This essay was originally published at Neo-Paganism.com.
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This question turns up in my inbox regularly. Sometimes when you’re searching for something, and particularly when you’ve been searching for a long time, a part of you wishes someone could just give you the answer so you can move on to the next step. I get it—really, I do. But the truth is the only person who can and should be answering this question for you is you.
One of the coolest things about Wicca, in my opinion, is that it makes you ask the hard questions and decide things for yourself. If you decide to pursue Wicca as your spirituality, you’re embarking on a path that’s not in the mainstream and doesn’t have a centralized leadership, structure, sacred text, or set of teachings. Exploring Wicca means jumping into the deep end without many of the usual societal supports. Nobody can truly tell you how to do it, although helpful people might be able to provide some guidance on the way. I realize that’s very uncomfortable sometimes, but nobody ever said spiritual growth (or any other kind of growth) is comfortable. If we’re too comfortable, we’re not likely to create change....
Sometimes, where we least expect it, we can find spiritual communion. This isn't my usual monthly post with tips and advice, but perhaps this anecdote has something to offer you, as it did me.
It was my birthday about two weeks ago, and though I wasn't planning a birthday party, the gathering planned for testing my new fire pit and grill ended up being scheduled the weekend after. It seemed a good time: just after my thirty-sixth, just before Mabon. I was surprised when I did a head count from R.S.V.P.s that we were expecting up to twenty-seven people, something our house isn't used to accommodating, but I was determined to make it work.
Then, the morning of the gathering, my one year old had sniffles, and not knowing whether it was an on-coming cold or just an allergy, I posted a quick update to my guests. In under three hours, I had fifteen cancellations (understandable) and a fridge crammed full of food I'd bought and prepped specifically to feed the large guest list (unexpected).
By the start time, I wasn't sure anyone was coming, though I went to build a fire anyway. Then someone showed up: a friend from university I hadn't seen since I'd graduated. We sat alone together and carried on small talk, while I felt first embarrassed at not having anyone else there and then embarrassed because I didn't know what I was doing. I'd never grilled before, nor had I done so by starting a wood fire outdoors. (Can you tell I work mostly with water and earth?) As I'd expected other witches there, some far more experienced with fire who could give me a boost, and maybe join in a touch of spirit-calling to welcome the fire, I felt wholly out of my -- pardon the pun -- element.
My friend started giving advice from his own experiences camping, and we tried to implement them together. Shortly after, one of my dearest friends arrived, bringing along his mother, whom I knew from online conversations, and his brother whom I knew not at all.
Feeling a little relieved, we proceeded to acquaint ourselves to one another while discussing the best way to start a fire. As it turned out, two of the guests including my friend's brother, were experts. Together, they worked to both encourage the smoldering wood and to teach me how to work with fire in a practical way I'd not learned before.
Though there were a few bumps in the process -- and one very stubborn sweet potato that refused to cook -- after two hours of talk and finesse with fire, we had all managed to enjoy a host of delectable, locally-grown vegetables and meats grilled by our own hands.
What's more, we created camaraderie through the evening's adventure that led to a natural moment of reverent silence between us. Though each of us were from different backgrounds and honoring different traditions, the silence became a communion in which, serene and smiling, we found spiritual connection.
For several breaths, without intent to guide it there, our small group became one -- with each other, the food, the fire, and the night. The embarrassment and disappointment I'd felt earlier in the day had burned away, and leaving a spiritual community created just for the purpose of one evening and to teach me an important lesson.
Though my usual band of friends who share in similar spiritual pursuits were unable to join with me that evening, I learned that no matter who I'm with, it's possible to create a supportive, spiritual community whenever needed. Our paths need not be the same, only the willingness to sit with one another, share in the simple joys, and open our hearts to the possibility of communion.
Thus were my needs met that night, and I realized, have been at every point in my life when I needed connection of this sort. This event helped me recognize and appreciate the abundance and connection we bring to one another, and all it took was sharing a fire.
Of course, it's been a week now, and despite a lot of creativity, our fridge is still burgeoning with food. What a blessed challenge to have!
May your Mabon and harvest be as abundant!
They speak to me at times, the ones behind the veil. I can hear them and sense them, but I cannot always see them. Other times I can see them, but cannot hear what they are saying. Its frustrating to have this happen, so see things that you cannot explain to people around you. It's even harder to know that there is something that they are trying to tell me but I cannot make sense of it.
At one time it was easier, before kids, before the business of life. Now the tide is changing and life is slowing a bit - at least for me in some ways - and they are coming back, talking....
Happy Friday, Beagle-fans! Today we have a bouquet of religious stories starting out with one about not being religious. 7 varieties of unreligion; Hindu Goddess festival begins; teaching children values depends on politics and religion; selfies of Sikhs; Pagans on death and burial.
This story from Salon posits that there are seven kinds of unreligion (including pantheism, which is awfully close to many Pagan beliefs to my way of thinking, and maybe shouldn't be considered "unreligion" at all.)...
I think that autumn is truly becoming my favorite season. In my realm of the northern hemisphere winter predominates for six months, from mid November to mid May, bringing ice, snow and cold. Spring bulbs often get nipped by a late, last frost and tender perennials wilt in the cold nights of early September.
As mentioned in my post Beyond The Powers: The World of Vanaheim, the realm of the Vanir is tribally structured - this has been corroborated by the doxa of multiple individuals from 2007 onward. In no particular order, here is a brief overview of each Vanic tribe and the service they perform:
The Serpent tribe is a small “tribe of introverts” and they live in a series of underground caves in the upper northwestern territory of Vanaheim, in a mixed deciduous and evergreen forest. They specialize in routine “maintenance” energy work as well as catastrophic, catalytic healing. They also serve as catalysts of wyrd, “seething” and creating subtle shifts that “grease the wheels” of change and create “sheddings” that need to happen.