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Expert Panel: Bealtaine 2022

Our expert panel is made up of different folk all from different aspects of paganism and witchcraft; our experts between them have decades of experience in their own personal paths. Each edition they will be grilled with questions from you.

Please remember, if you would like to ask our panel a question you can contact us through the following link:

This issue, we received three anonymous questions from readers.

Beltane being a fire festival, how do you use fire in your craft?

DEBI (Eclectic Witchcraft): For me, I rarely use physical elemental form in my practice. I tend to use metaphor, and fire is very much my element in that sense. Passion drives me and I use that passion in everything I do, manifesting my wants and needs, which, when it comes down to it, is what witchcraft is, at its core. I try to use Beltane as a time to consider whether my passion is driving me where I want or if I’m just allowing it to burn, without direction (which I do quite often, truth be told). I may do a small ritual for focus, if I feel the need, but otherwise it’s mostly about reflection.

RICH (Heathenry): I’m a heathen, we don’t really have an analogue to Beltane.

However, fire is used in many rituals to ward a sacred space, which is in one of the surviving sources where a Gothi (priest/ritual leader/judge) walks around their property with fire before they move in. So this can be a candle for an indoor ritual or a lit torch at a large outdoor ceremony.

GINGER-EFFIE (Dark Goddess Work/Shadow Work): I almost always use fire whatever I am doing for my craft. Even when I am not deliberately engaged in my Craft, I have a candle burning nearby when possible. The three main reasons I use fire are 1 - for spells, witch bag burning. I do this outside to release the spell into the Ether either for manifestation or to bring a previous spell to an end. 2 – for meditation; focussing on the flames from the fire of a candle through to a roaring bonfire helps me to sink into a meditation or shamanic journey, bringing a hypnotic state and images through the shapes of the flames. 3 – for the representation of the fire element when I am working with elemental magic. This is not a full account of how I incorporate fire and, as always, I advocate working with any aspect of the Craft in the way that speaks to you the most and feels the most authentic to you.

YAN (Wicca): For the actual Beltane ritual it is a small flame in a lantern which takes the energy from the old year when extinguished and gives focus to the energies for the new year once relit. At different times we use fire inside the cauldron during rituals.

Do you consider yourself spiritual, religious, or both?

DEBI (Eclectic Witchcraft): I consider myself a member of a faith group. Interpret that however you like. It’s probably somewhere between the two.

RICH (Heathenry): Depends in the definition of the words. They can have different connotations in different contexts. Spiritual is used by some as an alternative word to religious which in a US context can be synonymous with Christian as there is no other visible faith in that over-culture. But my view is that Heathenry is a religious belief but deeply diverse.

GINGER-EFFIE (Dark Goddess Work/Shadow Work): Definitely both, though I do not tie myself to a specific religion. Paganism is my religion and spirituality. Honouring the changing of the seasons, the phases of the moon, cold dirt between my toes, the pull of the tide ripping past my ankles, slivers of sun sneaking through trees in the forest and a glimpse of a hare running from the sound of my footsteps on the moors – that is my religion and I feel its pull in my bones. Spiritually I work with the Dark Goddesses and very much believe in an afterlife and the supernatural in many different forms, from ghosts to the echoes of our Heathen ancestors resonating in our blood and guiding us along our path.

YAN (Wicca): Both. I’m a very spiritual person and this permeates in all things I do. In terms of religion I follow a general Wiccan structure and experience.

What deities do you work with/believe in? Do you have any advice for anyone trying to find the right deities for them to work with?

DEBI (Eclectic Witchcraft): I don’t necessarily believe in deities, for the most part. I see them as archetypes of human experience, of the spiritual narrative. So, I tend to fluctuate between who I correspond with, leaning toward Celtic and Norse/Saxon pantheons. I feel a lot of connection to Loki, recently. I won’t go into why as it’s personal, but I think it’s a good idea to read as much as you can and allow your natural affinities for the narratives to guide you.

RICH (Heathenry): I think that’s almost asking the wrong question, Gods shouldn’t be perceived as ATMs.

Far better to build up a regular, little and often practice with your house-wights and land-wights as a starting point.

Then if you feel drawn to a god or goddess add that to your practice. But it’s also fine to never have a patron deity, and to make offerings to many Gods.

GINGER-EFFIE (Dark Goddess Work/Shadow Work): I work very closely with Dark Goddesses. I have very close relationships with Lilith, Persephone and Inanna; however I also feel the call of many others such as The Morrigan, Ereshkigal and Kali. Their stories and myths speak to my own experiences; I feel they guide me, teach me, and never let me stop along my path of self-development and discovery. They protect me yet send me stripped of all defences into the world to learn that which I need to know. I honour them regularly and keep their representations close.

For someone trying to find the right Deity to work with, my advice would be to have no preconceptions about a particular culture or deity in advance. If you think “I want an ancient Egyptian Deity”, you are likely to find one whether that’s right for you or not. Meditate on the question of which deity is right for you at this time. Let thoughts and feelings come and go naturally, explore any thoughts that feel stronger and let that exploration take your meditation in the direction of that thought. When your meditation is complete, write without too much deliberate thought about the relationship you want from a deity, letting your meditation experience guide your writing. This is your spell, your call for the right deity for you at this time. Write what you are willing to give in the way of energy and time to the deity, what you hope they will help you with. Do not make commands but be frank about what you would like. When the moment feels right to you, take your spell outside and burn it, letting it drift into the Ether. In my experience you will begin to see signs to show you which deity to work with; things such as the imagery of the serpent, apples, ancient civilisations, and oppressed women brought me to Lilith. Research the signs shown to you, and you will find the deity to work with.

To me this is a much more personal and instinctive way to know which deity you should be working with. I have made the mistake in the past of choosing a deity because I liked the sound of them from a book, or saw a picture of them that I liked. This was not at all effective for me and in reality, nothing about those deities genuinely resonated with me or my life at the time. It is also important to remember that we are ever-evolving and fluid beings living in a world that not only changes constantly, but changes who we are constantly. You will grow and learn and this first deity you connect with will probably not always be the right one for you. You might find they leave you and you stop feeling them as a part of your spirituality, or you might incorporate a second, third etc. deity into your practices. As always, do what is right for you and don’t choose a path or deity anyone else thinks you should choose.

YAN (Wicca): I work with the general principles of male and female energy manifested in a Lord and Lady. I have worked with specific deities in the past. I have experienced meeting with deities so it goes beyond belief and into knowledge. For anyone seeking similar experiences, I would advise them to visit a place that has a sacred meaning to them and ask for guidance.

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