(This is just a list of some of the main reasons (in no particular order) that I am glad that I found my way home to Paganism. Some of these will be discussed more fully in future blog posts. And I have little doubt that I’ll think of 10 more reasons as soon as this posts.)
1) Paganism honors the feminine: I don’t have to feel guilty, dirty, or unclean for being female. Nor do I have to feel that I am in some way “less” because I am a woman.
2) There is no “One True Right Way.” I never believed in proselytizing, even when I was a Christian. I always felt that missionaries going out and trying to force people to believe the same things they did was wrong. After all, their own beliefs had worked well for them for thousands of years – what hubris!
3) It gives me a sense of connection with the natural world. The endless turning of the Wheel of the Year, the cycles of the seasons, of the moon, of my life: they are all connected, and they are part of me and I am part of them
4) It gives me a sense of connection with Deity: The God and Goddess are here. They are in the world (They are the world) not outside of it somewhere. And because of that, because They are part of the world and so am I, I have a sense of connection with Them – everywhere and all the time – not just in church on Sundays.
5) Immediacy. Our God wasn’t born, didn’t live among us, didn’t die, didn’t disappear from Earth to dwell in Heaven. No, our God is born every year, He does live among us, He (as the vegetation god) does die/sacrifice himself, and He is born again to repeat the cycle. It’s not a one time thing and then gone: our God, like our religion, lives.
6) Paganism is not static or carved in stone. It’s a living religion, one that grows and evolves and adapts to a changing knowledge-base. I don’t need someone else to interpret “God’s Word” for me.
7) Paganism is not based in fear. I’m not going to burn in a fiery pit and cry and gnash my teeth for eternity. I don’t have to be perfect in this lifetime: I can – and will – come back again to learn new lessons. I’m not being judged for my actions and I don’t have to feel guilty, dirty, or unclean for being human. I don’t “fall short of the glory of God.”
8) Responsibility. I am responsible for my own actions and their consequences. And I have the power to create change in my life. Yes, there is the Law of Return, that what you send out comes back to you, but there is no one leading me astray: Satan is not part of Paganism, not part of our pantheons – he strictly belongs to the Judeo/Christian/Islamic tradition.
9) I don’t have to follow a set of rule written by men thousands of years ago. All I have to do to understand the laws of my religion is go out into the world and observe.
10) I don’t have to feel guilty, dirty, or unclean for having sexual thoughts or fantasies: sex is also natural, and part of the natural world. “Sex” seemed like a taboo word to me growing up, but The God and Goddess are not celibate.
Recently I posted about casting spells to help yourself, and why it’s okay to do that. But what about casting spells to help others?
Of course that’s permissible. I think it’s better if it’s done with their knowledge and consent, but everyone is going to have different opinions on that, and I’ll admit that there is a huge grey area there.
What about charging someone to cast a spell for them? Much bigger grey area. I mean, yes, your time and energy are worth something, and there should be some sort of exchange if you are doing work for another. And money can be considered to be a form of energy. But…
Are you liable if it backfires or doesn’t work?
I think I’d be more comfortable with teaching them how to do it themselves: not only does that relieve you of liability, but it helps to demystify the process, make it more accessible and understandable.
And more enlightenment can only be a good thing, right?
Now, what about going to someone to have a spell cast for you? (This is what prompted this post…*)
Personally, I’d rather do it myself.
For one thing, no one is going to be more emotionally invested in your problem than you are, and it’s emotional energy that fuels the magic.
(Note: if you are sick or run down or otherwise unable to raise enough energy to do a spell, then by all means, ask for help from friends in the Craft until you are back on your metaphysical feet.)
But more importantly, this path is about taking responsibility for yourself and your life, for creating the change you want and the outcome you want.
Giving that responsibility to another lessens your own power and control over your life.
Don’t do that.
Do it yourself.
*I’ve been getting comments about how great so and so is and how much s/he helped the poster gain control over their life or do whatever.
(Oops! I thought I scheduled this, and found it still sitting here in “edit post” mode.)
Before I start, let’s talk about the Rede.
What is frequently not considered is that “harm none” includes yourself.
Taking it a step further, it also means not permitting harm to come to yourself. (And I include harm to loved ones in that.)
Keep in mind, also, that the Rede applies to Wicca and its offshoots. Not all Witches are Wiccan and not all follow the Rede.
That’s not to say that they are unethical or that they go around cursing people at will. It just means that they aren’t afraid of the dark.
Nor are they afraid to be proactive, or to take matters into their own hands.
Sometimes a situation arises where you need to not be a doormat.
The other night there was an incident with a new neighbor that set off some caution flags. He didn’t do anything, or even make any threats, but… let’s just say that his application for asshole has been pre-approved.
So, what to do?
He hasn’t done anything, but the potential for trouble is there.
Do I ignore my instincts or take action?
I believe in being proactive.
No, I’m not going to do a spell to get him to move. (Although people tend to not stay in that rental for long and I am going to hope that the trend continues.)
I will, however, be putting some extra protections on my home and my car. And I may extend them to the neighbors on either side of me.
Proactive defensive magic.
This can take many different forms.
Probably the most common is to place some sort of wards on your home, especially doors and windows. to keep out negative energy. I’ll admit, I’ve become a little lax about that lately, as the neighbors on either side of us are good people.
A friend of mine suggested some prickly plants on the porch, so maybe I’ll start a dish garden for cacti. Once it’s warmer (on a consistent basis!) I think I’m going to do just that.
And I was thinking about growing some rue in a pot on the porch as well.
You can also charge an object to act as a protective device: a rock, a statue, etc. I’m going to be on the lookout for a statue (or maybe a wind chime) of a cat to do that with. (Why a cat? Because for some reason, “Cat” is a protective totem for me.)
And, of course, there is always the standby of a line of salt.
And binding magic. I don’t use knot magic a lot but I have used it quite effectively to bind negative energy.
So many options…
I love being a witch!
It’s been a pretty busy week. I’ve been working, writing, editing, and trying to create space for new members of the household…
I was supposed to be getting some last month, taking the last four males from a litter. The deal fell through, but she offered me first choice of a litter due in mid-March.
Meanwhile, however, I found another offer and called and I will be picking up three little boys this afternoon.
I am so excited!
I love critters of all types, and I’ve missed having a pet. (The semi-feral cat doesn’t quite count.)
The cage for the rats will be right next to my computer (yeah, that’s gonna be good for productivity…) so we’ll get to know each other pretty well.
But that doesn’t mean that they are going to be acting as my familiars.
A witch’s familiar isn’t just a pet.
It’s not even a pet that you have a close relationship with, although that helps.
A witch’s familiar is a working partner. It lends energy to rituals and it acts as a defender.
Depending on your belief system, a familiar can be one of many things.
It can be a pet with which you have an especially close bond.
It can be a spirit that has assumed an animal form and comes to assist a witch in his or her workings.
In a more shamanic tradition, it can be a spirit animal, perhaps not even a physical animal at all, and in addition to protecting the worker and aiding in rituals, it can retrieve information and relay it to its partner.
There are also totem animals, power spirits, etc.
Hmm… maybe I’ll do a series on animals in magic.
You don’t find a familiar – a familiar finds you. They come to you when they are needed and they may choose to stay with you or they may leave when they have served their purpose and return if needed again, either in the same form or a different one.
I’ve never worked with a physical familiar, but I have had spirit animals show up, primarily big cats in a protective role. I didn’t summon them or ask for them, they just showed up – and I was grateful.
Would I like to work with a familiar in a physical form? I’m not certain. I think I would worry about it too much.
Not that the choice seems to be up to the witch…
Lately, I’ve seen the question asked if it is all right to cast a spell for yourself, for a new job, money, etc.
Why wouldn’t it be?
As long as you are harming none with your actions, why wouldn’t it be?
You are as valuable as anyone else.
Your needs are as important as anyone else’s.
Not less than.
Not more than.
The same as.
Where does the thought that it might not be all right come from?
I had my own suspicions as to the origin of that thought, but I ran the question past some Pagan friends of mine to see what they said.
Caro, a traditional Witch (not a Wiccan!) believes that it is a “recent” development that grew from Neo-Paganism’s desire to get away from the image that witchcraft is “evil.” Many modern Pagans are still strongly influenced by Christianity and its moral code and seem to have just replaced the (Christian) God with a Goddess without making a real break. Scratch the surface of many Pagans, she says, and you’ll find that their Paganism is only skin deep – the concept of divine punishment is replaced by a form of “karma” or the “rule of three.” Real witchcraft is still frightening to many who claim to be witches and they seek to sanitize and emasculate it. Adding the gloss of altruism made witchcraft less frightening, both to its practitioners and to those outside of the Craft.
But, I argue, the Bible basically says what I said above. It says to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Not more than, not less than, but the same as.
Brandon’s response to that is that most of the dogma of the last two thousand years is not based on the Bible, and part of the non-biblical dogma includes a denial of self, not for the greater good of the group, but for the divinity. Being “selfish” – even in a healthy sense – is seen as “bad.” In fact, we are still fighting the “evil” of masturbation because it is a “selfish” act.
In addition, he points out, our media and daily culture are all about stories of selflessness, of people risking their own lives for others, of putting others ahead of themselves, of giving “selflessly” to others.
This is reinforced by Becky’s experiences. As the oldest of three children, she was expected to be the more “responsible” one and help take care of her siblings, take on more chores around the house, etc.
She says that she still doesn’t know how to put herself first, and feels that putting oneself first is looked upon as being selfish by society. And especially so for women, who are taught to be everything for everyone, whether it be for our children, spouses, other family members, etc.
Thus, casting spells for oneself would be considered selfish by society in general, regardless of any religious overtones.
So, how do we get past this?
Well, for starters, by accepting that we are as worthy as the next person. There is no need to feel guilty for wanting to better yourself and for using your skills – including magical skills – to do so. It doesn’t make you a bad person. Honest!
And by understanding that there is a huge difference between the God of the Christians and the deities worshiped by Pagans. It’s not easy to cast off a lifetime of indoctrination into guilt and fear, but that is not what our deities are about.
You are worthy, not worthless.
“You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.”
I hear so many people saying that they hate winter, and it makes me a little sad. Winter has a beauty all its own, and so many people seem to be blind to it.
Oh, sure. I hate brushing snow off of my car, and there are times when driving is hazardous (and so is walking!), and I can do without the subzero wind chill (and the #!^% frozen hot water pipe) but I don’t hate winter.
For one thing, some of the most beautiful scenery comes in winter.
- A heavy wet snow that clings to the branches and makes the forest look like it’s made of lace
- An untouched expanse of snow, sparkling in the sunlight as if made of tiny diamonds
- Big fat fluffy flakes that drift and swirl and make you feel like you’re inside a snow globe
Yes, winter can be deadly: so can summer. That’s no reason to hate either season.
I think that one of the reasons that people hate winter is that they have drifted too far from the cycle of the seasons. (Part of that problem, of course, is modern life. People don’t live as close to nature as they once did. We now, for the most part, live in more urban areas and few people live within walking distance of where they work.)
What does that have to do with hating winter? Well, one of the reasons that people don’t like winter is because it’s so hard to get out and about, but that’s the point.
Winter is a time for going within, a time to draw into yourself, to rest, and to restore your soul. We’re supposed to be less active in the winter. Nature is resting, preparing for the new growth of spring: we should be doing the same thing. Our bodies and souls know this. Even separated from the natural world as we are, part of us senses that now is the time to rest.
But a lot of people aren’t comfortable with that. Our society pushes “go, go, go, do, do, do” to the point that people don’t know how to be still: people think that they have to be out doing something, even if it’s just window shopping.
And that dichotomy between society’s expectations and the soul’s needs leads to people “hating winter” because they don’t understand the true root of their distress.
Another reason is that less time out in the world also means less time around people. For an introvert like me, that’s not a problem, but, again, our society seems to be geared toward people not being alone, with the result that people don’t know how to be alone, to the point that unless they are in a relationship with someone they don’t feel like a whole person.
People aren’t comfortable with themselves. They don’t realize that they need to form a relationship with themselves, so they look outward, to others. And winter is a time for looking within.
Winter is a dark time, and people are afraid of the dark. They are afraid to look within.
But the dark isn’t evil, and the truest answers come from within yourself.
So don’t hate winter. Embrace the lessons it offers, and the time that it gives you to learn those lessons.
Oh. And the best thing about winter?
In my search for a topic for today’s post I turned to a friend of mine for suggestions. (We were talking via chat in gmail.)
She asked “Well, what’s going on in your spiritual life lately?”
“Trust, but I already wrote about that.”
So I did, and she sent back a quote from my “My Path to My Path” page:
College served to introduce me to Tarot and a few other things that would not have been approved of at home. (No, nothing illegal!) It also opened me up to the vague awareness of the “supernatural.” (In quotes, because I now believe that nothing is supernatural, but that’s a topic for another day. Paranormal is perhaps a better word.)
And then she asked “why not write about how nothing is supernatural?”
And since we are just one week away from Samhain (Halloween to the non-Pagan readers) I figured that that would be as good of a topic as any.
Except it’s kind of a short answer.
First let’s define “supernatural.”
The word comes from medieval Latin supernātūrālis: supra “above” + naturalis “nature” and was first used around 1520–30 AD. It refers to that which is said to exist above and beyond nature.
“above and beyond nature.” Remember that line, it will be important shortly.
A few more definitions:
1: of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe; especially : of or relating to God or a god, demigod, spirit, or devil
2 : departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature
Things to remember from this: “beyond the observable universe, of or relating to a god” and “transcend the laws of nature.”
And, finally, from dictionary.reference.com:
1. of, pertaining to, or being above or beyond what is natural; unexplainable by natural law or phenomena; abnormal.
2. of, pertaining to, characteristic of, or attributed to God or a deity.
7. direct influence or action of a deity on earthly affairs.
From this we get: “being above or beyond what is natural” “of, pertaining to, characteristic of, or attributed to a deity” and “direct influence or action of a deity on earthly affairs”
So, what do the definitions tell us?
They tell us that something is “above and beyond nature,” that something “transcends the laws of nature.”
Furthermore, they tell us that the “something” that is above and beyond nature and transcends the laws of nature is… deity.
For Pagans, our deities are not above or beyond the laws of nature: They are the laws of nature. The God and Goddess are not separate from our world, are not outside of it – They are it.* Nothing is outside of our deities: They are all that is, and all that is is Them. How can They transcend Themselves?
With that as our given, how can anything be outside of Them, outside of nature?
There are things that we do not yet understand, but that doesn’t make them any more unnatural than the fact that we flip a switch and light appears.
So, no. I don’t believe in the supernatural. It simply cannot exist in my worldview.
*(This concept, that our deities are not separate from the world is a hard thing for people to grasp and will be subject of its own post sometime in the future.)