As many of you may or may nor know I don’t consider myself a strict traditional witch, though I do have a lot of traditional leanings. I feel that I needed more direct experiences and practices within Traditional witchcraft to consider myself a traditional witch. Training in the Feri tradition is a part of that.
The other reason I didn’t consider myself really a traditional witch is that I didn’t work really directly with local land spirits and forces. I worked more with my personal energetic forces rather than spirits. That has been changing recently with my studies in the Feri tradition and in Hoodoo/Conjure.
So recently I did a prayer and asked if there were any fairy spirit in the area to make themselves known. A few days later a mushroom ring appears in my backyard. For the first time in my life a fairy ring appeared in my home. It made me feel like the local fairies and spirits did take the first offering I gave at my home/house spirit shrine.
Its just something I thought I would share. I have never experienced a fairy ring in my yard before. So for me its a special gift of the fairies. To me its a signal that my connections with the local forces and spirits is growing and they are listening to me.
The book The Spiral Dance is considered a classic in modern witchcraft literature. The author Starhawk put this book out at a time when there was little to no information published publicly on Witchcraft and people were starving for information. In the 35 years since the original release of The Spiral Dance many more books have been put on the market, but the Spiral Dance remains on the top of many recommended reading lists.
The one down side to this book is that it does focus heavily on the feminist movement and feminism. At the time the book was written the author was heavily involved in the feminist movement and feminist spirituality, so it makes sense that this book would reflect those interests and activities. This book is one of the reasons that religious witchcraft is considered to be “women’s religion”. The theme and focus throughout the book is the use of witchcraft and Goddess spirituality to reclaim women’s rights and women’s power.
The subtext to the title “The Spiral Dance” reads :”A rebirth of the ancient religion of the Great Goddess”. The text is a very apt description for the information that you find within the book. When you combine the focus on the Great Goddess with the feminist movement at the time you have a book that covers feminist witchcraft and feminist spirituality and why its important for the world we live in.
Now Starhawk does talk about why feminist spirituality like the Goddess movement is important to men and what Men can get out of the practice of witchcraft. So while the book is geared towards women and feminist spirituality, there are benefits described for Men and practices of Male witches discussed. The overall tone though is geared towards women and women’s mysteries.
This book is 13 chapters long. Each chapter has a specific lesson that expands on the information in the previous chapter. Within several of the chapters are easy to do exercises and meditations. These meditations and exercises are provided so that a solitary witch or someone seeking witchcraft can learn practices that will allow them to become witches in their own right.
Each chapter starts out with a ritual or a description of the practices found within the chapter to illustrate the lessons and information found within the chapter. Some of these stories are fictional and some of them are from experiences within the authors own coven settings. These personal experience illustrations form some of the most powerful aspects of the book allowing the reader to see what sort of experiences they may have in their own work while not telling them explicitly that these will be your experiences as well.
The first chapter completely discusses witchcraft as a Goddess focused religion. Here is where we first learn the concept of a Great Goddess and of feminist spirituality. The author also goes into the history of witchcraft and what exactly witchcraft is as a religion and a practice. Its a basic starting point illustrating the misconceptions and issues many people have with witchcraft.
The second chapter goes into the worldview of witchcraft. Every religion has a way of viewing the world. Here we re provided with a creation myth for the birth of the God and Goddess within this version of witchcraft as well as the essence of the Great Goddess. Here we are given the concept of the soul/spirit as well as the concepts of energy working and the view on the cosmos.
The third chapter talks about covens. Here we learn about the common structure of religious witchcraft and the way that this structure functions. The author illustrates both same sex covens as well as mixed gender covens and why coven structures work. The comparisson between covens and traditional religious structures provide ways for seekers and students to understand the functional differences between a church and a coven.
The fourth chapter discusses sacred space. One key component in witchcraft rituals is the creation of sacred space. This chapter provides several different ways of working this ritual as well as reasons behind the creation of sacred space.
The fifth chapter is all about the Goddess. This religious witchcraft tradition is Duotheistic meaning it focuses on the worship of a Goddess and a God. In this chapter we are introduced to the Goddess and her roles within the religion. We learn how to call her and how both men and women can relate to her.
The sixth chapter is all about the God. While the Goddess is the focus in the feminist version of witchcraft that the Spiral Dance teaches, the God is still important. This chapter illustrates the relationship between the Goddess and God and how they need each other and work together to be one.
The seventh chapter is all about the use of symbols within magic. Magic works through the use of symbols and directing energy related to those symbols. This chapter in the book has several different spells to try as well as exercises to develop your own understanding of symbols and your own association with symbols.
The eighth chapter is all about the Cone of power. This particular chapter focuses on Coven based workings, but the concepts of raising and directing energy in the shape of a cone is applicable to the solitary student. Here we understand what it means in witchcraft when the concept of energy direction and manipulation is discussed.
The ninth chapter is about trance work. The basic definition of magic given early in the book is the idea and the ability to change ones concious state at will. This chapter explores the use of trance and the reason why trance work is part of witchcraft. Basic meditation and trance concepts are addressed here and there are several different exercises within the chapter for trance work and meditation work.
The tenth chapter of the book focuses on initiation. Solitary witches who read this book will not get as much out of this chapter as a witch who is working for initiation within a coven or specific tradition. This chapter describes what it means to be initiated and provides a coven based initiation ritual as a sample.
The eleventh chapter in the book focuses on esbats or moon based rituals. Within witchcraft the moon is sacred and is revered as a symbol of the Goddess. Moon rituals are typically in many cases working rituals while sabbat rituals are more worship based. Moon rituals can be based on the full or new moons or other moon phases, though full and new are the most common.
The twelfth chapter in the book focuses on the wheel of the year or the sabbats and holiday celebrations of this tradition of witchcraft. Here the author provides sample rituals for ideas as to how to honor the sabbats as well as providing information on the lore and meanings behind the sabbats.
The final chapter of this book is focused on developing religion. Here the author explains the issues that can arrive when religions become based on dogma and established practices and don’t change. The author explains what exactly witchcraft as a religion is and how it has to continue to change and evolve in this modern world. Here we learn the dangers of thinking in strict absolute terms as well as in dualistic terms.
Despite the age, this book is useful. Its a good book for establishing witchcraft as a religion and explaining why religious witchcraft is so different than traditional religions. The book covers the basics and provides enough information that a solitary seeker man or women can start their own practice and create their own relationship with the God, Goddess, and the Great Goddess.
The divine in Ominitheism
I live a constantly evolving paradox in some ways. I am an omnitheist. Its an all encompassing view of the divine. I say all encompassing because depending on what sort of ritual I am working my view on the divine will change or be modified. I make room for experiences of the divine in basically any and all formats as I believe the overall Divine to be something that humans can not fully understand in our form. This also means I will and have experienced the divine in many different forms.
Basically I am a Hard Polytheist in that I believe in all individual Gods in pantheons and religions. I may not have encountered them all like I’ve never met to my knowledge any of the Gods associated with Chinese religions or Hinduism or even Native American traditions, but I still believe those Gods are individual beings. This also means that I Do believe in Yaweh/Allah/Jehovah or the God of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. I can’t emphasis this enough. I just believe that they are an individual God among many.
This also means that when I work a ritual from the context of a soft polytheistic view where they believe all the Gods are one God and all the Goddesses are one Goddess I believe the God and Goddess of that religion are a unique God and Goddess whose impressions are a combination of the psychological archetypes of the many Gods and Goddesses in literature. So I believe that there is a God and Goddess out there who through modern Wicca and Modern religious witchcraft movements who is a manifested form and force of All Gods and all Goddesses, though each person in this religious form focuses on specific names to them it doesn’t matter and to this divine duo the names do not matter. They are nameless and yet have many names.
Like wise my belief in the God of the three big religions allows me to attend church services with family members and treat it as I would the worship of any other God within their specific religious constraints. Yaweh and I have an understanding of sorts in that I believe in him and have accepted that he is the supreme God in those religions. However I never in the Christian tradition I was a heretic of sorts believing that the trinity was a set of three divine beings. So like I said we’ve reached an understanding of sorts that is uncomfortable at best for the both of us. I maintain my belief that he is one of many thousands of Gods and I treat the church services as that Gods particular style of worship.
In this way it is not any different than how I outlined I have approached the worship of Greek Gods and Norse Gods. I approach their worship from a recon style and perspective. I find that recons so long as the worship of the different pantheons or cultures is separate then you can follow more than one path. Its about respecting the Gods and making sure that you worship them in a way that would have been appropriate in that particular culture.
In this way I treat Christianity as a culture which it really is. The Christian worldview has impacted the world culture in many ways, so when I go to church I feel that I am engaging in that aspect of the culture I live in, as well as the culture where this God (Yaweh) is worshiped.
I believe that all the Gods of the Greek pantheon are individuals. I believe that all the Gods of the Norse pantheon are individuals (to the point where even the tribal differences in views and concepts may actually be different divine forces) an so forth for each pantheon. I even believe that the 12 big Gods of the Greek pantheon and the 12 great Gods of the Roman pantheon who are often said to be the same beings are separate beings (Zeus and Jupiter are different Gods in my view and not the same as in other views of the two pantheons).
I have experienced too many different types of divine individuals to not believe that in some way all views of the divine are true. This is why I consider myself to be an omnitheist. While I believe that there are individual Gods and Goddesses (Athena, Frigga, Isis, Ceriweden, etc to name a few and only a few) as individual people (like I am different from you) I also believe that there may be an overruling God of each force like there may be a generic Goddess of Love and God of war that are essentially made up of all the other Gods of each force).
I have experienced individual divine forces and I have experienced overarching all encompassing divine forces. I believe all paths hold truths. This is why I believe that by studying all religions and philosophies I can gain even more insight into the divine and the mysteries of the universe. In this way I may also be a chaos magician where I change paradigms as needed for ritual and spiritual work, if so than I am a chaos witch. I’ve experienced too many different styles of the divine manifesting to not believe that all versions of the divine are true
Suffice to say this basically outlines most of my concept of the divine. My views of the divine are constantly evolving and changing. I’ve had too many different experiences to not be willing to be open to every possible avenue for the divine to manifest. Though because I also believe in the power of the mind I also think that we can create divine forces or manifestations of the divine energy through names and other experiences.
In essence this is where part of my experience of the five Gods and Goddesses that are the divine beings in Pentalism comes from my experience with the various Unnamed Gods and Goddesses of Eclectic Wiccan and Eclectic Neo-pagan witchcraft traditions. Each tradition had some very similar concepts of the God and Goddess but there were enough differences that I started to feel that perhaps there was actually more then one God and Goddess involved in the myths and lore of Modern witchcraft.
Those divine beings are basically a separation and division of the five different types of Gods and Goddesses I have experienced through different versions of modern Eclectic Wiccan lore. I thought that because there were essentially five different ways I saw the Gods manifested that there were five distinct Gods and Goddesses worshiped in Wiccan traditions. The more I study and think about the different God forms and Goddess forms and associations I see the more those five Gods make sense.
So I figure I’m developing a tradition that treats the seasonal versions of the Gods as individuals and the Moon Goddess and Sun God as separate beings. I’m still developing experiential lore in meditations to support this particular divine setting but so far it seems to make sense. The season energies are very different so the Gods involved in each season would be different. There will be more information on those Gods in the next post, outlining the Gods and Goddess of Pentalism.
Omnitheism I feel is important as a view and philosophy of the divine as it allows for extreme personal experiences. It allows people to experience the divine as individual beings while also accessing the divine forces behind say healing with out specific names. This allows people to have both experiences with the individual divine beings in the various pantheons and the overall divine forces that are out there in life.
Magic is a powerful force. This is the force that allows witches and other magical traditions and practices to be able to cause the great changes they do in the world. This is a force that is neutral in nature. This is a force that is used to both create and to destroy. It is the same force used to heal and to bless that is used to harm and to curse.
By itself magic has little to no direction. Magic as a force will simply work to cause changes in the lives of the world. That is what magic is. Magic is the subtle forces that effect changes. These are the forces caused by thoughts and actions as well as emotions. The energy which makes up magic is the very energy of life which is why thoughts and emotions are key to the way magic works and acts.
There are many different names for people who practice magical arts. Witches are one. Shamans practice a form of magic as do many other tribal Wisemen and women. One thing that unites magic practitioners is some form of mental discipline and training. This training is what allows them to connect to the creative forces of the universe however they envision them.
It was mentioned above that thoughts and emotions are key to manifesting and making magic work. It was also mentioned that those who practice magic are often trained with some form of mental discipline. These two statements illustrate the reason why magic is both creative and destructive. Human thoughts and emotions are creative and destructive, This is also why with out direction and manipulation magic is simply a neutral force that creates changes in life.
When a person works a spell it is the intent behind the spell that gives form and direction to magic. Intent is made up of thought and emotions. The actions performed during spells and magical ritual are items used to focus and intensify concentration on desires- the intent of the spell. The desire or intent has an emotional basis. The stronger the emotion the more powerful the spell or ritual action will be,
The energy raised in the spell has direction. It has purpose. In order to allow the spell to work the magic will destroy some options and possibilities and create another. This is why magic as a tool and as a practice is always creating and destroying. It is a force that causes changes. This is the force of the cosmos.
For something to be created something else must be destroyed. This is a truth of nature. This is a truth of the cosmos. New planets and stars are created out of the debris of older planets and stars. This is also the true meaning of what they mean when they say that matter can never be created or destroyed-merely changes form.
Magic is part of the universe. It is the force which allows things to be created. It is creation and destruction. It is that which allows the universe to continue in expansion.
One of the good things that happens when a person chooses to go off on their own spiritual path they realize that they have a lot of personal freedom and power. For many people this is a good thing are they felt that they had no power or freedom to really experience the Gods or spirits in the religion they original came from.
When a person start their new path the sky is the limit for them They are not limited by anything said by anyone else. The only thing that they are limited by is their own thoughts deed and actions. They are free to experience spirituality and the Gods however they choose.
This new found freedom can also be scary. Here you have to make all the choices. No one is telling you how to worship your Gods and how to practice. This is something that will take time to get used to. A lot of time the Gods and the spirits are the ones that will teach you and direct you on your new paths.
By trusting your intuition and your spirit guides you will find your path. You may be given advice like this:
This path is yours. Walk it freely, and walk it proudly. Only you know yourself, your path, your craft, and your Gods. Use that knowledge to freely develop your path.
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.
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(
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.
Please comment and let me know if this book review was useful for you or not.
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.
Religious witchcraft falls under the category of mystery religions. In mystery religions the focus is not on worshiping the Gods through action and words but on having direct experiences with the Gods and the spirits. Mystery religions are all about bringing forth the Gods from within you and becoming one with them.
Mystery religions are not religions of the book. In a mystery religion it is not so much important on how the religion is practiced. This is actually a type of religion which is based on experience. The lore and the rites of the religions are there to guide and direct you towards your interactions with the Gods and spirits and may even provide some context for the meetings.
The nature of these religions means that it is impossible for each witch or participant to ever have the exact same experience. Even covens of traditional Wiccan practices like Gardnerian or Alexandriean while there is a core set of contexts and practices which provide a foundation for some what shared experiences, in the end each of the members of the covens have their own relationships and their own unique experiences.
Mystery religions can not be learned from a book. With this statement one may be wondering why there are so many books out there on the market on witchcraft and pagan practices. The answer is simple. The books provide key concepts and guidelines which can lead the seeker to having their own experiences. With the books and the concepts within the books a witch is able to begin their understanding and practices for developing their own spiritual path.
This is ultimately the reason why two witches will never practice the same path even within the same tradition or base practice. Each with must find their own way. No one path is better than the other paths out there. It is simply not the path for you. Even if a path is not perfect for you there may be something in that path that will inspire you or have something to teach you.
Be open and let the spirits teach you. Find your own wisdom and personal path. Let your heart guide you and your path can do no wrong. Go out there and experience life and what the spirits has to offer. Play and go wild. Don’t let other people tell you what to do. This is your path and your journey. Find your own truths and find your spirituality.