In The End, We’re All Solitary


Author: Chi

I’m not bashing coven practice here – It’s a wonderful spiritual path and way of learning and it works for lots of people. Those people have my blessings and all my best wishes. There are plenty of teens that someday want to be part of a coven, and there are dozens of adults who warn against teen groups (and even several of articles on Witchvox about it) . But if solitary practice is so wonderful, I have to ask myself why no one advocates it, at least not until asked or provoked. That’s what I will attempt to do, to go over some of the things that solitaries have the opportunity for, and even solitary fundamentals that anyone can use.

After all, you are an individual. In the end, you are solitary. And I don’t mean that in a bad way, I mean it in the most glorious way possible. At the end of the day, the Divinity shines down on YOU and recognizes YOU for what YOU are, and takes you into their arms as their child with your own uniqueness and respects you for every ounce of it.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. There are many people who consider themselves to be solitary Wiccans or solitary Witches. I almost want to say there is a majority – but I don’t have the statistics on hand to back that up, just my observation.

Most practitioners consider it a long-term goal to be able to get into a coven or other pagan group. Even though there are sometimes degree systems in place for covens, being a solitary is usually considered being “at the bottom of the food chain”, so to speak.

Some people are solitary because they choose to be, they know it is the best for their learning and they know it is better to study alone then with people that have the potential to delay your spiritual definition. Others are solitary simply because they have to be, there are no covens around, they are too young to join a ‘real’ coven, they do not have enough experience, or what have you.

I personally am some blend of the two. I began really studying and dedicating myself to “this path” a few years ago. I knew that I needed to study; I believed I had to have every rule memorized if I was ever to reach the glorious rank of a coven member.

However, since that time I have come to realize many things. First, I am not only a Wiccan. I am also Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Shinto, and a multitude of other things…so joining a group of strict Wiccans would probably drive several of us mad!

Second, I know how I learn. That’s not to say I do everything right, but being a solitary has taught me a lot of things about how to self teach, how to remember, and how to adapt that I don’t think I would get if I was being taught by another sole person (or group of teachers) .

Third, I don’t fit into a category that any degree system or standardized test can put me into. I consider myself to be very well-rounded in many types of practice; I meditate at least once a day, I am very accomplished in divination, plus some alternative and spiritual healing…but at the same time, I had forgotten what a “boline” was a few weeks ago and had to Google search it. You might find some of these apply to you and you may find they do not.

My point here is that self-exploration is essential to your learning. I have been self-exploring and self-coaching myself for long enough that I think if I were to join a coven, it would have to be very flexible at the least. And that’s fine with me.

However, most solitaries, including myself…no matter how much we love our individual practice, we want some sort of structure, some group or support system. This is not a bad thing, if anything it shows us that we are realistic. I myself have daydreamed about starting a teen Pagan study group (notice I did not say ‘teen coven’) before…leading group meditations and having workshops to carve our own wands and such…sounds glorious doesn’t it? But I know that in the end that is not what a group is for.

I have joined many Pagan forums and websites…some of which are like my own online Grimoire. I say almost nothing to members but comb through hundreds of information pages and topics, completely in awe. On others, I have a group of elders or mentors that I ask for help quite often, whether it’s “Can I use this pretty dish my mom gave me instead of a chalice?” or “Who can tell me in detail the exact workings of the lesser banishing ritual of the pentagram?” (And to be fair…some of the websites out there are total B.S.) . Many casual groups have the potential to help you.

This is the first rule of being a solitary. Solitary does not equate to being alone. I like knowing that I can plan my own rituals, or re-schedule a Sabbat, and that I can adapt coven rituals to my practice. But I also know that there are always people I can turn to. I might talk to my non-Wiccan parents about finding spirituality in ‘everyday’, or ‘mundane’ life (as I found out in recent months, my sort-of-ex-hippie Dad and New-Age-Spiritual Mum are great for those kinds of things) . I might go on the Internet if I want to construct my own ritual. I might ask some online Elders for their book recommendations or good websites.

The thing about being a solitary is, instead of having a coven Priest or Priestess as your teacher, the whole world is your teacher. You usually have to ask several people about one question and go through each answer until you can combine the facts you need and get your own. You may find spiritual answers in simple social contacts or in the workings of nature.

Not to say that coven members “miss out” on this, but it is often unrecognized. I suspect that since Covens are a quick resource, that problem solving may not be emphasized as much, especially with limited resources.

One of my mottos that I have come to revisit often is this: everyone has something to teach, everyone has something to learn, and everyone is sacred. So even if you’re in a coven, a solitary might be a good person to ask about making up your own rituals. Maybe that seemingly fluffy teenager over there really does have some good books to lend you. If you have no one teacher, you have to branch out to anyone that has the potential to give you knowledge – that means you have to find that potential in everyone.

There are pros and cons to every kind of practice. If you’re in a coven, you still need to be willing to branch out and seek information from people who don’t have the label of a third degree high priestess. Maybe those with less experience do have things to offer you. If you’re solitary, don’t assume that you’re 100% on your own, there are Pagan festivals and new age shops everywhere that are likely to have people willing to teach you a thing or two, and there are plenty of online communities or websites that list meet ups and moots in your area.

In the end, we all have to do our own self-teaching of a few things. No matter what path we’re on it’s always nice to have some sort of mentor to turn to, but keep in mind in the end it is you who decides what is best for your learning, and you are responsible for comparing and gathering information, and adapting to your learning needs.

A good example is taking a hike in a mountain forest. You can take an experienced Guide, or you can go in with your supplies and a map. If you take a guide, you’ll probably get where you want to be without wasting time, and you’ll learn a lot – maybe you’ll be able to become a guide for someone else someday if it’s really your shtick. However… You might go through the path with your backpack, flashlight, and map. This is riskier, because you have less experience. You have tools at your disposal and you need to know how to use them. You might get turned around. You might take longer than the tour group. But there is a potential for you to learn a lot of things that the tour guide will overlook.

Okay, so you might not get the mountain path right off, and that’s okay. But maybe you can learn a lot more about forests in general. You’ll learn the skills in how to find your way through the thick forests, and you might discover wildlife the guides will walk right past. Maybe you don’t know the mountain path so well, even by the time you’re done with your hike. But, by the end of it, you probably know a lot about finding your way when your lost, telling directions without a compass, using your resources, marking your paths, and you’ll even know your own strengths and weaknesses better.

Not to say that the tour group missed out, I mean hey, they had their fun too, and they get to do all kinds of stuff in groups that you simply don’t have the energy/time/resources for. But ultimately, it depends on what’s best for you.

In keeping with the metaphor, forests can be dangerous. Some more than others. Some places you simply shouldn’t tread without a guide, at least for a while. And never go in alone without supplies in the dark, when no one knows where you are to a place you’ve never been. You can ask a guide every now and then even if you aren’t in a tour group. And there is no reason members of that tour group can’t go on their own hikes.

Back to spiritual paths, that translates to this: go at it alone, if it suits your fancy. You will learn a ton, I guarantee you. You might not learn as much about traditional paths, but you will learn a lot about what your spirituality means. You will have the chance to dissect it, analyze each piece and synthesize it along with the paths of others. But be wary of where you go, and always be safe. You will need to learn to self evaluate, and other life skills.

Coven members may have these skills and they might be better at it than you, but you still have the chance to grow and explore your own self-definition.

I admit whole-heartedly that I have no coven experience to back this up. I have let several coven members read this and give me their thoughts, and I have spoken to many about coven practice. I am not bashing anyone who is in a coven – it is a wonderful way to learn, and I hope to have a similar experience someday. But I feel the need to stress that somewhere along the line we all need to self teach and self-explore. And if you make that self-teaching and solitary practice part of your everyday life, it gives you a lot of potential in the long run. You can learn things in unlikely places, and I think solitaries know that lesson quite well.

Remember:

Everyone has something to learn, everyone has something to teach, and everyone is sacred.

Blessings.

What is Progressive Witchcraft?

What is Progressive Witchcraft?

By Terminus

“We do not see our ‘trainees’ as empty vessels, waiting to be filled up, but as individuals with a wealth of experience and ideas which they can contribute to the craft. (Rainbird, 1993)

The use of the term progressive arose from a discussion between Ariadne Rainbird and Tam Campbell in London in the late 1980s (*3) They were discussing the evolution of Wicca, and the fact that it had moved on over the decades, beyond the labels of “Gardnerian” or “Alexandrian”. They clearly stated that the term was being used to describe a trend, not a tradition, and that any coven that was eclectic in its approach and not limiting itself to the Book of Shadows was being progressive.

In 1991 Ariadne Rainbird formed a network for covens who subscribed to a more eclectic view of Wiccan practice, called the Progressive Wiccan network (*1). This network included covens in Wales, England, Germany and Canada. 1991 also saw the first Grand Sabbat, at Lughnasadh, with around 30 witches from six different covens meeting up to camp out in the wilds of South Wales and celebrate together. This tradition was to continue for some years, developing into an annual weekly gathering in Cornwall for members of different covens to work together.

In 1992 David Rankine became the editor of the magazine Dragon’s Brew, which became the magazine of the Progressive Wiccan movement. Dragon’s Brew was created by Chris Breen in 1990, originally as the house magazine for the Silver Wheel Coven (*1).

To quote from the magazine (1992):

“Progressive Wicca is a movement which spans the traditions and emphasises networking, closeness to nature, personal growth and co-operative development. Personal experience of other paths is welcomed and integrated into covens, and we do not slavishly follow a Book of Shadows, as we see Wicca as an ever growing religion and the Book of Shadows changes and grows with each new Witch.” (*1)

Contact details for a number of covens were given in the back of each issue of the magazine. The editorial stance of the magazine was actively supportive of environmental protection, detailing protests, distributing leaflets and supporting organisations like Dragon (eco-magick environmental network) and Friends of the Earth Cymru in their actions. Campaigns like the ones to save Oxleas Wood and Twyford Down were covered, as well as events in other parts of the world, like proposed wolf culling in Canada, tiger conservation in India, and anti-nuclear testing by the French in the Pacific. (*1)

Dragon’s Brew ran quarterly until 1997, with a circulation of several hundred copies, and covered a wide range of subjects, from chakras and kundalini to Enochian magick and running effective open rituals. Different pantheons were also explored, including the Welsh, Greek, Sumerian and Egyptian. A number of prominent academics also contributed to the magazine, which received articles from distinguished figures such as Professor Ronald Hutton and the Egyptologist Terry DuQuesne. (*1)

By 1994 Progressive Witchcraft was widely known throughout Europe. David Rankine gave a number of talks at events like the Talking Stick Meet the Groups conference in 1994, and at various University Pagan Societies. The growth of the movement was acknowledged by Michael Jordan, who gave it a sizeable entry in his 1996 book Witches: An Encyclopaedia of Paganism and Magic. (*3)

To avoid some disharmony caused by the term “Progressive” in the Wiccan community the term was changed from “Progressive Wicca” to Progressive Witchcraft in 1993, as was demonstrated by the cover of Dragon’s Brew (*1). In combination with this Ariadne Rainbird and David Rankine set up the Progressive Witchcraft Foundation, to deal with enquiries about Progressive Witchcraft, and also ran workshops under the banner of Silver Wheel with other coven members on a variety of related subjects.

In 1994 Ariadne Rainbird and David Rankine started running correspondence courses on natural magick based on much of the (non-oathbound) Progressive Witchcraft material. This material was to form the basis for their book Magick Without Peers: A Course in Progressive Witchcraft for the Solitary Practitioner, published by Capall Bann in 1997. (*2)

Reference Material

————————-

(*1) Dragon’s Brew, a Magazine of Magick, Paganism & Progressive Witchcraft, (1992 -1997)

(*2) Magick Without Peers, A Course in Progressive Witchcraft. Capall Bann 1997

(*3) Witches, An Encyclopaedia of Paganism and Magic; Michael Jordon, 1996

Patchwork of Magic, Julia Day, Capall Bann, 1995

(*4) Talking Stick Magical Directory, 1993

This article was written by Terminus, 2000 and provided for free distribution.

————————————————————–

Casting a Spell or Setting Up A Ritual

Casting a Spell or Setting Up A Ritual

 

In the same way that every party has the same underlying structure, whether it is a party for child’s birthday, having a few friends round for drinks or a formal dance event to raise fund for the local community, your spell casting will follow the same basic format, whether you are casting a short impromptu spell or setting up a more open-ended ritual.

If you work from a basic magickal format, you can devise anything from a five-minute spell to call a friends’ missing cat home to a full-scale welcoming the spring for a hundred people on a local hillside.

What is more, once you have decided how the different components fir together you can change the order round to suit your needs. There is a huge variation in practice across the witchcraft community. Sometimes even experienced witches follow an order or way of doing things they were taught or read about that doesn’t fit with their own natural rhythm. Even if you are doing it right by the book, your magickal energies won’t be as powerful as if you were following the flow of the occasion. So, for more experienced practitioners, I am describing my practices for solo and group events so that you can re-examine your own structure–and then maybe decide it was right for you all along (Or that you are turning the whole ritual format on it head and creating an entirely new and exciting system).

For newcomers or established witch, coven member or solitary practitioner, once you have internalized a structure that suits you, you can create your own spells and rites, complex or simple, instinctively without needing to check that you are on track.

You will discover that some spells do not use the altar but are focused on the setting and everyday items. In these the structure is compressed but still effective. Don’t feel you have to go through all the stages of altar casting, for a simple spell. You can adapt the suggestions to either working alone or in a group.

What is Progressive Witchcraft?

What is Progressive Witchcraft?

“We do not see our ‘trainees’ as empty vessels, waiting to be filled up, but as individuals with a wealth of experience and ideas which they can contribute to the craft. (Rainbird, 1993)

The use of the term progressive arose from a discussion between Ariadne Rainbird and Tam Campbell in London in the late 1980s (*3) They were discussing the evolution of Wicca, and the fact that it had moved on over the decades, beyond the labels of “Gardnerian” or “Alexandrian”. They clearly stated that the term was being used to describe a trend, not a tradition, and that any coven that was eclectic in its approach and not limiting itself to the Book of Shadows was being progressive.

In 1991 Ariadne Rainbird formed a network for covens who subscribed to a more eclectic view of Wiccan practice, called the Progressive Wiccan network (*1). This network included covens in Wales, England, Germany and Canada. 1991 also saw the first Grand Sabbat, at Lughnasadh, with around 30 witches from six different covens meeting up to camp out in the wilds of South Wales and celebrate together. This tradition was to continue for some years, developing into an annual weekly gathering in Cornwall for members of different covens to work together.

In 1992 David Rankine became the editor of the magazine Dragon’s Brew, which became the magazine of the Progressive Wiccan movement. Dragon’s Brew was created by Chris Breen in 1990, originally as the house magazine for the Silver Wheel Coven (*1).

To quote from the magazine (1992):

“Progressive Wicca is a movement which spans the traditions and emphasises networking, closeness to nature, personal growth and co-operative development. Personal experience of other paths is welcomed and integrated into covens, and we do not slavishly follow a Book of Shadows, as we see Wicca as an ever growing religion and the Book of Shadows changes and grows with each new Witch.” (*1)

Contact details for a number of covens were given in the back of each issue of the magazine. The editorial stance of the magazine was actively supportive of environmental protection, detailing protests, distributing leaflets and supporting organisations like Dragon (eco-magick environmental network) and Friends of the Earth Cymru in their actions. Campaigns like the ones to save Oxleas Wood and Twyford Down were covered, as well as events in other parts of the world, like proposed wolf culling in Canada, tiger conservation in India, and anti-nuclear testing by the French in the Pacific. (*1)

Dragon’s Brew ran quarterly until 1997, with a circulation of several hundred copies, and covered a wide range of subjects, from chakras and kundalini to Enochian magick and running effective open rituals. Different pantheons were also explored, including the Welsh, Greek, Sumerian and Egyptian. A number of prominent academics also contributed to the magazine, which received articles from distinguished figures such as Professor Ronald Hutton and the Egyptologist Terry DuQuesne. (*1)

By 1994 Progressive Witchcraft was widely known throughout Europe. David Rankine gave a number of talks at events like the Talking Stick Meet the Groups conference in 1994, and at various University Pagan Societies. The growth of the movement was acknowledged by Michael Jordan, who gave it a sizeable entry in his 1996 book Witches: An Encyclopaedia of Paganism and Magic. (*3)

To avoid some disharmony caused by the term “Progressive” in the Wiccan community the term was changed from “Progressive Wicca” to Progressive Witchcraft in 1993, as was demonstrated by the cover of Dragon’s Brew (*1). In combination with this Ariadne Rainbird and David Rankine set up the Progressive Witchcraft Foundation, to deal with enquiries about Progressive Witchcraft, and also ran workshops under the banner of Silver Wheel with other coven members on a variety of related subjects.

In 1994 Ariadne Rainbird and David Rankine started running correspondence courses on natural magick based on much of the (non-oathbound) Progressive Witchcraft material. This material was to form the basis for their book Magick Without Peers: A Course in Progressive Witchcraft for the Solitary Practitioner, published by Capall Bann in 1997. (*2)

Reference Material

————————-

(*1) Dragon’s Brew, a Magazine of Magick, Paganism & Progressive Witchcraft, (1992 -1997)

(*2) Magick Without Peers, A Course in Progressive Witchcraft. Capall Bann 1997

(*3) Witches, An Encyclopaedia of Paganism and Magic; Michael Jordon, 1996

Patchwork of Magic, Julia Day, Capall Bann, 1995

(*4) Talking Stick Magical Directory, 1993

This article was written by Terminus, 2000 and provided for free distribution.

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!

Who Is A Real Witch Anyway?

Who Is A Real Witch Anyway?

Author: Amergin Aradia
It seems that the debate about who is and who is not a “real Witch” is coming to a head. Is this sect real as opposed to that sect? Are those in covens real Witches as opposed to solitaries’. And on and on it goes. It’s beginning to sound like the fight between factions of the Christian religion or between organized religions as a whole. That’s probably the way they began too.

This silly useless debate is pulling our community apart as well. The truth is, are any of us real Witches. And how do you define a real Witch? By whose standards and rules?

As an illustration of my point I’ll tell you my story. I have always known that I was a Witch, even before I really knew what that was. When I was very young (grade school) I had certain abilities and interests that other kids didn’t. I practiced raising energy, practiced ESP (as it was called then) , I astral projected, and I cast spells. I was drawn to the night, the moon and stars, and I identified with all things “magical.”

I wasn’t trained by anyone because there was no one to train me. I had to figure it out for myself and that was in the 1950’s so you know there were very few references to rely on even if I knew where to look. As I grew up I did what everyone else did then, got a job and tried to live what was considered a “normal” life, as unsatisfying as that was.

I maintained my interests and practices over the years as best I could, if only peripherally. There may have been one or two occult bookstores in the area but you really had to search them out and I only managed to get to one every so often and then only to browse because I didn’t know what I was looking for. You didn’t just walk up to someone and tell him or her you were a Witch and wanted to join a coven. And people didn’t come out of the woodwork to invite you to join one, even if you knew where to look.

So I dabbled, training myself the best way I could using instinct as my guide. At the time I would have loved to have found someone to train me and I would have loved to have found a coven to join so that I wouldn’t feel so alone. But they didn’t exactly advertise. And there was no Internet in those days to bring us all together.

So unless you were lucky, you were on your own. Like it or not.

Now that we have all these books, magazines, and web sites to fill in the gaps I find that my instincts did very well by me. Everything that I taught myself way back then is now being touted as the way to do it by the “experts.” I have since collected an entire library of books hoping to find information that would help me advance my practice but with the exception of a few interesting bits that I’ve added here and there, I have been disappointed.

I have also attended classes, open groves, and ceremonies, and while the people that I met were very nice it just didn’t feel right for me. I’ve also become very disillusioned with the influx of the newest brick and mortar shops. They seem to have become havens of self-help, yoga, meditation, and coffee and music.

And while I practice yoga and meditation myself I don’t want to go to my local Craft shop to pick up a yoga mat, balance ball, or a book by Dr. Phil. I want to pick up the tools for my ceremonies and spell crafting and, unfortunately, the kind of shop I want seems to be few and far between (except on line.) It feels as though the craft as I remember it is being homogenized and made so “acceptable” in the eyes of the general public that it is becoming useless to serious practitioners. But I digress here.

So to sum up this article, does it mean that I am not a real Witch because I had no one to “lead the way” or no coven to adopt me and teach me “their right way”? Quite frankly I think that makes me an even better real Witch because I had to figure it out for myself. And because of that my understanding and beliefs don’t quite fit into any prescribed dogma. So that is why I stay a solitary practitioner and that is why I have stepped back from the community as a whole.

But then I don’t look at being a Witch as a religion, with all of its implied rules and regulations and dogma. I look at being a Witch in the same way that the old village Witches looked at it. I revere the earth and heavens and do my best to respect and tread lightly on her.

I try to live a spiritual life without bowing to or begging the acceptance of any one archetypal being. I look at the Goddess and Gods as a representation on this plane of the source of all energy and power. I cast spells for my own benefit, and mine alone, as I don’t believe I have the right to manipulate anyone else’s life. And I believe that Karma will out eventually.

I believe that being a Witch is as simple as that. It’s in your heart, it’s in your soul, and it’s who YOU know you really are. Not because someone gives you permission to be one simply because you read and adhere to someone else’s views as written down and published. Or because you attend meetings once a week, or once a month, or even once a quarter.

But because YOU know you are. And whether you are solitary or a member of a group, no matter what that group represents, you are really on your own. You must practice, practice, practice, and hold that knowing in your own heart…alone.

That’s what makes you a “real Witch.”