Larkie’s Library: “Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner” by Scott Cunningham

Finally read my first Scott Cunningham book this Summer and decided to go with the ever popular and always recommended “Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner” as my intro to his writings. Before I go any further with the review I’ll give a disclaimer that I am NOT Wiccan. My Pagan practice is eclectic and takes a few notes from Wicca (mostly the Wheel of the Year), but it is not very much related to the religion itself. With that being said, just remember that my review is coming from someone who is not involved in this specific practice.569e7bf3-ae55-4b49-99d6-a59c5c06bd0c
I can see the usefulness of this book as a beginner’s intro into Wicca specifically (not as a general Pagan book), but that’s about where it ends for me (which is fine, since it’s supposed to be introductory in a way). It is written based on Cunningham’s views on Wicca and his own beliefs, complete with examples of his craft, so it’s not super educational on the history of Wicca. It’s possible you could offer it to family or friends who don’t “get it” as a way to further explain what Wicca is for you, but that’s if you’re okay with some of the potentially embarrassing moments in the book, which I will get to next!

There’s a tiny bit of shade thrown at Christianity in the book, which may or may not upset more sensitive family if you do so choose to share this book with them. It’s not hateful, but it does come off a bit “this way is better” which isn’t necessarily true; the faith that speaks to you (if any) is the path that’s truly better for you and if Christianity is not it, that’s fine. My biggest issue with the book, as far as cringe-worthy notes go, is the woo-woo. Some of the things, or really examples, he claims are magic is so out there. For instance, claiming that rubbing your hands together really fast, then holding them apart and feeling a tingling is magic energy shooting from your palms. While, yes, the heat you’ve activated by rubbing your hands together is a form of energy, it’s not magic…this is simple physics. He also used an example of casting a spell to obtain the funds to pay your phone bill, but pretty much leaves it at “do this spell and the money will come eventually” whereas really you should focus intention and motivation to pay the bill, but still put work in to actually getting money to pay it (like saving up, selling items you don’t need, etc). That was just too much for me.

Other critiques I have are that I felt his section on the tools, while easy to understand, were too simple. Not much information on the history of the tools or anything. I also disagreed with his views on dark/black magic. He constantly talks about the duality of Wicca, but once light and dark are there, he kind of pushes dark away and claims it as a no-no for good Wiccans. There’s a saying I heard somewhere that goes “If you can’t hex, you can’t heal,” a much better example and embrace of duality, in my opinion. Now, I’m not saying you should bind, hex, and curse after every little slight you experience, but I don’t view dark/black magic as an ultimately bad thing either.

All-in-all it wasn’t a terrible book and I do see value in it for a beginner Wiccan, but I wouldn’t recommend it alone; it’s definitely not a text that stands on its own for Pagan study. I will be reading more by Cunningham eventually, as this book didn’t totally turn me off to him and I’m interested to read some more of his work.

Keep reading and learning, everyone. Blessed be!

~Larkie

 

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Lark’s Library: “Equal Rites” by Terry Pratchett (from the Discworld series)

Merry meet! It’s been over 8 months since my last post, turns out I was not finished with self-care, self-reflection, and general life craziness, but I’m back and starting out simple with a book post. Now, I finished this book last month, so it’s been awhile since I put it down, but I remember enough to be able to form a coherent, but quick review.
image“Equal Rites” is the third book written for the Discworld series. It is my absolute favorite book so far, which I know isn’t saying much since it’s only book 3 of 42 (or however many), but it is fantastic and an awesome read for those interested in feminist sic-fi/fantasy genre. It follows new characters this time: Granny Weatherwax (a witch) and a young girl named Eskarina Smith (the first-born/appointed female wizard). The “natural” law is that only women can be witches and only men can be wizards; a law that even Granny Weatherwax herself tries to strictly follow by attempting to train Eskarina in witchcraft to stave off the wizard powers, though you can tell she see’s silliness in it.
Eventually, she has to reveal the truth to Eskarina and decides the only way to best control her powers is by challenging the law and sending her to the Unseen University. They have adventures and arguments along the way of course and Granny Weatherwax goes from being a woman who accepts societal norms to one Hell of a badass feminist hero and challenges them in hopes to get Eskarina the education and training she has deserved since her birth essentially. It’s an easy and amusing read (as all of Pratchett’s works have been) and I enjoy the bits of patriarchy smashing that takes place. It’s obvious change doesn’t happen quickly or easily, but Eskarina seems like a strong and admirable character to trail blaze the way for future female wizards (and perhaps male witches).
Overall, I give the book high marks for being entertaining and readily applicable to issues we see today. Terry Pratchett seems like he was as true an ally as the feminist movement could have for the 80’s and a bit ahead of his time. I truly enjoyed this book and think many others would as well; highly recommend!

Side note: Since I’ve been away for more than half a year, I will try to get out another Larkie’s Library post that I really want to discuss and is very much of the Pagan/witchy variety. Until next time…merry part and blessed be!

~Lark

 

Building My Earth Body – Do Over

So I haven’t been great about my Earth body building practices this week. Earth is tied to the section of the Witch’s Pyramid called “To Be Silent/Secretive” which I think is important to remember. Part of the practice is to get out into the wilderness, take hikes, walks, garden, etc. I have not been taking time to do this much this week even with the holiday. We’ve been so busy and had a family illness (which is on the mend, thank goodness), but it hasn’t been the best week for this.

Another task is to practice choosing my words and opting to be silent more often than not. Basically, focusing on listening and only speaking when absolutely necessary. My job involves animal health and wellbeing, so that does require a lot of necessary verbal communication. However, at home I’ve been a chatty Kathy on mindless subjects that really don’t deserve or need that much discussion/attention.

So, starting Monday I will be redoing the Earth Body practice, which will be good. That’s why they call it practice, right? We all have our off weeks ::shrug:: Otherwise, I have continued my Fire practice of being active, my Water practice of increasing my water intake, and my Air practice of deep breathing, so I’ve at least got that down!

Until next time, blessed be!

Lark

Learning Patience by Writing My Grimoire

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So, as part of my air body practice I need to do something creative everyday to tap into my creative energy/use and improve my imagination. Today, I decided to put another page into my Grimoire as my “creative activity”. Past BoS/Grimoire’s I’ve had have been in 3 ring binders since it was easier to store and organize, but I’ve always desired a “real” witchy looking book to keep my correspondences, tarot readings, meditations, etc. and so I finally bought a leather, hand bound, unlined journal. It’s white with rough paper (kind of parchment looking) and thick so my pens don’t bleed through. I love it and felt connected to it from the moment I saw it.

My perfectionist (at times, not always!) nature is probably not the best combo with this type of book, so I’ve been very slow to add to it. I’ve only done my dedication page and Wheel of the Year, so today I decided to add my Moon Phases page. I mixed up my Crescent and Balsamic Moons and accidentally called my Gibbous a Crescent; ugh! It was so frustrating to cross out and rewrite those names, so I’m trying to avoid getting too stressed over it. It makes the book more authentic I suppose. Life is not perfection, so a handwritten book of any kind will not (and probably should not) be without a mistake or typo here and there. If anything it makes it more personal. More my own. So to relieve my anxiety and accept the mess up, I’m taking a page from Bob Ross’s book and changing my outlook on it. I should really practice this more often with other things in my life, because this has helped me get over this small thing.

Otherwise, this week of practice has been going very well and I’ve also been listening to a new (to me, not “new”) podcast called New World Witchery with hosts Cory and Laine. It’s really well done Pagan podcast that goes over folklore (primarily American-based or American, but with other influences) and covers different Pagan beliefs and even Catholic/Abrahamic beliefs and lore. I highly recommend checking them out.

That’s all for this update! Blessed be!

Lark

Building My Air Body

Last week’s Water Power Base practice went well and was actually perfect timing for understanding and meditating with my feelings, because it was a very stressful, frustrating, and depressing week. However, I completed my tasks and I’ve started remembering my dreams more, so I think it really helped.
This week, I am to focus on my Air body. Air is tied to imagination and creativity, so this week focuses on those aspects. My tasks are to continue recording my dreams each morning and then have a “stream of consciousness” where I write down everything I am thinking, everything that comes into my mind until I fill a whole page. I must also do deep breathing exercises/meditations and do something “creative” each day.

I really do feel like these practices have been helpful in making me more aware of myself, feel more in control of my energy, intentions, and emotions and I’m hoping this practice will inspire me to do a lot of the things I’ve been meaning to make time for, but keep excusing away (which the practice with my fire base will hopefully help with as well). To continue the influence of the fire and water body practices I will continue being active daily and consecrating my water and drinking more of it (I didn’t do well on the latter today, but I’ll do better tomorrow).

Hope everyone has a great day and if you are interested in practicing building your elemental base you can find these lessons at A Witch’s Primer Definitely start from the beginning if you can, it’s really great.

Until next week, blessed be!

Lark

Building My Water Body

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This week’s lesson from A Witch’s Primer involves building up my water body and focusing on the “Faith” portion of the Witches Pyramid. Water is seen to be more feminine vs fire which is seen to be more masculine. Therefore, it is viewed to be more connected to the inner self and being peaceful and in touch with one’s emotions and feelings. So this week, that is what I am tasked to focus on: my feelings, emotions, dreams, etc.

I am to perform daily tasks, just as I did with building my fire body, to help get in tune with the water power base. These tasks involve a lot of meditation and journaling. I must record my dreams, but not analyze, just write them down for now; same with my feelings at least once a day as well as meditate on them. Other things I need to remember are smaller, but just as important; things like increasing my water intake and blessing the water I drink at least once.
I look forward to this practice as I think it will help me understand a lot of the anxiety and stress that I have been feeling lately and maybe learn to control it better.

As far as the lesson plan for building my fire body from last week, I enjoyed it very much and think it went very well. I did fail to complete one of my 7 To-Do’s, but in retrospect, I think I was expecting too much from myself on that particular day. I was already really busy and the chosen activity to complete that day should have been obvious that I may not be able to get to it, but I’ve learned from it. Everything else was able to be achieved and at the end of the week I felt ready to start the next power base lesson plan. Of course, just because I’m moving on to the next power base doesn’t mean I should immediately stop all activity from the previous lesson, so I will be continuing the task of being active/exercising every day (which is easy since I pretty much already do this as I find exercise to be the best way to build and expend my energy).

So far I’m still really loving Ariel’s class and teaching style and I would recommend his podcast/class to any beginner. He tries to keep it nondenominational as well which is helpful for anyone similar to myself who doesn’t follow Wicca or really doesn’t focus a lot on Deity.

Hope you all have had a wonderful week since I last wrote. Take care and blessed be!

Lark

 

Building My Fire Body

I cleaned our house today and did a cleansing ritual while I swept to get rid of negative energy and I suddenly felt a spark of motivation to continue my education on my path. I’ve been very hot and cold with it, life keeps getting in the way what with home improvement projects, work getting busier, and lots of camping on the weekends…not that I’m complaining! I love getting away, but I’ve neglected other duties now that Summer Brain is kicking in.

Anyway, this burst of motivation helped me commit back to my spiritual education and I am finally at a place where I can start the next lesson from the podcast “A Witch’s Primer” and it is Lesson 6: Building Your Power Base – The Fire Body I do recommend that, if you want to check out this podcast class, you should start from the beginning. This is the same podcast that I did the meditation to find my spirit guide with which I blogged about a few posts back. I really like Ariel’s style of teaching and his explanations, his voice is also very soothing which helps with the meditations.

This next phase of the class is basically a 5 week process with each week focusing on building your power base with a different element and it’s corresponding section of the Witches Pyramid. The first week focuses on Fire and the “To Will” part of the pyramid. I think this practice would be helpful for anyone looking to improve their intentions and motivations regardless if they believe in magic or not. It is set up in a very…I guess I would call it therapeutic manner? Kind of a self-help thing.

So, my tasks for this week are to make a list of seven things I’ve been meaning to do, but have been either lazy/forgetful towards or just keep consciously putting off, and assigning them to be completed in one day over the next seven days. I have my list finished and completed my first task today (I started out simple), but I’m very excited and even nervous for the next few days. It’s funny because looking at the list, the tasks I set for myself are stupidly simple, basic adulting things, but I just can’t bring myself to do them! I feel like this practice will be really good for me and maybe help me adjust some habits. I also have to be clear with my intentions, doing certain practices daily to focus my attention better, exercise daily, etc.

I’m starting with a positive attitude and good intentions; it’s going to be a very busy week, so I will have to work hard to stay the course and not get derailed by stress or anything. I have faith I can do it though and then once I’m done it will be onto the next week of lessons! Wish me luck and blessed be!

Lark