A Year and A Day

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.

Tis The Season

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.

New Tarot Deck

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.

Autumn Reflection

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.

Shadow Within

2swords

Everyday we’re forced to balance between light and dark, good and evil, right and wrong. It’s a constant teeter swayed by emotions, experiences, and just life in general. Today’s society has tried to bundle all these polarities into one group labeled “morals” and often dismisses the value of recognizing those attributes within ourselves that could be labeled “unpleasant.” For those who study and practice within the occult, there’s no question of what’s good and evil because it’s all relative. The lines of magick seem to blur all boundaries. This is what has always frightened people so much about it.

But what people fail to realize is those who are truly seekers of occult wisdom most often have very strict codes of conduct that rival even the most devout Christians. Magick comes from hard work, study, and deep contemplation of the self in relation to the universe. As a beginning student, I’ve had to (and still am) come to terms with the “evil” inside of me in order to truly know myself completely. I’ve come to understand that the role of these polarities within us is to create a natural balance and harmony. Being a natural part of ourselves does not make it an easy thing to realize nonetheless. The mindset of modern society is to glorify that which is pretty and condemn the ugly. In doing this we sever half of our own identity and find that we’re still unbalanced and miserable.

Only when each of us looks within and accepts every single part, including the big, the bad, and the ugly, can we progress towards being complete and whole.

“The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome.”
–Derek Walcott

Image: Deviant Moon Tarot – Patrick Valenza