I just wanted to thank all my readers in over 112 countries, new and established. Thank you for all your support. Now for our featured post:
Why Do Wiccans Do Ritual?
It was a tough time. Bills were closing in on me. I felt desperate. I reached for something that is constant: The presence of the Gods and Goddesses. How to feel Their presence? – do a ritual.
Further, Wiccans do rituals to attune themselves to the cycles of the earth.
We do ritual to change ourselves for the better. We even change how we perceive ourselves and in so doing change the world around us.
Because of all of the above, ritual is a powerful tool.
We use some rituals to acknowledge the different stages of life, and in this way change ourselves forever. Stages include: reaching puberty, hand-fasting (Wiccan Marriage) and even for reaching elder status.
Ritual can help us create a true understanding of ourselves. We take a first step to a new reality for us. We get a new perception that assists us to make different decisions which can completely change our lives.
Above, I talked about the tough time with bills closing in. That was 2012. I needed to change my reality. So I did a ritual. In preparation for that ritual, I used another tool–meditation.
The meditation (which can be a ritual in and of itself) led me to the answer of doing a particular ritual.
Enduring financial troubles, I needed more income. I had tried the quick fix spells for more money. Those spells backfired. So if these spells were not working, what would?
I needed to do some inner change. So I did a ritual in which I asked to become stronger, to be able to create my own abundance in life. This is what I needed. Not another spell to just dump money in my lap. But to be able to be my own catalyst in my own life. This was inner work; this was changing me – not just temporarily altering an external situation.
By doing the ritual, I was the catalyst in my own life. I had never written an article. But I had received a vision from the Gods, so I began to write. Because I have dyslexia, I engaged a team of editors. While writing the book, I started writing this blog which now has viewers in over 112 countries.
By meditating, then doing a ritual and then receiving a vision from the Gods, I was on a new path as a writer. In becoming a writer, I then became a workshop leader.
So I am living proof that doing a ritual can change your life. And it can start a positive cascade effect until you uplift those around you. And some of us go further so that a ritual is the start of our changing the world.
So now it’s your turn. Change your world! Make new possibilities bloom in your life and in the lives of others. Listen to your heart. What would you like a ritual to do for you? Look at resources like my book The Hidden Children of the Goddessfor rituals and meditations you can do.
Remember the Gods are always with you. Do a ritual and feel Their support.
Would you benefit from studying with an online Wicca or Pagan school? To explore this topic, I interviewed Heather Greene, Luna Marr, and Aline O’Brien.
(Some responses may have been edited for length.)
* When should someone consider going to an online school?
Luna: When it’s necessary. Some students work out very well with books and doing their own research, but there are others . . . who feel they need to hide their beliefs and study in secret, or just live in areas where a one-on-one pagan education isn’t available. Not all online educations are equal. . . . Some online schools just charge you money, hand you a bunch of information with little to no guidance. And others give you a mentor experience [in] your own home via the Internet.
Aline O’Brien: In the case of Cherry Hill Seminary (CHS), because there is no other school offering full training parallel with what is taught at mainstream seminaries. I strongly feel that Pagans should collaborate on the creation of our own culture. That means not attending liberal Protestant seminaries because you think they’re the only game in town when it comes to seminary-type training (chaplaincy, pastoral counseling, interfaith, history, etc.)
Heather: Online schools can help people who, for one reason or another, don’t have the ability to physically attend classes. In addition schools like Cherry Hill Seminary offer access to subjects and teachers that might not be available locally.
Moonwater: I agree. Online education may be necessary for someone who does not have a local pagan community for support.
* Would you use an online choice for your primary way of learning Wicca verses face-to-face learning?
Aline: Not necessarily. It really depends a lot on what’s available in a particular individual’s area.
Heather: I would not choose distance learning as my primary way of learning any subject unless no other option was available. And there are situations where that is the case. I do prefer the immediacy of presence and the concentrated, shared energy of the “classroom” experience. This cannot be replicated online. However I also believe that there are educational opportunities in all forms of learning processes. Distance learning gives us access to teachers and professional who might otherwise not be available to us at any point in our lives. I see that alone as an invaluable resource.
Luna: I wouldn’t say that I would choose it over face-to-face learning, simply that it’s an alternative and another valuable option. . . . In my school Pagans Learning Online we believe that an online education should mimic the face-to-face experience as closely as possible, through technology such as Skype, Google, and the ability to upload voice, video, and written materials. We are able to replicate the face-to-face experience fairly well. Is it the same as having that mentor there who can give you a hug when you’re down? Absolutely not. However, an online education can still offer the same benefits.
Moonwater: I prefer the face-to-face approach when possible. This way you can experience how your student moves and uses energy. However, it’s important to me that students have access to information. That’s the reason that I write this blog (with the help of my editors) and I wrote my book The Hidden Children of the Goddess.
* Are online schools helpful or harmful to our community?
Luna: This question is like a double edged sword. I want to say that online schools can be incredibly helpful to the Pagan and Wiccan community . . . . [But] some schools offer a lot of false certifications and dangerous ideas that if a person was so willing they could take advantage of. I even heard of one online school that tells you that you’re not allowed to worship the Gods and Goddesses unless you are a Level 1 priestess and [have] passed their tests. A student looking into an online school needs to know when something just doesn’t sound right or seem right. They need to do their research. . . . Healing of the aura and the chakras is something that should be left up to trained professionals. . . . For people who are forced to practice in the shadows, having the opportunity to practice online is something that [can] change who they are in a positive way. Online schools have the ability to help guide and grow future leaders of the Pagan and Wiccan community so that the next batch of people who look for a place to learn may not have the same struggles.
Aline: Some are helpful, others not so much; depends upon the school. I can say, however, that Pagans attend CHS for two primary reasons: one is for personal enrichment and the other to better serve their own communities. They don’t come so they can get a degree and get a job by being hired by some Pagan ‘church.’ They don’t come so they can get a raise at their current job. In the bigger picture, some seek chaplaincy degrees because in the mainstream world having one is required in order for one to do that work (the military being the most stringent in terms of chaplaincy requirements).
Heather: Just like anything, distance learning can be both helpful and harmful. It is helpful for the reasons specified above. Distance learning can offer people an opportunity to attend classes that they might not be able to otherwise. At the same time, distance learning is not yet accredited in the same way as conventional institutions. Assessing a school’s credibility and legitimacy is left to student and [it’s] often very difficult. The digital world has created a universe in which legitimacy is easier to falsify. Students must be very cautious.
* Online schools are on the rise, so how can you tell if one is right for your student?
Luna: It’s about doing the research, knowing yourself and your own personal learning style, and using your common sense. . . . Paganism and Wicca are terms for thousands of proud and dedicated religious pathways and traditions, rooted 60,000 years in the past. That isn’t easy stuff to learn over night. I think that as a society we get far too wrapped up in the “I want it now” of things and we overlook the hard work and dedication it takes to do something right. So before you jump into the first online school of Paganism that you see, do some research and ask some questions and remember that if it doesn’t look right or sound right then keep looking.
Heather: It is important to research the institution, teachers and the administrative staff; to examine the promises made and the cost; to talk to former students and to ask as many questions as possible.
Aline: I would say in the same way one would explore schools for any other kind of learning–read everything possible, ask others who attended that school, etc. I’m not sure I quite ‘get’ telling what’s right for one’s student. To me, the student her/himself would be the person making such decisions. S/he could seek advice and recommendations from a teacher. Alternatively, a particular teacher may wish to direct a particular student to a specific online educational resource/school for, say, a course on ministering to the dying.
* When should you not consider a school as a supplement for your student?
Heather: If local resources and lifestyle permit, it is good to consider the local options first. I would also steer a student away from a school that does not “check out” as legitimate.
Aline: Again, I can’t really speak knowledgeably to this because my experience is with a graduate school. It’s not about learning Wicca per se.
Luna: The only answer I would have for this is when the reason for seeking out the education isn’t pure of intent. . . . However if what you’re looking for is a chance to grow both as a person and in your magical abilities and you embrace the dedication it takes, then online schools are a great choice. I have seen many students whose self-esteem has bloomed. [And, one’s] inner light and love of yourself and those around you [become] powerful tools to change the world.
Since, Luna and Aline are active with online schools, I asked this question:
What can web schools like yours offer students with mentors?
Luna: I suggest a student stay with their mentor . . . unless they aren’t getting a full education from their mentor. I have had very good mentors. My first mentor was a Wiccan High Priestess. I myself have chosen the path of druidry, but it was very nice and refreshing to be able to learn so much about the Wiccan beliefs and practices. [I enjoyed] spending time with someone who knew what I was going through at a young age and was able to help guide me. It was a valuable experience. However, she was only able to offer me part of the picture that I was looking for. She could only teach me about Wicca. Because of this, I found myself studying books for years, doing research and seeking out others who had other beliefs.
Aline: The online school with which I’m affiliated, Cherry Hill Seminary (www.cherryhillseminary.org), provides primarily graduate-level education. We offer two masters’ degrees–M.A. in Pagan Studies and M.Div. So CHS is different from other online Pagan schools in that our students are already whatever kind of educated Pagan they are. In other words, mentors aren’t in the picture. Those who are seeking degrees, which is not all of our students, must attend two live, in-person multi-day retreats during the course of their studies. (http://www.cherryhillseminary.org/) CHS has a Dean of Students, who is not exactly a mentor but does help students determine their personal course of study. I think (not entirely sure) students have faculty advisors when they choose a degree path. (There’s tons of detailed info on this topic in CHS’ Catalogue.)
Some Pagans view Online Wiccan education as a controversial topic. The views expressed above belong to those who expressed them.
I, Moonwater, prefer the one-to-one mentor/student process (and that is my training). However, it strikes me that it is helpful to carefully study material if a local Pagan community is not available.
As with other important decisions, devote great care to your educational path.
Biographies of Our Interviewees
Luna Marr, has been studying paganism both independently and with various mentors for the last 21 years. She is very proactive in her local pagan community, serving as both clergy and secretary in her local pagan church. She says, “I have always believed that paganism deserves the same respect as other religions, but with that respect comes responsibilities to be knowledgeable in your beliefs and in the history of your beliefs. I feel that with the growing interest in paganism there need to be more hands-on ways for people to learn and grow without the pressure of being forced down one pathway or another.” Email: Luna@paganslearningonline.org Her online school is Pagans Learning On Line.
Do you travel a lot? Have you missed viewing your Gods from your home altar? Make a Portable Shrine. It’s fun.
The Mobile Shrine Closed
What you will need:
One wooden hinged box
Different colored tissue paper (I used some paper with a flower-pattern for one of my boxes.)
Image of the God
Image of the Goddess
Glue gun and glue
Tulip® Dimensional Fabric Paint–Glitter
Mini flowers and/or other decorations for the Gods
(For example, I included flowers for the Goddess. You can use beads,
paint, coins or other decorations that have meaning for you and your
Electric tea lights. Hotels do not let you use lit candles.
Mod Podge glue
Sponge applicator (for the glue)
Other decorations like stickers and such as desired
To start, I applied Mod Podge glue to the exterior surface of my wooden box. Then I affixed the flower-patterned tissue paper to the surface with the glue. Note in the photo how the patterned tissue paper provides an interesting texture. (Be careful and use glue on only one side at a time. Let the glue fully dry.)
Then I applied another coat of glue over the tissue paper to seal it.
As another option, you can paint your box any color that seems appropriate, perhaps, your favorite color.
Although you could add decorations to the outside of the box, I suggest leaving it plain. Why? You do not want a hotel maid or other stranger to be drawn to the box out of curiosity.
Inside the box, I used red tissue paper. Pick the color you prefer. Whether you glued paper or painted the inside, wait for it to dry. Then use glue to apply the images of your chosen God and Goddess.
Note in the photo that I used Tulip® Dimensional Fabric Paint–Glitter to cover the edges of the Deities’ pictures—gold glitter for the God and silver for the Goddess.
I added pearl 3D-stick-ons and other jeweled stick-on pieces to accent my images. I also added glittery stickers on the sides to personalize the interior of my box.
I strung beads in strands—two for the God and one long strand for the Goddess. I used fishing line for that. I draped the beads and used the glue gun to affix the ends in place.
As a finishing touch, I employed the glue gun as I added mini-flowers to the Goddess’ side.
Once your Portable Shrine is fully dried, you close it up. From the outside, no one will know what it is.
Take your Portable Shrine anywhere, open it up and place the electric candle in front to honor the God and Goddess.
My Portable Shrine is small and compact enough to fit into a backpack that I bring on a plane. I even took it on a cruise. It’s nice to have the familiar company of my shrine when I am away from home.
At home, I place my Portable Shrine in a prominent location and enjoy it.
Since, when closed, your Portable Shrine is nondescript, it can be placed on a book shelf or the corner of a desk. Some people consider using a Portable Shrine in a dorm room because the Portable Shrine can be closed quickly.
Making a Portable Shrine can be a fun family project. You could have each family member contribute to one Family Portable Shrine or each person could create his or her own. Perhaps, you might want to do both. They are fun and relatively easy to make.
So keep the craft in witchcraft and have some fun while honoring the Gods.
About three years ago, a particular witch held a ritual in the woods each weekend. To her delight, a certain deer joined her each time. When I heard about this, I realized one can have a wild animal as a familiar–an animal, usually a pet, that helps the witch.
At one point, I was in a Wiccan learning group gathered in the woods and an owl joined us. Animals sense energy which makes them good working partners.
Animals are so proficient at using energy that they can literally move in and out of a closed circle and not harm or break that circle. So when your familiar moves across the boundary of your cast circle don’t worry, they won’t hurt it.
Small children can also cross your circle’s boundary without disturbing it. It’s only when we get older that we become unable to do that. The reason? Society teaches us to limit ourselves and so we unconsciously do so.
On the other hand, familiars do not have that burden. They can move and work energy in ways that many of us cannot. This is why witches and other magick users like to have a familiar.
However, don’t just run to an animal shelter and pick any animal and assume that the little one will be your familiar. An animal must choose to do so. If your little friend does not make that choice of being a familiar, you can just enjoy the company of your pet in ordinary life.
So how can I tell if my pet or an animal wants to be my familiar? Observe: Does the animal want to hang around you as you do a ritual? When you ground and center does your cat (for example) come and sit, to support you.
If you observe a particular animal in the wild repeatedly show up during your rituals, pause. Ask yourself, “Does this one want to be my familiar or is this just a random visit?” (Note: This does not mean that you go over and pet the animal. They do not want that.)
Sometimes, you may discover that this particular animal is quietly acting as a familiar for you.
Note: Never try to force an animal to work with you. If you have a pet, but the little one just strolls away when you’re doing a ritual, let it go. Just love your pet for the other joyful moments you share. You do not need a familiar.
If you, at some time, find an animal that wants to work with you, it can be quite rewarding. Not only will your spells and other workings be more powerful, but you will also have a great friend by your side.
Happy Imbolc to everyone. Hope you enjoy the post.
Is Money Spiritual?
Have you heard in some form that “money is not spiritual”?
Some of us have heard a misquote that goes “Money is the root of all evil.”
(Actually, the correct quote is: “The love of money is the root of all evil.”)
There’s a real problem: ignoring money or actually looking down on having money causes unhappiness. Some say that having denial about money issues causes many people to end up poor and unable to take care of their own basic needs.
In Wicca we know our Gods want us to be happy. With this as true, does it make sense that our lacking money is what they want? No. Now I’m not saying you need to be making buckets of money or that it’s necessary to have a whole lot more than you need.
But for many in our community money is elusive. Why?
For a number of individuals, Wicca was not their first taste of spirituality. They may come from different faiths that look down upon having money. The horrible part is that debilitating beliefs about money often stick in a person’s subconscious mind. And these sick beliefs push us to be unhappy.
Let’s go back to the misquote that goes “Money is the root of all evil.”
Is it money? No, fear is the root of all evil.
Think of it. Fear pushes us toward greed. Fear of never having enough. I remember the famous line from Gone With The Wind: “I will never be hungry again!” In that film, Scarlett O’Hara does extreme things because of her huge fear of being hungry or losing her property.
Is it possible that having money can frighten us? Yes, that can be a problem. Some of us have been conditioned to think that rich people are money-obsessed and that they do bad things. So on a subconscious level, some people are afraid of losing themselves and actually avoid opportunities to become rich and successful. Again, I call these sick beliefs.
Some of us are really afraid of having money. It continues to come from subconscious beliefs drilled into our heads that money was not spiritual.
Instead, I suggest that money is spiritual. Money creates opportunities for us to be happy. It creates safety for us and our families. The Gods want us to feel this way.
If we’re doing well with our personal money situation, we walk around with an air of positive energy. We can be compassionate to others. Expressing compassion is an important part of one’s spiritual path.
We have many ways of creating prosperity. I think just doing money spells is not the full answer.
Ideally, we would use magick to get to an inner state where we can work out problems that prevent us from enjoying financial abundance. We can do meditations and inner work to change the limiting thought patterns and beliefs we have about money. (For more about this, see a free chapter from my book The Hidden Children of the Goddess.CLICK HERE.
Some Wiccans may default to doing prosperity spells to gain money. However, it may help more for you to do a healing spell so that any blocks dissolve to learning how to earn more money, save money and improve spending habits.
Let’s start with new and empowering thoughts about money. Look at holding empowering definitions of words related to money. For example, author Jason Miller talks about the difference between rich and wealth. I think he says it well:
A rich person has a high income, which is a stream that can feed being wealthy or being in debt, depending on how that money is used. There is no shortage of people with high incomes but no real wealth. . . . Wealth is not a flow of income; it is a state of positive finances.
What is a state of positive finances? Such a state includes enough money for bills, some money for entertainment, savings for tough situations in life, some money to be kind to others, and savings towards one’s retirement. Positive finances is not about having just enough to barely get by. It is really about having some amount of financial abundance (more than enough).
To live in lack (including difficulties about money) really isn’t the Gods’ and Goddesses’ plan for us. They invite us to grow, learn and adapt. They invite us to learn something about creating financial abundance.
Alone. That was the beginning of my spiritual path. I started with books on Wicca. My early journey as a solitary witch was lonely. This went on for years.
I had no contact with like-minded Pagans. I didn’t know where to go and how to meet anyone.
Fortunately, today we have many more opportunities to connect with other Wiccans. As the Internet became part of our daily lives so too we could find other Pagans. You did not have to remain alone in your spiritual journey. You could find others and connect with them.
How do you meet other Pagans? Learn about many wonderful Pagan festivals around the world. Now, it’s my joy to introduce you to PantheaCon.
PantheaCon is one of the largest gathering of Pagans on the West Coast of United States. It occurs on the long weekend of February 14-17th and is located at the DoubleTree Hotel in San Jose, CA.
PantheaCon marks it’s 20th Anniversary in 2014. It is the brainchild of Glenn Turner, and she has been pleased with PantheaCon’s ever-expanding popularity.
It’s so fun to meet the same people each year; you really get a sense of community. And of course, I enjoy meeting new people each year, too.
Between all the classes, workshops and entertainment, it’s educational and great fun. You can see 2014′s Program Guide here.
When I was starting out in the Pagan community my mentor brought PantheaCon to my attention. Here I bring it to yours. I have gained many friendships over the years and enjoy seeing both old and new faces every time I attend.
I will be at PantheaCon this year in February, and I hope to see you there. (I’ll be the one wearing a TheHiddenChildrenoftheGoddess.com t-shirt and carrying my books and pins, too. That’s one of the things I enjoy about PantheaCon, you can meet the people who provide the books that support and uplift our community.)
When you’re ready, pick a festival like PantheaCon and discover the wonders of new friends and true support.
Security—what is it? Is it a home, a job, or family? If that’s security, what if these things are taken away? What then?
My friend Bob lives with his parents. He is disabled and so he can’t manage to live on his own. He also needs the support of his family to help him with day to day activities such as cooking and cleaning. To him, his living situation with his family is a place of security. However, last week he was told by his father that he had to move out. This pulled the rug of security right out from under him.
Bob was terrified.
Here’s another example: Janet has to keep her Wiccan faith a secret from her family who subscribe to another religion. One day, at a family gathering her pentacle pendent fell out of her blouse. Aghast, her mother called her father and together they yelled and drove her from the gathering. Her parents and other relatives disowned her. That was their word, disowned.
Now, Janet cries–at different times during the day. Sometimes, she flees to the restroom, when she’s at work. She used to believe that her family was her bedrock. No more.
What happens when our sense of security is taken? Where do we go? Did we really lose security?
I say security isn’t a place. It’s not a thing, and it’s not a family tie. The truth is: Things change. We can’t rely on these things for our security.
So where is security found?
True security is found in our hearts and minds. It is found in our faith, and it resides with the Gods who walk beside us everyday.
The Gods do not waver. They are constant, eternal, all encompassing.
So let’s face it. Security is not in the material. True security is in the spirit.
You can call on your true security anytime and anyplace. The great thing about being Wiccan is that you can create your temple anywhere by casting your circle.
More than that, you can recite a blessing in your own thoughts.
Here is a blessing that you can recite to yourself: