Solitary: A Self-Directed Spiritual Life

Let's talk. Come sit with me under a tree or by a lake while we chat about being alone in our practice and our beliefs. Solitary practitioners choose this path for many reasons and have a unique perspective. As a solitary witch, I want to share how I keep true to my beliefs and practices whether I'm working on my own, in a small group or attending a large group gathering. Author of Moon Affirmations, meditations based on the phase of the moon.

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In our fast paced society, stress and distress can occur over seemingly small occurrences, in addition to the large stressful life events like death, divorce or accidents.  Seeking solace to relieve any or all stress is a common practice.  Comfort can be found within the family unit, rocking a child or in the arms of a lover.  Stress can be relieved by escaping into a good book, movie or taking a long quiet bubble bath.  Exercise, good food, time alone or with good friends can offer comfort and a release from stress and chaos.  Solace, to find comfort, is one of the most common reason people to turn to religion.  During difficult times most people, even those who are not religious, turn towards the divine to receive some type of comfort and release. Pagans, Witches, and Wiccans often find this solace by turning to one of a multitude of Gods or Goddesses and to nature.

Paganism offers a multitude of divine beings to aid in this process. From the compassion of Kwan Yin to the vengeance of Kali, most of the pantheons have a representative of home, compassion, and the underworld, all of whom can provide solace or comfort at any time.  The crones and sages of paganism remind us that each phase leads to the next.  As a popular crone goddess Hecate will drag you kicking and screaming to the next phase.  She can be the “tough love” goddess who reminds that first you let go and then you begin the new or next phase.  

Turning to any of this variety of divine beings is one way for Pagans to find solace within their beliefs.  One summer while meditating in a county park an image of a green man came to me.  He had twinkling stars for eyes and the leaves of a huge old maple tree for a face.  As I lay on the ground, I felt tremendous grief and loss in missing my father but as I stared at the starry eyes of the green man I realized he was the green man there to offer comfort within the beautiful natural setting. 

Another common way for Pagans to find solace is to turn to nature.  Grounding oneself can literally mean lying on the ground or going barefoot and to release stress into the earth.  This is a process of releasing the negative through your feet (or whole body) by touching the ground.  Living in Wisconsin as I do or any other state where the cold season is interminably long it can be difficult to go outside barefoot.  There are alternatives.  Meditation involving visualization is one of the simplest forms, requiring little more than quiet and an imagination.  However, you can also repot your house plants or brave the cold weather and go play in the snow or hike (probably not barefoot though).

Recently I came home from work early.  I was stressed from life – two jobs, three kids, a husband, bills, etc – it all weighed heavily on me.  Grouchy was too nice a word for my mood.  It was a beautiful summer day, slightly muggy and hot but with just enough breeze to cool one off if you sat still.  I went to my back yard to sit under my trees.  At first the day’s troubles just tumbled through my mind like rocks being polished.  One issue after another rolled through my mind.  The highway and other city noises grated on my already strained nerves.  But the cool slightly damp grass and earth beneath my bare feet and the breeze blowing through the trees started to work its magic.  My focus shifted from the inner turmoil to the world around me.  It sat with my eyes closed finally hearing the birds singing, the neighbor’s water fountain, the breeze tickling the leaves in the trees.  All of these brought my focus from my grouchy attitude to the bigger picture.  It made me step outside my narrow world of office, computers, and problems and into a world of calm and peace; into a world where the problems seeped into the earth beneath my feet and the wind blew the lingering tendrils out of my mind so I could let go of the grumbling grouch inside and find the balanced individual who can handle it all. 

In all I spent about 20 minutes in my back yard.  Those 20 minutes brought me comfort and refreshed me to be able to cope with the rest of my day.  The inner grouch was put back in her cubby. Since I was able to find a more balanced me.  

Nature also helps us to deal with the harder issues of death and dying.  In nature a death usually means life for something else – a plant is eaten by a rabbit to sustain it.  The rabbit is eaten by a fox and so on with the food chain.  Additionally, we see leaves falling to the ground.  These rot and decay which adds to the soil allowing nutrients for existing plants and more plants to grow.  The death of one leads to the rebirth of either new plants of the same type or to the life of another species.  Take one thing out of the mix and imbalance occurs until nature is able to adapt.  When we have imbalances in our lives, through the loss of a loved one or other difficult occurrences, nature reminds us of the need for death in order to rebirth to occur.

When I find myself grieving my father, I frequently turn to stones or the land.  My father loved to work with stones.  He’d polish them, make jewelry and find value in them when others would dismiss them.  Also he was a farmer who worked the land his entire life.  He felt the divine power on the land.  While the farm has turned over to other hands, I still find his essence in stones and in my land (even my small yard).  His love of nature passed down to me so when I miss him, I return to the land.

The simple act of grounding helps to release stress and return calm.  Solace is essential to coping with life’s changes.  Most people turn to their strongest core beliefs during the difficult times.  These practices help bring the focus away from the problem at hand and back into balance. 

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As a solitary, I consider myself a pagan witch who is seeking. Residing in rural Wisconsin, by day I work as a clerical worker and at night I spend my spare time writing. Writing is my way of expressing my feelings about my world and life. Raised on a farm, I have a love for nature and am inspired by the beauty and power I find there. I've been married for 33 years and have three adult daughters. Some of my other interests include cooking, genealogy, reading and crocheting.  
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