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.
I grew up on my grandparents’ farm. My family are uncomplicated farmers, and have been since coming here in the 1800’s. Even now, my grandparents and my parents live close to the Earth, and, up until fairly recently, have pulled their existence from it; this influenced me greatly.
My family claims to be Lutheran (except for my grandmother, who was excommunicated from the Catholic church,) yet life, lived so close to the Earth, lived in harmony with the changing of the seasons, was fraught with folk customs, a pervasive belief in the spirit world, and six months of harvest celebrations. And, also, up until recently (there have been big changes in the family these past few years,) we would joke how it isn’t really a proper family get together unless something dies, referencing how the large family would always pull together for hunting, the butchering of the farm raised animals, and the hay season (when numerous snakes met an untimely, accidental death by baling equipment.)
I came to witchcraft at a very young age; it began as a fascination, an undeniable pull. I started my first “coven” in first grade; we were ice witches of the crystal cavern. As I said before, my family much believed in spirits, and my mother actually gave me an Ouija Board for Easter one year -her only admonition being to leave certain spirits alone. So, by age 11, I was a fully practicing witch, doing divination, working with the spirit world, and (as a result of the latter) becoming very good at cleansings and banishings. And, yeah, all this beneath the veneer of Christianity.
Come high school, I began to notice the inconsistencies between what my family said (regarding religion) and their actions. There was a distinct lack of follow through and sincerity. This was concerning. Pair this with the fact that in being female, I was denied any route to being as close to the Divine as possible within Christianity and you’ve the background for the beginning of my inner religious terminal (witchcraft and even divination were not allowed, as per Sunday’s sermons…) and the beginning of my need to find other options. Ironically, I fell back on a long conversation with my old Pastor about animism, in which he carefully explained the concept to my 13 year old self, gave numerous examples, and basically made me realize that I was an animist. I began studying Buddhism, ran into a few people who claimed to be Wiccan, and eventually, made the switch to Paganism, recognizing that certain persistent things in my life were actually the call of a certain Deity.
This was an interesting time, moving out on my own, and living a very religiously committed life, with daily meditation, at least weekly rituals, and monthly fasts (not to mention constant studying, practicing witchcraft, making incense, and pondering things over tea or outside beneath large trees.) The Universe was very active in my life, leading me to interesting teachers, pushing me to teach and hold open Circles, and eventually leading me to another Pagan and witch who stole my heart and gave me a beautiful family in return.
Jump ahead about a decade, I finally dedicated to the Deity Who called so long ago and never stopped. Jump ahead a few more years, and my practice has swung back to look more like it did at the beginning, before I’d ever heard of modern witchcraft or Paganism, more Earthy, Land based, and Spirit filled.
Unlike what a lot of people make it out to be, this path, witchcraft, Paganism, dedicated priesthood, it’s not easy. It’s not just thinking happy thoughts and everything will work out because “love and light” and “harm none” and “Oh, my Gods, witches are all just loving healers” and all that jazz. It takes work, constant effort. Belief is not enough and you are only defined by what you’re doing. And, sometimes bad stuff happens because of being on this path, be it as a consequence to your actions or simply because the Gods, the Spirits, whatever are mad at you or slighted by something you did, or because they’re testing you or (worse) trying to make you be the person They need you to be (check the link in the paragraph above for examples of this...)
I’d like to think that following this path, embracing witchcraft, has made me a better person. That’s not something that I can be certain of, but I do know that it has changed me, continues to change me, and that I have learned so much about myself and others because of it. My path does demand that I try, though, that I try to better myself, that I confront the icky parts of myself and the things that make me cry myself to sleep, and that I hold myself to high standards as I am always held accountable by my Lady and my Spirits. On a lighter note, however, this path gives me a spiritual excuse for nearly always being barefoot and drinking (a lot of) tea. So, that alone is a reason to keep on trucking.
And I have no doubts about any of this; I feel the energies I work with, literally see them, and my Lady and Spirits chatter to me daily. When I ask for Their help, They do, or They give me reasons why not, or ideas on how to just do it myself. There is comfort that my spiritual searching has been relatively easy, that answers were right in my grasp when I needed them, and that the big things fall into place more often than not. None of this makes life any easier, but it certainly adds an extra quality that is very much rewarding.
Throwing the Bones
Whether you're struggling with something spiritually or in everyday life, bone divination can highlight areas where focus is needed and identify alternative ways forward.