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Revisiting The Spiral
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Manipulation of the Concept of Witchcraft
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August 31st. 2014 ...
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Thoughts on Cultural and Spiritual Appropriation
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Coven Life: What I Have Learned
Article ID: 13744
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Sleeping Moon
Posted: April 4th. 2010
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I started practicing witchcraft or the ancient path as I prefer to call it, back in 1996 or so. At first I was solitary, read my homework, started working with spells and rituals. Thought it interesting when my cats would act a bit crazy during that time. But, felt something was lacking. I wanted other people to talk to, to practice with. And to make sure I was doing every thing correctly. Because I couldn't "see" energy with my real eyes, I had doubts.
Let's face it, when we start off (especially when we are young) and the way Hollywood portrays magicks, we, or at least I thought that's how it was supposed to be. And I was hoping that's the way it was supposed to be. When that didn't happen, I didn't get discouraged. In fact, quite the opposite. I practiced more. To the point where I was calling the quarters just about every night of the week. I also wanted to understand the difference in feeling the energy as well, both while in circle and out of it.
After a year and a half or so, I had found a store in town that solely based their market on the Craft. Of course I was thrilled! (I think I heard about it through hear say.) I of course spread the word to just about any one that would listen what I did and what I was looking for. Both in personal life and in my professional life. I felt like I wasn't the only witch in town and the only way to find people of like minds was to open my mouth.
When I first walked into the store, I was mystified and in awe. But was a wee bit disappointed in how small it was. I browsed around for a time, and then got the courage to ask the woman behind the counter if she knew of any covens or groups in the area. She was very sweet and took my number. She didn't give me any definite information. Of course, I left the store a little disheartened that I didn't have a group to contact me right away.
I'm not sure how much time passed after that, but that nice woman behind the counter did in fact call me. It just so happened to be around Samhain time and that she had her cousin who is a priest, come up from the city to hold a Samhain celebration. She asked me if I would like to attend.
Needless to say, I was on cloud nine and of course accepted.
That first Samhain celebration was a magickal one for me. We held ritual, the priest did his thing, and we blessed and consecrated some items and did a bit of fire scrying. But, during this session instead of being drawn to the fire (like I normally am) I was drawn to the sky. I did end up seeing something that concerned me and asked the priest about it later. The moon was full and round in her splendor that night, but not only seeing that moon, I saw three others as well. Of course I knew what the three moons meant; maiden, mother, crone, but was flabbergasted about the fourth. When he heard this I recall his eyes growing wide and he said most don't see the fourth moon and it meant that it was the dark moon or hence the dark goddess. Then, in the next breath, he told me witchcraft wasn't for me.
Boy, was I literally floored. Why would some one tell me that most witches don't see the fourth moon and then tell me that it's not my rightful path? Didn't make much sense. But some how, since he was the only clergy I knew, I persuaded him to teach me. I worked with him for a bit over a year, he would come up from the city quite often and a friend and I would go down there as well. Life was good.
Until he started discouraging me. He was telling me things that didn't sit well with me and said that he wasn't comfortable teaching me any more. Plus a big thing that I didn't care for was it was his way or the high way. (I find that quite often in more distinguished groups.) So after some time, I told him that I was leaving, as I was uncomfortable with his teachings. (He also told me once that he would not initiate me through the great right! Which of course turned me completely off!) So hence I left. My friend did continue working with him, which I didn't discourage.
After that, I did work solitary for a time until I found Witchvox. I also found my next coven. Or I hoped it would be. It was several hours away, but I didn't mind the drive because it wasn't often. This group did a bit of Pow-Wow magick, which I did like. Then I started speaking up a bit more and telling a few individuals what kind of entities I am drawn to (the fae) and what I was currently working with at the time. (It was more of a neutral energy than a positive one...but NOT negative.) When they found out, I was kicked out. Only light energies where allowed there and they wouldn't tolerate any thing else. (And this person wrote about negative entities--go figure!) I never once brought this neutral energy into our circles and was stunned speechless that this would have happened.
I never thought that fellow pagans would be so prejudiced against certain energies...negative ones, understandable but not the one I was dealing with. This entity I do give a lot of credit too because it pulled me out of several dark moments in my life. This being one of them.
Like I said, I enjoyed the groups company, felt connected and thought I felt at home. Wow, did I get a slap in the face! They also didn't care for the fact that my Matron was Hecate and the god I was working with at the time happened to be Hades. Too much dark, they said. You need to balance their energies in order to have effective magick. Ptah! Maybe for them, but not for me.
So, I was back to solitary once again.
I started to petition to the gods then to find me some good folks to practice with and that I can feel comfortable enough to be myself and not have to worry about stepping on any ones toes. And let's face it, being kicked out of a coven or group.
I then went to a few open groups, several which were more than 50 miles away and each one didn't sit right. Most where the ones where I just stood in circle with my hands in the goddess position and let the Priest/Priestess do all the work. I felt like a minion. Even lower than that. Many times, I didn't even lend my energy because I felt like a ghost. I also didn't like the fact that they made you where this, or you couldn't where that. How discouraging!
Then, back in 2004 I got the courage to look for individuals this time and in my immediate area to hopefully start up a group of our own. I had no goal at the time, no set of rules and no doctrine. I just didn't want to be alone in my quest. Not too long after that, some one did contact me! This person happened to live in a town not to far away and I was thrilled. We met at a local coffee shop and hit it off.
We practiced between the two of us for a time, went to open group functions together and I came to this conclusion: We needed to start a group of our own where people can feel free to practice how they see fit, with minimal rules and regulations. So then, I placed a group add on Witchvox again. About several weeks later, a woman from a neighboring town contacted me and we met up. Then a few more. For several years it was only five of us, but we where comfortable with that.
We started to bond, open up more, did activities out side of the craft and simply enjoyed each other's company. After a while, we decided we would like to look for more individuals to join our tight nit family. Several came and went, some didn't work out for us, and we didn't work out for them. Which of course happens, whether it's through conflicting personality traits or the group wasn't right for them. Period. We even tried to get men involved and that turned out to be hairy. (Not saying that men weren't welcome, it's just the certain men that wanted to join with us.)
A few months ago we did open our group to two new women and are lovely additions! About a month ago two more joined and fit in quite nicely.
My main rule of thumb here is that this group of mine is open to all paths that follow the ancient ways. So long as we come together on a common ground, can enjoy each other's company and feel comfortable enough to speak our minds. There is no right way or wrong way in this group and there is no such thing as a designated high priestess. For we all are! We don't go through degree's or initiations for that is up to you and your guides/gods to decide and for the simple fact that we learn from each other.
It also stems back to the age-old question: Who initiated the first witch? And if that spirit initiated that witch, why can't it initiate more of us?
The broader we are in our magicks/paths, the more we can learn from each other. I purposely let each lady take the chance to host a circle/sabbat so we can see how that witch likes to practice her path. And if that lady is interested in a different magickal aspect of the craft, she has a chance to express that interest to the group.
I don't base acceptance on race, creed or age. But it is a women's group at this time. Because I feel the wider we are in acceptance of others, the more fun and enlightening the group will be. And the more we can learn from each other.
I feel humbled that I finally found or I should say that the Gods led me in the right direction to this wonderful group of special women. Each one of these ladies holds a place in my heart and I am thankful that each one has come into my life. I have learned much from this experience, continue to learn daily and enjoy every minute that I spend with them.
Coven life can be hard and challenging at times. If we don't find a common ground, a member has to go or if a problem arises and is not fixable again, member has to go. It's tough but the positives out weigh the negatives in this case. There is something awesome about connecting with a group of women that you wouldn't get anywhere else.
I feel that each woman is unique unto herself and that her view of the craft is the same and should be shared with the world. Or in this case, this group.
I am not saying that other groups have it wrong. Absolutely not. I just feel that more structured groups aren't right for me as I like each individual to feel like she has a voice and that freedom can speak it's tongue. In this, I have found my path and hope each one of you does as well.
There is something awesome about finding people of like minds that you can feel free enough to be you.
Location: Saratoga Springs, New York
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