Friday, September 15, 2017

Riding the Winds of Change Like a Witch


When you have practiced magick for a while you begin to attune yourself with the flux of its current that run through your life. You begin to become more conscious of the subtle shifts that it brings. This includes when your own practice is transforming. Metaphorically we could say it's like being aware of an approaching breakthrough. Only we aren't really because the concept of movement in this manner is only abstract, an illusion we would not want to get trapped in. Anyway, those attune to their happenings in the now will notice when the focal axis of this now is in metamorphosis. Plus, the symbol of movement is a useful one.

Right now, as I write this, I'm standing on the shaking earth. I have over the past months, since a major life change coupled with an initiatory experience, stripped down my practice to bare-bones, and something, I dunno what, is about to erupt out of this ground before me. Not like crops cultivated over time either, more like the ground opening up and a drake bursting forth from the bowels of the underworld kinda erupt. It itches, it's on the peripheral, and it's pulling me every which way. The only constant in it is the centralization of the Craft, but only in form and not interpretation.

This is all fine and dandy for me but I'm sure you're wondering what this has to do with anything. Well, I'm not going to claim to be some expert in these things but over the years I have learned from my own experiences thereof somethings that have made such transitions easier, for me at least. I figured I'd share them with y'all in the case any of it can help in your own times of spiritual transformation.

Patience

A long time ago, like twenty'ish years ago, one of my first experiences of having a spiritual change of this nature had to do with patience. If you are like me, you get excited when you have the mindfulness to recognize being on the cusp of these moments. Well, I was excited and decided I was going to give it a little extra push. With the help of some friends and fellow Contemporary Pagans at the time, I constructed a sweat lodge with the intent on submersing myself into a journey to my spirit allies at the time and ask them to give me a little push over the edge into the next phase.

I thought it was a great idea and spent a long time planning it, coordinating it, and setting it up. Then the time came, in the depths of the inner landscape and I called out longing to bring the action to a climatic peak that would culminate with this breakthrough. Only it didn't. I kept trying though. Finally I gave up and asked my spirit allies, what gives? And they said, "patience, have patience."

That was it. Nothing more. In that moment I realized my breakthrough was learning to have patience with breakthroughs.

Acceptance

Change is the only constant in life. That's it, nothing else. This is why in my own practice I try and stress my actions as being ethical in application. After all, everything else can be taken away, but not my actions. So they are my only possessions and I strive to make them worth more than gold. I spend a lot of time in reflection upon coming to understand my moral compass because of this. I do it for me, the only person that can judge our success in this regards is ourselves.

With change being the only constant, there comes other implications. One of which has to do with approaching major change. It is that of acceptance of change being inevitable. You can't hold the past, sure you can learn from it, but it's already manifested into the fabric of fate-past. Nor can you prevent change from coming, it's already here and any attempt to divorce change from the present is futile.

Surrender

There is a Zen Nun that I know whom relates acceptance of change back to breathing in meditation, amongst many other things. I'll do my best to reproduce the idea she shared with me a couple of months ago. As I'm not a Zen Buddhist, keep in mind that I have filtered her words through my own inner interpretation and though I am trying to stay within the boundaries of her words, I could be in another ball-park playing tiddlywinks instead of sports-ball*.

Now to paraphrase on the fly:

Breathe out as/with the world. Out, out, out until the breath reaches deep down and hits bottom. Breathe out just a little bit more and allow the truth that lay beyond the threshold of that bottom to draw you deeper into longing for what lay beyond. Relax, and without plan or form, release so that the in breathe comes and opens up into surrender. Follow this rhythm of deeper and surrender unto it. Be like the flower that opens and turns towards the sun. Just be, just sit, breath in and out, nothing more.

So with that said, be like the flower turning towards the sun of change.

Fin

That's it, that's all I got. These three little things that sound so simple and yet take degrees of practice that can be difficult: patience, acceptance, and surrender.

Boidh Se,

-SM

"Lost in a thicker, bare-foot upon a thorn path."




*Insert whatever flavor of a ball based sport of your choice here.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Changing the Drapes

Change has arrived. Or rather the drapes on the wall are being made to match the rest of the room. You see, the about tag line at the blog has been updated. Up until today, it said “Ramblings relevant to Contemporary Paganism, British Traditional Wicca, Traditional Witchcraft, Traditional Initiatory Witchcraft, and more…”

Back when I started this blog, err… restarted, it in 2012, I wanted to write about ALL THE THINGS! Sure I've written about tons of topics, with whatever whim comes through the door, but the focus of the blog had always been about my practice of the Craft and over time it became about my sharing of that experience.

You see, at first, the blog was a project to write more. Then it became something I fought as my ego did its best to weld it. All in all it was a transgressive experience of learning to just let the blog be what it is and not stress about people reading it. That being a vehicle for me to explore my practice of the Craft and sharing it with others.

Just as my own personal practice is influenced by different streams of Craft, such as those I’ve been initiated into, but also the works of Cochrane, Anderson (Feri), and Chumbley, so too the blog reflects this. On that note, since my own Craft is heavily influenced by Druidry, specifically the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (OBOD), Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF), The Henge of Keltria (HoK), and Ord Draíochta Na Uisnech (ODU), there is a bit of that hidden away here too. The ODU is especially influential.

However, I don’t specifically talk about Druidry. I had planned to when I first started the blog, because ALL THE THINGS. The blog tag line even listed Druidry at that point. Although I like Druidry and incorporate the influences thereof into my personal practice, I do so all in the context of Witchcraft and not Drudiry. So I took it out of the tag line.

Anyway, I think the new tag line is more indicative of what the blog is really about, me choosing to share thoughts on the Craft as I stumble around this thicket we call life.

Boidh Se,

-SM

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

Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse Prophecy: Coming of the Age of Seed and Fruit


Today, is Monday, the Moon’s Day, on the New Moon with a Solar Eclipse with Mercury, Saturn, Venus, Pluto in Retrograde, so it’s as good as a time as any to bring this up. I had thought about doing so back in November, for reasons that will be discussed shortly, but decided not to.  

In the Church of Rhiannon (CoR), the Contemporary Pagan group I was raised in and around, there is a prophecy. A Turning of the Ages prophecy. Long story short, from various sources back in the 1980s, one of the founding members believed they had stumbled upon a Druid Prophecy of old and it became entangled in the lore and story of the Wheel of the Year that CoR enacted and followed. Regardless of the ancient authenticity of such, I grew up with the backdrop that the world was reaching a peak that would force change upon us. The discourse was usually about the environment.

This prophecy takes place in the year 3888 MT. Which I know needs some explaining… Using a modified version1 of the Beth-Luis-Fearn (BLF) calendar put forth by Colin and Liz Murray in The Celtic Tree Oracle: A System of Divination, the date of 3888 was calculated and affixed to 2017 CE. Each “age” is 3888 years long and the Age of Iron and Silver kicked off 3888 years ago based upon the supposed date of the Second Battle of Moytura, hence the “MT” as the year designator. I don’t know how Colin and Liz Murray came up with any of that and I haven’t been able to dig it up either. But I digress.

The point of all this is simple, the prophecy applies to this year, in fact it gets even more specific. 3888 MT started this past November and the event of the prophecy takes place between this past Beltane and the upcoming Samhain.

With all of that said, I’m not saying that the prophecy is to come about. I’ve just been thinking of the coming of the Age of Seed and Fruit a lot lately. You know, because childhood and it being the freaking year 3888 MT, the last year of the Age of Iron and Silver.

Anyway, here is the prophecy, take a read:

"In the time of change, Abred will be grievous sore, the vessels shall be exposed.
Only then will the change be known.
At last the time of disgrace will be turned aside.
After this time has passed shall be seed and fruit anew.
After Cetsamhain, before Samhain, shall ye know."

I don’t know if the Age is rolling over today or not, but enjoy the ride anyway.

Boidh Se,

-SM

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

1 CoR developed and perpetuated a version of the BLF calendar that aligned with the Full Moon as opposed to the method originally outlined by Colin and Liz Murray. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Musings on Perfect Love and Perfect Trust

Yesterday evening while driving home, I was thinking about Perfect Love and Perfect Trust and then I was thinking about the context of said teachings. As a result of that weaving and wandering train of thought, this blog was born.

In addition to the Rede, which I previously spoke about commonly getting misunderstood, the phrase "In perfect love and perfect trust" also gets tossed around outside of the parameters of the traditional lore. Generally when I encounter said deviation, it is someone arguing against it. I am completely fine with someone not accepting it. Tis cool, really. Almost always though, the argument is "how can someone have complete and full unconditional love and trust for people you've never met?" Fair enough; I'm not going to disagree. The thing is though, that's not what Perfect Love (PL) or Perfect Trust (PT) is about from the way I was taught it.

*** Note: No oaths were broken in the following paragraphs. Everything is something I learned as a Seeker in an Outer Court to my first Alexandrian Coven. ***

First off, PL/PT is specifically meant to be used in the private context of a British Traditional Wicca (BTW) Coven. The moment it moves into the realm of the public sphere, such as at a Pagan Pride Day ritual, it is out of the ritual, mythic, and symbolic relevance for which it applies. I'm starting with Perfect Trust because it's easier to explain the relationship between the two when we understand it first. Now onto Perfect Trust.

Perfect Trust is simply the trust that an individual will act in accordance with their strengths and weaknesses. In short, it is the trust that hypothetical Witch Dianaisson, as a general rule of thumb, will continue to behave like Dianaisson. That's it. All Witches have warts, trust that.

Perfect Love then is accepting this fact and loving the person anyway. That does not mean that said love is unconditionally tolerant. It is simply the love of an individual despite their flaws. Again, this is not meant in the context of large public settings. After all, when Dianaisson was Seeking they and the Coven should have gotten to know each other well enough to take this step. It is also part of why BTW Covens tend to be small and don't just take every Seeker that comes to the door. It's about family of choice.

The whole PL/PT line of thinking occurred out of mulling over meditation. You see, one of the things that meditation has drilled into my head, is that people will live up to their nature. For example, my 4 year old is going to act like a 4 year old. It's just the way of it. I accept this. I may not always like the way 4 year olds act, temper tantrums and all that. However, I accept it, even if sometimes it is hard to do so.

In thinking about this acceptance of people acting to their nature and PL/PT, I was asking myself whether or not I personally could extend the idea of PL outside of the BTW Coven context. The short answer is sometimes. With some close friends and family, sure I could. For many many others, nope. Nopity nope. This I feel is because I interact with love in a similar fashion as to how a Feri Initiate once explained it.

So time for a quick story, and a waiver. First off, the waiver. I'm not trained Feri and may be misremembering what may not have been a Feri teaching but a personal opinion that I mistook as a teaching. Anyway, if you are a Feri Initiate, feel free to chime in. Now for story time...

At a BTW Coven's Outer Court event I was at years ago, some Feri Witches were in attendance as guests, because Feri Witches rock and came to engage in Craft shenanigans with us and Craft shenanigans are always a go. During one point while sitting around chatting, they recalled just how they got the invite. They and some of the initiates of the BTW Coven in question were at a local Pagan Group Leadership Forum discussing "stuff" a few weeks earlier, when the topic of universal love came up. To which the Feri folk rejected, saying that they don't interact with love that way. Back to the chat around the coffee table, the Feri Witches after relating this story then expounded upon how Feri doesn't interact with love as a universally applied. They said something along the lines of "We love sparingly but fiercely." And I was sold. Be discriminate in your love but do so deeply. Fiercely.

Though I cannot extend PL/PT to all, I can, however, foster compassion towards even some of the vilest. It's compassion for the suffering of a fellow human. Compassion for the pain that has shaped them into what they are. In this compassion though, there is room to stand up for what is right. I can accept that they will live up to their nature, have compassion for their life circumstances, and still hold no quarter and reject their actions. Passionately reject.

There you have it, the gist of the musing I had last evening.

Boidh Se,

-SM

"Lost in a thicket, bare-foot upon a thorn path."

Friday, August 11, 2017

A Singular Point of Ritual




Different Witches express their religiosity in different ways. This is a common sense statement that I am sure most agree with. Nonetheless, all of these Witches are valid—Witches all. In the multitude of practices that exist across this spectrum of Witchcrafts, there is an emphasis for the experiential. We talk of the evocative emotions that rise from our inner depths in the presence of the subtle, we make elaborate charts mapping the unseen world into a web of associations for the mind to toil over, and we engage purposely in relationships with the spirit world. All of this… all of the practices of the Craft come together in the singular during ritual.

It is perfectly fine that all of these Witches don’t agree on the form of ritual either. As the saying goes, “ask any three Witches a question and get seven contrary answers.” We don’t all experience the world around us the same and so our expressions of our individual human experience will rightly vary from those of our fellows. Let’s take for example the elements, for some they are tied to the cardinal directions in ritual and for others they are not, let alone have everyone agree on which element is associated with which direction. On that note, some don’t even work within a paradigm of the elements.

Just as our ritual models vary, so too does our concept(s) of Self. Within the same Tradition, there is often lore that affirms that there is no separate Self, that all is interconnected as one, and at the same time have complex models of the Self. Some of these models teach that there are really more than one soul, some teach a spectrum to the Self, and some an idea of layers. All though agree on one thing; that there is a physical body. Sure the nature of said body is debated, but that’s not the point. The point is that we experience the world about us through the filter of the body. Regardless of what model of Self(s), or lack thereof, that we use, it all comes together here. This is also true of ritual.

It all comes together here—here in the physical. All of it, EVERYTHING, comes together here in the physical. For it is the physical, that is manifestation in form. It is no longer the realm of potential but of that which has become.

This is one of the reasons that ritual participation, not just the theorizing about it, is so important. It allows us to more fully experience, in that instance, across the entire spectrum of our Self the mysteries of existence as they are expressed in our ritual form. Take for example the body during meditation: When we sit in good posture during meditation, this is the body also sitting in meditation. We aren’t just in the mind trying to focus on the breath, though this may be occurring, the body also participates. In that moment, we are more fully and wholly present in the practice of meditation. This is what it is like when Witches engage in ritual and not just “Witchcraft in theory.”

All of the various Witches may not agree on damn near anything, but we all have a body in one shape, fashion, or another; thus it becomes one of our uniting points within the Craft. Our existential experience is physical, so engage and be aware of the physical.

Boidh se,

-SM

“Lost in a thicket, bare-foot upon a thorn path!”

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Betwixt the Mill Stones


Trudge one step after the other, each step a thunder bolt upon the conscious awareness of the now, a poignant reminder of mindfulness. The Mill, as heavy as all of existence, turns with each breath, with each placement of foot against path.

Circle round the axis that is the center of the circle-the center that is the altar, the thread of eternity connecting heavens to hell and through the heart of our realm, the heart whose vessel is ours to fill and pour out as we seed each path with the future harvest of life. Each step is upon the wheel whose boundary is not and whose center is all-encompassing.

The shimmer in the eyes is a reflection of the stars the Mill churns forth, a light of the heart, and that which burns betwixt the two candle flames alight the altar.

Ours is the heart beat that keeps pace with drums within the earth and amongst the stars; that chant that permeates the flesh, blood, and bone. "Rout and tout, through out and about, all in the Horned One's name!"

Boidh Se!

-SM

"Lost in a thicket, bare-foot upon a thorn path."

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Out of the Broom Closet

Out of the Broom Closet I come. Sure I have been "out" as a Contemporary Pagan since sometime back in High School and publically a Witch for all of my adult life, but in regards to this blog, I have always kept my wording careful. It has been purposeful subterfuge. Well, I have decided I don't care about the list of reasons for such anymore.

I'm not just a Witch; I'm Wiccan.
There I said it. However, from here on out I'm likely to say "one of the Wic(c)a" as opposed to Wiccan though. As both an Alexandrian and Gardnerian initiate whom has passed through the pentacle, I prefer it. Also for full "out of the broom closet-ness," I'm also an initiate of the Eternal Harvest, which is a related Witchcraft Tradition but not British Traditional Wicca (BTW).  I never planned to be involved with more than one Tradition, but I move every few years and know that I work best in a group, so it just kinda happened that way. Nor do I plan to become involved with any others. I, however, digress.

The thing is that there is so much misrepresentation and misinformation abound about our practices and lore. More than I've cared to wade through on most days. For example, take the Rede. It is woefully misunderstood and usually championed as some ethical ideal that is impossible to attain whereby all actions that cause any harm of any form is against one's religion. The thing is, the Rede is permissive in nature and denounces nothing. All it is really saying is that if something is harmless then you can do it, and that's it. Everything else falls on the Witch to weigh against their own sense of morality.

Furthermore, due to the abundance of misinformation, Wicca gets a lot of flak and I didn't really want to bother with having preconceived notions tossed upon me.

Now, with all of that said, there are many things in this blog, past and future, that are not representative of Wicca. After all, this blog encompasses my Craft, which, as all Traditionalists are, is quite eclectic in personal practice. Yes, you read that right. Traditionalists are eclectic in their personal practice. Personal practice isn't coven practice though, so there is that.

So there you have it, for those that did not already know, I'm one of the Wicca. Now back to your regularly unscheduled program.

Boidh Se,

-SM

"Lost in a thicket, bare-foot upon a thorn path."

Friday, July 21, 2017

Camp Feather-Tree



This past week, I slept in a tent on the ground, cooked over a fire, and the rest of the whole salt circle of primitive camping. No internet. No phone. No anything other than maintaining camp, hiking, and whatever whim I and the family were carried upon. I sang to the directions, had disagreements with yellow-jackets, and sent my kids off snipe-huntingthey did not catch one. We declared the site “Camp Feather-Tree” in honor of the large collection of feathers we began finding daily and sticking in the tree near our tent. The primary purpose of this trip was camping, not “getting away” or the like, but with the trip came Witchcraft.

Bugs

It is hard to meditate with a bug crawling up one’s nose. This is of course as obvious as the smell of burning asafoetida. Yet, too often we don’t meditate because of the metaphorical bugs in our nose. Establishing a regular and disciplined meditation practice is not easy. As Witches, we like to do things, cast spells, make talismans, etc, and meditation is a lot of doing nothing. For this reason, when we sit the mind quickly busies itself with any and every passing thought. These are the figurative bugs in the nose. Don’t fight them; just brush them to the side. I know, easier said than done. We are not these thoughts, the nature of Self changes no more than the sky changes when clouds pass by the mountain. The trick is to just sit and to return to the breath without getting upset when the mind wanders. That is what the mind does, accept it. As for literal bugs in your nose when mediating, remove them and go meditate in the car.

Snipes

When I was a kid, my Dad and Uncle sent my cousins and I out into the woods banging two sticks together three times followed by shouting “snipe, snipe, snipe” over and over in the attempt to lure and catch a snipe. What is a snipe you might ask? Or maybe you too went on such an adventure. Well, a snipe is a flightless bird that lives wherever you are camping and no one has ever caught one… or seen one… or photographed one. But they make great pets and you should totally grab two sticks and go hunt one. The only thing is there are no snipes; which is fine, because the point of snipe-hunting is not to catch a snipe. This is just like how the point of Witchcraft is not some goal of enlightenment. The point is the hunt, the journey, the crafting of one’s life, the banging of two sticks together. Make the journey the point and you’ll find that enlightenment has been there all along and that any goal otherwise is just a snipe.

Unpacking

The trip was good. I got to come home and finally feel like I had gotten in touch with the spirit of the land here. I am, however, still unpacking the various lessons of the trip. Perhaps I’ll post them up as the water settles.

Boidh Se!

-SM

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

Friday, June 9, 2017

Erecting a Temple Under the Mother’s Moon


Today is the Full Moon, by lore and definition the Mother’s Moon started yesterday and extends into tomorrow. My recent move has pretty much settled and I am eye-balling tonight or tomorrow night to break open the Temple, seed the space with the energy of the previous, and erect the banner of the current. It’s a process that I’ve done several times, each with its own nuances of place, and yet for some reason it feels significant and different.

During my last Tour of Adventure*, I set up my Temple space myself in the manner I had learned from the Coven I was a member of in Atlanta. This time though, my Wife/Priestess/Working Partner and I will establish things. Sure I’ll still have my own personal altar and area, but overall this is a terribly exciting development where the two of us collaborate once again on a Temple Space. Whether or not we declare it an eventual Covenstead of a particular Tradition has yet to be determined, but there is plenty of time for that.  

For those that don’t know, my background in the Craft is Multi-Traditional. This means that I have been initiated into and have practiced more than one Tradition. It’s not something I sought out, finding my tribe after each move has just led to that. Such is the way of the nomadic Witch. This ritual is important in that context though. Without going into too much detail, because this is a blog and not a one-on-one personal conversation where I prefer such discussion, through recent developments just prior to the move I became Elevated beyond initiation to one degree or another in every one of these Traditions. This means that when this Temple is set, it will be done so from a place of authority beyond the level of the student in all three Traditions to which I hail lineage.

This leaves me with a lot to think about. Do I want to seal the Temple in one particular Tradition? None? Attempt to tap into all three’s egregore? Can all three even be tapped into simultaneously without creating something new or in opposition?

I don’t have the answer to all of these questions. Nor do I feel that I need the answers to them right now. Not everything of the Craft needs to be or should be thought out prior to action. Often, and intuition tells me this is one of those times, the form of the practice should grow organically. Instead of trying to understand the flow of the river, sometimes you just have to jump on the raft and experience it. I think we’ll keep the plan simple at this point; call our Allies, put down the Four Corners of the World, and see where the rest goes.

Boidh Se!

-SM

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


*Tour of Adventure- I move every three years or so over vast distances and so have come to think of each stint as an adventure with its own story, characteristics, and lessons.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Beltane is NOT about Sex!



It is that time of year, Beltane is at the gate and the blogs and memes are a plague all about us on the meaning, practice, and traditions of this holy day. This blog is no different in the respect that it is about Beltane. It is different in that it is not about all that stuff. Instead it is about a common mistake that is made in that regards. I am not saying that you make that mistake or that all of the various articles do, but it is made often enough that there is the danger of falling into that trap. So this is my way of saying, “Hey, there is a large pit over there. Don’t fall in it.”

Our Craft at the core of its essence is about experiencing the mysteries of existence that cannot be easily communicated. That is the point of all of our rituals, mythos, and practices—communicating the incommunicable. However, modern Western society is awash with a habit of concrete and or literal thinking and often we also get into that habit. Mystery traditions don’t work that way though. So, with that said, we are brought to the whole point of this post.

Beltane is not about sex. You see, sex is the symbol, not the point. As the symbol it makes the reference to the point. It infers towards the mystery— connotation as opposed to denotation. Saying that Beltane is about sex, without recognition of the role of sex as a symbol, is like mistaking the finger for the object it points towards. Nor can anyone tell you what the symbol points to in any concrete term, that’s why we call it a mystery.

So this Beltane when you are delving into the inner spiritual terrain of life and experiencing all it has to offer, make sure to celebrate, rejoice, love, have mirth, enjoy sex, and take pleasure in doing so, but keep in mind that the symbols of the holy day are not the reference.

Boidh Se!

-SM

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