To Be a Witch… A Life of Ritual and Devotion

It’s a common thing to hear that there’s a difference between our magical lives and our mundane lives. In reality, we have the ability to step into ritual and devotion each and every day.

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Gwion Raven

Gwion Raven

I've been a practicing witch and ritualist within the Reclaiming Tradition since 2003. I love being in service with this community of witches and world changers.   My own practice, my own way of changing the world is through devotional practice. It's my belief that we can re-enchant our lives by re-framing the so-called "mundane" as sacred and divine. By imbuing the familiar with a sense of wonder and infusing daily life with acts of magic, we choose to consciously make all of life devotion. Whether we engage in large, public rituals or sink sumptuously into the pure ecstasy of eating a delicious meal by ourselves or meditating at sunrise, our daily rituals can draw us back into harmony with the world and each other.  

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Spiraling into the center - A Samhain Ritual

 

I normally write about daily rituals and devotional practices, the kind we all do or all can do if we are so called to. Today, however, I'm going to focus on one of the largest, longest running public rituals I know of or have ever had the pleasure to participate in - Reclaiming's 35th Annual Spiral Dance.

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  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Yes indeed. And that, I think, is the thing to do. Remember them. Sing their names and carry on the work they began.
  • Annika Mongan
    Annika Mongan says #
    We have lost so many Mighty Dead this past year. May they return to us. May we honor them by carrying their work forward.

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Of Ancestors and Devotion

So here I am at Samhain-tide again. Like many Pagans this is the "big one", our month when we get to be as witchy as we want and it goes mostly unnoticed because everyone out there in the Western world is hanging up skeletons and foam cut outs of owls and black cats.

It's also the month where I find myself running from pillar to post, organizing and priestessing all sorts of Samhain-related events. As is often the case, I'm part of the organising team for the 35th annual Reclaiming Spiral Dance in San Francisco. I'll be part of North Bay Reclaiming's Samhain ritual and this year I'll be at a four day retreat in the Mendocino Woodlands called "Mysteries of Samhain". I'm fortunate to be a busy witch.

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  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Thank you Annika - It's that lovely liminal space, you know. Not this. Not that. Now
  • Annika Mongan
    Annika Mongan says #
    Thanks for the post. I love this season, too, especially the fact that I sometimes pass as "normal" during this time. Also fascina

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Pagan Pubs

My friend Jason Mankey turned over the reins of his "Raise the Horns" blog to a few guest contributors. Here's the mischief I got up to - Enjoy the read -

 

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Devotion for a Pearl

Ask most folks how a pearl is formed and they'll tell you something like "A piece of sand or grit gets into the oyster's shell and then the oyster coats the grit and hey presto! We have a pearl"

It's  a lovely story, but  it isn't quite right. The coating part is accurate, but the "piece of sand or grit" isn't. Actually, the irritant is usually a parasite and it begins to eat at the lining of the oyster. The oysters immune system then begins to secrete two substances that form a nacre and then it basically entombs the parasite and its host, killing it and protecting itself. The byproduct of that self-preservation is a pearl. In cultured pearls, the oyster is actually wounded and it's that wounding that begins the healing process, eventually forming a pearl. 

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Bastet-188x269.jpg

We stroked his head and ran our hands along his body. He purred. We looked at him directly in the eyes and we sang songs. He purred. We told him of mice and birds and long summer days that would not end. He purred. We held him close, so very close, as the needle pierced his skin. The purring stopped. 

The last few days have been filled with tears and with fond remembrances of our dear cat, Bear Claw. He lived for almost twenty years. I have children that have never known a time before Bear Claw. Simply put, he was part of our family.

I spent the last year of his life as a care giver of sorts. As his health failed, I cleaned up after him. I helped him up to his favourite perches around the house. I carried him out into the warm sun on my shoulders and made sure his "apartment" was warm and comfortable. He and I spoke about how and when his life would end. We had an agreement that when the good days were outnumbered by the bad days, we'd part ways mercifully and quickly.

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  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Thank you Archer - As an update, Bear Claw's ashes are now on our Beloved Dead altar. Seems that there's more for us to do with ou
  • Archer
    Archer says #
    I appreciate the insight that animals have something of the divine in them--consider how they survive, thrive, communicate and mig
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Thank you Francesca. How lovely and fascinating that our work in the world seems so much in alignment. Life, with all of its wonde
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Indeed, indeed!
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Sorry to hear of yr loss. Blessings on yr family and departed kitty. I read your bio here. It sounds exactly like what I have tau

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A Date with a Tree

I love rituals. I mean, I really love rituals. I'm enchanted by the very act of drawing a temenos line between this moment and that moment. Time itself seems to stand still or speed up or shift in some way that doesn't seem quite congruent with the way I understand the universe to usually work on an otherwise ordinary Monday afternoon. I find there's a fluidity of speech and movement. The words and actions take on a life of their own as if they themselves are animated for the sole purpose of co-creating this exact moment of devotion.

I've found that effective ritual practices don't have to be elaborate or on a grand scale. Although, let me just say that I'm partial to a thrumming mass of Pagan-type folk all gathered together for the expressed purpose of being in consensual ritual practice together. I've had the pleasure to attend and help create the magic for the annual Reclaiming Spiral Dance in San Francisco, which is now in its 35th year. There's a variety of rituals from every imaginable Pagan tradition at events like Pantheacon. I thoroughly enjoy being a little thrown off by rituals that use a different lexicon than my own tradition; rituals that have their own distinct meter and rhythm.

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  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Thank you Lizann.
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    So good to see your spiritual/virtual/creative presence here!

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