January 27, 2006


Recently finished The Circle Within, by Diane Sylvan (which I recommend, by the way, as an excellent book regarding the practical importance and spiritual significance of cultivating a daily practice of devotion within witchcraft that moves beyond spells and other such psychic work). In one of the final chapters, Sylvan discusses the initiation as a turning point in an individual's life. She points out that such initiations are invitations to the Divine to change our lives, and that this is often seen not just on the emotional or spiritual levels, but in our very mundane, day-to-day lives as well. Following her initiation into Wicca, her life fell completely apart, as did several others she knew after their own respective initiations. This is the only book on witchcraft I've read that ever made mention of the profound impact a spiritual change can effect in our lives.

And, thinking back, I find that it may very well be true for me, too. I began pursuing the path of witchcraft a year ago this past October, making an agreement with myself that I would leave off the pursuit at any time if I felt it was proving less than fruitful or helpful for my spiritual growth. There would be no formal commitment for a year and a day, during which time I would be able to study and explore without worrying about being an official "witch." The year and a day of "training" passed and, with so many new things going on in my life (new city, new apartment, new job, new school) I did not make any effort to formalize my commitment or initiate myself into this new phase of my life as a Christian witch. I told myself that I would consider it more carefully when I had more time and that there was no rush. And though this is true, I wonder if my own previous agreement ended up serving as an unofficial self-initiation, since the terms of having merely stuck with the studying for the given time period may have served as enough.

In any case, right around October of this past year, my life began to fall apart, majorly. For many reasons, I decided to leave the Masters program I had entered and give myself time to decide what I really wanted to do with my life. Shortly after this decision, my then-boyfriend and I decided to end our romantic relationship of almost three years, though we stayed friends and flatmates; he moved into the second bedroom and we re-organized the apartment to better suit a platonic-friendship arrangement. Then, just before Christmas, my pet rat who had been sick for about a month finally passed away. There seemed to be loss after loss in my life, and I felt utterly confused about what to do next. And yet, beneath it all the pain and confusion, there was a secret knowledge that I could not articulate but that gave me comfort. It is true that the Divine does not throw at us more than we can handle--usually just more than we think we can handle.

I began to find, within these losses, unlooked-for opportunities. With the master bedroom all to myself now, I was able to arrange an entire corner of the room as an altar/area of worship--a space not hidden away inside a closet, but out in the open and beautifully arranged, so that each time I enter that room or wake up in the morning, my heart gives a little leap to see the beautiful arrangement of space that has an almost feng-shui flow and gentle pooling to it, as if the body as well as the eye is naturally drawn to the quiet, dedicated space. Although I still greatly miss my pet rat, Mud, his brother, Gossamer, is much less fretful and anxious now that the two of them are not fighting each other all the time; he has become easier to care for and more affectionate, a true companion. And without classes dominating my days off from work, not only is the prospect of waitressing for long hours at a time not so daunting, but I have recently begun work on a book-length project which is a joy to work on, so that I look forward to days off with energy and enthusiasm instead of exhaustion and anxiety.

I'm sure many people would argue that nothing in your external life has to change after an initiation. Perhaps they don't want to scare people off who might be afraid of such a huge change... But I am reminded of the demands made on the initial followers of Jesus, to cast aside their livelihoods, to put down their nets so that they might become "fishers of men," to sell all they owned and follow him... These are big risks, but they are necessary. We must make room in our lives for the Divine to enter in--and if we invite Her in, we must be prepared for Her to demand some elbow room and space to stretch Her legs.

Now, the only thing that remains is for me to formalize the initiation that has already forcefully made space in my life for me to better pursue this path. My plans are still in the works, but I think I will rededicate myself on this up-coming Candlemas (remembering it with fondness as the first real holiday I celebrated as a witch), and then celebrate the (hopeful) completion of my book-in-progress along with my birthday on the Summer Solstice by finally getting that tattoo I've been wanting for almost two years now. And we shall see if the Divine has had Her way with me enough, or if She will insist on even more space cleared for Her to move even further into my already welcoming heart.


At 28.1.06, Blogger Mary E said...

Wow, Ali! What a gift for me to read this entry! thanks for the book reference. it sounds like what I need to read now. I don't want to read do-it-yourself witchcraft books......I feel so grounded since I decided on the witch path....like I have finally come home. I like your description of life's changes, I know things are in store for me also, I can feel it running underneath like a melting stream.
Mary E


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