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.

An It Harm None: What To Do When Harm Is Caused?

Okay so my question is since one of the most basic Wiccan morals/ beliefs is the “harm none” concept I was curious about two different things. 1. What should you do other than accept the consequences when harm has been done through one of your actions? 2. What is to be done when another inflicts harm on you? Nothing? Just curious because I haven’t see this clearly stated anywhere.

The thing with “harm none” is that it has been grossly misinterpreted and misrepresented by so many people over the years that, in most cases, what the average person thinks it means is likely vastly different than what it actually is supposed to mean. So we’ll start with that, just to lay out the basics.

First and foremost, at no point (ever), does the Wiccan Rede prohibit one from causing harm, and in fact, it is literally impossible for any of us 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 actual 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/necessary, 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.

To your specific questions…

(1) If the harm was unintentional, we still need to accept the consequences and acknowledge that harm was done. Then we need to look for ways that we can make reparations (if possible). Saying “sorry” often makes us feel better, but in many cases it does nothing for those we have hurt. Taking actual positive action (assuming that there is one that can be taken), is the best choice.

If the harm was intentional, hopefully we thought carefully before taking the action and were able to anticipate the consequences and are prepared for them. If it’s something that we had considered, again – part of that consideration would be pre-planning what to do. Generally though, if those consequences occur in a way that were unanticipated (maybe we didn’t think carefully enough beforehand) or in some other way cause more harm than we were intending, we should refer back to the info on what to do when causing unintentional harm. Otherwise, if we have intentionally harmed someone/something, then there is nothing else to do as we’ve accomplished what we set out to do.

(2) The answer to this one is really going to depend on the individual. Some will look for positive ways to counteract the harm (such as shielding or looking for ways to invoke justice being served, etc…), while others will 100% strike back as hard and fast as they can with every curse and hex available, and some may be a mix of both. Since there is absolutely nothing preventing anyone from defending themselves and protecting others from harm, at least in terms of the Rede, if one feels that they need to take a harmful action in response to something that has been done to them (and again, being willing to accept any consequences) – then they should take it.

Personally, in the rare times that I feel that they may be necessary, I prefer “curses” that are sort of all purpose – like a “may you get everything that’s coming to you” sort of a thing. That way if they don’t do anything wrong, they have nothing to worry about (and it could even send positive things their way if they are doing good), but if they are doing harm to others, then anything negative that bounces back on them will be a result of their own actions. It doesn’t absolve me of dealing with any potential consequences, but it does put a lot more of the onerous on them for instigating it in the first place.

Deciding Between Paths: How To Know When You Are Ready?

I’ve been raised as a Christian my whole life. But about 2 years ago, I realized that it wasn’t my true calling or a place where I felt at home at all. But about a year ago, I fell upon Wicca. To me, it feels true and right and I feel so at home within it, so I just decided to call myself Wiccan. More recently, I realized that that wasn’t any way to follow Wicca and that I’d gone about it in a way that wouldn’t truly benefit me. So now I’m taking the time to learn more about both Christianity and Wicca and I’m so excited to finally choose and follow Wicca as I should’ve done in the first place.

However, going to church every Sunday has made it increasingly difficult to commit myself to Wicca so I’m left feeling unsure whether I was too quick but in Christianity I feel uncomfortable and unsafe and judged so I know it’s not what is right for me. I guess I’m just looking for advice and how to release all this doubt and fear. I truly want to dedicate myself to the God and Goddess but I’m just doubting whether I’m ready or not. At my age and in my ‘situation’ it’s hard to find other Wiccans who I can speak to and learn from and be guided by.

Probably not what you are going to want to hear, but at 14 you have plenty of time to figure which path is right for you. Particularly if you are having doubts, it’s good idea to take as much time as you feel is necessary.

From a traditional standpoint, Wiccan covens will not initiate anyone who is under the age of 18 (sometimes even 21), so there is not any need to rush to anything at this point. If you still feel pulled towards Christianity, keep in mind that, even if you are uncomfortable at your current church, that may not be indicative of all churches, or even all denominations. So it may be worth it to explore other areas of Christianity before making any major decisions.

Once you are sure that Wicca or Wicca-inspired NeoPaganism is more your calling, there is still not any real reason to start dedicating or oathing yourself to anyone at this point. Oaths and vows are something that the Gods take very seriously and doing such during the teen years is just not a good idea (in any way). It’s not always a good idea for some, even when they are older – things change and we think we will always be able to follow through, but that’s not always the case. And trying to take back an oath… it doesn’t always go well and some Gods are less forgiving than others. So patience at this stage is a good thing.

In the meantime, I would suggest lots of reading. We have a couple of previous posts with some recommendations (here and here). This doesn’t mean you can’t practice anything, but it simply means don’t look to settling in just yet. Give yourself plenty of time to explore.

Additionally, if you feel that maybe there are bits of both Paganism and Christianity that call to you, there are things like ChristoPaganism which may be of interest as well. In particular ChristoPaganism: An Inclusive Path by Joyce and River Higganbotham is a good one. Another book that encompasses multiple views is CUSP: A New Way to Walk An Old Path by Eric and Katrina Rasbold. In terms of going to church, it may also be worth checking out the Unitarian Universalists.

I know that when we are young, it often seems like we need to make a decision about things NOW, but in truth – particularly with the really important things, careful consideration is the better course of action. During our teen years things change rapidly and those things that we feel strongly about one day soon fade, and by the time we reach young adulthood we are often completely different people. Making any sort of decision, particularly involving dedicating oneself to a God (or Gods), is not something to make until one is absolutely sure that one can keep that commitment*. So don’t feel that you need to be doing anything, until you have resolved any lingering doubts are are fully ready to take those next steps.

*worth noting too that for some people, they are never ready to take an oath or dedicate themselves, and that is perfectly ok too. Never feel like you have to do such a thing, even if it said so in a book or on a website, etc… 😉

Passing On: What To Do With A Wiccan’s Things

I just found out that my Grandmother, who passed away several years ago, was a Wiccan. It was never discussed, and was never brought up in the past. I didn’t come to the realization until recently when my mother had mentioned that she had books on witchcraft in a passing comment. While I don’t practice spellcraft, being more focused on spirituality and meditation, I would like to recover said books as it breaks my heart to think they are gathering dust in some basement. I’m not sure if I will find her grimoire or not, as no one knows if she kept one. Like I said, her being a Wiccan was never discussed, and my mother wasn’t even certain that was her religion. So what I’m getting at here, I’m not sure what to do if I find it. I was hoping you could offer suggestions how to handle this situation. Part of me feels as though I’ll be breaching a boundary of privacy by looking into the grimoire if I find one, another part of me demands that I look inside if I do find one for there were a lot of questions that sprung up around her passing.

The answer really depends on if she was an initiated Wiccan (or similar Witchcraft tradition), which would make much of what was in her BOS likely oathbound, or if she was solitary, eclectic, or other non-oathbound tradition. If there is any way to ascertain this, that would be an important first step.

If she was an initiate of an oathbound tradition, her regular books and things would probably be fine for you to keep (though I would suggest cleansing and re-consecrating before using any tools), however her BOS should be returned to someone else who is of a similar initiated status/lineage. If she was Wiccan (BTW) you can check on Amber and Jet, to find someone who can help, if that is the case. If she was part of some other oathbound tradition, you would need to see if you can contact others from within that tradition for their thoughts on disposing of it. The alternative, in either case, would be to simply burn the book, which seems extreme, but is the best way to ensure that any oathbound information contained within does not fall into the hands of those who are not supposed to have it.

If she was solitary and/or part of a non-oathbound tradition, then it’s really up to you. If you knew your grandmother well enough, you are in a better position to know whether or not she would want someone with similar interests using her things. If you are unsure, I would suggest meditating on the question. Maybe even doing some sort of journeying or communication work, in which you contact her and ask specifically – Do you mind if I do this? Personally, if I passed, I would want my things given to someone who would find them useful, but I know that is not always the case with others.

Also, you mentioned questions about her passing – not sure what that means exactly, but realize too that her beliefs and practices probably had nothing to do with her death. If there are lingering questions, the answers probably won’t be found in her things. If they are just general questions about her life, then I think reading through her things would be a good way to better understand her, and keep her memory alive. The key of course, is making sure that what you are reading is not anything that is supposed to be oathbound.

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?

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.

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.

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.

Sexual Orientation and Paganism

What does Paganism say about sexual orientation, if anything?

In a technical sense – Paganism, being an umbrella term that encompasses all non-Abrahamic religions – doesn’t really say anything at all, as each of the paths and religions under that umbrella may (or may not) have their own ways of dealing with the issue.

Having said that though, I think it’s fairly safe to say that in a more general sense many Pagans and their associated religions are in some ways more welcoming, or at least more sensitive to the LGBT community, than many of the more mainstream religions might be. However, that is not to say that you won’t find anti-gay, or even downright homophobic individuals or groups within Paganism as a whole.

Some traditions/paths that do have known stances…

  • If you look at recent events at PantheaCon the last couple years, to the controversy surrounding “women” only rituals and the comments and actions of Z Budapest (founder of Dianic Witchcraft).  This is an ongoing case where it is clear that those who are transgender, are particularly not welcome within certain paths.
  • We often hear about racism within some Heathen groups (though it’s important to note that this is not something that is at all condoned by the wider Heathen community), and along with that often comes homophobic sentiments as well. Interestingly in this particular case, it’s something that is not necessarily supported by the lore, as there are definite cases where the Gods – Þórr and Loki in particular, take on gender-opposite roles. In the Þrymskviða, (Poetic Edda) Þórr dresses up as Freyja in order to retrieve Mjölnir, which the jotnar Þrymr has stolen. In the Gylfaginning (Prose Edda), we learn that Loki is actually a mother. Having changed himself into a female mare in order to save Asgard from losing Freyja and the Sun and Moon, and as a result gives birth to Sleipnir. There is some indication though that it may have been considered “unmanly” for a man to do “women’s” work, however that didn’t stop Óðinn from learning Seidh. The following is an interesting read on the topic in general.
  • Within Wicca specifically, though Gardner himself was known to be extremely homophobic, my understanding is that many covens will welcome those who are LGBT. Something to keep in mind though, is that though one’s sexual preference, when one is not working with one’s coven, is generally up to them – due to the nature of the religion (being a fertility cult and all that entails), within ritual work, it all comes down to the plumbing (so to speak). Men take on the traditional male rolls, women take on the traditional female rolls, regardless of one’s normal sexual preference.
  • There are various groups who are completely inclusive, and clearly welcoming to those of all orientations or gender identities, there is Reclaiming, or Feri, and some Traditional Witchcraft paths – though those are more apt to be gender specific, such as the Minoan Brotherhood, or Dianic.

So in general there are many choices if one is looking for LGBT support within the Pagan community. Of course like any where else in life (at least until we can get to a point where one’s sexual preference/gender identity is no longer an issue), it’s matter of finding place that fits us the best.

Vows: Dissolving a Handfasting

My ex and I were handfast 4 years ago. The relationship changed this year. I would like to have a handparting to bring closure and move on. My ex says she performed a ceremony that released us from the handfast. I requested a 2 person ceremony, but she does not want to participate in it. The wording in our handfast document does not have the words “for a year and a day or as long as love shall last” . It  has stronger language “that lasts a lifetime”, through all the years, and “all your tomorrows”…

Any advice? She has moved on. I want to move on as well, but feel in limbo without a closure. I want to release her from the handfast with a similar ceremony as the original handfast

So… the following is based on the original email that I received. I’ll add a bit more at the bottom, regarding the additional details that were sent as well.

This is probably the number one reason why I advise that any sort of oaths or vows made should be very carefully considered before they are undertaken. Also to be extremely careful with exactly how they are worded, because while certain things may sound romantic, or dedicated and make for a lovely ceremony – the implications are far reaching and we will generally be required to carry out what we’ve pledged. Having to later go back and break our word, or beg the Gods to release us, can definitely get a bit tricky. Even if you do manage to find that release, there will, in many cases still be some lingering energy between the two (or more) parties involved, even if it is diminished.

Obviously having a parting ceremony together would be the most ideal. However as that is not possible, if you can find out from your ex, the exact ritual she used – the next best thing would be for you to follow that in the same way, saying the same words, so that you are both on the exact same page as far as words and deeds. At the very least try to find out the wording she used, for dissolving the union, not that you can’t use your own if absolutely necessary, but it would be a good reinforcement if you are echoing what has already been said.

If you end up having to write your own parting ritual from scratch, be sure to acknowledge the original words that you spoke. You may find it easier to change the nature of the vow – from romantic love to the love of friendship, rather than attempting to break the bond entirely. You can find some good advice for how to structure your own ceremony here, as well as a sample ritual here (though it would obviously need to be modified for solitary use). The key thing is to symbolically part ways – either by cutting or burning the cord that was used in your handfasting (if there was one), or other symbols of your time together. Being sure to release any residual negative feelings (as much as possible), and allow yourself to know that the time has come to move on. Something to keep in mind as well, if any Gods were called on to bless the original handfasting, you will need to petition them in your ritual as well, asking that they release you from any vows made before them. It would likely be a good idea to make sure that you have some sort of offerings for them, to make that part go a little smoother.

Overall, let this serve as a reminder to us all, to always have a care with our words. Even though we may have absolute faith that we can keep such vows at the time that they are made (obviously we wouldn’t consider making them if we didn’t think we could), the truth is that the universe is ever changing, and everyone in it has to change and grow with it (or choose not to as those around us change and grow) – in either case what was true 5 years ago, may not be true today, or even 10 years down the road. So when we do magical workings, especially anything that involves binding or joining, or dedicating ourselves to a person, or a God, or any other entity or spirit – we need to make sure that we aren’t committing ourselves to something that we will later find ourselves in a position of having to back out of. There are reasons why handfastings use the phrase “or a year and a day or as long as love shall last” – it’s the out clause, that keeps one from being in the position of being an oathbreaker.

From the additional details that you provided…

You did mention that there was a “year and a day” intent in your original ceremony… this is really good. While it’s definitely still worth having a parting ceremony, there is a lot less “baggage” than as would be if it had not contained that intention. Basically even with the other stronger wording that you mentioned originally, by adding in the renewal clause (as it were), you both are free to not exercise your option to renew – which is what has occurred. So in this case rather than having to make a high pressured “sales pitch” to the universe and/or Gods in hopes they will release you from a seemingly unbreakable bond – it’s more a matter of just formally stating your intent to end the relationship, working through and letting go of any harsh feelings, and allowing yourself to look positively to the future.