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Book Chat > Getting bogged down...

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message 1: by Heather (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:58PM) (new)

Heather Ray (Wordchick) | 18 comments Hello, all. I recently began delving into Paganism after realizing that I am attuned to the divinity of nature. (I'm not as mumbo-jumbo-y as that sounds!)

My problem is that I'm having a hard time finding a reference that suits the kind of Pagan/witch/practitioner I feel I want to be. I want to find a book/site/whatever that deals with the practicality of practicing Paganism. Eh. Not being clear.

Here's an example: the athame. I buy the idea that knives are an important ritualistic tool. But I'd like the knife I use for herbal work and in the woods to have a ritualistic AND practical application.

Any ideas for authors to check out for a more earthy and practical approach?

message 2: by Laura (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:59PM) (new)

Laura (LauraStamps) Okay, I'm a terrible one to answer this question because I am a verrrrrrrry eclectic, nonacademic Witch (grin). Let me start by saying I am a Wiccan Faery Witch, and I came to this path 12 years ago by reading everything I could on Wicca and Paganism until I got to the point where I just did my own thing, doing what feels right in my spirit.

Like you I am also a Green Witch and believe in the sacredness of everyday items. I feel they absorb good energy from every task you use them for no matter how mundane, and that is a good thing. That may also be part of my Fey nature...simplicity. I am famous for dashing to my kitchen or using mundane things in my house for magick. And it works for me. In fact in most magickal spellwork I have gone beyond ritual tools and just commune with the spirits to manifest a spell. I use my finger for a wand and have never used an athame.

So my advice is to read all kinds of books to get a good background, and then just do your own thing, go with what feels good to you in your spirit. If you have any specific questions, send me a message or an email, and I will be happy to help.

Magickal blessings!

message 3: by Heather (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:59PM) (new)

Heather Ray (Wordchick) | 18 comments Thanks, Laura. I guess I need to just get on with it and listen to what my heart is telling me. My local library is famous for NOT stocking books that are interesting or current, so I think it's going to be slow going--which is fine. I mean, I have a year and a day, right? ;)

message 4: by Laura (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:59PM) (new)

Laura (LauraStamps) Actually, you have the rest of your life (grin)!

Seriously though, I see you have marked my novel, "The Witches of Dixie," to read. One of the many things I wanted to do in that novel is to show how real-lfe Wiccans live every day. Some have one Patron Goddess, some are more eclectic and call on a variety of Goddesses, depending on their needs and spells. Several are Green Witches. All the spells, chants, and rituals come from my personal BOS, and work in real life or I wouldn't include them in my novels.

Have you been to my blog yet? It is called "Magickal Novels & Empowering Thoughts for Women" at http://www.OccultFiction.blogspot.com . You'll find all kinds of useful Witchy stuff there, as well as info about my books. The current post is the latest interview with me.

And, yes, follow your heart when walking your Path and learning your Carft. Everyone is different, and the Goddess will tailor your course of study in a way that is best for you. Just trust in Her Goodness, have faith, and most of all enjoy yourself! Being a Pagan is truly the most fun you can have as a mortal in this Earth realm. :)

BTW, I almost forgot. I see you live in Perry, GA. Where is that (north or south GA)? I grew up in north GA in Dalton, and went to college there before moving to SC.

message 5: by Ben (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:59PM) (new)

Ben Gruagach | 5 comments There are some websites that are a great resource for helping newcomers figure out how to get started as they help connect you with the community in all its glorious diversity. They're also extremely helpful for those of us who have been around for a while as there is always new insight being shared.

http://www.witchvox.com -- the absolute best site for finding people who are geographically near you. They also host hundreds if not thousands of thought-provoking essays written and submitted by visitors to the site. (Lots of diverse opinions -- no one is expected to always agree!)

http://www.mysticwicks.com -- one of the best Pagan messageboard websites that I've encountered. Thousands of active members, including quite a few published Pagan authors (Raven Grimassi, Deb Lipp, Isaac Bonewits, many more.) This site has an excellent welcoming attitude and lots of sections set up specifically to help newcomers. Lots of more advanced discussion there too! And there is no such thing as a bad question...

; )

Ben Gruagach
author of "The Wiccan Mystic"

message 6: by Zephrene (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:00PM) (new)

Zephrene | 6 comments I'm going to second Furzecat (Hi!) on this and say, collect books about the practical applications you want to pursue - gardening, herbalism, wilderness observation, meditation, cooking - and then apply your own spiritual grounding to them.

Some of the books that I studied as part of my coven dedication might be of interest here:

A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold

How to Meditate, by Lawrence LeShan (which covers lots of methods)

One of the exercises we had to do was to make friends with seven trees that we would see often, and observe/photograph/sketch/sit with/meditate on them for an entire calendar year. (This exercise was so different for me in NYC versus Houston that I did it again when I moved. Really gets you into sync with a new environment.)

Note that for that coven training, none of the reading were directly related to magic or religious practice. It was all about actually connecting with nature. I had to answer an ecological survey about my neighborhood, identifying native plants and animals, tracing my water from rainfall to tap, identifying where my garbage goes, that sort of thing. I lived in urban Queens, but still managed to find native herbs growing out of the sidewalk. :)

Also, books on green living or organic living will have more about practical alternatives for bringing more nature into one's life, especially if you live in a city.

For spiritual information, I recommend two possible avenues - find out what mythos/cultural spirituality calls to you and read as much scholarship as you can (or as much as you can stomach) about it, read the myths and the commentaries and the social histories; AND/OR go outside and get to know the place where you live, its spirits and creatures and plants.
Usually after a year of actively getting to know your own personal environment, you'll be better able to create your own practice, or figure out which books may be of use.
And if you want some recommendations on books about Wicca, I can offer a few, but I can't speak to other pagan traditions except to pass on recs I've heard from those practitioners.

(I seem to be saying, "Don't rely on books!" - I could have done that in one sentence and not spammed you all. Oh, well.)

Let us know how it's going!

message 7: by Zephrene (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:00PM) (new)

Zephrene | 6 comments oh, and I want to add, re: athame.

As I understand it, that tool is pretty specific to a particular kind of Pagan tradition (Gardnerian Wicca and its offshoots), one that has its roots in ceremonial magic.
There's no hard and fast rule about having an athame (I don't have one yet, although since I am Wiccan I'll eventually get one), and one can work magic without tools. The tools are devices to speak to your subconscious, so if having a ritual knife that never does practical work doesn't jive with your spiritual work, don't have one. There are plenty of traditions that use different tools, or no tools at all, to create their sacred space. The tool is an extension of your Self. Use the ones you need, that help and strengthen you.

YMMV, depending on your practice.
Ok, really shutting up now.

message 8: by Pamela (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:00PM) (new)

Pamela (teacupfangirl) I'm also a very eclectic pagan, after spending a few years reading everything I could get my hands on about paganism and Wicca. For me, my own way works best, heh.

Some of my favorite authors include Dorothy Morrison and Ellen Dugan. Both focus more on the practical, earthy end of being a witch, which suits me very well. I'm not one for pomp and circumstance in my spells and rituals, and I also like to pick and choose information from various sources and prepare my own. I find those two authors to be great resources for creating my own rituals.

As for the athame, I agree with Zephrene. Any tool is meant to be an extension of your own will and power, a conduit, if you will. Some people find they work better with those conduits, and others (myself included) find them distracting. IMO, you don't necessarily need a super special athame to use only when directing power. If your favorite kitchen knife feels right, then go for it! For me, being a witch is all about what resonates as right in my soul. :)

message 9: by Laura (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:00PM) (new)

Laura (LauraStamps) Great input, Keri! And I second what you said about not relying on books (big smile). In the beginning books are important, so read everything you can get your hands on that interests you about the Craft. Build your knowledge base. But after a few years there will come a time when you move beyond much of that. You will know in your heart what works for you and what interests you and what doesn't.

In fact, I am going to go out on a limb and say I have seen many Witches who are so academic and tied to following books to the letter that they just stop growing in their practice. They don't seem to trust the voice of the Goddess in their hearts. They can't make that step. So don't worry, there is plenty of room to grow and be just as eclectic as you like within Wicca, and it is okay.

Thanks, Ben, for suggesting Witchvox. Love it! I have a business account there. It really is awesome in that you can go to the page for your state and see how many Pagans are there and all the shops, covens, organizations, etc. Not everyone is on Witchvox, but more than you can imagine are. Great resource!

message 10: by Heather (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:00PM) (new)

Heather Ray (Wordchick) | 18 comments Wow! So many comments! Thanks, y'all. I need to process them and will comment on them when my daughter isn't yelling for me to take her out of her high chair for goodness' sake!

But to a few:

Laura: I actually grew up in Calhoun--so we might have run into each other! Cool.

Ben: I've been to Witchvox, but thanks for the other link. I'll check it out soon.

Zephrene: Sand County Almanac has a prominant place on our bookshelf--I'll have to go check it out from a different standpoint.

And now, if I don't get this girl hydrated, she's going to implode or bring the house down with her yelling.

Back later.

message 11: by Laura (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:00PM) (new)

Laura (LauraStamps) Wow, Calhoun is just down the highway from Dalton. Neat! My father moved to Calhoun and lived there until he passed over to the other realm. And I had a blind date there many many years ago (grin). In fact the only reason I ended up in SC is because the college in Dalton at that time (1977) was just a junior college, so I continued my education at the College of Charleston, in Charleston, SC. Then got married, moved to Columbia, and have lived here ever since. I hear Dalton Junior College is now Dalton College, a four year college and part of the University of Georgia system. Small world!

message 12: by Heather (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:04PM) (new)

Heather Ray (Wordchick) | 18 comments Your comments were so helpful. What a welcoming group! (My group's the be-est, la la la la la...ahem.)

I have found a whole bunch of groovy stuff about kitchenwitchery that appeals to me online and found Cunningham's Earth Power at B&N and just devoured it today.

So...Yay! The path narrows a bit. Thanks for your help.

message 13: by David (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:06PM) (new)

David | 13 comments hi there heather david garden here i am a good reads member . i have many natural poems under the authors section i also have a group called the " silent voice".. comcering home;essness
issues.. for you to look up you ask for a group
there are many,.. but ... if you are atuned to nature "use the force"... follow your heart
this is a good one to stay with, good disscusion groups..(books to look at) why not start your own group. just to post your own thought if you like to write post in writing & authors section
then browse others sites to scan for like minded thoughts, ideas..

cheers david

message 14: by Heather (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:07PM) (new)

Heather Ray (Wordchick) | 18 comments Thanks, David, for the input. *Runs off to find light saber.* :)

I definitely am enjoying surfing around finding information!

message 15: by Ancestral (last edited Apr 16, 2011 02:51PM) (new)

Ancestral Gael If you want to use a knife that's both practical and ritual, go ahead. Steer clear of any Wicca or wiccanesque authors and tread your own path.

To that end, try Fiona Walker-Craven's " 13 Moons: A Journal of a Natural Witch " or Gary St M. Nottingham's " Liber Noctis: The Handbook of the Sorcerous Arte ". Ritual can be as simple as touching a certain tree beside your gate as you leave for work every morning or as complicated as a 3 hour long seasonal celebratory ritual involving circles, calling the elementals, kings, offerings, with a script for a a cast of tens, etc.

For a book about earthy paganism, I would try " Art Of Conversation With The Genius Loci " by Barry Patterson.

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