Category Archives: Soul

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.

 

Review: The Way of Wyrd by Brian Bates

The Way of Wyrd

The book The Way of Wyrd is a fictional story of a Christian Monk who is sent to learn the ways of the Anglo-Saxon pagans. The story is rich and entertaining. The author worked hard to research and present the information in a way that was informative and entertaining. By working the true beliefs of the Anglo-Saxon sorcerers into this work of fiction the author has brought back the use of stories to transmit knowledge and information.

The book is actually in two parts. The first part focuses on the early aspects of the Monk’s training. Here the monk is very skeptical of all the powers the sorcerer claims to work with and hold. While he works hard to learn all he can learn, Brand (the name of the monk) never really believes the ways of the people or that the powers are real.

In this part of the book the author introduces the basic beliefs of the people. The story actually opens with Brand working with Wulf (the sorcerer) at a healing ceremony banishing an evil spirit. This powerful start to the book illustrates a few of the key practices and beliefs that Brand is exposed to as he begins the training. This ceremony is set after he has completed his journey so we see here that Brand has much to learn and yet he was open to them.

In this first part of the book Brand is highly skeptical of the beliefs and practices. There are some that even scare him. Though he is fascinated with the tales of the Gods and of the spirits he does not appreciate their real value aside from primitive beliefs and practices.

The first powerful ritual that Brand is exposed to is an example of his difficulty in attempting to switch worldviews to learn the beliefs and practices. Here Brand is taught about gathering power from plants and how to properly gather the plant and give it an offering.

Other powerful rituals are experienced in this section. Here the author also goes into reading the omens of nature such as the flight pattern of birds and the way fish swim. The largest concept of Germanic paganism introduced here is the concept of Wyrd and knowing how to read and work with Wyrd.

The final experience in this section of the book Brand has is watching Wulf heal an elf shot horse. When Brand declares the process a fraud Wulf knows then that he must make Brand experience these forces or the mission to learn their ways will be a failure. The experience at the farm and Brand’s declaration of being a fraud.

In the second part of the book Brand is forced to encounter the shamanic aspects of Germanic paganism. Here we learn about spirit flight, how our spirits can be stolen, and how to work a soul retrieval in the practices of the Anglo-Saxon sorcerers.

The authors use of the narrative story teaches several elements of Germanic paganism. There are tales of the Gods taught, beliefs about plant lore explored, beliefs of the soul, and much more. The book provides through the story a basic concept and outline of many main beliefs found in Germanic Paganism as well as in Traditional Witchcraft, Anglo-Saxon shamanism, and much more. This book was well researched and written allowing a student to learn concepts in a way that non-fiction books may not be able to portray them.

Pagan Blog Project D: Direction, Decisions, & Divination

Crossroads1

 

Direction and Decisions

The last few posts have given you several things to think about as a seeker.  As you have thought about those things and your own beliefs you should have compiled or started to find a list of belief systems or religions that match up to what you are looking for to some extent.  These religions and spiritual paths should have as many things related to your beliefs as possible.  You may find there are a few which only have a few of your major beliefs in them but not all of them.  That is ok.  The point is you have a list of paths and options.  No what do you do?

You need to make some choices.  You need to make some decisions on where you want to go now.  There are options.  Now you need to choose.  So how to choose?

Direction

Right now you may have a list of belief systems you are eager to explore that have things you want to explore.  There may be many parallels in beliefs to what you hold.  This is a good position to be in.  It means you know what you believe you are just looking for more structure and concepts to develop from.  You are looking for direction.   Having a direction in which to focus allows stability and confidence building.  Focusing on one specific direction can and will deepen spirituality.

Choosing that direction can be difficult.  I myself look over all the paths I have studied that have things I believe in and wonder where I should go in my studies. I’m sort of in a cross roads right now myself as well which is part of the reason for writing this post.  Directions can and will change in your studies and as your path and your spirituality grows.  This is also a good sign that you have learned a lot in one area but need to grow in another.  By changing directions and choosing a new direction when you start you already really begin to grow.

So to begin choosing your direction you should look at two of the paths or religions that inspire you the most.  These are good places to start your exploration.  These will be the focus of your deciding factor. You will still want to read about and research the other paths out there that interest you.  There is a reason they are interesting to you.  They have something to offer that you will benefit from.  For now though having one direction or focus is essential.

This direction will for some time be the focus of your studies and growth.  You will use this to establish your foundation if you are new to exploring spiritual options.   Here you will start to establish relationships with specific gods and spirits according to the path you choose to walk.  Here after you do additional study you may want to then do a dedication and deeper studies for a while before exploring elsewhere.  The point is the direction you pick will be the foundation of your spiritual home and your path.

If you have been exploring spirituality your new direction will add a new level to your spirit house and you will have a deeper knowledge base to choose from.  This will expand your spiritual awareness.  You will probably meet new guides and spirits in the new direction you choose to explore.  Your previous understandings will develop and may slightly change.  You are reaching the next level in spirituality and practice as it were.

Making the decisions

Now that I have highlighted the reasons for choosing one direction rather than exploring multiple paths at once it is time to explain and go over how you can make the decision for yourself.  There are many ways you can make the decision about which path to take.   I am going to list them here and then go into each one in a bit more detail.  In the end there are two ways you can really go about making this.  You can do a soul and spiritual searching of it or you can do some practical work.  You can also do a combination.

Spiritual decision making aids

Here are the spiritual and insightful methods. There is a meditation method.  There is the prayer method.  You have divination through cards or even using a pendulum.  You finally have the what does my heart say about what I know about this path right now method.  All of these methods involve working with a spirit or some aspect of the hidden self you have to contact in some form.  Now I will expand on each of those methods.

I am going to start with the meditative method.  The meditative method actually comes in two forms.  The first form involves contact with your own spirit guides and guardians for advice.   The second form of the meditative method is a bit more introspective yet just as effective.  Both are in a meditative state so they are both the meditative method of making your decisions.

The first meditative method to discuss then is the method where you contact your spirit guides and guardians.  Here you can go into a meditative state and contact your spirit guides and guardians for advice.  You can give them an idea of why you are having difficulties with this decision.  You can ask them where they think you should go.  They may give you an idea or they may show you something that you have to think about.    Either way through contacting your spirit guides you have been given their insight on the matter which should prove useful for your own decision making.

The second meditative method is less about spirit guides and more about yourself and your thoughts.  The idea here is that you will get into a meditative state and you will be able to focus on asking yourself the question “which path is mine?”.  You may find symbols appear that relate to one path.  That is your answer.  You may even find yourself brought on some sort of vision quest by your higher self.  That quest there and that experience there.  Either way your answer comes from yourself, your heart, and your spirit.

The prayer method is a method that many people use.  Here you will work on praying to spirits or guides for the answer.  If there are specific Gods and Goddesses in either path that you are interested in more than others you can pray to them.   If there is a specific type of spirit found in each culture you are interested in you can also pray to them. You can also pray to both pantheons in a general reaching out prayer and see who answers.    The same thing applies to the various spirit entities found in the different paths.

When you are working with the prayer method you are leaving the answer to the question up to the Gods and the spirits.  In the end it will be them who make the decision about accepting your worship or working with you or not.  You can not force a deity or spirit to work with you that is not willing to work with you.  For this reason many people recommended prayers above other methods.  All of the methods I am telling you about are useful and worth trying.  I do have to agree that prayer is one of the more powerful ways to connect with willing spirits and Gods.

Divination methods of decision making

Divination is a method that takes many forms.  Here you have tarot cards and oracle cards.  You also have pendulums and scrying.  Channeling is also a form of divination.  In using divination you are spending the time contacting the spirits directly.  From how you connect to the spirits the various forms work to provide the answer.

In the oracle card methods (tarot decks and other decks) the answer comes out through the meaning of the cards pulled. By looking at the order the cards were pulled and where they stand in the reading your answer can be interpreted.  There are thousands of different oracle decks out there.  Tarot cards are one form.  Doreen Virtue has several oracle decks out there as well.  In working with these decks you will find that some card decorations and symbols speak to you more than others.  Those are the decks you want to work with.

On to Pendulums! With the pendulum you will have a movement answer for yes and a different answer for no.  One of the best ways to use a pendulum in this fashion would be to hold the pendulum over the text of the paths you are interested.  Ask it if its for you.  The answer will be in the movement.  Do it over the other text and see the answer.  If you don’t get an answer from either of those you may just need to take more time or try another method.

Now not everyone has a stone pendulum.  That is ok.  I am going to share a secret with you.  Ready?  Every one can make one themselves.  Yes.  You can make a pendulum yourself with objects you have around your house.  If you have string or something to suspend the item with you can make a pendulum.  The best examples are taking a necklace chord unused and put a ring in the center.  Then hold the necklace with the ring suspended.  Ask it for yes and ask it for no.  Presto instant pendulum.

Scrying is the next item on the list.  Scrying is basically starting into a reflective surface and relaxing your gaze.  After some time an image will appear.  There are many methods and ways of accomplishing this methods.  You have the fire method which can include candles, campfires, wood stoves, and much more.  There is the water method.  Here you can use ice, a glass of water, a lake, a pond, or basically any form of water you can think of.  Other methods include using a reflective mirror made for that purpose or through using a crystal ball.  Other people may be able to use incense smoke of fire smoke to scry.  Try it and good luck.

Channeling is the final method that was mentioned as a way of working divination.  In channeling you basically call a spirit into your body or mind for the answer.  You ask them the question and they will be answer.  This is the process that mediums use.  If you are not comfortable speaking you can try the same method with automatic writing using a paper and pen to let the spirit basically write down the answers to the question.

So I have given several different ways you can work divination to get an answer.  The idea behind divination is that you are working with a spirit or your higher self for an answer.  The answer is coming from outside of you.  The only real difference between these styles mentioned is the fact that they all use different techniques.  The philosophy behind their use and why they work though is basically the same.

Spirits and Gods can be powerful allies in answering questions.  They have access to wisdom that we do not have.  They can also be very powerful teachers in our spiritual development.  All of the above methods are ways of contacting these guides and beings for assistance in making the decision about the path you are about to take.  I must be mentioned however the above methods of making a decision with spiritual aids can be used for other situations in life.  Here they are just used as tools in choosing your spiritual paths.

 

Practical decision making tools

I have just spent some time illustrating ways that you can combine looking for a spiritual and religious path with doing active spiritual path work and spiritual development.  While these tools are important to be used in working with spiritual choices there are other options.  You can use your day to day decision making tools as well to work with this. 

What are your day to day decision making tools?  Well there are a few.  You have pros and cons, evaluating available information on the topic at hand, space and time, economic, and you also have emotional aspects to play into this as well.  Anything you would use to make a decision in the rest of your day to day life you can use for spiritual choices as well.

I’m going to start with a basic tool.  The pros and cons tool.  This tool allows you to list all the good things about taking this path.  It also gives you a place to list any issues or problems that could come up because of practicing this path.  You can if you feel the need to make a column for places of thoughts that are not an issue or a great thing but just there, or something you are not sure where it goes.  That would be the column for that.  When you have listed everything you can think of in one page for one path do it for the other path as well.  When you have done both take some time to rest before looking at them and comparing the three lists.

The tool of evaluating the amount of available information on a subject is actually quite important when choosing a path to work with.  There are some paths out there which have a lot more information on them than others.  This may have already been a consideration in the Pros and Cons aspect of the path.  For some people the lack of or overwhelming information of a spiritual paths practices can be a key reason in their interest in pursuing it.  You should consider this as you look at your options for paths.

The factors of space to practice, time to practice, and the economic aspect may actually all fall together under one thing which is can I practice this path where I am now with what I have now?  Some cultures have rituals that require elaborate dances or at least a lot of movement for space to work the spiritual paths.  Other paths may work with herbs that are expensive and exotic or out of your reach.  How much time will it take to perform the ritual?  These are all things to think about.  If you can’t effectively perform the rites where you are with what you have is it worth investing your spiritual energy into spirits and Gods that may not respond for lack of traditional rituals?

Finally one thing we all use in our day to day decisions is our emotional reactions.  Some of us are going to have stronger emotional reactions to the tales and legends of spirits and Gods than others will.  Looking at the emotional reactions we have to thinking about the culture, the myths, and the powers we read about in some cultures may be where we should be looking for answers.  Here is a personal example.  I for one have always been fascinated by Egyptian Gods and myths as well as their culture.  Yet when I read the myths I feel no emotional response.  I had no interest previously in looking at the Germanic Gods.  However when I read the myths and legends I had an emotional response.  This proved to give me insight into my spiritual direction.  I urge you to look at your emotional responses to myths and legends as you read them.

 

Conclusion

In this blog post I have given you several tools to use to make your decisions regarding which paths to study and follow when you are attracted to multiple paths.    You can always go back and explore the other paths after you have done some study and practice of the first path you choose.  I strongly believe that we can all find truths in every path out there.  It is just up to us to find them as individuals.

 

*Photo found on http://www.alanbrookscrossroads.com/*

Pagan Blog Project: B: breath The essence of Life and much more

Breath:

The essence of life and much more

No real introduction to this post.  I am just going to cut to the chase,  This is a post I have been meaning to write for two weeks because there are essentially two key points that I wanted to make with this topic that would benefit two separate posts.  One is on the origin of it’s spiritual component and the other is on a magical aid and as a trance inducing practice.  Like I said both of these posts would be related in that they are both centered around the concept of breath and what it means.

One of the reasons I have both felt the need to write these posts and have been unable to complete or even begin starting these posts is that here in Maine its the middle of winter and that’s bad news for asthmatics like myself.  If I am struggling to breathe properly it makes sense that while I would both be in the perfect state to explain the properties of Breath as life I am also not in the best states to think of anything but focusing on my own breath.

It is with both of these things in consideration (and the personal stress I was feeling for not posting for two weeks at this point) that I have decided to write this post.  I have a lot of different sources to pull on how breath is both life and is also counted to be an aspect and an essence of the soul (though I’ll try to give enough info for you to create your own opinion).  This is a wide topic so let’s start with science and the birth of a human baby and the “actual full death” of a human.

Breath in the human life cycle

After a mother has given birth to her child the doctor slaps the baby on the ass to begin crying and thus start breathing.  A human is not considered alive if they are not breathing.  If a baby does not cry with that action they are not alive and thus need work to be able to breathe or may be considered dead.  In the elderly a person’s whole mind and spirit could be gone yet their body kept alive through food and automatic breathing considered “life support”.

The ability to breath and to have the freedom to some what control one’s breath has always been part of what makes a person alive.  So long as a person is breathing and their body can “physically” function even with the support of machines a person is technically considered alive.  This is a thought and a concept that has been buried deep within human cultures and thoughts for many reasons and a lot of it relates back to lore and mythology.

I mention that this has been buried deep and that would be correct.  There are many different mythologies around the creation of man.  There are two central themes I have found that in the creation of humanity.  One is that we have been physically created out of the earth by the hands of the Gods.  The other is that it wasn’t until the Gods gave us breath that we became fully alive, even if other Gods had contributed other factors to what made a human being, we were not alive until we were given breath by the Gods.

There are two examples that I can think of that support this though. .  While many people may not be able to understand and accept this, when it comes to the creation and what actually brought humans to life Christians and those who follow Germanic paganism have one thing in common: The breath of life from their High God.

I’ll start with the creation myth of humans from the Poetic Edda (one of the Norse and Germanic sacred texts):”

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.”

Here Soul is often equated with physical life.  The warmth of our body and fact that it actually reflects life was the gift of Honir.  Two of the elements that make humans alive were given from one deity.   The abilities to make sense/understand the world is one of the gifts of the Gods.  That gift was given by Honir.  Finally we have Odin’s gift.  Other translations list Odin’s gift last as it is not until breath and life is actually given to Ash and Embla that the first humans come to life.

As you can see from my analysis soul and breath in Germanic lore are associated.  The breath of life is important.  It enters our body at birth and leaves at Death.  The breath can be seen as being the vessel for the soul.  It enters at birth and leave on death.  That s what the soul is.  In some ways the soul and the mind and the breath can all be linked exactly to life.  The heart starts working before the mind, and the breath.

In the book of Genisis humanity is not aware or alive until God gives them the breath of life:

5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.

6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.

7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

8 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

So that is the connection in the creation of humanity.  In both cultures humans were born from the earth in some form.  In Christianity it’s from dust.  In Germanic lore it’s from trees that we were born.  In both sets of lore it is also only through the gift of the breath of life that humanity becomes aware and able to live.

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

Pagan Blog Project: D for Death, Decay, Destruction, and Life itself

With my last Pagan Blog project post I was all caught up and could now focus on one entry per week. There are three D themes in my path Death, divinity/deity, and Disir. An acquaintance of mine posted a very well written blog about the Disir as in D is for Disir. While the Disir is a concept I accept and do work with, it is not something I have spent much time researching on. That is why I don’t feel like posting anything about them other than I believe that they are ancestral mothers and female ancestral spirits. The topic of Death itself in my path has two subsets which must be touched upon if the topic of death is to be understood with in my path. My post on Divinity and divine will be next week. My post on death and it’s related aspects will be this weeks focus.

So why do I mention the belief in the Disir at all? Well that’s simple. The focus of this entry is on death. However when I think about death and the role it plays in mat nature based path I realize that there is more to death than simply the end of “life” or the end of an essence in “physical form”. When it comes to death the destruction or the end of a life is an aspect of death. It is the onset of death in many cases and in the physical world it may be the aftermath of something (the destruction created death) that brings about new life and new hope.

The Disir are female ancestral spirits. That means they are dead and thus have experienced death and its destructive force. They also have a fresh and new look on life as they are not bound by the physical senses any more. It is to my Disir I am most connected to when I pray to my ancestors, however I am also connected to my Alfar (male ancestral spirits). The fact remains that they are dead and thus that is their connection to death.

Many people would consider me morbid for accepting and relishing in the beauty that comes from death and the destruction found with in the so called icy grips of death. If I am morbid than so be it. The fact of the matter is death is a simple fact of life. I have experiences the cruel loss of loved ones close to me. Those deaths impacted me in many ways. It hurt me.

One of those deaths happened at a time where I was already very anti-life. I was relishing in death as an end to existence and the pains of life. It was a very dark time for me. Everything was a dark empty soul sucking whole. I was convinced I was a demoness at heart and that my humanity was punishment for turning on the demon race at some point.

This went on for several years. Eventually I went into the mental hospital for help when I was severely suicidal and ultimately knocking on deaths door. If you have ever read any of Poe’s works and see how he describes the mad characters as living corpses, that was my physical appearance at the end of 2005. Through therapy I accepted my issues and worked on them. I am no longer so acey for deaths acceptance of me, but I have a new appreciation for death and its role.

In many ways during those years and until the last 3 years I was alive and dead at the same time. I had turned off basically every other emotion I could feel. It was all pain all the time. I was op[en only to the beauty that was found in the darkest of humanity. That for me was the essence of life and humanity. Pain and suffering were my focus of life.

There was a pivotal author that lead me to accept that darkness in your view and acceptance of the world was an acceptable thing. I read several works by Konstantinos. His works about nocturnal witchcraft and Gothic magic lead me to a deeper understanding and appreciation for the darkness within me.

Overtime that in turn started to help me see the beauty in happiness and the simple joys in life, while still accepting the beauty found in pain and suffering as expressions of the human experience. Through the darkness I was able to see life in all its complex forms while seeing the true darkness with in this reality.

I did not mean to get bio-graphical on you, but there it is. Death and darkness have been a prevalent part of my world view for the last 13 years, though not always in a positive way. I did feel that some insight into my own mental state and processing was required to gain an appreciation for what comes next in my blog.

What is this true unrelenting darkness? The truth is that everything dies. The truth is that in order for any sort of life to be sustained there must be other forms of life sacrificed so that others may live. Something must die in order for other things to live. Death is inevitable for all life. Yet death is not the end. Death is simply a door to the next part of the cycle (which was touched on my my earlier post).

If I am morbid then I am morbid. I tend to see myself as a naturalist. In the wild animals see and experience death on a regular basis. There are scavenger species out there who in the wild survive completely upon the dead of other creatures. Death is a part of life. That which dies in nature upon its decay (destruction) provide nutrients into the land and other creatures in the Eco-system into the future provide more life and sustenance for the survival of other lifeforms.

There are entire bacterial life forms and other forms of life who depend entirely upon the cycle of death to survive and live. Death is not pretty nor should it be. However death is also not something to be avoided and hushed over. Death is simply one set in the cycle of life,

Death is what provides for the future. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t mourn our dead. Not at all. I think that death of loved ones should be mourned. I think that death should also be accepted as something that happens. We don’t have to like it or even really want it. Death is not always fair. It just happens. However death is essential in the ultimate progression of the soul of humans and something we experience through many years of our life.

So what does death involve and why do I honor an accept deaths role in the evolution of my soul and self? Well for me I have already experienced a death of myself at least once. I believe that a part of me died when I faced my darkness and escaped knowing that I was no monster, but that I simply had my own views on things. That has given me some idea as to how the physical death of our self.

To answer the question about death and destruction its important to have a brief concept of how I understand the soul to be structured, and my belief in reincarnation as well as ascension. These are things I hope to post detailed essays on under my writings page, but for now I’ll give a basic overview and get back to death and destruction.

The soul is made up of five basic components. You have your body, your mind, the ancestral line/blood/shadow, the spirit, and your soul itself which is will call for now the susoul. Each part of the soul is essential. Only the body is mortal. The other aspects of the soul and our essential selves and the mystery of what reality is are essentially immortal and forever lasting. That doesn’t mean that they are with out change. Time does change and time is the ultimate destruction and death. So now let me explain each part and why:

Your body is your physical body. With out your body you can’t gain the experiences you expect to gain in each life. You need the physical body to gain knowledge and wisdom available in each generation as science and philosophy grow so does our mental experiences and ability to comprehend the universe and the meaning of life. our bodies provide the vessel of experiences which lead to gnosis of mysteries of the universe through religion or other practices.

Your mind is what processes our past life experiences and our current experiences to gain further knowledge and wisdom. It is our mind that processes that which we have gained in the past and that which we must gain in order to ascend to the next physical state of being and those mysteries until we ultimately reach the pinnacle of spiritual development: being at one with THE ALL. Essentially our minds is THE ALL manifested within us as we are simply all thoughts with in the divine cosmic mind (which will be touched upon next week with divinity and deity).

The ancestral line/ blood/ shade is the aspect of the soul which can manifest as a ghost. This is the ego of our self. It is our personality. When we die our mind and our soul guide our shade into the realm of the dead. This is the sum of our current incarnation. When we pray to our ancestors it is this part of the soul that hears the prayers and may or may not answer. So long as some one remembers “you” the shade remains intact. This could be in the form of family stories and legends, physical images, or even in the case of generic “ancestors” the very idea of ancestors of blood is those who have gone before in the family line. So as long as the family line is remembered your ego exists in some form.

I agree with the ancient Greeks in that it would be through the offering of blood (the essence of life) which would bring true memories to the ancestors and dead, but aside from that we exist forever in the land of the dead as our ego. This personality, this physical experience lasts on life. When this physical body dies it is the end of ourselves as we know it. All that will remain of us as we see and know ourslves and our family knows us is a shade which is a poor reflection of that which we were (read the book of the Odyssey where Odyssesus travels to the land of the dead to see what I mean).

Our spirit is our essential life force. It is our Ki. This comes from nature. This is literally what I would refer to as the breath of life. While I think that babies are alive the moment they can live outside the mother’s body a child is “a life” the essence of life is not with in a person until they take their first independent breath. This comes from many mythos where its wasn’t until the first humans were given the breath of life by the respective gods of that religion (in my history Christian and Germanic) that the humans were not fully alive and willing to do the Gods will.

It has often been accepted that breath and life were considered to be equated. I wouldn’t say that it’s far off as all living beings require to breathe in some form in order to survive (yes plants breathe. They intake our exhaled waste and through their intake exhale something we can breathe. Symbiosis at its finest). Thats why I equate spirit with breath and life. When I do spirit enhancing exercises I typically alter my breathing and it has an effect that directly correlates to the feeling I have of my physical being. When I physically feel ill my breathing is different than when I am fit. My breathing and breath relates to my life in direct ways. This is why I also feel that breathing exercises to transmute emotional states and feelings can be highly effective.

Finally there is the susoul. This is the true eternal aspect of ourselves. If you read my essay on witchcraft as an underworld tradition this is the part that Artison would call our true soul and true self. In reality I see that view of the susoul as our true self as incomplete. To me it removes the possibility of our personalities surviving in the afterlife.

My personal experience has shown this to be not only inaccurate for my experiences and those of my close family, but to be inaccurate and to not reflect the experiences of anyone who has been visited by a loved one who has passed beyond the veil. In experiences with ghosts and aspirations of those who have passed you inexplicably deal with the persona or ego of a person. This to me shows that our ego as we know ourselves exist in some form for as long as “we” are “remembered”.

So long as there as cemeteries to mark the graves of the deceased egos will remain. While the names of those buried may not be intact, the fact that their bodies are there means they are remembered and are a part of the land (see my cycle view). Being buried makes our body decay and become part of the land. Thats why we are also essentially immortal. our bodies will become part of the earth and then forever be part of all matter in time and space for as long as time and space exist. Talk about immortality.

I do see that the susoul is an important part of us. In our life this may be our mind, but I see it as separate. Our susoul is our thread in the universe. According to Artison humans are not beings in the physical sense that we exist, but that we are beings in that we exist in the tapestry of the universe in al forms. This existence and being boils down to our essential self which I call our susoul.

Our Susoul is that which is reincarnated in every life. This is the core of our being. Anything that happens to us in this life is based on the actions of our previous ego or egos and has been accumulated on this strand of life. That which is unfair to us in this life may be an action in punishment for a previous life, but it might not be. I do know that the actions we have done in our past for the good or for the ill of yourself and your loved ones will have an impact in the next life and possibly lives after that.

This is why people are said to inherit the sins of their ancestors. In many ways this is true. The actions I make will have an impact on my family in the future for my children, my grandchildren, and even generations beyond there. This is also why the concept of wyrd in the Germanic sense is part of the susoul and the ego/blood/ancestral line/ shade*shadow.

For me death provides a way for new life and new creation. Through each physical manifestation we are given chances to gain further insights into life and into the mysteries of the universe. For now I see the meaning of life simply to be to have experiences in as many ways as possible, enjoy all we can and to experience all that we can in this life. As I said once this physical body I have is dead and has breathed its last breath as a physical being Loona Wynd will cease to exist. Her works and her writing will be all thats left in the world at large to remember or know her. The family she has will be all that can remember her (and right now that doesn’t include any children..but time is still on her side).

When I die my ego will cease to be limited by the senses pf the physical world. I will be in the land of the dead. As such I will have sight beyond my normal sight. I believe that when I die I will also be able to meet with and interact with my past lives. So long as my susoul exists (which basically means so long as the universe and reality exists) all of our past lives exist. Thus we could meet in the afterlife and discuss our meanings and experiences. These discussions could lead to a greater understanding of the mysteries experienced by “Us” and thus help us ascend to the next level.

Death in nature leads to destruction which paves the way for new life and new growth. Death is the force which causes the cycle to turn. Death and destruction are the ultimate forces behind creation. In order to create something is destroyed. Destruction paves the way for the new and destruction ultimately means death.

Through death we are nourished and can grow. All the food that we eat was at one point alive. It was killed in order to sustain us. In the wild animal remains will decay (destruction) over time and provide nutrients allowing the plants to grow strong which will in turn provide nutrients for other life forms. In the cycle of life death, destruction, decay, and rebirth are tied together intimately. I feel that as a pagan and as a nature worshiper and fertility worshiper it is time I acknowledge the importance of death. With out death there can be no life and ultimately no future.

My point: Death, Decay, and Destruction are the key concepts that allow life itself to exist in this world and in any other world. Death is a an effect of life itself. Not only that but with out death physical life as we know it can not exist. I worship death as I worship life and fertility and nature.

year end reflecting and starting a new

So it has been a very long time since I have written or done any updating on this blog.  I have come to realize that there is much for me to learn still, and much I already do know.  I have come to realize that it is time to start going back to the basics which started my love for the path I am on.  It is time for me to figure out what I do know and what I am.

 

I just started to read a new book.  The book “The Faery teachings” by Orion Foxwood and the first chapter had four basic questions that one should answer.  These four questions are the questions in which we all as humans seems to seek to find the answers to through life and religion and basicaly everything.  These four questions are the questions that essentially form the basis of the meaning of life.

 

The four questions are more basic than anything you may actually consider.  The first question is : Who am I?  The second question is :What is it? (What is God, the force behind creation, Spirit, ect).  The third question is Why do I exist?  The fourth question is finally Where do I/we go when we die or What happens when we die?.  These are the basic questions that all religions and philosophies seek to answer.

 

I am a college student who studies many things.  I study religion, anthropology, religion, philosophy, and in many ways psychology ans sociology.  All of these fields of study are interconnected.  All of these fields seek to understand the basis of what is essentially the human experience.  These areas of study are my passion and they fire my soul.  They are why I feel I am here.  I am here to gain understanding found in the mysteries of life through the exploration of mysticism found in comparative religions and folklore/theology.

 

One of the things I have neglected over the years is what “I know”.  The questions that Orion says we seek to answer are questions I have never actually really asked myself.  I keep reading and reading and saying “yes that makes sense” and what not.  When I am asked questions I never respond with “this is my thought”. I typically respond along the lines of “I don’t really know to be honest.”.  I have discredited what I know.

 

The only time I have ever considered what “I know” is when I have to write a paper for school.  My teachers have always told me I should be a writer.  I have been afraid of doing the writing and getting published.  I have never given myself enough credit for my knowledge.  I often amaze myself when I read my papers.  I have come to realize that the reason I feel I “know nothing” on any subject is that I doubt my personal experiences as well as my own thought processes when compared to others.

 

Upon finishing the first chapter in the book :”The Faery Teachings” I realized that it was time for me to consider what I know.  When the author explained why it was important to answer these questions before starting to follow any path, that it was time for me to actually answer these questions.  I feel part of the reason that I don’t really know what I am and who I am is that I have never asked myself these questions.  That is why honestly am not secure in my beliefs.

 

It is time for me now to answer these questions.  One of the ways I am going to get through these questions is for me to go through my old diaries.  There was a time when I was constantly writing anything and everything that came into my mind.  A lot of this will reflect who I am and my thoughts and beliefs at the time.  It will also mean going through some of my old papers  written at school and on my own.  It may even mean digging up very old and in depth gaia posts.

 

If I am to ever really consider myself a writer then I must start having my thoughts published somewhere.  I am going to start with this blog.  The next several “essays” will be responces based on the very first question “Who am I”.  The first article will be a basic biography of my life.  The second will more likely be more thought processes on a specific topic and then the rest will flow from there,

 

In many ways it may work out to being a book full of essays and exercises much like one of my favorite books on traditional witchcraft (and one I wrote a paper on) “The Witching Way of the Hollow Hill” by Robin Artisson.  This is one of the reasons I am starting with the blog.  I figure that it is best to start e-publishing through this blog.   

 

So this is the end of a year and the start of a new year.

 

 

 

Winding Way Intro-A pagan Meme

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

Please describe briefly your Path:

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

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

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

Please describe briefly how you practice it:

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

When did you first commit to your Path?

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

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

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

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

Why did you choose to follow a path of paganism?

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

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

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

How is your practice different now than it was then?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are your main influences for your Path?

For books I would have to say:

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

Which do you do more: practice or research?

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

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

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

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

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

      COURAGE

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

I am working on discipline.

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

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

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

My mental illnesses and my developmental problems.

How do you see yourself practicing in ten years?

Public rituals and writing.

How do you incorporate your practice into your life?

Meditation and energy work.

Has walking your Path changed you as a person?

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

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

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

A witch? How so?

Yes.  I practice witchcraft.

A shaman? How so?

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

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

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

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

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

A defining moment on your Path was:

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

Have you ever taken a “leap of faith”?

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

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

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

What is the most frustrating thing about your Path?

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

Have you ever been frightened?

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

Can you perform ritual without a script?

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

Have you ever preformed spontaneous magick/spellcraft?

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

What are you still exploring or experimenting with?

Everything?

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

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

Ritual tools are …

Expensive and fun.

Magickal tools are …

Enjoyable and great helpers and often the same as ritual tools

The one thing you can’t do without is:

My mind and a journal with pen/pencil

power is …

With in and everywhere

Politics and you Path are …

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

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

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

Do you teach?

No.  I may advise and guide though.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your relationship with the Land?

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

The most important aspect of ritual is:

The reverence in which you perform the ritual.

The main purpose of ritual is:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What book do you recommend the most to others?

That will depend on what they are looking for.

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

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

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

Trust your heart.

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

Yes

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

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

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

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