The feeling of being lost on this path is stressful and depressing. By not following the predetermined beliefs and laws prescribed by mainstream religion, one is left to find their own way through self-discovery and soul searching. For many, the idea of total freedom from the chains of religious tyranny is liberating and exciting, but I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge the fear and uncertainty that I’ve experienced since I decided to denounce Christianity as my religion. This fear isn’t rooted in the idea of Satan or going to Hell, but it’s more the fear of what others think about my spirituality and the attempt to express myself without drawing attention to my “alternative” religion. And this is always followed by the statement, “stop caring what other people think!” Well I do care, and I don’t know how to change that. Maybe I’ll eventually get to that point, but I’m not there yet. Since I was a kid my religion has always been a huge part of my self-identity, and being a Christian, it was very easy to find others to accept that and those that rejected me were easier to deal with because I had a community to belong to. As an adult who has left Christianity and is seeking a path of my own, I don’t know what scares me more, what others think of me or the loss of that sense of community. I’ve been studying pagan and esoteric traditions for quite a while now, and deep in my heart I know that’s the kind of path I belong to. I wish I knew the way to eradicate these fears, otherwise I will never progress anywhere. I think it’s also important for me to realize that these fears have very deep roots that not only affect my spirituality, but every aspect of my life. As the season shifts into autumn, and the shadows are growing, I’m feeling the effects of my own shadows and it’s time to stop being afraid of them. It’s the presence of light that causes shadow, and you can never have one without the other. I can either choose to stay in the darkness and never grow, or I can continue to look up at the light and face the shadows of myself. I’m just tired of not knowing where to go next. Everyone else seems to have everything all figured out, I want to find my own self-confidence to be exactly who I want to be without worrying about what people think.
I’ve all but given up on this blog, but I want to get back into writing again. It’s one of the few ways that I can truly express my thoughts and emotions, and even knowing this, I haven’t pursued it as much I’d like to. Maybe I’m just lazy, and writing takes work. It takes focus, and honesty, things that I need more of in my life but refuse to give any attention to. Writing exposes me and makes me feel vulnerable, but it’s such a liberating feeling that in the end builds my self-confidence and allows my bottled up emotions to be released. I’m going to allow myself to be inspired to write again, about anything that comes to mind, because I need to write. I need to share.
One lesson I’ve learned recently is always be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it. I always ask the universe to provide me with lessons and challenges to allow me to grow, but I haven’t been so welcoming of these challenges once they arrive. I struggle to smile through stressful times, often complaining and wishing things could be better, but when are we ever at a place where things can’t get better? This journey isn’t over til it’s over, and I’m certainly not ready for it to end. I was writing in my journal last night, filling in the final page of the book, when I got really emotional realizing that I was once again leaving behind something and moving on to another leg of this journey. I started writing in the journal over two years ago, having completed one other before this one, so once I finished writing I went back and looked through a lot of the pages, particularly ones right at the beginning of my path. It helped me to see how much I’ve changed, but even more so it reminded me of how much has remained the same. I would write down how stressed I was, how depressed I felt, how much I wished life was easier. But wouldn’t you know, my life IS easier today than it was back then, and all those struggles I felt were too much to handle, I handled them pretty well. I can’t complain when life gets a little tough, because I don’t care what anybody says… it ALWAYS gets better! It doesn’t mean I won’t encounter more challenges ahead, but with the strength that I’ve gained from the past, it prepares for what lies ahead. That’s what this journey is all about; evolving.
I closed my journals and put them back on the shelf, then opened up a new blank book that I’ll use to record this next season of life. Opening up a blank book and seeing nothing but clean empty pages is always a little scary for me. It’s a lot like starting down a road that has no signs, but you just start walking and see where it leads. I sat in quiet meditation for a few minutes, listening for any guidance or a sense of comfort, and then I pulled out a couple of my oracle decks to do a quick reading. The voices that came through the cards, were none other than the spirits that have been with me all along, telling me that I’m not alone and they will continue to be with me on this journey. I’ve got a few deities that I’ve connected with, that span across multiple pantheons and cultures, but in this moment they all surrounded me together to give me comfort and a feeling of protection. I know that I’m not alone, and that I have strength within me that is always available when I need it. I’m still feeling called to begin a year and a day, which I plan on starting soon. I feel like this new year will have a lot of great things in store.
I remember as a kid we had a hanging advent calendar in the shape of Santa, and beginning on December 1st, each day I would move a little plush mouse through all the numbered pockets leading up to the one marked 25. It was something I always got excited about and wouldn’t let anyone else move the mouse except me. Most kids anticipate the gifts of Christmas above all, and I won’t deny that the presents excited me, but I would remember the feeling of Christmas more than anything, and it was that feeling that I anticipated the most. I’m the type that usually enjoys the journey as much as the destination, and I thrive on anticipation.
Christmas is a sacred holiday that is bright and joyous, but also at times mysterious and deserving of deep respect. I feel this darker tone originates from the feeling of desperation that many of our pagan ancestors felt during the shortest days of the year. The “advent” season for them was the hope of the returning sun, and I would imagine this time was spent in reverence and devotion to some form of personified deity representing the sun. In a culture that lived so closely with the land, that didn’t have the resources we have today to preserve food through the winter or cultivate food in harsh conditions, the returning sun was a literal salvation from death.
I am so grateful to be living in this age of technology, because our lives have been made so much easier. But I can’t forget the significance of what this time of year meant to my ancestors, and what it means to me today. I think of the darkest moments of my life, when it felt like all hope was lost, when I was starving for nourishment, when it felt like my heart was freezing out in the cold. It’s in those moments of darkness that hope is all we have to hold on to. Hope of that guiding light to show us the way out, and to warm our hearts after being left out in the cold. This is what advent means to me. Even if life is going great, this season is about hope and welcoming the return of love, compassion, and protection from the darkness. This is why we celebrate the divine birth and the coming of the “Sun” of God. Whether you see it as the birth of Jesus, the coming of Santa Claus, or even the birth of Horus. These are all symbols on the surface, but in our hearts it means so much more. So to anyone reading this, what are you hoping for this advent season?
Spend this time in reverence of whatever divine power you acknowledge, and appreciate the blessings that are all around. Share those blessings with others when you can, spreading joy to others who may be hoping for more. This advent season, I will prepare and welcome the returning God as he is born anew from the womb of the Goddess, and with it the returning life energy that sustains us all. It doesn’t matter how you celebrate, even if you don’t believe in anything, but hold on to hope. That is what keeps us moving forward into the new year, and paves the way for greater things to come.
I’ve thought of beginning an official ‘year and a day’, something I haven’t done since I started studying paganism and witchcraft, but as the new year approaches it just seems like a good time to start. My thoughts on it have always been that it’s basically a “trial” period of deciding whether the Wiccan path is right for you and during this trial you’ll learn all the basics before being initiated (this would be in a coven setting). As a solitary who’s been studying for a few years now, I have the basic knowledge but I have no intention of joining a formal group, so what purpose could a year and a day serve?
Well I see value dedicating myself to something, anything. I consider myself a wanderer, but if I just keep wandering in circles, I’ll end up nowhere new. Maybe it’s time to start surveying the landscape I’ve traveled and set down markers indicating where I’ve been. Before dedicating myself to a path, I feel it’s important to really be honest with myself, question the beliefs that I hold, and in the process let go of those things which I won’t have any use for. I’m really tired of feeling lost. I’m tired of carrying around useless baggage that weighs me down, causing confusion along the way. I’ve read a lot of books, most of which I respect and learned a lot from, but the many voices cloud my vision making it hard to focus. I blame myself for craving information and foolishly thinking I can cram it all into my little head, hoping somehow for it all to make sense, but one thing I’ve learned is that this isn’t something that can be rushed. Patience is key, and I’ve just gotta go with the flow.
I love witchcraft. I love all the different correspondences and symbolism, and the art of bringing things together to form a spell. I also feel deeply connected to the old pagan gods and I enjoy the idea of them being able to interact with us today. My draw towards Wicca is inspired by this, and I feel that’s why Wicca is right for me so starting a year and a day just seems like the right thing to do. But I also fear the idea of committing to just one thing. I guess I’ve always been scared of labels, and being forced to go into a box, so subconsciously I jump from one thing to the next to avoid settling in one spot for too long. Maybe it’s a fear of facing myself and actually looking at who I am as a complete and whole person. This is where I need to begin this journey of a year and a day. I need to look at who I am, and every aspect of my being that comes together to form the unique person that is me. I’m not really good at this, but I’m going to try anyways. This is the start of a new direction.
Feeling overwhelmed once again by anticipation for the Christmas season, I’ve been compelled to share a few thoughts on why I love this time of year. The concept of the year being a wheel that turns, with each cycle of the sun returning us to the same point as the year before, is a popular way of viewing the seasons. And yes, the same patterns generally occur each year, but on a personal level I’ve noticed that as the years pass I’m never in the same place I was the previous year spiritually. There’s always a change in belief, or more like an evolution that I sense within, that allows me to experience the returning cycle as something a little more deep and complex than I knew before. This has been occurring with most holidays throughout the year, but I feel it strongest at Christmas. Maybe it’s the fusion of Christian/Pagan traditions or because of my strong Christian background, or possibly both of these reasons, but Christmas has turned into something much more than words can express. The sound of jingle bells or a glimpse of a Christmas tree brings up a surge of emotion that puts the biggest smile on my face and often a tear trickling out of my eyes.
I’ve tried to understand this on an intellectual level, but I don’t think I’m meant to understand it, just feel it. Pagans celebrate the rebirth of the sun and the renewal of the year through the returning sunlight, and Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Son of God, as a promise of love and redemption from a hostile world. On the surface, it’s obvious to see the parallels, but I find too often that people get stuck on trying to debate the “meaning of Christmas” and totally miss the synchronous energy that flows through all of the traditions and stories that rise around this ancient celebration. I have found that by diving deeper into Christmas, and erasing the dividing lines set by religion there’s a great transforming power that comes forth. This, I feel, is what causes the reactions I have to the symbols and traditions of Christmas. I’ve been able to strip away the dogma and experience the raw energy that these symbols represent, and it truly is powerful. I respect everyone for their beliefs and I would never try to discount somebody’s religion by picking it apart for them, but for my personal spirituality, this is the only way I can see the world. I am a student of the occult, and this requires an open view of what lies below the surface, an exploration of symbolism and what that means for me personally.
My new Tarot deck I ordered is coming in today! I’m really excited to open it up and meet my new cards. My journey into the world of Tarot began about 3 years ago, around the same time I started my general exploration of the occult, and this is the third deck I’ve purchased. From the moment I got my first deck, I formed a strong attachment to my cards and they began to take on a life of their own. Most of what I’ve read on Tarot mentions that you need to protect them and treat them with respect, almost treating them as individual entities. My personal experience with the cards has taught me that yes, they do require respect, regardless of whether you see them as simple cards or actual energetic forces. My personal belief is that the only energy that resides within the cards, if any, is the personal energy that I impart into them. I feel like anybody can read Tarot cards, as the archetypal themes are universal, but it takes an opening of the mind and spirit to be able to use the images to interpret their meanings. Even after the few years I’ve been using my cards, my understanding of them continues to change and evolve reflecting the personal changes I’ve experienced in my own life. It seems that the wisdom that lies within the cards is limitless, and by using different decks it adds to the meanings of each card depending on the style and imagery of the deck.