The Witch Within

I have been thinking a lot about my Witchy/Wiccan roots. As I have felt increasingly connected to my spiritual life again, I decided to perform a re-dedication ceremony as part of my Beltane ritual this year. I performed my first self-initiation ceremony at Imbolc  over 21 years ago and for years after I would rededicate every year at that time. I would rise just before dawn and go to woodland near my childhood home. I had a special place with a big old tree stump as my altar; it was always such a magical experience offering up my commitment to the elements, the spirits of place and my deities as the dawn chorus broke and the sun rose.

My initial self-initiation is still so vivid in my memory. After months of research and honouring the festivals, I had planned to go at sunrise to another special place of mine in a forest on the South Downs but that night I was restless with excitement and anticipation, and as I lay awake in the early hours, I got the strongest sense that I should do the ceremony in my garden.

At that time, I lived in a house-share with friends in a wonderful house that I loved. The area, although at the edge of a city, was surrounded by mature trees and was a fabulous place for wild-life. Our garden was like a little woodland grove (foxes would doze on the lawn in the middle of the day!)  and it turned out to be the perfect place to dedicate myself to my Wiccan path.

The night was the coldest of that year, minus six with a stunning star-filled sky. Standing in the dark shadow of the trees, a circle of sky above my head, as I cast circle, called in the quarters and the Goddess and God, the blackness beneath those trees seem to be filled with a watching presence that made my heart beat hard and fast. As I spoke those words, it genuinely felt as if  I was being listened to, and at the point in my ritual where I asked  the forces of nature and the Divine to accept my dedication, I gazed up and saw an enormous shooting star. It was such a perfect moment of synchronicity.

It had taken several years to get to that moment. I had first started to be drawn to Witchcraft in the late 80’s. Unlike today, sources to learn about this path were few and covens even fewer. I met a woman in the early 90’s who had been a coven witch in London and we became friends. She lent me books on the Western Mystery Tradition and we had some fantastic conversations which led me to tentatively explore. I had read books by the Farrars and knew there was something at the heart of it that called me, but the traditional forms of Wicca felt too formal for me. It wasn’t until the mid-90’s when at University I took a module on Goddess Spirituality – and with the publication of books like Rae Beth’s Hedgewitch, Scott Cunningham’s solitary Wicca series, Teresa Moorey’s fab little books and the discovery of StarHawk’s Spiral Dance – that I could begin to see a structure to this path that I could explore without having to find a group to work with.

This time saw a sudden inrush of new people to the path; this birth and rapid expansion of eclectic forms of Wicca and Witchcraft brought with it new resources and fresh inspiration. It was an exciting time. I joined the Pagan Federation, met others who I would celebrate ritual with for years after, and began to truly learn in earnest.

It is now fascinating to me to see how my path has developed and changed over time. The beauty of this spirituality is that it is free from dogma; you are required to really engage with your own experience, what this teaches you and where it leads you. Over the years I have witnessed others on the path try and enforce ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways of practicing but this really is missing the point and seems to me a residue of some of the religious dogma of our Christian heritage. 21 years of practice has taught me that there is no ‘correct’ way; that the path evolves and changes as you do and that this is a strength to be celebrated.

When we are a newbie on the path, it is natural to look outside ourselves for examples of what our ‘witchiness’ is. But in time, I began to discovery who the witch within me was; I learnt exactly which practices strengthened my connection to nature, deity and self; I found the expressions of deity that spoke to me most strongly and I also gained the confidence to accept that these might well change over time; I learned that we will have moments of thrilling personal expansion but also the most fallow and stagnant phases where spiritual doubt and disconnection bring its own valuable lessons.

Committed long-term practice brings a confidence to discard or embrace as feels appropriate. I have rejected, questioned and adapted techniques and tools countless times along the way, discovering that the system really is just that, a method to help you connect. The real deal is the connection itself, and if what you practice isn’t getting you to that place, change it! Experiment and enjoy that process because everything on your path is an opportunity to learn and grow.

My re-dedication this year has brought with it a sense of gratitude for all those years of learning and exploring. Whatever the next 21 years brings – if I am granted that time, gods willing – that star burning its path across the heavens that I witnessed on that special night will stay with me.

 

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3 Comments

  1. September 8, 2017 at 12:15 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey, I just discovered your blog and love reading your material. For the last 5+ years I have been going through some massive deconstruction and personal reformation of many spiritual paradigms.

    My current state of mind is an eclectic theosophic mix of:
    Eastern Orthodox
    Peace Theology
    Advaita / NonDualism
    Grace / Inclusion
    Contemplative/Mystical Traditions
    Celtic Influence
    Sprinklings of Druidism

    Over 35 years ago I would have classified my beliefs as Wiccan. I am not too sure what is happening to me these days…lol…I seem in a state of flux. And, good grief, a lot of ideological and spiritual water has flowed under my little stoney bridge since then – haha!

    As a poet and author, I write in a self-branded theopoetic genre, which, for me anyway, suggests that we are best served when we make room in our perceptions for a creative aesthetic of beauty, mystery, and vastness (along with reflections on the very honest struggle in coming to terms with shattering paradigms of old wineskins). Perhaps this is why I identify with the your post regarding your self-initiation. Then your rediscovery, and almost a longing, to reconnect to that precious time.

    In this post above you say: “The beauty of this spirituality is that it is free from dogma; you are required to really engage with your own experience, what this teaches you and where it leads you”. I find this sense of liberation quite enchanting and alluring. There is a freedom and a liberty to be curious and to reflect. I guess spiritual reflections are diverse microcosms, very subjective, but delightfully meaningful to our own unique soul. The river of awe and unknowing cannot be mapped. Even still, Percy Shelley once wrote, “Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world.”

    I would even, in some small way, consider Wicca and Druidic thought to embrace this ‘lifting of the veil’ that Shelley aptly wrote. In some small way I am attempting to lift a 50-year dark-veil that has draped its shadow over my very rigid eyelids. For some my words are too cryptic, for others they are delusional, still, for others they are balm and healing. Go figure? Remember, “I tell the truth, but I tell it with a slant.” (Emily Dickinson)

    I often feel I am currently in some sort of slow waltz with words: Yes, I tread on the toes of sentences, trip across verbal cues, sometimes I cannot even feel my legs, and I often have no clue of the next unprovoked phrase that must be spoken with a dignity and elegance that bows before this mysterious way.

    My desire is to embody a spiritual aesthetic in both word and form, often beyond preconceived or expected categories. The ‘mysterium tremendum et fascinans’ is a pulse that I long to explore in greater depth. And honestly, the mystery of such a compelling grace cannot be uttered without me completely muddling it all up. Emily Dickinson wrote ‘the sun rose a ribbon at a time.’ So does the art of a language seeking to describe the ineffable connection to the world of Spirit. Sure, it is utterly impossible, but I can do no other.

    So thank you for your post, it sparked some long dormant thoughts in me. And as you said: “I learned that we will have moments of thrilling personal expansion but also the most fallow and stagnant phases where spiritual doubt and disconnection bring its own valuable lessons.” Oh boy, is that the truth. We oscillate, we ebb and flow, we wax and wane.

    Peace…

    Steve

    (PS: Sorry for the long post – lol)

    • luckyloom1 said,

      September 11, 2017 at 1:25 pm

      Dear Steve, thank you so much for your lovely response. Wonderful thoughts, beautifully expressed! I am so pleased you enjoyed the post. I think spiritual flux is a creative energy that is vital to our growth and development – its seems that embracing it, trusting where it takes us, is the key (although not always easy to do – lol!). So much of what we yearn for remains a mystery, beyond our expression and full comprehension but making space for the unknowable brings its own momentum and even the tiniest glimpses of ‘truth’ along the way bring such blessings. I wish you much love and joy and your journey.


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