Cautions and Precautions?

cautions photoI’ve been working to get back into my spirituality and practice, and in doing so have finally stumbled across something that I think, through causing me anxiety, has been restricting my progress. When I first started my path a year or more ago, I did a lot of varied research and looked for advice from a lot of different places on starting out in Paganism and the occult. One big piece of advice that I now realise impacted me quite heavily was that there are dangerous spiritual entities to be cautious of (I think the author referred to them as shadows or demons). My family has a history with the occult, and there have been some horror stories past down that aren’t exactly soothing to hear when starting out without much tangible guidance. Ultimately, I think this scared me off a bit from every practicing, or really enjoying the witchcraft that I was learning about, despite feeling naturally drawn to it.

So, I suppose what I really want to ask here, is what should I be cautious of when (re)starting my Pagan and occult path? I’m looking more for general advice and opinions. Should I be scared witless, or just extremely cautious? I know there are always risks involved, but the thought of any of those horror stories being true kind of puts a damper of the excitement of learning new skills and finding peace in my path. I want to hear from those with reason and experience (hence why I come to this forum specifically) what I should be cautious of, how to protect myself if necessary and what I need to know in consideration to the dangers and “darkness”.

I’m sorry for any ignorance on my own part. I’m going off of family stories, random internet information and that one freaky thread that scared me witless that one time, but unfortunately as a solitary practitioner and a student I have limited time and resources – reaching out to the community seems to be the most logical and direct resolution, even if only temporarily until I can gather more resources.

The Critter Year

critters photo
Photo by Essential_Photos

As a nature-oriented pagan, I’m always looking for ways to connect with the wild; here’s one that will vary greatly depending on your geographic location, but might be a fun thought experiment: If you had to define the time of year by the bug or beastie that most epitomizes it, what would your critter calendar look like?

For example, here in NYC, I just this second heard my first cicada of the season; this to me signals the beginning of high summer, the latter half of that season. Fireflies epitomize early summer (but that wouldn’t apply in the west of North America, where fireflies don’t exist; so yes, geography matters in this). And perhaps, because their migration is so remarkable, I might choose the monarch butterfly as the standard bearer for early fall.

Any other critter year ideas? What might your critter calendar look like?

The apotheosized and the apotheosizing: working with deified mortals

roman emperor photo
Photo by Sharon Mollerus

A few months ago, I thought my gods were calling me to ancestor worship; it turned out they were telling me to look into actually worshipping certain deified mortals. I’ve been working that out ever since, and I’ve gotten an amazing amount of spiritual and personal mileage out of it. But it’s left me with a few questions.

One–has anyone else had similar experiences, wherein a known Power or set of Powers points them at worshipping the apotheosis of a historical human being? In my case, I was following gods who had very clearly previously identified themselves as Dionysos and his wife Ariadne when I got told to do the new thing as well–I have a suspicion these particular gods may do it more often, since they’re so associated with the process of apotheosis (see various studies of Dionysian imagery on funerary art; the one that’s stuck with me most is Kerenyi’s discussion of it in Dionysos: Archetypal Image of Indestructible Life). But I don’t know.

Two, and it’s a bit more complicated…how do you handle it when one of the deified mortals you’re naturally being led to is more apotheosizing than already apotheosized–that is to say, still alive? For a while I was simply ignoring that question, but I strongly suspect my life actually needs the energy of this particular Power-to-be, and I’m not sure how to approach that.

New Grimoire-thing

So I have ADHD and this means I can never decide how I want to do things. I get very excited about a notebook, but sixty pages in I realize I don’t want to take 200 pages of notes on Tarot cards in that book, or I don’t like the paper color, or now I want to paint meditations on goddesses… or heck, I just lose the notebook, or don’t want to carry three notebooks and a planner around with me, even though I often want to study/journal when not at home.

Well, I had an early birthday, and this is what I got:

It’s called a traveler’s notebook, and it’s the indecisive person’s journalgasm. If you’re not familiar, basically, it’s a cover, and you can add from one to seven or more little notebooks inside, and it’s easy as hell to make your own notebooks.

A lot of people use them as planners. Mine is my planner, but it’s also where I’m going to keep Tarot notes, notes on spells, my goddess work and studies, nature sketches, meditations, other spiritual stuff, etc.

It’s also fat, and I love fat leather-bound notebooks:

It has pooockets!!! (That’s not my info on that card. It’s a card for a yoga studio I picked up somewhere.)

A bit of cover art:

Just thought I’d share! I’m super excited about having a flexible place to keep notes on my practice and spiritual explorations since it’s ever evolving and I have the attention span of a lobster. And I figure if something is working for me, it might work for somebody else. I love the idea of a gorgeous illuminated book where I keep all of my deep magical and spiritual wisdom (that I definitely don’t have at this point), but the odds of me ever completing such a thing are nil and would paralyze me anyway at this point in my spiritual journey. (Btw, the original Midori traveler’s notebooks are kinda expensive, but mine is from Amazon, and if you live in the US Michael’s apparently has a super cheap faux-leather version if you’re poor like me and don’t have a convenient birthday coming up.)

Drums for ritual or meditation

Drums photoWhat are people’s experiences with using drums in your practice? Drums come up in many traditions around the world, so I imagine there are many ways to use them. I’d like to hear about some!

This isn’t entirely idle curiosity; I recently bought a small pellet drum (the kind with two clappers on strings that you twirl around) with the thought that I could use it for something, but I have no idea what.

Recommended Fae/Faerie Lore Books?

Fairy photoI was wondering if any of you knew of any books that had to do specifically with faerie lore. Things regarding how they were viewed, what was done around them, where they resided, etc. I have picked up many books that really only “touch” the subject, they will say faerie kind was revered or the like, and then nothing more! They fascinate me so and I would love to read about just them if possible!

How do you build faith?

faith photo
Photo by ^@^ina (Irina Patrascu Gheorghita )

I am obviously very new to paganism and Wicca. I’ve attended a non-denominational Christian church my whole life and just never grasped the concept of faith. Christianity says “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” well I’ve heard it for 32 years now and I still have no faith.

As I’m reading and researching and learning about Paganism/Wicca, I ask myself, and all of you, how does one build faith?