Practice, Initiation, Ascension, and Service

Let me preface this by saying that I know full well that I have really only just begun to walk my path.  Even after fifteen years of practice, of learning and teaching and research and occasional bouts of madness … there is so much more to learn.

Having devoted this year to ceremonial magic, I am currently pursuing the most intense and directed course of study of my magical career.  Six weeks in, it’s been both enlightening and energizing, both spiritually and intellectually.  I believe firmly that I will end the year a much more competent witch and magician than I began, ready to plumb the depths of the underworld and heights of the upperworld in ways that I can’t even imagine now.

And yet … there’s a part of me that feels like I’m taking a detour.  RO recently waxed poetic about how awesomely transformative it is to do magical service for others; Dr. Raven posted a ritual to help bolster the arts community.  I want to do magic like this.  I want to devote my time and energy to helping the communities I live in and, by extension, the world at large.  To teach and to heal … this is the work I increasingly feel called to do, especially since my initiation last May.  (And making a few bucks on the side doing it?  Wouldn’t suck.)

However much I learn from my ceremonial studies, however much the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake transforms me … I’m not sure I’ll have earned my next initiation – or, given the peculiarities of my practice, perhaps “achieved my next ascension” might be more accurate – until I have begun that service. 

But I really have no idea where or how to start.  Modern neoPagan witchcraft is so relentlessly self-focused that, except for the production of new books and the running of book stores, there is little room for such service … at least in the portions of the communities that I have experienced.  We often see such things as New Age or capitalist encroachment on our “more pure” spirituality.  But people tend to undervalue things they don’t have to pay for, and priests and healers have to eat just like everyone else.

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