Spirit Guides


I’m sorry to trouble you but I wasn’t sure who to ask. I decided to talk to my spiritual guide for the first time to help have a question answered that had been troubling me a for a while. I was able to enter a place of forest, a beautiful place where I met my spiritual guide who helped answer my question. I was so completely calm and at peace with him that I failed to question that he wasn’t human until I came out of my trance like state. It was easy to enter the place and talk to him, but hard to leave. My “spiritual guide” was a man, a strong bold looking man, he had deer antlers on his head. they were of great size. he sat cross legged when we talked, and was very calm but still with a sense of boldness. When I asked for his name he hesitated, and I found the name to be false. after the event I went to look for him because our encounter seems strange. What I found is that, I believe he is the Horned God. the Oak King and the Holly King. Is this strange or am I mistaken? I am very confused if he was the horned god why he would appear as my spiritual guide. Can you help me? I just need an explanation, can gods be spiritual guides? Why did HE appear instead of an actual spirit?

A “spirit guide” can be any type of entity, and especially if you left the request for contact sort of open ended, then it’s possible that any entity could choose to manifest as your “guide”, even potentially a deity.  So that, in and of itself, isn’t necessarily strange if it was a God that came to you – the point is whether or not the information imparted was useful, and/or needed.

Alternatively (again if the request was too open ended, or without a clear focus), there are some entities that might try to take advantage of that sort of situation. So while it may be something benevolent giving whatever advice they think you can handle for now, it could also be something else entirely that is lying to you for it’s own ends. It’s important to be careful about such things.

As far as visual form – the “Horned God” you describe seems to fit with sort of a general accepted image of Cernunnos, or similar type images like what is seen in the Gundestrup cauldron. However, Cernunnos is particularly related to Celtic polytheism (though the name itself was derived from a Gaulish monument dating back to Roman times) , rather than a “horned God” in general, so not entirely sure how/if that relates to your practice or not. Similar figures – antlered and wearing animal skins have also been noted elsewhere, such as the cave paintings at Trois Frères.

The Oak King/Holly King mythos – is something that was documented by Robert Graves in his book “The White Goddess”, and previously by James Frazier in “The Golden Bough” (chapter 28 in particular). It was later picked up by Stewart and Janet Farrar, and incorporated into their practices, as written about in “A Witches’ Bible”. Again, not something that is necessarily related to Cernunnos, or even “horned Gods” in general – even if some “horned Gods” might follow that type of cycle.  

If those are things that fit within your practices, then it could be why your “guide” chose that particular form. But again as to if it was actually deity and/or the Horned God specifically that visited you, it’s hard to say. Could be, definitely not out of the realm of possibilities, but could also be another entity using a guise that fit with something you would more readily recognize and be willing to accept advice from.

Generally when one is in a situation like that, it’s good to ask questions to help test the “validity” (relatively speaking of course) of what is being experienced – but then again, sometimes it’s the advice given that really matters (regardless of the source). It’s easy enough for entities to choose whatever face they want to put on, so sometimes even if you can’t tell if they really are who they say they are, as long as you can get a good sense of the intent behind their visit, and if the advice being given is relevant and helpful (even if it’s not necessarily what you were hoping to hear), then it may be ok to accept the experience at face value, despite not being quite what you were expecting.

 Some other options…

  •  go back into a meditative/trance state and see if you can contact them again, and try to get a better sense of who they are. Ask more questions – they may or may not choose to answer, but it’s still a good way of trying to clarify the experience.
  •  use divination to help to confirm the experience.
  •  independent confirmation from other trusted Pagans who often work with spirit guides, or who might normally have a strong working relationship with said deity.
  •  independent confirmation via a cold reading from others who are trustworthy and experienced in various divination methods.

Keep in mind as well, if you decide to contact this entity again, don’t be afraid to question it. Any new relationship has a getting to know you period and questions and discussion are a part of that.

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New Pagan Mentors and Ritual Advice


I’ve been interested in Paganism for a few years, but I’ve gotten more serious about delving into it in the past month. I’ve been doing a ton of research and trying to read as much as I can about different viewpoints and paths within the umbrella term of Paganism. But I’m still so overwhelmed with all that is out there. I have so many questions I’m not finding answers to on the internet. So first of all I’m really wondering where I can find a teacher or mentor. I live in Madison, WI, which is a fairly open minded, liberal city, but I haven’t been able to find any groups that meet. Are there sites online where you can be paired with someone older and wiser, or do you suggest trying to forge a relationship in person.

Working with someone in-person will almost always be the best choice (and in some cases a requirement), when it comes to learning Pagan related material. Particularly if you are interested in any witchcraft or energy-based paths, attempting to learn via books or online can make it a daunting task. In general though, it will probably be somewhat difficult to find a mentor, until you are able to narrow down a particular path that you are interested in. In the meantime you can check places like Witchvox, where you can filter groups by state to see if there is anything near you. Occasionally you can find groups via Pagan Meetup as well.

As far as online resources, forums can be kind of hit or miss, with a lot of them being angsty drama filled areas, rife with misappropriation and misconceptions. So for a beginner it can be hard to navigate especially when you aren’t at a point where you are better able to distinguish good information from the bad. Having said that, I would suggest checking out the eCauldron Paganism for Beginners forum. They’ve been around for years, and seem to have done better than most at keeping it from getting too crazy around there (unlike some other more well known forums). Of course too you can always continue to ask questions here on the blog, or even via our FB page, or Tumblr page.

I tried my first ritual (a very simple one) for Beltane yesterday night, and I don’t feel like I did it “right”. I didn’t really get anything from it, or something?

First time rituals, especially for those who are practicing solitary are often less than spectacular. Part of it, is just because we are nervous and not entirely sure of what we are doing, and constantly wondering if we did it right, or if we have forgotten anything. As well, we have all these huge expectations, from what others have said, or what we’ve seen in movies, etc… and it’s usually not ever the same. Then sometimes, it’s just that “stuff” happens – even if we’ve done everything perfectly, the energy is off and it just wasn’t meant to be. All of which is perfectly normal, and the more often you practice and do ritual work, the easier it will get.

On that note though, if you are unsure of which path/religion you are interested in – what sort of Beltane ritual were you attempting? Not all Pagan paths celebrate Beltane – generally it’s only the Wiccan or NeoPagan related ones that do (though various others may have similar celebrations around that same time), so it could be too that it didn’t feel “right”, because it really wasn’t something that you are ultimately called to celebrate. The same holds if you called on a particular God or Goddess, it could also be that they choose not to respond, or that they are Gods of a path that you aren’t really being called to.

It’s also worth mentioning as well, that ritual workings are not typically an “instant” sort of thing. Especially if you follow a “Wheel of the Year” type model – what we plant in the Spring, we harvest in the Fall, and even outside of that framework, it can still (and often does) take time for energy/magic to manifest. So it may not be that it didn’t work, it’s just taking the appropriate time it needs to come to fruition.  

Also, I’d done it outside, so I’d gathered all the materials together in a bag. I left it carelessly in my room when I got back in, and my mom noticed it in the morning (stuff was sort of falling out) and started looking through it, asking why I had candles and some clay bowls (which I’d borrowed without asking from her). I don’t want to tell her about my interest in Paganism quite yet, as I’m not even sure where I’m going myself. My family isn’t religious, and I know they’d be supportive, but my mom has a tendency to act like she understands when she doesn’t (she has good intentions). But she got really mad that I’d taken her stuff and kept asking why, and I couldn’t really think of an excuse. Should I tell her? I don’t really want to, but now she also thinks I was stealing or planning on selling her bowls. So overall, I’m sort of lost at the moment, but I also feel so happy about the idea of becoming further involved with this spirituality.

If you feel that she would be supportive (or at the very least not react negatively), then you should be honest with her, and explain that you are interested in Paganism, and that you were trying a basic holiday ritual. It’s definitely much better than being thought of as a liar or a thief.

While you are talking to her about it though, just let her know that you are still in the very beginning stages, and that you are still learning the basics. I would also apologize for taking her stuff, and let her know that you won’t do so again without permission (that could be why your ritual didn’t feel right either – if you were using items that didn’t belong to you, and you didn’t have the owner’s permission, it could definitely have affected the energy).

Overall, as mentioned previously – continue to study, and work on figuring out what particular path you are interested in. While there are a myriad of paths out there, as well as the potential to choose an Eclectic path (which requires quite a bit more work than one would think), it can also be fun to learn about the different cultures and practices associated with each one. So don’t stress too much if you start feeling overwhelmed, just take your time and eventually it will work itself out.

 

Pan and the Nature of Gods


Hi, i’m new to paganism and am wondering about Pan, and if he is a loving deity. I think our culture has stereotyped the idea of the devil so much that searching for understanding/differences/alternatives is difficult. I’ve heard of the green-woman but not very much about her. Goddesses interest me, its just that compared to the hypocritical ideas in christian religions of a loving god + hell, other kinds of male deities interest me too… i’d like to believe in good ones in general that work for me.

Going strictly by the original lore – I wouldn’t really categorize Pan as a “loving” deity, at least not in the sense I think you mean. Clearly he’s not one deserving to be vilified as he has been, but he’s also not necessarily gentle and kind either. Though primarily a God of “shepherds and flocks, of mountain wilds, hunting and rustic music”, there is also a good reason why his name can be seen in the word “panic”. As a companion of Dionysus, he is more rightfully associated with pleasure and wild abandon, instead of more placid pursuits. As such, he was often found chasing Nymphs, though they they clearly did not return his affections, and in many cases went to extreme lengths to avoid being “caught”.

If you are interested in getting a pretty detailed picture of Pan, at least as far as the lore is concerned, I would suggest reading over the Theoi Project page on him. It’s a great overview and links to the related texts and source materials, which you can use for further research.

The thing to keep in mind with most Gods and Goddesses, at least from a Pagan perspective, is that “good” and “bad” are sort of relative terms – it’s usually not so cut and dry. While some Gods or Goddesses may be more caring and loving (or whatever other “good” qualities one might look for), in many cases it’s more a matter of them having good days and bad days just like everyone else. The question to ask too, is…  What is “good”/“bad”? Some people don’t like to acknowledge things that make them uncomfortable, even if those things are perfectly normal or necessary. From a more conservative perspective “pleasure” and “wild abandon” are often considered taboo, yet there can be joy and even healing in such actions. To be sure, too much of anything can be a bad thing (and there is definitely the potential for it to be taken to an extreme with Pan), but even so, letting our hair down every once in awhile is a wonderful release.

If you are just looking for “good” Gods to work with, you may have a difficult time finding what you are looking for. There are many Gods who are known for being kindly, and/or less demanding than others, but even most of those have another side to them as well. If there is a particular God or Goddess that you feel called to, it’s probably going to be a matter of either accepting them as they are, or declining the call. It usually doesn’t work out very well when we try to force our Gods into being something that they really aren’t.

For those following us – if any of you work with Pan on a regular basis, please feel free to share (as much as you are able, or willing to) any personal experiences, that would give more insight as to his general nature. We’d love to hear from you!! 🙂

 

Dream Meanings & Folklore: Cutting Hair and Burying It


I had a dream, in the dream a man was telling me to trim my hair on a full moon and bury it in my yard. This is the only thing I remember about the dream. I looked it up online and apparently it’s associated with an old wives tales about fuller hair. Should I do as instructed? Is their other meanings for burying hair on a full moon besides hair growth? I’ve never even heard of this before. Totally weird. Thanks for any information.

I’ll start off talking a little bit about dreams in general, before moving on to any potential associated folklore. One thing to keep in mind when it comes to dream interpretation, is that no matter what the dream dictionaries or symbolism books say, at the very heart of it all is…  what do those specific things mean to you?

While there are many generally accepted meanings to certain things, we have to remember that context and our own personal experiences, are key to understanding them. So while one person may dream of being at the beach, and think it is the most beautiful dream in the world – to someone who has an absolute fear of drowning, dreaming of being at the beach might very well be a nightmare to them.

So there are a few questions to ask yourself going into this…

  • “What does your hair symbolize to you?”
  • “What would losing your hair, or having to cut it mean to you?”
  • “Was it something that was mentioned in passing – like a suggestion, or was it a command?”
  • “Did you cut it in the dream, and if so, how did it make you feel?”

In general dreaming of getting a haircut, indicates a need for change, or a desire for change. In this case, where someone else was telling you to do so, it may mean that there is an outside influence in your life that is attempting to change you, potentially in a way that could undermine you. That you are being told to bury it could also indicate that they want to ensure that all traces of that part of you are gone… sort of “out of sight, out of mind”.

So, on the one hand (unless you really have areas in your life that need to be changed), it’s not necessarily a positive dream. However, it again depends almost entirely on how you feel about the situation, rather than how an “outsider” views it.

As to potential related folklore, there are a few things that come to mind, though most have to do with the hair being the seat of one’s power, or in some cases, an extension of the soul. Tried to find some concrete references (which is why it took me so long to get back to you) and other than the really well known things – like Samson, not much in the way of credible sources. There is a chapter in James Frazer’s The Golden Bough which may be relevant, so I’ve included an excerpt of that here as well (you can read the full chapter though the link above)…

“…To preserve the cut hair and nails from injury and from the dangerous uses to which they may be put by sorcerers, it is necessary to deposit them in some safe place. The shorn locks of a Maori chief were gathered with much care and placed in an adjoining cemetery. The Tahitians buried the cuttings of their hair at the temples. In the streets of Soku a modern traveller observed cairns of large stones piled against walls with tufts of human hair inserted in the crevices. On asking the meaning of this, he was told that when any native of the place polled his hair he carefully gathered up the clippings and deposited them in one of these cairns, all of which were sacred to the fetish and therefore inviolable. These cairns of sacred stones, he further learned, were simply a precaution against witchcraft, for if a man were not thus careful in disposing of his hair, some of it might fall into the hands of his enemies, who would, by means of it, be able to cast spells over him and so compass his destruction…”

As to the idea that hair being cut on a full moon will make it grow faster, or longer again (as you said) seems to just be an old wive’s tale. Everyone says it, but there really doesn’t seem to be any sort of original reference as to where the idea came from. To be sure, the moon has an effect on the tides, pulling on them stronger when there is a full moon, so I think it’s a matter of assigning a similar concept to one’s hair. For some general myths and folklore related to hair, you can check the following as well.

Hopefully, some of this was helpful to you. It wasn’t as much as I had wanted to post on the subject, but the lack of resources put a bit of a damper on that. As to whether or not you should cut it – that is going to really depend on the answers that you give to the questions that were posed back at the beginning. If you are in a position of needing to make a change, then cutting it may be a good idea. If you are feeling pressured to make a change that you feel is unnecessary, then it may be worth it to just say no.