Along with reincarnation go thoughts of Karma. Karma is usually thought of as a reward-and-punish-ment system stretching throughout all lifetimes: if you do evil in one life you will have to pay for it in the next. However, it seems that there is always talk of "karmic debts" and "karmic punishments" but seldom of "karmic rewards". The Witchcraft view seems to make more sense.
First of all there is a Wiccan belief in retribution within each life. In other words, rather than being rewarded and punished after death, for what you have done in life (the traditional Christian view), Witches believe that you get your rewards and punishments during this lifetime, according to how you live it. Do good and you will get back good. But do evil and evil will return. More than that, though, it is a three-fold retribution. Do good and you will get back three times the good; do evil and you will receive three times the evil. Obviously there is here no inducement for you to ever harm anyone. Of course it is not a literal threefold return. If you were to punch someone in the eye, it does not mean that you will get punched in the eye yourself three times. No. But, sometime in the future, you may "just happen" to break a leg ... something which might be considered three times as bad as being punched in the eye.
In the Witchcraft belief, then, one lifetime's experiences are not dependent on the previous one's. For example, if you suffer physical abuse in this life, it does not necessarily mean that you were an abuser in your previous life. It is possible you were, yes. But it is just as possible that you were not but are going to be in the next life. In other words, it is a case of experiencing all things—being both the abuser and the abusee, but one is not necessarily dependent on the other. Several lifetimes could even take place between the one experience and its apparent correlative.
Just because you have chosen a particular lifetime and are to undergo the set experiences does not mean that you can just sit back and say "Everything is preordained. I'm just along for the ride." The God and the Goddess will make sure that you do get all the particular experiences but your job is to progress; to strive your hardest towards perfection. YOU CREATE YOUR OWN REALITY. Whatever you want, you can achieve. But always remember the Wiccan Rede: "An' it harm none, do what thou wilt."
Whenever possible, help those less fortunate than yourself. By "help" I do not mean "interfere". Help can be given by simply offering advice; by showing compassion; even, sometimes, by actually refusing direct assistance. For, in this latter case, it is sometimes of the greatest help and to the other's benefit to make them give a little more effort: to make them think for themselves.
The length of time spent between lives may vary, depending on your study of the lessons learned and their integration with previous lessons; also on the necessary preparation for the next "semester".
While between lives you might also become involved in helping some other spirit here on earth. Just as there is development and advancement in this life, so there is in "the between times". You may have heard of such things as "Guardian Angels" and "Spirit Guides" and wondered if they really exist. In a sense they do. It means that a spirit is always watching over a less developed spirit here on earth. Since time does not exist in the between-times (it is a human-made concept, for the sake of reference only) then to watch over an earth-bound spirit for its whole earthly lifetime would not actually hinder the watcher's progress. In fact, it would add to it in the sense of gaining "student-teacher" experience.
Witches always hope that they will be reborn in the next life with those they have known and loved in this one. From psychic experiences, etc., it seems that this is often the case. Many times a couple will stay together throughout a number of lifetimes, in different relationship roles (e.g. lovers; husband-wife; brother-sister; mother-daughter).
Although many Witches meet, and work, outdoors - perhaps in the corner of a field or in a clearing in the woods - it is not always possible for everyone to do that. Many live in cities and towns and are unable to get out into direct contact with the earth. This does not mean they cannot function. Your temple can be an outdoor one or an indoor one. Let's look at indoor possibilities.
The area you need, in which to perform your rituals and work your magick, could be a whole building, a single room, or a small section of a room. Whatever its shape or size, this is your Temple. A complete room—perhaps in the basement or attic of a house—is the ideal. If you have such a room that can be turned into your temple and kept solely as that, you are very fortunate. Let's look at such a possibility first and then work along to those who can only use a small part of their regular living quarters.
First of all, take a compass and establish the alignment of the room. Mark the north, east, south and west. Your altar is going to be placed in the center of the room and it is preferable that it be set up so that when standing before it you are facing EAST. You can keep an altar candle and your representations of the deities on the altar at all times, but more on that below. On the floor around the altar you will be marking a circle, the
exact dimensions and construction of which you will be taught in the next lesson.
When entering and leaving the Circle, before and after a ritual, you will do so from the EAST, so if your room is rectangular rather than square you might wish to leave extra room on that side (see Figure 2.2 for example). Closets, for the storing of your Craft supplies, might also be placed in this larger area.
Unless you live alone, or share your beliefs with everyone in your home, you will need closets that can be locked. You will be storing candles, incense, charcoal, wine and, most importantly, your Working Tools and Book. Of course, if you can lock the room itself then it is possible to leave your altar permanently setup and have your supplies on open shelves. Actually this is much the better arrangement.
Decoration of the temple room is a matter for individual taste. It can vary from all walls being done in a neutral color, to vivid realistic murals being painted. There are temples varying from those that look like prehistoric caves—complete with reproductions of the early cave paintings—to those that look like a clearing in a forest, with trees all around and stars on the ceiling above. Others (usually those oriented exactly north-south, east-west) follow the magickal symbolic colors, with the north wall painted green, the east yellow, the south red and the west blue.*
Obviously before any decoration or use of the room, it should be thoroughly cleaned. The floor, walls and ceiling should be scrubbed, with sea salt added to the water and cleaning agent. It is not necessary to do any elaborate cleansing ceremony at this point, since the Circle will be consecrated before each and every ritual you perform in it. However, once any decoration of your room is finished (other than the actual marking of the Circle itself) you should do an initial purification, as follows:-
This should be done on the night of the' New Moon. <
Fill a dish (a saucer will do) with water and, kneeling, place it on the floor in front of you. Place your right forefinger (left, if you are left-handed) into the water. Imagine a bright white light streaming down from above, into the crown of your head. Feel it surge through your entire body and then direct it down your arm. Concentrate all your energies to send it down your arm, down the finger and into the water. It may help to dose your eyes. When you feel you have directed all the power you can manage into the water, keep your finger there and say:
"Here do I direct my power, Through the agencies of the God and the Goddess, Into this water, that it might be pure and clean As is my love for the Lord and the Lady."
Now take a teaspoonful of sea salt and pour it into the water. Stir it nine times, clockwise, with your finger and three times say:
"Salt is Life. Here is Life, Sacred and new; without strife."
Take the dish of salted water and sprinkle it (use your fingers to sprinkle) in each and every corner of the temple room. If the room is irregular in shape, with alcoves and closets, sprinkle every corner of every alcove and closet also. As you sprinkle, say one of the below (or make up something of your own, along these lines):
"Ever as I pass through the ways
Do I feel the presence of the Gods.
I know that in aught I do
They are with me.
They abide in me
And I in them,
No evil shall be entertained, For purity is the dweller " Within me and about me. For good do I strive And for good do I live. Love unto all things. So be it, Forever."
Seax-Wica Psalm or
"Soft is the rain, it gently falls
Upon the fields beneath.
It lulls the heart, it stills the wind,
Gives solitude I seek.
It patters down, so gentle yet
It ne'er does bend a leaf,_
"There are some magickal traditions that equate different colors with the four quarters, but these are the generally used ones.
And yet the water that is there Will wash away all grief. For smoothness follows in the wake, And quiet and peace and love - Are all around in freshness new, Come down from clouds above. All evil go, flow out from here And leave all fresh and plain. Let negativity not come Into this room again. For love I now find all around, So soft, so still so sure; I can perform my rituals As peace and quiet endure."
Now light some incense. Stick incense or cones will do but you will find that, for ritual and magickal work, it is better to burn powdered incense on a charcoal bric-quet, in a hanging censer (More on this below). Go again about the room, this time swinging the censer in each and every corner. Again say the lines you said when you sprinkled the water.
But what if you do not have a whole room to dedicate as a temple? That is all right. You can take the corner of any room—living room, bedroom or kitchen and make that your temple. Again, let's look at the ideal first.
An area at least five feet square is needed. You might like to arrange rails and curtains so that the area can be curtained off from the rest of the room, though this is not a necessity. You may paint this section of the wall differently from the rest of the room, to suit your desires. If you can choose an area in the east it is preferable. Keep your working tools and supplies locked away in any convenient place but, here in your temple area, keep your altar. You may keep it pushed up against the wall when not in use, if you wish. On the altar always keep an altar candle (generally white but, as we progress, you will learn of other colors and their times for use) and your representations of the deities. These can be either statuettes or pictures, as outlined below. This temple area should be cleaned, sprinkled and censed in the same way as the full room temple detailed above.
The last consideration is for the person who, perhaps, has a very small apartment or who shares a room with someone not necessarily sympathetic to the Craft. Again there should be no real problem. The main thing is to have somewhere to lock away your
Working Tools. If you can have an altar and leave it set up with candle and deity figures, you can put it anywhere convenient in the room. Again the east is preferable. Try to keep your roommate (s) from using it as a coffee-table/catch-all, if you can! If it is not possible to have a regular altar—specially made or adapted and kept for ritual use—then you can get by using a coffee-table or similar. In this case keep your deity figures wherever convenient... on a table, shelf or sideboard. They should be respected by your roommate (s) in the same way that you would respect their, or anyone else's, crucifix or Virgin Mary figure, or whatever, should they have such. When you are able to do your rituals (presumably alone) all you need do is clear enough floor space anywhere convenient and set up your Circle, altar, etc.. Afterwards you will have to clear everything away again.
There are many full covens who meet regularly in one-room apartments. A little light furniture moving and a Circle can be cast and a ritual enjoyed. So, you see, there is nothing to prevent you from having a temple. One final word: as mentioned earlier, some Witches/ covens hold their rituals outdoors. In fact the majority certainly prefer this, though it isn't always possible due to (a) lack of a site, or (b) unsuitable weather. If you are lucky enough to have access to a small clearing in the woods, or any piece of ground where you can be private, then don't hesitate to use it. There will be no need for the cleansing ritual detailed above; you will proceed as will be shown in Lesson Three—Circles of Power and Protection.
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