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.
One thing that many starting Pagans, witches, and magicians seek to do is find a way to integrates their spells and rituals into their daily life and really make it a part of who they are. When I started out in my studies and practice of witchcraft this was one thing that I too struggled with.
Here is a simple spell and ritual that you can use every morning to refresh yourself and prepare for a new day.
Shampoo & Conditioner
When you get into the shower turn the water on to as hot as you can stand.
Get in the shower and let the water rinse you off. A the water rinses your body before you soap state:
“Water water wash away
Water water cleanse today”.
Take your shampoo and soap and wash your body once. Repeat the chant over and over again. As you watch the soap go down the drain visulize all emotional baggage that causes you pain washing down the drain as well.
Soap yourself up and repeat the chant and ritual once more. This time see any and all blocks in your way going down the drain.
You may shorten the chant to “wash a way cleanse today” as you get into the washing.
Use this each more to prepare for each day,