Divinity-What is it?
The question I just asked here with the beginning of this post is a very difficult one to answer. In my post about Questions and answers I gave several different questions that deal with you as the seeker trying to figure out and understand what the basis of your view of the divine is. There is a reason I leave this question basically open ended and up to you the read to decide. The idea is that by the end of this post I will have explained a few concepts of the divine and divinity that will allow you the reader to understand more about the possibilities out there.
The world is full of various concepts of the divine. In some cultures you will find multiple views combined and worked together. This post is going to illustrate some of the most common concepts of the divine. By posting these concepts any then looking at the question asked about the divine previously I can point to which views are associated with which questions to help you further understand your path options and choices.
Concepts of the divine
Animisim is the view that all things are composed of a spirit aspect. This belief means that everything is alive. Every tree has its own spirit as does every other plant, animal, rock, and mineral. This belief further can be expanded to have individual places like lakes, streams, mountains, ponds, ect to have their own spirits as well. This was a fairly wide spread belief among ancient pagan religions and was a large part of the very first religions.
Pantheism is the believe that the universe itself is the divine. The world and everything in our reality makes up the divine. The Divine is not personal or considered to have human form or a form to basically interact with.
Panentheism is the belief that God is in the world. The belief here is that the divine is found in everything. It is a part of everything in the universe yet also extends beyond the universe. Here we are also part of the divine. Everything in the world is divine. The world is divine.
This is where you believe in and worship one God while accepting that other Gods exist and may be worshiped that are not your God. This is where monotheism and polytheism can co exist simultaneously. You may personally only acknowledge one god and worship one god, yet you acknowledge other people believe in and worship other Gods. So its acknowledged other gods while not believing in them yourself.
Being Agnostic means that you believe that the nature of the divine to be unknowable. It is not something that can be either proven or disproved. This is a stance that can be applied to spirits as well as to the divine and basically any spiritual or metaphysical stance or belief. There are stages of this like there are agnostics who believe divinity to be unknowable but personally believe more in the possibility and are more open to it. You also have some agnostics that believe that because divinity is unknowable there is no reason to spend any time on the thought or concept. If its there its there if its not its not. There is also a state in between where you just aren’t sure and leave it at that.
Atheism comes in a few forms. In one form it is the completely lack of belief in divinity. In another form it is the disbelief in any deities. Basically it comes down to the fact that Atheists do not believe in any deities guiding the world and the universe. This does not necessarily include a lack of belief in spirits or spiritual forces but specifically divine forces.
Monotheism is the belief in one high and all mighty God. There is only one God. This god is the one who created everything and who rules everything. There are no other divine beings in this world than them.
This is the belief where all gods are one god and all goddesses are one goddess. Within this view there is also a view of the divine where there is one supreme creator that manifests as a God and Goddess in order for humanity to understand it better. Here the various other Gods and Goddesses throughout history are simply facets of this one Goddess and one God. Here it doesn’t matter which God or Goddess you call on in your ritual and work as in the end you believe them to all be one person.
Hard polytheism is where you believe in multiple Gods and Goddesses. here you believe they are all unique and specific individuals. Here Freya is different from Frigga who is different from Juno etc. In this way each God and Goddess have unique personalities and work specific unique roles in their pantheons. With this view you can not simply pick and choose your deities to work with. Its more specific as they all have likes, dislikes, proper offerings, and many other things to consider within cultural contexts of the deities.
Deism is the belief that through reason and observation of the natural world one can establish and determine the existence of a divine creator. Along with using reason and observation of the natural world to determine the existence of a divine creator a deist rejects revelations (sacred texts and the like) as religious authorities. They use their observations and reasoning to come to their own conclusions on the nature of the divine and or the existence of multiple deities or one divinity.
Where to go from here
By now you have a pretty good idea that there are many different ways and different concepts involved in understanding the divine. It is up to you to figure out what your personal view of the divine is. Twelve step programs out there have it right when they have a step in the process to come to understand God in your own way. Not everyone who follows a twelve step program will understand God the same way. Some may not believe in a God per say but they may believe in their own personal divine spark or higher self.
The concepts of the divine I listed above may be able to give you a name for your own beliefs and concepts of the divine. As I said before in this post several of the forms of divine concepts can work together. You can be a hard polytheist, animist, and panentheist at the same time. Its all about thinking of your personal beliefs. There is no right or wrong way to experience the divine.
In the end the divine is a mystery that we must all come to experience for ourselves. The various religions and spiritual paths out there serve as ways to experience these forces. In the end we must all come to our own understanding and our own relationship with the divine. This can take work but in the long run the relationships formed are well worth it.
Asking and Answering Questions
Why we ask questions of ourselves
The process of seeking spirituality is a difficult one. There are a lot of questions that come up as you being to question your path and your beliefs. Many people when they leave their previous belief systems don’t really understand what they are looking for. They may feel something missing but be unsure of what it is exactly they need. During this period its good to read anything you get your hands on. You should read basically any material regarding religions and spirituality you are drawn to. There may be something in those sources that fits what you are looking for, or it could provide you with more confusion.
When you begin seeking a path there is often more information out there than you can handle at once. There are so many texts and websites all offering different insights on how to start and where to begin the practice. They all offer different insight into the lore and the belief systems of various religions and paths. Its too much to take in and can cause confusion and ultimately frustration. Don’t worry. There is something you can do to fight this problem.
So before you throw out all your books on the different topics out of frustration, before you find yourself hopelessly lost in the sea of information you should ask yourself some questions. Wait? Ask myself questions? You got it. Ask yourself-your higher self (spirit guide, soul, how ever you want to see the part of you that is connected to the divine and exists in the spirit worlds) to answer some questions. Your spirit will answer. Even if the answer is not exactly specific pr uncertain you will at least have a place to start.
OK so I get asking questions now. So what are these questions? These questions are questions that will help you find the path you are looking for. They will shed light on what you personally believe. You may think you know what you believe but have you ever really asked yourself what you believe? Many haven’t considered their position on many beliefs out there that you might not find in traditional religions or spiritual paths.
Asking the questions
So here are the questions. There is one big overall question with some smaller questions for each section. This is to make you really think about all aspects of the questions. They may seem simple but these are deep questions that you need to think about. As you write down these questions create a journal and write your answers down. You may want to focus on one question or question set at a time.
1: What is your belief in deity?
Do you believe in multiple Gods or just one God? Do you think that one God can manifest in different forms? Do you believe that the multiple Gods are all different individuals? Do you believe that the divine exists in everything and everything is part of the divine?
2: What do you believe in regards to spirits?
Do you believe that all things contain spirit (animals, plants, rocks, trees, rivers, oceans, mountains, etc)? Do you believe in different types of spirits (Dragons, Fairies, Elves, Dryads, Nymphs, etc)? Do you believe in angels and or demons? What are the relationships these spirits have with humans? With the divine? Do you believe in spirit guides?
3: What is your belief in the soul?
Do you believe in a soul? Do you believe in an eternal soul or does the soul die/change after death? Does the soul have multiple parts (like a mind, the spirit guide, etc) or is it one thing? How does the mind relate to the soul? The body? Is the spirit and the soul the same thing?
4: What is your belief in death and the afterlife?
Do you believe in reincarnation? Do you believe in heaven? Hell? Do you think that there is a place where we go after we die till we are reborn or till our memory fades away? Do you believe in multiple afterlives and multiple realms of the dead?
5: What is your belief in magic?
Do you believe in magic? What is magic to you? Is it something you want to use in spirituality? Is it something you want to be a part of your religion? Are you looking to use magic for more practical means? Do you think prayers are spells and magic?
6: Religion or spirituality?
What does religion mean to me? What does spirituality mean to me? Do I need one to have the other? What do I want out of religion? What do I want out of spirituality?
Answering the questions
I just gave you a lot of questions to answer and think about. I don’t expect the answers to come to you easily. The idea is that you will think about these questions. You might be wondering how do I answer these questions? I can’t really answer that. You have to find the answers yourself. I can show you how I answered these questions myself, and continue to answer them myself.
I have a journal that I have used to write down these questions and the answers I have come up with. I have one page that lists all of the questions. I start with the first question I asked. I center myself through breath and focus. I call to my higher self and spirit asking that they provide me with the direction to go in. I then focus on the question and just start writing down my thoughts related to the question.
Don’t limit yourself. Write down all the thoughts that come into your mind when you think about the question. Don’t worry if there are questions you think of when you answer it. Write them down as part of your response. This the gives you something to work with. When you feel that you can’t say any more on the subject you have channeled all the answers you will have for the time being in regards to that question.
Write down your experiences with any of these things. If you have experienced the divine write about that in the questions about the divine. Write about spirit encounters under spirit beliefs. Experiences often say more than beliefs. If experience something you don’t necessarily need to believe in it as you have first hand knowledge and experience of it. If the experiences made you question something or want to know more about something write that in. Most pagan and spiritual paths are mystery and experience based. That is why including personal experiences with these entries is important.
What if I can’t think of anything to write? What if my answer is I don’t know? Then you start with that. Just keep working the pencil. As you repeat “I can’t think of anything to write” you will eventually find some thoughts coming into the page. If you keep repeating I don’t know eventually you will have a few thoughts or ideas filter into the writing. This is your answer. Your starting point.
Once you have answered a question give yourself a day before going on to the next question. Do not underestimate the amount of spiritual energy and mental energy used when writing these answer and thinking about these questions. You do not want to overwhelm yourself when you first begin seeking. The more time you spend writing about and thinking about spiritual concepts, practices, and the like the more comfortable and aware you will become of the energy used around you.
Using the information
Once you have answered the questions you have asked yourself give yourself a day or two before reading them. This will give your mind and your soul a little rest. You have been asking and looking deep at big questions. A day or two to wait before reading your reflections and thoughts is not a bad thing. You have given yourself a lot of information from deep down and processing it will take time,
So where do you go from here? The next thing you need to do is look at each question group specifically. Start with the deity question. If you found answers along the lines of multiple deities than you have an idea that looking at pantheons may be a good place to start. From here you can then think about any cultures you feel drawn to and start with those myths and god concepts. Then you look at the spirit question. If you already have a pantheon look within other myths and fairy tales or folklore to learn about the spirits in that culture. If you don’t have a pantheon or god concept to start with then looking into shamanic practices is a starting point. I think you see where I am going with this.
The idea is that by answering the questions you can find cultures and spiritual paths that deal specifically with those beliefs and concepts. You may find several different paths that hold similar beliefs. At this point you will be able to read and look at them all. Now is the time to write down as you read what you agree with in a path and what you don’t agree with. You’ll already have an idea of your own beliefs. So finding where you fit in is easier.
The journal you started with answering these questions is going to serve as your spiritual development journal. This is where you will continue to write down questions you have. You will write down what you agree with in certain paths, what you don’t agree with and the things you are not sure about.
As you continue you will find more questions and more answers. You may find that when you review your original answers you have questions there to explore. You may have found the answers to those questions. If you do write a page about that question, when you asked it, and when or where you found the answer in your journal. There will probably be some repetitive entries, but that’s ok. It is your journey and it is going to be unique to you and you alone.
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.
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!
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
The first thing I must say is that posting this essay and my personal experience is a part of my moon ritual. I am doing this in the honor of the wisdom found with in the Queen of Fate and the Queen of the Night (they are one and the same) as well as Goddess of the moon who teaches me the practice of magic and the mysteries that are the practice of magic. Yes I consider magic to hold it’s own mysteries. In that respect this is my esbat as I am honoring the Goddess and God of Wisdom and my religious witchcraft path through this post.
Originally I was going to talk about the importance of these two practices in two different blog posts, but after reading my outline I realized that they go very well together. The topics I am going to cover are education and experimentation. I see this post in some ways to be a continuation of my post on being an eclectic pagan, but in reality this post in general will apply to each and every Pagan out there. Due to my background being of being an eclectic witch I will be posting from that perspective. I just hope that traditionalist will find something of value here as well.
I am going to begin with the value of education. To be completely honest I am going to cover some non religious and spiritual aspects of education here (at least on the surface) but when I explain why they are here you’ll see why I find all education in the end to be essential.
Education for me in the religious and spiritual sense covers more than just religious and spiritual education. In fact for myself I consider any sort of education post high school to be extremely important. I have only experience College education so my comments will reflect that, but like I said in the end to me it does have spiritual ramifications.
Wait colleges education as spiritual education? You must be off your rocker right?
Honestly this has been only a recent development in my understanding of the importance of education towards spiritual development and advancement. This has actually influenced my idea about ascension (which I will cover in another post). I see college as important as it can really expand your mind to new ways of thinking. It can also teach you how to look critically at all the books you read for guidance on your path. However for me the real understanding came from the philosophy course.
Every major that I have come across in every college I have looked at requires one class in philosophy. For me I think that any one that has any interest in pursuing any religious path should take an introductory course in philosophy. I consider myself a true philosopher which is why I find taking at least one course in philosophy to be essential to your growth spiritually.
When people think of philosophy they typically think of deep in depepth thought and thinking. For many people philosophy is simply out of their comfort zone. It seems to be something that is only held with in the mind of the great thinkers like: Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Bertrand Russel, and many others, but in reality philosophy when you get right down to it is essentially the way a person views the world.
The definition of philosophy is really based on the Greek roots of the word. The word Philosophy is made up of two Greek words, Philos and Sophia. Philos basically means love of. Sophia is translated as both knowledge and wisdom. So the subject of philosophy is essentially “the love of knowledge and wisdom”. That right there is one of the reasons I find college education ti be essential.
Through the various topics covered in college a college student is introduced to many ways of looking at the world (in other words philosophies). Once a student takes a philosophy course (the choice is typically either ethical dilemmas or a basic introduction to philosophy) they begin to start to question (or at least ideally if they got anything out of the course) how they actually understand and perceive the world from then on.
Once a philosophy course is taken (usually with in the first two semesters) a student will begin to question the worldviews offered by any text they encounter. This is the reason I have found a college education to be essential to spiritual development.
Aside from the class benefits, you typically have a chance to encounter many different cultures, religions, political, and spiritual beliefs on a college campus (even ones religious in nature tend to still have a diverse set of actual beliefs and spiritual concepts on campus). In college you are bound to have a vast amount of experiences and be allowed to experience many different things from various cultures. When you look at it that way here is yet another point why I see college as important.
The third reason I see college as important is one of the keys to ascension. This is the second time I have mentioned ascension in this post so a brief description of ascension is required here. Ascension for me is basically the process by which we reach the next stage of being. I believe that there are many stages of existence and that there are many mysteries and experiences that can only be learned in certain states. That is why I believe having a human life is essential. To be honest I think that there are actually many lives that need to be lived in human form before we learn all the lessons and experience all the mysteries that we need to in this life.
So where does college play in?
In college we have many choices to make. I believe that the choices we make in this life are those that we are fated to do (I’ll cover my concept of fate some point next week) as we chose the lessons we wanted to learn in this lifetime based on the lessons that we have already learned. I believe that career choice and vocational path all play a role in the lessons we learn.
This is where college comes in. The ultimate format of our college education is based on the career path that we have decided to pursue at that time. I say at that time because it is not uncommon these days to find people who spent years of their life in one field of work now looking for something else.
I believe that each different career path has its different set of mysteries. In many ways if you think about it there are various Gods that could be considered “Gods of X profession”. For example in financial jobs I would consider Hermes to be a God that you could gain insight from. The various jobs we have today like manufacturing might got to a god like Vulcan/Hephaestus or finances to gods like Hermes or trickster gods. That is why I think every job on earth possesses it’s own set of mysteries and lessons that can only be experienced in that setting.
That is where college comes in. In college you have to take courses based on your major or majors. Each course provides more insight into the information that you require for your job. These lessons may give you a different world look based on the career path you take. The mysteries you experience can be increased if you work with a deity related to your professions. That is how college fits in to the theme of spiritual education. Yet it goes further than that.
I mentioned briefly about how I see ascension to be reaching the next stage of existence. One of the ways we ascend is through obtaining as much knowledge as we can in this lifetime. College facilitates this by having courses in general on basically any subject that you can imagine. By attending college you have access to courses on basically any aspect of any given subject. That allows you to obtain as much knowledge as you can.
As a college student who has been in college off and on for the last 8 years and will finally have her associates (I have had many major issues with my mental health to overcome during my time in college) this year in liberal studies; I can firmly say that every course I have taken in my college career has given me something to think about, or has helped me develop a skill that would become necessary in future classes and in jobs (learning how to study and ask for help and learning boundaries as to what I can do and can’t do). I strongly support some sort of education after high school. It doesn’t matter if that education take the form be a trade specific training or a 2-7 year college/vocational training, or the format of apprenticeship, semi mater, master, and grad master format, I find that the skills learned here will help one succeed in all other areas of life.
Ok, so the rant on the aspect of college or post high school education ran much longer than I had originally thought it would be. I think I was able to provide a clear point as to why I see post high school education to be important. I think that the job path we choose can provide some mysteries of their own and I see those as being the mysteries we are meant to learn in this life.
There are however other forms of education that are important. The first thing is that you take personal responsibility for your spiritual education. No one is going to hand you the answers on a silver platter. If you have questions that you are seeking answers for you are the ones that really need to take responsible for your own spiritual education.
So what does spiritual education entail? Well there are many things that spiritual education can entail. There is research, reflection, participation, and discussion. Each of these are very important to developing personally. They are things that should not be skipped when a person comes to explore spirituality. If you remove one of them in the end the other aspects don’t have as much of an impact. This is where the second part of this post comes into play.
The very first thing I mentioned as a part of spiritual education is research. Research is an important part of learning about your path. Research can contain listening to podcasts, reading books, joining e-mail lists, historical documentaries, academic articles published in various magazines, and websites. In either way it takes note taking, paying attention and either reading or watching a lot of documentaries. In essence it is very time consuming. However if you don’t research you really never have any material to base your practice offf of.
As an eclectic I take the research a step further. I look into cultural, religious, and historical aspects and context for the practices. I then look to see how that piece fits into the whole of that subject and topic. If it is something I agree with spiritually (context into consideration) I will add it to my practice. This typically means using more than just that one concept.
Research also allows you to explore many different avenues of looking at the same topic. It can also allow you to work through concepts in culture not familiar to you. Hence this is why research is essential to both eclectics and traditionalist. It may be difficult, but in the end it takes a lot of time and is worth the effort.
The second thing I mentioned was reflection. I will cover reflection after I discuss the meaning of participation in the sense of spiritual and religious development. I am covering participation now as it coincides directly with research. That is why participation is the second part of exploration and reflection is the third.
After a person has done some research they are likely to have an idea of the path and maybe the Gods that they are interested in. This is what will guide how a person starts to participation aspect of spiritual development. I say the path determines how you participate as the Gods and development of your path becomes intently personal at this point.
There are many ways in which a person can participate in a religion or spiritual experience. There is personal ritual through prayer and offering as well as mediation or acts of worship. There are acts in communities that can be done in honor of various gods. That is an act of participation. The other type of participation is through groups and public rituals. I have found that the website Witches voice to very useful in finding groups. You may have to travel though.
The next part is spiritual reflection. In many ways I see this blog as an overall spiritual reflection for my years on my path. If you are not into blogs you can use a personal diary or as many witchcraft authors refer to it a Book of Shadows, This book basically entails any detail of any spiritual work that you do.
Reflection here entails writing down all of your thoughts and experiences. In some ways it also means looking at your experiences and develop the path you are on. It is very uncomfortable but it is important. Through reflection we are able to look at what we have read as well as our own experiences and find them working as a whole. This provides keys to mysteries and understanding.
The last thing I mentioned about education is discussion. Through discussion people can ask you questions about your path. By answering questions a person is forced to actively think about their beliefs and their practices. In many ways this forces a person to find ways to describe exactly what they believe and how they understand the universe.
There are some risks to experimentation though. When you experiment with a new ritual or worshiping new gods you end up working with a massive amount of power and entities beyond our full comprehension. You also risk the possibility of your entire universe being turned upside down. When ever you experiment with a belief and religious system all of you’re previous thoughts and notions about the world can be turned all around.
This is where you need to have courage. I mentioned in my previous post that eclectics really need to be courageous. Any one exploring a new religious path as a seeker needs to be courageous. You need to be able to try and fail and try again. That is the risk here.
The benefits of experimentation are vast. You gain self awareness and knowledge. You gain insight as to the various Gods out there. You get to explore different world views. You can learn a lot. You just have to be willing to question yourself and the other beliefs. In the end the search for a religious or philosophical path in life has a lot of risk and benefits.
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:
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.
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.
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?
So I am a bit late in joining the project. I have decided to start from the beginning and will start with the letter A. There are a few topics that came to mind when thinking about the letter a. It was difficult for me to choose which two to focus on in this post. It took me a while to think about it, but I have come to my decision. I am going to start off with my first letter A:
For the last several years I have been focusing on figuring out what my path should be. One of the things that I have come to find as a theme in many of the ancient pagan religions was some sort of concept of ancestral “worship” or veneration. After a lot of thinking this is something I have always thought to be important. This is something I have added into my own personal practice.
For me there are several reasons to honor our ancestors. I believe that once we die our bodies literally become one with the land. We are a part of the land as much as the land is a part of us. Our minds are still alive through our soul which has traveled into the land of the dead. We can now see through the eyes of the dead and thew land spirits. That is why cemeteries have ghosts. The land is filled with the souls and the spirits of those who have lived before.
When we contact our ancestors we are able to have access to insight into the sight of the other world. No longer do the dead have to focus on a line of cause and effect thinking. The dead can see into the future and into the past and the totality of the whole due to their connection to the land and to the realm of the dead, which is where all fate is formed.
Ancestors do not have to refer specifically to those of the blood and recent history. Ancestors can refer to those of the spirit (as in accepted into a religious family), those of the heart (friends and “family”) and those of the blood (by birth and in marriage). For me I am adopted. My ancestors are of those of my biological family (blood), my foster family , and my adoptive family (north of who were spirit ancestors and heart ancestors). Then I also have my ancestors in the world of witchcraft.
Who are my ancestors as a witch and a pagan? Well I would consider them to be those who have gone before on any path of witchcraft. I would consider Doreen Valentine, Doreen Virtue, Gerald Gardner, Robert Cochrane, Scott Cunningham, and in some ways Aliester Crowley potential ancestors. All of them have gone before me and helped paved the way for the modern pagan and magical traditions to be born.
I believe that by having a relationship with our ancestors we can have a direct relationship with the land beneath us. I believe that nature holds a lot of the keys to understanding the universe. I am a nature based pagan. I believe the the ancestors and the spirits of the land are in many ways the same thing. I work with both in my rituals and in my magic. Ancestors are important. They shows us where we have been and where we can be and can provide insight that we may not be able to see.
This is a topic that is highly debated among pagans and Christians. There are many people who say that angels belong specific under the umbrella of Abrahamic religions as they are the servants of Yaweh. Other people are more open to the thought that angels can refer to a heavenly being in servant of deities.
I believe in angels. I also believe in other beings that serve other deities. I believe that there are some beings that are considered to be angelic (Cupid has often been described as an angelic figure and he is the son of Aphrodite/Venus) and that there are angels which are the servants of Yaweh. In both cases these are highly powerful spiritual beings who work for and are servants of deities.
I believe that angels are messengers of Gods. I also believe that there are groups of spirits known as angels that may not have been angles. These would be the beings I see associated with Enochian Magic as revealed through Johnathan Dee and his partner. I believe those may have been the fallen angels that fell from gods grace when they lusted after women.
I believe in angels. I don’t believe them to be all loving and peaceful beings. I think they they are powerful beings who have the powers of the gods at their command. I think that there are guardian spirits often thought to be angels, but may not infact be angels.
To be honest I don’t know much about angels. I have my beliefs. I still have much to learn about angels. I do think that there is more to angels than the most common view.
So it has been a very long time since I have written or done any updating on this blog. I have come to realize that there is much for me to learn still, and much I already do know. I have come to realize that it is time to start going back to the basics which started my love for the path I am on. It is time for me to figure out what I do know and what I am.
I just started to read a new book. The book “The Faery teachings” by Orion Foxwood and the first chapter had four basic questions that one should answer. These four questions are the questions in which we all as humans seems to seek to find the answers to through life and religion and basicaly everything. These four questions are the questions that essentially form the basis of the meaning of life.
The four questions are more basic than anything you may actually consider. The first question is : Who am I? The second question is :What is it? (What is God, the force behind creation, Spirit, ect). The third question is Why do I exist? The fourth question is finally Where do I/we go when we die or What happens when we die?. These are the basic questions that all religions and philosophies seek to answer.
I am a college student who studies many things. I study religion, anthropology, religion, philosophy, and in many ways psychology ans sociology. All of these fields of study are interconnected. All of these fields seek to understand the basis of what is essentially the human experience. These areas of study are my passion and they fire my soul. They are why I feel I am here. I am here to gain understanding found in the mysteries of life through the exploration of mysticism found in comparative religions and folklore/theology.
One of the things I have neglected over the years is what “I know”. The questions that Orion says we seek to answer are questions I have never actually really asked myself. I keep reading and reading and saying “yes that makes sense” and what not. When I am asked questions I never respond with “this is my thought”. I typically respond along the lines of “I don’t really know to be honest.”. I have discredited what I know.
The only time I have ever considered what “I know” is when I have to write a paper for school. My teachers have always told me I should be a writer. I have been afraid of doing the writing and getting published. I have never given myself enough credit for my knowledge. I often amaze myself when I read my papers. I have come to realize that the reason I feel I “know nothing” on any subject is that I doubt my personal experiences as well as my own thought processes when compared to others.
Upon finishing the first chapter in the book :”The Faery Teachings” I realized that it was time for me to consider what I know. When the author explained why it was important to answer these questions before starting to follow any path, that it was time for me to actually answer these questions. I feel part of the reason that I don’t really know what I am and who I am is that I have never asked myself these questions. That is why honestly am not secure in my beliefs.
It is time for me now to answer these questions. One of the ways I am going to get through these questions is for me to go through my old diaries. There was a time when I was constantly writing anything and everything that came into my mind. A lot of this will reflect who I am and my thoughts and beliefs at the time. It will also mean going through some of my old papers written at school and on my own. It may even mean digging up very old and in depth gaia posts.
If I am to ever really consider myself a writer then I must start having my thoughts published somewhere. I am going to start with this blog. The next several “essays” will be responces based on the very first question “Who am I”. The first article will be a basic biography of my life. The second will more likely be more thought processes on a specific topic and then the rest will flow from there,
In many ways it may work out to being a book full of essays and exercises much like one of my favorite books on traditional witchcraft (and one I wrote a paper on) “The Witching Way of the Hollow Hill” by Robin Artisson. This is one of the reasons I am starting with the blog. I figure that it is best to start e-publishing through this blog.
So this is the end of a year and the start of a new year.