Category Archives: Cosmology

Book Review: Pictish Orthodox Druidism

Pictish Orthodox Druidism

This is is very interesting book that covers and obscure religious and spiritual practice.  This book is not like anything else on the market related to Celtic traditions.  This book is very unique, and while it does cover Celtic spirituality and Druidry it does some from the tradition of the Picts.  Most books on Celtic Paganism or Druidry cover Irish or Welsch traditions.  Very few touch on the Picts and their tradition.

The author covers this tradition from the way it was taught in his family.  In places where his family tradition had gaps the author did his best with research into history and lore to complete the tradition.  This book is his way of preserving his view and style of Pictish Druidry.

This book is not really broken into chapters but parts with related sections.  Aside from the introduction there are eight sections in the book.  Each section focuses on unique aspects of this tradition providing information on lore and history as well as theory and practice of ritual and magical workings.

In the Introduction the author starts by presenting several common terms and definitions used within the book and Pagan traditions and spirituality.  Next the author explains his approach to reconstructing religious and spiritual traditions.  This is essential to understand as the practices in the book are a mixture of reconstructed practices and traditions passed down in his family.   The introduction concludes with a summary of principles. Here the author also outlines what exactly he considers Pictish Tradition to entails.

The first section of the book is entitled Pictish Orthodoxy.  This section begins with an overview of Celtic spiritual traditions and the different forms out there.  The author presents an argument for Pictish Tradition origins and how we does have information to build a base on.  This section here is also where we are introduced to the Gods.

The section on the Gods covers a basic introduction to the world view.  It covers several of the spirit concepts as well as the type of Polytheism that Pictish tradition followed.  Here the author introduces the idea that the Picts would have adopted some Norse traditions.

Here the author covers information on the various Gods of the Pict tradition.  He gives their names and attributes.  The author covers three different “tribes” or types of Gods worshiped.  There are the Greater Gods, the Brethren Gods (Norse Gods), and the Tuatha DeDannan.  Through the categorization of the Gods we get a view for the complex syncretic path that is the Pictish Tradition.

The section ends with a discussion on the concept of the trinity and the sacred three.  Here we learn about the Celtic three other worlds and the Celtic Knot.  The author also explains through this sacred three why certain deities are seen as a Triad.  To tie in the Norse tradition with the exploration of the Celtic other worlds (3) the author lists the Nine Norse Realms.

The section part in the book is called Awen.  This section is about taking action and how worship is through action.  Here the author covers the sacred Holidays.  The section on the holidays is rather small.  It does present a few examples of how those sacred days could be honored through actions and activities rather than ritual.

The third part of the book is one of the most interesting.  This is the section on the Faerie faith.  Many spiritual traditions work with beings called the Fae.  This section is about the Pictish tradition and their take on the Fae.  Here we get a taste for ritual work and how the Picts dealt with contact with spirits.

This chapter had some of the most useful information.  It starts out by explains what the faerie spirits really are and how the modern view of fairy’s is actually quite far from the historical perspective.  The author explains that he believes this would have been the practice of the common folk and was less to deal with Gods and was more animistic in nature.

After giving brief examples of offerings and how the Faerie Faith may have been practiced the author begins to discuss the different types of Fae.  Here we see the variety of spiritual forces found within the Pictish tradition beyond the Gods.  The author gives several different types of fae including descriptions of Norse Fae.

Once we are familiar with types of Fae we get into the first practical bit of spiritual work within the book.  Here we are learning how to set up an altar to suit the practice of the Faerie faith.  The author covers three different types of altars to the Faerie people and the types of fae best honored at each.

The chapter ends with ideas on how to make contact with the Fae.  Here the author covers plant talismans and flowers in your garden that could attract the fae.  The author also presents a detailed guided meditation to use meditative techniques to meet fae and work with them.    In all reality the section on the Faerie faith could be a book in its own right.  The author does a great job of presenting information that gives an introduction to the practice within the context of this particular cultural view.

The fourth section of the book is about the priesthood.  Here we find out the authors view on Priesthood and why its not a mantle to be taken up easily.  The author covers the different types of priests and Druids in this chapter.   With each type of druid or priest the author covers the roles they had and how they worked for the Gods and the community. Here the author also covers the various Norse Priests that would have filled similar roles to the Druids.  The author makes it clear that for him priesthood and ministry are the same thing.

The fifth section is where we first get introduced to the practice of magic.  The practice of magic is one of the main draws to practices like Druidry, Shamanism, and witchcraft.  The idea of being able to perform rituals and take specific actions to create change in ones life is very appealing.  So it is important to cover the use of magic and the theories behind it.

In this section the author covers the hows and whys of magic.  Before getting into magical laws and theory the author outlines the phases and steps involved in spell casting.  He explains several magical laws and magical theories.  This gives you the basis to start exploring the magic discussed later.

The majority of the section on magic focuses specifically on the Druid practice of magic.  The author gives examples of types of magic he calls Low, Middle, and High.  In each section of low, middle or high there are examples of types of magical workings and practices that would fit within those concepts.

The chapter ends with a discussion on Druid rituals, tools and the organizations.  With the information on ritual and tools the reader now has enough information to create simple spells and workings within this magical paradigm.  It is here that we have really begun to be able to piece together a practice from the material presented.

The sixth section in the book is on Magical languages.  Here the author introduces Ogham and symbols that are used in magical ritual.  The author covers tattoos and scarification rituals as ways that the Picts used magical symbolism on their body.  The section on magical languages ends with a brief introduction to Runes and Runic magic.

The seventh part of the book is dedicated to Runes.  This is one area of the book that is entirely dedicated to a Nordic aspect of the tradition.  Here the author covers the Rune poems and the three different Rune systems.  He covers the use in magic and the use in divination.  The author even covers creating your own traditional Rune staves and doing traditional Runic readings.  This section and the Faerie faith chapter are the two section of the book with the most practical information and the most unique information.

The author ends the book covering a variety of related spiritual traditions.   The author begins the section by covering different Druid and Celtic traditions and organizations.   Here the author covers traditions like Shamanism, Wicca, and general Witchcraft.  This shows that the author not only respects these other spiritual traditions but he also sees how they are connected and possibly related to his own traditions and practices.

Overall the book provides great insight into this spiritual tradition.  There is enough information that the reader could decide to explore the practice for themselves personally.  The author gave enough information to form a workable practice without doing all of the work for you.  He allows the reader to start with this information and work with the spirits and Gods through personal work to develop their priesthood and their practice.

I would recommended this book to people interested in both Celtic and Norse Pagan traditions.  While I may not agree with all of the information presented on the Norse traditions, I feel that the author did an excellent way of presenting how the Picts would have adapted the Norse Gods and practices into their traditions.

Review: The Spiral Dance

The Spiral DanceThe book The Spiral Dance is considered a classic in modern witchcraft literature.  The author Starhawk put this book out at a time when there was little to no information published publicly on Witchcraft and people were starving for information.  In the 35 years since the original release of The Spiral Dance many more books have been put on the market, but the Spiral Dance remains on the top of many recommended reading lists.

The one down side to this book is that it does focus heavily on the feminist movement and feminism.  At the time the book was written the author was heavily involved in the feminist movement and feminist spirituality, so it makes sense that this book would reflect those interests and activities.  This book is one of the reasons that religious witchcraft is considered to be “women’s religion”.  The theme and focus throughout the book is the use of witchcraft and Goddess spirituality to reclaim women’s rights and women’s power.

The subtext to the title “The Spiral Dance” reads :”A rebirth of the ancient religion of the Great Goddess”.  The text is a very apt description for the information that you find within the book.  When you combine the focus on the Great Goddess with the feminist movement at the time you have a book that covers feminist witchcraft and feminist spirituality and why its important for the world we live in.

Now Starhawk does talk about why feminist spirituality like the Goddess movement is important to men and what Men can get out of the practice of witchcraft.  So while the book is geared towards women and feminist spirituality, there are benefits described for Men and practices of Male witches discussed.  The overall tone though is geared towards women and women’s mysteries.

This book is 13 chapters long.  Each chapter has a specific lesson that expands on the information in the previous chapter.  Within several of the chapters are easy to do exercises and meditations.  These meditations and exercises are provided so that a solitary witch or someone seeking witchcraft can learn practices that will allow them to become witches in their own right.

Each chapter starts out with a ritual or a description of the practices found within the chapter to illustrate the lessons and information found within the chapter.  Some of these stories are fictional and some of them are from experiences within the authors own coven settings.  These personal experience illustrations form some of the most powerful aspects of the book allowing the reader to see what sort of experiences they may have in their own work while not telling them explicitly that these will be your experiences as well.

The first chapter completely discusses witchcraft as a Goddess focused religion.  Here is where we first learn the concept of a Great Goddess and of feminist spirituality.  The author also goes into the history of witchcraft and what exactly witchcraft is as a religion and a practice.  Its a basic starting point illustrating the misconceptions and issues many people have with witchcraft.

The second chapter goes into the worldview of witchcraft.  Every religion has a way of viewing the world.  Here we re provided with a creation myth for the birth of the God and Goddess within this version of witchcraft as well as the essence of the Great Goddess.  Here we are given the concept of the soul/spirit as well as the concepts of energy working and the view on the cosmos.

The third chapter talks about covens.  Here we learn about the common structure of religious witchcraft and the way that this structure functions.  The author illustrates both same sex covens as well as mixed gender covens and why coven structures work.  The comparisson between covens and traditional religious structures provide ways for seekers and students to understand the functional differences between a church and a coven.

The fourth chapter discusses sacred space.  One key component in witchcraft rituals is the creation of sacred space.  This chapter provides several different ways of working this ritual as well as reasons behind the creation of sacred space.

The fifth chapter is all about the Goddess.  This religious witchcraft tradition is Duotheistic meaning it focuses on the worship of a Goddess and a God.  In this chapter we are introduced to the Goddess and her roles within the religion.  We learn how to call her and how both men and women can relate to her.

The sixth chapter is all about the God.  While the Goddess is the focus in the feminist version of witchcraft that the Spiral Dance teaches, the God is still important.  This chapter illustrates the relationship between the Goddess and God and how they need each other and work together to be one.

The seventh chapter is all about the use of symbols within magic.  Magic works through the use of symbols and directing energy related to those symbols.  This chapter in the book has several different spells to try as well as exercises to develop your own understanding of symbols and your own association with symbols.

The eighth chapter is all about the Cone of power.  This particular chapter focuses on Coven based workings, but the concepts of raising and directing energy in the shape of a cone is applicable to the solitary student.  Here we understand what it means in witchcraft when the concept of energy direction and manipulation is discussed.

The ninth chapter is about trance work.  The basic definition of magic given early in the book is the idea and the ability to change ones concious state at will.  This chapter explores the use of trance and the reason why trance work is part of witchcraft.  Basic meditation and trance concepts are addressed here and there are several different exercises within the chapter for trance work and meditation work.

The tenth chapter of the book focuses on initiation.  Solitary witches who read this book will not get as much out of this chapter as a witch who is working for initiation within a coven or specific tradition.  This chapter describes what it means to be initiated and provides a coven based initiation ritual as a sample.

The eleventh chapter in the book focuses on esbats or moon based rituals.  Within witchcraft the moon is sacred and is revered as a symbol of the Goddess.  Moon rituals are typically in many cases working rituals while sabbat rituals are more worship based.  Moon rituals can be based on the full or new moons or other moon phases, though full and new are the most common.

The twelfth chapter in the book focuses on the wheel of the year or the sabbats and holiday celebrations of this tradition of witchcraft.  Here the author provides sample rituals for ideas as to how to honor the sabbats as well as providing information on the lore and meanings behind the sabbats.

The final chapter of this book is focused on developing religion.  Here the author explains the issues that can arrive when religions become based on dogma and established practices and don’t change.  The author explains what exactly witchcraft as a religion is and how it has to continue to change and evolve in this modern world.  Here we learn the dangers of thinking in strict absolute terms as well as in dualistic terms.

Despite the age, this book is useful.  Its a good book for establishing witchcraft as a religion and explaining why religious witchcraft is so different than traditional religions.  The book covers the basics and provides enough information that a solitary seeker man or women can start their own practice and create their own relationship with the God, Goddess, and the Great Goddess.

Review: The Wiccan Way-Magical spirituality for the solitary Pagan

The Wiccan WayThe Wiccan Way (Published in the UK as The Hedge Witches Way) is a very good book for beginners. This book covers a very simple way to practice magic and witchcraft without the requirement for long formal rituals. This book covers an important topic that most books on witchcraft don’t talk about, even those which come at witchcraft from the perspective of a religious practice. This book covers the concept, practice, and creation of witchcraft prayers.

For many people the practice of magic and prayer are intricately connected. Many books teach that spell casting is a witches way of saying a prayer. While some spells are prayers, this book examines exactly what a witches prayer is. This book covers what makes a prayer a magical act and what makes a prayer an act of devotion, as a witch uses prayers both for magic and for forms of worship.

The US title of the book is a bit more accurate than the UK title of Hedge Witches Way. The reason behind this is that Hedge witchcraft is a very specific form of witchcraft dealing heavily with trance work and spirit companions. While the author does include prayers for traveling and working with the spirit realms, the focus of the style of witchcraft in this book is not shamanic or trance based, and as such this book is not about Hedge witchcraft but a different form of modern Wicca or Wiccan styled witchcraft.

The author calls the witchcraft and magic described in this book as Wildwood Mysticism. The author teaches that this particular form of witchcraft does not need intense structured and formal rituals. The author mentions here that maintaining an altar and saying a simple prayer to the God and Goddess is all that you need to do to practice this style and form of witchcraft.

The first chapter in the book is all about prayer and enchantment. This first introduction chapter basically covers the nature of witchcraft. Here the author mentions a sense of nature being sacred, a connection with spirits and spirit forces, and why prayers can be effective ways of connecting with the various forces in life and that are responsible for life. The author even mentions just how easy it is for the distinction of the difference between a prayer and a spell to fade for witches, as witches who follow this path work their spells and magic through the use of prayer.

The second chapter is a chapter about the Gods that are worshiped and prayed to in this particular tradition or style of witchcraft. The author starts the chapter by mentioning how the Gods of witches were demonized in the past and how we need to bring their truth back. The author then gives a basic idea about the God and Goddess of this tradition including an introduction to the cosmology or worldview of this practice explaining the three realms or worlds and how their God and Goddess manifests in each of them.

The third chapter of this book is about mysteries. In religious witchcraft the experience of the mysteries is the goal of the rituals. In this specific tradition the experience of the mysteries is related to the prayers. This chapter explains why prayers help us access those mysteries and experiences. The chapter also explains why some prayers should be kept private and why some are meant to be shared. This chapter is key in understanding the importance of prayer in this style of witchcraft, as the mysteries are the experiences of the God and Goddess as well as magic and the flow of the universe.

The fourth chapter in the book is about the theories and practices of magic. Here is where the author describes and defines clearly what wildwood mysticism means and is as a practice. The author here defines what it means to be a witch. The author ends the chapter with a list of the practices that makes one a wildwood mystic and a witch in this practice pointing out prayer being the central component to all of them.

The fifth chapter is a chapter on initiation to wildwood mysticism. To the author the witchcraft is the action and practice of the magical aspects while the wildwood mysticism is the actual spiritual practice and components. Before one can be a witch in this practice they need to become attuned and accustomed to the forces of nature through a wildwood mystic initiation. This chapter provides the ritual and prayer outline for this practice. The chapter ends with ideas and areas of study to increase ones awareness of the tides of nature and the feelings of wildwood mysticsim.

The sixth chapter in this book is about the maintenance and creation of an altar to the Gods and to the practice of wildwood mysticism. Here the author provides a very basic and simple idea of what an altar can be. There are no fancy elemental tools and associations on this altar set, rather a bowl of water, a twig or plant for the world tree and something for the God and Goddess. The key point here in this chapter is the practice of saying prayers at an altar as an act of devotion and worship. Its the idea that you can worship with prayers at an altar without elaborate rituals and ceremonial tools that you see in so many other books on witchcraft.

The seventh chapter in the book covers initiation into the practice of witchcraft and the practice of gaining the powers of the witch. As shown earlier the practice of the mysticism and the witchcraft are separate yet connected. This chapter explores and explains how one can use prayers in ritual to gain the powers of a witch and to become a witch yourself providing several different prayers and ritual actions to naming oneself a witch with the powers of a witch.

The next three chapters are very practical chapters. These chapters focus on the practice of need based prayers and magic. These chapters provide insight into the different types of spell work that wildwood mystic witches can and may perform.

The eighth chapter gets into spells for healing. Here the author provides several different types of healing prayers and spell actions for different situations. The author explains how different types of prayers and a different world aspect should be used for different types of healing work. The prayers provided here serve as an excellent base for healing prayer and spell work.

The ninth chapter in this book is again a chapter focused on spells and prayers for a specific need. This chapter focuses on money and wealth. Like everyone else witches have issues with money and they have bills to pay. This chapter provides several different unique prayers and spell actions for different types of wealth and money.

The tenth chapter in this book focuses on good luck and good fortune. Like the other two chapters the prayers and spell actions in this chapter address the three worlds and the aspects of the God and Goddess in each realm that are important to those prayers. The author also examines the different types of good luck and good fortune out there and why you may want to work and pray for them.

The eleventh chapter in this book is probably the most useful chapter in the book. It is in this chapter that the author finally teaches the reader how to write their own prayers. The nine previous chapters provided several different examples of prayers in different situations. By looking at those prayers a reader can have an idea of how prayers may be constructed. The author provides a three step process for writing prayers and provides blanks in them for you to insert your own concepts and addresses. There are also two prayers for example set up as being written.

The twelfth chapter in the book focuses on writing prayers with the assistance of a familiar spirit. Familiar spirits and spirit guides are common themes and concepts in witchcraft traditions. Here the author explains and provides rituals to get and meet your own familiar spirit, but also explains how and why they are useful in prayer writing.

The thirteenth chapter of the book focuses on another traditional practice of witches. That practice is the ability to travel in spirit body to the different realms and worlds. This is the one hedge witch and shamanic aspect of the book. While the other realms and worlds had been addressed through prayers and had spiritual associations given to the other realms, it is only in this chapter that the reader learns to navigate those realms themselves to gain spiritual insight and prayers of their own.

The fourteenth chapter of this book focuses on steps on the path. Here the author provides different tasks and steps that one can take to making wildwood mysticism and witchcraft their path and part of their daily lives. The author begins the chapter by showing through a symbol that the path of a witch is not straight and that it curves and spirals. The author provides examples of ways we look to the other worlds for guidance and nine different actions we can take to make our spirituality and life whole. This chapter is really about the work it takes to bring this spiritual path to daily life, providing ways to make it a part of your daily life.

The final chapter in this book is about the wheel of the year. This chapter focuses on the typical 8 sabbats of religious witchcraft and ways to celebrate the wheel of the year. There are three different spell actions given for each sabbat (one for each of the worlds and realms) as well as a prayer that focuses on the energetic forces and theme of the sabbat.

By the end of the book the reader has an understanding of a cohesive style and tradition of witchcraft that works with minimal tools, nature energies, and prayer. The book teaches witches not only the importance of prayer work, but how effective prayers can be as a magical and spiritual practice and focus all on their own.

Basics-What they are and why they are important

Basics:

What are the basics of any path and why they are important

Today we are going to talk about an important topic.  Today we are going to discuss what it is when they mean “tell me about the basics of X religion or X path”  This is a question that many seekers often ask in forums and on mailing lists.  In some ways this question seems obvious to answer, but it also at times seems to represent a lack of previous research.  The lack of previous research is not necessarily a bad thing as at this point in the seekers stage they may be looking for bare bones information from which to refine their search for their path.  This is why it can be important to look at some 101 books before you read to much lore on a specific culture.

What the basics include

The basics of any religion or spiritual path are easy to outline.  While not every path has every belief or idea I am going to outline, the idea and concepts behind these basics are found in enough spiritual paths across the world that they can be considered what the basics would be.  Basics of a religion include the pantheon or pantheons involved in that particular path (this covers the basic mythology of the path), the style and types of rituals involved and a rough idea of what ritual entails, views on the afterlife and the soul, views on spirits and spirit realms, holidays, and ethics.  Each of these basic components provide excellent insight into what each religion essentially believes in and what may be involved in being a part of that particular path.

As I cover the basics of what religions and spiritual paths include I am going to use a few different pagan paths as examples.  Most of the references in this post are going to come from either Germanic paganism, Witchcraft (many different forms), or Hellenic Paganism as these are the paths I have the most experiences with.  However in general use the examples as an idea for what you may encounter with the paths that you are looking to explore and study.  These examples are going to illustrate why these aspects of a religion are important to understand for those paths and why they form the basics.

Pantheon, Pantheons and Spirits

Every religion and spiritual path out there has a unique set of spirits and spirit beings that they work with.  These beings do not need to be Gods or even called Gods.  They can just be a set of spiritual entities which are worked with for spiritual development.  The establishment of which beings are in which path helps a seeker to know which myths are going to be the source for knowledge on the Gods.

It also gives the seeker a culture to research and in some cases a specific name for a path to follow.  For example if you know you want to work with the gods from Shintoism you would be following a Japanese pantheon and set of spirits.  If that was our path you would now also want to do research on the culture and the history of the Japanese people.  You may even want to learn some of the language.

Style and Type of ritual

Different cultures and religions had different rituals.  The rituals in Asatru (A Norse/Germanic Paganism recon pagan path) are not the same type of rituals you will encounter in Wicca.  The rituals in Wicca are different than the rituals in a Kemetic (Egyptian style of paganism).  The rituals in each culture and path are a reflection of the ways that humans and Gods interacted in those cultures.  By understanding the basic outlines of different types of rituals you can understand a bit more about the cultures that religion and ritual style is dedicated to.

In Wicca and many forms of religious witchcraft the rituals involve typically a circle being cast.  That circle creates a sacred space. The elemental forces are called.  The God and Goddess are invoked.  Here we have the workings either magical or sabbat related.  There is an offering given to the Gods.  The Gods are released from the circle and the other elemental forces are released.  The circle is taken up and the ritual is over followed by a feast or grounding with food.

This ritual outline there gives a seeker an idea of what exactly will happen during a worship service and ritual.  This information gives a person a vague idea of what they will need to do if they seek to follow that specific path.  This is useful information because if a person doesn’t like the basic outlines of rituals in a path then that path may not be for them, or they may need to study further to see if there are other ways that they can adapt rituals.  It is a starting point for ritual work concepts any way.

Views on the soul and the afterlife

Many religions have views of some sort on the soul and the afterlife.  For many people their belief in the afterlife and the soul is a large defining aspect of their path.  So in many paths this is a basic concept.   Many people will choose spiritual paths which reflect how they personally feel about their beliefs in the spirit and the soul.

Christianity for example does believe in a soul and in an afterlife.  The specific views on the soul and the afterlife play a large role in the beliefs and works of this religion and as such it forms a good example of why the view on the soul and the afterlife are basic components of a religion and or spiritual path.

Spirits and Spiritual Realms or Spirits and Cosmology

Different paths have different spirits that they work with and believe in.  In some of these paths there are many different realms where different beings and spirits exist.  One of these realms is typically the realm where the Gods live and at least one other realm aside from the physical world is the world of the dead.  Other paths like Asatru teach that there are many different realms with different spirits that live in those worlds.  For example in Asatru there are nine different realms.  These realms are Asgard, Vanaheim, Jotenhiem, Midgard, Muspelheim, Swarvelheim, Alfheim ,Helheim, and Nifelheim.

Here is a meme depicting the cosmology of  Germanic and Norse Paganism.

Asatru world tree

Each of those realms have a few specific type of beings that live in them.  Asgard is the realm of the Gods in Norse Myth.  Here Odin lives.  Helheim is the realm of the dead.  Jotenheim is the realm of the Giants.  Vanaheim is where the Vanir live.  Alfheim is the realm of the light elves.  Swartvelheim is the realm of the dark elves or dwarves.  Midgard is earth.  Nifelehim and Muspelheim are realms of fire and ice.

In Norse religion understanding how these realms interact and how they work together is a part of the basics.  Here you have seen the realms that are involved in this cosmology and you have been introduced to the concept of a few of the spiritual beings that are encountered in the Norse/Germanic Myths.

Holidays and special occasions

One of the main things people think about in religions are the holidays.  What are the sacred and special days of the Gods and spirits of this path.  These holidays provide times for worshiping and or strengthening relationships with the Gods and spirits.  Some times holidays provide further ways to examine the lore and engage in cultural activities that were specific to that holiday and that time of year.

Some cultures have massive holiday schedules.  The Hellenic holiday calender is very complex and long.  Those who seek to practice Greek Paganism often have a long list of holidays to choose from.  Each of the holidays had a specific reason for being there and some of them were specific to certain Gods and cults.  The major holiday in Hellenic paganism that most look into the the festival surrounding the Elysian Mysteries.

With pagans who have complex festival cycles and associations they can often choose which ones to follow.  Typically you find the holidays that were the most important to the Gods that you are worshiping in that culture.  For example those who are close to Dionysus, Demeter, and Persephone would definitely be doing something for the festival of the Elysian mysteries while a Greek Pagan dedicated more to Pan would find festivals for Pan.

This illustrates the key point I wanted to make with the holidays.  There is a major misconception that all pagan paths follow the 8 sabbats or the wheel of the year as it is known and seen in Wicca and Wicca flavored Pagan paths.  Asatru does not have the 8 sabbats.  There are 4 of them but not all 8.  Hellenismos has lots of festivals.  Other religions have only one or two that are key components.

Ethics and Morals

Every path out there seeks to teach the idea of what is right and what is wrong.  Many spiritual paths form the basis for how we as individual treat each other.  Some paths have been so influential on cultures that the ethical considerations of that religion have formed the basics of how that culture interacts with people.  Basically ethics influence how we act as a person and how we act in society to other people and with other people.

The rede is the basic ethical outline considerations for Wiccan styled pagan paths.  The idea is that you basically do what ever you want so long as you harm none.  The rede even states: “an it harm none do what ye will”.  This is the way many witches who follow Wicca inspired paths live their lives.  Other witches follow different ethical considerations that are more informative.

Some paths don’t call their ethical or moral codes ethical and moral codes.  Some paths call them virtues.  The Germanic paths idea of how you should live life has a set of what they call the nine nobel virtues.  These virtues outline personal behavior as well as different types of actions that can be found.

Here is another meme that lists the nine noble virtues:

Nine Nobel Virtues

By knowing the ethical standards of a path a person can get an idea of what sort of lifestyle they can have.  The idea of the morals and ethics are the ideas behind how the Gods want their followers to behave.  Often times these ideas include day to day life as well as during conflicts and social settings.  The ideas in the ethics are what that path considers to be a good person and living a good life.

Conclusion

This entry here has given you an idea of what the basics of any particular faith are.  The examples given come from some of the most popular pagan and spiritual paths.  Its important to understand what the basics of a religion or magical path is before you start to get to deep into studies.  The basics of the paths provide everything you need to know to understand the beliefs and practices of that particular path and practice.  If you understand the basic concepts before you step too deeply in the path, you can have an understanding on if those beliefs and concepts resonate with your personal beliefs and concepts.

Once you understand the basics of a path you can then start to take your studies deeper.  With Norse paganism you can start to spend time to study and experience the various realms.  You can look at other practices including magical traditions in the Norse belief systems.  You can find ways to look at the basics and become deeper involved with them.  Once you know the basics its all building from there.

Though a true seeker knows that revisiting the basics is at time a good thing to do.  It strengthens foundations and deepens experiences with more advanced concepts and practices within the belief system you have chosen to follow.  Once you know the basics you can start to also go off and create your personal understandings and developments spiritually.  The basics give us a strong base from which to grow our understandings of that universe.

 

Pagan Blog Project: B is for Belief

What I believe

Since this blog is entirely about my own personal path and how it has been developing I think its about time I actually discussed what some of my beliefs are.  One thing about my beliefs is that while I do have core beliefs how I understand that has been known to change and evolve.  This is a good thing.  When my understanding of my beliefs change or how I apply my beliefs changes it means I have grown and developed quite a bit spiritually.

The whole idea with spirituality for me is to develop my sense of connection to the universe and to my Gods.  As my experiences change in the world around me and as I learn new things I may change my beliefs.  I don’t believe in having solid and steady unchanging beliefs.  For me to have an unchanging or to be unwilling to change beliefs and practices when given different experiences means that I am not willing to grow as a person.  In nature that which does not grow or change dies.  The same thing can happen to a persons spirituality.  If they are not open to new experiences and developments they will not grow spiritually and their spirituality and personal spirit can die.

Now that I have explained some of that background information I can actually start to tell you a bit about my personal beliefs.  As it has been mentioned before this blog serves mostly as a place for me to sort out information and concepts for my personal path and practices.  This blog also serves as a way for me to try and form a cohesive path pieced together out of many different fragments and forms to be one united path.

So where should I start?  I guess I will start with my belief in the divine.  This is actually one of the simplest and most basic beliefs that I have.  It has evolved out of study and reading of multiple sacred texts and mythologies.  This belief has also developed out of my personal study of folklore and fairy tales as well as personal experiences in the spirit worlds and in worship with many different Gods,

I personally would call myself an omnitheist.  I will get into that in a different post later as omnitheism is one of the core tenants in this path I am developing.  Omnitheism is essentially the belief in all deities.  I do not need to know about or experience and have personal relationships with all deities to believe in them.  In holding this belief I can respect every path on the planet equally as all of the Gods worshiped are equally valid in my view.  I have had personal experiences with to many different God personalities to say that some Gods exist and others don’t.  So I believe that they are all real.

I think the next thing I will touch on is cosmology.  My cosmology is complex and simple.  I believe in many other worlds.  I believe that because of all the Gods all the different heavens exist as do all the different underworlds.  I believe that they are all separate realms within a basic three realm paradigm.  All the realms of the Gods are in the upper worlds and heavens.  All of the underworlds or lands of the dead are in one location with this reality or earth in the middle.

That is the basics.  This is where it gets a little more complicated.  I also believe in realms for individual spirit types.  I believe there is a realm for all fire spirits and all water spirits you get the idea.  I also believe in realms of the elements.  I also believe in a realm where all form of Dragons live and exist.  I believe in a realm and world of the elves as well as the dwarves and other spirits.  I believe that these worlds exist here along side this world in ways that we can’t really see and experience.

I also hold the nine worlds in Germanic mythology as part of my paradigm.  So it holds that else where in the cosmos the realms and the worlds of the other spiritual paths and Gods would be there as well.  I have not experienced all of them but I can see them all being there.  They are all tied together through the web of human experience which will bring me to my next belief and concept.

I believe in Fate.  Fate is the web of reality.  Fate is the universe.  Fate is all of us interacting together in a way we can not all understand.  Fate is the way that we are all interconnected and related on a spiritual and universal level.  Fate is everything around us, all that we see hear and experience and all that exists on the other side of the world at the same time unseen and essentially unknown to us.

Fate is that which must happen based on that which has gone before.  Fate is a combination of events that work together to create what which we know and see as the world we live in.  Fate is also how the unseen worlds and the unseen forces in the universe work for us and against us.  Fate is cause and effect.  Fate is basically all options at any time but only that which fits according to the patterns woven in our lives will come out to pass.

I will say more on fate at a later date.  For now we are a part of fate and fate is reality.  This forms a large part of my world view and the view of reality around me.  It also plays a little into my belief and understanding on what magic is.  Though part of my belief in fate and my belief in the many underworlds and afterlife is a belief in the soul.

I believe in a soul.  I also believe in an afterlife.  My belief in the soul plays a role in my belief in the afterlife and in the other worlds.  My belief in the soul is one of the core beliefs I am setting for this tradition.  I believe that the soul is actually not just one thing but a combination of five different spiritual forces that work together to form an individual life.  I believe that in essence the soul is eternal but it also changes forms and has different parts.  Each part has a different role.  Because the belief in the soul is complex I am going to leave it at this: I believe in a soul that is the force of life that allows us to live and have experiences.  It is what makes a person or being alive.

I believe in spiritual realms for different spirits.  So I believe in many different spirits.  I believe that all animals have a spirit inside of them or an individual soul.  I also believe that there is a spirit ruling over all domestic dogs for example and the like.  I also believe that each individual species of plants have their guardian spirit of that plant species as well as individual souls.  I even believe that stones and crystals also have a ruling spirit and an individual spirit.

I also believe in Genis Loci or the spirits of places.  I believe that mountains have their own spirits.  I believe that ponds have their own spirits.  I even believe that small ponds can also have many spirits in the area like mountain spirits, broke spirits, as well as the spirits of all the plants and animals in the area.  I believe homes posses individual spirits.  I also believe that the land our homes our build on also have individual spirit forces.

I believe in magic.  Magic I believe is a practice, a force, a skill, and a craft.  I believe that magic is the energy we use to cause changes in this world.  I also believe that magic is the force that causes change in this universe.  I believe magic is the force of change and creation.  Its a force for creation and destruction.  Magic is a force for life and for spiritual gain as well as daily gain.  Magic is also a mystery and a tool by which we can access the mysteries of the universe.

I also believe in psychic abilities.  I believe that we can sense and see spirits.  I believe that people can sense and see spiritual energy and personal energetic fields known as auras.  I also believe that we can contact guardian spirits and receive information from them.  I believe that we can also tap into some higher selves and spirit forms and use tools like tarot cards, runes, shells, bones, and other objects to tell or gain insight into the future.

I believe that we all have these psychic abilities.  I do believe that we need to learn how to train them and work with them though.  I believe that psychic abilities like these provide us all with excellent ways to understand the world around us.  It is also through our psychic abilities and practices that we can experience spirits, Gods, and travel to the other worlds.  So I believe that learning what our specific psychic senses are strongest and working with them to be developed is essential to spiritual development.

I believe in spirit world travels.  I believe that we can travel in spirit to the other worlds.  I believe that these travels help us understand and experience the mysteries of the universe.  These travels give me insight into the different types of spirits out there and how they may work.  Its how I meet spirit guides and how I have experienced some Gods and the spirit realms.  Astral travel and shamanic journeys are central tools to this practice.

So there you have it.  You have some of the basic beliefs that I hold.  As I said some of the beliefs I hold are very complex and could use more attention than warranted in this one post about the basic beliefs I have.  Those beliefs like the ones on the cosmology, fate, and the soul are going to be written about in more length as time continues.  For now you at least know where my basic beliefs are.

As always if you have any questions for me about my beliefs or anything I post or say here please let me know.  I will answer them to the best of my ability.

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