What Sort of Witch Are You?

For some individuals, witchcraft is a journey of finding one’s unique style of magic, own cosmology, and personal philosophy.

This post was on Witches and Pagan in 2016, at http://witchesandpagans.com/sagewoman-blogs/a-faerie-haven.html

Have you seen the popular lists of different types of witches—e.g., traditional witch, Gardnerian witch, Faerie witch, eclectic witch, hedge witch—with precise definitions for each category? These charts help some beginners. Learning you fit a certain style can be validating and reassuring. It also makes some newcomers feel they belong.

But this post is for beginners who find the categories make things really difficult. Everyone else, I’m not naysaying what works for you; this entire post is simply ideas and methods that work for me, in case they’re useful to someone. I don’t want the charts thrown out. They’re great for some people. And with that:

There are individuals whose witchcraft entails a journey of finding one’s unique style of magic, own cosmology, and personal philosophy. Being new to Pagan community and being told there are specific witch types, each with very specific definitions, can box these folks in, lead them to think they won’t fit anywhere in the Pagan community, and ill-legitimize personal self-discoveries that transcend the categories.

What if you come from a traditional witch family, talk to fairies, and enjoy practicing Gardnerian magic occasionally? Sure, that might classify you as an “eclectic witch,” but that term is redundant historically speaking; it was once a given that witches were eclectic, because witches understand the connectivity of all things. To me, the term “eclectic witch” robs me of my heritage. My witchy heritage fuels spells, making them powerful.

As to connectivity, the Old Gods unite me with the enchantment that flows through the entire universe. That current carries me, its sweep making me joyful, as it bears me toward even more joy. But “eclectic witch” implies magic is not in everything around me and thus denies what’s inherent to many folks’ witchcraft.

In the same vein, I see witches as wild creatures, transcending every limit. I’m a child of the Gods. Their infinite powers are mine. Mind you, I’m not suggesting I can successfully cast every spell anyone else can cast. I believe witches can have specialties.

In any case, categorizing keeps some people from developing specialties. These are folks whose process demands they look not at definitions but into their own selves and, despite how scary it might be, journey into seeming formlessness until it becomes recognizable as their special gift—their specialty.
WildCreaturesI love—and use—the different terms for types of witches. They’re great jumping off points, e.g., for connecting with like-minded individuals.

They also can be pointers. But I use the terms the old way: to evoke—lyric speaking to our wild witch hearts and whispering of the undefinable and unlimited—rather than as part of quantitative charts, mapping magic out so exactly as to be … boringly limited for some folks.

I love magic so much it makes me sad to realize charts might crush certain people’s magic.

Also, poor scholarship defines witch types incorrectly. For example, it’s sadly a current given that Gardnerian Wicca bears little resemblance to traditional witchcraft. I lived in a Gardnerian household in England with one of Gerald Gardner’s students and, as a traditional witch, I can tell you people living in that house practiced old-fashioned witchery. Furthermore, I met members of the family tradition that greatly influenced Gerald.

Lack of scholarship also portrays traditional witchcraft as consistently the same. It varied, village to village and family to family.

And many a scholar will say “eclectic witch” makes no historical sense. Global travel is not a modern occurrence. Various ancient cultures shared their rituals constantly.

Are you dismayed by witch categories because they make you feel the magical Art has been divided up like slices of a pie … and you feel like the whole pie? Be the whole enchanted pie.

If you’re a fledging witch who resonates with what I’ve written, I support you not by giving you categories to validate you, but by validating who you already are. Like most of us when we come into Pagan community, you’ve always had Paganism in your heart and life, perhaps without having named it as such. So trust what you already know and build on it. You have the intelligence and insightfulness needed to do so.

Enjoy the names for all the different types of witches, or use none of them. But claim your path as valid.

By “valid,” I’m not saying everything you do currently as a witch is always safe and effective. No one is perfect. Also, some spellcrafting requires substantial training. Get a teacher if you want. But don’t worry about what “type” of witch a prospective teacher is. Choose someone whose spirit calls you and who honors your spirit in turn, whether or not you know how to describe your path. Witches used to work together in all their differences and likenesses, getting along just fine, learning just fine.

I teach. Classes are mostly via group phone calls (aka telesminars): you don’t need a computer or any special technology to attend; just dial the phone. Subscribe to my free newsletter, which gives details about upcoming classes: http://www.well.com/user/zthirdrd/InfoForm.htm

What sort of witch are you? You’re you! So mote it be.

Holy Sweaty Joy

RosesTwineHoly Sweaty Joy—
Ecstatic Spirituality and Sacred Sexuality
A Seven-Week Shamanic Class-by-Phone

Train in the Third Road Faerie ecstatic path.

Claim magic.

Revel in Faerie Faith rituals and mysteries:
* Move past inner blocks to your inherent, sacred sensuality.
* Be a sex god(dess)!
* Imbue daily activities with confident passion.
* Revel in your unique bewitching sexuality.
* Heal your spirit—and empower your goals—through celebration.
* Reside in your core essence, so your authenticity shapes decisions.
* Find your joy.
RoseLine
Click here to enroll.

No prerequisites required; however, adepts find substantial depth.

Fun, ethical classes. I limit enrollment. No impersonal, glib teachings. Receive personal attention.

Holy Sweaty Joy contains core Third Road teachings and is a prerequisite for advanced Third Road Shamanic Training.

Nuts and bolts:
* We meet in teleseminars (group phone meetings). To participate, just dial the phone.
* Class meets seven consecutive Wednesdays, from noon to 1:00 EST, starting Weds January 25.
* Reserve Weds March 15, same time, for a makeup class in case I’m unavailable for one of the planned sessions.
* Total enrollment is $250. You might also pay long-distance charges; it depends on your long-distance plan; charges appear on your phone bill. The event’s area code is a U.S. #.
* If you’ve taken this class before, repeat it at half-price.
* Click here to enroll.
* Upon receipt of payment, your place is reserved, and event phone #, etc., emailed to you. If you need more info, or want to discuss scholarship, trade, or payment plan, call 814-337-2490. No refunds.

RoseLineA bit about me as a teacher:
* When I teach orally, I’m embedded within a family oral tradition I entered in infancy, learning magic con leche.
* Holy Sweaty Joy is not training you could get from a book.
* I thoughtfully channel curriculums, constructing lessons over time. This tunes us into enormous, subtle powers. Holy Sweaty Joy is not a jumble of undigested white-bread ideas declared, “Voila, genuine Pagan stuff!” :-) Instead, I committed my lifestyle to developing counterculture material for you.
* I received full-time longterm shamanic training. It was not academic but an experiential training of skill sets. That focused study allowed me into the heart of reality, in trance 24-7, channeling worthwhile lessons, for seven years.
* For decades since, my Gods asked me to trance only part of the day, to ground me. Feet more on the ground than ever, I continue to explore our magical yet earthy cosmos, and channel new material for earth-based mysticism classes, because resting on my laurels would be no fun. I like fun.

Magic is transformative fun that does the job when all else fails. Click here to enroll.

My Wonderful Students

My long-term shamanic students are the best people. It’s such a gift to have them as my fellow seekers.

I celebrate them today by introducing you to three of them and the remarkable work they do in their respective fields.

sarah_photoSarah Josey—see above photo—is a Clinical Herbalist, Nutritionist, and Sacred Living instructor. She says she’s “passionate about helping people achieve health through natural means and supporting people on their life path towards overall wellness and happiness.”

Sarah started studying with me before entering her profession. I had the joy of watching this dynamic, young woman grow into her career. I try to empower my students, but it is up to them to take the ball and run with it. Sarah has definitely done that.

She owns an herbal apothecary in Fort Collins, CO, and also spends part of her year in Fairbanks, AK. Check out her work at SarahJosey.com.

I spend as much time as possible in trance because I love it, but I also believe my shamanic classes should create concrete results, improving all aspects of someone’s life. So it’s always a joy to work with someone who’s multifaceted. Kathy Crabbe, who is wrapping up a two-year shamanic training with me, is an artist, illustrator, writer, and soul reader, and lives in Southern California in an adobe style home she and her husband built.

Here’s Kathy:
kathy-crabbe-bio-pickAlong with her impressive list of talents is Kathy’s commitment to using her gifts in service to community.

Kathy blogs at kathycrabbe.com/blog

A spirit portrait I painted of Rommy Driks gives a sense of this writer who has studied with me for eight years:
starfirestargazermergedRommy says of her blog, “I create strange brews of urban myth and faerie tales, while grooving to good music and sipping better tea. Stop by and enjoy a cuppa and a story.”

That’s a modest self-description, considering her writing is truly original, exquisitely crafted, and conveys important ideas. I thoroughly relish her “strange brews.”

Check out Rommy’s work at http://kestrilsrhythmsandgroove.blogspot.com/

I am blessed to be surrounded by exceptional people.

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Pagan Trends, Absolute Truths, and Trusting Yourself

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Trends change rapidly in the Pagan community. We often see “an indisputable fact” ricochet to its exact opposite within years. These “truths” cause immense discord. How can we navigate these treacherous waters without disavowing our own personal wisdoms? We all find our way of doing it. If I share mine, perhaps that might make finding yours easier.

So, a story:

Way back when, most American Pagans insisted traditional craft was nonexistent. People became downright nasty in their disdainful insistence there is no traditional witchcraft. Nowadays, many Pagans discuss traditional craft, what it is, how to do it, and where to learn it.

The party line back then was that anyone who claimed a traditional craft lineage was a liar. The person in question might be completely discredited.

To the best of my understanding back then: a big name Pagan dishonestly validated the material he taught by saying he’d gotten it from his grandmother, a traditional witch, but he lied about her being a witch.

People just decided, if he was lying, everybody else must be. Good grief!

Ok, let me continue this tale by adding how it affected me personally:

I was raised in a longstanding European-based shamanic family tradition. This was hardly a secret to some of the Pagans I knew. But, in case it’s useful context for the rest of my story, I didn’t have a best selling book yet, so the number of people who knew anything about me were far far fewer than later became the case.

You can imagine, amidst all the vitriol and possibility of being totally discredited, I was thoughtful about when to mention my traditional witchery to a Pagan. I wanted to avoid the near certainty of being branded liar in the larger Pagan community.

Close friends knew my family background, and I’d tell others when it was important. In fact, when the bestseller did come out, its back cover mentioned my mom was a Sicilian witch. To do otherwise would’ve insulted her and all my witch ancestors. But I also used discretion. For example, skirting my family history in casual conversation.

What I’m saying is: navigating the dangerous seas of trending “absolute truths” was challenging—for one thing, it can be frightening to buck popular opinion—but I found ways to maintain integrity while also guarding my emotional equilibrium. We can keeps our spirits whole. Here are two navigation skills that worked for me:

One is knowing it is vital to trust your own beliefs and respect the value of your own experiences, despite people who try to hit you over the head with trends to make you feel ignorant or otherwise not as “authentic” a Pagan as they are.

The second navigation skill is discretion. I want to practice discretion about whether to say something.

Nowadays, most people use the word discretion to mean holding silence. But discretion can also mean wisely considering the best course of action, judging each situation according to its specific circumstances. I’m using the latter definition here. So, in terms of our topic, discretion might lead one to speak—to good purpose—or to remain appropriately mum.

It’s vital to speak up for your beliefs when there’s good reason. Losing self-respect does not constitute successful navigation of treacherous waters.

As to choosing silence, let’s start with the example of avoiding arguments with people who aren’t going to listen.

Back when mentioning a family tradition might completely discredit you with many people, I was at a dinner party where someone who was constantly on power trips declared, in a high and mighty tone, that as a scholar she was devoted to naysaying the possibility of a family tradition. She did not know I came from one. I didn’t tell her. (A friend in the know did surreptitiously wink at me. That was lovely support.)

Most people who jump on trending absolutes will neither listen nor engage in a courteous, informative exchange of ideas, because they’ll rush to prop up wobbly egos with pseudo-knowledge. They’ll just try to browbeat you into feeling you’re wrong, though that may not be their conscious motivation, bless them. Wasting your time in a verbal entanglement amounts to letting someone’s pseudo-truth get the better of you. Your time is sacred.

Yet if she had been honestly interested, and merely misinformed about whether traditional witchcraft existed, I might have discussed my family.

Important aside: Though I avoided an argument at the dinner party, I admit my record’s not perfect with that sort of thing. Luckily, seeing how it depleted and upset me helps me not repeat the mistake any more. A hard won lesson, but one that frees me from other people’s opinionated insistences.

This blog is long but the following feels vital. Another example of discretion and silence:

(Please note, I’m going to use traditional witchery as an example in this essay again. That’s a coincidence. The examples have no relation. So don’t think you need to connect the dots between examples.)

More than once, a segment of the Pagan community inflated their position to one of dominance by stating “superior” pseudo-truths, and I could have deflated their posturing by disclosing a bit of traditional witchcraft’s sacred lore.

I stayed mute about the lore. I was blessed to have received it, so would not disclose it merely to prove a point to people who would not have viewed it as precious information but who would have pawed it.

They’d have greedily grabbed at it as mere words—exploited it as verbal fodder they could parrot to appear in-the-know and first string. (Heh, at least I got to feel smug about keeping my mouth shut. … Ok, I admit, feeling superior wasn’t good for me.)

Had I said anything authentic, nobody would have cared. The agenda on their table was to show how important and “wise” you were. That was not an agenda I wanted to be part of, even though telling them traditional material would’ve moved me to the top of the food chain. But climbing up would have actually, as the old expression goes, dragged me down to their level. … Goddess, I was tempted anyway. … Maybe smugness about my silence was my solace.

My story about being silent is relevant to discretion stopping fake truths from derailing your personal hard-won beliefs, in the following ways:

Opening my mouth would have been my ego reacting to theirs, as well as meeting their attempt to move up in a hierarchy with a similar attempt of my own. Both of those would have betrayed my personal belief in not living in ego or falling prey to power struggles.

It also would have wasted my time and life force, instead of me going about my merry business, living happily according to my own ecstatic truths.

Responding to someone’s power play with one of our own can be incredibly tempting, but also incredibly damaging to ourselves. Ego-driven magic and power-hungry grabs put someone on the slippery slope of chasing chimera more and more, less and less living joyously in the beautiful world the Goddess created for us.

Had I shared the lore for the purposes of my ego, I also would have debased that material. Reduced to mere words in order to feed my ego, the power of that beautiful material would’ve been lost to me, crumbled into dust like Faerie gold.

There’s one more way someone’s pseudo-truth would’ve gotten the better of me if I’d blabbed sacred knowledge for the sake of ego and dominance. I would’ve betrayed my following personal truth: I hold my religion sacred by only using it for honorable purposes. To do otherwise, I would truly have failed navigating the rocky seas of community-enforced pseudo-truths and sunk to the depths.

When magic and spirituality become tools to create unhealthy hierarchy—aka dominate others—they go sour. So does the spirit of the practitioner in question. His soiled shamanic path is handed down to his students, its very essence feeding their worst aspects, perhaps subtly but thoroughly. A nightmare for the community.

When magic and spirituality remain tools to serve, in respect for our differences, those tools become more powerful and capable. So do our spirits. Free of contentious opinions and excess verbiage, our innate magic fills each day, often silently. We become blessed by—and a blessing for—community.

I hope some of my above opinions are useful to you.

I teach traditional craft. My Gods bless me with wise students: They are wise in so many ways, but one is that we all respect each other. Honoring our differing views as assets allows each of us to uniquely contribute to the group’s magic and well-being. This in turn allows each of us to benefit from all the participants’ strengths.

If you’d like to join us, I teach mostly via group phone calls—aka teleseminars. Subscribe to my free newsletter, which tells you about upcoming classes: http://www.well.com/user/zthirdrd/InfoForm.htm

Have a magical day.

Oral Tradition’s Importance

The society that murdered thousands of witches also hid the nature of oral tradition, burying even a hint of its immense power to remove our shackles.

OrlTradSqSm

I’m a dinosaur, but will not give up teaching oral tradition. Its power is needed.

The trend is online classes. There is also some good money to be made there for teachers. But I’m committed to oral tradition, so teaching online isn’t an option. It’s not oral tradition, at least not as I know it.

Mind you, I leave each person to their own definition, and I support each Pagan’s choice of teaching methods. I’m not here to debate what is or isn’t oral tradition, or what teaching method is best.

Instead, here I’m discussing my commitment to the indescribable experience of glory and power conveyed only through a certain style of teaching, whether you call it oral tradition or Francesca’s style or George. :-)

It’s interesting I used the words “indescribable experience.” The term oral tradition was originally used (in part) because there was no point in writing it down. No record could possibly convey it—it was indescribable.

The indescribable beauty and freedom of a lifestyle informed by oral tradition keeps me committed to it.

Beyond my students’ note-taking during classes, any record distorts—and might even corrupt—the original transmission. I don’t allow recordings of my oral transmissions. Nor do I provide transcriptions of them. Sometimes I ask people to refrain from taking notes.

Oral tradition can happen by phone (known as teleseminars). That is the medium I mostly use to teach. We transcend time and space to walk between the worlds together.

Past life memories tell me a communal knowledge of oral tradition was exterminated centuries ago: A society driven to murder thousands of witches also hid the nature of oral tradition, to bury even a hint of its immense power to free us from external and internal shackles. Thus, oral tradition is tangential to how our society as a whole represents it. It is not a discussion group, therapy group, or support group.

You know what? I don’t think I’ll call myself a dinosaur. I’m actually a gorgeous, powerful dragon. The gems in my dragon hoard are the treasures of oral tradition. I’ll keep sharing them, while my dragon tail encircles them and my students from those who would rob us of this heritage.

I don’t expect anyone to believe oral tradition provides benefits and beauty that cannot be received elsewhere, until they experience it firsthand. Something happens I can’t describe here—there’s that word “description” again—because it cannot be explained in writing, it must be experienced.

Technology’s seamless integration into our lives makes tech an extension of a person to some degree, but that does not turn online exchanges into legitimate oral tradition. I do not know a way to transmit oral teachings via vid chat, even if no record of it is kept. Once again, explaining that is beyond the limits of the written word.

No one can understand my underlying reasoning for my position unless they talk with me … talk, as in oral tradition.

Many people have been shocked or puzzled because I’m a best-selling author whose phone number is on her webpage. As hard as I am work writing books that transform lives—I’ll spend a decade writing a single book, because my standard is sky high—I work even harder on oral tradition, because my Gods told me to center there. As powerful as my books are—there are few better—my oral teachings are even more powerful. I love living in oral tradition.

So I put my phone number out there. 814.337.2490. For one thing, some people need a taste of oral tradition to know whether they want to work with me.

To enter oral tradition with you represents a willingness on both our parts to show up—take responsibly for the moment and be present in it. Then unparalleled magic fills us.

I’m blessed by students who take responsibility for their lives. Some live in the now so fully that they make a long-term commitment to learning my oral teachings, so we can moment after moment after moment create mind-boggling changes in our lives.

It’s hard to make that commitment. But even if they have insane schedules, relentless financial pressure, or other enormous, daily demands, they make time. Lo, their schedules become less crazy, the demands get fewer, the pressure relents, and they move into their dream lives. Oral tradition is about living life to the max.
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Upcoming Class

imageMerlin Speaks: His Fey Druidic Teachings—
A 7 Week Course in Non-theist Animism and Nature Mysticism

This material is almost pre-Druidic: the roots of druidism; the Fey core rather than later pomp and over-structuring. It is pure raw Druidic power:

* Ecstatic experience of self connected to the earth, to the cosmos, and to the Divine.
* Ecstatic empowerment from connectivity with the earth, the cosmos, and the Divine.
* Utter safety created by ecstatic connectivity with the earth, the cosmos, and the Divine.

Digital art, Francesca De GrandisShift atoms and hearts, all of nature and society. Be whole, healthy, courageous, and aligned within the self.

This material is special without promoting exclusivity: Nature is inclusive; all are welcome to this class.

These lessons are not available elsewhere, and I cannot teach them often. The last time this class happened was three or four years ago. Enroll now.

Life will swallow you…Be swallowed! Click here to register.

Nuts and bolts:
* These are group meetings by phone. To participate, just dial the phone from anywhere.
* Class meets seven consecutive Thursdays, noon to one (EST), starting Thursday February 19.
* Reserve Thursday, April 9, same time, for a makeup class in case I’m unavailable for one of the planned sessions.
* Tuition: $250. Your usual long-distance charges apply, and appear on your phone bill. The event’s area code is a U.S. #.
* Click here to enroll.
* After your payment, I’ll email you the event phone number, etc.
* For more info, or to discuss scholarship, payment plan, or trade, call 814.337.2490. Do not email me.
* A mystical event is no substitute for medical care by a trained physician, psychiatric counseling, or other therapeutic treatments. Participants are personally responsible for the consequences of their voluntary participation.

WorldTreeTakesCareOfMeDetail2I’ve been a stealth Druid, practicing the path for decades and lifetimes. This class took decades to channel, drawing on past life memories. The material was originally solely for my personal use. I was guided to finally share it, a few years ago.

Merlin is the eagle: He passes the lineage. Enroll here.

Wyrd 2014

My wyrd New Year’s resolution: Ecstasy and ease.

Sometimes, it is vital to do things the easy way. I work hard on my spirituality. That’s important. But we can get stuck in the idea that growth has to be all work, no play. The resulting experience sucks—I do not want to feel like God’s drone!—and does not always make for the most inner growth or power. So I constantly create fun modalities for inner change, for my students and myself.

Life and growth will not always be easy. When I’m counseling a trauma survivor, we may be in painful tears together. That is a good thing. Hard work, balanced by fun and ease, has been my ongoing approach.

Empowerment can be accomplished through joyful simplicities. Joy nurtures the spirit. For example, I receive commissions for fantasy portraits, which I paint in trance. They affirm the client’s wondrous essence, inner and outer beauty, and power. Below is one I did of myself. Scroll past it for the rest of the blog:

MddleManagment4ChaosGod2012WT

With the Divine, we can grow spiritually, and overcome obstacles, the easy way, sometimes. Heck, not just sometimes, but a lot of the time!

Recently, I asked one of my students to give me a spiritual challenge—whatever she felt I most needed to work on. Oddly enough, it was to do things the easy fun way. Huh? Me, who is already so good at that? I mean, I have a ball in my life. There is mega-laughter in the classes I teach. And my Gods have a great sense of humor, too—we have a blast together.

But you know what? My student was right. There’s always another level to reach toward. I’m forever wanting to achieve more for the community and in my private life. And I am not, right this second, referring to more fun and ease, but to what I want to accomplish overall.

After meditating on the assignment my student gave me, I realized that the progress I envisioned, for both my private life and what I want to accomplish as a community shaman, could only be achieved through a new devotion to fun and ease. Hah, what a great challenge—to have more fun than ever and go easier than ever!

2014 is my year of doing that.

With so many demands on our time and money, streamlining our lives and choosing pleasure may not seem possible. Nor may there seem time to get needed spiritual support. But here are three easy ways to do all that. There’s that word again—”easy!”

1) Ignore new year promotion-hype that sells you a lot of product, which is the same old stuff that never worked before. Stick with the tried-and-true. Sometimes, we blame the tools we have, instead of our use of them. If you’re not using a hammer, it’s not the hammer’s fault that the nail never gets driven in. Revisit one of your basic tools that has supported you in the past. Use it a little.

2) Ignore hyped up approaches that demand more time than any sane productive person has. Instead, take a moment. For example, keep your tarot deck or runes by your bed. When you wake up in the morning, pull one card or rune, as you’re scrambling out of bed to feed the kids. While you go about your morning routine, spend a few moments thinking about the card. I’m not suggesting you go into trance, sit in a lotus position, or have deep thoughts. I’m saying that, if you cannot do a lot, do not be discouraged and forsake all attempts—just do what you can. Giving a tarot card or rune some consideration, even for a few moments, can open us to Divine guidance, inner resolve, or peace, regarding the day ahead. It can really be a benefit.

3) When you finish reading this, keep heart open to fun, easy ways to: Grow, overcome life’s challenges, and have support for your life.

Here is a way to have all three. Enjoy a Spirit Portrait—it is a gentle, organic process of empowerment. And you give me a chance to fulfill my New Year’s resolution. I adore mirroring people’s wondrousness to them; it is truly some of the best fun. My spirit grows a bit with every painting. Together, we make a great 2014. . . . Wow, I love that idea! Providing joyful support, having a great time in the process, and our shared happiness? Yes! Info at http://www.outlawbunny.com/2012/03/16/fantasy-portrait/

May our fey-touched hearts enjoy 2014 to the max!

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Mysticism and Non-Academic Scholarship

A mystic needn’t be an academic to be a scholar. Why is this idea important? Some people create a magical, fulfilling life based in a non-academically-shaped worldview. We also might want to teach from such an orientation. Our cosmology can be as carefully constructed and extensively developed as any scientific understanding, but many would crush our power by insisting there is only one intelligent way to see, to learn, to study.

Trust your observances made through mystical states, e.g., trance. Trust your non-ordinary modes of perception, like intuition.

I’m not suggesting you blindly believe and act on everything you think you’ve observed. For example, when you have an intuition or receive guidance from spirits, run it by a down-to-earth person who exists on the mundane plane. Non-academic perspectives are as subject to fault as academic insights.

But, luckily, I did not wait until a university validated each step of the many I needed to travel along my shamanic path. I’d have taken fewer steps, losing great joy and fulfillment, not only in my personal life but also because I would have taught less.

Academic validation does happen to me lots, and it feels nice. But relying on it as a way to tell myself or anyone else, “See, I know what I am doing” would undermine my belief in my style of scholarship. An example: Pics of subatomic particle tracks validated what I’d seen in trance for decades. But I’d validated it for myself already. Hence the painting below:ShamanicPhysics 2012-03

Training can be crucial. Just as a scientist studies his “craft,” so have I. I also spent years in trance, 24-7, researching as diligently as any scientist in a lab.

I’m not suggesting you trust yourself only if you do the full-time training or research I did. Mine was needed because of goals I had as a teacher and mystic. Otherworldly reality is innate in us all. Just as many linear-minded non-scientists trust their personal worldview, so should many mystics observe and assess their environments, drawing our own conclusions, instead of docilely following “experts.” I mention my full time commitment only to reinforce the extensive possibilities of mystical wisdom.

Insights I gain through altered states are building blocks of trainings I create. But I don’t carelessly throw something together in the name of Divine inspiration. I spend years developing a curriculum before teaching it.

My fastidiousness does not naysay the observations of someone without training. The psychic realm is as much a part of human heritage as ordinary daylight; we all have insights about it; and they are important contributions to community dialog. In fact, one of my goals as a teacher is to create tools that help people trust their insights and recover their innate mystical awareness, which has often been squelched.

Being a mystic does not deny your intellect. (And too many beautiful, astute, linear minds are used to invalidate somebody’s heartfelt, lyrical worldview.) I know amazingly left-right-brain integrated mystics.

It’s like being a musician. In my last year of college, I supposedly needed more units of logic-based classes to get my degree. But the college president felt that my thirty hours of music theory, which is mathematically based, obviated the need for further logic classes.

When I write a song, channel liturgy, or travel faerie realms for info, my intellect needn’t suppress my efforts. It can weave in and out of my emotive fanciful state, improving my effort. I also might go over what I have created to rewrite, rewrite, rewrite, until I’m satisfied.

In various mystical states, there’s a dance between the two sides of the brain and the heart and soul. Each aspect of you comes forward, adding what it can. All of you weaves constantly, in such rapid-fire succession of ever-changing intertwinings that you might be totally unaware of this complex inner interaction.

At such times, we learn truths that others may deny. We plug into immense powers to control our own destiny. We become part of miracle. Even other pagans may try to invalidate these gains, Goddess bless them, instead of realizing that their approaches and ours can be different without either of us being wrong.

But the things we learn in such states set us free.

This has been a limited view on mystical scholarship. But the crux is: Let yourself be free.

Bickering, Community Service, and Self-Awareness

Part two in a series on supporting newcomers (and oldtimers) in your spiritual community. May, 2013. Part one is on my other site, at http://www.outlawbunny.com/2011/06/14/welcoming-newbies/

A woman phoned me to inquire about my classes. That’s not unusual; I teach oral tradition style, so feel I should be available by phone if someone wants to ask about my work.

She immediately said that very few pagans are hard-working in their spiritual efforts. This is not unusual, either; I hear that sentiment plenty.

After addressing her community critique, I tried to move the conversation past it, but she kept returning to the issue. She is not someone for whom I’d be a good teacher.

It is only human to bond with someone new by denigrating others. But it is a tendency I try to avoid: While it feeds the ego of the two people bonding (they get to feel superior to everyone else in the world), it keeps them from getting any actual work done. I mean the sort of work that happens in my classes: for example, self-examination, self-care, nurturing of ability to serve community, and building shamanic skills. No, I am not the teacher for her.

Fool, tarot card, Francesca De Grandis, 12-03

The fool is about love. Fool, tarot card, Francesca De Grandis, 12-03

When first working as a spiritual counselor in an occult shop, I received a pretty big shock. I’d been guiding folks in a private practice, mostly by referral. Suddenly I was thrown onto the front lines. Someone would come to the shop to consult with me because their daughter had just died. Or their 14-year-old son had gotten somebody pregnant. Or their husband beat them.

I went home and threw out my lofty new age abstractions. I threw out my Celtic cross spread, at least for most of the shop appointments. (For those of you who don’t know the spread, it makes for a complex lengthy session.) A lot of these shop sessions were only ten minutes long. After that my boss pressed the buzzer: Time’s up!

I sat in my home and started coming up with very fast spreads that would tune me into the heart of the client’s issue(s) and the essence of the advice they needed. I compiled a list of community resources: contact information for women’s shelters, teen crisis counseling, etc. I honed my inner skills more than ever so that I’d sense a client’s needs stat.

I was a working minister.

Decades later now. As then, not all my work is with trauma survivors. Often, I help people with more “everyday” concerns,” as well as train folks in shamanism, other esoteric skills, creativity, and marketing. But I’m definitely always on the frontlines: in community, with a busy schedule of counseling and teaching.

I mention being a shop employee and my ensuing work because: I’ve rarely gotten involved in pagan debates; I am too busy! Mind you, I discuss my work with other front-line ministers who can help me polish my shamanic skills, not burn out, and otherwise address my work. But I do not want to be criticized because of theoretical issues that have little basis and are thrown on the table by angry people with no understanding of what I am really up against on the ministerial front lines.

When we’re busy looking at our own faults, polishing our own skills, taking care of ourselves, and serving community, we don’t have time to unnecessarily criticize people.

Criticism is appropriate sometimes. Each of us needs to be held accountable by community. And healthy debate is joyfully welcomed in my classes because fresh perspectives rise.

The sort of criticism that I’d like to see less of is the endless picayune bickering that seems to produce little. Hmm, well, it produces swollen egos, draws the limelight, hurts sincere seekers whether newbie or oldtimer, and silences timid souls. Important sidebar: It hurts the newbies not only because they feel rejected but also because it encourages them to behave in kind.

Even as an oldtimer, I can feel hurt and invalidated, when people get so riled up and so angry and bitter; and behind their words is the statement, “I am better than you, I am better than you, I am better than you.” And behind that statement is their primary one: “Go climb in a hole so that your sincere efforts don’t shame me any longer.” This can be devastating to newbies who are ardent seekers with hearts wide open!

Those kind of arguments and the comments of that person who phoned me are also tantamount to saying about the person being criticized, “You are the ‘other.’ You are ‘one of them,’ so you are not as worthy of love and respect. I do not have to treat you with caring and decency because you do not have the same vulnerabilities as me.”

Now, if this post ends now, my mental meandering amounts to me just being another superior jerk. But I am going somewhere productive (I hope):

It felt important to paint a recognizable picture of high-handed community strife and its outcome for three reasons:

1) If you avoid insane community debate, you still might be uber-critical of other pagans (or someone else) within the confines of your own mind. When I find myself doing that, it’s time for a good look at myself. Internal criticism (perhaps a running commentary on the superiority of others, lol) has the same impact on me as it would were I voicing it online. Same impact, dude! I might be avoiding looking at my own errors or avoiding responsibility, to either community or self.

Feeling superior is more comfortable than looking at my own faults. And superiority can, oddly enough, make me feel safer than self-care. And superiority is safer than getting out into the world to try to make a difference. You avoid the endless, high-handed criticism of I-know-better-than-everyone-else idlers who are likely to pursue you once you try to make a diff in the world.

2) Angry superiority is what many newcomers first see. Or we might meet newbies with a subtle version of the same thing. I want to make a practice of examining myself for this. For example, is my ego playing out in a more subtle manner? Goddess, when someone inquires about my work, keep me humble, welcoming, self-aware, and focused on love and service. Goddess, at all times, keep me humble, welcoming, self-aware, and focused on love and service.

3) If you are afraid of getting into the pagan community because of what you see, now you know i see it too. You are not alone. Please realize there are people who do not bicker. We aren’t as vocal because we’re busy living. If you ask the Universe to guide and inspire you, you will find us.

And, with us, you can work and dance and celebrate the Gods. Because we are pagan to the bone. Heathens, celebrating the stars, the earth, the seasons, ourselves, and each other.

You will find us. We are here. I am like you.

No Need to Fit In!

People trying to decide if I’m the right guide for them often say, “I’m eclectic, so I don’t know if I’ll fit into what you teach.”

image

Detail. Faerie Realm, silk painting, Francesca De Grandis

Oh dear! It is terrible that the prevalence of bad teachers requires that issue to even come up.

Most of my students are eclectic. I am, too. Those who look for the core of reality, the heart of magic, and the essence of mysticism do not want to be boxed in by labels (Wicca, hedge witch, Druid, Taoist, Christian), and are not looking for ego-feeding titles. They are drawn to teachers who, whatever their path, support students to find their own idea—and experience—of the core of reality, heart of magic, and essence of mysticism. I hope I’m one such teacher.image

During our lessons, we transcend labels and titles, to focus on finding our individual beliefs, personal myths, and shamanic gifts. If folks already have them, I help them polish their personal approach, even if they’re already master level.

Magic, Spirit, and life cannot be standardized.

I do tend to call my classes “Wicca” or “Faerie.” I’m of the generation in which “Wicca” and “Faerie” referred to (among other things) individualized earth-spirituality. Unfortunately, nowadays, those terms are often used rigidly, to denote a set liturgy and belief system, which invalidates many beautiful Gaia lovers.

You’re not alone if you’ve faced invalidation. When first teaching (eek, that was in the eighties!), I thought I knew the one true way. Then I realized my students were my peers and fellow travelers. Guess what? After explaining I wld no longer support a hierarchy, imageI lost many of my students, they migrated to a fundie tradition of fey magic. I was devastated, stunned that people I loved—many of these were my beloved initiates—could not make that move with me, that attempt at being egoless. It was, and still is, painful to see ego takes precedence over ethics, effective magic, fey sensibilities, and beauty. But I mention my experience because it might be validating for folks who went through something similar. Ok, enough negative stuff. To quote “Buffy, “not for me the furrowed brow.”

Onto the rest of my beautiful day—my Gods’ embrace, a flow of joy, magic, and right livelihood, a flow carrying me toward even more joy, magic, and right livelihood. I hope this post is validating and/or, if you’re considering me as a guide, informative.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥
Want shamanic counseling? I can guide by phone. Book an appointment online. http://www.outlawbunny.com/pastoral-counseling/