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.

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.

Upcoming Teleseminar

Update: This class has been rescheduled. I hope our starting it a few weeks later than intended, and moving it from Thursday to Friday, makes it possible for you to attend this extraordinary event, since it won’t occur again for three years.
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Sleep and Other Gods—Applied Pantheism; Life as a Fey-Druid

Nurture your ability to hear Nature’s music. Join its song to heal and empower self, Gaia, and the Tree of Life.

Safe and Powerful, digital painting, Francesca De Grandis. 2013

Safe and Powerful, digital painting, Francesca De Grandis. 2013

For decades, I’ve practiced what I’ve privately defined as Applied Pantheism or Faerie Taoism. I share these personal terms now, because I want to teach more of my Druidic material to fellow seekers.

My loving, protective Gods seem to arrange a flow whereby special people visit this site. So, though some people glibly choose pantheism to avoid inner growth or spiritual rigor, I think you’re like me—wanting the full pantheistic possibility. I created this curriculum for you.

The written word can’t describe oral tradition lessons. And the attempt makes the lessons sound shallow or easily gotten elsewhere. Or what you already know. Or it sounds like hype. Nevertheless, I’ll give a few examples of what we’ll address:
* Relaxed, easygoing interaction with plants, stones, and animals, for guidance, nurturance, company, and mutual aid
* Your innate—but possibly untapped or not completely used—ability to find soul nourishment in Fey realms
* The exact pantheist modalities you personally need for maximum inner transformation
* Courage to serve community joyfully (even when “haters gonna hate”).

This teleseminar is suitable to entry-level beginners and adepts.

Nuts and bolts:
* These are group meetings by phone. To participate, just dial the phone from anywhere.
* The class meets seven consecutive Fridays, noon to 1:00 E.S.T., starting Friday April 11.
* Reserve Friday, May 30, same time, for a makeup class in case I’m unavailable for one of the planned sessions.
* Tuition is $250. Your usual long-distance charges apply, and appear on your phone bill. The event’s area code is a U.S. #.
* Register online at http://www.well.com/user/zthirdrd/specialevent.html
* Or pay by check or money order.
* Upon receipt of payment,
I email you event phone number, etc.
* Scholarship and work trade available. Refunds unavailable.
* Call me—814-337-2490—for more info or to discuss scholarship, trade, or payment plan. Do not email me.
* Participants are personally responsible for the consequences of their voluntary participation.

Want to be immersed in the immense love available through applied pantheism? Register now.

Turning the Wheel

Turning the Wheel through Personal Myth
Santa, Squirrels, and More

Backstory: I live in faerie tales. This lifetime, I’ve never heard of turning the year wheel with one’s personal myth (in this context, I mean a myth of one’s own making or a myth not generally perceived as related to the year wheel). I remember it from past lives.

Below, you will not find a theoretical exposition on turning the year wheel with one’s personal myth. I prefer to live in my faerie tales, not in my (albeit fabulous) theories. So, I share a little piece of my myth here. You mystics are smart—you don’t need someone lecturing theory at you from on high; mystics usually learn more watching—and feeling—how people actually embody their theories. Equally important, when I talk about my adventures, some people join me in them—I long for shared escapades.

Telling my own myth is no suggestion that it is the best one for you, or the right way for you to turn the wheel. End of backstory.

I blog about Yule starting in September. It is not the crass commercialism of stores that promote Christmas items way too early. It’s actually the opposite; it rescues me from holiday madness.

In Autumn, squirrels gather nuts to store for the winter. In the same vein, I plan my dark months in Sept or Oct. (I have been planning my dark months in the autumn for decades, so cannot remember whether I made the practice up or was taught it.)

According to Chinese philosophy, unresolved issues are more likely to bubble up from the subconscious in the winter. Experience has taught me that, if I do not plan my dark months before they start, I lose my mooring, and easily sink into holiday frenzy, codependent gift-giving, etc.

Every September or October, I get in touch with what I truly want for the fall and winter this year. Eg, Do I need to focus on a major inner healing? If so, is there a theme I can use for the healing rituals? Do I want to decorate the house for the holidays? If so, a little or a lot? Which holidays do I want to celebrate? Do I have the time to cook for the holidays? And so on.

It’s not that I stick to these plans rigidly. But when I lose my center, the plans helps me regain it. Then I can make sane decisions.

An additional piece of my process is relevant to why I blog about Yule so early. As I said, I live in Faerie tales. They are often myths of my own creation. One is that I am a Yule elf. Come autumn, Santa’s elves are very busy planning what’s going to happen over the next few months.

This planning, including what I’ll craft the next few months to put in Santa’s bag, aka my Etsy shop, is part of my turning the wheel of my personal year. I am an artisan, not a manufacturer, so fall—at latest!—is when I need to start planning and making the handful of items I will add to my shop before Yule.

I blog from the heart. I start blogging and posting from the North Pole as early as September. I want to share my real life—the day-to-day of my myths.

I am also spared holiday madness because, being one of Santa’s elf, I instead can spend the dark time focusing on service: I focus on the joy of crafting goods in the North Pole’s elven workshop, high quality craftsmanship, purposeful creativity, and Yule elf tweets/blogs/posts that help people smile during holiday grumpiness. I also get true holiday joy from my absurdly happy Yule elf meditations and costumes. I am turning my personal year wheel, connecting with the season of Mama Earth.

(I mentioned being a Yule elf as a myth of my own creation. I do not have space in this post to thoroughly portray what I’ve created about Yule elves. Nor could a library of printed word hold it because 1) some things can only be conveyed in oral tradition and 2) some things are so integrated into one’s life that they become too extensive to thoroughly share in words alone. But a lot of what I created plays out in my meditations, which feels important to say because, when we take time to really sink into our mythic stories meditatively, we can live them the rest of the day.)

More of how my myth turns the wheel:

Most of the year, I am in my tinker’s wagon, traveling between the worlds. I am a shut-in but my wheelchair has wings, and so do I. Astrally-traveling shamanic guide and fey artisan.

When weather gets cold, I retreat to Santa’s warm, cozy workshop. I still counsel and teach, from my snug Arctic home.

Claus is in my pantheon. So I pray to him any month. One way I turn the wheel through myth is, the past few years, I’ve made my winter plans by writing a letter to Santa in September about what I want for the dark months.

Every year, I have new elven adventures. And my other myths grow a bit. All my faerie tales are more extensive than this post. And are deeply personal. But I risk posting bits online for two reasons.

Telling my myth is a fun way for this shut-in to share her wanderings.

I am dedicating to helping my students find and/or further evolve personal myths, and live them fully to connect with Mama Earth and Divinity. I posted today in hopes I might do that a bit for my dear site visitors. For one thing, I believe that speaking my life supports starry-eyed seekers to trust their own unique mythic being.

EtsyBotmBnrYule

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.”

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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/