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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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

Larkie’s Library: “The Modern Guide to Witchcraft: Your Complete Guide to Witches, Covens, & Spells” by Skye Alexander

I finally finished reading my first witchy book and I really liked it. I’ll admit, part of my choosing it was due to convenience (it’s currently available on Amazon for Kindle for free if you have Amazon Prime!) and that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to buy a book to have in my home yet.51ds31x1kfl-_sx334_bo1204203200_ As mentioned in previous posts, I’m still in the broom closet with basically everyone except my husband and I just wasn’t ready to have an actual book here.

So, based on no previous reading material of similar nature mind you, I thought this was a really informative guide. Definitely fairly basic 101 stuff, but not boring. Skye’s writing is well put together and thought out and I liked how technical it was instead of being overly opinionated. While I did know most of this from previous “studies” in my teens (I put studies in quotations due to the fact that my work in learning more about it was minimal and half-assed), I still found it to be a good refresher.

There is a small Grimoire at the end of the book which I also found helpful. The affirmation practice is definitely something I will incorporate in my own Book of Shadows, which I’m still working on as far as correspondences go. I definitely feel a lot more confident in having witchy material in the house now and already have a book list started (Scott Cunningham is in there, of course), so this was a nice baby step for me. I’m excited to really start diving into my studies and see what I can find that speaks to me and can be applicable to my path.

If you are newer to Paganism/witchcraft or if you just like to keep different 101 books around for reference or variety, I would suggest checking this one out. Like I said, if you have Amazon Prime and a Kindle (or Kindle app); this book is available for free through Amazon.

Happy reading and blessed be!

Lark

Quick Pagan Podcast Plug!

Merry Meet!

I wanted to do a very quick post to talk about and recommend two Pagan Podcasts I’ve recently been listening to and am absolutely loving. Seriously, for those who have not yet gotten into podcasts, I strongly suggest you give them a try. Even if you don’t care to listen to a Pagan one there are some really great pods out there (e.g. This American Life, My Favorite Murder, Sword and Scale, Myths and Legends, Tell Me Something I Don’t Know, The Babysitter’s Club Club, etc.) I’ve actually learned a lot from following many of these podcasts and others allow for just good entertainment when the day is slow or there’s nothing on TV, which is most of the time since I don’t really watch cable and am basically Netflix only these days.

Anyway, back to my point: Pagan podcasts!

The first I want to recommend is Inciting A Riot hosted by Fire Lyte. It is a very well done podcast and is currently still putting out episodes (the last one was about the Women’s March in January), so they don’t come out as frequently as they did in the past, but he’s still around. Fire Lyte is also a co-host of the podcast Inciting A Brewhaha with Velma Nightshade, which I’ve mentioned in a previous post before (also very entertaining and the episodes are long). Fire Lyte is very opinionated, but I kind of love him for it. Plus he is a big supporter of science and looks at magic and witchcraft in a more “real world” manner rather than this fantastical idea with sparkles and fairies and three-fold law (which I LOVE and agree with). He also does a great 10 episode segment on the 10 largest religions and it’s a quick, but informative look at other beliefs around the world and it’s really great. I enjoy learning about other beliefs, it helps me understand the followers better as well as commiserate with them on similar beliefs I have and, well, knowledge is power and I enjoy learning new things about other people. Avoid the bubble effect basically.

Speaking of Velma Nightshade, I also finally started listening to her podcast Witches Brewhaha which is no longer being updated (hasn’t been since 2013). However, I still find it to be an informative and very well done podcast, so if you don’t mind listening to a podcast that essentially no longer exists, I do recommend it. She has mentioned on Inciting A Brewhaha that she may consider bringing it back to life, but time will tell if she is able to or not.

That’s all for my Pagan podcast promotions, I have checked a couple of others out, but barely made it through one episode so didn’t feel it was even worth mentioning. Check these out if you like and have a safe week!

Blessed be!

Lark

Practical Magic (1996) Movie Review

I finally watched “Practical Magic” this evening. I had never seen it before (I know, I’ve heard this is like a must see for a lot of witchy women 😉 ) and I really liked it. Like any witch/witchcraft movie, the magic is very “Hollywood” but not too crazy. I absolutely loved the Book of Shadows in this movie! That is the kind of BOS I am hoping to have one day; with leaves and feathers and drawings, etc. It’s so cliche witchy, but I just loved it!
I also love the makeshift coven thrown together for the banishment ritual. It’s stuff like that that makes me wonder if maybe one day I’d enjoy having coven (or at least joining community rituals for certain Sabbats). Plus, I found it funny how the townsfolk (particularly the women) were always gossiping and harassing this family, but then when they were called to help form their circle they jumped at the chance. This seemed so true to life in a way; the whole turning the nose up at something, but when given an opportunity to peak behind the curtain the heads start to turn to see. This made me think about the concept of being out of the broom closet. I imagine I would get more curious questions if I presented myself as being open to discussion, which I absolutely would be. However, I KNOW I have family members who would think I was going to burn in Hell and a small amount of friends who would probably think I was crazy and I’m just not at that point to where I’d be able to handle the drama. So, I’ll keep to my “in the broom closet with the door open” style…for now.
Also, I thought it had a fairly decent soundtrack and I love that they had a Stevie Nicks songs. I mean, it’s such a perfect fit for any PG13 and above, modern witch movie, which is probably why I absolutely LOVED “American Horror Story: The Coven” ::dodges tomatoes:: To each their own!

Anyway, that’s all I have for today. I wanted to be sure to have at least one post this weekend and this is what came up 🙂 Hope everyone has a very safe weekend, especially those who are experiencing the inclement weather!

Blessed be!

Lark

Christianity vs Paganism

So this is my continuation from the last post. I would like to add that I noticed a few typos from the last entry which I would like to apologize for (I’m sure I’ve had others); it serves me right for only using spell check and not actually proof reading as well. Ugh, that stuff makes me feel like such a moron.

Moving on!

So, this is not a battle royale of religious beliefs blog post. No.
Actually it’s a blog post basically complaining and poking fun 386d0a558868a86be4e09f6cce1c2220at this match up and the negativity and vitriol each religion directs at each other. Okay, I take that back, the religions do not fight, it’s the followers. This is making fun and shaming the followers that choose to engage in this ridiculous behavior.

Please remember, I am Pagan, so the fact that I used a Pagan meme is not meant to showcase who this blog post is directed towards. I’m merely using it as an example. Mostly because when I saw it on Pinterest my reaction to it was to scoff and roll my eyes.

Of course, this could be a sort of Neopagan Atheist meme, which if so, fine, but I have seen cases where Pagans who worship deities shared this same sentiment in a way and I honestly think it’s silly. I totally understand the bitterness towards Christianity felt by Pagans. The past between these two systems of faith has been…not great, to put it nicely. But does that mean we should continue the trend by being so judgmental and critical of them in present times? Especially if those criticisms of their beliefs could be applied to our own? I think it’s a bit of a waste of time.

I do think things like the book of Leviticus are totally up for judgement since it kind of goes against what Christianity stands for, or at least what I was brought up to believe it stands for which is the word of Christ himself and the 10 Commandments (e.g. “Love thy neighbor” being nonjudgmental, not stealing, killing, or feeling envious or hateful, and being accepting and loving; whereas stoning divorced women and hating homosexuals is not really in line with that idea, so there’s a lot of hypocritical crap in the Bible, in my opinion).
But, poking fun at the existence of their God is just really silly (as the above meme seems to do). As Pagans, we are supposed to be polytheistic right? And not all Pagans worship the same Gods/Goddesses, correct? So, if I were to claim I worshipped Freya and Thor, but told a worshipper of Persephone and Apollo they were wrong or they’re Deities didn’t exist, I would be wrong for doing it. So why is it okay to claim the Abrahamic God doesn’t exist or make fun of people for believing in Him? Actually, I think it should be considered that He does exist, He just has a different set of rules and prefers His followers to be monogamous to Him and Him alone.

Now onto the Christians. Seriously? Your religion is based off of the teachings of Christ (who, of course, did exist; we all know that…whether he was merely a philosopher preaching about basic human decency or the actual son of God is up for debate) yet you’re going to go ahead and allow the writings of other men who were kings and leaders of cities to dictate the religion you follow? Men who probably made these rules according to their own comfort or ideas of how they believe the world should work instead of the words of your God? Interesting. You’re no better than anyone else and what others believe is none of your concern; it’s none of our concerns so long as we aren’t harming each other in the name of our beliefs. As far as Pagan Gods/Goddesses existence goes, the first commandment in the Christian Bible says “Thou salt have no other gods before me” which means, the Abrahamic God, your God acknowledges the existence of other deities. I take this to mean that He simply feels if you are to follow Him, then He needs to be the only deity in your life, so telling Pagans or other polytheists they are full of it and their Gods don’t exist is not really true nor is it very nice.

So enough of the childish banter. People should be able to believe and worship however they want. I do think the majority of Christians and Pagans feel this way towards each other, but there are those few who seem to enjoy putting down the other’s religion and their followers and I think we’re all better than that. I think our God(s)/Goddess(es) feel we are better than that as well and expect more from us.
Be kind, be accepting, but don’t let others treat you badly either.
Today’s post might be rambly and scolding, but it comes from a place of love (and a few rum and cokes; I’ll admit…it’s a Friday).

I hope everyone has a great weekend, be safe, and blessed be!

Lark

Christianity and Witchcraft

This is a topic that I’ve heard of a few times and it’s something I thought would be fun to discuss or just think out loud about. It’s a topic that’s come up in a few of the podcasts I’m listening to currently. Side note: I feel that I should mention these episodes were not recent as I like to start podcasts from the beginning so that I can experience every topic and the evolution of the podcast and its host(s).
Any who, so Christian Witches, can they exist? Well, probably since they already do and, in my opinion, they have every right to since the Pagan path is so individualistic and a lot of us tout it as one of Paganisms most charming features. I do think Christianity is a religion that, if someone chooses to practice witchcraft within it, then they can do it, but carefully.

I have no idea where to start, so we’ll start with a couple basic facts: Witchcraft is a practice, NOT a religion; whereas Wicca is a religion and not all Wiccans practice the craft (so, if you think about it, the craft isn’t totally off limits to other religions if they really wanted to adopt it as a practice). Knowing this, obviously, one cannot be a Christian Wiccan as that would be like someone saying they were a Mormon Sikh or something.

Christianity and Wicca are two different religions, so if there are any Christians reading this who are thinking of practicing witchcraft, please look for non-denominational teachings or very basic 101 Witchcraft material; I strongly advise to avoid getting too far into Wiccan beliefs if you desire to be a Christian Witch…and here’s why: The very first commandment in the The Bible given to Moses (and the world) from God/Yahweh is “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Given that Wicca is polytheistic and celebrates both a God and Goddess (which can be basically whatever pantheon calls to you), this is basically breaking the first and, according to the book of Matthew, most important commandment.
Another issue with being a witch and a Christian is that it does contradict a few other “rules” thou not commandments in the Bible.

Exodus 22:18 – Thou shat not suffer a witch (or sorceress) to live. This seems to be the most well known and common argument against Christians practicing witchcraft. There’s been some debate as to whether or not the word “witch” was a mistranslation and actually meant something else, but I’ve had trouble finding evidence of that rumor being true.

Deuteronomy 18:10-11 – Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord… This is a bit more obvious as far as the Christian God’s view of witchcraft. And there are a few other mentions of witchcraft, sorcery, divination, etc throughout the book (e.g. 2 Chronicles, Isaiah, Galatians, Revelations, and the oh-so wonderful book of Leviticus mention these things and make sure to specify how witchcraft is an evil sin).

So again, while everyone is free to pursue their own path however they wish (I’m making an exception for closed religions; those are off limits) if you are Christian and looking into witchcraft, do your research to be sure it’s what you want to do, because the Christian God (or at least the teachings of His religion) seem to have some pretty set rules and he seems to be a fairly easily offended deity. That being said, cherry-picking is a common theme through a lot of religions it seems, so if you feel in your gut you can do it free from consequence, then by all means learn what you can about the practice and do so safely. Ask questions and question everything, because fakes and manipulators exist in all forms.

I’m feeling inspired to do another post jumping off from this one, but it’s late and I feel like I’ve rambled enough for now. I hope everyone had a great Halloween/Samhain and I wish you all a wonderful rest of the week.

Blessed be,
Lark