Consequences of Suicide within Pagan Religions


TRIGGER WARNING: discussion of suicide

NOTE: If you are depressed and contemplating suicide, please, please get help. If you have a trusted friend or family member, counselor, teacher, etc… that you can talk to, do so. Otherwise (in the US) you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at  1-800-273-8255 or chat online with someone who can help via IMAlive or CrisisChat. For international assistance you can check the International Suicide Prevention wiki for resources. No matter how bad things may seem right now, they will eventually get better. Taking your own life is not the best solution, and there are people out there who can help.

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Hello, I’ve had this question for a few months now and I’m still trying to find the right way to ask about it. I’ve been looking up people to ask, but it never seems to work. When I found you, I got excited. If you commit Suicide, will you not be welcomed in by the Great Mother and Great Father? I’ve been told that if you commit suicide out of Deep Depression, you wont be loved or forgiven by the divine. I’m sorry if the question makes you feel uncomfortable, but I had to ask.

Thank you.

 

Within Abrahamic religions (and potentially others as well) the main issue that many will cite in terms of “forgiveness” is that you have to, not only ask for it directly, but also be truly repentant – neither of which one can do if they have already passed beyond the mortal/physical world. However others feel that in the end, it is one’s actions during their life (outside of that final moment), which will better determine whether or not there is love and forgiveness when they are received by God.

As many have come to Paganism from an Abrahamic religion, they will often carry over some of these beliefs, even if they are not necessarily relevant to their current path. The more relevant issue within Paganism though, is which Pagan religion? As, not all believe the same things, or may even have a particular stance on suicide. In general, in terms of NeoPaganism, you will probably find a very wide variety of personal opinions on the subject – ranging from it’s your life, do what you want, to extremely strict interpretations of the “rede” which equate an it harm none to mean don’t harm anything ever (including yourself).

Keep in mind too though that Wicca, and those paths that are inspired by Wicca are often about taking responsibility for one’s actions in the “here and now”, rather than preaching the concepts of “Hell” or divine retribution. So what we do on Earth, during our life (including ending such life), has little bearing on the afterlife. For those who believe in reincarnation – it may set the course for additional lessons that one may need to “learn” in a future life (if one believes in such things).

Within other Pagan traditions, again it varies. For example, Norse lore offers multiple examples of suicides occurring, and typically those who committed such would go to Helheim in the afterlife. As this is where most of the dead would go (outside of those killed in battle – who went with Odinn and Freyja), it was clearly not any sort of punishment or lack of love/forgiveness that got one sent there. Within Kemeticism, when one dies, their heart is weighed against Ma’at’s feather, and those who are found unworthy would stay in Duat, while the others would move onto the afterlife in Aaru. There are no specific prohibitions against suicide within the lore though, and again it’s more about having lived a virtuous life in general. Within Greek and Roman traditions, suicide was generally only condemned if done for petty reasons. Keep in mind too that for thousands of years some cultures upheld the practice of Sati, in which it was perfectly acceptable (or even encouraged/forced) for wives to kill themselves via immolation when their husbands died.

In the end (literally and figuratively), it’s really going to depend on your own beliefs on the subject. There is no clear rule or opinion, and even within the same traditions if you ask 20 people, you’ll probably get 20 different answers. My personal thoughts on the subject are this – any God or Goddess that one is devoted to, or has spent time serving or honoring, is not going to forget that devotion. So unless one spends their final days/hours completely repudiating said God/Goddess, when the time comes they will be welcoming. It’s entirely possible that they may express disappointment, if they don’t agree with the choice, but I do not think that they would withhold love because of it. The Gods know what is in our hearts, and particularly in the case of someone who has struggled with severe depression, or other mental illness for many years, it doesn’t follow they would punish someone for losing that battle.

 

ADDITIONAL NOTES: Suicide has been a hot topic the last few weeks in the wake of Robin Williams’ death. This question was actually submitted a day or so before that tragic event and I had been in the process of writing it up when I saw the news. The original intention, when we’d gotten the question, was to post the reply immediately, however with the flood of suicide and depression/bipolar related commentary that was suddenly going around, we felt that it would be better to wait (at least a little bit). It was an emotional time for many people, and this would give everyone a chance to process their grief and/or any feelings on the topic of suicide, without bombarding one more thing on top of it all. However, we also don’t want to let too much time pass, as it is a timely topic and for some people an important one. It’s also a sensitive subject for many though, so if you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

If anyone knows of more specific myths or lore which directly speak to the topic, relating to a particular culture or religion, please feel free to comment as well so that we can add it.

And again if you need help, never hesitate to ask for it. Particularly when one is depressed, it can often seem like there is no one who cares, but this is often just a symptom of the illness. There are people that care, and who can help. You are not alone.

 

TIP: Social Justice and Witchcraft


There is a lot going on in the world these days that can quickly raise the public’s collective ire, affecting not only our hearts, but our minds as well. One only has to turn on the news, or check our tweets, tumblr pages, Facebook or other social media to see these stories and with such insta-access to information, it can sometimes be extremely easy to rush to judgement, and/or rush to action before all facts are known. Even at times when it might seem like we have all the right information, the situation can change just a short time later, and we find that erroneous news was posted, or of course there are always situations where trolls or other malicious individuals (or groups) choose to purposefully post misinformation for a variety of reasons.

In these cases, there is often a quick call for “justice”, or a call to “take action” to right the wrongs being done, or to curse those who are perpetuating such wrongs, etc… In other cases, general calls may be put out for people to “do something”… anything to help make the situation better. There is nothing inherently wrong with this – wrongs should be righted, people who are in need should be helped, and curses can be effective in situations where other options have failed. The key in all of these, however, is to stop first and think carefully before taking any action.

Emotions, particularly such as the sadness and anger that are often present in times of harsh injustice, make for powerfully energetic fuel for spellwork, and it is reasonable to want to use those emotions when they are raw, and their peak for better effectiveness. The issue with that though, is that when our emotions are running high, we are less likely to be thinking clearly, which can:

  • cause us to make decisions which may or may not be the best choices (or most helpful overall) to make
  • cause us to act erratically and/or less focused, which can affect our spellwork in a number of ways as well
  • cause us to do something that we may regret later when we’ve had time to cool down

Additionally, if we rush to action, without allowing sufficient time for all the correct facts on a situation to come to light, we run the risk of taking the wrong action, making the situation worse (even if we were trying to help), or particularly in the case of cursing – risk targeting the wrong person/group of people (in the case where an initial person names may or may not actually be the one(s) responsible). For example: with the on-going issues regarding the Michael Brown incident in Ferguson, MO, posts were circulating within a day or two purportedly stating the name of the officer involved. These later were determined to be erroneous, when the police finally released the officer’s actual name. So in those cases if someone took immediate action based on the initial posts, more harm than good could have come from that action.

Another issue is focus. When a large group of people take a variety of different actions, often spellwork may end up working at cross-purposes. Not only that, there may be cases where those working a spell aren’t being specific enough. Using the water situation in Detroit as an example: rather than doing a ritual focused on ensuring that the water of those in Detroit, whose water had been shut off, was restored to them (which is what should have been done – or something similar), potentially there were people just generally working with the intention that the people of Detroit have enough water, or just have water (or something equally vague). And I’m not saying this is what actually happened, but I found it really odd that with the situation that was going on – people not having water – suddenly Detroit was flooded with record breaking rainfall. Just something that really made me think about magic and focus, and the consequences of not properly phrasing one’s spells. The old adage seems appropriate… be careful what you wish for.

This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t take action. Absolutely we should, and with every tool available to us – witchcraft being one of those tools. The point is that we have to think carefully before we do. Don’t join in with the “mob” mentality, grabbing our torches and pitchforks before critically examining the situation ourselves, and researching all available facts and evidence. Just because you see a post circulating on your dashboard, does not make it true – don’t let your emotions get the best of you, when it comes to making sound judgements and crafting your spells.

Interpreting a Tarot Reading


Please help me if you can. I’m new to tarot cards. I decided to do a reading for myself. I asked the cards if I would become pregnant soon?

This are the cards I did a 4 cards spread.

  1. )past: reversed five pentacles
  2. )present: reversed wheel of fortune
  3. )future: reversed devil
  4. )distant future: reversed the tower

If you can, can you please tell me what the cards are trying to say?

Please note… divination is not my thing. I’ve studied it some, but do not use my cards on a regular basis, other than for myself. I make no claims to being any sort of expert, or make any sort of guarantees that what is listed here will in fact come to pass as I’ve described. The following is my two cents for what it’s worth, just based on my initial impressions of the cards. I’ve included links to basic card associations as well, so that you can make your own decisions, as there are always multiple ways for cards to be interpreted.

So, if I had to answer your direct question… “Will I become pregnant soon?” just based on the card reading shown (and without knowing anything else about you), I’d say that the outlook does not seem positive at this time. I don’t think it necessarily means that you won’t ever, but right now, there appear to be a lot of roadblocks in your path. As indicated with the Five of Pentacles – either a matter of overcoming previous health or financial issues, or even potentially a matter of a partner who is not quite ready to commit fully to having a child.

While the Wheel of Fortune card can be positive, particularly if you are wanting change, with it being reversed that tends to indicate that things aren’t necessarily changing in the ways that you them to. Particularly paired with the other two – The Devil and The Tower, it signifies that right now may not be the best timing for your pregnancy to happen.

Breaking it down a bit more, based on basic interpretations found at Learning the Tarot (which is a great site for anyone looking to learn the basics)…

  1. Five of Pentacles(past): refers to having recently been in bad health or suffered hard times. With a reversed card, could indicate that the issue has not fully resolved itself as of yet.
  2. Wheel of Fortune (present): things are changing, either physically or mentally/emotionally. With a reversed card, could indicate that the change will be slow in coming, or not be in the direction that you want.
  3. The Devil (future): situation will not be what you foresee, potentially having to bow to the wants/needs of others. With a reversed card, could indicate that the situation isn’t completely hopeless, but may need to overcome a lot of other obstacles first.
  4. The Tower (distant future): coming to an understanding, gaining insight, having one’s dreams crumble. With a reversed card, again could be that things don’t quite work out how you were expecting, but that in the end you will be ok with it, or at least be able to come to terms with it.

For a slightly different take on the card meanings, you can check out Aeclectic Tarot as well.

On the mundane side of things, getting pregnant is often a matter of the right timing, coupled with taking proper care of yourself. So if you are trying to get pregnant, there are some basic tips you can follow that will help (at least in some ways) smooth the process out a bit. Nothing, obviously, will guarantee pregnancy, but sometimes we all need a little extra help getting it to work out the way we want it to.

If you are already eating healthy, and getting a good amount of exercise daily/weekly, that’s good – if not, now is the time to start making some of those changes. Also it’s a good time to quit any potentially harmful habits (smoking, drinking, etc…) as you will need to quit anyways when you do get pregnant, so might as well get used to it sooner, rather than later.  Additionally, you will want to start tracking your menstrual cycle. If you have a smartphone, there are apps for tracking like Fertility Friend, which can do all sorts of nifty things, or you can just get a pocket-sized calendar and write it all down the old fashioned way. In either case though, knowing when you are most likely ovulating, will give you a better idea of when the best chance of getting pregnant is.

The big thing to remember – don’t get too discouraged if it seems to be taking a while. In movies it always seems to just take one time (and in truth is can definitely only take one time, given the right timing), but the reality is that for many women it can take a while (sometimes years) to get pregnant. If you are concerned though, definitely talk to your ob-gyn and get a check up, both for you and your partner if necessary. This will rule out any sort of underlying conditions that could be making it difficult for you to become pregnant.

Good luck!!

 

  • Additionally, if any of our readers have different interpretations that they’d like to share, please feel free to leave a comment. Definitely welcome additional insight from those who might work more frequently with tarot and have a different perspective. :)

Paganism Without Gods


Hello, I have a question about paganism without gods. Is it possible? What does worshiping the triple goddess or the horned god achieve, if instead you’d prefer to appreciate the world around you. Are they simply figureheads, ritual shorthand, for the traits they represent? Would love some recommended reading and some helpful words. Thank you  :)

While there are some NeoPagans who simply see Gods and Goddesses as archetypes, rather than actual beings, personally I think that the better choice would be to find a path that does not involve them at all. Not that there aren’t plenty who do make it work, but it seems strange to go through the motions of working with the Gods – even just for the symbolism, if one doesn’t actually believe in them. Especially when there are other options available that can be just as rewarding, and probably even more suited to one’s beliefs.

In terms of those other paths, particularly for someone who is more interested in appreciating the world in general, Pantheism would be a good place to start. Might want to check the following… Elements of Pantheism: A Spirituality of Nature and the Universe

Outside of that, the next step would be to ask yourself exactly what aspects of “Paganism” call to you? There are literally hundreds of different paths one can take, and other than Wicca and Wicca-inspired NeoPaganism, most do not involve a Triple Goddess or a Horned God. Along with that, I would venture to say as well, that if one does not believe in deity (in any sense of the word), then anything “Wicca” (Trad or otherwise) would probably not be the right fit

If it’s just the witchcraft and the “nature-based” parts, then again it may not be Wicca that you are seeking, as traditionally Wicca is fertility-based (focused on the continued cycles of birth-life-death-rebirth), rather than “nature” as a whole.

To the issue of deities though, Wicca (even in an Eclectic NeoPagan sense of the word) is about polarity between a God and Goddess, or (in a non-traditional sense) aspects of such. All rituals are centered around them – the Sabbats relate particularly to the God’s journey through the Wheel of the Year, and the Esbats are the Goddess’ journey. If one is not looking to incorporate that, then another path would be a better choice.

If one is looking more towards a witchcraft based spiritual tradition, then I’d focus on that, rather than trying fit what interests you into a NeoPagan mold. Paganism has a vast wealth of traditions to choose from (including the ability to create one’s own path), there’s bound to be something that is a much better fit. It’s just a matter of finding the right resources (which admittedly can be very difficult sometimes).

A few other resources that might be helpful…

  •  T. Thorn Coyle’s Crafting A Daily Practice or possibly even her Evolutionary Witchcraft though that might be somewhat deity centered as well, but there are probably some good things that can be taken away for a practice separate of them as well.
  • Another that might be worth looking at, and though they do talk about about deity in the following, it’s also set up in a way that the word encompasses, not only God(s), but other entities, the Universe, etc… so it’s very open-ended in terms of creating a cohesive practice, that is somewhat Wicca-inspired (still based on the Wheel of the Year and similar concepts), but also more for those who are eclectic in nature – Katrina and Eric Rasbold’s CUSP: A New Way to Walk An Old Path

 

Are Weather Spells Considered Black Magic?


Are weather spells (like a storm spell) considered black magic?

The short answer is… no.

The longer answer is more of… depends on what you are looking to do with it. If you are purposefully trying to be destructive, or cause injury or harm to others via the weather, then yes it could be. In general (and I’m sure I’m like a broken record at this point) magic is colorless – in and of itself it is neither black nor white (or any other color for that matter). It’s what you do with it that really counts.

Keep in mind too though, that even if you aren’t meaning to do harm with weather magic, it can still cause it. Forces of nature are called such for a good reason, and are not something to take on lightly, or without a lot of careful consideration and forethought. The following was originally re-blogged to our Tumblr page via Morgandria, but cross posting here as well, due your question…

Helpful Hint for Witches #6

LEAVE THE WEATHER ALONE.

Unless you have a meteorologist’s level of knowledge about the historical and prevailing conditions of your area, and how systems move in and out of your area, you have NO idea how your witching is going to affect OTHER areas, as well as your own. You are not just affecting yourself. You will be potentially effecting thousands or millions of other people.

You could be starting or encouraging a flood. Or a drought. And you are very likely not the only witch throwing pebbles into the weather pond. One pebble is a ripple – hundreds of pebbles cause a lot more disturbance. Ripples can become waves. Waves from different directions meet and crash – and you don’t want to live where waves meet.

We all love to complain about the weather. We’d all love to change it, sometimes. But it’s not a wise choice.

 

 

Wiccan Exorcism


I am pretty new to Wicca, and I believe there is a negative entity or demon in my house. I’ve looked up exorcisms and found one I’d like to use but I have a few questions I’m hoping you can answer for me. Here is a link to website I got it from.

I have used rituals on this website before and found they worked well, but I’d like to get someone more experienced opinion before I do anything.

  1. Is it safe? And if not exactly how dangerous could it be?
  2. My mother, whom I live with is not Wiccan and does not believe in the craft, or in ghosts or demons. Although she has heard and seen many of the things I have she always comes with something else it could be. Could her disbelief be a problem?
  3. The incantation is in Latin and although I do speak Latin I am not fluent, if I mispronounced something would it mess up the whole exorcism?

If you are an initiated Wiccan, I would suggest speaking to you HP/HPS about potential ways to deal with a malevolent entity. They would be best equipped to instruct someone who is new, and will also know what sort of things to suggest based on their assessment of your current skill level. Outside of Traditional Wicca however, for those that are on a Wicca inspired NeoPagan path, or solitary Witch – I’d be kind of wary of anything that calls itself a Wiccan “exorcism”.

Most Witchcraft traditions work with banishing rituals when they need to rid themselves (or others) of unwanted energies/entities. The term “exorcism” has heavily Christian overtones, and not that it can’t necessarily work – even for a non-Christian, odds are that the wording of the actual “spell”  is going to be geared more towards a Christian mindset than a Pagan one.

So using Google Translate (which obviously isn’t perfect, but will give us a general idea of the text in English)…

Kingdoms of the Earth, Sing unto God, sing ye praises with Cernunnos,
Kingdoms of the Earth, Goddess, sing praises sung of Arad.
God of heaven, earth,
I humbly beg your Majesty
In order that the power from all of the infernal spirits,
The trap, and deception, malice;
Of all deceit, deliver us, O Ruler.
Exorcise you, every unclean spirit
Let every satanic power, every incursion,
That infernal adversary, every legion,
And the gathering together of all sects.
From the snares of the devil, deliver us, O sovereign Lord,
As Lisle serve your safe to do
We beseech thee to hear us!
Thou wouldst vouchsafe to humble the enemies of holy of the circle,
We beseech thee to hear us!
The God in his sanctuary,
Cernunnos Himself will have thrust the power of His Own people,
Arad his strength to his people.
Blessed be God, the Father,
Blessed Goddess Mother of the glory!

In this case, the wording is not even remotely appropriate, and it’s pretty clear that someone simply took the original Latin wording of a Christian ritual and added in a few references to a Pagan God, and Goddess. Which if they’d left both of them completely generic, it might not have been so bad, but to name Cernunnos specifically, particularly with the attributes of YHWH still in place, is somewhat laughable at best, and utterly cringe-worthy and insulting (to both YHWH and Cernnunos) at worst. In terms of the Goddess, I’m guessing that Arad is supposed to be an abbreviation of Aradia, but still, unless you are on really good terms with that particular Goddess, I’d want to make sure to use her full name, otherwise it could be seen as a sign of disrespect. Worse, you could end up invoking a completely different Goddess.  I’d advise anyone that was even considering to use it, to leave out any specific God/Goddess names unless you were absolutely sure that the attributes/praises listed were actually apt descriptions of said God/Goddess.

Other issues…

  • With the wording itself – the Devil is a Christian concept. Not that others can’t/don’t necessarily acknowledge his existence, but it’s usually not quite the same as how a Christian would view it. Particularly within a NeoPagan framework, there is the acknowledgement that not everything is love and light or healing and growing, and that in order to maintain that elusive “balance” everyone is so keen on, there is a certain amount of dark and chaos, and destruction that is necessary as well.
  • This whole paragraph here: This method is a good one for two reasons. First, it uses a force so pure that when the demon leaves the body of the victim, it will already be so immersed in this energy that it will be annihilated. Secondly, you do not need to adapt the incantation according to the identity or strength of the evil spirit, since the power of the gods still exceed the power of the demon.”  What force is it using? In a Christian context this would make more sense, given how YHWH is generally described, but in terms of other Pagan Gods not so much. There is an assumption there as well, that all Gods are more powerful than all “demons” (and that word in particular is problematic at best, since things that we often might call “demons” really aren’t, nor are they all inherently evil), which may or may not be true (it’s said to be true in the case of YHWH though, which is what the words are in reference to).
  • Speaking in Latin (or any foreign language one is not fluent in) – first and foremost, if you are going to do any sort of spellwork in another language, it is ALWAYS (can’t stress it enough) advisable to get the text translated first by someone that is reputable/knowledgeable in both languages (not only the text language, but one’s native language as well) so that there is absolutely no chance of any miscommunication, or mis-speaking. Having to go back later and be all… “but that’s not what I meant!!” doesn’t generally go over very well. It’s definitely not a good idea to just take text from a book, or the internet and assume that it means what the author/site publisher says it does.
  • Even once you are sure that the text says exactly what you want it to say, the other issue is actually speaking the words. Again, if you are not fluent, it’s better to just say no, rather than risk mispronouncing something, which could change the meaning of your ritual exponentially, and screw the whole thing up (or make it a lot worse). I generally do not suggest using foreign phrasing unless you are absolutely 100% sure that you are saying it correctly. It’s just too risky.

In terms of “safety”, it’s really hard to say. Really will depend on if it’s an actual entity, or just some lingering icky energy? If it’s just energy, then a decent cleansing ritual should suffice (or several of them if it’s really stubborn) and shouldn’t be any more dangerous than any other normal activity that you might do.

If it’s an actual entity of some kind – is it actually malevolent, or just there and you don’t want it to be? Often entities will work more on a you don’t bother us, we won’t bother you kind of a scale, so if you find yourself poking at it, or engaging it in any way, it may just be a matter of ignoring it and it will go on it’s way once you stop. A lot of times as well, there is a tendency for people to assume that all entities are evil or malicious, when in fact, most are apathetic at best towards humans, and even if they are hanging around a house, they aren’t really any sort of threat. In those cases, sometimes simply asking (firmly, but politely) “please leave” can do wonders. For those that are truly malicious, any sort of banishing spell/ritual could be pretty intense, but not like actual “The Exorcist” (the movie) intense. If you are not comfortable with such things though, then you might want to contact someone who is, just to have the extra support.

As to your mother’s belief/disbelief… as the ritual/spell isn’t directed at her, it shouldn’t be an issue. However, if she is going around actively countering your work, either by shooting it down verbally (saying things like… that will never work), or in some other way making you doubt yourself, or your ability to banish the entity – that could affect the outcome. It would be more beneficial to have her working with you, or at the very least not working against you. Other issues that come into play here as well, are if she doesn’t want you doing witchcraft in the house. If that is the case, you should look to other methods of banishing that aren’t overtly witchcraft, as one should always try to respect the rules their parents have set while still living at home.

So… other options. I’m a big fan of actual “cleansing” when doing banishing/cleansing type rituals. If there is a particular place in the house where this entity or energy seems to be concentrated, start there, giving the area a deep cleaning. Open windows, and doors, sweep, dust, vacuum, etc…Make it all sparkle, and sweep the negative energy right out the door/window.

Once you’ve done the manual labor, then you can look to the more spiritual side of it. Burning a protective/purifying/cleansing flavor of incense is a good way to encourage an unwanted entity to leave, or to help whisk away negative energy. Bells and chimes have been used for such as well.

Outside of that, if you want to do a full-on ritual, now would be the time, though I would really suggest writing one yourself, rather than using the Latin one above (there are just way too many things wrong with it). Personally, I would suggest visualizing the cleansing via the Elements (air to push out the entity/energy, fire to burn away any residual negativity, water to purify, and earth to build strong, protected foundation).

You can open by calling on whichever God(s) you personally work with, but I would avoid calling on random deities that you don’t have any particular association with. Working with unfamiliar deities is sometimes a bit hit or miss – they might help, but they might not, so it’s usually better to just raise your own energy, unless you have something really good to offer in return for their assistance. Then simply state your intention to banish the entity/energy, and do the visualizations (mentioned above) to emphasize that intention. When you’re done you can close out your ritual, be sure to give your offerings and/or show your appreciation for any deities that you called on (if you choose to do so).

As mentioned earlier, sometimes it may take more than one cleansing. So if you do it once, and there is still a bit of lingering ick, give it a bit of time and do it again.

Sarduríur’s Academic Sources Guide for the Unversed


Sephira:

Great guide to understanding the different types of source materials, and for helping one to recognize when a source is likely complete BS vs academic quality.

Originally posted on Shadows of the Sun:

Hello once again, gentle readers! It’s your friendly neighborhood Medievalist and former Classical/Near Eastern Studies-ist Sarduríur Freydís Sverresdatter, here with some tips regarding proper sources, academic discernment, and citation. Now in a super-informal colloquial format! Huzzah!

Historical research is a major part of many Polytheist communities. Whether a Revivalist or Reconstructionist, to a lesser or greater degree, we all turn to the written word of History at one point or another. History is the backbone of all we know and understand about ourselves as literate, self-aware creatures. However, many Polytheists have not had formal University training in the professional field of History to any extent. Quite a number of Polytheists, both seasoned practitioners and “newbies” alike, feel lost in the stacks — whether they care to admit it or not — and don’t know where or how to begin to sift through the thousands of publications on any given subject.

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Pagans in the Workplace


I’m currently a student studying radiography and I was wondering if there are other Wiccans in the modern healthcare industry? I have researched this topic but have yet to get an answer so I figured I would ask.

The simple answer is yes – there are Wiccans, Neo-Pagans, Witches, etc… in almost every career sector imaginable. It’s common misconception I think, to view Pagans as fringe-dwellers, who only live off the land, or who only use “traditional” healing methods as they make their daily journey through the seasons of the year. Not saying that this is how you specifically view them, but many often seem to (or at least variations of it).

The fact is (contrary to most typically portrayed stereotypes) Pagans (of all flavors) are just like everyone else. They live, eat and breathe in the modern world – drive cars, use computers/technology, eat fast-food, aren’t always very environmentally friendly, and can be just as mean and hateful as the next person, etc… The only real difference is their religious/spiritual choices are a bit different than what is considered “mainstream”.

Other than that, there is really no way to know exact numbers. Religious affiliation is one of those “not allowed to ask” type questions for employers, so there is really not any sort of concrete data available on that front. Additionally, religion is one of the three big “taboo” subjects (along with sex and politics) in terms of maintaining “healthy” employee/co-worker relations, so it can sometimes make it exponentially more difficult to find out if there are fellow Pagans in the workplace, or if you are the only one for miles around.

Are Crystals Required for Wand Making?


When making a pagan wand is it necessary to use a crystal? I’ve looked everywhere and could not find a answer.

Unless one is a member of a specific tradition which has exacting requirements for how one’s wand should be made, a wand – like most other magical tools, is a personal thing. Yes, they are practical in nature, but in truth you can usually design it however you want to, and include whatever materials you want to (as long as it can still perform it’s intended function) .

Some choose to make a number of different wands, each corresponding to a particular purpose, and others choose to make a single wand that they use for all magical purposes – it’s your choice. In either case though, you would want to use materials that best represent your intended use (whether specific or general), and while using commonly accepted symbols/materials is often a popular choice, as long as you have a reason for including something else (either UPG, lore-based or just because it looks pretty damn spectacular), it’s entirely up to you.

Crystals tend to be used often, because of their inherent properties, not only in terms of correspondences (there is probably a crystal for almost any purpose we could possibly imagine), but also their ability to channel and/or hold magical energy. So if you like crystals… use them, if you don’t, that’s fine too, there are plenty of other items that can serve in their stead. Use whichever ones speak to you.

I know people who have intricately crafted wands, with crystals and carved sigils, and I know people who have store bought toy “fairy-godmother” type wands and people who have ones that are somewhere in between – all use them with pride. In the end is the only real question is… does the wand work for you? As long as the answer is yes, then that’s all that really matters.

Christian Preacher-to-be Finds Home in Paganism… Now What?


I am a pagan hiding in the world of Christianity. When I came to college, a christian university at that, I was planning on being a preacher. But as I went further and further into school the more and more I felt like I was missing something. Then I found magic, and a void was filled for the first time in my life. I have become a dedicated pagan but just still in the broom closet so to speak. But my dilemma is, I was going to be a preacher. That was what I was going to do, but I am not christian anymore. I don’t know what to do now… I am lost and do not know where to go from here.

In terms of whether or not you want to let others know of your change in path, I would suggest reading our previous posts on When Hiding One’s Beliefs May Be The Better Choice and Pagan Coming Out Day… Things to Think About. It’s definitely a monumental decision, especially given your original career choice, so you need to think carefully, and then do what is best for you.

In terms of what your potential options are school/career-wise, the first thing to look at is whether or not your current university has other courses of study that might be relevant to your new path. Depending on if you are interested in a particular culture or pantheon, there might be History majors that would be worth pursuing that would give you a deeper understanding of the lore. Often not very practical though, unless one is looking to go into an academic based career at some point, so another option (if it’s possible) would be to just choose another major that you feel will serve you well in the future, or transfer to another college that has something more relevant to what other subjects you may want to pursue now.

Other than that, if your current course load is more related to pastoral counseling or basic skills in relation to working with people, etc…, then it might not be a bad idea to continue with those at least for a while. Even if you end up not being a Christian preacher, those types of lessons can be invaluable in a variety of careers later on.

If you still want to pursue education related to spiritual counseling, there are a few different options for schools that have Pagan related programs. Cherry Hill Seminary has a number of different programs that would be worth looking into (they are still non-accredited though, so I know that is an issue for some people). Also the University of Florida has a Religion and Nature degree program as well. Other options include looking at schools that have Master of Divinity or Theology degrees (such as the one at Harvard), as often they are broad overviews of multiple world religions, rather than Christian specific. There are also some colleges that allow one to create their own degree path, though that can be a bit difficult if one is just starting out, and unfamiliar on which topics to include for more in-depth study.

Definitely a tough spot to be in, and I would urge you to think carefully, but in the end you need to do what is right for you, even if those around you may not understand why the sudden career/school change. It makes a big difference too if you have a supportive family/community versus unsupportive, so that is something to consider as well.

PS…  something that occurred to me as an afterthought – you said you found “magic” and it filled a void in your life. Magic (and witchcraft in general) is not something that is inherently tied to Paganism. I mean sure… lots of Pagans may practice some form of magic, but you don’t necessarily have to be Pagan to practice it. There are Christian witches, and though it seems like the two would be wildly incompatible, there are those who have somehow managed to combine all into a cohesive and working practice. So if it’s just the magical aspect that has you turning to Paganism, there may be other options that would leave you less “lost”, and if it’s something that you want to pursue, I would suggest checking out ChristoPaganism: An Inclusive Path by Joyce and River Higginbotham. The following article might be helpful as well.