I have been thinking about grounding and how it helps to center oneself after a ritual for the past week. Makes sense since I have just spent an amazing week with some amazing witches, participated in 4 rituals, one an initiation into an inner court and one for my own 3rd degree initiation. After flying very high on fantastic energy and as well as the ritual energy I have now been home for a week and riding the downward ride of coming back down to earth and back into everyday life.
Grounding can do a number of good things for your own balance. Even for a small, simple ritual you can end up with an excess of energy running though you and it is good practice to re balance your own energy levels and give back to the earth that which you do not need. Grounding can be as simple as just sitting there feeling the earth beneath you with your feet firmly planted on the floor below. To going all out and lying on raw earth, be it grass, dirt or rock. It really depends on what is available for you are the time you feel the need to ground. I have done it before by just leaning up against a tree, it was in a public space and leaning against the tree is a lot less likely to get stares than hugging the tree.
For myself I physically feel the transfer of energy from ground to me and back and can physically feel the rebalance. However in saying this I have no doubt that it can be subtly different to very different for every one. When finished I feel balanced and light at the same time, I find it a very refreshing experience. As for grounding after (or even in) ritual, I can give a really good example from personal experience of what happens to me when I don’t spend the time needed to ground properly. My main symptom is vertigo; I get extremely dizzy and at times nauseous, and this can happen straight away, or up to 24 hours later.
Normally after such a week I have just had I crash and it can take quite an effort to come back up to normal. This time I still crashed, but the landing was much softer and I have gained my normal balance much more quickly than before, all of which I know has to do with the grounding practices that I am now so used to doing.
Initiations, just how important are they?
Having just been through my 3rd degree initiation and having the wonderful fortune of being present for another beautiful witch’s 1st degree initiation in weeks time it has got me thinking about how I view initiations.
Being an Inclusive Wiccan we initiate into the coven, not into the Wiccan Tradition. This means that unlike some other traditions we firmly believe that all witches have the right to self dedicate into the Wiccan tradition. I know from my own personal experience just how hard it can be to find the right coven and for me, I had spent a number for years living in remote Australia and finding a coven was not an option. Even now living in a small town, I am not sure that I could find the right teacher or coven to be part of.
Listening to other witches, who have chosen the solitary path, again emphasizes to me that it can be very hard to find the right coven for you even when you are surrounded by people. Some of these witches live in great big cities, and at the same time while being involved in different combined celebrations and rituals, still prefer to live a solitary life.
Now I just happened to stumble upon the Oak and Mistletoe School and have actually found the most amazing teachers and witch’s and from there the Heartwood Coven was formed. So I not only find myself part of a coven, I am there High Priestess and I have now been through 3 different initiations with Oak and Mistletoe as part of becoming the person that I am today.
Being a part of an initiation, and going though them myself I can see just how they have been important to my own growth. However at the same time I can see how others who chose a solitary life can grow just as much using self dedications and following there own path. I guess the biggest thing I am taking from this is that we all have our own paths to walk and we will each find a way to do just that in the best way that we can with the resources that we have.
I feel very blessed that my path has lead me to where I am and for me initiations have been and will continue to be very important – for my path.
I had a good question asked of me this week asking if Duotheism and Polytheism are the same thing. To go quickly to simple definitions they are easy to look up on Wikipedia.
Douthesim – Belief in and worship in two deities, usually framed as a god and goddess of roughly equal power http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/duotheism
Polytheism – belief in multiple deities usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own religions and rituals http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polytheism
So looking at the definition you would say that they are different as one looks at 2 deities (a God and Goddess) and the other at multiple Gods and Goddesses.
OK, I am cool with that and it seams simple enough. Now lets add a little complexity using myself as an example. I certainly believe in multiple Gods and Goddesses and have 2 Patron Gods (Tyr and Cernuous) and 2 Patron Goddesses (Freya and Hekate). However at the same time I have no trouble associating all the different Gods and Goddesses as being connected and representing deity as a whole. In other words I can see all the different Goddesses being different faces of the same Goddess, and the same for the God. When casting a ritual circle I rarely focus on a particular God or Goddesses even when as a coven we are focusing on one particular God or Goddesses within the ritual. I prefer to address the God and Goddesses as the Devine being connected to every one and every thing than name specific Gods and Goddesses
So does that make me a believer in Douthesim or Polytheism or is it a bit of a mixture of the two?
So now lets though in another definition of Pantheism. The belief that the universe (or nature as the totality of everything) is identical with divinityhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantheism
Humm well yes OK, the divine is nature as nature is the divine so does that mean I am a believer in Pantheism?
Well in all reality I am not that worried about how to define my faith, and I think I could fit into each of these definitions so maybe that just makes me all three of them and that is also cool with me. What I really loved about the question in the first place is it does make you think. So what do you think, how would you define what you believe?
Currently I am reading the fifteenth anniversary addition of Gerald B Gardner’s book “Witchcraft Today” (2004) and within the chapter “How little people became witches” there was a thought around Heaven and Hell that made me stop and think. The statement was that Christianity promised “salvation on the cheap” (p. 68). Contrast this to old religions that “made one great mistake … as only initiates could obtain the required learning which took them to paradise where they were rested and refreshed, till they were ready to be reincarnated on earth again” (p. 68).
Now in no way am I going to say that Gerald Gradner agreed with this point of view, if one thing I have learnt about reading his works is that it is he was very carful to not point fingers or to say that is not correct and here is what I think is correct. He seamed to be much more subtle and suggestive than that, which makes it difficult to pin point his exact views, or that how he seams to me. However this small part of the book did get me thinking about the concept of Heaven and Hell and if it really was salvation on the cheep?
For myself I firmly believe in the Law of Return which reminds me of just how much I need to be responsible for my own actions and that I am the consequences of my own actions. I am human and do stuff up and make mistakes, however on the whole to do take responsibility for my own actions no matter if it was a woops moment or not. Contrast this to working towards the long-term view of Heaven; does that mean because I believe in God I can do what I like?
Well I am sure there are a small bunch of people that really do think like this and we see the results of extremists on the news repeatedly, but what about the ordinary every day person. I have really good friends who are Christian and I have known some fantastic Catholics, and again these were really good people and it was not the long term thought of Heaven that sold them on there faith. And while there faith was a big part of them, just like mine is to me, there goodness came from there own internal beliefs in being a good person, not from the idea that one day they would go to Heaven.
Was the concept of Heaven used in selling these religions, well all I can say is probably, but is that any different to a Wiccan selling the idea of the Law of Return? To me no, other than the fact that I would never try and sell a religion and maybe that is the true issue behind the statement.
Fire is power, fire can create and destroy. Fire transforms what ever it touches, weather it be a log, or a house or a whole forest. Fire also creates, walk along any burnt out forest a few months after (some times just a few weeks) and you can see the new life, some which may never have existed is the fire had not cleared the way. Fire should never be underestimated, one small spark and grow and burn for many day, week or even months.
Fire also has many different faces. Fires power can be warming, can provide us with what we see and taste as nice yummy food but also the transformation caused by fire makes some food eatable, in other food it removes bacteria that would cause us harm and with others we just use it to change the texture and taste of the food. However Fire can also be very destructive, anyone who has been close to or been through a massive bush fire or even just a house fire will tell you how distressing and powerful it can be.
I use fire when I need a quick burst of power or energy. The best example I can give is when I go jogging and start to run out of puff. The track I am jogging on becomes lit by fire and I use its power to keep me going. I have also used fire when I just need to keep going for a few more hours while running an event, or getting a report finished when all I really want to do is stop and rest. When a dead line is looming and it needs to get done, Fire is right there beside me.
For me the color of Fire is Red and when in ritual Fire is in the South. This is what feels right for me, however I do understand why people put Fire in the North as for us here in the Southern Hemisphere the more north you go the hotter it gets. Fire is the second Element I bring into the circle and the second last I say good buy to. Fire is also the first element that I really connected to when I started on my path. Fire is the blood that runs through my veins and the strength that pushes me when I need to be pushed, but Fire also sooths and helps me forget by mesmerizing me with its flames. Fire is what heats me when I am cold and for that I will always be grateful.
Just how easy/difficult is it to write a ritual? This question really depends on why you are writing the ritual. Is it just for yourself or are you leading a ritual for other people? When you are writing one for your own use then you can be a little more less structured. You can go into the ritual with an idea of what you want to do without writing up what you want to say or exactly what you want to do. This allows you to go with the flow a bit more and sort of make it up on the spot as how you feel at the time what will work well for the ritual. When writing one for others it does help to be a little more structured as it supports the people involved to feel comfortable in your leadership for the ritual.
However if this is the first ritual you have ever done, what do you do? It is a good idea to do some research, to read about rituals, why different traditions do certain things. Have a think about how you want to construct the ritual, how to build the circle, will you include the elements and if so which directions they will be in, what tools will you use (if any)? And then the most important question to ask, what is the intent of the ritual?
No matter if you are writing the ritual for yourself or for others these are questions that you need to address. If the ritual is for yourself then you do have a lot more flexibility in how you do the ritual, if for others then you need to think about them and what they are comfortable with/used to when answering these questions. For example some may like to build or construct the circle anticlockwise while others prefer clockwise and each person will have a good reason as to which way they prefer and that should be respected so you have to manage that.
Probably the most important aspect if you are writing a ritual for the first time is to keep it simple. While I have been a part of and written some very complex rituals that have packed a lot of energy and power, I have also been a part of and lead some very simple which have packed just as much energy and power as a complex one.
I don’t know how many rituals I have been part of, written or lead and once you are used to the structure of how you like to do your rituals it does become much easier and it is a joy to start to think about how you can change it around a little and play with the structure and really find what works best for you.
Samhain is the third harvest festival and this not only means the harvest of all crops, but included in times past the weak and old stock animals that may not make it though the hash winter. These animals became salted meats in which families would depend upon to carry them though the cold months ahead.
With this though of harvesting the animals and with the cold of winter approaching where if any friends or family members became sick or weak then death would be a higher probability than in the warmer months. It is easy to see why death is a symbol of Samhain. At this time we also celebrate the death of the sun as the God passes into the underworld waiting to be reborn at Yule. This passage by the God is one of the reasons given for the veil between the realms becoming thin and allowing the living to make contact with those that have passed.
So while death is a symbol of Samhain, this time is also very much about celebrating life, both our own and of friends and family still living, but also of friends and family that have passed. It is very common practice to set a dummy supper for spirits at Samhain celebrations and to include spirits in rituals.
Samhain also marks the end of one turn of the wheel, and the beginning of the next turn, the witches new year. The Celtic new year also starts on this date, though please remember that this is in November at the beginning of their winter.
And of course this is a time of the Jack-O-lanterns and one would hope a lot of pumpkin soup. Jack-o-lantanas can have one of two purposes depending on your thoughts. They are either there to frighten away spirits that would do harm, or they are there to light the way for the spirits making it easier for them to travel though the night. For myself I prefer the second purpose and have found making them to be quite fun.
This is one of my favorite Sabbats and while Samhain can be a very big and festive time, for myself I like have a very quite, peaceful and reflective celebration. For me it is a time to reflect on the year past and think about the year to come. This past year was also the first time that I have ever lost family that were very close to me so this Samhain has been both sad and happy as I have celebrated there lives as well as my own.
As all things turn to dust, so will life reform out of that dust.
Have a happy Samhain