Posted in Goth, left hand path, witchcraft

Polishing My Witchcraft Path – A Journey

8d2d8af208fa60baa28c3bc381547932It’s no secret to anyone who has read my blog that I have struggled with my spiritual path. In fact, I decided to walk away from the blog for a bit to quietly contemplate what it was that A) I really wanted in a path, and B) what path could I realistically live, on a day to day basis. The two can’t be mutually exclusive. You can have grandiose plans to celebrate a path daily, or envision a path you might like to live, but actually doing so is often a difficult task.

When I weighed those factors, and I looked within to see what was really there, these descriptors came to mind most often:  Witchcraft, Wicca, Left Hand Path, New Age practices and a goth outlook. Some thoughts on that follows:

Wicca is a distinct path, albeit fairly eclectic these days. It’s probably a disservice to the Wiccan religion to stretch it’s description to encompass all those aforementioned practices. It is, however, the foundation upon which my path is built. That is why it is so difficult to move past that witchcraft path description.

Witchcraft is, of course, a practice, using magical techniques to effect change. A witch need not be religious at all to practice witchcraft. Or a witch could be a non-Pagan and practice witchcraft, such as a Christian witch. That seems like a difficult dichotomy to traverse, but I know people do it.

Moving on to the Left Hand Path, a trickier subject. I was pulled toward that path, beginning in 2008. I’ve had forays into chaos magick, Luciferianism & to a far lesser and shorter experience, Theistic Satanism.  I’m well aware that the mention of the latter two are of concern to some. Please understand these paths have nothing to do with evil. Unfortunately, there are those who use those paths as an excuse for hatred and criminal behavior, which I find deplorable.

I find that Luciferianism is a path of empowerment and of nonconformity. To be honest with you, I’m rather tired of all the “experts” telling me how to be a Wiccan or what I might be doing incorrectly. It sometimes seems that some people who have come to Wicca from other religions have brought along their concepts of dogma, hierarchy, and non-individualism.

Chaos magick is intriguing because it offers the opportunity to practice all paths. Essentially, the premise of chaos magick is to have no belief until you find a certain belief beneficial. Then you adopt that belief system, use it until you have achieved a desired result, then cast aside that belief. The belief system you choose can be an established one, or one you invent. The system itself is secondary to your belief in the system.

A motto used in chaos magick is, “nothing is true, everything is permitted.” Belief is fleeting, but can be used when necessary to affect the mind to achieve a desired result. Then the belief is discarded.

The primary difficulty of chaos magick is deprogramming the mind. Absolute belief is only necessary for a specific purpose. Most people need a belief system, which is why chaos magick is so challenging. It is said that this path can cause mental breakdowns.

The last practice I mentioned was New Age. Many witches will say that New Age practices aren’t part of witchcraft. However, actions speak louder than words. Reiki, meditation, mindfulness, incense, crystals, stones, herbs, essential oils, and so many other techniques used by witches bleed over into New Age practices. I’m listening to New Age music as I write this.

I also mentioned goth. The word conjures up images of angst ridden teens wearing black. I get that. But I, and legions of others, see it having by a deeper, more far reaching meaning in the witchcraft world. For me, witchcraft bubbled to the surface the fact that I am an empath. I absorb the problems of others. I am entrenched in the darkness of others all the time. If I can’t live with that darkness, if I’m always fighting it, I will lose my sanity. So I embrace the darkness. So much so that it bleeds over into my life, in my tastes in art, decor, sex, literature, music, and life outlook. I see the beauty in aspects of life often avoided by others at all costs. If I struggle to be in the light all the time, depression is sure to ensue.

I’d like to say, and often have said, that I’m a carefree hippie. I dress like one. But the fact of the matter is that I need to embody the goth outlook on life to survive.

So where does this leave me? The one certainty I can point to is that I am, and always will be, a witch. It is where the universe has seen fit to place me. To paraphrase Fairuza Balk in the film The Craft, “I am the weirdo.” It is the perfect path for expressing my uniqueness.

Secondly, I’m firmly, and irrevocably entrenched in a goth outlook and lifestyle. I simply need to stop questioning and doubting it. It is what it is.

As far as what kind of witch I am. Well that’s a bit more difficult. I’m not strictly a chaos magick witch, but I do use some of the techniques of that path.

I would say that I’m a Left Hand Path witch. I am largely outside conventional societal norms, and my path is free of dogma. I, unlike a growing number of Pagans and witches, have no desire or need to be “the same as everyone else.”  I will tell people who ask that I’m Pagan, but I’ll keep the witch part to myself, thank you. To me, that seems to give me a degree of empowerment.

It’s taken 13 years, and a lot of personal emotional carnage to arrive at this destination. Interestingly, blogging has been somewhat detrimental to getting here. There are times when I’ve blogged, I’ve held back, wanting to appeal to the greatest number of people, while worrying that I won’t be perceived as fairly “normal.” I’ve finally come to the conclusion that there really is no normal in this world.

I’m contemplating a reversion to a Craft name I used when I was practicing chaos magick. Having a bit of Latin in school, I found Nocturnus Veneficus appealing and rather appropriate. It seems to reflect what I’ve laid out here better than Patchouli Sky. I’ll think about it.

Sorry this was so long. It was a post that came tumbling out this morning at 3AM, and after polishing, ended up at a length I don’t normally create.

I’d be happy to hear your thoughts, and I hope you will continue to enjoy the blog. Sorry for the disruption in posts, but sometimes you have to step back and take a breath.

Blessed Be.

Posted in Paganism, Wicca

The Devil Within Witchcraft

0dc3029ac9832b535f56ee8ecb361f77I came across this blog post the other day, and I’ve been meaning to write about it. The author writes his own blog, writes for Patheos, and does a good amount of YouTube vlogging. I especially enjoyed his video in which he interviewed his mother about her feelings of having a son who practices witchcraft. Both he and his mom seem to be very pleasant people.

The post is about witches working with “the devil.” His contention is that there is a growing trend in the witchcraft community to cease efforts to have witchcraft be seen as “socially acceptable,” which has encouraged more witches to experiment with practices that are, or have been considered, “taboo,” while seeking “historically authentic” witchcraft practices. Folklore, and whatever written history of witchcraft exists, is rife the witches interaction with the devil.

Reading the article, you find that the author is absolutely not talking about Satanism. He  describes what he believes constitutes the devil, a collective representation of old Pagan gods and goddesses who have been largely demonized by Christianity.

We all seem to need to put a human face to our deities, and I’m not much of an exception. The deities I find representative of “the devil” are Lucifer and Lilith. While many people see them as individual deities on their own, I see them as collective representations of deities that many people identify as “darker deities.” The thing is, I’ve found that the darker a deity is perceived, the more that deity represents independence, free thought, individualism, open sexuality, and the lessening of societal norms. If that sounds a lot like a left-hand path, I guess it probably is just that. I think that generally, most witches lean toward that path, because we don’t generally like to follow, we like to lead.

Because of the push to normalize witchcraft, and make it more palatable to the general public, we have indeed sanitized it. Instead of a wild path, it has been portrayed as “witches are just like you.” Well, no, but oh how people have tried. At times, it seems like witchcraft, and yes, Wicca is often blamed for this, to be Christianity with different/more gods.

That perception is the fuel that fires more and more witches to seek out more “authentic” witchcraft practices. I’ve noticed a heightened awareness and interest in working with herbs, essential oils, and low witchcraft practice. Formal ritual practice seems to be giving way to everyday witchcraft, such as cottage, green, and kitchen Craft. However, there also seems to be an uptick in witches working the “hedge,” making spirits a bigger part of their practice. This is more ritualistic than the aforementioned Craft paths, but relies less on having to have lots of tools and rules. Rather, trance work and meditation are employed.

While I haven’t really identified my dark deities as the devil, I suppose they are similar to what the author is describing. These deities promote the wildness of the path, the enjoyment of breaking societal norms, practicing a more adventurous sexuality, getting down and dirty with the earth, and with the locality of our place on the earth.

There is, no doubt a darker side to these deities. They push us to embrace the darker aspects of our soul. For me, they force me to face my depression, to look at it, dismantle it, examine it, and even embrace it. These are not deities like Jesus, who encourage you to toe the line in order for a prize at the end of your life. These are deities who want you to take life by the tail, and work the hell out of it in the here and now. That is the prize they offer.

I will be honest with you. Although I was drawn to the likes of Lucifer and Lilith within a few years after I began practicing witchcraft, I was hesitant, and even frightened of working with them. Like most people, I was so accustomed to seeing Hollywood’s representation of a dark deities, doing horrific things. Eventually, I realized that Hollywood was simply playing off the teachings of Christianity, which created a demonic presence, one so horrific, that the flock would do anything the church said to keep from encountering such a beast.

The devil that the author wrote about in his post, and the deities that appeal to me, aren’t that malevolent beast, not the Christian Satan. Rather, they are deities who offer independence, deities who show the fruits of the earth and life, while making you look inward, sometimes to the darker aspects of your own life, for your own benefit.

Are these deities, or this devil real or simply archetypes? That’s for each person to decide for themselves.

Blessed Be!