The Journey: Where Are The Markers?
Article ID: 14359
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,125
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Author: Village Witch
Posted: March 20th. 2011
Times Viewed: 2,541
At one time there was a dilemma that I always seemed to come back around to when I contemplated who I was a Witch. It was easy in the beginning, as most things are. I just did whatever I wanted and learned as I went and had a blast with spells and rituals. With no discipline and no structure I fumbled in the dark with my close group of friends as we tried to find the path. One by one they turned back until it was just Epiphany and I, and sometimes even then it was just me.
Roughly three years into my tentative journey with the gods, I learned of the Seeker Ceremony and the Rainbow Year. I immediately knew that I would do it. Even if I wasn't a newbie anymore, at least that wasn't how I saw myself, I still felt deep down that I could learn more.
I knew without a doubt that I was no 'Advanced Witch' and if I ever was going to become a High Priestess I was going to need a lot of training, in anything and everything I could get my greedy little hands on. High Priestess seemed to be the ‘end’ goal, the highest point for me to aspire to. A leader of my own coven. The thought consumed me for some time, like a fire burning in my soul. I pushed myself then and pushed hard.
But what makes a Witch into an Advanced Witch? What makes him/her a student? Aren't we all students, if we admit that you can't know everything then doesn't that mean we're always seeking? Always the student? How do I know when I’m there? Will I ever be?
Do you see my dilemma yet? Being, for the most part, a Solitary Witch I didn’t have the pleasure and opportunity of a teacher. I was my teacher, it was difficult -once I stopped ‘playing around’- to force myself to be the teacher and the student. When I set guidelines and restrictions for myself that would help light the dark path towards my personal empowerment, I would also have to stick to them and follow through. So I would be able to find that wall, that place to which I needed to measure up.
When do you know that you've reached the point 'advanced?' Is there really a point to reach? Some teachers put down principles that their students must master in order to 'go up a level' in their studies of the craft. (Kind of like tests in school.) But since there are so many different traditions, do you have to meet all of their requirements before you can graduate to 'advanced' or 'senior' or 'high priest/priestess’? Do you judge the competence of your abilities on how long you have been practicing or by how talented you are?
I have found that ultimately the choice is your own, but as a Solitary Witch I know how confusing it can be when you think about your abilities and how much they've grown. So how do you judge it? Do you use the thirteen goals of a witch? Many Neopagans do use Scott Cunningham's informative list “The Thirteen Goals of a Witch” to guide them in the beginnings of their journey. But where do you go from there? Is there a place to go?
I do not believe there is a wrong answer. Just because you can no longer see the path doesn’t mean you’re lost. It’s just like a youthful solitary student stumbling in the dark, looking for the light.
I was recently in a Pagan chat room when I posed the question of how you know you are no longer a ‘seeker’ to the occupants. The most I got out of them was this:
“When you are immune, and are no longer surprised by what you learn.” I didn't quite like this answer as I don’t like the thought of a person being immune to their faith, but then it was elaborated upon and after an amusing discussion the whole conversation came down to wisdom, and how you use the knowledge that you gain, and being selfless with it.
And how do you know? You know that you are there, because it is in your heart and it is in your spirit. You can feel your personal power and its closeness with the Spirit. Knowing you are secure in your faith is very different than knowing your faith. You know you are there when you cast your circle and instead of feeling the jitters and new awe of your power, you feel the comfortable, warm embrace of the spiritual world. You’re there when connecting with the Goddess is like slipping on a well-used glove, or embracing an old friend.
Epiphany likes to cut to the chase and when I asked her she broke it down to three things: Experience, Skill and Self Confidence. These are her three core elements that can set you apart and push you forward in your life long journey of personal empowerment. It's the three things that advance you in any trade, faith, even hobbies; you name it, these simple core elements are what help you to move forward.
Experience, obviously comes with time. Patience is a lesson that you should teach yourself early on. There’s no use in trying to make time do anything; it’s on its own schedule. Use this time to practice the ritual of your faith. [Opening the Circle, Calling the Watchtowers, Performing the Rite, Closing and Giving Thanks.] All of these things are perfected over time.
Skills, through a mixture of repetition and talent, can be shaped and molded. I mention talent, because each Witch has his or her own special talents. [i.e. Some prefer Runes to Cards or Crystals to Mirrors.] Your talents are molded and refined into special skills that, whether we want them to or not, define us and show what type of person we are.
Self Confidence: this could be the most important of the three. If you have no confidence in your abilities then you will find yourself lacking in some way and you cannot, in good conscience, allow others to rely on your experience and skill if you can’t yourself. It’s with self-confidence that you can pull on your own experiences with the craft to help lead others. It’s with that confidence and your skill that you build on your Personal Power, and solidify your connection with the Spirit.
It is with all three of these things that you can light your way and lead yourself down the Old Path. In truth, you never stop learning, nor should you. Even the most seasoned practitioners should be able turn to their students, or friends and family and be able to be humble enough to learn from them. The ability to continue learning, when you are perceived to already be a master at your craft, can be the most self-rewarding gift you can give yourself.
Now that we know when we are there -- if we really truly are -- where do go? Say we agree that we never stop learning. But say we also have reached all those goals we’ve set for ourselves. Say that we are comfortable, humble, well-versed and even help to light the path for new practitioners. What comes next?
Since everyone’s journey is his/her own, there is no one universal answer that would please all. My answer, surprisingly enough, comes from a Buddhist’s view on “holding off” enlightenment until everyone is enlightened. To continue to walk the path and help others walk theirs, to continue to learn and seek as if there was no next step to begin with. Like with all things, I suppose, it truly comes back in a circle. The wheel returns to its starting place and we begin again and while looking for that light in the dark, or to label the accomplishment of knowing, we can be content with all that we do not know.
Scott Cunningham's "Thirteen Goals of a Witch"
Buddha's Enlightenment Vows
Location: Atascadero, California
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