Playlist for the Wylde Hunt

Another fun #2019GrimoireChallenge prompt from several weeks ago: music! Now I have different playlists for different moods: one that’s strictly speaking pagan tunes like Damh the Bard, Wendy Rule, S.J. Tucker, etc. for studying to; one that has music from Florence & The Machine, Stevie Nicks, Hozier, etc. that’s sort of my “witchy vibe” playlist; another of sea shanties that’s relaxing, but also sort of mournful and sad; one of musical scores from different films for writing to; the list goes on. What I wanted to share today though was my playlist specifically for The Wylde Hunt (the full Spotify Playlist is linked here and prolifically long because I like to be able to spend hours listening to music of a similar vibe). For purposes of this blog post, however, I’m going to pick 10 songs to share with you from it. So, in no particular order, just how they ended up in the list on Spotify:

  1. “Become the Beast” -Karliene Technically a fan-made song for Hannibal this is a wonderfully dark and spooky song that I had to include on my list. I actually have a lot of Karliene’s music on the playlist. She covers songs from films, writes music of her own, has her own renditions of some folk tunes, all around good stuff, and I recommend you check her out!
  2. I Don’t Speak Human” -OMNIA I also have a lot of OMNIA’s music on that playlist. This one speaks about humanity’s destruction of nature, and as the Wylde Hunt is sort of one with the forests, I saw it as particularly fitting.
  3. “Fehu” -Wardruna You might recognize this one from the show Vikings. It was used during one of the battle scenes in an earlier season of the show (Gods, I’m so behind on it; this makes me want to go back and binge-watch to catch up!). I can’t remember if I discovered the song before or after it was used on the show, but it’s got an awesome beat and makes me feel like going out and fighting all of my troubles. It’s a similar feeling to listen to the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack while you’re going about your day. You just feel as though you have more purpose and can accomplish anything.
  4. “If I Die In Battle” -VanCanto VanCanto was shown to me by my boyfriend a couple of years ago. They’re mostly an a capella group + a drummer. This song is freaking epic: the vocals are powerful, the video is fantastic, and really what isn’t there to love about an a capella metal band, yeah, you heard that right: a capella metal. Please. Go watch this. It’s worth it.
  5. “The Parting Glass” -Loreena McKennitt OR Damh the Bard I can’t pick a favorite rendition of this song but I deeply love both Loreena McKennitt and Damh the Bard’s versions of them, so here I have included them both. It’s a little less battle-song and more folksy. I like to imagine I’m sitting at a pub with the hunters, or maybe around their campfire as I hear this song. Also, not to be morbid or nihilistic: I really want this song played at my funeral. It’s sad, but like, in a parting-of-friends way. I dunno. I just really love this song.
  6. “Fith Fath Song” -Damh the Bard Because I love Damh and need to give him more attention in this playlist, I’ve added this song. Again, a bit more folksy than some of the others I’ve listed here. It reminds me of the chase scene between Cerridwen and Taliesin in their myth, and felt appropriate for something I could imagine one of the members of the Wylde Hunt singing. I have several of Damh’s other songs on the playlist. He’s long been one of my very favorite artists as far as pagan / folk musicians go. He also runs the Druidcast for the OBOD. I’ll link his website here.
  7. “Safe & Sound” -Taylor Swift & The Civil Wars Heading back into the dark and spooky vibe, we come to “Safe & Sound.” I’m not really a fan of Taylor Swift, honestly, but I really like this song, and the Civil Wars, which brings me to…
  8. “Kingdom Come” -The Civil Wars this beautiful and haunting song that just gives me all of the autumn, Wylde Hunt lurking in the trees sort of vibes.
  9. “A Pict Song” -Emerald Rose This one is again folksy and kind of got that rearing for battle kind of a feel to it. One of my favorite areas of history to study is the Roman invasion of the Celtic lands because it’s where much of what little we know about the ancient Druids comes from. Imagine wild hunters from the lands of the Picts, still bitter about Roman invasion. I just really love this song.
  10. “If I Had A Heart” -Fever Ray This is another one from Vikings, and another sort of dark, primal, spooky song.

Do you make playlists for your spiritual workings? What sort of music do you associate with your deities / guides? Share them in the comments below!

Forest Blessings,
Rachel

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Thinking About: Discernment and Personal Responsibility

This morning, I had the pleasure of having one of those hour-or-so long phone conversations with a close friend of mine where we find ourselves discussing all manner of things from spirituality, to philosophy, plans for self improvement, and endless other topics. Today, a part of our discussion revolved around the possibility of forming a local group of witchy/pagan folk, and our concerns in doing so based upon things we’ve experienced both in other groups we’ve visited in person, and in the online community.

I’d also recently come across this post by @nightshadeandroses on Tumblr that discussed using discernment when practicing witchcraft. Though my personal opinions are a bit different, I thought she had a number of excellent points, and that some of the the issues she brought up pretty perfectly highlighted some of the concerns my friend and I had had in inviting others into our social circle and building community.

If you begin searching “witchcraft” or “paganism” on a number of sites, but particularly on Tumblr, you very quickly encounter dozens and dozens of blogs where the practitioners are detailing experiences that seem very intense: visions or messages from deities, relationships with spirits and deities that can take any myriad forms from devotional practice to spirit marriage and more, and more and more frequently at least in the media that I encounter: blaming the gods/fae/spirits for things going wrong or seeming out of control in one’s life.

Primrose’s post seems to specifically target those new to the craft who want to believe that everything they encounter is a sign or has some magical significance. Sometimes, a fly is just there because it’s summertime and there’s food about. So how do you differentiate between that instance and when it’s trying to tell you something? It can be difficult, it’s true, especially when you’re eager to embark upon a new spiritual path and start interacting with deities and spirits.

Her post recommends looking at patterns in phenomena, asking if the experience seems to good to be true or mimics a story you recently encountered from someone else, trying divination to confirm the situation, and trying to explain the situation with mundane explanations first.

All of these are excellent suggestions, and even after practicing for over thirteen years, I still routinely go through these steps if I’m not absolutely certain about things. As an example: I’ve seen a number of things associated with Loki lately, both Marvel universe type things and things a former roommate and friend of mine associated with him. I thought it was odd, but I noted when it started and which things seemed to come up more. I noted to myself “Hey, Endgame just came out, and that’s probably contributing some on the Marvel end of it.” and also that I’m not as familiar with the patterns of the wildlife and seasons in Georgia as I was up in Michigan. I made note that I kept seeing these things, but rather than jump to the conclusion that Loki wanted my attention (and as he’s not a deity I work with, it’d be surprising to me if he did), I decided to wait and see if the pattern continued, or died down a bit after the movie hype died down.

The other thing my friend and I were talking about is personal responsibility. It seems to be the same types who are constantly seeing signs from their deities and guides that do this, but I also notice an unnerving amount of “The fae stole x from me.” or “The gods/x deity/whatever has y plan for me, and there’s nothing I can do about it.” as though everything that occurs in one’s life is directly at the hands of the deities one does/n’t worship and nothing one does seems to have any consequence other than potentially swaying those deities one way or another.

A person I knew constantly told me that their deities seemed to be pushing them towards personal sovereignty and leadership, but also blamed those same deities whenever things did not go according to plan. Now, personal sovereignty and leadership certainly are admirable goals to work towards, and it sounds to me like a path towards personal growth and development. So I find myself asking: Why aren’t you working towards them? Why are you resisting those plans they supposedly have for you? Could the mishaps that keep coming perhaps come from patterns that are toxic and restricting and holding you back? If you worship x/y deity, why aren’t you following the sort of virtues you believe they’re laying out before you?

I’m personally of the belief that the gods are not so intimately involved in every aspect of our lives, and that we have free will and the ability to co-create with the divine powers of the Universe. In my belief, we make choices, and the energies that be react in kind. So if I perpetuate toxic behaviors, toxic things will continue to happen to me. If I project that the Universe or the gods are constantly knocking down my tower and don’t do work to build a stronger foundation in my practical life, the pattern will repeat itself.

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The Tower from the Rider-Waite tarot deck.

The Tower card, I’d joked, was “my buddy” when I was doing tarot readings for myself. For years, it had been a recurring theme: I’d carefully (or so I had thought) construct plans for them to fall through and crumble. I had a narrative I was telling myself about the Universe “knocking over my block tower” just when I’d had it built. I’d blame other people for bailing on plans or not communicating. But I hadn’t considered at all that I was relying on other people rather than standing on my own feet, or that I wasn’t building strong and stable foundations for these plans to rest upon. This winter, while working through some course work, I had the following interaction in a visualization exercise:

I was standing on a summit a small grey bird in my hands. I could feel its heart racing as I held it. Brannan, my guide from the Tower of Pheryllt, stood behind me, his hand on my shoulder.

“A bird…” I must have sounded confused because I’d closed my eyes to visualize a paper boat and my imagination seemed to have a better idea.

“Do you know what it is?” I didn’t turn to face him, but I could hear the smile in Brannan’s voice as he spoke.

I concentrated on the bird for a moment and gave a nod. “It’s the Block Tower Story.”

“And what is the Block Tower Story?” He pressed me further and I furrowed my brow.

“That narrative about the Universe always coming over and knocking “my block tower” over—the one I’m always trying to plan around and avoid—to keep from “being screwed over again”. That Block Tower Story,” I replied.

“Are you ready?”

I looked down at the quivering bird again, took a centering breath, and gave a nod. I let the bird go, urging it out over the sea and away from the cliff. The first time, it came back and perched on my shoulder, its feathers all puffed out as it was clearly agitated.

Brannan gently took the bird from my shoulder and handed it back to me. “Try again. You’ve got to really mean it.” He stepped back again to watch.

I nodded and took another breath, and released the bird again. It made a circle back over my head, but took off over the sea, up into the clouds, and out of sight…

And every time I’ve found myself repeating that story to myself, I imagine myself back on that summit, looking out over the sea with the bird in hand, and I let it go again. Because the Universe isn’t breaking my block tower. I’m not building it correctly, and by taking ownership of that, I’m able to make better decisions about my life- not just in a spiritual sense, but in all of its aspects.

I’ve mentioned in passing, too, my belief that my afterlife is going to be something akin to joining the Wylde Hunt, and that I feel they have plans for me. But rather than resisting those plans, I’ve pushed myself to make actions that reflect that. I spend time in the forests. I try to make decisions that make a more positive impact on the natural world. I get involved with park cleanups and make sure that I’m voting for political officials and policies that protect my fellow citizens and our natural environment. I work on advocating for myself, on finding ways to make myself stronger, healthier, and more confident in myself. I turned my quest to get my driver’s license into a spiritual one as well as a mundane one. I’ve taken actions to get myself to a place more in line with my own goals as well as the ones I believe my gods have given me as well.

It’s not a passive letting the gods take all credit for what happens, good or bad. I am in control of my life, and my gods demand that I be. When I feel they are demanding something of me, it is usually that I take more responsibility for myself and take the reins of my life.

This isn’t meant to sound as though I’m telling folks what to believe, or as though I’m discrediting anyone’s experiences- quite the opposite! I am however concerned with some of the things I see posted, and wanted to encourage others to exercise perhaps some more discernment and take personal responsibility in their craft.

Share your thoughts in the comments below, and as always:

Forest Blessings,
Rachel

What Makes a Witch?

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Over on Tumblr (despite all the mess it now is) some folks have started up a #2019GrimoireChallenge which I am participating in. Since I’ve been having some fun with the prompts, I thought I’d share some of my favorite posts from the project here as well.

Tuesday’s prompt for Week 2 was “Witch, what does it mean to you? What type of witch are you?… Are there certain things you plan to learn as a witch? Certain goals you have?”

A witch, to me, is someone who practices witchcraft in some way: this can be spells and rituals, crystal healing, divination, artwork, devotional poetry, yoga, astrology, essentially the crafts of “The Craft”. A witch doesn’t follow a specific religious or spiritual path- they can be atheists, Christian, Wiccan, polytheists of any sort, whatever. Witches and witchcraft, for my definition of the term aren’t bound necessarily by any specific religious or spiritual paradigm, but rather in the practice of those arts.

I personally identify first as a Druid and Bard. My reasons for this are:

1. “Witch” is often conflated with “Wiccan” and as my religious beliefs and practices are NOT Wiccan, I find it easier to start at Druidry. Druidry is a nature-based spiritual philosophy which may be applied to a number of different sects of Celtic (and Indo-European if you’re a member of the ADF) polytheism as well as other more mainstream religious movements. Druidry is focused upon connection, care and respect for the natural world, and expression of creativity- usually with an emphasis on song and poetry I’ve found. It’s usually very much entwined with Celtic cultural values of hospitality, the sacred landscape, good humor and wit, etc. and as a spiritual philosophy is not as necessarily concerned with the “craft” part of my witchcraft definition.

2. My personal practice is, usually a lot less “witchcraft-y” and more spiritual. I spend a great deal more time wandering the woods, contemplating the universe and meditating than I do crafting spells and reading cards. Therefore to call myself solely a witch feels a bit.. fake.

If I were to define the type of witch I was, I would probably call myself a Druid-Witch, or a Witch of the Wild Hunt. Longtime followers of my blog will have noticed (scattered through here and probably difficult to find because when the hell do I ever actually post personal / original content?) that I work specifically with a version of the Wild Hunt and their horned god leader. For me, this path is first and foremost concerned with nature (particularly storms and the forest), connecting with it, knowing my local environment and its cycles and patterns, etc. On another level, I feel very much called to be a bard for said hunter deity. A lot of my path is made up of composing devotional poetry and artwork, recording the tales I uncover as well as my own adventures and growth. This path includes studying patterns of the stars- not just astrology but the actual dance of the constellations across my own sky. It includes keeping my home, and my altar, as hearth for my familiar spirits to rest and to speak with me. It includes journeying through trancework and meditation with those spirits and gods. But it very very rarely includes ritual, spell work, etc. I do those things, but they aren’t the bulk of what makes up my practice.

Right now, my “witchy” goals include finishing up the OBOD Bardic Grade course, learning palmistry, and taking up Welsh and harp playing as devotional work for my gods. There’s a long way to go, but I’m eager to get started.

A Manifesto (Or the Big, Bad Post of My Beliefs)

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In some attempt at negating a need to continuously link back to my other blog’s posts- and in part to really gather my thoughts and set out a foundation of what it is I believe about a variety of cosmological and general witchy topics- I’ve decided to make this post. It’s a sort of manifesto, a statement of belief, and of what standards I hold myself to in my personal practices as I start to rebuild them. For me, it will help to de-clutter my head space and focus on what my deeply held thoughts/beliefs/ideals are, and what things are no longer of use to me. And for you, it’ll give you a bit of an idea of where I’m coming from, and the belief system which influences my writing.

So. Let’s begin, shall we?

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On Creation / Cosmology / The Nature of the Universe: Until very recently, I hadn’t really connected with a specific creation story in a way that had really resonated with me. About a year ago, I came across Frank Mills’s re-telling and analysis of The Oran Mór. I can’t entirely explain it, but something about this story just struck a chord deep within me, and almost immediately, it felt like a secret truth- a sort of means to have an origin story beyond science, but still allow for the science of evolution and the gradual development of different forces of life, natural movements of the earth, the possibility of alternate dimensions… Basically, it took science and faith and wove them into poetry (my retelling of it from Mills’s writing is found below):

The Oran Mór begins, as Mills describes, with stillness and silence. Then, softly at first, but with growing, spiraling momentum, a melody began to stretch out across the dark waters. In that crescendo, life began. But, the melody did not cease; it continued, cycling as knot-work might in an ever-continuing pattern of life and death, giving and receiving. In his essay, Mills continues to call The Oran Mór “the sea melody” and “the creative melody.” It is the Great Melody that “…flows through the myths and legends of submerged lands, mystical springs, life-giving cauldrons, and holy grails.” It is the Great Melody that inspires wisdom and creation both in the singer of it and those who hear it. It is this song that became the sacred song of life in Celtic tradition, and it is this song that drives us to create, to tell stories, to recount our histories, to go on pilgrimages, and even drives the urge to go “home” wherever that home may be. He even suggests that it is The Oran Mór that gives rise to the song-like Celtic languages.

He then turns to what he feels to be the basic question not only of Celtic Myth, but of life:“Why do you suffer?” Mills goes on to describe that though the song is still playing on, as it always has, we live now in an age where many cannot hear it and many more do not even bother to listen. We live in an age of fragmentation, of in-your-face individualism, and of a number of half-truths all trying to be presented as The Great Melody. In this world of conflicting ‘realities’ our souls are in a state of dis-ease. Because of this dis-ease, we have lost our way and our own connection with the divine powers of creation. We have lost touch with our co-creative role with the divine.

Still, though this seems a bleak analysis of the modern human condition, there is hope. Though we are, as Mills states, fragmented and in that fragmented state quite incapable of becoming one with The Great Melody once more, there is a means. We must find our hero, that “…divine nature with which we have been created that is within.” By finding that piece of our inner selves, we are able to succeed in the struggle between the fragmented state and connection with the song. In finding this state, we become one not only with ourselves and our world, but with all worlds and the places between them. Mills calls this place between the mundane world and the Otherworld the “One World.”

Mills suggests that to live sustainably and wholly, we need to learn to live within / with connection to The One World. When we find ourselves at one with and open to The Great Melody, the melody within us recognizes itself in melody of the Great Song. It is at this point, we find ourselves possessing great intuition. The Oran Mór brings to us, when we are able to recognize it and sing with it, “The Sight” of all things that were, all things that are, and all things that will be. Rather than living, as many traditions would suggest, with one foot in this world and one foot in the Other, Mills suggests that we live simultaneously in both worlds: in the One World. It is then that we rejoin once more with divine creation and find that we are no longer suffering.

Rather than using the scientific, impersonal terms of the Big Bang, the story of The Oran Mór is more visceral. It’s easier to imagine a song stirring in the darkness and gradually building and building and changing as worlds and life are created, than a sudden explosion that came out of (seemingly) nowhere in the vastness of space. And yet, in acknowledging that the song is changing, constantly creating, etc. it gives room for the scientific truths of evolutionary theory to coexist with spirituality. It gives, beyond then, a sense of meaning- we are part of the eternal forces of creation. We are one with all beings and all worlds, and our purpose, as is the purpose of all life, is to create. Being in-tune with that song of creation brings us closer to that connection, and allows us to do incredible things. All worlds exist within the song, and all things are but strands of melody within it.

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On Gods / Spirits: Because The Oran Mór story doesn’t include a creator deity, it stands to reason that Gods, Goddesses, faeries, etc. were created by the Great Song. In Celtic myth, I’ve found especially, figures whom are now worshiped by neo-Pagans as deities are not really explicitly called as such. Some of this could have much to do with the means in which the stories were recorded by Christian monks, but could also, I think, have some to do with the fact that these myths were part of a rich and vibrant oral tradition. The figures linger somewhere in the fuzzy lines between history and legend.

It’s my personal gnosis that the gods are just that: somewhere in the spaces in between. I think they were beings who once lived, and had (hence their great abilities) a deep connection with The One World and the song of creation. Once they passed on, they became one again with that One World and the song. Because they were gifted, and because they were remembered, I think that they can still be reached through their legends, through the right strands of melody plucked from that song of creation. They can still offer us guidance and assistance. They, like the song, are in all things and all beings; you only need to have a properly trained ear.

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On Life/Death/Rebirth & Where the Wylde Hunt Plays Into This at All: I explored this topic in-depth earlier in 2015, and my thoughts haven’t changed too much regarding the matter:

Much of my idea of life, death, and rebirth in this post will come from the Oran Mór myth and from the Three Circles of Manifestation concept in John Michael Greer’s The Druidry Handbook as these are the two that resonate the most with me personally.

In Greer’s chapter on The Three Circles of Manifestation it speaks of a pattern of reincarnation. To me, it felt a bit akin to the idea of finally reaching Nirvana in Eastern traditions.

Three Circles

In this pattern, all matter and “soul stuff” (for lack of better term) originate from Annwn, simultaneously Underworld-of-sorts and source of all building blocks for life. Once a soul has been born from the depths of Annwn, it begins a journey through many lifetimes. The realm in which this series of lifetimes takes place is Abred. The soul must experience and suffer all things through these different incarnations, moving from very simple single-celled life, into plants, into animals, and in the upper reaches of Abred, into human life. Throughout this process, the soul might move up and down between different life forms, learning all lessons there are for it to learn.

Once the soul has experienced all things, it moves onward into the realm of Gwynfydd. Here, each soul is allowed to rest and reflect, synthesizing all the lessons they have learned in their many lifetimes. The soul is given gifts of power and wisdom here, and soul is able now to reflect its own unique Awen (or as I’ve come to think of it, their strain of the Great Song).

Once a soul has learned to express its unique harmony, it may rise again into the realm of Ceugant. It is here that the gods dwell, and here that soul will dwell forever in peace, power, and knowledge.

I have begun to connect this to the Oran Mór as thus: if the One World is, as I feel that it is, like an ocean, could these not be viewed as sort of levels within that primordial and dark sea? Souls come forth from the depths of the One World. As we live through many lives, and learn all that there is to learn, we come to be aware of our connection to all that was, all that is, and all that will be. When he come to know our connection, and indeed to know on a soul-level, all things and their experiences, it is then that we move beyond to the next step.

With what we have learned, in Gwynfydd we learn to express our unique song and its reflections of all that our soul has learned. We begin to be able to sing, as Taliesin had:

I have been a multitude of shapes,
Before I assumed a consistent form.
I have been a sword, narrow, variegated,
I will believe when it is apparent.
I have been a tear in the air,
I have been in the dullest of stars.
I have been a word among letters…

Once we know our song and know of our ability to sing it in harmony with all the strands of the Great Song, we move beyond to Ceugant. Ceugant is the outer reaches of the One World, where the soul joins in the endless process of co-creation in the Great Melody.

For me, the Wylde Hunt exists as a sort of psychopomp-like entity. It moves within and without the various planes of existence. It is the force that brings the necessary end of one phrase of the song, so that another might take its place. It is the Wylde Hunt which, in my views, ferries a soul through these different realms of existence and onto wherever it is they are headed to next: a new life, a new realm, or even into their ranks.

For me, working with the Hunt entails honoring them as the wild forces of the Universe, working with them through transitional parts of the year (and I’m currently working on casting off the Wheel of the Year and developing my own) as well as those deep, transitional parts of my own life. I also feel called, on a personal level, to assist those I can on those same big transitional points of life to the best of my ability.

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Things I Value Beyond All Else: The first is (of course) the natural world and the deep connection I feel with it: the faces I find in the trunks of trees and the exchanges I have with them, blazes of color in autumn that take my breath away, the absolute joy of identifying stars and planets in the night sky, winds strong enough to nearly blow me over- and gentle breezes that rattle the cottonwood leaves, the list could go on literally forever.

The next thing would be, I think, creativity. My ability to create, to share my thoughts and my expressions of self through poetry, photography, music, drawing, etc. etc. is incredibly valuable to me- and I always want to encourage and embrace that in those around me. We are most connected to all that is when we participate in leaving something of ourselves- our souls’ visions in the world.

And of course, there are the very traditional values of loyalty, hospitality, compassion, courage, honesty, respect, wisdom, peace… I tried, at one point, to make a sort of chivalric / ‘Hunters’ Code’. At best, it feels redundant. My thoughts now are basically this: be compassionate and respectful of all people, yet defend yourself and your energy should you be in danger; always seek truth and wisdom, and live honestly, fully, and in harmony to the best of your ability. 

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On Some Witchy Topics: This is the part where I try to go through some of the main topics of discussion I’ve seen floating about the community and my stance on them.

  • Laws of Return / The Wiccan Rede / Etc.: I don’t follow this exactly. Obviously, I would NEVER hurt anyone or anything intentionally, and I do believe this: if you put out nasty energy constantly, eventually some of that’s going to come back to you. The same is true of putting out positive energy. I don’t think it’s always a neat ‘three/five/ten/whatever times what you put out comes back’. Do accidents happen? Yes. My rule of thumb is to consider the consequences of my actions: How will this affect the whole?
  • The Role of Ritual: I’ve explained a bit briefly elsewhere, but I’ll touch on it here, as well. Ritual here, means something deliberately done, and in a particular order that can be (and often is) repeated. Habits and routines are different in that they sort of become unconscious decisions after a time.
    For me, ritual is very indicative of careful thought and intention. Each step of the process has a specific meaning. It is thought-out and done intentionally because of its meaning, not because “well, we do it every day/year/etc.”The situations that lend themselves most towards being considered “ritual” in my personal life are, of course, spiritual. On the high days, there is a specific sequence of words, gestures, etc. that I perform to honor my gods and to celebrate the seasons. When I am in need of something and decide to do spell work, there is a set of motions that I go through with careful thought and focus on my intention. More mundane rituals, for me, might be graduation ceremonies, birthdays, funerals, celebrations of secular holidays, etc. Each time, there is an intention and a thought process that accompanies the set of actions. 
    These rituals, spiritual and mundane, for me mark passages through life and through time. They are the points where we are called to take stock of where we are, to reflect upon what has past, to celebrate all of those things, and to look forward towards what is yet to come. The word “ritual” for me denotes something sacred, not in the way that religious pilgrimage sites are sacred, but in the way that they remind us of our humanity, and call us out of our auto-piloted careening through everyday life.
  • Circle Casting: I rarely, if ever, cast a circle when I’m doing witchcraft. For some people it is an awesome tool for focusing their energy, projecting their consciousness between realms of existence, and protecting themselves. For me, it is more distraction than anything; my energy is spent before I get to what it is I’m trying to do- and I’m all out of focus because I’ve spent a great deal of attention calling upon energy for the circle, the elemental quarters, and then deities. It is my opinion, that I can connect with energy, protect myself with personal sigils and amulets that are worn, and focus myself far more efficiently without one.
  • Spells- And That Nasty Topic of Hexes/Curses: I do spells very sparingly. If I need some help with a situation, and I have done all that I can on a mundane level, then I may cast a spell. Hexes and Curses, I believe, aren’t necessarily grounds for condemnation. Do I think there are better uses of energy? Absolutely. Do I think that people who do them are totally valid? Absolutely. The closest I’ve come, personally, to doing a ‘curse’ was more akin to holding a mirror up to someone and saying “Look. Look at what it is you’re doing; it’s causing me distress.” It was an “I’m feeling desperate and cannot escape your presence, so look:…” type of spell used in, what I felt were, really extreme cases of self-defense.

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And since, I’ve exhausted my immediate pile of topics that wouldn’t require a longer tangent (and some of these may yet get a longer post)- and I’ve gone on for just about 3,000 words, I think I will wrap this up. Above is, essentially, my personal beliefs about the Universe, the gods, and my thoughts on witchy practice. As I rebuild my spirituality, my focus is on connection: feeling truthfully and deeply connected with all that is around me. My goal is to create a regular practice that sustains me. It should aid me in difficult times, and allow me to soar in the more pleasant ones. It should be a living, breathing practice that has room for all aspects of my personality- all the verses of my song.

Until Next Time,
Rachel