Archive for the ‘Pagan Perspectives’ Category

This article is a copyrighted extract from the upcoming book, The Inner Alchemy of Witchcraft by Romany Rivers.

Country Diary : Crows fly through branches of a tree“Air is the invisible Element, all around us and within us, connecting every aspect of the universe. It is the space between the cells of our being, the breath we exchange with others and the words we use to share our ideas. Air is inspiration and communication, thought and dream, education and knowledge. It is the Element of mind – ours and the Divine. […]

The secret of Air is its limitless potential, its ability to free every thought, to carry every idea, to blow away the dust from our eyes and show us every inspiration of magic. Air is naturally without borders or boundaries, moving from me to you, from you to another with ease and freedom. The danger of this freedom is that bad news and harmful ideas will be just as airborne as beneficial ones. We can impact ourselves, our friends, our families and our communities just as quickly with harmful words and thoughts. A mind clouded with hatred is just as capable of harnessing the power of Air as a mind clear of cluttered thoughts. Therefore we must, as magical practitioners, be aware of what we think and say. We must also be aware of the thoughts and words of others that we take on as our internal monologue. […]

Air will feed a fire, or put it out.

The flickering flame within the darkness and the house burning to the ground, both are fed by air. Our intentions and our words are like the oxygen that fans the flames of passion or anger. Yet air also has the power to extinguish fire, and it is this contradiction of abilities that we often overlook. Just as we breathe onto a spark to bring it to life, so we can use our breath to blow out the candle flame. We can fan a little flame until it burns brightly in the darkness, using the power of Air to uplift the spirit, encourage passion and confidence, and to illuminate the dark times. We can feed a small fire, giving it the gust it needs to grow, jump, spread and cause further damage. We can inadvertently breathe new life into a dying fire, whether we mean to or not, or we can consciously choose to extinguish a flame before it rages beyond control. How we choose to use our intention and words during times of heightened emotions will determine whether we encourage the fire to rage, or whether we use our power to cease its path of potential destruction.

Those in a position of authority within the spiritual community, teachers, elders, leaders, or priests, will come across this teaching of air time and time again. With awareness we can clearly see how the power or air impacts the power of fire, how the words of someone perceived to be in a position of authority can fan the flames of passion, cut off the air supply that feeds dangerous fires of anger, breathe life into dying embers of old teachings, or fuels the little flames that light up the night. With power comes responsibility, but the power of air and the responsibility of use is not reserved to the leaders of our communities. The Element of Air resides within and around all of us, and we each have the power to choose how we use it. Be aware of how your words and intentions encourage or extinguish the flames around you. Be aware of what you fuel with your breath of being.”

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Romany Rivers is the author of Poison Pen Letters to Myself, The Woven Word: A Book of Invocations and Inspirations, and The Inner Alchemy of Witchcraft. Community books and Anthologies include Witchcraft Today 60 Years On, Naming The Goddess, Moon Poets and Pagan Planet.

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Witches are people tooI stood in the centre of the room and felt the tension rise. Glancing over my students I could see the people causing the shift, someone finding difficulty in the interruption of the class. The mundane had invaded the magic. The tension made me angry; the attitude of the interrupted students irked me. It pushed my buttons, and I vaguely knew why. I acknowledged the tension and my emotions, and breathed. Slowly and carefully I drew everyone’s attention to this moment of interruption and the shift in energy.

“Witchcraft is not a two hour class each week, it is a way of life. It is not just the moments you spend meditating, not just the practices and exercises, not just your studies, your coursework. It is not just reserved for festivals and celebrations. You do not practice spirituality, you practice the techniques of your spiritual path. You are your spirituality. You must learn that the mundane life and the magical life are one and the same.” (more…)

triple-goddessSeveral times in the last few months I have come across individuals in several communities who are looking to create Red Tents, and I have seen an incredible backlash against the idea. In our ever expanding and diverse Pagan communities there appears to be a pendulum swing between private and exclusive, and public and inclusive. I think there is some confusion about what it means for others to host a restricted event – restricted does not mean rejected. Refusing to cater to one segment of society because it clashes with caring for another segment of society, does not mean that we are disrespected or rejected, it means that we are all respecting and accepting the differences between us. By celebrating the diversity of the human species and creating a safe space for certain groups of people to discuss specific issues and ideas unique to their form, we are not excluding others in a harmful fashion. We all need to understand how to accept, respect and celebrate the differences between us as well as the similarities. We can all learn to enjoy quality time together, and quality time apart. (more…)

fall.jpgEarth turns. Sun rises and sets. Wind blows, leaves scatter, seeds are sown. Thunder cracks, light splits the sky, fire burns bright in the darkness. Rain lashes my skin, clouds obscure my vision. I witness the birth and death of life around me, ever cyclical. I reach out to the elements and wash myself clean, and listen to the whispers of the wind. The world tells me tales of love and loss, of journeys taken, trials endured, planting and harvesting. The water reflects the world back at me until everything I see outside of me becomes the story of my soul. (more…)

helping-handMy heart goes out to the loved ones of Robin Williams, and to all those touched by his life and death. His suicide has opened a wave of discussion about the impact of depression and what it means to live, and love, and be within the shadow of sadness. This has hit me hard, not least because I know what it is like to smile through sadness, to live with depression and to face suicide. Mr. Williams brought laughter to so many, lifted the hearts of others so often, and yet he lived with a shadow that many of us endure and never speak about. Now people are talking. Everywhere I go I hear people talking about it. The internet is full of people talking about it. Talk is great, we need an open discussion about mental health and its impact, yes we do. But talk is also a trigger, and these last couple of days have forced me to poke old wounds, bringing memories to the surface. (more…)

RIMG0269“And ye shall be free from slavery; and as a sign that ye are really free, ye shall be naked in your rites; and ye shall dance, sing, feast, make music and love, all in my praise.” – Doreen Valiente

Wicca is not alone in extolling the virtues and benefits of ritual nudity, but it is possibly the most thought of path when we envision naked spirituality. For many, stepping out of our clothing and stepping into sacred space as naked as we were born is a form of rebirthing ourselves into the sacredness of our lives over and over again. But let’s not be naive, nudity may relieve us of our clothing and still add layers to our psyche. Nudity can furnish us with challenges from body issues and self-consciousness, or gender, sexuality and identity concerns, to reliving the trauma of assault and rape. To be naked in ritual is to be vulnerable and exposed, and for some people this does not make a sacred space – in fact it may not even make a safe space. The act of letting go of our clothes, stripping away our perceived identity, dropping the roles we take on in daily life and simply being in our skin can be a powerful tool of transformation and growth; but it is only a tool. When used carefully and with compassion it can be the skilled tool of the surgeon, exposing our issues one layer at a time, stripping us down to truth and bone and blessing; when used with expectation and dogma it can be the blunt hammer upon anvil, creating change through force. (more…)

RRivers logoAt some point on our journey we have all been the neophyte, the newbie, the wide eyed seeker. As children or adults we have come to our paths with tentative footsteps or joyful bounds, absorbing all the wonders we experience, discovering secrets of our Gods, our world, and ourselves. Over time and through experience, those who have walked the path with purpose and passion become known as the Priests, Priestesses, Shamans, Magicians, Teachers and Elders of our communities. However, here lies the paradox: An adept is never not a neophyte. No matter how skilled, how experienced or how knowledgeable a person is in their chosen area of expertise, there is ALWAYS something new to learn. (more…)

Pagan Blog Project 2014

Pagan Blog Project 2014

We are told from our earliest experiences of magic that intention and will are key to manifesting our desires and affecting our reality, but few people can actually describe either concept clearly. To some degree this is because intention moves beyond intellectual concept and into practical experience when applied, and every persons experience is unique.

I recently experienced a clear manifestation of the Art of Intention. I have been living abroad for several years, and developed a desire to visit my old stomping grounds. That desire developed into an imagining of being in that location, and the imagining developed into a belief that this will come to pass. Beyond this belief came a deep knowing, an awareness of truth. It is within this deep knowing that Intention lies. Intention is not simply wanting something to happen or believing that something will come to pass, it is living as if the outcome is certain – or already happened. This form of certainty revolves around the outcome, not around the finer details. Remaining open to all the avenues of manifestation allows room for all the threads of possibility to weave together and create your outcome. (more…)

Pagan Blog Project 2014

Pagan Blog Project 2014

 

The Question: When do we apply psychological principles to Witchcraft/energy work? When we say that the confirmation bias is what is really at work for superstitious beliefs, why don’t we also apply it to things Witches frequently use, like astrology and Tarot?

In my opinion, the answer to when we apply psychology to our spiritual beliefs is always and never. (more…)

“Personal work is some of the hardest work out there. I often see Pagans wondering, “Where is the advanced level work?” and the advanced work isn’t rituals, it’s not spellwork, it’s not ritual tools…it’s knowing ourselves deeply and working on our issues to be our healthiest, best selves.” – Shauna Aura Knight

RRivers logoToday I found out that a dear friend had passed away. I grieve and I hurt and I remember. I remember the last time I saw him, and I remember the first time I met him. I was just 14. Inevitably my memories of his kindness and his support brings with it memories of why his kindness and support meant so much to me. That year was hard for me. It was the year that I attempted suicide. It was the year that I faced a dark night of the soul, pulled my wounded inner child close to my chest and vowed to find happiness. It was the year I stood tall after each beating. It was the year I learned that there was more – more to life, more to death, more to living and loving and learning. It was the year that I found friends who brought out the best in me, who supported me, who believed in me, who helped me face the long journey towards a happier, healthier me. He was one of those friends and I am honoured and grateful to have known him.

This harsh healing journey is intertwined with my spiritual journey. For me, doing the work of Witchcraft means knowing myself deeply. Understanding my past to understand my present. Exploring the pain of rebirthing myself over and over again. Shedding the skin that no longer serves me, exposing deep wounds to light and love, and learning to love myself for who I was, who I am and who I have the potential to be. The healing process is not without pain, because the very nature of exploring our issues reveals the areas still raw and sore, underdeveloped, weak, and troublesome. Sometimes we must rest deep in the cave, in silence and solitude, licking our wounds until they become a pattern of scars stitching us back together. Sometimes we need the love of an honest friend to gently redirect our attention to the areas of bruising, to show us how we can take care of ourselves. Sometimes we need the structure of routine, ritual and meditation to heal ourselves from the outside in. Sometimes we need all of this, over and over again. The process of living, learning and healing is a work in progress.

The Japanese practice an art called Kintsugi, a method of repairing broken ceramics with gold joinery. Cracks are often aggrandized before being filled with gold, silver or platinum. It is a philosophy that speaks of overcoming suffering, of beauty revealed not despite its flaws but often because of its flaws. Most importantly, it is a philosophy of embracing imperfection that speaks of damage and healing as an important part of the history and creation of each piece, and not something to hide. Sometimes I feel like I am the ceramic pot, broken but blessed with Kintsugi. Every time my heart breaks, I work to slowly heal the cracks with layers of gold and remain a complex, beautiful vessel for the soul.

This post is a part of the Pagan Blog Project 2014, and is in memory of my beloved friend Al and his wonderful family.

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