So What is a Zen Witch, Anyway?

candleThe Art of Zen Witchery

I don’t like labeling, but in the ‘real’ world, internet personas, and for the sake of easily explaining my theory and practice, I am a Zen Witch. Spirituality is, and always will be evolving, and over the past four decades I have seen a real shift in my own spiritual thinking and the way I personally practice my Path and my Craft. Reflecting back on my childhood years growing up Catholic, to my exploration of self-awareness in the New Age school of thought, to becoming a professional Tarot reader, then on to spending a summer being wild with a group of Maenads and freely expressing my devotion to Dionysus, to my practice of being a hedgewitch, and then on to becoming an initiated Wiccan High Priestess, I realize that I’ve developed a true sense of my spirituality, and can’t help but wonder what other adventures are in store for me.

For me the definition of ‘Zen’ and the definition of ‘Witch’ are complimentary. Being a Zen Witch is melding the best of two spiritual worlds to fit nicely within my spiritual framework. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ thinking. It’s about weaving in what works best for me.  My way is most certainly not the only way and what works for me may hinder another’s spiritual growth. See, that’s the beauty of eclecticism in spiritual practice. It’s the take it or leave it approach.  I take what feels right, incorporate it into my spiritual practice, and then leave the rest behind. And if, for any reason I want to tweak something, it’s my right to do so. Some might say it’s just Eclectic Paganism, but I think Zen Witch has a nice ring to it, Don’t you?

The Zen part of being a Zen Witch comes from the way I take a holistic approach to spirituality. I practice elements of Zen and find it very much akin to Witchcraft, especially for it’s lessons and practice in self-discovery. It is a way of living by blending both body and mind. For finding the true nature of your spirit.  It’s developing a discipline which leads to effective meditation and awareness. This in turn nurtures the expansion of intuition which is crucial to performing any spell within the realm of Witchcraft. Karma and the Three-Fold Law go hand in hand. Reincarnation and past-life regression is a partnership that creates a deep level of knowing exactly who you were and your purpose in this incarnation. However as a Zen Witch, I am not a Witchy Buddhist, although I’m sure there are many out there who may call themselves just that. It’s actually kind of cute, only it’s not me.

Zen is about finding balance and practicing mindfulness in everyday life. It’s a guide to living which expands awareness of my true self while acknowledging my unique oneness with the universe. It’s being compassionate and practicing mindfulness. It’s about being kind to yourself and others. It’s about being a good person.

The ‘Witch’ part of being a Zen Witch means I draw on several traditions of Wicca, but I do not consider myself ‘Wiccan’. I’ve referred to myself as a ‘Witch, Pagan, or Tree-Hugging Dirt Worshiper. I use minimal tools, but I always cast a Circle, honor the directions, and give thanks to the Divine. I love speaking the beautiful Charge of the Goddess during ritual and I appreciate Doreen Valiente’s written work, but I just can’t box myself in the Gardnerianism role.  I have a Book of Shadows and am currently working on my third grimoire. I prefer working as a solitary when I’m performing spellwork or personal/intimate rituals. There are then times I choose to celebrate in Circle with my Sisters in Spirit for the Sabbats. I also enjoy being a part of larger public rituals within the greater Pagan community whether as a writer of the ritual, the High Priestess, or as a participant. Public ritual is important because it shares the beauty of Pagan ritual with others, it also promotes religious tolerance which is so desperately needed in the world, even in a city as culturally diverse in its thinking and well known for its open-mindedness as Portland.

My spiritual practice is a daily practice; a way of life. As a Zen Witch I practice grounding and centering, visualization, mindfulness, and personal responsibility. Auras, karma, dreamwork, astral travel, and divination all go into the big pot as well. There’s spells, charms, herbalism and healing.

I honor the Earth, my higher power (which is deeply personal and private to me) the elements, and elementals (yes, faeries too). I keep busy with dream work, journaling, scrying, and all types of creativity. Crystals, trance work, tantra and yoga are important to my overall well being. Chants, symbols & sigils, runes and divination. Astrology, and lunar phases. It’s all there, but there’s so much more. This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. The basic most fundamental and important aspect of my spiritual practice is that it’s a daily practice.

Descartes once wrote, “Cogito ergo sum” or “I think, therefore I am.”

I am simply a Zen Witch not only because I said so, but because I am acutely aware of why I’m saying so.

From me to you,

Blessings on your Journey )O(

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Finding Balance

Finding Balance

As a Free Spirit, there is no set prescribed dogma or rules about how much, how little, how long, or even where I decide to practice and honor the Divine. My path is a reflection of my Soul’s yearning, and I feel as naturally drawn in that direction as branches of a tree bend towards the light.

Daily Spiritual Practice is vitally important for the Journey of the Soul but can be very difficult to maintain if you don’t find some sort of structure that is evenly tempered with balance. This is my ongoing journey towards balance.

Over the past two decades, my daily practice has evolved (and continues to evolve) in the most wondrous ways. I’ve come a long way since twenty years ago when I felt it necessary to perform formal rituals for any spellwork of any kind. When I flip through my first Book of Shadows and the countless spiral notebooks I had filled with ‘necessary’ knowledge, it’s clear how much I lacked in self-trust and balance.

Unlike my Catholic upbringing and other major faiths, my new way of Spirituality was not centered on an individual’s teaching. I wasn’t following a “Book”, instead I was creating my own. I was discovering my own Truth and quickly became passionate, eager to learn anything and everything I could about Paganism, Goddess Worship, Witchcraft, New Age, Astrology, Divination, Angels, Holistic & Natural Healing, Reiki, Eastern Philosophy, Zen, etc.. Although I had freed myself from the bondage of mainstream religion, I found myself to be very much alone. I was no longer accountable to anyone other than myself, and like many others, I am my own worst critic.

Young and in the early stages of my new Spiritual Path, I quickly fell into the New Age Wicca trap and became guilty of buying gleaming new tools to adorn my altar because I didn’t trust myself to create them myself with items I found in nature. (And I’ll admit I’m drawn to pretty, sparkly things, and oh my are there pretty, sparkly things packed in metaphysical shops!) I read, reread, rewrote, and reworked everything until my head spun and I began to second guess all of my actions. Instead of finding fulfillment and peace, I became a nervous wreck with less self-esteem than I began with. I’ve come a long way spiritually since then, and had a lot to learn about the concept of balance.
Regular balance adjustments have been crucial to my Spiritual alignment and have become as welcome as they are necessary. Over the years I’ve accepted the fact that overdoing can be just as bad as doing nothing at all. Roadblocks and perfection detours have no place on my Spiritual Path. Creating balance allows me to move along freely and maintaining that balance in my daily Spiritual practice has helped me gain balance in all areas of my life.

Life is just one big balancing act. Our physical, emotional, and spiritual lives are in constant stages of change. We can be physically cold, emotionally sad, and spiritually malnourished. On the other hand we can feel great in one or more of these areas.

When it comes to Spiritual Balance, it’s important to understand that a person’s idea of balance can vary greatly between individuals. When you factor in all those moment to moments, the one size fits all mentality just isn’t going to work.

The trick to finding that sweet spot of equilibrium will rely on your honesty. With yourself. We are creatures of habit, but not all habits are good for us. Look at yourself, then look at your situation. What needs to change? More than likely it will be something you don’t want to change, but it’s our responsibility to know where our strengths and weaknesses lie at any given time. Knowing where and how much power we can draw from one area of our life to help balance another is one of our life’s best lessons to learn. For me it was one of the hardest. It meant I had to evaluate and be objective in my reasoning.

One of my favorite tools to use when looking within is the Tarot. The archetypal images work beautifully for me to tap into my subconscious, bringing to light certain aspects of my life that I couldn’t see . Many are inspired by the Tarot, but it’s not for everyone. The key is to find that special tool that resonates with you on a deeply Spiritual level in order to unlock the subconscious. For some it’s meditation, for others it may simply be going for a walk in nature. There’s automatic writing, trance work, dream analysis, etc. Look for that special something that works for you, try out new things. When you find it you’ll know it. If you find yourself second guessing, then it’s probably not right for you, and you should move on and try something else.

Balance is a constant state of give and take. You will only be disappointed if you think balance and harmony can be a moment frozen in time. The only constant in life is change, so you just gotta to roll with it.

Blessings on your Journey )O(