Reading as a Magickal Practice

I have been described as a book witch, and have been an avid reader since I could read. Usually, I am seen with a book whether I am camping, going on vacation, or sitting in the break room for lunch. For the past few years, however, my reading has been solely Pagan and Wiccan literature with little deviation into Syfy, mystery, romance, or horror. It’s easy to see why I host a book club that focuses on Pagan reading and enjoy having something new to share with my members. There is so much to read in the p-word world I know I will never read everything I want but I keep finding new books.
Which made me realize the majority of my practice revolves around reading. Books, blogs, talking about books, writing this blog; Pagan reading is my Pagan practice. Where I have said I do intend on doing more magick this year and I do go to a few local circles for Sabbat ritual I tend to read more than any other work (podcast listening is just reading with your ears right?). I have a bookcase in my room filled to overflowing with just Pagan books, and there is a local used bookstore that I go to to find treasures. A recent visit had me walk out with books by Z Budapest and Pensky. Books I do not intend on reading in months but could not leave them in the store. They belonged in that overflowing shelf in my room with others just like it.
I do tend to read more than the average witch and feel it is essential to do so when you are a Solitary.
I have currently taken a short break from Pagan literature to read American Gods by Neil Gaiman, but once complete will dive back into a new list of books I want to read in a certain order. The lists I write are intended to give me a group of books at a similar level of education and theme. I call my current list a 102 list due to the material not being very introspective for the reader but also not being beginners material.
Thanks and Blessed Be,Autumn Wolfe

As always please feel free to comment and share! If you have any questions or wish to get in contact with me please email me at autumn.ironwolf@gmail.com, follow me on Twitter @AutumnIronWolf, or friend me on FaceBook!

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Soft & Hard, Polytheism

Sorry, couldn’t help myself with that bad pun. As I was being interviewed by a local college student recently (more about that later) she asked me a question which led me to describe the difference between soft polytheism and hard polytheism. Later I realized I haven’t heard this topic being talked about recently and figured it would be a good subject to cover for the 101 students.

thourodinlokeFirst, let us start with the dictionary.com definition of polytheism; the belief in or worship of more than one god. The majority of pagans do define themselves as polytheistic and can be further categorized in one of two camps, hard polytheists or soft polytheists. Hard Polytheism in Neo-Paganism is the belief that every God and Goddess ever named or ever known are their own God/Goddess. Venus is a separate person from Aphrodite even though they have similar traits. Such as you see in American Gods. Odin has his own life separate from other creation gods in other pantheons and so on.

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Where is Soft Polytheism is the belief that every God and every Goddess are just faces of the one God and Goddess. Think the Many Face God of Game of Thrones. Soft Polytheism can become monotheism is when the believer sees these faces as belonging to one God, like with the Many Face God. A large majority of Neo-Pagans, however, do believe in the duality of there being a Goddess and a God who embodies all the other deities and traits of their gender.

Along with many other topics up for debate in Neo-Paganism Hard or Soft Polytheism is a very individual decision however it could be difficult to be in a Pantheon tradition such as a Norse or Roma tradition and be a soft polytheist. I personally can identify as both. I believe certain deities lived on earth, possibly as human and due to their deeds or fame ascended to deity. The purpose of life is to connect to deity or return to deity and their stories are that of such successes. They have returned but their essence was once separate and we can call upon them to assist us with earthly matters or understanding. I also can see where some Gods’ stories were traded throughout many cultures but their names changed with the cultures. Are you a hard polytheist or a soft polytheist?

Thanks and Blessed Be,

Autumn Wolfe

As always please feel free to comment and share! If you have any questions or wish to get in contact with me please email me at autumn.ironwolf@gmail.com, follow me on Twitter @AutumnIronWolf, or friend me on FaceBook!

 

 

 

PodCasting!

 

I have had the need to start talking more about paganism to more people. Getting my voice out their feels like the next step in my journey to bring about a positive and inclusive understanding of pagan beliefs to mainstream media. On one of my favorite Pagan Podcast,s the host was commenting on Panthea Con 2018 and how a lot of people said they did not see or hear from millennial pagans. This comment really encouraged me to put my plans into action, and now there is the first episode of Millennial Pagan podcast on SoundCloud or PodBean!

https://paganpod.podbean.com/

Please take a listen and tell me what you think!

You can find more about Millennial Pagan Podcast:

https://www.patreon.com/millennialpaganpod

https://www.facebook.com/MillennialPaganPodCast/

https://twitter.com @MillennialPagan

Thanks and Blessed Be,

Autumn Wolfe

As always please feel free to comment and share! If you have any questions or wish to get in contact with me please email me at autumn.ironwolf@gmail.com, or follow me on Twitter @AutumnIronWolf

The Love Witch; A Movie Review

Hi Readers, this was supposed to be published last month. Sorry for the delay and apparent disappearance. 

LoveWitch3Valentines for me is always a busy time. With my birthday being the day before and the Renaissance Fair hitting Arizona I am usually running around trying to have the most fun I can. So when February 14th came and my plans fell through I decided to sit down and watch a movie that has been taking the Pagan community by storm.  The Love Witch (2016) directed by Anna Biller. The Love Witch follows the main character Elaine as she deals with an obvious obsession with being infatuated. Elaine at the time of the opening is reminiscing about the end of her marriage and has already been initiated into a magickal practice by a coven. Elaine talks about love in an almost disgustingly princess prince charming way that made me personally fear of having ever sounded like her. Her naivety is only overshadowed by her misuse of magick to get whatever and whomever she wants. Spoilers, she tends to not like what she gets and throws it way. Including the lives of the men she bewitches.

71-ogThis movie was especially interesting to me being both a witch and a criminologist, and I was constantly trying to dissect Elaine’s pathology. Her covens’ way of dealing with her apparent illness and addressing feminine power is interesting, to say the least, and manipulative at the worst. The costuming and set design were captivating, along with the art used to foreshadow events. The movie was worth watching for the visuals alone, however, I still don’t know if the acting was intentionally blocking and unnatural or just bad. All in all, I would strongly recommend a watch at least for another reminder to be careful with love magick. The many of which I have been acutely aware of in pop-culture due to my own poor use of magick recently.

Blessed Be,

Autumn Wolfe

As always please feel free to comment and share! If you have any questions or wish to get in contact with me please email me at autumn.ironwolf@gmail.com, or follow me on Twitter @AutumnIronWolf

 

How to Tell if a Pagan Teacher is Abusive

Recently pagan spaces have had to deal with leaders and teachers being accused of abusing their power over students and members. Most recently is the accusations against Yeshe Rabbit (Jessica Mathews) of the Come as You Are (CAYA) coven based in the San Francisco Bay area. As a relatively new community, most Pagan groups have never had to deal with such issues and some newcomers are suffering from lack of preparedness. Recognizing abuse in a religious community is sometimes difficult especially when it is not sexually driven. The following is a few warning signs that a leader or teacher might be abusive. If you recognize any of these as occurring to you or someone you know, inform those of higher level within the organization or stop all contact with the leader/teacher.

  1. Requesting Sexual or Physical Favors– Most of us can identify sexual misconduct in other spaces but in Pagan religions, sex is revered and spoken about freely. If a teacher says you can not continue your journey or studies with them without sexual acts with them or anyone else then that is abuse. If they ask you for sexual favors in lieu of payment for lessons or services then that is also abuse. This goes for demanding you to do physical favors such as clean their home, deliver goods, or anything that could be done by a service outside of a religious capacity. If they threaten to discontinue lessons if you do not perform any superfluous acts then they are abusing their power.
  2. Belittling or Bullying– Sometimes it is difficult to tell if you are being bullied but easy to see if someone else is the victim so this might be easier to see occurring to group mates. If a teacher is bullying or constantly berating current students, former students, current or former group members or others in the community; especially to elevate their status or to make themselves look better they are being abusive.
  3. Telling You Who You Can Interact With– Abusive romantic partners will cut their victims off from friends, family, and community and abusive teachers will do the same. If your teacher is demanding you to remove people from your life or telling you not to interact with others in the community they are isolating you. A good teach may help you to see others who are abusive or unsupportive of you in your life but would never demand you to stop spending your time with someone. (With the exception of a teacher witnessing domestic abuse. If you are being physically hurt by someone in your life please call 1−800−799−7233) Furthermore, if a teacher is telling you not to interact with other groups or people in the pagan community they are isolating you from other perspectives.
  4. Taking Credit for Your Work– Did you write a blog on a subject you and your teacher just went over and they say it was their idea? Did a spell you worked come out great and your teacher said it was due to their influence that it worked. This is also a sign of abuse. If your teacher is taking credit for things you did or saying your work did well due to their blessing they are gaslighting you. They are belittling your power instead of nurturing it.
  5. Refusing You Continued Education based on Race, Sexual Orientation, Gender, or Reproductive Capability– If a teacher started your education and suddenly tells you certain lessons are not available to you but are to others based on any of the above then that teacher is being abusive. Discriminatory practices such as the above are a form of bullying that is sometimes forgotten.

These are just a few examples of abusive behavior found in recent pagan groups. Do not let teachers or leaders continue to get away with such abuses. Work with your groups and communities to develop strong responses to such allegations and to develop policies that make it very clear abusers are not welcome within the community. If you are or know anyone in a domestic abuse situation or being harmed please go to http://www.thehotline.org/ . If you do not know if a person is in need of help please consult the DASH risk assessment:  https://www.dashriskchecklist.co.uk/ .

Blessed Be,

Autumn Wolfe

As always please feel free to comment and share! If you have any questions or wish to get in contact with me please email me at autumn.ironwolf@gmail.com, or follow me on Twitter @AutumnIronWolf

 

My 101 Reading List

Two years into my serious studies of Wicca, Witchcraft, and Paganism I realized something most avid reader of Pagan books comment on. A lot of material is repeated and that there are a growing mountain of Wicca 101 books. At that time I was quite certain that I had mastered the basics but there was still so much I wanted to read. So, I wrote myself a reading list. A steadfast curriculum to finish what some call their Dedicant Year(s). This list was written base on books I already owned and had not read yet. I have finally finished this list!

This not a list for seekers, ones who just found the craft. Where a lot of the books on this list are advertised as such there are some I would not suggest as a first witch book and some that I would not suggest to read at all. I am a slow reader, fearless in perusing the end of any book and enjoy reading textbook like texts so these books might not be everyone’s cup of tea. As I said before these were not my baby witch books and most certainly not all the books I have read on Wiccan and Paganism or the only things I have read in the past year. The following list is completed marks for me a personal acceptance to move toward higher concepts and serious education. My homework is done. Now I will show my work!

  • Wicca Revealed- Wicca Revealed is the Wicca/ Witchcraft 101 course given by MagickaSchool.com.  MagickaSchool.com is a great resource not only for Wicca 101 and 202 lessons, but also Tarot, Kabbalah, Herbalism, and Spell Crafting. Wicca Revealed its self is a fantastic course for the new witch but a word of caution; the tests are hard. The questions are not necessarily relevant to a spiritual pursuit, or for a solitary eclectic. If you don’t care to remember exact dates or feel associations are a personal choice I would just take the test to unlock the next lesson and don’t feel the questions are what makes a witch.gbg
  • Witchcraft Today by Gerald B. Gardner– My homework would not be complete if I did not crack open this historic text. For without Witchcraft Today none of this would have been. Personally, Gardner was hard to get through. You can tell he thought highly of himself and he is definitely a storyteller, but I do have to respect his moxy.  He was one of the first to jump out of the broom closet and allowed the light to shine. I am marveled at how far we have come from then.
  • Wiccan Beliefs & Practices: With Rituals for Solitaries & Covens by Gary Cantrell– Oh my! This is one of the few books I sold back to the bookstore instead of adding it to my Reclaiming Community book swap bin. Cantrell speaks a lot about a Pagan community that doesn’t exist anymore and not in a positive light. The book is a good overview of basic beliefs and principles of Wicca but is highly outdated of information on the Pagan community as a whole. Cantrell is also rude and dismissive of other paths. I would not suggest this book personally.
  • Wicca, for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham– I read this book as one of my very first baby witch books when I was a teen and knew I needed to reread it when constructing this list. I strongly suggest not just reading Cunningham and then never picking up another book, which I see very frequently. Instead, read the books he references. Cunningham has a very light and clear way of explaining difficult concepts and is an author I strongly suggest.
  •  Living Wicca by Scott CunninghamlivingLiving Wicca is the follow up to Solitary Practitioner and gives more information. If a new witch were to pick up these two I do suggest reading a few books in between them instead of reading them in direct succession. Not because he leaves gaps making it difficult to follow, but because if they are all you have to base on you’ll have a very light knowledge.
  • The Spiral Dance by Starhawk– The copy I read was the 20th-anniversary edition with 10 years and 20 years notes on how Starhawk currently perceives the concepts written. This is slightly frustrating and fascinating. You get to watch an Elder in the craft grow as a teacher and practitioner but you also get some contradictions. I know a lot of witches that have read Spiral Dance and we all had a similar experience. It reads at its own pace and if you try to power through it you will be slowed down even more. The experience has its own magick to it, ensuring the reader allows for chewing of concepts; and everyone learns something new about themselves while reading it.         margot
  • Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler– This book is probably the most textbook like book on this list. Adler performed numerous tests, handed out dozens of questionnaires, interviewed several people, and completed field research to such an academic level equaling that of a cultural anthropologist. All of her work preserved a fully formed view of the Neo-Pagan community of the 1970’s, giving witches today an amazing resource on our development. Readers would be opened to how groups like Covenant of the Goddess formed, Z Budapest first came on the scene, and the formation and subsequent dissolution of many groups otherwise forgotten. I suggest this book to avid readers, history buffs, and any witch that is willing. In all honesty, there are sections I skipped and even a chapter I only grazed over, but that’s ok. Read what you can, I guarantee you will get something out of it.
  • Earth, Air, Fire, Water: More Techniques of Natural Magic by Scott Cunningham– I picked this book up hopes to learn how to develop a stronger relationship with the elements. This was the wrong book for that. In his sequel to Earth Magic, Cunningham wrote a spell book focused on natural magick and gave the readers a lesson on how to develop their own spell work within the natural magick structure; with each element and some places, the elements can be found. Such as the difference between water, snow, and ocean magick, or how to use star magick. I still liked and learned from the book it just wasn’t what I was hoping it to be or at a level I was looking for.
  • Maiden, Mother, Crone: The Myth and Reality of the Triple Goddess by D. J. Conway– I honestly was not expecting Conway to be such a feminist, or for this book to be a copulation of myths and stories of the three faces of the Goddess. Once again, I picked up this book and the one below in hopes I would be able to develop a stronger relationship with the Goddess and God. Where this book set me on the right path; it was not as deep on relationship building as I wanted. lord of lightAfter introducing the aspect of the Goddess there is a chapter devoted to breaking down mythos from their patriarchal retellings. This was the first book where I read the story of Persephone completely void of Hades. Where it was Kore’s choice to become the queen of the underworld to help the dead not out of marital restrictions, rape, or kidnapping. If you read this and liked Conway’s views I suggest reading Jailbreaking the Goddess by Lasara Firefox Allen.
  • Lord of Light and Shadow by D. J. Conway– Like Maiden, Mother, Crone Conway wrights to give a feminist view of the Pagan Gods, and I liked it. Now knowing what to expect Conway’s Lord of Light and Shadow gave me more stories that I haven’t read and concepts to chew over. Both books set me on the path to understanding my Patron Gods and Goddesses but only just a taste of their full potential. The main take away I got from Reading Load of Light was that a patriarchal society such as the one we live in also harms men and male passing individuals. I have learned to be more sensitive to the struggles of others.

In the end, every book on this list taught me something new and gave me the foundation I have today. I can not express how important it is for Pagans to keep reading and developing a deeper understanding of themselves. My plan is to take a break from “witchy” books and catch up on my fiction list before diving back into a new list.

What are you reading?

Please share with me in the comment!

I started a Twitter! Follow me @AutumnIronWolf

Blessed Be,

Autumn Wolfe

As always please feel free to comment and share! If you have any questions or wish to get in contact with me please email me at autumn.ironwolf@gmail.com, or follow me on Twitter @AutumnIronWolf

 

My Morning Prayer

In a lot of the beginners’ books on Wicca, there is an emphasis on creating a daily practice, and I always brushed it off as something I would work on down the line. A daily practice wasn’t something I wanted to focus on right now, I just didn’t have the time, I’m too inexperienced; were my excuses. Its surprising now to think I didn’t really have to “work at” adding prayer to my morning. I clock in at 7 am five mornings out of the week and find myself four stories up looking at Camelback and the Papago Mountains between 8 and 10 am.18342211_10155333921268417_6852586912892122644_nMost practitioners prefer to ground on solid ground but seeing the largest representations of earth for my region above the building is very humbling to me. It is heard where I focus my breath and release all that will not serve me throughout my day. Then with my head down and eyes closed I send my attention to the four cardinal directions, calling the elements in my mind’s voice as I go. Once I have a circle I call the Goddess and God to help me through my day. Normally asking for attributes I feel I need for that day or their protection. Then I thank the spirits of the land I live on for nourishment, ending with a chant of “may the summer be short” repeated once.15941431_10154943040248417_8857899218113315545_nI then close my circle and go about my day. This practice does not take long and does not affect my work, but it is quickly becoming not enough. I have only been unable to complete this practice at work once and it has become such an important part of my day when I don’t work I feel like my day got off on the wrong foot. Sadly I have only ever noticed this is the cause of the feeling until evening and not the time for a day starting prayer. Also, before starting my prayer every morning I think to myself that I should also be doing an end of day prayer to thank the Goddess and God for their gifts but the memory to do so does not stick. I hope to expand this practice in these ways. I actually feel more focused and clear after my prayer and would like that feeling to wash over to days I do not work and before bed.

 

Do you have a daily practice? Do prayers or devotions? How would you like to expand on these?

Blessed Be,

Autumn Wolfe

As always please feel free to comment and share! If you have any questions or wish to get in contact with me please email me at autumn.ironwolf@gmail.com