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What is Ritual?
We engage in ritual every day. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a ritual is “a set of actions or words performed in a regular way, often as part of a religious ceremony.” This includes the series of tasks we take every morning or at night before bed and certain acts we do without even thinking about them. Of course, this is a Wiccan-leaning Pagan blog, and so I’ll stick to that in this post.
In Wicca, one can find rituals for just about anything. We have rituals for each of our holidays, called Sabbats, as well as to celebrate the full moon, which we call Esbats. Most Wiccan rituals include some form of Grounding and Centering, as well as Calling the Quarters—but they can be as simple or complex as we desire.
Why do we perform Ritual?
Ritual allows us to focus our intentions and provides a source of comfort in the familiar. The repetitive actions form a sort of anchor that’s important when performing any kind of magick work. This anchor frees us from distractions so that we can work in a relatively “pure” space.
The reasons differ for every ritual, but they are almost always meant to mark a specific occasion as a special one. Whether it’s to celebrate a commitment to our partner or to prepare for a big presentation, rituals remind us that we are entering a unique phase and that we should remain aware. They allow us to focus deeply on our goals, strengthening the power of our intentions.
Pagan rituals come in hundreds of variations, depending on the practitioner/s and their tradition. We use ritual to connect with nature, with our Higher Selves, and with Deity. We use ritual to celebrate joyous events and to recognize solemn events with a show of respect. Many of us even imbue our mundane, morning routine with a little magick, making it yet another ritual that helps us connect with the Divine.
What’s a Dramatic Ritual?
One of my favorite types of ritual is also one I have yet to try. That is the Dramatic ritual—a ritual that is performed in the style of a play. Most Pagan rituals have a certain level of drama to them, with our candles and robes and intricate altar tools. But the Dramatic ritual is a full-on performance—with stage directions, lines, and actors.
What makes this different from a normal play is the content of the story being told, the worship-based activities, and the participation of everyone in attendance. These plays tend to feature coven-members and often have some form of trance/meditation for all involved as part of the performance.
Personally, I’ve always felt a sort of magick when performing, so the idea of bringing that into my personal practice just rings a bell for me. It seems like an ideal and fun way to worship. It also seems like an amazing bonding exercise for coven members. The Dramatic ritual is certainly at the top of my ritual bucket list, along with many others.
Whatever kind of ritual you prefer, I think every Pagan can agree that ritual is an important and beautiful part of our various practices. Ritual can be found in just about every tradition, because it speaks to a basic human need. It allows us not only to connect with the Divine, but with others as well in group ritual. It gives us community experience and a trigger to deepen our focus.
What, if any, rituals do you do every day? Is ritual an important part of your practice? If not, why not? What do you do to stay connected to the Divine/your spiritual self?
Send me your responses or comments!
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA
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I have a confession.
While I often speak of MCCA in terms of a group, the Maiden’s Circle community isn’t very large. At the moment, it exists solely online. Ultimately, the goal is to establish a physical academy, but for now, all of MCCA operations have been via the Internet.
That said, it may be a surprise to learn that—although I’ve attended dozens—I’ve never personally led a group ritual. In my experience with coven/group work, I’ve always been an attendee at someone else’s event. For a long time, this was ideal. I simply did not have the time or confidence to comfortably lead a group in ritual.
That lack of confidence also contributed to the setbacks with MCCA’s earlier incarnations. Despite my experience in my personal practice, I didn’t believe that I had anything of value to offer the Pagan community. At times, that doubt still crops up, but I’ve found that pushing myself to move forward eventually pulls me out of that mindset.
It’s lately become important to look at what causes me discomfort and why. I’ve learned that many of the things that make me uncomfortable are the result of Fear. This isn’t exactly the adrenaline-based, run-for-your-life Fear. This is something that governs my every move.
This Fear lives deep in my psyche, as I suspect it does for most people. This is the Fear that tells me not to take a specific route. It tells me to try just enough, but always reminds me of the risks of trying too much. It’s the Fear that says that any moment of happiness can be taken away in an instant.
It is that Fear that I’ve allowed to stop every grand endeavor I’ve attempted. Of course, a life of self-sabotage doesn’t seem like a very sustainable model, so I’ve been taking steps to confront that darkness. This means willingly stepping into situations that aren’t always easy in order to better understand myself.
This month, I’m facing down my fear of loss, as well as that lack of confidence I mentioned earlier. I’m forcing myself to pay attention to my reactions, to analyze them, and to accept them for what they are—whatever they are.
This doesn’t mean I’ll allow myself to wallow should my response to certain stimuli be negative. But I will accept what I feel in the moment as a completely authentic expression of my experience. Whether I’m nervous, sad, or over-the-moon-joyous, I make an effort to stand in these emotions—to let them wash over and through my being and do whatever it is they’re meant to do.
I may have lamented before that we’ve created a society where emotions are seen as weak or “less” than the alternative. Fortunately, we’ve entered a new age of thought in the last seven years known as the Age of Aquarius. During this period, more and more people are getting in touch with their emotions.
In the last few decades, we’ve drastically altered the way we see human emotion and mental health. Instead of suppressing, we now know the overwhelming benefits of truly experiencing. I believe that we can’t be whole without allowing those most true aspects of our personality to breathe.
We have to study our Fear, but we can’t let it stop us. We have to touch the things that break our hearts and still move forward. We’ve become too reliant on aversion.
The ability to run away from what makes us uncomfortable has become a modern crutch, but that’s not the life I want for myself or my future children. I don’t want to let the Fear of emotion keep me from a fully realized life.
So while I do sometimes feel a bit impostor-syndrome-y, I know without question that I was called to provide something to the Pagan community. What that something is, I can’t claim to know—but Maiden’s Circle is a start. In addition, I’ll be leading a ritual for the first time this coming Full Moon in Brooklyn.
I am terrified that I’ll screw it up. I’m nervous no one will listen or even show up. But just as I continue to write this blog whether anyone reads it or not, I will be there on the Full Moon for all who arrive. Will it be perfect? No. But I’ll be there.
Emotions can only stop us if we don’t understand them. We can’t understand them if we avoid them, and we can’t heal. We must have the compassion for ourselves to open our hearts and heal whatever hurts reside in there.
How do you experience your day-to-day emotional journey? Are there things you can do to treat yourself better? Are you suppressing anything that you want to get rid of?
Let me know your responses and opinions in the comments!
From the depths of my heart,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA
How many times have you had someone say, “you should be grateful”? How many times did that lead to you actually feeling grateful? Often, being told when we should feel gratitude only serves to make us feel somehow “wrong” when we don’t. It’s important to take time and get to the root of why that is. And if you find yourself saying things like, “you should be glad”, take a moment to consider how they might affect the person you’re speaking to. These comments are typically said with someone’s best interests in mind, but they can be seen as dismissive.
Let’s say a person (Shane) is telling their friend (Jess) about their hard day at work. Jess responds: “At least they pay well.” Jess may have simply meant to encourage Shane, but the result is that Shane’s complaint is diminished. What Jess has essentially said is that Shane shouldn’t talk about the less pleasant parts of the day because they should be grateful for the money. The message Shane receives is that their complaint doesn’t matter—their feelings don’t matter. And every time someone tells Shane that they should be grateful for something, it adds to their discomfort.
Eventually, Shane finds the simple act of expressing gratitude difficult. They may not even notice this discomfort, but it shows in a few ways. They’re perfectly fine thanking a cashier or waitress (and we all should be), but the idea of living a grateful life is foreign. They push against it—preferring instead to focus on the negative in their life.
I’m willing to bet that Shane isn’t alone. We’ve all had someone tell us that we should be grateful when we didn’t feel it. Even children experience this. And we all feel bad about it whether we want to or not. This negativity can make true gratitude that much more difficult to feel or experience.
Last Wednesday, while washing dishes and listening to music. I was overcome with a wonderful surge of joy that brought me to tears. I started thinking about the good things in my life. I thought how lucky I am to have a home to clean, how awesome it is that I have an understanding partner, as well as a pet and day-job that I love. I thought about my friendships and the lessons I’ve learned over the years and where I was just a few years ago.
The truth is, I could have ended up in so many negative situations. My background, without going too much into detail, is riddled with addiction and abuse. I could easily have followed the patterns of my family—and I nearly did.
I credit my mother and my faith for giving me the vision to change my path—and for allowing me to suffer the consequences of my own choices. Experiencing certain hardships has made seeing the beauty in my life that much easier.
After a recent period of darkness, I began to put more effort into living a grateful life. It seemed like the only way to find joy again was to sort of force it. So, I wrote in my journal at the end of every day about something that I was grateful for. At first, it was a little tough, but I began to see more and more good with each passing week.
The act of forcing myself to be grateful eventually led to me seeing real change in my outlook. In fact, every time I’ve found myself in a cycle of depression, I’ve used a similar method to get myself out of it. Simply put, I pretended until it became real. Were there days I didn’t actually feel grateful? Definitely. But I wrote something in the journal, anyway. Finding things to be grateful for helps to improve my life, and I think it can do that for anyone.
You don’t have to work hard to find something you’re thankful for. The fact that you wake up each day is a thing to be celebrated. If you’re capable of doing something someone else isn’t, be grateful for your good fortune. If you’ve gone through some hardships, take notice that you’re still standing—you’re strong. Tell yourself to see the good in your life and you will. “Fake it” as they say.
Every day, I find some reason to thank the Goddess. For inspiration. For holding me up when my pain seemed too much. For making Entenmann’s donuts so good. Whether it’s in song or silent prayer; whether I simply close my eyes and feel grateful or I spend half an hour crying and blubbering about the beauty of my life—there is no wrong way to thank Her.
How do you find gratitude in your daily life? Think about what you’re grateful for. Do you think you could bring more gratitude into your life? What are some ways you express gratitude?
Let me know your opinions in the comments!
With love always,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA
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Have you ever gone to a Pagan gathering and found yourself surrounded by people who all seem a little more witchy than you? There’s the lady decked out in crystals and charms; the professional tarot reader; and, of course, the ritual leader (usually the founder of the group). Do you look around and see that everyone seems to have their own Pagan niche but you’re still trying to figure yours out?
Believe it or not I go through the same thing at almost every Pagan Gathering I attend. Even though I have over 15 years of experience and practice—and I’ve probably read all the same books that the others have—I still feel like I haven’t done enough. Like I’m not Pagan enough. I don’t make and/or sell Pagan products—at least not yet. At the moment, Maiden’s Circle is a coven of one. I do think of MC readers and students as part of the Maiden’s Circle family, but I’m the only one initiated.
So despite my years of experience, I still feel like a newbie Pagan around many of these other people. Sometimes, these are people who have been on their path for 2 or 3 years and just decided to start a group—so they did. I think starting a spiritual or Wicca group is an amazing feat, and it’s not an easy task. These people are almost intimidating to me. They’re people who have done something that I would like to do, but am just not there yet.
How do we deal with feeling like we are less connected than others in our Pagan community, and therefore somehow less witchy or less of a Pagan?
I think it’s important to understand that what we are feeling is insecurity. I am confident in my relationship with the Goddess. However, I’m not as confident when it comes to knowledge of witchcraft. Sure, my spells work—but I only do one or two in a year. I’m not as trained (or self-taught) as my peers when it comes to crystal healing or picking wild herbs or Tarot.
Being aware of these gaps in my knowledge, as well as meeting people who seem to know all of these things and have learned them in a short amount of time, makes me feel like I’m not doing what I should be doing—especially considering my chosen blog focus. It leads to me wondering if I’m a fraud. If I can’t figure out a basic Tarot reading without using the book as my guide, then what makes me think I’m good enough to talk about and teach Wicca?
Of course, this kind of insecurity is not good for us. A common response to this feeling is to shut down or turn away, to pretend that it’s not there. I have certainly been guilty of avoiding certain topics so that I don’t have to expend the energy of learning about them–and still feeling like I know nothing.
When these feelings strike, I like to use a few different methods to remind myself that I am as much a witch as any of these other people.
First, I talk to them. It can be a frightening thing talking to strangers. Even if you go to a gathering where you know you haven’t met anyone, talking to the people there can still be a source of anxiety. That said, I encourage that you push yourself to do so, because you will find that you are not alone in your experience. You will find that every witch you meet is aware of these gaps in their knowledge and they are feeling the same insecurities as you are. (And if not, then this path will hopefully help them to see their own blindside.)
Another thing that I like to do is meditate for at least five minutes every single day. This is hard and I don’t always succeed. But in general, I meditate at least 6 days a week. It can be difficult to set aside time for meditation, so I prefer to pull a tarot card at the beginning of my day everyday. I meditate for 5 minutes before I pull, starting with a grounding and centering. Then, I gather my thoughts and feelings for whatever it is I would like to know, which is usually what the day holds and pull the card. If I can manage to do this within my first half hour then it can affect my entire day.
I have noticed that when I skip this meditation: I feel unbalanced, become irritable, and have low energy. I simply don’t feel as productive as I do on the days that begin with meditation.
The best way I have found to combat this insecurity is spending time talking to Goddess. You can call it prayer or whatever, but whenever the mood strikes, I just speak with her. I give thanks and look at the signs of the Divine in my own life. I talk with her when I’m sad or overjoyed. I talk with her when I’m scared. And I talk to her when I’m mad—even if she’s the target of my anger. The feeling that she is there—listening and guiding and touching my life—it is the best reminder of our connection. My Goddess is with me always.
I feel her when I’m hugging my friends and loved ones. See her when walking past parks or playgrounds full of children. Hear her when trying and struggling to create something and improve my existence in this life. Knowing that the goddess is with me means that I am just as witchy and connected and sensitive as any of my peers.
There are things that I need to study deeper and understand more. The journey that we take is endless and it is changeable. We will always have gaps in our knowledge. We will always be less sensitive in some areas than our peers. We have to accept that and be okay with not knowing. We also have to be aware of what we don’t know and take the steps to understand it—if it’s meant for us to do so.
So what can we do when we don’t feel as sensitive as our peers? We start with understanding that this stems from a place of insecurity. We fill in our gaps of knowledge and create a connection with our higher power that is so strong that even these moments of doubt are little more than passing memories.
Have you ever experienced the feeling I’m talking about? If so please share your story in the comments, I would love to hear from you. How do you deal with these moments of doubt?
Thank you so much and remember always that I love you!
From my heart to yours,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA
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As is common during the first weeks of a new year, the air is laden with the energy of forward motion. Many of us resolve to use this time to start new habits and break old ones. For example, you may resolve to meditate once a day and to spend less time watching Netflix. Often, we stick to these resolutions for a few days or weeks before we slip back into our usual behaviors.
We may blame it on “life getting in the way” or an increased work schedule following a holiday lull. Whatever the reasons, many of us give up on our resolutions within the first three months of a new year. According to U.S. News, 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail by February. So even though we start out full of fervor and vim, the odds are stacked against us.
How do we hold on to that spark for the rest of the year? The spark that inspired us to want to change our lives for the better? In order to answer that, it’s important to understand why so many of us don’t succeed with our New Year goals in the first place.
One of the reasons we don’t succeed is because we don’t choose the right goals. Oftentimes, we offer vague resolutions, such as meditating more, but make no actionable plans to follow through. We hope to figure it out as we go.
Continuing with meditation as our example, let’s take a moment to imagine how a typical year might pass for some of us:
In the beginning, we’re excited and make our lofty resolution. We stand around with loved ones—or retreat into ourselves for personal reflection—and decide, “I’m going to meditate more often this year.”
For the first two weeks, we do it daily. Five minutes after we wake up. Half an hour during our workday commute. In the final moments before sleeping. For those two weeks, we feel amazing and we know that—this time—we’ll stick to it.
But then we reach week three. It’s mid-winter and business has picked up. We come home a little more tired than usual, because it gets dark so early and kind of throws off our rhythm. All we want to do when we get in is crash on the couch and catch up on our favorite shows.
The little voice in the back of our mind whispers something about how we forgot to meditate that morning. That’s okay; we wave it off, promising to do it in the five minutes before bed. We have dinner, watch our shows, and then it’s time for bed. We go through our nightly routine and lie down, and it’s not till morning that we realize we skipped a day.
Maybe we maintain it for a few more days, but the winter blues hits and another day is skipped. By summer, we’re stressed about not meditating. We spend hours complaining to our friends that, because of said stress, we can’t focus enough to meditate and have locked ourselves into a vicious cycle.
We turn our heads when asked how the meditating is going, disappointed in ourselves. We avoid the Halloween party we always go to because we know all of our meditating friends will be there. (That’s probably unlikely, but bear with me…this is the metaphor I chose, and I’m sticking with it.)
Just after Christmas, we admit that maybe we didn’t do so well. But, you know, we’ll definitely do it in the New Year. This time we mean it. For real. Like seriously.
Whether or not your goal is to meditate more, get more exercise, be more patient, make more money, or anything else—it is extremely easy to fall short when you don’t have a real, actionable plan in mind.
As you can see by now, this isn’t a strictly Pagan post. I feel this topic is valuable to people from all walks of life. Since my practice is so integral to who I am and how I live my life, it seemed appropriate to speak on the topic of motivation here.
I’d like to offer you some of the ways I have used in the past and some I’m implementing this year to keep and track my goals for 2018.
1. Bullet Journaling –
I began bullet journaling in July, and it’s changed the way I think. I’ve never been good at journaling, nor have I ever actually used a planner for more than a few weeks. The beauty of bullet journaling, for me, is the freedom to do it however the heck I want. I want to track how much water I drink? Put it in the journal. Need a simple calendar? Easy as pie.
In 2017, I kept it simple and practical. In the front was the year at a glance, a few pages with holidays, birthdays, and a 12-month calendar. Immediately following was the month in overview, my tasks for the month, followed by short, daily diary-style entries; later I added a section for the Tarot card I pull each day.
This year, I’m doing many of the same things, but using different methods. I’ve also added some personal trackers for things like savings and my mood. There’s even a page for my goals. Bullet journaling is the main tool I’ve used to better organize my life in the last six months, and almost all of the methods below can be added your own journal. It’s definitely a habit I’d recommend to anyone wanting to live on their own terms.
2. Daily Goals and Tasks –
In my bullet journal, I still have a dailies section, but instead of a feelings diary (for which I now use a simple mood chart), it is my guide for each day. Sometime before bed, I prepare a list of the next day’s tasks and goals. I leave space for the card I pull, and for anything new in my life. I try to keep the goals simple, to ensure that I can get them done with as little stress as possible.
One thing that motivates me is previous success. So, if I have three or four tasks that I can do within the first hour of waking up—for instance, meditating to pull a Tarot card, doing squats, and drinking a full glass of water—then it sets the tone for the rest of my day. Each time I check off a task, it sends a message to my brain that tells me I’m being productive and rewards me with a dose of dopamine.
According to Entrepreneur.com, we actually learn best through success—not through failure. Failure can be an excellent teacher, but our brains are naturally more attracted to success. This means that if we’re trying to create a new habit, we’re more likely to succeed if we have smaller goals towards our ultimate desire.
3. Accountability Buddies –
One of the best ways I find to stick to my goals is having someone other than myself to hold me accountable. This other person doesn’t always have to be someone I know. They don’t even have to be real.
I have no idea if anyone is actually reading this blog, but I choose to believe you’re there. In my head, you’re sitting at your computer or on your Monday morning commute, and you’re coming here every week. So, I’ve got to show up for you.
If you partner with a friend, make sure you’re both on the same level. You want to motivate one another, so it’s crucial that you’re both committed to your respective goals. This means that both of you are taking the steps necessary to achieve them, are in similar places in your journeys, and can offer each other support as you travel your paths.
When someone else is counting on you, you’re more likely to step up and follow through. First, decide what your goals are. Decide the milestones you’ll need to reach to get there. Then find someone in a similar place, with goals and the steps they need to take, and keep each other going. Be there for one another during the slumps and cheer each other on during the good times. You’re far more likely to succeed when you have someone to share your journey.
4. Choose the Right Goals –
The last thing I want to mention isn’t exactly a method for success throughout the year, so much as it is the key factor behind lasting goals. Choosing the right resolutions could mean the difference between an abundant, successful year and a year of disappointments.
Do you pick goals because they seem like the right thing to do? Did you decide to meditate more because you want to fit in with all of your meditating friends (the ones from the party), instead of pursuing something that’s true to you?
In order to triumph over procrastination, fear, and anything else that may come between us and our goals, we have to choose ones that are aligned with what we truly need and desire.
What are your goals this year? How do you plan to achieve them? Let me know in the comments and be sure to like our Facebook page! (If you don’t already…)
May you succeed in gaining all you seek, so be it in love.
With all my heart,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA
I’m tepid towards the “listicle” format, so I’ll definitely be returning to the more intimate style. But would you folks hate it if I did these every now and then? Let me know in the comments!
I decided to give you guys a video blog for Christmas. Happy holidays and may you find joy and love for the rest of your days!
Blessings and eternal love,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA
Back in October, I briefly touched on the idea that, while there are an abundance of right ways to practice Wicca, there is also a definite wrong way. That statement may have ruffled a few feathers, so I wanted to discuss the concept a little further.
When I say that there is a wrong way to practice Wicca, I don’t mean that one’s individual practice, if it isn’t strictly Wiccan, is inherently wrong. You decide what’s right for you and, if you aren’t hurting other living creatures, no one can tell you what to do. Your path is your own.
That said, a lot of people seem to call every Pagan practice they find Wicca. This is infuriating, to say the least. At this point, I feel like a broken record when I say that Wicca is a religion with rules, as are most other established religions. Wicca may not be mainstream, but it’s still one of the more popular religions in the US.
Unlike its mainstream counterparts, Wicca isn’t very strict about the methods we use to worship. And like many other Pagan paths, Wicca is flexible enough to be woven into almost any other faith system. So, it’s understandable that there is a lot of confusion and debate throughout the community as to which version of Wicca is the right one.
As I’ve stated, there are many “right” paths. However, if we look at the main and most important tenet of Wicca—If you harm none, do as you will—as more than just a “golden rule” archetype, we can see that this rule alone means that there are certain acts of magick that, by their nature, go against Wicca.
A few days ago, a friend asked my opinion on hexing, the act of casting a spell or curse with the intention of causing someone harm. I have to admit, I hardly ever think much about hexing. In the past, I cast a couple, one with potent results, but hexes aren’t really something I like to bother with on a regular basis. In my experience, people who are harmful or don’t belong in my life have a way of disappearing from my inner circle with or without any help.
The question was whether Wicca allows hexing. My answer, like many things, was yes and no. (Is this because I’m a Gemini? Probably not, but let’s say it is.) To give the simplest answer, I would have to say no. Hexing is one of the things that goes against the Rede and is inherently not Wiccan. Therefore, hexing is an act that true Wiccan would never do. Right?
This is similar to my (also feather-ruffling) theory that one can’t be Christian and Wiccan. I know, how dare I say such a thing? But take it from someone who was born and raised in a Christian home and spent a good chunk of her early adolescence trying to read the entire Bible, from beginning to end: Christianity does not allow Wicca.
Don’t believe me? Read what Revelation 21:8 has to say. Wicca is a magick religion. Whether you work spells or not, you work magick by merit of being Wiccan. You work magick in meditation, when you commune with spirits, or do any kind of divination. That means you are not wanted in Christianity and are promised to burn.
Yet, still, I have friends who consider themselves both Wiccan and Christian and it seems to be working just fine for them. As far as I know, no one’s been struck down.
Similarly, while Wicca doesn’t technically allow hexing, it doesn’t stop Wiccans from doing so. Plus, there’s no threat of fire and brimstone for a Wiccan who hexes.
I believe this inclusiveness of Wicca is the source of the confusion of what constitutes Wicca as a religion. In my opinion, you’re a Wiccan if you practice any pure form of Wicca—be it Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Celtic, Dianic, whatever. You’re an Eclectic Pagan if you practice any other magick system that goes against the Rede.
Obviously, I believe it’s totally fine to practice this way. But we have to be honest when we are doing something that is inherently not Wiccan. I prefer to say that I’m an “eclectic Pagan” or “eclectic Wiccan” when asked, because I don’t want to give the impression that my practice is what Wicca is.
Wicca is the core of my faith, it’s my anchor. Over the years, though, I’ve studied quite a few non-Wiccan magickal systems and incorporated them to tailor my practice to find my personal connection with my higher power, as well as a deeper understanding of myself.
I think it would be dishonest to claim that the other crafts I practice are Wicca. I think anyone who does is wrong. We have a responsibility to be educated about our religious practice and to educate others.
It’s bears repeating that Wicca is not a “do-anything” religion. People who claim so are using Wicca in a way it wasn’t intended. They use the “Wicca is what you make it” mantra to justify nasty behavior and acts of hatred. Forgive me, but screw those people for making Wicca so confusing for the newer generation.
Yes, Wicca takes numerous forms—all of which have their own beautiful traditions—but, not every magickal tradition is Wicca. You would greater serve yourself and your fellow witchfolk if you are truthful up front about the different paths you take. Don’t be ashamed to have a diverse and deeply personal Pagan lifestyle.
Say it out loud: “I do Wicca the wrong way. And that’s okay.”
Remember always, I love you.
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA
Do you think there is a “right” or “wrong” way to practice Wicca? Let me know in the comments!
Last night, my partner and I were watching one of my favorite shows on Hulu, the instant classic Black-ish. It’s a show that stars Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson as a mother and father of four children living in an affluent, predominately white neighborhood. While the show is filled with hilarious jokes and ridiculous situations, it also provides valuable teaching moments in every episode.
At one point, they present an episode in which one of the main characters reveals that they don’t believe in the Christian concept of God. Unsurprisingly, this causes a huge upset with the lead character, Andre—which he laments at length to his free-spirited wife, Rainbow. As he states it, black people are supposed to be Christian. Why does he make this claim? According to him, it’s “what we do.”
Being that this is a family sitcom, the situation is resolved in a very sweet, believable way. The purpose of that episode, I believe, was to show why American black people have relied on their Christian faith for so many generations, as well as to show how important it is that our community become a little more open-minded and accepting of other walks of faith.
Unfortunately, for some of us, it isn’t always easy in the real world to admit that you aren’t Christian. It’s especially difficult to come out as Pagan or Wiccan. Of course, I acknowledge that, depending on where you live, coming out of the broom closet can be tough for anyone. However, the idea that Christianity is “what we do” is disturbingly and consistently present among black Americans.
It’s this pervasive idea that makes every interaction I have with an elder a little more charged; so much so that, as much as I love talking about my path, I tend to avoid the subject of religion entirely when I’m in their presence. I won’t deny my beliefs if asked, but it’s impossible not to cringe when, after explaining I’m not Christian, the questions are followed by a lecture on why I should be—or remarks that make it clear exactly what they think of me and my blasphemous ways.
These may be entirely unique experiences, but considering that Black-ish is but one of many sources in media that restate that stereotype of black people only being Christian, it’s easier to believe that this is a common occurrence for many of us in the Pagan community.
In addition to the pressure we get from media and black Christians who believe such things, it seems that the overall Pagan community is suffering from an imbalance when it comes to visibility and representation of people of color. I’m fortunate enough to live in one of the most diverse cities in the country, and I think that’s accurately demonstrated during large Pagan gatherings (like New York’s Annual Witchsfest).
The same can’t necessarily be said for the smaller groups I attend, in which I am often the only person of color. I’m not saying this to be disparaging towards those groups—they’re wonderful and I genuinely appreciate everyone I’ve met and the beautiful ceremonies they provide. Still, I get a bit like a kid seeing a unicorn whenever I see another black person at ritual.
While there may be fewer black Pagans in America, which I’m not so sure is still true, I think the cause of this imbalance goes a bit deeper. In fact, the topic of race relations throughout the Wiccan and Pagan community is wrought with tension and disagreements. Saying that racism is still a huge problem in the community tends to push against some people’s core beliefs. They often believe that, because Wicca is such an encompassing religion, that Wiccan groups are inherently free of hatred.
This is a clear disconnect from the reality that all Wiccans/Pagans/and literally everyone else is a human with their own personalities and beliefs. When you factor in that racist terrorist groups are still allowed to operate and that there is a volatile political atmosphere currently at play, you have to acknowledge that the likelihood of every single Pagan group being intersectional and welcoming of the perceived other is extremely low.
The fact is, I would be naive to assume that just because a group is Pagan or Wiccan, they’re going to welcome me with open arms. Before I attend a group, I have to do my research. I have to ask how they’ve treated people who don’t fit into the mainstream standard Wiccan box in past. This includes how they treat black people, but I also have to know how comfortable of an environment they provide for people in the LGBTQ community, how women are treated within their internal structure, and how they treat people who don’t necessarily agree with everything they have to say.
I never recommend anyone join a group without first understanding that group’s core beliefs. That said, I want to encourage other Pagans of color to reach out more. I do think part of the reason we’re so nearly invisible in the community is because we’re still entrenched in this old idea that if we aren’t Christian, we’re doing something wrong, so we hesitate reach out.
I’ve been Wiccan for a decade and a half but, even now, I sometimes think, “What if?” What if—despite all my studies and experiences—there is a Hell and I’m going there for my beliefs? I feel deep in my heart that this isn’t true. But because of the pressure I grew up under to be Christian, and because of the scare tactics that were used in the churches my family attended, I believe these thoughts are echoes of my childhood fear. I also believe I’m not alone in having them.
The seeds of fear that my religious environment planted in my childhood are like deadly weeds in my spiritual garden. When those thoughts crop up, I’m usually in a place of depression. Sometimes depression just happens and, when it does, it somehow manages to make me believe that all the good in my life is a lie. Luckily, my faith is strong enough to stamp down those dangerous, fear-based thoughts.
It’s that faith that inspired me to look for and connect with other Pagans, even in a place as religiously strict as the town in which I grew up. By that point, I was already an outcast for a whole list of other reasons, so I didn’t have much to lose by stepping out into the light.
I realize this isn’t the case for everyone. Many black Pagans have a lot more to lose than I did. The fear of being ostracized, disowned, and becoming the subject of the family rumor mill is powerful. That said, I want to urge my fellow black Pagans to act against these fears and make a real effort to not only become part of the current community, but to come together and create groups in our own communities, which typically don’t get much Pagan exposure.
It’s not solely up to the majority to create space for people of color, it’s our duty to create our own facilities. I could be biased because I’ve always been the kind of person who, if I see something I want but don’t have a route to it, I tend to try to forge my own way. This means I have to be flexible with my goals and the way I achieve them, while still maintaining a clear objective.
Some day, I’d like to see Pagan schools that are just as common as Catholic schools. I don’t know the exact steps I’ll take to get there, but I do know that my goal influences how I choose to run my business and my life. I want this because I want to send my future little witchlings to such a place. However, dreams like that can’t be achieved by just one person. My goals ultimately affect the Wiccan community, and therefore it’s essential that I try to be an active and helpful member.
Whatever your goals are, you’re going to need a support system. No one exists in a vacuum. If your Wiccan or otherwise Pagan faith is important to who you are, then be willing to step forward so that you can find and create your tribe. We’re doing no favors by remaining in the shadows. Too many little black kids are raised with no choice in what they believe, no other visible options, and the lesson that our religion is evil. I think it’s time for that to change.
I’m Pagan. I’m black. I’m proud.
What are your experiences concerning diversity and representation in the Pagan community? If you’re a person of color, what is your experience being Pagan in your community?
Thank you and with love from the moon and back,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA
I’m not a very political person, but I do think this is an issue that should be discussed. If you’re interested in my less witchy, more creative work, go ahead and sign up for my author newsletter here!
Raise your hand if you love spells that rhyme. Just kidding, don’t raise your hand. I can’t see you and you’re probably disturbing the people around you. But if you figuratively raised your hand, I’m right there with you. Spells that rhyme are the bees-knees (not that I know much about bees or their leg anatomy).
In a previous entry, I mentioned some of our favorite Wiccan texts, including the Wiccan Rede. Most new Wiccans hear of the Rede early on in their practice, as it’s known as our “golden rule” of sorts. Nowadays, in the era of memes and short-form information sharing, the Rede is most often boiled down to the phrase “Harm None.”
However, as you probably know by now the Rede is actually much longer (and if you didn’t know, you can read it here). Harm None is a neat and tidy phrase, but it’s actually the end of a lengthy poem. Ten years ago, we’d only shortened it to some variation of “An it harm none, do as ye will.” Five years before that, I couldn’t open a book without seeing the mouthful that is the final line of our Rede: “Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill – An it harm none, do what ye will.” From the very beginning, I was drawn in by the musicality of our most basic tenets.
Recently, I was thinking about my first personal spell—that is, one I wrote myself—which I, of course, made rhyme. It was a love spell and while I never won my target’s affections, the experience of that particular ritual sticks with me more clearly than my first self-dedication, which I don’t remember at all.
Then I thought about some of my favorite and most frequently used spells and chants. While I don’t rhyme for every ritual or spell in my book, there are certain ones—like the spell to find a lost object—which I use rather frequently, so rhyming makes each of them easier to remember.
This is due to something called mnemonics. I can’t claim to know much about mnemonics, except that they’re tools used to help aid human memory, and there are plenty of useful techniques aside from rhyming. Still, rhyming is one of the oldest and best-known methods for committing something to memory, which can be useful for people who host group rituals and prefer to be off-book.
Perhaps that is why witches have done it for so long. The fourth couplet of the Wiccan Rede states “To bind the spell fast every time, Let the words be spoke in rhyme.” It’s a case of ‘right there in the manual,’ if you ask me. Which I suppose you didn’t, so let’s move on.
Not only does rhyming make it easier to remember something, but it also engages you with the words in a way you might not otherwise find. Most people don’t typically speak in a metered style. And most witches aren’t in constant spell-mode. Much like music, rhyming spells and singing chants provides a different way of interacting with language than we do in our day-to-day lives, and so it instantly creates an elevated kind of energy.
Whether or not a spell rhymes is entirely up to the person behind it. Some people don’t prefer it and that’s totally okay. I think many of us can agree, though, that rhyming is pretty fun and an inherently beautiful, yet practical, way to work our magick.
Where do you stand? Do you prefer rhyming or is it simply not for you? What are your favorite rhymed spells? Let me know in the comments!
With infinite love,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA
Today’s post would not have been possible if not for my lovely friend R, so I just wanted to extend a thank you with love to her here. So, thank you. 🙂
I also thought I’d share my favorite spell for finding lost objects below. I found this spell online many years ago, and have used it regularly ever since. Unfortunately, I can’t find the original source, but here it is:
Bound and Binding
See the sight
Hear the sound
What was lost
Now is found
Bound and Binding
Say the spell as needed, while visualizing the missing item. Then, just be patient. Depending on the item, and what actions you take towards your goal, it could take time to return.
I’ve used it for years, and it has always helped in a pinch!
Merry meet and Blessed Samhain!
This week has just gotten on top of me and I forgot to type up a blog. The plan was to record a personal Samhain ritual for you folks, but sewing my costume and prepping my author newsletter took more time than I expected. So, to make up for it, I’ve gathered a couple of questions from a friend and I thought I’d answer them here for you. I tried to avoid the type of questions you might see on your typical “Ask a Wiccan” style blogs, because there are only so many ways to say “no, we don’t worship Satan.” That said, let’s move on to our first question.
Why do you think certain secular religions assume we worship the devil?
As I alluded to earlier, a common question that Wiccans get is whether or not we worship Satan or the devil. The answer has always been and will always be, NO, but we still get that question time and time again. According to the beliefs of Wicca, there is no such thing as “the devil.” There may be darkness in the world, but we generally don’t believe it all comes from demons nor does it come from a fallen angel. Why, then, do so many outside of our religion assume that we worship a being we don’t even think exists?
I think the best way to approach this question is to look within the religion of those who make such assumptions. Most often, when I speak of other religions and their relationship with Wicca, I’m usually referring to Christianity. That’s the only religion I’m as familiar with as I am with Wicca. Christianity is the religion I was raised to follow, and it’s the first religion I and many of my peers had ever been exposed to. In addition to that, I live in a country where Christianity is the dominant religion. Where I grew up, it was assumed that if you weren’t a God-fearing Christian, you were a bad person.
As an adult, I’ve done my research on the religion. While the underlying message can be seen as one of peace, it is still very clear what that religion thinks of anyone who is not a Christian. One of the books in the Bible states that anyone who worships a different god should be killed. Obviously, that sentiment is no longer widely held, but any witch will tell you about the many times our spiritual ancestors were hunted—how many innocent lives were lost—all in service to a twisted ideal.
Most Christians I know are peaceful, loving people. My mother is the absolute essence of love, and she is a devoted Christian. She works to understand people and be compassionate every day. She listens and accepts my beliefs. So even if she might worry a little about my soul, I think she understands that I am just as loved by God as she is. I am blessed and protected and, in truth, I am Wiccan because of the love my mother’s shown me.
Unfortunately, not every person is as understanding as my mom. Their religion says that we are evil. It says we should be killed, shunned, converted. According to those people, we worship the devil because we don’t worship their image of God. Our oldest gods had horns, and so they painted their devil with horns. We saw the strength and power of fire, and so they made that the symbol of Hell.
The relationships between various Pagan practices and Christianity are characterized by strife and conversion. Many traditions that are now common in Christian practice have Pagan origins. Some things, like our Yule, become beacons of joy and goodness. Others, like our Samhain, are demonized. These conversions occurred centuries ago, so I couldn’t say exactly why. But there are people who still believe we worship a being their religion invented.
So, what can we do about it? Or…
How do we support and promote the healthy education of non-Pagans about our beliefs?
If you’re reading this blog, then you’re probably already on the Pagan path. Most of my Maiden’s Circle related work is geared towards Pagans. The Covenpath course was created to guide individuals who have decided this is the path they wish to take. Still, I often find myself answering questions about Wicca for non-practitioners on a fairly regular basis.
As I mentioned, much of my life has been spent around non-Pagans. Since I love to share the things I’m passionate about with those I love, I’m always happy to engage in a fruitful chat about my beliefs. Now, of course, there will be those who only want to antagonize and have no interest in a friendly and educational conversation. We’ve got to be aware and know how to disengage, as those talks won’t lead to anything productive.
More often, though, the person asking is genuinely curious. I believe, as someone whose goal is to establish an educational facility for Wiccan families, it’s my responsibility to try to answer them as clearly and honestly, and with as much background knowledge, as possible.
One of the methods I used when sharing with my mother was to buy the short book When Someone You Love Is Wiccan by Carl McColman. I read it through to check for accuracy. Anything I thought was incorrect or unclear, based on my personal Wiccan practice, I added notes to. Anything I thought was particularly important, I highlighted. In essence, I provided a mini-manual of my practice that wasn’t overwhelming and was written specifically to help non-Wiccans understand us.
It isn’t always possible to give someone an entire book, and in some cases, that could be seen as lazy. Most of the time, when someone asks about Wicca, the answer has to come in the moment. The best method I have is to simply talk to people. What you know and love will come to you. Many Pagans are passionate people, so we do have to be careful not to alienate a person who is just looking for answers. We have to keep our tempers in check when someone asks a question that we might think is annoying, like “Do you worship the devil?” Most people just want to understand.
Times have changed from when witches had to hide in the shadows. The secrets we hid in the night are ready for the sun. People are inherently afraid of what they don’t understand, and now is the time to help assuage those fears. Talk to people when they ask genuine questions. Don’t engage in un-winnable arguments. Be open and share your truth. That’s the best way, I believe, to educate others and support the growth, respect, and understanding of Wicca.
How do you talk to your non-Pagan friends and family about your beliefs? How do you think they feel about your practice? How do you feel about their opinions and how do you deal with them?
Thank you and with all the love in my heart,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA
Today’s post was late because I made this awesome cloak over the last two days without a sewing machine. Because I’m a masochist. And also, I was putting the latest newsletter together, which you can see tomorrow if you subscribe now!