Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Becoming a Witch

I'm sure there are witches out there who have been born into families who celebrate a rich tradition of ancient belief and follow occult practices handed down from generations. That may indeed be a beautiful thing depending on your perspective. For the rest of us who have come to embrace a way of life, or a spiritual path, the title of our belief system may have come from years of research, soul searching, and practice. I write poetry on an international Wiccan site and I although I have many readers from around the world I am never asked questions regarding the meaning of my poetry, or the inspiration behind it. That suits me fine, for I am of the belief that good poetry affects each reader differently and there should be a deliberate separation of the poet and the poetry. I would not try to explain what I meant, as the meanings are often hidden in the color of language. The usual question I am asked by readers is "Are you a real witch, and how can I become one too?" A six year old child once said to me, "You are what you think you are." I thought the words precociously profound and with all I have experienced in my life I would have to agree. I do not have a witch certificate, although I am sure you can join a school of thought and get one for a fee. I have no interest in that. I have studied every book I could read on the subject of the occult early in my life and seemed to gravitate to those specializing in Witchcraft or Wicca. I can tell many of those who pose the question are young, and so I try to be sensitive to their curiosity without too much interest or commitment. Ultimately, there is also the expressed desire to perform spells, which to young people of the Harry Potter generation must seem very enticing indeed. My standard answer to someone seeking to learn spells is to read a short book by Carl McColman called "Before You Cast a Spell." It is a how-to that does not give specific recipes, only underlying principles. It probably wouldn't be completed by someone who just wanted to catch a love interest or win a huge sum of money... they would probably just get bored. In response to the question, " How do I get started to be a witch?" I will refer the young seeker to Scott Cunningham's, "Wicca, A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner." I feel he has a very caring style of presenting the occult and encourages the practitioner to follow their own path to discern what feels right and what doesn't. Although I have read literally hundreds of books and articles on the subject, I have used my own intuition to determine what I embrace as sounding truthful and what I discard as... well chaff. I have a responsibility to be my own Guru, and that's why my practice is so successful for me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Turkey Buzzards and Sun Dogs

Yesterday I went for my usual walk around the block, but it was anything but usual. Normally I set out in a quick stride and notice the seasonal changes of Nature in a quick pace that gives me some exercise. Ok, so far everything is usual. Instead of letting my mind wander to the normal chatter of what I could be doing or what I should be thinking , I shut that yap of the mind and just walked and breathed and looked to the sky for nothing but the beauty of a warm November day, grateful for the sun and the mild temperature... no coat needed. First I noticed a swarm of birds circling the the sky in the distance. Could they be a flock of my beloved turkey buzzards?... why yes, a swarm of about 20 were swooping and lowering and to my amusement they were suddenly circling me. I waved to them and yelled "hello friends!" It was 2:00 in the afternoon and there are no neighbors watching... they are all at work, so I felt perfectly content to wave and clap at this rare performance. The "crowd" dispersed and the three usual "friends" that appear to glide in the currents when I take my walk, hung around a bit and dipped low in the sky as if to wave. I felt elated. Then, as I turned the corner of the long street at the end of my block and walked into the west, I spied the brilliant sun fairly low in the sky and it was flanked by two beautiful "sun dogs." These are like little round rainbows that appear upon clouds and they were perfectly aligned on either side of the sun. I was mesmerized as I walked, and knew that it was a a wondrous display that I would have missed if I was deep in thought and looking down at the pavement. Somehow I felt hopeful that this walk with my head in the clouds was a gift... a splendor of the wonder that is waiting when the mind can shut off, the eyes open wide, and one is just thankful for the gift of sight.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Celebrating October 31

Each Year as October 31 approaches, I get really excited... almost like a kid before Halloween. It's my favorite holiday and I celebrate it with my husband (and bunny rabbit) as Samhain (pronounced sow' en). This is the eighth spoke of the wheel on the Wiccan Calendar and the last of the harvest rituals. It is a joyous time for celebration much like New Year's Eve and yet it is also a time to be thankful in remembrance of ancestors. Usually the colors of autumn are beginning to wind down and the nights are colder. The day before my holiday I usually do a thorough housecleaning and a blessing in each room with a spritz of salted water. I also finish the cleaning of bathroom floors and kitchen counters with a damp rag and witch hazel (only because I love the smell). Then it's out to the store to buy the fresh ingredients for my harvest dinner. Although I am not a vegetarian, I love fresh vegetables and they are always present at my holiday dinners. The pumpkin will be carved into a face that always seem to look like my beloved Grandpa McCoy. Then my seeds will be soaked in salted water, dried, and baked into a tasty treat. The table will be set with extra plates for relatives who have crossed over and happy celtic music or solemn baroque will be playing (depending on my mood). Of course there will always be the interruption of the trick or treaters who come to my door for candy, but this is a welcome treat as I remember the joy I once had "begging for candy." There will be a candlelight dinner and a toast of remembrance, as well as poetry readings and ceremony. The night will end with a bonfire (weather permitting) or a retreat to my candlelit "meditation room."
This year, however, my usual plans needed altering. My step daughter's wedding took place on mischief night and on Samhain, there was a big family gathering of out of town relatives meeting for dinner. Since I don't advertise my spiritual affiliation, my usual rituals were out the window. It didn't really matter... one must be flexible, and after all, a wedding only comes once a lifetime... at least that's the way it's hoped to be. The whole family shared wonderful stories of the previous night's event and shared a sumptuous meal that was prepared by the chef in the family. There was laughter and merriment well into the night. It was more like a New Year's Eve party than a Halloween Party... and yet with a wink to the flickering jack-o-lantern, I kept the sentiment to myself.