Yes, it has been. Life got intense and I got distracted. Unfortunately my writing tends to be the first thing to fall by the wayside. Still, I pop in from time to time.
I felt moved to write about my Rite of Her Sacred Fires experience this evening. I adore Hekate and have for most of my magickal life – she is the Goddess of Witches after all – but I’ve often found it a challenge to really connect with her for a long time. I believe it was a Samhain labyrinth experience 5 years ago that changed all that for me…
I was living in a house that was nearly 100 years old and surrounded by magnificent, established trees and a huge backyard. My coven and I had created a spiraling labyrinth upon the grass with a well-stocked cauldron at the centre. As we were walking the Hermit’s dark labyrinthine path into our own deep, dark mysteries we thought it important that we ask Hekate to guide us through this challenge in her role of Torchbearer. When we called out to her beneath the open night sky I could feel her answer us with a reverberating joy and with a rush of energy her dominating, powerful presence was evident to all.
Each of us were ritually cleansed, anointed, cloaked, and presented the lantern to carry before us as we stepped into the circle to walk the labyrinth. When it was my turn to walk the winding road I could feel Hekate’s form at my shoulder, driving me on. Upon reaching the centre I cast my spell into the cauldrons flames and felt the energy from my crown shoot upward into the sky. It was a disorienting experience, like star-shine and numeric computer read-outs pouring into my brain, and I wasn’t quite able to properly register or articulate it for a very long time.
I felt that same sensation again tonight whilst conducting the Rite of Her Sacred Fires, that shooting upward of spiritual energy and a connection with the very heavens themselves. However, this time Hekate was in front of me, questioning me in each of her guises and for different purposes. She was first joyous and mischievous, then staid and determined, then regal and stern. Each of these personas she showed me and I recognised them within myself, yet she indicated that my current role is as a Torchbearer – also known as teacher, guide, mentor – and it is a sacred role that I must learn to cherish.
For many months I have been fighting against mental blocks that have held me back from accepting my new career. I have been many different kinds of teacher but never before have I been part of such an intensely scrutinised institution that can shape the lives of human beings in unknown ways. It is a huge responsibility that carries much stigma and I have been afraid of it. However, now I know that Hekate will walk alongside me and help me when my torch becomes too heavy to bear.
Askei Kataskei Erōn Oreōn Iōr Mega Samnyēr Baui Phobantia Semnē.
Hail Hekate, Queen of heaven, earth and sea!
“Just swingin’ with ma Ring-Wraiths…”
Amazingly it’s been over a month since I finished my post-graduate studies and I’m beginning to feel almost normal again – after the stress-induced illness subsided, of course. It’s pretty astounding how long one can manage high levels of stress without either stabbing innocent bystanders with useless, ink-drained pens or sobbing uncontrollably when anyone deigns to converse. Having left the personal hell of studying externally full-time whilst working part-time (with the added demands of family and multiple other commitments) I am beginning to feel creative once again. I’ve discovered that creative juices do not flow when stress is a permanent lodger, and almost as soon as the source of stress is removed the dam of creativity that has been held back pours forth in a torrent.
In fact, I feel as though I don’t have enough hours in the day to get ideas down before they’re shoved aside by the next ones. I can only hope those that get missed will find their way back to my brain with time and stillness. This flow of creativity is directly proportional to my re-burgeoning spiritual and magickal inclinations, and I find myself desperate to do ALL OF THE THINGS.
One aspect of my craft that I have managed to keep going through hell-and-high-water is my Ancestral observances. When all else was crumbling and my sanity was ebbing away I could go and sit with my ancestors and they would comfort me and let me know I’d be okay. I can’t tell you how important that was for me some days!
Something else I managed to keep doing, even through study, was listening to spiritual and occult podcasts. Most recently I have been listening to “Elemental Castings” by T Thorn Coyle and one very relevant podcast was on Spirit where they mentioned that we really NEED to cry for our Beloved Dead; we NEED to grieve them. As Medusa beautifully states in the podcast, “Our tears create the river that is the River Styx.” We must grieve our loss and show them how loved they were, then let them pass on to wherever they need to go. I found it interesting that both Thorn and Medusa believe the spirits of our Beloved Dead need time to be capable of proper communication – which could be weeks or even years – and, though time is not linear in the Worlds beyond the physical plane, it appears to take time for the spirits of our loved ones to pass through whatever they need to before they are ready to communicate (or perhaps to remember how to communicate) with us.
So, the reason this podcast was so profound for me is because I had been sitting with my ancestors the night before and I was remembering all the things about them that I loved, as well as what their particular personalities were like, when I was overcome with grief for my grandfather and cousin who had both passed a few years ago. I was quite surprised that the depth of sadness could still be so intense even when I had felt I’d grieved sufficiently. However, as Medusa and Thorn mention in the podcast, we are not permitted in our current culture to allow adequate time to grieve nor is it okay to discuss that grief – which can still be with us years and years later, or perhaps for the rest of our lives.
This is unacceptable to me, and yet I have spent years past hiding my grief and sadness. After my tears I felt closer to my Beloved Dead and more grounded in my body. I was reminded of the impermanence, and thus the preciousness, of life and it bolstered me to keep aiming to live it well. We are expected to shut our emotional selves down and “put on a brave face” when in reality we should be experiencing the emotion, though they may be extremely difficult to sit with, and feel all that this corporeal existence can give us.
We short-change ourselves as magickal and spiritual beings if we do not own and fully experience our emotions. We owe it to our loved ones who have gone on to remember them fully without fear of experiencing sadness and grief, or making others “uncomfortable”. If we do not work with our emotions (experience them, discover their origins, and work into our personal shadow realms) we risk short-changing our magick and our spiritual progress. We risk diluting or unwittingly negating our magickal efforts through unprocessed and unconscious emotions that may undercut our magickal intentions because on some level we do not want the outcome. We prevent ourselves from progressing.
This is something I have been working with for a little while now, particularly as a long-time yogi, where I sit with the emotions that come up for me and see where they take me. Sometimes they lead me to happy places, sometimes fairly dark ones, but wherever they lead allows me to take one more step along the road to balance and self-knowledge. It’s worth the effort and time… provided you aren’t currently hellishly studying for exams or cramming assignments. If you are, my thoughts are with you in this difficult time.
I have returned from a weekend of beautiful scenery in the gorgeous Denmark, Western Australia and magickal times with my stupendously wonderful coven. It has reinvigorated my magickal soul after the dulling that the holiday season inevitably brings and has reminded me of the riches that my coven family hold. Immense riches.
Many, many moons ago I believed that solitary practice would be my thing. I couldn’t imagine that there would be anyone with whom I could share the fragility of my soul’s expression or the secret thoughts in my heart. Yet, deep within my core there was a yearning for connection, for heart-felt understanding, for experiences with others with whom my spirit could soar. And the Gods answered my secret prayer.
Never did I foresee that I would be dancing under the moon with my soul siblings or sharing sacred space in the rocky bones of a forest stream. For these experiences and joyous moments of beauty I am forever grateful. This weekend we officially welcomed a beloved member of our coven into the fold of Sacred Circle of the Inner Flame and I am overjoyed that we have all interwoven our paths and energies.
To have such incredible souls in my life makes me certain that I am doing things right. May you find individuals who reflect your inner flame as I have. Blessed Be.
(I dream of a front garden like this!)
I’ve been reading a great many pagan blogs and listening to podcasts the last few days and it’s really inspired me to look with more depth at my practice. I highly recommend getting out there and seeing what other practitioners from all kinds of paths are doing because it’s so easy to become staid in our magickal and spiritual endeavours.
Something that has been bothering me but lay under the surface of my understanding, until now, has been the icky energy around the exterior of my home. Khi Armand (of http://cityconjure.wordpress.com/) wrote about it in his excellent blog post “H is for House Cleansing, House Spirits, & Spirits of the Land” and it triggered the realisation that what has been bothering me all this time is the horrid energy of the suburb around me. I’m currently living in a lower socio-economic area than I have previously and the energy of the despondent souls can be quite oppressive, particularly with very little nature around us to absorb and buffer. Not only this, but our house is situated between 2 busy roads and a highway not too far away so any accumulation of energy is constantly being disrupted.
I’ve been wanting to plant a hedge along the front of my property ever since moving in but have put it off time and again. Now I can understand the reason behind my need and also my reluctance. I simply despise being out the front of my house; there is absolutely no barrier between the front of my home and the busy street so when I step outside the energy of my front yard feels raw and uninviting. Not only this, but I am nervous of the types of people who wander down my street on a regular basis and I am constantly aware of my vulnerability.
However, now that I understand the reasons behind the disparity I can address them. I can jack-up my protection before exiting my house (which I cleanse on a very regular basis) and acquire the plants that I need to create the physical and energetic barrier which is so necessary. It’s interesting that something as simple as a hedge or fence can have such an energetic impact on an entire property. One thing is for sure, in the future when I know there is something I need I’m going to put on my big-girl pants and freakin’ get it!
I’ll keep you updated on the energetic impacts when I get the barrier under way. After that I think it’s time I made overtures to the spirits of the land. May your home and property be safe and protected, and may it keep you and your loved ones in joy and love. Blessed Be.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. It’s one thing to call oneself a Witch, it’s another thing entirely to walk the path of the Witch. I have been an active walker, with dalliances in passivity, for over 13 years and have often returned to this question. My answer changes every time.
At present, “Witch” means for me one who is willing to delve deep, to find that spark of divinity within and learn from it. One who is unafraid to face the dark places in one’s mind and heart, whilst seeking to meld the dark and light into some semblance of balance. To follow the question that the heart ponders to the very end and find its source. Wherever that may take me.
With such challenges comes a sense of apathy. It’s easy to tell yourself, “Oh, I’ll do that tomorrow…” and continue to plug into technology, whiling away life. For the modern Witch technology is both a boon and a burden. Never before has such knowledge and connection to others of like-mind been so accessible. However, there has also never before been so much with which to distract ourselves. Our true Temples are within ourselves and among the trees, not within plastic and metal constructs.
Yet knowing this, I still find myself struggling to make time for my path. I return home and find myself sitting on social media or researching new ideas or watching movies and letting hours flow by. In this, too, we must find balance. Correlating the balance we seek within ourselves to the balance between our virtual lives and reality, to activity and passivity, to thought and action, to fear and love. Balance is the key to all.
So considering this, one could claim that to be a Witch is to seek balance in all things. To seek a way to live in the world where the environmental damage we do as humans is countered by the positive contributions we make to the Earth. A way to balance our technological advances with our continued and meaningful connection to our planet and all upon it. To balance the dark and the light within ourselves and all around us.
To be a Witch is to understand truly what we and the world are made of and become a unifying, working part of it. Attaining equilibrium: that is Witchcraft. That is magick. That is the challenge.
Many times in my life and on my path I have found myself questioning my beliefs, my intentions, my abilities and my place in this universe. So rarely do I come upon a concept or truth that stays permanently with me; just a fleeting epiphany that dissipates too soon, leaving me with a sense of loss and profound confusion that can be almost debilitating. I see this as a process, though, a consistent incorporation of new information and experiences, allowing the foundations of my perceived existence to be built sturdily and with integrity. Rather than holding to other people’s truth I discover my own, which is what a spiritual and occult practice ought to involve.
As a spiritual seeker there are many obstacles and pitfalls that can either turn us from our paths or help us assure ourselves that we continue upon them. The greatest hurdles, of course, are our societal conditioning and skewed understanding of self-worth. These concepts cause us to sabotage our progress, to doubt our abilities and experiences (as I have often done), to berate ourselves for not being “better” than we are, because the limitless spirit within us has been squashed down and hidden from our sight to such a degree that we even doubt it’s existence.
One of the greatest challenges for me was accepting the evidence of my senses and my intuitive thoughts. It’s all too easy to disregard the subtle energies and the ideas that pop into one’s head as imagination; to ignore it as make-believe. However, very slowly and with persistence, you begin to trust that subtle sensation and those inner thoughts when you take the time to listen and feel.
When you give yourself permission to accept the “other” aspect of reality that we’re not taught in schools and universities, or by many elements in our Western society, it’s like sloughing off the facade and seeing what’s underneath; or, as yogis term it, “seeing through the veil of Maya”. I found the practice of yoga and yogic techniques helped me trust in the sensations and intuitions I experienced in my occult practices. Controlling and drawing-in ‘prana’, or life-energy, is a significant component of yoga and the raising of one’s spiritual energy, which is why my occult and yoga practices have grown up alongside and complement each other. The only significant difference is that in yoga one is supposed to rise above and beyond the psychic abilities and in occultism one seeks to develop them so as to use them to move along the path.
If you’re finding it difficult to pin down a set of beliefs for yourself or to accept the subtle energies at play don’t be disheartened – be grateful that your mindset is not dogmatic. Perhaps your beliefs are fluid and change as you receive more information and experience new things. Perhaps you have yet to find your fundamental truth. It is a quest, after all, so don’t feel obligated to fit a mold and always question everything. One does not plumb the hidden depths of one’s spirit only to cram it into a cage.
No one said this path would be easy. In fact, by it’s very nature, it is immensely difficult and requires strength and determination to stay on. And, yes, a little faith. Faith in oneself and one’s worthiness. Though the effort is great it makes the rewards all the sweeter and one day you will find yourself looking back on your struggles with fondness.