Posted in Cottage Witchcraft, Everyday Life, magick, witchcraft

Witchcraft Authenticity

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In browsing the internet this morning, I came across this article about navigating your way through spiritual enlightenment. I’m usually wary of articles about how to be spiritual, but this one had an authenticity to it I found quite refreshing. In reading it, I first thought I was stuck between the healing and life purpose phases that the author describes, which deflated me quite a bit. I mean, I’ve been on this path since 2004! Certainly, I’ve made it farther than that.

As I read on, I saw the paragraph on grounding, and I realized that was the step that has alluded me. The author writes that this step helps to control your emotions, which is something that certainly would be useful to me.

I kept going back to the life purpose step. At first, I thought that meant I should have discovered some fantastic purpose to my life, something that is life-shockingly amazing. Upon further thought, it occurred to me that rather than find some new life purpose, witchcraft has given me a way to strengthen the life I was leading.

I’m a stay-at-home husband. In the past, that’s been difficult to convey, because it flipped societal norms. Yet, it frees my spouse to concentrate on a job that is stressful, but lucrative. So, I had to reshape my ego to fit into a plan that was right for us.

What has escaped my logic until now, was that witchcraft strengthened my ability to take care of our family. In the past, I was looking at witchcraft as some kind of personal enlightenment, affecting only me. The reality is that most of what I have learned as a witch has practical use on a day to day basis.

I learned about clearing the space of our home, whether it be from residual anger from some disagreement, from lingering illness energy, or just setting a mood of serenity. I learned all about essential oils. At first, I used them just for ritual, but quickly found their usefulness in both household and personal care situations. I was able to rid our home of nasty chemicals, in favor of herb and oil creations. It led to a safer home, and to less money spent on cleaning, health, and beauty supplies.

I could go on about the multitude of connections between keeping a healthy and happy home and the Craft. But let me cut to the chase, and tie this in a bow that supports the title of this post.

At times, I’ve struggled with the validity of witchcraft and magick. I’ve seen magick work mostly on small problems, but I haven’t deluded myself that magick can supernaturally bring you everything you desire. It won’t miraculously cure severe illness, or fix a broken bone. It won’t bring you boatloads of cash, or never-ending happiness or joy.

What witchcraft will do is give you a direction, a pathway to leading a better life. If you choose it to, it will show you some kind of divinity, often it being whatever kind you are able to wrap your mind around. Be that thinking the the deities exist, or that they are simply a part of you. With magick, you can direct your emotions, your mind, your actions to solving issues. Secondly, it is absolutely useful for day to day applications, such as the ones I previously mentions.

I’ve come to accept that I need a belief in the gods and goddesses. It helps me make it through life. Do they actually exist? For me they do. You have to make up your own mind. Witchcraft has shown me that while the deities are there, they do not guide your life, like Judea/Christian belief. That is where magick, and directing your intent come in. Witchcraft is you taking charge of your life, and using various techniques in which to aid you through the business of daily living.

In days gone by, witches were the healers of communities. They learned the properties of herbs, oils, stones, and other natural elements. Their magick was the ability to use that knowledge to aid themselves and others. Sometimes we expect too much of the Craft, thinking it will do more than the universe allows. But if you bring it down to a personal level, you can realize that it is a path, sometimes a spiritual path, that helps you live a better life. If that’s all it is, isn’t that enough?

Posted in Energy/Vibrations, Paganism, witchcraft

Ecstatic Witchcraft

Back on December 2 of last year, I wrote a blog post entitled, Earthen Polytheistic Witchcraft.  In it, I mused about the fact that I had let several spring and summer months go by over the period of years, hibernating in the house, watching the world through our windows. Obviously the onset of winter had me realizing what I had been doing. I spoke about spending lots of time doing assorted witchcraft type of things instead of getting outside and experiencing the natural world.

I wrote about the concept of moving away from formal, rather antiseptic ritual, and adopting a more earthy, shamanistic, polytheistic approach to Paganism and witchcraft. This post came to mind recently, when I realized I was beginning to fall into the same behavior. We’ve had a few wonderful days outside, between monsoon rainy days, and I’ve spent them…yep, inside.

So I’m heading that behavior off at the pass. I began to do some research into shamanistic Paganism and witchcraft. I found two books that appear that they will be helpful finding my way.

The first book, Wild Earth Wild Soul: A Manual For An Ecstatic Cultureappears that it will be more of a Pagan related book, about breaking out of our domesticated lives and rediscovering the earth and our relationship with the land. The second book, Ecstatic Witchcraft,  brings witchcraft into the mix.

I just started reading Wild Earth today, as I ordered that as a Kindle Book. I think that book will serve best as a table setter to Ecstatic Witchcraft, which is being delivered tomorrow. Both books are rather well reviewed.

Obviously, I know about shamanism, and have read about it in the past. There was a period of time when I was looking into Celtic Reconstructionism, and its’ concept of Land, Sea, and Sky appealed to me so much that I have a section in my Book of Shadows devoted to Celtic Recon rituals.

I guess the appeal is getting my hands and feet dirty, not needing a lot of tools and spells, but being able to channel witchcraft through my relationship with the earth.

There is a part of me that feels like this may draw me back into a more natural Wiccan path, and yeah, probably will bring about the re-emergence of hippie me. Honestly, I’m not going to force it any particular way, rather I will let this guide me to where I should be.

Thanks for reading, and blessings to you.

Posted in Paganism, Wicca, witchcraft

Witchcraft Side Effect: Losing Friends

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I’m hoping this will never happen to you, that all your current friends are open minded, and they will be excited that you are going to start practicing witchcraft. But you may be surprised by the reaction of some of them, and you should be prepared for that unfortunate witchcraft side effect.

I started practicing witchcraft after 40, so I was stealth about it. My assumption was that long time friends who knew me as a cynical, largely non-religious person probably wouldn’t get it. Most would think I was nuts. So, other than my wife, I told no one. Except bookstores and Amazon, when I was buying all those witchcraft books!

We redecorated our house, and I set up an altar in a bedroom. When I wasn’t there, my wife showed some of our friends the new decor, and boom, there’s the altar. They asked about it, and my wife casually said I was interested in Wicca. Oh boy.

This reverberated though that friendship circle. At one of our next get-togethers, I could tell there was a different vibe between them and myself. Eventually, a few of our “friends” in that circle stopped inviting us over for parties. The girls all got together as usual, but when it would be couples, we were left out of some gatherings. I vividly remember one time we all were together after that, religion came up, and one person said, “well, he’s apparently a Wiccan now,” in a definitively condescending tone. After that, I didn’t want to be around them either.

Their loss, right? Yes, but that was our social circle, and at midlife, it’s hard to develop new ones. After that, Wicca was never mentioned again around the remainder of the group. Now, over a decade later, I people generally know that I’m Pagan (it says so on my Facebook page), but we leave it at that.

I’ve often said that I am jealous of those that come to Paganism or witchcraft early in life. Those people get to build a life around their path, and friends that they make are often aware from the start that their new friend is a witch. The generation of younger people who come to, or are born into Paganism tend to be very open about it. Because of all the information out there about our paths, today’s youth is much more open-minded, for the most part.

However, there are plenty of exceptions, there are employers scouring your social media, and religious zealots who want to save you. A witch fights a battle against stereotypes, drummed into the public’s head by TV, movies, and churches. Face it, there are lots of people who think of Fairuza Balk flying in a window in “The Craft” when they hear the words witch, Pagan, and Wiccan.

It’s funny how mainstream people love movies like “Practical Magic” or all the Harry Potter movies, or sit and watch TV shows like Buffy, “Charmed,” “The Good Witch,” or the dozens of others, yet look down upon people living a real witchcraft life, with none of the theatrics you find in TV or movies.

So take this as a caveat. If you are new to, or interested in witchcraft, there will be people who don’t like it. Some friends who you might have thought were open minded might surprise you by their reactions. There is a good chance you will lose a friend or two. Hopefully, this won’t happen to you, but I think it’s best to be prepared for the possibility.

I wish you the best.

Blessings!

Posted in Hippie, Wicca

Hippie Wicca!

IMG_2379This will be the last post regarding the direction of my witchcraft spiritual path. As I alluded to in my post on the 17th, despite what spiritual path I may envision for myself in my mind, when the rubber meets the road, Wicca seems to be the best fit for me. As I said, it is the cream that rises to the top.

Over the course of the last few days, I’ve been reading a lot of the Wicca and witchcraft books I read when I started in 2004. And to be honest with you, Scott Cunningham still resonates deeply with me, 13 years later.

One Cunningham quote that really stood out for me was this:

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I remember reading that all those years ago, and was kind of surprised by it at the time. I had always associated witchcraft & magick with the supernatural. And here was a well known Wiccan author telling me that magick is natural, of the earth, of our own ability to somehow peacefully move energy about, in order to create change. No lightning bolts from the deities, nobody granting us the ability to do so. Just us and nature.

There have been so many times that I’ve lost sight of that. I can get caught up in sigils, light and dark deities, left and right hand paths, and a possible supernatural realm, that I  forget that I’ve surrounded myself with crystals, stones, essential oils, herbs, and resins. All naturally occurring items that can aid in that energy movement.

Then there is the great outdoors. Yesterday was a lovely day outside. What did I do? Sit inside working on technical rituals and reformulating my path. Things that needed to be done, but not necessarily just then. I suspect Cunningham would have gone out and sat under a tree.

Scott Cunningham, was not the only author whose works called to me. However, he was the author who provided a genteel Wiccan practice. A practice that I happily followed for four years, before thinking there were surely better, or more sophisticated ways to be a witch. I was truly joyful during those early years. Sure, I might have not gotten every technique correct, or done everything exactly so. But you know what? There is no exact, correct technique. Every author whose book you read, every “expert” on the internet have their own way of living as a witch. If you learn the basics, get familiar with all the tools available to you, then it is time to put your own spin on a magickal path.

So I’ve chosen to try to rekindle those early days. My Wicca may not be Raymond Buckland’s, or Janet Farrar’s, or anyone at Patheos Pagan’s portal, nor is it exactly Cunningham’s Wicca, but it is the Wicca I feel most comfortable with, and one that I can live on a daily basis.

The early days were played out in a hippie/earthy way. I grew up in the 60’s & 70’s, and embodied a youthful hippie life, until I went to college and became an 80’s Me Generation dickhead. But Wicca brought back those early hippie days, and truthfully, it improved my life. So the goth me will get set aside, and I’m letting the hippie back in.

So that’s it. My last flip/floppy post about my path direction. Done. From now on, it will be musings about Wicca, magick, everyday life, and witchcraft. The drama ends here.

Thanks for reading, for watching this public mental battle play out. Hey, at least it goes to show I’m not one of those self-proclaimed “experts,” who claim to know everything there is about the Craft, and exactly how you should do things. I’m struggling right along with everybody else.

Blessed Be!

*The photo at the top of the post is my minimalistic Wiccan altar set up. It’s been a long time since I had an altar without black candles! I’m going to do a self dedication, or rededication, at the new moon.

 

Posted in Goth, Hippie, Wicca, witchcraft

Witchcraft Philosophy vs Practicality 

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Lots of highfalutin rhetoric in the post on the 14th. I was reading that post when I woke up at 2:30 AM, thinking it felt like I had been asleep for days. In actuality it was 4 & 1/2 hours. I’m pretty sure I was a vampire in a previous life…..

Anyway, as I read that post, I was thinking back on this past couple of weeks. I’ve been under the weather for over a month now. I’ve spent the good part of a day in bed several times over the last 10 days.

It’s been a frustrating time. It has brought on a couple of near emotional breakdowns. Not really from the illnesses themselves, but the frustration of not being able to get well, and feel like I’m a part of the world.

So I was contemplating the spiritual actions I’ve taken over the course of this illness. They have included:  reconstruction of my Wiccan altar and a formal ritual, with a circle casting, a magical working to drive away my illness, complete with prayers to Isis & Osiris.

I began meditating again, in full force, using guided chakra cleansing for healing, and meditation designed to connect with your Goddess. You go into that meditation without any particular goddess in mind, and see who comes to you in that meditation. The goddess that came to me? Hestia, virgin goddess of hearth & home.

I’ve also listened to hours and hours of New Age music, specifically that of the healing and relaxation kind.

I’ve spent a good deal of time talking to the God & Goddess, you know, the Wiccan kind. My theory is that witches don’t ask deity to answer prayers, rather we perform spells. But I did ask for strength to heal. These are the two recitations I said, and continue to say each morning & night:

May the power of the One, the Source of all creation, all pervasive , omnipotent, eternal; may the Goddess, Lady of the Moon, and the God, horned hunter of the sky; may the powers, Spirits of the Quarters, rulers of the elemental realms; may the powers of the stars above, and the earth below, bless this place, this time, and I, whom are with you.

Lady and Lord, Earth and Sky, the Laws of Nature I will abide. Thank you for allowing me to understand your ways. Thank you for the strength and guidance you give me each day. Accept this token of thanks, for it is given in perfect love and perfect trust.

Decidedly Wiccan, wouldn’t you say? So what gives? I write a whole post about being all Left Hand Path-ish, devoted to Lilith, and being goth. But then, in practice, during a most desperate and stressful time, where do I go? Right back to Wicca, that’s where.

Obviously, this is where my spiritual trust lays. When shit gets real, I’m not invoking Lilith, or relying on the LHP. And the meditation & chakra thing? More hippie than goth..

In life, there is the philosophical, then there is the practicality of living life everyday. It appears that there is a part of me that craves the darkness, perhaps even needs it at times. Yet, when spirituality is put into action, when something needs to be dealt with, its back to the hippie Wiccan.

So which witch am I? You might say these are different aspects of my psyche. While that may be true, doesn’t actual witchcraft practice demand a choice? Doesn’t one aspect of deity need to be chosen and honored daily?

Perhaps Hecate should be my patron deity. I’m at the frigging crossroads enough!!

The one thing that does occur to me is that I might be having difficulty separating lifestyle from spirituality. Obviously, I have a duality of goth and hippie going on, and I think that’s ok. Simply two aspects of my personality. But when it comes to putting spirituality into action, Wicca appears to be the cream rising to the top.

Maybe the true test is to think about what spiritual direction I would choose on my deathbed…..

Blessed Be

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 Depression, Paganism, Wicca, witchcraft

Never mind – A Witch Freaks Out 

So yesterday’s post might have had more to do with frustration, anxiety, and my immune system crapping out on me with another arthritic flare-up. It was one of those posts you write, then sit on a day or two, reflecting on your feelings, then usually end up deleting. Ugh!

Thanks to all the people who DM’ed me on Twitter! I was amazed at that, and yes, you talked me down off the roof. Blessings to you guys.

I bare my soul here, and on my witchcraft Twitter & Google+ accounts. Honestly, I really think I would have to hold back if I simply used my mundane accounts. As many pointed out to me, this is a form of therapy, as well as exchanging ideas with like-minded people.

And (this really was a valuable nugget someone brought up) this is not leading two lives. Rather, it is about sharing an interest, a lifestyle, with those that understand and can relate. If I posted witchcraft related stuff on my mundane social media accounts, it would largely fall on deaf ears. Here, and on my other Craft accounts, I have a community of fellow Pagans, witches, and those who may just simply be interested in those topics.

I may get frustrated with my path. I may have periods of disinterest or inactivity. But I think I would miss it dearly if I walked away from Wicca. Honestly, it’s tough being on a self starter spiritual path. Mainstream religious people have entire congregations to give them support. Most of us do not, which can make it difficult to stay the path every single day.

So disregard my last post. I was going to take it down, but I think it can help others see that even someone who has been on this path for over a decade can freak out about it every so often.

So I beg your indulgence, and appreciate you being here. And again, thanks to those that contacted me. It was so kind of you, and you led me to the light!

Peace, and Blessed Be.