Archive | December 2010

Wicca and Shamanism

Day six in Roderick’s book deals with the connection between Wicca and Shamanism. This is something that I have been seriously interested in for the past year, when I started looking into Core Shamanism. Roderick reminds us that in both traditions there seems to be a “calling” to the path. He says “ the powers of the shaman are those of the earth, the wind, the waters, and the fire” – the same energies used in witchcraft – and their power comes from ecstatic rituals that alter the state of consciousness – which is also what Wiccan ritual aims to do.

He also gives a little bit of information as to the difference between the shaman and the madman/madwoman. The madman cannot remain in balance; cannot remain centered; cannot properly perceive the different between the spiritual and physical realms.

Part of what makes Wicca and Shamanism so similar is the deep connection to nature

The exercise for today is to contemplate a few questions:

Describe in writing your own “calling” to the Witch’s path. Take note of which of the shamanic hallmarks describe your own experience.

For me, this is a two part question. The first deals with my leaving the Church. It was perhaps when I was 7 or 8, during Lent. I don’t know if all Catholic churches do this, but St. Michael’s here in town covers all the of statues of Mary with black cloth. This deeply disturbed me, and there’s no way that I can put it into words. It really freaked me out – and I knew right then and there that this wasn’t the right thing for me. I mean, I understand the symbolism behind that, I really do, but something about it… I guess it was my first intuitive experience (that I can remember). After that, I was open to other religions and experiences.

Secondly, I came to Wicca through, of all things, a Scooby Doo movie. It was Scooby Doo and the Witch’s Ghost; they mentioned Wicca a few times and that prompted me to look it up. I instantly fell in love and felt at home with Wicca. Looking through the list of hallmarks Roderick gives, I went through a long bout of serious depression through most of my middle school years. Also, I wonder if my childhood experiences with crows count as “traumatic incidents” which he mentions. My mother tells me often of how crows used to chase me – CHASE me – around when I went outside. She says I would be screaming and crying because they were chasing and pecking at me and she had to chase them away from me with a broom. I still to this day cannot remember this ever happening, but I wonder if I didn’t repress these memories. Sounds pretty traumatizing to me.

In what ways are you a shaman? I suppose most simply, I am a shaman because I’m a shamanic practitioner. I feel connected to the ways of the shaman – moving between words, journeying, dancing, drumming, and serving the community. It is simply something I’m called to.

In what ways are you a madwoman? At times, I have trouble staying balanced. There are times when I wish to exist only in the spiritual realms. This happens less and less often, after I overcame my depression, but still happens from time to time.

Fighting With Stereotypes

As I mentioned before, I’m working my way through Roderick’s Wicca: A Year and a Day. Days 2 and 3 go together and deal with exploring words. The “hot button” kind of words, like “Wicca”, “Witchcraft”, “Pagan”, “Magic” and so on. The exercises for those days deal with confronting our understanding of and feelings toward these words. He asks that you choose one emotionally charged word that captures your “theme” regarding these words, inscribe it on a candle, and reflect on transforming the feelings you have towards this word/concept. You should “vow to remain aware of your feelings during your learning” period. As the word melts away with the candle, you should imagine your feelings/concepts toward it changing as well.

Stereotypical Witches - from The Craft

The word I ended up choosing was “stereotype” because I think that is the one aspect of my faith that I’ve never wanted to confront or embrace.

On the one hand, stereotypes are often negative or focus on the flamboyant/ostentatious members in groups. And these members rarely are the majority. But stereotypes aren’t always negative, sometimes they are positive or (more likely) neutral; for example the stereotype that “all Lutherans like Jell-o” isn’t really positive or negative. Stereotypes can help us, psychologically speaking, understand, classify and approach other groups.

I have a lot of negative feelings attached to the stereotypes surrounding Wicca/Witchcraft/Paganism. On some level I want to embrace them. I want to be the person who says “yeah, I’m unorthodox; yeah, I’m different; yeah, I think ‘strangely’ according to society; so what?” Sometimes I really want to be that person. Sometimes I kind of hate that person – those are the “crazy” people that the media latches onto and portrays for the world to see – I sometimes wonder if they realize the trouble they cause for the rest of the community.

As this year and a day progresses, I’ll be sure to tackle my issues with the stereotypes that surround Wicca and Paganism.

A Year and a Day

Now, I’ve been a practicing Wiccan for a long time – over 10 years, in fact. Most who come to Wicca go through a dedication period, either alone or with a coven. The generally accepted period of time is a year and a day. Mine was much different – there were 7 years between my dedication (age 9) and my self-initiation (age 16). I never have worked with, or been interested in working with a coven, so I wasn’t really confined to a year and a day format – obviously. During this time, I focused first on Esbats. Like many Wiccans, I found the Goddess to be fascinating. My first year, I actually didn’t formally celebrate any of the Sabbats. I just wasn’t ready for that. Eventually, I added the Sabbats as I became more and more comfortable and familiar with their meanings, their symbols, and their importance.

Timothy Roderick's year and a day guide

I began to wonder if I missed something by not using a year and a day format when I was maybe 14. After watching a few videos recently by ladylunaskye‬‎ I went back to wondering.

Well, I just decided to do it. I found a copy of Wicca: A Year and a Day from Amazon for pretty cheap. It showed up today in the mail and I’ve started diving in. I don’t know if I’ll write an entry for everyday, but I’ve started a hard copy journal. I’m excited to see what I can learn from this journey and to see how it interacts with the 2 year shamanic apprenticeship I’ll be starting in a few months.

So, I’ll be deepening my understanding of my path and I encourage everyone to do so from time to time – to go back to basics, so to speak, and remember the things we so often take for granted.

~Take care and Blessed be

Yule 2010

This year, I decided to try something different for Yule. I usually do a simple ritual involving a reflection on the darkness and lighting a candle, letting it shine through the long dark night. This time ’round, I’m holding a vigil – watching the sky and waiting for the sun to rise. During this, I’m reflecting on the darkness and it’s purpose and preparing for a little celebration when the sun does rise. It’s only right to celebrate the return of the sun, even if we are heading into the coldest part of winter. We are coming out of the darkness.

Dawn of the Winter Solstice as seen at Stonehenge.

When the dawn comes, I’ll don my coin belt, grab my drum and encourage the  coming light and see the Goddess through her labor. Where I live, dawn (the beginning of twilight before the actually sun rise) occurs around 7:40 this morning and the sun will rise nearly 35 minutes later.

I find active ritual that includes dancing, chanting, singing and the like to be the most amazing experience. For many years I planed out my Sabbat rituals meticulously, which isn’t really a bad thing to do at first. This allows you to truly understand the purpose for the Sabbat and the symbols often used; but, I think I’m ready to try out new things and experiment. If I don’t like what I do this year, I can always do something else next year.

Full Long-Nights Moon

The full moon in December is the Long-Nights moon, which makes sense seeing as it falls around the winter solstice. This year, the full Long-Nights moon falls on the solstice. But that’s not all – this year, there is also a full eclipse – however we’re in the middle of a snow storm here. It is at this time that we truly notice how long the nights have become. This is a time for introspection; a time to face the darkness that surrounds us. This is the time to go into the darkness to learn from our shadow-selves. Rest, recuperate, take care of yourself – this is the time of the Dark Mother.

No Words

Now, I know it’s silly to name a blog post “no words” but that’s how I’m feeling at the moment. I just returned from a winter solstice circle and we spoke of what changes we were looking forward to in the coming year. Our circle leader read this statement made by Joe Solmonese, Executive of the Human Rights Campaign:

“Today, America lived up to its highest ideals of freedom and equality. Congress recognized that all men and women have the right to openly serve their country. Plenty of people had already planned the funeral for this legislation. Today, we pulled out a victory from what was almost certain defeat just a few days ago.”

I have no words to express how happy I am that this repeal has finally passed.

I’m a Fortune Teller!

Seeing as I’m on a Tarot kick, I thought I’d share my two cents about the words “fortune teller” and “fortune telling”. I saw this in a blog entry by Angelo Nasios. There’s a tendency among readers (of Tarot and other divination systems) to fly a giant disclaimer (figuratively speaking) to clients; it reads: “I AM NOT A FORTUNE TELLER, I CAN ONLY COMMENT ON THE HERE AND NOW AND DISCUSS HOW THAT MAY EFFECT THE FUTURE” and to me, that is more or less wrong. I’ve only been reading professionally (as in, charging people) for a little over a year now but there is one thing that is true about 95% of the time – people come to me be because they see me as a fortune teller. They come seeking advise, sure, but they always first ask about what’s going to happen before they ask about what is happening.

The Rider-Waite Tarot images are classic

I’d be willing to bet that the vast majority of Tarot readers are introduced to the system as a way of predicting the future. I know that’s how I came to the Tarot nearly ten years ago, and I don’t understand why we have to be ashamed of it. Can I predict the future? No, but I can predict a future – a likely future, one based on the here and now. That doesn’t mean it’s not able to be changed or molded. The future is fluid, changing and always able to be shifted. We weave the web of life through our interactions and intentions.

Of course, there are many other uses for the Tarot, or the Runes, or Oracles, or any other form of divination. They can offer insight into patterns in our lives, cast light on the shadows of the unconscious, and provide a means of connecting with other beings or realms. The usage of any divination system is limited only by the imagination of the diviner; but I think it’s a disservice to try to “cover up” one of primary purposes that these systems serve for us.

Is there really any shame in being a fortune teller? I don’t think there has to be. So many readers I come across prefer to say that they “practice divination” instead of saying they are “fortune tellers” – without seeming to understand that they mean the same thing! Divination is simply the practice of foretelling future events, be it by cards, runes, intuition, or any other system.

I’ve decided to change my disclaimer to now read: “I AM A FORTUNE TELLER, BUT THE FUTURE IS EVER CHANGING, YOU HAVE FREE WILL NO MATTER WHAT FUTURE THE CARDS PREDICT”.

I love me  and I love being me – and part of being me is being a fortune teller.