Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Witch's Circle: Commitment

This post is in response to the first post of the continuing 'The Witch's Circle' discussions over at Aine's blog, The Deepest Well. To view her thoughts on commitment, click here. To read about The Witch's Circle and add your ideas for discussion, click the dancing witches image below.


Beginning to walk this crooked path was, I believe, a bit easier for me than it is for a lot of people. I was raised in a home with no formal religion; my parents both claim to have religious belief, my father being catholic and my mother just having faith, but they never discussed or passed those beliefs on to us. We didn't go to church, were never baptized, never were expected to follow any religion in particular. It was all very... sterile, I suppose. Growing up, I did a lot of reading about religions, I devoured holy texts as well as books from the new age sections. The librarians at the school and local libraries must have thought I would grow up to become a philosophy teacher, because why else would a kid be checking out these sorts of books over the usual popular fiction?

The truth of the matter was, not only was I curious, but I was searching. I had friends with deep religious convictions and friends with deep convictions that there is nothing out there; none of their philosophies clicked with me. Having grown up feeling like there was something out there, something in the tree line, something in the heavens, that watched over me and guided me on occasion I just couldn't say 'nothing exists but science.' By the same token however, none of the major world religions resonated with me; my Irish Catholic grandmother telling me french kissing would put you in hell along with rapists and murderers scared me shitless, sure, but it also sounded like unfit justice all around. The thought of karma, that unbiased cosmic bitch who delivers justice, rang a bell of sorts within me but it still wasn't enough.

The place where I found that which began to wake up my soul, was in the dusty pages of long neglected books of mythology. The Greek gods began it, and I fell asleep most nights praying to the Olympians, always beginning and ending with Hestia. Shortly thereafter a friend gifted me a deck of tarot cards and in my studies of them I came across the first books I had ever seen on Wicca. I began to devour book after book on the subject, everything from Cunningham to Ravenwolf, whatever I could find in the libraries and shops. Remember kids, this was during the dark ages before the internet and during the internet's first dial up baby steps - internet research wasn't a possibility like it is now. While they clicked to a point, they still weren't quite what I was looking for. I continued my search and years later discovered works on witchcraft, paganism and the many different traditions there in. I met the gods of the Celtic Pantheon as well as the lord and lady of the Greenwood and there, my loves, is where I found the beginnings of this dusty winding path and made my commitment to grow, learn and practice.

Unlike so many, I didn't have anything that I needed to give up to make way for a new, undiluted spiritual path. I was well read, but without prior biases. Making the commitment was not a tough choice for me and still is not. Though I didn't have any prior attachments to faith to work through or renounce, there were other sacrifices that came along with donning the green mantle. Friends were lost or estranged and there are many times that I have to bite my tongue to keep certain peaces. There are still moments of nagging self doubt, brought on by the difficulty or inabilities I have when trying to do certain things (like meditate; which seems so very basic.) or when I feel disconnected from the deeper parts of my path due to long boughts of depression or apathy (re: the past four months) but I know that I've made the commitment to walk this path. By continuing to learn and practice, to not give up on the things that I have difficulty in, by tending my patch of earth, by getting up each morning to face the day despite the shit in my head, I know that I am honoring my path.

6 comments:

  1. I loved reading this because my children were raised as you were, although they were baptized just to keep the grandparents off my back. It probably is a bit easier on the one hand to find your own way, but the whole idea of a spiritual life SHOULD have seemed foreign and yet you craved. This is something I see all time now that I'm older - how spiritual children are by nature. I now apologize to my children for not raising them with even general spiritual beliefs (this was before I even knew about witchcraft) and now I share some of my thoughts (although still not all - I don't think they are ready for this)

    I wouldn't worry so much about meditating. It's not everyone's thing and it is hard for many people. I am NOT a big meditate-r even though I know that trance plays an important part in many witchcraft traditions. This will be another subject for the witch's circle for sure!

    Thanks so much for sharing your spiritual history.

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  2. Great response. Thanks for sharing. I find regular meditation hard but I love walking meditations. It's where you lose yourself while out on a nature walk. Dancing meditations work for getting me in a trance state. I hate to sit still.

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  3. I found Wicca in a very similar fashion. My mom is a Lutheran and my father, well, I've never been entirely sure what he believes. When I was really little my mom used to have me say my prayers before bed. As I got older, she stopped asking, which was great because I never believed a word I was saying. I was just saying it to get my mom off me. We never went to church, although I was baptized. I remember looking at the other kids who had a deep relationship with their God and thinking they were crazy. I never agreed with the majority of the teachings in most mainstream religions. It never made sense, at least not to me, that God would create man then doom him to hell because he did something wrong...even though God knew he was gong to do wrong. Karma ALWAYS made more sense to me. Choosing Wicca made even more sense because it aligned with things I had ALWAYS felt growing up. I always knew that the sun and the moon were special, that the trees would whisper, object vibrate, etc. I always felt a very deep connection with the earth and all the creatures in it.

    To be quite honest, several traditions and witches wouldn't even considering me a witch at all because I don't adhere to strict customs. I don't have a fancy alter or anything other than some herbs and incense. I practice my beliefs in taking care of my family and home. I do cast spells, all protection spells and what not, and all on the home. Very rarely do I work other forms of magic. I've never performed a "ritual" and probably never will. My rituals are very simply cleaning, cooking, and loving my family. I believe in Bridgid very strongly and several other Celtic Gods and Goddesses, but I rarely pray to them. I know they will help me when I need it, even if I don't directly ask. I believe there is a Tom Tee in my house which I often forget to leave an offering for, but I know he understands because I'm not doing it out of disrespect. I appreciate him greatly. I do invite faeries into my home and garden because they make the food taste sweeter and the flowers brighter. But other than that, I am pretty relaxed when it comes right down to it and I know this offends some people.

    Its nice to know you found wicca while venturing down a similar path. I've always felt a little alone because I don't know many witches and the ones I do know I think are a bunch of fakes seeking attention.

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  4. I am STILL on my journey....and I don't have a "path" yet....I'm searching....but I do know that an Earth/Nature religion is my path. I first found the Craft when Practical Magic came out....so I was in my twenties then. My Mom died when I was 7yrs old so she didn't have an influence on me....my Dad always told me he didn't believe we had to go to church to go to heaven. I went to church with friends sometimes and we went as a family for a few years after my Dad remarried. My brothers and sisters "found God" as adults and have consistently tried to push their beliefs on me. I have tried church...even as an adult....but it just doesn't fit. Some things in Wicca fit me but not all of them. I just signed up for an online group called SouLodge...that is based on Shamanism and Native American beliefs....I really like Pixie....the one that facilitates the class....I'll let you know how it goes. I'll be talking about it on my blog soon.

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  5. Ah tarot-- its like the "gateway drug" to the pagan path at times, isn't it? LOL

    Like you, I've dealt with apathy and self-doubt, and while I may have been lax in my formal practice, I've not stopped learning or believing in my path.

    Great to be part of this discussion circle with you!

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  6. I enjoyed reading this post. And I can relate to so much of what you wrote - the Greek Gods, the nagging self-doubt. Thank you for sharing.

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