Circle of Joy and Sorrow

Everything that exists is in a manner the seed of that which will be. -Marcus Aurelius

Friday, April 07, 2006

Always on My Mind

.... now this is blatantly stolen from another MD blog at


At 10:32 AM, Blogger LadyDisgrace said...

I've read a lot of your thoughts. I also read your article at WitchVox. Like you, I've been Wiccan for twelve years. I also began walking my path with the Goddess when I was a teenager, although my inspiration was Scott Cunningham. Needless to say that I am also a solitairy Wiccan.
I find your words very intriguing. Somtimes you beautifully articulate the problems that face the younger generation of the Craft. You also point out the many failings of so-called teachers. I know I have stories to tell about young Wiccans being taken advantage of by dreamy women promising power, sex, and Goddess knows what else.

However, sometimes, I feel that you can be a bit harsh in your judgement of other Wiccans. I'm almost afraid to tell you that I'm Dianic. Having my right shoulder facing due east, where the sun rises in the morning, with my eyes resting due north, and calling to the North Winds has always worked for me, and Them. We all relate to the Powers or simply Nature in so many ways, that it is impossible for any of us to judge. I just wish I understood what you meant.


Mabey in these writings I have completely misunderstood you. However, if I have done so, I hope I have not misunderstood you completely. That is because most of what you write is as the kids I know say, "right on."

You definitely put a lot of thought into what you say. Everything aside, I appreciate it when Wiccans speak freely from their hearts and minds.

At 7:24 PM, Blogger olive said...

First of all, I wanted to thank you for posting a comment to my blog. If I had a digital camera I would have recorded my little dance around my apartment for everyone to see, but I swear it happened! That was my next goal, getting someone to post a comment, after finally getting a Google number. I Google, therefore I exist, right? :)

Anyway, I’m going to reply to your comment backwards, and start with the idea that we can’t really judge other people. While on the one hand, there is some genuine concern to the idea that we should not become unwilling to revisit our judgments, on the other hand, people make themselves a prisoner when they become afraid of being wrong. And we do judge people, all the time.

That little peephole on the front door is made so we can look at someone and judge whether or not to open the door. Do I feel safe? When a guy asks for my number at a bar, I look at him and make a judgment then too. What kind of a guy is he? We make judgments about the probable behavior of other drivers on the road all the time. Will this driver turn in front of me or wait? Gut instincts are a judgment. Our brains are made to make judgments about other people, and the more we train them the more often we are right. So we should not be afraid to judge each other while keeping in mind that no one deserves to be judged haphazardly.

When we advance claims about ourselves, it’s only natural that we will be judged to the degree that we live what we claim. If you’re Dianic, that’s great. If you profess a devotion to a forest goddess, but don’t know how to identify poison ivy… not so good. Often itchy. Should we accept healing energy from someone whose diabetes is out of control because they guzzle sugar? (Healer, heal thyself.) Should we stay with a teacher who claims to love you unconditionally but demands you be silent if you disagree with them? Judgment is not about criticizing everything, but rating the connection between what people say about themselves and how they behave.

My judgment of solitaire practice is not about the devotion of the particular witch. Rather people are ignoring the limitations that isolation imposes on spirituality in the name of being “nice.” Humans are social creatures by nature, and our biology is designed to give us benefits and better health by being part of a group. I do not say that if people are between groups or live on the Artic tundra, they should give up being pagan. The cost of saying that being solitaire is the same experience as being part of a circle has been the devaluation of friendship and fellowship.

I don’t blame people for being solitaire. I feel frustrated when they speak of not having other options, and I feel sorrow when they relate disappointments that led them to avoid belonging to a group of some sort. Covens and other pagan groups fail them and should consider (in light of many claims of being pagan elders or what have you) examining the level and accessibility of the fellowship they provide and train their clergy to provide.

I don’t think you really misunderstood the gist of my article, but I’m not surprised that you seem started by the level of criticism. The amount of it might seem harsh, since most pagans go so far out of their way to never disagree with anyone. I speak of being heartbroken that many pagans don’t vote, but I don’t condemn them as not pagan. I may be exasperated when faced with a witch who can’t look around her environment and tell where North is without a compass, but I don’t tell her she’s not a witch. As I wrote, these are lapses in their training and not a question of their character.

Regardless, thanks for stopping by my blog and posting a comment. I really appreciate finding out what people think about my blog and my article. Cheers! Olive.

At 12:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I certainly don't get a sense of you condemning solitaries; as you might know from reading my blog, I am working as a solitary through no choice of my own, and there are rewards but there are also, as far as I am concerned, big misses. That said, I come from a still-too-recent experience of being badly wounded in community and getting over that has and is taking some time. So there are, I think, pros and cons to both sides of the, um, coin.

You're entitled to judge; there's this insidious thing in contemporary witchcraft which is more akin to the nice shop front window that evangelical Christianity puts out - toothy grins are important tools while preaching about love, telling the world it's great to be a witch, come join us! That's always seemed a bit plastic to me, a bit unreal. I am, as you say, a human being and I do judge. To say 'we don't judge' is to self-delude on an extraordinary scale. The question is, surely, does our spiritual practice have any impact on our judging? The answer for me is yes, absolutely - I am far less judgemental, far more astute and considered in my judgements than I used to be before I came upon witchcraft. That's a good, good thing. I think if I lost my judgement, if I stopped judging others in one way or another, then I'd be either dead or lobotomised. As some no doubt seem to be...

I have a similar beef when it comes to those who think a witch should only talk shop all the time - by which I mean, spells, circles, potions, powders et al. I say I am a contemporary witch, meaning I live in the real world. Books, CDs, shopping, TV, current affairs, the media... all these things affect me or interest me. I want to be a rounded person, not a cartoon stereotype, you know? That said, I do have a broom... :-)


The Spicy Cauldron

At 6:24 PM, Blogger olive said...

I'm with you about having a life. One of the most frustrating things I find about pagans, especially with my last coven, is that mostly they just talk about past festival events over and over. And then they ask me what I'm doing with myself and I mention the activist things I'm doing lately. The mention of which offends them, because I shouldn't put so much effort into something that doesn't matter. Or I talk about college and what I want to do as an economist. In turn they'll tell me that I'm fine the way I am and that I should be satisfied with whatever the Goddess has already given me.

I think it's a good standard to measure other elders by, how much a life they have beyond the craft. I don't think it's a sign of devotion to quit your day job and live on rice in order to do a coven news letter. I'm not looking for a six-figure bank account, except as dating material. Being a witch shouldn't mean you have to stay home and stir the cauldron all the time. Cheers! Olive.


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