The Everyday Witch An excerpt from Everyday Witchcraft by Deborah Blake

witchcraftThe Everyday Witch

An excerpt from Everyday Witchcraft

by Deborah Blake

I like to call myself the everyday Witch, and you’ll see that reflected in a number of my book titles, like Everyday Witch Book of Rituals or Everyday Witch A to Z Spellbook. Even The Goddess Is in the Details is subtitled Wisdom
for the Everyday Witch.

So what does that mean, the everyday Witch?

Two things, really.
For one thing, I’m just an everyday Witch. Nothing fancy or special. I don’t lead a major coven and haven’t started my own Witchcraft movement that has grown to encompass many, like Christopher Penczak or Raymond Buckland or Z. Budapest. (All folks I admire and respect. But I’m so not in that class—I’m not a professional Witch who teaches thousands and is known all over the world. I’m just little ol’ me.)

I lead a predominantly average life. A tad unconventional compared to some, maybe, since I’m a writer and craftsperson and run a shop full of artists, all of which allows me to be more open about my witchy leanings than some people might be able to be. But still, I am much like most other people: I work, I take care of my little farmhouse in the country, and I get bossed around by cats on a daily basis.
A few people might know me from my books, but, for the most part, I’m just an everyday Witch. Much like almost any other Witch you might meet, I’m a woman trying to juggle the responsibilities and obligations of daily life while at the same time attempting to better myself and be the best “me” I can be.

The other meaning of the term “everyday Witch” has to do with my commitment to walking my talk every day. I like to think that I am a Witch all day, every day, instead of just during the time of the full moons or during the eight sabbats. This is usually reflected in small things, not large ones. I do a bit of kitchen alchemy in the morning when I make my breakfast hot chocolate, mixing mundane ingredients with magickal intentions. I greet the gods briefly when I wake up and thank them before I fall asleep. I try to live as green a life as possible because, to me, taking care of the earth is part of being a Witch, too. Nothing big or complicated, as you can see; just integrating my beliefs into my regular life—an everyday Witch.

Most of the Witches I talk to would like to be everyday Witches, too. Not everyone, of course—plenty of folks are perfectly happy to only focus on their spiritual nature eight or thirteen or so times a year, and that’s just fine. As long as that’s the kind of practice that suits them, I think that’s great. But for many, it isn’t that they don’t want to be everyday Witches, it’s more a matter of how. They don’t know how to find the time and space and energy in the midst of their busy lives, or they can’t figure out how to integrate their spiritual path with the rest of their world without having to chase down exotic ingredients, go through complicated and drawn-out rituals, or explain to the neighbors why they’re dancing naked on the lawn. (Kidding about that last one. Mostly.)

This book is written by me, an everyday Witch, for all those who would also like to be everyday Witches. Just people who live their lives and happen to be Pagan. The naked dancing is optional.

Daily Practice Many spiritual paths include some form of daily practice. Buddhism, for instance, encourages meditation as well as a general attitude of mindfulness. Some religions focus more on daily prayer or saying grace before each meal as a way of giving thanks. Some have prayer beads or rosaries. Devout Muslims kneel in prayer multiple times a day. But these practices tend to be limited to the most devoted followers, and not everyone follows them. Traditionally, modern Witchcraft hasn’t really had any guidelines for daily practice, and people often have trouble coming up with something on their own.  I’d been trying for years to integrate some form of daily practice into my spiritual path when I came across a wonderful book called The Circle Within: Creating a Wiccan Spiritual Tradition by Dianne Sylvan. The author advocated a commonsense approach to finding the daily practice that was right for you, and reading her book made me take a new look at what I’d been doing. Mostly, my mistake had been of the “square peg, round hole” variety. I’d come up with all sorts of complicated or time-consuming daily practices when what I really needed was something quick and easy.  Now I have a few daily practices, all of which help me connect with deity and my own Witchcraft path, and none of which take more than a few minutes to perform. In the morning, before I even get out of bed (often before I open my eyes), I greet the gods and ask them for their assistance through the course of my day.

Here’s what I usually say (and if you want to use this as part of your daily practice, substitute whatever words work for you):
God and Goddess, I greet you at the start of another day and ask that you send me the best day possible. Help me to feel my best so I might do my best for myself and for others. Send me the strength and energy to do the things I need to do, and the focus and creativity to do them well. Help me to let go of all those things that no longer work for my benefit so I might move in the direction of perfect health and perfect balance. Please send me prosperity and healing, patience and wisdom, serenity and faith.* Guide me as I walk the path of the author; help me to write rapidly, easily, and well, and let my words please those who read them. Keep my cats healthy and safe, help the world move in a better direction, and watch over me and those I love. So mote it be.  * The things I ask for vary from day to day, depending on what is going on in my life. For instance, if I have an important event, I might ask for it to go well. If I am going to get some sort of healing work done, like visiting the acupuncturist or chiropractor, I might ask for the work to be helpful and long lasting. Obviously, you would tailor this to whatever works best for you.  After I have turned off the light at night, I always say thank you to the gods for my day. There are some things I always thank them for, and then I add the people and events that have been particularly important that day. I often give thanks for stuff that might seem unpleasant or negative if I feel as though I have learned something from it or if I think something good might come from it down the road. (For instance, when someone rear-ended my brand-new car, I gave thanks that the damage was minimal, no one was hurt, and that the first boo-boo was out of the way without it being my fault!) Remember that you can change the words to suit your own needs, and that there are always different things to give thanks for. The important part of doing this as a part of your daily ritual is that not only does it show the gods that you are taking an attitude of gratitude (always a good thing, in my opinion), but it also forces you to find something about your day to be grateful for, no matter how small it is. I am always surprised to find that there is more to say thank you for than I would have expected. Here is an example of what I might say last thing at night:  Great Goddess, Great God, I come before you at the end of another day and thank you for the many blessings in my life. For friends and family and cats, for home and health and good food. I thank you for (the names of whichever people crossed my path that day in meaningful ways) and for (whatever good things happened or whichever not-so-great things they helped me survive). Please help me to get a good night’s sleep so I might wake in the morning refreshed and energized and ready to face another day. Watch over me and those I love. So mote it be.  There are a few other things that I try to do daily, including meditation, some form of mindful exercise, and lighting a candle and saying a spell or a prayer. I don’t always manage it, though. What I do always manage is to find a minute to appreciate nature, whether it is a beautiful sunrise, the mist rising off the meadow next to my house, the song of the birds outside my window, or the sound of the rain. Those things only take a moment, and they lift my heart every time. These, too, are ways to practice Witchcraft, since we are a nature-based religion.  Here are some suggestions for easy, fast ways to integrate a daily practice into your life. Choose the ones that work best for you, and create your own personal daily rituals.  Start the Day You don’t have to use my approach to starting the day; there are plenty of other ways to begin a new day with a spiritual touch.

• Greet the Goddess and/or God in your own way. Or say: Lord and Lady, I greet thee. Bless my path on this new day, and watch over me as I walk it to the best of my ability. • Greet the dawn or the new sun. Use your own words or say: I greet you, new day! I greet the dawn! I greet the sun! I greet the earth below and the sky above! Blessings upon the day!

• Light a candle each morning on an altar. (If you will be leaving the house to go to work, you might want to light the candle, say something, then snuff it out right away so you don’t have to worry about forgetting it.) You can say whatever words are in your heart that morning or use one of the greetings above.  Or you can say this: With this light, I greet the new day. (See? It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that.)

• Ask the gods or the universe for help with any issues you might be having. You can say something like this:  At the start of this new day, I ask for help with ________________ and vow to do my very best with what I am given.

• Take a moment of silence to listen to the world around you before diving into the noise and bustle of the day. Listen to the sounds inside your home: maybe people or animals stirring, maybe just the ticking of a clock…maybe nothing at all, which is a gift in and of itself. Listen to the sounds from outside: birds, the wind, rain, the sound of traffic or people going by. Feel the connection you have with the rest of the world, and give yourself that moment to be quiet before diving into your busy day. If you want, say a few words to the gods—they can hear you even when you don’t speak out loud. (This is an especially good daily routine for those who can’t practice openly.)

• Read an affirmation or an inspiring passage, either from a book or from something you have written down ahead of time. (Multiple lists of books can be found at the end of this book, or use your own favorites.)

• Write in a journal. Taking a few moments to be present with your own thoughts, and writing down your hopes and dreams, can be a helpful part of a spiritual journey.

• Take a walk outside and commune with nature. There is nothing like connecting with the gods and the world outside by taking a morning walk, especially if you are lucky enough to have someplace quiet and peaceful to do so, like a park or a country road. Maybe leave the music at home and simply listen to the sounds around you. As a bonus, you get exercise, too!

To me, one of the most important components of a Pagan path is connection: connection with the gods, with nature, with each other, with our own inner voices. If you can start your day off by making that connection, it is like giving a gift to your spiritual self!

Reprinted with permission by Llewellyn
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