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?