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Author Topic: How did you find your magical path?  (Read 534 times)

ksea

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How did you find your magical path?
« on: March 28, 2021, 04:34:46 pm »
Hello! I know it's been a minute since I've posted. I really threw myself into my studies on Paganism, with its many different path and traditions. While I'm enjoying my studies, I have decided that being a Pagan myself is not for me. I found it odd because when I did get back into studying over the summer, I had "that feeling," so I thought that I had found a spiritual path that speaks to me.

Turns out, that I got the feeling by associating Paganism with magical practices. I know that not all Pagans practice magic, but learning about Wicca and Paganism is how I found out about witchcraft and magic. I'm very sorry if that sounds disrespectful, I really do not mean to be.

Magic is something I always find I go back to. As I mentioned in my first post, I found out about it through Wicca when I was about 10. Yes, I will admit that it was through Silver Ravenwolf, and that I was only interested in the spells section. I was always practicing my spellwork, though I was just finding spells in my books or online tp practice.

Throughout my magical journey, I have always just kind of dabbled. Really, just I know there's nothing wrong with that, but I do feel like I'm just kind of running around in the dark. I believe this is due to going back and forth between really practicing and learning, to putting it on the back burner due to things like school, then work, then just life and how busy it really is.

There really are so many resources, and so many different paths. While I don't feel the need to label myself at all right now, I am a little overwhelmed at how many different forms of witchcraft there are. I know it's a very personal practice, and everyone has their own unique way of practicing.

I was just wondering how those of you who have been consistently practicing, or those of you who have just found your path, how did you find it? How did you know that this was right for you?

I just don't know where to start.

PerditaPickle

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Re: How did you find your magical path?
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2021, 05:09:06 pm »
Hello!

Hi there,

Your first 2 paragraphs remind me of a YouTube video from Thorn Mooney I just recently watched on Secular Witchcraft (I think she put it up Friday), which I couldn't fully get my head around and need to revisit.

I identify as spiritual but not religious, but I may come back when I've a chance and post more in this thread about how I arrived at my current path in case it would be of interest to you.  :)
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ksea

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Re: How did you find your magical path?
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2021, 06:49:27 pm »
Hi there,

Your first 2 paragraphs remind me of a YouTube video from Thorn Mooney I just recently watched on Secular Witchcraft (I think she put it up Friday), which I couldn't fully get my head around and need to revisit.

I've seen that video. I didn't mean to say that there is no such thing as religious witchcraft. I know that there is, I just do not practice religious witchcraft. Witchcraft for me is a magical practice that does not involve deity.

I identify as spiritual but not religious, but I may come back when I've a chance and post more in this thread about how I arrived at my current path in case it would be of interest to you.  :)

I consider myself spiritual as well. While I do believe in different Gods and Goddesses, I do not work with all of them. Yes, I am interested in how you arrived at your current path.

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Re: How did you find your magical path?
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2021, 07:26:53 pm »
I've seen that video.

As I said I need to rewatch the video, as I couldn't get my head around what she was saying -- I think I may disagree with her, but I'm not sure until I can try to digest the video properly.

I am interested in how you arrived at your current path.

I'll start a draft to remind me to post again when I get a chance   :)
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Re: How did you find your magical path?
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2021, 10:41:57 pm »
I was just wondering how those of you who have been consistently practicing, or those of you who have just found your path, how did you find it? How did you know that this was right for you?

I am coming up on 20 years (in May!) of finding the group and tradition I trained and initiated with, that's been the core of my path ever since.

I was raised Episcopalian, and when I was 11, my parents returned to Roman Catholicism and I converted. I was an active Catholic through the year after college, and then I moved across the country and spent a year thinking hard about what I wanted my religious life to be. I did a bunch of reading, a bunch of thinking, and started exploring the Pagan community in the Twin Cities, Minnesota.

(I didn't know at the time, but it was super active compared to many places, and at the time traffic wasn't horrible, so you could go to evening things on a work night and it wasn't awful, even if like me, you started work super early.)

One of the things I figured out over the course of that year was that I really wanted group ritual - it does things in my brain that personal work doesn't (much as I also love and need that.) I went to some public rituals to figure out what kinds of things I liked.

(Yes to rituals that connected cycle to cycle, no to small children yelling in the middle of a meditation or people discussing baseball during Samhain ritual, yes to music, yes to a reasonably consistent structure ritual to ritual.)

All of my reading had given me a good sense of what terms meant and which ones I cared most about, and that helped a lot.

When I was ready, I spent an afternoon reading through all the group listings for the area on Witchvox (long may it be remembered) for about the tenth time, and came up with three groups that sounded the most plausible a fit. (There were a couple of others where it was less clear from their description, but I basically had maybe six meaningful choices at the time.)

One had some weird bumps connecting (The leader had had a serious leg injury, and I wasn't okay going to someone's house for a first meeting, plus some things about the interaction were a bit weird. Turns out there's reasons for that, having gotten to know her in the larger community later, and it wouldn't have been a good fit.) One of the groups pointed me at the third.

I went through their intro Seeker classes (5 classes in the back of a Pagan store), started going to rituals with them, and in very early September of 2000, I became a Dedicant with them. I went through a year and a day training, requested initiation, and never looked back. In 2007, a bit after receiving my 3rd degree I hived off, started my own coven, and - well, there have been pauses there (two long-distance moves will do that) but slowly building the kind of group I want long-term now.

While I think there are other specific traditions in religious witchcraft I'd have been happy with, there are specific things in my tradition that I love that I haven't seen elsewhere, and I've had some amazing experience in magic, ritual, and community as a result.
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Re: How did you find your magical path?
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2021, 10:44:41 pm »
Your first 2 paragraphs remind me of a YouTube video from Thorn Mooney I just recently watched on Secular Witchcraft (I think she put it up Friday), which I couldn't fully get my head around and need to revisit.

If it helps, she's specifically addressing the idea a lot of people have that just because they don't work with/include deities, what they do isn't religious. She notes that a deity-centered approach or a "are you part of a specific community that does all the same things at the same time to "is this a religion" is really really Protestant-Christianity centered, and that's not the only way to have a religion - things like rituals (whatever those rituals are doing), cycles of various kinds, a movement through personal understanding and connection, etc. are all also factors to think about.

(She has graduate work in religious studies, so she's coming at this from that background in specific.)
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Re: How did you find your magical path?
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2021, 05:46:59 pm »
I'll start a draft to remind me to post again when I get a chance   :)

I was drawn to something, I tend to call it 'alternative spirituality' (for lack of a better term), from a young age and used to frequent the history and New Age sections of the library reading about all sorts (myths and legends, the I-ching, numerology, dream interpretation, astrology, palmistry, tarot, whatever I could get my hands on -- also ghosts and hauntings & the like).  There wasn't anything there above Wicca or paganism generally, not that I can recall anyway (or if there was then I didn't pick it up, I'm guessing because I wasn't familiar with the terminology to know I might be interested -- my feeling is that there wasn't anything, as given the spectrum of other stuff I read back then I'm sure I'd have given it a go if it'd been there.)

Then I did find a book, entitled First Steps in Ritual, by Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki and I felt it was definitely something I wanted to read.  I devoured the foreword and intro & then got really put off when the first chapter was speaking about the kind paraphernalia I didn't have and couldn't amass, plus the kind of complex steps I wasn't prepared to learn or undertake (that's how I saw it then -- actually, I recently re-read the intro and began the first chapter again, and felt the exact same way.)

It was a small town I grew up in with no such thing as a witchy or New Age shop, and this was before the internet was really accessible, too.

So then I stalled for a really long time, feeling that there wasn't any path which was suitable for me.  I looked into Buddism, Daoism and Shinto, but while they seemed nice ideas (to me -- no disrespect intended to any who follow these paths) none really resonated with me as a path I wished to follow.

I came across neo-Druidry later, but again I felt initially that it somehow wasn't for me, as I'd read about OBOD & ADF and gained the impression that you had to be a polytheist, whereas I don't have any gods or goddesses in my path.  Gradually, however, I learned that there are actually other modern druids who, like me, view it more as a philosophy than a religion, so whilst I still don't entirely resonate with either OBOD or ADF's outlooks, I've come to think of myself as 'Druid-ish' (solitary).  I'm following (very, very slowly) the New Order of Druids distance learning course, starting with the Bardic one.

So it's been really slow and stilted for me, and I'm still very much learning.  But I'm pretty content being a solitary and forging my own path.

If it helps, she's specifically addressing the idea a lot of people have that just because they don't work with/include deities, what they do isn't religious. She notes that a deity-centered approach or a "are you part of a specific community that does all the same things at the same time to "is this a religion" is really really Protestant-Christianity centered, and that's not the only way to have a religion - things like rituals (whatever those rituals are doing), cycles of various kinds, a movement through personal understanding and connection, etc. are all also factors to think about.

(She has graduate work in religious studies, so she's coming at this from that background in specific.)

I'm afraid I still can't get my head around these concepts, I just don't get it.  I don't include or work with deities; and what I do, I definitely don't consider religious.  There again, I do have some baggage along the lines of rejection of same, so I concede that could be a factor here.  The closest I could allow would be that I'm a nature-worshipper (but not in a literal worshipping/praying to/petitioning sense, just in general reverence).  However, the bottom line for me is I think if the individual considers their practice religious, it is; if they don't, then it doesn't have to be.

(I'm not disputing what Thorn Mooney is saying, or her credentials; I just don't get it, I'm not on that wavelength, at least not at the moment (plus -full disclosure- what I do has almost nothing to do with either witchcraft or magic, apart from the odd borrowed idea here or there, very occasionally)).
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Re: How did you find your magical path?
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2021, 06:09:30 pm »
I was raised Episcopalian, and when I was 11, my parents returned to Roman Catholicism and I converted. I was an active Catholic through the year after college, and then I moved across the country and spent a year thinking hard about what I wanted my religious life to be. I did a bunch of reading, a bunch of thinking, and started exploring the Pagan community in the Twin Cities, Minnesota.

Hey, I was baptized and raised a Catholic, too! I don't think I was too active, but we went to church, celebrated the holidays, and I did pray to the saints.

While I think there are other specific traditions in religious witchcraft I'd have been happy with, there are specific things in my tradition that I love that I haven't seen elsewhere, and I've had some amazing experience in magic, ritual, and community as a result.

I'm glad that you were able to find a tradition that works great for you! It seems like it took a lot of trial and error to get there, along with meeting the right people. I also don't blame you about not wanting to go to someone's home, especially someone you don't know very well. That's always a little uncomfortable.

While I prefer to work alone, I do like the sense of community. However, magic is something very personal to me, so I appreciate the anonymity online communities offer. It's also a great way to get and share ideas and opinions.

Thank you so much for your response Jenett. I know I need to be a little more patient, and to try things out, and explore more.

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Re: How did you find your magical path?
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2021, 09:11:12 pm »
I'm glad that you were able to find a tradition that works great for you! It seems like it took a lot of trial and error to get there, along with meeting the right people. I also don't blame you about not wanting to go to someone's home, especially someone you don't know very well. That's always a little uncomfortable.

To clarify, my process was, compared to a lot of people's, actually super smooth (and actually pretty speedy, other than the natural "it takes time to go through a cycle of classes and then a year and day training." timing aspects.)

I'm convinced it worked so well for me because I made a deliberate break between what I'd been doing and gave myself some time to figure out what things mattered to me, then learning about what some of my options might be. (I was familiar with a fair bit of modern Pagan stuff at the time from friends in college and ambient reading, so I was starting from modest senses of what was out there already, which also helped.)

However, that process definitely does take time! Any time you're doing things with cycles, for example (like a seasonal cycle of rituals, for example, your experiences to some parts of the cycle may be different than others. Or maybe you're really attracted to doing certain things in summer, and in winter you want to hibernate. It takes time to figure out which of those feelings are things in you changing, which are a particular path not being a good fit, which are are a mix of things going on that's going to take more time to untangle.
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ksea

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Re: How did you find your magical path?
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2021, 05:53:09 pm »
I was drawn to something, I tend to call it 'alternative spirituality' (for lack of a better term), from a young age and used to frequent the history and New Age sections of the library reading about all sorts (myths and legends, the I-ching, numerology, dream interpretation, astrology, palmistry, tarot, whatever I could get my hands on -- also ghosts and hauntings & the like).  There wasn't anything there above Wicca or paganism generally, not that I can recall anyway (or if there was then I didn't pick it up, I'm guessing because I wasn't familiar with the terminology to know I might be interested -- my feeling is that there wasn't anything, as given the spectrum of other stuff I read back then I'm sure I'd have given it a go if it'd been there.)

I feel like we had the same kind of journey. Finding out about the occult at a young age, but then not being able to find anything that isn't Wiccan or Pagan. Kind of makes it a bit hard, because while all the spells I used have been Wiccan/Neo-Pagan (without really realizing it, or giving it much thought), the way Wiccans and Pagans practice magic (or at least from what I've seen in books and online) isn't something I'm really drawn to. No disrespect to Wiccan or Pagans, it just doesn't feel right for me is all.

So then I stalled for a really long time, feeling that there wasn't any path which was suitable for me.  I looked into Buddism, Daoism and Shinto, but while they seemed nice ideas (to me -- no disrespect intended to any who follow these paths) none really resonated with me as a path I wished to follow.

I know this feeling. I have definitely stalled because I didn't know which way to go. I kind of feel like I'm still there, but not as much as I was before.


I came across neo-Druidry later, but again I felt initially that it somehow wasn't for me, as I'd read about OBOD & ADF and gained the impression that you had to be a polytheist, whereas I don't have any gods or goddesses in my path.  Gradually, however, I learned that there are actually other modern druids who, like me, view it more as a philosophy than a religion, so whilst I still don't entirely resonate with either OBOD or ADF's outlooks, I've come to think of myself as 'Druid-ish' (solitary).  I'm following (very, very slowly) the New Order of Druids distance learning course, starting with the Bardic one.
YES! Reading books, or even sometimes reading blogs, it feels like there's only one right way to do things, which isn't the case. It wasn't really until I found people making videos on YouTube and posting on forums (I used to lurk forums a lot), that I realized that there really isn't. I was seeing the ideas and practices from every day people, not just the ones who made their practice a career. It's always nice to see that. That's why I'm so glad I joined this forum.

Thank you so much for sharing your path with me. It's always nice to know that I'm not the only one who was a little put off at first because I felt like I had to do it a certain way or I was doing it wrong.

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Re: How did you find your magical path?
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2021, 05:58:31 pm »
To clarify, my process was, compared to a lot of people's, actually super smooth (and actually pretty speedy, other than the natural "it takes time to go through a cycle of classes and then a year and day training." timing aspects.)
I've always wondered about the "Year and a day" training. Is this something people follow, or is it just a suggestion?

I'm convinced it worked so well for me because I made a deliberate break between what I'd been doing and gave myself some time to figure out what things mattered to me, then learning about what some of my options might be. (I was familiar with a fair bit of modern Pagan stuff at the time from friends in college and ambient reading, so I was starting from modest senses of what was out there already, which also helped.)
This is something I did have a hard time with. I thought that since the people who wrote the books told me to do things a certain way, then that was the only way. It wasn't until later that I learned otherwise. I am currently trying to take a step back, think about how I used to practice, and pinpoint the things that made sense to me and the things that didn't. Currently, I have an idea but am still examining.

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Re: How did you find your magical path?
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2021, 09:47:22 am »
I've always wondered about the "Year and a day" training. Is this something people follow, or is it just a suggestion?

Both, depending on your situation. Lots of people don't, though I think that causes some particular kinds of longer-term issues for a bunch of folks.

The logic of it goes like this: if you're looking at a seasonal structure that takes a year to play out (and especially where some of that structure is explicitly seasonal - what's going on in the world around us in nature, in weather, in how much light there is), then doesn't it make sense to go through a complete cycle before making a long-term commitment to that being a thing you do? (Whatever the form of that commitment might be for you?)

Other religions do this too - when I went through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) to become Catholic, that includes the bulk of the liturgical year (we started in the fall, and then the program ran through a bit after Easter. That way, you got to talk through and experience the major liturgical moments of the year with others learning about Catholicism and the people supporting that process. Only after you'd gone through that could you ask to go through that particular initiatory process at Easter.

Because I was pre-confirmation age in my parish, I didn't get confirmed, but all the adults had the rites for both first communion (as relevant) and confirmation, as well as making a formal "Yes, I want to be Catholic now" commitment.

Of course, if you're working on your own, then it's up to you what you do about it, like basically everything else.

But I think it's a good idea. A lot of people start out, and think they're interested, and a couple of months later that interest fades (for all sorts of reasons, many of them good ones), or they change focus, or they have an experience that shifts what they care about.

Treating your initial year (or more) as a period of "Let me learn more about this, and give myself time to decide what I care about, what I turn out to want to keep doing, whether this is working for me" just seems healthy, you know?

(I sometimes compare this to people getting married: I'm actually the child of people who met each other, had a love at first sight experience, and got engaged two weeks later. Once they got married, they were happily married until my father died. But they were also engaged for 2.5 years until they finished their respective degrees, and had plenty of time to go "Yes, this is in fact the thing we want to be doing." and figuring out what that meant for them, which in their case involved emigrating to a whole other country...)

We can have a strong pull toward doing something, but still give ourselves time to figure out how that actually plays out for us, not just on the good days, but on the hard days, the days we're tired, the days everything isn't quite working, the days when we're not sure why we're bothering.

The other side of this is that yes, it's a common requirement for groups. It's a requirement both for the reasons above, and because covens, in particular, are usually a small close ritual group.

It takes time to get to know someone and decide if you want to do that kind of work with them in specific. A lot of people start out finding a coven, and then discover they're not interested in doing the work involved for that group, or can't keep it up, or that what the coven is doing isn't what they're really interested in. (Sometimes legitimately because you can't figure it out until you try it, maybe a few times.) Some people get bored when a coven doesn't get to "oooh, shiny sparkly magic" right away.

(And on a very pragmatic level: some people start out great, and then turn out not to be so great. Sometimes it's just that they're not a right fit for the things the group focuses on - no harm, no foul. Sometimes someone turns out to be manipulative, or hurtful, or damaging to the group. A lot of people can keep up a good impression for a few months of regular contact, but a lot of people can't keep it up for a year, so you usually do see signs of things that might be a long-term problem around the 6 to 9 month point. As someone responsible for the well-being of my coven, I want to figure that out before we make long-term commitments to each other.)

So a lot of groups have a year and a day minimum. I went through that in my training (because the group I trained in only started the year and a day classes once a year, it was more like 16 months for me between when I formally became a student with the group and initiating - September of 2001 to February 2003.) My coven has the same requirement, though we're a little more fluid with when classes start.

It also just takes time to get through the content. I don't want anyone considering initiating in our tradition without a solid foundation in what we do and how we do it. That takes time to cover in discussion and reading. It takes time to learn different steps of how we do ritual and start to get comfortable with doing them (it's not like people do it once, and it's perfect and smooth and easy...) You can see basically what we cover on my website. All of those things could have a lot more depth (and we do, I hope, eventually get there) but the goal is "enough to decide that this is what you want to make a commitment to, in our company."

Quote
This is something I did have a hard time with. I thought that since the people who wrote the books told me to do things a certain way, then that was the only way. It wasn't until later that I learned otherwise. I am currently trying to take a step back, think about how I used to practice, and pinpoint the things that made sense to me and the things that didn't. Currently, I have an idea but am still examining.

A lot of books are doing this better now, but it's still really common to see things that come across more like recipe books, without really explaining why something works the way it does - so of course, if the thing sort of works for you, that makes it harder to figure out why. Or what parts are adjustable and what aren't.

I often compare this to baking. Cake and bread are not super far away from each other in terms of ingredient lists and the overall 'how do we make this thing be food', but wow are they different actual outcomes. If you want bread, and you follow a cake recipe, you're also going to be disappointed. One of the things I keep working on figuring out how to talk about better is that process of figuring out what you're good at, what you're interested in, what inspires you, what makes you want to be a better person (whatever that means, whether that's 'more ethically guided' or 'happier' or 'connected with the flow of the world around you' or whatever...)
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  • Preferred Pronouns: he
Re: How did you find your magical path?
« Reply #12 on: April 05, 2021, 02:17:32 pm »
Throughout my magical journey, I have always just kind of dabbled. Really, just I know there's nothing wrong with that, but I do feel like I'm just kind of running around in the dark. I believe this is due to going back and forth between really practicing and learning, to putting it on the back burner due to things like school, then work, then just life and how busy it really is.

I think maybe an equivalent mood would be "I play the piano, but I'm so busy with other things, and sometimes I play blues, then classical, and also rock &pop, and also musicals, and I feel overwhelmed by all the different genres of music"; or, a chef metaphor, "sometimes I want to become an expert on baking, but then i also like vegan cooking, and patisserie, and also meats, and brewing my own beers, and confectionary". An overarching skill, that contains a lot of mini-skills.

It's fairly popular to do magic not as part of a religion; would you say you envisage it more as a skill, or in another way?

A path implies a journey towards a destination - do you know what that destination is?

Maybe it'd help you to define one or more destinations, and then break down the steps approaching them; maybe a list of things you want to improve at, or a list of things you'd like to try. Be that spell genres (love, war, family, health) or spell formats (knotwork, astral travel, cookery, gemstones) or "advancements" (contact a familiar spirit. access the akashic records. meet the ascended masters. whatever makes sense for your context)

I always find Phil Hine's writings very inspirational on the practical magic side. I can always envisage a world of experimentation and creativity in what he does.

A lot of the Ceremonial Magic paths have a sort of, step-by-step approach (like the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn), but they lock you into a specific and niche way of doing magic. Liber Null is a great, sparse, bare-bones build-your-own magic handbook, that has little more than two pages on each topic, boiled down to their essence, so for each topic you have to figure out your own way of doing it.


[Edit to fix the URL -- PP]
« Last Edit: April 05, 2021, 02:24:21 pm by PerditaPickle »
Pagan life blog: Haptalaon @ Dreamwidth
Fencraft Handbook: Seekers of the Landweird: for land-trance, pagan animism, folklore and traditional witchcraft

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