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IMAGE Besom Briefs
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IMAGE The Elder Futhark Runes
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IMAGE Theban Script or "Witchs' Runes"
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IMAGE Scarabs: History, Symbolism, Uses
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IMAGE Online Class Participation
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IMAGE About the Witchcraft Course
If you are not already a Premium Member, you can enroll from this page. You will have full access to the Academy and all online classes for a Year... Read More...
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IMAGE 1: What is Quartz Crystal?
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IMAGE Stones for Magic & Spells
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IMAGE Pagan & Craft Traditions
Traditions are also known as "Trads". By necessity, these definitions are general. Each Witch in every tradition could define his or her path... Read More...
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Pagan Paths and Traditions SymbolsTraditions are also known as "Trads". By necessity, these definitions are general. Each Witch in every tradition could define his or her path differently. These definitions are generally accepted or are commonly defined as follows, but are certainly colored by our experiences with various traditions. If you find that you are particularly interested in a tradition, check out the accompanying links for more information. PaganPath.com administrators and its affiliates do not necessarily endorse, support or follow any of the traditions, or claim any alignment with said traditions. We do not vouch for the legitimacy of any tradition, nor do we deny the legitimacy of any tradition. For informational purposes only.We do not guarantee that every link leads to a site which accurately represents the tradition, this is a potpourri of what is out there.

1734 Tradition:

British flavored, sometimes eclectic tradition based on the ideas of poet Robert Cochrane, a self-titled hereditary Witch. 1734 is said to be a cryptogram for the name of the Goddess honored in this tradition.

Alexandrian Tradition:

A popular tradition that began in England around 1960 and was founded by Alex Sanders. It is similar in some ways to the Gardnerian Tradition. Alex Sanders drew much attention from the media and was referred to (by the media) as the "King of Witches".

Aglaian Triad of Wicca:

Founded in 1982 and based in Homewood, IL COG affiliated coven, always hooded, never skyclad, three degrees initiatory system. Traces roots, like many in midwest, to what is now known as Temple of Uranus.

American Tradition of the Goddess or AMTRAD:

Established in the mid 1980s, three degrees initiatory system, somewhat eclectic but not too ceremonial.

Aquarian Tabernacle Church or ATC:

is a Wiccan church founded by Pete “Pathfinder” Davis in 1979. The original church has many affiliated churches, and all are based on British Traditional Wicca.  The church attempts to provide services to the Pagan community normally only available to mainstream organized religions such as facilities, services, outreach groups, etc. Currently, twenty-five or more affiliated groups and/or churches worldwide.

Assembly of Wiccan or AOW:

Belief in a single source of all creation, termed "The Oneness" which separated itself into male and female. An offshoot of Central Valley Wicca See also Central Valley Wicca

British Traditional Witch or English Traditional Wicca:

A tradition with a strong framework of structure and degrees. The members of the International Red Garters are considered British Traditionalists. Rituals appear to encompass the feel of Celtic and Gardnerian paths.

Cabot Tradition of the Science of Witchcraft:

founded by Laurie Cabot, author located in Salem Massachusetts. Cabot also founded the Witches' League for Public Awareness (WLPA). The WLPA is an anti defamation organization created to correct the many misconceptions about Witchcraft.

Celtic Wicca:

A very earthy tradition, this one focuses on nature, the elements and elementals, sometime fairies, plants, etc. Many "Green Witches" and "Eclectic Druids" follow this path that looks to the ancient Celtic pantheons for their Gods and Goddess. See also Church and School of Wicca

Caledonii Tradition:

A tradition that attempts to preserve the ancient festivals of the Scottish and is sometimes known as the Hecatine Tradition.

Central Valley Wicca or CVW:

Began in the 1960s focused in Northern California, many offshoots including Silver Crescent, Majestic, Kingstone, Assembly of Wicca, and Daione Coire. According to Kalisha Zahr, elders are considered to be autonomous in this tradition, and no single elder may speak for all elders or representatives of the tradition. It appears that like most traditions, CVW and its offshoots do not appear to charge money for training, initiation or magickal work. See also Kingstone Tradition

Ceremonial Witchcraft:

Uses ceremonial magick to attain a stronger connection with divinity and realize their higher purposes and abilities. Rituals are often derived from Quabbalistic magick (which is flavored by the Judeo-Christian history) and Egyptian magick. Although certainly not intended, this path often is plagued by egotistical and insecure people who feel that ceremonial magick is a way to either 1) get whatever you want or 2) attain higher levels so you can look down on those 'below' you. This unfortunate situationis not true of all Ceremonial Witches, and there are many sincere seekers on this path.

Church and School of Wicca:

A widely know correspondence school founded by Gavin and Yvonne Frost and once based in North Carolina and is now also in West Virginia. The Frosts have started out many Pagans on theirs paths and although opinions vary about them, they provide (for a fee) an important service to the community, offering correspondence courses through the mail. Often, they are the first resource of information discovered by people who live in 'bible belt' or remote areas. Sometimes referred to as "CelticWicca" or "Baptist Wicca," but usually referred to as "Frost Wicca." PO Box 297--IN, Hinton . WV 25951-0297 USA For online courses in non-denomination Wicca and Witchcraft, see this page.

Covenant of the Goddess or COG:

Not exactly a tradition in itself, but more of an organization which helps the many autonomous Wiccan congregations and solitary practitioners cooperate in many areas such as public education.Web Site One | Criteria for Membership

Dianic Tradition:

This is a hard one to pin down. Some Dianic Witches focus only on the Goddess, are very politically active, and feminist oriented. Other Dianic Witches simply focus on the Goddess as a way to balance out the many years of Patriarchal dominance on Earth. A few Dianic Witches use this title to denote they are 'Daughters of Diana" their patron Goddess. There are Dianic Witches that are all of these, some that are none of these, and some that fall in between these.

Daoine Coire:

Pronounced DEEna COYra, offshoot of Central Valley Wicca

Eclectic Witch:

A Witch that blends the ideas of many traditions or sources. Like a Witch's cauldron, ideas are added to season the brew, spice it up, make it more effective, etc. This 'tradition' that isn't really a tradition has the flexibility to endure changes, but sometimes lacks grounding. Generally, rituals are self-styled and covens are loosely structured.

faery, Faerie and Feri Traditions:

There are several 'Faery' traditions. This is a controversial topic so I'll make it brief and send you off to the search engines and libraries for more. A Faery Witch could be but isn't necessarily:

  • working with nature energies and spirits, also known as Fairies, Sprites, etc.
  • homosexual
  • following one of Faery Feri or Faerie Traditions.

A couple 'big' names in this arena are Victor and Cora Anderson, Tom Delong (Gwydion Penderwyn) etc.

Gardnerian Tradition:

Founded by Gerald Gardner in the 1950's in England. This tradition has contributed greatly to much of the Craft as it is today. The structure of many rituals and magickal workings in numerous traditions originated from Gardner's work. Some of the historical claims made by Gardner himself and by some Gardnerian Witches have yet to be verified (and in some cases have been disproved) however, this structured tradition has backed many modern Witches. The Witches Bible Complete by Janet and Stewart Farrar as well as many books by Doreen Valiente tackle this tradition and the Alexandrian tradition in more detail.

Gwyddon Cymry, Gwyddonaid: See Welsh Traditions

Hecatine Tradition:

either 1) A Witch who seeks inspiration from Hecate and attempts to reconstruct and modernize the ancient rituals of her worship or 2) see the Caledonii Tradition

Hereditary Witch:

A Witch that was usually trained by a family member and/or can trace their family history back to another Witch or Witches.

Kingstone Tradition:

Coven based initiatory tradition with a focus on agricultural or pastoral deities, Goddess and consort - Horned God. One year and a day minimum between each of three degrees, standardized and copyrighted book of shadows, Began in 1973 with the foundation of the New Wiccan Church. See also Central Valley Wicca and New Wiccan Church Web Site One

Kitchen Witch:

A practical Witch who is often eclectic and focuses on magick and spirituality centering around the 'hearth and home'.

Mohsian or MOHS:

began around 1965 in Los Angeles, now also near Sacramento, called American Tradition or Eclectic American Tradition around 1969, then around 1974 began using MOHSIAN term. Many influences, including 1734 and Gardnerian trads and European Shamanism. More information on the Mohsian tradition can be found at witchvox.

Nordic Tradition:

See Teutonic Witch

NROOGD (New Reformed Orthodox Order of the Golden Dawn):

Our Lady of the Woods Coven: founded by author Amber K, H.Ps., (who received her training at the Temple of the Pagan Way in Chicago) and Catelaine in Wisconsin, then reorganized in New Mexico.

Pagan Way:

Focus on initiation into the ancient mysteries, began in Chicago. see also Temple of Uranus

Pictish Witchcraft or Pictish Wicca:

Often, but not always a solitary path that focuses on the divine in nature.

Pow-Wow:

founded by Silver Ravenwolf, author and H.Ps. More of a magickal system than a spiritual path and can be incorporated into diverse religions. Pennsylvania was a prime settlement of this 400+ year old German Tradition. Much of what is left of pow-wow magick is 'Water Witching' and 'Faith Healing' but that is changing!

Satanic Witch:

an oxymoron, Witches do not acknowledge Satan because 'Satan' is a purely Christian phenomenon. There is no such thing as a real Satanic Witch, but perhaps only such thing as a Satanist who says they are a Witch.

Scotican Wicca:

This appears to be a relatively newer Wiccan tradition, perhaps developing sometime around 1998 or before??? The tradition seems to blend Pecti-Wita with Kitchen Witchery and Ceremonial Wicca. Pronounced sko-shuh-kun.

Seax-Wica or Saxon Wicca:

Founded in 1973, by the prolific author, Raymond Buckland who was, at that time, a Gardnerian Witch. One of the first traditions to specifically make allowances for solitariesand the self initiation. These two aspects have made it a popular path.

Slavic:

Several new reconstructionist traditions of Paganism, Wicca and Witchcraft have attempted to form cohesive spiritual practices based on traditional pre-Christian Slavic heathenism. This is drawing interest from many people of Slavic heritage. . . expect many traditions to form in this area over the next decade, from now until 2012.

Solitary Witch:

One who practices the Craft alone (but may occasionally join the Sabbat festivities of a Coven). A Solitary Witch may follow any of the traditions, or none at all. The majority of eclectic Witches are solitaries. Solitary Witchcraft has opened the door to isolated Witches being self-initiated. Because a coven is not required and beliefs are tailored to the individual, solitary practice of the Craft has swept the United States and many other parts of the world.

Starkindler Tradition:

Been around since about 1974, Coven based, either a three or five degree initiatory system? Traces roots to Temple of Uranus (Pagan Way) See also Web Site One

Strega Witches and Stregheria:

Thought to have started in Italy around 1353. The controversial history can be found on many sites and in many books. Aradia...Gospell of the Witches is a must have book for the archives of Strega Witches. This "Italian Traditional Witchcraft" has become more popular recently due to the dedication and work of author, Fabrisia Boschetto.

Temple of the Pagan Way:

see Temple of Uranus

Temple of Uranus or Temple of the Pagan Way or Pagan Way:

Began in 1967 with an occult study group in Chicago, name changed to Uranus in 1974. Many current traditions in the United States (and to a lesser extent worldwide) have roots in The Pagan Way of Chicago in one way or another. Many leaders, authors, High Priests, High Priestesses and elders in the Pagan community received training through The Pagan Way or were affiliated with the group. See also Pagan Way

Teutonic Witchcraft:

Teutons were a group of people who spoke 'Germanic' languages. A Teutonic Witch often finds inspiration in the traditional myths and legends, Gods and Goddesses of the areas where these dialects originated.

Traditional Witch:

Here's another tough one to define. Every traditional Witch will give you a different definition. Often prefers the title Witch over Wiccan and will frequently define the two as very different paths. A traditional Witch bases their work as much as possible on historical methods from their tradition or geographical area of interest.

Welsh Rite Gwyddonaid: A Welsh/Celtic Tradition of Wicca, worshipping a Welsh Pantheon of Gods and Goddesses.  Gwyddonaid, roughly translated from Welsh means "Tree Witch". This tradition listing was submitted to the site, click here to read the complete write up as it was submitted.

Welsh Witchcraft or Gwyddon Cymry: Try these links: Web Site One | Web Site Two

Winge-It Tradition and the Temple of American Witch Craft: founded by Lady Angel Wings, H.Ps., resident of Northern California and avid gardener and goose owner when I met her. At least ten covens have birthed off the mother "Dragon Queen Coven" across the United States.

Y Tylwyth Teg Tradition: Founded in Maryland in 1967 by Lord Rhuddlwm Gawr. See alsoWeb Site One

Y Tylwyth Tylluan: Offshoot of Y Tylwyth Teg, you can find groups primarily in Ohio. Flavors of Druidism, associated with Green Dome Temple

ZWS or  ZvS Tradition:

The name is based on the truth rune, and it is a very nature oriented path. Practiced individually and collectively, a main difference is that no Book of Shadows is kept by the Covens or Solitaries. It is felt that truth can be found in nature and cannot be kept in a book. Some members of ZvS will keep a record, but it is not a standard necessity.

Learn how to say Witchcraft, Pagan, Wiccan and other occult words.How to Say Those Witchy Words!

This is a pronunciation key with audible sound files. Common words used in magick, or in Pagan, Witchcraft and Wiccan circles can be heard here. This is especially helpful for solitary practitioners, or for those of us in remote areas.

Sound files have all been updated and converted to mp3 file format, and range from 2KB to 8KB*

  Pronunciations are listed from the most commonly used to the least commonly used. The .wav file linked to a 1 or 2 would be heard more frequently than a 3, 4 or higher number.

Pronunciations will vary due to geographic location, tradition and training, individual preferences and more. Generally, there is no Absolute and Correct way to pronounce a word. If you are new to the community (or just new to talking to others about it) you may wish to select the more common or popular pronunciations, those appearing first or second after a word.

No matter which pronunciation you select, you are bound to be corrected at some point by someone who thinks that his or her pronunciation is the correct one. We suggest that you listen to their reasoning, compare it to what you already know, and in the end choose what works for you.   If you have any additions or corrections to the PaganPath Pronunciation guide, please contact Friday here.  Happy wording!

Altar

No sound, just a reminder that alter (with the E) means to change and altar (with an A) is the table used in magic and rituals.

Arcana & Arcanum

Arcana means secrets or mysteries (plural) and arcanum means a secret or mystery (singular). The High Priestess is a Major arcanum, or a card found in the major arcana.
arcana
arcanum

Athame

The ritual knife used by Witches, Wiccans and many Pagans. Often black handled, the * below indicates the most popular current pronunciation.
ATHuhmay*
uhTHAMMY
uhTHAMay
ATHuhme
uhTHAYme
uhTHAWmay
AUTHuhmay

Besom

A broom, especially one made of twigs or other natural or traditional materials. , see also the article Besom Briefs here on PaganPath.

Boline

A knife used as a functional tool such as to carve sigils into candles or other items. Often white handled. Sometimes with a curved blade particularly if used to harvest herbs.

Brighid or Brigid

brighid
brigid2

Celtic

Coven

Sometimes capitalized, especially when referring to a specific coven rather than a specific coven. Sounds like or

Deasil & Deosil

Clockwise, also called "sunwise" or "to the right".  Deosil is the most common spelling, but deasil is probably more correct.  Also sometimes appears as deiseil, deocil or deiseal.

Esbat

The full moon celebration.  Some Pagans also celebrate esbats on the new moon.

Leanan sídhe

A beautiful female in Celtic folklore.

Sidhe

Known as the fairy folk of Irish folklore:

Tarot

A set of cards (usually 78) used for divination, fortune-telling and games.  The last T is silent:

Undine

A water spirit or nymph.

Unguent

A type of ointment or balm - see the online Herbalism Class (Ointments & Balms lesson) for more details, this recording went a bit wacky but includes both the U.S. and Brittish pronunciations.

Widdershins

Counterclockwise or anti-clockwise, also sometimes weddersinnes or widersinnes. widdershins.mp3&autostart=0&autoreplay=0&showtime=1" />

Sabbat

A religious festival.  The actual Sabbat dates, number of Sabbats in a year, and Sabbat activities all vary among traditions and individuals.  Most Wiccans and neo-Pagans follow the Sabbats outlined in the basic Wheel of the Year: An introduction to the basic Sabbats   The following are the most frequently referred to Sabbats here on PaganPath.com:

1. Beltane

A summertime "greater" Sabbat on the Wheel of the Year also known as Bealtaine, Bealltain and Walpurgisnacht. 

- Bealtaine & Bealltain

Beltane may also be spelled Bealtaine or Bealtain and has additional pronunciations. and and

- Walpurgisnacht

Another name for this summertime "greater" Sabbat

2. Eostre & Ostara

The spring or vernal equinox Sabbat on the Wheel of the Year

eostre
eostre2
ostara
ostara2

3. Imbolc, Imbolg & Oimelc

A springtime (or late winter) "greater" Sabbat on the Wheel of the Year or sometimes

4. Litha

Midsummer Solstice Sabbat on the Wheel of the Year

5. Lammas

A harvest Sabbat on the Wheel of the Year. It falls after the Summer Solstice (Midsummer) and before the Autumnal Equinox (Mabon) also known as First Harvest and:

- Lughnasadh

Another name for the first harvest Sabbat

- Lunasa

And yet another name for the first harvest Sabbat

6. Mabon

The fall, or Autumnal Equinox Sabbat on the Wheel of the Year

7. Samhain

A "greater" Sabbat and harvest festival falling between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice. or or or

8. Yule

The Winter Solstice Sabbat on the Wheel of the Year

References & Resources

Formerly a Premium Members Only selection of PaganPath, this pronunciation guide has been updated, expanded and made available to the public for our 17 year anniversary celebration. Previously all recordings were in .wav format and ranged from 15KB-34KB each.  The new mp3 format is more universal, higher in quality and smaller in size.  Updated regularly to include new definitions and mp3 audio tracks for new words.  Last updated: February 2015.

Pagan Path Sabbats Wheel of the YearThere are eight Sabbats in the Wiccan year, and most Witches celebrate these eight holidays.  Some Pagan paths celebrate different holidays, but these are the most frequently celebrated and widely accepted.

Four "Greater" and four "Lesser". Of the four "Lesser" Sabbats, two are Equinoxes and two are Solstices. Greater and Lesser are terms we will explore later but for now just remember that "Lesser" doesn't mean it is less important and "Greater" doesn't mean it is more important.

This article is an excerpt from the PaganPath Academy course: Witchcraft & Wicca - Finding Your Path. Full enrollment in the Academy with access to this entire class and many others is available at the bottom of this page.

Because some of them correspond to Equinoxes and Solstices, the dates may vary from year to year. Also, some Witches celebrate Sabbats on slightly different dates. This is a brief introduction to the Sabbats and you will study each of them individually in lessons after midterm exams.

Most Sabbat celebrations involve casting a circle or creating sacred space. Within this space a solitary practitioner may honor and celebrate the season, the Earth, Nature, the cycles of life, deity and more in his or her own way. Covens usually have dancing, music, feasting (in the circle with "cakes and ale" or after the main ritual in a casual manner), re-enacting of myths or other divine dramas and much more.

Sabbat celebrations are just that, celebrations! It is important to set aside these times to do something special - to stop and smell the flowers if you will. You will find that doing so will energize you, particularly if you are able to perform any type of ritual, or part of a ritual, outdoors. Eventually you will come to the point that you can feel a Sabbat drawing near.

Notice in the picture at the top of this page that when people in the Northern Hemisphere of the world are celebrating spring at the Beltane, Pagans in the Southern Hemisphere are celebrating the harvest at Samhain. Look at the opposite side of the Wheel for any Sabbat to see which Sabbat is being celebrated in the other Hemisphere.

Moving clockwise (deosil) around the Wheel above, Samhain is the first Sabbat we will discuss. It is the beginning of the Wheel of the Year and is considered the "New Year" for many Witches. Some alternative names for this Sabbat are: Hallowmas, New Year, Shadowfest, Martinmas, Summer's End, All Hallow Eve, Samhuin, etc. For some Witches, this is the third and final harvest, and for many Witches it is a time to honor and celebrate ancestors. This is a Greater Sabbat and is called a "cross quarter" because it falls about midway between an equinox and a solstice. The "veil between the worlds" is thought to be thin at this time.

Yule is also considered the New Year by some Witches, but less frequently than Samhain is. Being the Winter solstice, this is the shortest day of the year. This is a Lesser Sabbat (which doesn't mean it is less important!). Some alternative names for this Sabbat are: Mondranacht, Yule, Yuletide, Alban Arthan, New Year, etc.. A major theme of this Sabbat is the rebirth of the Sun.

Imbolc brings an increase in warmth, the waxing of the light of the Sun and for some Pagans the first stirrings of spring. Some alternative names for this Sabbat are: Imbolg, Oimelg, Feast of Lights, Candlemas, Imbollgc Brigantia, Lupercus, Lupercalia, Feast of Pan, etc.. Falling about midway between the solstice and the equinox, this is one of the four Greater Sabbats or "cross quarters".

Ostara is the Vernal or Spring Equinox and is also called Eostre, Ostara, Oestara, Lady Day, Alban Eiler, Oester, etc.. It is a time of rebirth within the Earth. As an equinox, this is a Lesser Sabbat.

Beltane is a Greater Sabbat, falling between the equinox and the solstice. As with Samhain, the "veil between the worlds" is thought to be thin at this time. This is the first day of Summer and Earth is full of fertility and growth. Some alternative names for this Sabbat are: Walpurgisnacht, Beltain, Beltaine, Bealtinne, Walburga, Festival of Tana, May Eve, May Day-May 1st, Rood Day, Roodmas, Eve of St. Walburga's Day, etc.

Midsummer is the Summer Solstice. The shortest night of the year, this Sabbat is a celebration of the Sun at its peak and the warmth of the Earth. A very energetic time and traditionally a time for all types of spells and magic this Sabbat is also known as Midsummer, Litha, Alban Hefin, etc. Like Yule, this Solstice is a Lesser Sabbat.

Lammas is a time of harvest as the bounty of the earth is reaching maturity. For some Pagans it is the first of three harvest Sabbats. Also known as: First Harvest, Lughnasadh, Lughnassad, Cornucopia, Thingtide, Eve of Lady Day, Lady Day, etc. Falling between the Solstice and the Equinox this is one of the four Greater Sabbats.

Mabon is the second of three harvest celebrations for some Witches. It is a Lesser Sabbat being the Autumnal Equinox. Alternatively known as: Autumn Equinox, Winter Finding, Alban Elfed, etc. Celebrations of the harvest dominate this Sabbat.

Look closely at the Wheel of the Year at the top of this page and mark the Sabbats on your calendar so you know when they are coming up. Be sure to go outside on the Sabbat days and sense the energies around you. Make a few notes in your Book of Shadows regarding your thought, feelings, observations and the seasonal energy. You will use these notes later to construct your own special Sabbat celebrations.

Not everyone follows the eight Sabbats.  Some Pagan traditions only celebrate six festivals, others have four or even twelve.  As you travel your path you may discover that your Wheel is different than the one presented here.  Click on the images below to view a variety of Wheel of the Year interpretations.

Wheel of the Year

Assignment:

  1. Please take a moment to review (link to sound)the Sound Files in the PaganPath Library. You will find audio files to help you pronounce the various Sabbat names and other words used in the Craft.
  2. Try making your own Wheel of the Year.  You may click on the images below to enlarge them, then right click to print as a template for your own Wheel, or do an internet search for other images, or try freehand without a template. The Members' Exclusives area contains several fonts you might find helpful for creating your Wheel or your Book of Shadows.  Look under the little gears icon at the top of the page after you login.

This article is an excerpt from the PaganPath Academy course: Witchcraft & Wicca - Finding Your Path. Full enrollment in the Academy with access to this entire class and many others is available by sending $25 in yearly Membership dues below.  You will have immediate access to all Academy courses.

Any Notes or Comments to Add?

Your daily altar may be simple or ornate as you wish.Tools, Special Touches & Covert Operations

At this point in the class, you may feel that you do not have a clear understanding of what you actually "do" as a Witch.  We've covered much of the linear information about Witchcraft and Wicca; an intro to the elements, the tools, a potpourri of views of deity (some not classically Wiccan), and how to pronounce some Witchy words.  You have even learned how to work with energy, visualize and focus.

However, from this section forward, you will be using your own intuition more frequently as we delve into many of the personal and intimate areas of your Pagan path.

It is important that you take with you from this class, a sense of understanding of Witchcraft and Wicca, but it is much more important that you find firm footing on your chosen path. You may find from your studies that a certain tradition of Wicca appeals to you, or you may choose to delve into other magical or spiritual traditions instead.

Overall, we emphasis a focus on Youism. If you are Pat, then practice Patism, if you are Sam, practice Samism. Law enforcement personnel and news reporters know that if you interview twenty people who have witnessed the same event, you will hear twenty different stories. Individuals must walk their own path and interpret their own spirituality.

Now that the midterm exam is behind you, you will be bringing many of the topics we've covered to life as you begin your own practice.  In this section, you will be creating your own altar or rethinking your current altar.

This article is an excerpt from the PaganPath Academy course: Witchcraft & Wicca - Finding Your Path. Full enrollment in the Academy with access to this entire class and many others is available here.

As you begin to practice, and as you complete future assignments, you may encounter what is sometimes referred to as The Mysteries. We cannot create these encounters for you in mere words on virtual paper, but we can nudge you into the circumstances where they occur for many open individuals.

It is important, now more than ever, that you write down your experiences and feelings in a notebook or your Book of Shadows.

So as we transition from basic, linear studies to hands-on experiences, here's a memorable quote:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.Theodore Roosevelt

What does Votive mean?

Votive: offered or performed in gratitude, thanks or devotion, or  to fulfill a vow.... expressing a vow, desire, or wish. You may have seen votive candles, which are usually short fat candles, they derive their name from this word because they are often used in religious ceremonies.

The altar you will be creating for this lesson is a personal daily votive altar.  On this altar, you can place a symbol or representation of deity. It can be indoors or outdoors, it can be the same altar you will later use for Esbats, Sabbats and magical rites, it can be a shelf, a flat rock, a box, a window ledge, etc. Traditional Altar design and layouts are covered in later lessons.

Your daily votive altar need not be an obvious altar to others, it is simply where you will perform a daily ritual observance, thanks, dedication, and/or asking. More on this later but for now try to think about what you will use for your daily altar, and what tools, if any, you will place on it.

Basically the 'rules' for your votive altar are:

1. Use what you have.
2. Use what works for you.
3. Use what you like.

No ancient Witch or shaman had access to the tools we do today. They used what they had. One saying in the Craft is, "If it works, use it" and your altar is the same way. If you like the costume jewelry shaped like a palm tree, if it has meaning for you and you feel it should go on your altar, use it! If you found a rock or shell outside and it 'speaks' to you, use it. Your altar tools do not need to be 'traditional'. These "special touches"are you, they make your altar personal and like you, they will constantly change throughout your life as a Witch.

This lesson is a very hands-on approach and takes the form of an assignment. Think about your connection with deity and how you will represent deity on your altar. In the lesson entitled "There's a Deity on My Altar!" you thought about what you would use to represent Deity on your own altar. It is customary to place this representation on your votive altar if you wish. 

Honoring deity or forces beyond yourself and within yourself, in the Earth and the universe, and feeling your connection to those forces is one of the primary goals of your daily ritual observance at your votive altar.

Your Votive Altar!One of Friday's first Athame

It is time to create, or re-evaluate your altar. It is best to start with a bare minimum of tools and create an altar that is aesthetically pleasing to you. Some people go all out in full regalia with every tool we've covered, plus bells to clear the air (or to send out energy, or to signal coven members of events in a circle, etc.) stones for various purposes, herbal mixtures, and more. Some practitioners who lean towards ceremonial magic will sometimes use an aspergillum. These are used in Catholic churches to sprinkle holy water, and look somewhat like a perforated tea ball on a stick. Brushes or bundles of herbs are sometimes used in a similar way to sprinkle consecrated water in a magic circle.

You've learned about the classic magical tools: Cup/Chalice, Wand/Staff, Athame/Sword and Pentacle, and you know about some of the primary tools such as the cauldron, besom etc. However these tools are not always utilized  by individual practitioners, particularly solitary Witches. As you become familiar with the tools and rituals, you may find that all you wish to have is an Athame, a cauldron, a broom, a candle, and a  pentacle or you may be perfectly happy with no tools at all.

It is not necessary to have an elaborate altar and there is much to be said for simplicity. Tools can be costly, and if you are in the "broom closet" with your beliefs, it is sometimes dangerous to have obvious tools out on an altar.

There are many types of altars....the piano top filled with family photos is really a type of ancestral altar, the executive's desk with everything in a specific place is also a type of altar. Most people naturally create altars without realizing they are doing so. A small curio shelf with a vase of flowers and a bowl of potpourri can be commonplace in a home, but for a Witch, this could be an altar too.

Covert Operations:

College students, those with disapproving family members or friends, or those with a strong sense of privacy may wish to keep their daily votive altar under cover.

Your personal altar doesn't need to take up extra space or be obvious.The small box pictured to the left is only about 2 1/4 inches (6cm) tall and measures 5 1/2 inches (14.5cm) by 4 inches (10cm). In the lid is a meditational image from "The Power Deck" by Lynn V. Andrews, although any image or tarot card would also be nice if this addition is desired.

The contents of this covert altar can be cushioned with a napkin, closed and bound with a rubber band and stuffed into a backpack or purse. (The magickal Caboodle®)

It is nice, but certainly not necessary to represent the four elements on your votive altar. A vase of roses and a candle on a shelf can easily represent the four elements, water in the vase, roses from the earth, fire in the flame and air in the fragrance of the candle and roses. As you can see this is a very intuitive and intimate altar. You may also wish to include seasonal representations such as a colorful autumn leaf, a daffodil bloom, an acorn, etc.

 

Assignment

Repetition is an important factor in this lesson. Through repeating the same ritual daily, you will be training your mind in order to achieve a ritual state of consciousness later on. It is important for you to adhere to this assignment throughout the remainder of this course.

Set up your votive altar. You don't have to spend any money on fancy tools, one of the most powerful rituals I've witnessed was in a hotel room with a foil ashtray for a censor, a plastic cup for a chalice and birthday candles!

At least once each day, and preferably at the same time each day, go to your votive altar. Think about Deity, the beauty of the sunrise, the power of the cycles of life, the joy in living, how grateful you are to be alive, the simplicity and complexity of a leaf, etc. Light a candle, or incense, or sip a cup of your favorite tea  (the same one each day) or coffee.

Whatever your ritual is, try to repeat the physical actions each day. Here's an example:

At sunrise Jim goes to his votive altar which faces an Eastward window, lights a candle and says "Hail Lady of the Moon, Hail Lord of the Sun" He then sips the cup of his favorite tea and observes the beauty of the sunrise, feeling thankful.

At sunset, Jim returns to his votive altar, lights the candle again, says "Hail Lady of the Moon, Hail Lord of the Sun" and then closes his eyes and recounts the lessons of the day.

Another example:

At noon Joan takes a lunch break from her job at the local grocery store. She brings a bottle of ginseng tea with her and carries an amethyst stone in her pocket. While outwardly she appears to be having a cigarette break, a close observer would notice that she closes her eyes, breathes deeply and regularly after her cigarette and pours a small amount of the tea on the ground before returning to work. Joan likes to hold the amethyst in her hand and do a grounding and centering visualization on her lunch break. After her mini-meditation, she simply says thank you and pours out a small libation of tea as a ritual of thanks and respect. Joan essentially carries her 'altar' with her.

Another example:

Before going to bed each night, Jared plays his favorite music CD and lights a stick of incense, reflecting on the events of his day. After sorting out the activities of the day and putting them in perspective, he says "Blessing are behind me, blessings are ahead of me, I am blessed."

Another example:

Ina draws a tarot card each morning and places it in the corner her bathroom mirror. While she takes a shower, she contemplates the card, the symbolism, and the possible meaning if any to her day. In her shower she uses a special rosemary shampoo for purification and blessings. (Add one drop of pure rosemary essential oil to each ounce of your favorite shampoo.) While showering she visualizes the water washing away psychic dirt as well as physical. Some days she says an impromptu thank you to her patron Goddess, other times she simply prepares herself mentally for her day.

This assignment may seem rather simple, set up a votive altar and practice a daily ritual observance, but it is the consistency of this ritual that is important. Later lessons will cover same state memory, morphogenetic fields and how rituals like this produce a road in you, much like tire tracks in your mind which lead to a ritual state.  Fragrance, sound, and other aspects of your daily ritual will become memory triggers.

Please note: If you are completing this class for purely academic reasons or simply out of curiosity, you may not be participating with assignments actively in your personal life. The aspects of this course which are covered from this lesson forward may seem trivial, or even silly if you are not actually immersing yourself in the assignments. To gain a real perspective of Wicca, it is recommended that you participate in the assignments. However, this of course is optional.

If you would like to share pictures of your votive altar in a Gallery of Altars, please email pictures to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

After you have set up your votive altar and decided on a daily ritual, keep practicing daily and making notes in your Book of Shadows or notebook.

References & Resources

This article is an excerpt from the PaganPath Academy course: Witchcraft & Wicca - Finding Your Path. Full enrollment in the Academy with access to this entire class and many others is available here.

Numbered references are sometimes used in the PaganPath Academy courses and other areas of the site. Please refer to the Site Bibliography to find the corresponding numbered reference material.

The References & Resources section contains links not on the PaganPath site. Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. you find so we can update them.

Sometimes it is necessary to keep your Pagan beliefs on the DLThis is area of PaganPath is for questions submitted by email.  Each week we will select a question from those we receive and publish Friday's response.  All private information will be removed of course, and anonymity preserved.  Questions are abbreviated and summarized to assist in maintaining privacy.  This week we have a question about living in the broomcloset, and how to handle conflicts about your Witchy or Pagan views when you are under 18 or are living in the same house with people who do not agree with your beliefs.

Question:

I live with my family and they do not like me studying Witchcraft.  Every time I bring up the subject of Paganism or magic they shut me down.  How can I practice my beliefs and how can I share how happy my path makes me?

Response:

Did you know that the word occult comes from the Latin occultus?  There are many reasons for Pagans and Witches to be discrete.  We must often live in the shadows and cannot be open with everyone.  Nor should we be!  This is not the path for everyone.

This is a tricky topic and I'll start with your later question, which is a bit easier to answer.  You ask how you can share how happy your path makes you.

Ask yourself why you wish to share this with them.  If it is to alleviate their fears, that is a great motive.  But look deeper and see if you also want to prove yourself or that your path is right for you.  You never need to prove this to others.  Sharing your path with them will not make them happy for you if they are afraid of that path.  They may believe you have been deceived, or that you are going through a phase.

Persistence and patience are the keys here.  Remain happy with your beliefs.  No one can get inside your head and take them from you.  But don't expect to share right now.  Show them how happy, balance and responsible you are through your attitude and actions.  It may be decades before they accept that your path is legitimate and that you are not being deceived.

Rather than sharing your fire (passion and enthusiasm), share your water.  By this I mean that even a mountain cannot stand in the way of water.  Rain and rivers will slowly wash a mountain into an ocean over time and with persistence.  Your fire will scare people so be gentle and persistent.

The first part of your question about how to practice your beliefs is clearly more challenging, and I don't think you my response is what you want to hear.

I've been through some tough times at home with my beliefs, and I can only offer my opinion born from my experiences.  Your parents deserve respect.

Yes, they really do.  Even if some days it doesn't seem they've earned it, they still deserve it.  If it helps, try to remember to treat others the way you wish to be treated.

This won't be a picinic, but think of your time at home as a test, like an initiation.  You are learning responsibility for others and respect for others.  The skills you learn now will pay off in future work, covens and personal relationships.  No one will ever believe exactly the way you do, and not everyone is going to like you or agree with you.  Learning to develop a community and to communicate is critical.

The skills of working with others of different beliefs (without scaring them and while staying true to yourself) is a challenge every Pagan and Witch will eventually tackle.  When you make it through this situation and have more independence, you will be far ahead of the game!

You can internalize much of your practice.  You don't need and altar and tools to meditate, pray or even work magick.  When you are in a deep alpha state as you drift off to sleep, you can reinforce many of your thought forms to do energy work.  While you are walking to work or school you can praise nature around you.  Experiencing awe, wonder and joy at the beautiful world we live in is very much a type of celebration.  "All acts of love and pleasure are Her rituals."

You can also spend time doing research online or at libraries and bookstores.   Even if you cannot bring home a book about Witchcraft, Wicca or Modern Paganism, you can very likely study aromatherapy, herbs, gardening, physics, art, music, biology or any other subject.

Your studies now will also set you far ahead of your Pagan peers when you have more independence.  You will know which topics interest you, and you will find that they are all connected.  You may also discover your speciality early on!

Respect, responsibility, and good research skills are essential requirements for a Witch and you are in the best school to learn these things, home.  Don't expect to change your family overnight, and consider not changing them at all but accepting who they are right now.  Perhaps they will return the favor.

A Witch does not try to push people into agreeing with their beliefs, does not try to scare people or evoke negative reactions, and above all avoids lies and chooses honesty as much as possible.  It is the only honorable (if maybe more difficult) way.

Many blessings on your path.
~Friday

You may notice that both the question and response have been edited.  This is to preserve privacy and I apologize for any disjointed thoughts or incongruencies in writing that this causes. The responses to the letters to the editor will reflect my views. This is entirely appropriate as everyone has a different approach and there are few absolutes in the paranormal or Witchcraft.  Some of the responses may have been written without enough reflection on my part as I often reply to many dozens of email messages daily. Hence, the letters and responses are presented here for us all to learn from and share in each others' celebration of life. I have no technical qualifications as a professional counselor and simply offer an opinion (which may change even after I write my response).

The principles of belief are also know as the 13 Principles of Wiccan BeliefBack in 1974, from April 11th through the 14th, a group of about seventy-three Pagans and Witches of varying traditions came together in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  This Council of American Witches  disbanded later the same year, not officially, mostly due to busy lives for the members.  However, while they were convened they attempted to form a statement of common principles and definitions shared by Witches in order to dispel misinformation.  These principles have been incorporated into one or more editions of the U.S. Army handbook for chaplains.

Clicking on the picture above will enlarge the image I made for you so you can read it better, but if you have a good internet connection, you might also like to see the huge 212kb version here.

Here follows the introduction that accompanied the principles, this explains them better than we can, and the thirteen principles themselves.  Although most Witches embrace the Wiccan Rede, many embrace some of these as well.  Not every Pagan or Witch will agree with each of these principles, but many agree on at least a few.  Friday has included some comments in green italics and notations underlined like this. These comments of course are not part of the original principles, they are simply notations for study or for fellow trivia freaks.

Introduction:

In seeking to be inclusive, we do not wish to open ourselves to the destruction of our group by those on self-serving power trips, or to philosophies and practices contradictory to those principles. In seeking to exclude those whose ways are contradictory to ours, we do not want to deny participation with us to any who are sincerely interested in our knowledge and beliefs, regardless of race, color, sex, age, national or cultural origins or sexual preference.

Principles of Belief:

Also known as the Thirteen Principles of Wiccan Belief or The 13 Principles of Belief.

  1. We practice rites to attune ourselves with the natural rhythm of life forces marked by the phases of the Moon and the seasonal Quarters and Cross Quarters.  Usually in the form of Sabbat and Esbat celebrations.

  2. We recognize that our intelligence gives us a unique responsibility toward our environment.  We seek to live in harmony with Nature, in ecological balance offering fulfillment to life and consciousness within an evolutionary concept.

  3. We acknowledge a depth of power far greater than that apparent to the average person.  Because it is far greater than ordinary it is sometimes called "supernatural", but we see it as lying within that which is naturally potential to all.

  4. We conceive of the Creative Power in the universe as manifesting through polarity-as masculine and feminine-and that this same Creative Power lies in all people, and functions through the interaction of the masculine and feminine. We value neither (gender) above the other, knowing each to be supportive to the other. This next section of #4 is often omitted in recent copies, partly because of residual puritanical beliefs in the public and in some modern Witches, and partly because it is often misunderstood:  We value sex as pleasure, as the symbol and embodiment of life, and as one of the sources of energies used in magickal practice and religious worship.

  5. We recognize both outer worlds and inner, of psychological, worlds sometimes known as the Spiritual World, the Collective Unconscious, Inner Planes, etc.-and we see in the inter-action of these two dimensions the basis for paranormal phenomena and magickal exercises.  We neglect neither dimension for the other, seeing both as necessary for our fulfillment.

  6. We do not recognize any authoritarian hierarchy, but do honor those who teach, respect those who share their greater knowledge and wisdom, and acknowledge those who have courageously given of themselves in leadership.

  7. We see religion, magick and wisdom in living as being united in the way one views the world and lives within it-a world view and philosophy of life which we identify as Witchcraft-the Wiccan Way.

  8. Calling oneself "Witch" does not make a Witch-but neither does heredity itself, nor the collecting of titles, degrees and initiations.  A Witch seeks to control the forces within her/himself that make life possible in order to live wisely and will without harm to other and in harmony with Nature.

  9. We believe in the affirmation and fulfillment of life in a continuation of evolution and development of consciousness giving meaning to the Universe we know and our personal role within it.

  10. Our only animosity towards Christianity, or toward any other religion or philosophy of life, is to the extent that its institutions have claimed to be "the only way" and have sought to deny freedom to others and to suppress other ways of religious practice and belief.

  11. As American Witches, we are not threatened by debates on the history of the Craft, the origins of various terms, the legitimacy of various aspects of different traditions.  We are concerned with our present and our future.

  12. We do not accept the concept of absolute evil, nor do we worship any entity known as "Satan" or "the Devil", as defined by Christian tradition. We do not seek power through the suffering of others, nor accept that personal benefit can be derived only by denial to another.

  13. We believe that we should seek within Nature that which is contributory to our health and well-being.

References & Resources:

  • Further reading into the basic principles and beliefs of modern Witches and Wiccan can best be found through the Covenant of the Goddess.   They have summarized a good press release style synopsis here.

 

Working magick, spells and rituals of celebrations can be wonderful and powerful or filled with pain and resentment.It is easy to avoid some of the common problems encountered when working with others in a group, such as a partnership, trio or coven.  Of course you will come across your own challenges in each coven, but this article will help you stay away from the big rocks in your path.

Your partner or coven is your family, but as a Witch, you do get to decide who your family is!  This page reviews some of the frequent problems you may encounter when working with others.  The first part of this page has a few tips for working in covens, the second part of this page covers some of the obstacles for working partnerships and teacher/student relationships.

Coven and Group Dynamics:

The traditional coven of thirteen members may need to be updated or downscaled.  Common problems in many circles are infighting, gossip, back stabbing and the like, or in the most extreme, Magickal Wars..  To lessen, or even prevent these situations, incorporate the latest research in group dynamics into your coven.

It has been proven that groups with a maximum membership of seven to eleven people will work together more closely, with fewer sub-groups forming.  Sub-groups can cause broken links in communication, as well as jealousy among members who are not in those "cliques".

The study of group dynamics can be essential to a balanced and working coven. If you are considering joining a coven, or if you are already a part of one, check out the links and books in the References & Resources section at the end of this article. 

Problems can also appear when two coven members begin working closely with each other (see the "Partnership Dynamics" section below).  The problems associated with this situation can be lessened with feedback discussion groups. Schedule regular sessions with all coven members so they can report their latest workings (not necessarily private individual workings, usually only partnership workings).

It is necessary to know where the coven's energy is going, and these sessions should help.  The sessions will also help the partners improve their workings, and give other members new ideas.  A good side effect is that any partner who is getting out of line with their ego or control issues will be kept in check by having to share what they've been up to.  Try to promote a feeling of oneness with all coven members at these sessions.  A good way to do this is to write down a summary of the outer-coven workings in the Book of Shadows (if one is kept).

Below are some some questions from PaganPath Members:

Member:
I am a male but the coven I'm considering joining is totally comprised of females, is this okay? What kinds of problems will this cause?

Friday:
If everyone is in agreement of your membership, and communication remains open, there shouldn't be any problems. Read the tips on this page and remember that you are very strong and secure with your identity to consider joining this coven.  Congratulations!

Member:
My partner and I have been in the same coven but are now separated/divorced/broken up.  How do I deal with the anger and pain?

Friday:
I can certainly understand the difficulties that this situation would evoke!  Your anger and confusion may be mundane, but it is natural!  Don't stay in an overly stressful situation because you think that an "ascended" person wouldn't have any problems and because it is supposed to teach you something.  Sometimes what you are learning is how to be true to yourself.

Here is something that might help.  Ask yourself what the coven really means to you.  Write it down if this helps in your analysis.  Be honest with your answers as you are the only one who ever needs to see them.

These questions may get you started, but keep going from there...

  • Does the coven provide emotional support under any or all circumstances?  Is that important to you?
  • Are you able to really focus on magickal workings and spiritual development with your X around you at this time?  Or do you need some time away?
  • Is the coven boosting your self esteem?  or boosting egos, yours and/or others.
  • What kind of growth has occurred because of your involvement with the coven. . . this includes growth within you, in others, and the community at large. . . what kind of growth can you foresee in the near future if things continue as they have been. . . what kind of growth can you foresee in the more distant future?

Basically it boils down to this. . .

  • If you are still having your needs met by the coven (any needs that you wish. . . social, spiritual, etc. ) and are still contributing to the coven in some way to keep an equally balanced exchange of energy,
  • and if you feel that if something happened to any of the members, you would help them in every way that you could, and if anything happened to you they would go all out to help you (not just magickally),
  • and these exchanges would be without any expectations of returned favors, would be without members sapping energy or using one another, without members trying to change you or force you into even worse situations, then stay!
  • If not, consider moving on.  That sounds really brutal, but why spend your time, energy and psyche contributing to a situation that does not follow the perfect love and perfect trust needs of a coven?  Your coven is your family, but as a Witch, you do get to decide who your family is!
Ok, there's my 2 cents worth, you can take this with a grain of salt, it is only one opinion, but I hope it helps.

Partnership dynamics:

All too often we hear these words, "Help, I'm falling in love with my magickal partner. . . how did this happen. . . what do I do?"  Why does this happen with such frequency?  The answers are many depending on the people involved and the situations that arise, but here are a few suggestions that will help to guard against major mishaps when working with a partner or teacher.

Before you commit to working with a partner, teacher or mentor: 

When you decide to work closely with a person in magick or any other aspect of the Craft, consider all the ramifications:

  • You will be creating a bond between yourselves that is not easily broken.  This connection may encompass many levels; spiritual, psychological, and magickal.  Make sure that this person is worthy of being so closely tied to you and that you are not getting involved with this person for less than honorable reasons (such as to get sex).
  • Each person brings with them to the union, their entire personalities; egos, insecurities, talents, ideas, spirit, etc.  When exposed to magickal or spiritual teachings, people began to change.  Personality aspects are often brought to the surface or amplified.  This may be to enable the practitioners to better analyze, develop or change their traits.  So, if you are working with someone who has control issues for example, verify to yourself that you can hold your own if this person goes beyond your personal boundries and attempts to control you or to have "power over" you.

Before working with a partner or teacher, ask yourself some questions:

  • What does this person really want?
  • What do I want from this person?
  • Does this person know her/himself well enough to be a partner or to teach without ego-tripping?
  • Is this person's life in a constant state of chaos?  If so, is that chaos self perpetuated?
  • Will this person be your teacher, mentor, or high priest/ess?  If so, do they expect you to be a servile subject, or an equal participant?
  • Does this person carry many titles?  If so, what are they, how did they get them, what do they mean, and are they thrown in everyone's face for self-glorification purposes?

Okay, it's too late for all of that, you're already sexually attracted to your magickal partner:

If you find that your working partner or coven member is appearing in your sexual fantasies, it is certainly time to question your relationship.  This is an early, and clear warning sign that something is not as it seems.  There are many possibilities for this occurrence, try to narrow it down.

Is this person sending you sexually charged energy intentionally?  Are you willingly placing this person in your fantasies - without putting up a barrier so the energy is not sent out to them?  Have you had many problems in relationships because of the misinterpretation of concern and caring?  (Meaning, can you be friends with someone who could qualify as a sexual partner? or Do you reciprocate feelings of friendship and love with an expression of your sexuality?)

Is this person holding something over you. . . such as, placing themselves above you and telling you how quickly you can "advance" in the Craft.  If so, is this done with your consent or is the person supposed to be on equal ground with you?  In other words, are they boosting your ego to draw you into their web of control?

When you work with another person magickally and spiritually, deep bonds develop.  Open communication is critical at this time, and generally it is best to hold off on acting on sexual feelings until everyone is clear as to what is happening.  It is easy to get deeply hurt, and spiritually and psychologically damaged when sex enters into the relationship for the wrong reasons.  That said, there are many deeply committed relationships that come out of situations where people are connected spiritually and magickally.  Don't be afraid, just be very cautious, communicate openly and question everything including yourself.

References & Resources:

If you find any of the links in this section do not work, please contact us so we can fix them.  Thank you.

Also if you are in a coven, discussion group, class, etc. or are considering joining one, be sure to check out the most recent version of The Advanced Bonewits' Cult Danger Evaluation Frame.

Pictures of PaganPath Members' altars, and altar setup examples from the Academy course lessons provide a wide variety of creative ideas for setting up your own altar.  These are some beautiful devotional and functional altars!

Most recently submitted pictures appear first.  If you sent in a picture of your altar, please wait a few days for it to appear.  You receive 100 PaganPath points for very picture you send in that we use.  These points can be used for entering drawings for free Premium Membership and Academy enrollment, or for free items in the PaganPath Shop.  Click on an image to begin the gallery view.

"My altar... is nothing special but it works for me and that's what matters the most right?"

Aniera Marie's Altar

"My altar... is nothing special but it works for me and that's what matters the most right?"

This is an older picture. The basics remain the same, but the little details change from season to season (both seasons of the year and seasons of my life) This is an older picture. The basics remain the same, but the little details change from season to season (both seasons of the year and seasons of my life) Zanna's Altar 1

This is an older picture. The basics remain the same, but the little details change from season to season (both seasons of the year and seasons of my life)

Zanna's Altar 2

This is an older picture. The basics remain the same, but the little details change from season to season (both seasons of the year and seasons of my life)

This is a shameful photo of my altar, just put it down to a shaky crone's hand, bad lighting and a cheap camera. Around the altar paten, I have the corresponding crystals to each day of the week, and my paten is always loaded with crystals as well, unless I'm performing magick. My totem animals are the cat and the owl and my daughter, when in school had made me a cat figurine which I keep on the Goddess side, I still have not found an owl I like. Funnily enough, I have just rearranged my entire altar area this week but have no photos as of yet, but will post later as I'm quite proud of how it came out since I live in such a small flat.

Ahladita's Altar

This is a shameful photo of my altar, just put it down to a shaky crone's hand, bad lighting and a cheap camera. Around the altar paten, I have the corresponding crystals to each day of the week, and my paten is always loaded with crystals as well, unless I'm performing magick. My totem animals are the cat and the owl and my daughter, when in school had made me a cat figurine which I keep on the Goddess side, I still have not found an owl I like. Funnily enough, I have just rearranged my entire altar area this week but have no photos as of yet, but will post later as I'm quite proud of how it came out since I live in such a small flat.  

The second photo is my "faery altar" sort-of. My garden is a bit shambolic at the moment but I dedicate the area to the fae.Ahladita's Outdoor Altar

"The second photo is my "faery altar" sort-of. My garden is a bit shambolic at the moment but I dedicate the area to the fae."

 

A formal altar belonging to a Wiccan

A Wiccan Altar

Details about this altar can be found in the Polarity 3 lesson of the Members' Witchcraft course in the PaganPath Academy

 A natural altar with earthy tools and symbolsA Natural Altar

Details about this altar can be found in the Polarity 3 lesson of the Members' Witchcraft course in the PaganPath Academy.

An altar dedicated a triple Goddess in her three phases of maiden mother crone

Triple Goddess Altar

The stone on the black cushion is a double geode that forms the shape of a round Goddess.  Like Her, the geode contains a mystery within as it has never been "cracked".  See Polarity 4 lesson in the Witchcraft course in the Academy for more details.

 

Friday's Altar for Herbalism and essential oils

Herbalism Altar

Details about this altar can be found in the Polarity 3 lesson of the Members' Witchcraft course in the PaganPath Academy.

Minimalistic Altars can be a simple arrangement of traditional magickal tools

 Minimalist Altar

Details about this altar can be found in the Polarity 4 lesson of the Members' Witchcraft course in the PaganPath Academy.

 

Brenna's Altar

Brenna's Altar

Enigma's Altar

Enigma Mystic's Altar 

An altar representing the elements.

Elemental Altar

Representing the four elements with altar tools and a tarot deck.

Found Colorado AltarOutdoor Altar

Altars are sometimes made with objects found nearby. This altar and ritual area was found by Friday near a stream in a remote area of the Colorado mountains circa 1994.

I have some red dirt from the Garden of the Gods (Colorado) that I put in my little earth holder.  I will be returning it to the Garden this June! -BlackCatt

BlackCatt's Altar

"I have some red dirt from the Garden of the Gods (Colorado) that I put in my little earth holder. I will be returning it to the Garden this June!"

Friday's Altar

This is where I do psychic readings. The pentacle is a piece of marble left from a sculptor who used to live on a commune I belonged to. It was being used as a stepping stone and I had it cut, polished, and engraved. The chalice is ceramic and has acorns and oak leaf cut outs on the stem. The sand timer/hour glass is what I use to time my readings. To the left of the pentacle is a dish of water, to the right a dish of salt. On this particular day, the representation of Goddess is a crystal quartz sphere on the left. The representation of the God is the quartz crystal cluster on the right.

In the back you can see my wand, it is just a lighly sanded stick I found in Colorado the same day I discovered the altar in the "Alternative Altars" article. The pine cones are still attached to it in a very traditional and phallic manner. The athame on the right has been retired since this picture was taken.

The small round sphere next to the candle holder is a round box patterned after medieval herb boxes. There is a small silver spoon just in front of it, barely visible. The box holds resin incense for the charcoal in the cauldron. I don't know why the charcoal appears blue in the photo. In the lower right hand corner are a few candles I use for various purposes, green, yellow, red, blue and purple. In the lower left hand corner are my two standard tarot decks, the Hanson Roberts, and the Hudes. I consider this my "linear" altar because it is where I work.

My more intuitive and creative altars are usually in the garden and are made from terra cotta pots or rocks. This altar table is quarter sawn oak from around 1800 which I refinised. It used to be nearly black! On the curved legs of the table (not visible) are carved quills which I think are appropriate for the writing I do here.

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