I just couldn’t get my mind to settle down. My friend’s suicide happened and it really tore at my heart. I knew that I had to make sure that he transitioned safely to the Summerlands. The transition just wasn’t going to happen on its own. That’s what the Tarot told me.
So I pushed myself and took action. I did a ritual to help him find the Summerlands. Once I knew he had crossed safely, I felt peace in my heart.
For Wiccans, we do have a source of relief and even deep peace: Ritual.
In my studies, I’ve learned that Ritual is designed to get us free of the conscious mind and its petty obsessions.
You become conditioned to go to a Higher Level where you can open the unconscious mind and open the doors to successful magick.
Successful magick happens when you open those doors wide and do it reliably. Repetition of rituals is the best way to change your consciousness so you can do magick reliably.
The more often you do ritual, the more you train your mind to make a transition to a Higher Level.
Each ritual begins with Casting a Circle. When you cast a circle you not only set up your sacred space with related protection, your casting also opens those doors to your subconscious mind, which is called the Younger Self. We Wiccans use the Younger Self for communication as we do magick. By the way, the Younger Self is also known as the Sticky Self in the faerie tradition.
You might think of your Younger Self as a five-year-old. How do you keep a five-year-old engaged? Not with long-winded talking. Instead, you use things like props and other items. Think shiny, sparkly with loud noises.
Using drums, other musical instruments and other props that are fun and novel help you easily communicate with the Younger Self.
Wiccans realize the Younger Self is the source of energy for effectively doing magick.
Remember that regularly doing ritual helps you condition yourself to readily rise to a Higher Level and engage your Younger Self. In this way, your magick-work will get better.
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Cleo, my cat, looked up at me. At 14 years old, Cleo needed me to give her intravenous fluids to sustain her. One night while I was administering her daily fluids she simply looked into my eyes and told me, I’ve had enough, I’m done.
I just knew. Other times, I’ve wrestled with the decision of when it was time to let go of my beloved pet.
Now, I’ve had cats my whole life. In high school, I was introduced to domesticated, pet rats. These little furry friends have terribly short life spans. I’d have four at the same time, and this meant crying every year as one of them would become ill due to old age. I had many times to practice letting go.
I have spent thousands of dollars for medical care for my fuzzy babies. But how does one know when to let go?
If a pet or familiar is close to crossing the veil, when is it truly time to let go?
First listen to your little friend. Here are some signs to help you consider when to let go.
• Is your furry companion still interested in life?
• Does your companion still enjoy eating?
• Does he/she still play in spite of the illness or disease?
• Is the little one in tremendous pain that prevents him/her from being happy?
Now I’m not talking about temporary illness. This is about the end of a life—a terminal illness.
Recently, on Facebook, people discussed the condition of Blacky, The Wheelchair Cat.
A native of New Zealand, he has one eye, and after being struck by a car, he’s left with spinal nerve damage and paralysis in his rear legs and bladder.
A number of people suggested that Blacky be “put down.”
But wait a moment! Blacky can now feel his legs if one tickles them. Sometimes he moves or stands on them. Last year, he had a perianal urethrostomy surgery because of his bladder problems.
Still, Blacky enjoys life. He enjoys going outside and playing. Other than his mobility issue, Blacky’s now healthy.
In summary, I invite you to look at my list and let it help you make a good decision about whether it may be time to let a pet go.
Sure, sometimes our pets have physical troubles. But you’ve probably noticed the we, humans, can have physical troubles, too. Still, we find ways to have joy and meaning.
Let’s make sure to support our furry friends in their times of need.
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.
How did you find the Wiccan faith? Was it through a personal connection or was it through a book or website?
Wiccans until recently were hard to find. Many followers of the path work in secret, in the shadows. Why have all the secrecy?
This secrecy was vital because throughout history and even to this present day Wiccans (and other pagans) have been and continue to be discriminated against.
Face it, we are still a minority faith in this world. Most practitioners prefer to stay in the shadows because of the possibility of retaliation and prejudice found in family, school, work, and the general public. We know too well that there are general misconceptions and fear about the Craft. So many Wiccans practice in the shadow. (After all, I call my blog and my book The Hidden Children of the Goddess.)
So how is one to find a reliable teacher while so many teachers practice in the shadows?
You need some initial education. Books can be a great way to start. Read a bunch of books and you will start to see a pattern. Your intuition will alert you to who really knows valuable material and who may be offering faulty information.
Here is a good reading list to start your path. Those of you who have been on the path for a time may want to revisit some of these books. It’s important to have a good foundation in the Craft before moving on to the more advanced practices.
So what have you heard about the burden of depression?
If you’ve experienced it, you know what an oppressive malady it is. If you have not experienced it, it’s hard to convey the essence of the pain.
Ever since I was little, I’ve had feelings of hopelessness and unworthiness. Abuse in the form of beatings from my brother and neglect from my parents, intensified my hopelessness.
I never knew when abuse would fall upon me. There was no rhyme or reason. Abusing a little girl is inexcusable. But what was worse, as that little girl, I felt a torrent of twisted thoughts. I believed the abuse happened because I deserved it.
I’ve heard a number of times that some people had perhaps a teacher that provided the support they didn’t have at home. But I wasn’t that lucky.
I did what I could to survive. I avoided people.
To me, depression was living in a deep, deep hole. A dark place where I was alone. I felt that I deserved this dark place. I had no hope, no love, no respect. I felt worthless. My chest hurt. Just cold putrid rotting meat inside me. The depression made it move and writhe like a carcass filled with maggots. There was more: tar, shards of broken glass, rusty nails.
Escape! That’s all I wanted. At eight years old, I tried to hang myself.
The Gods intervened. The cord broke. Not just once, but every time I tried to commit suicide, the Gods saved me.
They poured their light into a places I never thought any light could reach. My heart and soul. When that happened it was indescribable. It was beyond an epiphany. It was beyond life and death. It was so miraculous I can’t describe the event. Only that it was life-changing in every way.
It changed my thinking, my speaking, my body. It changed my world. It changed me. I was not me anymore, and yet, I was. My memories were the same, my environment was the same, my story was the same.
I knew who I was, and where I had come from. But now it was all different. How I experienced life was completely new.
I still have depression. I no longer identify myself as “a depressed person.” I am a spirit who deals with depression systems. I take medication and I have a helpful therapist. Each day I have good moments. I reconnect with the Gods on a daily basis. Even as I write this, my altar gleams with a glowing candle.
The Gods gave me a gift of self-love. I want to show you the way to it. I can’t walk this path for you, but I can show you my own path and walk side by side with you on yours.
Here is a chant you can recite to yourself when you’re hurting:
By the Sun and by the Moon,
Let the Gods’ light be my boon.
Shining deep and shining far,
May I be healed by every star.
I saw it then, I see it now,
Darkness be gone right here, right now!
You can use this short chant whenever you are feeling low. For example you can use this chant during meditation, lighting a candle or as a prelude to a meditation.
As always, let me know your experiences using this chant by using the comments box below. I would love to hear them.
To me, the pentagram inspires feelings of warmth, awe and joy. It stands for life–the mystery and the balance. The pentagram serves as the universal symbol of the Craft. You can find it in all occult shops and most new age stores. Wiccans tend to wear a pentagram as a pendant on a necklace, a symbol on a ring and more. But what is this symbol and what is the message it really conveys?
As a five-pointed star, the pentagram represents each element with one of its points. Many people have heard of the elements Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Then what is the “fifth element”? It’s Spirit. Now there’s a bit of controversy because some Wiccans would argue that Spirit is not strictly an element. Nevertheless, all five items are needed and unique.
Air is associated with thought. Thoughts move in and out of our minds just like a light breeze flows through our hair. Thoughts are the beginning of actions, likewise dawn represents the beginning of new things and Wiccans thereby associate Air with dawn. Further, Air relates to the direction East. East is where the sun comes up and begins the day.
Fire is associated with action. Besides keeping us warm it is the spark that gets us into motion. It motivates our will producing results on the physical plane. Fire is also associated with the direction South. Our ancestors (from Europe) understood that going towards the South, the lands were warmer.
Water is associated with emotion which flows through us. Every thought creates feelings. We remember grandma’s cooking and get that warm fuzzy feeling inside, or we remember that fight with our partner that made us so mad! Water is associated with the West, which is associated with crossing the River Styx and going to the land of the dead.
Earth is associated with stability and with its function as the foundation for other things. Earth keeps us stable and often represents the many mundane things that we need in life. Earth represents the physicality of our bodies and the ground we stand upon. Earth’s direction is North and it is represented by mountains, rocks, crystals and such.
Spirit is the unique element that ties the rest together. It is our spirit that the Gods have given us, which makes us alive. You cannot have life without the other four. We need air to breathe, fire to keep us warm, and water to drink. We need the physicality of our bodies (represented as Earth) to interact with our surroundings. But we cannot truly be us without spirit. What is a soul? It is a piece of the Gods that they place within all that is alive. This soul animates our Air, Fire, Water, and Earth into a living being.
Spirit is a crucial element that is too often overlooked. Because Spirit is the miracle of life itself. We are the pentacle. We are life.