Posts Tagged ‘Witchcraft’

hearth altarI have long been trying to live in the now. To be present in each moment. To let go of my past and to stop grasping at unknowable futures. To be open, receptive, aware. Willing to be who I am, where I am, right now. It is a challenge.

Much of the time my mind whirls with memories of the past and possibilities for the future. My emotions fluctuate around previous experiences, or tangle themselves into hope, anxiety or concern for the future. I react to life as it happens, and my reaction times are slow. I worry about what might be. I grieve over what was. So I sought to become less reactive and more proactive. I tried to tune into each moment as it happened, to process it like raindrops swelling my inner rivers. I tried spiritual techniques, mental tricks, psychological methods. I affirm my connection to the here and now. I practice mindfulness. I meditate. I let go.

I realised that we are never truly in the present moment, we may come close, but we simply cannot immerse ourselves in the now. We need time to process our understanding of now, and the greater the lesson, the longer the arc of understanding. Even listening to my own heartbeat takes the time of feedback and interpretation, but listening to my heart and its desires takes longer, listening to the hearts and desires of others longer still. We are never truly now or then, we are always somewhere in the middle. Like Janus we have twinned faces looking back at past and towards the future – a body in the present, and a mind split between what was and what will be. We are never fully present, even in the present moment.

The present is the past before you are able to grasp its importance and significance. And the unknown future is upon us before we even avert our gaze from that which just was. The importance of a single moment takes time to realise, yet it is the time in between experience and understanding that unravels the truth. This is the time when we listen, learn, understand and integrate the importance and value of every now. Therefore even if the only moment we have is now, it is the liminal times that we both seek and treasure. The liminal times may be brief and in sharp relief, or they may stretch over years as we slowly come to terms with that which once was, and with that one moment that changed everything.

This was my lesson, hard learned. By striving to remain present, I fell through the cracks of time and discovered the in between. The dusks and dawns of my own understanding. I live in the liminal times.

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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…)

The Woven Word cover(Reblogged From A Bad Witch’s Blog)

Found a wonderful review of my book The Woven Word on A Bad Witch’s Blog. I am so glad and grateful that people are discovering and connecting with the book, and I am inspired by the positive responses to the rites and ceremonies. I truly hope my book will be of use to others, and I am blessed by every review – thank you!

 

 

 

 

“Book Review: The Woven Word – A Book of Invocations and Inspirations

Over the years I’ve collected quite a few books of pagan rituals that I look at when I’m asked to put together a ceremony. Some are better than others, of course, and these days I’m picky about buying any books to add to my collection. However, a new publication I’m really pleased I’ve got is The Woven Word: A Book of Invocations and Inspirations by Romany Rivers.

Publisher Moon Books describes it as: “A creative compendium of invocations, inspirations and blessings for the novice or adept to design personal, unique and magical rituals.”

The first part of the book offers simple poems, chants and prayers for specific purposes – such as purification, invocation or blessing. They can be easily slotted into rituals or used on their own. Some are relatively traditional, others less so. Take for example this elegant but simple “shower cleansing”:

Wash away the stress and strain
Wash away the hurt and pain
Refresh and cleanse my tired soul
To reconnect, to make me whole

The second part of the book contains complete rituals. As well as ceremonies for the usual seasonal festivals, there are ways to honour rites of passage from baby blessings and handfastings to rituals at death. The latter include last rites when a person is dying and a requiem for someone who has died.

As we are approaching Samhain, and this month on my blog I have been looking at various aspects of death, here is a short quote from The Woven Word’s passing over ritual:

Dearest Beloved, you are not alone
I am here to help guide you home
If your soul is ready now to depart
Then leave without a heavy heart
With forgiveness and without fear
For those you love will hold you dear

I wish I had had those words to say when I was sitting a bedside vigil for my father and then my mother before they died.

Moon Books says about The Woven Word on its website: “This is a pagan tome of poetry and prose designed for rituals, festivals and celebrations. Working with deities, Romany has chronicled invocations and evocations for many Gods and Goddesses, and created clear and crafty quarter calls, circle castings, celebratory prose and meditations. Ritual is broken into its component parts allowing for easy reference and personal adaptation.”

What I would add is that Romany’s words are beautiful, simple and powerful. As I read the book I could not only see myself using its rites without adaptation, I also felt that I wanted to use them. And to be honest that’s rare for me. With most of the other books of rituals I own, I find myself changing the words quite a bit to suit my personal taste or simply using them for inspiration and writing my own invocations or whatever based on them. I know I will be using many of the refrains and rites in The Woven Wordin the years to come.”

Links and previous related posts
The Woven Word: A Book of Invocations and Inspirations
http://www.moon-books.net/

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RRivers logoTeachings of Earth: All things must die; yet death is not the end.

Earth shows us the complex cycles of life and death. All aspects of nature, even those that seem most enduring, will eventually leave their current form. They will die, break down, transform. The more we observe nature, the more that we understand that every death feeds into the cycle of life – that energy itself does not die, merely transform. The horror of the rotting corpse feeds the world and nurtures new life. The leaves fall as they must for the trees to survive the winter, to feed the ground, and to make way for the new blossom of spring. The very planets of our universe are born and will die. There are many little deaths within our own life. Moments when relationships, behaviours, beliefs, knowledge, even things we held as truth must die. As it is natural for humans facing physical mortality, we often resist the death of these aspects and grieve their loss. When we face these inner deaths, especially those of deeply held beliefs, it helps to look to nature and understand that the death we resist may actually nurture new life within us, it may in fact be necessary for us to continue along our cycle of magical, emotional or spiritual development. To grieve is a part of the process and may actually be very enlightening, for grief is the twin of love, pain the twin of pleasure. Understanding why we resist the death of that which no longer serves us, why we grieve it’s loss, why we feel pain to let something go, may actually tell us why we held on to the belief, relationship or behaviour so tightly to begin with. Release what you must, watch the parts of yourself that are unhealthy die a slow death, and do so with grace and understanding. These aspects will transform in time, becoming fertile soil for the new seeds you plant.

 

Romany Rivers (c)2014

This article is a copyrighted extract from my upcoming book: The Inner Alchemy of Witchcraft by Romany Rivers

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Autumn arrives

As my son cries

And places fallen leaf upon my outstretched fingertips

Fix the tree he pleads

The leaf

It fell over

Fix the tree

If only it were so simple

To kiss it better

To hug away the hurt

To ease the seasons sorrow

I wonder if his heart will break a little

With every red gold shiver

With every bitter breeze

With every leaf crunching underfoot

The tree is broken in his mind

How does one explain

The time and tides

The ebb and flow

The come and go

To brimming tear filled brown eyes?

Is it too hard a truth to learn so young

That some things cannot be undone?

I cannot fix the tree for him

And reality upon me dawns

Just as the time has come for leaves to change

The mighty Mama also falls

No longer magic touch

Healing all with simple love

There are things in life beyond a Mamas reach

She cannot even fix the tree

(c)2013 Romany Rivers

Blessings of the Autumn Equinox to you all! May the turning of the seasons bring you peace and bountiful harvests. Look out for the story behind this poem in the upcoming community book ‘Pagan Planet’ due for publication soon!

hearth altarWhen I was young, my little sister died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. There was less understanding back then, and even at my age I heard the whispers in the village. I saw my parents friends remove themselves from our lives, people talking about our family in hushed tones, my step-mother sat almost catatonic on the sofa staring out the window, my little brother confusing my baby dolls with our deceased sister. I stood by my sisters graveside, watching this tiny coffin lowered into the earth, and I felt angry that this big, sweaty priest who knew nothing about our family and yet dared to speak of my baby sister and our family grief. Through all this, I felt my sisters spirit still in the house. I was aware of her presence in ways that other family members were not and it confused everyone. I did not display the same grief as others, because for me a part of her was still with us and that gave me comfort. I felt isolated in my understanding that death was not the end. I felt confused and sad for the loss of my sister and the pain her death brought to our family. I felt comforted and relieved to know there was something more than flesh and bone. In grief and a desire for understanding, I looked for God. I wanted answers. I found no comfort or answers in the Christianity I was brought up around, so I started to explore alternative belief systems. By the time I was a teen, I was fully immersed in the exploration of Paganism, Buddhism, Taoism, Witchcraft, and techniques of awareness and spiritual development. Later I studied psychology, I travelled the world, I read voraciously and I talked to some fascinating people. Slowly I developed my own practice and personal spirituality that honoured my understanding of death and dying.

In my twenties, after a rather shocking spiritual experience, I dedicated myself to studying Wicca and Witchcraft. I developed a deeper understanding of magic and transformation, and I truly transformed my personal life. During my practice I would call upon the Lord and Lady, I would connect with the Masculine and Feminine Divine and the spectrum in between, and I could sense the power and presence of the Divine – yet I did not connect with specific deities. In fact I rather enjoyed discussing the reality of distinct and different Gods, or all Gods as one God, or Gods as archetypes, or Gods as entities, or Gods as universal energy. I talked and listened, and in private I formed no conclusions but continued to work with the very abstract concept of Divinity from an energy spectrum perspective. I was happy enough working with my abstract philosophy. That is until a Goddess spoke to me. (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…)

WorkThe truth holds a power of its own. It is the power to challenge, to change, to start new paths and spark new ideas. Speaking the truth can be painful, powerful, liberating or damaging, but truth held within has its own way of working itself from bonds and flying free when least expected. Truth is a three edged blade, and getting to the point can pierce a heart. Truth is a salve for festering wounds, exposing pain to the light of day and easing concealed suffering. Truth has the power to burn or to cauterize, to hurt or to heal. Truth reveals that which is hidden, for better or worse. Truth transforms us.

The power of the Witch is the power of personal truth. We stand on the thresholds of the worlds and explore the landscapes through our own understanding. We converse with Gods, with Angels, with Demons, with Spirits, with the Beloved Dead, and we walk away with truth upon our tongues and hearts. We take on the truth of Mother Nature, of the restless ocean, of the Sun and Moon. We accept the truth of magic, even whilst we still learn the techniques and process of manifesting magic every day. We accept the truth of seasons and cycles, of honor and hospitality, of differences and similarities. We face the truths hidden deep within our personal shadows, stepping into the darkness and dragging them into the light. We face beautiful truths and ugly truths, and truths that parts of us wish we had never seen. We learn the truths of personal power and personal responsibility, shared truth and shared responsibility. We learn that my truth is not always your truth.

The Witch does not shy from the painful truth, for there is always transformational power within the pain. We cannot heal that which we cannot see is damaged. And truth be told, we need to speak our truth even when our voice shakes… for the truth really does set us free.

 

PBP2014

This post is part of the Pagan Blog Project 2014

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…)

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…)