How to Create a Wiccan Shrine

The idea of the Wiccan shrine/ altar is to give yourself a real, physical connection to your spirituality and beliefs. Something you can reach out and touch, see, hear, taste and even smell. A Wiccan altar should appeal to your senses, be something you enjoy and give you a feeling of being connected to the Earth, nature, any deities you choose, and life itself.

A Wiccan shrine is commonly known as an altar. The origin of the word shrine was ‘a case for holy papers’. The Wiccan altar we create isn’t usually a case containing papers. It’s more likely a Wiccan, Witch or Pagan would keep any papers and notes in their Book of Shadows. Probably a good idea to keep your papers away from your altar in case of mess from the elements: fire, water, air and earth. None of those are especially good for paper, even air will turn it yellow over time.

One important thing to consider when you create an altar is that you are going public with it. Unless you live a hermit-like existence, someone is going to see your altar at some point in time. If you are secretive (and there are all kinds of reasons for keeping your beliefs a secret) you will want to keep your altar inconspicuous. This isn’t hard to do, with a little imagination and ingenuity. No, you don’t have to hide it in a drawer or closet. Just use common every day things which are typically in most homes but place them together. You will be the only one who knows this is your Wiccan altar.

A Base for your Altar

Your altar can be a collection of things but find a way to group them or collect them together. There are traditional ways like drawing a circle around them, using a pentacle, etc. But, there’s no reason you can’t get creative.

Place everything on a tray – like a vintage wooden tray or something made of an old metal like tin. Watch for something in thrift shops and antique stores.

Embroider (or draw using permanent marker) a pentacle on a handkerchief and use it under everything, as a liner. The bonus about using something made of fabric is how easy it is to wash it and reuse it.

If you can, build a terrarium which can include so many elements and generate oxygen too. Put the terrarium in a safe place with the altar cloth under it. No doubt you can think up other great ideas which can create an altar, incorporating some or all of the elements, the centrepiece and a base.

The Centrepiece for your Altar

Yes, there should be a centrepiece. This is something personal to you which connects you to the altar on a real level. Place it in the centre of the other objects. When you do add the objects for each element to your altar find the right directions to place them in north, west, south and east.

If you include deities in your Wiccan beliefs you might choose something which gives you a connection to your deity as the centre of your altar.

Add the Elements to your Altar

These are just possibilities for your altar. Each person should find a way to bring each element to your altar in a way that has real, personal meaning to themselves. The idea of the altar is to give yourself a real, physical connection to your spirituality and beliefs. You just can’t do that if you copy ideas from someone else just because you read it in a book. Take these ideas and use them in your own individual way. (If an idea really suits you – do it!)

Fire

  • candles (make sure they won’t tip over -short and squat candles are a good plan)
  • matches (unlit) because they bring the possibility of fire without the smell or danger.
  • steel tools – they’ve been through a lot of fire
  • a little bit of ash from a fire
  • cinnamon sticks or hot peppers

Air

  • a paper fan, decorate it yourself
  • a fancy (clear glass) jar with ‘nothing’ in it
  • a bell because sound is carried on the air
  • leaves which have been blown from trees
  • a balloon, inflated or deflated

Water

  • a tiny container of water.
  • a fish – a living goldfish or a wooden toy fish
  • a snowglobe – any time of year
  • a shell picked up from a beach
  • an umbrella or rain hat

Earth

  • a tiny sample of dirt from outside your own home.
  • fresh fruit – eat it then add fresh fruit again
  • a growing plant – it can even be seasonal, like a poinsettia at Christmas time.
  • garden tools, like a small trowel or garden gloves
  • a rock or pebble you found somewhere outdoors

Bless Your Altar

Once you have pulled everything together for your altar give it a first time use with a blessing – like a statement of purpose.

Sprinkle salt over everything (go easy on any living things, like plants) then speak aloud your blessing. The blessing can be something you wrote yourself or something you found from an outside source. (Even something you have re-written or paraphrased for your personal use). The blessing is your way of making this altar something different, something important to you, outside of the everyday stuff which may be upon it.

The salt is only there to purify or refresh the altar. It’s traditional and a good idea for the first time you use the altar, but not so essential that you can’t skip it if you have to. Remember, the real purpose of the altar is to connect you to the beliefs you hold. The keyword there being you. Anything you read it a book is just a guideline. Anything you actually choose to do should be for and about you and your feelings, beliefs, ideals.

Now that you Have your Altar…

Now that you have your altar what do you do with it?

Keep it refreshed, tidy and don’t let it get dusty. (Unless you really want to add dust bunnies as an element to your altar).

Use your altar in your rituals, create a ritual for your altar or use your altar as part of your rituals.

If you keep and/ or use Wiccan tools like an athame, wand, chalice, pentacle you wear, and so on you can keep them on or near your Wiccan altar. It’s practical in it’s way – you will know where everything is. Also, it keeps everything in tune, balanced and they can lend and store energy from each other. Your altar is such a personal thing it will imprint something of yourself and your spirituality on the things you keep on or near it.

Bless your altar and use it as a focus for your beliefs, your spirituality and a focal point as you learn more about Wiccan and Paganism. As you learn and grow and develop your beliefs you will change how you feel and think about various aspects of Wicca. Your altar is like a grounded place which you can come back to no matter how far and wide you explore and discover.

 

Other Ideas and Methods for Creating an Altar

Being a Solitary Witch (or Wiccan)

Black Hat Society

The solitary Witch, Wiccan or Pagan is alone by choice. There are many reasons for making this choice to be a Witch or Wiccan on your own. There are also lots of ways solitary Witches can share notes, talk and get new ideas from other Witches, when they want to.

Solitary Witches tend to be eclectic, they have their own vision and ideals for the path they follow. They don’t fit in with a standard coven based faith and beliefs. This is one reason they choose to strike out on their own and do things as they feel right to themselves rather than the larger group.

Some solitary Witches also like the privacy of keeping their spirituality personal. Once you start keeping a journal of your beliefs, your ideas, your thoughts and experiences, you may find yourself not wanting to share all of it. Some of our thoughts are too personal. If you share your Book of Shadows you begin to edit it while you write, instead of just writing from your heart knowing everything you write is just for your eyes only.

Of course, some solitary Witches just don’t like joining groups and prefer working alone.

How to be a Solitary Witch

Explore other paths, beliefs and ideas. I’ve read about Sea Witches, Garden Witches, Christian Witches, Druids, and so many others. I continue to read, research and explore. Look at other cultures and other religions too. Don’t close your mind; you might miss something great while you’re so sure you’re right.

Enjoy and appreciate nature, wildlife, wildflowers, gardens, trees and think green. Wicca is a religion about nature and Witches celebrate nature and the natural world. Find your love for it and celebrate what we have.

Keep a journal (Book of Shadows). Write about your discoveries, explorations and research. Most of all, write about your feelings, everything you’re thinking about – both positive and negative. Don’t be intimidated and think you aren’t ready for a real Book of Shadows. Any journal you keep is a Book of Shadows – there isn’t a rule that says you have to write about Witchcraft and Wicca alone or in any certain way.

Build an altar. It can be very private, small and personal or you can go forth and build something right on your front lawn. A garden is a great place to have an altar, an easy place to bring the four elements into. Earth, water, air and fire are routine in a garden, at various times. You can create an indoor alter and have it right on your desk or kitchen counter if that is your best space. Some feathers for air, some rocks for earth, salt for water and a candle to light for fire – that’s all you need for a start. Add personal touches as you grow into it.

Begin paying attention to the Wiccan/ Witch holidays and events. Honour them in your own way. Read more about what each of them means and their history. Pick a favourite, one that has extra meaning to you and make a real event out of it.

Become more aware of the Wiccan Reade, the three-fold law and the concept of harms none.They are all connected, saying the same basic idea in different ways. The idea is simple on the surface. As you consider it from more aspects it begins to get complicated. For instance, is it harmful to work against the free will of another, even if you are helping them? (This is why I don’t get into any spells. It’s a personal choice).

Don’t Set Yourself in Stone

Being a solitary Witch gives you endless options to explore. While coven Witches have to maintain a set of core beliefs to be part of the group, a solitary Witch can always be learning and trying new ideas, looking into fresh concepts and reinventing his/ her path. As a solitary Witch you can always do what feels right to you, without getting the approval from anyone else.

This does not mean there are no guidelines at all.

Being a solitary Witch does not mean you are free to reinterpret the Wiccan Reade. Harm none is pretty clear.

Don’t Buy Like a Witch Tourist

Don’t fall into the idea that you have to buy books, jewellery, tools, special clothes or anything else.

Look for what you want and often enough you will find it, at no cost or very minimal cost.

You can find Pagan books at thrift stores, second-hand book stores and the library. You an also find a lot of information online. Contact the authors of any books you find valuable, some will write back a real reply and even recommend fresh resources to you.

You don’t need to start buying tools, jeweled pentacles or custom clothing until you really know what you want and what will have real meaning to you. Don’t buy anything just because you think you should have it. That’s acting like a Witch tourist, someone who just wants to look like they fit in. Be true to yourself and only buy or collect the things you want for your own personal choice and your own needs.

 

How to Find and Join a Coven of Witches

It’s not hard to find and join a coven if you are sincere and understand the basics of Wicca/ Witchcraft. Some covens will be a tough sell, some won’t want new members (especially new Witches or solitary Witches) and some will just be close minded to anyone who doesn’t fit exactly with their beliefs.

There may be an initiation required before anyone new can participate or join. I didn’t find this the first time I found a coven in my community. They had open meetings every Friday right in town. Not everyone will find this easy acceptance, especially if you live in a small town, rural area. (Less people means there are fewer people to form groups).

It’s all about making contact at first.

A local Pagan, occult or metaphysical store can tell you about covens in your area and give you someone to contact. Or, look online for anyone in your area, anyone who seems to have the same path of belief as yourself and anyone who is already a member of any kind of group based in your state/ province.

Attend events! If there are local Witches they probably meet up for casual social events, especially around the Pagan holidays. Look for people selling Pagan, esoteric or occult tools, books and handmade items at Farmer’s Markets, flea markets and street sales in your town. Ask for business cards, or any kind of contact information they can give you.

Talk to artists who work with natural materials: wood, iron, hemp, etc. Those who make Celtic knots, dragons and pentacles are good to ask about local Witches, including their own circle of friends.

Coffee shops are another good way to find out about local Witches. Look for a coffee shop which supports the local community by putting up notices for events, small businesses and offers local art for sale. The coffee shops make and keep contacts in the area. The owners/ managers may have people you can talk to.

You don’t need to appear an expert, but you don’t want to look clueless either.

If the local Pagans get to know you, see that you aren’t just curious but actually involved, you will be invited to join the group for a ritual.

When you are invited to watch on the sidelines or actually take part in the circle (group) be prepared. Know the ritual basics. Don’t make a rookie mistake – like not understanding which direction widdershins is.

Ask questions, before the gathering. What are you expected to bring? What does everyone wear, or not wear?

Witch and Wiccan Online Communities

 

Geomancy

Collegium Geomanticum

It’s not feng shui, and it doesn’t have anything to do with ley lines or dowsing. It’s been called earth astrology, a Western equivalent of the I Ching, and the forgotten oracle of the Western world. It was one of the most popular systems of divination in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and stands at the center of traditions of magic, philosophy, and initiation deeply relevant to today. What is it? Geomancy.

Geomancy is a traditional art of divination that uses the sixteen geomantic figures – patterns of single and double dots – to explore the mysteries of past, present and future. As a branch of the Hermetic tradition, an ancient Western system of spiritual transformation and magical philosophy and practice, it relies on the fundamental Hermetic law, the unity of the macrocosm (the universe around us) and the microcosm (the universe within us) to open up hidden potentials for knowledge, wisdom, and power and, in the words of the legendary Hermes Trismegistus, “perform the miracles of the One Thing.”

Reading this description makes it seem really complicated and mystical. It’s not that complex. It’s divination using stones. At least that’s what it used to be. People do have a way of taking something simple and making it a huge complicated knot they can make some money out of.

Mid Atlantic Geomancers Geomancers are spiritual ecologists.

Geomancy

A system of divination that employs the scattering of pebbles, grains of sand, or seeds on the earth and then the interpretation of their shape and position.

This is a better description. Much simpler and closer to the basic idea.

The Geomancy Group An association of practising geomancers and other like-minded folk over the UK.

Astrological Geomancy by Anthony Louis
Ancient Astronomy and Geomancy in Kyoto, Japan
Geomance
Earth Mysteries

How to Locate a Ghost Hunting Tour Group

Ghost walks (or ghost tours) are guided tours where guests are shown the haunted history of an area or a location. Ghost tours cater to tourists and are not meant to be as frightening or taken as seriously as an actual ghost hunting would be.

If you want the reality of a ghost hunt you will need to talk to the ghost hunting or paranormal research group and ask to be included next time they go out on something other than a tour. However, you would have to be someone with more knowledge and commitment to investigating the paranormal than at the tourist level.

Finding a Ghost Walking Tour

If you are already online the easiest way to find a local ghost hunting tour group is to try an online search. Open your search site of choice: Yahoo, Google, DuckDuckGo (a new search which I’ve been trying and liking), etc. Type in the search terms – “ghost tour”, “haunted walk”, “haunted tour”, “ghost exploring”, and then your local area which could be the town or city or the county you live in. Don’t restrict your search to a small area, unless you live in a very large city and want to find something right in your neighbourhood.

Don’t forget to check social sites like Flickr, YouTube and Pinterest for people who are giving ghost tours or have been on a ghost tour and given a review of their experience.

Also, search for paranormal seekers and ghost hunters in the larger area around you. Often they will have links to smaller groups in the area on their websites or blogs. This is a great help, of course, for people looking for local ghost tours.

You can also contact the larger groups and ask for information, links or phone numbers to contact any local ghost hunters who would give tours if asked or may already run scheduled tours.

Another way to find your local ghost hunters is to watch where local groups list their upcoming events. I found my local group listed in the local newspaper and a website giving free space to local groups to list their upcoming events. The ghost tours are a tourist service, a small business, so they won’t be trying to be too secretive, they want customers to find them. Ask around town, talk to other local business people and see what they know.

Historical Walking Tours

Here in my area, Barrie, Ontario, Canada, we have Doors Open, which is a tour of historical homes and places. The doors to private homes and businesses open once a year for people to have a look.

Look for tours of historical places in your area and ask the people who give the tour if any of the places are known or suspected to be haunted.

Talk to people in your local historical society too. Anyone with an interest in history of the local area is likely to know other people who share the same interests.

Urban Explorers Like Old Places and History

Try to find a group or individual who explores old places, not for ghost hunting, necessarily. Urban explorers like old places. They don’t focus on finding ghosts or any thing paranormal but they are usually interested and have stories of their own to share.

Local Pagans Will Know Where the Ghost Tours Are

Is there a local group of Pagans, Wiccans or Witches? These are another group of people who tend to be involved in the local paranormal community. Chances are great someone in the Pagan community will also know about the paranormal researchers in your area. (Actually, they are very likely to be part of both groups).

If your town or local area has a Pagan supplies store, ask there about ghost tours. They will likely have a business card, brochure or something they can hand out to tourists looking for a local ghost walk.

Find Out What the Ghost Tour Includes

Don’t forget a ghost tour is a business, like any other kind of tourism service. Don’t pay for the tour without checking to make sure you are getting what you want. Just what does the tour include? Will you need your own transportation between locations, if there are more than one included in the tour? Does the tour guide have a plan for handling things if someone gets too spooked out and needs a break? Will you get to see data taken from the tour and discuss it afterwards, like a paranormal investigator rather than being just a tourist sent on your way right afterwards?

Also, find out what you need to bring. Should you dress warmly, bring your own water or coffee? Find out what you are allowed to bring as well. Can you bring your own ghost hunting gear, if you have any?

Need More Ghosts?

Barrie Paranormal Links: My Own Local Ghost Hunters

How to Start Your Own Coven

You may start a coven when there isn’t anything else local and yet there are many local Pagans. Or, you might start a new coven when it branches away from an established coven.

Starting a coven of your own is not something you should take on by yourself. Don’t try starting a coven of one, that’s not a coven, it’s a solitary. Also, you will need help, other view points, sources of knowledge and experience too.

Narrow down a focus for your group. This is very important if you are in an area where there are already Pagan groups (covens, circles or casual groups). If there isn’t an existing group for Pagans you still need to start with a focus, a statement of purpose. It’s not so easy to be completely open, in spite of good intentions it doesn’t work so well in practice.

Decide how the coven will be run and managed. How many members will the group be limited to? How will requests to join be handled in the future? Should everyone be initiated and what will the initiation be? Will there be rank (including a High Priestess) or will it be casual? Will the group meet once a week or once a month? Will the group have extra gatherings to honour the Pagan holidays? Will the group raise money for causes? There are endless small and large things to decide and talk about.

Choose a leader. Even if the group is casual someone will need to start rituals, open and close circles and so on.

Choose a place and time to meet. Consider available transportation: bus, parking for cars? If you meet in a public place get permission from the owner/ manager, don’t assume it will be ok. If you meet at someone’s home who brings the goodies, if there are goodies being brought?

 

How to Catch Ghosts at Home

ghost houseHow do you explore your own home when you think you might have paranormal, ghostly activity? What really works to find ghosts and protect yourself from them, before or after they have been found?

Do you have a ghost in your home, or are they just routine settling sort of noises?

So much of the paranormal ghost behaviour can be explained as something else. I don’t know how paranormal investigators who ghost hunt ever hope to find something that will be final and definitive proof of ghosts. It’s an uphill battle. Sceptics will bring out a list of very practical sounding explanations for any noise, shadow or movement in a building. Finding a possible unparanormal explanation is much simpler than proving there actually is something unexplained, something paranormal.

Don’t spend a lot of money on people who claim to know ghosts, spirits or all about hauntings. It’s too easy for someone to be conning home owners with something like this. There is far too much unknown for anyone to guarantee or promise any kind of service when it comes to the paranormal. People may offer to help you, but be extra cynical if the start talking about money.

There are real ghost hunters, there are real psychics but (in my opinion) there are no experts. We are all amateurs when it comes to dealing with the paranormal and the unexplained.

You can do it yourself when it comes to ghost hunting in your home.

One traditional Pagan element you can buy fairly cheap and have a large quantity of is salt. Pagans use salt to purify their tools Salt heals wounds by drying them out and pulling the edges together. Salt is still used to preserve food by drying it out and preventing it from rotting.

If you are concerned about paranormal activity in your home begin by sprinkling salt around the perimeter. A circle of salt around the edges of your property or the outside of your apartment door, depending on where and what you live in. (Salt is not going to be a good thing for your lawn and garden – try to stick to pavement as much as you can).

Use dried sage and clear your home or room of negative energies. Burn the sage in a dish, something which will allow it to burn and smoke but prevent the fire from catching in your home. The smell may bother you, so crack a few windows.

Talk to your ghost(s). Speak politely, calmly and yet be firm. Ask the ghost to leave your home. Remind the ghost that they are no longer alive in the current world. You could carry on a monologue explaining your reasons for asking them to leave, apologizing for not letting them stay, and so on. Be respectful and don’t get upset or excited.

Try to Photograph a Ghost

Write down the time, date and local weather conditions. Take time to observe the area for anything routine which could cause shadows or flickers of light.

Explain your plan to any ghost you hope will co-operate for a photo. Ask them to be available.

Keep a running journal as you take your photos. Make a note of which room you were in, where you were standing, the time and the temperature of the room or anything unusual like sounds or light/ shadows. Make a note about any feelings you had as you took the photo.

Check your photos carefully when you load them onto your computer. Something small could be in the background, reflected in a mirror or window or camouflaged by the surroundings.

Helpful Links

How I Chose to be a Pagan Earth Witch

When I was about 20 I decided to look into religions. I knew the traditional Christian ways were not for me. I didn’t like they way these religions viewed women. I had just read a book where the women were put into isolation after having their period or giving birth, they were “unclean”. This was on top of growing up with the Adam and Eve mythology. From that point the Bible (written and rewritten by men) just goes on to look down on women, and worse. If I were a male, I would probably never have become Pagan. I would never have begun researching other religions and beliefs and looked deeper than the surface. Most likely I would have put religion behind me as not being all that important.

My Early Pagan Experience

I started with Witchcraft and Wicca because I found a book written in the 70’s. It’s a book I wouldn’t choose to read now but parts of it were enough to send me looking for more information from more reliable sources. I found a Pagan bookstore referred to in a book. I made the hour long bus trip to downtown Toronto and found the place. Entering for that first time was not easy. I felt daring and yet I also felt I was walking into a place I didn’t fully belong and might not be welcome. I wondered if they could see inside of me, my mind and my thoughts. Would they know what I was thinking, could they see my future and my past, my aura…? That was creepy.

The first thing that really happened was the smell. Ever since then I have noticed the same smell, strongly of incense over time, in every Pagan bookstore. I like pulling out a book I bought in a Pagan store. Even a couple of decades later I can smell it in the pages. If the smell ever goes away I don’t know. So far it hasn’t.

My adventure in that first Pagan store was intimidating. If I were less determined or less curious I doubt I would have tried another Pagan store. The people there did watch me and yet said nothing. Maybe they thought I was going to walk off with something, maybe they were just curious too, I won’t know and I didn’t ask then. I was already the shy type. I bought a book and a couple of polished rocks and I left, glad to be out of there. I was left with the feeling of not belonging and I never did go back to that store. Luckily there were others and more came along later.

Finding Where and How I Fit In

A few years more and the Internet came along too. By that time I was making my own decisions about what I believed and how I believed it. I didn’t accept Wicca as it came. I took what felt right to me and put it together with how I felt about the world and it’s people. I still believe this way; I’m very much an eclectic solitary type of Pagan. I gave myself the label of Earth Witch and I’ve stuck with that, to keep the explanation simple. To me an Earth Witch means I focus on the Earth, the natural and I don’t feel influenced by deities or magick. I believe we each create our own magick from ourselves and it is up to each of us to choose how to use it, or not use it.

I have written about my Pagan beliefs before but not shared much of my actual experience. I used to get email from young women who wanted to know more about being Pagan. The main thing they wanted to know was how to hide it from their parents. I was never behind this. For one thing, if you have to hide it, maybe you should rethink the whole thing.

I do understand that some families are very Christian and close minded or even afraid of Pagan ideas and Pagan ways. If that is the case and you are living at home, this is not the time for you to explore being Pagan. Wait until you can do it openly. In the meantime, there is no reason you can’t do simple things like have a collection of rocks, maybe some shells and feathers, keep a journal about your observations of nature, history and people. These are things you can do without upsetting your parents and family. You can be Pagan without having to prove you’re Pagan. Know it yourself and start there.

Nowadays…

For me, being Pagan is a personal thing. I mainly keep it to myself. I’ve found a local group with weekly meetings but I have yet to venture out and attend one. I think I will. Each time I have stepped out and met other Pagans I have enjoyed the experience and learned new things about history, religion and beliefs. But, I’m comfortable with what I believe now, the way my feelings about being an Earth Witch have evolved. So I’m not as eager to stir myself up as I was when I was younger and just starting to explore and discover.

Where the Wild Things Are: How do you Feel about Your Religion?

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, December, 8, 2003.

What would it feel like to live in your own skin if it was all new to you? I’m thinking about hearing the blood in your veins. Feeling your food being pushed along to digestion. Taking each breath rather than leaving it on auto-pilot. All those things we have grown so used to that we don’t even feel them when we try. How different would your body feel if you felt everything going on inside yourself? How would you feel about your body? It would be kind of creepy I think. Too much information about all those regular functions we take for granted.

I was reading a book, one of those historical fiction type things. It’s a different version of the story of Arthur and Guinevere. But, the book is turning into an advertisement for Christianity and the one true god. I hate it when that happens. First, it makes light of what people felt back then, how seriously they took their religion and the world they lived in. Secondly, it tries to make what I believe look foolish. The first part annoys me far more than the second.

You may be surprised. But, I don’t have to defend my beliefs, I know what they are. I’m not on a crusade to promote Witchery or Paganism in general. I can be quite happy if all the world isn’t Pagan. I’m willing to share but I’m not forcing anyone to see things my way. That’s why I don’t feel overly angry about the way my beliefs are treated in this book.

However, it’s wrong to have someone convert to Christianity for no real reason. In the book the main character is a Pict woman, Guinevere. She has a slave (a Briton taken in war) translate when the tribes meet to discuss a treaty. Anyway, the slave is Christian, a monk previously as it turns out. She decides to learn the language since she becomes betrothed to one of Arthur’s noblemen. During this time she is curious about the slave’s religion and asks him about his beliefs. That’s fine, I expect young people were curious about a lot of things, still are. But, I can’t see her converting to another religion for such flimsy reasons as are presented in this book. The reader is expected to believe she suddenly finds her own religion hollow and meaningless just because the slave talks to her about one god. She goes to a sacred place and gets no answer to her prayers to the gods. So she prays to the one god of the slave instead. There’s no answer there either but that’s not mentioned in the book.

She asks the slave a lot of questions, doubting the existence or sincerity of his god. But even though he has no real answers beyond having faith and believing she accepts that. How would a real person back then choose to accept that over what she has always known? What her family and tribe continue to believe. It’s like telling someone they have a third leg and expecting them to just believe it cause you said they should. It’s based on nothing but the word of one person. Whereas her own religion is all around her, her ancestors and the people of her tribe.

So what does any of this have to do with the beginning of this? It’s all about feeling your religion. I don’t think religion or beliefs are something you can take off as you change your clothes. They shouldn’t be something so light. You need to feel it all the time, in all kinds of ways and places. If you aren’t feeling something special then you need to reconsider and investigate other ways, other paths. Like your body, if you forget how to feel the blood in your veins you’re not really living fully. Maybe you’re taking too much for granted and should start fresh, with a new perspective.

Anyway, I’m not sure if I’ll finish the book. It’s getting bogged down in dogma for me.

Where the Wild Things Are: Spilling the Pagan Beans

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, April, 2, 2004.

If you read my general blabberings around BackWash you will have heard of Eric, my boyfriend. He is still pretty new but we are getting along great.

Anyway, I haven’t really talked with him about Pagan ideas and what it means for me to be an Earth Witch. That is some sort of limbo in everything. I don’t mind leaving it there, for awhile. But, I have wondered what he really thinks.

We went for a walk on the frozen beach and while he was testing the thickness of the frozen lake (testing his luck I thought at the time) I was drawing a pentacle in the sand. I used a piece of driftwood and 6 smooth stones from along the beach. I placed the stones around my drawn pentacle. It was something special for the day, for my Grandmothers and for St. Patrick’s Day.

Eric noticed it when he came back, not drowned luckily. He said something about it, nothing much. I think just noting that I had drawn it or used stones, something easy going. But I wondered what he was thinking. Anyway, I left it at that. I didn’t push it or go into lengthy explanations. It was something personal to me and though I didn’t feel I needed to hide it I still wonder what he thinks about this element of me.

How do you begin to share this with someone you care about? Is it something you leave lying on a coffee table for him to find? Is it something you bring up right away and make into a big issue? Or do you let it simmer on a back jet, there and yet not getting in the way? I’m not exactly sure how I want to handle it. So, I will do what I usually do when I’m not sure, I will ask him. Not quite yet though. There is time and space, too much of both right now. We will see.