Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Witch way is it?

Cody, far from being in trouble, I'm grateful for a topic to write about that doesn't have me rehashing yesterday at work (which was what I was going to do). I really do want to focus my day in a more positive direction and let go of yesterday.

So here goes a brief history and explanation...I was raised a Lutheran and after college I joined the Lutheran Volunteer Corps (LVC). While in college, I had been introduced to Native American spiritual beliefs (primarily those of the Dakota/Sioux). I had been drawn to the earth based nature of that set of beliefs, but I had issues about becoming one of those white folks who starts following native ways.

In LVC, I met a lot of folks from different traditions, one of whom introduced me to the writings of Starhawk. She is a witch and environmentalist and is a part of the Reclaiming movement (a particular branch of witchcraft/paganism). I liked what she had to say about how the old gods and goddesses work...and I liked, again, the connection to the earth and the seasons.

I did more reading and went to some workshops. Most of what I was learning was about connecting spriritually to the earth and to others. It is in these connections that I find myself drawing closer to a larger consciousness that I recognize as the gods.

Eventually, my interest was drawn to Freyja and, in working with her (and her twin Freyr), I have come to recognize a spiritual home. The challenge for me is that Freyja is a Norse goddess, and as such is associated with Asatru. However, I have never felt myself entirely drawn to the Asatru community. So I practice more in the Reclaiming tradition (based on celtic and fairy magic), but with my dedication to Freyja an Freyr.

So what does this look like? I go to public rituals to celebrate seasonal passages (solstices & equinoxes, etc). I will occassionally create a solitary ritual to mark a passage of some kind (a death, a birth) or to ask for healing or answers.

Although some may see it differently, I think of spells as ritualized prayer (and as such recognize the power of prayer). After all, a spell can be as simple as lighting a candle and speaking some words of intent or wish over the flame. I don't know any formal spells. Most of my magic working I like to keep simple and informal; however, I have led folks in blessings of a friend leaving town that was a spell of power and well-wishes.

I am essentially a lazy witch. There is a lot more that I could do using candles or herbs or ribbons. I could have a more formal ritual life, but I find that I connect with Freyja very easily without all the fooferaw and that those things become much more fun when they are reserved for larger celebrations.

Part of the idea with taking the class is to meet more likeminded folks. The pagan community can be difficult sometimes because some folks in it are very RenFaire-ish. Now, I love me some RenFaire and the dressing up and playing too, but there is also a very practical everyday experience of paganism that is much less extraverted and showy. Maybe, I'll just always be a cultural-Lutheran in the way I experience my beliefs.

So, while I don't do ritual everyday (or even pray everyday), I do have an ongoing practice that involves ritual, prayer, maintaining my altar, reading tarot and sometimes chanting or singing.

To go more into paganism and specific practices would have to be a whole other post...it would be like trying to explain all the denominations of Christianity.


Aravis said...

I always enjoy reading about your practice. Though I don't have the attachment to Freya that you have, in many ways my spiritual path is similar to yours. But I loved the stories of the Norse gods and goddesses, and still have a book from childhood about them. I can understand your attachment to Freya.

Loki appealed to me, as Coyote does in Native lore. There's something about a trickster, as long as the trick doesn't go too far! *G*

Gladys said...

girrrrrl.....You have 100% EX-FREEKIN-ACTLY described my whole worldview re: why I'm not an "official" pagan community member. I don't want to be one of those white-folks-gone-Native-American, and the RenFaire aspect of the pagan communities I've crossed paths with just makes me want to tear my hair RIGHT OUT. Religion, like sexuality, is not something I feel the need to evangelize about; people who "just happen" to drop references to their pagan affiliations (or sexual attitudes) into every conversation, even the ones that have NOTHING to do with those topics....arrrrgh. And the thing I object to most is that those "RenFaire pagans" make the rest of the pagan community look bad. It's like...if you portray your entire community as freaks, you're only going to attract MORE FREAKS, to say nothing of alienating the "mainstream" even MORE. (Apparently I need to write a blog post about this, since I've just hijacked your comments section. But then again, it's Saturday morning and I'm at work, so...not much else to do. :)