To All of You Who Seek…

Happy Beltane!

I have been absent from this blog for the entire month of April – mostly because I was okay on my own. The need to write has lessened, so I studied and lived day by day. I was wondering whether I should upload a brief post acknowledging Beltane… then I decided to do something different.

Dear Seeker,

if you, by any chance, have stumbled upon this digital letter and if this letter speaks to you in any way, please let’s consider it a gift from the Goddess and the God.

I am sorry; I did not mean to make you uncomfortable.

Because, you see, that was my problem all along. But let’s backtrack for a little bit.
In 2010, I accidentally came to learn about Wicca. It was through a fantasy series that, despite containing a lot of made-up and beautified aspects (in fact, the more I learn about Wicca, the less resemblance it has with that series), spoke to me in ways beyond the usual deep vibrations I get from really good books. It felt like coming home. It somehow just felt right.
I hope it’s the same way for you. I hope you feel all the joys and inspirations and peace and awakening curiosities as you read more about Wicca or its sister religions. You might feel confused and overwhelmed. That’s okay. It’s normal. Only certain aspects of Wicca might interest you. That’s okay, too.
I can’t tell you or anyone what to do, feel, think or believe in. But maybe you will allow me to impart two general advices concerning the Craft. And afterwards, I will tell you my own story that you can choose to read or ignore. The choice is yours – it’s always yours.

1. Be patient.
However you regard Wicca or Paganism in general – as a religion, as spirituality, as a topic you are interested in – it’s going to take a long time. Changes aren’t going to happen overnight, or in weeks, or in months. I, for one, got discouraged and left the Path. I came back, stayed a few months, left again. Repeat this for a few more years, and suddenly, things that I had questioned before – things I hadn’t understood before – made sense. It’s difficult to describe. I just want to tell you that taking it slowly and easily is okay – more than okay.

2. There is no One Right Way.
During the course of your Search, you are going to come across many books and articles written about the topic. Almost everyone is going to say something different about the same thing. And if it is a good book, it will also mention that it is totally okay to choose to believe in whatever feels right for you. Don’t force yourself to believe in things you feel uncertain about or downright ridiculous. The way I see it, Your Path is yours alone – only you yourself can create it. While we are at it, you don’t have to label yourself or your action or your beliefs. Your Path is your Way of Living – not some box of cereals you advertise to people. People might describe their daily routine – wake up, sing while taking a shower, eat breakfast, leave for work/school/etc, …. – but no one labels their routine other than “routine”. Your Path shouldn’t be about fulfilling a list of criteria someone else has created… at least this is how I feel.
Of course, this means that you are welcome to reject all or some of my ideas anytime.

My story
A sixteen-year-old girl reading books from a series called Sweep… fascinated by all the details the author has created. Imagine her surprise when she – for fun, mind you – types “Wicca” in Wikipedia’s search column. It turns out the author hasn’t created all the details. For now, though, she finds the books more fascinating than the actual religion.
Almost exactly a year later, the now-seventeen-year-old girl re-reads the series and longs for something she can’t describe or see or feel. She only knows that reading about Wicca on the internet lessens this longing. She buys a few books on the topic; she starts what she calls a ‘Book of Shadows’. She feels like an imposter when she says “Goddess” or “Blessed be” or “Book of Shadows”. Like in a Shakespeare play, pretending to be someone she is not. The biggest trouble, though, and the force that drives her to abandon her studies, is that she can’t combine “Wicca” and her “real life”. Feeling like an actress in both spheres, she decides to withdraw from the whole thing.
Another year later… now eighteen years old, the girl is in one of her biggest years of discovery – of herself, her body and her mind. She doesn’t know this at the moment, of course. Again she feels the pull… again she walks the Path, this time rejecting all the labels and doing what feels right. She reads the books, she thinks hard about Deities and what she feels about them. It feels jarring. It feels like a burden has been placed upon her – there is no more unrestrained and unconditional joy she used to feel. Then so many new emotions and experiences overwhelm her and she slowly, unconsciously lets the pull fade away.
Again, a year passes. Whenever she reads the words she had written a year or two ago, she feels this longing in her heart again. But the pull is less strong now, and she settles for “observing” the Sabbats by making a point to slow down and reflect during these eight days in a year. This goes on for about two years, perhaps more.

Now I am Here. I am in the Now. I feel like I’ve been looking at different pieces of one puzzle set all those years ago, and suddenly they all fell into their right places and I see a recognizable part of the puzzle set – maybe it’s the centerpiece, maybe it’s a frame. My Path and my life are no longer in disharmony because they are one and the same thing. It’s deeply private yet always open. I feel in balance, more or less. School work might distract me, visiting my family might disrupt my practice but I am no longer afraid of my Path fading away. Well, okay. I am still a little bit anxious. But I recognize that letting it fade or making it more solid is in my power now. It’s my choice.

Remaining objective, critical and curious as ever…

Your Bear

P.S.: I feel nervous about recommending reading materials since I myself have read so little. But here are some of the books that have helped me to get Here and Now.
Joyce and River Higginbotham’s Paganism: An Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions (a good place to start as it gives a basic overview in a gentle, thought-provoking way)
Dianne Sylvan’s Circle Within: Creating a Wiccan Spiritual Tradition (recommended for a more spiritual aspect of your Path; does not contain the “basics” of Wicca)
Shakti Gawain’s Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life (This book is not written for a specific type of religion or other group. Especially helpful if you are struggling with “visualization” (hint: it doesn’t mean that you have to “see” a picture with your eyes closed) and/or want to embrace more positivity in your life.)
Scott Cunningham’s Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner (a “classic” text on Wicca – I found this to be helpful and informative even if I don’t adopt many things he has suggested.)