Shot in the chest or a stab in the back? Power-position of a Magical Initiator (or a Rebel Leader)
Have you ever put people through trials and tests, and found you got shot in the chest by them? Those are the best results of the `test’ . Getting stabbed in the back..? That’s a failed test!
Am sure not all will agree with such methods, but being in the public eye and in leadership, initiating and instigating many rebellious social or community ventures, I’ve gone down the routes of pushing and prodding people who are supposedly learning from me or following me into fire and battles.
Remember that a real Fire-alarm test happens when people don’t expect it…and not when everyone knows it’s at 10am on the first Tuesday of the month or something. Likewise, when people come to work with me magically, I usually afford them a honeymoon period of some months. I ask the question..over and over again.. here and there..formally and informally.. and the answer defines the unannounced `real life’ scenario..that an initiatory process threshold is about to be reached.. and to step over it is going to require work and trials and tests..and quests.
Yes in Magical traditions.. there are formal ceremonies and initiations. In my experience.. those are the end-markers of a process… the handing out of a Degree Certificate at a formal award ceremony in a hired Hall. Long before that.. the quests and tests begin..
No formal contrived ceremonies or warnings. Just making use of real life events and opportunities that rise. Some call it manipulation. I call it real life training and initiation by fire… where the stakes are high and wins/ losses are felt for real.. and there are no safety nets, no backups and no resets.
This and more are coming up in detail.. `Beginners Guide to Running Wiccan Covens’ . It’s been a work in progress ..ever since I wrote the other book, `Coven Guide: How to become an Initiated Witch’ back in 2012.
Nearly all who practise Wicca & modern Witchcraft will have heard of the Wiccan Rede (An it harm none, Do as you Will’). But am sure not all know that there is a `longer poem’ related to it. The longer version first made its appearance in 1974, when it was published in a magazine `Earth Religion News’. Although people have claimed the longer version originates before 1950’s (before Gerald Gardner `created’ Wicca), some believe that the longer poem was created *after* Doreen Valiente spoke of the short Rede in 1964 in a public lecture. So in fact, original source is still disputed. There is a good article charting this in wikipedia (see links below)
`An it harm none Do what you Will’ is – many would agree, an `impossible’ one to follow 100%. Whatever we do will cause some sort of harm or distress to someone or thing elsewhere.. emotionally or psychologically, if not physically. (simple examples are when we attend a job interview and get the job, so the other candidates don’t get it…Another example is a nice happy country walk.. where just the walking alone probably kills insects and worms underfoot and new seedling plants!). The Wiccan Rede can only ever be an aspiration..and in particular, in the practice of personal magical workings and spell-casting.
I posted just the graphics (above) in a facebook page, and within 10 hrs it had been shared 22 times and reached 1,200+ people (and still going!). It tells me that this is a matter of great interest to many people.
One person asked the question, `at what point do you stop letting it [The Rede] harm you?’
It is an Interesting idea. Trying to be true to `it’ can cause the person harm because it ties the person’s hands from possibly doing what he/she can do to getting what he/she wants without worrying about other people. So the Rede needs to be factoring in a balance of needs and their fulfilment by many people..not just one. ..
Another comment made was, `and it harm none also applies to yourself’
My response to this is, in everyday world, people -while serving themselves- do (Will) countless `ordinary’ things that in some way cause harm/ stress/ distress to many other people or living things (animals, trees, environment)… That’s is them just going about their lives…without even being spiritual, religious or magical in any conscious way.. So this Rede is ..as said before.. an `impossible guideline’ to follow to the letter!. It can only be an aspiration.. and has to be balanced with everything else one does.. be it self-serving or selfless serving of others.
I shall add more to this as and when I hear of other questions/ comments and any related responses I give.
Below are 2 resources – A full version of Wiccan Rede poem, and a video by Stephen Cole (friend of mine) reciting the full poem in a video for his `One Man Theatre Company’
The Wiccan Rede (Full Version)
Bide within the Law you must, in perfect Love and perfect Trust.
Live you must and let to live, fairly take and fairly give.
For tread the Circle thrice about to keep unwelcome spirits out.
To bind the spell well every time, let the spell be said in rhyme.
Light of eye and soft of touch, speak you little, listen much.
Honor the Old Ones in deed and name,
let love and light be our guides again.
Deosil go by the waxing moon, chanting out the joyful tune.
Widdershins go when the moon doth wane,
and the werewolf howls by the dread wolfsbane.
When the Lady’s moon is new, kiss the hand to Her times two.
When the moon rides at Her peak then your heart’s desire seek.
Heed the North winds mighty gale, lock the door and trim the sail.
When the Wind blows from the East, expect the new and set the feast.
When the wind comes from the South, love will kiss you on the mouth.
When the wind whispers from the West, all hearts will find peace and rest.
Nine woods in the Cauldron go, burn them fast and burn them slow.
Birch in the fire goes to represent what the Lady knows.
Oak in the forest towers with might, in the fire it brings the God’s
insight. Rowan is a tree of power causing life and magic to flower.
Willows at the waterside stand ready to help us to the Summerland.
Hawthorn is burned to purify and to draw faerie to your eye.
Hazel-the tree of wisdom and learning adds its strength to the bright fire burning.
White are the flowers of Apple tree that brings us fruits of fertility.
Grapes grow upon the vine giving us both joy and wine.
Fir does mark the evergreen to represent immortality seen.
Elder is the Lady’s tree burn it not or cursed you’ll be.
Four times the Major Sabbats mark in the light and in the dark.
As the old year starts to wane the new begins, it’s now Samhain.
When the time for Imbolc shows watch for flowers through the snows.
When the wheel begins to turn soon the Beltane fires will burn.
As the wheel turns to Lamas night power is brought to magic rite.
Four times the Minor Sabbats fall use the Sun to mark them all.
When the wheel has turned to Yule light the log the Horned One rules.
In the spring, when night equals day time for Ostara to come our way.
When the Sun has reached it’s height time for Oak and Holly to fight.
Harvesting comes to one and all when the Autumn Equinox does fall.
Heed the flower, bush, and tree by the Lady blessed you’ll be.
Where the rippling waters go cast a stone, the truth you’ll know.
When you have and hold a need, harken not to others greed.
With a fool no season spend or be counted as his friend.
Merry Meet and Merry Part bright the cheeks and warm the heart.
Mind the Three-fold Laws you should three times bad and three times good.
When misfortune is enow wear the star upon your brow.
Be true in love this you must do unless your love is false to you.
These Eight words the Rede fulfill: An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will.
Here also is a video by a friend of mine, Stephen Cole
*NEW* Wiccan Apprentice Course in London – 3 month outdoor Training with 6 sessions – Starts on 27th April 2014!
One of the challenges newcomers, Seekers & Explorers of Wicca & Witchcraft traditions face is – they can’t either find or pin down an experienced Wiccan Coven Leader(s) – and learn The Craft in the traditional apprentice manner! People just about find `Intro Courses’ that are 4-5 hours long in an indoor hired venue – where a Tutor gives explanations and a few meditations.
This one is different. Why? Because it’s facilitated by a Wiccan High Priest (Mani) with nearly 2 decades of Craft & Coven experience. (There – no hiding!) And it’s facilitated by someone who has actually been not just running rituals (10 yrs), but outdoor Courses & Workshops regularly. What’s more, this is not just a sit-down-listen to explanations & go home course.
This takes place outdoors – out in the elements and whatever weather that nature may come up with on a day. (Been there many times!) It immerses the Student-Seeker in nature. Well – isn’t that what being a true Wiccan / Witch is all about?
This also is fully experiential, and spread over 5-6 sessions (session 6 is private and covers Covens & Initiations). You get to listen, learn, and practise – there and then! And this includes 2 full workshops – on making essential tools (Wands & Pentacles) and learning key magical techniques (Rune magic & Cord / Witches Ladder magic).
All this in a natural vast woodland in London- with plenty of other facilities (Car park, toilets, Cafe, 5 minute walk from a Tube station). So all that you are learning – Apprentice-style- is imbued with the energy of nature! You can’t escape it – even if you try!!
And – there’s a bonus!You get real Ritual experience. Some of the sessions take place on the same day as our `Woodland Monthly Wicca Esbat Ritual Circle’ – so Students can take a break after the afternoon session (1-2 hrs) and join the evening Ritual – and watch or get even more experience ( Well, isn’t that what Apprentices should do?!! 🙂 )
What Wicca essentials are covered:
You will learn the foundations of Wicca, Principles & laws, practise setting up Altars & Consecrate space, do Circle casting, invoke Elemental Quarters & raise energy in the group / Circle with Witches Rune/ Chants, learn Invoking the Horned God & Triple Moon Goddess. You will also learn about doing Magic and create essential Wiccan tools (wand, Pentacle, Rune Magic & Cord Magic).
Attendance Options(we offer various discounted fees for these)
Attend all *5 sessions (includes 3 core & 2 workshops) [*Session 6 is free and by invitation]
Attend just the 3 Core sessions
Attend just the 2 workshops
Attend any 1 Session or 1 workshop.
That’s quite a lot – for 5 sessions (each will be about 4 hrs)! *There is a 6th session, FREE but that’s by invite only, and to those who will have attended 3 or more sessions, or those who are doing our home study e-Witch Apprentice course by e-mails, or those who have purchased our `Cven Guide: Become an initiated Witch’ [well, we like to reward the Seekers & Students who are learning with us in other ways too ].
I was giving a talk at one of the pagan moots in NW London last night (Staines Moot).. The title was `Wiccan Journeys: There and back..and there again..!’.
It mainly outlined my (thus far) journey in the Wicca path.. how I became interested, how I became an initiated Wiccan, reaching my stage (and responsibility) as a High Priest, running training covens & groups, initiating new Seekers and so on. The talk also covered my back and forth journeys – as I have not always felt like a `wicca’ (but always a `Witch / Magician’ !) There are times when I have slipped out of the coven life and wiccan communities – and gone to do other magical things.. like starting `Hern’s Tribe- outdoor shamanic / eclectic group’ (the more recent one being the `woodland wicca rituals’ and the `Thames-Isis rituals) – see links at the bottom.
Well, this morning, I caught on to some debates that have been going on…about the good/ bad experiences, the ego and hierarcrhy of High Priests, High Priestesses, and coven leaders.
Needless to say, I have some deep thoughts on this ( I never like to hear anyone bad-mouth Wicca ..especially hard working Coven leaders..!)
Here are some of my responses:
Taking pot shots at Wiccan Hierarchy?
No one is forcing anyone into a particular tradition, path or system of beliefs.. But if one is entering a system, they should learn to be aware of its exiting form, structure, rules, guidelines.. – before criticising it, attacking it, or trying to change it. !
My HPS once told me, `walk in the footsteps f others..see what entails..before criticising what they do’ !
I appreciate that people may have had bad experiences from individuals or groups..but unless you have ever organised events, rituals, groups..and run things for long periods of time… no real wisdom is gained.
I get a little tired of people ranting on about Wiccan Hierarchy, and taking pot shots at the roles of High Priests & High Priestess. They are part of that path and system.. Learn it, understand why it’s there in the first place.. before tearing it apart. And if you are compelled to tear it apart.. I ask why? Is it because of a personal grudge, bad experience, or one;s own ego not being fed? –
The training of Coven Leaders:
Leadership of anything is always a double-edged sword.. It is there to serve the people.. but abused, it can harm the people.. To quote a line from Spiderman, `With great power comes great responsibility’
Serious covens filter interested people .. work out their commitment, dedication, loyalty etc..before even taking anyone on as trainees…and then after a year or even many years…initiate them…(into their tradition and their coven!)
It takes many years of practice ..before those initiates reach a stage of taking good personal responsibility and also that of others..and the HP / HPS stats is a `teaching position’ – it’s NOT handed down like confetti.
Even after reaching that stage.. they then undergo more months / years of `on the job mentoring’ to become `good’ HP & HPS.. Anyone who’s got this far ..then goes out and starts their own coven..trains others..initiates others.. !
This is the long hard path in an ideal world.. Old ideals and standards are dying out with those people who held it.. They have tried to pass those on.. and that wisdom survives.. just about..!
So there you have it.. just some immediate responses.. But no doubt, we shall all come to this topic..again and again…and again 🙂
Are YOU a seeker of The Craft? Are you looking for an introduction to the world of Wicca & Witchcraft? Perhaps curiosity of the mild kind, because you hear it everywhere now..or maybe it’s a serious calling..?! You just have to go deeper, seek to understand Wiccan ideas, theories and more importantly, practical experiences? Oh yes, practical experience ..with real Wicca people.. So invaluable for your magical development.. and yet..that’s like looking for needles in haystack.. These Wiccan are everywhere, but no sooner had you caught wind of their possible presence, and start to approach them, they vanish in to the woodworks! ( that should be `into the Woodland’ 🙂
Serious Wiccans – the initiated and experienced kind- are a bit hard to find. They don’t want to give away their identity, or locations.. just in case the old WitchHunt resurfaces..? No not really. But it’s all these media sensationalism.. Satanising serious Wiccans.. megalomanising (?) confident and outspoken Magicians.. It just makes us want to hide.. ! But some of us…just a few.. like to dance not just in moonlight naked..but in Daylight.. semi-naked.. No ..that’s not true.. We wear weird and interesting masks, flower crowns, or just plain old jeans and jumpers, and pretend-Dracula-leather-Jackets..and hide in plain sights.. pubs, street corners, woodlands, parks.. old people’s homes.. ! Eh, strike the Street-Corners and Old People’s homes ..that part is not true. 🙂
Right, enough about my wit. More about Witchcraft! Let’s get serious !
Your search is almost over! You have come to the right place.. well, one of them..!
So here below, am reproducing (! No don’t go there) part of an article from my website Wicca, Witchcraft & Ritual Magic..that covers numerous resources for Seekers of The Craft!
Brief overview of Wicca
What is Wicca (modern Witchcraft)?
Wicca is one of the modern pagan paths, based on several of the old nature worshiping religious practices in western countries (Druidism, Shamanism, Heathenism are some of the other paths!). Wicca is considered to be a religion by thousands of people, and it involves certain ideals, incorporates mythologies, male and female forms of the divine in the shape of a Horned God and Moon Goddess, and works with th energies of the Elements (Air, Fire, Water, Earth). It also includes divination work, psychic development, and the practise of Magical rituals and spells.. for attaining wishes, or seeking changes in one’s life.
Wicca was `founded’ or put-together by Gerald Gardner in the 1950’s in UK, using components and aspects borrowed from other western, eastern and ancient / classical magical practices. It is a mystery tradition (meaning that it has to be practised or experienced in an immersed and practical way to be fully understood! It means that no amount of theoretical reading, researching, dialogues & conversations with other people ..is going to give You that understanding! You simply have to do it, and live it.
Wicca is believed to be the modern equivalent of the old Craft of the Wise, or Witchcraft! And as such it also suffers quite a lot of discrimination… not the least from Christian and other religious (non-pagan) people.. who believe Wicca to be harmful, evil and so on.
The rest of the article covers the following.. (you have to read it on the website.. If I put all of it here, google spiders will slap my wrist!)
Wiccan Ideals & Rules
Wiccan / Witchcraft Covens & Initiations
Rituals, naked rites and sexuality:
That’s just one article..and the website itself has even more articles.. some sharp (or blunt..depends on how you look at my words.. I don’t pull my punches!) Some are controversial (you’ve read my blog posts.. you know my style!)
Blessing Cakes & Wine
Sexuality in Wicca
Paganism vs Satanism
Anti-Witchcraft Laws of old England
Before you jump to some conclusion.. (the one that I’d rather you didn’t..), let me just say..
“Wicca is best learnt experientially. It is gritty, muddy, wet & wild in untamed nature, and requires dedication & discipline. Working with *blood, bones, knots & spells are part of that, as well as the exploration of deities, transpersonal elements and cycles of nature.. from the fertile energies of spring to the solem shadows of Samhain, leading to the light of Yule & Imbolc”.
For more information on the Woodland Wicca Rituals, Seasonal Ceremonies, e-Witch Apprentice Training, and other Courses I run (through out the year!) please visit my websiteWitchcraft And Magic.
Look forward to making your Witchy Acquaintance.
-Mani Navasothy (Wiccan High Priest, London, January 2014)
ps. Google Spiders! Don’t you just love those little ones.. scuttling about.. pulling strands ..weaving..this and that? It’s almost too Wyrd..!!
The outdoor Wicca & Witchcraft monthly FULL MOON Open Rituals (in London Woods) are re-starting again! These Wicca Full moon Rituals are ideal for anyone new and interested to Wicca. We will use the ritual format.. This one in August 2013 is an astrological Blue-Moon.. Magical! (that is the 2nd full moon in the same sun-sign..ie Aquarius!).
Key facilitator: Mani Navasothy, Initiated Wiccan High Priest, with over 18 yrs of Wicca, Craft & Coven experiences in one of the key lineages in the UK.
-Preparing space & setting up Altar.
-Run-through (quick explaining of ritual and what’s involved)
-Meditative energy work (chakra or other)
-Consecrations with salt/water/ incense
-Casting magic Circle
-Calling elemental quarters
-Invocations / prayers to Moon Goddess & Horned God
-Cakes & Wine blessing
-Closing & Grounding work
– Feasting, Socialising…
* Facilitators will be happy to answer your questions…after the ritual.
* Sharing of what you experienced is encouraged during social time.
* We ask you keep gossip & political / controversial chit-chats outside of these magical events.. ! Pub moots are good for those kind of chats…not these full moon rituals.
If you attend a few times, you will quickly become familiar with practical format & words.. And after a few visits, you can volunteer to take some of the roles at subsequent rituals.. When that happens, facilitators can help you prepare ..
-Facilitators will be putting on their Robes for the ritual.
-If you have any robes, or ritual cloths (outdoors!) please bring them.
-We will have a few spare robes for new comers to borrow at the event..
We will provide a print out of words / ritual outline .. It is advised that you browse through it, and follow it during run-through..but put it away and watch/ participate in the actual ritual.. Then you can take the print out home and re-read it and fill gaps from memory. This is the best experiential way to learn Wicca!!
We DO NOT allow any filming of ritual..or of people (to protect everyone’s privacy!). Pictures of the Altar may be taken…AFTER the ritual.. You can take photos of yourself with Altar…as long as you don’t photograph other people (even by accident).
Time: Gather outside Woodman’s Pub (front garden. This pub is on the corner between Archway Road (A1) and Muswell Hill Road. Gather by 6.30pm. We’ll walk together to the Woods.. set-up… Ritual 7.30pm-8.30pm. Out of the woods by 9.30pm.
What to bring/ wear:
-Magical or peaceful emotions 🙂
-Some food & drinks to share (bottle of wine or soft drink..or flask of coffee/tea..)
– wear weather-proof clothing & shoes. Weather changes. Do not complain it’s cold./ wet. We dress up wisely always..and we carry on the rituals in whatever weather. So come truly prepared!! (Hey, you are learning outdoor magical work here)
*Fees: £3 voluntary contribution per person (goes towards ritual items.. as well as publicity/ website costs)! *[Fees revised i in September’13].
Please check our website for future `Wicca full moon rituals’–
I was initiated over 15 years ago, and lucky to have had those first 4 years …where my High Priestess & High Priest taught and trained me (and my fellow Craft brothers & Sisters). For those glorious 4 years, I did nothing but learn the Craft, rituals, magic, and kinship. And then one day I was ready and got my 2nd degree initiation, became `an Elder’ and a High Priest of Wicca ..and was gently cast out into the bigger world..
That was when the politics began! And since then, I’ve had many a discussion with pagans, wiccans and non-initiates (in courses that I have run) – about Covens.
I’ve seen the way the Wiccan covens ..and Wiccan community have evolved.. with time…just in the 15+ years I have been a part of. I can only imagine how it must have been in those early `golden’ years of Gerald Gardner, Doreen Valiente, and of course Alex Saunders. Am not what they’d say..about the Craft now..if they were still alive.
Personally, I myself am seriously perturbed by the way loyalty, discipline, commitment respect and a whole load of other sincere traits within Wicca seem to be eroding away these days…and like the yobs in the streets who make trouble and say `it’s my right’, modern wiccan members seem to do pretty much all sorts of things and call it evolution.
On the one hand, I am all for traditions being kept alive. But then, on the other hand, all things have to change..evolve.. and at times, I find myself being the `black sheep’ of the Wiccan community…simply by me being thought-provoking, and challenging.
So in a series of articles.. (and a few books coming later in the year), I’m going to explore these..
First thing.. let me set the scene…and explain a few basics…as I have now come to understand them.. (extracts from my forthcoming book `Seekers’ guide to Wiccan Covens’).
What’s a coven?
A Coven is traditionally a group of Witches – full stop! It is not a place, not a room, not a house, not a website, not a forum, not a meeting point or any of that. A coven is given a unique identity by a name for that group – often at the choosing the people who formed it and lead it. It is a magical association of certain specific individuals. Where ever those members may be, they feel and know that along with the others of that group, they are `their coven’! You can compare this to the question of `what is a family’? Exactly. A Family is a group of relatives. They may live in the same house, or not. Some old, some young. A core family framework is a man and woman – father and mother- and their children. The extended family includes grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, niece & nephews and more. A family starts with a couple – bonded in Love – and grows as they have children. A coven has very similar structure, as you’ll see below.
Who are Coven members, Seekers & Trainees?
All the people who have formally asked to join a Coven, under the leadership of the couple who formed a coven, are coven members – of that coven! Even in the early stages, if some people have asked to join a coven or are exploring or seeking – but have not gone through an initiation ceremony – are still in many ways members of that Coven.
Coven Leaders & the extend of their authority
As with a family model, which is very much what Wiccan covens are based on (like the tribes of old), a coven usually has a couple – a pair who are magical partners – at the helm of it. This couple are the Coven leaders – often that coven’s High Priest and High Priestess. The abbreviation is HP & HPS. They are effectively who form the coven, initiate others into that coven and run that coven! Their authority is pretty much absolute within their coven. There are cases, where other High Priests & High Priestesses of other covens come to visit – ie do socials and rituals together. Even in such cases, the authority of the actual Coven leaders is- should- and must be respected by all.
This isn’t always understood by everyone. And sometimes visiting High Priests & High Priestesses try to exert their own authority – especially if they have been Wiccans and running their own covens for much longer, or the special case where they are the people who initiated this coven leaders! But such behavior will undermine the authority of the HP & HPS of the coven where everyone is a gust.
This can be easily understood if you think about the family model again. Think about a big family occasion, where a couple who have 3 children, invite their grandparents, uncles & aunts, cousins and so on. Within the house where the party is being held, the couple have the final authority. It is incorrect for the grandparents or an uncle or aunt to intervene in important matters – even if in the larger family framework, they have age and authority.
well, more on Wicca, Witchcraft & Covens…another time…:-)