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Fertility-Part 1 What is it, the forms it takes, and the role it plays in our lives

Fertility:

What is it

One of the things that has often come up in any of my posts that deal with Wicca has been a mention of fertility as a focus of the religion.  In many ways you could day that all forms of religious witchcraft have an emphasis on fertility.  Yes.  I said witchcraft in a religious sense has to deal with fertility.  For many the very mention of fertility rites brings up images of mass orgies and ritual sex parties, and to be blunt yes sexuality is an important aspect of fertility.   This is also a common image associated with witches and their rites due to the idea that they have sex with the devil in their rites.

Many of the books out there geared towards new witches and new pagans tell their readers to avoid covens which require sexual acts and symbolism as a part of their membership rites.  Unfortunately if the seeker is truly looking for Wicca and they find out about the sexual symbolism and nature of  true Wiccan rites they may decide that based on the advice of authors such as Silver Raven Wolf, D.J.Conway and Edain McCoy in their intro books that for that reason they should not inquire any further even if it feels right.

Here is the thing.  With the exception of the Second and Third degree in traditional Wicca (Alexandriean, Gardenariean, Mohsian, Central Valley [a collective term for the following traditions-Silver Crescent-Kingstone-Daoine Coire-Assembly of Wicca-Majestic .] ) no imitation of elevation ritual should require sex as part of it.  Sexual symbolism is another thing.  Sex for a requirement simply as a requirement without any symbolism is simply not something you should do for initiation unless you are of age and you choose to.  If you are not of age than any sexual rite should not be required.

Ok.  So by now you must be sick of me mentioning that fertility is something to important.  You may be thinking that yes I have mentioned that it was important but you  (as in me) have yet to explain why fertility is so central to Pagan religions or as you have mentioned many times religious forms of witchcraft?  So you are asking What the hell is so important about fertility. The answer is simple and will be explained with in the next paragraph.  I was just waiting for you the reader to be asking the question.

 The first thing I have to do is explain exactly what fertility is to me.  Fertility to me is the ability to create or produce as well maintain or support life in some form.  I leave it produce or create and maintain and support and life in some form for many reasons.   The first of which unfortunately is related ultimately to the effect the popular form of feminism has had on the idea of woman required to be mothers and subordinates.

Before I continue I must say that I am a woman and I am proud to be an embodiment of feminine energy in this world.  I am also a feminist and I do believe in woman’s rights.  I for example firmly believe that all woman should have the same equal opportunity in the world of construction as men.  If a woman can handle the work than she should be able to have as much respect and right to hold the job as a man.  However she should also be held to the same performance level as men.  That would go with the job.  For me equality in the work place means equal pay and equal expectations.

Now that I have gotten that out of  the way I can continue with my post on fertility and the first reason why I see fertility as an important part of witchcraft religions.  One of the major complaints that I have seen among women when the idea of fertility rites and religions has come up is that not all women are interested in creating life and being a mother (ie giving birth).  The same argument goes for the reason why the MMC is not an accurate form any longer for the roles and parts of a woman’s life.  This goes into the heart of  why I believe fertility comes in many forms and is important in many ways

So if I define fertility as the ability to create and maintain life of some sort how does that not relate to being a mother and having a baby and raising children?

Let’s start with the first way that I see fertility as working in my life.  This is the form it takes for me.  It is important for me to be fertile in this way if I am to have a successful future to be able to help provide income for my fiance and myself.  That fact there is the central theme in my view about fertility, producing (productive/successful) and providing for a life of some sort (myself and my fiance).

I am not ready or in a position t have children.  That doesn’t mean I can’t perform or be involved in any fertility rites.  As a college student my education success is a type of fertility.  This is the way that fertility in my rites for myself has primarily taken form.  The idea here is that my brain and thus my mind be open to all the new information that will come my way.  That I have the determination and discipline to put the time and effort into my study and education to be successful and that I be willing to ask and be open to help when I need it.

My rites have also had to deal with financial and economic fertility.  This gets into the second way that I view fertility as important to pagan and witchcraft religions.  Here my rites have an effect not only on my self and my family but also on the local economy and eventually the national economy which in turn will have an effect on the global economy and thus everyone in the world will have some benefit.

In my life this has involved asking that the company my fiance belongs to continues to grow and he continues to be able to expand his training and thus general availability and interest to the computer field at large.  It also involves when I am looking for work me being able to find a job which will work out with me any my disabilities.

In both cases by insuring that we both have jobs, we are both able to spend more money on things that we enjoy such as videos, games, clothes, vacations, nights out, ect.  In this way us having employment insures that there will be money to go to local businesses.  That will encourage job growth and thus stimulate the local economy further.

With more income taxes the government has more money.  They can put this money towards technological developments and other areas of interest.  This again creates more jobs.  The success of those developments will create more jobs which will then increase tax flow and ultimately will increase local, national and global economies.

Woman and men who are professionals that have no desire to have any children that perform fertility rites often have their rites directed in this way.  For people who wonder if the seasonal sabbats performed by witches and pagans have any effect on the world at large I have just given an example that is important for the future of the world economy and thus every one in general.

The third way that I see fertility as essential is literally related to ancestral practices and the ancestral rites.  Many people think that there is no reason to perform rites to ensure the fertility of the land as so much of our food these days is processed or handed to us pre-made on a plate.  In that way of thinking those people are right.  However it negates one important thing.  The one thing that with out which we could not survive.

 So what is that one thing you ask?

That one essential thing is food.  With out food we can not live.  I will agree that most of our food is processed.  I will agree that in general in the majority of the world as individuals we do not have to work the land for food, hunt or gather food or the like.    In general we do not have to kill the animals we eat (unless we hunt or fish for fun).  We can go to the supermarket or local store and buy our food  all gathered and killed for us and all we need to do is cook it.

Taking all of that in to consideration it is so easy to see why people in general would not understand the need for the rites of the land to be honored.  For many there is no consideration as to where the food comes from.  It’s just there and always has been.  Why think about it?  It’ll be there for me all my life right?  I just need to keep buying my food items and they will always be there.  This is a way of thinking I was guilty of for many years, but as a witch and as a pagan seeking to understand the ancestral ways it is a wrong way of thinking.  Why I shall explain.

If the lands are not fertile than the fruits and vegetables we eat along with the grains will not prosper.  If the lands are not fertile than the animals that we eat and hunt will not be able to eat so they will die and there will be no meat.  That is why I see the nature fertility rites to be as important today if not more so than they were in the past.

The fourth way I see fertility rites as found in the typical 8 sabbats of the wheel of the year as important in the lives of Pagans and witches (and this is one area I have been neglectful) is spiritual fertility.  That’s right spiritual fertility.  If a person is not open to the presence of the Gods and the mysteries experienced through performing the rites of their path and actually communicating with deity than they will get nothing out of the rites.  That is spiritual fertility.

Spiritual fertility is being open to the experiences given to us by the Gods.  Spiritual fertility is practicing and experiencing the mysteries.  In many ways it is continuing to practice and do the work even if you don’t feel or seem to have any deep experiences at the moment.  It means working to remove the rocks in the path and working hard to keep at your path.  It’s not easy to be a Pagan.

When I say I have been neglectful in this area I mean it.  Every post I have written comes from what my thoughts have gathered based on what makes sense to me after reading and finding my intuition.  I have not been doing the prayers and rituals that I would like to.  As such I have not opened myself to the mysteries and the Gods as much as I would like.  My relationship with deities is not as strong as I would like.

This means I need to work on it.  I am.  I am working on it.  I am going to be more mindful of the esbats and the sabbats.  I am going to do more meditation again.  I need to get back to my schedule where I did meditate and worship on regular basis.  When I did that on a daily basis I was plowing my spiritual fields and the flowers and plants blossomed better than I ever imagined that they actually would.  So that is why I can say from personal experience that plowing the spiritual fields with in us is full of work, but it is worth it.

Finally we get into the fifth and last reason why I see fertility as a central and important theme for seekers to consider.  I wanted to save the sexual aspect for last as in many ways this is the most important.  I didn’t want to start with it as I feel the other areas of fertility are as important to consider as this one.  This one is actually why all the other areas are possible to be fertile,

The Great Rite is the most important rite found within witch and pagan rituals.  This rite is where the Priest and Priestess are the embodiment the God and Goddess either physically or symbolically act out sexual intercourse or the ultimate act of creation.  Through the act of sex a new being is created.  That is why sexuality is sacred.  That is why life is sacred.

With out the male and female parts of a species (plants are asexual, but do have a male and female component) there can be no reproduction.  There can be no continuation of a species.  The Great Rites acts out the cosmic sexual act of the God and Goddess which ultimately lead to the creation of the universe as we know it.  Sex is sacred as it is the act of creation.

I mentioned that the second and third degrees of Wicca contain the actual act of sex.  This is what I have been told by elders of Wicca.  These are the initiation/elevation rites that make the initiates High Priests or Priestesses.  The third degree is what allows an initiate to hive off and form their own coven.  Second degree I have been told can allow the new high priest and or priestess to start teaching.  Because it is at the level if being a High priestess where they actually become the God or Goddess in ritual this is why the Great Rite is fully enacted.

There you have it.  I have explained what fertility is in my view.  I have explained why it’s important and I have gone into the roles fertility has in our life.  In many ways you could say that any nature religion should have an aspect of fertility in it, but fertility cults are not nature based.  They may go hand in hand but they are not the same thing.

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

Fairy Tales and Folk Lore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ok.  So what does folklore entail?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forging Pentalism

So what gives about the blogs name?  Forging the Pentacle?

The explanation is simple.  The path I have started to develop is called Pentalism.  There are five aspects to almost all parts of the practice.  There are five primary influences, five Gods, Five goddesses, five parts of the soul, and more.  The pentacle for me shows how while there can be five individual points, in the end they can all be connected and are always interwoven in peace.  The Pentacle is an extremely sacred symbol for this path due to the importance of five.   Pentalism is meant to be experienced in a group setting.  However I have not really developed each of the degrees and practices (related to each of the foundational traditions of types of craft) I can’t really teach and initiate people until the first degree has been formed (I’ll develop the second degree material in my personal practice as I teach the first degree and so forth).

Ok, so that explains the name, what about content?

I already mentioned some of the content you will be seeing.    There will be information on ritual content as well as some basic sabbat or holiday information.  There will be some basic information about the deities involved (this is going to be an initiatory oath bound tradition).  There will also be posts about failures and successes and everything in between.   When I fail I want to have people laugh at it and also help me find out where I went wrong.

By writing this blog I am sharing the basic outline  of what will become my tradition.  I process information best when I write out my thoughts and my experiences.  By putting the information and the process on a blog I hope to get input from other people in the Pagan community .  I want that input to challenge me.  I want people to point out mistakes in my research and logic.  I also want people to tell me why they like something or find something useful.  That way I can become a better writer and explore the things I write about in a different light.

This blog will also be participating in the Pagan Blog project.  However all of the entries on this blog will reflect this path specifically and only this path.  My other blog  (Seeker sight) is more about my search for knowledge and wisdom which I can find any where.  There will be some cross over as they both will cover some of the same beliefs and practices.  That said both blogs should be treated as unique and individual blogs.

You said the title is “Forging the Pentacle” right?  So what are your tools and what are the foundations and origins of Pentalism?

There are five primary spiritual and religious practices which form the basis of Pentalism.  All of them are different forms of witchcraft as a spiritual practice.  Each of them has provided me with many different ways of working my craft and my religion.  They have all had an effect on how I have experienced the Gods and Goddesses of Pentalism.  I don’t belong to any one of these practices, but have combined them all.  Which is why I am and Pentalism will always remain an eclectic religious witchcraft tradition.

The first witchcraft path I must discuss is Wicca.  When I say Wicca I don’t mean the works of Silver Raven Wolf, Edain Mc Coy, D.J. Conway, Raymond Buckland, or even Scott Cunningham to name a few.  I am refering to the books by Janet and Stewart Farrar (What Witches Do, 8 Sabbats for Witches, Way of the Witches, The Witches God, The Witches Goddess), Gerald Gardner (Witchcraft Today and The meaning of Witchcraft), and some of Doreen Valientines work as well as the writings of Alex and Maxine Sanders.  Those are actual Wiccan initiates who have lineage via initiation which is cross gender and that can be traces back through Gerald Gardner to the New Forest coven of witchcraft.

A brief explanation of how I define Wicca is required here.  I define Wicca as an Oathbound, Mystery, Cross Gender initiatory, Orthapraxic Witchcult where every initiate is a member of the clergy  That is a lot to swollow.  So I am going to break it down into little bits.  I’ll cover each section in it’s own paragraph.  Once you’ read each paragraph you’ll see why that simple definition required extra explanation.  You’ll also see why I have such a strict view on Wicca and why I am only Wiccan influenced and Inspiried.

Let’s start with the term “oath bound”. By oath bound I mean that the rites and rituals, mysteries, names of deities, and practices are known and only taught to initiates after initiation.  Prior to initiation the rites and rituals a seeker and pre-initiate experience are Wiccan flavored and Inspired, but Not Wiccan.   There are many religions whose practices are oath bound.  In history the Eluisian mysteries come to mind as only the members of that cult ever experienced those rituals and knew what those rituals entailed.  There you go.  A historical reference to a religious practice and set of mysteries that are oath bound.

The next term in my definition is mystery oriented or based.  So what does this mean?  By Mystery I mean that there are some aspects of the religion that are based on expereince in ritual which are deeply intimate and can not truly be expressed by words.  All witchcraft traditions have mysteries.

The Cross Gender initiation is self explanatory.  Only men can initiate women and women can only initiate men.  This goes into the power myth described in the decent of  the Goddess.   There is also an issue of polarity.  I’m sure all the reasons for this practice are explained after initiation.  It’s something I have experienced.  The “public” rite I went to basically said that in their circles it’s male-female-male-female as much as possible (based on the ration of men to women).  I actually think it’s a great way to raise energy.

The orthapraxic aspect of Wicca is something that many people can’t grasp coming from orthodox religions such as Christianity where having specific beliefs was the important part of the religion.  In Wicca it is not the belief that is important rather it is the proper practice and performance of Wiccan rites and rituals (which can only be performed in a coven setting) that is important.  It is the proper performance of these rites and rituals that allow the clergy

The witchcult aspect is important to note as well.  Upon the seeker or dedicant’s initiation into Wicca they are made a witch.  This is especially important if that person never identified or used that term before.  All wiccans are witches, but not all witches are Wiccan.  In fact most witches are not Wiccan.  Wiccans are witches because they use witchcraft in both practical day to day life and in their worship of their deities.  That is what makes them witches.

The final aspect of my definition of Wicca is that they are all members of the clergy.  That is right.  Once you have been initiated into Wicca you have become a priest or priestess of the Lord and Lady.  For this reason every one is a part of the clergy.  If you are not called to serve the Lord and Lady of the Isles (the two specific deities in Wicca) then you are not a proper person for Wicca.

Ok.  So you explained what Wicca is.  You didn’t explain why you say you are inspired by Wicca.  Can we get an explanation for that please?  Afterall you even said that you aren’t an initiate.  There for you don’t actually know the rites and rituals of Wicca.  So how are you influenced and inspired by Wicca?

There are a few reasons why I say that.  The first thing is that I cleanse ad consecrate my holy water in the same fashion, often times using the same words outlined in 8 sabbats for witches.  The second thing is that part of my understanding of the deities I work with (with in Pentalism) was influenced by the Oak and Holy King battles (also described in 8 sabbats for witches).  Finally there is the full ceremonial outline.  When a full complex ritual is performed it often includes all the elements described within Wicca. These form the first foundation of Pentalism.

The largest element found within my path is the central fact that this path is eclectic.  Generic eclectic-neo pagan witchcraft can be found in many different books.  My favorites include Christopher Penczak, Laurie Cabot, Ellen Dugan, and Doreen Valientine.  I have however also been influenced by Starhawk, Silver Ravenwolf, Edain McCoy, D.J. Conway, Raymond Buckland, and Scott Cunningham (you see there was a reason I mentioned them before).  All of these author claim to teach eclectic Wicca.  There is no such thing (as shown above).  There is however essentially a core tradition of eclectic neo-pagan witchcraft loosely based on Wicca and ceremonial magic as outlined by Cunningham in his book “Solitary Wicca” and “Living Wicca”.  At the end of his life he did drop the association with Wicca and simply called it a witchcraft tradition, but the publisher kept the title as is.

The books by these authors all have different views of the God and Goddess and the wheel of the year.  However there are some key and central similarities in the practices that lead me to believe they are essentially practicing the same religion, but not always the same way.  It is a witchcraft tradition or set of traditions and way of thinking/practicing that has it’s own mysteries and basically a freelance style of ritual.  Every eclectic is different, but they are all the same at the same time.  We embrace the similarities and celebrate the differences.  That is what being a true eclectic is all about.

The MMC concept here is one of the reasons I came to the 5 god and goddess concept for this tradition. It seemed with in the various discussions about the forms of the Goddess with in the wheel of the year there were some things described which never seemed to fit to the MMC concept. I started to see five different Gods and Goddesses described with in the lore and the rituals. That, along with the outline in Wicca lead me to the format that became the Gods and Goddesses of Pentalism.

The ideas about experimentation and the different types of ritual and altar set ups encountered through these books gave me the foundation of how to explore and experiment.  That is what has lead me to know what does and doesn’t work for me in my religion and spirituality.  That is how I have been able to begin to piece together this tradition.  I am very thankful to be an eclectic and to have started to form a cohesive eclectic tradition that I am going to be proud to pass on to others.

Hedge witchcraft is a practice of witchcraft that not many people are aware of.  While there are more books available on the subject these days,  originally there were only a few websites out there that had any information out there.  I am not entirely a hedge witch, but I do embrace and participate in the practices.  I say I am not a hedge witch because it is not the only practice I engage in for my craft.  While it has played a central role in my access to mysteries, it is not the only or the central aspect of my practice.

So what is hedge witchcraft?  Hedge witchcraft is based on the concept of the hedge representing the border between the civilized world (towns, farms, and cities) from the wild (forests, open fields and stretches of road where no one is in sight) and the practitioner being able to be in both this world (civilized) and the other worlds (wilderness and forests).  This is the European native form of shamanism.

One thing about hedge witches and hedge witchcraft it is essentially a solitary practice as each hedge rider must find there own way of getting into those trance states, and they need to find their own connection to deities and the sabbats.  The other thing is that often time hedge witches will celebrate the sabbats through their trances.  This is where the myth of the flying to the witches sabbat comes from.  I haven’t used trance as a sabbat celebration yet, but I bet it would be powerful.

However due to my use of various types of trance and trance states to acces the mysteries and to contact spirits I have to add this as one of the foundations of Pentalism. It has been a major part of my practice for years. In fact it was during a workshop on “shamanic witchcraft” that I met my first formal teacher Christopher Penczak. That is also one of the reasons I consider hedge witchcraft to be one of the points on the foundation of Pentalism.

In many ways it has been equated to traditional witchcraft in it’s truest form, but I personally think there are other things.   This goes into traditional witchcraft.  I had mentioned it in my foundational forms, so I will discuss it briefly here.  This is an aspect of the foundation I am still developing.  It is a new addition to my practice, and as such it is something that needs a lot of exploration.

So what is traditional witchcraft?  I thought that Wicca was a form of traditional witchcraft?  Am I wrong?

There are many definitions of traditional witchcraft.  The most common definition is that of “forms of pre Gardnerian witchcraft”.  By default that makes Wicca not traditional witchcraft, and there are a few reasons for this.  Wicca is a more ceremonial form of witchcraft than most traditional witchcraft practices.  That is the first and primary difference between Wicca and traditional witchcraft.  The other is more of a focus on a personal relationship with the land.  While there are some correlations and the like,  there are many differences between them.  I have explained why Wicca is not traditional witchcraft, but I haven’t explained what it is yet.  So here goes.

For me traditional witchcraft is pre-gardnerian forms of witchcraft.  There are some forms of this practice which are initiatory (The new Forest Coven for example) and there are many forms which are solitary. The sources I have read on the subject come from both solitary and coven based books. So my view has a bit of both. That still doesn’t explain what exactly traditional witchcraft entails.

Well it is an underworld tradition. The rites and rituals typically involve some sort of physical and spiritual travel which symbolically and spiritually bring us to the underworld. That is where the Gods reside in this tradition. It is also where fate is woven and where the ancestors reside. That is why I say traditional witchcraft is an underworld tradition.

Traditional witchcraft also involves a lot of ancestral worship and veneration. Who and what the ancestors are and what the ancestral worship and veneration mean will be covered in another post shortly. For now they are those who have passed beyond the physical veil and into the underworld reals and they are those who are yet waiting to come back and return (they will be future witches and will create future ancestors). The ancestors are of blood and body as well as emotional and spiritual ties.

The final difference between traditional witchcraft and Wicca is the way the rites are performed and the tools used in rituals. The rituals in traditional witchcraft are less formal and theatrical/scripted. They are more spontaneous, yet they have some structure. All of these are factors in why this form of witchcraft has become part of the spiritual foundation that is Pentalism.

The final point in the Pentalist foundation is that of Hermetic witchcraft. This is a style of witchcraft in religious and spiritual terms as well as magical practices that highly engages the mind. When the tradition will be taught this will actually be the first degree. The points and lessons of this degree are outlined in the book “The Kybalion”. There will be many more essays on the Kybalion and how it relates to this tradition.

The is also tied into the first degree of the Temple tradition. That is where I have started my official training as a witch. For the last three years my magical practices and my rituals as well as meditations have been based entirely off of the teachings in the first degree of the Temple tradition as well as the Kybalion. As I begin to develop more and develop techniques for each of the key principles I can begin to further develop this.

Ok. So there you have the foundation. This should give you a basic idea as to where the ideas and concepts in this tradition are found. Things will become more clear as I post more. Every post will add insight into this path and how it comes together. This has served as your basic introduction and foundation to Pentalism. Some of the basic practices will be covered in an upcoming post. Please enjoy!

~Loona~

Trance work an outline and some techniques

Trance work

Part 1:

Define trance, meditation, and altered states of consciousness.

I have mentioned several times that I use trance work as part of my religious and spiritual practices. For many people this is a scary and confusing subject. A lot of people are not comfortable with sensations of being out of the body or even of being slightly out of touch with their bodies. This is a perfectly normal fear. However there are many reasons to use some sort of trance work, and there are ways of overcoming those sensations.

One of the first things that people who chose to work with trance and meditation need to know is that there are many ways to achieve these states and there are going to be ways that will work for you and ways that will not work for you. Going into trance and meditation isn’t scary or complicated. It can seem to be that way because many people associate meditation with sitting still and emptying their minds of all thoughts. I’m sorry but no. That doesn’t work for some one with ADHD. I found other methods and other ways to define trance and meditative states.

Ok. So you mentioned that there are many different ways of getting into trance, and there are many different types of trances. I’m following you so far. What I need to know now is how exactly do you define trance and meditative states? Then I have more questions.

For me trance work is essentially any work that takes place in an altered state of mind done for spiritual or religious purposes.   If a person is going for a walk along the ocean and drifts off into a space where they start to commune or have inspiration or understanding they have been in a trance state of some sort.  That’s why I say there are many ways of getting into trance.

The Temple tradition of witchcraft gives a scientific outlook on trance and meditation.  This outlook is one that states that meditative and trance states occur when your mind has reached a different brain wave state.  There is some debate about these states and the wave lengths and their importance in psychology.  Needless to say I think that there is something about brain waves shifting frequency but that may be sue to my understanding of the principle of vibration.

Wait psychology?  Brain waves?  I don’t want science I want metaphysics, and the mystical and occult.  This is after all a blog and essay on trance work and how it relates to religion, spirituality, and magic right?

Yes.  This is a blog on witchcraft, religion, spirituality, magic, and the occult.  However I am a member of the Temple tradition.  I do hold that there are some scientific possibilities that may explain why and how magic and the universe works the way it does.  As a former psychology student and a member of the Temple tradition the fields of psychology and neuroscience have been influential in how I understand the mind and trance work.  That is why I mentioned it.

Ok.  Science is important to you.  I get that, but what does that mean to some one who hasn’t studied psychology or brainwaves?

In the most basic sense it’s kinda like daydreaming and sleeping in class.  When you are in a meditative or trance state your brain is no longer functioning as if you were driving, watching tv, playing a game, ect.  It is in an altered state.  There are many different depths to the states of consciousness (psychology).

There are also many ways of altering consciousness.  There are ways to elevate your minds state (ecstatic work is common here) and there are ways to slow your mind (deep breathing, muscle relation, ect).  For some people the states that are more active and energetic are not effective for trance and spiritual work, and the opposite is true.  You also have people who find that sometimes one things works and sometimes it doesn’t (that would be me).

Ok.  So trance work and meditative work are essentially religious and spiritual work that occur when your mind is not in your normal every day consciousness right?  If I understand you a Rave might be a higher energy vibration and mental state than a countdown relaxation would be?  Sort of like chillin out or hyping yourself up before an activity or action?  So those would be altered states of consciousness right?

Exactly.  You got it.  Trance and meditative work is spiritual work that is done purposely under those states of mind.  The idea is that you get into those states of mind with the intent of doing some sort of spiritual work.  Then when you are done with the work you are able to return to your day to day consciousness at will with the lessons learned.

That sounds reasonable.  So how can we get into these states?

Part 2:

A few trance techniques

The first thing I can suggest is that you make sure you are in a place where you can be alone and quiet.  Many people set up a meditation shrine or altar where they have candles and incense and in some cases soft music that they play.  The idea is to set up an atmosphere where you will be relaxed and able to focus on your intent.

So with that in mind I am going to give two techniques for relaxation meditation and one technique for more ecstatic trance and motion.  I figure that these will provide a start.  I hope that you will take these techniques and then find some more.  There will be some recommended reading material at the end of this post.

These techniques are for your first starting into trance work.  I provide no guides for what work can be done at this point.  These are simply techniques to help you ease into trance work.  Trance work takes a lot of time and effort to get anything out of it.  The first techniques that you learn are often simply to help you train your mind into focusing at those states as they are “not normal waking consciousness”.

Yes. I said trance work is training and hard work.  In order to get the deep trance work that will lead to the unveiling of the mysteries of the universe you need to train your mind and body to be comfortable with these various states of consciousness.  How long this will take I can not tell you.  I can only tell you that it will be beneficial.

Technique 1: Breathing and focusing

In order to get the most out of this technique you should set aside 5 to 10 minutes a day for two weeks.  This should be at the same time every day.  This is done to ensure you build a practice and discipline.  The training of discipline in the mind is part of the training that is done in trance work.

Get yourself into a place where you can be alone and quiet.  If you feel that it will help light a candle and some incense and play some low soft gentle music.  Sit in a straight back chair with your feet on the floor if possible.  Sit as straight as you comfortably can, not like a board but comfortable.

Due to the nature of this technique set a timer for 5 minutes and stop after 5 minutes for first several times.  This is done to ensure that you do not make yourself dizzy.  I also suggest that there be some peanuts or cheese available after the exercise to try and bring yourself back to normal.  There will be another exercise on grounding later on.

With that said here is the material list for the exercise:

  • Note book or journal for results
  • food and drink for grounding
  • chair
  • Optional: Candles, incense, music and the like

Set up the area you are going to be doing the exercise in.  Make sure you have your chair and notebook handy.  Have some sort of food waiting for when you are done.  I recommend protein, salt, and a little sugar.  Trail mix would be ideal.

Close your eyes.  Take a deep breath and with your breath exhale all images and feelings you have towards your day and all other worries.  Do this a few times until you feel the stress of the day or the tensions of the day further back in your mind.  As you do so let your mussels relax by enjoying the air flowing through you.

Now focus.  Exhale for the count of  4 and hold for 4.  Slowly and deeply inhale for 8 counts and hold for 8 counts.  Exhale for 8 counts and hold for 8 counts.  Repeat  for a few minutes.  After a while you will find that you stop counting and your body and breathing has reached a natural relaxed deep breathing.  Keep in this state.  If you see any thoughts or images keep them in your mind.   Don;t think about the images just hold them and remember them.

Try to stay in this state until the timer goes off.  If you can’t then let yourself out of it and record in your notebook your impressions.  If you can stay in the trance and meditative state until the timer goes off do so. Once the timer goes off write in your notebook your impressions.  If you felt silly or odd or anything write it down.  This is also the place to write down thoughts you had during the exercise as well as any images.

Eat and drink.  Don’t stand or move until you know you are back in your normal conscious mind.

Technique 2: Count down with breathing

This technique comes second as in some ways it goes beyond the first and utilizes the first.  This is the technique that I use to this day when I am having difficulties getting into a trance or meditative state.

In order to get the most out of this technique you should set aside 5 to 10 minutes a day for two weeks.  This should be at the same time every day.  This is done to ensure you build a practice and discipline.  The training of discipline in the mind is part of the training that is done in trance work.

Get yourself into a place where you can be alone and quiet.  If you feel that it will help light a candle and some incense and play some low soft gentle music.  Sit in a straight back chair with your feet on the floor if possible.  Sit as straight as you comfortably can, not like a board but comfortable.

Due to the nature of this technique set a timer for 5 minutes and stop after 5 minutes for first several times.  This is done to ensure that you do not make yourself dizzy.  I also suggest that there be some peanuts or cheese available after the exercise to try and bring yourself back to normal.  There will be another exercise on grounding later on.

With that said here is the material list for the exercise:

  • Note book or journal for results
  • food and drink for grounding
  • chair
  • Optional: Candles, incense, music and the like

Set up the area you are going to be doing the exercise in.  Make sure you have your chair and notebook handy.  Have some sort of food waiting for when you are done.  I recommend protein, salt, and a little sugar.  Trail mix would be ideal.

Close your eyes.  Take a deep breath and with your breath exhale all images and feelings you have towards your day and all other worries.  Do this a few times until you feel the stress of the day or the tensions of the day further back in your mind.  As you do so let your mussels relax by enjoying the air flowing through you.

Now focus.  Exhale for the count of  4 and hold for 4.  Slowly and deeply inhale for 8 counts and hold for 8 counts.  Exhale for 8 counts and hold for 8 counts.  Repeat  8 times.

Start a count down in your mind.  Imagine as you count down the numbers in descending order this time.  Some people see it as a series flights of stairs as they walk down.  Others have their own ways.  Start with the number 13.   As you count down count at a relaxed and natural pace.  The technique will not work if you rush the countdown. Go 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0.

At this point you are in a light meditative state.  You are aware of your surroundings but yet aware of more.  This is the first trance state you get to.  Take a moment and enjoy this state.  Then count down from 12 to 1 with the same pace as before not visualizing the numbers.  Now you are at your next state of consciousness.  This is where the exercises I post with the guides post will take place.  For now keep this as your place and your trance state.

After a moment count back up going at the same pace you did before.    When you get to 12 again take a quick pause and get to know your mind and body at this state a bit.  After a moment count back up from 0 to 13.  As you reach each number your awareness comes more and more gently back to your body and your place.  It is not necessary to visualize the numbers as you ascend, but some may feel it helps.

Record all your thoughts and impressions in your note book.  Eat and drink as before and get back to your daily consciousness.

Technique 3: Chanting and motion

This technique is more about exciting your brain waves and bringing you into a higher state of consciousness where you are still seeing the world and the universe in a different view.  This technique differs in that your eyes are not closed and you are not focused on going inwards.  The idea is to go outwards and higher and inwards and lower.

This is also the first technique I will have introduced that can be directly related to magical working.

You mean we finally get to learn something that will apply to magic and spells and the like?

Yes.  However that will come later as there is another essay that needs to be written first.  The exercise here still does relate to trance work and spiritual development.  The chant I chose for this example comes from a game I played in a Theater summer camp.  That is why I see it as a perfect exercise for energy work and trance work.

Due to the nature of this technique set a timer for 5 minutes and stop after 5 minutes for first several times.  This is done to ensure that you do not make yourself dizzy.  I also suggest that there be some peanuts or cheese available after the exercise to try and bring yourself back to normal.  There will be another exercise on grounding later on.

With that said here is the material list for the exercise:

  • Note book or journal for results
  • food and drink for grounding
  • chair
  • Optional: Candles, incense, music and the like

If you have a place set up as mentioned before use that place.  This time sit in your chair comfortably.  As you sit there chant something like “Zip zap Zop” over and over again.  Start slowly but pick up pace.  As you chant rock your body back and forth with the increasing speed.  If you don’t want to rock you can stand up and move side to side or find some other swaying motion that will help you work with this.  The important thing is that you are moving with the chant.

After a while you may find yourself getting louder and louder as well as faster and faster.  That is fine.  That is what you are looking for.  These exercises and techniques are best done in a place where if you get loud it wont be to much of a problem.  The idea is that you have gone out of yourself and have become so into the motion you have lost normal reality.  Thus you have reached a trance.

Once you feel that you can’t hold the energy or the motion any more release the energy and come back to yourself.  Sit down and record everything you experience and felt in your note book.  Once you are done writing down the experience eat the food and return to your day to day life.

Part 3:

The conclusion

Ok.  There you have it.  I have given you three techniques that deal with altered states of consciousness and trance.  I have also given you a definition and an idea of what some people can mean when they say that they do a lot of trance work.  The last thing I have to say on the subject is why I ask you to record the experiences and why you may need or want to use trance in your work.

The record is simple.  It is a way for you to record your progress and see how things change.  It is something that is used for spiritual growth and development.  Many witches and pagans have these sorts of books.  Witches and magicians often call their books Books of Shadows or Grimiores.  Other pagans may call them ritual books or simply spiritual journals.  Its just a way to see what you’ve done, where you have been, and what you may yet do.

Why Trance is important?  Well it can help you contact deities, spirit guides, your higher self, gain insight into the cosmology and much more.  In the end trance work is a central part of my practice because of the versatility it has with me.  I use it in worship and I use it in communion.  I also use it to talk to my higher self and get some answers from with in.

I hope this was helpful.

May your search be fruitful

Ascension or spiritual Evolution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are your thoughts on eclectic vs. traditional practice ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wait eclectic tradition?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Could I be wrong?

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

Courage.

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

Is it worth it?

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

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

Pagan Blog Project: Entheogen and Trance work

For this weeks prompt there were several things I came up with. It was a choice between ethics, eclectic, entheogen, energy, and education. There were several blogs posted about being eclectic, so I decided that I would focus on entheogens. I am still going to post an entry about being eclectic at some point, but for today I am going to focus on entheogens.

Most of the books I read when I started out on my path said that real witches did not use drugs or drinks in rituals. As a teen I had no problem with this as I was not legal drinking or smoking age. I also had no desire to “get high” or “get drunk” at this time in my life. However it made me wonder why people would say that witches had never used substances in ritual.

I was aware that some Native American tribal traditions partook of Peyote or other substances as part of their ritual. It was a sacred practice and done to contact the deities and achieve a deep trance. I was also quite aware that in ancient Greece the Oracle of Delphi induced trance by breathing the vapors of the cave (which were hallucinogenic) and I had also heard that often times the wine drank during Hellennic rituals was laced with another substance to once again help achieve a deeper trance.

It seemed to me that if there were historical uses of substances in various cultures, why would witches be exempt from this practice? What was so wrong with using a substance blessed and connected to your Gods to not only connect with the Gods but with spirits as well? When I asked these questions it was often answered that “the experiences would not be genuine” or that “they shouldn’t be taken seriously”. I asked what made a substance trance so different from one gained by use of drumming, incense, or other practices? The answer was that the experience comes from with in and not from the substance.

My thinking was then: Wait what? Are you serious? Even if a person is using an entheogen in their ritual it’s not to “get high”. It’s to contact with deity and spirit. The tool of choice is the entheogen instead of or in addition to other “traditional” trance. The experience with the deity still would come from with in as it would be from the desire to connect that the bond was formed.

Entheogens is something I am still exploring. I typically use a smoke or a drink. Most commonly I use catnip. It has a nice relaxing sensation that helps me reach a deeper trance. The smoke is always blessed before I partake and I often take a “hit” as I praise my Gods. I often look at the smoke remaining in the room after an exhale and see symbols and get messages from the Gods that way.

I haven’t tried to use an herbal tsine blend yet, but its something I probably will look into later on. I know that the use of substances in ritual is something of debate. I also know that the practice isn’t for every one. It helps me relax and focus to connect with deity, and in the end, isn’t that all that rituals are meant to do connect and celebrate deity?

Eclectic Pagans; Truth or Dare?

Eclectic Pagans; Truth or Dare?.

I will be posting my own Eclectic outlook at some point tomorrow or Friday. However I feel that no one should ever have to go through the experience that this person went through.

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.

Pagan Blog Project: Circles and being Called

There were several things that came to my mind when I was considering what to blog about for my C entries. The two topics that kept coming back into the focus of my mind were being called (as in being called to become a member of the clergy) and the use of circles. I figured since those were the two I couldn’t get off my mind I would do my entries on those two topics. I am going to start with circles.

Circles

When I first started to practice witchcraft I thought that all pagans and all magical practices were done in a circle. I thought that all pagan religions would thus use a circle or some other similar practice as the form of worship. As I began to explore other paths I started to really understand that circles are not present in all worship practices. I did however notice that it was extremely common among witchcraft practices.

In an earlier blog post I mentioned that I identify as a witch. That is true. My worship takes place with in the confines of a circle that I have cast. For me my ritual circles have many different purposes. They serve as a barrier between this world and the other worlds. They also work as a temple and a gateway into other worlds. I also use my circles to banish energy from my area allowing new energy to flow.

There are many ways that I’ve cast a circle over the years. I have a few different circles that I use depending on the ritual I am performing and the spirits that I am working with at that time. I have found that the different entities I work with typically appreciate the different circle techniques. I have found they see it as a sign of respect on my part to have a different rite for them based on the type of spirit and magic being performed. Its part of how I get to know the spirits.

My circles are always cast with all four of the elements. I typically start with Fire in the east and end with earth in the North. My placement of the elements in my circles reflects my view on the circle of the year and how the elements work with in each season. It expresses my essential elemental philosophy. This philosophy is related directly to my magical practices and my religious practices as well.

My circles actually often start with earth as the first element invoked and cast. I use salt as my symbol for earth. I start with earth as it is our foundation and our strength. The earth is also the ultimate source of our life and is thus our ultimate mother. For me the year starts in the spring and ends in the spring. Earth is birth and death. It is growth and decay. That’s why I see it as the beginning and the end of the endless cycle of life and death.

For me fire is the element of passion and direction. Fire is where we form our ideas. It is passion. Fire is our will in many ways. That which has been planted in the earth has become strong through the feeding of the sun. The sun is the ultimate source of fire. It brings forth that which we desire through physical manifestation. This element for me is also associated with psychic sight and enlightenment. That is why fire is the second stage. It cleanses and purifies by burning away that which does not serve any more.

Air is the third element. Air brings about changes and tests. It blows away that which has burnt away and brings in that which is new. This is the breath of life. This breath brings new life into projects and can reinvigorate that which has already been done. It is calm and rough. This would be the fall.

Finally we have water. Water is the element of emotion. It is also the element of rest and reflection. It is replenishing and refreshing. I associate this element with the winter. You have done that which you can for the year. It is time to rest and contemplate. It is also time to prepare for the next year. Thus there is the cleansing of the past and the destruction of the past through the winter freezing the land. The melted snow in the spring brings fresh new water to the land. This is the last element cast.

Water is the last element I invoke because it has a tie to the underworld directly. In many cultures one of the ways you could access the other worlds would be to travel through water. Frau Holda is a goddess often associated with prosperity. In the myth a young maiden accessed the land of Elphame through a well. She was prosperous and helped those who asked for her help. Frau Hold blessed her. The maiden upon her return shows her wealth and tells the tale. The step-sister follows through the well. She does not help and gets cursed. In both cases water is the key gateway to the other worlds.

Each element has a banishing and an invoking aspect. These are the things I call upon when I cast my circle. My wheel of the year reflects this. Winter>Spring>Summer>Fall>Winter. I think that it is from the other worlds that we get life. Which is why I see the year as starting and ending in the winter and in the spring. Both bring an end and a beginning. There is a point in the year where its not really winter but not really spring either. That is the time where the journey from the dead to the living begins. That is where the transition occurs, and it is ultimately where we end up at end end of every cycle.

When I cast a circle I am traveling briefly through all of the elements and through the cycle of the year. I see all the elements connected and I see how interwoven all of fate and all of reality really are. Circles and cycles are found everywhere in my path. There will be more on each as time goes on. I may even get into more depth with each element at a later date.

On being Called

Time and time again I often wonder if I deserve to have the title of priestess. In many cases I don’t accept that title for myself. I have not been trained enough in the specific rites and rituals of specific deities yet. I am also not a member of the clergy of any specific religion yet. These are reasons I don’t accept being called a priestess. I don’t feel I have earned that right.

This goes into why I do not consider myself to be Wiccan. I have not undergone the proper initiation rite. That for one thing discounts me. The other is I have not been trained in the rites of those deities and I have not been introduced to those deities. No knowledge of the rituals or names of the deities then I am not a member of the clergy of that religion. I am not Wiccan.

It seems to me that in the case of many practitioners of eclectic neo-pagan witchcraft after dedicating oneself to the practice one can simply call themselves a priest or priestess. Many of the books out there on this topic state that you can be your own priest and priestess. While it is true no one needs to stand between you and your experiences with deity, does that automatically make you worthy of being a priest?

Being a priest to me is the same as being a member of the clergy. If you act as a priest and identify as a priest then your actions and life should reflect that. Priests serve communities. If you are a solitary member of your own personal practice what community do you serve? You can serve the general local pagan population. If you don’t feel called to serve the community and to serve the gods then I don’t think you should be calling yourself a priest of any sort.

I however do feel called to be a minister. I do feel that I am being called to serve the gods. Which gods I do not know as of yet. I wish to serve through teaching and through offering other services. I hope to help through writing and basically serve the gods in any way I can. I am being called. I will be a priest. Are you being called though?

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