Blog Archives

Pagan Blog Project: A is for Angels

What are angels?  This is a question I have found myself asking myself recently.  I once believed that I knew exactly what angels where.  Then I heard conflicting stories of them being servants of only one specific God, the God of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism and there for bound to only help and work with those who follow Yaweh/Allah/Jehova.  Other people claim that they are simply servants of divine forces and are not limited to a specific set of religions or religious beliefs.

I personally believe angels to be servants of the God Jehova/Allah/Yaweh.  Other Gods do have servants or minor Gods that work as messengers and intermediaries between them and humans but I don’t necessarily believe they are angels.  That being said I believe that so long as there is a connection in your life to those three religions (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism) they will help and work with you.  This connection could be continuing family celebrations, a belief in them, and or a belief in Jesus or that God as a God just not the only God.

I have always held a belief in angels.  Though I have not worked with them since the early years on my path as a witch.  I knew others still worked with them magically through enochian magic, ceremonial magic, and at times Hoodoo.  These three magical traditions are associated with Christianity and angelic magic and angelic work for spiritual practices as well as magical practices.  Now I have started to work with angelic forces again.

If you want to work with angelic forces and angelic spirits you simply need to be open to their force.  The force that angelic spirits are made up is pure unconditional divine love.  If you have any sort of connection in your life to the three paths of Abraham you can work with these spirits.  You just need to open yourself up to working with them.  They will make themselves known to you.

Pagan Blog Project: E-Energy

Today we are going to cover one of the most basic and yet most elusive concepts found within spirituality and magical practices.  Today even many modern self help and positive thinking programs talk about the effect of energy and working with energy.  Yet none ever really seem to cover and explain what this concept really is.  As a seeker this vague yet all important concept seems to be essential to any and all spiritual development.  So learning about an understanding what this concept is is important.

Energy: What it is and how to work with it

Spiritually the concept of energy is rather vast.  You have it as a force of life.  You can have it be seen as simply magic itself.  Energy comes in many forms, shapes and workings within the spiritual world and work.  As a seeker it is important to come up with your own basic understanding of the types and styles of energy out there.  I am going to provide you a few of my own examples and definitions.  With each type of magic I am also going to provide you with an exercise to work with and create your own understanding of that style of energy.

The first thing I am going to do though before I explain the different types of energy out there and how to work with the magically, spiritually, and effectively in day to day life is provide you with a simple exercise for sensing and feeling energy.  This technique is one of the first energy exercises I ever learned so placing it here will give context to the rest of the energy exercises.

Energy Ball exercise:

This deceptively simple exercise remains one of the most effective exercises for energy manipulation and energy work.  It is from this basic exercise that basically any specific type of energy work can be done.  This exercise teaches to feel and be aware of energy.  It also teaches shaping and direction of the energy.  This is essential to directing more complex energy forces later on in spell and ritual work.

  1. Vigorously rub your hands together creating friction.
  2. Cup your hands about a foot apart.
  3. Focus and see the energy on your hands from rubbing them form a ball between your hands.
  4. Gradually move and shape your hands until you feel a ball in between your two hands.
  5. Move the ball to one hand and then another.  Feel the weight of the ball as it transfers from hands.
  6. After a while start to stretch and change the shape of it to anything you can think of.  Use your hands and your mind to shape the image of the energy force between your hands.
  7. After a few minutes see the energy disperse into the air.
  8. Rub your hands on your legs to return the energy remaining on your hands to your body.

Now write down and note everything you just experienced.  This was your first magical exercise with energy.  You through that exercise were able to raise, maintain, manipulate, direct, and disperse the energy into the world.  For fun you can place thoughts and goals into the balls as you shape them and then when you disperse them those thoughts and goals are sent into the universe.  Try it both ways.  Write down different experiences with your mind, your body, and your emotional state.  You have in that exercise experienced all forms of energy.

Types of energy

Energy as I said comes in many forms.  Each form and style of energy has its use in day to day life, spiritual work, and magical work.  By understanding the different energetic forces in your life you can more effectively work to create a spiritual balance.  You can work more towards a sense of inner peace and have an effective way to work with the world.  We have physical energy, mental energy, emotional energy, and spiritual energy.  All of these energetic forces are working with you at all times.  These are the forces that allow us to live and have day to day experiences as well as significant spiritual experiences.

Physical Energy

Physical energy is probably the most obvious style and type of energy that I have mentioned.  This is the energetic force that gives our body motion.  This energy is created both by activity and by food.  This energy is effected by the foods we eat, physical health (sicknesses, pain, etc), sleep patterns, and behavioral patterns.  Physical energy is also greatly impacted by your mental state and thus your mental energy as well.

Physical energy in magic and spiritual work may not seem to have a place but it actually does.  In ritual the physical energy is the energy our body raises by performing ritual actions.  In some styles of ritual physical energy is also used in the worship through the means of dance or physical movements and actions related to the myths and tales being told.  In working spells the physical energy is the energy you spend manipulating the objects for example in crafting incense the energy spent grinding the herbs in a mortar and pastel or weighing, pouring, and mixing with a grinder is put into the incense to be used for the completion of the spell.  In magic using physical energy is an excellent way to raise and direct energy to the universe through physical actions or directions.

Physical energy exercise

The following exercise is going to help you understand how to judge and feel your personal physical energy levels.  This exercise will also teach you how to work magic using just your physical energy and sending that energy out into the universe.  All you need for this exercise is a space to stand and not be disturbed for 10-15 minutes.  You may also want some music as there will be “dance” involved.

  1. Turn on any music you desired to use for this exercise.  It should be instrumental in nature.  Irish or Celtic instrumental music will work well for this.  Clear the area and make sure you wont be disturbed.
  2. Stand in the center of the area.  Take note of how you feel right now.  Listen to the music and let the music’s beat take an effect on your energy stance.  Slowly start to move to the music.
  3. Think of an idea you want to “grow”.  This should be a new plan, a project, or something you have been working towards you want a boost on getting completed.
  4. Bring your body to the ground.  Basically be a seed.  Make your body into your idea as you dance.  Begin to as you feel a plant would slowly grow towards the sun move your body in this fashion.  Repeat this motion over and over again.  Eventually you will get into a rhythm.
  5. As you dance if you feel the desire to move in a circle or outside of your standing position do so.  Continue to see your desire go from being a seed to a seedling, to a bud to a full mature plant for harvest.  As you dance you will build speed and energy.  Focus and direct this energy.
  6. When you feel you can dance no more jump straight up and move your arms into a point above your head directing the energy from your body into the universe.  See all the energy you have raised going into the universe knowing that it will be worked on and you will get your desire.
  7. Get your notebook and write down your experiences before, during, and after.  Take real note of any physical changes or feelings you had in your body during the exercise.
  8. Eat and drink something to ground and refocus your mind and body on reality.

What you had right there is an experience of working with the physical energy created by our body in movement and through exercise.  That exercise there was given to not only give you an idea about working with physical energy but also about working magic in general.  There are other ways you can work with and experience physical energy.  Exercising is one way-though regular exercise in a gym or through an at home system of some form you can learn the differences before and after exercise in your body’s energy.  It will be different for each of us as all of our bodies are different.  The technique though is something you can apply to basically all bodies.

Mental Energy

Mental energy is another energy that is really simple when you think about it.  In our day to day life this is the energy that we expend on thinking and problem solving.  This is also the energy we use when we focus on a task or concept intensely.  Mental energy then is simply the energy of our thoughts and our brains natural processes.  Mental energy is also the level of our ability to concentrate and focus on a concept and idea.

In our day to day life this is what allows us to write business proposals.  This is what allows us to focus on our tasks at work or at school.  With out our mental energy we can not get anything done.  We could have all the physical energy in the world but if we have no ability to focus nothing will get done.  This is why mental energy is effected by physical energy.

Mental energy like physical energy is also effected by our sleep patterns and behavior patterns.  More than physical energy though our mental energy is tied to the state of our emotional energy.  These three energetic forces (mental, physical, and emotional) make up our basic energetic health and these three all impact spiritual energy.

Now that we know what mental energy is and what it does for us in our day to day life we need to know what it does for us in magic.  Mental energy and magic have a very special relationship.  In magic mental energy is tied to belief energy.  By working mental energy, and belief together amazing results can happen.  This is why it is possible and even effective to cast spells and perform entire rituals just in the mind.

The power of the mind in magic is really what makes magic work.  Magic is the ability to work mental forces to create external and internal changes to the best of ones abilities.  This is why affirmations are a form of magic.  This is also why visualization skills and mental focus training is of great importance in most magical and spiritual practices.  Here is a meme to basically illustrate what I mean:

Chang your thought change your life

Our thoughts create our reality.  That is the role of mental energy in magic.  Have you ever wondered why the things you spend the most time thinking or worrying about are always what seem to manifest in your life?  By focusing on those things you are sending those thoughts into the universe and that is what the universe will bring to you.

This next exercise set will help you learn how to focus your thoughts and use your thoughts to work magic and create noticeable changes in your life.  There are two exercises here because there are two ways I want to illustrate working with mental energy to create changes in your life.  The first is sort of silly but effective for when you are running late and the second is more long term but also effective.

Time bending mental exercise

This first mental energy and mental magic exercise is something I use frequently when I am running late.  This technique here is something I picked up originally from Instant Magick by Christopher Penczak, but I have modified it slightly for my own use as it works effectively both ways.

  1. See yourself and your time stream in one place.  See the time stream of your location or if you are meeting a type of transportation service see their stream going the other direction.
  2. As you focus on the time streams see the other stream slow down and your stream speed up.
  3. See the streams eventually meeting the same speed, direction, and flow but with you slightly ahead of the other.
  4. Hold this visualization until you can no longer focus.
  5. Release the thought and the energy to the universe knowing you will be on time.

You can modify the exercise so that if you only have so much time before you have to leave and you want it to feel longer by slowing down your time stream.  This will allow you to mentally experience time passing slower.

This next exercise is about positive affirmations.  This is about thinking to yourself and saying to yourself repeatedly that you are something or you have something.  By seeing yourself with these attributes and thinking about having these attributes you will begin to develop them and the universe will manifest them for you.

Positive Affirmation Exercise

  1. Write down and consider five different items you are looking for in life.  For example you can write down love, succsess, friendship, prosperity, and appreciation.  These could be five goals that you are looking at working on.  They could be things you need to improve on.  Just have five goals in mind.
  2. Take each goal and write in at least five different ways that you have the goal.  For love for example you might write I am loved.  I have love.  Love surrounds me.  I love.  People love me.  You then do the same for each other goal in a similar fashion.  Note you write these in the current stance.  By saying I have love and I am loved it is manifesting in the known here and now while if you say I will be loved or they will love me it will manifest maybe at some unknown time in the future.   If you focus on not having something like not having debt you will manifest debt because you are focusing on the negative rather than the positive so in stead of saying not having debt or nor debt focus on prosperity or having enough to cover all your needs.
  3. Keep the affirmations by your bedside, probably on your nightstand.  Put them basically somewhere you will see them to recite them every day.
  4. In the morning shortly after waking or in the shower recite each individual affirmation for each goal five times.  Do this for each goal.  The more often you say them aloud the more you will believe it.  The sound of you saying it confirms your mental belief in it.  The two work together to manifest these five goals.  See yourself with each affirmation firmly.  Believe and know that you have them.
  5. In the mid morning repeat the affirmations aloud and mentally as before.
  6. In the afternoon around lunchtime or your midday meal repeat them again as you did before.
  7. Do the same with your afternoon snack or break after work.  Repeat each affirmation for each goal five time.
  8. Before bed once more perform the affirmation exercise for each goal.  This will program it into your dreams and also into the universe.
  9. Perform this exercise daily for two weeks and take notice of how you feel.  You may not believe the affirmations at first but give it time and it will work.
  10. Continue for another two weeks and notice any changes in your state of mind, life, and emotional states.  This will show any progress in manifesting these goals.
  11. After a month you can either continue with the same goals or you can try new ones.  The process of reflection and practice starts again though.

The affirmation exercise is a long exercise but it forms mental bonds and beliefs.  By changing the way you think about something you change the way you work and view the world.  Thoughts and thought processes are very powerful in forming the world we live in affirmations are a way we can work on ourselves and change our thoughts and thus change our reality and our world, and if that is not magic I don’t know what is.

Affirmations may take a little longer to take effect than other magical works, but at the same time the repetition of the visualizations and the verbalization as a daily spell will cause changes.  This is why I have you make a note of the progress after two weeks and then after a month.  After you have done the exercise a month you can change or continue to work.  Its up to you.  However a month is enough time to see some sort of change in your own mental views of the world and yourself which again is magic.

Emotional Energy

Emotional energy is a hot one.  Often times emotional energy and mental energy can become confused.  Emotions are how we feel and how we work.  Our emotions often effect our mental and physical energy is substantial ways.  When we are feeling depressed for example we have little focus (mental energy) and may have less drive or desire to do anything (physical energy).  When we are feeling excited about something we can have either a lot of focus on the subject at hand or we could have no focus on anything until the thing we are excited about happens (mental energy) and physically we typically have a lot of energy when we are excited (physical energy).  The emotional energy then is the excitement.  The mental and physical energy states are the reaction to the emotional energy.

The one thing that drives magic more than the mind is desire.  Desires are formed from emotional reactions to situations and stimuli.  The stronger our emotional reaction to a need the stronger our desire will be and the more emotion and intent we can put into the spell to make magic work.  The emotions we have can be very effective in driving our thoughts and then our behaviors.  In magic we can use this to create thoughts and behaviors which will effectively bring the desires to us rather than keeping the desires in the distance.

So how can we work with emotional energy in magic?  That is simple.  our emotions become our intent for the spell.  Intent is desire or wanted outcome.  Without an intent there is no reason to cast a spell.  So emotions and intent form our reasons for casting spells.  However the emotional energy can also be the force behind the spell physically through actions.  This next exercise is actually going to be a spell for removing stress (often a very difficult emotion to deal with) that uses emotional energy and physical behaviors and reactions to the emotion to drive the spell.

This spell will show you how emotional energy effects the body but also the mind.  This exercise and spell focuses on releasing the emotion through intense focus and action.  This spell is simple and effective.  It also works with the basis of elemental magic.  It actually comes in four different forms (one for each element) for now we will focus on fire.  I will probably post the other spells in elemental theory when I post on that next time I focus on the letter E.

Emotion energy exercise:

Fire stress relief spell

Materials: a candle, a fire safe container to collect ash and burn paper in, paper, and a pen
Spell:

Take the paper and write on it as many details as you can about the stresses you have going on in your life that you want to be gone. Push as much of the stress energy you can into writing down the stressors or stressful situation in your life.

When the paper is full or you have written out everything you can light you candle. Charge the candle with the power of fire. See the fire burning away everything that does not serve you.

Take the paper and rip it up into small pieces. As you tear the paper throw any more frustration and stress you have into the act. Grab the fire safe container. Light each piece of paper on fire from the candle. As the fire burns chant something along the lines of “Fire burn away all that does not serve me on this day”. Repeat the chant as long as each peice of paper burns. See the fire burning away each issue.    See the stresses get burned away with the ashes of the paper as well as with the burning of the candle.

Once all the paper is burned, the candle has burned out, and the ash collected gather the ash and the candle remains. Throw it on the ground outside and stamp on it. As you stamp the ashes into the ground state “Stressors no longer control me” Release any final stressful energy into the ground with that stomping. The forces the stress to be under your feet no longer being what controls you.

As you can see by looking at the spell above you the emotions in stress, anger, frustration, confusion, and even simply stress itself become what you charge the paper with.  You force those emotions out into the paper and into the candle.  The candle and the paper become full of those emotions and when they are destroyed through being burned the emotions are also burned away in your life.  The stomping in the ground is the announcement that those stressors no longer bother you and you have control over your life.

Spirit Energy

Up to now all of the energetic forces are forces that are directly observable and slightly measurable forces and effects on the human body and in our daily lives.  Spirit energy is not really observable or measurable.  It is something that can really only be experienced.  Spirit energy is the energy of our soul.  It is our life force.  This is the energy that makes up ghosts and phantoms.  This is also the energy of the various plants and crystals or physical items used in magic for the spells to work.

Spirit then is something that we can only experience.  Our spirit energy is expended basically by living.  It is effected by physical illnesses, mental states, and emotional states.  Our spirit energy is also our energetic connection to the greater world of nature around us.  It is our spirit energy that we use to communicate with spirits of loved ones through divination, but it is also the energy we use when we try and objectively think about and work for our best needs and desires.

Spirit energy is made up of physical, emotional, and mental energy.  Though it also has divine energy forces.  Spirit energy is the energy of magic.  This is the energy that makes up the universe.  For us it is connected to our soul and thus our minds and bodies.  Though our spirit energy is also connected to the land and the world of spirits around us.  Spirit energy is basically the known yet really unsubscribed and unmeasured force put forth by philosophers and some scientists.

In spirit work it is our spirit energy that leave the body for astral travel.  It is this energy that we use to align to our various spiritual allies.  This is also the part of us that is always connected to the divine currents in the universe.    Some believe our spirit energy is also the form our guardian angel or guardian spirits take.  Though I disagree with that.  Our spirit energy is us and not another being or part of us manifested seperatly.  Our spirit energy is unique to us and lasts for all lives.  It modifies and changes but is always our signature in the universe as it were.

This next exercise is a way for you to align your spirit energy with another spiritual force.  By aligning your spirit energy with another force you are actively working on your spirit energy.  This alignment and vibration exercise will teach you where your original spiritual energy is and where it will be after the exercise.  This exercise will also help you develop a stronger connection with various spiritual forces as you are trying to be at their spirit energy level.

Spirit Vibration energy exercise

  1. Set up a space with quiet instrumental music.  You may want candle light as well as some incense.  The idea is to create an atmosphere for meditation and spiritual work.  Make sure you will not be disturbed for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to calm and center yourself.
  3. Get yourself into a meditative state through self hypnosis, breath control, or what ever means you find useful for entering meditative states.
  4. State mentally and verbally “I vibrate in harmony with (insert spirit name or type of spirit here)”
  5. Repeat the statement over and over again.  As you repeat the statement see yourself spiritually becoming one of those spirits.  Feel yourself becoming filled with and full of that spirit energy.
  6. Continue letting your vibrations rise and your visualization develop.  As you continue the chant and the visualization if the spirit allies are welcoming to you, a door will open to their spirit realm and world.  Enter the world.  Take note and try to remember what you see and feel.
  7. Hold on to the energetic forces, visualization, and chant until you can no longer hold them.  Then release the energy and the vibration back to the universe.  You will slowly find your self returning back to your body.
  8. Record and note your feelings throughout the process
  9. Eat something to ground and center yourself.

You mat notice now that you physically and mentally feel a little different.  This means that the alignment was successful.  By repeating the exercise with those particular spirits you will be able to establish stronger vibration connections and a deeper relationship with those spirits.  This exercise also provides you with a simple and effective way to experience astral travel and astral spirit work.

Conclusion

This entry has provided you with several different exercises for spiritual development and focus.  This entry also introduced you to some of the most basic concepts of energy work.  You have felt and experienced all the different types of energy that exist within ourselves.  This entry has given you many tools to effectively start working magic and to start making simple and effective changes in your spirituality every day.

By working through these exercises our connection to the energetic forces will grow stronger.  We will be able to sense the energy of the world around us and we will more effectively be able to judge how much of each energy to use in a specific working.  These basic exercises will form the foundation of much deeper work.  They will also strengthen spiritual mussels and connections to our self and our spiritual guides.

The tools are now yours.  Discover for yourself what these energetic forces are.  Use these tools now to create your own theories about magic and spirituality.  The world is yours to explore and discover the mysteries.  I can provide you insight and tools to have experiences but you must do the work yourself.

Good luck.  As always if you have any questions, concerns, or comments feel free to ask and post them.  I will do my best to answer and respond to them.  The more you ask me the better I can provide information and insight for you.  The better I can assist you in your spiritual development.

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.

Why those who seek spiritual connections are always studying

The last few blog entries have been focusing on why pagans and witches are very individual people and why personal truth is so important.  Today is a bit of a continuation on that theme.  Today it’s about why witches and pagans are always seemingly reading a new book or looking for new materials to study,

There is always something new to explore or even something old to reexamine.  With in the realms of spiritual practices and spiritual development there is always something new to learn about.  There are so many different cultures out there that one can always look to new cultures for further inspiration as to where they would like to go or different types of practices.

I’m going to provide a few cultural examples that you can look at to see what I mean when it comes to looking for new things to study and explore to advance your spiritual practices and development.  These are examples of things that I have looked at and thought about for my own personal studies.  Though these will only serve as examples.  From here  I will go back and talk about what exactly this means for you as a seeker and a practitioner.

The first example I am going to cover is that of Germanic Paganism and witchcraft.  These are two spiritual and religious paths that are a part of my personal practice that also inspire and help form the products that this business sells.  This is also a popular culture to explore spiritually right now with more people having interest in Germanic mythology with new pop culture references.

In Germanic paganism there is a lot of lore that can be explored.  Most people start off with the Eddas and Sagas.  With in the Eddas and Sagas there are many tales of magical practices and spiritual works.  This is where most of the concepts of Modern Germanic worship come from such as the Blot and the Sumbel.  The Eddas and Sagas while having an extensive study in themselves, is not the only source of the lore out there.

Many people are familiar with the Grimm’s brothers fairy tales.  These fairy tales actually come from the Germanic forests,  These fairy tales provide another source of wealth for practicing Germanic Paganism and witchcraft.  The tales describe many different spirits and even some of the traditional practices of the Dwarves, Witches, Elves, and other spirits found within Germanic cultures.   These tales provide even further keys into the folk knowledge that create the base of witchcraft and other magical practices.

Aside from the fairytale and the Eddas there are other sources of practical information.  The Rune poems give inspiration for the practice of rune magic which has been mentioned in the Eddas and the Sagas.  By reading the Rune poems a Germanic Pagan begins to study another wealth of information regarding the spiritual practices of the ancient Germanic Pagans.

Even within the Umbrella of Germanic Paganism and practices one could go into even more specific studies.  For example one could focus their attention on the continental practices in old Germany and Norway for example.  Focusing even further on some of those specific tribes.  One person could even focus on the Anglo-Saxon practices (England mostly here for those looking for a region).   One could go so far as to say that even the Icelandic practices and tribal setting would have been different.

While each of these tribes had a base shared language and some base cultural similarities, the names for the Gods and even some of the specific practices were different.  Though they were similar and related enough that the cultures and tribes were able to trade and intermarry and work successfully together in war and in peace.

Those are just a few examples from the Germanic cultures.  There is so much to explore and study within one area of the vast umbrella of Paganism and Pagan spirituality that one will always find something new to learn and study.  Even if a person decides to stick to a specific set of cultural practices and identities ( Germanic paths for example) there will always be something to learn.

Here is a set of examples from a different Pagan culture completely.  Hellenic Paganism or Greek style Paganism has many different facets.  This cultural style of study and practice can be even more difficult and extensive as it is so diverse.  You have on one hand the cults for each city state as well as cults of areas.

Greece because of the way it was organized for many years did not have really a cohesive religion for the culture.  They had in general a pantheon that they all shared with some common festivals, but each area was highly specific.  There were areas where people focused their entire worship on One of the Gods and you had those whose temples were only really visited once a year (The Elysian mysteries for example).

Hellenic pagans from what I have found typically follow one or two specific Gods that are their Patron Gods. While extensive research into the practices of worship in the culture is important in order to form bonds closer to their chosen deities they will most likely focus their attention on studying the cult centers and cult worship of those Gods.

The above examples were specific to Paganism in general as a study.  Now I am going to try and give some examples of magical practices from the view of a witch who is always studying and learning.  This blog does focus on all of these topics so covering both of these topics in this entry is reasonable.

Within magic and witchcraft there are many different ways to practice and types of practices that one can study.  To be honest there are so many options that a newbie often seeking to start practicing witchcraft can feel overwhelmed.  Which is why many find that mastering spellcraft can be near impossible and they wonder if they are doing it right.

In magic you have herbalism, crystal and gem magic, Galdar, Seidr, Trance work, summoning, healing work, poppet magic, astral projection, weather work, ect.  Often times a person may have so many interests that they can’t figure out where to start and will find that practices can overlap.

I’ll take Herbalism for example.  In Herbalism a witch and magician studies the herbs that they work with.  They can use them in powders and in potions as well as in oils, lotions, tinctures, soaps, and other types of charms.  There is also the healing work with herbalism.  Though while one studies making an oil for example they may learn or hear about spell oils from Hoodoo and then start to explore that for further herbal use and practices.

The examples above are one cultures examples of how deep and diverse the study of a cultures religious heritage can be.  The above examples also illustrate just one example of why it is impossible to master the spiritual crafts.  There will always be something new to learn and explore.

This is also why some witches, Pagans, and spiritual people tend to have rather extensive libraries.  Books are used as references in work and in studies and are often to valuable to just borrow from a library when it is needed.

 

Witchcraft-A craft and a Practice

Today there is more of a trend in witchcraft towards making all of witchcraft religious.  This is simply not the case.  Witchcraft is a practice and a craft.  The world craft is in the word witchcraft which implies that there is a skill and a practice to witchcraft.

While there are many ways that witchcraft can be a part of a religion like Wicca, Witchcraft is not a religion.  It is a craft and a practice.  It has a philosophy and a spiritual background but in the end witchcraft is a practice and a craft.

There are no actual specific rites or beliefs held and practiced by all witches.  Which is why witchcraft is not a religion.  There are no united beliefs and practices among witches aside from the belief in magic and the practice of magical arts and even that can be debated as a non issue as many witches don’t believe in magic-they know it exists and work with it.

Every witch is different and has their own practice.    Some witches will practice more intense ceremonial magic with elaborate altars and spirit invocations while another will practice more simple folk magic and remedies.  Some witches will work shamanic rites while any other witch may practice meditative rites and do everything in their mind.
While the belief in spiritual powers is common not all witches will work with all of them.  Witches have the power to contact and summon spirits who work with them as their aid and partners.

There are religious practices of witchcraft but that does not make witchcraft a religion.  For myself nature worship or a nature based spirituality would be my religion while witchcraft is my practice.  The Gods and spirits I worship are deities and spirits associated with witchcraft so I consider my religion a witchcraft religion.

Being a witch does not mean you practice a religion like Wicca.  Being a witch merely means you practice some form of witchcraft.  Invocations to Gods and spirits are not required in spells nor rituals.  Being a witch is simply working with the forces of nature and the universe to create changes in this world.

~Loona Wynd~ )0(

Animal Familiars for Beginners Book Review

The book  by Alexandra Chauran is an excellent book for beginners in Wicca and witchcraft.  This book while it focuses on the aspect of working with animal spirits in magic and ritual also covers most of the basic concepts in Wicca.  This book overall covers the 8 sabbats, spells, meditation, trance, and spirit work.  The only aspect of Wicca that is not covered is deity worship which was not the focus of this book.  By eliminating the focus on deity chants and the worship of deities the author was able to touch on basically all Wiccan principles and focus on the work of the book which is connecting spiritually with animal spirits.

One of the definitions of a witch is “One who has a familiar spirit”.  In the media there have historically been images of cats, snakes, spider, and bats as witch familiars.  Witches and animals who help them in their work have been a part of witch lore for centuries.  Often times today modern witches wonder if the idea of working with a pet as a familiar comes from the witch trials or if it comes from an actual historical practice and if one can work with their pets as a magical ally.

The introduction of this book provides excellent insight into what sort of materials you will find within the book.  The author first starts off by talking about her personal experiences with animals both spiritual and mundane.  The author then goes on and explains what many of the benefits found in the book will be,  Finally the author ends with providing a few different real life examples of people who have had experiences with animal familiars.  The mixture of history, personal experiences (the authors and other people) and the exercises provide powerful insight to what this book has to offer.

The first chapter of this book covers the history of witches and familiars.  The author covers stories from Shakespeare to a few tales of shape shifting in the witchtrials.  The author covers here why witches have familiars, what they are, and a few of the forms they can appear in.  This is the first time the author mentions the possibility of working not at all with physical animals but animals who may not exist such as Dragons, unicorns, Mythical serpents, and the like.  Here we are introduced to the idea that the types of spirits witches can work with are not limited to just those who live and breathe in our worlds.

The second chapter is one that most modern witches and pet owners should really look into.  This was the chapter that struck me the most.  Like most witches I am an avid pet owner and I have worked some magic with my pets.  This chapter in the book gave me new reasons to consider the possibilities of working with my pets within ritual and the home.  The key points included in this chapter were things I might not have thought about such as adaptations that a witch may need to make in their practice to have their animals p[resent such as no incense for birds and the need to move altars to places where cats or dogs wont jump on them or knock over the candles and cause fire.  The second chapter focused on animals within Pagan homes and how one can work ritual with them.  The chapter ends with a simple spell that can be used to find more pagans who are pet friendly considering that some may have allergies and the like.

The third chapter is probably where the reader can most clearly see the Wiccan elements of the book.  This is the chapter on actual rituals with pet familiars.  Here the author discusses the basic components in Wiccan ritual and how you can work with animal familiars.  The circle casting involves animal spirits rather than direct elemental spirits which can be a drastic change for most who practice Wiccan style rituals.  After discussing the circle casting the author then provided several different types of spells and rituals that can be performed with pets or other animal familiars.The author then provides two different examples of how wildlife can be used and seen as a focus for the Wheel of the Year.  There are sample rituals and concepts provided through out the chapter.

The fourth chapter discusses totem animals and how they can also be considered spirit familiars.  The author starts this chapter off with a description of a Marine who got a wolf tattoo after his service.  The author provides the story as an example of how as humans we can take on the characteristics of animals both positive and negative.  The author the provides a few working examples of how we can use totem animals for strength and courage as well as other aspects we may need to bring out of ourselves in our day to day life.  The author then goes into shape shifting as a historical practice and about how we can find our totem animals.  Finally the author touches on animals as spirit guides and guardians in meditative work.

The fifth and final chapter in this book is a book on working with wildlife.   Earlier in the book the author discussed and mentioned working with incarnate animal familiars.  These are animal familiars who we may work with that are not physically present in our lives.  Here the author talks about doing meditative practices outside in nature to connect with the animals.  The author provides a few examples of how you can work in nature to work with wild animals as familiars and how you can give back to them.

Though this is a very short book each chapter provides significant information for a beginner to get started with.  The chapters are concise while providing the needed information.  This allows the reader to have a starting point for beginning their journey and allows them plenty of room to have their own experiences and develop their practices from there.  This will allow people of any experience level to gain some insight from the book and be able to try new things.

~Loona Wynd~)0(

Please comment and let me know if this book review was useful for you or not.

Know your craft

It is important to know your craft as a witch, pagan, or spiritual practitioner. One does not simply know their craft through books and study. One must practice and explore their craft in order to really know their craft.

It is often said that Witches dont believe. That they know. This is because they have experienced magic and spells. They have done the rituals and done the book study. Putting them together one gains knowledge and wisdom.

So how does one get to know their craft and path?  One must gain experiences.  By trying new techniques that are read about in books one gains new experiences.  By performing exercises over and over one can gain deeper understanding of the topics they are exploring.  This gains knowledge.

There is an academic study involved in the development of knowledge.  This involves history and cultural studies.  It involved studying mythology and folklore.  It then involves studying practical modern books as well.  From here we gain exercises and techniques to try.

The important thing is that one must actively practice their craft in order to really know the craft they practice.  The practices give us experiences.  These experiences are what give us the potential to access and experience the various types of mysteries mentioned in a earlier post.

Witches experience their craft.  Pagans experience their deities in ritual and in trance.  Shamans experience the spirits that they work with and fight.  Magicians know the magical forces they work with.  Here you could say that experience turns belief into knowledge and inner truths.  In the end this is what it means to really know the truth and the crafts that we practice.

Some witches will choose to practice certain crafts more than others.  Every witch must find their own practice and style of working their craft.  There are never two witches who will practice the same thing.  We must develop our own practices based on our own experiences and tastes.

Knowing our craft comes through study, exploration, testing, failures, and much more.  This takes time and effort but it is worth it.  Find what areas and styles of witchcraft really catch your fancy and drive you “wild”.  Ignite your passions and find your craft.  Create it and craft it.  Learn it and study it make it yours and claim the knowledge for yourself.

~Loona Wynd~)0(

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