6.10.14

Times Are A-Changin'

A few weeks ago, I ordered some items from an occult/Pagan web shop. This is the first time I have ever ordered ritual supplies online. I have bought a few before, but always modified them myself, in some cases even completely restored them or simply made them from scratch. But this time, I just couldn't make these supplies myself or find them in my town. I mean, I can't make a cauldron and, even though I searched for one, I couldn't find it. So I was forced to order online. Fortunately, the items came undamaged and fairly soon. This got me thinking about modern times, how much Pagans and witches have adapted over the past few decades and also how much this adaptation was necessary.

I have talked about this in my post entitled "Progressive Witchcraft", but I put more focus on changes in spirituality and ceremonial practices. This time, I want to talk about everyday changes that probably all Pagans and witches come across, about the many pros and cons of the process of adaptation and mundane things/actions that we have learnt to turn into something spiritual.

First of all, I would like to state that adaptation, progression and modernization are not necessarily bad. There are still Pagans and witches who believe that sticking to tradition is the right way to go and that any "updates" to the system can only diminish its value. Well I disagree. I believe that tradition is important, but we can't avoid modernization. People change, culture changes, needs change and, of course, times change. This cannot be avoided. The only thing we can do is try to accept the positive changes, and avoid the negative ones.

Just off the top of my head, here are a few modern touches to Paganism and witchcraft that I personally am in favor of. I have noticed that there are quite a few covens/circles that have their own Facebook group. I find this wonderful! It makes organization so much easier and faster. Before, you would have to organize meetings (some of which were kept secret) just to set the time and place for the actual ritual. This was just so time-consuming. Now we have Facebook groups, phones, e-mail and all sorts of ways to get in touch with the members of our group. On the other hand, if you're a Solitary and want to find a group to work with, this can also be done via the Internet; be it Facebook or a Pagan-oriented web site such as Witchvox.

Here are a few more ways in which modern Pagans and witches use technology. You've probably heard about e-books. Thousands, if not millions of them exist on the Internet. All you have to do to get your hands on one is download it onto your computer. Some are available for free, while you have to pay for others on sites such as Amazon or Ebay. But even if you do have to pay for them, the electronic book is always cheaper than the paper version. This is economic and practical because you can transfer this book from your computer to you phone, tablet, laptop or whatever smart gadget you have. And yes, Pagans and witches can also be fans of technology. I personally love technology and think it makes our lives so much simpler. In any case, there are tons of occult/Pagan/witchy e-books accessible on the Internet. This means that so much more information is available at our fingertips. I cannot tell you how many wonderful e-books I have come across. Many of them aren't even available in my country so the Internet is the only way I can get them. Also, searching an e-book is much faster than flipping pages. You just search for the keyword you want and the program does the rest for you. E-books really are a blessing.

Since we're on the topic of books, I have even heard of some Wiccans/Pagans writing their Book of Shadows, dream book, divination book or something similar to this on their computer! This is indeed nontraditional, but it is very practical. You can do wonders with the design, writing can go faster, you can edit, replace, move things around, delete what you don't need, add great pictures (which would otherwise be a problem if you're not so good at drawing) and the list goes on. Of course, you can lose the file by accidentally deleting it, or if you computer crashes, but that's why a lot of people save their book on a USB stick, external hard disc and so on. Yet, this is still a rarity. Most Pagans I know prefer to have old-fashioned paper books which they can write in. I also find this a much nicer way to do things. Just the touch of paper, putting time into decorating, writing and just seeing your handwriting on the page creates a certain experience that cannot be replaced by fancy pictures and fonts on the computer. But this is just my opinion. Many will disagree, and I can understand why because of the many practical benefits of an electronic notebook.

And what about web shops? Many are against them, especially when it comes to ordering ritual tools. Ordering books has become quite common, but ritual tools are, traditionally speaking, supposed to be made by the practitioner him/herself. This is because each item takes on the energy of its creator. When you (the practitioner) make a ritual tool, then your energy is already imprinted into the item, and along with it certain intentions. This is what defines the ritual tool and what makes it yours. Ordering something, or even buying it from somebody else, according to some Pagans/witches, depersonalizes it (i.e. the item is not fully yours and can therefore contain energy and intentions that have nothing to do with you and can even cause problems in rituals). Practitioners try to neutralize this by adding their own details to the item (e.g. inscribing a sword) and by cleansing and blessing it for further use. My opinion is that we can't all be painters, forgers, sculptors, writers or wood-carvers. Of course, it's best if you at least try to make something yourself, but if there really is no way then why not make your life simpler and order/buy the item you need. For instance, how on earth was I supposed to forge my own cast iron cauldron, or a bell?

Regarding ritual tools, you will find that many Pagans/witches use nontraditional objects in their ritual practice. For example, some will decide to use a lighter instead of matches to light their candles because they find this more practical. Although cotton is the most traditional item for making robes, some will not stick to this rule and use other materials (which may even be synthetic and less itchy). Actually, it wouldn't surprise me if I saw someone putting their tablet onto the altar just so they can see the ritual text more easily! We live in modern times...what can I say.

Anyway, I think you get the point. But what about the other side of the story? Many Pagans/witches still prefer the traditional way of doing things; writing in leather-bound notebooks, using matches, searching through dusty papers for information and meeting people face to face for organizing celebrations. The main reason behind this, apart from just liking tradition, is wanting the ambient to stay vintage. And I have to admit, using candles does have much more charm and appeal to me than using a flashlight, as does using a handmade Book of Shadows instead of a tablet. Paganism is an ancient, practically iconic spiritual path and some people believe that too much modernization can only take away its beauty. I too am an advocate of moderation and this is no exception.

I believe that modernization is good, as long as it feels right and doesn't diminish the experience or somehow profane a ritual. Too much "modern touches" to something that is supposed to be solemn (such as a ritual) can take away the feeling of novelty and uniqueness. It is precisely these feelings that excite, inspire and move the practitioner. They make us remember the experience as something special. Even if the ritual ends up in laughter because somebody said something wrong, or simply if everyone entered a state of ecstatic happiness, the ambient can only enhance the whole experience and make it all the more memorable.

Yet, do we really want to be so old-fashioned that we don't even look at our options? There are so many benefits to modernization and we don't have to embrace them all. Everyone has the right to make their own choices. This is my attempt of showing you some of the options that are out there and that truly are progressive. You may not like all of them, but there may be a few that you find make your life a bit easier, spare you some time and perhaps even enhance the quality of your work. So don't be afraid to turn away from tradition once in a while. You never know what wonderful things you may find! :D

Until next time. Yours,
Witch's Cat

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