In earlier blog posts, I’ve hinted at a massive change happening for my family and me. In truth, it’s something that I’ve vaguely mentioned for a few years now, actually. But, somehow, hope and intention have given way to reality, and the dream is finally poised to manifest, albeit in ways that I could have never imagined.
In the four years I’ve been keeping this blog, I realize that I’ve never really discussed my personal practice too often, and certainly never done the obligatory “how I came to witchcraft and/or Paganism” post. So, grab a cup of tea, I’m going to ramble on for a bit and tell you a story. I hope you find it interesting.
There is a disturbing idea touted about within the witchcraft (and Pagan, by extension) community and by those who neither practice witchcraft nor have any interest in understanding the practice from the perspective of people who not only live and breathe this path, but have been doing so for quite some time. This idea is that belief is all you need to carry you through a religion and/or magickal practice, that magick works simply on the basis of belief. This is a bit larger a topic than merits the scope of this blog, so let’s just focus on the idea that belief is all you need to be a witch and why this is utter bullshit.
Apologies in advance that this is little more of a rant, and, as such, is going to be arranged in tidy little lists, rather than paragraphs. There have been too many statements I’ve come across lately regarding what makes a “real Pagan” and an absolutely awful blog post today about “Part-time Pagans” that basically came down to that if you’re not a vegetarian, don’t meditate, don’t worship your ancestors, smoke cigarettes, or drink alcohol then you’re a fake Pagan.
So many, many statements of what “all Pagans” do… and not a single one of them acknowledging that Paganism is not a religion and is little more than an alliance of various religions. I’m just going to toss in a link here to a previous post on What is Paganism to speed things up. tl:dr –most Pagan religions are more different than they are similar.
Now, ranty list time….
Wicca is a Witchcraft Religion that was created in the 1940’s by a man named Gerald Gardner. In the 1930’s, he had been initiated into a local group of witches, whose practice was much what one would historically expect: folkloric, regional, and influenced by the Grimoire Traditions. In that same spirit, Gardner (with the help of his early High Priestess Doreen Valiente) added to the waning tradition, adding further from Ceremonial Magic, folklore, and infusing it with Valiente’s poetic spirit. At this point (and even more so today) it looked considerably different from the Witchcraft it was born from, yet it still maintains that same spirit and behavior. This new religion, Gardner called it Wica –keeping the name as he had been told by his initiators- came to the US in the 1960’s from England, and quickly grew in popularity and numbers.
That these last few years have been marked by an Ordeal has been on my mind a lot lately, especially as it seems that I may be nearing the end of my Ordeal. This is something that I am grateful for, as it has affected my entire family –I am not the only one who has struggled, suffered, and changed as a result of a promise I made. That promise has been on my mind lately, too.
Backtrack six years….
Most of my life has been spent in the forest where I live now, spent wandering through the nearby meadows, playing in the seasonal streams, delighting in a world that continuously held me in awe and was so much larger than I could wrap my head around. So many times I have moved away and so many times I found myself returning to this land, returning home.
The Sun crested the horizon and it quickly became apparent that it was going to be one of the last warm days of the year. My husband and I whispered, keeping the children unaware, and chugged coffee and tea, respectfully, in preparation for our hurriedly thrown together plan.
We loaded up the truck with baskets, hiking gear, pellet guns, multiple cans of bug spray, and the small army that is our family. The forest beckoned: today was a day of harvest and hunting, today was Epic Root Harvest Day.
This time of year does something to me... Fills my head so full of thoughts that words cannot fully express, at least not as well as a collection of twenty or so mushroom pictures... and a leaf...
For several months now, nay, almost a year, I have been plagued by turtle omens. It started innocently enough, with coming across turtles only three or four times a day, maybe two days a week, but quickly escalated to six or seven turtles a day, nearly every day. Everywhere I turned, there was a turtle. Pop on twitter, images of turtles filled my timeline; walk through a room where a tv is on and surely there would be a turtle; browse through a magazine while waiting in an office, an article on turtles; my eldest daughter even received a pair of socks with turtles on them as a gift.
Of course, I began researching the meanings of these omens. Most of the information I came across repeated the same things: “slow down” or “it’s time to come out of your shell.” Neither of these was right, and for obvious reasons. The notion of “slowing down” is relative, a turtle goes just fast enough for itself –it is neither too fast nor too slow (it is only slow from our perspective.) And a turtle also cannot “come out” of its shell –it is a part of its body, who it is. These would later become necessary pieces in figuring out the puzzle of the turtle omens, but I wouldn’t figure it out for many more months.