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The Big Lesson I Learned From My Winding Spiritual Path

If you’ve been following me around the web for the last, oh I don’t know…5 years or so…you’ve noticed some things have changed about me along the way.

Lately things have been changing even more. A lot of internal changes, a lot of Ah-Ha moments. A lot of realizing that I’ve moved away from things that 10 years ago I would have sworn would have always been a part of my life.

Earlier this week I put on a pentacle necklace of mine that I’ve had forever but haven’t worn in ages and it felt weird. It felt weird to wear it and for a moment it actually didn’t feel right to me at all. There was this sense of unfamiliarness {yup, totally made up that word}.

Part of why this seemed so strange to me was that I have a pentacle ring that says “Witch Diva” across it that I wear on my right hand and haven’t taken off in at least 5 years. Ironically I never take that ring off yet I regularly don’t wear my engagement or wedding rings {largely because I lost a small diamond chip out of the band of my engagement ring a little while ago and I don’t want anything else to happen to it}.

I never thought there would be a time when I wouldn’t regularly wear my witchy jewelry. Many years ago, probably when I was in my early 20’s, I often wore 4 or 5 different magical necklaces at once. Every finger had a pentacle or triple moon ring on it. Maybe some part of me felt I needed to advertise it, I don’t know, but at the time it was routine for me to look like the Pagan Mr{s} T.

The funny thing is that when my personal spiritual path and practiced started it change it came after I got to do something that some people might consider a sort of crowning achievement – getting to work with and take training from someone who had long been an inspiration to me.

I had just completed my Second Degree in the Cabot Tradition of Witchcraft. I had the chance to work with Laurie Cabot for my First and Second Degrees in her tradition. It was great and I had a chance to finally learn some things from that tradition that I’d long been exposed to by other teachers in dribs and drabs. Now that I was done with Second Degree I had to make the decision about whether or not I was going to take on Third Degree.

Now, if you’re thinking “WOW! First and Second Degree with Laurie Cabot! That’s impressive!” I’m going burst your bubble a little and say, it’s not anything anyone can’t do. Third Degree is a little more of an impressive achievement in my opinion.

First and Second Degree are each 4 day workshops where you spend 3 days taking notes during lectures with Laurie and practicing techniques with other students. Then on the final day you have to actually demonstrate that you can do these things for Laurie and her Third Degree students that are there helping her out. At the end, as long as you show you have skill and knowledge from what you just learned for a few days, you get your First and Second Degrees.

Third Degree {from what I was told at time, I have no idea how it may have changed since} required a year {plus} commitment to attending all the Sabbat rituals, doing book study and writing papers, eventually helping/participating in these public rituals, attending moon rituals, helping with teaching and other temple duties, doing community service…basically the “real work”. That degree and the potential title that it could bring is really earned.

I had to decide if I was ready for that.

Part of me was. Part of me was really dying to do it! In fact on the night of Second Degree “graduation” when Laurie asked me if I was going to go on to do Third Degree I gave her a big YES. There was no question in that moment.

Once I came down from the high of it all I started to have doubts. For one, if I made this commitment my life was going to get a little messy. My husband was already making plans for us to move back to California so he could take on a new management position at work that he had to be on-site for. He also understood that this was something I really wanted to do, so we were going to basically be live apart for the better portion of year…me in Boston and him in San Diego.

That felt…quite honestly…stupid.

So I started doing a lot of meditating on the issue. What did I want from this? Did I want to be a Cabot High Priestess? If not, why do this? Did I want to run a Cabot coven and teach Cabot Trad? If not, why do this?

I started really looking at what I believed when it came to my path and especially the Craft. How important were some of these things to my sense of spiritual connection and well-being? Did I need to do full out rituals for every moon? Did I feel like I had to do daily offerings to the Gods to feel we were connected? Was I ready to actually give up some of my beliefs to be part of this tradition?

In the end I came away with a lot of “no” answers. My guides, my cards, my crystals…everything pointed to this being a bad idea. They also pointed to this being a bit of a turning point for me. Things were going to change and my spiritual path was opening up to something new.

Eight months later I would find myself walking a very different path that was embracing Buddhism, yoga, mindfulness, deep gratitude, intention and Law of Attraction work…less formal ritual and more smaller, spontaneous rituals of my own making and structure. I was still very strongly connected to my hoodoo practice, something that I refused to give up to be a Cabot. I also refused to give up the practices of some of my heritage {mainly the Native American parts} and ones that involved non-European Gods that I’d developed deep connections to, like Ganesha.

Come mid 2013 I was no longer connected to a lot of the Neo-Pagan practices I’d embraced for 20+ years. By this time I’d long disassociated myself from Neo-Wicca, which was where I got started in my pre-teens. I didn’t believe a lot of these things anymore and I was OK with that. In fact, by 2014 I pretty much stopped calling myself a Witch.

I lost friends. Friends who were my “best friends”. I didn’t care and just wished them well. If the only reason we were “friends” or somehow associated was because we both claimed a similar spiritual tradition then we weren’t ever truly friends. If changing my outward spiritual expression pushed someone away I was happy to see them go. It also made me wonder if I had kept a “witchy facade” and practiced however I wanted privately would they have ever been the wiser? Would we still be “close friends”?

Not to trivialize this at all, but it was a moment where I got a great sense of what it feels like for some people who live in Christian communities or families but who are Pagan behind closed doors.

When those people would come to me asking for help with what to do in their situations I always said “Find a way to be who you are, even if that means losing friends or even family. You owe it to yourself to be happy and be who you are.” Now it was my turn to take my own advice.

So when I put on this necklace the other day I had a moment of thinking “Hmm…I wonder if it would be fun to go back to some of my old practices…” After about an hour of wearing the pentacle necklace and thinking back on those past things I felt like I was reflecting on a movie I’d watched with someone else in it, not thinking back on my own past and my own experiences and practices.

I’m not that person anymore and there’s no going back.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t embrace and practice magic and ritual! That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in the Gods in all their forms! What happened was my beliefs and spiritual path expanded beyond that box. Some things that meant a lot to me didn’t fit in that box. They were too big and expansive. Even when I tried to take a few things out of the box to fit the new things in it didn’t work.

So I had to build a new box, one of my own making that allowed me to fit in all the things that actually, honestly, truly mattered to me while also leaving room to breathe, move and expand more later on.

Now it’s time for me to retire the pentacles for good, but not the magic. Not the practice.

I no longer need to wear my spirituality on my sleeve. Looking back I think that in a lot of ways I was looking for approval and acceptance from others, especially in the earlier days. Like the “Hey, you’re a Witch!? Me TOO!” or “Wow, you’re a Witch?! Teach me!” and even the occasional look of “I’m not gonna fuck with this chick.”

One of the other great benefits is feeling the freedom to read, research and practice whatever the hell I want. I used to think that you HAD to have a specific tradition to know what you’re doing. Like declaring a major in college…it was a way of knowing where you were going, what you were doing and knowing your end goal. Now I don’t see spirituality like that at all. It’s not a course of study, it’s a way of life and that path will be changing and winding. It’s better to follow your heart down that path rather than a rigid “must do” plan because you decided you were something.  That’s the big lesson!

It’s exciting to know there’s no plan. Who knows where Spirit will take me tomorrow.

{P.S. I decided to keep the ring for now as a reminder that even though I may not call myself a Witch to others anymore, once a Witch always a Witch. And if you don’t believe I’m a bit of a diva, we don’t really know each other. }


Comments

  1. Linda Ursin says

    I can relate to the changes you’ve gone through. I’ve had some of those myself. The pentacle was never for me. I practiced for 9 years before I even heard of Wicca. So I sort of skipped that step 🙂 I was an eclectic, non-religious witch for many years, then gravitated towards Asatru, but it’s not complete enough for me. So I’m keeping the parts that fit, and discarding the rest. I’m still a witch, I’m still a heathen, but I was never religious.

  2. Janine says

    I love that: “keeping the parts that fit and discarding the rest.” It’s such an important part of life to grow and evolve–especially with our spirituality. I think it’s wonderful you’ve stayed true to yourself, even at the risk of loosing “friends,” I know so many people afraid to be themselves because of that reason. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  3. Linda B says

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on your spiritual journey. I also feel like I keep shifting and expanding. I came from budhism and mindfulness and only recently came into Wicca but I see it as being a very personal thing – of which I pick and choose what feels right for me. I find Christopher Penczak’s teachings very fluid and open which I’m into.

    It’s always good to read about and learn from other’s paths. New people will come with a new path of our choosing – I’m with you on that one!
    Take care xox 🙂

  4. linda loo says

    yeppers. wondered where you were going to end up. there were times I just rolled my eyes when I read your posts over the years.. You look awesome and seem to be more at peace then ever before.. You look less hard and less judgy. I know that’s not a word either but back in the day I got that from you. I stayed on to wait and watch. I think you have come full circle now. This family is much like you now. we embrace many things as well as our heritage of Irish and Indian beliefs. many happy thoughts sent to you. welcome to the new you.

Client Love

Jess is a great teacher, as well as an insightful reading and a wonderful healer. Her lessons are informative and easy to understand. Her cards speak to her in a way that I hope mine will to me one day. I have also had a Chakra session and a Reiki session with her and afterward I felt at peace, balanced, and whole again (I was quite sick at the time). I trust very few people, and I follow my path alone, but I trust Jess. She’s a beautiful spirit.

Bev

Jess Carlson
5
2019-05-09T10:56:45-07:00

Bev

Jess is a great teacher, as well as an insightful reading and a wonderful healer. Her lessons are informative and easy to understand. Her cards speak to her in a way that I hope mine will to me one day. I have also had a Chakra session and a Reiki session with her and afterward I felt at peace, balanced, and whole again (I was quite sick at the time). I trust very few people, and I follow my path alone, but I trust Jess. She’s a beautiful spirit.
When I started coaching with Jess I thought I was coming to her for help with a breakup and an unexpected and sudden international move. It turned out that wasn't the real issue at all! Jess asked questions I never would have thought to ask myself and gave me a whole new perspective on what was going on in my life. She made me feel like what I want matters. By the time we were done I felt like I could take on the world!

Patricia

Jess Carlson
5
2019-05-09T10:56:03-07:00

Patricia

When I started coaching with Jess I thought I was coming to her for help with a breakup and an unexpected and sudden international move. It turned out that wasn't the real issue at all! Jess asked questions I never would have thought to ask myself and gave me a whole new perspective on what was going on in my life. She made me feel like what I want matters. By the time we were done I felt like I could take on the world!
Incredible, intuitive, thoughtful, and professional reader! Will definitely book with Jess again.

Cadey

Jess Carlson
5
2019-11-11T23:09:41-08:00

Cadey

Incredible, intuitive, thoughtful, and professional reader! Will definitely book with Jess again.
OMG I'm blown away by the accuracy of the reading. Jess has a special gift. What she revealed to me, opened me up to a place I knew I should be at but was holding myself back from.

Masha

Jess Carlson
5
2019-11-11T23:10:42-08:00

Masha

OMG I'm blown away by the accuracy of the reading. Jess has a special gift. What she revealed to me, opened me up to a place I knew I should be at but was holding myself back from.
I was so overwhelmed trying to get back into my witchcraft practice, but Jess helped me create an actual plan and a schedule for doing the work. The results in just two months has been far beyond my expectations. I'm in touch with my power like never before!

Sara

Jess Carlson
5
2019-11-11T23:14:38-08:00

Sara

I was so overwhelmed trying to get back into my witchcraft practice, but Jess helped me create an actual plan and a schedule for doing the work. The results in just two months has been far beyond my expectations. I'm in touch with my power like never before!
5
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Jess Carlson