New Pagan Mentors and Ritual Advice

I’ve been interested in Paganism for a few years, but I’ve gotten more serious about delving into it in the past month. I’ve been doing a ton of research and trying to read as much as I can about different viewpoints and paths within the umbrella term of Paganism. But I’m still so overwhelmed with all that is out there. I have so many questions I’m not finding answers to on the internet. So first of all I’m really wondering where I can find a teacher or mentor. I live in Madison, WI, which is a fairly open minded, liberal city, but I haven’t been able to find any groups that meet. Are there sites online where you can be paired with someone older and wiser, or do you suggest trying to forge a relationship in person.

Working with someone in-person will almost always be the best choice (and in some cases a requirement), when it comes to learning Pagan related material. Particularly if you are interested in any witchcraft or energy-based paths, attempting to learn via books or online can make it a daunting task. In general though, it will probably be somewhat difficult to find a mentor, until you are able to narrow down a particular path that you are interested in. In the meantime you can check places like Witchvox, where you can filter groups by state to see if there is anything near you. Occasionally you can find groups via Pagan Meetup as well.

As far as online resources, forums can be kind of hit or miss, with a lot of them being angsty drama filled areas, rife with misappropriation and misconceptions. So for a beginner it can be hard to navigate especially when you aren’t at a point where you are better able to distinguish good information from the bad. Having said that, I would suggest checking out the eCauldron Paganism for Beginners forum. They’ve been around for years, and seem to have done better than most at keeping it from getting too crazy around there (unlike some other more well known forums). Of course too you can always continue to ask questions here on the blog, or even via our FB page, or Tumblr page.

I tried my first ritual (a very simple one) for Beltane yesterday night, and I don’t feel like I did it “right”. I didn’t really get anything from it, or something?

First time rituals, especially for those who are practicing solitary are often less than spectacular. Part of it, is just because we are nervous and not entirely sure of what we are doing, and constantly wondering if we did it right, or if we have forgotten anything. As well, we have all these huge expectations, from what others have said, or what we’ve seen in movies, etc… and it’s usually not ever the same. Then sometimes, it’s just that “stuff” happens – even if we’ve done everything perfectly, the energy is off and it just wasn’t meant to be. All of which is perfectly normal, and the more often you practice and do ritual work, the easier it will get.

On that note though, if you are unsure of which path/religion you are interested in – what sort of Beltane ritual were you attempting? Not all Pagan paths celebrate Beltane – generally it’s only the Wiccan or NeoPagan related ones that do (though various others may have similar celebrations around that same time), so it could be too that it didn’t feel “right”, because it really wasn’t something that you are ultimately called to celebrate. The same holds if you called on a particular God or Goddess, it could also be that they choose not to respond, or that they are Gods of a path that you aren’t really being called to.

It’s also worth mentioning as well, that ritual workings are not typically an “instant” sort of thing. Especially if you follow a “Wheel of the Year” type model – what we plant in the Spring, we harvest in the Fall, and even outside of that framework, it can still (and often does) take time for energy/magic to manifest. So it may not be that it didn’t work, it’s just taking the appropriate time it needs to come to fruition.  

Also, I’d done it outside, so I’d gathered all the materials together in a bag. I left it carelessly in my room when I got back in, and my mom noticed it in the morning (stuff was sort of falling out) and started looking through it, asking why I had candles and some clay bowls (which I’d borrowed without asking from her). I don’t want to tell her about my interest in Paganism quite yet, as I’m not even sure where I’m going myself. My family isn’t religious, and I know they’d be supportive, but my mom has a tendency to act like she understands when she doesn’t (she has good intentions). But she got really mad that I’d taken her stuff and kept asking why, and I couldn’t really think of an excuse. Should I tell her? I don’t really want to, but now she also thinks I was stealing or planning on selling her bowls. So overall, I’m sort of lost at the moment, but I also feel so happy about the idea of becoming further involved with this spirituality.

If you feel that she would be supportive (or at the very least not react negatively), then you should be honest with her, and explain that you are interested in Paganism, and that you were trying a basic holiday ritual. It’s definitely much better than being thought of as a liar or a thief.

While you are talking to her about it though, just let her know that you are still in the very beginning stages, and that you are still learning the basics. I would also apologize for taking her stuff, and let her know that you won’t do so again without permission (that could be why your ritual didn’t feel right either – if you were using items that didn’t belong to you, and you didn’t have the owner’s permission, it could definitely have affected the energy).

Overall, as mentioned previously – continue to study, and work on figuring out what particular path you are interested in. While there are a myriad of paths out there, as well as the potential to choose an Eclectic path (which requires quite a bit more work than one would think), it can also be fun to learn about the different cultures and practices associated with each one. So don’t stress too much if you start feeling overwhelmed, just take your time and eventually it will work itself out.


Reversing a Soul Binding

I have a difficult situation.  My ex who is Wiccan was showing me various types of rituals and spells throughout our relationship.  One of which was a “soul binding” spell which was intermixed with a handfasting.  He explained it in brief to me and I was open to learning more about his religion, but after our relationship ended on what he would consider a rocky note, odd things have been occuring.  Now I was raised Catholic and identify Christian but also have a strong base in spirituality, so I am not sure if I am just paranoid about the odd things happening or if it is real.  From what I understand, what he performed is not “breakable” and tied his and my soul together possibly for eternity.  Anyways, on to the weird things.  I thought that I was completely over him, but of recent I have been thinking about him frequently as well has having dreams about him and a strong desire to be with him (even though he supposedly moved across the country from me and has since disconnected his phone so there is no way that I or even his family (from what I know) can get a hold of him).  I talked to him just before he left nearly two months ago, he was wishy washy about wanting to stop by and say goodbye, which he didn’t do and left the last conversation saying “I have too much to do” and hung up.  He did say that he can never be around me again because he “doesn’t trust himself” around me (as to not wanting more physically or emotionally) and had said that he was going to come back in a few years after he got done with this education program he apparently enrolled in and wanted me and my children to uproot and move with him where ever he was (NOT going to happen).  I’ve known him since we were young kids and am close to his family, so this is especially hard to have him completely shut me out of his life, but up until recently I was just fine with it and had moved on.

 A friend of mine who is Wiccian confirmed everything he had told me in reguards to this soul binding, but explained further that you cannot undo it and that you will forever be tied to that person, feel what they feel, have a part of them tied into you forever.  This frightens me because as I later found out he has some serious problems mentally/emotionally.  I just want this to go away.  Is there anything I can do?

Something to keep in mind – if the two of you have known each other for most of your lives, and were close for a good bit of that time, as friends and then later romantically, it is very natural (and normal) for you to think about him – even if it seems random or out of the blue. When we have known someone for such a long period of time, odds are you will continue to “love” them in a way, even if you are no longer “in love with them” , or even want to have any type of relationship with them. The fact is that they have been there through a large part of your life, and that doesn’t just go away just because you split up and one party has since moved far away, or lost contact. You will likely continue to think about him off and on for many years to come – regardless of any ritual that was performed.

As to said ritual… I’ll be honest, the person who came up with the idea of a “soul binding” ritual should be beat with a stick (at the very least). It sounds perfectly romantic when you are reveling in the joys of new lover bliss – the idea of being with the one you love for all eternity. But the actual fact of the matter, is that keeping any sort of committed relationship (marriage or otherwise) together for the long-term, even within one lifetime, is difficult at best and takes a lot of hard work. So the idea of binding oneself on an energetic level to someone else through multiple lifetimes, when the odds aren’t even in favor of you sticking it out in this one, is folly. Inevitably the bliss wears off, and you are stuck (in a manner of speaking) with this person that – even when you part from them for perfectly good reasons, in theory you are now potentially going to be miserable for the rest of this life, and into the next when you aren’t with them. So even if you meet someone else who is perfectly wonderful and compatible with you, because of this ritual you may always find yourself feeling as if a part of you is missing – when in reality (if you hadn’t done the ritual), you might have been truly happy. It’s worth noting too, that for him to do this sort of ritual with you, without properly explaining the consequences of doing such a thing, is pretty reprehensible.

I’m not even sure I’d consider a “soul binding” on my deathbed, even if I’d been deliriously happily married to the same person for 50+ years. While the idea is nice, it seems that if someone was truly meant to be my soulmate, then we would already be bound – so there is no need to manually force the issue. Even if we aren’t together in every lifetime, odds are we will meet up again and again throughout our incarnations. Besides the alternative is much worse – being stuck with someone who you have later determined is not “the one”. Potentially as well, just because we are happy in this life, doesn’t mean that there aren’t other happy opportunities to come in future ones with other people, and doing such a ritual, would change those coming experiences.

Having said all that, your best bet would be a parting ritual of sorts. It may not completely sever the ties, especially since you have no way for him to participate with you, but it should help to minimize some of the effects of the original ritual.

The following is a really simple and to the point “Parting Ways” ritual that you can do. Ideally you would want him to do the ritual with you, but as that’s not possible, if you have an item that represents him that should be fine. Also if you have a picture of the two of you together (that you don’t mind cutting up), that would be good as well – or any other symbol of the two of you together (that can be cut in half).

  •  Normally you would do an “ending” spell with the waning moon, however as this one is focused more on starting fresh, you could do it with either. Other than that it’s fairly simple – just say it like you mean it.

our paths diverged
new lives to start
what once was merged
here now must part
with blessings bright
we’ll start anew
the time is right
we know it’s true

  • While chanting the words, focus on the image or item that symbolizes the two of you being bound together – visualize each of you going your separate ways, and then physically cut the image/item in half – literally cutting the ties that bind you together. Chanting is a good way to raise energy, so if you want to you, can say the chant several times as you cut (helps to reinforce and gives added focus). Three times is always been a sort of magical number, or you can correspond it to the number of years the two of you were together (since you did the original ritual), whatever feels right. Once you are finished you can either bury the leftover pieces of the picture/item, or burn them – again whatever works best for you.

I also would suggest checking out this previous post on Dissolving a Handfasting, which while not quite the same situation, there are some correlations, and the information and example rituals there might be useful to you.