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feranaja 02-25-19 07:29 AM

Re: Merry Meet!

Originally Posted by Annie_Wong (Post 329842)

feranja, sorry, I overread your question. I think I myself became aware of the craft by believing that everyone has to hold some personal power having some self-efficacy. I believe in nature as the center of elemental energy. I feel that in monotheistic faith you are always completely in a dependant position and in my view among many other things the craft grants self-confidence and a sense of responsibility for your actions. Maybe the drive to make the world a better place by holding good intentions whereas "good" is also in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps world improvement as it is often indicated is a bit too idealistic. I assume one has to be a realist, especially at the beginning doing things in a small way. For Wicca I read Witchraft & Wicca for Dummies for I really enjoy the "for Dummies" series. It was pretty informative but the author explicitly recommends further literature, which is always a good sign instead of claiming something is the sole legitimate source of knowledge.

Great ideas here Annie, although of course there is no right or wrong, I was just furthering discussion. What brings us to a path is always interesting. And I agree about doing small things initially, walk before you run, but I also believe that even after many years of practise, small things can make powerful differences. For example, I have been overworking this past two years, and less time for the things that feed my soul, but I take a half hour in the morning to get centered, do some reading and make offerings to my shrines. It's only a half hour or so, but if I miss it, I feel more stressed in the day ahead. I also try to do my grounding and meditation mid day, which is when I need it the most. If I miss THAT, boy do I feel it! So "small things" but they have an important impact on my day.

I haven't seen the Dummies book, but there are several recommended reading lists in the other forums. My own earliest books (there weren't many back then)are all now considered "the classics" - The Spiral Dance by Starhawk, The Witches' Way by Janet and Stewart Farrar, several by Marian Green including A Witch Alone and Natural Magic, Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler...but I was also pretty immersed in other forms of esoterica, so reading all of Dion Fortune's works, for example. I started my tarot study early and Rachel Pollock has always been by main guide, bookwise. But again, loads of recommendations in individual forums.:)

FWIW I would recommend starting with the classics - read British Traditional Witchcraft, read Starhawk, read Marian Green....find your way. It takes time and may change as you go through life - for me, as long as your spirituality "harms none" and is an authentic expression of your heart AND mind, you cant go wrong.

Annie_Wong 02-25-19 12:12 PM

Re: Merry Meet!
Thank you Sollie and DrumWolf!

@all: Something that really interests me is how did you find out about your personal orientation in the craft? Have you tried what works best for you or found out about it through literature etc and it instantly appealed to you? Because every single path seems so diverse and there are countless variations and possibilities. Or maybe you don't like to categorize yourself? Do most of you practice as solitaries? Maybe some non-Wiccans (certainly Wiccans as well!!) like to tell a bit about their experiences. Up to now my knowledge is mostly based on Wicca, that's why I'm asking.

@feranja: Thanks for sharing some details about your daily routine :) Sounds like a great way to welcome the day. I'd like to integrate some rituals in my everyday life as well and it would be great to have an altar/shrine. I live in a one-room apartment in a town so for me it is a rather tricky task to find a place to turn spiritual without any distraction (like beside my tv, my bed, my kitchen.) What do you think of portable altars? Generally I have access to nature for I am not living in a big city, but being outside is only pleasant in springtime, summer or maybe early fall. I definitely still need to find a special place where one can calm down.

MonSno_LeeDra 02-25-19 06:13 PM

Re: Merry Meet!

Originally Posted by Annie_Wong (Post 329853)
.. @all: Something that really interests me is how did you find out about your personal orientation in the craft? Have you tried what works best for you or found out about it through literature etc and it instantly appealed to you? Because every single path seems so diverse and there are countless variations and possibilities. Or maybe you don't like to categorize yourself? Do most of you practice as solitaries? Maybe some non-Wiccans (certainly Wiccans as well!!) like to tell a bit about their experiences. Up to now my knowledge is mostly based on Wicca, that's why I'm asking. ..

Let me preface this with the disclaimer that for many of us we've answered these question here before so you'll probably get the short version answers.

For me basically I was born to it in a familial tradition. More folkish in many ways and probably not what you'd recognize today as a fully functioning "practice". My particular influence more Shamanic like in focus. Beside that I was also sort of adopted into what would basically be a Stregian type of folk practice by an elderly neighbor. I do have some formal training over the years tossed in and a bit of small group practices in there but definitely not Wiccan.

My own particular pathway is a combination of Shamanic and what I suppose would be called Hedge / Green Witchcraft with a strong Hellenic Recon influence. As such I am basically a solitary due to the Shamanic side of things and by choice.

Education wise within my pathwalk a lot of what I know has been due to what my divinities drive me to learn. For instance for many on the shamanic pathway dying is a pretty common aspect, I physically died in my youth. Then have come near to death more than a few times since. Either through illness or situations that could have lead to my death. To give a few examples: my parents went out at the last minute my grandparents refused to let my parents take me. My parents involved in a car wreck, my carseat was crushed under the front passenger seat. When I was about 17 I was walking along a railroad track suddenly turned and there was a train I grabbed a friend and tossed him off the track and used his weight to pull me behind him. As I flew through the air I felt the train's suction pull me back towards the engine as I landed just beyond it's pull.

Book wise it's more than just book's about paganism. It's the entire alphabet from A to Z. History, Biology, Psychology, Geology, Theology, etc. Pagan authors fill volumes with pseudo history and cut and paste details about things that really mean nothing. Many Wicca author's are even worse, volumes of outer court material that are passed as full truth about Wicca yet nothing that truly touches about Inner Court teachings. Things that have to be experienced to be learnt.

One thing I've learnt is Occultism is always changing. Now whether that is good or bad, that is a harder question to answer. Older practitioners I've known over the years have faded into the shadows in some instances as they say it is safer there again. I am certain that the way's I was taught and the methods I was instructed under and challenged under are far different than used today.

Annie_Wong 02-25-19 07:33 PM

Re: Merry Meet!
Yes, I was in search for a similar topic in the forum so hopefully I would not bother people with asking the same question already appearing in another thread, but maybe i missed it. If you happen to already know a thread for a question i have and you don't feel like repeating you can let me know. :) There may be some questions ahead already extensively discussed.

Anyway, thank you so much for being that open about your experiences in life and looking back at them. The near death incidents are especially eery and impressive. Fate wouldn't let you just go back then. Good to have you here. I myself had some two to four close calls as well and in restrospect it's always unbelievable how things came out.

You being born into the craft is pretty awesome. If it is already like running in the family it really has a traditional touch and it may be easier for one to identify with it as for someone coming from (for example) an orthodox catholic family.
For my part I didn't grow up particularly religious, being part of the protestant church, but not really living it so for me starting a real and long-lasting self-discovery is not too difficult. My mother tells me about how her father used to use a pendulum when presented with life-changing choices so there may be some small pagan elements here.

What would you say are the biggest differences between your path and Wicca? I often hear witches (in this case it was a hoodoist) complaining that Wicca is only picking out the so-called white magic without taking the wholeness of the craft into account and that everything is intertwined.

I can imagine older practioners not wanting to step in the spotlight alongside today's witches or whatever label they consider themselves to be or prefer. Media does its fair share to change things and for practitioners of old style beyond recognition I guess.

MonSno_LeeDra 02-25-19 08:38 PM

Re: Merry Meet!
Oh I don't mind answering. For most of my postings you'll find them in the Shamanism area for the most part. I'll answer in other area's but I'm most active in that one particular area.

Main thing I was getting at is for those of us who've been active on the forum for a bit we've answered the same general question's many times. So it's difficult to embrace them again or add something new. At times you have sort of a "I've answered it already" so don't think you have anything new to add. Even giving a pointer to a thread is difficult because their spread out and even we have to go searching for those answers . Figure lots of times the answer is either in our own old intro posts or into other intro postings. That or it might be in a thread where we simply went off in some side line of though and discussion.

You have to understand this idea of the "Craft" is very different from what reality is. Many folk practices or familial practices have little resemblances to anything that looks like Wicca or what people think of as Witchcraft. Well what people think of as book based witchcraft or Hollywood witchcraft.

It's like folk practices might be using a wedding band on a string and holding it over the woman's belly and seeing which way it swings to determine the gender of the baby. Which marks to sew into a shirt to protect the wearer, or which ones to sew into a bedsheet to bring on that baby. Why a woman plants roses near her house as a protector. Why a son is told never to eat at a girls house unless he has something from his mother or grandmother. The difference between a daughters first blood and a son's first blooding.

In truth between my path and Wicca, there are few Wiccan's traditionally today. Wicca is a initiation driven, lineage'd system, most of what passes for Wicca today is none of that. You can't technically be self initiated, self dedicated as a Wiccan, there is no legitimate lineage. A book is not a lineage. Unfortunately that's not a popular position or opinion.

A lot of what passes for Wicca today should probably be called Neo-Wicca because it is more New Age in influence than what you might call Traditional Wicca. That's all the Self-Initiations, Self-Dedications, self bestowing of High Priestess / Priest titles and levels. Practical & Theoretical knowledge is derived from books with little actual mystical & coven based experience. When I hear them speak about divinities far to often the divinities seem to have been selected via roll-a-dex selection. Then they were chosen based upon ideal qualities and expectation often at the expense of the full vastness of the divinities character. Very often setting the divinity figure in a familial situation to the practitioner, often that of a mother or sister type figure.

In my practice the divinity is not a parent or friend figure they are gods & goddesses. They are creation and destruction. They will inspire but they will also punish, they can heal but they will also destroy. They can and do bring life but they can and do bring death just as easily. Just because you make offerings & Libations to them doesn't mean you will be rewarded. They are not all bright light and happy happy joyful joyful, just as nature itself is not all happy happy joyful joyful but can be lethal and frightening.

It's like I mentioned above magic is magic it has no color. It is intent that has color yet that color changes based upon how it is employed. A white action can be seen as black just as easily, it all depends upon the perspective of the one doing the observing.

For instance if I give you money because I see you are hungry that is a good act and would be seen as a white purpose. Yet if I give you money not because you are hungry but because I think it makes me look good then it is no longer white for my intent has changed regardless of the outcome. If I give you the same money but did it to show to others you are lesser and did it to disgrace you in front of them it is still black though you still got the money and still got the food. Money was still given, you still got the food but three different intents. Simply change the money to a spell and the action remains the same as does the intent and action. Yet you still receive your meal and were feed. Magic is magic but intent changed.

Annie_Wong 02-26-19 12:11 PM

Re: Merry Meet!
This is how I imagined the original craft to be. Your examples of including folk practices like the wedding band etc in your life or even better living in the manner of it surely contrasts with the image of spectacular seances and stuff. I like your ways.

Considering the divinity how one needs it to be doesn't seem too right to me. Like you I think just like nature itself the divine has to be light and shadow at the same time (you gave many good examples for it) and only whitewashing things and ignoring what one may be uncomfortable with can only be half the story. Your conception and definition of the divinity seems logical to me.

Your example with giving me money is such an enlightening one. Thank you for setting it. This greatly contributes to my understanding of the craft.

What I am wondering is when do practitioners of the craft begin to perform their first rituals. Like is there a time when you can say "now I've learned a lot and studied for __months/years/you name it and am finally ready to practice". It's somewhat unclear to me because there are different opinions on that. Some say you should keep your hands off practicing and first read all literature while others are in accordance with learning by doing.

SunSister 02-26-19 12:55 PM

Re: Merry Meet!

Originally Posted by Annie_Wong (Post 329853)
@all: Something that really interests me is how did you find out about your personal orientation in the craft? Have you tried what works best for you or found out about it through literature etc and it instantly appealed to you? Because every single path seems so diverse and there are countless variations and possibilities. Or maybe you don't like to categorize yourself? Do most of you practice as solitaries? Maybe some non-Wiccans (certainly Wiccans as well!!) like to tell a bit about their experiences. Up to now my knowledge is mostly based on Wicca, that's why I'm asking.

I was raised Roman Catholic but have always held an interest in other religions/cultures and mythologies. When I was 11, I began to become more sensitive to things like energies and had some experiences that can be classified as psychic. I looked up a whole lot of information about what I was feeling/sensing and ran across some information on Wicca in that process as well. I initially began to explore that part of spirituality out of curiosity and because some things in it spoke to me, but I didn't really feel a 'click' with what I perceived to be the more dogmatic aspects of it or the parts I couldn't incorporate into my life.

But, you know, one thing leads to another in this pathwalk and through Wicca I also encountered other paths like Druidry and reconstructionism and all that jazz. I think I spent maybe three or four years actively researching different paths and exploring different ideas before I even did a ritual of any kind? To me, information is important: what is it, how is it constructed, what can I do with it, what are the pitfalls, you name it.. I want to have clarity about it before engaging with it on any level. It's in my nature to be cautious (too much so at times!) and I like to know a little about everything because that's just how I roll. ;) What I do find important is not walking away from things when they get hard, though. Some people use eclecticism as a bit of an excuse to just handpick what they like and forget about the rest, but for me spirituality only works when it's in balance between things that come easy and things you need to work harder for.

There've been some groundshaking spiritual experiences for me within this pathwalk that are really hard to put into words but went a long way to cementing the feeling that this is ultimately where I'm supposed to be. I currently would classify myself as an eclectic pagan because I don't follow a specific path like Wicca and have adopted practices and ideas from different paths over the years. I'm solitary by nature, though always open to discussions and chats with other pagan folks like we have here on ESF. I received some measure of training in energywork and crystal healing, but the majority of what I do is something I just learned over the course of time and experimented with a lot. I'm currently looking to make some kind of next step by actually devoting time/energy to a study of magic that resonates with me and exploring a calling I've been feeling a lot over the past few years, but I'm kind of stalling myself on it at the same time because it feels very big and I wanted calm and easy for a while instead. :)

One thing I enjoy most about paganism, though, is that sense of liberty that we're all on different paths of our own choosing. Our paths might intersect and we might learn things from each other, but ultimately we're working with our own symbols and experiences and strengths/weaknesses. It's been eye-opening to be in communities like ESF where so many people come together from all walks of life, and hearing all sorts of stories about how people connect to their own paths is a wonderful thing.

MonSno_LeeDra 02-26-19 03:02 PM

Re: Merry Meet!
First rituals? People often fail to see just how frequently they have been doing their first rituals and never realize they've done them.

You brush your teeth, clean your body, brush your hair and put on clean cloths, that is your first purification ritual. About the only difference is once you add a divinity is they might add the addition of some essential oils or incense to the process and maybe a ritual prayer or chant as part of the process. Perhaps some sort of emblem on the cloths or perhaps a piece of jewelry to be worn. Yet it is still just cleaning yourself and purifying your body in preparation to be in the presence of your divinity in their sacred space.

Drawing down and becoming one with their divinity. That's another that people have been doing since they were children in most instances. The only difference's when they were doing it, it was a form of shapeshifting. That instance of imagining they were becoming some animal and imagining what it must be like to be that animal. To move like it. To sound like it. To imagine what it must be like to think like it, eat like it, drink like it, smell like it, see like it, hear like it. To become one with it or actually become it. That is basically drawing down your divinity and becoming one with them, the only difference is your becoming one with a higher force vice a lower force. So you open your mind and body to a higher and deeper sensation. Yet the child has already been there.

Many of the rituals you'll do you've done before. The thing with most of them is they are used to undo the mental and psychological connections that were made with the prior rituals. The dedications, initiations, bindings, etc are more listed with time frames usually to get you into the proper mental states and help you erase the burdens that come with the psychological stress that comes with them.

Figure the majority of new practitioners will come from a Christian background and influences. Many with the core influence of "Put no other Gods before me!" moving into a theological framework where not only are you putting other gods before GOD but your breaking that commitment that was made to him. Even if you say you never really felt right in Christianity or the Church it's still a major influence upon the person and usually their familial surroundings. One they have to come to terms with.

For many if not most that is a difficult transition to make. Usually you can see it in new practitioners, there is quite a bit of hostility towards Christianity as a whole in them. So the old requirement of a Year and a day though not stated was both to give the coven time to judge you and time for you to some what come to terms with that. Really did the coven nor you a great deal of favor to start off with anger towards the old and false expectations towards the new. After a year your reality and expectations should should be more realistic of what to expect.

On the bright side though that was a better likelyhood for success than getting into many familial groups. For most of those you had to be born into them, or married into them. Then even being married into them didn't ensure you were completely accepted into all facets of their secrets. More than a few of those were broken down into male and female mysteries and the lines were not crossed. There were things my sisters got that the sons were not even considered for, and vice a versa. Especially when it came to blood mysteries we simply didn't need to know the herbs and such for that.

I have a friend whose deceased grandmother like's to remind me I am a male so don't fully comprehend the visuals she's showing me dealing with blood mysteries. Sometimes she wishes I was a girl so I could get the message to her daughter correctly the first time. But she admit's I do far better than most males she's known. Guess I have a lot of blood memory from my mother and grandmother. Funny though when she gets frustrated trying to use me as a Hollow Bone to pass things along though.

So when to do specific rituals and such really depends. Some require lots of time and research before you do them. That's due to the detail and technical information needed. Other's you've been doing them for years, but really haven't been told but they are part of your life. You'll find some will simply happen. One day you'll just get the urge to do them in a format that comes to you. Then you may drop that format because it was for that one usage only, for that one situation only. Other times the divinity in question may give you inspiration for a ritual / ceremony over days or weeks prior to it occurring and will develop it in you mind / dreams.

I've had elaborate rituals / ceremonies that just started to build in my mind. Over the course of a few weeks they developed and filled out as to what it would entail. Like chapters in a book I got more and more info and instructions on what, when, where and how everything was to be done. Since then I've used that particular ritual / ceremony a few times.

One thing I'd add is that many books and practitioners are going to tell you how and what to do. Take each with a grain of salt. In part because each is right but each is also wrong, for each is telling you how they do it.

It's like with the goddess Artemis people will tell you to make offerings of a certain type of cake to her. To do these offerings on full moon's and do it all the time. Only problem is those particular cakes were done for Artemis in archaic times. They were done in thanks for saving a particular city. Yep once every 6 years. So this city did them in grand order every 6 years for thanks when they really meant something versus modern pagans who do it all the time when it means what? The word here then becomes context.

Annie_Wong 02-26-19 05:57 PM

Re: Merry Meet!
So you were raised a Christian as well. Did your parents place great value on living the faith? The way you came to the craft is special as well. It’s always a good thing to think outside the box and some will do so and return to their ways keeping their newfound knowledge in mind, others will eventually feel that drawn-in they actively stick to it with belief and heart.

Wicca as initial contact is not uncommon I see and may be due to the spirit of the time. After reading the Wicca for Dummies book I originally planned on undertaking the mandatory one year and one day dedication and celebrating sabbats and esbats in the course of the year. As a solitary that is. It has been a vague idea but I strongly believe it is a good thing I came to ESF beforehand.

Being cautious sometimes will slow you down, but basically it can preserve you from harm. From my point of view the worst you can do is jump into something without understanding it at least a bit. I feel with the craft this does happen frequently. People are quick to ask for spells, many without enquiring about the potential consequences. I am very careful with that.

I am glad you were able to witness all those intense spiritual occurences :) this had to mark a significant point in your life. I can also imagine adopting elements from different branches of the craft while forming an own path and the training you mentioned (energywork and crystal healing) can only be further enrichment to your journey. Increasing knowledge is always desirable for me. Whether it were herbalism, alchemy, gardening, arts or much more. And experimenting is always part of research, right?

Being able to discuss peacefully, openly and sympathetically while differing is precious and rare because normally in whatever faith this is hardly ever possible. In paganism everybody seems accepted, there are points of contact and commonality exists. If you can discuss about individual beliefs with a similar essence this is indeed wonderful :)

Annie_Wong 02-26-19 06:43 PM

Re: Merry Meet!
Unquestionably you are completely right, we do rituals all our lives. Often this has to be brought to mind again. Probably all too often one thinks that rituals have to be big, remarkable, showy and fabulous to be rituals.

Certainly an earnest conversion is never a decision made easy. Among other religions I have been studying Christianity to this day having read parts of the holy bible as well as a lot of other material. Usually I am not going to church for services, but am baptized since early childhood. What weighs heavily for the majority is really the important command you cited (Put no other Gods before me). Eventually it stands or falls on that. Some things in Christianity I can stand for, others are out of the question. As a whole I cannot call myself a devout Christian.

So with reference to the above-named aspects the year and the day in Wicca does make sense.

Your family history sounds so wonderfully nonconformist. I wonder how it feels growing up like that. The way you came to your rituals and ceremonies is intriguing. Dreams are known for their special significance. I myself am a busy dreamer remembering most of the content after waking up.

Thank you for the exemplary comparison with Artemis.

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