Tuesday, July 26, 2011

How to Best Misunderstand Me

There are popular misunderstandings of my teachings, and it's been suggested that it's far past time to address them constructively. So, here I go.  I note that many people read into my words things that I don't believe I've said, and certainly things I do not believe in myself.  While there are some people who benefit from misunderstanding me for personal reasons, I'd like to believe that the majority prefer the facts.  Hence my reason for writing this blog.

One of the things I often talk about is the benefit of traditional training.  I believe it has value and is important.  If you want to misunderstand what I'm saying, then read this as though I mean it's the best and only way you'll ever learn anything.  That's a very popular way to misunderstand me, and by doing so you can belong to a large club!  But, if you prefer to understand what I actually mean, all you need to do is read each word without adding anything to it.  Because what I actually mean is that I believe traditional training is beneficial.  I don't believe it's the only way to learn or achieve your goals.

What I do know about traditional training is that it's a faster way of learning and achieving expertise in ritual and magic than is trial and error.  For example, by analogy if I train under a Master Woodcarver, I can learn wood carving faster than by taking a Learning Annex class, reading some woodcarving books, and whittling away for hours over months and months, trying to make it all work out right.  Can I skip the Master Woodcarver and learn to carve wood on my own - of course!   But the Master knows things that maybe aren't in the books, and things that can save time and make your own work better than you could at first imagine on your own.  But yes, you can say "Fuck you , Master Wood Carver" and do whatever you want.  It's your life and your time, and so there you go.  But may I suggest that you don't be pissed at the Master for advertising Wood carving classes and existing in your neighborhood.  He has as much right to do his thing as you do.

Here's another easy way to misunderstand me.  When I say that initiators within a Mystery Tradition can guide you into a realization of the inner mysteries, read that as though I'm saying you cannot ever discover them on your own.  That's a really effortless way for you to walk away thinking I'm an elitist know-it-all who considers you to be a wandering idiot.  Can't be easier than that.  But, if you prefer to understand what I'm really saying, again just read the words.  Because what I said is that initiators can, and I did not say you cannot.

You see, what I believe is that someone who has already penetrated the Mysteries can direct you in time saving ways by helping you avoid dead ends and time consuming labyrinths of study that are not necessary to arriving at your own enlightenment.  Such initiators can help you fine tune things, and help you have a clearer idea of things as you shape your own vision of the inner mysteries and your own connection to them.  But, you can certainly say "Fuck you, initiator of the Mystery Tradition" and take as many years as it takes to arrive at where he or she can lead you to in mere months, not years. An easy way to misunderstand that last statement is to regard it as snarky as opposed to what it actually is, which is a consideration of simple practicality.

In closing, the most effective way to maintain a misunderstanding of me is to disregard and reject the rest of this blog.

You see, I am actually trying to be helpful with my views, writings, and what I teach in workshops and classes. I believe that all the decades of my own training and experience have likely produced some things that can add to your own experiences in some useful way.  I don't feel better or superior than anybody - I just know that I've learned some things that maybe others have yet to encounter.  In other words, I'm an old witch, but not a useless one.  You can regard me as outdated, but the truth is that I engage in the currents that flow through time from the ancestral spirit that whispers in our blood to each of us.  That is timeless.

I believe in the things I write about, and I have a passion for them. I am proud to have studied under the Masters who taught me the Ways that were passed to me, and I feel fulfilled to be where I am in life at this point.  But no one ever stops learning, and yet at various times we can pause for reflection and acknowledge our own achievements.

It has never been my intention to be offensive, insulting or demeaning to anyone in anything I have written or teach.  I respect the experience others have had, but like my own, I believe there is more to learn. We can all learn from each other, that's one of the gifts the gods have given us by putting us together here in this material realm. I have my place and you have yours.  We can be allies if we chose to understand one another.




  1. Blessed be! As always, you've summed things up with good humor and eloquence. Thank you. :)

  2. I know that it was a lot faster with the training that I got from my high priestess. Considering how difficult it is to find a good teacher, I understand why many have no other choice but to learn on their own, but it can be very frustrating when y have no one to ask about things.

    Blessed Be, Christopher Blackwell

  3. A thought I would like to share with you, Raven. Take it from where it comes, please; a place of deep respect and admiration for you, your work and your integrity. It seems that you are greatly hurt or at the very least greatly frustrated by those who choose to misunderstand you and then take umbrage at what you do not actually say. Personally, I think that the energy you spend in responding to people who are focused on negativity is unfortunate. While I can completely understand why you might wish to be heard with the actual voice you are speaking, so many people have their ears tuned only to the conflict in their own hearts. There is very little anyone can do to change this because they themselves do not actually seek change. They are simply looking to express the conflict found within. By engaging them all we do is get drawn into their own conflict; a conflict we cannot resolve without their participation. Trust that your voice is heard by those with the ears to hear it. Those without the ears to hear it could be shout at for an eternity and still hear only the noise and angst of their own souls. Much appreciation for your wisdom and service for those of us wishing to learn. - Jeff

  4. Jeff, I appreciate the sentiment. It's always a difficult place to be in as a public figure. When I don't address the negative things said about me, people say I am hiding and so the allegations must have some merit. When I do reply, some people say I am being too defensive.

    In the end, I choose to be judged on what I actually say and not by what people assume by my silence. Waste of time? Well, I think the truth is always a good use of time.

    I understand that this can draw others into a conflict, and of course that is not my intent. But a wise teacher of mine once pointed out that evil flourishes when good people do nothing about it. I'm not saying that the people in question here are evil, I'm just trying to make a point by analogy.

    I leave it up to others as to whether they step up or stand down. For me, I'll counter falsehood wherever it manifests. It's part of my magical training, and it's part of my spiritual walk.

  5. I have personally (but not verbally to you) disagreed and agreed with you at times. But I have never found you to be offensive. Now if you want to start pulling out an inner Glenn Beck or Bill O'Reilly we will talk, until then keep speaking your mind!

  6. Sometimes, folks are just looking for an argument. Hats off to you for your stance of "countering falsehood wherever it manifests". I applaud you for not taking what could easily be seen as the easier route, by staying silent. People should know the truth for what it is, even if at first glance they can't recognize it. For what it's worth, know that you've got at least one other staunch supporter in me.

  7. Raven, one could make the point that spreading a falsehood is a form of evil so your point is well made. Thank you. My only thought was that those who choose to willfully misunderstand in order to further their own perspective won't be dissuaded by the truth as they are not actually hearing it no matter how clearly it is made. I do however appreciate that you clarify the truth for those who do have the ears to hear. I do not think you are being defensive so much as trying to speak clarity to some who are committed to confusion. I would never believe that making your point clearly is a waste of time. And shrinking from engaging falsity or evil for that matter is not in my nature either. My experience in conflict of various kinds has lead me to understand that when someone is committed to terrain that is flawed, engaging them over such terrain can only lead to a prolonged conflict that may not ever be resolved. I guess what I am saying is that I hope that you do not got lost in the results of speaking your truth rather than your eloquent process of doing so. You have such an amazing gift for it, I would never suggest not to speak.

  8. Angela, thanks. We share something in common - I don't always agree with me either. ;)

  9. Raven,Thanks for clearing the air a bit. If I can ask for one more point of clarification please,could you give us your definition of "traditional training" and what that does and does not include. Many people (myself included) may be misunderstanding what that phrase means.
    I would urge some of the other people who commented here to come to an understanding of their own. That would be the ablity to discern between questioning and conflict. If someone questions your beliefs then that doesn`t always mean they are in conflict with you. It may simply mean they are trying to understand your perspective or come to terms with your beliefs so we both can discuss the issue with a clear understanding of the other`s point of view.
    One of the most important tools we have is our mind and that works best when it is used in the open position and best applied after collecting as much information and data as humanly possible.
    Remember,one of the aspects of the word ASSUME is it`s abilty to make an ASS out of U and ME.

  10. The short answer as to my use of the word "traditional" is that it means "time-proven" and "time-honored" (as opposed to recently invented). Take, for example, the assignment of magical properties to specific herbs. We can trace the correspondences back in time.

    What I don't consider traditional is a new assignment. For example, let's say that the lotus flower is sacred to a specific goddess that someone venerates. But that person does not really like the lotus flower but she or he does love daisies. And so that person decides that the daisy is sacred to this deity and replaces the lotus with it.

    Traditional training in witchcraft, to me, involves rootedness. These are the ways that endured over the centuries - they include methods and tools that are intimately connected with the moon, the spirit of the land, the Otherworld, and the ancestral spirit. These are the things that were wired to witchcraft many generations ago. Currents of energy run through time, a principle that I call the momentum of the past.

    Signs that something is traditional appear in old folklore and folk magic sources. It is among the rustics that much of this was passed on in one form or another. But much of what appears in contemporary non-traditional forms of Witchcraft has been pulled out of our ass relatively recently.

  11. Raven,
    I believe in the integrity of your work and your intentions of putting it out there. And am ever grateful for the tried and true wisdom of the ancestors you share. Thank you for continuing to shine despite the odds that come your way at times. The written word can be a challenging venue for communication where readers are not seeing your smiles, body language and humor.

    Blessed be,

  12. Daedalus, I don't think anyone has much confusion as to the difference between questioning and conflict. At least I don't. A question that is truly a question is framed in the form of a query. An attack is not framed in such a manner unless it is rhetorical and the answer is provided by the questioner. In which case, it isn't really a question at all but more of a not so clever attempt to mask an attack as a psuedo-query. personally, my earlier statements are in response to such personages, not to anyone looking for real clarification, which I said earlier was an excellent reason for extending oneself. Further I would add that disagreement and differing views are not only inevitable and acceptable but preferred. However, embroiling oneself in a conflict with someone whose only aim is conflict is a useless struggle. They are not even interested in agreeing to disagree, they are interested in expressing their own inherent conflict. I have seen far too much of this sort of troll on blog comments, forums and what have you.

  13. Dear Raven,

    Although you have never met me nor heard from me, I am a fan of yours and I never felt that you were misleading nor unclear about anything you have written. In fact, I have found your books to be the most helpful in leading me to The Path. I agree with you that having a mentor or teacher would be optimal. My degrees are in education and I know that the student benefits greatly from their teacher and peers. I would like to ask you what I should do about finding a mentor or teacher who would be close to my home. My address is: 5506 Lambert Town Road, Bridgewater, Virginia, 22812. My phone number is: 540-209-6035. I am seeking someone who can teach me the beginning core of lessons in The Craft. Any advice would be appreciated. Finally, Block the negative shit ... you don't need it!

    Tammy Dishner

  14. Raven,
    have you given any thought to the idea that it is not you , it is them? Not to be too irreverent here ( no disrespect to the tradition of the terminally irreverent ) but have you considered that a great many pagans have experienced so much condescension , so many insults, so much demeaning and snark ; that they lump you in with the snarkeers and condescendeers? Just sayin...

  15. Swannie, I am sure they do misunderstand me in that way, which is why I wrote this particular blog piece.

    By analogy if I say I like cheddar cheese, people who don't, but do like other cheeses, feel I am saying that if you don't have cheddar then you don't have jack - lol

  16. What a cheesy joke ..;) I love it ..

  17. Hi, I did not find a contact email, so I write here. I'm from Brazil and here we have a group, this group is based in an NGO, here are covered issues of environmental activism, European folklore and the occult. We preserve the traditional beliefs of the forest and the ancient celtic culture. We worship the latin celtic beliefs, the Traditional Witchcraft.
    My intention with this email, is can exchange some knowledge, expand contacts and exchange disclosures. It is important to join in the pagan world.
    This is our site: http://www.bruxariatradicional.com.br/ (in portuguese only, but we're working to make a english site)
    I would appreciate if you could keep in touch with me (email) or the founder of the NGO, Ricardo Draco.
    This is my email: diego_clan@ymail.com
    Ricardo DRaco's email: asla_bt@yahoo.com

    Thank you

    Diego Candido

  18. I definitely agree.

    But then, if the "master woodcarver" is really some dude/tte that annointed him/herself as such and doesn't know jack (monterey or otherwise) then one would have been better off with nothing but fancy ideas and a butterknife. ;)

  19. er, i've come back because about 6 hours after posting this it popped into my head and made me think - "did that sound like i was trying to take a swipe @ him" - - - so for the record that comment was in no way directed at you.

  20. Master Woodcarver,

    Thank you for your integrity and convictions.

    "But a wise teacher of mine once pointed out that evil flourishes when good people do nothing about it."

    You are fortunate to have trained under the good Dr.

    By the way, I prefer Reggiano....


    Two Crows