[Ivy's Pentacles]


"That's funny, you don't look 'Wiccan.'"

[who me?]

That's partially 'cause I'm not, but let's move on.

I'm a Pagan. If you want a name for what I practice, you'd probably say I'm a kitchen witch, with some influence from various Pagan religions, including Wicca. But I'm not Wiccan in the least; contrary to many people's beliefs, Wicca is a very specific type of religion, while my practice of the Craft is mostly based on folk traditions with some more modern things thrown in. Wicca is based on old religions, but it is a practice that was invented in the mid-1900s; it is not an ancient and mystical religion that was hidden throughout "The Burning Times" and revived again in full when it was safe. If you want a more complete idea of how Wicca came to be, you can read my bit on history, but for purposes of this page, I'd just like to say that I prefer to practice something with roots that go a little further back than Wicca's do.

Much of the content on this page is actually not what I practice, although most of it is something I have at least tried and always understand in theory. I have moved away from most traditional aspects of the Craft, and still offer stuff on this site as a resource for others but don't necessarily follow any given system or belief listed here. Bottom line is, I'm under the Pagan umbrella because I think nature is the most sacred thing there is (even though "sacred" is a loaded word), and I like to connect with my past and my present and my environment through observation, symbolism, and seasonal practices. I love old traditions, mythology, and archetypes, and I think human consciousness is one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. But even though I know a lot about Wicca and Witchcraft, MOST of it is stuff I don't believe in or practice myself. I am an extraordinarily practical Pagan, who needs proof and empirical observation in order to "believe in" something (and at that point it's really not an issue of believing in anything because it is obvious). I don't do "faith." That said, I find even those aspects of Paganism that I do not practice myself very interesting, and you'll find a lot of that information on my pages.

Some of what I practice would be considered Witchcraft. It in itself is not a religion, it's more of an activity, but I practice aspects of it. I believe that spells and their ilk can be effective ways of tapping into our potential; even if a spell does nothing but trick you into thinking something's on your side, it does have positive effect. Being of a scientific mind as well as a somewhat whimsical one, I know that much of the magical world is psychologically-based. But it is also true that I believe in the ability of human consciousness to leave its mark, because I've experienced it. When mankind has revered a certain herb or gem for ages as being able to have an effect, just knowing that boosts its power for me, not to even mention any actual physical effects it might or might not have.

So, I'm a Pagan, and I practice some Witchcraft, and I construct rituals. Mostly rituals that acknowledge and pay tribute to the movement of time through the seasons. I pay homage to the symbols of God and Goddess, but I only believe in Them as forces, as archetypes; I don't believe in Them as entities or people that can be prayed to. Their influence, as male and female complements to the fertile world I recognize, can be appreciated and sometimes controlled, and that is the purpose of my rituals. I also really enjoy studying the four elements--Earth, Air, Fire, and Water--even though I know that there are a lot more than four "elements" on the periodic table and that Water is two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. Their significance is archetypal and symbolic to me, and it is very interesting and inspiring.

I also engage in furtherance and development of various mental faculties, as part of my study of the Craft. I use meditation, visualization techniques, and various other studies to sharpen and improve my abilities, mundane and not-so-mundane. I've had a fair amount of experiences that have showed me personally that humans don't give themselves enough credit as far as how much control we have over various aspects of our lives. We don't know completely what we're capable of, and part of my ongoing discovery is to help expand my horizons.

Why am I Pagan? Well, I am a somewhat ritualistic person (as long as it's a ritual *I* created, not someone else's idea). This belief system allows for that. I am a pretty individualistic person, and this is allowed also. Finally, I am a very loving person, and these practices provide a channel for my love.

How and why did I begin my studies, you wonder? Well, I wasn't looking for anything, honestly. A lot of people "need" religion or a life philosophy to have something to live for and something to make them feel spiritually fulfilled, but before I started practicing I really already felt very happy. I wondered what it was about myself that made me so contented with everything and finally decided that no matter what happened I *really liked* being me. I had somehow become the person I'd always intended to be. So why light candles and chant? Unlike a lot of people, I wasn't looking for what I could get out of it, but what I could give. There would just be times when I would be outside and I'd think WOW, I'm living here in this magnificent time and in this magnificent place, and I'm so lucky, and I'm so happy. And I'd have this overwhelming urge to somehow give back to the world.

That probably sounds pretty sappy to a lot of people, but those who know me have probably seen that it's true; I'm happy even when most people wouldn't be, and I have a lot of energy. Sometimes life just slaps me sideways and I wake up for a moment and gaze into the eyes of reality and catch my breath. And to tell you the truth, I have no idea why I suddenly decided to start learning about the Craft because of this. I honestly don't know where the connection came in. All I know is, one day I found that I'd been wanting to know for a while. So the research began.

I visited a couple of Web sites that confused me (part of the reason I'm making this one), and picked up a book or two, but mostly I ended up outside taking notice of things I hadn't noticed before. I watched the moon and I looked at some little ants and stuff. I found out about a girl named Opal who found extreme beauty in everything in nature and wrote a neat little book called The Fairyland Around Us. I found a piece of wood and contemplated it. I realized that even these "alternative" faiths were nevertheless prescribed belief systems, no more allowing for individual thought than any of the well-known patriarchal religions, and I knew I couldn't abide by them just in the name of the parts I did agree with.

[pine needle pentacle]

At one point on the Internet I realized that there was SO MUCH to learn and I was overwhelmed, so I tried to forget about it. But the interest was still there and I realized it always had been, just not in this form. Like most kids, when I was little I liked to pretend I was a fairy or something magical, and though I quit jumping off my bed wearing cardboard wings I never really grew out of the idea that I wanted to be part of the magic of the world. I wanted to take the magic of childhood into adulthood in a mature fashion, not "grow out of it." This doesn't mean "keep believing in spontaneous wish-granting and see yourself at the center of some giant plan/purpose"--it means being childlike and not childish. Learning about the Craft was really a way to be part of that "enchantedness," the magic that's in everyone but rarely gets to come out. Because the Pagan concept of deity includes the idea that the divinity is inside us, it is easy to begin to become familiar with it . . . "God" is not hard to know because we only need to begin to know ourselves.

For some people, that's difficult! I'm a little more sure of who I am than most, I think (not trying to sound arrogant) because I know what I love, I don't feel a need to define myself through employment (I'm going to work to keep alive so I can live, not work for a living), and I really don't have issues with myself. But I think that exploring oneself is really a big part of the Craft, and so I continue to do it . . . and I find that even though I'm happy and I feel complete, I always find ways to make life even better, for myself and others. It's all pretty amazing. When I was a little kid, a girl came up to me on the playground and told me I didn't believe in God because I didn't accept Jesus. I told her that in our Bible (The Old Testament), it said that the Jews were the chosen people, and I believed in the God that said that. She didn't understand and left me alone, but later on in childhood I had a similar experience with another little girl. She said that her Bible said you had to accept Jesus to go to Heaven, and I thought that was silly, since it was obvious in our Bible that we didn't have to do any such thing and they were the ones that were wrong. I realized around that time that everyone must have a book that said they were the only ones who were right, and that was when I refused to go to Hebrew school anymore--I couldn't accept being a part of something that didn't accept anyone else's view as possibly valid. Several years later I began studying mythology and meditation and actually cast a few circles without ever reading about Witchcraft or knowing how close to using spellcraft and ritual I really was. So when I began researching Witchcraft, I was amazed to find I had been vaguely on the path for years and just hadn't called it that--and I picked it up and began pursuing it in a more organized and somewhat traditional fashion.

I believe in what I do because of the awe and wonder I so often feel at being part of this world. This helps me think about it more often, get in touch with it on a more regular basis, acknowledge the bigger picture that I am a part of. I don't use it as a crutch or something to pull me through my hard times . . . it is something that makes me appreciate life and not fear every turn.

If you are interested in hearing more about my beliefs in a more general fashion (not so much focused on how it compares with other Pagan beliefs), you might try my beliefs page, for starters. You can read some of my writing at the writing page, or search for a couple of religion-specific rants right here. More information about me in general can be found in my autobiography and of course my mega-giant main page.

Go back to Ivy's Pentacles