misery loves company.
I have survived the Equinox, albeit not unscathed. Fire is signed and sealed, and went most excellently - but as I predicted, having to work on the edge of Water’s season due to timing issues made things…interesting.
Yes. Interesting. As in a cold, torrential downpour that started overnight Friday and did not let up until Sunday. I ended up spending several hours completely sodden and cold, in a way that I find deeply and fundamentally unpleasant. There simply was no other way. The work had to go on. Water simply wished us to know how fine we had cut the timing.
This did not, by the way, actually detract from the experience while it was happening. Fire, like Air, made itself known in fantastic and beautiful ways as we went, and it was deeply satisfying to be able to cap off this section of the work I am doing. What I have kept so deeply banked for some weeks now was exactly what was needed.
Rather, the price I paid for the rain waited until afterwards to assert itself with fever, chills, chattering teeth, and leg muscles that completely locked up to my knees from the cold and my wet feet. I ended up half-delirious on the couch at the covenstead by the end of the day, and we trekked home that night instead of staying over.
That may have been the wisest choice I made that day. I got no sleep because of the pain in my legs, yesterday was a constant fight for hydration and a deep permanent headache, and last night…well, it remains best to simply say I spent the evening enjoying the ambiance of my bathroom for the duration.
I think I have had, in total, maybe 6 hours of sleep interspersed through the last 12, I am now completely hollow, everything still aches, I have but the memory of warmth, and today I would gladly lie down forever and not rise, if my thrice-damned feet would let me.
But, as it stands, I am sitting here sharing my woes (and joys) with you, while i try to drink something and take some medication. After all, misery loves company. (Misery would do well to remember not to stand around in the rain and get herself soaked, in the future!)
For every follower I gain these days, I appear to lose two. (Not that I think Tumblr keeps track well, sometimes.)
Which leads me to the following statement:
If for some reason I unfollow you, it isn’t that I dislike you. Usually the reason is simply that I can’t track a lot of information at once. I try to keep my dashboard pretty clean, so if you post those long endless reblog conversations, constantly reblog your friends, or just post too often, I’m likely to drop you. I do still read those blogs - but I read them at their own pages.
I keep obsessively neat spaces if I can help it. Tumblr is one of them. You’re all victims of my broken brain. I’d be more sorry, but this is one of the ways I keep myself functional.
Which isn’t to say I won’t drop people for other reasons. If you display dishonesty, racism, entitlement, and willful ignorance on your Tumblr, I will drop you like a hot potato -no matter how much I have enjoyed your previous posts. (Especially if you’re using a religion you don’t actually follow as a fucking fashion statement.)
An adjunct to the above is this:
I don’t give a shit if you choose to follow me, either. It’s just not a priority for me. I have no interest in being part of anyone’s clique online, I don’t care if I’m popular, and I really loathe the idea of other people living vicariously through my internet presence.
So, in addition to not feeling bad if I drop you, please don’t feel guilty if you don’t feel the urge to reciprocate if I follow you. I assure you I don’t mind.
As always, I have removed questions I find irrelevant to me (or at least the ones I can’t be sarcastic about).
Please describe briefly your Path:
I have multiple practices - Eclectic Neo-Pagan witchcraft, British Traditional Wicca, Native spirituality. I don’t cross the streams.
Please describe briefly how you practice it:
When did you first commit to your Path?
The first time I stepped out of my skin.
How is your practice different now than it was then?
I have more life experience. I’ve been taken apart and put back together many times. What I understand now isn’t what I understood then. Ever onward…but maybe never smarter. ;)
Is your practice different today than how you thought it would be back then?
I don’t think I had a preconception of my practice, then or now. It is what it is, and it will be whatever it becomes. I’ve never tried to be anything in particular - I’m too busy just being. I don’t want to be a tourist - I want to be present in every moment I can.
Does your Path and core belief system differ now than how it was when you first started?
Pathwise, yes. I’m an initiate in a particular tradition now, which lends its’ own filter to reality. I’ve built up experiences that have altered my worldview and cosmology. And since I began Seeking without a core belief system at all, it is certainly different now simply because I have one.
What is your heritage and how does this inform your Path?
I’m 6th generation Canadian, on my mother’s side - Scots, English, and Cree. My paternal grandfather was Welsh, and I’m led to believe there’s English and Irish on that side of the family as well. I am properly a mutt, but I am also Metís, and very proud to be Canadian. Does that inform my path? Yes. And No.
What are your main influences for your Path?
The world around me. I’m always looking for the macrocosm in the microcosm. I am not a ‘big picture’ person - I like the little things, and the finer details. I also have an insatiable curiosity, and a desire to know the world empirically. It makes perfect sense to me to observe natural cycles, and try to maintain a degree of harmony with and within them.
Which do you do more: practice or research? Do you feel that one is more important than the other?
I try to maintain an even balance. Research is wonderful, but you need to get off your academic ass sometimes and get out there. And practice is fun and exciting, but you need to know what the hell you’re doing. I don’t have much use for armchair generals, or for people who treat facts as irrelevant.
What values and ethics are important on your Path and in your practice?
I keep it pretty simple. No doggrel poetry seems to be my primary goal. But I’ve gone on about this before - feel free to read it again.
What sort of cycles do you feel your practice goes through?
Ebb and flow, thick and thin, abundance and lack. Same as anything else. Experience has taught me when to let it ebb, and when to let it flow, and not to panic when the tides change.
What is one of the greatest obstacles or struggles you have had to over come?
Oh, I dunno. In the end it all seems rather irrelevant.
How do you see yourself practicing in ten years?
With a magic spork. Or maybe a wombat sidekick.
How do you incorporate your practice into your life?
Tending shrines, mostly. Small offerings. I talk to my Gods. I feed the birds. I make beautiful, imperfect things.
Has walking your Path changed you as a person?
I would be a poor person, if it hadn’t. Even rocks change with the wind and the rain.
Do you consider yourself to be a priest/ess? How so?
I have been initiated ‘Witch and Priestess’, but I’ve been acting as a priestess for friends and chosen family for longer than that. It’s about serving the Gods, and serving others, in my mind.
A witch? How so?
I practice witchcraft. That’s all.
A shaman? How so?
No. ‘Shaman’ is one of those words that’s the product of lazy anthropology, and doesn’t apply to anything I do or any culture I am a part of.
Which matters more: getting the vocabulary right or the actual practice of what we are trying to define?
My only concern with vocabulary is that people use the correct words for what they’re describing. Misappropriating terms or titles from other faiths or cultures, and using such terms completely out of context or incorrectly, drives me batshit. What you practice is what you practice. But call it what it is, not what you wish it was.
Please tell us something stupid, reckless or embarrassing you did once in your practice:
Many things I have done, and still do, can be reckless, dangerous, and socially unacceptable. Whether or not you are willing to take those risks is a different question. You learn from it…or you don’t.
What is the most frustrating thing about your Path?
Have you ever been frightened?
Yes. If you’re not, you’re doing something wrong.
Can you perform ritual without a script?
If I have to. I can also perform ritual without tools, movement or words. It’s never really come up as being that much of an issue, or a skill, to be honest.
Have you ever preformed spontaneous magick/spellcraft?
It’s ‘performed’. And ‘magic’. There - have some spontaneous spelling.
What are you still exploring or experimenting with?
Everything. Curiosity and empiricism - you never know until you look, do, or try.
What (or whom) are you the most committed to in your practice and on your Path?
My Gods. My coven. My chosen family. Hospitality and honour.
Ritual tools are …
just that, ritual tools. Some paths are defined by their tools and how and why they’re created and used. Wicca is one of those. Others, the tools are nice but aren’t mandatory.
Magickal tools are …
Well, for one, it’s ‘magical’. The ‘k’ is completely unnescessary, unless you’re like Crowley and need the gematria of the word ‘magic’ to add up to 11 to represent the female genitalia. If you’re not a Thelemite, drop the ‘k’.
Magical tools? Are anything you make magic with. Whether or not you use that item solely for magic, or you use it for other purposes as well, is up to you.
I really should get myself a magic spork.
The one thing you can’t do without is:
Oxygen and water, maybe food. That’s about it. I’m sure I could learn to cope without other things, if I had to.
Seeking personal power is …
what it is? Everyone finds their own level. Some want less and some want more. Don’t call up what you can’t put down.
Politics and your Path are …
unacquainted. I don’t do politics. I think in general we’ve got a choice between different flavours of shit, and none of it is good for much.
One thing you wish people would understand about your Path and/or practice is:
Wicca isn’t what you think it is, or what people try to sell you. Especially if you’re a teen.
Do you teach?
I have a couple of students.
What do you feel is the role of clergy in modern Paganism and Heathenism?
It really really depends on the individual Pagan religion. Clergy has many roles, and not all religions require the same roles from their clergy.
Wicca is all priesthood, and is primarily focused on serving the Lord and Lady through the proper performance of their rituals.
When the Veil (or Hedge!) is thin, how does that feel to you?
I don’t know how to adequately describe it. Like brain static. Like a cold wind between my bones and my skin. Like a distant low conversation just beyond clarity.
What entities do you work with most? (ancestors, gods, f— etc)
My Gods. Spirits, maybe - especially birds, and anything Airy. They’re everywhere. No f—ries, though. Those little fuckers are not welcome in my spaces. People have a bad habit of calling any and all little spirits, natural or otherwise, ‘f—ries’. Another example of lazy anthropology, as far as I’m concerned.
What is your relationship with the Land?
Conflicted. This specific land where I’m at, I’m not fond of. I live in town, and have no real yard or private outdoor space. I get no place that is ever truly dark, thanks to my position on a corner with three streetlights, and the fact that the large tree in my yard has been heavily pruned twice since I’ve moved here. I’m two blocks from the hospital, and one from a 1950’s industrial park area that’s never been environmentally cleaned. The land feels dirty and tired and I can’t see the stars from here.
Ideally, I am a country person. I want to go back to the country. I love the larger Land - I carry a deep love and bond to Ontario - but here I’ve never quite managed to make myself at home here. But I’ve been living in a city or town for 12 years now, and it’s not likely to change soon. I’ve come to accept I will always live at a crossroads, inside these boundaries. I like my little cedar tree where I make offerings, and my two little flowerbeds full of nasturtiums and baby pine trees. I like feeding the birds along my back fence so my (indoor only) cats can watch them. I like the rabbits who leave their tracks in the snow, and the bumbling huge skunk who owns the neighbourhood on summer nights.
The most important aspect of ritual is:
Reverence and mirth. You need to be able to laugh, sometimes.
The main purpose of ritual is:
Service. The ritual serves the needs both of its’ attendees, and the entities the ritual is set out for. This can be as simple or as complicated as you want or need.
What is the purpose of divination/dowsing (or whichever for of augury you use)?
Scrying I use as a means of non-verbal communication - visions from spirits or other entities flow easier for me in this medium. I’ve been reading tarot since I was 14, but I don’t think it reveals anything more that what’s already in your subconsious. I use them to gain a greater sense of clarity regarding decisions in my life. I also read for others, very well, but always with the emphasis that our future changes, every time we make another choice. The cards only show you the sporks in the road. Pendulums just end up as expensive cat toys here.
What was the most difficult book you ever read? (Either difficult to understand or hard to face what it said or both)
Ulysses - James Joyce. I enjoyed it, on a rather perverse sort of level. It’s a tie between that, and ‘Moby Dick’. The Canterbury Tales comes third, but only for having to pick my way through Middle English.
Most ‘Wiccan’ or otherwise Pagan books are stupidly simple to read, comparatively, and many are condescending to boot. I don’t bother, because I don’t need to be addressed as if I were a child, or had the same information repeated over and over at me.
What book do you recommend the most to others?
I’m assuming these questions mean specifically ‘Pagan’ books, and I -never- bloody well recommend them to others. They’re shite! I tell people to read Patricia McKillip’s ‘Book of Atrix Wolfe’, Tolkien and Heinlein, as much Michael Moorcock as they can cram into their heads…Warren Ellis, Alan Moore…gods, so many other wonderful things. I’ve learned more from them than from any ‘Pagan’ book.
What is you favourite podcast (if any) and favourite blog (other than your own)?
I hate podcasts. I generally don’t like people talking at me - in meatspace, or over the phone, or over my computer. Unnecessary noise and chatter seriously gets on my head in a bad way. I have an intolerance for it thanks to being bipolar.
As for blogs? I have no idea. I read a ton, although I wouldn’t say any of them are my favorite. They cover lots of different subjects. (For what it’s worth, I don’t have ‘personal heroes’, either. I’m just not one of those people. I value lots of different perspectives and ideas. Lots of things are great, special, and important to me. But I don’t worship them or their sources, or elevate one over another. )
If you could impart only one last piece of wisdom or knowledge, or share one experience with the world at large, what would it be?
An unexamined life isn’t worth living. Question everything. Find out why. Find out how. Do things yourself. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Please finish this meme with a picture, image or photograph of some sort:
Today has been all dragons and wind and bright sky between dark clouds. I could hope for a storm, but that will come tomorrow I’m sure, when the temperature drops 20 degrees overnight.
Very nice to just be, on these days, but I don’t get much done when I’m riding the skies in my mind. It reminds me, though, that I still need to make or source a bullroarer for myself.
Probably just as well that I’m cleaning house, so to speak, on my various books of pagan practice or witchcraft. Stuff I don’t use or need is finding its’ way elsewhere, today, and whatever needs updating is getting it.
This is why I use binders, by the by. As much as I like my handwritten books for my coven practice, they aren’t meant for change. They’re constant. And my personal practice is not constant. It evolves.
My path is not a singular one, but is many separate tracks that run alongside each other. I am a person with a foot in two worlds, in many different ways. And it’s only been the last couple years I’ve been at ease with that.
Today’s weather was so weird. Full sun, then thin cloud, then snow…then rain…repeat at random. I don’t care what it does so long as it makes up its’ mind - up and down and sideways brings headaches.
I turned Anonymous Mail off. Doesn’t matter - no-one asked me anything anyway. I guess I’m boring. *shrug*
Have another picture.
I’ve been restless for a while now. I change the bowl’s contents more frequently than normal when I’m restless. This is kyanite, green quartz, clear quartz, aquamarine, and green garnet - I am more than ready to get out of February, and into March. Or maybe just out of Aquarius; it’s a sign I always have issues with. The bowl will probably get darker and greyer, when we start getting March storms.
Just today I added some danburite and scolecite to the bowl, along with my favorite grey moonstone. I have been dreaming a lot but it’s a bit chaotic; I’m hoping together these stones will unsnarl some of it, and tame the frantic edges.
I have SO much goddamn jewelry, and yet I don’t wear it unless I’m going out or using it for magical or ritual purposes. I really need to remember that it does help, and wear -something-. I really should wear amber and bloodstone everyday. They’re the stones that help me the most, on a regular basis, and yet I don’t wear them. I got out of the habit of wearing amber when I started Seeking - before then I always wore at least one piece, constantly.
So I’m poking around looking for some good bloodstone, and thinking of stringing some amber. Can’t do much more than that until some more jewelry sells.
I’ve started picking up some followers here, so I feel as if I need to make myself fairly clear on a few subjects.
1) I am a Wiccan.
I practice British Traditional Wicca. And I see a very sharp divide on tumblr that I stand in the middle of. I am not impressed with the ‘Wicca’ I see here. Most of what people call Wicca isn’t. But on the other hand there’s a reactionary movement that says ‘I am not Wiccan”, in such a way that makes clear a feeling of disdain and dismissal.
Doesn’t leave me too comfortable.
I do not understand or consider Wicca a ‘do what feels right’, whatever-you-want-it-to be, eclectic nature religion. It cannot be practice solitary, you cannot self-initiate, and it’s not an orthodoxy. There is no belief or beliefs that can make you Wiccan - only initiation does this. I do not consider 99% of what’s floating around online to be Wicca. It is eclectic neo-pagan witchcraft, mislabeled Wicca out of misinformation and greed.
I understand Wicca as an Orthopraxic, Oathbound, Initiatory, Mystery-based, Experiential, Coven-based, Fertility-focused, Ditheistic Witch-cult whose members are all Clergy within a Lineaged Tradition.
On the flipside - please don’t dismiss me out-of-hand because I am Wiccan…or because I’m BTW. I’m neither a fluff, a flake, or an elitist, and you do both me and yourself a disservice if you categorize me as such.
2) I am an eclectic Neo-Pagan witch.
This contrasts with my above statement - but contrast doesn’t mean diametrically opposed. I don’t live at my covenstead. Wicca’s practice is meant to happen in proper places at proper times, and only those places and times - it’s not a lifestyle, but rather a pretty specific practice. When those things are done, they’re done. Wicca isn’t meant to be displayed to those who are not initiated members of the religion.
Initiates share the ways and means of performing Wicca’s rites, but when it comes to their individual beliefs, they can diverge wildly from one another. And that individual spirituality is what ‘personal practice’ is all about. It might belong to a Wiccan, but that doesn’t make it Wiccan in and of itself. And I don’t call it Wicca, because it isn’t.
I don’t hate solitary witches. I don’t hate eclectic neo-pagans. Those paths are perfectly valid paths. But I DO hate seeing people mislabel their path with a word that doesn’t describe it properly or accurately, at the expense of the path for which the label is accurate. Wicca is not a catch-all term.
When I’m home on my own, I’m just that - on my own. What I practice is my own path, which works for me. It’s still powerful, fulfilling, and totally valid as a religious and spiritual expression - and it’s what I’ve done for 20 years now.
3) Wicca =/= witchcraft.
Seen lots of people mixing the two terms up on tumblr. Witchcraft is simply the practice of magic. You can be any religion, or none, and be a witch.
The word itself should be your big clue - ‘craft’ indicates skill in doing or making something. That’s all it is. The skill of doing or making the things witches do or use. It doesn’t require faith or belief.
Practicing magic alone does not make a person Wiccan, and Wicca is not a synonym for witchcraft. You don’t have to be Wiccan to be a witch. You don’t have to be Pagan to be a witch. And you don’t have to be a witch if you’re Pagan.
I have already been given out to here, because of this stance. I am not unaware of people who follow family traditions of paganism that are well-mixed with witchcraft. I am also not unaware of ‘traditional witches’, who are not nescessarily neo-pagan. I understand that there are religious Witches who choose not to identify the particular pagan (or other) religion they’re mixing with their craft, deeming the craft aspect to be the more important focus.
In my mind, that still does not make Witchcraft a religion. It just means they’ve chosen a confusing and sometimes misleading title for their personal religious practice - which is their choice. Just as it’s my choice not to agree.
Just because there are forms of religious witchcraft out there, doesn’t make ALL witchcraft religious. They exist because someone has added an extant religion to their form of witchcraft - not because witchcraft is inherently religious on its’ own. It’s like saying that woodcraft is Christian because someone uses it to make pews, or crosses. Yes, that is religious woodcraft - but not because woodcraft is a religion in and of itself.
4) Be respectfully eclectic.
There’s a really unfortunate entitlement complex that runs deep in North America. People think they should be able to have whatever they want, whenever they want, simply because they want it. And some people just won’t take ‘No’ for an answer - claiming that it’s unfair, exclusionary, or racist.
Not all paths or cultures are open to outsiders. Many paths are completely closed to people from outside that culture - the Gods may be sworn to a particular land, or place, or to specific bloodlines. Others are semi-closed; there are ways to become a member of the culture, but the religion may require a person be an active member within the culture, living within it. Outsiders may not understand the nuances of these faith, or be able to express the religious or spiritual activities properly.
In some cases, their spirituality may be the very last thing they have that’s uniquely theirs - don’t be a complete ass, and misappropriate it.
Some groups and cultures maintain standards for membership or entry. Don’t be discouraged if you are not a good fit or do not qualify for them. It doesn’t mean you are bad or wrong somehow. What it means is there are probably other paths more suited to your needs, that you are free to find. Similar to how some writers get hundreds of rejection letters before being published, you may have to keep seeking the right path, trying out things as you go. One rejection doesn’t mean you should stop writing - or seeking.
You can’t know and do everything. The jack of all trades is the master of none. Avoid the temptation to try to do too much, or be all-inclusive in your path. Some things just don’t work well together. No matter how you try to reason or rationalize it, if two cultures or pantheons or practices are too far apart, you can’t make them play nice - and you are being disrespectful if you try.
5) Don’t rush.
I admit - this is mostly aimed at the newer neo-pagans, those just starting to seek their paths out.
I remember how exciting and interesting discovering something new and wonderful feels. I remember wanting to consume all I could, and the joy of having those ‘Eureka’ moments, where all the pieces fell into place and I suddenly comprehended a concept or idea. Even now, 20 years later, I still have those moments. And that’s my point. The path goes ever onward. Even teachers are also still students - you can and should always still be learning.
If you’re still a teenager struggling to establish your adult identity and your own authority, it can really feel vital that you get to express yourself freely - you really aren’t alone in that. Everyone goes through it - and everyone grows past it. If you’re really serious about pagan religions, and witchcraft, be willing to give it the thought, study, and time it deserves to be approached with.
Instant gratification is nice - but I guarantee you farther down that road you will come to a point where you’ll come to realize that the quick and easy answers aren’t nescessarily the right ones, and you’re back at square one.
There’s time. Your whole life is ahead of you. You will get to where you’re going, even if you have to wait a few years. Patience is as vital a skill down these roads as any other. It may be frustrating when things don’t happen when you think they should, or as fast as you’d like. But some things only happen when the time is right - and not a moment before.
Aging in and of itself is a Mystery to be experienced. I don’t see the world now as I did when I was 15. Or 25. I won’t see the world ten years from now as I do today. My understanding of certain things has become clearer, and deeper, for the experience of them through different ages and stages of life. I am willing to bet that yours will be, as well.
6) Get off the internet.
Seriously. Seems like an odd comment from a blogger, but really… Books and the web will only get you so far. Sometimes they’re not worth the paper they’re printed on - Neo-Pagan books are rife with misinformation, poor research, revisionist history, and plenty of author bias.
One of the reasons books and websites tend to drop off sharply once you’re past the ‘101’ stage of learning is because ‘201’ and beyond are things you need to physically do or experience. Once you begin to get more specific in your interests or direction, you start needing more specified teachers and materials.
And it’s well and good to know things - but there’s more to these paths than simply acquiring knowledge. You have to balance the work of your head, your heart, and your hands. Witchcraft and paganism are best taught, and learned, in person. Mysteries exist all around us, every day - and they’re not found in pages or pixels.
Finding offline groups or teachers is hard. I understand that. But things worth doing are seldom easy. The universe is not likely to drop everything you need or want right at your feet. Accept that you’re gonna have to make some sacrifices, and get on with it.
Right then. I’ve said enough. Hopefully that’s all as clear as mud.