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Yasmine Galenorn


Surviving The Magickal Rut
By Yasmine Galenorn

Have you ever reached a point in your magickal practice where everything seems mundane, including your rituals? There you are, sitting in a stagnant pool of water; the earth beneath your feet has gone fallow; the air is still and full of haze and those gorgeous leaping bonfire flames are just a bunch of burnt-out embers. Your wand is drooping, your athame has rust spots and the Gods seem to be having a high old time at your expense. What's a Witch to do?

Once the glow of entering the Craft wears off, the work begins. For months and years we focus ourselves on learning magick, on developing our connection to the Gods. During this time, our attention is taken up by hard work and the desire to get the basics down-whatever system we are learning, whether we are developing our own or joining a coven, we have the enthusiasm that comes with learning a skill. Then, one day, we come to a place where we are confident in our magickal skills, where we understand our basic connection to our spiritual path, and we look around and find we are bored.

It is at this time that we need to expand our awareness. Unlike some of the major religions, Paganism must adapt if it is to thrive. We do not have a Bible or book of rules that we consider absolute; we do not have a Queen of Witches or a Sovereign Priest whose word is law. Even within traditional covens, the changing needs of the members affect how the rites are performed.

In some cases, our boredom and diminished inspiration will come from our reliance on rote mechanics-we do the same ritual in the same old way every time. We get in patterns and don't remember the need for change. We must look for ways to interject a new energy into our traditions. It helps to think of the Wheel of the Year as being a three-dimensional spiral in our lives-we don't come back to the same point as we were at the year before, but spiral up to a similar, yet different energy. Each Sabbat brings us to a new stage in our lives-the harvest rituals we did last year may not be germane to the harvest energy in our lives this year, and so we must adjust the focus.

Perhaps this will only require a little "tweak", at other times it may necessitate a complete change in direction. If we look at our patterns and see this is the problem, a change in ritual can be enough to spark off our interest again. By reading through books of rituals, by watching magickal movies, we might find our imagination sparking off new ideas-and remember, we do not have to use the ritual verbatim; we can adapt as necessary.

At other times, no matter what we try, we cannot spark an interest in our rituals and magickal work. We must question whether this is a natural part of our cycle. There are times when we reach a point in our pathworking that requires we learn something new. We may be lacking a balance of energy-if we only work with Celtic ritual and deities, perhaps we need to balance out the energy and so we will find that we are attracted to the Yoruba traditions, or to a more shamanistic view. Or if we only work with Native American energies, there may come a day when we find that we need the less-earth focused, more intellect-focused energy of Ceremonial Magick. When we are in a magickal rut, it helps to question our intuition to see if we need a different focus.

Many people develop guilt-complexes surrounding this issue-they feel that they are turning their backs on their first love, that they are being 'untrue' to their tradition. This should not be a concern-just as we read different genres of books, just as we want to try out different types of food, and vary our routines, so we will, at times, need a variance in our magickal traditions. I work with Hawaiian energy (mainly Pele's tropical fire), but my roots are in the forest and hunt-oriented magick of Mielikki and Tapio-Finnish forest deities. Even though I am pledged to Mielikki and Tapio, this doesn't mean I'm two-timing them if I want to work with Pan and Aphrodite for a change, unless I get the specific guidance that I am not to do so.

Then there is the issue of being too steeped in the pagan world. Usually this happens when we enter the Craft-everything Pagan seems wonderful and lovely and perfect, and as we go along, we begin to rediscover the parts of ourselves that like other things-just because we're Pagan doesn't mean we can't listen to rock or country or whatever other music we like; just because we're Pagan doesn't mean that we can't hang out with people who are not of that persuasion; just because we're Pagan doesn't mean that we have to embrace every one and every thing within the Pagan community. Sometimes we begin to tire of our rituals and traditions because we are trying too hard to make our entire lives magickal-too much of anything will cause a negative reaction after awhile. Try to balance out your contacts and activities and see if this helps.

When all else fails, ask yourself if you need a break from magickal work. Perhaps it is a fallow season for you, perhaps you need to recharge. There's nothing wrong with taking a break-sometimes the most magickal of moments come when we stand outside, staring at the full moon, simply saying a quiet "hello" to her; or when we hike into a glade and crawl under a waterfall; or when we reach out and snuggle a four-legged friend and feel that intense connection as we remember what a miracle it is that love can connect through such differing beings.

This is the most basic of magickal energy-the life that surrounds us, that fills us with wonder, that reminds us of our connection to the Earth and to one another. In our pursuit of tradition and ritual and raising energy, we must never forget from where those sparks of energy emanate, and the brilliance that is to be found in beauty that fills our lives on a daily basis.

Copyright 2000 by Yasmine Galenorn unauthorized use prohibited.