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Author Topic: How do you learn?  (Read 1821 times)

littleheathen

How do you learn?
« on: July 02, 2016, 09:12:03 pm »
This is especially directed to those who aren't part of covens or groups that help with education. How do you learn? Just books? Experimentation? Something else?

I grew up in church. Everyone around me already knew what to do so I absorbed it by watching. I've always been a great book-learner but I'm finding it to be more difficult with paganism. There's such a huge spectrum of beliefs and practices and I don't even know where I fall on it, much less what reading material would be the most engaging and appropriate. I'd experiment but I'm running into the same problem there--either there's a prescribed ritual involving lots of stuff I don't have or know, or you need other people, or something like that.

I guess I really just need someone to talk to. I'm learning to meditate but that was actually unexpectedly challenging at first. Grounding and calling up energy really have me stumped. I feel like if I can't figure out the first steps, how in the world am I going to progress? Nemetona keeps coming up in my studies and I feel a connection but I also feel as if I'm letting her down by not utilizing my sacred space to its fullest.

I'm finding that I have an interest in Celtic tradition. Herbs are nice, flourite is my friend, incense is simply beautiful, and I think something--spirits, the fae, I really don't know--hangs around teasing me. Can anyone point me in a direction or give me ideas or at least tell me that it's ok, that I'm just overthinking this? Finding a spiritual social circle would probably help a lot but we're kinda Bible-belty around here and I'm afraid of putting myself out there and being found out by family.

Thanks for reading and sorry for turning a little ranty.

Jenett

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Re: How do you learn?
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2016, 10:25:56 pm »
Quote from: littleheathen;193421
This is especially directed to those who aren't part of covens or groups that help with education. How do you learn? Just books? Experimentation? Something else?


Depends! You're right that other people are one way, but there's fortunately other options.

I have a website focused on people interested in learning about religious witchcraft (which is the thing I do, and therefore the thing I can write about doing best), but the first two sections (The 'getting started' or basics section,  and the building a practice section both have a lot of more general info, and I'm working on some 'how to find resources / how libraries work / useful research tools' pages at the moment that I hope to finish in the next week.

(There's a lot of info on there that's in books and elsewhere online, but I started the site partly to cover things people don't talk about nearly enough, and one of those is 'how do I get started in a reasonable way')
 
Beyond that, I'd suggest paying attention - when you read here (or other Pagan sites, or for that matter, non-Pagan stuff) see what stuff you keep noticing. Think about why it's coming up and what that might be about in your life.

When you read things from someone, or about a particular path or approach, how does it make you feel? Why? (Which is the really important question: sometimes we don't *like* something, because it's challenging, but we're drawn to it because it's important or we need to hear that thing.)

Self-awareness is such an amazingly useful skill, no matter what your future choices are.

If you're willing to post a general location (like state or nearest big city), people might be able to suggest some other resources, too, depending on if your family concerns are people you live with or more distant family who might hear gossip.
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KS95126

Re: How do you learn?
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2016, 12:06:29 am »
Quote from: littleheathen;193421
This is especially directed to those who aren't part of covens or groups that help with education. How do you learn? Just books? Experimentation? Something else?


First, know that you are not alone in your attempt to learn. I don't have much advice really, but I can share with you what I've been doing. I was in the same place a while back. I found meetup.com was useful to find some local pagans to talk to, even if I didn't go to physically meet them. I actually found a coven that way who, while they will not initiate me into their tradition, are kind enough to share some of their basic practices.

The internet was only partly helpful. So much of it seemed very superficial or, like you said, involved a lot more than I was able to have. I still poke around some pagan forums like this one. I personally found reddit to be rather negative and unfulfilling, but you can give that a try too.

Right now, I'm searching for my deities. I'm doing research on various gods and goddesses and various pantheons. When something interests me or I start to see a strange pattern in what I've been reading, I follow the thread. I've regularly meditated to clear my mind and then lit a candle and said a small prayer asking if there were any deities out there interested in working with me. And hopefully that catches someone's attention and they point me in the right direction. :) Good luck with finding your path and don't get discouraged!

littleheathen

Re: How do you learn?
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2016, 12:32:53 am »
Quote from: Jenett;193426

but I started the site partly to cover things people don't talk about nearly enough, and one of those is 'how do I get started in a reasonable way'

 
Thank you for responding! I really appreciate it. You hit the nail on the head--how do we get started and in the most reasonable way? I found your site some time ago and devoured it. I'm revisiting it because obviously it's wisdom I could use right now.

I'm generally between Tampa and Orlando, FL. I don't live with family who would particularly care, but my parents would be heartbroken and their church family would drag me in and try to pray the devil out of me. /s  It seems that there's a lot IN the Tampa/St Pete area, and a lot IN Orlando, but not much in between. I know they must be here, but maybe in hiding too.

Thank you again. I've got your site open in another tab and I'll be reading through it again tonight and tomorrow. It is a fantastic work, btw.

littleheathen

Re: How do you learn?
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2016, 12:46:47 am »
Quote from: KS95126;193432
The internet was only partly helpful. So much of it seemed very superficial or, like you said, involved a lot more than I was able to have. I still poke around some pagan forums like this one. I personally found reddit to be rather negative and unfulfilling, but you can give that a try too.

 
Thanks for taking the time to reply! I saw your post too but didn't really have anything helpful to contribute. Thanks you for not giving me the same treatment. :)

I'll try Meetup again. I need to look really closely at them and see if there's anything at all that will fit in with juggling a family.

Superficial... That was a word I wanted to use but didn't want to insult anyone. So much of what I've found seemed either superficial or selfish. Controlling people and getting what you want. Things that my personal ethics have trouble with. I want that deeper connection, to do something that will make ripples and bring real change, something good and helpful and substantial for those who need it and a change of heart for those who could use that instead. Something quite the opposite of the empty behavior modeled for me as a kid.

Keep me updated on your search! And thank you for sharing your journey with me.

Jenett

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Re: How do you learn?
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2016, 08:51:21 am »
Quote from: littleheathen;193433
Thank you for responding! I really appreciate it. You hit the nail on the head--how do we get started and in the most reasonable way? I found your site some time ago and devoured it. I'm revisiting it because obviously it's wisdom I could use right now.


You're very welcome!

Quote

I'm generally between Tampa and Orlando, FL. I don't live with family who would particularly care, but my parents would be heartbroken and their church family would drag me in and try to pray the devil out of me. /s  It seems that there's a lot IN the Tampa/St Pete area, and a lot IN Orlando, but not much in between. I know they must be here, but maybe in hiding too.


Location is so hard - and especially when you're sort of near stuff, but not enough to make it a regular place you go.

I'd suggest, though, it might be worth considering if you can go to a weekend festival (even as a day trip): I'm not nearly as familiar with Florida as I am some other parts of the country (so I hope someone can make some more specific suggestions beyond "search Witchvox and Facebook and the internet for things like 'Florida Pagan'"), but those kinds of events can be a great way to get a sense of what you're interested in, see if there's anything you find you like or don't like in a low-commitment setting, etc.

Even a day trip can be easier than trying to make a regular event - and you may find people who are willing to keep up through email, or who can tell you what the great area email groups are, and so on.

(You might also meet people you really hit it off with, but don't expect to, y'know? I treat these events as 'it's great exposure to some different ways to do things, and my goal is to see that, and if there's anything more than that, yay!')
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MeadowRae

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Re: How do you learn?
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2016, 09:10:48 am »
Quote from: littleheathen;193434
.

Superficial... That was a word I wanted to use but didn't want to insult anyone. So much of what I've found seemed either superficial or selfish. Controlling people and getting what you want. Things that my personal ethics have trouble with. I want that deeper connection, to do something that will make ripples and bring real change, something good and helpful and substantial for those who need it and a change of heart for those who could use that instead. Something quite the opposite of the empty behavior modeled for me as a kid.
.

 
I understand how you feel. I grew up in a fundamentalist church, as well. When I first started on my path, I thought that surely in paganism, a home for the "spiritual but not religious" spiritual and intellectual depth would be a given. What I have found is that it's never a given, there is no guarantee that you will find people who are like you in any religion/path.

There is a lot of talk in paganism about work and practice. I had no idea what that meant. My perspective now is that You need to secure your relationship with yourself and the Divine (or, insert names for deities/concepts here.)

Jennett mentioned looking outside pagan sources in addition to pagan ones. Right now, my most spiritually enlightening discussions are with my best friend, who is a Christian. She walks away affirmed in her faith, and so do I.

I had a passion/interest in psychology and medieval literature, so I applied that knowledge to my belief system. Finding books on paganism can be tough here, but psychology books and books about King Arthur seem pretty innocuous to most people.

I'm sorry that my response is kind of a ramble, but to make it shorter (and hopefully more helpful!) what are your mundane interests right now? What do you enjoy doing? What do you like to read about? Who are your biggest supporters in life? These things are what make you you, and exploring them can help bring clarity to your search.

Good luck, and enjoy the journey. :)

Sefiru

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Re: How do you learn?
« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2016, 06:47:15 pm »
Quote from: littleheathen;193434

Something quite the opposite of the empty behavior modeled for me as a kid.


I recommend science fiction and fantasy novels for this. (I forget where I heard this, but someone once said that the underlying theme of all speculative fiction is "how should power be used?"). Mind you, you'd be getting the author's own idea of what "doing the right thing" is, but there is a wide range to explore.

Top-of-the-head suggestions:
- Chalion series, by CJ Cherryh
- Discworld series by Terry Pratcett, especially the Tiffany Aching books
- Oath of Swords, by David Weber
- The Dark is Rising, by Susan Cooper
- Holes by Louis Sachar

I guess what I'm trying to say is not to restrict your studying to what is labelled 'Pagan'. Insight often comes from sources that aren't aiming to be insightful.

littleheathen

Re: How do you learn?
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2016, 12:40:11 am »
Quote from: Jenett;193446
I'd suggest, though, it might be worth considering if you can go to a weekend festival (even as a day trip)

 
I've heard of a couple around. I'll try it out. Thank you!

littleheathen

Re: How do you learn?
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2016, 01:32:54 am »
Quote from: ViolaRae;193448
There is a lot of talk in paganism about work and practice. I had no idea what that meant. My perspective now is that You need to secure your relationship with yourself and the Divine (or, insert names for deities/concepts here.)

 
Would you mind elaborating on this point a little? There's so much I haven't sorted out yet, like who, exactly, is the Divine? I know that it's different for everyone and for now I've gone with "Ancient Ones, Ancestors, Guardians, and Friends" to cover my bases but it doesn't seem to reach anyone. And as for my relationship with myself... we've only just started seeing each other, the relationship is complicated. I joke but seriously, it's a work very early in progress.

I'm going to sit down with a pen and paper and think seriously about your last paragraph.

Thank you so much for responding. You've given me a lot to consider.

littleheathen

Re: How do you learn?
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2016, 01:45:43 am »
Quote from: Sefiru;193551
I guess what I'm trying to say is not to restrict your studying to what is labelled 'Pagan'. Insight often comes from sources that aren't aiming to be insightful.

 
You know, for as much as I over-analyze and ponder on what I read, I hadn't considered that the question could be applied this way. So much more to think on with my pen and paper.

Thank you!

Jenett

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Re: How do you learn?
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2016, 08:26:31 am »
Quote from: Sefiru;193551

Top-of-the-head suggestions:
- Chalion series, by CJ Cherryh
- Discworld series by Terry Pratcett, especially the Tiffany Aching books
- Oath of Swords, by David Weber
- The Dark is Rising, by Susan Cooper
- Holes by Louis Sachar


Chalion is Lois McMaster Bujold (which I also highly recommend) but Cherryh is also excellent.

I'd also add Jo Walton's Thessaly trilogy (two books out, third one in progress).  

I also found Katherine Kurtz's books (both the Deryni ones and the Adept series) heavily influential, though they can be a little weird to read now, because of changes in how speculative fiction tends to be structured these days. (The first Adept book, however, is a fascinating look at 'how do you start learning this stuff' in some ways.
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RecycledBenedict

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Re: How do you learn?
« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2016, 01:58:48 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;193562
I also found Katherine Kurtz's books (both the Deryni ones and the Adept series) heavily influential, though they can be a little weird to read now, because of changes in how speculative fiction tends to be structured these days. (The first Adept book, however, is a fascinating look at 'how do you start learning this stuff' in some ways.


I loved reading Kurtz's Adept series in the 1990s! Episcopalian magic-users on good terms with freemasons and Buddhists were exactly my thing back then. The flavour I got from the fictional magic in the Adept series was very similar to the real life magic David Edwards, former member of Order of the Cubic Stone, describe in his book Dare to Make Magic.

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Re: How do you learn?
« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2016, 06:38:15 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;193562
Chalion is Lois McMaster Bujold (which I also highly recommend) but Cherryh is also excellent.

 
Oops! :o Not sure how I mixed those two up, unless it's because they're next to each other at the library.

RecycledBenedict

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Re: How do you learn?
« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2016, 05:19:45 am »
Quote from: Sefiru;193551
I recommend science fiction and fantasy novels for this. (I forget where I heard this, but someone once said that the underlying theme of all speculative fiction is "how should power be used?"). Mind you, you'd be getting the author's own idea of what "doing the right thing" is, but there is a wide range to explore.

Top-of-the-head suggestions:
- Chalion series, by CJ Cherryh
- Discworld series by Terry Pratcett, especially the Tiffany Aching books
- Oath of Swords, by David Weber
- The Dark is Rising, by Susan Cooper
- Holes by Louis Sachar

I guess what I'm trying to say is not to restrict your studying to what is labelled 'Pagan'. Insight often comes from sources that aren't aiming to be insightful.


Along the fictional line, I would add The Secrets of Doctor Taverner and Winged Bull by Dion Fortune. The more Wiccish inclined would probably have some use of  three other novels of hers: The Goat Footed God, Sea Priestess and Moon Magic.

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