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(
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.