witchcraft 101: Lesson 3

The Rhythmic Practice Phase

How are you doing so far?

The first two lessons should have taken you about six months of study and practice to complete(if you worked at it diligently). You should now also be fairly comfortable doing the basic ritual from the previous lesson. Remember that you actually have to DO the ritual – not just read it, dream about it or visualize it. Get up on your feet, get your tools together, light those candles AND DO IT!

“Effort requires that you either answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’.”

Teachers can always tell if someone who comes to them has done the work. The first time that a student will do a ritual or take part in one with others will clearly show his/her experience or lack of it.

If you have done the work, this does not mean that you will not be nervous your “first time out.” You will! But you will also be amazed at how quickly this nervousness will pass as the ritual progresses. Your spirit and inner child. (Him/her, again?) WILL remember all those practice sessions and soon you’ll be enjoying the whole thing immensely!

Along the way, DO Remember these four little things:

  1. Life is always changing. Nothing stays the same.
  2. To Know you have To Do. Experience requires action.
  3. The quality of each experience – as you draw it forth and do it and live it – becomes the substance of your wisdom.
  4. Yes, there will be a test on this. There is ALWAYS a test on this!

O.K., what’s next?

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Neo – Pagan Paths that we are discussing – including Wicca and Witchcraft – are called “Earth – based” religions. The rituals and practices follow the seasonal changes of the Earth. Some Paths use the eight holidays of the Wiccan Wheel of Life; some adhere to the more traditional Four Fire Festivals calendar. Some groups have come up with their own cycles according to their belief systems. What calendar will you use?

When you have decided which Holiday calendar that you want to incorporate into your life – lesson, read all that you can about it. Take one Holiday at a time. Look for resources, descriptions and Myths about each Holiday. Think upon each one as both a special event and as a “marker” for the year.

During the Rhythmic Stage, you will explore the year through the cycles of Nature. And yes, this phase DOES last an entire year. There is no other way. You may begin to reach out a bit more during this time – exploring new contacts, taking some classes, attending public events – but the personal exploration of the Rhythmic Cycle of The Holidays should be your primary focus.

Why? It is in this cycle that you will learn much more about yourself and your place in the Universe. Everything that is exists as vibrational energy. Some things have a higher frequency, some a lower one. You will learn to “feel” the vibrational changes around you as the seasons come and go.( An essential skill to have in Magick! )

Do you get a little “spring fever” around April or May? Look at the earth. She is excited about this time of year, too! Buds are swelling on the trees and flower plants are poking their first leaves out of the ground as if to ask, “Is it safe to come out yet”?

Do you feel particularly invigorated in the Fall crisp air? Watch the squirrels run around and dig into the ground to hide their nuts. Hear the bees as they bob from plant to plant racing down the coming frost. “Hurry, hurry, hurry,” seems to rustle the drying leaves from the trees. (I’m sure you get the idea.)

There Are Patterns

“I learn by going where I have to go.” – Theodore Roethke.

Most Pagans have a belief in reincarnation or transmigration of the soul. All things in Nature are born (germination), grow, mature, reproduce, and then decline and die. The cycle begins again. This is why reincarnation makes sense to most Pagans. By observing the Rhythmic Cycle, we reflect on this process and we may come to think that it just “seems right”. Not too surprising really. It’s “natural,” isn’t it?

You have a place in this cycle. You probably were not brought up to think in this way. Most aspiring Neo – Pagans weren’t. This year of study will show you not only where you fit into the cycle of Nature, but how your active involvement in these cycles can change your life. When you come to understand and work with the natural rhythms in the world around you, you will understand what it means to be Pagan.

Here are some reasons why “rhythmic learning” – and possibly reincarnation – works:

  • Effective experiential learning will affect the learner’s cognitive structures (action theories), attitudes and values, perceptions and behavioral patterns.
  • People will believe more in knowledge they have discovered themselves than in knowledge presented by others.
  • Learning is more effective when it is an active rather than a passive process.
  • Acceptance of new action theories, attitudes, and behavioral patterns cannot be brought about by a piecemeal approach.
  • It takes more than information to change action theories, attitudes, and behavioral patterns.
  • It takes more than firsthand experience to generate valid knowledge. Besides experience, there needs to be a theoretical system that the experiencer tests out and a personal reflection on the meaning of the experience.

(The above principles come from the work of Kurt Lewin, one of the important founding fathers of social psychology who influenced the development of the Group Dynamics movement in the early 1940’s.)

Hunt down seasonal objects for your altar. Think about colors for cloths and robes. Make a headpiece for each Holiday. Pick a mythic story and follow it throughout the year. Act it out! Dress the part! Dance! Sing! Write a poem! Cook up a recipe! Adopt a “totem” animal for each season. Make a special storage box for each Holiday’s special decorations. (Every Holiday will feel like Yule as you open your Holiday boxes next year. Add more goodies!)

“A man of faithful thought may feel in light, among the beasts and fields, the turning of the wheel.” – Wendell Berry

Transformation!

Transformation begins from within. Many people turn to a religion – or to magic! – in an attempt to change the things that they perceive to stand in the way of their ‘true happiness.” Many a love spell has been cast more to ease one person’s own inner loneliness than as a real desire for an equal relationship with the object of their current “affections.”

Inner transformational work is difficult, messy and anything but instantaneous. This explains the current nervous searching out of “just the right spell” by many a new seeker to the Craft. Hoping to somehow by – pass the true work involved in developing a magickal way of life, they hope for something in the order of a Hollywood special effect. “Just say the magic words…” and your insecurity problems, heartaches and financial worries are over! Uh – uh…it just doesn’t work like that. Sorry, Mr. Spielberg….

As you work through the year of The Wheel, you will learn a lot about yourself.

Such as:

  1. Respect – Both for the interconnection of all Life and for yourself.
  2. Thought – How you can change your life by changing your thoughts.
  3. Examination – Looking within yourself for answers and solutions.
  4. Release – Letting go of old habits and emotions that no longer work.
  5. Synthesis – How an individual can also be part of a whole.
  6. Creativity – Trusting your intuition to help you make viable choices.
  7. Action – Learning how to act rather than re – act.
  8. Love – Being able to give and receive healthy love.
  9. Strength – Inner courage to overcome circumstances without harm.
  10. Transformation! – The realization that only you can change what is not working in your life. Only you can make your life what you want it to be. And only you – through difficult, messy and lengthy work – can make your magickal Life one of Love, Light and Power!

” The outstanding error of learners, in whom it is excusable, and of many teachers, who teach without wisdom is that they associate Occultism with practices rather than with PRACTICE. I teach the LIFE of concentration and meditation…” – P.G. Bowen


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