Wednesday, April 25, 2012
My Journey to Wicca
Essay in fulfillment of the Masters of Wicca Degree
Druid/Wiccan Rev. Joe Thomas Sroufe, DPhil, CFLE(r)
I have never felt like an American even though I appreciate the country of my birth. Inside, I have always been British. Even as a Jew, my love for the United Kingdom was only a blink away. I longed to go back to England, not Israel.
Perhaps this is one reason I argue that we Americans improperly speak the English language. My love of our language came from being an avid reader of British authors. My first childhood stories were from Alan Alexander Milne. I grew into Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, Clive Staples Lewis, Lewis Carroll, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, and Brian Jacques. Yes, I loved John Donne and William Shakespeare, but fantasy was in my heart. (I do have to mention my love for Edgar Allan Poe.)
King Arthur and his sword, Merlin and his love of life, the feeling of Stonehenge, and the smell of an early morning in England caused me to feel I was born in the wrong country. I am of the United Kingdom for there lie my fondest memories in this world. I have been blessed to visit England four times. I have visited Scotland, been fascinated by Bath, England, stood for hours hugging the giants of Stonehenge, read from an original Bible translation from the 1300's, and had a private session with the original drawing of the Dodo bird from Alice in Wonderland. I have had two occasions to study at the University of Oxford and one opportunity to study at the Vatican in Rome.
It was J. R. R. Tolkien's love of trees that first caused me to see where magic lived. As a kid growing up in Oklahoma, there were two immense elm trees just outside my bedroom windows. I spent hours touching those trees and played under their protection as long as I could. Trees became my friends and were greatly valued. Where there was a tree, there I would be found. One large tree in my backyard had a huge opening that I could crawl into and find a place to play.
As much as I liked magick and fantasy, my childhood did not introduce me to Wicca. My paternal grandfather practiced witchcraft. My mother and maternal grandfather strictly followed the farming almanac. My mother followed Wiccan and Voodoo superstitions along with being amazing at dowsing.
I remained monotheistic as long as I grew until the writings unraveled and the rabbinical and theological arguments began to crumble. I could not understand a jealous, revengeful and murderous god who made it seem as if killing children of other tribes was an acceptable and noble practice. I realize some spiritual paths have had their darker moments, but I could no longer support a violent patriarchal religion.
It was the movie, Avatar that started my search along with a renegade Jewish rabbi named Gershon Winkler. They both taught me that if god existed then god existed as a plurality of female and male and could be seen as two sides to one monotheistic existence, or even a plurality that meant two identifiable gods. As much as Judaism endeavored to build a patriarchal system, current archaeological findings are showing two gods that were honored in early synagogues. A male and female side of one god or male and female gods are now seen as possible viable options in early synagogues. The research is pointing to the possibility that Judaism was once polytheistic.
Change came for me when I began to investigate and read about the Universal Life Church and the ULC Seminary Program offering the Masters of Wiccan Studies Program. My oldest daughter became Wiccan and with her assistance and the help of a Wiccan High Priest, I entered the ULC study program.
The lessons were outstanding. While I always wanted more than each lesson provided, each lesson was simple, direct and easy to apply. I began to read the lessons, complete the assignments, and read additional sources. I especially found the book, Nocturnal Witchcraft: Magick After Dark by Konstantinos (Llewellyn Publications, 2002) to be amazingly helpful.
I began my journey on 25 March 2011 and held my self initiation on 6 April 2012. I completed more than my "year and a day." I followed the initiation ceremony within the final lesson. I am so grateful to the course and what Devon and Lord Starwalker have meant to me in leading me on my journey.
I began keeping the Wheel of the Year at Sanhain in 2011 and continue to walk by it after my year and a day were completed. There is no way I can say that I have a "favorite" lesson from the study. Each lesson was beautifully designed to help me, a novice, begin my journey. I now have a beautiful altar dedicated under a full moon. I love solitary ritual but have also taken part in ritual with a local coven. My studies have also taken me into paranormal studies and I have become a professional paranormal investigator.
There are two grand life changing elements that I have received from the course. The first is the Wiccan Rede: "An' it harm none, do what thou wilt." This set me free from organized religion and monotheistic structures based upon the concept of a human sin nature. I was free. I became free to be me and enjoy all of me. There was no evil me; there was the me that longed to emerge within the Wiccan Rede to do kindness to all.
The second life changing element was when I read, "Magick is a process, undertaken with need, to bring about changes in yourself." (Credit is given to the course material in lesson 21 written by Devon and Lord Starwalker.) That statement was my hope of change. I could be different. I could live a life of fulfillment and enquiry into the universe knowing that I was loved and fulfilled. The "power" I needed was not outside of me. It was not illusive or hard to find. It was within me and flowed all around me. For me, life is now magickal. Each moment of each day resonates with the vibrations of magick, even with every breath I take.
Emma Restall Orr stated, "A pagan is someone who revered the spirits and deities of his local environment - of the earth beneath his feet, of his spring or source of water, his woodlands and rivers, his fields and buildings, his sun and moon, and more; of everything that makes up the world that exists immediately around him." (Druidry, page 6, Thorsons, 2000)
When I read those words, the word "pagan" seemed out of place. Did not all humans feel this way? No. Apparently, not many. My own life had been built around dogma rather than life. Truth, I felt, was in rules of "rights and wrongs" and not in the beauty and reality of nature itself. I had missed the message of the trees, the sky, the sun and moon. The god/dess has called me to life in all simplicity and joy.
Through the study of the Master of Wiccan Studies, I have begun a journey for the rest of my life. Magick is free and so am I. The British literature I read as a child and my travels around the world have all been a silver thread that has led me to where I am today. My British heart was a heart for magick and that thread has led me to a complete circle. May the circle never end.
Thank you, Devon and Lord Starwalker. Thank you, ULC Seminary for providing such and enlightening course.
BRITISH ARCHETYPES I HAVE CHOSEN
Bran is a guardian of the land and a god of war. His sister, Branwen is a goddess of love and death. The Heartagram on my left wrist represents the juxtaposition of love and death.
This essay is submitted this 6 day of April 2012 as fulfillment of the Master of Wiccan Studies Program of the ULC Seminary Program.
©Druid/Wiccan Joe Thomas Sroufe and MoonDragonTexas Productions, 2012 except where credit has otherwise been noted - MoonDragon