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the foundational basics


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#21 Blacksmith

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 05:44 AM

What are the foundational skills of witchcraft?


Open-mindedness and a willingness to be honest with yourself on the journey to find your path within witchcraft is, I think, the most important aspect of foundation. Not getting caught up in images and romantic ideas about the journey. Realizing that you may travel many paths on your journey to find truth, power, and knowledge of the how-to. Some have natural ability and this will set a personal foundation, while others must bridge-the-gap. I think many people chase too quickly the power and forget that witchcraft of any path is a wisdom tradition as well. I think witchcraft is a deeper personal journey than that which the mainstream person has the opportunity to experience. It is not like building a skill set in college. The skills are not the foundation. We are the foundation within ourselves. If we are strong, determined, and patient we will find our way to the skills along the journey. There is no determined place of beginning and there is no destination.

-- Blacksmith

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#22 Michele

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 01:42 PM

... I think many people chase too quickly the power and forget that witchcraft of any path is a wisdom tradition as well...
-- Blacksmith


Very much agree with that, and for me I would add spiritual tradition (as in a way of belief, and a way of seeing the world as a multiverse that most people don't recognize). I see so much concentration on spells and being a big-bad-powerful being, but very little intersst in the energies and/or spirit word itself. To work with that world one must know that world. And magic exists becuase of the interaction of the threads amd energies that run through ALL worlds. Perhaps it's just me, but to ignore that would leave my craft flat and bifurcated and one of my aims of the path is to be whole. As Jason who used to be on here once remarked (and I love this saying) "Witchraft is the Arte of Becoming Whole." For me it's seeing and existing in and working with and being a cognizant part of the inter-relatedness of all worlds.

M

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#23 Stacey

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 01:49 AM

For me the foundational basics is simply this:

Be willing to learn
Be willing to work

If you can't be either of those then there is no point in continuing on because you will never get anywhere.



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#24 sarasuperid

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 05:22 AM

While I agree with everyone, some of what is being offered is required characteristics, or attitudes (which are necessary!). Whereas I was thinking of crafts or skills that are important to a witch (a lot of those were mentioned too, thanks!).

Hmm...

The pentacle of thorns referenced above does seem a good frame work, although it doesn't list basic skills, but rather roles: herbalist, seer, spirit medium, mystic and magic user. I'd seen it before in Old Ways and I have seen other pentacles used in similar manners in Feri, but beyond what was introduced by RG, I think we could really expand upon it. I think underlying each of these roles is a few skills that are significant to witchcraft and they all intersect because the skills for each can be carried into the other roles.

Herbalist is a good one to start with, learning to identify plants and what do do with them is a very good foundation.
Seer, having some sort of divination or oracle or scrying skill. This may be tarot, a crystal ball, or even dream analysis--some skill for tapping into your intuition is key.
Spirit Medium, learning to contact otherworldy beings and interact with spirits beyond the ordinary reality of things. This one could be a simple as using a spirit board to start.
Mystic, reaching ecstatic and/or deep meditative states of trance where mysteries are revealed to you, this one can start with drumming, dancing, meditation, or any variety of mystical-shamanic practices
Magic user, well this one speaks for itself. But witches do magic, its a part of the deal--so doing some magic and getting good at it is part and parcel to the whole thing.

These are aspects that one could never stop learning--but as I have learned with other pentacle practices, balance is key. The well rounded witch probably touches on all these areas and then goes back to areas he/she is trailing in to bring them up to speed with the others at different points in her life. The length of stops at different points may vary, and some witches may substitute stone lore for herbalism or work with animals, etc, but that is easy enough to substitute.

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"A Craft, a calling, a set of Keys to unlock a particular cosmology that is borne, and born, in the blood of the practitioner, and sets the Work to be done with which one may commune with those who hold the patterns and keys of the life of the practitioner and hir stream. The Work is to be done, and we are to do it." --Aiseling the Bard

#25 Shadow Touch

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 03:08 PM

The pentacle of thorns referenced above does seem a good frame work, although it doesn't list basic skills, but rather roles: herbalist, seer, spirit medium, mystic and magic user. I'd seen it before in Old Ways and I have seen other pentacles used in similar manners in Feri, but beyond what was introduced by RG, I think we could really expand upon it. I think underlying each of these roles is a few skills that are significant to witchcraft and they all intersect because the skills for each can be carried into the other roles.

Herbalist is a good one to start with, learning to identify plants and what do do with them is a very good foundation.
Seer, having some sort of divination or oracle or scrying skill. This may be tarot, a crystal ball, or even dream analysis--some skill for tapping into your intuition is key.
Spirit Medium, learning to contact otherworldy beings and interact with spirits beyond the ordinary reality of things. This one could be a simple as using a spirit board to start.
Mystic, reaching ecstatic and/or deep meditative states of trance where mysteries are revealed to you, this one can start with drumming, dancing, meditation, or any variety of mystical-shamanic practices
Magic user, well this one speaks for itself. But witches do magic, its a part of the deal--so doing some magic and getting good at it is part and parcel to the whole thing.

These are aspects that one could never stop learning--but as I have learned with other pentacle practices, balance is key. The well rounded witch probably touches on all these areas and then goes back to areas he/she is trailing in to bring them up to speed with the others at different points in her life. The length of stops at different points may vary, and some witches may substitute stone lore for herbalism or work with animals, etc, but that is easy enough to substitute.


Yes, the categories are roles, but as noted in my earlier post the individual skills fall into subcategories under each role as I outlined them. I completely agree that balance is key, and without an internal balance, and one that permeates us from Nature, I think it would be difficult to have consistency in the effectiveness of our practices. Looking at the earliest writings about witches it's interesting to read about them calling upon the primal things for their magic - mountains, streams, lakes, forests as so on. The writings about Medea contain such evocations. Witches are also depicted as evoking Hecate. All of this strikes me as weaving together a balance of earthly and divine. That doesn't necessarily call for a religious connection but I think it does speak to something spiritual in nature.

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#26 Blacksmith

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Posted 27 December 2011 - 06:37 AM

In my path the first thing we learn is about the spirit world. We immediately begin our path with direct contact with the spirits. It is the higher spirits and the dead that guide us in the skills we need. Outside of this relationship we begin training early in divination so that we may know our path and be able to consult the spirits about our life's journey. Along with these we learn ritual cleansing. We first receive ritual cleansings, then we learn to perform these rituals for others at the appointed time. So, basically we learn to communicate with spirits that lead us and cleanse ourselves in preparation for further ritual work. (Ritual here not to be confused with ceremonial liturgy, but specifically pertaining to rituals such as "casting spells" to manifest change)

Through the process of learning from the spirits we begin to understand our specialties in witchcraft and sorcery. No one but the dead and higher spirits are permitted to determine for us our path. The path is more intuitive than learning from books or having an A-Z list of skills to learn. Some in my circle specialize only in divination, some in the magic of "love", while another specializes in herbal / energy medicines. One may be very proficient in some skills and completely deficient in others. I do not know of anyone that does not specialize that are authentic. This includes those I know in Makaya Vodou, Palo Mayombe, and Mexican brujeria (witchcraft).

I hope that is in some way helpful to you in your search.

-- Blacksmith

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#27 Grymdycche

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Posted 27 December 2011 - 10:36 PM

Know yourself. By this I mean your real self, the self that you try to keep from others. Your faults, weaknesses, fears and doubts.
As a witch of many years I can sometimes still get freaked out when spell I do works, I will question it , feel daft and inept at the way I sometimes deal with it .
But I know this is Spinneys way, it is how Spinney has and always will deal with every day life magical or mundane. I accept this and it has helped me no end.


This really resonated with me. I think it's much harder to do than it sounds on the surface. Getting to really know yourself can take a lifetime.
I was probably a teenager when I first heard this phrase, and thought it was the dumbest thing I'd ever heard.. "How can I not know myself? What does that even mean??"
Later on, as I matured, the profundity of this hit home. Knowing yourself requires one to be completely objective, truly open-minded, and brutally honest. Sometimes it requires experience too- you may have to be thrust into a certain situation to found out what you're made of. It's difficult to look from the outside in. On top of that, if you're constantly evolving and learning and experiencing, then you're also a moving target, so to speak. You might have gotten to know yourself only to have to reacquaint part of yourself ..with yourself.

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#28 CelticGypsy

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 10:04 PM

I'm not sure I could put a number attached to the foundation basics, the Path Walk only shows me the mileage I've been on, it's just vast.

I can offer my thought process though.

For me, its the final result whether its baneful or healing, is determined by the intention of the one who activates the force/energy and gives it direction. The force/energy needs or must be approached with the recognition and understanding of the difference between one or the other. Plus a great deal of respect for the force/energy. To be able to recognize, agree with, and abide by.

In Nature and ourselves there is a container of magic surpassing a process and potency which affect what is comming into being, what is in manifestation and whats going out of the physical realm or existance. Taking responsible actions in a non-egotistical way, to therefore respond correctly to a need or an issue.


Regards,
Gypsy

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#29 Whiterose

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 09:07 PM

CG, I like what you said. There are many skills that are considered basic for the path of the witch and I consider having an understanding of, and respect for natural flow one of the most basic. How can you work with the other worlds if you do not have an understanding and heathly respect for the flow of life and death in this one. How can you work with the dead if you have never seen death? How can you manipulate energy if you do not understand how it manifests, if you do not understand the flow? How can you work with anything if you do not understand and respect it? So, I think one of the most basic skill sets is the witch's ability to observe and listen. Everyone has the ability to do this, but most choose not to because it is easier. When you observe and listen you start to understand and when you understand you respect. When you understand and respect you then can affect changes that will last because you are not fighting the flow, you are in harmony with it. All the other stuff is just icing as a wise man once told me.
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#30 LdyShalott

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 11:36 PM

I think it's much harder to do than it sounds on the surface. Getting to really know yourself can take a lifetime............Knowing yourself requires one to be completely objective, truly open-minded, and brutally honest. Sometimes it requires experience too- you may have to be thrust into a certain situation to found out what you're made of. It's difficult to look from the outside in. On top of that, if you're constantly evolving and learning and experiencing, then you're also a moving target, so to speak. You might have gotten to know yourself only to have to reacquaint part of yourself ..with yourself.

Completely agree.. I long to be a continuous evolution of myself.. waking today to find I am not the same person as I was yesterday..


CG, I like what you said. There are many skills that are considered basic for the path of the witch and I consider having an understanding of, and respect for natural flow one of the most basic. How can you work with the other worlds if you do not have an understanding and heathly respect for the flow of life and death in this one. How can you work with the dead if you have never seen death? How can you manipulate energy if you do not understand how it manifests, if you do not understand the flow? How can you work with anything if you do not understand and respect it? So, I think one of the most basic skill sets is the witch's ability to observe and listen. Everyone has the ability to do this, but most choose not to because it is easier. When you observe and listen you start to understand and when you understand you respect. When you understand and respect you then can affect changes that will last because you are not fighting the flow, you are in harmony with it. All the other stuff is just icing as a wise man once told me.


These are wonderful musings Whiterose.. how can one say they work with or understand death energy if they have never experienced death, sat vigil with it... smelled it.. watched it overtake and silence a living thing.. or participated in the process of death.. separating fears and notions, opening to the decay and transition. So many are eager to study birth and life.. regeneration etc.. but decay , rot and death are avoided.. there are surges of energy that can be found no where else.. To me it is about learning to see objectively, experience what is before you, listen to the subtleties of all things and then process it within your own understanding.. realizing that said understanding will widen and evolve , deepen and heighten as you process each new thing and familiar things once again..

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Most witches don’t believe in gods. They know that the gods exist, of course. They even deal with them occasionally. But they don’t believe in them. They know them too well. It would be like believing in the postman.  T.P.

In order to understand the living.. you have to commune with the dead..
You are a tiny little soul carrying around a corpse.-- Epictetus
All experience is an arch wherethrough gleams that untravelled world whose margin fades for ever and for ever when I move.

 


#31 Scott

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Posted 01 January 2012 - 11:20 AM

Greetings All

What are the foundational skills of witchcraft?

Well all "this path" and "that path" aside ... here is a simpler view ...

Foundational Skills of Witchcraft form my point of view would be as follows:

Stubbornness
Inability to accept not getting one's way
Cussedly turning any stone to find ways and means
Vehemently following a lead
Single mindedly turning the tenuous into a solid way
Ignoring anything that doesn't conform to your success
Staggering under the weight of the world
Refusing to give up
Refusing to fail
Refusing to give up what you have clawed out of reality for your own ...

I know that is harsh and non mystical ... ok because I am feeling all fat and gift giving how about this version .. lol

This if from a text I worked up in 07 based on an old flyer I did up for a group way back in the 90's .... *BG* Enjoy!
The student may learn literally everything the Master can teach.

The final Operator should know how and when to:

Activate their “sight” and senses
They will learn to tell truth from lie.
They will learn to recognize friend from foe
They will learn to hear, to see, to smell, to taste and touch.
How to feel and not feel.
They will learn control and abandon – and when best to use both.
They will to self contemplate, second guess, meta-think, self express and realise
They will find their own true faith – to discover and use their true names and faces.
They will learn to recognize, understand and utilize the religions of others.
They will learn to know, to contact, to make use of and venerate their ancestors, their predecessors, their bloodline, their tradition and lineage.
They will learn how to know, to have congress with, summon and dismiss entities.
They will learn codes of conduct and recognition
They will learn to see the past, see through the present and divine the future.
They will learn how to make use of ritual structure.
They will learn how to apply spell work to themselves, to others and to groups that they may encounter or create.
They will learn how to make the best use of all of the same.
They will learn how to make that which they need to achieve their goals.
They will learn what tools they will need and how best to use them.
They will learn how to interpret and utilise the passing of time and it’s specific times.
They will learn the planets and their meanings and uses.
They will learn the sun and the phases of the moon.
The directions of the winds the virtues of day and night and the times in between.
They will learn to know the worlds of stones, of flowers, of herbs, of animals, of talismans and fetishes, of spirits and humans.
Of numbers, of letters and words.
To heal, to ward and to weal.
They will learn to bless and curse to nurture and blight.
They will learn stories, myths, secrets and truths that are not available to the rest of the world.
They will learn of Pagans and Neo Pagans, of White and Black, of witches, wizards and magicians.
They will learn the way things are, the way they were and how to make them and unmake them into what is desired.

They will learn the Theories of Magic such as Temporal/Reality Engineering and Manipulation and their practice.
They will even study modern ideas and how to gauge the actions and desires of the mass of humanity by semiology, Character Analysis/Manipulation as well as Psychology.

And they will learn those things that are considered lost subjects.
They will learn joy and fear, love and hate. And they will learn the ways to undo them all if needs be.

The stakes are high, the chances are risky and retribution is severe but when it succeeds – it allows for a brighter and stronger future.

It is a great responsibility and one that should not be undertaken by any save those that hear the siren's call and cannot resist.

Subsisto

Scott

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#32 Jevne

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Posted 01 January 2012 - 12:49 PM

Greetings All


Well all "this path" and "that path" aside ... here is a simpler view ...

Subsisto

Scott



Absolutely amazing . . . BRAVO!!!!!!!

Jevne

P.S. Welcome Back!

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#33 sarasuperid

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Posted 01 January 2012 - 05:53 PM

Thank you very kindly Scott, that was a very thorough answer, and one I will come back to again I am sure, there is much there to unpack and examine.
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"A Craft, a calling, a set of Keys to unlock a particular cosmology that is borne, and born, in the blood of the practitioner, and sets the Work to be done with which one may commune with those who hold the patterns and keys of the life of the practitioner and hir stream. The Work is to be done, and we are to do it." --Aiseling the Bard

#34 Whiterose

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Posted 09 January 2012 - 11:09 PM

Completely agree.. I long to be a continuous evolution of myself.. waking today to find I am not the same person as I was yesterday..




These are wonderful musings Whiterose.. how can one say they work with or understand death energy if they have never experienced death, sat vigil with it... smelled it.. watched it overtake and silence a living thing.. or participated in the process of death.. separating fears and notions, opening to the decay and transition. So many are eager to study birth and life.. regeneration etc.. but decay , rot and death are avoided.. there are surges of energy that can be found no where else.. To me it is about learning to see objectively, experience what is before you, listen to the subtleties of all things and then process it within your own understanding.. realizing that said understanding will widen and evolve , deepen and heighten as you process each new thing and familiar things once again..



Thankyou ldy. I agree. Its like walking out in the woods and seeing the beauty and completeness in a rotting log teaming with insect and plant life. Its feeling the changes in the air when the world of the living goes dormant in the winter and death walks more freely. Its seeing an animal kill another to feed its young. There is a beauty in death because it supports life and life is only beautiful because of death. So to me, understanding these cycles is one of the fundementals of being a witch.

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#35 LdyShalott

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 12:50 AM

Greetings All

... here is a simpler view ...

Foundational Skills of Witchcraft form my point of view would be as follows:

Subsisto

Scott


Fantabulous and Excellent , Scott...

:handshake:

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Most witches don’t believe in gods. They know that the gods exist, of course. They even deal with them occasionally. But they don’t believe in them. They know them too well. It would be like believing in the postman.  T.P.

In order to understand the living.. you have to commune with the dead..
You are a tiny little soul carrying around a corpse.-- Epictetus
All experience is an arch wherethrough gleams that untravelled world whose margin fades for ever and for ever when I move.

 


#36 *Tabytha*

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 03:42 PM

What are the foundational skills of witchcraft?


Thank you for posting this Sara. I joined this community to learn about the Traditional Path and I have read these responses with relish!

What sound advise you all have to "newbies" like myself. Thank you. The comforting thing is that after reading these replies, I realise that the foundational basics that you have all mentioned are no different from my own ideas for what the basics characteristics or behavioural skills should be or are..

Herbalist is a good one to start with, learning to identify plants and what do do with them is a very good foundation.
Seer, having some sort of divination or oracle or scrying skill. This may be tarot, a crystal ball, or even dream analysis--some skill for tapping into your intuition is key.
Spirit Medium, learning to contact otherworldy beings and interact with spirits beyond the ordinary reality of things. This one could be a simple as using a spirit board to start.
Mystic, reaching ecstatic and/or deep meditative states of trance where mysteries are revealed to you, this one can start with drumming, dancing, meditation, or any variety of mystical-shamanic practices
Magic user, well this one speaks for itself. But witches do magic, its a part of the deal--so doing some magic and getting good at it is part and parcel to the whole thing..


These skills are also those that I had already assumed a witch on a traditional path should have under his/her belt.

Thank you once again for this most interest post.
X

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~ on the long winding path and enjoying every minute ~

#37 Guest_Gregori_*

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 11:54 PM

amen! :witch2:

Know yourself. By this I mean your real self, the self that you try to keep from others. Your faults, weaknesses, fears and doubts.
As a witch of many years I can sometimes still get freaked out when spell I do works, I will question it , feel daft and inept at the way I sometimes deal with it .
But I know this is Spinneys way, it is how Spinney has and always will deal with every day life magical or mundane. I accept this and it has helped me no end.

Be practical. By all means read whatever you want but don't expect to learn all from a book that proclaims to teach you how to be a witch. A good herbal, mushroom, tree, plant and wild animal guide (local of course) should be in your library. Gardening,self sufficiency, and even the Old Moore's Almanac will come in handy.

You are nature. You don't live along side of it. You don't need to get back to it . You are it.

Live it. This is who you are so do it. I think there a re far too many "witches" on line who need to actually log out and do some witchcraft.

These are my foundations because its all I know


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#38 Hawkgirl23

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 02:52 PM

I am so glad you posted this so bluntly about, "keeping our mouths shut". As I am new to the Craft, I can get very excited when learning new concepts, or crossing new boundries. I needed that reminder to keep myself in check.

I have also been focusing (and accepting), for the first time in my life, on getting to know who I AM not who I am suppose to be. I do regret it took me so long to acknowledge the natural inclination that I seem to have towards the Craft. I wish I would have explored any of this when I was younger, instead of fearing it.

Asile


I agree with the whole "keeping our mouths shut." To be silent about what we do is important as you don't know what people are going to do. I view witchcraft as a personal thing, not to be shared. I wanted to use the P word instead of personal but I can't seem to get my fingers to write the word. When I do anything these days, and I've done the keep the mouth shut thing for a couple of years, I don't tell people what I do. Especially with the fact that I'm still living at home with my mother due to total lack of money.

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#39 Evergreen47

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 06:48 PM

Well, I know that they aren't necessarily found in every tradition, and some view them as highly Wiccan, but I'm a big fan of the guidelines of the Witches' Pyramid.

To Know - as others have said, know yourself is definitely the most important. It's also important to know your craft and how things work (either through study or personal gnosis). Also, a rather important thing to know is when to act or when to hold back. So many times I think people new to the craft will jump in head first and think that they know it all. Real wisdom is knowing your limitations and knowing when you aren't ready. This isn't a competition and it's definitely not a sprint. It's a marathon. The goal, like Michele said, is not to become the biggest, badassiest witch on the block; the goal should be to refine yourself into the best version of yourself there is.

To Dare - along with not posturing as a "perfect" witch is the ability to take risks and not be afraid to fail from time to time. I could come up with the best spell in the world and if I don't try it, I will never know if it works or not. A witch needs to go out on that limb, fall down, and learn from his/her mistakes. My favorite author, Oscar Wilde, once said, "Experience is simply the name we give to our mistakes." If we don't try and fail, we will never learn.

To Will - This goes back to being able to raise and direct energy and also ties in with knowing your own fears and weaknesses. I can give a spell to any Joe Blow on the street and if they don't have the will to make it work, it won't. Too many times people can become ambivalent to the outcomes and just go through the motions. You need to MEAN IT! You have to WORK FOR IT! You must prove to the powers that be that you are here for real, not for show.

To Be Silent - This has all been covered. Remember, "Discretion is the better part of valor." - William Shakespeare, "Silence is a great source of strength." - Lao Tzu, and "The wise man believes profoundly in silence, the sign of a perfect equilibrium. Silence is the absolute poise or balance of body, mind, and spirit. The man who preserves his selfhood ever calm and unshaken by the storms of existence - not a leaf, as it were, astir on the tree, not a ripple upon the surface of the shinning pool - his, in the mind of the unlettered sage, is the ideal attitude and conduct of life. Silence is the cornerstone of character.”

-Ohiyesa (Charles Eastman)



I know that a lot of this had been covered before, but I wanted to add my .02.


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I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

-=Frank Herbert=-

 

Rock on, gold dust woman. Take your silver spoon and dig your grave.


#40 Hawkgirl23

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 12:04 PM

I also like this saying that I heard a couple of years ago. You don't set on your craft, you do it. I'm still working on the rest but heck I'm a Seeker and that's what Seekers do, seek out answers and hone their practice. Hope I got the spirit of this right as I really not that good at putting things down in words.
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