Friday, October 24, 2014

History of Samhain

In Paganism and Wicca, Samhain is celebrated as a major Sabbat on the Wheel of the Year. It is from October 31st to November 1st and is marked as the time when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest making it an opportune time to connect and contact ancestors that have passed on. It is also seen as the Witches' New Year because it marks the final Harvest and the beginning of winter where the Earth slips into darkness and things begin to die so they can be reborn. The term "Samhain" comes from the Gaelic word "Samhuin" and is pronounced "sow-in" or "sow-ween" (sow rhyming with cow).

The festival itself signifies the old saying "out with the old and in with the new." It's time to set new goals for the New Year and to cast spells to bring those goals to fruition. I suggest to make a list of goals and list solutions to reaching those goals to help put you on the right track. Invoke the God and Goddess to assist you on the path to reaching your goals or any other spirits, faeries, animal guides who are allies to you.

It's also a good time to honor your ancestors on this date and remember them. One of the main aspects of this festival was to invite ancestors who have passed into your Circle to aid you with your upcoming goals. I usually end the ceremony with a Feast of the Dead to use as offerings to those souls and since it is the last Harvest I believe it to be appropriate to show your bounty and your appreciation for it.

For more about the History of Samhain, which truly is extensive in many countries, try visiting these links:

Wheel of the Year

So I thought it would be easier to show the Wheel of the Year rather than trying to explain it, dates, and so on. There will be information on each of these Sabbats, both major and minor, when the time approaches.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Banishing and Invoking Pentagrams

This is something that I always get mixed up with even though I've been practicing the Craft formally for about 4 years. So here's a chart for everyone. Of course, in different traditions there's bound to be different ways of doing this. This is one of the most common ways. Some traditions don't use a different invoking and banishing pentagram for each element. These traditions would have only one way of doing so. In my tradition we use the fire invoking pentagram for all invocations and the banishing earth pentagram for all banishings. We use the technique based on movement -- it's not based on elements.

When invoking, visualize blue flames coming from the tip of your wand, athame, sword, or from your fingers. When banishing, visualize the flames going back to where they came from.

Book Review: The Spiral Dance by Starhawk

So this is one of the books that I would recommend to everyone -- beginners, intermediate, advanced (if you haven't already read it). It's one of those classic books about Wicca that you really can't ignore. It has so much information about many different aspects of Wicca and the Craft that you need to have this book on hand just in case you forget something.

Not only is there a ton of information but there are also a ton of exercises in each chapter pertaining to what it's about. These exercises are simple, easy to do, and can be done alone or with a group. Each exercise is associated with meditation, trance, ritual, spell work, and more. As always, if I read something that I find to be very useful, then I'll incorporate it into my Craft or at least try it out to see where it best fits in.

This is how I think people should approach most exercises. Try them out and see if you want to keep it or discard it. I'm always looking into different meditation techniques and the ones that I don't find particularly empowering, or insightful I discard. It's okay if you don't want to do a technique. Find what works best for you!

I thought the chapters about the history of Witchcraft were very revealing. There was information that I certainly didn't know about before reading this book and there were even things that clicked for me upon reading it. Do you know where the term "In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust" originated from? This book will tell you and much more.

I'm a Starhawk fan I must say. I've read several of her works and I find her to be very "down to Earth". She doesn't lecture and she's very easy to relate to in her works. I love the "tell it like it is" attitude she has toward the Craft and Wicca which I think makes her admirable.

Try any of her books and see what I mean.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Self-Initiation vs. Lineage

So I've been meaning to post this for awhile but I wanted to make sure that my thoughts were in order before doing so. This topic is pretty controversial which I'm discovering and want to highlight that this is my opinion rather than something to be misconstrued as claiming to be fact.

The debate of the legitimacy of self-initiated vs. that of having lineage to me seems rather...dumb. I will state my opinion bluntly because I figure it's only fair to be clear when doing so. There are pros and cons to both but I'm not here to discuss that. I only want to state the obvious difference. When one is self-initiated, they are simply initiating themselves with the power and energy directed from the divine or Goddess. They have completely dedicated themselves to Her service and devote their lives to studying the Craft and also to teaching/helping others along their journey. Those who come from a lineage were formally trained and endured disciplined and structured teachings from a mentor, teacher, priest/HP or priestess/HPS who also have dedicated their lives to the Craft and to teaching others.

However, I do not believe that one way is necessarily better than the other. Lets say that you are very disciplined toward your Craft. You read all the books, did all the practices, recognize the esbats and sabbats, and are very devoted to the Divine. Does the fact that someone has obtained this knowledge from books and their own experiences make them any less of a Witch?


Some people are unable to find teachers in their area, some people cannot find the "right" teacher, and some people simply wish to worship and practice alone. When a person is ready to be initiated that means that they are confident in themselves and their abilities. Even normal functioning covens place emphasis on their coven members to ask to be initiated before being initiated because that person has to feel that they are ready in their heart.

When one is ready to be initiated, or ready to progress, I would not expect them to wait for a teacher to come along and tell them to train for a year and a day. I would expect them to find their place in the Craft and be comfortable.

One argument I've heard is about the flow of energy or "passing the wand". Energy comes directly from the Divine. Why must one need a mediator between themselves and the Divine? Even if you have been ordained/initiated I would suggest doing a self-initiation as well that suits you.

Another argument is what if someone self-initiates themselves in order to gain power over others? Well, truth of the matter is people should stay smart. Seekers are given red flags to look for in those people. And it's true that self-initiation has become one of the main red flags that websites talk about but that shouldn't be the case. Trust your instincts. Ask yourself questions like is this person trying to teach me in their best interest? Is the person asking for money for training me? Does this feel right?

Most people have good judgement and can find the truth.

Some people argue that those self-initiated downplay the hard work that goes with those formally trained. How do you know these people haven't put forth as much work as you? Why does it matter that you be recognized for this work in the first place? The Craft is about your spiritual journey. Initiated shouldn't be a boy scout badge or a title. It should be a symbol that represents the new home you have found, the spiritual peace you have found.

Sometimes you just have to ask yourself, who was the very first Witch initiated by? And if you can't answer that question then you should stop judging those who choose to go through self-initiation.

Blessed be everyone.