Following Trends and Spiritual Shaming

I saw Ethony’s video on taking a break from Tarot and she brought up a lot of good points about spiritual shaming, and pretty pictures on Instagram, and what does and does not constitute spiritual practice.  There have been many articles about how people share only what makes them look good or accomplished or prosperous or exciting on sites like IG and Facebook, and we need to bear that in mind as we scroll through endless pretty pictures or photos from someone’s fabulous vacation to an exotic island. I like looking at pretty pictures as much as anyone, but I promise you my house is not overflowing with bouquets of roses and pretty crystals and decorative candles and wreaths.

The thing right now in the pagan community, or at least among the few witches and witchcraft accounts I follow on IG, and even among the Tarot community seems to be crystals. Sure they’re fun and look pretty on your altar or sitting on a Tarot deck, and everyone seems to be incorporating them in Tarot decks, putting “working crystal grids” and sacred geometry on their tarot decks, and selling crystals. We are told ways to cleanse or energize a Tarot deck: smudging, crystals, full moon light, wrapping in silk, etc. I‘ve never done any of them. I‘ve never slept with a deck under my pillow. But I fear that some of us who are not into ALL aspects of paganism or “New Age” practices are feeling left out, or that we’re falling behind. IG is loaded, overloaded even, with elaborately staged photos of pretty flowers and candles and crystals and Tarot cards, and it may leave some people feeling like they’re doing it wrong, or not doing enough. But it behooves us to remember that just because something has become popular does not mean it‘s mandatory. Whatever is being practiced now was once new, and you don’t have to do what anyone else is doing. Someone created every aspect of modern Wiccan/witchcraft practices. It did not always exist the way it is now. 

Back in the old AOL chatroom days, there was a line of thought that popped up now and then proclaiming was no dogma in Wicca or paganism, which unfortunately is not true. There is plenty of dogma out there, and I guess it’s human nature to gravitate toward anything that bills itself as “the one true way.” Most of us reject it, but others embrace it. People often like steps to follow, a prescribed course of action, which is why there are so many spell books out there. We like a neat, easy to follow recipe. There are traditions that are more dogmatic than others, and if that works for them, so be it. I’ve been a solitary witch all my life. I briefly worked with a coven years ago, but it wasn’t a good fit and never found another, so I’ve been doing my own thing ever since. As much as I sometimes wish I could share this path with others, finding those of a like mind is not easy and so I go it alone.

I think it‘s important to remember why we’re on this journey, why we chose a pagan path, be it witchcraft, Wicca, Druidism, Asatru, Voudon, Santeria, or what have you. I personally felt the Goddess call me a very long time ago, and it had nothing to do with pretty decorated altars, or crystals, or buying lots of toys from metaphysical stores (which were scarce in those days). Stores want to sell stuff, but we don’t need to buy it. Frankly we don’t need any of it at all. A practice can be as simple as you like: standing under the full moon and feeling the connection to nature and the Goddess; spending time in the woods or a local park listening to the wind through the trees; walking in the rain; walking barefoot on your lawn. You don’t need to spend a fortune on monthly subscription boxes of what someone else thinks you need. A candle, an apple. some leaves, and a few found stones would be lovely. The magic is in you, in nature, not in the toys.

The first witches, shamans, Druids, priests and priestesses did not have fun and funky metaphysical stores with crystal wands and offering bowls and expensive statues and altar cloths to buy. They used what nature provided, or what they could craft with their own two hands. And we, today, can do the same. You don’t have to spend $150 on a silver, crystal-tipped wand. My favorite wand I ever saw in a movie was Sherelindria’s wand in the movie “Willow.” It was a crooked, thin branch that looked like nothing special. Go find a branch you like and carve it or polish it and embellish it however you’re moved to. Personalizing your tools, if you use tools, can really help you connect with them and infuse them with your own energy. My mentor and I used to talk about the fun of finding supplies in regular local stores. She found a crystal ball at Goodwill. Buy your candles at the grocery store, statuary at the garden center, a pretty offering bowl at one of those “home” stores. You don’t have to break the bank for this. In fact you shouldn’t. This path is not about having the best, most expensive toys. I’m not saying you can’t indulge in little luxuries if your budget allows, but having an expensive wand or altar tools does not make you a witch. Get creative. It’ll be so much more personal. Your path is your path, no one else’s, just as no one else’s path is yours. As Crowley said, “A’s universe is not B’s universe.” So do your own thing with joy.  Blessed be!

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