Blog Update

Hello, readers of Mystical Pagan

Please feel free to browse around and look over the many posts that can be found here. I hope you find them useful.


Pinned Post

How to Become a Witch/Wiccan

It is often asked where one should start when they've discovered this wonderful system. First of all, when you ask this question, does...

Monday, May 29, 2017

Questions to Fully Understand Wicca - Part 5

Have you considered your view of and relationship with deity?
My view is fairly personal and individual. Each person views deity in their own personal way. What could I say about my view of deity that one would understand? My view on the deity I follow is undoubtedly different from others who may follow the same deity because I interact differently with her (though, through conversations, I have noticed similarities between how I view and interact with her, and others).

I follow the Goddess Hecate. I view her in the way she wants me to, which, as I said is undoubtedly different than another's view. Through my visions with her, she adorns herself in a light colored hooded cloak, carrying a staff. These are typical and common symbolic representations of her. Ancient followers also depicted her as wearing a skirt and hunting boots. I do not see her in this way. Modern society sees Hecate as an old hag; the Crone we commonly associate with the Halloween Witch. To me she is a young woman, whose face I cannot see (whether its due to her own refusal to show me, or my own refusal to know out of respect for her, I don't know, nor do I really care; her physical appearance is not as important as the words she says to me; the advice she gives to me and the lessons she teaches me). My relationship with her is deeply personal. I accept responsibility for my actions towards her and speak to her with total honesty, and she does the same. Though sometimes harsh, what she says to me is what I need to hear, and that should be the goal of anyone who follows ANY sort of deity...not to be coddled and told what one wants to hear, but what they need to hear, even if they don't want to.

Have you concluded that these actually fit within the framework of Wicca?
Again, because I don't identify as Wiccan, whether or not they fit within the framework of Wicca is moot. However, if I WERE Wiccan, I would probably have to say no, as she has not divulged to me any consort to work with, nor has she indicated, really, any desire to be honored alongside one. But because I understand Wicca and its relationship with its Gods, I acknowledge the lack of association with my Goddess, her desires and the Wiccan framework.

Are you certain you're not trying to fit square pegs into round holes?
Because I'm not Wiccan, I don't do that. However, I DO note when other people do this, and make note of it to them. Quite often I am accused of "being mean" or "trolling" when I do this, simply because I acknowledge the errors in peoples understanding of whats acceptable within the Wiccan construct, and they don't like that. They want Wicca to be a religion in which they can do whatever they want, even if it means destroying what makes Wicca, Wicca. They want to maintain the label, even if it means re-defining it.

I understand that for one to be Wiccan, there needs to be a dual deity figure, AT LEAST. To omit even ONE deity from this construct turns Wicca into Eclectic Paganism.

Do you understand the difference between a nature religion, and a fertility religion?
Based on my own understanding, a nature religion would focus on the agricultural aspects of the world. A fertility religion focuses on the fertile nature of the world.

A nature-based religion doesn't need to focus on the sexual process in which to create nature (while we think of sex purely in a mammalian fashion, the natural world, including plants have their own form of "sex" to would have to look further into the botanical aspects of plant-life procreation...I won't go into it). All they focus on is when life begins, waxes, wanes and eventually dies (thus starting the cycle again). A fertility religion focuses on the fertile aspect of nature; the creation process and its symbolic nature in relation to the Gods.

Do you know the real history of Wicca and the various influences that led to its development?
Anyone reading my blogs would realize my understanding of where Wicca comes from, but for the purposes of this question, I'll elaborate:

I know that Wicca started roughly at the end of the 1940's to the beginning of the 1950's (give or take a few years). I recognize that Wicca is a modern, 20th century religion. I also acknowledge that age does not determine the validity of a religion or belief. All religions, spiritualities, philosophies of life and lack thereof started somewhere with someones idea, gained popularity, spread and evolved over the years. Just because something is approximately 70-80 years old does not mean that it is less valid than one that is over 2,000 years old.

I recognize that Gardner pieced together his religion from different aspects after he discovered "holes" in the spirituality he discovered. He filled in these "holes" with aspects from such spiritualities as Buddhism, Native American spiritualities, European spiritualities, etc. I know that one of his bigger influences was Aleister Crowley and his system of Thelema (where the Rede stems from), as well as aspects of the Golden Dawn. But again, because this new spirituality he was creating was pieced together doesn't make it invalid either. Even Christianity was "pieced" together in its beginnings to make it more acceptable to the current society.

Do you understand the Wiccan Rede's place in Wicca?
I challenge back at the HPs who asked these questions that the Rede does have a central importance to Wicca (however misunderstood it may be). Wicca's Rede is not a law or a hard rule that one MUST abide by, lest the "Wiccan Police" arrest them (also it is only EIGHT WORDS, not a long poem). It also does not dictate that one must never harm anyone or anything at all, ever in their life, because to do so is impossible. I understand that the Rede is a guideline; advice meant to make the Wiccan think about their actions before they take them. Is this action truly necessary? Is there any other way to take care of the situation that would be less harmful? IS is harmful? Will you take responsibility for your actions should your actions BE harmful to another, and will you accept any consequences? THIS is what the Rede SHOULD be (if it is not already). It causes one to be mindful of their actions and seek alternative ways before any "esoteric" ways.

Do you understand the threefold law was not an inherent part of Wicca and is not accepted throughout Wicca widespread?
My PERSONAL view of the Threefold Law is that it is redundant. It is also not agreed upon as to what it means or how it is implemented. The HPs who asked these questions is under the impression that what's sent out should be returned BY the person in three ways (or experienced in three ways). Should Person A do something to Person B, Person B is to exact something in return to Person A in either three ways or on three levels of understanding (that is, be the action good OR bad).

First of all, how is one to exact return on Person A without Person B resisting? Of course, everything is dependent on Person B knowing all actions Person A is doing, as Person A sough the permission of Person B in the first place (or should have).

Personally its all confusing, and truly redundant.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Coming Soon:
Part 6 - This entails a bit more elaboration in its answers so it may take me a bit to post

Monday, May 22, 2017

Questions to Fully Understand Wicca - Part 4

Do you understand actual Wiccan tenets and ethics?
Wicca has many tenets. I could debate with the HPs who challenged me on these questions that the Rede is indeed an ethic, as it is based on the Thelemic principle of: "Do as you will shall be the whole of the law" created by Aleister Crowley (an influential figure of Wicca).

Tenets on the other hand are numerous. They can range from The Legend of the Descent of the Goddess, to The Charge of the Goddess written by Doreen Valiente (often touted to be the Mother of Wicca, if Gerald Gardner was called its Father), and can even include Gardner's 161 Ardanes (though terribly outdated and archaic). But because most of the information on traditional Wicca is inaccessable, the entire list of tenets is, admittedly beyond me. I understand the limitations of my knowledge of Wicca and am humble enough to admit to it.

Do you understand the various rites and elements of Wiccan ritual, including the traditional tools utilized and the symbolism behind them?
I believe with this question, the HPs is asking if I understand the concept behind such rituals as The Great Rite and the Five Fold Kiss as key rituals within the Wiccan religion. I understand that the Five Fold Kiss derives from The Legend of the Descent of the Goddess in which she surrenders herself to the God, body, mind and soul. It is also the place by which the phrase "Blessed Be" comes from. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a common greeting, but comes from such phrases in The Descent as "blessed be thy knees, that shall kneel at the sacred altar".

The Great Rite on the other hand is a component of common rituals in which the union between the God and Goddess is demonstrated, either literally (and privately) between a man and woman (not necessarily the High Priest and High Priestess, nor by two strangers, but by two ADULTS who both CONSENT to the act, representing the deities), or figuratively, through the use of the athame and the chalice, in which, at a key moment in the ritual, the athame is plunged into the cup to signify the union.

I believe I have outlined the purpose behind two fairly standard Wiccan tools (chalice and athame) and their symbolism in the ritual.

Further questions on this point regard actual practice of these ritual elements...its rather difficult for me to demonstrate off camera, so I'll leave the questions unanswered.

Do you have a baseline understanding of the Wheel of the Year?
With the information that is available, I think just about everyone has a "baseline understanding" of the Wheel of the Year. In the tiniest of nutshells, it's about observing and understanding the relationship that unfolds between the God and Goddess...from Yule to Samhain.

If you're not looking for the theological explanation of what the Wheel of the Year or the Sabbats are, then they're more an observation of the agricultural cycle of the Earth, marking each of the key points in the year. For instance, Lughnasadh is the harvest of the grains whereas Samhain is the harvest of the meats. These harvests being meant to sustain people during the long winter months.

Of course, living in the century we do now, we have no need for actual harvest seasons (unless you are a farmer), so I think most Pagan mark the theological aspects of the Wheel of the Year, in understanding the relationship of the God and Goddess...his birth, her recovery, their entrancement, their union, her pregnancy, his death and once again, his birth. But this is but the BASELINE understanding of the Wheel. The question is asking for a full on detail of what the Wheel means. To go into full detail would entail deep, deep research, and would naturally depend on the region (even in just the country) in which the asker is talking about. We forget that Wicca has been pieced together from snippets of different "Pagan" spiritualities from around the world. To put out a full on detailed report on the Wheel would again, depend.

Do you actually observe the cycles of nature (Sabbats and Esbats), in both formal and informal ways? How do they apply to your life?
I can say with absolute honesty that because I have never claimed to be Wiccan, I don't actually observe the entire Wheel of the Year. Previous to now, I had not felt any necessity in regards to celebrating it. The only Sabbat that held any real, true meaning to me was Samhain, as it had always intrigued me...its lore, both Pagan and Christian, as well as modern societies view on the holiday.

It wasn't until fairly recently that I had begun to become interested in celebrating the Sabbats and gaining a greater understanding of what they are and what they mean. I continue to study.

Next Week:
Part 5

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Monday, May 15, 2017

Questions to Fully Understand Wicca - Part 3

Do you understand the difference between Initiation and Dedication?

There is an obvious difference between initiation and dedication. Simply within basic definitions we can understand the differences between initiation and dedication. For example, to be initiated means "to induct into membership by or as if by special rites". In traditional Wicca one is inducted into a coven of a specified tradition through special rites. However, being initiated into ONE group/coven does not mean that what you learn and attain there can be transferred to another group/coven. Leaving one group for another, may mean you have to start at the bottom of the "totem pole", so to say. Just because you were initiated into one group and had moved up the ranks, even to becoming a High Priestess does not necessarily mean that once you move into another group (even if it is the same tradition), you retain that rank. You may have to start the process all over again, from 1st Degree/Initiate.

Dedication on the other hand is something you do on your own. To be dedicated means "devoted to a cause, ideal or purpose" (in this case, being devoted to your spirituality). You cannot induct yourself into yourself through initiation because you are on your own, and this makes no sense. Where initiation is done through group effort, dedication is something you do on your own. With dedication, you can pick the time that feels right to determine that you are ready to "dedicate" your life to your spirituality. If you so choose, you can, at the spur of the moment decide you want to dedicate yourself to your spirituality, whereas if you were a part of a group/coven, you would have to wait until the group determines you were the right match for the coven, then schedule the appropriate time for the initiation to take place, and when your study period will start.

Do you understand the difference between lineaged and non-lineaged?

For one to be lineaged, one would have to be able to prove the line by which their tradition formed traces back to the original Gardnerian tradition, formed by Gerald Gardner. Many traditions fall under this lineage, including Alexandrian.

A non-lineaged person would be someone who practices a branch of Wicca that does not originate with Gerald Gardner. One individual in particular I can use as an example with questionable lineage: Silver Ravenwolf. She has yet to provide evidence that her tradition dates back to Gardner. She is anything, if not an Eclectic Pagan who is misusing the term "Wicca" to label her spirituality.

Do you understand what "trad" actually is?

Like lineage, a "trad" is a sect of Wicca whose lineage can be traced back to Gerald Gardner and his originating tradition of Wicca. Traditions of Wicca include Gardnerian (obviously) and Alexandrian. Branches from these two groups can be numerous, but I don't have access to accurate information in order to determine which alternately named traditions are lined with Gardnerian's tradition.

Groups such as Faery, Dianic, Celtic, Seax, etc are all branches of Eclectic Wicca (a branch of Eclectic Paganism). They borrow elements from Wicca to form their own "traditions". Quite often these groups are mistaken as legitimate branches of Wicca, without their lineage being proven to line with Gardner's original concept.

Next Week:
Part 4

Part 1
Part 2

Monday, May 8, 2017

Questions to Fully Understand Wicca - Part 2

Can you demonstrate that you clearly understand the divide between Wicca and Eclectic Paganism, and of Wicca and Witchcraft?

Wicca has a set structure. There are aspects of the religion that are required in order to maintain that one is practicing Wicca. To remove one of these key aspects is to basically destroy what Wicca is, and turns it into Eclectic Paganism. For example, one of the common misconceptions about Wicca is that you are free to remove either deity (or both) from the religion and still maintain that one is practicing Wicca. To remove one or both Gods from Wicca effectively destroys what Wicca is, as its MAIN FOCUS is the worship of Gods (plural). To assume that you can be Wiccan while being atheist is a contradiction in terms. One cannot understand the fertile relationship between the God and Goddess and celebrate their relationship and union if you don't believe in them, much less incorporate them into your beliefs and practices. What makes one Wiccan if they flat out remove the Gods, period??

The problem here being that people quite frequently confuse Wicca with Witchcraft. It doesn't help that authors purporting to be some sort of authority on Wicca can't even get the terms right themselves, interchanging Wicca with Witchcraft or misusing the word "Wicca" to describe a Witchcraft practice. What hope is there to anyone fresh to Wicca to understand that Wicca is not Witchcraft when these so-called "authoritarian" authors cannot get the terms right themselves? (Very little, unless traditional Wiccans themselves begin writing informational books on traditional aspects of Wicca without divulging oathbound/privileged information).

A very simple understanding of Wicca is that it's a religion. A religion focuses on the veneration and worship of a deity figure (in Wicca's case, multiple deity figures). Witchcraft is a practice. Practice being that it has nothing to do with Gods or other religious affiliations.

For one to move from Wicca into Eclectic Paganism would mean that they have removed key aspects of the religion of Wicca AND/OR added aspects from OTHER religions/spiritualities that have nothing to do with Wicca. For example, Karma is not a Wiccan concept. It originated with Eastern philosophies centuries ago, and was adopted by many an Eclectic Pagan who perpetuated they were Wiccan. Most people will assume the "Threefold Law" (implemented in roughly the late 1960's) is in some way a re-write of the Karmic law, as the Threefold Law states "what you put out is returned times three". There is much debate as to what this Threefold Law means or if it is even Wiccan to begin with, as it is not an official law.

Karma on the other hand has nothing to do with punishing someone in this life (or necessarily at all). It affects subsequent lives (as the philosophies from which Karma originated believed in reincarnation). Most people who view the Threefold Law as somehow a serious regulation believe that anything someone does will be effected on them in this current life: squish a bug and you will be crushed by a bookcase in a week. Not only does Karma not affect this life, it does not return with greater force in the same manner that your actions did.

Regardless of the meanings and implementations of Karma, it is not a Wiccan concept and thus leads one into Eclectic Paganism.

Next Week:
Part 3

Part 1

Monday, May 1, 2017

Questions to Fully Understand Wicca - Part 1

Some time ago, I was challenged by a High Priestess who frequents Yahoo! Answers to answer the typical questions she believed only those of privileged knowledge in the Wiccan religion can answer (i.e. Traditionalists). She posted them in response to an answer given on a Wiccan question, and I made mention that it may be possible I'd be able to answer these questions. Naturally being the "privileged" type, she believed otherwise (and stated so).

Well, I like a challenge, and take her up on it. Here are my responses to her Questions to Fully Understand Wicca (This will have to be broken up into several parts as there are a LOT of questions).

Part 1

Do you understand what Wicca actually is?
From the limited amount of information I have obtained over my 18+ years study and exposure to Paganism, I think it's fairly safe to say I understand what Wicca is. In short, Wicca is a polytheistic fertility religion focusing on the worship of consorting deities.

That Wicca is the aforementioned religion basically means that Wiccans tend to believe in multiple deities (polytheism). Typically they believe in two, but are not limited in the number of Gods they are "allowed" to worship. Because Wicca is a fertility religion, the Gods that are honored/worshiped are consorting deities, meaning they become lovers over time, and, as a result of that love, form a child who ultimately becomes the God loved by the Goddess after the death of the previous God (both Gods being the same God (clear as mud, no?))

The relationship between the Gods is understood as we witness the evolution of their relationship throughout the year, starting with the birth of the God and the youth of the Goddess. As they grow and mature, they become entranced with each other, eventually embracing each other forming a child who will be born shortly after the God dies, thus continuing the cycle again, throughout the year.

Aside from the mythical and theological aspects of the religion, Wicca is an oathbound religion. Anything found outside the religion, either through website resources or books is released information to provide some sort of "comfort" for the public to understand the religion. Whether the information we now have that is public knowledge was released intentionally or not is dependent on the information itself and can possible be debatable. Regardless, the information is out there. Much, however, is faulty and should be taken with a grain of salt.

What we do know publically about the religion is that they worship consorting deities and perform rituals at certain intervals during the months and year. Each ritual services to honor either the God or Goddess, depending on the period in which the ritual takes place. For example, each month, on the full moon, rituals called "Esbats" are performed to honor the Goddess, as she is represented by the moon. Its fullness during this period of the month may represent the fullness she eventually becomes at the height of her pregnancy with the God. Typically there are 13 Esbats that take place during the year, as there are 13 lunar cycles in one year.

Periodically during the year will Wiccans perform rituals that honor the God. These are solar rituals because the God is represented by the Sun. His brightness and warmth provide the fertility needed to bring life to the world and ultimately his fertility helps in creating the offspring that eventually becomes the God. These periods are referred to as "Sabbats", in which there are four Greater and four Lesser. The Greater Sabbats are such because they take place when there is a higher sense of energy. These Sabbats are Imbolc (Feb 2), Beltane (April 30), Lughnasadh (Aug 1) and Samhain (Oct 31), though often these Sabbats may go by other names, depending on region and tradition. These Sabbats are based on the agricultural cycle of the year.

The Lesser Sabbats are based on the Solstices and Equinoxes. These Sabbats being: Ostara (Mar 21), Litha (June 21), Mabon (Sept 21) and Yule (Dec 21), again names may change depending on region/tradition. These Sabbats are based on the astrological cycle.

Next Week:
Part 2

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Cauldrons, Cauldrons...What Can I Use??

When someone thinks "Witch"...automatically they think "cauldron". The two words seem to go together like Peanut Butter and Jam. But is it necessary to have a large, black, cast iron, potbellied pot to use as a cauldron? What's the purpose of a cauldron anyway? When we understand the purpose of the cauldron, we soon realize that it's not the container that matters.

What is a Cauldron For?
What its for depends on the system you're following. During the earlier days of Witchcraft, the common household item was the cauldron. Everyone had one. It was the central appliance in the home that was always in use, preparing meals for the day or preparing foods for the coming weeks or months. For this reason, cauldrons are fairly central to Witchcraft as they were common place items (like the broom). They became incorporated with craft use.

In non-specific Traditional Witchcraft settings (not British Traditional Wicca/Witchcraft), the cauldron is used as a means of holding items. More commonly it is used to hold things that are being burned, like paper, herbs, etc. It is also a place to hold small indoor fires. It can also be used as a means of divination, once filled with water or it can be used to make ritual meals.

In Wicca, and other Pagan religious practices, the cauldron is a representation of the Goddess' womb (being round in shape). It is a representation of one half of fertility to create life (the phallic symbol, such as the wand, tapered candles, etc, represent the other half). When not in use its place is set with the other feminine/Goddess symbols on the altar.

What Can I Use as a Cauldron?
Well, that depends. What are your plans for the cauldron? And are you a purist, or are you willing to be imaginative?

If your plans for a cauldron is to burn items, then the traditional cauldron is not necessary (though looks cool on your altar, especially if you can get your hands on the cutest small, table-top cauldron). Any burn-proof dish will suffice. Many stores, including dollar stores sell small cooking pots (all you need do is remove the handle). You can also use ash trays or glass dishes with sand on the bottom, and a trivet underneath to prevent your surface from being burned.

If your purpose is to hold water for divination, a black coffee mug will do just as well as any expensive cauldron. If it's merely a representative of the feminine divine...well then naturally anything feminine can be used (flowers, Goddess statues, etc)

If you're looking for something bigger for, say, outdoor rituals and gatherings, most department/outdoor stores carry "Dutch Ovens". While not potbellied, this "oven" IS cast iron and is used in a similar manner that the cauldron was used for (i.e. cooking meals over a fire). This is also perfectly acceptable, especially if you are hosting a large gathering and want to make use of fire magic.

You are only limited by your imagination (and the purpose for the container) when using a cauldron. If you cannot afford to buy a cauldron, look at what you want to use it for and determine if you have some sort of alternative.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Life Before the Witch

A spark of blogging inspiration hit me after reading an introduction in one of my Pagan groups: life before I became a Witch.

The same boring story I tell everyone on how I became a Pagan has a couple of beginnings. I was first interested in being Pagan after reading an article in a magazine about a family of Wiccans. They made it sound like something I would like...but, having VERY limited resources and ZERO contacts at the time, the interest fizzled out until around the time I got my first job with internet access. Bored internet surfing found me looking up Witchcraft, and my interest was reignited. I began reading what I could find online, I joined a "school" and printed off lessons to do at home, but again, my interest waned as I got married and a few heartbreaking events took place. Eventually I took up study again and kept going.

But that's the boring story of how I started. The story I want to tell is before this...far before.

I don't believe people are born into Witchcraft, I believe that to be a Witch requires study, and I tell people this all the time. I MAY believe, though, that people may have a natural tendency towards the craft (but this doesn't negate the NEED that people require to sudden realization of mystical powers at age 16).

I'd always been fascinated with nature (except with bugs...I hate bugs, any sort of flying insect I loathe with a passion lol). For as long as I can remember I'd always loved being outside, and, growing up in the era WAY before the onset of social media and hand-held computing devices, this wasn't a problem. I wasn't your typical girl obsessed with makeup and dresses or being a princess. I spent my days digging in the dirt, making mudpies and playing with my neighbor/friends Tonka trucks. 

Growing up my mom would take me on nature walks. We'd talk about the usefulness of plants, how to identify certain plants and what attributes from these plants were good for what. My family had the opportunity to move to a rather wooded, remote, rural area of north-eastern Ontario with access to the woods. I would spend my days outside from the time I got home from school until dinner, then until bed time. Weekends I was outside until I was hungry or it was time for bed. I would pretend to make potions, play with plants as though they were mystical herbs...I even (*blush*) used to poke the bubbles of the Balsam tree as often as I could because it was fascinating that the tree stores its sap in this way (even today, at 35 I STILL do this lol).

So even back then, as a child, I'd always been a nature-child or a budding Witch, without really realizing it. At the time I only believed Witches existed in movies and fairy-tale books, and through the bored search many, many years later, I discovered I could become one.

But just because **I** as a child had a fascination with more natural ways of life, doesn't mean this is the way for all Witches. A Witch can grow up in this fast-paced world of technology, hand held devices and social media and STILL become a Witch. There's hope for everyone.