The Term “Fluffy Bunny” Must Go

The Term “Fluffy Bunny” Must Go

Author: Praxiteles

I believe that the term “fluffy bunny” is not only not useful or practical, but harmful, and that we should abandon the term.

So, why must “fluffy bunny” go? In my opinion, there are the five main reasons why:

1. The term “fluffy bunny” is itself fluffy bunny.

“Fluffy bunny” is defined variously, but the general notion is that of a person who doesn’t check their facts (or even care about ‘facts’, historical or otherwise); who accepts or dismisses something without critical thought; and who goes around spreading their dogma as if it is the one True Way. The usual example given is of someone who buys one book on the Craft, or several books but all by the same author, and takes this author’s approach and viewpoints as Gospel, and then goes around annoying the heck out of everyone else. When challenged or questioned on anything, the “fluffy bunny” can’t defend or explain their position, except with something along the lines of “because so-and-so says so.”

Now I agree that this behavior is rather unimpressive, and that “because so-and-so says so” isn’t any kind of reasoned response or valid argument. However, have you maybe noticed that the same people who throw around the “fluffy bunny” and “fluff” and “nonsense” labels the most are often the very people who can’t explain why a particular author or book or person is so bad, so “fluffy”? Instead of taking the trouble to back up their assertions with reasons and facts, they just slap on the “fluffy bunny” label and pour on the derision and contempt.

To my mind, this is type of behavior is worse than the behavior being criticized.

Labels and stereotypes are the tools of guilt, shame, manipulation, and domination. They bypass reason and consideration and go straight to an emotional level. No tyrant or demagogue has ever been able to dispense with these tools; no genocide, no atrocity, no war has ever been committed or fought without their help. They stop you from considering the people involved, from thinking of the person, the human being.

Fluffy bunny in drag isn’t any better than fluffy bunny. The website Why Wiccans Suck, for example, isn’t any more thoughtful or profound than that which it attacks. If someone hates someone or something because it is “fluffy bunny”, and when asked for an explanation why can do no better than say, “because it’s fluff and nonsense”, well then, I’m sorry, but I don’t see any essential difference between the behavior they are exhibiting and that which they are attacking.

And supposing that someone can articulate many good reasons why something is bad then why fall back on a crutch, on a label like “fluffy bunny” in the first place? Wouldn’t a paragraph or two of articulate and reasoned criticism be so much better?

2. “Fluffy Bunny” is a straw-man term.

Has anyone ever actually met a fluffy bunny, either in real life or online? Perhaps some people have, but I haven’t! Looking over the more serious definitions of what a “fluffy bunny” is, at, for example, Wicca for the Rest of Us, I can’t see that there could possibly be very many bona fide fluffy bunnies running around out there. And keep in mind that those people who are de facto fluffy bunnies due to ignorance, and who stop being such when confronted with the facts and better information, are not fluffy bunnies.

Fluffy bunnies, according to the definition, are those who ignorantly and stupidly cling to whatever they hold up on a pedestal, regardless of the facts. Now, really, how many of those people have you met?

So, why is this term so prevalent? Is it perhaps because its use makes people feel good because it implies that the user is not a fluffy bunny, is in fact a “real” Witch? A “serious” Witch? I think sometimes this may be the case, or partly the case, and this brings me to my next point:

3. “Fluffy Bunny” is manipulative and plays on the fears and desires of the inexperienced and insecure.

For the record, I include myself here. The stupidest thing I ever wrote online is when I asked for a definition of a “pop Wiccan” because “I didn’t want to be one, ” and knowing what it was would help me from becoming one. But, really, how could I know that I didn’t want to be a pop Wiccan if I didn’t actually know what a “pop Wiccan” was? I couldn’t. It was stupid. Or actually, it was insecure.

I greatly admired (and still admire) the person with whom I was talking, and wanted to avoid what she despised or dismissed. In other words, instead of thinking for myself, I wanted her to think for me. This is not what being a Witch is all about–quite the opposite–regardless of whether the opinion or position was right or wrong.

Witchcraft isn’t about having the “right” opinions, or reading the “right” books, or being taught by the “right” Coven–not if “right” is something you dogmatically and thoughtlessly accept from others.

The widespread use of the term “fluffy bunny” and terms like it, creates an atmosphere of negativity and nastiness, and this atmosphere tends to focus the attention on opinions and positions instead of on process and methods, which help develop discernment and skills.

It’s got a bunch of people out there wasting time trying to avoid being a “fluffy bunny” when they don’t even know what that really is, and could thus only accept the judgments of others on the subject, and hence perpetuate the fluffy bunniness of the term “fluffy bunny.”

Wouldn’t it be better to focus attention instead on learning and progressing? I suggest that maybe the best thing we can do is not to be afraid of being called “fluffy bunny”; not to be afraid of reading a book reputed to be “fluffy bunny”; not to care so much what others opine, but instead to care more about trying to find the truth for ourselves.

I think dialogue is good; discussion is good; considering the thoughts and reasoning of others is good; by all means engage in these activities (as we are right now). But I think that accepting labels and bald dogmatic assertions, even from those with more experience and skill, short-circuits all of these good things.

4. “Fluffy Bunny” is authoritarian.

It seems to me that those who use a label, a stereotype, like “fluffy bunny”, necessarily imply that they are an authority. They are asking you to take their word on something, unless or until they bother to explain the reasoning behind the judgment.

And, please! I am quite sure that there is always someone out there who thinks that you and your way is “fluffy bunny”; always some group ready to look down on the group looking down on a group just finding their way as best they can; always someone ready to point out what you are not, what you have not, where you are unworthy of serious consideration.

Wouldn’t it be better to just stop with all that? Don’t we have better things to do with our time than criticize and condemn and judge others and how they practice? We’re not monotheists! We have no orthodoxy to defend; no Tradition to keep pure and untainted. Can’t we instead use all of that extra energy to strive all the harder to live and practice to the best of our ability?

5. It will hurt your magick.

Or at least it did me. I have found that contempt and disrespect is not something that will enamor my Younger Self to my Talking-head Self. Contempt is spiritual and magickal poison in my experience. It goes hand in hand with skepticism and snobbery.

Obviously, this is only my experience. Test things out (if you haven’t already) and see for yourself. Try for a day, or for 8 hours, to bend your mind to the good in people and situations. Do not indulge in contemptuous or belittling thoughts towards others or yourself. Now cast a circle or do a pathworking or LBRP, or whatever practices you do, and see if you notice a difference. Perhaps you will find that it is easier to reach ritual or magickal states of consciousness. I certainly do.

But, don’t get me wrong here. You don’t have to go around fooling yourself into believing everyone is an avatar of perfection. You don’t have to check your discernment at the door. You just have to avoid holding others in contempt.

So those are my reasons. Perhaps you found them interesting and worth reading, or perhaps not. But either way, I do understand the problems and frustrations behind the widespread use of the term “fluffy bunny.”

I understand that there are plenty of people out there playing at being Witches; dabbling, posturing, looking for instant gratification, and I understand that many serious Witches are concerned that these people drag things down to a lower level and give Witchcraft a bad name, and so on.

I do understand that.

What I don’t understand is why we give them so much thought, and even a stereotype, when instead we could have given their opposite as much or more thought, and held it up as a shining ideal.

Fluffy bunnies are, after all, immune to criticism by definition, right?

In my opinion, it’s better to show what you think is the way forward, and the ideal, than to waste time and thought on where you do not want to go, on what you do not want to be. People will scatter from the latter in every direction. But people will go towards the former from every direction.

So shouldn’t we think about abandoning the term “fluffy bunny” and focus on the opposite?

How about the “sleek raccoon” or something?

Becoming a High Priest/ess

Becoming a High Priest/ess

Author: Valerie Voigt

Beginnings: I practiced for a while as a solitary for some years before beginning training with a family tradition Witch in 1978. She saw to my initiation in 1981 (as an eclectic, albeit with traditional background: this because I was not marrying into her family) . She told me to found a Coven, which I did, with her to guide me. After she crossed over to the Summerland, I later studied the Feri tradition, and was initiated by Victor and Cora Anderson in the mid ’80’s. Feri as I learned it is a non-degree Tradition, though some teachers use a quasi-degree system to give their students training benchmarks. I was initiated into a Gardnerian Coven in the late 80’s, and was raised to 3rd degree in 2008. I’ve been running Covens and/or training circles and/or open circles almost all the time since 1981. I continue to study. I lead the Gardnerian Coven Blackbirds.

In my Covens, we’ve always made a distinction between the High Priest/ess of the Coven itself (that’s an ongoing role with responsibilities to the group, and to the daughter Covens, and to the larger Pagan community) and the High Priest/ess of any particular ritual (that role is temporary and includes responsibility only for running that ritual) . Most of the time, the High Priest/ess of the Coven also High Priest/esses the rituals too; but we do require everyone, as part of their training, to design and perform both private group rituals and semi-public community Sabbat rituals.

One reason for a lot of the confusion over terminology is that the terms “priest/ess” and “high priest/ess” are used in multiple ways even within the older Traditions. To wit:

In most of the British Traditions (which I will, for the purposes of the present discussion, define as the Gardnerian Tradition and those Traditions with a clear genetic relationship to it, e.g., Alexandrian, Mohsian, Silver Crescent, etc.) every First Degree initiate is ritually announced to be a “Witch and Priest/ess.” Why, and what does this mean, exactly?

The “why” is twofold.

Firstly, it makes it harder for someone to infiltrate a Coven for the Inquisition and then turn around, turn the Coven in, and get away without any suspicion from the Inquisitors (after all, if any other spies have happened to see the initiation, it will be harder for someone to talk their way out of an accusation if the spies say, “I saw this person ordained as clergy in this religion!”) . Granted, by the founding of the Gardnerian tradition as we have it now, the Inquisition was no longer the threat it had formerly been (it does still exist–it’s now called the Office for the Defense of the Faith, and the current Pope used to head it–but it is much reduced in power and fame, and has softened its methods) . The British Witchcraft Act, however, had still not been repealed–and the legal implications and practical dangers of being publicly discovered as a Witch were very real, and not funny.

Secondly, and more importantly these days, as a Priest/ess you are directly responsible for continuing to pursue your own spiritual development, for listening to the Gods (not just praying to them or asking for Their help) , and for taking control of your own life and accepting and dealing with whatever responsibilities the Gods send.

It is in this latter sense that the widespread idea that “Every Witch (or even every Pagan) is a priest/ess” is true. In a way, “priest/ess” is a courtesy title, given to remind the newly initiated Witch of their responsibility–it does not qualify one to lead a group. It does, however, give notice of the responsibility to fulfill whatever obligations may arise (for example, in time of need, the person might have to step up to higher responsibilities in full knowledge of their own weaknesses) . In such cases, when the person shoulders such responsibility honestly and without pretension, the Gods always provide Their help.

As to what it means:

A First Degree initiate should, at least nowadays, be competent to perform their own rituals, on their own behalf–an activity that requires the basic priestly knowledge of how ritual works, including whatever details are required within their Tradition.

Likewise, in some of these same British Traditions, every Second Degree initiate is ritually announced to be a “Witch and High Priest/ess.” Again–why, and what does this mean, exactly?

There is some “courtesy” aspect to the title, as a Second Degree is not expected, routinely, to lead a Coven. Nonetheless, a Second Degree is expected to be able to lead rituals for the Coven. That is, s/he is able to competently fulfill the ritual role (if not necessarily the administrative, counseling, etc. etc. roles) of a Coven leader. If the regular High Clergy of the Coven must be absent for any reason, it falls to the ranking Coveners (who are typically Second Degree) to carry out the ritual duties. In some cases, a Second Degree will actually lead a Coven (normally under the guidance of the High Priest/ess of the parent Coven) –in this case, “High Priest/ess” is no longer a courtesy title!

Even in these British Traditions, however, the word “High Priest/ess, ” used in normal conversation, refers to a permanent Coven leader, who is always Third Degree.

Because, traditionally, Wiccan clergy are unpaid, most of us have full-time jobs that are not connected with religion–we are secretaries, engineers, factory workers, or whatever. Therefore, in most cases we have not had professional clergy training aside from what our own Elders, with the same limitations, were able to teach us. So, typically only the independently wealthy among us have the leisure to pursue a full-time ministry, or the professional training that allows them to do most aspects of the job well. How many independently wealthy Pagans do you know? I thought so.

As a result, our High Clergy usually have to specialize in only one or two of the jobs clergy are expected to do: administration, ritual, counseling, theurgy, thaumaturgy, teaching, herbology, divination, interfaith work, writing, public speaking, outreach, theology, social work–there’s probably a lot more. We simply do not have the time and resources to be good at more than a small subset of these tasks. Few Craft clergy are good at most of these–and almost all those with deep expertise in many of them have very gray hair, because they have had to learn by long years of experience. It’s not that our own teachers were lacking: but often their own talents were different from ours, so most of us have had to supplement our in-Coven training with outside studies. Sometimes we have the good fortune to learn from several different Craft teachers (I have been incredibly lucky in this regard) . Usually we have to supplement our training in other ways, such as by attending sessions at conferences such as PantheaCon, or taking evening classes in a specialty such as counseling.

The point I’m making here is that even talented, very well-trained Traditional High Priest/esses aren’t usually good at all of the tasks we associate with the job.

In less traditional Covens (including most of the eclectic ones I have known) , the title “High Priest/ess” is still usually given to a Coven leader. In those Covens that adhere to a strictly non-hierarchical approach, the term may not be used at all, or sometimes the term will be used only in its ritual sense–that is, ritual responsibilities are rotated amongst all the Coven members, and whoever is in charge of a particular ritual is “High Priest/ess” for the duration of that ritual only.

(This last use of the term “High Priest/ess” is startling to most Traditionalists, who, as Mike Nichols puts it, “would no more rotate the position of High Priestess in their Coven than they would rotate the position of mother in their family.”)

Like many others here, I have run into my share of kids who have read one book, have adopted a Craft name such as “Merlin” or “Ain Soph” (yes, really!) , and are running around calling themselves High Priest/ess. I usually manage to keep a straight face.

Unless there is good reason, I don’t confront them about it–and if I must confront them, I usually do so indirectly. For example, if I am at a gathering and some clearly unqualified self-appointed “High Priest/ess” is gathering a group of naive prospective students around his/herself–prospective students whom, according to my understanding of my Oaths, I must protect insofar as I can–I join the conversation and ask some question. For example, “How do you feel that elemental correspondences are affected by local geography?” or “How do you approach invocatory Work in your Tradition?” I continue the conversation until the pretender has clearly revealed him/herself. I never say, “You don’t have a clue!” because I don’t have to: they show it. And I don’t scold–there’s no need to humiliate anyone. They just need to be given pause to consider the need to learn more.

Most of the time, though, the Gods seem to take care of it. How? Well, if the person is just clueless and seeking ego-strokes, They usually provide the person with some embarrassing experience (such as freezing up in a group ritual, having to consult their one book, and discovering that the answer they need is not in the book) . On the other hand, if underneath the ego-indulgence the person really has the potential, sometimes the Gods simply dump a lot of responsibilities on the person and force them to handle the situation! I myself have seen this happen. In such cases, I encourage more experienced Coven leaders to give careful and discreet help to the chagrined-but-suddenly-serious person who is trying to be responsible. Why? Because there are far too many more Pagan seekers trying to find teachers than there are qualified teachers to teach them–and if the Gods show me someone who is truly and honestly trying to step up to the plate, it is my duty to help if I can.

I normally do not encourage teens to jump into the Craft, because serious pursuit of Craft studies requires so much time and energy: youngsters should be out having fun, discovering their identities, and exploring a lot of different things. So I tell them they should read widely, be careful, and check back as adults if they are still interested. But teenagers are not automatically unqualified to study, or even to lead a Coven: one Craft Elder for whom I have always had great respect first learned the Craft as a teen in the 1940’s, in an all-teen Coven led by a teenaged brother-sister pair. When the teenaged coveners had questions, the High Priest and High Priestess sometimes didn’t know the answers and had to go ask their parents–who were High Priest and High Priestess of a traditional Coven.

Likewise, I suspect that my own two daughters, who both grew up in the Craft, could readily run Covens: one is now 25, and the other is 19. But both, having seen for themselves how much work is involved, have so far declined.

I never sought to be a High Priestess–I had expected to simply be a quiet Pagan who did supportive behind-the-scenes work. And if I had known how much work (both in the sense of magical/spiritual Work and elbow-grease-type work) was involved, I probably would have run screaming–at least until the Gods dragged me back. Because if They want you, you don’t, in the end, have much choice about it!

To have the title of High Priest/ess, all you have to do is call yourself one. To actually be a High Priest/ess, you have to do the work. The title, by itself, isn’t a goal; at best, it’s really just a side effect.

Blessed Be!

Coven Life: The Tie That Binds

Coven Life: The Tie That Binds

Author: Aconite Caotix

I’m sure that many people wonder what it is like to be in a coven. To some, it is their goal to find that special group of people that you can share your magickal journey with and have that bond of love and trust that only seems to be in such a tight knit group of people. This essay is to serve as a warning to those that feel that they NEED to be in a coven, grove, or circle to further themselves spiritually. Yes, there are many lessons to learn in such a group, but they might not all be ones that you want to learn the way they are taught to you.

When I first came to Wicca, I was what you might call a “lost soul”. I was seeing a counselor for depression, and one of the things that we came up with that was leading to my depression was a lack of belonging to any spiritual group. I was your typical “seeker”, and ripe for anyone to pick. So I met a very charismatic gentleman at a Pagan Meetup, and he said that he was starting a coven. My eyes lit up when he said the word. It was the very reason I was there! But you know the saying, “Be careful what you wish for…”

Things were great the first few years. I was getting the teaching that I had always wanted, and even though there was a lot of work on my part involved, I believed that it was all worth the effort, and that I was serving the gods. I’m not going to go into my whole history with the coven, but I will get right to the point of this essay and that is that the leaders of the coven were not all that they originally seemed to be. What seemed to be a nice, nurturing, couple turned out to be people that were selfish, dishonest, and willing to do whatever they had to and use whoever they had to in order to get what they wanted or feel that they deserved out of life.

For the whole ten years of my time with them, I was a servant. Sure, they called me their friend, and even went so far as to call me family, but I was to them whatever they needed me to be for their own purposes at the time. When the High Priest was lonely for company, I was his best friend. When they needed money, I was family. When they needed someone to move furniture, I was the subordinate doing their part to help their elders. They even coerced me into getting a cell phone JUST so they could get a hold of me whenever they needed to.

Now some of you might be reading this and think, “Hold on! You weren’t in a coven, you were in a cult!” Well, you would be wrong, but not completely. If you have read Bonewitz’s or other lists on what to look out for in a group that could classify it as a cult, you could find elements of a cult-like group in the coven I was in, but I don’t think I was ever strictly in a cult. But I would like to strongly suggest that if you don’t get anything else out of this essay, that you take away a caution when building the kind of bond a coven fosters with ANYONE.

Yes, it is a very romantic notion to be that close with a group of people, and to have that support network in your life, but if you are not careful, you can get into a situation where the support only really flows one way, and it is REALLY hard to see that is happening when you are right in the middle of it, filled with notions of “family”, “perfect love and perfect trust”, and “hierarchical tradition”. You can easily be duped into thinking that all the things that are being demanded of you are legitimate, no matter how outrageous they may seem to someone on the outside.

The coven setting can create the perfect storm for egos to be fed, “us vs. them” alliances to be formed, and where “tradition” can easily trump common sense. You feel that you owe your allegiance to those that have worked so hard to put the group together. And it is usually an allegiance that is required unconditionally. They SAY that you are there of your own free will, but how free is your will when you are doing things for people because you feel you have to? Because you feel bound by some mystical sense of accountability to the leader of the group. It is this kind of command that turns coven members into minions.

When three separate groups of parents of members of our group thought that the leaders were controlling and egotistical after meeting them for just a short time, then you think that would have opened my eyes to the fact that something was unhealthy in the relationship. But the bond they created was so strong that I did not see it right away. It was only after 10 years of doing practically nothing but my job and my coven life that I realized I had gotten in “too deep”.

There were other factors to my leaving as well. The most damaging one was that my wife and I actually LIVED with the coven leaders for about a year. (I know you are thinking that “c” word again.) Luckily for me, though, it was during this time that we got to see their true colors, and the lengths they were willing to go to secure their own comfort and well being, anyone else’s be damned. They would claim to others that we were “helping each other out”, when it was really them that needed OUR financial assistance. They took advantage of our good natures and drained us for every penny they could, but still thought we owed them more when we finally managed to get out of there and get our own place. We even almost bought a house with them! I thank the gods every day that we did not, because it would have been doubly hard to leave then, but at the time we were fully committed to them. They, however, were only committed to themselves.

So please take this caution to heart. You may think that a coven is the only way to get the spiritual experience and teaching that you feel you need in your life, as did my wife, many others, and I. And there are some lessons that you will probably only learn is such a setting. However, joining a coven is a possible trap. While it may not exactly fit the description of a cult to a tee, there are elements of such groups built into the structure of most covens. Someone who has been intimately involved in such a group for ten years has warned you. And while I don’t completely regret it, there is a lot to life that I missed out on during that time because of my allegiance to the group and its leaders.

There are other ways to get spiritual teachings and camaraderie. Public gatherings are great ways to meet others of like mind and spirit without the trappings of “belonging” to anyone. A lot of local new age stores have some kind of classes going on regularly. But another note of caution here: some of these classes are taught by leaders such as the ones I had, and they can use these classes as a way to recruit people into their group. And if you do find yourself in that first interview with the leaders of a coven, try your best to find out what kind of people you are talking to. Ask to see their bylaws. If they give the leaders “supreme authority” and equate them with the gods themselves, then enter at YOUR OWN RISK! Because you could find yourself tied to them in a way you never thought you would be to anyone for any reason.

And it is a tough bind to break.

Solitaires Are Pagan Too!

Solitaires Are Pagan Too!

Author: Crick

Guess what, folks? Solitaires are pagans too!

Over the years I have personally visited many a different gathering, have been a participant in many divergent conversations and have been a member of numerous chat groups. And there seems to a divisive undercurrent in certain parts of the pagan community that solitaires are less pagan than anyone else. Good grief, do we really need this kind of elitist nonsense?

Neo paganism as it is today has to vie for acceptance in the general community at large because of misguided stereotypes. Because of the modern mind-set where everything has to fall under instant gratification or risk losing ones attention, there is a serious lack of will and discipline when it comes to learning the ages old principles of the Craft.

Add to that the proliferation of Christian concepts into paganism due to the influx of former members of that particular religion; and at the end of the day, neo paganism has more then its share of internal problems. Do we really want to ostracize folks simply because they want to pursue their spiritual path as individuals without a membership in a coven or similar gathering?

Does this attitude really make a particular gathering and/or person more pagan, then others? I personally have spent half of my pagan related journey involved with a family clan and covens and half as a solitaire. Does this make me only half as good a witch as I could be?

There seems to be one group in particular that has a problem with solitaires, which is something that I don’t understand at all. Please understand that this is not about singling out and pummeling any particular group, just a pragmatic view at issues which affect us all as pagans.
As such, the Wicca seems to be the one group that solitaires consistently cite as having divisive issues with. How the Wicca set up and run their gathering is no ones business but their own, but there are a few questions in general that begs an answer.

The Wicca has a well-known tenet that “all Wicca are witches but not all witches are Wicca”. It has been explained to me by various Wicca that one is not a true witch unless they have been initiated as a Wicca. For without such initiation one cannot be validated through lineage. This particular mindset would certainly leave out solitaires for such folks are usually self-initiated.
And any witch who came before 1954 and/or since who is not a Wicca would also be excluded under such narrow tenets.

Yet, unless I am missing the mark, paganism in general and witchcraft in particular did not begin in 1954 CE. And so such views leave the taint of elitism in the air.

So lets look at this viewpoint from that of a solitaire.

First of all, one could question what in the world does lineage have to do with the Craft?
Regardless of who from the mid 1950’s till now is in ones learning tree, it is the individual who is responsible for ones own spiritual growth and the way that one engages in acts of energy and other aspects of the Craft. If I may use an analogy, one can pay an instructor to teach them to be a black belt in karate; however the belt is only as good as the person that is wearing it at the time.

I realize that folks like to have a family tree or “lineage” as is the case here, to present to their peers, for bragging rights. But for all intents and purposes, it has little if any practical value in the Craft. When it comes to working with energy, even covens are made up of individuals who come together to weave their energy into a tapestry made up of their individual wills. So why solitaires should be disparaged for doing what is natural to them is a mystery unto itself.

Perhaps such thoughts present themselves within Wicca because in part, Wicca is fashioned off of the ideals of the Masonic Order. And those folks place a heavy emphasis on lineage. And yet another point to this concept that is confusing is that Cunningham was a self declared solitaire even though he was associated with the Wicca movement. Does the Wicca think less of an author who played a huge part in bringing them to the public eye even though he saw himself as a solitaire?

When Cunningham wrote and published his book Wicca for the Solitary Practitioner, was there any attempt by the Wicca to block such a hugely popular book? And were the proceeds from this book turned away because they were predicated upon unacceptable concepts as endorsed by the Wicca?

One cannot have it both ways. A group cannot accept the vehicle that brings them their greatest source of recognition and then denounce the folks who follow the precepts that such a vehicle was created from. That is commonly referred to as hypocrisy.

And this brings me to my next thought.

If such a well-known advocate of Wicca is given the nod to write a book for solitaires based upon Wicca tenets, even if it was a tacit nod. And then there is a ground surge of interest in Wicca because of said author, couldn’t one assume that there will be folks who will want to identify with Wicca without becoming a formal member of a Wicca coven?

Should such an interest and desire be used as a platform to snub folks in order for those doing the snubbing to feel more important about themselves? Is that what paganism is about?

Another tenet held forth by the Wicca is acceptance of others beliefs and the idea of diversity. Where do solitaires fit into these grand ideals or are such ideals, simply superficial window dressing for something else all together?

If it was okay to lure such folks into the fold when a profit was being made, should they be shunted aside now that they no longer serve such a purpose?

Paganism in general is considered a minority belief system because of the very successful propaganda put forth by the three main organized religions. Do we as a perceived religious/spiritual minority really want to turn away solitaires who are just as devoted to their spiritual journeys as are any other kind of pagan?

At the end of the day, there is no pagan group or gathering that is loftier then any other. For every gathering is the sum of its members. And even if that gathering happens to number only one member, they still count.

It would be a real act of maturity and growth if the pagan community as a whole would spend less energy on the “my pop is bigger then your pop mentality” and concentrate instead on the issues that “really” matter in a magickal and nature based belief system.

I’m sure that Mother Earth would appreciate a bit more attention.

Neo paganism in general seems to be wrapped up in convincing others of our ilk, of a perceived self-importance and level of ability, which in all reality so few have actually taken the time to cultivate. The rest of the time is taken up in trying to convince society in general which consists of the conquerors that we are a valid belief system, though paganism has been just that, for eons.

What causes such insecurities one may ask? And what causes one pagan associated group to feel that it is necessary to diminish those such as the solitaires, in order to elevate themselves to a dubious standing?

In my personal life I have served for a number of years as a HP of a very active witchcraft coven and yet as a student of shamanism, I practice as a solitaire. Does that make my glass half full or half empty? Or does it really matter?

At the end of the day, all of us, whether we practice as a solitaire or not, still have to answer to our chosen Deity in regards to our spiritual growth as individuals. And so in essence we are all solitaires at heart. Let’s put to rest the hypocrisy and antipathy over solitaires for they are our brothers and sisters walking a common ground.

Besides, elitism is nothing more then a façade that is devoid of any real substance.

And so in closing, yes, solitaires can be witches too!

Are The ’13 Goals of the Witch’ Being Thrown Out the Window Today?

Are The ’13 Goals of the Witch’ Being Thrown Out the Window Today?

Author: Gullveig

The 13 Goals of the Witch has been attributed to Scott Cunningham and other authors, but is treated by traditionalists and non-traditional Pagans alike to be the cornerstone of what a Witch is. However, many Pagans pay lip service to these rules in public while going against them once they are in their own groups and private lives. Even our group leaders, who are supposed to support and encourage us, fail in passing on these goals and living by example. How can we be great Witches if our leaders are backstabbing and living chaotic lives? Simple. We can’t. So we have to be those leaders.

Each goal is listed with a modern explanation below, most having to do with how I see those goals being violated in our Pagan community and how to stop such behavior.

Know Thyself – This is the most important of the goals. This goal is often taken as if you are a jerk in life and you know it, then you “know yourself”. People do believe this. Know Thyself, however, means to be constantly working on yourself, to know your shortcomings and not give in to them. It means also not to make up excuses for bad behavior. If you do not know yourself or work on yourself to make yourself better and therefore be in a spot to help others become better, you might as well not be a Witch.

Know Your Craft — The Craft is a vague word for getting to know your world; because anything you learn in the world can be applied to Witchcraft. I have known natural Witches in my time that would say they could do magick without reading a single book, but these Witches I found had no sympathy or empathy with the world around them. You need to learn about religions, even Christianity, the good points and the bad, in order to see how paganism fits in the time frame of history and religion. On top of this, you need to practice, meditate and keep notes of your observations. That way you can reflect on them and share them with others.

An open mind is key, but there are a good number of Witches out there that can be as judgmental as those closed-minded. A Witch who isn’t educated in the sense of being a “world student” isn’t a true Witch.

Learn — How many of us learn from our mistakes? How many Witches redo the same hurtful actions to others without thinking, “Maybe I shouldn’t start any ill will in the Pagan community?” The role of learning goes way beyond books and knowing your Craft, but how you apply the knowledge gained. It is to learn how to fix problems, heal hurt and bring people together instead of gossiping, sneering at the nemesis coven down the road or sitting back and doing nothing when you want a problem to be solved. This learning is key to being a moral Witch. We only will repeat ignorant actions if we never learn to stop them.

Have Patience — Patience is essential for the Craft. You have to have the patience of a spider, still in its web in order to deal with others and your life goals. People take advantage of patience, such in covens where one person does all the work and the others come and go when they please, not understanding the violation of trust they are causing. They hurt this person by thinking that the person will always have patience with them. It is up to every single witch to be patient and also not violate the patience of others, even if they have a lot of it. It is the one goal that is used most by others disrespectfully.

“Don’t like the childish way I am acting? Don’t you have patience? A Witch has patience, so you shouldn’t be upset I am here two hours late.” Don’t be one of those people. Don’t turn patience on those in your life.

Apply Knowledge With Wisdom — A Witch can know a lot about the world. But Witches that run off at the mouth about this knowledge can be show offs. A true Witch takes what he or she has learning and tapers it with wisdom, also known as tact. If you are a leader, don’t put down others because they don’t understand what you know.

If you are a student and your coven is being immature, speak out about it; use your knowledge to help to solve the problem. Add action into the mix of knowledge and wisdom, and you can be a Witch who does good for yourself, your group, the Pagan community and for humanity and the world. Use your knowledge for good too, not to put someone else down. Set a good example to others about what a Witch is.

Achieve Balance – Witches try to live lives of balance, not chaos. Yet many Witches try to live lives of drama and anger. Some think being a Witch will add spice or drama to their lives. Some of these Witches do it intentionally; some may have an inner problem they need to work on. They might not mean to cause harm by the chaos in their lives, but give into it.

A Witch’s life should be like the calm sea. Not that storms can’t rage in the sea, but problems are taken care of. Stress is controlled and moderate. A Witch tries to combat anxiety and depression, not let illness take over them. A Witch tackles problems head on and doesn’t let others do it for them. Sometimes in the Pagan community, people try to hurt those who have balance. Maybe it is human nature, but it is a sad display of our Witchcraft community to hurt someone just because your life is chaotic and theirs isn’t.

Keep Your Words In Good Order – This means, no gossip and gossip runs rampant in our community. I’ve known Witches who have gone out of their way to say insulting things to others. If you wonder why the Pagan community isn’t taken seriously, this is why. You can’t be a good Witch if you are smiling and talking to someone at a Pagan event, only to stab him or her in the back once you are done. I’ve had people praise a Pagan ritual only to laugh at it to others once it was done.

If everyone would lock their lips and not try to hurt others with words, more problems would be solved or probably wouldn’t happen in the first place. Your words are your honor and those who use them badly don’t have honor for the Craft. If your words don’t ring true, people can’t take you seriously. They will never know if you mean you will show up for event or can be trusted if your words don’t match your actions. So say what you mean and follow through with your actions. If you say you are going to do something, do it. No excuses.

This goal can be lifted if you are having abuse problems with your coven. By all means if someone is hurting you mentally, psychologically or physically or threatens you in a pagan group or coven, let the Pagan community know. This not only helps you, it also helps those who might end up getting the same teacher or stop them from having a bad experience. Don’t let the seriousness of this goal stop you from using your words to make things right. Sometimes a little speaking of the mind works miracles, even if it is tough love.

Keep Your Thoughts in Good Order – Try to solve problems. Sometimes people don’t care how you feel so you have to take the time to get over that and move on. It is hard not to hold malice if someone hurts you, but holding in means thoughts about a person inside yourself will only hurt you. Try to talk and if that person doesn’t wish to listen, move on. Don’t dwell on bad things in your life. This goal is much like keeping your words in order.

Speak out when a situation is bad; use your thoughts to try to heal it. Think good of people. If you can’t then try not to think about the person or situation at all, if you tried your best to clear it up. But please, use your thoughts and words to try to problem solve instead of doing nothing. Make your thoughts strong and positive. Focus on goals. Live those goals. And be aware getting over problems can take a long time. Give yourself that time.

There are comments in our community that state there will never be any more Scott Cunninghams or Doreen Valientes. But we can be. Why can’t I use that as a goal? Why defeat myself with the thought I can never be grand? These thoughts are what hurt our community. We need thoughts with more ambition. We need to think we can all be leaders and that starts now!

Celebrate Life — Celebrate your own life, the lives of others, the lives of animals and nature. This means not harming nature. This one can be tricky if you own a car. But try to respect nature by being as eco-friendly as you can. Some Pagans I have encountered smoke like chimneys, flicking their butts into the street and littering the road with pieces of paper from their cars. It is like kicking the Goddess in the face. She made you this great world and you litter and make it toxic.

Take care of others, work in the community, donate items to your Pagan community, and ask how you can be of service. It isn’t only about having fun, but when you celebrate life, you should have that too. You are a Pagan, connected to all life. What hurts humanity, should hurt you. You should want to take action, even in small ways, like recycling or spending time helping those less fortunate.

Be happy for what you have. Maybe of us Pagans come from countries where we think luxury items are needed for our survival, but we don’t take time to reflect how lucky we are to live in places where we can get an education and have our wants taken care of. One should pray to the God and Goddess for these gifts.

Observe insects and other animals. Pay attention to the value of life. Take joy in the flight of a month or the jumping of a cricket. Or the smile of a friend.

Attune With The Cycles of the Earth– I am surprised by the number of Witches who don’t celebrate the Sabbats or Esbats. Even if you don’t have a ritual, one can toast Demeter during Lammas, for example or harvest berries during Strawberry Moon. Talk to animals and trees. It may sound overly hippie, but you will find you connect. As I said before, many Pagans I have seen, even leaders, throw trash into the street or don’t keep the Sabbats. How will students learn if their leader doesn’t care if it’s the full moon or not? Again, they won’t.

Not keeping the Sabbats also creates a wishy-washy year for students and missing pages in their Books of Shadows. If a group can’t meet, a ritual should be provided for those to do at home. Solitary rituals should be encouraged. I find writing my own rituals helps me develop as a person, because I put myself and my goals into them. They transform me into a better person.

So attune yourself with Mother Gaia, plant native plants, treat animals with respect, acknowledge and learn the cycles of the moon and names of the seasons. Even their symbols. If you don’t live in a place with four seasons, use the ebbs and tides of your areas or imagine how it must be to live in a place with snow in December.

Being a transplant from the Midwest to Southern California, it is hard to do, but must be done. There are lessons for each season to that reflect into one’s own life. It is hard to be a Witch without knowing the land, the grass, the sun, the moon and the stars.

Keep Yourself Healthy – This means, healthy food, no smoking, no excessive drinking, exercise and no harmful activities affecting the body. Yes, I know pagans who tan in tanners, who smoke, who drink and who have even done drugs. This violates the temple the Goddess has given you.

I am not saying you can’t have a burger if you want it, or a cigar at a party, but constant use of these or addiction to them can hurt your temple and also hurt your mind and your outlook on life. I don’t think one has to be a vegan to be a better witch, but a healthy diet helps. I do eat meat, but sparingly. I would smoke a cigar at a party. Yet I don’t have addictions to these things.

As your body ages, you realize you may want to become healthier and quit even the occasional cigarette or dinner of fast food. That happened to me! I even know people I tried to teach meditation too that coughed when they took long breaths because of smoking. So how can you meditate if you can’t even breathe?

Take care of yourself. Be a healthy weight. Note I didn’t say starve yourself either. A person can be a size 0 and be very unhealthy. Witches look healthy and alive. Even the Goth ones. (I would consider myself Gothy by nature.) Take care of yourself before you have to see the doctor.

Meditate – Meditation is a state of mind. It can be from a book or walking along a shady path in the woods. All Pagans should make time for personal meditation and reflection. They should make time to talk to their deities or to nature. This can be a time to write out one’s problems in a journal or to be creative. To me, this should be at least an hour a day, or more ideally, an hour in the morning and an hour at night.

If you don’t think you have time for meditation, you do. Turn off the TV, get off the computer and find a silent place to be. Let your thoughts go. Sit quietly and hear the world around you. Fall into that noise and be. Get books on meditation if you can’t focus. All Witches should be able to meditate because you need to be able to focus in rituals and to direct magickal energy, for example, in spellwork. It is a very crucial part of our religion, being able to focus our will.

Honor the Goddess and God — I wonder when this one went out of style? I have run into a lot of people who tend to speak very vaguely about Gods. As if I need to hide my Athena worship from someone who is into Freya as not to offend their sensibilities. There are a lot of Gods out there and some pagans who don’t even have Gods, but to me, there is nothing more spiritual than making an altar to a God and praising them. I feel it connects action to ritual. It tells the ritual where to go.

So what if someone does a ritual to Shiva when I only worship Diana? Can’t I get something out of that ritual as well? I also find Pagans calling and dismissing Godforms like they are puppets to do their bidding.

What happened to thanking the Gods? Thanking the Sun and the Moon, being grateful for each day given? Listen to what the Gods say to you. If you have a pantheon, read up on the Gods in it. Sometimes I go to rituals and people, even though they are in a coven with a certain pantheon, the members of that group can’t even recite the names and myths of their Gods. It’s a shame.

Study up on the Gods, read mythology and folklore; learn how stories connect to people in real life. You will learn much. Planting an organic apple in the ground for Venus or pouring spring water in the ground for Elen of the Ways is good practice to showing the Gods you appreciate them.

Looking at these goals, I can see why they have stood the test of time and people use them as public domain, though I know that Scott Cunningham’s Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner has these goals phrased like this but I have seen it in many other forms. Using this goal list as a moral framework, a Witch can succeed in magick and working in the community, both the Pagan one and world of humanity and nature.

As Witches, we need to go back to structure in our practice and not freeform, to turn our passivity and bad character traits into ones that benefit life, from without to within. I urge you to print these goals out and follow them. I challenge you. And in meeting the challenge, we can be better Witches and better people.

Can A Pagan Still Have Blind Faith?

Can A Pagan Still Have Blind Faith?

Author: Lady Julie of Ravensgrove Coven

Can you be Pagan and still have blind faith? Do you have to have tangible proof of the Goddess’s and the God’s existence? Do you actually have to see the gifts bestowed upon us by deities to believe in them?

Growing up in the Christian churches, the one thing that I have carried with me in my Wiccan path is the idea of blind faith. You sometimes just have to believe and just leave it at that. Not to say that you cannot have questions, it would be silly not to. If I do not understand an aspect of the path or a topic I am learning, I have no qualms about asking a question to try to understand it better. If we do not question, we cannot find answers, therefore we cannot grow. I do not want my high priestess to tell me, as the ministers of my early youth did, “Because the Goddess/God said so.” That is not what I consider faith.

Then again, I do not feel the need to question every single thing and need that tangible, “I have to touch it to believe it” proof. Do I need to see a physical manifestation of the Goddess or God? No. Would it make my belief in them stronger if I did? I do not think so.

I feel them with me everyday. I see their existence in the sun and the moon, in the flowers and the trees. I see them in the faces of my coven family during ritual. I see them every time I look into my granddaughter’s eyes. I feel them every day when I get out of bed to start my day, and I feel them every night as I ready myself for sleep.

My High Priestess is a gifted psychic and medium. I have seen the reactions of people after she has done reading for them. I have seen the looks on the faces of some when she describes a spirit that she sees. I cannot see what she sees; yet I still believe her. And there are times that what she sees may not make sense to the client, or even her at that moment, yet I still believe in her and her gifts. I am not going to run and throw everything I have learned from her away because something did not come through to her clearly and I felt it should. What kind of student would I be then? And most often, in time, what she had seen becomes clearer to all involved and they begin to understand.

It would be a very hard life to live, I feel, if we did not just sometimes believe, to feel that we had to have everything explained and proven in detail. It would be exhausting to question every aspect of your life, religion, belief, etc. How sad it would be to never be happy with just knowing that sometimes, things just are; that there is no rhyme or reason to the universe around us, to know that life is everywhere without having to see its DNA. I love the fact that I look around my life in wonder and see the gifts that have been bestowed upon me, knowing that I am a child of the Goddess and God.

I know the concept of “blind faith” carries a tremendous amount of Christian connotations to it, especially for those of us who grew up in the Christian churches. I cannot tell you how many times I was told that it were “God’s will” or “Give faith unto the Lord” in times of trouble. I know my mother has “put things in God’s hands” when money was tight or there was some other crisis in her life.

I believe that you have to help yourself to achieve your goals. Every time I cast a spell, no matter what the need, I know that I have to take actions myself to obtain that goal. I do not have the mindset that I am going to get what I want or need just because I have faith.

I know many Pagans who grew up in the Christian churches moved on from them because of the “just believe” attitude and the inability to feel free to question what they were being taught, the scorn that they received from the members of the congregations if they spoke out and questioned the Bible. I remember the fear I felt as a child when I was told that if I did not believe I would burn in Hell. The fire and brimstone fear, as I call it.

Yet now, in my Pagan life, there are times that I cannot see, or hear, or touch something, but I still believe it is there. I know that the Goddess and God are with me daily, because I feel their presence, yet I do not question their existence because they are not in a physical form.

I believe that there are spirits around me all the time, yet I am not one of the lucky ones who can actually see them. I believe that there is life in the grass, flowers and trees, yet I cannot physically hear them breathe.

I believe that there are people who have lived many lives, yet I was not there to witness those lives that they lived before. I believe that my High Priestess can see people and places here and now as well as the past, yet I cannot see them with her.

Blind faith, to me it is a comforting thought. To know that there is something out there that you believe in, that you cannot explain. Something you cannot see, but it is out there regardless. You do not have to be Christian to have blind faith. I believe that in any religion you have to have to have the ability to say, “I cannot explain it, I cannot see it, but I know it is real.

If you do not, then you might as well stay in bed and not look forward to a new day, not raise you face to the warmth of the sun, or breathe deep the fragrance of the flower. You might as well not look into the night sky and smile when you look at the Goddess in her moon form.

Can a Pagan still have blind faith?

I certainly hope so. I do.

Brightest Blessings,

Lady Jasmyne Dragonskye
Ravensgrove Coven
Indianapolis, IN area

The Journey of a Wild Witch

The Journey of a Wild Witch

Author: Eilan

It has been eight years since I first discovered Witchcraft in a spiritual context. Prior to this Magick was very much alive in my life as I was lucky enough to have been born into a family that understands the spiritual dimension of life. My family also had the insight and experience to see and live this dimension in their everyday. In truth there is no difference between what is conceived to be ‘spiritual’ and that which is apparent and ‘mundane’. It is all one. This is my truth and my wild way.

I am an initiated Witch and Priest of the WildWood Tradition of Witchcraft. This means a great deal to me, as I am also a ‘co-founder’ of the original Mother Coven, based in Brisbane and initiated at Samhain (April 30th) 2006. Our ‘tradition’ and way of living the Craft is deeply interwoven with what many people call ‘shamanism’; derived from the Siberian Tungus word for their medicine people – saman. Mircea Eliade, the late Romanian historian, described shamanism as a “technique of ecstasy” and my coven has come to define Witchcraft as an “ecstasy-driven, Earth-based, mystery tradition”.

Our (and all Witches’) rituals and methods of practice allow us to transcend the illusion of separation and therefore to dissolve the ego and actualize the freedom that lives in the heart of all things. I often call and relate to this ‘All’ as the Great Mystery. The beauty of being a Wild Witch is that nothing is absolute and I have come to realize that all of Life is a holy continuum, which constantly seeks to express itself through diversity. Through expression comes manifestation, which allows us to experience Beauty through Perfection (the world in which we live) and then once more we come to the Wholeness of Unity and the cycle repeats itself.

We are born into a plural world of many and pass into the One only to yearn to divide ourselves once more to grow, deepen and enrich our understandings and experiences of that subtle/overt thing – the Great Mystery.

My coven’s tradition has developed and evolved around this wild-trance-dance-of-wonder. The only consistency between our covens is that we honor and acknowledge our heartland the WildWood, keep holy our covenant with the Sacred Four (the Weaver, the Green Man, the Crescent-Crowned Goddess and the Stag-Horned God) and that we remain open and receptive to personal/group gnosis and to Awen (the divine flow of inspiration) . Other than this there are some structural similarities regarding dedication and priesthood and inner and outer courts.

Essentially however we are wild Witches who fly in the face of authority and seek the wilderness underlying the apparent ‘civilization’ of things. Nothing can be tamed, for the wild is free and the free is divine! As we say in the WildWood – “we have actualized our radness!”

What do Wild Witches do? First and foremost – we live! We breathe, we sleep, we eat, we drink, we sing, we dance, we make love, we scream and we spend time sharing presence and being with our loved ones. ‘Being’ is an important principle to consider. To be is quite simple but so many people find themselves distracted by the “this and that” that they leave ‘being’ behind and pursue illusion instead.

This isn’t the same concept found in various Christian philosophies which espouses a “Satan’s fault!” message when sheep stray from the flock so to speak. Witches understand self-responsibility and are aware of action, reaction and consequence (the Threefold Law) . Why not exist in euphoric awareness of self as Self – the animate Cosmos? You are not only a cell within a larger body of universal wholeness; you are whole and thus a perfect embodiment, expression and reflection of the Great Mystery whose cause, undercurrent and outcome is Life.

When we free ourselves from the illusion of past, present and future and surrender to the Flow of the Continuum (the spirals, the wayward ins and outs, the labyrinthine, serpentine undulations of fate becoming) we make real for ourselves the state of being known commonly as “here and now”. This seems to constitute location and time, however it simply addresses the emphasis of indwelling consciousness regardless of where you are and what frame of time constrains it.

There are moments in my life, which I refer to as ‘Nostalgic Rites’. They are pure, simple, soothing, knowing moments that are like the punctuation points in a flow of sentences. They are the markers and the thresholds that appear along our paths when it is time to pause, reflect and feel. I have them often enough in my life to understand their imminent message of timelessness, peace and overwhelming Love! For what I have learnt above all else thus far is that dwelling within the chaos in the cosmos is the peace which neither subsumes or overrides it, but embraces it and lets it be. Chaos is what happens naturally when the undifferentiated potential becomes “this and that” and peace is the understanding that this is the way of Life. All of this is wild; we dwell in a far-reaching, limitless wilderness.

In a recent priestess training session with two beautiful women from my coven I asked both of them to divulge their feelings and reflections of the journey toward their priestesshood, as they are nearing to the ‘end’ of the beginning – Initiation. One of the women honestly came out and said to us that she feared for us (the other priestess-in-training and I) because we are on the top of the mountain, but because we are risk-takers it is inevitable that we will fall.

I had to stop and wonder in that moment why anyone would not want to fall. In fact I also wondered whether it had occurred to her that surrounding the mountain were vast forests, plains, rivers, deserts, tundra, bushland, seas, oceans and lakes; not to mention all of the beings who inhabit these places.

For me the mountain is not the point. It is part of the whole Great Mystery, but the journey does not lead to a single place; in fact the journey doesn’t really lead anywhere. There is no aim to my wandering, to my blissful dance through the wilderness – I simply embrace every experience because it is worthy of it and I laugh, smile, cry, choke, rage, relax, love, ***, change, grow, and a million other things that I couldn’t possibly articulate or fathom for the purposes of this article.

The other woman, who knows me very well, and is one of my closest friends, then turned to me smiling and said, “You are so glib!” She then went on to explain that it was the “natural, offhand ease and articulate fluency and flow” of how I expressed my truth that made me glib in her opinion.

It wasn’t a criticism on her part, merely an observation. I think it is actually quite accurate. I have such ease and flow in my expression because I don’t have to think too hard about who I am or how I feel because I am and I feel in the “here and the now”. I live and I am, and in my experience Life itself is glib.

To my fellow journeyers of the wild way who know in their hearts that they are heading nowhere, anywhere and everywhere – may you dance the Wander with all you are. My deepest well of love to you all!

The Wanderer

The sages say that samsara is to wander, to pass through,
I say samsara is to know the way and dance it.
To dance is to live, and to live is never “to pass through”;
Dance doll – dance and light up the stage…

Then they came with their wrought-iron weapons
And they pierced my soul, and looked for the mark.
I sang to them to soothe their battered spirits.
They sunk their swords in harder, my heart is in shreds.

The blood ran dry and the old seas heaved
And there in the darkest hour all was forgotten,
And tattered clothes were left in tatters,
And the ashes were left in mounds at the pyres.

Is it a fact that when we are lost we wander?
Is it true that when we are in love we dance?
Or do we dance when we are lost?
And do we wander when in love?

Samsara, O holy wheel of Life,
Keep turning, I want to stay.
I don’t want nirvana in clouds far away
For I feel it already…here.

The Wanderer – the Fool?
I don’t mind, I don’t mind being;
For all the pain and suffering and the attachment to desire
There is a keenness that is not worth losing.

I want to live,
I want to wander if that’s what it takes,
But through all this I will dance
And I will dance because I love.

– Gede Parma

The Dark Side of Leading: Covens, Groups or Groves

The Dark Side of Leading: Covens, Groups or Groves

Author: Lady Abigail

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Perhaps the biggest challenge in any group is in understanding the people you work with. In search of the perfect solution, most people become oblivious to those of differencing opinions. It is not negative; it shows passion to their beliefs. But be careful, passion can sometimes lead to wishing and hoping for things to be different than they truly are or thinking that you have the only answer. This can set up problems when things don‘t go your way.

Gaining the respect of a group is paramount as a leader. Respect comes from knowledge, understanding and accomplishments. You must also show your credibility and reliability within the group so that there is an awareness that you will always do what is in the group’s best interests.

For effectiveness in leadership there must be trust and humility. It is a mistake to try to “become an authority” in all matters. Know when to ask the right questions and be able to test the answers. Your greater knowledge within any group is the freedom to rely on the other members and respect their input.

However, this is different than trying to find answers that will make everyone happy or allowing the personal opinions of anyone to overshadow what is best for the group.

Over my many years of leading groups, I find that people join a group for many different reasons. Some join to learn, some join for community and meeting others of like-minded spirit. Some join for the energy they find working in a circle with others and some join to come together on and give honor to the Gods.

But, far and above, the number one reason I hear is FAMILY: the need to be accepted and comfortable with others who understand who they are, being a part of something greater than themselves.

As a High Priestess of a coven (Ravensgrove Coven) , I find that all of these reasons can all be good as long as there is also an understanding that your reasons may not be the same as the person standing next to you. Yet theirs are just as valid. That is as long as each member can work well with the other.

Nevertheless, problems can arise. Hurt feelings, anger and even jealousy. These must be dealt with as they happen, quickly, personally, privately and honestly. Discretion is honorable is such matters. We are not children who need to be scolded and made example of, nor should be pick sides. We are adults and Pagans; therefore, we are to use wisdom and consideration, not the emotion of the moment.

Once a problem is seen, it is the leader’s place to handle it quickly and as they believe best for all concerned. Those with experience within a group will tell you, when there is any discourse in any group; working together in circle or for magickal intention is not going to happen. Anytime, whether in circle, in life, home or job, you try to work with someone you are angry at … you know it will not succeed. Unpleasant or angry energy is not going to give you any positive results, only negative. Plus all those who have been working within this circle have been drawing the negative energy in and that is detrimental. There must be harmony within any circle, be it for magickal working, healing or energy work. This is for the positive nature of the circle and all its members.

It is not always easy being the leader, since with every decision there will be some that are going to be disappointed once it is made. That is why on matters of great importance you, as the leader, may want to ask your group to vote or give their options on certain issues. Yet, when all is said and done, you will be the one making the finial decision. Good or bad, you will also be the one held accountable, and that is because it is your responsibly to make all decisions in the best interest of the group. On the group as a whole, not your friends, not even your family but for the group as a whole.

I have found that whenever you have more than one person in a room you are generally going to have more than one opinion. The more people in a group the more likely that someone is going to disagree with the decisions made. It is nature; we all think different and have different concerns and outlooks. But when all is said and done, it is the leader’s decision that must be final.

Once the decision is made, everyone within the group must uphold the decision, whether they were in agreement with it or not. This is part of the trust you promised, and gave, to your group and your leader when you joined the group. This is the trust that any decision that would be made would be in the best interest of the group as a whole. Remember: ‘in perfect love and perfect trust’ is not always as easy to implement as it is to say.

Everyone should try to understand that it could be difficult for any leader to continually deal with internal problems between members. If you are having a problem with a member, remember most likely, the group leader is hearing your problem from two sides.

Dealing with constant turmoil can spiritually and personally drain anyone, even a group leader. For some, it can leave them wondering if they should keep the group going if it is a continued drain on energy and not the energy building force any group should be. Sometimes people forget that even your group leader is human, with human emotions and limits. Unfortunately, this is the reason so many new groups fail and the leaders walk away.

*Therefore, here are some of possible problems within any group. To be aware of them may help you or your group to avoid them.

One extremely detrimentally problem within any group is a lack of honest communication. There is nothing more frustrating to any leader than hearing that people are afraid to talk to them. Or that people are worried the leader will get mad. How can you work to heal or fix problems within a group if those within it don’t know that they have one?

Then there is what my Great Grandmother would call the chicken pen syndrome. Where those in a group believe that it is somehow better to talk to someone else about what they consider wrong, or their worries within the group, rather than talk to leader.

If you cannot talk to your leader, directly and clearly, then you cannot trust them. Trust is one of the greatest parts of any group leader’s job. They are your clergy unto your traditions as a whole, so where are you without trust.

When someone feels they need to talk to someone else as a go between with their group leader, this is not only detrimental to everyone in the group but also extremely upsetting to your group leader once they find out. And they will find out, since people love to talk. And if you have a group of people who love to gossip and back bite, do you really think that what you say is going to be confidential?

Any group leader is both a human and an emotional being. They get hurt, angry, sad, and happy. Sometimes within their emotions they will say more than they should. It is called being human. So, you need to remember they are the representation of the Deities, but they are still very human.

A.) When anyone has a problem with anyone or something they believe is wrong, then talk to your group leader.

B.) If you have a problem with someone, then you need to privately talk to that person and handle it. If that does not work then, and only then, you go to the group leader and then you both go and talk with who ever your issue is with together.

C.) If someone comes to you and wants to talk about anyone else (including your group leader) … you to tell the other person that you will not listen (and you need not to listen.) Tell them they need to talk to the person with whom they have a problem. If it is a group concern then they need to talk to your group leader.

D.) Once something is over, finished, or fixed, stop rekindling the fire by rehashing it over and over with others. This just brings it all up again and causes everyone to think they need to pick sides when there are no sides to pick. When it is done, let it be done and put it behind you.

Don’t expect the world when you see childish behavior that seems to come to every group at sometime. Remind each other of the reasons you are there. The friendship, community and energy of being in a group of like-minded souls.

Don’t get disheartened because you think the group should be all about magick or spell work or whatever. There needs to be a balance in all things. Energy work, magick, blessings and power work. Remember your Rituals are a time of honor and worship first, then a time of magickal and energy work.

Let us never forget the honor we give unto our Deities first.

Many groups set up a round table just to deal with any concerns that might arise within the group. It is a time set aside to talk and work together and decide what is best for everyone in the group. You have an open forum for discussion that everyone has a change to speak up and out if need be. But once you leave the table the issues are closed.

Again, once it is over. Let it be truly over. Once a group has made a decision together even if it was not what you wanted, the vote is made and you need to honor the vote.

Everyone must be willing to completely clean away the old rubbish, or as some say, ‘DRAMA’ of the past, and leave it behind or it will destroy any group.

Respect the elders. Teach the young. Cooperate with the pack.
Play when you can. Hunt when you must. Rest in between.
Share your affections. Voice your feelings and Leave your mark.
‘Wolf Creed’

Blessing be unto all,

Lady Abigail
High Priestess of Ravensgrove Coven

Earth Witch Lore – Mountains and Mounds

Earth Witch Lore – Mountains and Mounds

 

Legendary mountains and mounds fall within the domain of the Earth Witch. While mountains are natural formations, mounds are human-made. Both are considered sacred space. The prevailing argument as to the purpose of the mounds is that they are sacred burial grounds.

The Navajos have an old legend that describes the creation of the six sacred mountains. The First Man and First Woman formed the mountains from a bag of dirt that they carried with them from the third world (spirit realm). They sent Turquoise Boy to one mountain. Abalone Shell Boy to another, Jet Boy to another, and White Bead Boy to another. The mountains were not satisfied with that arrangement and would rumble loudly with displeasure. Only two of the six mountains were happy. First Man and First Woman sent the beautiful Mixed Stones Boy and Girl to those mountains. They then sent the rest of the holy ones, including Grasshopper Girl and Yellow Corn Girl, into the mountains.

First Man and First Woman then fastened the mountains to the land with lightning bolts, stone knives and sunbeams. They decorated them with shells, eggs, mists and rain. They then blessed the mountains with chants and prayers. They believe that keeping the land beautiful pleases the ancestors, and pleasing the ancestors, make for a happy tribe.

The Earth Witch agrees with this philosophy. She makes regular use of eco-magic and often gets involved with environmental issues. She understand the true beauty and blessing of the Earth and does not take them for granted. She considers keeping the land clean a sacred responsibility.

SOLITARY WITCHES

SOLITARY WITCHES

Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft  – Ray Buckland

In the majority of Witchcraft traditions there is no way that an ‘individual’
can operate – membership in a coven is mandatory. Most traditions have a system
of degrees of advancement not unlike those found is Freemasonry and other secret
societies. With such a system it is necessary for a Witch to advance, within the
coven, to a particular degree before being able to even cast a Circle. In order
to initiate others it is necessary to attain the highest degree. As a First
Degree Witch they can join with the rest of the coven in worship and in the
working of magick but can do nothing alone.

Such a system is all very well, and those involved seem quite content with it.
But it seems to me that an important point is being overlooked. Back in the ‘old
days’ of the Craft, there were many Witches who lived at a far distance from any
village or even from any other people at all. Yet these ‘were’ still Witches.
They still worshiped the old gods and still worked their own magick. That, I
feel, was as it should have been…and as it still should be. There are one or two
traditions, today, that do subscribe more directly to the old ways. In the Seax-
Wica, for example, there is not the dependence on the coven situation; there is
the reality of the Witch alone.

The main point here is that you should not be ‘excluded’ from the Wicca for such
a reason. Just because you don’t live anywhere near a coven; just because you
don’t know of anyone else with similar interests; just because you are an
individualist who doesn’t care to join with others… these are no reasons why you
should not be a Witch. So lets look at Solitary Wicca.

What are the main differences between a coven Witch and being a Solitary?

1. With a covener, the rituals are performed by a group of people; several
(principally the Priest and/or Priestess) playing the parts.
As a Solitary, you do everything yourself.

2. The Coven meets in a large (usually nine ft. diameter) circle.
The Solitary has a small “compact” circle.

3. The Coven use a “full complement” of tools, depending on the tradition.
The Solitary uses only what s/he feels s/he needs.

4. Coven meetings must, to an extent, be held when most convenient for the
majority.
The Solitary can hold a ritual whenever s/he feels like it.

5. A Coven draws on all its members to build a Cone of Power.
A Solitary has only her/his own power to draw on.

6. A Coven has a wide variety of knowledge and specialties.
A Solitary has only her/his own knowledge and specialty.

7. A Coven is usually fairly set in its ways.
A Solitary can change with her/his moods.

8. A Coven ritual can become almost a ‘production’ or pageant.
A Solitary ritual can be the barest minimum of words and actions.

9. A Coven must attune itself as one.
A Solitary IS one.

There are many other differences, of course, but these are enough to illustrate
the point that there are both advantages and disadvantages to being a Solitary.
Generally speaking, there is much more flexibility to being a Solitary, but
there is also a more limited store of knowledge and magickal power on which to
draw. Let me elaborate on the above points.

1. As a Solitary, you do everything yourself.

You can write your own rituals, just for you. But you can also adopt and adapt
coven ones. As an example of what can be done, here are some of the rituals from
this book (Erecting the Temple; Esbat; Cakes and Ale; Clearing the Temple),
suitably modified. You can do the same sort of thing with most of the others.
Compare these with the originals as you go.

ERECTING THE TEMPLE

Wiccan rings the bell three times, facing east. She then takes the Altar Candle
and lights the East Candle from it, saying:

“Here do I bring light and air in at the East, to illuminate my temple and bring
it the breath of life.”

She moves around to the south to light that candle.

“Here do I bring light and fire in at the South, to illuminate my temple and
bring it warmth.”

To the west:

“Here do I bring light and water in at the West, to illuminate my temple and
wash it clean.”

To the north:

“Here do I bring light and earth in at the North, to illuminate my temple and
build it in strength.”

She moves on round to the east and then back to the altar. Replacing the Altar
Candle, she takes up her athame and goes again to the east. With point of athame
down, she traces the Circle, directing her power into it. Returning to the
altar, she rings the bell three times then places the point of her athame into
the Salt, saying:

“As Salt is Life, let it purify me in all ways I may use it. Let it cleanse my
body and spirit as I dedicate myself in this rite, to the glory of the God and
the Goddess.”

She drops three portions of Salt into the Water, saying:

“Let the Sacred Salt drive out any impurities in the Water, that I may use it
throughout these rites.”

She takes up the Salted Water and, starting and finishing at the east, walks
around sprinkling the Circle. She then goes around again with the thurible,
censing the Circle.

Back at the altar, she drops a pinch of salt into the oil and stirs it with her
finger. She then anoints herself with it, saying:

“I consecrate myself in the names of the God and of the Goddess, bidding them
welcome to this, my Temple.”

The Witch now moves to the east and, with her athame, draws an invoking
pentagram.

“All hail to the element of Air, Watchtower of the East. May it stand in
strength, ever watching over this Circle.”

She kisses the blade of the athame, then moves to the south, where she draws an
invoking pentagram.

“All hail to the element of Fire; Watchtower of the South. May it stand in
strength ever watching over my Circle.”

She kisses the blade and moves to the west and draws an invoking pentagram.

“All hail to the element of Water, Watchtower of the West. May it stand in
strength, ever watching over my Circle.”

She kisses the blade and moves to the north, where she draws an invoking
pentagram.

“All hail to the element of Earth, Watchtower of the North. May it stand in
strength, ever watching over my Circle.”

Kissing the blade, she returns to the altar, where she raises her athame high.

“All hail the four Quarters and all hail the Gods! I bid the Lord and Lady
welcome and invite that they join with me, witnessing these rites I hold in
their honor. All hail!”

She takes the goblet and pours a little wine onto the ground (or into the
libation dish), then drinks, saying the names of the gods.

“Now is the Temple erected. So Mote It Be!”

ESBAT

Witch: “Once more do I come to show my joy of life and re-affirm my feelings for
the gods. The Lord and the Lady have been good to me. It is meet that I give
thanks for all that I have. They know that I have needs and they listen to me
when I call upon them. So do I thank the God and the Goddess for those favors
they have bestowed upon me.”

Then, in her own way, she gives her thanks and/or requests help. She then rings
the bell three times and says:

“An it harm none, do what thou wilt. Thus runs the Wiccan Rede. Whatever I
desire; whatever I would ask of the gods; whatever I would do; I must be assured
that it will harm no one – not even myself. And as I give, so shall it return
threefold. I give of myself – my life; my love – and it will be thrice rewarded.
But should I send forth harm, then that too will return thrice over.”

Here the Witch may sing a favorite song or chant, or play an instrument.

Witch: “Beauty and Strength are in the Lord and the Lady both. Patience and
Love; Wisdom and Knowledge.”

(If the Esbat is taking place at either the Full or the New Moon, then the
appropriate segment is inserted at this point. Otherwise go directly into the
Cakes and Ale ceremony.”

CAKES AND ALE

Witch: “Now is it time for me to give thanks to the gods for that which sustains
me. May I ever be aware of all that I owe to the gods.”

She takes the goblet in her left hand and her athame in her right and slowly
lowers the point of the knife into the wine, saying:

“In like fashion may male join with female, for the happiness of both. Let the
fruits of union promote life. Let all be fruitful and let wealth be spread
throughout all lands.”

She lays down the athame and drinks from the goblet. Replacing it on the altar,
she then touches the cake with the point of the athame, saying:

“This food is the blessing of the gods to my body. I partake of it freely. Let
me remember always to see to it that aught that I have I share with those who
have nothing.”

She eats the cake, pausing to say:

“As I enjoy these gifts of the gods, let me remember that without the gods I
would have nothing. So Mote It Be!”

CLEARING THE TEMPLE

Witch: “As I came into my Temple in love and friendship, let me leave it the
same way. Let me spread the love outward to all; sharing it with those I meet.”

She raises her athame high, in salute, and says:

“Lord and Lady, my thanks to you for sharing this time with me. My thanks for
watching over me; guarding and guiding my in all things. Love is the Law and
Love is the Bond. Merry did I come here and Merry do I part, to merry come
again. The Temple is now cleared. So Mote It Be!”

She kisses the blade of her athame.

2. The Solitary has a small, “compact” Circle.

There is no need for the large, coven-size Circle when you are working alone.
One just large enough for you and the altar is all you need…probably five feet
in diameter would be sufficient. When ‘Erecting the Temple’, you would still
walk all around this Circle to ‘draw’ it with your athame, and to sprinkle and
cense it, but for addressing the four Quarters you need only turn and face the
directions from your place behind the altar. When working magick, it is easier
to build up power in a smaller Circle and it is generally a “cozier” feeling.

3. The Solitary uses only what s/he feel s/he needs.

You probably won’t need as many tools as a coven uses. You may decide to use no
more than you athame and censer. It is up to you; you have only yourself to
please. Don’t forget that you don’t HAVE to follow all the rituals exactly.

Examine as many traditions as you are able. See what tools they use and ‘why’
(it seems some groups use some items without really knowing why they do!), then
decide on which ones you need. You will find traditions that use broomsticks,
ankhs, wands, tridents, etc. You may even decide to add something that no one
else uses – the Pecti-Wita, for example (a Solitary tradition, as it happens)
use a ritual Staff which is not found elsewhere. Don’t add something just for
the sake of having it, or just to be different. Use something because you need
to use it, because you feel more comfortable with that particular tool then with
another or then without it at all.

4. The Solitary can hold a ritual whenever s/he feels like it.

A coven meets for the Sabbats and Esbats. The dates for the Esbats are fixed at
the most convenient times for the majority of members. As a Solitary, you can
have an Esbat whenever you feel like it. You can have Esbats three or four days
in a row, or go from New Moon to Full Moon without one at all. It’s up to you
and how you feel. If there is a sudden emergency – perhaps a healing that needs
to be done – you can get into it right away. You don’t have to desperately try
to contact others before you can get to work.

5. A Solitary has only her/his own power to draw on.

When working magick, a coven generates a lot of power. Working together, the
total power of the whole far exceeds the sum of the parts. The Solitary can do
no more then use the power s/he has. This is a fact and should be accepted. It
is one of the few drawbacks to being a Solitary. But this does not mean that
‘nothing’ can be done! Far from it. Many Solitaries do a great deal of excellent
work, drawing only on their own resources. A good parallel night be seen in
boat-racing or sculling, where you have teams of eight oarsmen, four, two or
single rowers. All propel their craft equally well. The only difference is the
greater speeds attained by the boats with the increased numbers of oarsmen.

6. A Solitary has only her/his own knowledge and specialty.

In a coven there is an accumulation of talents. One Witch might specialize in
healing, another in astrology, one in Herbalism, another in tarot reading. Once
might be an excellent tool-maker, another a great calligraphist; one a winemaker
and/or seamstress and another a psychic and psychometrist.

As stated, the Solitary has only her/his own knowledge available. This, then, is
another disadvantage but again, one that must be accepted. There is certainly no
reason why, as a Solitary, you should not be in touch with others (Wiccans and
non-Wiccans) who are astrologers, tarot readers, herbalists, etc. and to call
upon them for help and advice when needed. It is just that you don’t have them
readily to hand there in the Circle with you, available at all times.

7. A Solitary can change with her/his moods.

A Gardnerian coven rigidly follows the Gardnerian rites. A Welsh-Kelic coven
rigidly follows the Welsh-Keltic rites. A Dianic coven rigidly follows the
Dianic rites. This all goes without saying. Even an eclectic coven will
generally settle into rites, from whatever sources, with which it feels
comfortable and will stay with them. But the Solitary is free (freer even than
most eclectics, if only by virtue of having only her/himself to please) to do
whatever s/he likes… to experiment, to change, to adopt and adapt. S/he can do
elaborate, ceremonial rites on day and simple, plain, ingenuous rites the next.
S/he can do Gardnerian oriented rituals one time, Welsh-Kelic the next and
Dianic the next. There is tremendous freedom for the Solitary, which I urge you
to enjoy to the utmost. Experiment. Try different types and styles of rituals.
Find those that are exactly right for you.

8. A Solitary ritual can be the barest minimum of words and actions.

This follows on from (7) above. You can enjoy a true economy of ritual if you so
desire. Let me give you an example:

Erecting The Temple (Alternate)

The Witch lights the four Circle Candles from the Altar Candle and, with the
athame, “draws” the Circle, directing power into it. She then sits, or kneels,
before the altar and proceeds with a meditation on the elements:

(This should be familiarized – not necessarily word for word – so that it can be
followed through without effort)

“You are sitting in the middle of a field. There is lush green grass all about
you, with a generous scattering of bright yellow buttercups. Some distance
behind you, and continuing way off to your left, a wooded rail fence, with other
fields beyond it, stretches off to another distant fence, beyond which are more
fields leading to the foothills of the mountains which you can see in the far
distance.
A very light breeze ruffles the top of the grass and you can feel the
wind’s gentleness as it brushes your face. Crickets chirrup in the grass and,
from the trees beyond the hedgerow, you can hear the occasional song of a bird,
You feel contented, you feel at peace.
A swallow swoops down and soars low across the field not twenty feet in
front of you. He wings up and away over the trees towards the distant mountains.
A grasshopper lands on your knee, then almost immediately is gone again.
You get to your feet and stroll leisurely through the grass, parallel to
the hedgerow. Your feet are bare and the grass lightly tickles them as you move
along. You walk over to your right till you are close beside the hedge, then
advance along it. Reaching out your hand as you walk, you gently brush the
leaves; just catching them with your fingertips as you move along. There is a
slight rise in the ground ahead of you and off to the left. You leave the
hedgerow and move lightly up the hillock to stand where you can gaze about you
at all the beauty that surrounds you.
Seemingly coming all the way from the distant mountains, the breeze you
felt earlier is now more steady and you feel it on your face and arms. It gently
ruffles the tops of the grass and causes buttercups to nod their golden heads.
You stand on the hillock with your legs spread wide and slowly raise up your
arms towards the sky. As you raise them, you breathe in deeply. You hold the
breath for a moment, then gradually release it, bringing your arms back down to
shoulder level. As you release the breath you sing out the sound “Ah”……”A-a-a-a-
a-a-a-h!”
A second time the wind returns, this time blowing strongly; bending the
grass and stirring the hedgerow off to your side. It blows back your hair and
feels warm against your cheeks. For the third time you raise your arms to the
sky and cry out to the air. “A-a-a-a-a-a-a=h!” And for the third time the air
replies by sending the strong, rushing wind across the fields, bending the grass
before it and swirling up and around your body; tugging your hair back from your
face and fluttering the robes that you wear.
As the wind dies you allow your arms to fall to you sides and stand, with
head bowed, in the warmth of the sun. Breathing regularly, but deeply, you feel
the strength of the sun as it shines down upon you from out of the cloudless
blue sky. Slowly you life your face, with eyes closed, and bask in the radiance
that encompasses you. You breathe in deeply, sensing the cleansing and
purifying. AS you breathe, you feel the vitality building within you, fed by
those timeless flames.
You bring your hands up, together, to your chest, cupping them as though
holding the very orb of the sun. You continue raising them, up to your face then
on up high above your head. With palms open and upward, you spread your arms and
reach up, absorbing the sun’s rays into your body, this time through your hands
and down through your arms. Feel the energies rippling down through your body,
down through your legs, all the way to your toes. Feel the fire within you. Feel
the fire.
Now you lower your arms and, turning back towards the hedgerow, you leave
the hillock and continue on along the side of the field. As you walk you become
aware of a new sound – the sound of a running stream a tinkling of the waters
rushing over and around pebbles and small stones reaches your ears and draws you
forward. You reach the end of the hedgerow and see a small wood set back behind
it. From out between the trees runs the stream, bubbling and bustling on its way
to it knows not where. It curves out and around, to rush off and disappear from
view on the far side of the hedgerow you followed.
You drop down to your knees and reach forward a hand to feel the water. It
is cold, yet not so cold as to turn you away. The rushing water murmurs protest
at the new obstacle and bubbles around and between your fingers, eager to be on
its way. You smile and slip the other hand in beside the first. You wriggle your
fingers and rejoice in the invigorating coolness of the water. You splash your
face and feel the cold droplets trickle down your neck. It is refreshing and
energizing. You cup your hands and raise a human grail of divine essence from
the stream you bend and plunge your face into it, to celebrate a catharsis of
the flesh of the spirit. The water refreshes, cleanses and purifies. It is a
gift; a freely given pleasure. You sigh a long sigh of contentment.
Rising to your feet again, you move on along the edge of the trees until
you reach the corner of a large, ploughed field that opens out to the left. The
soil is newly turned and the scent of it heavy in the air. You walk out towards
the center of the field, breathing deeply and feeling the good clean dirt of the
earth between your toes as you walk.
When you finally reach the middle of the ploughed field, you stoop down
and sweep up two handfuls of the rich, dark brown earth. It feels good; in
communicates a kinship of nature. You feel a ‘grounding and centering’ of your
body, through your feet, into the earth. It is a sense of coming home, or
reaching that which you have long sought.
You lie down on the earth, between the furrows, eyes closed and face
towards the sky. You feel the gentle breeze blowing over you and luxuriate in
the warmth of the sun. away in the distance you can just make out the tinkling
of the stream as you absorb the energies of the earth. Your spirit soars and
rejoices. And, in so doing, you have touched all of the elements.”

You can see that the “things said” and “things done” are all in the mind. You
may well feel comfortable doing all your rites in this way, though I do urge you
to ‘at least’ cast your Circle physically.

As a preliminary to the meditation above, you might want to read up on
meditations. Also, I would suggest incorporating the breathing exercises given
in most lessons, including the imagery of the white light.

For such a guided meditation, you might like to record it on tape, ahead of
time, and then play it back to yourself in the Circle.

9. The Solitary IS one.

This can be both an advantage (chiefly so, I feel) and a disadvantage. An
example of the latter: if a Witch happens to have a very short temper and has
been badly used by someone, s/he might possibly be driven by thoughts of
revenge. S/he might be tempted to overlook the Wiccan Rede, rationalizing
her/his thoughts and feelings in some way. However, unless s/he can get all of
the other coven members, including the Priest/ess to feel the same way that s/he
does, s/he can do nothing s/he might later regret. Far more likely is that the
coven would calm her/him an bring the problem into perspective. The Solitary, on
the other hand, does not have this “safety catch”. S/he must, therefore, be
constantly on guard and always carefully and closely examine the situation
before working any magick, giving special thought to the Wiccan Rede.

But on the other side of the coin, the Solitary does not have to make any
compromises in anything s/he does. The Solitary is one with her/himself and is
automatically attuned, with no disharmony or distraction.

So the Solitary Witch is indeed a reality. Don’t let anyone tell you that,
because you don’t belong to a coven and because you were not initiated by
someone (who was initiated by someone who was in turn, initiated by someone… and
so on, ad nauseum), you are not a true Witch. Tell them to read their history
(and ask them who initiated the very first Witch?). you ARE a Witch and you are
so in the fine tradition of Witchcraft. May the Gods be with you.