I’ve always been kind of relaxed and experimental in my practice. I’ve been the most lax concerning Sabbats and Esbats. Sabbats, if you’re unfamiliar, are Wiccan holy days that celebrate the changing of the seasons, while Esbats are what we call the celebration of the full moon. Over the last five or so years, I’ve managed to celebrate these special days in one way or another at least half the time. That’s a marked improvement on my observance of Pagan holidays when compared to my first decade of practice.
Truth be told, I’ve never been into any holiday except for Halloween. Subsequently, when I found my Wiccan way, I fell in love with Samhain and began attending group rituals to celebrate that and other Wiccan holidays in high school. A couple years later, I was celebrating the moon twice a month, full and new, with a group of solitary witches in Chicago. In September, I joined another group here in New York for my first public Mabon celebration.
This last full moon, on October 5th, I celebrated privately with a friend in her home. As always, we had a beautiful ritual. Working magick with her is consistently a fulfilling experience. While she’s held a mild interest in Wicca for years, she is now digging deeper into it than before and has graciously allowed me to take part in her journey. So, when we do private rituals, I prefer for her to take the lead.
I like this for a number of reasons, the most important of which being that I don’t want my personal practice to influence her so much that it over-powers her instincts. I can be a strong personality when I need to be, and I love to share what I’ve learned. But I find that most times it’s wiser to stay quiet and let someone find their answers on their own. Typically, I’ll sit back and follow her direction, offering input as we go, but ultimately deferring to her.
She’s been reading and exposing me to new books for Wiccans and, right now, she prefers using those books to guide our rituals. At first, part of me resisted; I’m accustomed to making up my own rituals, and I rarely use spells from books. But, for the most part, practicing with her has been a fun and intimate learning experience for me, and I can only hope she feels the same.
I’ve been a practicing Wiccan for around 16 or 17 years, and I forgot how much I relied on books in the beginning. Don’t get me wrong, I still have and love Pagan books and can’t resist buying a new one at every event, but the kind of books I read now are different. When I started, I stocked up on how-to books and every “Beginner’s Guide” I could get my hands on. As a teen, I found Patricia Telesco, who is still one of my favorite Pagan authors. Now, I’m less interested in guidebooks and more into books about history, philosophy, and spiritual balance.
At the moment, my friend is reading the books I read all those years ago, plus a ton of new Pagan authors that I’ve never even heard of. These are authors who, like me, or like Scott Cunningham before us and Doreen Valiente, seem to want to share our experience and reach out to the Pagan community, and so their material is for people in the early stages of their practice.
As an eternal skeptic, I do have a habit of bristling towards new Pagan works. Publishing online has never been easier than it is now, so it’s that much easier for people to put out inaccurate information and profit off of it. I have read books that completely disregard historical evidence, convolute different systems of belief, or imply things that are obviously untrue to someone who takes the time to do their research. It’s important for anyone starting on this path to study the origins of Wicca, meet Pagan elders, and read the bibliography of whatever Wiccan guides they choose.
That said, the majority of Wiccan books are written with good intention, and the authors have a true desire to help others. Each author offers a different facet, a new thought stream of a much larger, evolving religion. Wicca is one of the only religions I know of that is a wholly unique journey for every person that chooses it, while still allowing all of us to share and receive the message. I think it’s safe to say that (while there may be a wrong way) there isn’t just one right way to practice Wicca. Every Wiccan experience is somehow both unique and universal.
Whether you’re strictly solitary, a Circle hopper, or a coven-member, your journey is special, beautiful, and all yours. How you walk the Wiccan way is entirely up to you and I’m glad to help in whatever ways I can. Each singular experience is like a leaf on the universal tree, with its fingerprinted veins. We strengthen each other.
This entry was supposed to be about the pros and cons of following another person’s ritual word-for-word and of making up your own (either as you go or pre-writing them). Seeing as I’m already over 900 words in and I haven’t really gotten to that, I’m going to save it for another time. I suppose, this time, I had to say something about the beauty and diversity of Wicca.
What are your favorite resources to help guide you on your Wiccan path? What’s your favorite thing about being Wiccan?
With all my heart,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA
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