Solitary: A Self-Directed Spiritual Life

Let's talk. Come sit with me under a tree or by a lake while we chat about being alone in our practice and our beliefs. Solitary practitioners choose this path for many reasons and have a unique perspective. As a solitary witch, I want to share how I keep true to my beliefs and practices whether I'm working on my own, in a small group or attending a large group gathering. Author of Moon Affirmations, meditations based on the phase of the moon.

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Where Does Religion Start?

Where and how does religion start?  With my mother's recent illness, I've been thinking about this a lot.  My mom is straight up Christian, go to church every Sunday, go to bible study, be a member of a circle.  She's involved.  Being part of her church gives her great joy and peace.  When she was going in for a surgery years ago, the minister from her church showed up and prayed with her.  I saw a change come over my mother, a peace and an acceptance.  It was beautiful.  However, I've only ever hated going to church, listening to ministers and all of it.  It all felt off to me.

My father, who passed 33 years ago, never went to church except for weddings and funerals.  He always told me god wasn't in a building.  Now being a farmer, he was close to the land and had a connection to the land.  Growing up, there was nothing better than outside chores.  I hated housework and loved being in the fields or with the animals.  I would rather clean the barn than the house.  Spending an hour cleaning the milk house was better than ten minutes of doing dishes.  The only time outside chores wasn't better was in the depth of winter when it was below zero. 

Finding my beliefs and getting comfortable with them was a slow process.  Small town Wisconsin didn't offer a lot of options - Methodist, Catholic, and Lutheran were the most I was aware of all the way through high school.  My mother forced me to go to Sunday School until I started annoying the teacher by questioning all of the lessons.  Then I was allowed to stop going.  It was a relief though I'm sure my mother was disappointed. 

One of my older sisters proclaimed herself an agnostic.  I had no idea what that was, but she was in college and studying religion.  I looked it up and it seemed reasonable to me.  By high school, I was in the same category. 

My dad's parents I barely remember but I don't remember them going to church.  My mom's mother, went to church every Sunday.  My dad's side of the family were of the land.  My mom's family wasn't as connected to the land.  Is this why they turned to an organized religion? Did my father's family find god in the land they lived on which provided for them?  

Most of my memories from growing up are from spring, summer, and fall.  It seemed like we were always outside, playing, exploring, doing chores which didn't seem like chores.  When I went to school and other children complained about having to do chores, I thought they were ridiculous.  Many hands make light the work - or something like that.  

In spring, I spent time in a skimpy bikini top and shorts walking up and down fields to pick rocks.  In the summer, there was haying and harvesting early crops.  In fall, we were up early (always year round) but we stayed up late rushing to get the crops in before the first snow.  We spent hours and hours canning, freezing, and preparing food for us and the animals for the winter.  

Was this the start of my spiritual beliefs?  Probably.  There was no great epiphany for me.  I didn't walk the woods and think - oh I worship a goddess or many gods.  I felt connected, easily and simply.  My favorite past time was to climb my favorite red maple tree and get comfortable in the limbs while I read a book (or more).  I loved walking up the hill at the back of our farm to sit on the top of the hill looking down over the lay of the land, admiring the contour of the hills, the pond, the trees at my back, the clouds, the color of the sky, the animals.  I felt loved and safe in this world.  

I didn't consider myself pagan.  I didn't know what a pagan was.  Life moved forward.  My grandparents all died, a couple of cousins, an uncle, my father, death seemed to hover around me in my late teens and early twenties.  While in high school, I realized my beliefs about death were vastly different from my peers.  They saw it as a tragedy, I saw it as the next step.  

I had kids young and dealt with a struggle between my family and my husband's.  His mother wanted them baptized in their church.  I don't remember my family pushing much.  I gave in and allowed my oldest to be baptized in their church.  When it came time for my second daughter to be baptized, we met with the minister (a different one).  He talked down to me, dismissed me as being important.  My husband was supposed to be head of the household and I was supposed to submit to his will.  My two younger daughters were baptized in my mother's church.  I walked out of the meeting.  My husband was furious - with the minister not me.

All while the girls were growing up, I wanted them to have a base of beliefs.  We took them to church because they wanted to sing in the children's choir and they enjoyed Sunday school.  I hated it.  I sat listening to the ministers and argued in my head about how they were wrong.  For my girls, I went.  My oldest daughter got confirmed.  My younger two weren't interested.  Eventually, my sister took over taking them to church.  I was relieved!

At this point I still considered myself agnostic.  I knew there was something more but it wasn't what I was finding in any church.  One of my sisters lived on a lake.  We used to spend a lot of weekends driving four hours to go sit by their lake.  There was always a fire and water.  It was heaven for me.  It was when I felt connected and at peace.  

This sister at one point confessed she was Wiccan.  I asked, what was that.  From that point on, my spiritual life changed.  My first Pagan book was Life Magic by Susan Bowes.  It was life changing.  Since there weren't covens or groups readily available, most of my exploration was through books.  A Witch Alone by Marian Green blew my mind.  It touched everything I felt and believed.  

I tried the group thing, connecting with a few local Pagans.  Too often the groups seemed more like high school drama than serious practitioners. Fortunately for me, I met some amazing women who were learning too.  I went to Circle Sanctuary and connected with others.  

Did my father's connection to the land start me down the path to Paganism?  I don't know.  I was considered myself Pagan long after he had passed, so I have no idea what we would think of this path I've taken.  Is it possible there are witches in my family past - yes but I don't claim this because I have no proof.  

This is what I do know.  When I sit in front of a fire, my mind goes to another place and I learn things.  When I listen to drumming, I do the same.  I've learned to meditate and discover many things about myself and my life.  Some of these things weren't easy to face, some were a duh moment, and some were a revelation.  All of them affirm to me that my path, being an eclectic witch who is seeking is the path I belong.  

As for the origins, well I believe that everything we experience influences us.  My mother's religion, my father's seeming lack of religion but connection to the land.  If our religion or spiritual beliefs truly come from our ancestors, I'm not sure what it says about my path.  I'm not sure what influence it had going forward because none of my daughters are Pagan or Christian.  They all have found their own belief system and adhere to it.  Maybe that's the point - being true to your own path.

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As a solitary, I consider myself a pagan witch who is seeking. Residing in rural Wisconsin, by day I work as a clerical worker and at night I spend my spare time writing. Writing is my way of expressing my feelings about my world and life. Raised on a farm, I have a love for nature and am inspired by the beauty and power I find there. I've been married for 33 years and have three adult daughters. Some of my other interests include cooking, genealogy, reading and crocheting.  

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