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Magickal Path: Solitary Practitioner of Wicca
Age Group: Adult
Sun Sign: Leo
Occupation: bipolar, engineer+laptop tech
Relationship Status: Married
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Located in: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Likes: I view Wicca as evolving into a compassionate Goddess/God relationship that rings far more true than the "corporatized" religions currently dictating their rulebooks over society.
Dislikes: Everyone has their strengths, weaknesses, and twists of fate in their experiences. However, my experience as a long-distance runner is that the worst choice anyone can make is to lie to themselves.
I don't have even the slightest interest in joining a local coven. I'm simply not going to go through that trauma again.
My single biggest difficulty with witchcraft is that in major issues it is used to veto all viable options, instead of creating options that can lead to successes. It is incompetently used destructively, instead of insightfully constructively.
(Note: "Simesa" is a temporary name -- for my craft name I think I'll choose O'Thir.)
The first witch I ever met was a high school classmate named kathe who deliberately befriended me and who we all adored intensely. Kind beyond words, she was truly a radiant being. I knew her about two years before she died tragically -- we were literally devastated. I think of her every day, as I believe several of us do (at least I did until a bizarrely unfortunate event in February 2012, but I've resumed that) . I still "worship the ground she walked on".
I've been pagan-oriented since 2008 (attending occasional Beltane and Fires of Venus festivals, and, for awhile, some open Wiccan celebrations) . I was hurt badly (I test to be a Highly Sensitive Person) by a Wiccan-related problem that I had no prior inkling was even a possibility, from which it took so long to recover that I've decided to stay a solitary practitioner. My ailing wife of over six years is herself a long-time solitary practitioner because she does not wish to follow anyone else's path.
My profile used to be virtually a resume. I've been to some unusual places in the U.S. and done many things I never expected to. I have, for example, been to the bottom end of the Bright Angel Trail, on the refueling floor of a nuclear power plant, and naked on the lawn at Beltane. I have created articles in Wikipedia, and ridden side-saddle in an open-door Huey. Through it all I've always had the greater good in mind, and my lack of self-centeredness has too often led to a large amount of personal heartache.
(About nuclear power and the superior fusion power: I saw that nuclear was intended to be a better-than-fossil-fuels stopgap solution until the far-cleaner fusion power came along -- which, 36 years since my Physics degree, still has yet to happen. The proper solution is a mix of solar/wind/bio/geo/tidal/hydro, but there simply is no political will to tackle this problem as long as the world remains obsessed with wars over oil. Fusion power is the necessary intermediate step, that should stabilize the environment, replace the country-side "dirty" power plants with clean ones inside the cities, solve half of the balance-of-payments deficits, and halt the incessant battling over oil.)
I exist to serve others -- not in a submissive way (unless the situation calls for that) , but in a contributory one. That's just the way I am, for if I'm not making others happier I usually am not too happy myself. I've tried to make the best (or if not at least safest) of each situation as it arose, but that approach hasn't served me well. Therefore I'm going to remain an uninitiated solitary practitioner, albeit a well-read one.
I have a preference for strong women (and have asked to work under at least one) . My wife is both easily my equal and superior in several vital aspects (we're both Mensa members, where we met -- only her Chronic Lyme Disease holds her down) . We're not identical people, but we meld our different strengths into a happy marriage.
My greatest failings have come when I've been called on to be the stereo-typical "alpha male". I simply have never believed that forcing situations through into a "win-lose" was preferable to finding a "win-win" outcome. Developing a bipolar condition at age 37 certainly didn't help (the result of overwork and an undesired divorce) -- although under control 20 years later, the shadows of a decade of misery still haunt me. (For the record, one of my brothers had an identical breakdown in late 2007, which dragged me into quite a different morass.)
I've long had a saying (based on a Shakespeare quote that I've since learned is renowned here) : "A man who will lie to others, will lie to himself as well." However, the most important verse to me is "With our brothers, we will share" from the song "One Tin Soldier". Finally, there's a quote from Cantrell (see below) -- "Witches harm none, not because they fear the consequences of the Threefold Law, but because all is sacred."
My favorite song is "Time Will Tell" from (appropriately) "Wizards" -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwlgNT-vDEA (note that the MP3 file has a far better quality of sound than the Youtube video) . I've also watched other videos, and one I've long admired still strikes a chord -- The Impossible Dream ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgzXwpePTTU ) .
Not being in a coven, I've had to "feel my way forward" in a non-traditional learning path. Basically, I skimmed a number of books, found some very good introductory books and read them, and added in some very good intermediate or advanced books. From these last books I am learning the kinds of things that a novice should concentrate on learning and why (tree lore, for example) . I've done little actual practicing to date (visualization is going to be tough for me) , but now that I much-better know what to practice and why I hope to start true novice-level studies.
The books (of our now-143 Wicca/paganism books and 26 associated ones) and albums I've found most useful so far are listed below (the ones I've recently read thoroughly have dates beside them, for my use) . However, in the end the Goddess is right -- if that which you seek you find not within you.....
-- Raven Grimassi's "Spirit of the Witch" (2003) (read in April 2014)
---- (my 1st Must-Read book for newbies -- an excellent introduction book, NOT a Wicca 101)
-- McCoy's "Inside a Witches' Coven" (1997) (read in March 2014)
---- (my 2nd Must-Read book for newbies)
-- Silver RavenWolf's "To Light a Sacred Flame" (1999) (read in July 2014)
---- (my 3rd Must-Read book for SERIOUS newbies -- Note: The first chapter contains The Ordains)
-- Starhawk's "The Spiral Dance" (1979/1989/1999) (re-read in July 2013 and Sept./Oct. 2014)
---- (This is the classic "Wicca Primer" book, and should be read by everyone before they become a dedicant. However, I found it to be "information overload" on my first attempt at reading it, and it is a book to be read with the intent of revisiting it.)
-- Penczak's "The Inner Temple of Witchcraft" (2002) (read in May 2014)
---- (my preferred first-year book)
-- Murphy-Hiscock's "Solitary Wicca For Life" (2005) (re-read in August 2013)
-- Cabot's "Power of the Witch: The Earth, the Moon, and the Magical Path to Enlightenment" (1989) (read in December 2013)
-- McCoy's "Advanced Witchcraft" (2004) (read in March/April 2014)
---- (initially somewhat painful, in that I could have written over half of Chapter 1)
-- Starhawk & Valentine's "The Twelve Wild Swans" (2000) (re-read all of The Elements and The Inner Path sections in February 2014)
---- (Caution: see the next paragraph below before reading this book)
-- Holland's "Wicca Handbook" and "The Spellcaster's Reference" (both used frequently)
-- Raven Grimassi's "The Wiccan Mysteries: Ancient Origins & Teachings" (re-read in August 2013)
---- (Note: Chapter 16 has ten questions which require going back over the previous chapters)
-- Cunningham's "Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner" (1988)
-- Rabinovitch's "An' Ye Harm None: Magical Morality And Modern Ethics" (2004) (read in November 2014)
-- Cantrell's "Wiccan Beliefs & Practices" (2001)
-- Zukav's "The Seat of the Soul" (1989) (read in November/December 2013)
-- "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Tarot" (read in March 2014)
-- Pollack's "Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom: A Book of Tarot" (1980) (read in June 2014)
-- A Very British Witchcraft (Full) : Documentary on Gerald Gardner
-- "Shamanic Journey Solo and Double Drumming" (an album for journeying)
-- "Celtic Trance" (an album for special energy-raising)
-- "Two Worlds One" (Lisa Lynne -- I have 10 of her albums -- http://www.LisaLynne.com )
BASICALLY SECULAR BOOKS:
-- diZerega's "Fault Lines: The Sixties, the Culture War, and the Return of the Divine Feminine" (2013) (read in April 2014)
---- (a Must-Read book for coven leaders)
-- Campbell's "The Power of Myth" (1988) (read in November 2013)
-- Collins/Raeburn -- "Building a Magickal Relationship: The Five Points of Love" (2002) (read in January/February 2014)
-- Maitland's "From the Forest: a Search for the Hidden Roots of our Fairy Tales" (2012) (read in April 2014)
CAUTION: I think I want to advise against most novices reading "The Twelve Wild Swans". The reason for that is that it likely will interfere with their training and evaluation by their coven leaders. For someone like me going Solitary, "The Twelve Wild Swans" is a valuable book -- but for a young novice, reading it might derail the desired process (so ask your coven leader first) .
NOT RECOMMENDED -- Elsbeth&Johnson's "The Silver Wheel" (1996)
---- (Chapter 2 has, at best, bizarre psychology based on a minority viewpoint)
NOW READING -- Adler's "Drawing Down the Moon" (1979/1986) (read 12 of 14 chapters)
NOW READING -- Reis's "Spellbound: Woman and Witchcraft in America" (1998) (read 7 of 12 chapters)
RECEIVED -- Christopher's "Kabbalah, Magic & the Great Work of Self Transformation: A Complete Course" (2006)
PAUSED -- Penczak's "The Outer Temple of Witchcraft" (read 16 of 17 total chapters)
PAUSED -- Wildman's "Wiccan Meditations" (2002) (read 3 of 6 very-long chapters)
PAUSED -- Bruce's "Astral Dynamics: The Complete Book of Out-of-Body Experiences" (2009) (read 3 of 31 very-short chapters)
--- "Religion is for people afraid of going to hell -- Spirituality is for those who have already been there." ---
--- "Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle." ---
--- "If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together." --- But if you have to march through Hell, follow a soldier. ---
--- "Never look down on someone unless it is to help them up." ---
--- "A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding." ---
--- I recently came across a quote in Sara Maitland's "From the Forest" that addresses why "passive" religions fail whereas "participatory/experiential" Wicca flourishes: "What we need is a body of work that is shared, that belongs to us all, that is part of our identity." ---
In memory of the 1 in every 8:
"Mental Illness in the Pagan Community"
"Summing up suicide data in bipolar disorder"
You do a "Dark Night Of The Soul" -- Our "Dark Nights" can last decades.
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