To follow a Wiccan path is to be part of a story and history that is as ancient as the stars and as new as the next wave of neo pagan philosophies and practices. It is to push your toes deep into the earth’s soil, dive to the depths of a lake, feel the heat of the sun upon your face and savor every inhalation and exhalation of breath that we require for Life. This path has been tread by many and each grain of dirt, stone and leaf carries a part of that individual’s legacy and consciousness within it just as each individual drew some of the earth’s essence into their own being. So before we begin the journey on a well-worn path, I would like to share my story and the reasons for presenting “yet another” Wiccan course of study.
I am a 3rd degree initiate and Wiccan High Priestess of Oak and Willow, a coven within the Tradition of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel. From a very young age I was a seeker of the mysteries and was fortunate enough to have grown up in an environment that was both supportive and engendering of a path of spiritual pursuit.
I was also a ballet dancer, and although I did not realize at the time, this was the vehicle for my spiritual connection. This training also gave me the much needed discipline, dedication and focus of purpose that are invaluable tools to anyone who pursues a study of the mysteries. I learned to triumph over the physical limitations through molding my body into shapes and patterns of movement, this was the lesson of scared geometry. I learned to respond to music in a way that was both expressive and evocative of a story or character, this was the lesson of vibration. And I learned to soar, as though suspended in mid-air, this was the lesson of pause, time and union with the Universe. I was creating, manifesting and manipulating magick all the while and as is true of any passionate pursuit, had unwavering devotion to its gods and goddess.
Now, all the while that I was unknowingly creating true magick, I was also exploring and coming to a place of wanting to grow a spiritual self. The metaphysical foundations of the church to which I belonged and taught Sunday School did not fully satisfy my thirst for greater power (I was, after all in my prime of 15 -16 years old and feeling very mystical). Of course, the occult studies offered a seductive lure into a mysterious powerful world. In the early 70’s “witchcraft” was very popular; particularly with teens. To the uninformed (myself, being included in this) Magick was a world of spells to make someone like you or ace a test, a secret runic alphabet to which only your friends were privy and the choices were white or black, literally, the former being “good witch Glenda” and the latter being the evil doer. And the grey was a world of conjuring and summoning spirits, sometimes good and sometimes just from the “wrong side of town”.
Experimentation and recitation of incantations in old Latin or English were normal pastimes when inexperienced and untrained teen witch’s came together. Being curious by nature, I decided one evening to “conjure a spirit”; found the appropriate incantation in a less than scholarly book and proceeded. The results came swiftly and completely scared me off the path, having found new respect for what I was attempting to do.
Feeling that “witchcraft and magick” were not my path, I embarked on a new journey, following Eastern philosophy and a spiritual world of ascended masters, yogis and ancient texts calling to the devotee to see the physical world as a place of “maya” (illusion) and ultimately evolve spiritually off the wheel of reincarnation in service to the place of the Divine. Control of the physical body, meditation and stillness practices and greater understanding of the subtle bodies and energy filled the books that I greedily devoured. Experiencing the energy and attributes of the Divine as I sat in meditation encircled by heady incense and the chanting of mantras led me to a place of deep contemplation and my devotion to these Deity filled me with a sense of greater understanding and compassion.
At the ripe old age of 21, the business of married life, rehearsals, teaching, performing and 10 yrs later – five children – put spiritual practice on the back burner for a time. After giving birth to twins (2nd and 3rd in birth order), the spiritual outlet of my dancing also stopped in place of the energy of being a stay-at-home Mom. This, however, was my most sacred of journeys. To be the caretaker and teacher of a new spiritual life is one of the most humbling of experiences. And, although I did not know it at the time, the study and teachings and spiritual pursuits I had engaged in prior would run through me energetically speaking louder and having more impact then any words I would say. This was the lesson of “with more wisdom comes greater responsibility” for no matter how much we protest that we are not like our parents (whether they are spiritual or physical in nature) streams of their insight come pouring through.
As intrinsically entwined as the physicality of the dancing and the interest in “witchcraft” was in my teens; opportunity in these two areas presented themselves again when my youngest child was two. I began taking jazz classes and also became aware of a new word for one of my earlier spiritual explorations – WICCA. It was now the 90’s and more information about this path was available both in books and on the internet. My first book was Scott Cunningham’s Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. As I read through the pages of this and many more books, I realized that what had seemed like many different paths all in some way had led me back to this one. The mysteries of the craft were still to be found, but there were signposts along the way and those who were respected practitioners and teachers were moving to the foreground, providing knowledge that could be applied in an ecstatic and concrete way. Another synchronistic timing by way of a birthday gift pointed me in the direction of the coven and Tradition of which I am now part.
I had found my spiritual home- I had “come home”- to the place that although outward appearances seemed to draw me far from had been there with me all along. As the wisdom of a Wiccan path has settled deep within, concurrently, the similarities and threads of commonality held within the mysteries of other religious and spiritual practices have opened. The Sufi and the mystical multilayered meanings of the poet Rumi are embedded within the power of the written word. Gnostic tradition and the sacred feminine come forth in the form of Sophia. The Buddhist precepts and seat of compassionate grace flow within the Wiccan reverence for nature and all life. And when sorted through and filtered by personal resonance the remaining bits and pieces are the connecting points and threads of gold that are woven within the finest silk tapestry.
I have shared my story of “coming home” and bringing with me all the treasures and gifts of the varied stops along the way. So, what is the answer to the question posed as the title of this section – “Why Another Wicca Course”. Simply put, because the more varied the telling of the tale and experience of the teller the richer the experience. Magick and its supports and puzzle pieces are all around us. Each new direction of study of the mysteries leads back to and overlays upon itself. Astrology gives meaning to lunar and solar magick. Qabalah gives depth to each phase and facet of our spiritual selves and the process of initiatory experience. Sacred geometry tells the riddles of the magickal symbols. Alchemy gives the recipe for transformation and sacred attunement. Herbology reveals the truths of the natural world and the invisible allies we have that guide us. Tarot taps into the subconscious realms of the visual world. Energy practice pulls us intimately into a consummate union with the fabric of our world in connection and conjunction with the cosmic and universal dimensions.
The Craft of the Wise – Wicca – is evolving, changing and being influenced by every one who walks its path, and as we move through the months ahead perhaps the perspectives offered will be just slightly different enough to provoke a closer look by you. And after you have finished this year and a day, perhaps you will have a new story to tell.