As I started my quest for understanding of this thing called "wicca," I did it out of sheer curiosity. I continued my research out of relief. I discovered over and over a feeling of coming home. I'd be reading a book or a website, and I'd say "Hey- other people do that!" or "Wow-- I thought I was the only one who felt that way!" I often found myself crying with relief at what I was reading. And I finally gave myself permission to do what feels right to me spiritually, and not what I thought my family, friends, and most of society would find acceptable.
Since the church never felt appropriate to me unless we were singing and I didn't listen to the words... I had never been troubled by the concerns my mother expressed about my 'lack' of spiritual connection. She often tried new churches around our new home when we would move-- and brought the family with her. I cannot tell you how sacrilegious I felt-- how out of place-- each time we were noticed as new comers, and asked to introduce ourselves and be welcomed into that religious community. It wasn't right for me to be there, and it wasn't right for me to let them think of me as a part of that group, and I knew it.
The more I learned about Pagan beliefs, practices, and specifically about Wicca in America, about Goddess History and our sacred connection with the Moon and the Earth and all things between... the more I recognized my own family in the descriptions. I venture to say that I come from a long line of people from many traditions who practice magick and healing-- and who fit like hot candle wax into the Pagan/Wiccan mould-- but who would never call themselves and their doings by those names.
My Grandfather was a Mason, and a healer. He taught a woman not of his family (Their rule to spread knowledge states that you can only teach someone not of your family, and not of your gender.) how to blow the heat out of burns, and to stop bleeding, among other things I don't know about, having never been initiated. He had magick hands, and we all went to him when we needed healing or comfort. The hardest thing to see as he slowly became one with the Great Crone, was the way his hands shook and refused to do his will, as the Parkinsons claimed him. When he died, his pastor came to the hospital without being called. He told the family gathered there that at the time of Grandfather's passing, he was napping, and had a dream. In his dream, my Grandfather got up from the hospital bed, and strode over to the door. (At this point, he was bedridden because he could no longer walk, and had hurt himself falling many times via the Parkinsons.) Grandfather opened the door, and there was great light shining from the other side. He turned to his pastor, and said, "THIS is how an old man walks!" and walked through into the light.
If that isn't spiritual, and regenerative rebirth in the hands of the Goddess, I don't know what is.
My Grandmother held our whole extended family together, as a great wise, loving Matriarch. We did not see the extent of her influence and efforts in our lives until Grandfather had died. She lived a full and happy life for several more years. I don't think we realized how much we owed our close-knit relationships to her until she died and there was no one to bring us all together anymore. One of my favorite stories about her inner strength and will is the way she had of turning her car off her home street and left against traffic onto a very busy very fast road in her town. The philosophy she employed was: "Wait three, then me." She'd count three cars, and then she'd turn on into the road. And she always made it safely, too.
When she died, my mother was with her in the Hospice room. It was just after sunrise-- the perfect time for my Grandmother, I think. Mom said she looked out the window, and saw two sunrises. One sun was rising below the clouds on the horizon, and she saw for a few minutes another sun rising above those clouds. She cried when she told me about it, because it was so beautiful to her. Again, I feel that this was her Spirit letting us know she was doing better than ever now, after death.
My eldest Aunt in that family became an Ordained Presbyterian Minister. She called God "Her," and worked with the parts of each ancient religion that resonated within her. She practiced traditional Christian ceremonies. She cleansed auras. She worked with the healing of the Spirit through her own inner connection with the Greater Power and through the use of essential oils and ritual cleansing. She met many famous religious leaders, and taught and learned with many many people. She began a school of Spiritual learning called CrossRoads, and published a meditation CD.
She left a geas on my parents when she died. My mother was left with all her papers and tape recorded musings-- to write the book that my aunt never managed to write about her life, learnings, and realizations about the fabric of the world. She told my Papa to make a permanent meditation platform over her grave for anyone to stop and contemplate. She fought cancer several times successfully before it finally claimed her. But even then, her Spirit was so strong-- she decided the time of her death. Noon on Christmas Day. She wanted to live through Christmas. My family is strong in death and in their connection to the Crone. For this, and many many things, I am grateful. (You know, I always want to spell it "greatful," because that's what I am-- greatly full of appreciation for the abundance in my life.)
My mother was born the fourth of five children. Her eldest sister was 9 years older, and her younger sister was 9 years younger. When Mom was born, she came into the world still protected by her amniotic sac. She was born still inside it, and had to be cut out of it to take her first breath in this life. My family has always believed that this was a symbol of my mother's purity, and spiritual connection with truth in the world. Throughout her life, my mother has prided herself on her honesty and her purity, in an earthy way, at times.
She is a gardener and a chef. I would say she is a Kitchen Witch, if she was not so intent on the Divine in its Christian form. A small wood-framed scrap of paper has hung in each of her kitchens, wherever we have lived. It says, "Don't worry spiders, I keep house casually." And she has so many wonderful old well-used wooden spoons and cast iron cooking pots, spices, organic produce, home-grown herbs and vegetables... and she has never been comfortable killing any living creature, no matter how small. Papa must catch the spiders and the laurel bugs that constantly invade their home in the woods. These days, they even prune the little orchard themselves, and prayer flags hang on the back porch to slowly disintegrate into good energy and good luck, like the wall of a sacred circle dissipating into the air.
So you see, I have grown up with so many familiar tools and rituals around me... Wicca, Witching, and Pagan Practice have indeed been the center of the spider's web for me. They bring all the pieces of my past and my practice that I most love together into a cohesive whole. The circle is complete, for all that it never ends, and for all that I will always have more to learn.
I've started my Path, and in this blog, I effect to share the Journey with you. I so wanted to know how others found their way into the Moonlight those first few months! May the wind lighten your load, cleanse your being, and bring a sparkle of Energy to your actions.