in the title of this post is the key. Ascension is the process why which we reach the next state of being. It is the process by which we reach the next stage of being. In ceremonial magic the idea is to become one with the Godhead or the gods. Some people believe that humanity is the last stage prior to be pure essence and godlike. I disagree with that statement. I think there is much more beyond the state of humanity. I personally think that humanity is quite fare from the true essence of divinity. With out ascension we can not reach those states. Ascension is the process by which we reach the next state. That is why ascension is spiritual evolution.

The next question I mentioned is how do we ascend? Ascension is a process that takes many many lives. That is one of the reasons we reincarnate. There many lessons and experiences that can only be gained in the human body. That is why I see the body as an aspect of the soul. With out reincarnation we can not fully learn every lesson there is for us to learn in the human body. There is no way we can experience all of the mysteries available to the human world (every religion has it’s own set of mysteries, and atheism even has it’s own mysteries). That is why we reincarnate.

Ok. So if reincarnation is the key, why do we reincarnate? On of the reasons we reincarnate is to learn lessons that are required for ascension. I believe that there are some actions that are meant to be paid for in another life. I think that if you torture people for pure amusement in one life you will experience some form of torture (emotional strain, financial strain, ect are all forms of torture that may be worse than physical torture). I also think that there are some lessons that people just need to experience.

In my view I find suicide to actually make things worse. When a person commits suicide they opt for an easy out. Any lessons that they had not learned yet in this life (especially if it dealt with that they were having difficulties with when they ended their lives) will be more difficult. I have experienced the courage needed to face and overcome the desires of suicide. If you gain that courage then you really are learning your lesson.

By actually learning the lessons you are meant to learn in each life you are able to learn the lessons you need in order to ascend. By ascending you reach the next stage of being. However the lessons we need to learn as life lessons are not the only things we need to learn in each life. There are many other things, the key however is turning knowledge into wisdom.

I define wisdom as having the ability to turn the knowledge gained from experience into a practical application. That is what seeking true wisdom is. It is seeing the world for how it truly is and it is turning practical knowledge gained from books and experience into something that can be used every day in both the day to day mundane life and the more intimate and spiritual aspects of your life.

There are several goals that are accomplished before one can ascend. The first goal is self explanatory and has the direct tie in to my previous post. The first goal is to learn as much as you can. I believe that a lot of what we learn and experience in each life is recorded on our susoul or the stand of fate which is reality that is us. By learning as much as we can from books and personal experiences we have gained more wisdom which will help us reach the next level of existence.

Through learning as much as we can and thorough seeking true wisdom we can a deeper understanding of the nature of reality, the galaxy, and the universe. This is where I got my idea about death and destruction being the true from. When you look at how the various galaxies, and stars are created there is death and destruction. yet that is only one aspect of the mystery that is the creation of the universe and the galaxies.

As part of gaining as much wisdom as you can and learning all your lessons you will after a long period of time reach the next stage of being. You will have ascended. So what is the next stage of being? That was the final question I asked. Ascending means you have reached the next stage of being and the next state of existence. That is what it means to ascend.

The next state of being is a mystery. It is something that is unknown until you reach it. I have many theories on the possible other states of being are. I will cover each theory, but it is important to know that I don’t know which state comes next, or if even there is a choice. My theory does include some basic order, but I may have it wrong. I do believe there are many stages between humanity and becoming a divine being, but until I have gained a deeper gnosis as to what the ascension involves I can just share the states I believe exist beyond the current state of humanity.

This is related to my cosmology. Right now I am going to give you some idea as to my cosmology. There will be a more in depth post this week. I am on spring break this break which means I’ll have more time to write for my blog. I have so many things I want to write about that this vacation creates a perfect time for that.

Any way back to my cosmology. In essence I hold essentially a multi-world multi-verse theory. In essence I believe in many other worlds and planes of existence beyond our own, and as I hold all mythologies to have some truth and all gods to exist I thus believe that all of their realms beyond this realm exist. There. You have the bare bones of my cosmology.

In traditional witchcraft there are many different views on what happens to people who have succumb and cheated fate. Many witches have a concept of “the mighty dead”. Peter Paddon describes these as the few individuals who have gained enough spiritual knowledge and experience where when the reach the cauldron of rebirth they emerge as a whole individual and not many pieces (source).

I see the mighty dead as one example of the possible next stage of being. These are people who are wise. These masters are often the first spiritual teachers that a novice witch and pagan comes in contact with. They may be young spirit guides. These are people who still have some lessons to learn before they reach the stage of “angels” or even before they become elves.

Robin Artison holds that once you have died you become an elven being or fay beings. I think that it is possible that our shades are elves, which would make elves also the next stage of being. yet I think the mighty dead may be the a stage between elves, as I think the elves have mysteries beyond the ones accessible to the elves. (Witching Way of the Hollow Hill)

Along with elves there is the possibility of becoming a nature spirit or even a genus locai. The genus locai are essentially the spirits of a place. Many witches work with these spirits for power. That is why connections with the land become very powerful for witches. In this way genus locai are essential nature spirits. While I think elves are a type of nature spirit, they are not the only ones. I will cover more about elves in a future post, as well as nature spirits when I cover spirits and elemental spirits and the elements (also this week).

One of the beliefs I have inherited or rather taken from Greek Philosophy and theology is the concept of demi-gods. To be honest I think that the people who are born as demi-gods (born of a human and a god or goddess) as people who are either at the next stage of being, or in between the next stage of being. These people are part god and part human. That is why I am not sure if they are in between the state or at the next stage.

The last possible stage I see between humanity and being a God is that of being an angel. In my very first pagan blog project post I briefly covered angels and angelic beings. For now I will say that I see them as being the messengers of gods. By being messengers of gods they are nearly god like. That means they are actually close to being gods. However they are not godlike. There is still more for them to learn and experience though.

If I go by the Kybalion there is still one more stage before we unite with the ultimate creative source and have experienced all the mysteries we need to experience is godhood. Like I have said I don’t think that once we have experienced all the mysteries we can experience as humans we are automatically at the state of divinity. I think it takes time and a process of centuries of reincarnation into the various life forms.

When you take ascension into consideration it also explains why I believe that all individual Gods described in the various mythologies exist. I also believe that there are many deities out there which may not belong to any one specific pantheon because they are an individual who has reached the stage of being a god after many life times and many ascensions. In that regards I think every witch that practices some form of religious witchcraft can be worshiping a God and Goddess duo that we might not actually have knowledge of.

Since I mentioned that Gods may be ascended beings after many lifetimes I must make one more statement. I do not believe that each and every god and goddess out there to be an ascended being. In fact I believe many gods to be beings that were created by THE ALL in that state. As they are mental creations of THE ALL, THE ALL could have created them in any fashion they exist. There for they are as they were intended to be.

I also think that they could simply be beings beyond our understanding, but that was covered in my post: Divinity

On being an eclectic witch and ecletic neo-pagan -a Pagan Blog Project responce

This week one of the possible prompts for the Pagan Blog Project for the letter E was eclectic paganism and eclectic witchcraft in the form of “neo-Wicca”. Over the last few days I have read several different blogs from the Pagan blog project on this topic. While there have been many valid insights there are some things I feel that I should say about myself.

Here is the first part of the prompt:
Eclectic practice is something that can be a big debate in different part s of the Pagan community. Some feel that being eclectic opens you up to a whole world of ideas and tools that with the more narrow view of a specific tradition just isn’t available. Yet others feel that being eclectic equates to a practice that is lacking in structure and commitment to anything. Are you eclectic?
-Rowan Pendragon

Yes. I am eclectic. I am both an eclectic witch and an eclectic pagan. I find that the two are very different practices. While I do use my witchcraft to help me connect to deity and as a part of my worship to deity, it is primarily a non religious practice a craft. The deities I worship with my craft are responsible for the core mysteries of the witchcraft tradition I am developing and sharing through these pages and writings. That being said I do accept that witchcraft is essentially a craft and a philosophy that while spiritual in nature can be adapted to any philosophy or religion.

I however say that I am an eclectic pagan because I am not limited to one ritual set or technique. I am not limited to any one pantheon or cultural way. I do not have to worship or follow the typical 8 sabbbats found in most witchcraft traditions (which I do honor as well). I can worship any deity I want with any holiday I choose.

I have used Hellenic rituals to honor Zeus and other Hellenic Gods. I have had an ecstatic ritual invoking Pan and have been in states of ecstasy and panic created from the worship of Pan that forced me to face my sexual fears and my deepest personal fears. I have also felt the caress of Dionysus while drunk on booze and enjoying liquor. While I have only celebrated one Hellenic festival and it was years ago, I still have that deep connection to Pan.

I have held Blots and Symbels in honor of the Aesir, Vanir, some of the frost Giants. I use the Nine Nobel virtues as the corner stone of my philosophy when it comes to my world view and ethical views. I have experimented with runes and the Seax worship of Odin and Freya (it didn’t work for me). I have started to explore a few Germanic holidays that might not be followed by people other than the Asatru and Heathen recons.

I have done a full moon esbat to Diana according to The Gospel of Aradia and Strega traditions. I still have a lot to learn about Strega and the other deities. However I feel strong in my connection to Diana through the Gospel of Aradia. The most recent connection I have felt to any deity was during that ritual this past summer.

While I am interested in Celtic and Native American traditions I have not pursued them. I know that in many cases those cultures are closed to outsiders. While my own teacher (Chris Penczak) has a connection to some of the Celtic deities, I am not comfortable making that connection as I am not of that blood. From what knowledge I have been able to research even with my adoption I have no connection to Scotland or Ireland. The only possible Celtic connection to me would be in England if there are any to be found with in Anglo-saxon English culture.

I was raised in the United Church of Christ. To this day I have never accepted the core trinitarian philosophy of the UCC that God, Jesus, and The Holy Spirit were one person. I do believe in Jesus and I do believe in the Holy Spirit and God. I just think that they are all separate entities. I think that they are all connected that Jesus is a Demi-God and the son of God as well as a prophet, teacher, and wise man. I believe in God. I just don’t worship Jehova/Yaweh/Allah (the God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam) as my exclusive god. I worship any God I chose when I chose.

As an eclectic pagan like I said I am not limited to exploring and experiencing the rituals and celebrations of just one cultural practice. That being said if I worship a deity from the Roman pantheon I try to worship them with those rituals. In that respect I have started to answer the second question asked by Rowan which was:

What are your thoughts on eclectic vs. traditional practice ?

When it comes to my religious witchcraft experiences I can’t really explain. I have a deep interest in Wicca and those traditional rites and rituals. However there are practical issues and other things that prevent that from happening. I wish I could be a part of a traditional group of some sort. I long for the commitment of repeated rituals with mass power behind them, a community, and a set of core rituals and practices that have already been developed. I long for that sort of setting.

When it comes to the exploration of the other paths I have tried to practice in the traditional way. It can be difficult. I find that the traditional practice makes the connection with the deities a lot easier as the rites are typically found with in the lore in some way.

I find security in tradition. It helps me cement my practice and create foundations that are strong. The foundations built on tradition are stronger. I believe strongly in the power of tradition, habit, and practice. To me these help develop sign posts on the path, and tradition gives validation to personal experience.

This is why I am an odd eclectic. I have explored many paths and taken several things. When I explore I use recon methodology. I read the lore and I read academic sources if they are available. I read and research the history. I have discussions with other recons. I pray and make introduction based offerings to the Gods. I use tradition.

I find that I am going to eventually find one recon path to stick to. However for now I feel that I need to explore all paths open to me at this point in time. I will always keep the worship of the various deities separate. I do not believe that they are all the same. I do not believe that all Gods are one God and all Goddesses one Goddess. I believe that all Gods are individual entities. That is why I keep the worship of the various deities separate. I find that honors and respects them.

I find that eclectic practice where you take different deities in worship them in context that they were never worshiped in before (Hindu deities in a Neo-Pagan witch) is not acceptable. While there have been some deities that have been worshiped in the context of other traditions (The Hellenic, Roman, and Kemetic deities were all interacting via the cross-cultural worship and interaction at the time) I find that in the end, the comparisons are usually fairly off and done with little deep research into the myths and lore as well as traditions of those people.

That is why I as an eclectic keep the worship of every different pantheon separate. I find that it helps me bond with them and the culture better this way. It also helps me gain a deeper understanding of the culture through the exploration of the rituals. Plus I gain a modern understanding through anthropological research.

Now I must begin the topic of “Eclectic neo-Wicca” and my feelings about that. I do not accept people who practice an eclectic form of religious witchcraft based loosely on the teachings of proper Wiccan rites as Wiccan. I do accept them as witches. In fact I firmly believe as an eclectic religious witch there is an established traditions for us.

Wait eclectic tradition?

Yes. Eclectic tradition. My personal library contains several books on “Eclectic witchcraft”, as well as Wicca and traditional witchcraft (not even mentioning my recon sources as well). I have found that essentially if you look at the books that label themselves as “eclectic Wicca” there are essentially core rites and rituals practiced. While the individual practitioner may be a soft polytheist who uses other deities aside from the MMC and horned God (which I was when I started and I will have a post on this later at some point) in their rituals the actual content of the rituals is the same. The words may be different, but the intent and the format are the same.

That is why I see eclectic neo-pagan witchcraft to be a cohesive tradition. The various deities found in the tradition are different but the ritual format and content are the same. I have found that even when looking at the various witch traditions out there: (Cabot, Temple, Blackforest, Standing Stone, and many others) they have the same core rituals and sabbats. While the individual interpretations were different and may use different deities the overall mythology is the same.

My religious witchcraft is eclectic. I have taken from traditional witchcraft (Through Robin Artisson and a few other authors), The “Wiccan literature” out there (Gardner, Frosts, Sanders), I have taken from Hermetic literature (The Kybalion), Shamanic literature, and Eclectic Witchcraft as well as some Thelemic literature (The LBRP). My practice melds all of these together into one whole unit that works. How this is developing I am still not fully aware. Its just developing.

However none of that makes my practice in any way Wiccan. Nor does it make me Wiccan. I have not been initiated into Wicca. I have not learned the rites of Wicca, nor have I experienced the mysteries of Wicca, nor do I know the names of the deities in Wicca. I am not Wiccan. I may never be Wiccan. I am a witch as the religious and magical practice that primarily drives me is derived from various forms of Witchcraft.

In discussions I have had with other people in regards to the nature of the magical craft called witchcraft one constant comment has been that witchcraft as a craft is eclectic in nature. It is something that is going to be developed individually by each witch.

As a magical practice I primarily define witchcraft as dealing with the folk lore and folk traditions of European countries both continental (German, France, Italy, Norway, Sweden) or Island (England, Ireland, Scotland, Iceland,). This magical practice contains lore from all of these sources and have adapted to include some Christian influenced charms over the years.

It is this adaptability that has allowed Witchcraft to survive. It’s no wonder that witches are often considered to be ‘cunning”. Witchcraft has many forms from protection from witches (witch bottles and many protection charms during the puritan era in America fit into this category). Some of the practices can be traced to fairy tales, and others more to local legends and traditions. The fact of the mater is that as a magical practice witchcraft has always adapted and will always be adaptable due to its eclectic nature.

As I mentioned before essentially witchcraft as a magical practice is going to be created by each individual witch. While there may be some spells and charms passed on through oral lore or in the form of a Grimiore ( or Book of Shadows) essentially every witch must find what works for them selves. This is why constant trial and error is important. That is why constant study and exploration is important.

My witchcraft involves angelic forces from time to time. It can involve elemental spirits, dragons, other spirits, ancestors, gods or just my own energy. The spells I create can involve intense energy manipulation or little to none. They can involve manipulating physical objects or they can involve simply focusing mental energy. My magic is varied and allows for experimentation and development.

The final question asked in the prompt this week by Rowan was:

how do you feel eclectic work benefits you if that’s the path you follow?

I have found several benefits to being an eclectic pagan. One of the key benefits is that I can widen my network of contacts and I can increase my experiences. I have found that by honestly going into the various Recon and eclectic or traditional groups saying that I am a seeker who seeks genuine wisdom and experiences. I do not know if my path lies along the lines of a specific tradition or if I am suited more to always be an eclectic. For now I wish to simply discuss and learn from you about your groups practices that they will be more willing to accept me.

Another benefit has been the ability to constantly explore and try new things. As I said before in this post I am not limited to any specific holiday calendar or ritual setting. By being an eclectic I have opened myself up to the possibilities to be found in any and every path out there. I don’t have to experience the mysteries of the universe (and I believe every path to have a unique set of mysteries available to them) through just one culture. I can experience many mysteries.

The largest drawback I have found to be that I have to constantly be studying. As an eclectic I have to constantly be reading and expanding my references for various paths. I have to look into history and culture. I have to look into modern telling of myths and folk lore as well as more of the literal translations of source texts.

I have to look at personal experience. I have to compare it to lore and experiences by other people. I have to keep a record of what I have done and what I hope to experience. There is a lot of exploration that comes with being an eclectic. There are times that the work may not seem worth it, but in the end I find it worth it.

I am an eclectic because I am a philosopher in the truest sense of the word. I am a lover and seeker of wisdom and knowledge. That may explain the various deities I have connections to (Zeus, Odin, Thoth, Friga, ect). I believe that there is wisdom to be found any where. You just have to be open to the possibilities.

Could I be wrong?

Yes. However I have found that the journey is worth it. I have found that in the end I seek to find wisdom where I can. I might not agree with every practice I read, and frankly not all of the rituals I have experiences have sat well with me. The fact that I keep going shows that I have the one key virtue that all eclectics need:

Courage.

To be an eclectic witch and an eclectic pagan is to have the courage to explore, test, and question everything that is out there. It is to test your self and your practice. It is the courage to try things that other people might not. It is the courage to experiment and fail and try again.

Is it worth it?

I think so. I find enjoyment and pleasure out of reading about, researching, experiencing, and exploring various religions and philosophy. I find enjoyment out of pondering the nature of the universe. I find enjoyment out of exploring all avenues of wisdom and learning. I am in that ways happy to be a college student.

For those reasons and more I am an eclectic. I tread the border between being a traditionalist. I hold that traditions should remain in tact. I hold that traditions are meant to be done a specific way for specific reasons. In that way I am a traditionalist. In that I am open to more than one tradition or way of thinking I am eclectic. Just because it’s tradition doesn’t mean it’s the only way, but it also doesn’t mean that traditions should be discounted.

Pagan Blog Project: D is for divinity

One of the things I realized that I would need to cover at some point in this blog is exactly what I think about divinity and deity and gods and what makes a god a god. For me the belief in gods is an essential aspect of my religious core. Over the last few years I have come to realize that my concept of what makes a being a god and divine figure is not the same as every one else. So I figure why not try to put some of this into words.

One of the things I must say right here and now is that the essence of divinity and the essence of the divine in its true nature is a mystery. The search for the meaning of the divine is something that only each person can do for themselves. I say this is a mystery because a lot of what the divine is can not be expressed in words but only experienced through personal revelation. I’ll get into the mystery aspect later on when we get to the letter M. That being said here we go!

The nature of the divine

The first thing I have to say on the subject is that everything on earth contains the essence of the divine. We are a part of the divine in that we are all a part of nature. The earth and all that we see or can see through images (I’m talking deep space photos here) are physical manifestations of the divine. That is the physical essence of the divine.

According to the bible Yaweh/Jehova created man in his image (by man I mean man/human kind). This to me comes to mean two different things. We are divine in that our physical bodies are representations of what the divine may have looked like. It also means that we are divine in that we have the ability to create and destroy the life we make (life here refers to communities, businesses, etc) as well as those of plants and animals. We have the ability too shape this world into what we would like it to be.

That power is a hefty responsibility. In the first Spiderman comics Peter is given the advice that great power comes with great responsibility. This is one of this things we have to realize. If we take the Christian bible as a literal truth than we have the power and the responsibility to keep this world going.

That is only our physical responsibility. Our spirit the breath of life I mentioned in my post about death is a divine gift. The Poetic Edda states that:

17. Then from the throng | did three come forth,
From the home of the gods, | the mighty and gracious;
Two without fate | on the land they found,
Ask and Embla, | empty of might.

18. Soul they had not, | sense they had not,
Heat nor motion, | nor goodly hue;
Soul gave Othin, | sense gave Hönir,
Heat gave Lothur | and goodly hue.
Source: Poetic Edda VOLUSPO Human Norse Creation Myth

Soul here refers to breath. These were the three Gods who also created the Nordic universe upon the death of Ymir. The sense here refers to right and wrong, and common sense. The next text in the Edda focuses on the common sense aspect. Heat, motion, and godly hue are the physical bodies. With out the mind (sense), Heat nor motion nor godly hue (body), and Soul (Soul) we humans would not be. Each of the Gods gave an essence of divinity. This is yet another example of how we are part of the divine.

Other pantheons have members that were once mortal who ascended to Godhood. The Egyptian pantheon and religion was known to deify their pharaohs upon death, associating them with Ra. In Greece Hercules was made into a god upon his death. This here shows me one other possibility about the nature of divinity.

One of my beliefs is that of ascension. I believe that over many lives I will obtain all the wisdom that I can from existing in the life form of a human. I believe that at that point in time new mysteries on a new level of existence will be open to me. That means all of my past lives converge into one being. That being has more wisdom and insight than any human could ever have. I have now reached a state of divine essence (pure spirit). I am in many ways an angelic form. Not human, but not fully a god yet. I still have much more to learn and experience before that level of enlightenment can be obtained.

I believe that gods many have existed in many times before us. I believe that the universe has been created and destroyed many times over. I believe that galaxies and life forms are constantly being created and destroyed (taking a look into the expanded cosmos will show you that much). I think that the universe is held in the mind of one all knowing being who is beyond all comprehension that we may just call pure “Spirit”. This being in the Kyballion is termed THE ALL.

I’m going to quote a few passages here:

“Under, and back of, the Universe of Time, Space and Change,
is ever to be found The Substantial Reality–the Fundamental
Truth.”–The Kybalion.

“Substance” means: “that which underlies all outward manifestations; the essence; the essential reality; the thing in itself,” etc. “Substantial” means: “actually existing; being the essential element; being real,” etc. “Reality” means: “the state of being real; true, enduring; valid; fixed; permanent; actual,” etc.

Under and behind all outward appearances or manifestations, there must always be a Substantial Reality. This is the Law. Man considering the Universe, of which he is a unit, sees nothing but change in matter, forces, and mental states. He sees that nothing really IS, but that everything is BECOMING and CHANGING. Nothing stands still-everything is being born, growing, dying-the very instant a thing reaches its height, it begins to decline–the law of rhythm is in constant operation–there is no reality, enduring quality, fixity, or substantiality in anything– nothing is permanent but Change. He sees all things evolving from other things, and resolving into other things–constant action and reaction; inflow and outflow; building up and tearing down; creation and destruction; birth, growth and death. Nothing endures but Change. And if he be a thinking man, he realizes that all of these changing things must be but outward appearances or manifestations of some Underlying Power–some Substantial Reality.

All thinkers, in all lands and in all times, have assumed the necessity for postulating the existence of this Substantial Reality. All philosophies worthy of the name have been based upon this thought. Men have given to this Substantial Reality many names-some have called it by the term of Deity (under many titles). Others have called it “The Infinite and Eternal Energy” others have tried to call it “Matter”–but all have acknowledged its existence. It is self-evident it needs no argument.

In these lessons we have followed the example of some of the world’s greatest thinkers, both ancient and modern–the Hermetic. Masters–and have called this Underlying Power–this Substantial Reality–by the Hermetic name of “THE ALL,” which term we consider the most comprehensive of the many terms applied by Man to THAT which transcends names and terms.

We accept and teach the view of the great Hermetic thinkers of all times, as well as of those illumined souls who have reached higher planes of being, both of whom assert that the inner nature of THE ALL is UNKNOWABLE. This must be so, for naught by THE ALL itself can comprehend its own nature and being.

The Hermetists believe and teach that THE ALL, “in itself,” is and must ever be UNKNOWABLE. They regard all the theories, guesses and speculations of the theologians and metaphysicians regarding the inner nature of THE ALL, as but the childish efforts of mortal minds to grasp the secret of the Infinite. Kybalion Chapter 4: THE ALL (Source)

The last two paragraphs there explain why I say that the true nature of divinity is a mystery. It’s unknowable as we understand it. The same entry in the book goes on to give three philosophical laws about the true nature and essence of the All and their conclusion about how the universe is held in the nature of an all encompassing living mind:

But while the essential nature of THE ALL is Unknowable, there are certain truths connected with its existence which the human mind finds itself compelled to accept. And an examination of these reports form a proper subject of inquiry, particularly as they agree with the reports of the Illumined on higher planes. And to this inquiry we now invite you.

“THAT which is the Fundamental Truth–the Substantial
Reality–is beyond true naming, but the Wise Men call
it THE ALL.”–The Kybalion.

“In its Essence, THE ALL is UNKNOWABLE.”–The Kybalion.

“But, the report of Reason must be hospitably received,
and treated with respect.”–The Kybalion.

The human reason, whose reports we must accept so long as we think at all, informs us as follows regarding THE ALL, and that without attempting to remove the veil of the Unknowable:

(1) THE ALL must be ALL that REALLY IS. There can be
nothing existing outside of THE ALL, else THE ALL would
not be THE ALL.

(2) THE ALL must be INFINITE, for there is nothing else
to define, confine, bound, limit; or restrict THE ALL.
It must be Infinite in Time, or ETERNAL,–it must have
always continuously existed, for there is nothing else to
have ever created it, and something can never evolve from
nothing, and if it had ever “not been,” even for a moment,
it would not “be” now,–it must continuously exist forever,
for there is nothing to destroy it, and it can never
“not-be,” even for a moment, because something can never
become nothing. It must be Infinite in Space–it must be
Everywhere, for there is no place outside of THE ALL–it
cannot be otherwise than continuous in Space, without break,
cessation, separation, or interruption, for there is nothing
to break, separate, or interrupt its continuity, and nothing
with which to “fill in the gaps.” It must be Infinite in
Power, or Absolute, for there is nothing to limit, restrict,
restrain, confine, disturb or condition it–it is subject to
no other Power, for there is no other Power.

(3) THE ALL must be IMMUTABLE, or not subject to change in
its real nature, for there is nothing to work changes upon it
nothing into which it could change, nor from which it could
have changed. It cannot be added to nor subtracted from;
increased nor diminished; nor become greater or lesser in any
respect whatsoever. It must have always been, and must always
remain, just what it is now–THE ALL–there has never been,
is not now, and never will be, anything else into which it
can change.

THE ALL being Infinite, Absolute, Eternal and Unchangeable it must follow that anything finite, changeable, fleeting, and conditioned cannot be THE ALL. And as there is Nothing outside of THE ALL, in Reality, then any and all such finite things must be as Nothing in Reality. Now do not become befogged, nor frightened–we are not trying to lead you into the Christian Science field under cover of Hermetic Philosophy. There is a Reconciliation of this apparently contradictory state of affairs. Be patient, we will reach it in time.

We see around us that which is called “Matter,” which forms the physical foundation for all forms. Is THE ALL merely Matter? Not at all! Matter cannot manifest Life or Mind, and as Life and Mind are manifested in the Universe, THE ALL cannot be Matter, for nothing rises higher than its own source–nothing is ever manifested in an effect that is not in the cause–nothing is evolved as a consequent that is not involved as an antecedent. And then Modern Science informs us that there is really no such thing as Matter–that what we call Matter is merely “interrupted energy or force,” that is, energy or force at a low rate of vibration. As a recent writer has said “Matter has melted into Mystery.” Even Material Science has abandoned the theory of Matter, and now rests on the basis of “Energy.”

Then is THE ALL mere Energy or Force? Not Energy or Force as the materialists use the terms, for their energy and force are blind, mechanical things, devoid of Life or Mind. Life and Mind can never evolve from blind Energy or Force, for the reason given a moment ago: “Nothing can rise higher than its source–nothing is evolved unless it is involved–nothing manifests in the effect, unless it is in the cause. ” And so THE ALL cannot be mere Energy or Force, for, if it were, then there would be no such things as Life and Mind in existence, and we know better than that, for we are Alive and using Mind to consider this very question, and so are those who claim that Energy or Force is Everything.

What is there then higher than Matter or Energy that we know to be existent in the Universe? LIFE AND MIND! Life and Mind in all their varying degrees of unfoldment! “Then,” you ask, “do you mean to tell us that THE ALL is LIFE and MIND?” Yes! and No! is our answer. If you mean Life and Mind as we poor petty mortals know them, we say No! THE ALL is not that! “But what kind of Life and Mind do you mean?” you ask.

The answer is “LIVING MIND,” as far above that which mortals know by those words, as Life and Mind are higher than mechanical forces, or matter–INFINITE LIVING MIND as compared to finite “Life and Mind.” We mean that which the illumined souls mean when they reverently pronounce the word: “SPIRIT!”

“THE ALL” is Infinite Living Mind–the Illumined call it SPIRIT!

Later on the the Kybalion there are references to living many lives until we eventually ascend to becoming one with THE ALL. I equate the universe in THE ALL as the universe with in an authors head in the world they create. The world of Harry Potter originally existed purely within the mind of J.K. Rowling. When publsihed it was opened to other people and the universe expanded, but still played by her rules. If you apply this theory to the grand scheme of the universe we are simply thoughts of the unknowable Divine mind.

So in the end what is Divinity?

To me the Gods are beings of immense wisdom and power whose full beings are beyond our comprehension and as such should be considered mysteries. However I think we can get insights into their natures through the passages in the texts about the various pantheons. It will never give you the full image, but it may help guide you into a better understanding of them.

I also think that they have lived lives before that are beyond our understanding. That is why I think there are so many creation and destruction myths. As I said look at the universe as a whole. The powers of life (creation) and destruction (death) are what rule the universe. Why can’t those powers be the reason why there are so many cultures with so many different deities and creation myths? Couldn’t they be from other systems billions of years ago whose energies through space radiation came to us? I don’t say its face. Nor do I think it’s the full truth. I think it may be a possibility.

What about you, the seeker, the reader? Have I given you anything to think about with this post? If you have any questions or concerns please post them in the comments section 😀

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