My great-great grandmother knew Gerald Gardner!

I’m sure you’ve met one. Who knows – maybe you are one. You know, those Pagans who claim lineage.

Some claim to be descended directly from Gerald Gardner (Britsh Traditionals).

Still others claim to have been part of some hidden coven in the New Forest that taught them everything (oh wait! That’s Gardner again).

Gerald Gardner. Creepy looking dude, huh?
Gerald Gardner. Creepy looking dude, huh?

From then on, of course, they’re infinitely better and so much more Pagan than you.

Feel insecure and insufficient yet? Yep. That’s the idea.

My potted history in Paganism

You want to know my Pagan lineage? Here it is: I got interested in Paganism through various books as a teenager, and then got together with a few like-minded friends. And we made stuff up.

We flew by pulling ourselves up by our shoelaces.

woman-flying

We knew nothing except that we wanted to learn. So we supported each other in the learning process, did a whole stack of courses and training, some more reputable than others, and gradually started figuring things out.

Some stuff worked, other stuff really worked, and a lot of stuff didn’t work at all. We were really, really eclectic! We read everything we could get our hands on, from Campbell and Frazer and Kramer to Starhawk and Fox and Buckland – and a whole lot besides.

I was involved with two main covens through the 90s and early century – MoonSpell Coven (which I originated) and then Akasha Coven, which I created and for which I was the HPS. Many of the members of those groups are still practicing, and almost all of them remain my friends.

Akasha in particular was very active in the wider Pagan scene in Melbourne, Australia, offering classes and public gatherings that attracted large groups of people and were very sucessful. My involvement in the Pagan scene wound down when I had children and just couldn’t keep up with the hours required for regular work.

But lineage? I have none. None of my friends do either – or they didn’t when I was working with them. Maybe they do now. But I still don’t. I’ve been in the Pagan scene since I was a teenager, I’m 43 now, so that’s about 25 years of practice, and I’m still unlineaged.

I’d say I’m pretty experienced now. I’m still considered a Pagan Leader in certain circles, and quite knowledgeable, but I feel like a novice in a lot of areas. I’m learning all the time. I love learning all the time! I’d never call myself an expert, although I know quite a bit by now.

Time is, change is…

That’s just it with Paganism though. It’s such a huge field that you never stop learning. Nobody is ever really an expert – not of everything, anyway. If anyone calls themselves an “expert” or starts giving themselves titles in my presence, my Bullshit Detector starts twitching. Like a Timey Wimey Detector, it goes Ding! when there’s Stuff.

timeywimey

bs

Does lineage matter?

The truth is, lineage doesn’t matter. Not one bit. The whole point of Paganism is that you do what you want, what works for you – without the need for a clergy. So you certainly don’t need someone Uber Important telling you what to do.

No practitioner is more important than the rest, simply because of who they happen to know or claim to know. Or claim to have learned from.

I’ve been fortunate in my time to have taken classes with some of the “big names” in Paganism. Did they teach me anything that was intrinsically better than what I figured out on my own? No. Maybe I’m just not someone with a “groupie” mindset, but although the experience of working with these people was generally good, it didn’t make me a better practitioner.

What has made me a better practitioner has been experience. Years and years of it. Making lots of mistakes. Learning from lots of different people from all different walks of life. Figuring out what works and what doesn’t – and doing the figuring out for myself.

I’ve made some big balls ups in ritual. Some of them at large public events I was running. I’ve stuffed up, screwed up, and ballsed up. It all helped me learn. I’ve had to learn humility, and I’ve had to have a healthy sense of humour.

Skills for becoming a better practitioner

I can’t reiterate it enough – a piece of paper, or a certain lineage, or a course from an education centre, no matter how reputable – none of these can make you a better practitioner.

What will make you a better practitioner is learning to listen to your own, inner self.
Learning to take in what works for you, and toss what doesn’t.
Learning to discriminate between the good and the not so good.
Learning to accept that everyone is different, and that what works for your friend may not necessarily work for you.

Having a sense of humour will make you a better practitioner, as will learning to not take yourself too seriously.
Learning that you will always, always be a novice in the world in most fields will help, while recognising that most of the people who claim to be adepts are actually novices too is also useful.

Learning to have a fully functional Bullshit Detector is a valuable asset. Learning that most people are just fumbling along in the dark is another useful asset. And being especially wary of anyone with titles or claims is a real, serious asset – hang on to that, no matter who you meet or what they claim to be!

Lineage isn’t important. The biggest fool can train, and the biggest fool can make claims. What is meaningful, in the end, is what you choose, what is purposeful and worthwhile for you.

meaningful

My path continues…

Like I said, I have no lineage. It is meaningless to me. I’m self taught, and taught by many, and taught by Life, and taught by the Goddess Aphrodite. That is humbling and empowering and enough for me.

I’ve also been fortunate enough to teach many, many others, and help them find their own paths, their own journeys.

I started on this path 25 years ago, maybe more. I’m excited to see where it leads me. But one thing I do know – I don’t need titles or claims or lineage or Big Wazoo outfits to impress anybody.

This journey is for my Goddess and for me.

path

The Chocolate Ritual – for large gathering

NOTE: This ritual, in particular the ‘Chocolate Charge of the Goddess’, is strongly based on the Original Chocolate Ritual, ┬ęCopyright 1993 John Shepherd.

The chocolate ritual requires a minimum of 5 participants – one to call in each Element, and one to read the Charge of the Chocolate Goddess and invoke the Deities.

The ritual starts by invoking the four elements.

At each point stand representations of the four elements: chocolate mousse (air), fondue (fire), chocolate sauce (water) and chocolate slab (earth). In front of each quarter representation stand bowls of chocolate sauce (for anointing).

Within the Circle stand platters and bowls of chocolate offerings. Each participant in the Circle is given a plate (for their offerings) and a fork.

Air Priest/ess: Mousse of the East, of Air
Fluffy one, light one!
We welcome you into our circle tonight
And praise your velvety goodness!

(S/he traces an invoking Pentagram in the air with a chocolate ‘wand’)

Fire Priest/ess: Pudding of the North, of Fire,
Gooey one, sticky one!
We welcome you into our circle tonight
And dip into your warm ickiness!

(S/he traces an invoking Pentagram in the air with a chocolate ‘wand’)

Water Priest/ess: Chockie sauce of the West, of Water
Rich one, sugary one!
We welcome you into our circle tonight
And prepare to drizzle your yumminess!

(S/he traces an invoking Pentagram in the air with a chocolate ‘wand’)

Earth Priest/ess: Chocolate slab or the South, of Earth,
Heavy one who leads all diets astray
We welcome you into our circle tonight
And honour your richness and ability to satisfy our greed!

(S/he traces an invoking Pentagram in the air with a chocolate ‘wand’)

HPS a.k.a. ‘CHOCKY CHICK’: We begin tonight’s worship with the traditional Eating of the Wands.

(The quarter guardians stuff themselves and eat messily and lusciously, eating their wands).

HIGH PRIEST (a.k.a Captain of the Bounty): Quetzalcoatl, the God of Chocolate, we now anoint your servants in your name, and thank you for your scrumminess.
Demeter, Goddess of Bounty and Bounty Bars, we praise your name for all you give.

The quarter guardians take up their bowls of chocolate syrup, and anoint the cheeks and chin of the participants.

HANDMAIDEN: The Chocky Chick will now read the chocolate Charge of the Goddess.

HANDMAIDEN: Listen to the words of the Mother of Chocolate, who was of old called Cadbury, Flake, Bounty, Cherry Ripe, Dairy Milk, Mrs Fields, Sara Lee, and by many other names:

CHOCKY CHICK: Whenever you have one of those cravings, once in a while and better it be when your wallet is full, then shall you assemble in some public place and bring offerings of chocolate to the spirit of Me, who is Queen of all Yummies. In the hall shall you assemble, you who have eaten all your chocolate and are hungry for more. To you I shall bring Good Things for your tongue.

And you shall be free from depression, and as a sign that you are truly free, you shall have chocolate smears on your cheeks, and you shall munch, nosh, snack, feast, and make yummy noises, all in my presence. For mine is the ecstasy of chocolate – dark, white and milk – and mine also is Joy on Earth, yea, even into High Orbit, for my law is “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”

Mine is the secret that opens your mouth, and mine is the taste that puts a smile on your lips and comfy, padding kilograms on your hips. I am the Gracious Goddess who gives the gift of joy unto the tummies of men and women. Upon earth, I give knowledge of all things delicious, and beyond death……..well, I can’t do much there. Sorry about that.

HANDMAIDEN: Hear now the words of the Goodie Goddess, she in the dust of whose feet are the cheap imitations, whose body graces snackie shops and finer stores everywhere:

CHOCKY CHICK: I, who am the beauty of chocolate chips, and the satisfying softness of big bars, the mystery of how they get the filling inside of truffles, and fill the hearts of all but Philistines with desire, call unto thy soul to arise and come unto me. For I am the soul of chocolate; from me do all confections spring, and unto me all of you shall return, again…..and again……….and again………………and again.

Before my smeared face, beloved of Women and Men, thine innermost divine self shall be enfolded in the rapture of overdose. Let my taste be within the mouth that rejoices. For behold, all acts of yumminess and pleasure are my rituals. Therefore, let there be gooeyness and mess, crispness and crackling, big slabs and bite size pieces, peanut butter and chocolate covered cherries all within you.

And you who think to seek me, know that your seeking and yearning shall avail you not unless you know the Mystery; “For if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without…but chocolate will help you in the consolation process.”

For behold; I have been with you since you were just a baby, and I am that which is attained at nearly any snackie shop in the land.

Messed Be!

CHOCKY CHICK: In the name of Demeter, goddess of bounty, and Quetzalcoatl, god of chocolate, let us now be greedy and honour their gifts.

ALL: Chocolate!

(The feasting begins).

When the feasting has ended, the HANDMAIDEN rings the bell three times to gain the attention of the feasters.

CAPTAIN OF THE BOUNTY: Lord and Lady
By the bounty of your gifts
Our need has been met
Our hunger satisfied
Our greed fulfilled and our tummies filled.
We belch in your honour
Messed be!

(They all belch).

The guardians of the Elements now call down the Circle.

Earth Priest/ess: Thanks be to the chocolate slab
Which we have devoured.

Water Priest/ess: Thanks be to the chocky sauce
Which we have drizzled.

Fire Priest/ess: Thanks be to the chocky fondue
Which we have slurped.

Air Priest/ess: Thanks be to the chocolate mousse
Which we have scoffed.

CHOCKY CHICK: Chocolate of Earth, Water, Fire and Air
We thank you for your presence
Depart in peace
And do not repeat on us or give us tummy troubles.
This circle is open though unbroken
Merry meet

And merry part
And merry meet again
Messed be!