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.
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 world of magic is vast, scary, and overwhelming at times, but even in the moments of frustration when I can’t seem to figure out what’s going on, I can still marvel at the energy present all around. The seeming coincidences that are reminders that I’m still doing something right at least. In my mind I think of the purpose for all of this, and wonder why I even care. Why am I not content to accept the world the way it’s been presented to me? People around me continue on with their lives, completely oblivious to the unseen forces that affect us day after day, minute by minute. In my studies so far, it would seem that in the occult there are no innocent bystanders. Once you’re in, and you peek through the veil, there’s a call to interact and be a part of this universal force that lies lies in the unseen realm.
I said I wasn’t going to buy anymore books for a while, after being continuously disappointed by recycled Wicca books, but I’ve decided to not let those books stop me from exploring. I know there are books of true wisdom out there, that aren’t watered down new age nonsense. I love the symbolism and practices of witchcraft, but because Wicca has become the catch-all term for anybody remotely pagan who wants to practice magic, there appears to be limited resources on practicing a true path of the witch. I’ve tried and tried to be content with Wicca as a religion and a complete practice, but my intuition is guiding me beyond those boundaries. I love Wicca, and I think it’s a beautiful expression of our connection with nature, the cycle of the seasons, and our intimate connection to the Divine, yet why won’t my higher self allow me to settle? In my heart I feel like being a witch is a lot more than just drawing down the moon, doings spells for a new car or lover, or attempting to celebrate these supposedly “ancient” holidays that usually have no relevance or historical validity. I see a lot of blogs on here written by people who claim to be witches or magicians and their practice is so genuine, built from years of practical experience, not learned from some Wicca 101 book.
I’ll continue to seek and find my own path somehow, because I trust that the spirits around me will continue to guide my way, it’s just a matter of me having the wisdom to see the world as it is, not the way someone else tells me it is.
Began Lesson 2 in “Learning Ritual Magic” with much excitement about the next stage and all the new assignments to be accomplished, and now just a few days later I’m struggling even to wake up early to perform my morning meditations. The enthusiasm definitely wears off fast when you’re dragging your body along and your mind screams in agony because it would rather be checking Facebook and YouTube in the morning instead of performing the Qabalistic Cross. John Michael Greer, being very aware of these symptoms, addresses the issue immediately at the beginning of Lesson 2 in the book, attributing it to the fear of change that we hold inside. This fear being personified by the Watcher at the Threshold. I’ve become very familiar with this entity throughout my studies, but it’s important that I face it and continue to push through til the end. I have experienced many positive effects as well, so I have faith that this is helping me and guiding me into the place I need to be.
I’m about two weeks into my practice using “Learning Ritual Magic” by John Michael Greer and I’m feeling confident that Hermetic magic is the right direction for me to be heading in. I’ve read many “lesson plan” books that teach things step by step, and I haven’t been able to find one that I can stick to until now. I really enjoy the approach that Greer takes to learning magic, by teaching the essential basics and allowing you to develop the rest. I appreciate his requirement of reading at least three other recommended occult books while working through his study program. Two of the books being “The Mystical Qabalah” by Dion Fortune and “The Tree of Life” by Israel Regardie, which I have already begun to devour!
I’m one more day from beginning lesson 2, and I’m pretty proud of myself for not jumping ahead before completing the two weeks of practicing lesson 1 (which in the past has been my biggest challenge when reading other study books lol). Lesson 1 has basically consisted of a daily relaxation and concentration exercise, and beginning a journal to record everything. The simplicity of these very short exercises can be misleading, as I’ve had noticeable effects in my daily life. I’m excited to begin the next lesson!
This is sort of a response to Sy Calaelen’s video called Magick vs. Witchcraft and for those of you who are unfamiliar with her work, she has an amazing insight into all things occult and she’s been a huge inspiration for me on my path. If you’re reading this Sy, you’re the best!
I’m currently in a state of transition. More of a shift in consciousness to be more accurate. I recently decided to put a stop to everything I was doing spiritually and just take a break. I took a weeklong vacation to spend some quality time with family and just let everything that was clogging my mind to just sort itself out, well that was the expectation. A few days after returning to work and trying to get back to normal, I began to look over my spiritual life and really see it for what it was. I looked at what I thought I believed, and the practices associated with those beliefs, and started to see that the “spiritual” person I was attempting to be was just a reflection of all the outside influences in my life. Whether direct or indirect, I was starting to see that these influences were dictating to me the path I should follow, instead of me finding who I was deep within and allowing my true self to connect. It wasn’t until I stepped back and evaluated myself that I came to realize there is something growing inside of me that is way bigger than any box I could put it in.
One of the thoughts that kept coming to mind was my idea of what witchcraft is, and how the practice relates to me. For almost two years now I have spent so much energy tirelessly studying witchcraft and Wicca, only to still feel spiritually unsatisfied. Upon my reflection of the meaning of witchcraft, I started to gain a clear picture of what it was that was holding me back. Witchcraft is a magical practice for the mundane, and its uses lend itself to finding love, gaining wealth, and basically helping to solve life’s little problems. I have no doubt that witchcraft is a powerful tool and a beneficial practice, as I have personally experienced its positive effects in my own life, but what happens when we don’t need money or a new job, and we’re happy with the love in our life, or at least content with all of these things? And this is where I was left thinking, not that I couldn’t allow witchcraft to be a part of my life, but that in order to truly grow spiritually I need to expand my horizons to greater knowledge and wisdom.
Enter in.. Hermeticism. I find it very interesting that one of the first books I ever read after starting my exploration of paganism was ‘The Kybalion.’ This book has probably affected me more than any other book I’ve read because of its simple and pure philosophies about magic, God, and the Universe. ‘The Kybalion’ is not pagan specific, and doesn’t adhere to any specific religion, but gives such a strong foundation to all hermetic philosophies. I’m now beginning to explore the world of magic as it pertains to the Western Mystery Tradition, and I feel like witchcraft was the gateway for me to dive deeper into my occult studies. Even now as I’m just beginning to step through that door, I’m gaining a better understanding of witchcraft through the eyes of magic and I can already see a lot of the influences that helped create modern Wicca. I haven’t completely left these two things behind, but they are definitely taking on a different role in my life as I venture forward into the unknown. My only goal is spiritual ascension, and I will follow the path that I need to get there with the guidance of my higher self.