Orlando and Healing With Wicca


I have been interested in Wicca and witchcraft for as long as I can remember. You can thank Angela Lansbury for the initial interest, Bedknobs and Broomsticks is one of my favorite movies, but my interest has remained even though I know Wicca does not grant you the ability to turn someone into a rabbit.

I’m not sure why I haven’t studied in earnest. I’m 37, I’ve known about Wicca (as opposed to Hollywood witches like The Sanders Sisters) for two decades.

The reason for not starting sooner is not important though. The reason I’m reaching out to you is. Today I was deeply saddened when I learned that lives of 50 people were snuffed out by one man in one night. My first reaction was how could another mass shooting happen? Why is no one doing anything to prevent this? I argued with a couple of people on Twitter and then I saw other people saying “we should all come together for the victims.” At first I scoffed thinking, “OK right winger let’s not address the problem let’s just send our thoughts and prayers.” and I replied, “I don’t mean to sound ignorant, I honestly want to know, how do we come together for the victims?” And I thought and thought and realized that the problems with our country and the world are partisan based and it isn’t just the politicians, we the people are partisan politics incarnate. I thought hard about this and decided a softer approach was necessary. I discussed it with a likeminded friend who said something that sent me on this path, “At the core of all of this is in my opinion is the denial of love to others and ourselves.”

That made me realize that my request for self love isn’t only for myself. It’s for everyone. I believe that something happening across the world can impact me even if I don’t know about it so inversely I believe that me truly loving myself may spread self-love to others.

While I was thinking and typing I thought of Wicca because it was a wise witch who first really explained the “we are all one” idea to me and I thought, if I were a Wiccan would I be able to send healing to others? Would I be able to share tolerance with others? Could Wiccans heal our country? If so, let’s get together, I’ll buy a plane ticket. If not I will still begin my study of Wicca and learn to heal and love myself and wish for a better world.

Thank you so much for providing this service and for reading this novel.

Traditionally, Wicca is the priesthood of the Lord and Lady, so the things that one learns when joining a coven (both before and after initiation) are typically more focused on what is needed to properly serve them. Also, though all Wiccans are witches (one’s first degree initiation is as a priest/priestess and witch), not all witches are Wiccan. So, in and of itself, if one is simply looking to learn techniques for sending healing energy towards others, Wicca (specifically) is probably not what they are looking for. Using witchcraft, or even going non-magical routes and learning something like Reiki (which incorporates distance healing at level II), would be a better choice.  

In terms of witchcraft, gathering with others who are like minded and creating a large group magical working together can be effective, but individual spellwork can be helpful as well. It’s all a matter of how the spells are constructed and the focus/intent of those involved.

In this particular case, I do think sending healing energy is a good idea, but I also think that in the long term, given the variety of hot button issues that are part and parcel of this tragedy (LGTB issues, hate crimes, gun control, anti-Muslim sentiment, etc…) that we all should consider mundane (non-magical) ways to involve ourselves in making things better, in addition to any magical things that we do. Healing energy for the victims and their families is well appreciated, but taking action (even if it’s just getting yourself and others to write to their legislators) to help ensure that these things are less likely to happen in the future would be even better. Because if we don’t address the actual problem, then things are only going to get worse. 

A few resources that may be helpful…

  • Witchcraft: not sure where you are located, but you may want to see if there is a Reclaiming group near you. Given the things that you are looking to do, they would probably be a good choice. If solitary witchcraft is more your thing, there are a number of books listed here that may be helpful as well.
  • Contacting Members of Congress: you can find your Senators here and Congress reps here.

And finally, we previously wrote a bit on Social Justice and Witchcraft, which may be good to read over before taking any sort of magical action. Also, if we are looking to share love and tolerance with others, the best way to do that is by being loving and tolerant ourselves. Though we want to help those who are currently suffering and in need (and we should), if we each spend some time also working in our own communities, think about how much more we can accomplish.

Do Spells Work?


I have a question about spells, 1 do they work,  and do you think this one will work (one I came up with)

As I sit here in this hour,
And I raise up all my power,
I ask the God and goddess to send,
Money to me on the wind,
I charm this necklace on this night,
And wear it when money is tight,
Now I say this to you from me,
Now I say it so mote it be.

Yes. No. Maybe so.

Spellwork is very unpredictable. Can it work? … sure. Does it always work, every single time? … nope. Is there any way to guarantee that it will work in any particular instance? … again, nope.

At its most basic, magic is simply manifesting a desired goal or change through force of will. This is something that most people do, without realizing it, on a daily basis. We formulate a goal and we make it happen. In terms of spellwork, it’s simply a matter of doing it in a slightly different way.

Like anything else in life, there are many variables that impact whether or not a spell manifests the way that we want it to. A few points to consider:

  • First and foremost, magic cannot defy the laws of nature/physics. So things like sprouting wings, or transforming into some other being, are not something that are possible through spells.
  • Focus and clarity when working the spell – left unguided, magic will work in its own way and in its own time. So a vague, “money to me on the wind” could mean that you find a lost $5 bill in your pocket, rather than an actual sum of money that helps your financial situation improve. So be clear and concise when forming the intent of the spell, especially if you need specific help with something.
  •  Magic is not like what we see on TV or in the movies – there is no snap your fingers and POOF. Manifesting a spell takes work, and in general, doing something mundanely is infinitely easier than doing it magically. So if you are expecting to recite a few words and suddenly have money rain down on your head – while it’s not completely impossible, it would be very unlikely unless you first play the lotto, or (even better) take some other concrete steps towards improving your financial situation, such as applying for loan/grant, looking for a job, or some other sort of fundraising.

As a charm, your words are fine, especially if you are just looking to attract money in general. The key is raising the energy necessary to fuel the spell, charging the necklace with that energy, and then recharging it as necessary. However, if you have a specific need or need a particular amount of money before a certain deadline, then you need to be clear about that to avoid any potential misunderstandings. Additionally, the Gods aren’t ATM machines, so often if we want something from them, we have to give something first. Along that same line – if you don’t already work with a particular God or Goddess, you may want to look into at least introducing yourself (and/or forming a working relationship with them) first, before asking them for favors.

So it definitely has the potential to work, but as mentioned previously, nothing is ever guaranteed. But the way I see it, can’t ever hurt to try. 😉

Previous posts on spells and magic that might be helpful…

ON THE NATURE OF MAGIC & CHANGE: FIXING A BROKEN SPELL

MAGIC: ENERGY AND CURSING/HEXING

 

Wiccan Rede: An It Harm None


I am dating a man who is Wiccan…we are having a very serious disagreement about a spider!  I respect his Wiccan views and beliefs…but I cannot understand his logic regarding this topic.  I am terrified of spiders…it is irrational and logically I know its silly.  However, I cannot control that fear and it truly causes me serious distress.  He has a very large spider living above his front door.  Initially he wanted to bring it inside, but has agreed not to now.  I asked him to relocate the spider because he does not believe in killing them.  His response was no…it would cause the spider harm…and he believes in the first do no harm principle.  Its his belief relocating the spider will directly cause it harm.  Isn’t leaving the spider there causing me harm?  It causes me to have heart palpitations, extreme anxiety, and I cry!  Again, I know my fear is unsubstantiated, but it is real!  I feel he is completely disregarding my feelings and well being by not relocating it…but all he says is do no harm is in his blood and who he is!  Any advice?

I’ll start with straight and to the point. If your boyfriend cares more about potential harm to a spider, than he does about the woman he supposedly loves, then you need to RUN (not walk) to the nearest exit. Dump him.

Regardless of the actual meaning of the Rede itself (which I’ll get to in a moment), there are plenty of ways to humanely move a spider. There is absolutely zero reason for him to put that spider’s well-being above your own – A) because it can be moved without harming it and B) because even if it would cause harm… your life (and physical/mental health) should be a priority to him. If it’s not, then there is something seriously wrong. If he is not willing to put you first in these sorts of situations, he’s not worth your time or energy.

As to “do no harm” – at no point (ever), does the Wiccan Rede prohibit one from causing harm, and in fact, it is literally impossible to go through life without causing harm to someone or something. The Rede, which in full states ‘An it harm none, do what ye will, simply tells us that if it doesn’t cause harm, we can do whatever we want. But nowhere in that statement does it say if it causes harm, don’t do it. The point of it all, is for one to carefully consider their actions before taking them, and to be willing to accept the potential consequences of such actions – for good or bad. In the end however, if one feels that a harmful action is justified, and is willing to accept the consequences, then there is nothing preventing them from taking the action. For more information on the history and meaning of the Wiccan Rede, I suggest reading The Wiccan Rede: A Historical Journey.

It’s unfortunate that there are books and websites which offer misinformation regarding the Rede, which in turn cause people to end up believing that it is a literal prohibition against causing harm. But again as I mentioned to start, if your boyfriend is unwilling (or unable) to see that the harm he is causing to you is more detrimental than the harm moving the spider would cause, then he’s really not someone that you need in your life. It may sound harsh, but this is just a spider (and very easily remedied in a way that could make you both happy, which he is refusing to even consider)… what happens when it’s something more important?

Spirit Guides


I’m sorry to trouble you but I wasn’t sure who to ask. I decided to talk to my spiritual guide for the first time to help have a question answered that had been troubling me a for a while. I was able to enter a place of forest, a beautiful place where I met my spiritual guide who helped answer my question. I was so completely calm and at peace with him that I failed to question that he wasn’t human until I came out of my trance like state. It was easy to enter the place and talk to him, but hard to leave. My “spiritual guide” was a man, a strong bold looking man, he had deer antlers on his head. they were of great size. he sat cross legged when we talked, and was very calm but still with a sense of boldness. When I asked for his name he hesitated, and I found the name to be false. after the event I went to look for him because our encounter seems strange. What I found is that, I believe he is the Horned God. the Oak King and the Holly King. Is this strange or am I mistaken? I am very confused if he was the horned god why he would appear as my spiritual guide. Can you help me? I just need an explanation, can gods be spiritual guides? Why did HE appear instead of an actual spirit?

A “spirit guide” can be any type of entity, and especially if you left the request for contact sort of open ended, then it’s possible that any entity could choose to manifest as your “guide”, even potentially a deity.  So that, in and of itself, isn’t necessarily strange if it was a God that came to you – the point is whether or not the information imparted was useful, and/or needed.

Alternatively (again if the request was too open ended, or without a clear focus), there are some entities that might try to take advantage of that sort of situation. So while it may be something benevolent giving whatever advice they think you can handle for now, it could also be something else entirely that is lying to you for it’s own ends. It’s important to be careful about such things.

As far as visual form – the “Horned God” you describe seems to fit with sort of a general accepted image of Cernunnos, or similar type images like what is seen in the Gundestrup cauldron. However, Cernunnos is particularly related to Celtic polytheism (though the name itself was derived from a Gaulish monument dating back to Roman times) , rather than a “horned God” in general, so not entirely sure how/if that relates to your practice or not. Similar figures – antlered and wearing animal skins have also been noted elsewhere, such as the cave paintings at Trois Frères.

The Oak King/Holly King mythos – is something that was documented by Robert Graves in his book “The White Goddess”, and previously by James Frazier in “The Golden Bough” (chapter 28 in particular). It was later picked up by Stewart and Janet Farrar, and incorporated into their practices, as written about in “A Witches’ Bible”. Again, not something that is necessarily related to Cernunnos, or even “horned Gods” in general – even if some “horned Gods” might follow that type of cycle.  

If those are things that fit within your practices, then it could be why your “guide” chose that particular form. But again as to if it was actually deity and/or the Horned God specifically that visited you, it’s hard to say. Could be, definitely not out of the realm of possibilities, but could also be another entity using a guise that fit with something you would more readily recognize and be willing to accept advice from.

Generally when one is in a situation like that, it’s good to ask questions to help test the “validity” (relatively speaking of course) of what is being experienced – but then again, sometimes it’s the advice given that really matters (regardless of the source). It’s easy enough for entities to choose whatever face they want to put on, so sometimes even if you can’t tell if they really are who they say they are, as long as you can get a good sense of the intent behind their visit, and if the advice being given is relevant and helpful (even if it’s not necessarily what you were hoping to hear), then it may be ok to accept the experience at face value, despite not being quite what you were expecting.

 Some other options…

  •  go back into a meditative/trance state and see if you can contact them again, and try to get a better sense of who they are. Ask more questions – they may or may not choose to answer, but it’s still a good way of trying to clarify the experience.
  •  use divination to help to confirm the experience.
  •  independent confirmation from other trusted Pagans who often work with spirit guides, or who might normally have a strong working relationship with said deity.
  •  independent confirmation via a cold reading from others who are trustworthy and experienced in various divination methods.

Keep in mind as well, if you decide to contact this entity again, don’t be afraid to question it. Any new relationship has a getting to know you period and questions and discussion are a part of that.

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.

 

Pan and the Nature of Gods


Hi, i’m new to paganism and am wondering about Pan, and if he is a loving deity. I think our culture has stereotyped the idea of the devil so much that searching for understanding/differences/alternatives is difficult. I’ve heard of the green-woman but not very much about her. Goddesses interest me, its just that compared to the hypocritical ideas in christian religions of a loving god + hell, other kinds of male deities interest me too… i’d like to believe in good ones in general that work for me.

Going strictly by the original lore – I wouldn’t really categorize Pan as a “loving” deity, at least not in the sense I think you mean. Clearly he’s not one deserving to be vilified as he has been, but he’s also not necessarily gentle and kind either. Though primarily a God of “shepherds and flocks, of mountain wilds, hunting and rustic music”, there is also a good reason why his name can be seen in the word “panic”. As a companion of Dionysus, he is more rightfully associated with pleasure and wild abandon, instead of more placid pursuits. As such, he was often found chasing Nymphs, though they they clearly did not return his affections, and in many cases went to extreme lengths to avoid being “caught”.

If you are interested in getting a pretty detailed picture of Pan, at least as far as the lore is concerned, I would suggest reading over the Theoi Project page on him. It’s a great overview and links to the related texts and source materials, which you can use for further research.

The thing to keep in mind with most Gods and Goddesses, at least from a Pagan perspective, is that “good” and “bad” are sort of relative terms – it’s usually not so cut and dry. While some Gods or Goddesses may be more caring and loving (or whatever other “good” qualities one might look for), in many cases it’s more a matter of them having good days and bad days just like everyone else. The question to ask too, is…  What is “good”/“bad”? Some people don’t like to acknowledge things that make them uncomfortable, even if those things are perfectly normal or necessary. From a more conservative perspective “pleasure” and “wild abandon” are often considered taboo, yet there can be joy and even healing in such actions. To be sure, too much of anything can be a bad thing (and there is definitely the potential for it to be taken to an extreme with Pan), but even so, letting our hair down every once in awhile is a wonderful release.

If you are just looking for “good” Gods to work with, you may have a difficult time finding what you are looking for. There are many Gods who are known for being kindly, and/or less demanding than others, but even most of those have another side to them as well. If there is a particular God or Goddess that you feel called to, it’s probably going to be a matter of either accepting them as they are, or declining the call. It usually doesn’t work out very well when we try to force our Gods into being something that they really aren’t.

For those following us – if any of you work with Pan on a regular basis, please feel free to share (as much as you are able, or willing to) any personal experiences, that would give more insight as to his general nature. We’d love to hear from you!! 🙂

 

Dream Meanings & Folklore: Cutting Hair and Burying It


I had a dream, in the dream a man was telling me to trim my hair on a full moon and bury it in my yard. This is the only thing I remember about the dream. I looked it up online and apparently it’s associated with an old wives tales about fuller hair. Should I do as instructed? Is their other meanings for burying hair on a full moon besides hair growth? I’ve never even heard of this before. Totally weird. Thanks for any information.

I’ll start off talking a little bit about dreams in general, before moving on to any potential associated folklore. One thing to keep in mind when it comes to dream interpretation, is that no matter what the dream dictionaries or symbolism books say, at the very heart of it all is…  what do those specific things mean to you?

While there are many generally accepted meanings to certain things, we have to remember that context and our own personal experiences, are key to understanding them. So while one person may dream of being at the beach, and think it is the most beautiful dream in the world – to someone who has an absolute fear of drowning, dreaming of being at the beach might very well be a nightmare to them.

So there are a few questions to ask yourself going into this…

  • “What does your hair symbolize to you?”
  • “What would losing your hair, or having to cut it mean to you?”
  • “Was it something that was mentioned in passing – like a suggestion, or was it a command?”
  • “Did you cut it in the dream, and if so, how did it make you feel?”

In general dreaming of getting a haircut, indicates a need for change, or a desire for change. In this case, where someone else was telling you to do so, it may mean that there is an outside influence in your life that is attempting to change you, potentially in a way that could undermine you. That you are being told to bury it could also indicate that they want to ensure that all traces of that part of you are gone… sort of “out of sight, out of mind”.

So, on the one hand (unless you really have areas in your life that need to be changed), it’s not necessarily a positive dream. However, it again depends almost entirely on how you feel about the situation, rather than how an “outsider” views it.

As to potential related folklore, there are a few things that come to mind, though most have to do with the hair being the seat of one’s power, or in some cases, an extension of the soul. Tried to find some concrete references (which is why it took me so long to get back to you) and other than the really well known things – like Samson, not much in the way of credible sources. There is a chapter in James Frazer’s The Golden Bough which may be relevant, so I’ve included an excerpt of that here as well (you can read the full chapter though the link above)…

“…To preserve the cut hair and nails from injury and from the dangerous uses to which they may be put by sorcerers, it is necessary to deposit them in some safe place. The shorn locks of a Maori chief were gathered with much care and placed in an adjoining cemetery. The Tahitians buried the cuttings of their hair at the temples. In the streets of Soku a modern traveller observed cairns of large stones piled against walls with tufts of human hair inserted in the crevices. On asking the meaning of this, he was told that when any native of the place polled his hair he carefully gathered up the clippings and deposited them in one of these cairns, all of which were sacred to the fetish and therefore inviolable. These cairns of sacred stones, he further learned, were simply a precaution against witchcraft, for if a man were not thus careful in disposing of his hair, some of it might fall into the hands of his enemies, who would, by means of it, be able to cast spells over him and so compass his destruction…”

As to the idea that hair being cut on a full moon will make it grow faster, or longer again (as you said) seems to just be an old wive’s tale. Everyone says it, but there really doesn’t seem to be any sort of original reference as to where the idea came from. To be sure, the moon has an effect on the tides, pulling on them stronger when there is a full moon, so I think it’s a matter of assigning a similar concept to one’s hair. For some general myths and folklore related to hair, you can check the following as well.

Hopefully, some of this was helpful to you. It wasn’t as much as I had wanted to post on the subject, but the lack of resources put a bit of a damper on that. As to whether or not you should cut it – that is going to really depend on the answers that you give to the questions that were posed back at the beginning. If you are in a position of needing to make a change, then cutting it may be a good idea. If you are feeling pressured to make a change that you feel is unnecessary, then it may be worth it to just say no.