Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Witches Perspective: Dispelling the Myth

As a practicing solitary witch who is celebrating my ten year anniversary of initiation, I hope to shed light on the path I have chosen so others may come to have a new perspective on this unique way of life. It a way of life that has been misunderstood and maligned through unfair depictions and images. The word witch itself usually conjures up the vision of an ugly old hag in a black pointed hat who rides the night winds on a broom and wreaks havoc on the lives of innocents. Nothing could be farther from the truth about this craft of mine, that needs no pronouncements to anyone, including some of my family members. This way of life, which I do not consider a religion, involves trusting one's intuition, revering nature, gaining insight through reading, and gaining wisdom from experiencing life with all it's mysteries and intrigue. For me, one of the most important tenets is the complete acceptance of responsibility for the outcomes of my life. "And it harm none, do as you will" is the one simple rule.

It is a life filled with curiosity, wonder, and ritual, and in my case going within oneself to find the highest calling and then putting the dreams of the heart's desire into action. At times it is a lonely path, as unlike organized religion there is no shared dogma, initiation rites, or the us-versus-them mentality that has crept into many religious institutions. I have an acceptance that the universe is a beautifully designed field of energy, of which everything and everyone is a connected part evolving in a dance of change. The concept is so vast in its magnitude that I can only refer to as the Source, but I believe it to be divine. As a human being though, I often have a need to reason out my existence, and since we live in a world that operates in a dualistic realm of ... good/bad, male/female, right/left... as a witch I choose to consort with and give thanks to a host of archetypes both male and female whose qualities I can understand and admire. I envision my cosmic parents as God and Goddess in equal measure, which is why religions don't work for me. Though I ask for help and guidance at times, I know the the full responsibility for how I live my life ultimately falls on my own shoulders, and in making important decisions, I rely on my inner self that I have come to experience through quiet reflection and meditation.

I don't believe in a black and white world, and I function best in a continuum of gray as the variation of belief that I feel begs for understanding. I strive to understand how our collective world operates, yet I am not quick to judge what I don't understand. As a proponent of personal freedom it would be hypocritical to think that my way of being in the world is the only way to be in the world and I enjoy the viewpoints of other's, even if I don't agree with them. Although I follow my own path in life, I don't live in a cloistered, shadowy world of self absorption, as some might think. I mingle and share in the lives and paths of others, and many of my friends don't even know I am a practicing witch. The title alone doesn't define all of who I am, but I know as a witch my mission is to enlighten other like minded souls on my alternate belief system, heal myself and others with words and actions, and share my talents, which include writing poetry and digitally photographing nature.

Sometimes I am asked for advice on spells and though I do perform them in ritual, I am reluctant to give any advice on this topic, as a spell uses one's will or intention to produce an outcome, and if we are truly unique as humans, then no other person's words or actions can produce the positive results that would benefit our own personal lives... it would be too easy, and life was not designed to be easy. If it was, why would we need a brain capable of complex problem solving capabilities? Also there are two cautions in using one's intent to gain something desired. What goes around comes around is alive and well, so if you use your power to inflict harm on someone else, the consequences will harm you triple fold. As a witch I know this, and so it makes me chuckle when someone asks, "Are you a good witch?" Is there anyway else to be, knowing the consequences? The second caution is that what we think we might really want, may come with unexpected burdens and obligations. Personally, I would never do a spell for a million dollars, as I know the potential problems and temptations that could occur when money is gained without actually earning it. You might get a million dollars for a disfiguring accident, or it could bring out the worst greed in family members and make your life a misery. Be careful what you ask for, you might get it, is a sound adage when it comes to spells and so I don't perform them injudiciously.

When it comes to living and experimenting with my life, I hold no personal recriminations for honest mistakes made, it is part of being human. Rather, as I reflect on those areas that have not brought the love, joy, or peace desired, I choose to make changes and sweep away the clutter of dried patterns that would obscure my path. As the seasons change, so do goals and aspirations... and often I celebrate these changes through personal rituals during the sabbats (holiday celebrations) and esbats (moon celebrations) that are celebrated by a vast majority of other witches. I also celebrate traditional holidays with my family, as my grown children were not raised with my current world view and have their own ideas regarding spirituality. Though I may share confidently some perspectives of my craft, I don't seek to entice anyone to share my path, nor do I seek to challenge anyone away from their own. My way is the only right way for me, and my perspectives add to one solitary viewpoint in a vast world of energy that I believe is meant to celebrate our uniqueness, while making us feel more connected with the Source, of which we are all a part of.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mabon.... a meeting of Light and Dark

Mabon arrived on time in the Northern Hemisphere at 5:22 pm and as the second harvest celebration of the seasonal wheel, it celebrates the meeting of day and night on equal terms. I chose to celebrate on Saturday night where a feast was prepared by my husband using vegetables of the season's harvest, a stew that included potatoes, turnips, and fennel. I made a salad of apples, celery, and walnuts... and there were black and white cookies which we shared as we gazed at our nightly bonfire and sipped small glasses of whiskey mead. There was poetry to write and as day and night are equal, it was a good holiday to reflect on the dark and light that resides within. As a solitary witch, it is important to bravely face the darkness which creeps into our minds, and spills into our lives. So many people do not face up to the darkness, which could be defined in many different ways depending on who is doing the assessment. The question one needs to ask is, what resides in those hidden recesses that keep us from feeling joyful, peaceful, and contented? What are we hiding within that is throwing our lightness or lightheartedness out of sync. It is a tough thing to look at oneself honestly and then make adjustments, but as we clean house of unwanted dust and clutter, we should be doing the same with our minds. As humans we often strive for perfection, and it is easy to fall into the trap of setting one's mind on a rigid acceptance of right and wrong, never questioning or deviating from the ideal vision of ourselves. But to be in balance there needs to be acceptance of the darkness, so we can learn from it. As the wheel of life turns upon the change of seasons, we must face the changes that occur in our own lives. That is not to say we should sweep what we don't like into a corner or under a rug, but those attributes or thoughts that have not served us well need direct attention, for you cannot really change what you will not face and understand. It is an ongoing process and the change of seasons is a good time to get focused.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Color Meditation

One of the practices of my way to the path is the simple act of going within and experiencing the silence of stillness. Most of the day our thoughts are flowing like mindless chatter that colors our emotions and can often raise to a frenzied pitch of confusion, worry, and doubt. There are many ways to avoid this silent and incessant chatter, some people use mindless TV, some use alcohol (which often tends to exacerbate the noise) or what I have found to be the best way, meditation. One of my favorite forms of meditation is what I refer to as my color meditation. First, I gently rub the roundness of my closed eyeballs, which serves to to stimulate the retina to accept its purpose of seeing with eyes closed. Then, I simply sit cross legged in a sunlit room, relax my shoulders, and watch the blank screen of color appear and change before my shut eyelids. At first there is a muddled darkness that soon becomes awash with a vivid shade of orange that softens and fades to golden and yellow. At the tiniest squint of the eyes, or the change of the sunbeam location, suddenly other colors come into play: deep purples, crimson, bright teal, or perhaps a brilliant green. At times of great peace suddenly I will "see" a brilliant white, which seems to be the shade of the Inner Self. During this phase if I get a mental message, I usually pay attention as the message is always gentle and loving and the peace associated with it is profound. Most often though, the meditations feels like looking at one's own auric colors parading by, one by one before the closed eyes. Sometimes the colors change and morph into muted shades that melt slowly into one another. During this meditation the focus is only on the screen of changing colors and the wash of peace that occurs when the mind is silenced by the attention to a blank screen. The restless mind will indeed have trouble chattering during the silent interchange of your own sacred color wheel. The restorative peace that ensues will make the rest of your day just a little bit brighter.