Power Without Tripping Over It
from Volute's Personal BOS 1986
are many Books of Shadows that have charts of correspondence tables
to tell you when to work a spell, what color of candle to use for
every situation, and which invocations to use. There is no need
for this type of reiteration. Much of Craft writing and teaching
discusses what technical knowledge is required to be a 'first, second
or third degree initiate' or how to work a spell. However, these
are simply presentations of technique. Without an understanding
of what it takes to find, develop and use power, technique is just
decoration. Decorating your house doesn't help if you never clean
your house in the first place.
is power in Witchcraft. This power is a drawing card that attracts
all kinds of people with all types of motives. Finding a book, a
teacher, or a mentor that is clear and honest can be a challenging
task. The quest for power can be an honorable one, but all too frequently
there are people who claim to be a "Grand High Elder of the So &
So Tradition" or say that they are a "Third Degree High Priest/ess
of The High & Mighty Coven". Too many of these people have missed
the point. In the quest for power, they have in turn created that
which they may have been trying to escape in the first place. The
only difference may be that this time they are at the top of the
and labels in the Craft are numerous. There are now "non-Wiccan
Witches", "Green Eclectic Kitchen Witches" and even "Ceremonial
Magick Witches". It would be convenient to be able to describe our
beliefs in a handful of words, but why place spirituality into little
compartments? Following in the footsteps of others can often be
an easier route, but many these paths may not lead to real power.
These narrow compartments can get cramped and often lead to some
shameful practices such as public notices of banishment from a tradition,
or a higher up telling another covener what God/dess is 'appropriate'
for them to worship at their "level". Unfortunately in quest for
power, some have found that ruling over others and dictating what
is "correct and true" for others is easier than finding their own
Book of Shadows proposes that you make your own path. If you are
Suzy, create Suzyism, if you are Tom, create Tomism. A Witch finds
his or her own path to power because that power is very individualistic.
This unusual Book of Shadows may provide a general road map to finding
your own path. The best teacher you will ever have is YOU! If you
read a hundred books and extract from them only a few ideas that
are meaningful to you, you're well on your way. Witchcraft is not
an easy path. There are times that it is lonely, confusing, and
is tempting at times to find a coven to join. But spirituality is
so individualistic, that it is difficult to find others who share
your views and style. Many people then are tempted to create their
own coven or tradition and teach others their own style and views
so they have others to share with. Often, these people have no power
and are either using the power of their "underlings" or are seeking
confirmation that their path is valid. Rather than forming a coven,
it can sometimes be preferable to surround yourself with loving
people who will help you out when you need it. Covens are wonderful
social structures, but why work magick and worship with people you
don't know love enough or know well enough that you would marry
any one of them or call them family? Besides,
until you have found your own power, you cannot offer anything genuine
to a coven and would simply be another warm body.
is not my intention to present here any dogma which is to be strictly
adhered to in fear of repercussions on any level. By reading through
this book, experimenting, studying, researching, practicing and
otherwise applying your entire being to the pursuit of knowledge
(self-knowledge, people-knowledge, world-knowledge, spiritual-knowledge,
etc.) you will be undertaking an initiation on your own path.
is a process of change, it doesn't occur instantly during an arcane
rite. For many, it takes over a year to even begin the internal
changes that are often necessary for initiation. Hence the traditional
"year and a day" will be suggested here as a base time line for
practical and traditional purposes. Within a year of the application
of your energy to the pursuit of knowledge you will notice many
transformations in your self. Sometimes newcomers are all too anxious
to be initiated. This is understandable however a dedication ritual
might be more appropriate. Dedicating yourself to a "year and a
day" of study will help you to find your own power and determine
if Witchcraft truly is the path that is right for you.
ideas presented in this book may evoke a variety of responses. Some
of them will be immediate, such as doubt, confusion, inspiration,
curiosity, boredom, anger, and on and on. Some of the responses
may be more subtle. Intellectual analysis of this text may stir
responses such as curiosity or skepticism on a cerebral or mental
level. Internal changes however, often evoke the powerful reactions
of the emotions such as fear, hope, joy, anger, rejection, inspiration
etc. Through all of these responses, it is hoped that there is something
within this work that speaks to the One Who Knows... that spark
of divine in all of us, our inner child, our inner bell of truth,
our subconscious, the aspect inside of each of us that is connected
to the All. Perhaps
this work will arouse that inner voice from a long sleep in this
mundane world, or, if that voice is already heard, it may give it
leave to speak up more frequently, or with greater clarity.
to take the first step down this path is confusing. You may have
to contend with external forces in our society (anti-Craft propaganda,
peers, modern societal attitudes, etc.) and you will certainly have
to address the forces within yourself that will resist these changes.
These internal forces are often manifestations of prior religious
upbringing, fear of knowing yourself and accepting yourself, low
an excellent starting point, there is one basic guideline that should
be kept in mind before anything else. (nope, not the Witches' Rede!)
Be true to yourself! This first guideline can be one that is difficult
to apply on a personal level. If you are trying to gain self-knowledge
and feel that what you are doing is wrong in some way, you must
question whether your mind has put up a wall of resistance to change
or whether you are doing something that is truly wrong for you.
Because you will be questioning everything at this point, it is
hard to find your sense of security and stability. This forces you
to draw strength from within yourself and find the power within
you, but it can also be like groping in the dark if you are having
trouble finding that strength. If your self-esteem has been low
for many years, if you've never trusted yourself and your thoughts,
then you must be careful to know that "being true to yourself" is
not the same as being true to your old patterns.
guideline of 'Be true to yourself" is also difficult to follow when
we are faced with our own fears, egos, and insecurities. It is easy
to think that we are being true to ourselves, acting for the good
of all, or for what is best, when, from another perspective, we
are being selfish or power hungry.
example, imagine that a Witch who is rather new to the Craft is
invited to teach a small group of people interested in Wicca. We
will name him Jack. Now Jack found a great deal out about himself
by using an herbal concoction he had made. After a few weeks of
teaching the basics, Jack is motivated to speed the progress of
his students by administering this herbal brew to them. His justifications
to himself for doing this were to help his students. But was Jack
being true to himself? Was he being honest with himself? Did he
wish to bolster his ego by being an expert teacher? Were his actions
really the best for all involved? Were the students ready or willing
to 'advance' that quickly or by such means? Or was Jack being motivated
by a need to flaunt his herbal knowledge or have his powers acknowledged?
true to yourself at first may mean questioning even your own actions,
not simply questioning your old beliefs and teachings. It is also
a difficult guideline to apply when you are venturing out on a path
that is so persecuted that it is considered "evil" by much of society.
At the same time you are trying to open up to new ideas, you are
faced with information (from people books, etc.) that is misguiding,
is provided with duplicitous motives, or is just plain misinformation.
These 'attacks' can make you defensive which makes it even harder
to remain true to yourself because you are closed off.
two things to remember that will assist you in following
the first guideline of "Being true to yourself" are:
Keep asking questions, even of yourself, check your motives, other
peoples' motives, question those things you assumed were true that
you were taught, question the new materials you read in the Craft,
question why you are draw to the Craft in the first place.
If you become confused about your motives, other peoples' motives,
etc. and aren't sure which direction you should go to be true to
yourself, then try to step away from the situation. "Ground" yourself,
take deep breaths, write down the situation in your Book of Shadows,
try some form of divination to shed light on the situation. Then,
when you make your choice, write it down in the Book of Shadows
again. If you've made a mistake, you can go back and learn from
it, if you didn't make a mistake, you can go back to remember how
you brought yourself out of the confusion.
now that the first guideline is clear, where do we begin in the
Craft, especially in the practice of magic? The next guideline is
called the Wiccan Rede. There are many versions of this, here's
the long and the short of it: An' it harm none, do as you will.
the longer version:
the Wiccan (Witches) law we must, In
Perfect Love and Perfect Trust. Eight Words the Wiccan Rede fulfill(s),
ĆAn it harm none, do as (what) ye will. Lest in thy self-defense
it be, Ever mind the rule of three. Follow this with mind and heart,
And merry meet and merry part.
are those who would argue that the ideas presented here are not
that of Wicca, Witchcraft, The Craft, The Old Religion, etc. However,
in my studies I have discovered that there is no TRUE and RIGHT
form of Witchcraft. It is a religion without orthodoxy or dogmatic
doctrine. There are only a few guidelines, however, if you intend
to call yourself a Witch, it is honorable to abide by at least some
of the few widely accepted (but not holy writ) tenets of the path.
Every tradition is only a derivative of many elements, refined and
distilled into a living spiritual path. No differentiation is made
here between Wicca and Witchcraft as it is felt to be unnecessary.
Some will disagree with this, however nearly every aspect of the
Craft could be argued into the ground until it no longer existed.
Perhaps this is exactly what some who promote these arguments would
desire. We will not participate in such self defeating battles.
then, could be considered yet another tradition, though it is more
of an approach. It is presented here for you to draw from, in whatever
way you wish. In order to find a clear path, sometimes you have
to abandon the ones made by those who have gone before you and make
your own. Doing so presents more challenges, as there are no guideposts,
no safety catches of a coven or priest/priestess. With only the
divine within yourself to guide you, how can you tell if you are
deluding yourself or being directed by fear, hate, insecurity, lust
for power, need for love, and desire for control? This is the doom
of many of the Self-initiated then, to succumb to those aspects
of humanity that create disharmony and lack of ecstasy, but it doesn't
have to be you're pitfall. Following the Wiccan Rede is, again,
a good place to start. At the same time, some self-initiated Witches
who follow individual paths are spared the issues of repeating mistakes
made by so many others, and often make more progress than they would
have if they'd followed a traditional path.
order to maintain balance within yourself while walking this path,
it is necessary to toggle between diligent research and intuitive
practice. Lets look at Witchcraft for a moment as an artist would.
An artist must study and practice the traditional techniques of
art in order to have a base line of knowledge. Their natural talents
and this traditional training will help their art to become better.
However, their art is not truly wonderful until they make it their
own and move forward with it. A popular saying among many artists
is, "You must know the rules of your art in order to break them."
Another example would be to look at Witchcraft as you would your
health. You wouldn't just eat what you wanted and label it 'healthy'
without a base line of knowledge. Researching nutrition and health
provides a base line of knowledge. Your research may uncover information
that is incorrect or misleading, but it will ground your ideas.
the final step is to LISTEN to your body, your inner voice, and
take it from there.
gain a base line of knowledge, a Witch must be willing to spend
the time to do the research, and spend the energy to listen to their
inner voice. There is much knowledge to be gained in books. In them
you can read of the signpost that others have seen on their paths,
you can be warned of their pitfalls, but only you can know of your
own. I present to you, the reader, and perhaps initiate, this book,
to help you discover how to get in touch with that inner guide who
will assist you down your own, individual path. My personal experiences
will echo throughout this work, but are not meant to be a hindrance
or a guide to you, simply an example. The path you discover on your
own may be the only true one for you. Here is just one path in a
universal web of spiraling paths that all lead to the center, and
all lead out, expanding and contracting to make a complete whole,
the All of life, death, and all forms of energy and it's exchange.
is difficult to express in such a static form as the written word,
a concept that is living and moving, always evolving, forever in
flux. This work could never come close to representing Witchcraft
as a whole, for Witchcraft is the All. Therefore, this shall represent
the fraction of the All that is my understanding at this time. I'm
quite sure that as I progress through these pages, many changes
shall come about, as is the nature of the Craft, energy, and life
itself. However, this is only a representation, a symbol for us
to look at, to analyze, to take apart and reconstruct until it is
known to us and is nearly a part of our psyches, then, perhaps it
will trigger that gateway to the all, open us to understanding,
not just the symbol, but our own places in it and our own personal
truths. This work may lead you to your inner One Who Knows. This
work is an initiation....
mind, once expanded to a new idea, can rarely return to its previous
quote represents the only true "EVIL" in the Craft. For example,
if you didn't know the truth about something like, the dangers of
tobacco smoking, you could live your entire life enjoying a peaceful
cigarette now and then. Once you know the truth, it is difficult
to enjoy that cigarette with the same pleasure. This can be applied
to many areas of the Craft. Seeking truth in yourself and in the
world is an essential aspect of many traditions. Ignorance may truly
be bliss, but a Witch recognizes that "knowledge is power", and
generally chooses the later.
Volute's site at www.paganpath.com