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Pagan Blog Project: Beginnings

The most common question I am asked is how did I actually begin my practice.  I’m sure that you readers are now wondering the same thing.  You have looked at your own beliefs.  You have come to have a decision and a direction, and you have figured out your concept of the divine.  Now that you have all of those choices and all that work done what do you do?  You actually begin your practice.

Beginning Your practice

The first step on your path is to perform a rite of introduction to the Gods and spirits of your practice.  By now you should have read a few books on the practices of the path you are taking.  If you have a reference for this then that is great.  If not I am going to give an outline for an introduction rite.  Yes before you begin performing offerings on a regular basis it is important that you at least introduce yourself to the pantheon and the spirits you intend to work with.

Now it is important to note that an introduction rite is not the same as a dedication rite.  That is something we can cover another time.  An introduction rite is a more formal way of saying hello.  You may have prayed and gave offerings before as part of your decision making.  Thats good.  Its a start.  Now you are formally declaring your intent to study their ways and work with them.  Before it was a “Hi this is for you if you want”.  Now its more formal.

So what was the point of the ritual before hand if we are beginning with a deeper more direct ritual?  This ritual is a step below actual dedication.  You have not completely dedicated yourself to their service but you are basically promising to study their ways for a year or so.  During that year you will perform rituals, pray, meditate, read, and reflect.  If after your year of studies you have formed strong bonds and feel called to do further work on that path then you will perform a rite of dedication.  For now a rite of introduction is still important.

What does this rite entail?  It entails preparing yourself mentally and physically before the ritual.  Its going to entail blessing the offering in their names.  Its going to entail prayer and meditation.  Its a very simple and basic ritual.  However when you put all your emotions into the ritual you can find that even the smallest ritual gesture like lighting a candle with intent can produce substantial results.

The Ritual

Materials:

  1. Candle to represent your passion and your flame
  2. Note book to write down the ritual and any personal messages you get during the meditation
  3. Fresh soap for the ritual shower  & your normal shampoo and conditioner
  4. Candle for the God and or Goddess
  5. if you are 21+ an alcoholic drink to share as a communion if not sparkling ciders are good
  6. Chalice
  7. An incense you find appealing
  8. Water
  9. Salt

Here is the rest of the ritual

Ritual Shower:

  1. Set the shower at as high a temperature as you can stand and get in.
  2. Begin to wash your body with you soap.  Using the soap suds see the soap becoming all negative energy and all doubts from the day.  See them coming from your body into the  soap.  Put the soap down and rinse your hands.  Let the soap stay on your body for a moment and let it continue to absorb your negative energy and thoughts.
  3. Take your shampoo and lather your hair.  Do the same thing you did with the body to your hair.  This time focus on intense emotions and thoughts.  Focus on stress and frustrations during the day.  See those items become the suds in your hair.
  4. Rinse your hair and place the conditioner in it.  Let the conditioner soothe those thoughts and feeling.  Let the conditioner bring you a sense of peace and relaxation.  Work that sensation all through your hair.  Let is set for about five minutes.
  5. Stand in the shower in a position where your hair wont get wet but parts of you can.  Start to rinse yourself off.  As you start to rinse see the shadowy soap bubble run down the drain and fade away.
  6. After a few moment step under the shower directly and rinse completely,  This time seeing everything run down that has not already gone away.
  7. Repeat the shower one more time.  This time chanting “Water Water Wash Away.  Water Water Cleanse today”
  8. End the shower.  As you towel off wrap yourself up in a white light of positive energy.  This will replace and replenish the energy that was removed through the cleansing shower.

Introduction rite:

  1. Get dressed and set up the altar or place for the ritual.  Make sure you have a container for the water and a container for the salt as well as your offering of food and drink to the Gods.
  2. Mix a pinch of the salt into the water.  You are making Holy water right now.  As you mix the salt and the water see any impurities in the water be gone.  See the water being filled with sacred light from the great divine forces out there.
  3. Light your incense
  4. Take the salt water and either in a circle or simply by sprinkling the water in the four directions dedicate the space as being sacred.  Call upon any guards and guides as you see fit to witness this rite.
  5. Repeat the process with incense.  Now you have consecrated the space with all the elements.  Earth and water in the holy water and fire and air with the incense.  The place is now set for spirits and gods to come and answer.  At this point it is best to remain in the ritual area.  You should only leave in an emergency situation.  If you do say a quick prayer for exiting and a prayer for entering.  Other traditions have other ways of entering and exiting the space in ritual but this prayer will work for now.
  6. Light the Candle for the God and Goddess (both or just one depending on what you had chosen to do)
  7. Call to the Gods.  If you have read an invocation or prayer to them for calling them to a ritual now would be a great time to recite that work.  Basically ask them to come with you now and to join the rite.
  8. Light the candle to represent yourself.  State your intention to learn the ways of those Gods and their followers.  State who you are and why you are serving and learning their ways.  Promise to do your best to learn all you can and integrate what you learn into your life.
  9. Bless the drink and pour a drink for them and for you.  Share this drink with them.  You can praise them or you can silently meditate on their presence and the meaning of the rite.  You should have an idea at this point if they are accepting of you and listening to you,
  10. When you are ready thank the Gods and the spirits for attending the rite.  If you formally laid a circle or walked a circle you can release it now.  If you just sprinkled some water and consecrated the ground by extinguishing the incense and the candle the space is being released. You can then extinguish the candles.  You can pick up and put away.  You may now say a final prayer of thanks and wishes for continued guidance as things get put away and cleaned up.
  11. Record the ritual in the notebook.  Write down everything you did all your feelings and all your emotions.  Write down what you think about what you did and how you felt before and after.

You have now formally introduced yourself as their student.  You have now taken a step into letting the Gods lead the way and be your teachers.  Now you just need to listen to what they have to say.  You may find the lessons come in very strange forms and you may find that things come into your life for no reason after doing this.  These actions are a result of your introduction and prayer manifesting.  The Gods are listening.

Pagan Blog Project D: Direction, Decisions, & Divination

Crossroads1

 

Direction and Decisions

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

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

Direction

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

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

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

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

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

Making the decisions

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

Spiritual decision making aids

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

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

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

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

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

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

Divination methods of decision making

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Practical decision making tools

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Conclusion

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

 

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

Pagan Blog Project: D- Divinity

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:

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:

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:

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.

Henotheism

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.

Agnosticism:

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:

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:

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.

Soft Polytheism:

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:

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:

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.

Pagan Blog Project-A: Asking and answering questions

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.

D: Dedication

Dedication

The subject of this post is something that I actually have to think long and hard about.  Lately when I think about it I can’t honestly say that I have been fulfilling my honest statement of being dedicated to serving my readers and myself on my personal spiritual journey.  The last few weeks have been full of self doubt and self assessment.  To be honest I even asked myself what right I had to run and even continue to post on a blog dedicated to helping newbies and seekers find their own paths.

I honestly felt that there was no reason for me to continue posting this blog.  I have had a crisis of self esteem and self worth.  It just hit me recently that while I may not be exactly where I thought I would be at this point in my life I am exactly where Fate has dictated I belong.  This for me was a central part of accepting my current situation and current feelings of worthlessness.

During this time I have had to take a look at where I stand spiritually.  I have to admit I have never completed any training beyond my Reiki 1 certification.  I am proud to be a dedicant in the Temple Tradition.  This to me also shows and states quite a bit about the truth regarding myself.  I consider myself dedicated to the truths of witchcraft and finding my own path.

So this post is about the process of dedication and what exactly dedication means.  It is actually something that I consider several times a year as I look at my studies in witchcraft, paganism, philosophy, and magic.  With everything that I want to do in my life I have to make sure I study diligently .

Dedication or Initiation?

One of the most common things that new witches find in books on solitary witchcraft is a self initiation ritual.  A self initiation ritual does not work.  One can not self initiate.  To be initiated means that you are being brought into the religion or tradition.  You can not bring yourself into a religion or tradition.  You can however perform a dedication ritual announcing to the Gods and yourself that you are going to be following their path.

As a person seeks their spiritual path they are going to have to decide at some point if they want to a solitary practitioner (alone or maybe with a close friend or family member or if they want to seek out a group.  There are benefits to both of these choices.  I have never been a member of a group so I can’t speak for the benefits, though I am seeking one for fellowship and joint worship.  Groups may call for initiation rituals (Any British Traditional Witchcraft coven will require it and other traditions are also initiatory).  This is choice will found the rest of your path for the near future.

Types of dedication rituals

As dedication rituals are personal there are many different ways and many different types of doing a dedication ritual.  When I am exploring the worship of a religion I have not studied I perform a different type of dedication ritual than I do when I committing myself to the worship of specific set of deities.  All of these dedications are important rituals to be taken seriously.  Each type signifies a different level of commitment to a relationship with deities.

The first type of dedication is one of an introduction.  An introduction ritual is one where you are telling the Gods that you want to learn about them and their worship.  That you are opening yourself to them and that you are finding your path.  In this way you are not saying that you are going to stick around forever but that you are exploring and wishing to get to know them.

Here is a simple introduction ritual.  It is this ritual I have used when I introduced myself to the Germanic pantheons.  I will make similar rituals when I go back and study Hellenic Paganism, Roman Paganism, and Kemetic recon.  This ritual is only used when I am simply saying “Hi.  I’m…. I want to learn more about you and will try to honor you as I study about you, your culture, and your history”.  For me it is a sign of respect to introduce yourself before you start blindly studying and working on a base relationship.

Introductory Ritual:

Supplies:

White Candle

Offering of milk,ale,red wine, or incense

 Sea Salt

Table to work as an altar  (see Altar entry 1 and Altar entry 2 )

Water

Ritual:

Place your hands over the water and state “By water’s natural cleansing I cleanse this water”

Take a pinch of pure sea salt and place it in the water.  State “With salt this water is pure”

Take your finger and stir the water together creating a sacred holy water.

Walk around the ritual space and state “By the purity of this sacred water this space in prepared for ritual”.

Go to the altar and light the candle.

Here is where the ritual is going to essentially different for each person.  Every culture and every religious tradition out there will have a different sort of prayer style.  Some prayers are invocatory and others are more free form.  This is where a seekers early research should pay off as they should have some sort of idea as to what rituals the Gods of that pantheon like.  This is where you will state in ritual and prayer you intent to learn about them and is the first step in developing a relationship with the deities.

Say the appropriate type of prayer for the pantheon and culture in mind

Sit in silence for a few minutes.

Go to the what ever you are offering.

Place your hands over the offering and state “This is my gift to you may it nourish you and bring your much joy”

Pour the offering into the plate or bowl.

Keep the offering out for a while letting the liquid be absorbed into the atmosphere or our it onto the ground the next day

You have to keep in mind that was just a simple outline for some one who has no real experience or any real knowledge of ritual structure and organization.  The more experience you have the more complexity you can add to the ritual if you so choose.  This ritual was simple because it is simply an introduction and they can be very simple.

The second type of dedication ritual is one that is sort of like a marriage.  You are committing yourself to your path for actual service to the Gods.  During this point in time you will have many trials and tests as you figure out your role and what the deities want from you.  Some its teaching, others it’s healing.  Some people never quite find exactly what the deities they worship want out of them for service, so they do what comes naturally to them or they simply continue to hold rituals in honor the memory of the Gods they worship.

One thing I did for the longest time to help me gain confidence and keep on track with my spiritual studies and practices was to do a renewal ritual.  This ritual always renewed my spirit in the process.  It also always brought me back into myself and into my place in my studies.  It also always seemed to bring me closer to the deities I had introduced myself to.

Recomitment ritual:

Supplies:

White Candle

Offering of milk,ale,red wine, or incense

 Sea Salt

Table to work as an altar  (see Altar entry 1 and Altar entry 2 )

Water

Ritual:

Place your hands over the water and state “By water’s natural cleansing I cleanse this water”

Take a pinch of pure sea salt and place it in the water.  State “With salt this water is pure”

Take your finger and stir the water together creating a sacred holy water.

Walk around the ritual space and state “By the purity of this sacred water this space in prepared for ritual”.

Go to the altar and light the candle.

Say the appropriate type of prayer for the pantheon and culture in mind

Sit in silence for a few minutes.

Go to the what ever you are offering.

Place your hands over the offering and state “This is my gift to you may it nourish you and bring your much joy”

Pour the offering into the plate or bowl.

As you place your offering state your promise to start serving with more honesty and more dedication.  Announce proudly that you are giving yourself to service to these Gods for however long you are planning to keep at this level of service.

Look for any signs in your dreams or day to day life that the deities are listening to you and ready to accept your service to them.

Keep the offering out for a while letting the liquid be absorbed into the atmosphere or our it onto the ground the next day.

The ritual you see out there is one of my reasons for having such a strong connection with the Germanic deities.  I have spent a lot of time working ritual in honor of the Germanic deities.  It has fostered my relationships with several different deities in the Germanic pantheon.  In some ways this is a connection to my believed ancestral path.

The last name of Boynton is very Germanic.  There is a shire in Yorkshire England which holds the name Boynton.  My research has indicated that this shire would have been under control of the Saxxons.  This is a place I need to visit when I next visit England. I mean a shire which has the same name as my biological surname?  How can I not visit that place?    In which case the Germanic pantheon (which includes the Anglo’s, The Saxon’s, The Franks, The Norse, and several more tribes) would be a home coming for me which is what it felt like to me.

The third type of ritual is one that indicates a more serious commitment. In this final dedication ritual you are completely giving yourself to everything any anything that the deities you worship desire.  This is a very difficult and very important type of ritual that will cement your future.  Here you are asking to become an active priest or priestess.

The final dedication is one of an initiation from the Gods.  When witches talk about how only the Gods can initiate and make some one a priest or priestess of their path this is the sort of ritual that they have in mind.  This is a life changing ritual and is one of deep meaning. It is this ritual where you finally accept what it is that the Gods truly desires.

This is where one becomes a true servant of the Gods.  You are not only doing rituals for the Gods, but you are also offering services to the community.  You may start doing more volunteer work, you may teach a few people, you may even become an interfaith Chaplin.  In accepting the true mantle of what it means to be a member of the clergy (a true priest and priestess) one has given all that they are to their deities.

Remember when I said that a person would have to choose between being a solitary practitioner and as a member of a group and how I mention that BTW requires an initiation of sorts? The level of commitment that this dedication entails is the same as an initiation into a BTW Coven.  How can I say that with out actually being initiated into BTW?  It’s simple.  I have enough friends within various BTW traditions both with valid initiations and one oath breaker related tradition to say for sure that initiation into BTW makes you a priestess of those deities.  That means that within your coven and in your day to day life you are serving the needs of those Gods in what ever way they need from you. That is the sort of commitment that this level of dedication and initiation requires.

I am actually at this point in the development of my own witchcraft tradition.  I have yet to formalize the arrangement through a ritual.  This is something I am working on.  I have some what reluctantly accepted the mantled of priestess.  Perhaps this is the only way I can develop access to the mysteries that my Gods have instore for me.  For this reason I can not give a sample ritual.  If you are looking for some ideas you might want to look at:

  • A witches Bible By Stewart Farrar
  • What witches do by Stewart Farrar
  • Solitary Wicca by Scott Cunningham
  • Witchcraft for Today by Gerald Gardner
  • Wicca for One by Raymond Buckland
  • The Outer Temple of Witchcraft by Christopher Penczack

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

Fertility:

What is it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 So what is that one thing you ask?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fairy Tales and Folk Lore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ok.  So what does folklore entail?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trance work an outline and some techniques

Trance work

Part 1:

Define trance, meditation, and altered states of consciousness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 2:

A few trance techniques

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

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

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

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

Technique 1: Breathing and focusing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Technique 2: Count down with breathing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Technique 3: Chanting and motion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 3:

The conclusion

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

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

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

I hope this was helpful.

May your search be fruitful

Ascension or spiritual Evolution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Education and Experimentation

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

books 2 Source

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?

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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.

Exploration

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.

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