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Samhain and My Last Day with Wicca

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Last night many Wiccans and Pagans alike celebrated Samhain, the last fall festival of the year when the God dies and travels to the Summerlands (thus life begins to fade from the land), and a new annual cycle begins. This is also the time when the veil between the physical and spiritual worlds is the thinnest. Samhain then, is a time to honor the dead. Some Pagans take this opportunity to commune with those who have passed to the next life. Depending on your own practice, this can be done in a group setting (with a coven, for example) or as a solitary. Apart from my Mentor and the Pagans and Wiccans of the Congregation, I practice solitary.

I was never comfortable with the world of the dead, so I thought this festival would make me a little on edge. Didn’t happen. For my Samhain, I rearranged my altar-shelf to honor our passed loved ones:

Each object represents a passed family member.

From left to right: The framed stitch work represents two of our children who were never born. One was an ectopic and the other a miscarriage. The small ring next to the frame and the grapes is a silver ring my wife’s grandfather gave her. They were extremely close. To the right of the ring is a wing feather from Blizzard, my favorite hen. I’ve held on to this feather since her burial and it seems she paid me a visit this month via my Spirit Guide. To the right of Blizzard’s feather is a photo of my maternal grandfather and I when I was about three years old. He died when I was four of cancer so I have no physical memory of him, however I’ve always felt a connection with him.

After I set up the altar, I gave an offering of fruit (grapes), incense, and lit three kosher Shabbat candles I saved from my Judaism month. I only light these on special occasions.

Offering incense before meditation.

With the altar set and the offerings made, I ground myself and prepare to meditate on and honor those in mind. But not everyone is represented on the altar. This night I also honored my Hindu Mentor, Mr. Gajjar, who passed away a few days after our time together ended. I then honored all of the religious founders and leaders I’ve studied thus far, giving them thanks for their lives and wisdom, and wished them peace. From here I simply meditated on everything these individuals on the altar and otherwise have taught and shared with me. I invited their spirits to speak with me if they felt so inclined, but made no insistence on their actions. After the meditation I thanked them for their presence and continued influence in my life, and closed the ritual.

Not the hocus pocus you’re used to in the movies and television shows, huh? Granted, rituals can get much more elaborate, but I like to keep things clean and simple. I’ve honored the dead and ushered in the new year. How did you celebrate Samhain and honor the dead?

Now, for the hard part: saying goodbye.

Today is October 31st and therefore my last day with Wicca and the greater Pagan world. What a month huh? We had a rocky start but I think once everything cooled down we were really able to explore this spectacular faith tradition. Indeed, Wicca was one of those religions I once condemned as a delusion straight from the pit of Hell (years ago), but what I’ve learned this month is that Wicca, Witchcraft, and the Pagan ways are not what we see in the movies. It’s average folks living and loving life the best way they can and trying to exist in peace.

After the firestorm of criticism, I really didn’t think I’d groove into this faith. The infighting and constant bickering had me convinced that all was lost. What I learned was that–regardless of the faith–you cannot judge a religious system exclusively on its members. Only when you get into the texts and practices do you see the faith for what it is. I know a lot of people who looked forward to learning more about this month were turned off by the politics, but I implore you to focus on the tenants and practices. It’s a faith that honors nature, the balance of the Goddess and the God, and establishes moral code for using the powers of our world. So what if two or more members from two or more traditions want to split hairs over the details. Let them claw each other’s eyes out. I think this is the reason many turn to solitary practice: to escape the drama. Take what works, live, and let live. That’s Wicca.

Me being all Wiccan and dramatic

My experiences with the Goddess, magick, interactions with the Congregation, seeing the divine in nature, relishing in the simple pleasures of the environment around me, meeting my Spirit Guide…these are what I’m packing to take with me going forward on this journey.

I want to thank you all again for sticking out this month with me. I know it was hard, but as Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

For those of you who’ve been with me for a while, you know what today means for me. I will drastically change until the self of the former month peels away and I become the next version of Andrew. It’s a very painful but necessary process. Next month, in many ways, will be the most difficult of the year. I will be a Jain monk. Because the faith is so small and isolated, I have no Mentor. The game changes entirely and I will be forced to use everything I’ve learned so far just to make it through. I hope you’ll join me.

What are your final impressions this month? Are your views different now from the beginning of October? What most influenced you about the Wiccan path?

Peace and Blessed Be.



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Mdawn

posted November 25, 2011 at 3:28 am


I know I’m late on this, but congratulations, Wicca is a lot to take in for anyone who is willing to take it on for a lifetime, let alone someone who is only doing it for a month.



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abowen

posted November 8, 2011 at 3:53 pm


Merry meet, Patrick,

So good to hear from you. I’m happy you enjoyed the presentation and approve of the altar. Yes, October taught me so much about the Wiccan and Pagan ways that the media all but ignores. This of course always comes from actually interacting with the people of the faith rather than depending on second hand material. Thank you for introducing yourself in class!



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Patrick

posted November 8, 2011 at 1:27 pm


Merry meet!
This is Patrick, the Wiccan from the religion class you spoke to. It was a real honour to have you as part of our faith for the month of October. I can definitely see where Hollywood once painted a negative image of the Craft, but I am glad that you now know it is not what movies and television depicts. As many rely on shows like Charmed and movies like The Craft to give them an image of what witchcraft is about, it is great that someone as you would for a month become a representative of the Craft and show the countless people reading your blog what it truly is made of.
I am really impressed by your altar. I can tell each item placed upon it is special in its way to the person it represents. Not only did you represent humans, but also the inclusion of your favourite hen into the ritual made it that much more personal.
I hope the month of October clarified for you what could have been a quite distorted image.
Blessed be!



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abowen

posted November 4, 2011 at 2:37 pm


Jerri,

Thank you.



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abowen

posted November 4, 2011 at 2:36 pm


Chassidy,

Thank you for you words of encouragement!



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ChassidyBrewer

posted November 3, 2011 at 2:48 pm


I think what you are doing is brave and that you are a strong individual. I know that there are many people judging you and you are not letting it stop your study of these various religions. I personally do not think that I would be able to do something like this, because I wouldn’t want to put myself in the hands of many critics and be able to listen to the judgments they are making when they do not personally know me. I wish you good luck the remaining two months, and look forward to seeing how everything works out.



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abowen

posted November 3, 2011 at 1:45 pm


Jerri,

It was a pleasure speaking to your class. I hope you enjoy your time on the blog.



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Jerri Outlaw

posted November 3, 2011 at 7:25 am


Hello. You came and spoke to my Religion class last week. Sorry I am late. What you are doing is very interesting and I most definitely plan on keeping up with you. I hope your journey through these last two months will be great!



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Amanda Sioux Blake

posted November 2, 2011 at 6:11 pm


I know I’m commenting a few days late, but I just want to thank you for what you are doing. I do wish you could have explored more of the diversity within Paganism, but I understand that it makes the most sense to go with Wicca, which is the biggest subset of Paganism. As a Greco-Egyptian Pagan, I am a minority within a minority within a minority. Most Pagan Recons (short for reconstructionists) stick to one cultural framework, so by being dual-trad I am in an even smaller group. But anyway, I really do love the idea of what you doing by exploring so many different religions. I think its beautiful and is something that is especially needed right now, with so much religious-based conflict in the world. You are a brave person. I am interested in learning more about Jainism, which I know next to nothing about, so I will continue to read your blog in the coming months. But if at any time you would like to talk more about religion or Paganism or learn about my tradition, feel free to email me. I’m sure you’ll be too busy, but I thought I’d throw it out there. Thank you again for trying to educate and bring understanding about our religions.

Yours in the Gods,
Amanda Sioux Blake



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