Articles/Essays From Pagans
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An Alternative Conception of Divine Reciprocity
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Magic in Sentences
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Revisiting The Spiral
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January 22nd. 2016 ...
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December 20th. 2015 ...
Introduction to Tarot For the Novice
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October 24th. 2015 ...
Facing Your Demons: The Shadow Self
Native American Spirituality Myopia
The Dream Eater--A Practical Use of Summoning Talismans
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October 16th. 2015 ...
Sacred Lands, Sacred Hearts
September 30th. 2015 ...
September 16th. 2015 ...
Nature Worship: or Seeing the Trees for the Ents
Vegan or Vegetarian? The Ethical Debate
August 6th. 2015 ...
Lost - A Pagan Parent's Tale
July 9th. 2015 ...
Love Spells: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
The Magic of Weather
June 7th. 2015 ...
A Pagan Altar
A Minority of a Minority of a Minority
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Why I Bother With Ritual: Poetry and Eikonic Atheism
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Sex, Lies, and Witches: Love in a Time of Wiccans and Atheists
Gods, Myth, and Ritual in Naturalistic Paganism
I Claim Cronehood
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March 29th. 2015 ...
A Thread in the Tapestry of Witchcraft
March 28th. 2015 ...
On Wiccan Magick, Theurgy, Thaumaturgy and Setting Expectations
March 1st. 2015 ...
Choosing to Write a Shadow Book
Historiolae: The Spell Within the Story
My Concept Of Grey
February 1st. 2015 ...
Seeker Advice From a Coven Leader
The Three Centers of Paganism
Magick is No Illusion
The Ancient Use of God/Goddess Surnames
The Gods of My Heart
January 1st. 2015 ...
The Six Most Valuable Lessons I've Learned on My Path as a Witch
Manipulation of the Concept of Witchcraft
Publicly Other: Witchcraft in the Suburbs
Pagans All Around Us
Broomstick to the Emerald City
October 20th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Conjuring Spirits
A Microcosmic View of Ma'at
October 5th. 2014 ...
The History of the Sacred Circle
Abandoning Expectations and Remembering Your Roots
September 28th. 2014 ...
Seeking Pagan Lands for Pagan Burials
Creating a Healing Temple
September 20th. 2014 ...
GOD AND ME (A Pagan's Personal Reply to the New Atheists)
September 7th. 2014 ...
Deer Man- A Confounding Mystery
August 31st. 2014 ...
Coven vs. Solitary
A Strange Waking Dream
August 24th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Cultural and Spiritual Appropriation
The Pagan Cleric
A Gathering of Sorcerers (A Strange Tale)
August 17th. 2014 ...
To Know, to Will, to Dare...
On Grief: Beacons of Light in the Shadows
August 10th. 2014 ...
As a Pagan, How Do I Represent My Path?
The Power of the Gorgon
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Lighting the Path: Emotions of the Soul
Article ID: 10758
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 3,651
Times Read: 2,735
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Posted: July 2nd. 2006
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When it comes to the debate of formal and informal training, I am, to some extent, stuck on the fence. In the decade or so that I have been following the principles of the Wiccan Rede, I have obtained knowledge both formally and self taught. Neither the conviction in my beliefs nor religious choices have changed. I believe many find their way along a Pagan path due to experiences they have encountered in their lives and the questions that have arisen from those experiences which incite a systematic need for answers to those questions. This does not necessarily signal they are meant to follow such a path, only that they may benefit from the knowledge that is offered.
In my personal experience I have found that the choice between formal and informal training is a difficult one. I undoubtedly benefit from the structure and discipline of formal training but have developed skills within myself that, in some ways, force me onto a solitary path. Having grown up in an area that was rich with historical value, I have always been quite sensitive to energies that inhabited different areas and locations. This, coupled with having been strongly empathic since my childhood, has led me through a number of ups and downs, bearing the weight of confused emotions and fear that have at times explained many experiences in my life while conjuring up a slew of unanswered questions. My biggest concern is that the subject of empathy is many times only touched upon when, in fact, the need for understanding may be greater than we imagine.
Another subject that seems to be nearly off limits is spirit guides, communication, and the attunement of energies thereof. I have no doubt this is due in part to over dramatized television, film and nationwide psychics who find great profit in this type of exploitation. For myself, spirit communication has gone hand in hand with my empathy, and overall has been a bit more mundane than what is portrayed in the media. I had spent many years working with my guides through entangled emotions and heart stopping fear trying to develop the skills given to me. Though the complexities of such a skill can at times overwhelm, encompassing each one of the senses with strong emotional attachments can be equally rewarding when you are able to aid in the healing or crossing of an earthbound soul or offer a voice when it is needed. Still, much like empathy, communication on the planes can be physically and emotionally draining. It is a disheartening realization that any answers I sought or knowledge I have since gained are based solely on a solitary effort only because I could not find anyone to listen when I needed them.
I myself have tried on numerous occasions to discuss these subjects with teachers and mentors, each time being unsuccessful. I cannot even begin to count the number of awkward silences that have arisen and the feeling of judgmental eyes upon me. Being a student armed, like many, with such emotionally and physically draining skills, I think there is a great need for support and a safe place to turn where we can discuss our experience; learn how to shield not only properly, but impeccably; and have an outlet through high stress moments. My quest for formal training began as a need to learn about the things I didn’t know and understand the things I did, a balance of sorts, but I wound up feeling more like an outcast than a group member. This, I am embarrassed to say, causes me to withdraw into my own solitary confine which is where an empath, battling a range of emotions, definitely should not be.
Now I by no means at this point am an advanced Shaman or world walker, but I have had enough experience to hold my own when traveling upon the planes and I know it is a path where I belong. My point in all of this is that there must be some sort of concrete knowledge and support to compliment the spiritual, allowing for growth. The utter confusion and subsequent isolation an empath can feel will only lead to blockages and set backs. This is especially true in the beginning when one realizes that such skills exist. For me the moment of enlightenment was emotionally devastating.
I can remember being 13 and just a mere picture of one person in particular would send me into uncontrollable tears and sorrow. I can remember being able to understand what he was feeling somehow, though I couldn’t pinpoint the exact reasoning. I dared not tell him or anyone else. I spent a year or two always experiencing the same emotion with the same person and thinking for the most part that I was insane. Being young and unable to comprehend what was actually happening, I resolved to talk to this picture daily in hopes he could somehow hear me. I can remember begging him to get help and to just reach out to someone, anyone. I would say good morning and good night to him everyday until I just couldn’t take anymore. The experience with this person and others that soon followed led me to eventually block out anything I was feeling, including anything that would remind me of them or such circumstances. For that one particular person, I had blocked his memory so well that it wasn’t until the late nineties when I heard the story of his death and the years of depression and anxiety he suffered through. It certainly was a wake up call for me and one where guilt and sadness were certainly strong enough to override my fears, but it equally caused an onslaught of emotion and unanswered questions as to why and what was the point of it all and why is there such a strong connection between some and not others.. In any event, it was the one experience that truly inspired me to find my way along a path that I had so many times thought about but feared more than anything.
Afterward, trying to speak with others more knowledgeable on the subject, there was not a single person who could offer a reasonable explanation as to why, not even a quick lesson in empathy which may at least have attached some form of comprehension to the situation. For the most part, I was shrugged off. A few years later I would have my answers. The reason for the deep connection and understanding of his emotion was partially due to similar battles I faced in my personal life and partially, as the universe would have it, this person turned out to be one of my guides. Probably the most important one, as it has been through his guidance that I have been able to develop my skills and senses enough to help those who need healing to find their peace and make their way into the light.
So why am I telling you all this? If for no other reason, it is to reach out both to the mentors of our community and to those who have found themselves in similar situations and need the comfort of knowing that someone else out there understands. Eventually you will find your answers. As for formal training, yes I think it is necessary, but only if it is balanced in such a way as to encompass both the group and the individual. It is said that Divine only gives us what we can handle. That doesn’t mean we must go it alone.
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