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[Witch Way] Volume #6 Issue #4 -- The Harvest Season!
September 13, 2013
|Hi, Happy Mabon!
“Do you have a spell that...”
These are often the first words I see in an email sent to the website. With the popularity that Witchcraft is enjoying in media, TV and movies, it’s inevitable that a lot of people who are searching the web for it, are doing so because they believe that magick (if it really exists) will fix their life.
These people are both right, and wrong about how magick can fix everything. Yeah, I know that sounds like a contradiction in terms, but let me see if I can explain. The new person often assumes that if only they had the right spell, they could use it to change whatever, get a girlfriend, get a boyfriend back, be successful, be attractive, whatever. There are also those people who seem to think that you can use magick to get magick. I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked for a spell to control a person’s “powers”.
There’s no such thing as the perfect spell. In fact, magick doesn’t work the way most people think it does at all. Also, magick doesn’t work in a vacuum. If you want a spell to work, you need to do a lot of work on the material plain. The example I always give, is that you can’t do a spell to get a job, or get a better job, then sit back and wait for someone to just offer you the job. Jobs don’t just appear out of thin air. There is no spell that will make a manager somehow know to dial the digits that happen to be your phone number, and then offer you the job of your dreams. It’s just not going to happen.
If you want a job, you have to go out and look for a job. Yes, work the magick, but you also need to do the work of looking for a job. So if magick isn’t going to solve all your problems for you, what good is it? I mean, I can look for a job without using magick, so what is magick going to do for me?
I’m glad you asked! First, it helps to understand that 99% of people in the world are lazy. They would rather have everything done for them, than go to the trouble of doing it themselves. If you work in the corporate world, you know this to be absolutely true. In fact I would go so far as to say that in any job, all the work is done by 1% of the employees.
How does this relate to magick? Simple! The people who know how to use magick, tend to be in that 1% who get things done. In fact, by learning how to work with magick, a person who is in the 99% will become one of those 1%. If only those people in Occupy Wall Street last year had known this, they wouldn’t have wasted their time protesting. Ok, they still would have, but they’re the 99% for a reason, and it has nothing to do with corporate greed, and everything to do with self motivation.
Witches and Pagans who use magick are self motivated. You see, you can’t say a few words, wave your wand, or twitch your nose, and have something just magickally happen. Swish and flick doesn’t work. Magick is about changing your mindset. By doing a spell, you aren’t actually casting anything out into the world, so much as you are casting it inward to your own mind. If you read any book on magick, or talk to someone who is good at it, they will tell you that magick happens in the subconscious.
All the books talk about how the subconscious communicates in images, not words. They talk about visualizing the end product of the spell, not the process of getting there. These are methods of self actualization. These are ways to program your brain to focus on what you want. So if magick happens in the subconscious, how does it create changes in the real world? The simple answer is, it doesn’t. At least not the way most people think it does.
Lets continue with our job spell example. By casting a spell to get a job, what you are really doing, if you do the spell correctly, is creating a mindset that will help you find, and then get a job. This is why details in what you really want in a job are so important. By specifying the details of pay, work environment, hours, responsibilities, and such, you are putting that information into your subconscious mind.
When you interview for a job, your subconscious mind sees many things your conscious mind misses. As you wait for your interview, your subconscious mind is taking in all the little bits of information it needs to decide if this is the job you asked for. It does the same thing during the interview. Finally, it makes the choice of whether this is the job you are really looking for or not, and then it acts.
If this really doesn’t look like the job you asked for, your subconscious mind will throw out things that make you stumble in the interview. You may find yourself saying things that you wonder why you said them. Your subconscious mind has decided this is not the job you wanted, and is making sure you don’t get it. Now, if subconscious mind looks around and likes what is finds, it will sharpen your conscious mind, and keep you from making mistakes in the interview. It will help you to stand out as someone the company should hire.
This is of course just one example, but it really does illustrate how magick works in the real world. Once you realize that magick is all about creating a mindset for yourself, you also start to realize that this is exactly why magick is so powerful. Because you are able to create a successful mindset to deal with anything, there really is no limit to what you can do with magick.
Your only magickal limitation, is what you decide it is. You really do have the ability to do anything you can imagine, if you only let yourself.
Plants, Petals, & Potions
by Julie Andaverde
How the seasons have changed! The harvests have begun and Samhain is just around the corner. As the leaves fall to the ground, take a few healing remedies from the perfect herb for the fall season!
Herb: Burdock Root
Magical Uses:feminine energies, water, protection
The whole plant is a dull, pale green, the stem about 3 to 4 feet and branched, rising from a biennial root. The lower leaves are very large, on long, solid foot-stalks, furrowed above, frequently more than a foot long heart-shaped and of a grey color on their under surfaces from the mass of fine down with which they are covered. The upper leaves are much smaller, more egg-shaped in form and not so densely clothed beneath with the grey down.
The plant varies considerably in appearance, and by some botanists various subspecies, or even separate species, have been described, the variations being according to the size of the flower-heads and of the whole plant, the abundance of the whitish cotton-like substance that is sometimes found on the involucres, or the absence of it, the length of the flower-stalks, etc.
The flower-heads are found expanded during the latter part of the summer and well into the autumn: all the florets are tubular, the stamens dark purple and the styles whitish. The plant owes its dissemination greatly to the little hooked prickles of its involucre, which adheres to everything with which they come in contact, and by attaching themselves to coats of animals are often carried to a distance.
History and Folklore:
Shakespeare makes Pandarus say in Troilus and Cressida, and in King Lear we have another direct reference to this plant: 'Crown'd with rank Fumiter and Furrow-weeds, With Burdocks, Hemlocks, Nettles, Cuckoo-flowers.'
A native of Eurasia, especially England and Scotland, and an invasive weed in the United States, Burdock grows in moist wet places, ditches and roadsides. It is a member of the thistle family. Purplish flowers appear in July of the second year followed by round spiky seed pods that cling to fur and clothing. It has very large waxy leaves, reminiscent of rhubarb. The lower most leaves are heart-shaped, sometimes over a foot long and downy on the underneath, giving them a silvery appearance.
Biannual, the basal rosette of leaves stays close to the ground the first year, and the second year sends up a central flower stalk. It can grow 3-7 feet high the second year. Medicinal Properties The name Arctium is derived from the Greek arctos, “bear” Lappa is from the Greek “to seize”, and lap is from the Celtic for “Hand”. The word Dock in its common name refers to its large leaves and Burr is from the Latin Burra which means “Wool” alluding to the fruit’s tendency to get caught in fur or wool of passing animals.
It is said that George de Mestral, the Swiss inventor of Velcro, got the idea after examining the fruit of a burdock plant that had stuck to his dog’s fur.
In folk magic Burdock was considered a powerful herb that could protect home and stables and played a role in transfer magic. Being so robust it was thought to be able to withstand diseases much better than a feeble human. By sympathetic magic, being such a hairy and prickly herb, it was hailed as a magic remedy that makes the hair grow.
Burdock is associated with feminine energies, Venus and the element of water. It is used in rituals, amulets and spells to ward off negativity and for general protection. It can be used in potions, baths, incense and amulets. Also used for general healing. The root can be carved into a figure, dried and carried or worn as a protective amulet.
Burdock is a wonderful herb to use as the season changes, to nourish the body and promote a healthy system. You may have noticed this large leafed prickly plant along alleyways or roadsides, proudly sitting between two rocks, or maybe you've found its burs stuck to your clothes or pet. This strong plant often has large wavy heart shaped leaves with a stem that grows three to six feet tall. This herb is considered a food and may be used for prolonged periods of time to gently assist the body in riding itself of "toxic waste". It shines by supporting the organs that cleanse the body. Burdock has often been considered a blood cleanser. It works primarily with the liver and kidneys. The root has an earthy taste but also has mild bitter properties.
It is indicated for use in dry, scaly skin conditions when the detoxifying organs are in need of assistance. It is also useful for inflamed skin conditions such as acne and boils. Burdock is especially helpful when the body is not processing oils well. The mild bitter flavor of Burdock also works to stimulate secretions of the digestive tract and helps stimulate liver secretions assisting the skin and helping the body to process more efficiently. It is a gentle detoxifier and works as a nutritive to support the body’s natural rhythm.
The root is about 45% inulin, an undigested starch that gut flora love to eat. A strong decoction of burdock can be used to help re-establish healthy, happy gut flora along with other therapeutic effects. This can be helpful for people using pro-biotics, or after use of anti-biotics. The inulin essentially provides food for the gut flora and helps to strengthen it. Burdock root is a strong nutritive and has been used as a food for its benefits. It is gentle enough to use long term and pairs well with many other herbs that support the liver.
Contraindications: There are no reports of contraindications or side effects when used properly. Burdock Root is safe to use for extended periods.
* People who are allergic to the daisy family may develop an allergic reaction.
Preparations Burdock root is quite a versatile herb. It can be added to soups, stews, and prepared as a tea. It combines well with other roots such as Dandelion and Yellow Dock. It can be decocted for 15- 30 minutes.
As the cool breezes tickle your nose and chill your spine, let the healing and magical properties of burdock root protect you from the ghosts and goblins roaming our plane! It’s a perfect time for healing and getting rid of the wastes that have accumulated during the summer months.
Love, light, and blessings!
DISCLAIMER: It should be understood that Julie Andaverde is not a medical doctor, nor is Witch Way a medical journal. Some of the herbs and ingredients discussed in this column can be dangerous or even deadly if misused. Proportions and ratios discussed are based on personal observation and experience. Use of any herbs or ingredients is at your own discretion and risk. None of the information contained herein should be construed as medical advice. Always consult a trained medical professional.
The Witching Hour
by Marcus Leader
In this month’s article I would like to share with you some of my knowledge and experience in the realm of hyper-dimensional portals or openings between the worlds. Don’t worry, I am not going to get geeky or technical in this article, it is only my intention to provide you with a basic understanding of these bizarre anomalies that exist in nature as well as an understanding of how we are able to open small portals using our intention alone when we perform rituals inside of our magick circles. That’s right; if you are performing summoning rituals in your magickal practice then you are indeed opening up portals for the elementals or spiritual guardians as well as Deity to enter into our immediate physical environment. Your success at opening portals depends largely on your experience in the ritualistic projection of your magickal intent driven by your will. But before I get into the techniques of opening personal portals lets first examine what a hyper-dimensional portal actually is and how they can form.
I should first qualify my information by pointing out that I have studied this topic for 30 years . I spent 8 years in a one on one apprenticeship with Dr. Carlos Castaneda conducted from the Jungles of Mexico all the way up the west coast and into Canada. This was necessary for many of my lessons because of the energetic properties of various places of power. From the great Toltec city of Teotihuacán to the side of a volcano (Mt Rainier) in Washington State and many points in between. I was given a lot of information from our Toltec lineage and “the core knowledge” concerning portals and how to use them. On a couple of occasions I was taught and witnessed how to open portals large enough for spiritual entities to come through into our world. What is even more amazing is that I was personally taken through one of these portals near the city of Teotihuacán which took me to a place located ¼ of mile from my point of origin, in only seconds! I will share this story later in this article. Besides my shamanic training I am also a private researcher for the professional division of the Monroe Institute in Virginia which is the world’s foremost research facility in the study of human consciousness. Some of the research I have conducted as well as some of my colleagues within the institute deal with portals and energetic border crossings. So with this background perspective in mind we can proceed deep into the topic of portals.
Essentially, a portal is an opening or doorway between two or more spaces. In the physical world a door in the front of your house or a window in a wall is considered a portal. It allows matter from the physical world to pass through it be it a living person or just air. There also exist energetic portals in the buffering zone or the veil between our world and the etheric world or plane of power, the place where many entities such as elementals exist. From the etheric world it is just short hop to the astral plane and yes, there exists portals between the astral and the etheric. So for an entity existing on the astral plane to move to the physical plane it must first move through a natural or constructed portal into the etheric and then again through another portal from the etheric to the physical world. Energetic portals are doorways and they are very real.
So now that we have defined what a portal is and what it does, how is it formed? Portals exist all over our planet. Some are weak and some are so defined and powerful that should you accidently walk into one you could be lost forever in some other existence. I know that sounds like a science fiction movie, but it is a reality, many have experienced such portals and many have disappeared into them accidently over the centuries. They exist in nature generally where multiple ley lines or Earth energy flows come together or in central power spots that erupt like lava from volcanoes. Some of these power spots are well known such as in Sedona Arizona, the Big Horn Medicine Wheel in Wyoming, Stonehenge, Tara Hill, the great city of Teotihuacán , the Bermuda Triangle and many many more less well known sites.
These areas are to the Earth what our Chakras are to us, energy centers where primal energies flow back and forth. It is believed that they form as a result of a concentrated buildup of this orgone or chi energy which also happens to be the stuff that magick is made of. What I personally believe is that this energy buildup stretches the elastic skin of the veil between dimensions and as it does this the veil gets so thin that it allows energy to pass between worlds. This is similar to the way that a balloon will become transparent as you blow it up until light passes right through it.
The veil between the worlds often grows thin as a result of cosmic radiation from our sun and gravity storms from within our planet. This is why during the upcoming festivals Mabon and Samhain it is said that the veil grows thin so that the spirits of the dead walk with and beside the living. At these times the veil is stretched to its maximum levels of containment. The same thing happens when a place on the Earth has such a buildup that it stretches the veil and this is why many of these places have been considered sacred by many indigenous people. They went to these places to honor Deity or communicate with spirits. I have been on a couple expeditions to a site in Nevada near the Colorado River that has been held sacred by native American people for well over a thousand years. In this place the veil is indeed thin all the time and it has many pockets or bubbles of energy that come to the surface. I know this because I can see it in the ways that I have been trained in my shamanic lineage and I also built a special device called a paramagnetic resonance meter that detects these portals. On the last expedition to this canyon, I was accompanied by my brother who was walking about ten feet in front of me when he walked into one of these unstable portal areas and I just so happened to be taking infrared photographs of him at that same exact moment and in one of the photos I captured energy tentacles rising out of the Earth and wrapping around him. This was a weak one and he did not even realize that he had triggered it with the proximity of his body. I will post this picture on my website later this month if you would like to see it. I am rebuilding the website so it will be another week or two before you can go there.
Before we move onto the topic of how we can form small portals with our focused human intention, I will as promised, relate to you the stories of how I witnessed a portal being opened in water and how I was taken by my teacher through a portal that basically moved us through time and space. This is something that scientists believe exist out there in space called a worm hole, but the truth is they also exist right here on Earth as well and many science fiction movies have been made using this premise.
Back in the 90’s on one of my many trips that I took with Carlos, we ventured to the birth place of our Toltec Lineage, Teotihuacán near Mexico City. We were there at night and in truth we were not supposed to be there at that time so we had to move in the shadows so as not to be detected. He took me a place in the city (which I will not divulge at this time) and taught me a chant and a method of focusing my intent on a large rock wall. As we did this the wall changed shades of gray and kind of shimmered a little. He then pushed me hard from behind sending me crashing right toward the wall. I threw up my arms over my face for protection waiting for the impact that never came. Instead, I found myself in an area that had a yellow like fog everywhere, I could not see anything and it had a peculiar smell to it, not sulfur, but chemical. Then I noticed that I could not breathe and started to panic. Carlos grabbed me by the neck and pushed me forward for what was about 10 seconds and suddenly we were in cool darkness and I could breathe again. He took out a flashlight and turned it on just as I said, “ What the hell was that?” He laughed and said, ”Look.” We were in an underground cavern somewhere under the city and there were many artifacts. He said someday this will be discovered and it holds the core teachings that I have been teaching you. We spent about an hour down there and I am not ready to say much more about that, but that is the one and only time I moved through a portal and while that was a natural portal, it was known by the builders of this great ancient city and used by the shaman/priests of the time. He told me years later that we were under the temple of Quetzalcoatl and that it had no physical entrance and was reserved as a special place of power for the shaman/priests who ruled the city.
On one other occasion, Carlos demonstrated the principles of opening up a portal between this world and the next using obsidian glass and the surface of a stream of water. He submerged the obsidian sheet of black glass into the water just about 1 inch below the surface then focusing his intent upon the black obsidian he chanted for about 30 seconds and water glowed a little around the mirror and I swear something stuck a small ugly head up out of the water a few inches before Carlos stopped it by pulling the obsidian glass out of the water. He taught me how to do this , but to be honest I have never tried it again after that, in part because I am not sure what this entity was or where it came from. Summoning can be a very dangerous thing to try without the knowledge of what you are summoning or how to control it.
This brings us to topic of portals in our own magick circles. When we create and consecrate a magick circle, we have essentially created a kind of portal between the worlds. This portal is in the shape of a sphere and is as big as the parameters of our imagined design. IF a circle is created properly using the necessary focused intent by the circle caster, then a portal has been opened with a layer of protective energy surrounding it. This layer of energy is what keeps unwanted entities from crossing through the portal we created. Many of us summon forth elementals or guardians with a set of instructions to monitor and reinforce the barriers making sure that if something tries to enter it is met with an increase of protective energy in that particular quadrant. In our circles we can also invite and commune with entities and spirits by giving them permission to travel through the protective barriers of our circle for a short time and specific purpose. We must never lose control of these types of entities because if we do while our circle is open, they can and do escape into our physical world often causing mischievous events and sometimes even dangerous ones especially if you have summoned a fire elemental. This is why all magickal systems stress that you open and close a circle properly and with serious intent. You are dealing with portals that can create a lot of havoc in your life if not controlled.
I have spoken of methods of creating these portals for summoning and magickal work in past articles and it is my intention to share with all of you who subscribe to Ken’s newsletter, the methods of circle casting that have been taught to me. I may make a video so that you can see the exact power movements that I use from my Toltec lineage. I may make it available on cyberwitchcraft.com as well so be sure to stay tuned … the best is yet to come. In next month’s issue I will teach you a method that you can use right away to speak to the dead just in time for Samhain.
By Gwynalda Shadowalker
Dispelling “Wiccan Mystique”: Part II—Anatomy of a Modern-Day Witch Hunt
Last month, a curious, antique phenomenon rocked the online Neo-Pagan Community. It took a lot of modern-day, self-identified Witches (practitioners of Wicca) completely by surprise. There, in the ephemeral realm of Cyberspace, a couple of Christian pastors out of Africa had set up Facebook pages commanding their followers to “kill all the witches.”
News of these two pages spread like wildfire, dominating the discussions in several Wiccan Facebook groups and lighting up the blogosphere as various Neo-Pagan writers weighed in. Online petitions sprang forth, urging concerned folks to sign up and lobby Facebook to remove the offensive pages, permanently. Outrage and disbelief ensued when Facebook’s automated system kept stubbornly refusing to block the pages, even after thousands of folks had reported them for violating Facebook’s “Community Standards.”
Facebook’s non-responsiveness in this matter was absolutely maddening. What, did the reviewers think that these pastors were joking about torturing and murdering people who they believed were witches and wizards? Really? Satire and humor are all well and good, but it was pretty clear that these guys truly intended to do harm and advocated that their congregations do likewise. In recent memory, such homicides had actually occurred in Africa. Threatening to burn people alive is horrific; it’s not the least bit funny.
If any other religious group had been targeted with calls of “all the XYZs must die by fire”, it’s a no-brainer that the powers that be over at Facebook would have taken down those pages immediately. For most of us, these two pages represented clear cases of religious discrimination…. Or were they?
LLL and COG Enter the Fray
We are fortunate as members of a minority faith in this day and age to have such respected, national Pagan organizations as The Lady Liberty League (LLL) and Covenant of the Goddess (COG) advocating on our behalf. While a great many Pagan Witches and Wiccans distrust “collective authorities”, sometimes we need such leaders and experts to step in so that we can speak with one voice and get things done.
LLL and COG jointly issued open letters to Facebook clearly outlining the Pagan Community’s objections to these witch-hunting pages, and pointing out how, exactly, the two pages in question clearly violated the social media behemoth’s “Community Standards”. Both LLL and COG emphasized that the violations were not necessarily based in religious discrimination or “hate speech”, but rather in the very real threat of violence and murder against anyone alleged to be a “witch” in Africa.
Twenty-first-century victims of witch hunts in Africa include the elderly, widows, and young children—especially twins. Africans afflicted with Albinism have also been murdered by “anti-witching” medicine men, in the belief that their dissected body parts can protect others from evil witches’ spells. These victims were not Pagans or practitioners of sorcery. They were the vulnerable targets and scapegoats of those who sought to assign blame for accidents and misfortunes that had no rational explanation.
So, yes, there are currently witch-craze persecutions happening in certain parts of the world. And while a lot of us Neo-Pagan Witches and Wiccans may feel compelled to take up our swords with the rallying cry—“Never Again the Burning Times!”—we might want to hang back for just a few moments. It’s important to more fully understand what exactly is going on before we leap into battle.
Perils and Pitfalls of Hunting the Witch-Hunters
LLL and COG wisely cautioned folks to exercise restraint and to employ a more precise use of language when objecting to the two Facebook witch-hunting pages. They recommended choosing the option that the page represented a "credible threat of violence" rather than “harassment” or “hate speech.” Considering that both pages apparently originated in Africa where actual witch hunts had already claimed the lives of many people—they did, indeed, represent such credible threats.
LLL and COG also urged folks to avoid engaging in conversations with the witch-hunting page administrators, noting that such exchanges would only serve to further enflame an already volatile situation. LLL noted that the page administrators could consider such postings from those who self-identified as (Neo-Pagan/Wiccan) “Witches” as “proof” that evil, malicious witches were trying to silence them.
This recommendation from LLL and COG proved rather prophetic. As a case in point, an unrelated “anti-witch” Facebook page (which had lain dormant for nearly a year), suddenly received a great deal of traffic as soon as it was mentioned on an “anti-hate-speech” page. Counterproductive, indeed. Hence, we need to be aware that we might be defeating our own purpose by drawing attention to or posting on objectionable pages.
A few days after LLL and COG issued their open letters to Facebook—VICTORY! Both pages were removed and all the CyberWitches rejoiced….
Epilogue: A couple of days after that, one of the pages resurfaced under a different name, but without some of the more threatening or violent language. It’s still there, as of September 11th, 2013, as the witch-hunting saga continues.
Stay Strong & Merry Mabon & Goddess Bless!—Gwynalda )O(
Trending Toward The Positive
By Evylyn Rose
Everyone Has Something to Teach
Last month, we looked at the importance of time in a subculture that hates to be run by the tick of a clock. This month, I want to look at another area we can improve within the Pagan community, especially as Witches. This involves what we bring to the table. Can you teach a class? Run an event? Organize people? Do you have meaningful, moral stories to share?
A couple years back, I was part of a meet-up group that focused on Pagan learning. It was all about bringing people of like mind together to socialize and teach each other. The organizers of the group always stressed that “everyone has something to teach,” yet it was rare that anyone outside of the organizers would do so. Reflecting on this, I cannot stress enough how true their words are.
There were many snags in the attempts to get other members of the group to lead a meeting or organize a lesson. The most common to come up—mostly of those new to the group—was that they falsely believed they had nothing to teach. Somewhere along the lines, they were led to believe they had to be at the level of expert to share anything. They were either very new to the whole thing or felt somehow inferior in knowledge and experience to other members of the group.
No matter where you are in your study and practice of Witchcraft, you have something to offer the community. Even if it may seem small and short or extremely basic, you have a lesson worth teaching within you. You may know absolutely nothing at all metaphysical. You may not have stories to share. However, you have skills outside of any new found interest, hobby, spirituality, practice, or lifestyle. Share them.
For example, you could share (as the last article made obvious as a need) time management skills. Perhaps you see other needs within the community or a single group, such as public speaking, writing, and other communications. Could those you interact with use some help with navigating the internet or computer use in general? Do you excel in researching through the public library?
Have you mastered the art of networking, business management, or statistics? Even if you are fresh out of high school (or still in it!), you have likely learned some skill or subject area that can be valuable to others who may have missed out on the lessons and experiences you, as a unique individual, have.
So go on and throw away that nagging doubt that you don’t have anything to offer. You may have to use some creative brainstorming if nothing comes to mind immediately, but you can and are ready to teach something. If nothing else, pick a topic you are interested in and research it as much as you can. Put something together. Pretend like you are back in grade school and write a report. Use it as inspiration and a guideline to create a class from.
The other issue that came up a lot in the learning group was individuals knowing they had something to share and wanting to teach, but fearing it at the same time. They were scared of public speaking, afraid of messing up or failing, or simply felt out of place in a leadership role. These individuals would either not commit to teach or they would, only to have things “come up” last minute or mysteriously not show up and be unreachable.
Unfortunately, this problem area is considerably more difficult to tackle. It involves complex issues surrounding feelings, comfort levels, perceived social roles, and confidence. The only one who can really resolve this problem is you. You have to face your fears, investigate and challenge your feelings, experiment with different roles, and remember that you are a perfect you and any confidence you have in that is fully and divinely justified.
Just get out there and do it. As someone who struggled in this area for many years myself, I assure you it gets easier every time. In high school speech and debate, I was “most improved” because I was able to stand at the podium and talk without tearing up and running out the room, even though I was far too quiet, spoke way too fast, and had trouble speaking without a full script to read from. Don’t settle with trying only once or even failing. Keep going. Not only do you improve with each attempt, but also you will begin to find what styles, techniques, and voice work best for you.
The third big issue that came up in the learning group was one of my own. The idea of putting together and presenting a lesson as someone who has a near overabundance of knowledge in various areas and plenty of personal experience was simple. However, I never had the time for it (I was working and going to school full time during that timeframe). Yet with so many meetings turning into duds and just pure social discussion about whatever, there were more than ample opportunities for me to teach something randomly.
So what was the problem? For all the wealth of information that I have stored in me that could provide valuable learning opportunities for others, I’m terrible at teaching it aside from simply discussing it. The very thought of presenting a lesson without preparation seems absurd and sure to be a dud.
Another issue I bumped into early on with the group was that, despite my years of study and practice, I was still fairly new to meeting with others in person. Like a dummy, I simply assumed others were the same and it would be months later before someone pointed out to me that even those who say they have been on the path for years are still learning the obvious basics because they previously did not commit the time for whatever reason. I could touch on even the tiniest tip of the iceberg, feeling as an equivalent to “Pagan preschool,” and provide valuable knowledge and learning to other members of the group.
So what can be done here? Well, first off, don’t assume anything. Just ask what people do or do not know and go from there. You can tailor lessons to include basic, intermediate, or advanced information or even blend a little of all for more diverse leveled groups. Even if you what you teach is a subject area well known to others, you may have a new perspective or fresh approach to the material that the others find stimulating in their own study and practice.
Secondly, do what I am doing now. Don’t wait until you are in a group or have a lesson to schedule. Just create little classes you can give. If this means pulling out notecards, construction paper, Power Point, etc., just jump right in. Even if you create some really awesome stuff, you don’t necessarily have to have it on you. You can be prepared to schedule and teach a class with minimal notice, or present it off the cuff without your supplies (if you have them) simply because you’ve already gone over how you want the lesson to go. And just as with getting over teaching for the first time, the more you do it, the easier it is.
So for all of you out there, no more excuses this time. Everyone has something to bring to the table. Get out there and share. What you put out comes back to you. With every effort to step up and share with others, you will find yourself rewarded with multitudes of new learning and experiences.
Recipes for This Month's Herb
No recipes this month.
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Until next month, may you be blessed in all that you do, or as we usually say,
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