My Experience: Training in Witchcraft


Author: Rhys Chisnall

It was a long drive up through the dark trees of Elevdon Forest from Bury St. Edmunds to a small village in the North of Suffolk, and none of us in the car knew what to expect from our first session of Craft training; after all we were going to see the Witches. We knew that the training would be one evening a week, three weeks out of four for two years with a break between Halloween and Candlemas. We also knew that it was free of charge (though we were asked to bring biscuits) as apparently, all genuine Witchcraft training was given free of charge. We had been told though that it would be very hard work and they were not kidding, though I did not really know it then.

But as we drove through the forest in mid spring through the dark of the early evening, the leaves just starting to bud, we were not expecting the right rollicking we would get for being late.

A valuable first lesson- you don’t mess with the Craft, you treat it with respect.

It was the start of a great adventure, an adventure that has continued over many years till today, and looks set to continue for the rest of my life. It is an adventure that has taken me to places that I never imagined I would go, within this world and within myself and led to experiences that back then I could not have even conceived of in my wildest dreams. It has been an adventure that has brought me into contact with the most exceptional of people and with complete nutters, though as with any path in the Occult it is a road that had to be trodden by me alone- no one else could have walked it for me.

There is an old saying in the Craft, ‘that a Witch is not usually financially wealthy but he or she will always feel rich, rich in experience, rich in knowledge and rich in the friends that they make along the path’. For me it was the exceptional training that I received that opened up so many doors.

I had found out about the training through a contact organisation called The Green Circle. The Green Circle was a group founded by the magician Marian Green and was an organisation, which amongst other things helped practioners of the Western Mystery Tradition network and make contact with each other. I had been trying to practise by myself, and with a small group of friends for a couple of years and we were not really getting anywhere, several of them had lost interest, and so I had joined the organisation in the hope of meeting real Witches.

I suppose my interest in spirituality had recently been rekindled when I had read a book on Wicca. Even as a teenager I was always a keen reader. I had grown up in the countryside, as my father was the deputy principal of an agricultural college near Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk. As such my two younger brothers and I had the run of the college estate that included woodlands, ponds, rivers and fields. Perhaps it was this almost idyllic childhood, entrenched in the beautiful Suffolk Countryside that had led to my abiding love of nature and led ultimately to taking up a spiritual tradition that works with nature and its tides and season as a metaphor for its mysteries.

The Training group was run by a couple of Witches called Tricia and Dave. At that time they were the High Priestess and High Priest of a long established country coven in the rural north of Suffolk, a small town tucked away amid the trees of Thetford Forest. They felt that a long period of training outside the coven was necessary, firstly because it gave the coven a good long while to get to know potential members before they could join. Secondly it tested the commitment of the potential initiate (it’s funny how two years filters out the flavour of the month brigade) .

Thirdly a coven is only as strong as it weakest link (as a working coven has the responsibility to ensure that any spell work it undertakes is done to the best of their ability) . Fourthly and most importantly it gives the potential initiate the tools to practise personal development towards self-actualisation, leading to personal transformation making it possible to experience the mysteries and mystical experience.

“It is training for a mystical experience”, Dave said. At the time I had no idea what he was on about.

During that first session we discovered ourselves sitting in a comfortable living room in a pleasant medium sized bungalow in a small rural town in the middle of the forest. We were sat on leather chairs with Dave and Tricia who I guess at that time were in their mid fifties, facing towards us, and their Siamese cat Joss curled up asleep on one of the arms of the armchairs.

Dave has a voice like Christopher Lee while Tricia sat quiet sizing us up, when she spoke everyone listened. There were pictures of birds on the wall, and a carving of the Goddess Freya hanging up between them. There was also an old fashioned besom standing up against the wall- the sort you would expect Witches to have, and a funny looking forked stick leaning up in a corner. They explained to us that attending the training would not be a guarantee of being initiated into the Coven and that we were expected to put the training into practise in our lives.

“You will change, ” we were warned, “if you don’t change then the Craft is not working. Do you want to change? What about loved ones, will they want you to change, have you the right to inflict that upon them?” Blimey they were certainly right. “You will become and activist“, he said, “not the kind of activist who demonstrates outside of Greenham Common, but an activist within your own life.” He also warned us very gravely that we would only get out what we had put in.

Dave said that he would play devil’s advocate to see if we were really thinking for ourselves. We were expected to give our own ideas and opinions; we were not being told what to believe. We were not there to parrot back what Dave and Tricia was saying but to say what we really thought, what we really felt and what we really believed. They were not at all interested in what we thought they wanted to hear or what was written in some Farrar Book. Dave challenged everything we said (even if he agreed with it) . “If something doesn’t stand up to challenge then it is not worth keeping”, he said. It was certainly tough, but then anything worthwhile is earned and is not easy, you value it more, however it was also going to be really good fun and rewarding as well.

There was a huge amount to get through in two years. It wasn’t about how to cast a circle, nor doing rituals and casting spells. These are the kind of thing that may be taught after initiation in coven. Nor was it naff thing like tables of correspondences, what tool is used for what, what colour candle to burn or how to make a magic wand. Nor were we being told about the Wheel of the Year, or myths about the Gods- we could find out all that from books on Wicca. Likewise it was not about being told what to believe or towing the party line. Rather it was learning and practising the skills required for magic, meditation, visualisation and concentration. We looked into the function of Altered States of Consciousness and how to achieve them, of the functions of myth and ritual, not just in the Craft but also in religions and spirituality in general. We were asked to write our own personal myth to help us find patterns within our own lives, and thus change it if we wished. How can you change something if you unaware of it within yourself? Also we were taught how to write our own effective rituals.

Much of the training was about our self-actualisation and personal development. In particular we looked at Maslow’s model of self-actualisation and peak experiences. Dave and Tricia suggested that Witches were self-actualisers or at least were working towards it. We also spent a lot of time examining Carl Jung’s Depth Psychology. We looked at his model of the psyche, at owning our shadow, coming to terms and accepting and integrating those parts of ourselves that we dislike and often project onto others. We looked at our contra sexual side, that part of our psyche that is feminine if we are male and masculine if we are female, but at the same time realising that these are often culturally determined.

It is the path to individuation to identifying more fully with the whole of our psyche rather than just with the ego- giving us a more balanced personality and thus picture of the world. In that way we can deal with the world more wisely and act with self-determination. It wasn’t enough just to talk about it or to learn about it; rather we had to put it into practise in our own lives. This meant that we had to be very honest with ourselves; a process that continues throughout our lives.

Dave and Tricia said that it was a life long process of personal transformation, and self-knowledge, the start of which is initiation leading to individuation, and the identifying of self with the whole- pure mysticism. This was part of a mystery tradition; after all it was written above the temple of the mysteries, ‘Know thy self’. What isn’t so well known is what is written on the inside and is only seen by initiates, ‘there is no such thing as a free lunch!’

All this was tied to the myth of the wheel of the year. During training we discovered that the Sabbats of the Wheel of the Year had little to do with Celtic festivals as is often mentioned in Pop Wicca books. Rather the Wheel of the Year was like a big onion, multi layered. On the one hand it referred to the tides and season of the year, on another they referred to the mysteries of birth, sex, life, sacrifice (i.e. as in being a parent, putting your children first) , and death. On yet another it might refer to planning, putting into action, achievement and reflection forming a virtuous cycle, and so on and so on. We were encouraged to apply it to our own lives on the inner and outer levels.

We didn’t shy away from some of the topics that are often seen as taboo in Pop Wicca and Paganism in general. We learned about sacred sexuality, a quality very hard to define in words. Dave and Tricia spoke about the anima and animus our contra sexual sides, cultural memes of masculinity and femininity and how both need to be equally valued within us. We discussed the Lady and the Dark Horned Lord, within and without as metaphors of life, fertility, death and change.

We looked at the reasons for working sky clad that is ritually naked. This is something that is guaranteed to cause upset amongst Pop Wiccan, who sadly seem to have a fear of sexuality and sharing their whole selves (warts and all) within a coven. And who can blame them? Sexuality can be a very scary thing. But if we cannot truly love ourselves how can we truly love others? Craft is also about self-actualisation and self-empowerment, and sexuality is the fuel of the Craft. However it was also mentioned many times by Dave and Tricia that Witchcraft is not for everybody.

Another potentially upsetting subject was the subject of death. We were encouraged to learn about the nature of grief and how to help others and ourselves through it. We were also asked to write our own funerals. There were some really good reasons for this. It made us confront our own inevitable mortality in a healthy way. By directly thinking about our end gives more value to the present and allows us not to put off those things we would like to do. For me, it makes me extremely grateful that I am alive and have the opportunity to experience the wonder of the World, both ‘good’ and ‘bad’. It also gives loved ones something less to worry about in what is already a difficult time for them. By planning your own funeral and letting loved ones know what your plans are, means that they can just carry them out with little stress placed on deciding on what the deceased would have wanted.

However we had to bear in mind that funerals are not for the person that has died but for the people left behind. Sadly this was put into practise as in the training group after mine, a trainee tragically died. Since he had planed his own funeral and discussed it with his wife, a lot of the stress of preparation was taken away from her. He had done a good job of planning it and had put a lot of ‘fun’ back into ‘funeral’, there were a lot of tears of sadness and laughter that day.

It was all pretty practical stuff that we were being trained in, stuff that needed to be applied to our own lives. We also looked at plant identification and their uses for herbal medicine, magic and myth, at wine making and dowsing.

As Craft is a practical spirituality that deals in real life rather than fantasy, we also had ‘Tricia’s Topics’ every week. In this part of the evening we would discuss a current event, a life problem, a coven problem etc. The idea being that Craft needs to be grounded in the everyday world of real life- ‘Feet firmly on the ground and head among the stars’. Thank goodness there was no talk of fairies or how to make a wand with a crystal on the end.

Now I have heard Crafte training criticised, usually by people who have not undertaken it. One of the arguments put forward is that surely you do not need training to join a religion, after all who has ever heard of a Christian or a Muslim being trained. If you are talking about a religion I would one hundred percent agree with you, and for many Witchcraft and Wicca is seen as a religion. However we were not being trained in a religion, but rather an occult and mystery tradition. In the same way that Hermeticism, Cabbala, Tantra or Sufism are not religions, neither was the Craft I was trained in. Like all occult traditions one of its functions was a kind of reversed engineered mysticism. By understanding the metaphor of myth and ritual, by attuning to the changing seasons and re-experiencing and celebrating the lesser mysteries as contained in the metaphor of the Wheel of the Year, and working with certain techniques, we would come in time to have mystical experience which is a life transforming event. As such the trainers need to have undergone this process and have the necessary skills to practise magic, and had mystical experiences and experienced the mysteries themselves, how else could they pass them on and facilitate them on others? In the Craft, second best is never good enough. However, I should add that many people have spontaneous mystical experiences without any training.

As I came to the end of my training Dave and Tricia put me in touch with a Gardnerian Coven in East Anglia, whom I promptly contacted and asked if I could join (you are never invited to join a genuine coven- you have to ask) . Having had recommendations form Dave and Tricia they were happy to take me on, and I was initiated into the Gardnerian Witchcraft. I stayed with that Coven for five years and learnt an awful lot from them. However it became clear within the last couple of years that they were moving in another spiritual direction to myself. Therefore I decided to go back to Dave and Tricia to do their High Priestess and High Priest awareness course, which was also two years long. At the end of the course Dave and Tricia asked me if I would be happy to take over their training course for them, as they felt that they had done their bit for king and country, and I was happy to agree. As such I left the Gardnerian Group though we are still good friends and was initiated (after asking) into Dave and Tricia’s country coven in the north of Suffolk. I have been there for ten years so far and really love it. Every meeting I learn something new, and the people in the coven are exceptional; our HPS is the best I have ever worked under- who brings the rituals alive with a magic all of her own.

So now I have come full circle, I have been training potential new Witches for nine years some of which have joined the coven. I love doing it for several reasons. The most important ones being that over the two years trainees become really good friends. I also learn so much from the trainees myself and it really helps to keep my skills and ideas fresh. One of the greatest things about it is there is nothing more rewarding or satisfying than to see people work with the Craft, to see them use it to transform their lives and themselves, starting them on their own greatest adventure of their lives.

Basic Philosophy of Wicca

Wicca, or Witchcraft, is an earth religion — a re-linking (re-ligion) with the life-force of nature, both on this planet and in the stars and space beyond. In city apartments, in suburban backyards, in country glades, groups of women and men meet on the new and full moons (Esbats) and at festival times (Sabbats) to raise energy and put themselves in tune with these natural forces. They honor the old Goddesses and Gods, including the Triple Goddess of the waxing, full, and waning moon, and the Horned God of the sun and animal life, as visualizations of immanent nature.

Our religion is not a series of precepts or beliefs, rather we believe that we each have within ourselves the capacity to reach out and experience the mystery — that feeling of ineffable oneness with all Life. Those who wish to experience this transcendence must work, and create, and participate in their individual religious lives. For this reason, our congregations, called covens, are small groups which give room for each individual to contribute to the efforts of the group by self-knowledge and creative experimentation within the agreed-upon group structure or tradition.

Not all practisioners are in Covens, Some prefer to follow a Solitary path, sometimes refered to as Solitry Wicca. Most who practice solitary Wicca follow more of an Eclectic path, There are some who still follow the same traits as covens.

There are many traditions or sects within the Craft. Different groups take their inspiration from the pre-Christian religions of certain ethnic groups (e.g. Celtic, Greek, Norse, Finno-Ugric); in the liturgical works of some modern Witch poet or scholar (e.g. Gerald Gardner, Z Budapest, Alex Saunders, Starhawk); or by seeking within themselves for inspiration and direction. Many feminists have turned to Wicca and the role of priestess for healing and strength after the patriarchal oppression and lack of voice for women in the major world religions.

There are many paths to spiritual growth. Wicca is a participatory revelation, a celebratory action leading to greater understand of oneself and the universe. We believe there is much to learn by studying our past, through myth, through ritual drama, through poetry and music, through love and through living in harmony with the Earth.

Before You Call Yourself A Witch

Before You Call Yourself A Witch

Author: Alorer

“When can I call myself a Witch? What are the basics everyone is telling me to learn first?” In this essay I will try to provide you with some answers to these questions. Please note that this is by no means the “end-all, be-all” of such views; it’s simply my own answer to a seeker’s aforementioned questions. Take it with a grain of salt people; this is the Internet after all!

So, you found a path that seems to fit you and satiate your spiritual hunger. You have probably read a couple of books, skimmed through a couple of sites, talked with a couple of people and feel a genuine, honest and strong pull towards religious Witchcraft. Thus you proceed to call yourself a Witch. Right?

No!

Before you pause in disbelief and stare the screen calling me all sorts have… names (mehehehe) for my apparent “bigotry” stop and think. What does calling yourself a Witch entails? Is it just a name for this spirituality that anyone delving into can take up? Or does it mean something more, something deeper?

Well, I’d say the second. Why you ask? Because any name or title of any empirical, practical and knowledge-filled system has specific connotations and denotes an understanding and a form of capability in the name’s/title’s fields. For our own example, what does one profess, even unknowingly, when taking up the name of a Witch? Well, you’ll find that views differ on this (just as they do on any other subject) , so I’ll present my own view here.

I believe that by calling one’s self a Witch, that person professes a level of mastery, understanding and experience in a variety of fields. Specifically, it denotes a range of various experiences, a degree of mastery over various arts of Witchcraft, a developed and well-grounded spirituality and an effective relationship with deity. I doubt any newbie that starts studying or is at the first few months of their studies have attained or reached any of those things.

I’ll provide a list of requirements that one should meet before they can take the name Witch for their path.

1. Sabbats: One should have acquired an understanding and comprehension of what the Wheel of the Year and its Sabbats deal with as well as have observed it wholly (without having missed any of the sacred days) at least once (meaning, throughout at least a year) .

2. Seats: One should have acquired an understanding and comprehension of what an Esbat deals with as well as have observed any number of Esbats between 4-7 or more within a year.

3. Arts and Crafts: One should have acquired an understanding and comprehension of a number of arts of Witchcraft of their choice and preference as well as have attained a level of mastery in those.

4. Deities: One should have acquired an understanding and comprehension of the deities of their choice and preference or calling as well as have built a working relationship with them.

5. Organization and Structure: One should have formed and follow a standard, stabilized and concrete path, with regular observances, rites and practices.

Of course, those apply on a specific form of religious Witchcraft, one that is influenced heavily by outer court Wiccan material (known as Neo-Wicca or Dedicatory Religious Witchcraft) or has Celtic influences. If you find yourself drawn to another form of religious Witchcraft, simply replace the sacred days, the requirements etc with the appropriate ones. In addition, this is geared mostly towards solitaries and not people under training with a traditional coven. If you happen to fall under the latter, please consult with your uplines/High Priest/ess regarding the requirements that specific Tradition has set.

Why do I say all this? What does it matter whether you meet certain requirements or not? I say all this and it matters because to call yourself something you have not yet attained, have not yet fully understood and have not yet fully realized will cause issues.

First of all, it will deceive and trouble those that seek you out for help be it practical or spiritual. Second of all, it will confuse you since you’ll find yourself unable to neither meet the expectations of the community nor help those in need. You’ll say, “But I don’t intend doing so!” I know you probably don’t wish to deceive others or find yourself in a tough position.

I’ll give you an example: let’s say you have a medical issue and want to find what it is and how to treat it. What will you do? You’ll probably seek out a doctor. Now, think for a moment how you will feel if the person you found calls him/herself a doctor but in all actuality is still only a sophomore of medical school. Won’t it cause you problems? It’s something similar with calling one’s self a Witch.

After reading all this you’ll most probably feel confused, lost and wondering, “What the heck do I call myself then?” Call yourself a Seeker. Call yourself a Student. Or find another term that fits your case better. However, I ask that you do not mislead others and burden yourself by calling your path something it isn’t yet or something it might never be.

NOTE: Due to the fact people might overlook this part of the essay: this refers only to Wiccan-influenced paths. If your path is different, more power to you. I am not Wiccan-influenced either. I simply understand that the majority of people are indeed on such a path, at least while in their Pagan “infancy”. These are completely my own views of the “basics” of such a path. I am in no way an authority on a subject. My word is not law; it’s not written on stone.

A to Z – A Wiccan Glossary

A to Z – A Wiccan Glossary

 
AKASHA: the spiritual ether (or Aether); the omnipresent fifth occult element which embraces the other four-earth, air, fire, and water; and from which they stem. This is the realm of “pattern” or causality, from which the realm the normally thought of “five senses manifests. Some define it is the “other” of the “two worlds” that the witch or magician walks between.

ARADIA: Daughter of the Goddess Diana, and a name for the Goddess used by Italian Witches or Strega, commonly used in many Wiccan traditions today.

ASPECTING: Any advanced magickal activity in which a practitioner manifests a particular aspect of the Goddess or God, in thought, feelings, behavior, appearance, etc.; Often as a direct result of a “Drawing Down”. Often a minor variation of this phenomena occurs with the selection of a “Magical Name”, of Craft Name.

ASPECTS: Forms, facets, or personas of Deity: for example, Brighid, Iseult,Eos, and Kore are all aspects of the Maiden, and the Maiden is an aspect of the Goddess

ATHAME: black handled, double edged dagger. Principally used to cast and dissolve the circle, for which purposes it is interchangeable with the magic sword. A tool of the “Element” of Fire in the Georgian Tradition and some others.

BELTANE: May Eve festival. One of the Ancient Celtic “Fire Festivals.” on this night, the cattle were driven between two bonfires to protect them from disease. Couples wishing for fertility would ” jump the fires” on Beltane night. Also the traditional Sabbath where the rule of the “Wheel of the Year” is returned to the Goddess. This Festival also marks the transition point of the threefold Goddess energies from those of Maiden to Mother.

BOOK OF SHADOWS: Traditionally hand copied book of rituals, recipes, training techniques, guidelines, and other materials deemed important to a Witch or a coven. Each tradition has it’s own standard version of the Book and each Witch’s book will be different as he or she adds to it with time from many different sources. Only another Witch can see your book of shadows. Also, traditionally, it may never leave your hands or possession until death, when it should be destroyed, or (in some traditions) returned to the coven to be disposed of.

BURNING TIMES: a term used by some Witches for the period of persecution in the Middle Ages and later. It is in fact a misnomer in some places, as Witches were only burned in Scotland, and on the continent of Europe. In England and the U.S., they were hanged.

CANDLEMAS: Festival held on Feb. 1. One of the 4 Celtic “Fire Festivals. Commemorates the changing of the Goddess from the Crone to the Maiden. Celebrates the first signs of Spring. Also called “Imbolc” (the old Celtic name). This is the seasonal change where the first signs of spring and the return of the sun are noted, i.e. the first sprouting of leaves, the sprouting of the Crocus flowers etc. In other words, it is the festival commemorating the successful passing of winter and the beginning of the agricultural year.This Festival also marks the transition point of the threefold Goddess energies from those of Crone to Maiden.

CARDINAL POINTS: North, South, East, and West, marked in the Georgian Tradition by candles of green, red, yellow, and blue, respectively. The Circle is drawn to connect these four points.

CHALICE: one of the tools of the Witch. Placed on the altar to represent the element of Water.

CHARGE OF THE GODDESS: The Traditional words of the Goddess to her followers, or “hidden children”. Normally declaimed by the HPS at every coven Circle.

CIRCLE: the area in which the magickal worship and spells takes place. Can also be used to designate a particular group of Witches or Pagans such as “Silver Acorn Circle”.

CONE OF POWER: power raised in the circle by the Witches assembled, and sent out into the world to work magick, is usually visualized as being retained and built in the form of a “cone” prior to release.

COVEN: an organized group of Witches, led by a High priestess and/or a High Priest who meet regularly for worship and fellowship. The traditional membership is 13, but in fact most covens number considerably less. 3 is the minimum in the Georgian Tradition. In Middle English, “Covin” a group of confederates; In Old French “Covine” a band or group with a single purpose; Latin “Com”-together, “Venire”-to come or move.

COVENSTEAD: regular meeting place for a coven. Usually the home of the High Priestess or High Priest.

COWAN: a non-Witch. Formerly used in a very derogatory manner. Still used in Masonic Ritual to indicate the non initiate and/or pretender to “real craft”. Not often used today among most Witches.

COYOTE ENERGY: trickster energies. Named for the American Indian Trickster, Coyote, who tricks man into learning what he needs to learn. Applies to one who constantly jokes and clowns. Also applies to the concept of “Holy Fool” in many traditions.

CROSS QUARTER DAYS: The modern name for the Celtic Fire Festivals of Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane, and Lammas.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Abracadabra- A word from the Jewish mystical tradition of Qabala. Its root is the name of the Gnostic deity Abraxas, meaning “hurt me not”. It is said to possess magickal powers, especially of protection from illness.

Adept- An individual who through serious study and accomplishments is highly prficient in a praticluar magickal way.

Aeromancy- Divination by the stars.

Aisling– Ireland: Dream or Vision. In the many Irish tales having this title, the person who dreams sees a speir-bhean or vision-woman from the Otherworlds, pronounced “ash-leen”.

Aka- The cord between the astral body and the physical body, most likely this concept is derived from the biblical reference to a “silver cord” connected the body and the soul

Akashic Records- Edward Cayce’s concept which states that somewhere there is a universal hall of data about past lives, magic, healing, and spirituality. It does not exist on the physical plane but rather on a more psychic level. Some believe it can be accessed on the astral plane, others feel it can only be accessed through a visualization journey in the mind.

Alba– The Isle of Skye; Scotland

Alchemist- One who practices alchemy.

Alchemy- A form of high magick which stems from the middle ages noted by the attempts of alchemists to make lead turn into gold.

Alexandrian Tradition– A form of Garderian Wiccan practice developed by Alex and Maxine Sanders in Britain in the 1960s.

Alignment- Synchronization of mental and spiritual vibrations with a god, goddess, or astronomical body. Often the complete balance and centering of the chakras is called an alignment.

Altar- A small working area and shrine many pagans maintain, where they perform most of their ritual and spell work.

Amulet- An object charged with personal energies through ritual or meditation often used to ward off a certain force or person.

Aradia-
The Italian goddess Diana’s daughter, said to be the origin of all witches. The book “Aradia, Gospel of the Witches” was written by Leland about Aradia and the practice of witchcraft

Arcana
– The two halves of the tarot deck.The major arcana consists of 22 cards showing dominant occurrences in our lives.The minor arcana consists of 56 suit cards (commonly called the lesser arcana) that assists the major arcana cards,or shows smaller influences in our lives.

Archetype- Symbolic imagery seen in visions, dreams, meditation, and mind quests. Used to interpret the meaning of the vision thereby betting understanding and communicating with the subconscious.

Arthurian Tradition- A Welsh tradition of paganism based on the lore of King Arthur (the “Once and Future King”), Merlin the Magician, and Guinevere.

Asatru- Modern worship of the old Norse gods.

Aspecting- An advanced magical practice which is seen most commonly in a coven as opposed to solitary. The practitioner attempts to manifest an aspect of the Goddess or the God. This is seen in the pagan ritual of Drawing Down the Moon as well as in other pagan religions such as Vodou, where the priest often allows the deity to speak through his or her body.

Asperger- A bundle of fresh herbs either carrying dew or dowsed with spring water, used to sprinkle the water during ritual purification.

Astral– Another dimension of reality.

Astral Plane- A plane parallel to the physical world, traveled through by the astral body during projection.

Astral Projection/Travel
– The proccess of separating your astral body from your physical body to accomplish travel in the astral.

Astrology- The practice of revealing the future by interpreting the arrangement of stars and planets in relation to astrological theory and the zodiac.

Athame– A Wiccan ritual knife. Generally double edged with a black handle, but not always. This knife is seldom used for physical cutting, if at all, and need not be sharp. It is *never* used to draw blood and Wicca do not draw blood or use blood in ritual. Its primary use is as an energy directing device, much like the wand, though with different common uses. compare: Boline, Wand

Attune- To bring different psyches into harmony.

Augury- Divination based on “signs” or omens.
Aura- An energy field which surrounds living beings. An aura is most often visible only to those born with the skill to see it, or those who developed this ability. A visible aura contains various colors and tells about the spiritual and emotional persona of the plant, human, or creature surrounded by it. However, an aura can also be felt, heard, or sensed through other means.

DEOSIL: clockwise, or sunwise. Traditional direction for working “building” magick.

DRAWING DOWN THE MOON: Ritual invocation of the spirit of the Goddess into the body of the High Priestess by the High Priest.

DIVINATION: magical method of exploration or inquiry into a situation via such methods as Tarot cards, runestones, I-Ching, etc.

ELEMENTS: Earth, air, fire, and water, plus spirit, which includes them all. These are regarded as realms or categories of nature (both material and non-material) and are not to be confused with the physicists table of elements, which the modern witch, of course, accepts.

ESBAT: weekly or biweekly meeting of a coven. Traditionally held either on the full moon or the new moon.

FAMILIARS: Either a Witch’s pet animal which has been trained to be a magickal helper, or an artificially created “elemental” which performs the same functions as the animal friend.

FIVEFOLD KISS, FIVEFOLD SALUTE: The Witches’ ritual salute, with kisses; (1) on each foot, (2) on each knee, (3) above the pubic hair, (4) on each breast, and (5) on the lips-really 8 kisses in all. It is only used within the Circle, but the words that go with it are the origin of “Blessed Be.”

GARDNERIANS: Tradition of Witchcraft descended from the teachings of Gerald Gardner

GNOMES: an “entity” or “elemental” that dwells in the plane of Earth or is associated with the EARTH Element.

GREAT RITE: The rite which is the main feature of the third degree initiation, and which is also laid down for certain festivals. It is sexual in nature, but may be `actual’ (and private to the couples concerned) or symbolic, as the participants wish.

HALLOWS: name used by some traditions for Samhain, or Halloween

HANDFASTING: Wiccan equivalent of a wedding. It can be made legal if the Priestess and/or Priest are registered as clergy with the local authorities, or it may only be considered binding within the coven.

HIGH PRIEST/ESS: Technically speaking, a Witch who has received the 3rd. degree initiation. More usually, the male and female leaders of a coven.
IMBOLC: Celtic name for Candlemas.
INVOCATION: The ritual “calling-in” of an entity (or energies) higher than human, either for communication with the caller through a medium or by visible manifestation or else to enter into a human body as in the Drawing Down the Moon. In some traditions, a Prayer

LAMMAS: August 1st. Witch Festival. The Old Celtic name for this festival is Lughnassadh. It is the Festival of the First Fruits, and is the first of the 3 harvests. This festival also marks the change of the Threefold Goddess energies from that of Mother to Crone.

PENTACLE: a disc shaped talisman; in particular, the metal disc which represents the earth element among the witch’s working tools.

PENTAGRAM: The five-pointed star. With a single point uppermost, it represents the human being. Inverted, with two points uppermost, it can have Satanist associations; but not necessarily. Some traditions of Wicca use the inverted pentagram to signify an initiate of the second degree.

QUARTERS: The North, East, South, and West parts of a magickal circle or other ritual area. (See also “Watchtowers”)

REDE: rule or law

SABBAT: one of the Eight festivals or high holy days of Wicca.

SALAMANDER: an entity that dwells in the realm of Fire.

SAMHAIN: The festival of remembrance for the dead, held on the eve of Nov. 1st. It is the last of the three harvests. This festival also marks the transition of rulership of the “Wheel of the Year from that of the Goddess to that of the God.

SCRYING: divination, usually using such methods as crystal gazing, or divination via incense smoke, or water as opposed to tarot or other manipulative means.

SPELL: a prayer, or verbal direction of magickal energies toward the accomplishment of some goal.
SUMMONER: The male officer of the coven who corresponds to the Maiden. He is the assistant High Priest

SYLPH: an “entity” or “elemental” that dwells in the plane of Air or is associated with the AIR Element.

TRADITIONS: any of the various “sects” of Wicca such as Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Georgian, Seax, etc.

UNDINE: an “entity” or “elemental” that dwells in the plane of Water or is associated with the WATER Element.

WAND: A rod or staff that is prepared so that it may be used for magickal or psychic purposes, usually to project some form of power

WARLOCK: a term coined in the Burning Times . It was used to denote a traitor to the Craft, or one who had betrayed the followers of the Old Religion. It’s origin is Scottish. Because of the negative connotations, it is not used by most Wiccans today.

WATCH TOWERS: Originally from the Enochian branch of Ceremonial Magick, now incorporated into many “Traditions” of Wicca, these are the four elemental “directions” or “quarters” (corresponding to the appropriate points on the compass) called to protect the Circle during its establishment. Each of them have a correspondence between the compass point, an element, and (varying amongst different traditions) color associated with them.

WICCA: the name most modern day Witches use for the Craft. It comes from the Anglo-Saxon word Wicce, meaning to bend or to shape. This is the root word from which we get wicker.

WIDDERSHINS: counter clock wise. Used for “tearing down” OR BANISHING magick.

WHITE HANDLED KNIFE: the working knife of a Witch. It is used to carve candles, and for fashioning the other tools. Traditionally, it can only be used in a circle.

The Natural Witch

The Natural Witch

Author: Hypatia

My mother was a natural witch. she died in 1998. She was not a nice witch. She practiced dark magick and was not a good mother. She abandoned me when I was just a child. My father tells me she was powerful and passionate. She would scare him with witchcraft.

The memories I have of her are so intense. I remember she loved nature… but she was a hunter. I remember she had a madness that seemed to plague the thoughts of others. I was four when she left on her journey. I guess it’s where she felt she needed to be.

Me… I stayed and waited… the journey of a four-year-old witch was a rollercoaster ride of emotion, turmoil and eventual discovery.

Even at four I felt different. My whole childhood I felt a strange connections to nature and my dreams. My stepmother used to say I was one with my dreams. I talked, walked and enacted my dreams even as I slept.

I ran away a handful of times. I wanted to find my birth mother. The first time I ran away I was 13. I was chanting on the streets of Long Beach, “I will be fine, no one will hurt me”. I came up to a Jack-in-the-Box and sure enough a large black man (maybe large to me because I was all of 13) offered to buy me fries and a drink and asked me to sit down.

I could tell by his eyes that he was a kind man, intuition mind you that I would begin discounting in my late teens. He knew I was running away and managed to talk me down from my emotional ledge. I walked home at midnight on a busy street across from a strip club with a sense of accomplishment. I may not have found my mother, but at least I was looking.

My parents thought I was strange about nature but put it off onto my Navajo roots. I used to stick my head out the window while my parents were driving to get a better look at trees. I spent hours in forest preserves. I always felt like someone was waiting for me. At first I thought it was my mother. It was, but not any mother I could visualize with my mental database at 13.

At 16, I was pushing my birth mother out, everything about her, especially the fact that she was a witch. Actually, as open-minded as I was, I wasn’t very apt to listening to the nonsense people spewed about witchcraft. I didn’t mock it. Somehow even at a rebellious 16, I was still respectful. I hated her though. I hated what she had done to my father.

At 18, I met and fell in love with a beautiful woman; it was the first time I had ever loved another woman in a romantic way. She was a witch. She was older than me. She was my mentor in many ways. I would laugh though as she would cast spells.

I would think she was ridiculous as she tried to teach me. I was intrigued, and the power was still in me, but the chaos was so strong. I couldn’t pull together a fragment of a thought, let alone try to piece together the history of my people.

My beautiful kept telling me that I was a natural witch. She said I had a power that I didn’t even know how to harness. She said she observed my connections with nature, but abilities to get anything I wanted without hurting people and again… the dreams. I told her I didn’t believe in that voodoo. I slowly pulled away from the first coven that I was ever in, without even knowing I was a part of something real.

It wasn’t until I turned 30 and forgave my birth mother that the Goddess really started to hone in on me. I felt Her everywhere. I craved the outdoors just to be near Her. I saw Her face in everything: the trees, the sky and the ocean. It seemed that even the wind was calling my name.

Still friends with the witch from my childhood, I began to confess my feelings. She smiled and said that she had known all along. She was just waiting for me to be found.

I have always had this power. It is confidence. It is love. It is compassion. And it is so much more. I cannot tell you any more than this. I am a private woman with my craft. I will not even share my name with others. The only person I tell anything to is my friend, and she only hears some things.

My husband doesn’t know. My kids are probably natural witches as well and that is a path they will find on their own. I found it, because the Goddess willed it so. I do not know if secrecy makes my powers stronger, but I figure I have no reason to share my identity with the world. If the Goddess wills it to be, it will be.

I wanted to share my story because I believe that others are like me. My grandfather was touched. My mother was touched. My brother and I are both touched. We never talk about it; but we know.

Maybe every person has the potential to harness such great power, but I know in my heart that the Goddess chose me. She sought me out. She spent 30 years waiting for me to find her. After my discovery I knew that She had been with me all along.

In retrospect, I felt Her with me at 11 while I was running through the meadow in the back of my house. I was a bookworm who never read outside. It was almost like outside is sacred. It was my first altar of sorts. I need this always to be my place of solace.

I respect my Mother, my Goddess, and reciprocate her kindnesses. I will always protect Her, the way She has always protected me.

Historical Roots to Modern Practice of Witchcraft

Historical Roots to Modern Practice of Witchcraft


The roots of the religion called Wicca, or Witchcraft, are very old, coming down to us through a variety of channels worldwide. Although any general statement about our practices will have exceptions, the following will attempt to present a basic foundation for understanding. Some of the old practices were lost when indigenous religions encountered militant Christianity and were forced to go underground for survival. The ancient mystery religions were lost when the practice of the rites was stopped and the old oral traditions were no longer available. Parents transmitted their traditions to their children, with parts being lost and new parts created in succeeding generations. These survivals, along with research into the old ways, provide a rich foundation for modern practice. Other factors contributing to the revival of the Craft are archaeological and anthropological studies of the religious practices of non-Christian cultures, the works of the Golden Dawn and other metaphysical orders, and the liberalization of anti-Witchcraft laws.

Modern Witches hold rituals according to the turning of the seasons, the tides of the moon, and personal needs. Most rituals are performed in a ritual space marked by a circle. We do not build church buildings to create this sacred, ritual space — all Earth is sacred and in touch with the Goddess and so any place, indoors or out, may be consecrated for ritual use. Outdoor spaces tend to be used from Ostara to Lammas, indoor spaces from Samhain to Imbolc.

The Witch’s Craft Name

CRAFT NAME

It is the custom in witchcraft to adopt a new name upon initiation. This reflects one’s new identity as a witch.

You may only disclose your craft name to other members of the coven. Certain covens have strict rules about disclosing craft names to outsiders.

The main reason for secrecy around craft names is is because of the power of names. It is believed that knowing the craft name of a witch gives a magical power over that person.

Many spells involve writing a persons name upon a piece of paper or object. Craft names tend to be individualistic in nature and may reflect heritage or aspirations.

You select a craft name through meditation, study or divination. Some are given craft names by the high priestess. Witches may also change their craft name as they advance in the levels.

The Wiccan Book of Days for Feb. 3rd – Februa in Februarius

Wiccan Pictures, Images, Comments, Graphics

Februa in Februarius

The transition from January to February heralded the arrival of a major Sabbat, but now that Imbolc has been celebrated, there is time to reflect on the name of the second month of the solar year. “February” is ultimately derived from the Latin word februum, which means “purification” or “purgation” and is linked with the Februa (or Februalia) festival of purification, expiation, and atonement that was held in Rome on February 15. It is thought that both the Roman month of Februarius an Februa, during which sacrifices were made to he dead were dedicated to Febuus, a god of the underworld.

“Many Happy Returns”

On this day, ponder upon the Wiccan threefold law of return, which holds that any magick that you do unto others will rebound three times as strongly upon yourself. Think hard before casting a spiteful spell lest you later have personal cause to rue its consequences.

Why I’d Want Darkness In Me (Or, At Least, Not Mind It)

Why I’d Want Darkness In Me (Or, At Least, Not Mind It)

Author: Fire Lyte

While listening to an old clip from The Way of the Master Radio – a Christian Fundamentalist show, the radio host asked why anyone would want darkness in them. He asked this because Kirk Cameron, the co-host, had infiltrated a Mabon ritual and recorded the whole thing. This question came about, because pagans supposedly celebrate the balance of light and dark within them and in the world on the vernal and autumnal equinoxes – contemporarily known as Ostara and Mabon, and the two hosts could not fathom why anyone would want to accept darkness within. This is a really good question, and one that should inspire a lot of internal questioning.

Why in the world would anybody want to celebrate the balance of light and dark within him or her?

This is one of those trick questions kids ask one another on the playground that takes some fact or circumstance, twists it, and asks it in such a way that there is no good answer. For example: Does your mother know you lie? If you say yes, then you admit to lying and you assume the guilt of having let down your mother. Alternatively, if you say no, then you admit to lying to your mother about lying, and you assume the guilt of keeping a secret from your mother. There is no secret option C in which you neither lie, nor have to admit your deceit to your mother.

Well, this question is the same thing. We celebrate the balance of light and dark within us, firmly acknowledging that both exist. It is not that we want one over the other, and it is not that we want only one. This is one of the beautiful facets of paganism that I see as a benefit to our collective ideals. We may not agree on a lot of things, but we agree that we worship something solid, something real. At the heart of many of our religious tenets lies a central Earth worship, or the notion that we tie our sabbats and magical practices to the physical universe. Prosperity spells when the moon is waxing and so on. As such, we have a tendency to honor the natural laws of existence. We celebrate birth and death equally, and know that they are not points of singularity, but rather spokes on an ever-turning wheel.

Let’s try an experiment.

Think hard. Raise your hand if you’ve ever wanted to take an item off the shelf and just leave the store with it without paying. I mean, this economy is pretty tough, and I see lots of things I wouldn’t mind having without burdening my wallet with an inconvenient charge.

Raise your hand if you laughed when someone tripped or saw someone go through hard times and thought, “They had it coming.” Raise your hand if you’ve ever wanted to be the one who collects on karmic debts or if you’ve ever wanted to take a break from monogamy for just one day. Raise your hand if swift revenge seemed like the only option. Raise your hand if you’ve ever really wished someone would die. Raise your hand if you’ve ever thought about what a razor blade would feel like going inside your wrist. Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a dark moment…

Now, keep your hand raised if you didn’t go through with it. And aren’t you glad you didn’t?

Aren’t you glad you had enough inner balance to view the dark thought, shed some light on it, and put it neatly back in the box of dark thoughts where it belongs? It doesn’t matter if you briefly weighed the option of stealing the bottle of soda or if you dwelled upon a guilty conscience for years. The point is that at some point or another, you balanced out. You were not swallowed up by that singular point of darkness.

It would be a wonderful thing if we only ever had good thoughts. It would be great if the world were a fluffy pillow and the sun shone everyday and the radio station only played your favorite songs. But it isn’t. I’ve said before that reality isn’t fun, but it’s what we’ve got, and that’s really very true. As pagans, we acknowledge that we have our dark moments, and we can view them from a balanced perspective, because we also acknowledge our light. We differentiate them, because of one another. How would we know what moments are truly triumphant, truly joyous, if we did not have the hard times to compare them to?

It would be a foolish act on our part if we turned a blind eye on darkness. It exists, and it is as real and corporeal as if it were caressing you in the night. We are only prepared to face it, because of the balance of light and dark, because of the knowledge of past dark times, and the light we brought in to turn the dark away. If you knew an army was going to invade your country, rape your women, kill your men, and burn your cities, would you acknowledge the threat or talk about what a beautiful day it is? There is something to be said for reveling in the good times, but we must not let the good get in the way of reality.

On a different tangent, dark and light can quite literally also mean the times of year. The darker parts of the year are times when we don’t want to be as active, when the earth is bare, and when times are a bit hard. Without the sun, it is easy to become melancholic and shut off. Again, in these instances, we celebrate the light and the dark, because we know that light will come again. We remind ourselves to not get complacent in the dark, and to actively seek to bring light into every corner of our lives during times when it doesn’t come naturally. (Both literally and figuratively.)

Celebrating the balance of light and dark is celebrating the very nature of the universe, celebrating the most natural parts of nature. We acknowledge both, because both exist, and we do not wish to be foolish when the time comes to face one or the other. The good can be just as overwhelming as the bad, and can cause as much harm. Have you ever been so ecstatic that you forgot about your other daily duties? Have you ever let time get away from you when having fun that it turned into neglect of yourself or others?

If we are not conscious of consequences, the choices we make are one-sided and potentially harmful, dark. I see this with a lot of college-aged kids who stay out all night partying, enjoying the goods of youth, but forget to study or don’t get enough sleep or forget to come to work.

Balance, true balance, is what happens when we weigh our decisions carefully before making them. It is acknowledging hard times, dark times, and finding the light in each situation so that we can move forward. It is the quintessential idea of living in the present moment, of accepting the realness of reality.

So, to that radio man, I say that I don’t want darkness anymore than I want light. I simply acknowledge that both exist, because I have a brain and the ability to think and reason and accept the nature of the natural world.

Now, on the topic of sin. I ask you what, exactly, sin is, whether we should be forgiven for it, and, if so, who does the forgiving. However, I want you to think about the definition of sin without using the words Christian, or Abrahamic, or Jesus, or Bible. Remember doing those exercises in English class where you were supposed to come up with the definition of a word without using the word in a sentence? I want you to do that here. Strip away the conventions of Christianity, because sin is most definitely not simply a Christian concept. The notion of sin exists in all faiths.

So…think about it. What is sin? The majority of definitions ascribed to the word sin are that it is a transgression against some sort of moral code of conduct. In some cases this code is set forth by divine law, but in other cases it is simply that which goes against one’s personal ethics or values. But, this is just a theological idea of sin.

Chocolate can be sinful. It can be a sin to throw out a perfectly good jug of orange juice when it’s half-full. Recent statistics show that more and more people are leaving their religion of origin – yes, specifically the Christian and Catholic faiths. Half of all adults have changed religions at least once. Half of all adults! On top of that, most people that change religion do it more than once. 44% of Americans, according to a study done by the Pew Forum, do not belong to their childhood faith. 9% more say that they do belong to their childhood faith, but they changed at some point to another one.

And, in all of this mixing of doctrines, beliefs, and practices, we’ve muddled down the definition of sin. Or, perhaps we haven’t muddled anything. Perhaps, since we are in a constant state of reinvention and evolution, we have created a new and modern definition of sin. As pagans, this is what we are all about. We call ourselves neo-pagan in a nod to the fact that we take the traditions of the past and meld them with modern thinking.

Enough with the set up. What is sin? Well, I am going to say it is an action that goes against our values, morals, ethics, or other personal or social code of conduct. I include social, because some might claim that it is well within their personal system of morality that murdering someone for personal gain, revenge, or other innocuous vendetta. Some claim they should be able to take as much as they can steal, because that’s their own morality. That’s not acceptable; I don’t care if you claim you’re on the most left of left-hand paths or what. It is not ok. Your rights do not expand and envelope another’s right to be left alone.

So, if we commit one of these moral transgressions, should we be forgiven for it? Simple answer: yes. Now, notice I have yet to say I believe sin is some sort of divine act against a deity’s will. I think we should be forgiven for our wrongdoings, because we are supposed to be the best people we can be.

We need to release ourselves from the guilt of carrying around our sins, and we need to allow the person we wronged the opportunity to experience the positive karma of forgiveness. (More on karma in a future article.) In order to move on and be balanced individuals, we cannot be weighed down by too much dark or too much light, and thus we cannot carry around all the darkness of sin. To be balanced is the goal, the epitome of religious study and introspection.

However, balance is not something that occurs by purely singular means. You do not balance yourself by yourself. You shed off what doesn’t work, take on what does, and meld them together in a cohesive lifestyle. Many of us do this by focusing on the positive during the waxing and full moons, as these are times of growth and prosperity. On the flip side, we are taught that the waning and dark moons are times to banish the bad aspects of our personality, to get rid of guilt and worry and the wrongs that are done to ourselves and to others. These are times when we both forgive others and forgive ourselves. Oh…and we ask the Goddess and God for guidance.

Who does this forgiving? I’d say it is a combination of people. I might ask the Goddess to help me shed myself of some sin or other, or I might ask for the opportunity to have a positive encounter with someone I wronged so that I can seek forgiveness from them. However, when that person doesn’t give forgiveness, I simply work harder to be a better person and not wrong someone else in the way I wronged him or her.

I would venture, then, to say that sin is we dipping our toes too far into the pool of dark. It is when we tip the scales too far to one side, and we seek forgiveness from that sin in order attain the true balance that is our end goal.

What we want is not to have the darkness, but to work towards temperance. Wow…isn’t that one of the major Arcana in the tarot? Isn’t that one of the lessons of the fool? We seek true, alchemical balance by transforming ourselves, and understanding that there is no true dark and light but merely lessons we must learn. Sometimes we must learn that something needs to be learned, to be taken on. Sometimes we learn that we must rid ourselves of something. Either way, once balance is achieved, we evolve, we transform into our highest selves.

So, I don’t want darkness anymore than I want pure light. I want to be my highest self, and the only way I can think of to do that is acknowledge my sin, seek forgiveness from myself, my Gods, or those who I have transgressed against. I learn the lessons of life that come from experiencing both light and dark, and I work towards balance and becoming my best self.


Footnotes:
References in article

Happy & Blessed Imbolc To All My Dear, Dear Friends!

Imbolc/Candlemas Comments
Happy Thursday to you also! In the topic I almost said, “Happy & Blessed Imbolc to you, again!” But I didn’t. I figured I might make some of you angry. Seriously though, have you noticed something about our Sabbats? There is always two dates given to celebrate them now. I don’t know if I am just starting to pay more attention to details now or not. But when I was looking for Imbolc graphics (the graphics always have a little verse or two describing the Sabbat) this time, it was stated, “Imbolc is celebrated around the 1st or 2nd of February. I know this is particularly true for the Spring and Summer Equinoxes. I grew up celebrating them on the 21st. Now it is around or about the 21st or 22nd. It makes me wonder, what on earth is going on? Can’t anyone agree on what day our Sabbats are supposed to be celebrated on? I have decided what I am going to do, though. I am going to start celebrating on the first day all the way to the end of the second! Perhaps I have my thinking all wrong about nobody knowing what days our Sabbats are on. Perhaps this is did on purpose were we can party our little hearts out, lol! That works for me! So when the Spring Equinox rolls around and I say, “Happy Spring,” the first day. Then turn around and say, “Happy Spring Again!” You won’t think I have lost my mind. Poor me, I don’t have that much left to lose!

Anyway, I was just wondering if anyone was noticing this or if it was just me. I hope everyone has a fantastic day.

Happy Imbolc, again!

Lady A

Magickal Graphics