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Taking Time to Look Back

Today is my 13 year "Wiccaniversary." In other words, the anniversary of the day I was initiated into Wicca in 1999. To the Craft colleagues I share my life with, 13 years may seem like a mere blimp compared to 30, 40, and even 50 years of practice. Wicca is getting old enough now where some of our practitioners have half a century of experience under their belts. This to me is quite exciting, something that I hope my coreligionists are aware of and celebrate. We are fortunate enough to be in an age where some people are discovering Wicca (and other neopagan religions) or were raised in it from a very early age and are now fully grown adults. I have much gratitude for the privilege I have in being able to count myself among them.

When I started practicing Wicca, there were a lot of community discussions going on around how and when to teach it to children. Some believed it was ok at a very early age as long as it was your own family teaching you. Other on the opposite side believed it should never be taught to youngsters because of the difficult spiritual lessons that experiencing "the Mysteries" bring. I found myself somewhere in the middle. My original teaching coven believed it was fine to teach pre-teen and teens from non-Pagan families as long as we had permission from our guardians. Needless to say, a lot has changed in 13 years both for me and my tradition's community (more on that in a later post).

Since that early time, I've kept extensive journals regarding my spiritual practice and about life in general. Its a project I was given by early teachers that at the time I really hated (the journaling, not my teachers). But over the years I've grown to love my practice journals for all the great things they've held for me. They contain everything from results to spells I've worked, experiences with visioning and dream-work, and my long list of goals that I create each year around Yule. This time of week every year I look back to those journals. I ask myself a series of questions:

  • What was my spiritual practice like that year?
  • What difficulties with magick and mysticism did I encounter?
  • What successes did I experience, both worldly and otherworldly?
  • What pattens (difficult or helpful) within myself did I create and destroy?
  • Do the vows I took upon initiation still pertain to my practice? Why?

When I feel like I have some good answers to those questions I write them all down to begin yet another journal. This helpful annual practice brings me into a rapid state of self-awareness. Luckily for me, this "Wiccaniversary" practice falls right before the winter solstice, the time of great darkness where we take stock of the things hidden deep within the fertile soil of our souls. I can easily identify what's going on there, what's serving me and my Great Work, and what needs to go. Sometimes deep roots are pulled up, a painful process that will often last me through the winter. Sometimes I'm simultaneously planting new goals, new aspirations for my personal year ahead.

Taking time to look back on the quality of our practice and the experiences it brought us is a tool that's strangely underestimated. Magick-workers are constantly in a state of increasing their skill, a goal often being to attain "mastery" in this or that. Constantly looking back is a way of refining that work, bringing us ever closer to those goals. Regardless of the tools used to do that, its a practice I feel is extremely important and fulfilling.

Do you have a specific time to look over the specifics of your practice from your personal year? Is this linked to a special day marking some stage in your life (like me), or perhaps to an external holiday? I chose the day of my initiation because of what that means to me. It means a beginning as well as a constant state of movement and progression. Doing this work on this day means I have to hold myself fully accountable for all I've done and plan to do.

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David Salisbury is a queer, vegan, Witch and author experiencing life in our nations capital. David is Wiccan clergy within the Firefly Tradition and is High Priest of Coven of the Spiral Moon, a Firefly coven based in DC. The focal point of his spiritual practice is one of service, activism and respect. To fulfill this vocation, he is a full time employee with the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBT civil rights organization. He is the author of The Deep Heart of Witchcraft (Moon Books, 2013) and Teen Spirit Wicca (Soul Rocks, 2014).

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