All posts by Seamus

Tarot for Teenagers

By Seamus | Leave a comment

Divination is a fascinating art. No, not the art of fascination, that’s completely different. We’re talking about seeing the truth here, and I don’t just mean the future. Divination can be used for all sorts of information. It can give advice, explain a situation, and, of course, tell the future.

Divination is an age-old art. At least that’s what my books tell me, but I’ve only been at it for a year. Personally, I use Tarot.

I like the Tarot. It has so many applications, spreads, uses, and a general feeling of awe about it. But Tarot isn’t the only form of divination that has worked for me. I have also used runes, the Ouija board (yes, the one you buy at Toys’R Us), and a pendulum.

For me, my excursions with divination began long before thoughts of Witchcraft even entered my mind. I think I was about 10 when my friends and I used our first Ouija board. The usual “you’re moving it!” and “am not” remarks abounded between questions to “The Spirit World, ” such as, “Who are you?” and “What do you want?”

We never took it too seriously, and everything was fun and games at that age.

When we got bored with it, we used to ask questions about whether or not the board and the Spirit Realm were full of malarkey. We’d move the pointer deliberately to yes, and laugh at our own ingenuity. We forced the board and “any spirits around it” to admit to their utter stupidity and lack of power. But one day the girl who owned the board, Regina, refused to bring it out to play with. We asked her why not and she simply said she didn’t want to anymore. Assuming she had simply grown tired of the game, we moved on to yet another Milton Bradley classic.

But one day a friend of ours had a really important question for the board, and when we asked Regina to bring it out, she refused. Growing curious as to her aversion of the Ouija board, we pressed the issue. She finally admitted that it scared her and she didn’t like it anymore. When asked why it scared her, she proceeded to lead us into her house and up to her bedroom door. She told us to be quiet and listen. We stood silent and heard nothing.

“It’s in my closet, ” she said, and we opened the door and proceeded inside.

Once we were in the room with the closet opened, she pointed to her dresser, which had begun to rattle. She was stark white at this point, and we simply figured that the rattling was due to our moving about. When we were all still, we noticed that her furniture and items were still rattling quite audibly. It had nothing to do with us. The room had been silent prior to entry, and now it shook, even when we were still.

Regina raised an accusatory finger to the Ouija board and ran from the room, followed closely by the rest of us. Her parents disposed of the game shortly after that, and as Regina hoped, the tremors stopped. That sure scared the socks off of us, and created a newfound awe and reverence for the occult in the minds of a few young children, myself included.

So what works for me now? I specialize in Tarot. I think it’s wonderfully insightful, and can bring to light things which I might never have known would influence a situation. When I was very new at this, I decided to do my own reading. I was very concerned at this point about the prospect that I was actually worshipping the Christian Devil by practicing Witchcraft.

I knew that I didn’t believe that Satan had anything to do with modern day Wicca, and that what I was practicing simply affirmed many of the beliefs I held as a young child, before I was forced to grow up and accept the reality of my parents.

After doing a meditation on the Tarot, and the symbolism of the cards, I picked out six cards that held the most meaning for me. They included Temperance, the Page of Swords and the Nine of Swords. proceeded to do the Celtic Cross spread, which I found in Ray Buckland’s “big blue book of rainy day Wicca fun”. I used Temperance as the significator, to represent myself. I shuffled the deck seven times, because I learned from my physics teacher that you must shuffle a deck of cards seven times in order for them to be fully mixed.

The first card I laid down was the Nine of Swords! This was simply exhilarating. The first card out was one which I felt had much meaning for me. Lo and behold, the second card I turned over was the Page of Swords. As I did the rest of the spread, I was shocked, amazed, alarmed, and somewhat frightened by the reading’s accuracy.

The highlight of the spread was when I flipped over card number nine, that which was either my greatest hope, or my greatest fear.

My eyes bulged as I saw the Devil card staring me in the face! My chief fear of Witchcraft had been recognized, and my faith in the power of the tarot had been confirmed. I hold much stock in the validity of the Tarot now, as it has served me well in many instances in the past. I uncover knowledge which was virtually unknown to anyone else when I do spreads for people I meet. The looks of pure astonishment that I get from skeptics when I uncover their past, and open up possibilities for their future are all the reward I need for plying my trade these days.

I basically stick to my Univeral-Waite Tarot deck now, though Runes hold a strong interest for me. I have recently created my own rune set in my ceramics class. I can’t wait to use them! Any advice I could give would be to say that one should get their hands on absolutely any form of divination that interests them. Do much reading on the subject, and practice, practice, practice!

I must also suggest studying the Tarot. It is a true work of art, on both the physical level, and on the psychological and magickal levels too. Tarot can be used for divination, magick, astral projection, Qaballah, meditation, and a variety of other things. It is a beautifully crafted tool and a wonderful aid on the path to further enlightenment.

Much like the Hermit card portrays, the Tarot can be a light on the dark road to self-knowledge, and hey, it’s tons of fun at parties too!

Coven warning

By Seamus | Leave a comment

Listen up kiddies, ’cause this is serious. Being a teenage witch, I can relate to many problems that are being discovered by the many younger members of our religion. I know that as teenagers, we are indeed very inquisitive and very social people. This is absolutely normal for human beings, and we are expected to be this way.

If a teenager is practicing Witchcraft, a religion that is still being frowned upon and persecuted in too many parts of the nation, he or she may feel an extra sense of isolation. Along with the usual feelings of rejection, fear, inequality, low self-esteem, and various other emotional problems that afflict today’s teens, this can be a real kicker. A teenagermay want to seek out people who share their beliefs or interests. This is completely normal, for it is how we chose our friends during those formidable high school years and beyond, but when it involves an alternative religion, one must tread lightly.

This is especially the case with today’s laws. If you’re not 18, anyone over the age of 18 who is discovered to be instructing you in any religious path of which your parents do not approve, can be held legally responsible for “influencing” you against your parents will. So many adult covens, ones with some real experience and lots of real knowledge to share, will usually prefer not to aid you until you are of legal age. It’s a horrible thing to be denied knowledge or the right to learn, but I’m sorry to say that examples have been made, and this is an all too real possibility for those who would gladly help you otherwise.

So it seems that other teens are the only option open huh? Well, let me share my experiences with you before you jump in over your head.

As a teenager, I found people in my school who I believed were fun people, and even better, they practiced Wicca! These people actively practiced the religion by which I was so entranced. I felt like I had discovered “my” people. This is a very popular feeling when many people discover Wicca. What I failed to realize at first was that these people were my age. They had the normal teenage problems that I did. They weren’t all mighty and able to banish their problems with a twitch of their noses or the wave of a magick wand. While they may have had a year or two more than me in which to practice what I was just discovering, I eventually realized that I had a year or two in maturity on them.

Everyone’s personality is different, and not all people can co-exist nicely. High school teaches this to everyone. You can’t get along with everyone on this Earth, and not everyone agrees on everything.

Getting back to my group, I was now in a coven. Oh yeah, we had an initiation. It took place in one member’s basement, with a makeshift altar on a knock hockey board, and a wickedly sharp knife pressed to my throat as I croaked out the words “Perfect love and perfect trust.” (I believe that my bulging eyes may have belied that statement a little.)

I had to prick my finger with the rest of them, let one drop of blood fall into the wineglass, and then drink of our communal blood/wine offering. I was amazed at the depth of their knowledge. It felt as though I knew only the tip of the iceberg. Thus was I plunged headlong into idolatry.

I idolized those in my new group of “friends.” They were so much wiser than I was. (Never mind the fact that I was on the honor roll and each of them was failing a few classes.) They were my teachers, though I may not have agreed with what I learned.

“The most important thing, ” I was told, “is to protect yourself.” For, unbeknownst to me, we had enemies. There were other covens in my school who would attack me with evil magick just because I was weaker than they were. I was in a war, and by joining with this coven, I had unknowingly chosen sides.

I watched as my friend and covenmate crafted a spell in which to bind someone else with his blood. I was terrified. Was I going to be the next victim? Who would strike out at me? I had no enemies; at least that’s what I thought. My friends told me otherwise. I later found out that while some other Pagan groups in my school did not exactly like the people I had gotten involved with, they weren’t about to waste their time doing nasty spells on us.

They were smarter than that. I wish my friends could see that. To this day I can still say that I am grateful to my Catholic upbringing for keeping me from dabbling in nasty hate magick and bindings. I abstained from assaulting anyone else, much to the dismay of one particular covenmate. They eventually stopped teaching me, as we all had our own lives to see about.

I began to gain my knowledge solely from the many books which I had acquired. As I read the accounts and teachings of more and more older and wiser Witches such as Raymond Buckland, Scott Cunningham, Silver RavenWolf, and Doreen Valiente, I realized that my so called “teachers’ were not all that wise.

My visions of their power shattered. They were simply ordinary teenage witches, just like me. One of them had a dark streak, true, but most of the others were in it for acceptance, power trips, and maybe for two of us at least, to teach and to learn.

It’s too bad that the one designated as my teacher wanted me to pursue a slightly different path than I wanted to. Mysticism looked nice enough, but I was focusing on Wicca at the time, and I had my other interests too. They eventually began to lose interest in me, partly because I trusted my books over them, and also because I refused to even learn “black magick.” “I’m a white witch, ” I would tell them. I now realize that there is no such thing, but I tried to come as close as possible.

Well, according to them, white was weak. I trusted in Karma and the Law of Three to protect me, and if necessary, an occasional Justice spell. They did not agree. I should fight back. Hell, I should strike first. I didn’t think so.

Now I realize that that blood binding initiation ritual was an absolutely stupid thing to be lead into. A blood binding is extremely hard to break, even with mutual consent among all involved. I am still with these people, and more have joined us, some have left. I am trapped. I lent a covenmate my pentacle, and he took my athame too. He has two of my most treasured and personal items, and I have no way of getting them back. Teenagers can be extremely petty.

I plan to get out of this so called “coven” as soon as I can get my stuff and hightail it out of there. Until that opportunity arises, or it comes time for me to go away to college, I seem to be stuck with this crowd of wayward witches. It’s not like I’ve given up hope for them or anything, for a real witch never gives up hope. It is simply a matter of knowing when it’s best to try a little harder, and when to move on.

So what’s the moral of this story?

High school covens are a bad idea. There is a distinct difference between a coven and a study circle. A study circle would be much better for a high school setting. What most teenagers fail to realize about a coven is that it isn’t just a “come when you want to and we’ll have fun learning together” kinda deal.

A coven implies responsibility. There are lots of problems, like mediating disputes, group dynamics, witch wars, the whole perfect love and perfect trust, and lots of other group related problems. There is usually some type of hierarchy, which is the perfect opportunity for someone to be oppressed, used, dumped, and others to go on power trips, make wrong decisions, and pressure others into things that they don’t want to do.

There’s the problem of who will teach what, and who wants to teach what to whom. Most teenagers are simply not old enough or experienced enough to carry these responsibilities.

So take my advice. If you’re a teenage witch and you feel the need to interact with others of like mind, don’t seek out, form, or join a coven. Find some nice open-minded friends, and create a study circle. One where there are no obligations, no pressures, and no one has power over another. Encourage the free exchange of ideas and learn from and with each other. At this age, a coven is not all it’s cracked up to be.