To Be a Witch… A Life of Ritual and Devotion

It’s a common thing to hear that there’s a difference between our magical lives and our mundane lives. In reality, we have the ability to step into ritual and devotion each and every day.

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Gwion Raven

Gwion Raven

I've been a practicing witch and ritualist within the Reclaiming Tradition since 2003. I love being in service with this community of witches and world changers.   My own practice, my own way of changing the world is through devotional practice. It's my belief that we can re-enchant our lives by re-framing the so-called "mundane" as sacred and divine. By imbuing the familiar with a sense of wonder and infusing daily life with acts of magic, we choose to consciously make all of life devotion. Whether we engage in large, public rituals or sink sumptuously into the pure ecstasy of eating a delicious meal by ourselves or meditating at sunrise, our daily rituals can draw us back into harmony with the world and each other.  
Winter Solstice - A ritual invocation or the coolest band name ever!

A long, long, long time before the word "Solstice" was ever uttered, eons before the ancients looked upward at that shining orb in the sky and said "goddess" or "god", billions of years before humankind realized that some times were warmer and lighter and other times were colder and darker, this planet danced.

For roughly four and a half billion years, give or take a million, the earth has rocked forward and backward. Axial Tilt is the official term for it. Axial Tilt would also make a great name for a band and should I ever decide to get the band back together again, I think Axial Tilt will be the front-runner for the name.

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Altars - A ritual in the making

I recently wrote a piece about Pagan tattoos. Hundreds of people posted pictures of their artwork and many more folks told the stories of how those designs came about and why they were so compelled to etch them indelibly into their skin.

And this got me thinking - Tattoos are altars, of a kind. They are permanent representations of a moment or a belief or a particular rite of passage. These permanent, personal altars are like touchstones to those important times. In most cases, they are carefully thought out. They are planned. The placement, the design, the colours, the images and the symbols are all considered. Then there's the actual "building of the altar" itself.

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  • Linette
    Linette says #
    A number of years ago I taught a class on altars. Many of the participants said they had no idea where to begin with an altar, or
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Linette - Yes. So much this. I love the simple, everyday altars that we all instinctively create.
  • Asa West
    Asa West says #
    This post is lovely. Thank you! When I first read it, I thought, "well, I only have one altar in my house--my working altar." But
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Hello Asa, I think that's it exactly. I realized that I have even more altars than I thought. There are several in the front and
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Oh Elizabeth, it makes a great deal of sense! What a treasure that altar is and such a brilliant way to highlight that altars are

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Tattooed Pagans - A ritual in ink

The time for preparation is over. I have eaten. I have stripped down and am bare from the waist up. I have been washed. I have been shaved. I have stepped into the circle I have cast and taken my seat. I've sent words to the gods that I' d like protection and ease and fortitude of mind and body. This ritual is a test. This is my journey to make alone.

Then the buzzing starts. "Are you ready?" I'm asked. I nod and I feel the first sting of the needle as it pierces my skin. Long strokes up and down my spine. The weight of another's arm on my back holding me in place. The concurrent thoughts of "What the hell am I doing?" and "Oh I've waited so long for this, I can't believe it's finally happening". 

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  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    gwionraven@comcast.net or you can post it over at the Witches and Pagans face book page if you like. There are now hundreds of tat
  • David LeBarron
    David LeBarron says #
    sure!
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Hello David, Now that's a great story. I'd happily send you my email address if you'd like and you can email a picture to me. I'l
  • David LeBarron
    David LeBarron says #
    I just got an addition to an old tattoo. I added some sacred geometry, smoke and pentagrams. The best part was the tattooist is al
  • Peggy Frye
    Peggy Frye says #
    I've several Celtic tattoos - crows and hounds (stylized) and now I have two half sleeves depicting The Morrigan and Cu Chulainn -

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A Private Moment in a Public Ritual

 

This past Samhain I attended three different gatherings honouring the Ancestors, The Beloved Dead, the Mighty Dead and my ability to gather freely and celebrate as I choose. The first ritual was the North Bay Reclaiming Samhain ritual. This is my local community. About a hundred or so witches gathered. We had altars and invocations and told stories about our Beloveds that have crossed the veil this year. The second gathering was a private affair in my home with a few dear and close friends. We watched a few of our favourite cheesy "witchy" movies (yes, we watched the one with the midnight margaritas!). We ate and we drank and we celebrated being alive and being in love and being part of such an active public community. The third Samhain event was Reclaiming's 35th annual Spiral Dance in San Francisco. Roughly fifteen-hundred pagans, activists, seekers and newcomers were welcomed to this most public of rituals.

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  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    You know Annika, one of the things I truly appreciate about the Reclaiming Community is that it doesn't rest on the shoulders of o
  • Annika Mongan
    Annika Mongan says #
    I deeply appreciate the freedom we have in the Reclaiming Community. One of the ways in which we stand on the shoulders of our Mig
  • Annika Mongan
    Annika Mongan says #
    You were not the only one. Many are the Mighty Dead who have fallen. A new generation is rising up, but they can never be replaced
The Mighty Dead in Conversation with DeAnna...

The Mighty Dead - It's a pretty epic sounding title. It sounds like a summer blockbuster movie to me, but really, who are the Mighty Dead? Well, it depends a little on who you ask but the most common answer to that question goes something like "those in the Craft that have gone before us, whose shoulders we stand on, those nameless persecuted witches, the founders of traditions, Pagan Activists..." etc, etc.

I like that as a definition. It serves well. I also like the slightly less grand version of the Mighty Dead - Those that I've known personally that have deeply affected my view of the Craft. And with that, here's my tribute to the person that always comes to mind when I hear the phrase "The Mighty Dead"

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Spiraling into the center - A Samhain Ritual

 

I normally write about daily rituals and devotional practices, the kind we all do or all can do if we are so called to. Today, however, I'm going to focus on one of the largest, longest running public rituals I know of or have ever had the pleasure to participate in - Reclaiming's 35th Annual Spiral Dance.

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  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Yes indeed. And that, I think, is the thing to do. Remember them. Sing their names and carry on the work they began.
  • Annika Mongan
    Annika Mongan says #
    We have lost so many Mighty Dead this past year. May they return to us. May we honor them by carrying their work forward.

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Of Ancestors and Devotion

So here I am at Samhain-tide again. Like many Pagans this is the "big one", our month when we get to be as witchy as we want and it goes mostly unnoticed because everyone out there in the Western world is hanging up skeletons and foam cut outs of owls and black cats.

It's also the month where I find myself running from pillar to post, organizing and priestessing all sorts of Samhain-related events. As is often the case, I'm part of the organising team for the 35th annual Reclaiming Spiral Dance in San Francisco. I'll be part of North Bay Reclaiming's Samhain ritual and this year I'll be at a four day retreat in the Mendocino Woodlands called "Mysteries of Samhain". I'm fortunate to be a busy witch.

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  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Thank you Annika - It's that lovely liminal space, you know. Not this. Not that. Now
  • Annika Mongan
    Annika Mongan says #
    Thanks for the post. I love this season, too, especially the fact that I sometimes pass as "normal" during this time. Also fascina

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