Guide for Beginners

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I have seen a lot of posts and had a lot of questions around being new to paganism and Wicca. People wanting spells or energy or worrying about being psychically attacked. People wanting some easy to follow menu that tells you what types of paganism is available and which would be best for particular people. Below is my advice for newbies (also called neophytes in The Craft).

  1. There is no Newbie Quick Start Guide. Seriously. A lot of newbies are looking to identify their “path” or figure out what “structure” this new spiritual experience is going to take on. That is often the first mistake. Because The Craft is a spiritual path and not necessarily a religious one, there is no guide or structure that is universal. As someone once told me, “There is no Ten Commandments of Wicca.” Stop thinking what you are looking for is going to look anything like what you have previously experienced. Drop your expectations.
  2. There are no stupid questions BUT ~ I am even guilty of posting questions of social media that I don’t know an answer to without attempting to search for the answer myself. If someone says, “You should learn to ground and center.” Don’t follow that up with, “Teach me how!” Go search ground and center and paganism and then read several blog posts and website explanations of this type of working. Then try it for yourself at least three times – then take specific questions developed from your own research and attempts to a more experienced practitioner.
  3. When someone offers you a resource, do them the respect of actually reading what has been offered to you. Don’t just skim the document or website and then dismiss it as not what you are looking for. This reflects a continued search for that Quick Start Guide – and because there isn’t one, you are not going to find your answers in some easily sorted place.
  4. If you are a newbie, this does not imply you are an idiot. Stop flaying around in cyber space saying, “I’m a newbie! But I’m a newbie!” Newbie or no, you are a thinking, reasoning adult, who can read. Take some ownership for your spiritual development and path. Paganism is the spiritually doing path. No one else is going to be able to do for you as good or as effectively as you could do for yourself with a little research and self application.
  5. Paganism is not a quick fix spirituality. You don’t get out of dealing with your issues because you become pagan. In fact, paganism at it’s heart is facing and dealing with your issues. If you think you are going to find a spell that suddenly reverses your life and changes everything over night, you are not looking for paganism your looking for an easy out. Easy outs have nothing to do with real spiritual work.
  6. If you have major depression or mental illness before you were pagan, paganism is not going to cure your major depression or mental illness. Just like diabetes and sexual transmitted diseases are not affected by magick. You wouldn’t cast a spell to cure gonorrhea – what made you think casting a spell will cure your depression which is a physical ailment just like being sick is?
  7. Working a pagan path is to work your life. Paganism isn’t a religion so you can’t go to church one day a week and then do whatever. Paganism is a spiritual way of life that allows you to work on your issues and life from a spiritual place outward. Notice working is used here. You have to WORK AT IT.
  8. If you are a newbie, met someone and they immediately do any of the following:
    • Offers to teach you for a fee
    • Tells you you are being spiritual attacked
    • Asks you do any ritual, rite, initiation that involves physical acts of sex
    • Explains how they are some great pagan who is better than all other pagans~ RUN – do not WALK – RUN AWAY from them
  9. Most really experienced practitioners will tell you to research and read. That’s it. That is all you are going to get from good spiritual practitioners who are pagan. Experienced pagan practitioners feel that path to a newbie is to seek through research and study THEN after doing both of these extensively they will know enough about what they really want to learn and know.
  10. Follow pagan bloggers, authors and leaders and figure out who you identify with. If you have serious questions ask one of them, not some general group or social media outlet. Do your research on these people.
    • How long have they practiced?
    • Is their social feed filled with drama?
    • When you google them do bad reviews or other issues come up?
    • How much drama do they write about in their personal blog or social media?
    • Do their core values resonate with yours?
  11. Be a solitary practitioner for at least a year before trying to join a group. Be sure of who you are as a pagan before you seek other influences.
  12. Don’t be naive – bad people are looking for pagan newbies to exploit for sexual reasons, monetary reasons or just because they like to create drama and newbies are a fertile ground for this. Just because someone appears to be pagan competent doesn’t mean they are. Ask yourself if their life reflects the life of someone who is spiritually empowered or does their life reflect a person who is caught up in drama, abuse, or values inconsistent with what they espouse.
  13. You do not need a by your leave from a high priest, high priestess, arch druid, grand poobaa, mistress of the dark, coven, grove, community, circle, another witch, wizard or warlock to study paganism. All you need is a desire to seek the gods and willingness to do the work. Anyone else who says different is selling something or wants something from you.

That’s it. Research. Read. Try. Do. Be cautious.

Paganism is not a spectator sport. It is a spiritual path that requires doing.

 

Good luck!

“Pagan” Is Yesterday’s “Wicca”

Okay – I am Wiccan. That’s right, sLOGOWhyWiccansSuckneer at me. Look down your nose at me. Roll your eyes and whisper around the fire at a gathering how you aren’t WICCAN but PAGAN then point with great conspiracy that I am Wiccan ~ and ~ GASP ~ have publicly admitted it.

Let me set you straight. Western Mysticism came from the likes of Aleister Crowley and Gerald Gardner and even L. Ron Hubbard. They were all contemporaries and exchanged ideas about secret societies, the Masons, the Co-Masons, and the revival of mysticism and magick (both high and low) in the Western World.

Sure, Gardner allegedly coined the term Wicca. When I started Wicca; however, everyone was Wiccan of some flavor or another. There was a general understanding that Wicca was growing, developing and changing and had its roots in Western Mysticism. Seriously, when I met Celtic practitioners they were Celtic and still Wiccan.

Today – many newer pagans seem to break out in allergic hives when Wicca is brought up. They see absolutely NO relationship between paganism and Wicca. I am so sick to death of reading this Facebook question in pagan groups – “I see all these Wiccans but who are just Pagan?”

Holy CRIPES! WE ALL ARE. When did we decide that there should be some us versus them mentality within the universal sphere that we collectively call modern paganism? When did we decide that Druids and Asatru and Hellenistic and Reconstructionalists have no common link? When did our goals get set on division, separation, and exclusion? When did we decide that there are Wiccans and there are Pagans and they have nothing in common?

ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!?

The attitude I get from those who self-identify as pagan drives me up the wall. I AM PAGAN. I practice a Wiccan slant to my paganism BUT I AM STILL PAGAN. You don’t get to cut me off because of whatever preconceived issue you have developed about Wicca. Don’t take your issues with Wicca out on me. In fact, give me the courtesy I have extended to self-identifying pagans – ask me what I mean by Wicca. Goddess knows, I have taken lots of my time to try to understand every single pagan I have met and some magickal practitioners and other self-identifiers without a nice label. In fact, I have spent the past five years carefully not asking all you self-identifying pagans what exactly makes you different from self-identifying Wiccans. When I say I am Wiccan I get eye rolls and sneers and sarcasm all of which I would happily put up with IF I felt those were actually directed at me, the person, not “Wicca” the term. (In some cases I will grant, it may be me ~ the person.)

Mostly though, stop trying to act like Paganism and Wicca have nothing in common. There is just this long, long history that Wicca and Pagan have in common, whether you like it or not. Today’s paganism is just yesterday’s Wicca – changed, formatted differently and based in that Western Mysticism that was once universally called Wicca.

For a calmer explanation of this particular rant I defer to the better judgement of Marietta at Witchy Words.  My only issue with her lovely post is that modern paganism, Wicca and witchcraft all are inexorably linked to the resurgence of western mysticism that started in the mid 1800s. It is from this common heritage that paganism has split itself from Wicca and Wicca has become the narrowly defined term that Marietta sites.

Super Tuesday: Go and Vote

12771506_10208598234657181_1534600744041270841_o Something to know about me – I HATE SELFIES. However, voting is a good reason to post ridiculous selfies.

I posted today on WDSC Facebook group the following statement and I wanted to re-post it here. Because voting is important.

POLITICS – In WDSC we have a varied representation of political opinion. We try hard to keep party politics out of WDSC. However, WDSC does believe that you should VOTE. Everyone, no matter who you vote for, should vote. Today is the day. Don’t let your country down – and don’t tell us who you voted for. Voting is kind of like your soul. How you vote is between, you, your vision of the Divine and the person you voted for. You just have to vote like voting is as fundamental to your life as a soul is. LMNC 3/1/2016, WDSC Group Facebook Post

Pagan Pentecostals – Why Pentecostals Make Better Magick Practicioners

If you weren’t aware, I am a magickal practitioner, Wiccan, Pagan – give me a label that you are comfortable with that describes someone who does psychic, spell and celebratory work from a pagan perspective, who lives in the Southern United States.

I was born in Georgia – the heart of Dixie Land and raised a Pentecostal Independent Southern Baptist.

So we can all move forward on the same page, I need to give you some definitions.

Southern Baptist can mean two different things. There is the Southern Baptist Convention which is comprised of churches who affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention for political and economic reasons. Then there are Independent Southern Baptist churches who hold to the basic tenets of the Southern Baptist Convention and refuse to give up God’s authority to anyone else. This means that depending upon the church what Southern Baptist looks like can vary widely church to church in the south.

However, pentecostals have no convention and share some basic beliefs that can vary widely church to church. Wikipedia gives an excellent definition of pentecostal:

Pentecostalism or Classical Pentecostalism is a renewal movement[1] within Protestant[2] Christianity that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience ofGod through the baptism with the Holy Spirit. The term Pentecostal is derived from Pentecost, the Greek name for the Jewish Feast of Weeks. For Christians, this event commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the followers of Jesus Christ, as described in the second chapter of the Book of Acts.

In practicality, this means that pentecostals are taught from a very young age to channel the Holy Spirit and commune directly with the essence of God. What varies is the degree to which each church takes its practice of Pentecostalism. The spectrum runs the gamut from practices of poisonous snake handling to a simple speaking in tongues to ecstatic trance dance and spontaneous healing.

I was raised by my grandmother to firmly and thoroughly believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit as set down Biblically in I Corinthians 12:7 – 11 which reads:

The Holy Spirit is given to each of us in a special way. That is for the good of all. To some people the Spirit gives a message of wisdom. To others the same Spirit gives a message of knowledge. To others the same Spirit gives faith. To others that one Spirit gives gifts of healing.10 To others he gives the power to do miracles. To others he gives the ability to prophesy. To others he gives the ability to tell the spirits apart. To others he gives the ability to speak in different kinds of languages they had not known before. And to still others he gives the ability to explain what was said in those languages. 11 All the gifts are produced by one and the same Spirit. He gives gifts to each person, just as he decides.

For my grandmother the gift of prophesy and to tell different spirits apart and translate what is said when people spoke in tongues is all part of the spiritual legacy of my biological family. She didn’t like the term psychic because she felt psychics didn’t acknowledge the divine nature of the gift they had. Her first rule was, “This is about what God gives you, and not what power you have without God.”

There was this very clear knowledge that God, The Holy Spirit was responsible for her ability to prophesy, identify spirits of the dead and translate language. Lest, you think I mean only speaking in tongues, I mean any language. As a student in college I worked for the Latin professor. One day he was out of the office and I answered his phone. I had a pleasant conversation with the German teacher who was coming to college in exchange for one year. When my professor returned and I gave him the message he looked at me strangely and then marched to the phone and made a call. When he returned he said, “How long have you been able to speak German?”

Stunned I said, “I can’t speak German.”

He shows me the note where very neatly in my own handwriting in German was the message I had taken earlier.

“Heir Kitterman said that you spoke perfect German and was confused because I hadn’t told him my student assistant was fluent in German. You took this note in fluent native German. Why are you denying you can speak German?”

“Gifts of the Spirit,” I said to him quietly and left the office.

I had never studied German, but in the moment in time when I needed to speak German, understand German, I was able to. This has happened to me several times in my life with Spanish and French which I have studied but had until that day never happened with a language I had never studied.

The problem is that paganism and paganism classic training is driven from the idea that most people who find this path have no experience in energetics and therefore, a lot of the training is in an attempt to get them to learn how to run energetics especially in circle. If someone is a Christian they are seen at being a disadvantage when it comes to energetic working because most pagans do not understand the energetic and psychic consequences that come from a life raised, trained, and encouraged by the pentecostal church or any church that acknowledges the ecstatic gifts of the Holy Spirit and the actual manifestation in humans on this earth.

In my own community I am beginning to see the marked differences in pagans with pentecostal backgrounds and those without. Pagans without need basic training in energetics and working energetics. They resonate easily along the accepted resonances of degree levels, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and beyond. I can watch them use the traditional methods of psychic and energetic training and easily level up.

My experience with pentecostal pagans is quite different and helps me better understand why my own teachers had so much problem dealing with me.

When I came to paganism the term meditation was not only foreign to me but I had been taught they were dangerous. I had never “meditated” before. However, I had spent HOURS and HOURS and HOURS in different types of meditative trances. There was prayer trance when I was praying. There was prayer trance when others were praying. There was the trance of channeling spirits or receiving prophesy. There was the trance of singing the same song over and over again during the call to the altar after a service.

Because pagans see these things as separate and different activities, instead of similar magickal practices, my own teachers couldn’t figure out why given minimal instruction I was able to quickly master grounding, centering, trancing, pushing energy in a circle, calling the energy of the elements. For them there was no foundation from which I should be pulling from.

On top of that, I picked up tarot decks after I became pagan because pentecostals prophesy through touch and trance most often. I quickly learned that in pagan circles this type of divination, as they called it, was very scary to them. I realized they attributed the power coming from the tarot deck and without the deck in evidence (or a crystal ball, or mirror, or some tangible object) the whole operation freaked them out.

Now, this never bothered me because I have always known, even after coming to paganism where my power comes from – and it isn’t inside of me, it is through me. So when Divinity speaks, through which ever form Divinity takes, it’s all good, because that means a God or Goddess is there.

I can remember, however, reading at a gathering and them trying to get me to read an elder who was there. She pointed at me and said, “She isn’t just playing with a deck, you know. She is the real thing and I will never let her touch me or read me and you are all fools if you think she is telling you even half what she actually is learning from you.”

To her point, that was true. My grandmother taught me about the knowledge you should and shouldn’t release into the universe and that what we learn is sacred as the power God drives through us. I think she was the only elder who realized when I tried to explain my abilities in relationship to my grandmother that I was just blowing hot air and there was something to what I was saying.

However, it wasn’t until recent years that I began to recognize what was going on. As I met more pentecostal pagans I began to realize that, as pentecostals, we had had extensive training in energetics and magick working without knowing it.

It hadn’t necessarily been very good magickal training either. I notice pentecostal pagans have a base energy level they run that is nearly always 1st degree level before they have actually acquired the knowledge usually associated with that energetic level. Then these pentecostal pagans spike energy levels like no one’s business. One circle sister will spike to the level beyond first I related to channel and trance work during ritual and is completely unaware she does this. Is you point out what she is energetically doing it crash around her and she will sometime go almost energetically void. It is as if when consciously being focused on the working, she forgets she inherently knows how to do it.

Her husband has always resonated 1st degree energy for me and he has a background in some ecstatic churches but not as much as his wife. His energy spikes 2nd during rituals and when he goes to try to push the energy to third, he can’t reach it. Further I have seen him watch his wife do this with great ease and then ask how she is doing it. The response is that suddenly she isn’t and he is left feeling like maybe it was something he misread.

Then you take pentecostal pagans and put them in circle. If there is one thing a pentecostal pagan knows it is how to run energy up. Attend a pentecostal church and watch the energy ebb and flow before the preacher comes on. They use music, song, and dance to bring the energy level slowly up from dead stop to holy roll. All that energy the preacher will tap into when the preaching starts. He lets it out during the sermon and then releases the rest during the call to the altar after his preaching is done.

Again, this is not great magickal training. In pagan circles you want to whip up the energy and then do a massive release. Most pagans see the ability to direct large group circles of energy as a special skill set belong to High Priests and High Priestess and not always then. However, you give a pentecostal pagan a little instruction and they set energy off in a circle like an elder would. After all every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night they were doing it in church growing up.

My first public ritual was done with a group of about 150 pagans at a large gathering. Once ritual was finished, I was still a bit buzzed when I am confronted by a man who says,

“My Lady!” bows to me formally, “How long has someone as young as you been a high priestess?”

“I am not a high priestess,” I tell him.

“Ahh, so this was before you conference. To make sure you were ready. I am sure your teacher is pleased.”

“Umm, nope. I am not a 1st Degree,” I reply.

He watches me for a few minutes and then says, “Who is your teacher?”

I point him out on the other side of sacred space and watch with alarm as he marches to my teacher and begins to gesticulate wildly. Later I learn that my High Priest was reamed out for not granting the office my energy related to, which was no end of annoying to him. Now, however, I understand. Watching other pentecostal pagans I understand that while they can tap into the energy of higher levels and degrees they cannot sustain it for very long, largely because they were not trained to do so.

Moving forward I think Mentor/Teachers especially in the South must be aware of pentecostal pagans. People with an ecstatic Christian background who will have different abilities and traits than a Catholic pagan or some non-ecstatic tradition of Christianity.

The focus of training needs to be around recognizing meditative states and trance states specifically. It needs to be about sustain a level of magical energy with consistency instead of dropping it off like you would after church.  There needs to be a focus on not dismissing the magickal ability these ecstatic traditions of Christianity imbibe upon those who are raised as part of them from very young ages. Pentecostal pagans come with a definite ability that is far beyond what would normally be expected from neophytes and training should focus on making the best of that ability and recognizing that ability for what it really is – the remnants of having been trained in a different magickal tradition.

 

2/27/2016 Birch Beith

Sometimes I drawn an Ogham knowing full well what my day will be centered

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around. Today is one of those days and Beith reflects it perfectly. Looking on the website Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids I quickly learn that Beith is associated with the work of everyday. The work that keeps our world going round. It gives an element of protection as you go about doing that daily work. Since today is all about that type of activity, I won’t be looking any further for an explanation.

2/25/2016 Pine, Fir, Ailm

Given my meditative results today, choosing this rune this morning is not at all surprising.

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Original Artwork by Ruby Clark 2012

Reading through Blamires the following passage stood out:

“It is making you break new ground, to go forth and, using your will, to experiment in new ares and see your results.”

My morning meditative journey was all around my current project with insights into that project and ramifications for that. Then my meditation for resting my mind ended up being an extension into using the ham radio equipment I referred to earlier in the week in a different way.

I feel inundated with new ground and new ideas and overwhelmed at wanting to capture them before they slip from me. All of this makes any time I can disconnect from everything more important.

What new ground are you breaking in your life? What is overwhelming you because you can’t seem to capture and manifest it quickly enough? How do you disconnect in order to stay stable?

What references do you use to study the Ogham?

Artwork found here.