As September has rolled into October, the darkness continues to grow leading up to Samhain. Each year as the wheel turns to this season, I’m learning to not be so afraid of the dark anymore, but to embrace the deep lessons that lie within. The green leaves change to red, yellow, and orange, a sign that winter is right around the corner. A lesson in letting go of the old, and holding on to those things that help us survive through the cold dark winter. There’s nothing to fear in the dark, except the shadows that we must face within ourselves. The darkness removes distractions, and forces me to face myself; nobody but me. This is where I thrive. I’ve always loved the darker months of the year, and the holidays that mark these special moments of transition and initiation. The excitement I feel within is evident by my need to decorate my home and to immerse myself in the spirit of the season. Samhain marks the final death; a sacrifice of the old, and an initiation into the dark womb of the Goddess. She is the great mother and the source of all life. It’s a return to the primal state, stripping away all that is rotted and dead, in preparation for a new birth. Nothing can remain but the pure essence within our core. Halloween is the witch’s holiday, instilling fear in those that do not understand, but giving joy and excitement to those who partake of this magical time of year. The carving of pumpkins, the soft glow of candles, the ghouls and skeletons we hang in our homes, all serve as reminders of the mystery and magic that is all around us. Even non-believers feel a sense of the supernatural when the cool breeze blows under the full moon. Halloween is a time when I truly feel myself, and as each passing year comes and goes, I’m left with a new understanding of who I am, and I’m reassured that magic is real.
At the moment I’m feeling drawn back to my love of witchcraft and magic, after a brief time away. I think the coming and going of my attachment to magic is a good thing, keeping my interests fresh and helping me continue to gain new perspectives on everything. I’m of the belief that life swings in the rhythm of a great pendulum, constantly flowing with the tides. I also feel like my connection to magic is not something that is ever lost just because I stop actively seeking new knowledge and experiences. There are little things that happen almost everyday that remind me of the energy that flows around me, and serve as reminders that magic can work even at subconscious levels. It’s often difficult to know if my life is headed in the right direction, and it’s those leftover beliefs in predestination that force me to view my life through a cloudy lens. I control the destiny of my life starting at this very moment, and each decision I make causes me to move forward. I don’t like not having the road paved out in front of me, it’s scary and uncertain, but the possibilities are boundless. I can only follow my intuition and I won’t be steered wrong.
Standing still while the world continues to spin around me. The pressure to keep moving is pinning me against a wall that seems to only hold me back. I’ve tried and tried to understand why this wall is there, but my search for answers ends up leading me back to this place of stagnation. My intuition tells me that I am not who the world says I am, and that my life is not like anyone else’s, but I continue to look at the mirrors that society holds up, watching my life through the filters of a dysfunctional world. Why do I struggle with this image of myself, not completely understanding who I am or what my place is in the world? I do my best to be grateful for the blessings in my life, but there’s a constant yearning for something deeper, more meaningful. I express disgust for the superficial culture that I live in, but is it I who am putting on the front? To hold myself back from being my true self, I’m also partaking of this false image that I witness everyday. I pray everyday for the power to be myself and grow into the person I truly, in my heart, know I want to be, and I know that this power lies within waiting for me to tap in.
I performed a reading this morning with my Anubis Oracle deck, and I pulled the card of the water elemental represented by the Nile. I then began to see this blockage in myself as if a dam was built within the sacred river, cutting me off from the precious qualities of water. Water cleanses and clears away, it provides nutrients for life to flourish, and it heals the spirit. My hurts from the past and the persistent negative feelings I feel have created this dam and if I don’t break it down I can only expect death and decay to continue. I’ve prayed that the cleansing waters of the Nile clear away the old and make way for the new season of growth that I need. It’s time for the dam to be destroyed and let the sacred waters flow freely in my life.
I’ve gone back forth over the idea of either joining a group or continuing to practice on my own, and I’m trying to look at the pros and cons of both to make the wisest decision. By nature, I’m a solitary person. I’m typically very reserved, quiet, I can often get lost in my own thoughts until an outsider notices and reels me back to solid ground, and since I was a kid I’ve always had a hard time fitting into groups. Whether it be at school, church, or even just within my neighborhood, I’ve always been the odd one out. As an adult now, I’ve got a wonderful partner who loves and supports me, and I’ve got at least one close friend who I can always count on, so I’m definitely not alone in the world, but definitely a loner in spirit.
I’m very active in my spiritual studies and my interest in the occult could be borderline obsession, so logically it would make sense to find a community of others to discuss ideas with and make some friends. I’ve attempted to join a couple of local pagan groups, but my search so far has not been the least beneficial to me in any way. Now, I realize I may sound a little selfish and I’m very aware of my naturally judgmental attitude towards strangers, but I question why I should even bother anymore.
I have attended two different groups and I have also met with two individuals from those groups outside the circle setting. The groups themselves seem to share some common characteristics between them, one of them being the way nobody seems to have a clear understanding of why they’re there. I have a pretty good idea of the general direction of my path, even if it changes over time, and it was frustrating to not have anyone that would hold an intelligent conversation on any occult subject. At the time, I was focused primarily on Wicca, which comprised the majority of the attendees, but my knowledge and experience seemed to have no relevance among them. I made a reference to ‘The Kybalion’ to someone, which in my opinion is a crucial read for any serious occult student of the western tradition (including Wicca), but my comment fell on deaf ears and nobody even seemed open to other sources aside from Scott Cunningham or Christopher Penczak. Now I’m in no way trying to elevate myself above anyone else, and I can’t judge someone for not having a knowledge of that book, but I simply use that as an example to how alienated I felt among these self-proclaimed “experienced” and “mature” pagans. I guess I held too high of expectations that couldn’t be met, at no fault of the group, but at the same time I’m not going to waste my time. One other thing I’d like to mention about these particular groups I attended, are the people I decided to meet outside the group setting. The first one claimed to be a witch for 9 years, and upon visiting his home i was shown his magick room full of trinkets and herbs galore. We became pretty good friends and I thought for the first time, I finally found someone who I connected with and who could teach me anything I wanted to know. I was so wrong. The focus began to change from spiritual to physical very fast, and I got very uncomfortable with the friendship before distancing myself from him.
I’m obviously pointing out all the negative experiences I’ve had, and I can’t say they were completely bad, but I just feel like it’s time to accept this solitary path for what it is. I’m sure that there are great communities out there consisting of knowledgable occultists; I feel like YouTube and the blogging community have some amazing people, and so maybe this is where I should focus my energies. Magic is such a deeply personal thing for me, in ways I can’t even put into words, so it truly frightens me to think of opening up that intimate part of myself to others. The irony of the internet is it’s a place where the whole world can see you, but you can also be the most discreet by only sharing what you want. In the future I hope to share more of myself through writing, and maybe someday soon create my own youtube videos (eeek!), but one step at a time to get me where I’m going.
The whole idea of initiation occurring in cycles, more as a process than an instantaneous event, is becoming more clear to me. The patterns in my own life are becoming more evident as I continue to study and explore my inner realms of consciousness. I’ve yet to work with a physical teacher to guide me along, but the universe seems to be making things very clear for me as to what my next steps are. I’m standing at a crossroad, and I’ve been here for quite a while, not knowing which direction to take. The fear of the unknown continues to prevent me from stepping forward into my full potential. It feels as though I’m the Fool on the edge of the cliff, the universe ever so slightly pushing me to jump, but waiting for me to make a move. This calling isn’t going to wait though. There are energies out there that need me to reach my potential and I feel if I don’t willingly choose to step off the edge, eventually I won’t have a choice in the matter. Has anybody else had a similar feeling or calling that has been placed within you?
Since this recent holiday season I’ve had a renewed interest in Jesus and how all the things I learned growing up in church relate to me now. There’s no doubt my previous convictions have changed and morphed as my life has taken many different turns, and I’m feeling it’s about time I revisit those convictions of my past to try and gain a new understanding of them with the knowledge I’ve gained since. Until recently, when studying magick I would get very uneasy when I came across discussions dealing with any Judeo-Christian themes, such as Qabala, Ceremonial Magick, and the works of famous occultists like Dion Fortune. Slowly my views are changing to a more open perspective that embraces spirituality as a whole, and by dealing with my hang ups of the past I’m able to find the truths that are found even within Christianity. There have been a few sources that have inspired me to loosen up a little and let the universe teach me what it may. The one that had the most profound effect was The Cosmic Shekinah by Sorita d’Este and David Rankine. This book took everything that I thought I knew about the Bible and scrambled it all up and placed it neatly back in my head, much to my surprise as like I’ve said, I wasn’t keen on letting Christianity leak back into my newfound pagan beliefs. This book and other works that I’ve come across have helped me to see that once you look beyond the face of Christianity, and get to the heart of where all these teachings fit into the development of mankind as a whole, there are many great truths to be found.
I was reading a recent post by Frater Acher over at My Occult Circle that discusses using the Tarot as a foundation for all of our spiritual work, and it got me thinking about my own relationship to the cards. When I look back now at the progression of this spiritual journey I’ve been on, Tarot has been there since the beginning and continues to function as a guide through every step of the way. The struggle to find a solid base to build from has been a consistent burden while I’ve gone from book to book trying to find the perfect teaching that will guide my next step. I’ve gone from Wicca to Ceremonial Magick to general Witchcraft and then back to Wicca, feeling dizzy from all the bouncing around and not realizing that what I was trying to find has been with me all along. I’ve confused my need for stability with a desire for new knowledge, and in doing so I haven’t been able to build a solid personal practice that is uniquely me because I’m constantly looking to others to fill that void. Both needs have their proper place in my life, but it wasn’t til now that I realized they both have different ways of being fulfilled.
Without being properly initiated into any magical group setting, the stability required to build a proper magical practice must come from internal sources rather than external structures. This is where Tarot plays such a crucial role in teaching me the basics of all magic, and even life as a whole. Regardless of the history and origins of the cards, I can’t deny the significance and beautifully perfect system found within those 78 cards. They operate on so many levels that anytime I need advise, a word of encouragement, or even a slap on the hand, they always come through and I find myself aligned with the universe. Going even beyond the technical aspects of the cards, Frater Acher discusses that using Tarot allows us to test our assumptions and build relationships with our inner guides that will direct us on the correct path to chose. That’s something that no one book will ever be able to teach us. Most of the books written today, although insightful and educational, can only teach us based on another’s experience. In order to mature and build my own practice, I will need to search within, using Tarot as my guide. The knowledge acquired from books allows me to see what others have experienced and learn from their wisdom so that I may travel out on my own to create experiences unique to my life.