Take a moment today to feel your religion. Notice the Gods in your life and meditate on how you interact with them. Do you petition time after time, or do you pause to listen and reflect? Are you taking the time to let them know you are grateful and reciprocate their love and attention?
Even if it is something as simple as sitting in the cool breeze, sun or moonlight on your face, offer a quick word of thanks and feel the touch of the divine. It is helping ,e get through some rough times of doubt and fear, it will do wonders for you as well.
I was not born into witchcraft, and neither of my parents shows any innate ability for clairvoyance, spell craft or really anything outside of being spectacularly good at watching reality television, but hey, they love it and I love them. Unlike a lot of my contemporaries, I cannot trace my own private witch lineage back generations to an aunt who was burned at the stake.
My witchcraft had to be learned and earned. Does that make it any worse than what some call a “hereditary witch”? Not at all, it also makes it no better. It just makes it different. Any witch who realizes that they are in touch with the divine, celebrates the Goddess and the Gods in some way, follows the cycles of nature and uses spell work to better their own goals is my sister or brother in the craft, no matter what their tradition or lineage.
Of course, I am not saying that being proud of your magical lineage is a bad thing. Not at all, by any means. I have a damn fine magical lineage that stretches back some time and through multiple generations. I hope that someday a fine witchling may count me in their magical heritage, but I am a bit off topic here.
Honestly, what makes a witch and how does one become a witch? There are many paths to the craft, normally called traditions; British traditional, eclectic, solitary, faerie, Dianic to name a few of the more Wiccan oriented traditions. You also have the druids, the heathens, and on and on. I am not intending to leave out anyone but I think you will agree that there are too many to list. One common item is that all of these groups are pagan. A wise person told me once that:
“All Wiccans are pagan but not all pagans are Wiccan”
That holds one-hundred percent true. The same could be said of any path.
For me, my journey began many years ago when I realized I did not feel the lure of the Christian God. I loved the ceremony and the guilt that comes with Christianity, but I did not feel the God in prayer or in my life; I was faithless worshipper of a god I could not feel. A young lady introduced me to Wicca and it made sense. I immediately felt a kinship with the Goddess and the moon and the trees. Here was a higher power that I could see, smell, hear and feel every moment of every day. I conversed freely and with a whole heart. I went about learning all I could from books, but too afraid and unknowing to seek out a spiritual guide or coven and eventually realized I was like a dangerous animal off of a leash when my first spell work went so right in so many wrong ways and I fell of the WiccanWagon.
Fast forward through many years of searching, reading and still hearing that still small voice in the sky calling me to 2015 when I ‘lucked’ into finding an advertisement on Facebook for Wicca classes by Inner Circle Sanctuary. “Come take first degree classes” the ad said. Sounds great! I thought, no idea what that means, but sounds like a plan.
An interview and a little more than 16 months of intensive collegiate style study, I recently initiated as a first degree witch and priest in the craft. I mentioned the intensive study, correct? I was very fortunate that I found Inner Circle in many ways. I went about the physical search wrong and have learned some things I’d like to share, but before I do, I cannot stress how much my path was guided by the Goddess to put me into the way of these outstanding and fine teachers and witches; unfortunately there are a lot of people who make their way in this world taking advantage of young witches-to-be like I was. If you are searching to join classes or a group, I recommend some of the following steps:
Mediate and research what kind of pagan or witchcraft tradition you feel is right. There are so many paths. Get off Google and actually reach out to some local groups through your local occult shop or witchvox.com to name a few ideas and see if they allow visitors to their celebrations to see what speaks to you. Go to the library and read about the traditions
The group in the tradition you have selected should demand a meeting and learning about you before they allow you to start classes or tutelage. This process goes both ways, ask for a meeting and let them know you. Be honest, magic without honesty is bullshit. Ask questions of them, “How long have you been a group”, “How many members”, “Do I have to eat babies”. Ask if you can meet a newer student for their thoughts. They may or may not let you, but you can ask
Find out all you can about the group in advance. Do they celebrate naked? Is that an issue for you? Do they use practices or craftwork you are uncomfortable with inherently?
Understand as much as you can about your tradition before you start. For example, in my tradition – sex is holy. Now that doesn’t mean we run around boning each other, it means we celebrate both the physical duality of human/divinity (called polarity) and we totally understand that the physical act of sex can be an awesome celebration of that power
If you find you have issues, keep looking. Do not “settle”. You must feel relatively safe in order to perform magic and act in ritual
Ask questions, questions, questions
Ask if there are fees and what type of time commitment this is in reality
Ask if the group is active in the larger community both spiritual and mundane. Witches and pagans should be involved locally as much as they are comfortable with
These are just some of the questions I wish I would have asked back in August 2015, but I didn’t and I really was fortunate to find the path I was made to walk. I could go on for days about how wonderful this group and my tradition are. In fact Inner Circle Sanctuary is currently holding interviews for potential students; click this link if you are interested.
The point is, you may or may not have been born into the craft, but the people you chose to work your tradition with (and yes, that means solitary), will become your family. Like all family there will be tension, anger, resentment; but mostly there will be love, and laughter and outstanding joyous celebration of the craft and each other.
It has been a trying couple of weeks for a lot of people. Make that a trying year, as the U.S. Elections have wrapped up. I do not want to take any political stand in this forum, but I want to make some commentary to put this in frame of mind when I look back. My candidate did not win. I was saddened, I am disheartened more by the folks who did not vote for whatever reason they chose, that may have caused the election to go a different way, and I am mostly saddened by the existing gulf in this country between those that are one one-side of a fence or another, and the growth of that gap.
I recently saw a hashtag, that like some others, feel should go viral. #pagansshouldknowbetter was used by a friend of mine, someone I respect within the pagan community. This resonates with me in that our community, our religion as a whole, has been persecuted and is such that we cannot speak a lot of what we view as pagans as holy within the light of day at work, school, etc. If anyone SHOULD know better, it is us. We should stand united in at the very least the compassion, the hope and the kindness we share with each other if not the political view.
I have seen many supposed leaders in my pagan community post, say and do things that are so far outside of what I consider human decency that it is off the radar of even pagan kindness. I have been privy to cyber bullying in the form of mocking and out and out threats. #pagansshouldknowbetter
It is only going to become more difficult for us as pagans to worship openly, as this coming administration has been outspoken again those who are not of the WASP majority. As this world has gotten much more difficult to live in openly with regard to religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, age and physical attributes, it is going to take a lot to come together to work through this. I do not have the answer; I have to look my kids in the face and tell them, “I do not know when it’s going to change”. But I believe it begins with hope. This is a quote from Walter Anderson:
“True hope dwells on the possible, even when life seems to be a plot written by someone who wants to see how much adversity we can overcome. True hope responds to the real world, to real life; it is an active effort”
Hope alone without action is dream. Dreams do nothing but make you feel good. Hope with action is success. We can hope for a better future. A lot of us are overwhelmed right now and have no clue what action to take. I always will say that getting in touch with the divine is the first step. Make sure your house is in order before you try to change the world, always start with your own “cup”; otherwise it is misguided hope and dreams.
Once you have your house in order, there are a lot of things you can still do to make this world better both politically and outside of that mess. First, register to vote and then read up on the issues within your own community first and vote to make change there. Come November 2018, you will have a voice on a national level as it will be the next chance to vote your conscience in the congressional and senate elections; this is big, as congress is where policy lives or dies.
Outside of the world politic you can visit the aged or infirm and let them know that people care. You can help some kids as a mentor in their school or sport. You can ALWAYS serve meals in your local food bank and rescue mission (I have NEVER been turned away). Knot a sweater and give it to someone. Cook a meal for a friend. CALL YOUR FAMILY.
I can go on, there are a million small ways we can make a difference in someone’s life and if enough of us work to better ourselves, better our neighbors – then this outpouring will roll like a tide across this country and it won’t matter who is president, we will finally be on the path that Star Trek has been promising me for the last thirty years.
I finally experienced my first ‘lucid dream’, or at the very least an enhanced normal dream last night. Fully conscious of the matter and state of the dream I was able to actively participate or become the silent observer as the case may be. There was not a lot of continuity to the dream, but I will share what I can remember and what I wrote.
Before I do, for all transparency, I have experimented with working to enhance my dreams as I feel I am not someone who dreams a lot, or if I do, I do not have dream recall like some people I associate with or whose books I have read. It takes practice and exercise. Last night was the combination of being dig tired early and a nice, hot cup of Mugwort tea. The tea was unplanned, but I had some digestible Mugwort tea in my larder and as I had just posted about my Mugwort bath for my crystals, it must have been on my mind.
The dream itself was non-linear. It appeared to be shortly in the future; I was still a member of Inner Circle Sanctuary and we were gathering for a Sabbat celebration, or so it seemed. The location of the celebration almost seemed like it was on a military base or near s military reservation as we were outside of a trailer, with netting and boxes all around. But it was not a place that was set up in haste; it felt very much like a safe oasis, a place of familiarity as there were cushions and chairs to sit on, a fire pit pre-dug and carpets to lounge on.
The first odd thing was that there were no members of my current ICS family around. None of the elders or students was there. And as I sat through this point I was observing, but at the same time, the dream me felt a presence he could not see guiding him from his arm and the shadows at the same time. The dreamer me knows now that was myself, my conscience actively participating in the dream It was an amazing odd sensation to feel connected and disconnected at the same time and to be able to willingly guide and be forced to observe at the same time.
For some reason, my sons, Alex and Adam, as well as my parents had flown in. As I was at the Sabbat area, they pulled up in a car and all had a look of sadness, of tears in their eyes and they refused to look at the dream me; that was odd, so my dreaming self-addressed them and they were responding to that version of me, the active me, to which they told me they were happy to be able to visit. They were confused when I asked why they did not acknowledge the dream me and that part frightens me a bit.
Members of Inner Circle began to sit in the celebration area, members I did not know. Some looked like faces I may have seen, some came in regal costumes. One person in particular was a more recent member who is no longer active that I had met once, but do not know very well was drawn to me and was at my side most of the dream.
Then, she came in. From out of the trailer stepped Lady Morgana. My dreaming mind was blown, but the dream me was happy to see her but had expected it. I had met Lady Morgana in the real world on a handful of occasions; I have always felt a deep connection to her even though I did not know her well. From the first moment I met her, I wish I had known her longer. She was wearing a white robe, almost ivory, much fancier than my own in its construction and comfort, trimmed in silver with a headdress that reminded me of the Egyptian scarves worn by men, with black and white alternating lines.
Her face was still the face of age, as old as it was when I knew her, but somehow stronger than I remember or than it should have been. The scars of her age did not show but she exuded more power and strength than she was able to at the end. It was as if she was in the prime of her power if not age. She sat down and immediately smiled to me out of the corner of her mouth and motioned for me to step forward to her. This seemed a normal course of action to me, as if I either expected or had performed this action many times before.
The dream is a bit fuzzy here, but I remember everyone bowing and curtseying while she asked me forward. I came forward and knelt in front of her while she sat. She handed me a die. The kind you buy here in Las Vegas in the gift shops, big and red and with a name on it.
Looking past the kneeling me, she addressed the dreamer.
“Ayden”, she said, “That doesn’t seem right” and she handed the dreamer me the die with my youngest daughters name on it. I replied to her telling me that was my daughter.
“I know that, Mike” she replied in that manner she had with her accent prevailing. Now, as far as I know, she only knew me by my magical name so this was odd, and the fact that she was addressing the version of me that knew I was dreaming and not the dream me kneeling was kind of cool. I looked into her eyes and as overwhelmed with sadness and in her eyes there was comfort.
“I know what it is like to be tired”, she said, and put her hand on the dream me’s head. “But, now we run”.
I have no idea what that last part meant, but I woke right after that and could not get the dream back. Even now as I recall it, I can feel the sadness creeping back, as my eyes begin to tear up at my laptop. I am not an interpreter of dreams but there seems to be so many messages of loss in this dream and it really has affected me. I wonder now if it was a Sabbat at all, as most of the people were those that I did not know and there was such an air of sobriety instead of gaiety. With my family from Salt Lake visiting in the dream and my wife and other three kids not being there, also lends a sadness to the dream.
I am excited that this dream was my first acknowledged foray into the lucid dream world, and I was very excited to see Lady Morgana again. Perhaps my dream was just a dream; perhaps there is a message in there. Right now I do not know, but I wanted to share and get it out so I can revisit again and again. Part of being able to control your dream travels and your own mind is to remember. For me, this post is cathartic as I am able to remove the sadness the dream created by putting it on paper. I know I am not painting a picture here, very well, but I am glad you decided to share this with me.
The full moon, nay, a super moon occurs in Las Vegas Monday the 14th of November at 5:52 AM so that means it is a perfect time to cleanse and charge my crystals and ready them for any spell work or strength I need from them over the next lunar month.
There are many methods of doing this, from the quick dash in consecrated water to burying them in salt; I prefer a nice Mugwort bath and then to charge under the full moon. In my tradition, the 24 hours around the full moon is when it is at is strongest, so for me, I am going to start this tomorrow.
This is a bit of kitchen witchery mixed in with some ritual craft. I will begin the process outside of a ring, but I am also planning on a small full moon ritual Sunday night in private, within my back yard – the crystals will be brought in for this as well.
I like to boil some water and let some Mugwort herb steep for a bit to really infuse the water. I place my crystals in the bath while the water is hot and let then bathe for as long as I feel right. There are a lot of reasons I use Mugwort; from its correspondence to divination and dreaming to the mundane reason that the bathe just purely adds sheen to my crystals. After the bathe, I clean them with rain water that I have collected. Yes, what a Wiccageek, but yes any time it rains strong here in the desert, I try to grab some. It has lent its power to my consecrated water and to cleanse candles and anoint myself. If I find I am out of rain water, a nice rinse with purified water does the trick.
Most of the crystals I have are for divination or protection and since the full moon falls on the day of the moon this month, I cannot think of a more auspicious way to take care of this piece of my tradition. The crystals will sit out Sunday night, from moon rise, through the full moon and into the sun the next morning absorbing all of the energy of both the Goddess and the God.
I do not do a lot of crystal magic, but like all of your tools – you need to take care of them. This is something I do once a month to ensure I am first, attentive to the needs of my tools and second, to live my religion and craft on a cyclic basis, at least the operative side.
I hope this post finds you well, blessed Yule tide and remember that during this waning time of the year, there can be no light without the dark.
It’s Tuesday, day of passion and energy; the day of Mars and Tyr so it is appropriate to talk on this tale today. This year’s commitment to me is to write, write, and write. I use to be so damn creative but then, kids, math. My career in analytics overtook my ability to weave the tapestry of words that I once could and the desire.
I am at fault a lazy mammal. But, over the past year, I have rekindled my love of writing, through essay’s, blog posts on other websites (ahem, Pagan Pride) and just through the encouragement of those that love me.
So this is a short post, hoping to encourage my brain stew to boil over and allow me to post weekly as my Year and a Day project continues well into the rest of my life.
I may not always be funny, or deep, but you can be damn sure I will have something to say weekly.
Have you ever been truly moved? Inspired and or affected by your own bubble n the world being exploded and allowing the rush of the rest of us in?
I was, last night. Let me share that with you.
I was driving and could see the nearly full moon, about three-quarters, through my sun roof. I mean, it was clear as a bell and sitting in her magnificence against a clear dark sky with the planet Mars hovering nearby. The moon was toward the East and the sun had gone down in the West about an hour before, but you could see the transition in the sky still; the inky black of the western night growing to a beautiful glowing ultramarine of the West sky.
As I sat in the parking lot, not wanting to go into the Wal-Mart, the words came to me:
I looked upon the moon, and out loud spoke the words of Drawing down the moon, and felt with such conviction the pull of what was right and what was wrong. I held it in my hands and in my head for as long as I could. I felt love and I felt loved. I looked to the still blue, yet darkening, sky of the east and thought to myself
Shepherd of goats….Lead thy lost flock from darkness unto day
I felt the Horned ones, the sun Gods and the immortal hunters of times past calling to me, and knew that I was becoming one of them, and they were already part of me.
O Queen of space
As I went through the words of the ritual and came to The Great Rite, I was nearly so moved that an audible squeal escaped my throat.
I have said since the beginning of this journey that I am one that did not have a divine calling to find ICS, but rather it seemed a fortunate and serendipitous set of events lead me there. It was amazing though, with the way we can have social media remind us in a moment of our past, how much last year the Goddess called to me and even though I did not recognize it, I acknowledged it for months up to the point where I reached out to ICS.
I did not come to the craft in a series of divine moments or fits of inspiration. I had mine last night, in a Wal-Mart parking lot of all places. As I pondered the Goddess and the moon and the sky and the heat and the summer and my upcoming turn as High Priest. I had my divine moment and was kissed in the heart by Freyja and clapped on the back by Heimdallr and all was so right in my world.