What Types there are and How to work with them
What is Ancestral Veneration
Ancestral Veneration is one of the most ancient religious and spiritual practices. The respect and belief in an afterlife as well as honoring ancestors can be traced back to paleolithic mankind. It is believed that honoring our ancestors was the first religious and spiritual form of ritual work. From ways the dead were buried to views of the afterlife ancestors and the dead were never far from the mind of our paleolithic ancestors, and for some this truth remains today.
Ancestral veneration is not worshiping our ancestors, at least not in the common sense of worship. Ancestral veneration is more like honoring the dead in a respectful way. Its a belief that they are still with us in a spirit form. That they can hear us and can effect our lives from the other side. Its a belief that our ancestors like other spirits can help us become the best person we can be and to live the life that we really want and desire.
There are exchanges of offerings and gifts. This isn’t worship. In some ways I think of it like when I put a flower on my ancestors grave. Its giving something to them to signify that you remember them and care for them. These gifts can be basically anything. Though some cultures do have rules against some items being given to different spirits.
In some cultures flowers are only for the dead and it’s ok to leave offerings to the dead till they rot as this signifies they have taken everything. In other cultures and practices only water is offered to the dead. Even Christianity has mention of the value of prayer for the dead. Working with and honoring our ancestors is a powerful spiritual path and there are many ways to go about it.
The act of the gift and the offering is the important thing though. Its through these exchanges that relationships with our ancestors can develop and grow. Its believed that a gift will ensure a gift. Its also believed that because the dead and our ancestors are beyond the veil they have access to energy and powers of the universe that we don’t so by asking them to help us in our work and our lives they can tap into those energies for us. Granted they dont help us unless we help ourselves. So the gifts symbolize our part to do our work.
Many religions and traditions have celebrations and days of the dead. Halloween, All saints and All Souls day, Samhain, Dia de los Muertos(Mexican Day of the dead), The Bon Festival (Japan), and Pitru Paksha (Fortnight of the Ancestors-Hindu) are different festivals in different cultures. They have one thing in common. They are all festivals to honor the dead and the ancestors. These are only a handful of celebrations that exist to celebrate ancestors and the dead. The point is that the concept of honoring the dead is still alive and well in this world today.
The practice of honoring the dead is starting to become more common in Pagan practices today as well. Part of that is that many of us are reclaiming this practice. It was a part of ancient pagan traditions, so the practice was largely destroyed in the west. For many reclaiming ancestral veneration as a part of our practice not only connects us to our more recent ancestors and keeps our passed loved ones in our lives, but it also allows us to reach the deepest ancestors we have which can be powerful guides for those starting down pagan paths.
Personal Development of Ancestor work
One of the reasons I am writing this post today is in honor of a new ancestor. A loved one of mine has just crossed the veil. It is this passing that has once again made me think about working with my ancestors and how is really always been a central part of my practice. I haven’t always considered the contact with my ancestors and the shrines to my past loved ones ancestral veneration. I thought it was simply remembering them and keeping them alive.
Ancestor veneration is a large part of my practice and spiritual work. My ancestors have a lot to teach me. I have an ancestor altar that I pray at everyday. While it is a strong part of my practice these days, ancestral veneration and honoring has not always been a large part of my path. In fact it was at one point something I really only did on the festival of the dead (Samhain) as that was the focus. I thought that was really all that was needed, and at the time maybe that was for my best.
When I started to practice witchcraft I had recently lost my Grandmother. Many of the psychics and readings I had done at the time confirmed that she was staying close to me as a spirit guide (I was having dreams of her). So I started working with my ancestors through a single ancestor as a spirit guide. That was 17 years ago. Now I have an altar to all my ancestors as I have learned that any of our ancestors can be our guides and guardians.
Originally I didn’t offer any prayers, or much to my ancestors. I would simply say hello to them when I needed to feel their presence. I had a place of memory for them where I could see them and keep them in my life. Then when I started to explore traditional witchcraft as a religious and spiritual practice I heard of the concept of giving them offerings and having shrines and altars to them. So I created one and started an ancestral prayer working.
The practice with ancestral veneration got even deeper when I started to explore Germanic paganism and found I had Germanic ancestry. When I read how they honored their ancestors and the powers of wyrd and Oorlog I decided that I had to develop my relationship even further. So I started to work them into Germanic rites and rituals through the phrases “The Alfar and the Disir”
There was a time when I stopped practicing basically everything. Then I started to explore Hoodoo. My interest and desires to understand magic and witchcraft returned. Through this I found more focus on ancestors and honoring your culture. I found that ancestors will be powerful allies in spells as well as in meditations and trance work. So through Hoodoo my work with my ancestors started to develop further and I learned new prayers to use for my ancestors.
Now today I have a prayer I say to them every morning and I have a prayer I say every evening to my ancestors. I give them offerings when I perform rituals and I invite them into my ritual circles. They have a part of my day to day life and my spiritual life. I couldn’t imagine my spiritual work without my ancestors at all. They are always there for me and they always will be. I may not be able to physically hold them and see them, but when I need them I can feel them and I know they are always there for me.
The types of ancestors:
Being adopted my ancestors actually come in different forms and types. Not all of my ancestors are of the blood. Some are of the spirit and some are of the heart. I have legal blood ancestors and blood ancestors. I have ancestors in all of my families that I don’t know but are my allies through the bonds of the heart and the spirit. I even have ancestors that are not really in my family at all but are in my spiritual family. All of these ancestors have roles to play in my life and I honor them all.
I dont consider ancestors limited to just the blood and the heart though.This post is going to discuss the different ancestors I have through my adoption and my spiritual practices and how I can honor and work with each of them. For the longest time I didn’t engage in ancestral veneration because of my adoption. I wasn’t sure if I should honor my ancestors of my adoption, my foster family, or my biological family. Thinking about this also was painful so while I wanted to honor my ancestors I didn’t go about it until I had answered my confusion.
How I came to see the types of Ancestors
That was how I came to see the different ancestral lines. One year I went to the local Pagan Pride day. I typically attend a few of the workshops that go on. This year there was one about ancestral work and contacting your ancestors. The key component of that workshop was a meditation on ancestral lines. During this meditation I saw three lines of ancestral blood flowing from my body. There was a fourth that was some what gray at the time and today its now clear.
It was then I knew that I was to honor all of my ancestors. Those of my foster family, my blood or biological family, and my adoptive family. It was through this work that I came to see that there are many different types of ancestors and that not everyone will have access to blood ancestors. Through these meditations and concepts I came to see that there are
four primary types of ancestral allies: You have your ancestors of the Blood, your ancestors of the heart, and the ancestors of the spirit. Adoptive ancestors are actually a mixture of two types which I will get into in the next sections as well as being their own type of ancestor.
Ancestors of The Blood
Every one is familiar with the concept of blood ancestors. These are those of your family or blood line that goes back generations. These are the strongest allies that one can have. These are the ancestors that everyone thinks about when they think of ancestors. Ancestors of the blood also include ancestors gained through marriage and long term committed relationships. When I got engaged to my fiance his ancestors joined mine and mine his. We are a family unit. These ancestors go back generations on each side. So the lines of blood ancestors are very long.
These are the strongest allies that you can have as a spirit. They are the ones that have your best interest at heart. Through the strands of Fate, and the workings of Wyrd we are always directly connected to our ancestors. Our actions reflect them as much as their actions reflect on us. So we need to honor them in our lives and we need to keep them close to us. Before any other spirit is petitioned the ancestors will work stronger for you and faster for you. There is little that is stronger than the power of the blood.
For me I also have my adoptive ancestors, These are the ancestors of my adoptive family. They are the family that raised me and that belongs to me. In ancient cultures at times the roles of the blood ancestors would be replaced by the foster and or adoptive family. In my case I never considered them to replace the blood ancestors at all. I considered them additional ancestors that I was blessed to have.
We have no physical blood that ties us. However to all of the world and all legal meanings they are my flesh and blood. That is how I feel about them as well. In all honesty at times they are more my family than my blood and biological family simply because I have minimal contact and my relationship with that family is in its infancy (until recently was non existent). Which is why they are both ancestors of the blood and of the heart. The time that they spent raising me and being involved in my life can not be undone.
They gave their blood, sweat, and tears to me. They are for my my most powerful allies. They have been there for me more than the blood ancestors. They were the first ancestors I have contacted and they were the first ones to make themselves known to me. This is the ancestral line that has been the strongest for me. My blood ancestral work is focused on more ancient pagan ancestor while my adoptive ancestral work is more with Saint and angel work (Hoodoo influences as well).
It is because my adoptive Ancestors gave so much of their blood, sweat, and tears into my life and that they took me in they are also ancestors of the heart. They are of the blood because of the family ties and concepts but of the heart because there is no physical blood. Its a spiritual and memory based blood love. The bond of the heart here shows how even just being in a family for a short while can create strong family bonds.
Ancestors of the Heart
Those of the heart are the family that has passed that are not connected through marriage or blood or even legal adoption. In my case this is where my foster family lies. They did not adopt me but are still my family. I have lost several members of that family and they were all close to me. They are now my ancestors and they watch over me. Our bond is somewhat stronger than blood or law.
These ancestors are some of my more recent ancestors. It was my Uncle Cleve’s passing which made me think about ancestors. He was my foster uncle and is an ancestor of my heart. His two brothers are also my ancestors here. I have a Grandfather here as well. To them and to me the fact that I did not live with them, and was not legally a part of the family after my adoption never mattered. I never stopped being their family. That is what the ancestors of the heart are all about.
The ancestors of the heart are those that have passed on we considered family even if there was no blood between you. These can be friends you thought of as brothers and sisters, close friends and even those who you would consider “father”or “mother” figures. If you feel that they were and are apart of your family in your heart than they are your family and are your ancestors. Never let anyone else tell you any different.
Ancestors of the Spirit:
Finally there are ancestors of the spirit. For me I consider any Occultist, Witch, and Magician who worked hard to preserve the magical and spiritual arts are my spiritual ancestors. Even though I dont agree with all of their teachings and philosophies people like Gerald Gardner, Aliester Crowley, Doreen Valiente, Scott Cunningham, and many others put a lot of work into making magical spirituality acceptable and part of our day to day lives again. Those are a few of my spiritual ancestors as a witch based on the practices I have taken into my practice.
As I explore Hoodoo and other magical systems other spiritual ancestors will come into my practice. For example Marie Laveau is a famous Hoodoo worker in New Orleans. In some respects I could consider her a spiritual ancestor. Other ancestors in the case of Hoodoo would in general be any one who struggled to keep African American spiritual heritage alive through Hoodoo and Rootwork. When a teacher passes I would add them to the spiritual ancestors as well.
You can also have ancestors of the spirit when you are spiritually adopted into a tradition. There are many religions and paths where they are only open to people of a specific culture. Occasionally through the practice of spiritual adoption outsiders are initiated and welcome into that spiritual family. The ancestors of your initiator in these situations become your ancestors and guides as well. It is a spiritual family you have entered into and like all families they will help you and work with you if you honor them as taught.
Working with your ancestors
Now that we have covered the types of ancestors out there and I have mentioned the importance of working with your ancestors its time to actually start thinking about how we can work with them. Why do we work with them, and what the best ways of working with them are.
There are two primary ways aside from meditation and spirit travel work that a person can work with their ancestors. These two forms are the altar and prayers. They work well together and serve as a starting point for building power with your ancestral allies. Unless one is experienced in astral travel and spirit communication using those tools right away to work with your ancestors is not the best of ideas. Prayers and altar work are all you really need.
Really when it comes to working with your ancestors the only real must do I have found is having an altar of some sort where you can offer prayers and other items to them as you get to know them. These altars can evolve and change over time. The point of the altar is to serve as a focal point in your work. The altar is a place for you to offer your prayers and your gifts to them.
Your altar doesn’t need to be fancy. Many people start off not knowing any of their ancestors. In which case a candle, a cup for water, and a plate for offerings is all you would need to contact them. If you know your passed on loved ones and you have photos of them you can and should add those photos to the altar.
The altar also serves as a place of remembrance of the dead. So its a place to put items that make you think of your ancestors as well as their photos. You want it to look nice and appealing. This is going to be their home for you in your house and their place in your life. So its also important to keep the altar neat looking.
Here are some examples of my own ancestral altars and how its changed over time:
First ancestral altar
First ancestral altar
Second Ancestral Altar
Second Ancestral Altar
Ancestor Altar 3
As you can see by looking at these altars they have changed over time. As they have changed so has my relationship with my ancestors evolved. The reason I wanted to show you the evolution of the altar is that I want you all to know that you can let your altar change over time. Its not meant to be a static thing! Its meant to be something that evolves with you and with your relationship with the spirits!
There are no limits on your ancestral altar. Let their spirits come through. There are reasons for the symbols I have placed on my altars. They grew as my focus and my relationships grew. One thing has always been common though-the focus has been on remembering them and keeping their memories alive in my life.
The best way to work with your ancestors even before starting an altar is simply to pray to them. Prayers to your ancestors aren’t really any different than prayers for gods and spirit guides. You are simply having a conversation with your ancestors. Prayers are how we can communicate with them directly and its our best way to communicate with them. They can communicate with us in different ways (dreams, scents, meditations, sudden insights etc) but we can really only speak to them through prayers.
The easiest prayer is simply:
“Blessed Ancestors I welcome you into my life. May you bless and guide me and may you teach me what you yourself can”
That’s all your prayers to your ancestors need to be. You dont need to praise them. You don’t need to have a fancy invocation. You simply can address them as your ancestors and they will listen to you. You dont even really need to ask for a blessing. You could simply say something along the lines of:
“Good Morning Ancestors. I welcome you this day”.
All you are doing with your prayers is acknowledging that they exist and that they are apart of your world. By giving them a simple welcome everyday you will start to feel their presence build up. You will begin to know them and feel them like you do can with other spirits and beings that you work with. The more attention you give them the more you will notice them.
Prayers can be more complex and verbose. My personal prayers evolved from a simple Hello and welcome to a full blessing and daily petition for them to be here. There is a bit of praise and there is a bit of thanks. These prayers are offered twice daily. I feel that they flowed from me into the written form when I was channeling spirits and writing prayers for them. My ancestors let me know what they wanted.
Offerings and Gifts
The final way that we can work with our ancestors is in offerings and gifts. These gifts are ways that we say thank you and show our appreciation to them. There are many ways types of gifts that can be given to our ancestors. You can give your ancestor basically anything you would give yourself or a person. They are still family and they are still people.
For myself I consider flowers on graves a gift to them. I also place flowers on the altars every so often as remembrances of them. I try and give them their favorite flowers. I also try and give them their favorite things. For my grandmother I will think of her when I go bowling and send her some of that energy as play and a memory of our times together.
On holidays I will set aside a portion of the food on my plate for my ancestors. I will let it sit till the end and eat that last. They eat the essence of that portion while I eat my meal. When I have finished the portion for me they will have had their fill and I can take nourishment from the food. Other cultures burn food offerings to ancestors and spirits. Some burry the food in the yard. Other throw it into the woods for animals to eat.
There are some taboos in various cultures about what can and can’t be given to ancestors and the dead. If you belong to a specific culture, religion, and or tradition I suggest that you look into ways that they honor the dead. By honoring the traditions of your culture, your religion and your tradition you are honoring your ancestors in that way as well. These traditions after all were ancestral in many cases.
This post has covered my own discovery into the importance of ancestral veneration. It has covered the types of ancestors and a few of the ways that we can work with our ancestors. Your ancestors are part of who you are. They are powerful allies that can teach you things you wouldn’t imagine and who can be there for you in ways none else can. Your ancestors are still here in this life and in this world just in a different form.
There are many ways to work with them. Once you start working with them you will find that there are many more ways and reasons to work with them. I’ve been working with my ancestors actively for several years and my relationships with them continue to grow and develop. I am constantly learning new reasons to honor them and new ways of working with them. The more I learn the more I realize there is to learn.
These allies seem to be the ones that develop the most as I develop spiritually. The more I understand spiritual and magical practices the stronger they seem to become and the more things we seem to be able to so together. Its my hope that any one who has read this will start to develop their own relationships with their ancestors and start to find the power and comfort in ancestral grace and guidance.
Review: The Magical Powers of the Saints-Evocation and Candle rituals
The book The Magical Power of the Saints: Evocation and Candle books was an interesting read. It was just what it states its about. The book focuses on Saints and candle magic and nothing else. THis book never claims to be Hoodoo or anything than working with saints which is excellent. Its a great introduction guide for working with saints and gaining spiritual knowledge from the practice of working with saints.
Before I read this book I knew about maybe two or three saints. I knew of Saint Joan of Arc, Saint Jude, and Saint Paul. This book while not providing detailed information about the saints provides information on 74 different saints that can be worked with for spiritual and practical gains in our lives. The information provided is direct and to the point.
This book contains 11 different chapters. Each of the chapters focuses on a different aspect of what the author calls “popular religiosity” or the working of religio magic or magic with the saints. The topics of the chapters are varied but provide a cohesive system for working with saints.
The book gets started right away in the first chapter by talking about working with saints and deities. The author begins by telling you a bit about how ancient pagans gave offerings to deities and spirits when asking for something. The author then goes on in to how the saints started to have the same roles and practices used with them. This is popular religiosity. From there he gives a list of saints some with images and some without with their associations, colors, and what they are patrons of. You can start formulating your work right away.
The second chapter deals with the practice of divination before doing any sort of working. Now this is not just about telling things based on as they appear with the cards or tool used. This discussion of divination includes finding out what sort of offerings to give, blocks in the way of the working, and the proper saints and spirits to work with. This chapter also discusses the importance of the diviner priest to know magic and divination.
The third chapter focuses on ancestors and the dead. The author explains how prayers to the ancestors can work with a biblical verse. The author then talks about a concept called the “Mighty dead” which is found in various traditions of witchcraft. He relates this concept to working with saints and ends the chapter with a prayer you can offer to your ancestor for working with them.
The fourth chapter is all about working the candles. Here we get our first taste of the type of work that is ahead of us. The author goes into the history of candles in magic and prayer. The majority of the chapter focuses on several different types of candles and their uses for work. The chapter ends with a “ritual of transformation”
The fifth chapter is really three chapters together. This chapter focuses on reading the signs in the candles as they burn, several different candle spells, and oils for working the candles. This is the spell and correspondence section of the book and provides different spells and rituals for basically every need.
The sixth chapter focuses on the use of the psalms in the bible. The author doesn’t go into a discussion about the use of the psalms merely states that they are a historical magical use. The author then provides a list of the different psalms that can be used in spells and candle work for various needs. They are grouped by need or use in numerical order.
The seventh chapter focuses on aspects of ritual. Here the author talks about incenses, baths, and washes. These are components of different magical practices that can be obtained and add benefit to the other workings. Here the author introduces the concept and how to be ware the costs of those selling washes, baths, and the like.
The eighth chapter is all about putting the practices together. Here the author talks about working with planetary hours on the days. The author also includes arch angels and the hours and items they can be petitioned for. The author also includes ideas on how to make prayer beads and work effective magic that way.
The ninth chapter is about becoming a diviner priest or priestess. Here the author goes into the training that is required to become a diviner priest or priestess. the author also provides a simple but also diverse divination style that a diviner priest or priestess may need to be familiar with in order to complete their training.
The tenth chapter of the book is all about the church that the author is a reverend of. The author includes photo copied images of his certifications to prove he can teach what he teaches and is what and who he says he is.
The last chapter in the book is a final set of advice. Here the author gives a final bit of advice for when seeking the help of a professional root worker, witch, or what ever. Not everyone who offers these services is what they say they are.
All in all the author provided a good basis to start delving into your own work with saints and angelic spirits. While there could have been more lore provided for the various saints and more information about the herbs and incenses and oils, the book will get you started on the path of working with saints and angelic forces. When you combine this work with the recommended reading list the author provides more then enough sources and information to begin feeling comfortable in these practices.
Pagan Blog Project: Growth
Today we are going to talk about growth. Specifically we are going to talk about how you can see how far you have grown spiritually and in your path from when you start to where you are now, or even a year later. The longer we are on any spiritual path the more we should be growing as a person. The more we should understand and experience things spiritually. Our understandings of the universe can change as we grow spiritually and as we learn and have experiences. So seeing where we were and where we are now can be a great point of reflection.
So how do we look at spiritual growth? This is really a hard thing to measure. How we grow spiritually, how fast we learn and gain experiences is completely a personal thing. No two people will have the same speed or rate of development of their spiritual skills and senses as other people. Often growth may not seem to be happening but it has. This is why reflections and record keeping is so essential.
One of the ways we look at spiritual growth is to answer the same questions we started with at the beginning of our journey. These are the questions I outlined in the post on Asking and answering questions. By re-answering these questions you can look back over what you said before and see what your answers are now. You should answer the questions first and as before take as much time to answer the questions as you need. When you have answered the questions then you can read your original response. I would then suggest am entry comparing the two entries for each question. This way you can see where your thoughts changed.
The other way you can judge how you have grown is basically by your experiences and what you have recorded down. Again by reflecting on what you have done and what you didn’t do as well as your thoughts and feelings about everything you have experienced you will be able to see where things have changed. In essence seeing what has changed and where you have grown takes a lot of reflection and introspection.
Finally you can also look at your life around you. Through your spiritual studies your life should have become more positive and you should feel more fulfilled in life. By looking at your life and the way things have changed you can also evaluate how things are and how you have grown spiritually. Its our day to day lives and actions where some of the largest changes will occur in ourselves. One of the examples I can think of making a noticeable change is in working with affirmations and colored energy balls on a regular basis to bring changes within yourself.
In the end you wont grow spiritually if you don’t get out there and do things. Start by trying exercises that seem fun and interesting to you. Though if they have a previous exercise you are supposed to engage in before working that exercise you need to go back and do the exercises. Remember to listen to your intuition. Your intuition will guide you and help you find where you belong. Walking an alternative spiritual path like any numerous pagan paths, spirituality, and any form of witchcraft can be a rough road, but you are the one that will make it happen. be strong and you will find your way.
Psychic and spiritual development herbal kit
In spiritual development one of the first things people often develop are some sort of psychic senses. These skills are developed through meditations, energy work, and other exercises often outlined in texts. Many times psychic development is also the first step in developing the skills to practice other forms of magic.
There are many tools to aid in psychic development. There are many different herbs that can be worked with to create incenses, powders, tinctures, and other charms and tools to help one strengthen their psychic senses. The herbs in this kit have been hand chosen to help the novice psychic create incenses and other tools to open the paths to the psychic and spiritual realms.
The herbs in this kit can also aid in astral travel and spirit work outside of the physical body. These techniques are other forms of psychic development and psychic work. These herbs can also aid in shamanic trance work. By aiding in all forms of psychic work from divination to meditation, to astral travel and trance work these herbs also work as powerful aids in spiritual development.
By working on and developing your skills psychically you can develop relationships with spirits. You can interact with spirits and Gods. Through these psychic skills and spiritual developments your connection with the universe around you and the mysteries will grow and you will become a more complete and whole person.
This kit contains:
Star Anise Seeds
Attitude and Affirmations
Today I am going to talk about a very simple topic. The topic is both of your attitude and of doing positive affirmations. When you combine these two items together magic happens with little to no effort. By changing your mind and your thought process you change the world around you and what comes your way.
So what do I mean by attitude? Your attitude is the way you look at things. If for example you are reading a book that has a lot of exercises for psychic development and you think they are a waste of time you wont get anything out of them and they will not be effective and the techniques and skill meant to be learned in that exercise will not be learned or experienced. Your attitude will influence how much you get out of your spiritual development and your spiritual practices.
If you have an attitude of the world sucks and everything terrible is going to happen to you that is exactly what you will get. When you believe and feel negative towards the world that is what you will experience. Your attitude is what will attract energetic forces to you for your benefit or your troubles. If all you feel around you is negative than all you will experience is negativity.
Now I know that life gives us troubles and difficulties. During those times it can be hard not to be negative and feel like the world is crumbling down around you. I’ve been there and I feel that too. However there are things I do to change my thoughts and try to bring positive energy into my life. One of these skills is positive affirmations.
Affirmations are practical thoughts that when repeated can get imprinted on your thoughts in the subconscious and can make those feelings become a reality. Some one having issues with self love and feelings of self worth might repeat a statements like “I am loved. I have love around me. Love surrounds me all the time”. By repeating those words and phrases several times over they become thought patterns. The repetition becomes habit and it starts to transform our reality and our attitudes.
our thoughts become our reality. Our attitudes influence our thoughts. By working on our attitudes and by using positive affirmations we can make major changes in our lives. If you don’t believe this, give it a shot. I challenge those of you who don’t believe in the power of positive affirmations to give it a shot.
How are affirmations magic? The most effective forms of magic are those we do on our self. One theory in magic teaches that the best way to make a change in your life it to make the change within or to work magic on the self and the perceptions of reality. Basically we work magic on ourselves to cause changes in our reality.
This is where affirmations come in. By repeating the positive affirmations over and over again they gain energy and power and belief. By wording that you already have those items you are manifesting those properties in the moment. This is magic. Plain and simple. Its effective and one of the most basic magical practices I can introduce you to.
For those of you who want to give affirmations a try and who would like to try this simple form of magic. Then I have an exercise for you. If you are skeptical about the ideas then you should try this exercise as well. This is an exercise I have done both in a college introductory psychology course and in training as a witch. So here it is.
- Write down and consider five different items you are looking for in life. For example you can write down love, succsess, friendship, prosperity, and appreciation. These could be five goals that you are looking at working on. They could be things you need to improve on. Just have five goals in mind.
- Take each goal and write in at least five different ways that you have the goal. For love for example you might write I am loved. I have love. Love surrounds me. I love. People love me. You then do the same for each other goal in a similar fashion. Note you write these in the current stance. By saying I have love and I am loved it is manifesting in the known here and now while if you say I will be loved or they will love me it will manifest maybe at some unknown time in the future. If you focus on not having something like not having debt you will manifest debt because you are focusing on the negative rather than the positive so in stead of saying not having debt or nor debt focus on prosperity or having enough to cover all your needs.
- Keep the affirmations by your bedside, probably on your nightstand. Put them basically somewhere you will see them to recite them every day.
- In the morning shortly after waking or in the shower recite each individual affirmation for each goal five times. Do this for each goal. The more often you say them aloud the more you will believe it. The sound of you saying it confirms your mental belief in it. The two work together to manifest these five goals. See yourself with each affirmation firmly. Believe and know that you have them.
- In the mid morning repeat the affirmations aloud and mentally as before.
- In the afternoon around lunchtime or your midday meal repeat them again as you did before.
- Do the same with your afternoon snack or break after work. Repeat each affirmation for each goal five time.
- Before bed once more perform the affirmation exercise for each goal. This will program it into your dreams and also into the universe.
- Perform this exercise daily for two weeks and take notice of how you feel. You may not believe the affirmations at first but give it time and it will work.
- Continue for another two weeks and notice any changes in your state of mind, life, and emotional states. This will show any progress in manifesting these goals.
- After a month you can either continue with the same goals or you can try new ones. The process of reflection and practice starts again though.(originally posted in my other blog: http://seekersight.wordpress.com/2014/02/28/pagan-blog-project-e-energy/)
Pagan Blog Project: Goddess spirituality
One of the common themes out there in the world of Paganism and alternative spirituality is the concept of generic Goddess spirituality. There are many different things that people mean when they say that they follow Goddess spirituality rather than a specific religion or spiritual path. In all honesty like all spiritual paths Goddess spirituality is a very personal path. There are some common themes and traits among Goddess spirituality so I am going to cover a few of those themes today for you to follow and understand.
What is Goddess spirituality
What is goddess spirituality? Goddess spirituality is in the end a relationship with one divine great Goddess. This Goddess is the mother of everything. She is the creator of everything. She has no name but is mother to every one who follows her path. The Great Goddess is both apart of this world and separate from this world. The Goddess is in everything and is a part of everything.
Goddess spirituality is actually as old as time. The earliest figures that we have found appear to be mother Goddess figures. It is believed that because women are the ones to give life that the ancient and primitive cultures believed that it was a feminine divine entity that created life. They also believed that it was to her that we returned when we die. She was the womb and the tomb.
The great Goddess is a theme that comes in many different forms and styles. Goddess spirituality is essentially focusing on the Goddess as the source of all life. Its celebrating her form through all life. The great Goddess in Goddess spirituality is the one who can heal, who can protect, and can do everything.
In Goddess based spirituality all you focus on is her energy. The Goddess is the one who gifts you with everything that you need to have in life. She is abundance. She is sexuality, she is passion. The Goddess is the fertile fields, the growing tree. She is the laughter of children and the fiery protection that parents have for their children. This Goddess is love and light but is also fierce and protective. She is also darkness and fears.
Theism and Goddess spirituality
In many pagan paths you find the concept of polytheism. That is a belief in many different Gods and Goddesses. When it comes to traditions and practices of Goddess based spirituality it ca be hard to define exactly if it is a polytheistic path or not. Goddess spirituality can be a polytheistic path or it can be simply a path with out any real form of theism. For now I am going to cover a few of the different theistic or deity centered ways that Goddess spirituality can be experienced.
In Goddess spirituality there are several ways that it can manifest. The primary form of Goddess spirituality is a form that is that of Panentheism. Here they believe that the Goddess is everything in the universe and beyond the universe. The great Goddess both made the universe and makes up the universe. The Goddess is here at all times and everything.
A related view of Goddess spirituality is that of Pantheism. In Pantheism the Goddess makes up all of the universe and all of the known reality we live in. She is everything here. The Goddess is the universe manifested. Just by living and experiencing life we experience her. There is no need for prayer or worship. Simply live life and enjoy the beauty and you have found the Goddess. The Goddess would be in all the food we eat, all the plants we see and any and all animals that you encounter.
Many people who follow Goddess spirituality are soft polytheists of sorts. These people believe that the Great Goddess has many faces and names. They believe that all Goddesses are aspects of the one Goddess. In soft polytheism they believe that she is so vast and so great that as humans we can not fully understand or appreciator all that she has to offer or even all of her mystery. So we created and experience her face in many different forms. In short those who follow a soft polytheistic path believe that no matter what name you use for the great Goddess you are worshiping her.
The other way that Goddess spirituality manifests soft polytheism is believing that one great Goddess created everything and that this Goddess is both male and female. In other words its not just the Goddesses that make up the Great encompassing Goddess. In this view they believe that even the Gods or male aspects of the divine make up aspects of the great Goddess as well as the feminine. This great Goddess is male and female all at once.
Hard polytheism . In Goddess worship through hard polytheism the great Goddess isn’t one Goddess. In this form of Goddess spirituality you are contacting the feminine divine forces through individual Goddesses. Some one who follows Goddess spirituality through the form of individual Goddesses as separate entities worships the Goddesses as feminine divine forms. Here they may worship the individual Goddesses for different reasons for their associations or for what ever reasons the Goddesses they worship call to them.
Then you have monotheistic Goddess worshipers. The monotheistic Goddess worshiper believes that there is only one divine force in the world. That one divine force is the Goddess. They believe that no other divine force in the universe. All the divine power and all divine influences come from this Goddess. They believe that everything came from this Goddess and to her everything will return. This is probably the most common form of Great Goddess worship and Goddess spirituality.
How to practice Goddess Spirituality
In Goddess spirituality the idea is that there are many different ways to practice Goddess spirituality. Like any spiritual and religious path it is going to be a very personal path and choice. Like all paths there will be different ways that you can go out and find the Goddess. There are many ways you can work and make a relationship with the great Goddess and be a part of Goddess spirituality.
The best advice I can give on Goddess spirituality and practicing it is to remember how important feminine energy is to life. All things in this world need both masculine and feminine energy in order to produce offspring and thus survive. Life is the gift of the Goddess. By appreciating life and enjoying life you are living with the Goddess and enjoying all that the Goddess has to offer you. That is a form of Goddess worship.
In the poem the charge of the Goddess there is a line that states “All acts of love and pleasure are my rituals”. This is one of the truths about true divine Goddess spirituality. In true Goddess spirituality doing the things that you enjoy, the things that move your spirit and make you feel whole are ways you can honor and be one with the Goddess. Yes sex and sexuality are implied in that wording but it means more than that. If you live to perform find ways to dedicate your performances to the Goddess. If you paint involve her in your activities and let her direct your painting. By being true to your inner self and your real joys and pleasures in life you are being true to her and letting her move you.
If you are the type of person who likes to do formal ritual than go for it. Goddesses and the divine in general do enjoy formal worship. When ever you are working with any sort of spirit of divine being its important to give them offerings of types at different times. This is how you worship them and stay in their presences. With the great Goddess and Goddess spirituality its not really any different. It just depends on how you interpret the Goddess in your version of Goddess spirituality.
Now you may think that Goddess spirituality is just for women. This is not true. While you may find and will find a majority of Goddess central or Goddess based spiritual paths are women only, this is in part because the Goddess spiritual movement has been tied in with feminine power and movements to empower women. Goddess spirituality also in many cases and ways focuses on women mysteries hence forth it is a female central path. There are men on this path its just different for them and they often times feel out of place.
Paths and traditions
The following is a list of known Goddess central and Goddess spirituality based paths.
Dianic Wicca-Formed by Z Buddapest
Reclaiming- Starhawks tradition a mixture of Dianic Wicca and Feri witchcraft
Goddess spirituality is not one of my expertise. It is an area that I have only done some vague research into. I have presented you with the information I have found. I am providing you with some resources now on Goddess spirituality that may be more beneficial to you,
The Spiral Dance by Starhawk
The Book of Womens Mysteries by Z. Buddapest
The White Goddess Robert Graves
If you have a book or link on Goddess spirituality that you would like to share comment and I will add it to the list. I will also add them to the links pages as I get those resource pages up and running.
Pagan Blog Project: B- To begin
Beginning your path
Over the last few weeks I have given you a lot of information about researching and answering questions related to your path. I gave you advice on how to choose your directions and even some concepts on divinity to start with. These are all great things to know and have as an idea before you actually begin your path. However once you know where you are going, what your views on deity are and the cultures you are basing your practices off of how do you actually start to begin your practice and path? This is the question we are going to focus on and answer for you today.
There are many different ways that you can actually begin your path. The important thing is to try and spend as much time doing research and reading about new beliefs and practices you want to explore as it is to actually spend the time doing the work. If all you do is read and research and reflect on what you read and research you will have a lot of book knowledge and some great opinions. You just wont have any experience and you wont actually “know” the processes, the spirits, the Gods, or even the effects of the practices you have been dedicating your time to.
Ways to begin your practice
I remember when I took my first steps on my path as a witch I was very nervous. I was afraid of doing things wrong. I was afraid that the Gods and the spirits wouldn’t listen to me. I had no formal teachers or training. I was simply stumbling in the dark. So I remember the anxiety. It was both a positive anxiety as well as a negative or hesitant type of anxiety. I had the same feelings when I started to practice Germanic Paganism. The important thing is that you work through the anxiety and the sensations and start on the path.
So what can you do to start on your path? You can build an altar. You can start a magical journal or spiritual record of your practices. You can start a meditative practice. If you are very confident in your connection to your path you can perform a rite of dedication and direction. Finally the most important thing you can do is try the exercises you encounter in the books and websites you use as tools and references in your studies.
There are as I said many different things that you can do to start walking your path. You may not be able to do as much as you would like right away and that is ok. You may miss sabbats and opportunities for rituals and worship as you learn the important dates and times in your chosen spiritual path. The Gods know you are human and you are learning. So long as your heart is in your path and you work hard you will be amazed at the path you will create for yourself.
One of the things you can do to begin your path is start an altar. Altars are a wonderful way to express your spirituality. By creating an altar you are creating a sacred space in which you can focus on performing your spiritual work and practices. Altars can be very simple or they can be very elaborate. There are many different things that you can put on an altar and there are many different ways that an altar can be set up.
My basic altars when I am working with a new spirit or starting to work with new Gods are very simple. They typically include a candle that I light when I am praying to that spirit. I also light the candle as an offering to them. I also if I have them have an incense burner for burning incense as offerings to the Gods and spirits and to help as a focus when I work on meditation. I also typically have a cup or bowl for any liquid offerings I may give the spirits.
No two altars are going to be the same. If you do decide to set up an altar let it be a reflection of your relationship with the spirits you are working with. Your altar is for you and your practice alone. It doesn’t matter what it looks like or what you have on it at this point in time. Its just there as a focal point and expression of your relationships with the spirits you work with.
A lot more can be said about altar creation. I have written two entries elsewhere on this blog that deal with altar creation. If you decide to start with the creation of an altar I would recommend you look at the articles. They contain several examples and some exercises for you to use as you build your altar.
Altars part 1: 6 exercises and points for altar building
Altars part 2: Specifics for paths and practices
Magical and spiritual record keeping
The second thing I mentioned you could do as a formal start of your path is to create a spiritual journal. This journal may have already been started if you have been following the exercises and advice I have been giving you on this blog. Some traditions have specific names for the journals that are kept and others are incredibly personal. In all traditions though the personal spiritual journal is a very powerful sacred personal object.
One thing I mentioned previously is that as you do your research into the various paths out there was take note of things that you agree with and things you disagree with. I also advised you to write down quotes that gave you something to think about. I have also given you several different types of questions to answer and reasons for asking those questions.
All of the notes you have taken, the questions you have asked, and the answers you have given yourself are the start of a very important document. This document or well book is very important. This book is going to serve as your record of spiritual growth. This book will have a lot of information in it as time goes on. It is also one of the most personal spiritual items and tools you will ever make.
You may be asking why a journal of your spiritual experiences, thoughts, and beliefs is important. The answer is simple. This book and journal will show how you have grown and developed spiritually. This book will contain things you agree with and things you disagree with. You will basically put anything in here that you feel is important information about your path. There really isn’t anything you can’t put in this journal.
The act of working on this spiritual journal is also a way to connect your mind and emotions with your actual soul and spirit feelings. By writing out your thoughts and reflections to ideas and concepts you are processing how your spirit feels about these things. This allows your mind to understand what drives you and allows your mind to spend time finding ways to include those thoughts, beliefs, and practices in everything that you do.
Writing in a journal is a very therapeutic thing. It helps you process the day and it helps you really sort out how you really feel and think about many concepts and ideas. In many different spiritual paths one of the key concepts or ideas to strive for is to know yourself. Writing in a journal is one of the best ways to know yourself as you are truly honest to yourself about how you feel and what is on your mind. By knowing yourself you also know what your real needs, wants, and desires are. In spirituality this can also mean knowing exactly the type of connection you are actually seeking with the Spirits and the universe.
These books will also serve as your references for your personal experiences. In them you should include exercises you have done (the steps of the exercise and your experiences), prayers you have said and or rituals you have done. It can also include prayers and spells you have found inspiring from other sources. If there is poetry or myths you find inspiring and directly related to your path you can put that in there. Its your guide to your experiences and your development as a spiritual person.
In witchcraft most often there are two terms for these spiritual journals. One of them is occasionally called a mirror book. That book is full of your reflections and ideas. Its where your theories and beliefs are recorded. Its a reflection of your innerself and your soul. This is a very personal book and is often not shared.
The other book is often called the Book of Shadows. The book of shadows is a book containing spells and rituals. It also has the lore of the practice. In solitary practice this book is your sacred text basically. It forms a workbook for formulating spells and rituals. Its your tool in your acts of priesthood. This book can be shared with people if a solitary chooses to share their work. Typically if it is handed down it will be to children or very specific family members interested in the practice all at the individuals discretion.
In covens and in specific traditions there is a Book of Shadows that is specific to that coven or tradition. Members are expected to hand copy or make themselves an exact copy of the book for their own use. Like the individual book this also contains all the materials needed to form the rituals and practices of the coven. It may also contain coven history and tradition history. These books are also used as teaching materials to preserve the practice and and ensure that all members have the same information to go from. Ceremonial Magic has a similar practice called Grimoires, and some witches elect to call their ritual and theory books Grimoires as well.
One element that is common among spiritual paths is some sort of meditation practice. This practice is a way for you to go within yourself and reflect on things. It can also be a way for you to communicate with spirits and Gods. Meditation is a very powerful tool for spiritual development and daily spiritual practice. This is one tool that comes in many different forms and has different uses.
One use for meditation techniques is to understand different philosophic principles. By working with different powers of the mind in meditative states you can learn and experience different philosophies which will create spiritual experiences. Often times these meditative techniques also are building blocks to deeper spiritual techniques and can also be magical techniques as well.
Meditation techniques can also help you learn how to better focus and use the powers of your mind. Through meditation you can travel to the spirit worlds. You can meet many different spirits and interact with them. You can experience the mysteries in the universe. These mystery experiences will provide you understanding and spiritual growth. These are things that will also make your spirit and you feel at home and have deeper understandings and connections to the world around you.
Basically meditation can work for psychic development, spiritual development, mental development, and the development of focus skills. Meditation has many different effects and uses spiritually and practically. Its worth an entry all of its own. When you engage in meditation as the starting point or beginning of your practice you will want to explore many different philosophies and types of techniques. Remember to record and write down what you experience in meditation and what the techniques were.
This is often the first real serious step a person takes on their spiritual path and practices. Dedication rituals are very serious acts and indicate a specific level of commitment. When you are dedicating yourself to your path you are promising any and all spiritual powers on this path that you are there to serve them and to learn from them. You will listen to them and you will do all that you can to live your life the way they ask you to. It also shows that you are ready to make your path an intricate part of all aspects of your day to day life in some manner. You are ready to not just be a student and exploring of the path. You are ready to say this is my path. I will follow you for as long as I can.
If this is what you want to do for your first step on your path than you should go for it. If this is your choice then you have done enough research and had enough of an emotional connection and response that you know that this is where you want to go for now spiritually. Taking the step of dedication is a big step and its one that should not be taken lightly. In some paths a self dedication is the equivalent of an initiation of sorts. In other paths its a phase of learning before swearing a deeper oath and practice. For myself dedication is both a learning period and a way of swearing an oath.
I am not going to write any more on dedication here. It is a first step in a path and it is a way to begin your path. I have written an essay on this blog earlier in more depth about dedication and the types of dedication there are. That post even has two different types of dedication rituals.
Do the Exercises
Many books on spirituality and spiritual paths will have exercises scattered throughout the chapters to illustrate and give you personal experience with the concepts being discussed. Most of the exercises do have a practical aspect to them. When it comes to spirituality and magical practices the only way to really understand the concepts of energy and spirit is to have experiences. The experiences do more to teach you the philosophies and world views than just the books ever could.
Sometimes it may not be easy to see the meaning or reason behind the exercise being placed where it is. If this is something you experience that is fine. In this case finish the chapter. Read the exercises and the rest of the chapter. Reread it a few times if you have to. However once you have an idea of what the exercises and the chapter together are teaching you need to do the exercises. The exercises will actually show you more than any words can.
In spiritual paths the concept of mysteries and how they must be experienced is often brought up. The exercises including guided meditations and occasionally mini spells or rituals are there to have you gain access to the particular mysteries of that path. The author of those exercises has used them several times themselves and seen how they worked for their spiritual paths and development. By publishing those exercises in a book, website, blog, or podcast the author is providing access to the mysteries for others. They want you to share the experiences they have had.
When you do an exercise be sure to write down the exercise in step by step processes so you can repeat the exercise. Also write down everything you experience while doing the exercise. You will find that some of the techniques out there will be more effective for you than others. That is ok. By having the experiences and by doing the exercises and the work you are knowing yourself and your spiritual path bringing both into closer harmony.
In this post I have illustrated several different ways that you can start practicing and walking your path. Each of these first steps has a benefit to them and they also have their down sides to. Each step also plays its own role in your development spiritually and personally. These steps are all good ways to start including your path in your life in a more direct and outward way.
My personal suggestion would be to do a mixture of the journal, meditation, and exercises for a while. Then after you know a bit more about the spirits you are working with and you have gained some experiences I would set up an altar. Now the altar can be a tool for meditative focus and spiritual development. I would work with these combinations for a few months before I performed an act of dedication.
I hope that these steps help you find and develop your spiritual path. As always if you have any questions or comments please let me know. If you feel that there are other steps out there I could have mentioned also please let me know.
Pagan Blog Project: E is for Effort
Once again we have a weekly post for the Pagan blog project. This weeks topic is all about spiritual development and practices. Its about why they call it working magic and working rituals and not just reading the material. Today we are going to talk about Effort and why Effort is so important.
Effort in spiritual studies
This is a lesson I have learned myself. Spiritual development and the development of spiritual and magical skills are like every other skill set and practices. You need to actually work at them and practice them to develop them. You can read the theories and some of the exercises and gain a type of knowledge. When you actually want to make the changes you need to do the actual exercises and work in order to have the experiences.
I’m saying that you need to put effort into the work. You can’t just do a meditation once and get everything you need out of it. You cant just do a practical exercise a handful of times and expect to get anywhere spiritually. In order to really have mystery experiences with spirits and to really develop skills in meditation and mental focus you need to put in effort.
The more effort you put into your spiritual development the stronger your outcomes will be. The more time you put into development of your skills the sooner you will be able to see results. There is a lot of work in spiritual development. In many places you will have to face your darkest sides and deepest fears. This is hard work. This is why it is important to put your all into it.
Often there are meditations to meet Gods and Goddesses. The more often you do those meditations the more you will learn from them. The deeper your relationships will grow. These are part of how mysteries are experienced and spiritual truths are found. If you only do the meditations a handful of times your relationships will not be as deep as they could be.
Putting effort into your practice and into your studies is going to pay off in the long run. The better you are at learning to enter a meditative state eventually you will be able to achieve the state any where and at any time by using physical triggers. You will also be able to manifest thought changes instantly and be able to know how to train yourself to shift one emotional state into another through working vibrations and other techniques.