My path to Wicca

Sunday, April 5, 2015

By Matthew Pellegrini

The circle is cast, and we are “in a place that is not a place, and a time that is not a time.”

The energy in the circle of robed, chanting witches is overwhelming.

I stand among them.

The gods and goddess enter in the bodies of our elder witches. Their presence is incredibly dramatic and powerful.

One of the gods begins to lecture us. During the conversation, one god shows off his godlike qualities when he says, “I am sorry that you humans need evidence.”

Later, the other god tells us that we are being lazy with our spiritual work. But then he says, “It is not my job to reprimand you, as I have just done.”

Several years ago, I never saw myself committing to a specific religion. I certainly never thought I would devote a large amount of time to spiritual practices, such as Wicca.

Wicca is a pagan religion in which practitioners often believe in many gods, branching out into the deities of many ancient religions.

It focuses on an initiatory path, which means that it requires a great deal of work and commitment from me, even though I am a novice.

I was raised Catholic and attended a Catholic school for a few years. Before high school, I never questioned the initially unperceivable.

Once I began to question the divine, I resorted to logic and science.

Eventually, I may have told people I was agnostic, but that was a nice way of saying I really doubted the divine’s existence entirely.

It took a period of insanity to open up my mind to other realities.

In 2010, I met a woman at Clark University where I was studying at the time. She did not do anything but hang out with me, but I immediately fell for her.

I became paranoid, and thought that this woman put a love spell on me.    I was wrong, but the idea opened up my mind to other possibilities.

According to the Chambers 21st Century Dictionary, Magick is the “supposed art or practice of using power of supernatural forces, spells, etc. to affect people, objects and events.”

For the following months, I read books on magick, such as grimoires (books on magick, often working with spirits) and spellbooks. I wondered, how could so much literature exist if there was nothing real about the subject?

I was also intrigued by dark magick, meaning with practice, a witch can control people to do what he or she wanted. But I eventually began to believe that magick becomes unethical when too much control is involved.

My real fascination with magick began with the knowledge that when it was successful, there was real evidence of spiritual activity. For example, I once healed a swollen ankle overnight with energy healing. I focused my intention and will towards the injured area with the skills I had learned from reiki, and the next day it was healed.

Reiki is essentially a divine, healing energy that comes to the practitioner with training. It is one of the many kinds of things that Wiccans tend to perform.

I have had many successes while working with angels and other spirits, which is another kind of work many pagans perform. With this magick, I quit smoking, treated my ADD and anxiety, and made myself a better person.

While reading a book on the dead, I attempted to use willing spirits to rid me of my addiction to cigarettes. The next day I lit up a cigarette, and I only smoked half of it. I no longer wanted to smoke, and I have not smoked since.

I regularly work with an angel to help with my ADD. The first time I worked with this entity, I was able to sit and read for hours. It was a shock to me, because before then I struggled to even read books that I enjoyed.

Although my old self would have laughed at the idea of working at a spiritual shop, I eventually found a job in Philadelphia named Harry’s Occult Shop. I was trained in tarot cards and candle magick while there.

While giving tarot readings and dressing candles, I was able to help many customers. I was especially able to help those who were willing to keep an open mind.

It took a while for me to start believing in multiple gods, but when I did, I found Wicca.

Northern  Virginia Community College says that Wicca was founded in 1954 by Gerald B. Gardner.

Northern Virginia Community College also outlines the basics of Wiccan beliefs. It explains the Wiccan Rede: “An ye harm none, do what ye will.” It also explains the threefold law, in which karma returns to the witch three times over.

The Wiccan Rede and threefold law became essential parts of my beliefs.

Ohio State University’s Pagan Student Association explains that many Wiccans follow certain pantheons while working with gods, such as Greek or Norse. My coven (a group in which to study and worship) allows its members to choose whatever pantheons they want.

When I finally found a coven about a year ago, I was no longer alone. Not only was I not seen as a psychotic person, but I was viewed as talented

My new hobbies and beliefs were encouraged and supported. I found great friends.

There are multiple degrees that Wiccans in my group have to work though. Each requires a large amount of reading and spiritual development. The elder witches have certainly read each source and have a huge amount of experience and wisdom.

Essentially, the main prerequisite for becoming a Wiccan is adopting their beliefs and state of mind. Anyone can do this if inclined.

A typical ritual lasts under an hour, even though some have well exceeded that time. It starts with a meditation to enter a state of consciousness that is most appropriate to make a change in the universe.

Each ritual is led by my high priestess, the coven’s leader. Some other covens have high priests. Other than that, the only rankings are those earned by members who have done degree work.

My mother, who was raised Mennonite, was very skeptical when I told her I was a Wiccan. She was afraid I was joining a cult or some kind of harmful group of people. She eventually warmed up to the idea and today she even supports

it.    My spiritual changes rubbed off on my best friend, who was inspired and found his own kind of spiritual life. He is now heavily into work with meditations.

This particular evening, the gods and goddess continue to talk. One god tells us to scream and send negativity into the fire at the center of the circle.

We all yell and scream like mad people. I can see how this would scare some, but it makes me feel at home.

Then, at the end of the ritual, a god blesses us with the ability to call forth happiness during tough times.

Through Wicca, I have come to understand that the universe contains more than I can fathom in my tiny brain. The different planes of existence, in which spirits and the divine live, all interact with the physical world in ways too vast and complex to comprehend.

But I like to think I am getting there, and I understand more each day.

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