As I talk to some of my Crossroads readers and get to know you better, I am struck by the excitement that many of you feel about coming into the Craft; the joy and peace at finding a religion that expresses how you feel and what you believe.
And yet, there is also that sense of apprehension about what you are getting yourselves into; a fear that you might never achieve that level of knowledge and wisdom that you see in some of the “elders” of the Craft.
Sage and Crone, Sage and Crone
Wisdom’s gift shall be our own
Crone and Sage, Crone and Sage
Wisdom is the gift of age
graphic & poem from
Crone and Sage website
I realize that I may have a bit more knowledge and experience than some of the folks I meet do. That comes not merely from the more intensive training I did in preparation for becoming a High Priestess; but also simply from years of experience, from reading the many books that line my shelf, from talking to others, from attending gatherings, from participating in rituals, etc. etc.
Yes, I have been fortunate that I’ve had opportunities that some of you might not have… somehow, it seems no matter where I go, I have been able to find other Pagans and Like-Minded individuals to gather together with. It does take a bit of effort, but if you are committed and persistent, you can often find such people in your own area. Witchvox can be a good resource for networking, as can other Internet sites. Do some research and find out about Pagan events within your state, such as Pagan Pride Day, Sabbat rituals, etc. It may require a bit of traveling – especially if you live in the more rural areas – but you might discover there are actually events not all that far away. Check out shops in your area – they do not necessarily have to be Pagan…perhaps you have natural food stores or herbal stores or just funky little shops that sell items that would be of interest to people of “alternative lifestyles.” You might not find practicing Pagans, but you may find people who are at least open-minded with whom you can have interesting discussions on various topics.
The important thing is to get out there and actually make that effort!
I suspect that the majority of people who read this blog site practice solitary. So do I. Believe it or not, in spite of being an ordained High Priestess for over 20 years…I have never led a coven, and quite honestly have no real desire to do so. Yes, I have served as a teacher, mentor, and elder. I have sat on a Council of Elders and been a representative for the Mid-Atlantic Pagan Leadership Conference. I have led rituals, discussion groups, on-line spiritual groups, chat rooms, etc.…but I have never led a true flesh-and-blood coven. Truth be known, I like not having the responsibility of dealing with all the issues that can come up with running a coven (although I have seen plenty of them pop up even in on-line groups!)
A few years ago, I attended a Solitary Pathway workshop at Heartland Pagan Festival that was presented by my good friend Roven (Bert). During this workshop, one of the things that I brought up, and which several participants agreed, is that one of the dangers of being a solitary is that you can easily fall into the trap of becoming an “armchair witch.”
Witch Chair created by Kat the Hat Lady
You read the books, you buy a tarot deck, you burn incense and candles and do a little meditation from time to time…but you’re not actively getting off your duff and practicing your spirituality. I think this is one of the reasons that solitaries get accused by a lot of coveners and traditionalists of being nothing more than “witchy wanna-bes”…dabblers in the Craft with no real serious intent to go anywhere with it.
I most firmly disagree with this accusation – although to an extent I can appreciate the reasons behind such viewpoints. However, I do feel that as a whole, Solitaries can and should be recognized as being just as valid and serious in their spirituality as those who belong to an actual coven. Granted, I have met some solitaries who indeed don’t seem to be into it for a true spiritual purpose (they just think it’s “cool to call yourself a witch”), but I can say the same thing about some coven members I have met – they seem to be more into the partying aspect of the Craft than in the actual sacredness of the Rites themselves.
Being a Solitary is hard work! It requires dedication, discipline, commitment, and the willingness to actually put what you have learned (whether it be from books, workshops, discussions, or even from posts I have made on this site) into true practice.
Here is an example of the difference I see between being an armchair witch, and actually practicing the Craft:
You buy a deck of tarot cards, and a book that explains how to use them. You look through the deck, and admire the artwork. You read the book, and learn about the Major Arcana, the Minor Arcana, the suites, the court cards, etc. You have pretty much memorized most of the meanings of the various cards.
But you never actually try doing a reading for yourself, lay out a spread, and attempt to interpret the cards – listening for the messages they convey.
I’m sorry – but you cannot move beyond being an armchair witch and into true practicing as long as all you are doing is reading, and not acting.
To put it very bluntly…I don’t give a royal shit if you have a dozen books on the tarot lining your shelves, and you have read every one of them from cover to cover. I couldn’t care less if you have memorized all the different meanings of all the different cards from all these different books, and can quote them accurately in a chat room, thus appearing to be the “intellectual genius” of tarot definitions.
If you have not taken your deck, lit a candle, burned some incense, called upon the Spirits to give you insight and wisdom, laid out the deck, experienced the revelations and inspirations and messages (as unpleasant and unwanted as some of them might be) that come to you as you look at the various colors and shapes and pictures and so forth… if you have not examined the relationship of the cards to each other, to the universe, and to yourself, then I am sorry…but you are not practicing the Craft.
Harsh words, indeed! Nevertheless…they are words I have heard myself from others, and have at times been called upon to repeat.
So does this mean you have to throw in the towel, and give up on your own spiritual path? Of course not!!! What it does mean is that you have to sit down and analyze for yourself just what your path means to you and what kind of commitment you are truly willing to make in order to travel down it. And remember, the whole point of the path is to travel… not just stand there viewing the scenery.
You are on that path, exactly where you are meant to be right now…and from here you can only go forward, shaping your life story into a magnificent tale of triumph, of healing, of courage, beauty, wisdom, power, dignity, and most of all… of love.
The Pagan Community is like a family. We are here to support each other, recognize each other, encourage each other, and applaud each other. But we cannot take the journey for you. We cannot walk your path for you. That you must do for yourself, and you must do it alone.
I hope that you will indeed take that journey, and experience the path and all it has to offer not as an overwhelming challenge, but as an exciting opportunity.
Expand your vision. Stretch your soul. Listen to your intuition. Take the risk. Embrace the challenge.
You might be surprised at the outcome!
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