I am reading a really good book called The Element of Ritual and I have to say that it's really good. I have read a lot of books that tell you about what you can do in the Craft but this book also explains things about the resposibilities of the Craft, which I think is very important. It is written for the Wiccan in mind but it does give very good practical thoughts about anyone practicing the Craft.
One of the things I often hear is that witches or Wiccans can do anything so long as they follow the rede and I would agree with that but does that mean there is no sense of sin in the traditional sense. Not at all. The rede functions as our basic outline of the rules of practice. It tells us to think carefully when we cast and think about what the outcomes might be and whether it will harm anyone, even yourself. If you are declaring yourself a witch and you are hurting people with it, then you are not following the rede and you are not a true disciple of the Craft. As witches, we are to do all things for the good of the earth and the health and welfare of our fellows on this earth.
When you prepare to work for someone or for yourself, you should examine your conscience: Have I hurt anyone today in thought, word or deed? have I hurt myself? have I poluted the earth needlessly? (there simply is very little you can do about your car exhaust until they come up with a reasonable alternative, but have you littered? Have you needlessly killed a living creature? have you wasted a natural resource?) If you have done any of those things, you must make an atonement. You must pray to your God, by what ever name you call them and you must try to correct your misdeed by apologizing or by cleaning up your mess or seeking counsel from a professional or an elder of your faith. If you are unable to make a personal apology, then you must do some good in that person's name or do some anonymous good with that person in mind if you don't know them. Simply praying or seeking absolution through some sacrament or rite is not enough. You must act as well.
The second thing you must do is take a ritual bath or perform some other sort of physical act of cleansing. This should be a part of regular practice anyway before you do any work or ritual. You certainly wouldn't go to your church or a sabat dirty and dressed in dirty clothes. You would want to present yourself to God, by whatever name you call them, with high respect to them and yourself. Meditation is important too. If you aren't doing some form of meditation, then you may well be dashing off a lot of spells and rituals that have very limited powers and do very little. And remember, eveything you do comes back to you three fold, so don't be lazy and indifferent and don't be careless. You want all good things to come back to you. If you aren't meditating now, start a regiment of meditation and this can be 10 minutes or it can be longer.
To Meditate, you should be comfortable but not so comfortable that you fall asleep. Sitting up in high back chair with your feet on the floor is best. Unless you are practicing yoga and are adept, don't worry about getting into the lotus position either. You should designate a focal point for yourself, either a candle, a picture or a statue. Breathe in through your nose and out of your mouth. Visualize a nice place, a spirit guide, your guardian angel and have discussions with them in your mind. Be careful of using visualizations of the dead and if they ask you to do something that is uncharacteristic of them turn away from them and visualize yourself coming out of meditation. Some people who meditate use a sacred sound like o-m (This is part of a Buddhist mantra. My late husband and practicing Buddhist always taught me not say the word om because you should not contaminate the listener with the sound of the mantra in your voice. When you see groups of monks chanting the mantra together, they do so after they have perfected their ability to withdraw and hear the sounds of their own unique voice, not the voices of their fellows.)
Drugs and the Craft do not mix. That include so called natural narcotics like marijuana or hashish or opium or shrooms. Our native brothers and sisters pratice a form of the Craft that uses marijuana and shrooms in their religious work and these are handled only by the Shamans or priests of the faith. And though the practitioners of the Craft use wine, they warn against using too much. And witches do not use absinthe. Sorry all of you Goths who dabble in the occult and the Craft....absinthe is a no-no. So if you are using the Craft to get your buzz on, you are going against the Craft. Harm none includes harming yourself. And any coven who asks or demands that you use drugs and alcohol in their rituals are the sort you should keep clear of. Responsible covens provide alternatives to wine, substituting cider, fruit juice or even non-alcoholic ginger beer in their rituals or workings. And they would never serve the underage.
Next time I write, I will discuss sex magik, celibacy and more in depth on the Gothic life.