Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Enthralled to the Wild Hunt: The Search for Our Truth

It is part of the religious education of any adherent to learn about their path’s Holy Days, the same is true of the Craft. In most currents of the Craft, the holidays are tied intimately to the cycles of the year and have a multitude of lore associated with agriculture, hunting, astrology, and much more. This approach has manifested itself into the modern Contemporary Pagan mind as an eight-spoke wheel commonly referred to as the Wheel of the Year.

Please understand that although almost all of the holidays, traditions, and customs associated with the Wheel of the Year are ancient, the formation of the conglomerate expression of the holy and the mysteries of our Lady and our Lord in this manner are a modern conception. This, of course, does not make its use less of a valid form of divine manifestation. The most important part of understanding the Wheel is that it needs to be viewed in the context in which it was designed and that it is supposed to be in regards to very specific mysteries integral to a Priesthood within Traditional Craft or as used by a specific Order within British Druidry*.

The proverbial cat has, however, been let out of the box and the basic form of the Wheel of the Year has been taken up as the basic model for most, but not all, of Contemporary Paganism. As a result, there are many different variants of the Wheel within the vastness that is modern Pagandom. On one hand, this is awesome, and on the other hand it often causes those within our community whom express their holy days differently to be marginalized by the majority whom do.

What amazes me with all of this is that although the Sabbats and the Wheel of the Year were adopted by some many in the great Contemporary Pagan community and in various forms of the Craft, much of the other lore associated with cycles of time were left to the side. There is more to the cycles and mysteries of life than just eight points around the circle. Please understand, I am not knocking the Wheel or those that follow it; I uphold the Wheel in my own approach to Natural Theology and the cycles of the year in conjunction with my Craft. I am just saying that there is more to the story and much of it has not made its way into the mainstream, for better or worse.

There is lore tied to the time periods between the marked holidays. Time is not static and although the Sabbats mark specific moments in time as they relate to our Craft, The Story, our story, the path, the mysteries, go on and continue to move and transform from one point to the next. We are the circle.


Right now, as I type this, the local cycle is in the time between Samhain and Yule. It is important to note this, since our Witch kin in the southern hemisphere are in the period between Beltane and Litha. To be able to get all on the same page in regards to this period I must look back a bit and then forward, all before talking about the here. It is much like identifying the local landmarks before consulting the map to see where one is at on it.

Autumn Equinox

Back at the Autumn Equinox several important things were observed at that point in the Wheel expressed in our celebration and rites. Our Lord entered the Underworld to take up the great hunt for Her, and he did so as a sacrifice to the spiritual kingdom. Wanna read more? Go here.


Samhain is commonly a time when Contemporary Pagans think about our dearly departed and the thinning of the Veil—rightfully so. There is other lore and events that transpire that give this period more relevance as the mysteries manifest as life.

At Samhain, our Lord is joined by our Lady whom descends into the Underworld to crown Him as the Lord of the Mound. The dead rise from the grave as the boundary between the worlds becomes less distinct, and the Wild Hunt begins.

There is so much going on here that is about us and our own spiritual path. When someone has cast off all that they have invested into their ego then they at that moment do not fight the ego but pick it up as an ally. This makes them the rightful and sovereign ruler over their own inner spiritual landscape and not just the outward form. At that moment, the throne is empowered by the joining of truth with Her. The touch of Her as within us is felt and known.

While this is happening, all of our own past, good and bad, return to us to learn to dance with and become the sovereign over. Each of these ancestors of the now must be honored, treated, and laid to rest. Additionally, every custom, tradition, and nuance of behavior for which we have subscribed comes to our inner table to dine as well. This is Third Harvest, when our herd must be culled. The boundary between what we have known, the unknown, the fallen, the hidden, the ego, and the heart melts away so that there is only an empty vessel.  This is the catalyst for the Wild Hunt. The Wild Hunt is the means by which the vessel will be filled.

We as First Ancestor are born, and the Sun fills the heart with it brilliance.

Harvest Past

Three Harvests**? My we have busy Witches. Contrary to popular belief, the work is not over. Sure the harvest has been reaped but there is other work remaining if the inner fields are to be prepared for future planting. You see both spiritual work and agriculture work leave waste behind. There are tools that need to put away and dead or dying plants that need to be removed from the landscape. The meat from the herd culling needs to be treated and cured by salt and smoke or it will rot and sustain no one through the Winter.

Spiritual work involves a lot of purification. Some things once useful need to be stowed, others removed, and we must be given time to transform. This is what this time of year teaches.  Additionally, the Witch that ignores this vital aspect of their Craft is asking for future problems in regards to their work. It is hard to plow a field littered with debris.

The Wild Hunt

In Christianity, there is a term used to explain part of the human condition in regards to spirituality. I have absolutely no qualms borrowing it either. It is called, “The Dark Night of the Soul.” In essence it is the spiritual crisis in which all practitioners will find themselves at some point along their path. It is when everything they have ever known is called into question and disillusion rules separating one’s connection with the holy. This phenomenon is not unique to any particular religion. In fact, the Wild Hunt is about this.

Casting off everything one has come to know and trust all wrapped up in a nice ego shaped bundle is the perfect catalyst for such a crisis. The Wild Hunt is our desperate inner search for the Truth of not only who we are but about everything. This is what causes the past to rise again, and why the boundary between our own worlds thins.

The Silence and the Sun

The Christian offered solution to the Dark Night of the Soul is different than the Witch’s answer to the Wild Hunt. In most, but not all, forms of Christianity the answer is about faith. Which intellectually makes sense since their religious focus is orthodox. Witches, however, are othroprax. Our answer then lay in the practice of or the doing.

The specific doing in this regards may confuse some though. You see, in order, for the fields to be cleared and the ghosts past gathered and returned home, the Witch must purposely engage that space in their center that is active silence. It is the place where our union with divine exists. It is the place that initiates. This place needs to be picked up as a cloak and worn so that it may transform and fill the empty vessel with its essence, by smoke and salt is the harvest cured. At this moment, the Sun is born… and the Wheel turns.

The Craft is the means by which this is done. This is what it means to practice Witchcraft.


Boidh Se!


“Lost in a thicket bare-foot upon a thorned path.”

*The Wheel of the Year first made its way into Contemporary Paganism via BTW and the OBOD. Interestingly you will note that the Grand Ole Man and the late first Chosen Chief of the Obodies were associates together in the ADO.

**Lughnasadh, Mabon, and Samhain respectively.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Pilgrimages are for Witches

So I have returned… which I am saying tongue in cheek. You see, I left. Now I am not talking about blogging, and I can understand the confusion there, because I did leave that and sorta started back up again now that the burnout has run its course. I, however, digress; and feel there has been enough vague beating around the bush. In short, I have returned from my pilgrimage.

I know these aren’t words that commonly come forth from the mouth of a Witch. Pilgrimages are not the crux of the modern Craft, but any denial that deliberate spiritual journeys can and are fulfilling transformative experiences would simple be wrong. For many reasons, of which I will attempt to sum up shortly, I found myself making plans to travel across the country to a place I had never been and staying with people whom I had never met.

As a general disclaimer, I should point out that there is much about my trip that I cannot explain, the mysteries work that way. Additionally, there are some things I choose not to talk about, although I could if I chose to discard oaths, the confidences of close friends, and the place where silence sits and joins us to spirit.

The Why of the Backstory

Let us get straight to the bone. The reason I traveled 2,900 miles (4667.1 Kilometers) was to meet some people. That is the short of it anyway. Fret not, there is more to the story and I am going to briefly go over it.

I have made no secret that I am an Initiated Witch. What I have not discussed too much, because I am not one to put such out on the public table for all to poke at as they will, is that I am initiated formally into more than one Tradition. In regards to one of these Traditionic (I dub thee a word!) threads, a couple of years ago I moved to a different State and doing so I also moved away from the Coven in which I was a member. I cannot speak for everyone’s experiences for whom have moved away from a Coven before, but it has been my experience that one remains a member of the family, albeit far away, regardless of the distance between. Of additional note, during that period away almost all of the Initiates of that Coven moved also. In short, life stuff happened and people moved.

As it so happens most, but not all, of the Coven’s initiates moved back to the area where the other Covens within our Line* are mostly located. As a result of my moving and our Coven having branched from the parent thousands of miles away, though I have met others in the Tradition of different lines, I had not physically met the various other Witches, outside of my Coven, within the Line I received initiation into. This greater family is whom I wished to meet, outside of social media that is, by means of this pilgrimage.

The Stuff of Which Pilgrimages are Made

Not all pilgrimages are colored the same, but there are a few features that they all share. Just possibly this blog and a better understanding of how a pilgrimage can play a role in one’s spiritual life will be a catalyst for others in the Craft to embark thus, which is my motive for sharing this story. I wish for others to possess their own transformative experience, as I have; the berries in yonder bush are indeed sweet and fulfilling, perhaps you should go and taste of them?

The first trait of pilgrimages is that they are devotional in nature. Additionally: They can either be small, large, or anywhere in between.  They also have some destination in which involves a person (or people), a place(s), or thing(s). The travel to or at this destination needs to have an added focus of effort on part of the individual in order for it to become more than just a mundane trip. Most importantly, the experience is meant to transform.

Essentially, any trip that has all of these qualities can qualify. Let’s say that there is a particular tree in the park near my house (it is less that 100 yard walk to the park) and that I choose to engage that tree spiritually. Then I can make the short walk over into a pilgrimage. I have a destination, and now all I need to do is intentionally make the process one that is devotional with the goal of allowing personal gnosis to bestow some Awen (divine inspiration) onto my metaphorical plate. There are lots of ways this could be done. For example, I could decide that I want to walk to the tree, at which I will sit, invoke the Genii Loci, and use the tree as an ally and gateway for an introduction to with the local Genii Loci, and subsequently beginning a new spirit relationship the experience of interacting with will shape my own existential sphere.  It is common in villages across the world for people to routines make short pilgrimages to local shrines, places, gurus, etc. There are also many that make much longer journeys are well.

There should be no doubt that there are many forms that pilgrimages can take.

Sitting in a Pothole

In magick and in those practices in which incorporate it as a method of self-realization there are a number of traps or pitfalls, metaphorically speaking, into which the practitioner can fall. This is part of why Coven work is so valued in the Traditionalist community. With a Coven, and older Covens and Elders in the upline** (and greater Tradition for that matter), there is a pool of experience of people that have walked the path and can warn of these potholes in the road. Not to mention, group work often involves honest and frank critical conversation. It is not always easy, but it is one of the Craft’s methods of allowing an individual to work these issues. I should also note, there are many praxis based parts of the Craft as well that help to guide Witches around such.

Sometimes though, people fall into one of them. People are not perfect, and the Craft is composed entirely of people. The problem with these traps is that the people in them don’t know they have fallen into one. Though others may be well aware and even have had said something to the individual about it, it takes that person seeing through the illusions/delusions/etc which they have built into a barrier around themselves. Usually it takes some catalyst to open their eyes tot eh situation. Sometimes these are small catalysts, and some times that are life shaking.

Shortly after my last blog post, and deep into writing two others, I had blinders ripped from my eyes. I at some point walked into one of these metaphorically traps, got comfortable, and continued to perpetuate the delusion unto myself. The pothole in which I had found myself was an old one, one I long had thought I had climbed out of and left in the past. Well, as these things happen, I was wrong in my thinking. There is a saying that is used in the Craft when talking about others and having flaws, “A Witch, warts and all.” As one of my own Teachers likes to say, “I have feet made of mud.”

This sudden realization of all of this would end up playing a role in my pilgrimage.

The Trip

I had long ago decided that I would make this a pilgrimage of meeting my extended Line family. This trip would be my own act of devotion to the path in which I tread, to the Craft community, and our Lady and our Lord. I started putting the money I would need to the side roughly a year and a half ago. I settled on the timing of the trip based on there being a Grand Sabbat*** planned for our Line. I was there for roughly a week. Here is a short list****:

The Sisters

I do not think my trip would have been the same if it were not for a pair of Sisters. Thank you, if you are reading this. You see, two of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, whom are partners, and that I had only known via social media, offered me not only a bed but would provide some transportation and would act as hosts for my trip. Did I mention I am deeply grateful? I know that they went to great lengths to ensure my trip was remarkable… and it was.  

Pressed Coffee

The first full day there, I was to have several hours to myself, which was great. It gave me time to relax, read a bit, wander on my own, and sit in solitude and simply be in the place. That first morning my seeking of a cup, or three, of coffee had me sitting at a locally owned coffee shop not far from where I was staying. It as a charming little place that was literally, and unbeknownst to my hosts because we talked about it later, the place was decoration in painting of runes, bones & skulls, mirrors, and pendulums. It felt as if the whole coffee shop had been steeped in Seidr. The baristas unfortunately were not able to tell me anything about it other than that it was all from a local artist.

I spent most of my time reading and sipping coffee, French pressed coffee that is. This was my first experience of the local culture. To elaborate, I did what I always do when ordering coffee, “I’d like a large black coffee, please.” I did not receive drip coffee (Albeit from quality beans, it was a coffee house after all.) as I expected. Instead, I was handed a mug and directed provided with French press, order by the cup. I did not want French Press, or I would have ordered such. This was the best accommodation I would get too, they only had French Press. This is important. *****

If you want to know a place and people, eat the food. As you see, over the rest of my trip I walked into a different coffee house each day, and all there was to have was French press. Why? The local culture is one of perceived quality, individualism, and accommodation to such. Allow me to explain a bit. The tone of the local city is partially about quality, that is to say what is perceived as the best. Why have drip coffee when you can have French Press. Combine this with the intense focus on individualism that abounds and you get a culture that focuses on trying to have so much accommodation for it that they try to make it the best… all of it. There are many things they do well and that I really liked. Like every place and culture though, there are some flaws. I noticed that they strive to be so accommodating in some areas that whole other areas are mostly ignored.

From this observation, I was given a lesson of my own ideas of accommodation of others.

Rout and Tout

The next day I was taken on a tour of the city and all of the awesome local places.

The morning started with a bus ride, yay for great public transportation.

Doughnuts were had, other than the bacon and maple in the frosting my normal eating habits were obliterated.

Next, more French Press coffee, which what I was given every time I asked for a large black coffee (except for the one time we got coffee to-go for a fast-food place).

Then it was off to the statue of the Matron Goddess for the city. Yes, you read that right. The city has its own Goddess, and statue. Next, time I shall take flowers.

Have you ever wanted to lose yourself in a used bookstore the size of three or four Barnes and Noble? I ain’t joking; there was an entire wing just for New Age, Religion, and spirituality.

After acquiring several volumes that have been on my wish-list for a few years, it was off to lunch with my Initiator, whom I had not seen in a very long time.

That night: Witchcraft.

So many lessons.


When checking out some of the local wilderness, I saw live and wild salmon in a stream. It was a profound moment for me. In fact, of the only two pictures I took during the whole trip one was of a salmon.


Grand Sabbat

The day was a multitude of events all centered on the Sabbat, and the celebration of such with all of those that could attend. I am glad to have met each and every person there. I will not speak on the events any more than to say that I found it all serendipitous; like being tossed a rope when stuck in the bottom of a hole. In fact, it was just like that.


So, I left out significant parts and events, almost whole days. This does not mean that they did not mean a whole lot to me… they did. With that said, the flight home came early and though I loved the whole trip, it was time return from where I had come.


No pilgrimage is complete without change to oneself. It did not disappointment. I feel different in many ways and although I found myself just before the trip in a pitfall, I am climbing out, partially thanks to all of the lessons learned in this short period of time.


Go on a pilgrimage; be surprised at how you are shaped.

Boidh Se!


“Lost in a thicket bare-foot upon a thorned path.”

*For those unfamiliar with the form of Traditions: A Tradition is a loose association of initiated Witches that share a common praxis and linage. There is NO central authoritarian leadership within Trad Craft, with each elder being autonomous and accountable only to the Gods, peers, oaths, obligations to students, and their heart compass. As such, over time a large Tradition will branch out and although the core practice is the same, stuff gets added that makes different groupings within the Trad that are different. Think of it like apples, I might have seven types of apples in a bucket, but all the fruit in the bucket are apples. All of the Witches in this Tradition are Tradition Initiates, but there are several different stylistic embellishments therein. Each of these different lineage based groupings, because the praxis is passed via person to person, becomes its own Line over time. The older Trads even have names for some of their Lines.

**Upline: Refers to the Covens and Initiates from which one’s linage descends. Subsequently, “downline” is the other direction.

***A Grand Sabbat is when several Coven converge together in celebration of one of the Holy Days.

****An abbreviated version of a very short list. In short, it is ridiculously short.

*****Do not misunderstand me, I like French Press coffee. It, however, was not what I asked for. I am using the coffee in this scenario to illustrate my point.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Magick: Why Bother?

In my earlier days of involvement in the Craft, I did not do much magick. Like many people, I argued that magick was secondary in the Craft and that the religious/spiritual aspect was the main objective. This is a perspective that I can no longer support. It is not that I believe that magick should take the front seat or that spirituality shouldn’t. Nope. At some point after I delved into practicing magick regularly, I had a paradigm shift.

I learned that magick and spirituality are not mutually exclusive. In our Craft, there is not one without the other. Regardless of the definition of the title Witch in which one subscribes to, and there are many, the relationship between Witches and magick is undeniable. Witches do magick. It is that simple.

What is Magick?

For some reason defining magick has proven to be exceedingly difficult. No really, it is. The problem is simply that any definition has exceptions to it. There are so many different theories, approaches, methods, and practitioners of magick that the best that one can do is to recognize that any definition is imperfect and to not worry about it too much. However, there have been attempts. After all, it is extremely difficult to teach, talk about, write books about, or practice something without being able to explain what that thing is to begin with.

Let’s look at some of the ones that have shaped my Craft:

“The Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.”-Aleister Crowley

“Magic is the art of changing consciousness at will.” –Dion Fortune

“Magic is, as I understand it, the art of getting results.” –Gerald Gardner

There are many other definitions available, but these have three have both informed by own ideas about magick and the whole Contemporary Pagan movement to the extent that I feel it a disservice not to delve into them.

There are several commonalities to be found in each of these. It would appear that magick is an art, that change happens as a result of it, and that the will is involved somehow. That sounds easy enough. Dion, however, also mentions consciousness.

The consciousness at hand is dually understood. On one hand it is our own manner of thinking, and yet on the other hand it is the Mind of All. One of the core principals in the Art of Magick is that the universe is the manifestation of the mind of the divine; also we are the expression of that mind. So magic is the art of causing change to occur in our mind and as a byproduct the whole of existence as well. On the surface it all sounds very Existentialistic. The Witch functions magickally as the center of the universe, meaning that our perspective is that from which we view the world. This does not mean that existence is dependent upon the Witch to view it. BUT, the Mind that is the universe and our own as the expression of it are not disguisable. I am quite fond of a saying of Lon Milo DuQuette’s, “It’s All in your head… you just have no idea how big your head it.”

I feel at this point as if I have muddied the waters of defining magick… oh well, the water is nice and the swim fun.

Types of Magick

In the adventure of defining magick many have attempted to define it my categorizing it. There are typically two methods of dividing magick up; approach and source. The approach split is just that, the attempt to define magick based upon the approach or use of magick of the individual practitioner. Source on the other hand is based upon the believed source of the magick. Here are a few, but by far not the only ones.

High / Low Magick

High and Low Magick are perhaps one of the oldest splits defined in magickal practice within the Western Mystery Tradition. Subsequently, this rhetoric has found its way into the Craft, as least in some currents.

High Magick is usually used to refer to the ceremonial magick traditions that descend from the aristocrats… and likewise, Low Magick is the folk practices of the common folk. I am sure anyone can see the marginalization that exists in this split. It is further compounded because High Magick is usually considered to be the magick of spiritual advancement and Low Magick is the magick concerning itself with the “profane” desires of body, comfort, wealth, etc.

That is the original thinking behind these categories anyway. I personally don’t care for this division. It smacks of too much of better versus lesser, educated versus ignorant, and holy versus damned. There, however, are times when there is a need to be able to discuss the magickal methods that different people developed, which I feel can better be done by actually using the name of the group or individuals that employ it. Plus if truth be told, all magick is so deeply rooted in spirituality and the mundane that dividing the two is not really possible. There are some today that use the terms out of this context but are instead pointing out the amount of formality involved.

White / Black Magick

The division of White versus Black Magick is one where the moral motive the practitioner is called into question and the result assigned a corresponding color to represent good and evil. Nowadays this is a division that rarely gets lip service in the Craft, but on occasion it does arise. The Craft rejects the paradigm of good versus evil as a model of the universe, though both exist within the universe, we simple don’t see them as a matter of physics but of the human condition instead.

Magick is neutral in morality and whether or not the practitioner is ethical is irrelevant in understanding what it is. The subject of ethics is highly subjective to begin with and to try and pin labels of good or bad upon magick is impossible universally. With that said, it is part of the Craft for the individual Witch to continually shape, understand, and embody their morals in accordance with their ethics, magick aside.

Energy / Entity Magick

As you may have noticed we have moved on from the approach methods and into the arena of source. This split quite frankly is the argument between energy or entity, whether Gods or other, as being the source of how magick works. There are some very talented Witches in both camps.

The Craft affirms that various forms of energy reside in the universe. The energy model is one that seeks to directly tap into and direct these forces. Animistically the Craft also affirms that there is a spirit within everything. The entity based model argues that the methods of magick simply put these spirits to work for the Witch. Everything according to this model is the result of some entity to include any energy. For this reason, so the argument goes, the other camp is really just dealing with spirits.

But wait, there is a third camp. Magick according to some is purely and completely psychological both in effect and source.

Usually though, any given Witch stands in more than one of these groups. It is rare that one view is held exclusively. In fact, there are many that take up all three banners.

The Point

To me reading old books on magick is fun, and mulling over their contents a favored past-time. Similarly, I enjoy learning about all the different viewpoints on it. Maybe the different definitions I offered up earlier or the ways in which different people classify it help the curious passerby to better understand magick. Regardless though, magick according to the Craft does have a purpose. Magick is all about applied change management.

There is only one constant in life, and that is change. Change brings many things with it, and it takes just as many with it too. Magick then is the application of managing the change of life; and that is the point.

The magick that one finds in the praxi* of the various Contemporary Pagan Witchcraft currents is more specifically wrapped up with spiritual goals in addition to mundane ones. The Craft teaches that there is not a separation between the sacred and the mundane. All of life is sacred. The Witch chooses to engage with this sacred rhythm of change and to purposely shape their place in the universe. It is the Self for which the Witch applies their magick, and it is the Self that is managed.

It does not matter if it is the lighting of candles, smiling when the breeze brings relief on a warm day, chanting during an archaic evocation rite, praying for a loved one, or some other simple or elaborate act, each and every one of them is the application of magick and the reason for why Witches bother with magick.

Boidh Se!


“Lost in a thicket bare-foot upon a thorned path.”

*Is the plural of praxis ‘praxi’? Or maybe it’s ‘praxises.’ I dunno… but I like ‘praxi’ so that is what I am going with.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Autumn Equinox: The Death That Sustains

It is that time of the year again; the veil has begun to thin, the weather is shifting, and soon our beloved dead will dance the night with us once more. The astronomical Autumn Equinox doesn’t officially peak until September 22nd at 3:44 p.m. (Eastern Time), but the shift in the season has already arrived. The feel is not too different than that I experienced last year, though my annual evaluation was a week earlier so I got to enjoy the turn of The Wheel and not have to worry too much about my career on the side.

Usually when the average Contemporary Pagan thinks about the Autumn Equinox several things come to mind; harvests, feasts, and fall amongst others. All of which are important and intimately linked to this point upon our Wheel. In the lore of the Witch, there are specific mythological truths as well.

At this of our Holy Days, the Sun our Lord dies and enters the Underworld, the Lord of the Greenwood becomes the Lord of the Hunt, it is the Second Harvest, and night and day are equal in time. I don’t really think any of that would be much of a surprise for any practicing Witch. Myths, however, are relevant to our lives and express truths that exist at the core of the human condition.

Back at Yule our spiritual sun was born. The sun in this case is that part of us around which our life revolves. Throughout the course of the year we nurtured it, learned the nuances of our new identity, became inseparable from it, wore it as a crown over our spiritual kingdom, and began to reap the harvest that was sown by tending the needs of this aspect of us. It should not be hard to understand that the Sun Lord in our myths teaches us about each of these truths in turn with the Holy Days upon The Wheel, after all a piece of His divinity sits upon a throne within each of us. The story up to this point has been that of a happy life; he was born, played in the fields, courted his childhood love and married her, ruled over his kingdom, and lived to see the kingdom thrive and the fruits of his labor come in. Today both sides of this story take a turn.

As the Starks in Game of Thrones are prone to say, “Winter is coming.” Quite literally winter will be here at Samhain. For the duration of human experience the hardship of winter has been one closely linked with death, after all if one were not properly prepared then such could easily result. This is not the only winter in which is experienced in life. There are natural cycles with all things and the lore of the Witch teaches not only is the primary shape of existence a circle but that all of the various circles are linked into one all-encompassing circle, which is one of the reasons, but not the only one, that formal rituals are conducted within a circle. As such, in each part of life each person will experience many different seasons, to include winter. Our spiritual life goes through cycles as well, and winter comes at times, and sometimes an aspect of that life dies.  

Imagine yourself sitting upon a throne knowing what is on the horizon, and knowing that you have the power, through your death, to ensure that the whole of the kingdom is feed until your wife the Queen gives birth at Yule. This is the central tale around which the rites of this time of the year revolve. The Sun Lord must be sacrificed so that the whole may live; He is The Harvest, and He is that which will sustain us through the time when death looms so close. His death is not an end though, for he enters the Underworld and takes the throne there.

All of this is about us, on many different levels. Sometimes our winter is small and sometimes our winter is the failing of the body as we ourselves cross the veil. However; in regards to the story of our spiritual sun, there is more. Perhaps the most famous line in The Charge of the Goddess is, “And thou who thinkest to seek Her, know thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not unless thou knowest the mystery; that if that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, then thou wilt never find it without thee. For behold, She has been with thee from the beginning; and She is that which is attained at the end of desire.” Our mythos is a tale of our Lord and our Lady, and the mythos of the Sun Lord is specifically speaking to His journey and desire of Her. He is the first to have walked the path, He is First Ancestor. Mythically speaking he is our example of how we can come to know Her is our own journey.

It is at the Autumn Equinox when one of the many truths is revealed; the Witch comes to know Her by entering our own underworld. Like the Sun, we must delve into the inner landscape. The journey will not be easy, the inner work that is required to gain the throne over our own underworld will bring forth winter. The work of the Craft is not easy. If the storm is to weathered, a sacrifice must be made. It is a hard truth, but the false cloak of a crown over our spiritual kingdom in which immeasurable work has been put into must die, and in this death a harvest will come through which the inevitable winter will be survived.

Upon the Sun Lord’s descent into the Underworld, the Lord of the Greenwood becomes the Lord of the Hunt. No longer can the outside world sustain our needs in this journey. Now we hunt; we hunt the forest for prey and it is quick, weary, and cunning. The Witch on the spiritual hunt to obtain the mystery of Her is like the Sun that eternally chases the Moon. This hunt is not an outward one; it takes place in the hidden places. Second Harvest is what this Sabbat is about, the harvest that sustains. The Third Harvest is not the harvest of the fields, but of the culling of the herds, of the hunt, and when She enters the Underworld and grants sovereignty over the Kingdom of the Dead, for it is only She that can bestow The Crown.

May you enjoy your harvest, feast and be merry, and may the sacrifice that has been made sustain you! Blessed Equinox!

Boidh Se!


“Lost in a thicket bare-foot upon a thorned path.”

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Secrets of the Craft Aren't Really All that Secret

The Craft is about shaping one’s life purposely and with intention. The core of which is done via experience, this is why the Craft emphasizes practice over belief. Quite frankly, when one is in the business of molding one’s inner lead into gold, belief matters little next to the process. The process is the how-to, the doing, and the experience of the mysteries.

These mysteries are talked about in passing, but rarely are they defined in such a manner that a spectator would understand the crux of the concept. It is not that people are dumb, far from it. It has to do with language and word usage. The mysteries are spoken of in a way that it conveys the idea that they are something kept secret, are known, and can be shared. As if the mysteries were some secret lore.

Let’s not get out of the woods too far just yet. Traditional Craft groups do have secrets, but rarely for the reasons popularized, and some of these groups even have Initiates only lore. This lore should not, however, be mistaken for the mysteries.

So what are the mysteries? Simply put, they are that which initiates the Witch. Again we are at a language impasse. It seems that when we speak of initiation, any number of things, often all at once, could be meant. As I know it, there are five usages of the term. I know, I know, I said three previously; but I have added a few to the list.

Initiation is:

-Joining a Group
-The ah-ha moments in life
-Any new beginning
-The integration of other spheres of influence with one’s own
-The formal introduction to a group’s spirit allies.

In our Craft, each one of these has to do with making a Witch and in a manner of speaking, is related to the mysteries. Ideally, at an initiation ritual, when one is at a new beginning, joining a group, they should have an, if not many, aha moments when their sphere is integrated with the group’s sphere and formal introductions are made to the group both seen and unseen. None of this though, is the mysteries.

The mysteries are most intimately linked to the second item on the list. Think of the mysteries as that which is revealed in the ah-ha moment of life; our own divine truth shining through the fog. In that moment of epiphany, one is born. This is why Traditionalists say that Witches are not made but born. Each and every Witch was born from the womb of the mysteries.

Here is where the water gets a bit murky though. The Craft as a process is designed based on experience to act as a catalyst to perpetually bring the mysteries to the cusp of the Witches’ sphere of influence so as penetrate their core, thus spiritually making initiation at the feet of the divine an experience that does not end. The practice is the key that unlocks the door containing the mysteries.

One of the follies that has permeated the human mind is the belief that we are the whole story. As if my story was The Story. It is an illusion though. Granted from a magickal stand point, the Witch is the creator and center of the universe and our story merges with The Story, which is a mystery unto itself. However, in this is the hidden mystery that we are all the same center of the universe. Our story is a group one.

Once the mysteries begin to seep into our consciousness we undergo the transformation that will allow the Witch to emerge. It is in that moment when the mysteries penetrate and saturate that the illusion of separation falls from the eyes. The title of Witch may be conveyed by a group, but the heart of the Witch begins beating at the touch of the divine; the ecstatic experience of which enlivens and thickens the Witch-blood.

The mysteries are both a simple idea to understand and one that just won’t quite solidify into form. This is why they are called mysteries though; they are hidden even when we look at them. The Craft’s solution is the same as that which is supposed to reveal these hidden truths, it is only by experiencing the mysteries that the Witch comes to understand them, and for this to happen we must engage the practice of life. There is no monopoly on living life and the Craft makes no such claim but the practice of the Craft at its most basic tenet is about living life and allowing the story of life to penetrate and fill our heart vessel.

Live life and make it a daily practice to celebrate the divinity therein. The divine can best be described as anything in which is worthy of our worship and adoration. For this Witch at least, life is divine and is worth celebrating.

Traditional Craft teaches that the axis around which this state of celebration can be achieved is through the passwords that allow one entrance to the mysteries. The moment in ritual when one is standing outside the ritual space is symbolic of standing at the gateway to the mysteries and when we are challenged by our fellow Covener , “How do you come?,” the key to unlocking the mysteries is in the response. So ask yourself, when you come to the circle of life, “How do you come?” Now think about your answer.

Our Craft is a practice thus designed; and it is a deceptively simple Craft.

Boidh Se!

“Lost in a thicket bare-foot upon a thorned path.”