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Solitary Pagan Practice

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S4E8 TRANSCRIPT:----more----

Mark: Welcome back to the Wonders Science-Based Paganism. I'm your host, mark,

Yucca: And I'm Yucca,

Mark: and today we're talking about being a solitary practitioner of atheopagan or non theist naturalistic paganism.

Yucca: right. And. I think a, a really good place to start here is to start with, well, what does it mean to be solitary?

Mark: Right, because that's kind of a moving target, right? I mean, back in 1985, there were practitioners who literally only got information from books and. Had no connection with anybody else who was practicing. They were just kind of out there on their own. And there are still people that are out there on their own, but at least they have the o option of the internet to connect with people of like mind.

I like, oh, go ahead.

Yucca: of in, in many pagan groups, especially Wiccan groups the coven had a really important role and that now, you know, I wasn't around to remember this, but my understanding was that that was kind of the default assumption that people would be part of a coven or a group, and

Mark: Yeah, that's, that's how I remember it, was that there was an assumption that you would gather a, a group. who would be a ritual circle of some kind, whether it was organized as a wicked coven with, you know, the high priestess and high priest, and this sort of teaching model, which is very common in sort of tradition, traditional British witchcraft, garden witchcraft and Wicca generally, or it was a more egalitarian model where the circle or the coven was. Equal group of people who weren't there to be teaching people who would then calve off to create their own circles. They were just there to do rituals with one another. That's the kind of thing that I've been involved with for 32 years with the Dark Sun's Circle. We are just deeply connected family now who do rituals together and.

you know, we have no intention of hiding off people or teaching them to be priests or any of that kind of stuff. It's just, it's a different model. But I think that the point is that there's kind of a spectrum, right? You've got people that are really super alone and they're the only people they know that do this kind of practice at all.

And then you've got people on the other end who are fully engaged in social. Ritualizing and they don't do stuff on their own. They only do things with groups of people because that's what works for them.

Yucca: Right. And there's another element now that's very different than in the. Eighties or the nineties is that we've got this internet thing where, and media is very, very different now. I mean, there's things like this, like podcasts and there's social media groups and Reddit and Facebook and Discord and YouTube channels and all of that stuff that that just didn't exist.

and that really changes the ways that people can interact. And I think that changes the way that we, we look at these terms solitary and I guess on the, what would be the other side of the spectrum?

Mark: Communitarian communal, community oriented, something with a calm in it.

Yucca: Yeah but, but I think I really value what you've been saying about it being a spectrum because it, it's not just like a, you know, you're on your own or you're in a group, that it's, there's a whole range of how people can interact and how they see their practices and, and that's changing over time as what's going on in the world changes too.

Right. A lot of people Were doing a lot on their own during the shutdowns. Right.

Mark: Right,

Yucca: and yet many people were doing more with others. That's when we saw a lot of growth in the atheopagan community was during the time where people were searching for that connection and it, we figured out how to do stuff online that we would've never considered before.

Mark: right. Yeah, exactly. The other thing that the internet has done is it has caused an explosion of. Ways to do things. What I remember from the late eighties and early nineties was, well, there's a way to do things. You draw a circle and then you call the quarters and elements, and then you call the gods and then you do a working, and then you unravel all the things that you just did.

And you know, that kind of wicked structure was the structure.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: And. There was not very much, there was a lot less understanding of the nature of ritual and the, the subtle skills associated with ritual. Generally. I mean, when you look at early neo paganism, you're looking mostly at kind of white, middle class college educated people at that time and.

They had no idea of how to conduct rituals. They were just figuring it out and using the map that was presented to them with 40 years of additional ritual experience. Now we are well on into pe. There being people, a lot of people that have a lot of experience with creating ritual states and altering their state of consciousness through ritual activity and So there are a lot of different ways to do it. And now that we have the internet that can disperse that information, people are informed by a wide range of different things. It's not just Scott Cunningham's, you know, solo practitioner's Guide to Wicca.

Yucca: Yeah. And, and a much broader range of people involved as.

Mark: Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I remember, Well, this has something to do with the community that I was in, which is part of the reason why I left it. But there were debates about, you know, whether gay people belonged in in these gender polarized rituals. Right?

Yucca: Where it was like every other, like male, female, male female and like the structure of the circle

Mark: Yeah, stuff like, stuff like that.

And, and it was like, I mean there was just this, this severe lack of consciousness about a lot of stuff. And as there has been better thinking about that, at least in the circles that I move in Obviously, you know, people have felt a lot more welcomed, right? Gay people feel more welcomed, neuro divergent people, disabled people people of color.

One hopes, and it's not that that is a solved problem by any means,

Yucca: Right? We

Mark: a long way to go, but at least in the circles that I'm moving in, in the Pagan community, there is. To move in a better direction. And that was not really true when I first engaged with there, there. And it wasn't that that people were bigots necessarily, they just were clueless.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: They didn't think about this stuff.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: So anyway, going back to solitary practitioner nurse what we have now is the situation. Simply with access to the books that are out there. And let's be honest, the number of books has exploded since, you know, since the publication of D of drawing down the moon and the spiral dance, which happened on the same day, Halloween of 1979. The number of available books on ritual and paganism has probably grown 10,000 fold at least.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: And what that means, and then there's the internet, right? So the, the, the faucet for information is the fire hopes. It's, it's endless. You will never collect all the information there is. These topics. So you have to pick and choose and you pick and choose what works for you and what appeals to your values and your sensibilities. And so the solitary practitioner of today, I think, is much better equipped in some ways to build their practice and and, and get a lot of different choices. Rather than just, oh, well, Scott says I should do this, so I'll do it.

Yucca: right? Yeah. So I, I mean, I find that very encouraging. I think that's, yeah, I think that's lovely and I think that there's more opportunity as well to to connect with community when it, where it works for you, and then step back into. Your own solitary practice and your own day-to-day daily practice.

Mark: Sure, sure. Because there, I mean there are some people who are very, very introverted and they may not want to engage with a group at all, or they may wanna go to a Hallows event at Halloween, the height of the witchy time, and that's kind of their hit of. Communal experience for the year. Right? Or maybe they go to a, a built-in mayday thing and a Hall saan thing,

Yucca: or participate in online discussions.

Mark: right?

Yucca: Maybe they're not doing ritual with other people, but they're discussing these ideas and you know, sharing the cool images that they have of their garden with the morning dew on it or something like that.

Mark: Yeah. Or their focus, their alter or you know, some piece of art that they created that's thematically along the lines of of what their practice is about. Yeah, all of those things are very true and I mean, obviously that's why we have the Ethiopia, pagan, Facebook, and Discord so that people have opportunities for those kinds of discussions and that kind of engagement. and the, the Zoom mixers that we have as well, so people can come together, see one another's faces and be in a space.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: And just because you do some of that doesn't mean you're not still basically a solitary If you, if you aren't meeting with a group of people that you do rituals with on a somewhat regular basis, even if it's only every two, three months, you're still basically in a solitary practice.

And so that's what we're talking about today. What's, what's useful for that kind of practice? What kind of approaches are helpful? What are some things to keep in mind?

Yucca: Right. So let's talk about, let's, we've got a lot of different directions to come at this, so let's talk about some of the possible topics. So I think a good one to start with is the daily practice. And that's one that we definitely have talked a lot about here on the podcast. But it's always worth coming back to

Mark: Yeah, because being a pagan, other than the fact that nobody can really define what that is, other than that it means, you know, that we self-identify as pagans. But being a Pagan is a, it's a state of being. It's not a. You know, it's not like you, you pay for your membership card once a year and now you're a pagan, like belonging to the aaa. It's about what we do. And so having a daily practice or a weekly practice or a monthly lunar cycle practice, something that's

Yucca: regular practice of some kind. Mm-hmm.

Mark: practice. Where you are acknowledging the passage of time and what that means to you and, and doing stuff in a ritualistic manner, which can be all kinds of things.

I mean, it can be everything from kind of formally working in an alter focused sort of setting. With tools and symbols and elements in order to bring yourself into a contemplative flow sense of, of mind in order to transform your consciousness. Or it can be planting seeds under the full moon in your garden because that's meaningful to you and it's how you would like things to grow.

You know, and saying a little chant over them or implanting a, a figure or a symbol next to them to give them sort of a magical quality, right? The range of options is really broad but you, but you really need to have, so,

Yucca: Right, and I, I think a good place to start with that would be what? Really observing and thinking about what your goals are, right? What are you trying to achieve with your daily practice or your regular, whatever your practice is. So that's going to influence what particular practices you'd actually do based on what it is that you're trying to achieve.

Mark: Right, and I think it's fair to say that there aren't really any. Off limits goals for a practice like that. If your goal is, I want to feel witchy,

Yucca: Awesome. Right?

Mark: awesome. That, that, that is totally cool. Great.

Yucca: I'm on board there with you. Yeah. Right.

Mark: your cauldron out and light some candles and burn some incense and do the thing. I like that a lot.

I enjoy it. It's very ple. And when I'm in that state, I find I can transform myself in ways that are really powerful. So go for it. That's great. If your focus is primarily around self-healing or around growth or around philosophical contemplation of big questions like. What am I doing here and what's the universe for?

And that kind of stuff. All of those totally lend themselves to a

Yucca: you get through, get through a a day that, you know is, is really busy. Right.

Mark: Yeah. Assembling, assembling skills that help you in times like that and practicing them.

Yucca: Right. And it can also, you know, the skills that help you be a better, whatever your profession is, or a better student or a better parent, or whatever it is that you are, that matters to you. It's, it's about you and your life. Not, you know. Does Mark and Yucca prove of it? Does it match their life, right?

Like,

Mark: right.

Yucca: yeah. Or, you know, God's sitting on clouds in a heavenly throne or anything like that,

Mark: Right, because remember, everything that we're talking about is within the context of a naturalistic framework to paganism. So we don't believe in the supernatural stuff.

Yucca: right?

Mark: We believe in the psychological stuff, but not in the supernatural stuff.

Yucca: right. This is all, these are tools that we're choosing to use in order to live the kind of life that we want to live. and each person decides for themselves what that life is. Yeah. And it's not like if you make a different choice than someone else, that you're a bad pagan or a good pagan.

That's, that's just not part of the framework that we're operating with.

Mark: Oh, this actually brings up a, an interesting and controversial topic, which is hexing.

Yucca: Ah.

Mark: The reason that I don't do that is because I don't want to be a vindictive person.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: I don't want to be the kind of person that that lusts for revenge,

Yucca: right?

Mark: and that's why I don't. You know, wish harm on people. For one thing, my understanding as a naturalistic pagan is that my wishing harm on them isn't harming them at all. It's, it's harming me, but it's not harming them.

Yucca: that's my experience too. The more I dwell on it, the more I just feel bad about the whole thing.

Mark: Yeah.

Yucca: Right. And you know, wishing harm on someone else. I think that when I am doing what we might call magic in, in quotes, is really changing how I. So if I am, if I'm texting or cursing or somebody, I think I'm just doing that.

To me, I don't think I'm doing it to them doing it to me.

Mark: Yeah. That that is. That is my experience of it. The reason that I mentioned this is that, you know, we talk about how, what motivates you to have a practice can be many different things. Well, within Paganism generally, there are some people who just lust for power. You know, they want supernatural power and they like to play around with supernatural power that they believe they have.

So it, it helps them to feel powerful to do, you know, what they think of as hexes on other people curses. Right. Now I don't believe that any of that stuff works, so I just want to keep in mind that everything that we say here is about a naturalistic science, consistent reality-based. Practice. So when you think about, you know, what are you in this for?

If you just want to feel witchy and powerful, that's great. Don't hurt yourself with it.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: You know, it, it's, it's a good rule for life. Don't hurt yourself.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: We, we try teaching that to kids when they're really young to, you know, that hurts. Don't.

Yucca: Yeah. So. How about staying motivated?

Mark: Yeah, that is a big one. Yeah, because and that, that dovetails with that whole issue of the critic voice, the internal voice that says, this is stupid. You're making an idiot out of yourself. You know, none of this has any effect. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Which can sap your motivation. You know, and there's another voice right behind it that is the sort of defeatist voice, which is, oh, what's the use?

Yucca: right.

Mark: Well, the use is, it, it adds sparkle to your life, right? It adds color and magic to your experience of daily living to do these things.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: That has intrinsic value. It's not, it's not extraneous and it's not self-indulgent. It helps you to be a happier, wiser, more together person, and all of those things are important.

Yucca: Yeah. and you're building skills, those things that you're choosing to focus on every time you are doing them, you're, you're building your ability in that. And even if you miss, right, oops, oops, I forgot I missed it yesterday. Oh, I missed it for a whole week. Right. You can always just do it again.

Just start again. Right.

Mark: We learn things through trial and error and. The things that are hardest to learn, we have the most errors while we're in the process of learning them. Right? Hard stuff to learn takes practice. So if you wanna have a daily practice and you've got it planned out for one thing, make sure you're biting off as much as you can.

Chew at a. So maybe an hour of grand opera ritualizing every day is not the thing.

Yucca: You wanna work towards that, great. Right. But if you're, if you're starting that from, you've done nothing. Regularly and you're trying to build that into being a habit, it's a lot to to jump into. Right? So we're not saying if that's something that you wanna do to not do it, but think about whether that's a realistic thing for you, where you're at right now.

Mark: Right.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: But if you, if you construct a daily practice for yourself where simply lighting a candle or two, or, and maybe saying some words counts as your daily practice, you can always add more stuff in later,

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: right? But the fact of doing it on a daily basis, becomes really important.

Yucca: right.

Mark: and what will happen is your understanding of yourself as a practitioner will strengthen as you do that, because that critic voice that says, ah, you're just kidding yourself.

You're, you're, you're not a, you're, you're not a witch. You're a, you're an idiot. Yeah. That voice. That is gonna inherently get weaker and weaker when you can look back on six months of, no, I do this every day and I pay attention to the turning of the seasons and the faces of the moon, and I'm aware of my interstate and I, I navigate that interstate and I use psychological tools in order to ground and calm and get myself through difficult situations. I, I am a practitioner. I, I am a pagan, I am an atheopagan or a naturalistic pagan. And so that voice that says that you're faking, it gets weaker over time, and that's the way that you wear it down until after a while it just shuts up. I don't get that anymore. I go, I go to my focus and I, you know, start to do ritual stuff and I don't get that.

That voice at all anymore, but it took a long time to get there.

Yucca: Right. And we did do, it's been a couple years now, but we did do a whole episode on dealing with the critic voice.

Mark: Yes,

Yucca: so certainly it's still a presence in my life. Not for ritual. Something that I'm very confident in with ritual, but other places it's still, it's there, right? It's something that, that we all deal with, so, yeah.

Mark: And that's, I mean, to be honest, that's part of the journey. It is. That is just part of the journey of life. And when I look at where I was 20 years ago, that voice was stronger than it is now. And that means I'm steadily chewing away at it getting, you know, getting better. And it, I. In many senses, just getting better is kind of the point of living, isn't it?

Ex having wonderful experiences and getting to be a better and better person.

Yucca: Yeah.

what about ritual for the solitary.

Mark: Yeah. This is something I haven't really written about on the blog. , but I think about writing about it on the blog now and then because, you know, in the, in the atheopagan book and on the blog I presented a, a five part, well, six part really structure for a ritual, right? Starting with preparation, which is the sixth.

So preparation, arrival. Qualities, working, gratitude benediction.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: Those are those, those six pieces. But when you're working and, and those work very well for structuring group rituals it's not, as I always say, it is not the only structure that works. It's just a structure that works. So if you're getting started, it's something that's reliable, but you can always improvise and.

In different directions, depending on what you feel

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: when you're working with yourself and you don't need to kind of coordinate a bunch of people's experience together, you can be a lot more fluid.

Yucca: Right. You can pivot and go in a different direction than you were going to do. And you know, you can suddenly stop talking or stop singing and just sit if that's what you need, or get up and dance or do something different than what was planned. But when you're reading, when you're leading a ritual for.

10 other people, that doesn't always work. Right, because you're considering their experience as well as your own experience.

Mark: Right. You have to consider where you can take them with you when you're leading a group ritual, but when you're by yourself. Whatever your impulse is, is where you can go. Right? So if it's picking up a deck of Terro cards and doing a quick three card reading, or if it's, as you say, you know, breaking into dance or breaking into song, or grabbing a pen and a pad of paper and scribbling down a poem or ideas or. Or even what the, the critic voice is saying to you at this moment so that you can get it out and get it onto paper and then crumble it up and throw it in the trash. Whatever that is. Over time as you become a more practiced practitioner, you'll learn to follow your instincts on this and. Really rich, rewarding, personally tailored rituals that follow exactly what you need to do.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: And they may last three minutes, they may last two hours.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: Just depends on what you need and what you want to do. Sometimes I just like to kind of marinate in the magical world in the the witchy feeling. I just, I like to be in that. I like to contemplate the, the things on my focus that remind me of that light candles in my room and look around at my witchy space and go, yeah, this is really a cool place to be.

I like this. Other times I just wanna call any anxiety I have about going forward. In the day and do that real quick and then move on with my day.

Yucca: Right, and I wanna assure people who are just getting into ritual that, that, even if it doesn't come, Naturally or quickly at first. It is, it is a skill that can be built. And so it, when you're first starting out, y you might not feel comfortable yet just changing the plan and going with the feel and just adapting.

And that's okay, right? You just, it's okay if what you need to do in the beginning is work with a particular structure. Everybody. There isn't an end goal that everybody's going towards, that we're all moving towards. It's gonna be a very different journey to different places for different people.

So you can, if you hear somebody describing something like you hear Mark or me talking about our experiences with ritual and you're not feeling that same thing, that's not a failing on your part. , right? Like you just have a different experience and over time you're gonna build different experiences and, and skillsets.

Mark: Right, right. And, and bear in mind, an awful lot of the schools and practices of pagan ritual or religious ritual generally, honestly, are about helping you. To go into that ritual state of inner calm and focus and presence. And so use them right light incense. Read a poem that takes you into a particular vibe.

That's where you want to go. You know, be in candlelight because it's a lot more conducive than electrical light. As you become more practiced, you may find that simply stepping in front of your focus and contemplating the things there allows you to kind of downshift into the ritual state because you're so accustomed to going there and you're so accustomed to having that experience in that spot, right?

But that's something you learn to do. The incense.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: why they use it in, you know, Catholic churches, in orthodox churches.

Yucca: All across the world.

Mark: yeah, all over the world. There's there's reasons why things like dragon's, blood, and sandalwood were among the most valuable commodities that were transported all over the world during the Middle Ages, well, all over the Eastern Hemisphere during the Middle Ages because they had that psychological impact on people. So, you know, avail yourself of those kinds of tools. Music put on music that helps you feel a particular way that, that, you know, kind of connects you into your body and gives you a feeling of your animal nature and the power of that. There are, there are so many sensory things you can do. One of the things that I do sometimes that helps me is I'll have a glass of wine, just one, but it's enough to sort of lessen my inhibitions, quiet that critic voice, and make it possible for me then to go into my thing,

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: whatever that thing might happen to be.

Honestly, it, it's just about, and, and the reason that I choose wine rather than some other kind of alcohol is that, first of all, when you drink a glass of wine, you know exactly what you're getting. I mean, it, they vary from like 11% to 14% alcohol, which is not that big a variation. You, you, it's a pretty carefully titrated dose, right.

But the other reason is that red wine is so explosively delicious in, in all those different flavorful ways. There's just a way that sipping a good red wine makes me go, oh, life is good

Yucca: you find the thing that works for you, right? Yeah, I'm not a wine person. That's, that's why I, I chuckle at that because I appreciate your appreciation of it, but I have a very, very different experience when I drink it.

Mark: I think I would have to move away from where I live, if I didn't like wine. Because it, it's all that we grow around here. I mean, we grow some apples most of which end up cider actually. But generally it's, it's one country. So you were saying.

Yucca: I love the idea of it, but I just, I just don't like it.

Mark: have you had good wine?

Yucca: I've had wine that people have claimed is good when they've given it to

Mark: Ah, well

Yucca: but I don't, I

Mark: didn't like it. Okay.

Yucca: don't particularly, you know,

Mark: Well, the definition of good wine is wine that you like. So you've, you know, however,

Yucca: haven't,

Mark: However cheap it is, however, you know, disrespectful It is. If you like it, it's good. I, I do not truck with the snobbiness around wine.

Yucca: That's a whole world. That's

Mark: it, it is and it's, it's everywhere where I live and and it's pretty annoying to be honest.

the the self importance that people can get around rotten grape juice.

Yucca: Yeah. Well, and it's certainly. . You know, I think it, it goes without saying, but we're certainly not saying that you need to have any sort of substance to help you with a ritual or something like that. But, but that this, this is one particular tool, right? This is, and, you know, find that, again, find the tool that's gonna be the thing that, or the things that help you, right.

Mark: You can have a similar taste experience maybe with a, a perfect peach or a couple of dark chocolate chips, you know, the same kind of that,

Yucca: cup of thick broth or something

Mark: right? Yeah. Something that gives you that, that deep sense. You know that your body is being nourished and you are. Your senses are being pleased just by the simple fact of existence in doing this thing.

There's, there's just so much to be said for that. And there's a reason why pagans are thought of as being hedonistic. Because we embrace pleasure, we embrace joy,

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: And, you know, joy can be a portal into a ritual.

Yucca: Mm-hmm. . Yeah.

So what else? Anything else that you wanna touch on? For solitary

Mark: I, I'd like to say a little bit more about, I mean, we, we talked about kind of unstructured ritual time. I really want to encourage people that are primarily solitary practitioners or who are just. Building a daily practice or a, a regular practice create that environment

Yucca: Hmm. Mm-hmm.

Mark: you see in your mind as being the magical place. You know, do that. If, if you don't have a, a space, a personal space right now that enables you to do that, see what you can do about fixing it up to make it more that.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: I know, you know, some folks are in the broom closet and they don't wanna reveal that they have a practice to other people around them.

And that's fine. And I totally respect that. Maybe you have some things that you can take out and set around the room when you do your ritual

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: that will help communicate that vibe.

Yucca: right? Or a. Right. If a journaling book or, or even something like a picture book that has just that feeling to it, right? That the artwork has, that particular feel that you're going for, looking for you know, there's a lot, a lot to do.

Mark: Right. You mentioned a journal and that's a really useful thing for a lot of solitary practitioners is capturing. What they did ritually,

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: you know, whether it's tore readings or whether it's just lighting, some candles or anything that feels like it was special or different, you know, keep it, keep a a, a nice leather bound, cool looking magical book and write the dates in and, and capture that stuff because if you do that for a long time, you'll find that when you, when you skip.

And look at your earlier entries, you've evolved.

Yucca: Yes.

Mark: You, you will have changed things that used to feel kind of hokey to you or like they weren't really working, are now really effective. And they, they, they feel effortless. So,

Yucca: you found this new thing through that process that you know you found the thing that really helps you just enter that state, you know, right away or something.

Mark: Yeah. Yeah. And of course, as we always say, pay attention and keep going. That's, that's the way to a, a richly lived life. And it's, it is the pagan life, I believe. Pay attention. Know what's going on in the world around, you know, what's going on in the world inside of you and keep going.

Yucca: Mm-hmm. . Yeah.

Mark: So I'm really glad we did this episode Yucca, because we did another one a few years ago about solitary practice, but I feel like there really was a lot more to say. And I know that so many, especially new practitioners who join our community through the pod, through hearing the podcast or hearing about it from someone else and joining the Facebook or Discord communities or seeing a YouTube video in many cases it's kind of mystifying.

They, they almost feel like they need permiss. You know, to do ritual stuff, you don't need permission to do ritual stuff. You can do it all on your own, but if you need it, you have mine.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: You have my permission to gather what cool stuff is to you, whatever that means. I know what cool stuff is to me around yourself and start doing ritual behavior.

It'll feel good and it's a starting.

Yucca: Right. And it really. It opens up so many doors, right? So many possibilities and, and as such a tool when we really need it in life, and having practiced it. When you practice, then when you really, when the time comes that you actually need the skill, you've got it right?

Mark: And I think, I mean, that, that is true in the ultimate sense. Like when we're dying,

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: I have a feeling that having learned to navigate my inner world and, you know, calm or disregard or overcome or whatever the, you know, the demonn voices that we all have within us,

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: I have a feeling that when I'm dying, it's gonna be kind of an. Road, I, I, I don't have to be terrified. I don't have to be filled with remorse. I mean, there are a lot of, there are a lot of experiences that people have in their last moments that I think could be pretty terrible.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: And. I, I think that becoming familiar with working with your own psychology is a means to easing that process.

Yucca: Yeah,

Mark: I can't prove it It's

Yucca: It's, it's a, it's a feeling you got.

Mark: yeah, it's a, it's a supposition.

Yucca: Well, I hope you're right on that.

Mark: I hope I am too, but I hope I don't find out for a long time.

Yucca: Yeah. . And in the meantime, it's what we got every day, right?

Mark: every day, every beautiful day.

Yucca: Yeah. Well, thanks, mark.

Mark: Thank you, Yucca. It is always so great to talk with you.

Yucca: Likewise, and we'll see you all next week.

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S4E8 TRANSCRIPT:----more----

Mark: Welcome back to the Wonders Science-Based Paganism. I'm your host, mark,

Yucca: And I'm Yucca,

Mark: and today we're talking about being a solitary practitioner of atheopagan or non theist naturalistic paganism.

Yucca: right. And. I think a, a really good place to start here is to start with, well, what does it mean to be solitary?

Mark: Right, because that's kind of a moving target, right? I mean, back in 1985, there were practitioners who literally only got information from books and. Had no connection with anybody else who was practicing. They were just kind of out there on their own. And there are still people that are out there on their own, but at least they have the o option of the internet to connect with people of like mind.

I like, oh, go ahead.

Yucca: of in, in many pagan groups, especially Wiccan groups the coven had a really important role and that now, you know, I wasn't around to remember this, but my understanding was that that was kind of the default assumption that people would be part of a coven or a group, and

Mark: Yeah, that's, that's how I remember it, was that there was an assumption that you would gather a, a group. who would be a ritual circle of some kind, whether it was organized as a wicked coven with, you know, the high priestess and high priest, and this sort of teaching model, which is very common in sort of tradition, traditional British witchcraft, garden witchcraft and Wicca generally, or it was a more egalitarian model where the circle or the coven was. Equal group of people who weren't there to be teaching people who would then calve off to create their own circles. They were just there to do rituals with one another. That's the kind of thing that I've been involved with for 32 years with the Dark Sun's Circle. We are just deeply connected family now who do rituals together and.

you know, we have no intention of hiding off people or teaching them to be priests or any of that kind of stuff. It's just, it's a different model. But I think that the point is that there's kind of a spectrum, right? You've got people that are really super alone and they're the only people they know that do this kind of practice at all.

And then you've got people on the other end who are fully engaged in social. Ritualizing and they don't do stuff on their own. They only do things with groups of people because that's what works for them.

Yucca: Right. And there's another element now that's very different than in the. Eighties or the nineties is that we've got this internet thing where, and media is very, very different now. I mean, there's things like this, like podcasts and there's social media groups and Reddit and Facebook and Discord and YouTube channels and all of that stuff that that just didn't exist.

and that really changes the ways that people can interact. And I think that changes the way that we, we look at these terms solitary and I guess on the, what would be the other side of the spectrum?

Mark: Communitarian communal, community oriented, something with a calm in it.

Yucca: Yeah but, but I think I really value what you've been saying about it being a spectrum because it, it's not just like a, you know, you're on your own or you're in a group, that it's, there's a whole range of how people can interact and how they see their practices and, and that's changing over time as what's going on in the world changes too.

Right. A lot of people Were doing a lot on their own during the shutdowns. Right.

Mark: Right,

Yucca: and yet many people were doing more with others. That's when we saw a lot of growth in the atheopagan community was during the time where people were searching for that connection and it, we figured out how to do stuff online that we would've never considered before.

Mark: right. Yeah, exactly. The other thing that the internet has done is it has caused an explosion of. Ways to do things. What I remember from the late eighties and early nineties was, well, there's a way to do things. You draw a circle and then you call the quarters and elements, and then you call the gods and then you do a working, and then you unravel all the things that you just did.

And you know, that kind of wicked structure was the structure.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: And. There was not very much, there was a lot less understanding of the nature of ritual and the, the subtle skills associated with ritual. Generally. I mean, when you look at early neo paganism, you're looking mostly at kind of white, middle class college educated people at that time and.

They had no idea of how to conduct rituals. They were just figuring it out and using the map that was presented to them with 40 years of additional ritual experience. Now we are well on into pe. There being people, a lot of people that have a lot of experience with creating ritual states and altering their state of consciousness through ritual activity and So there are a lot of different ways to do it. And now that we have the internet that can disperse that information, people are informed by a wide range of different things. It's not just Scott Cunningham's, you know, solo practitioner's Guide to Wicca.

Yucca: Yeah. And, and a much broader range of people involved as.

Mark: Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I remember, Well, this has something to do with the community that I was in, which is part of the reason why I left it. But there were debates about, you know, whether gay people belonged in in these gender polarized rituals. Right?

Yucca: Where it was like every other, like male, female, male female and like the structure of the circle

Mark: Yeah, stuff like, stuff like that.

And, and it was like, I mean there was just this, this severe lack of consciousness about a lot of stuff. And as there has been better thinking about that, at least in the circles that I move in Obviously, you know, people have felt a lot more welcomed, right? Gay people feel more welcomed, neuro divergent people, disabled people people of color.

One hopes, and it's not that that is a solved problem by any means,

Yucca: Right? We

Mark: a long way to go, but at least in the circles that I'm moving in, in the Pagan community, there is. To move in a better direction. And that was not really true when I first engaged with there, there. And it wasn't that that people were bigots necessarily, they just were clueless.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: They didn't think about this stuff.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: So anyway, going back to solitary practitioner nurse what we have now is the situation. Simply with access to the books that are out there. And let's be honest, the number of books has exploded since, you know, since the publication of D of drawing down the moon and the spiral dance, which happened on the same day, Halloween of 1979. The number of available books on ritual and paganism has probably grown 10,000 fold at least.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: And what that means, and then there's the internet, right? So the, the, the faucet for information is the fire hopes. It's, it's endless. You will never collect all the information there is. These topics. So you have to pick and choose and you pick and choose what works for you and what appeals to your values and your sensibilities. And so the solitary practitioner of today, I think, is much better equipped in some ways to build their practice and and, and get a lot of different choices. Rather than just, oh, well, Scott says I should do this, so I'll do it.

Yucca: right? Yeah. So I, I mean, I find that very encouraging. I think that's, yeah, I think that's lovely and I think that there's more opportunity as well to to connect with community when it, where it works for you, and then step back into. Your own solitary practice and your own day-to-day daily practice.

Mark: Sure, sure. Because there, I mean there are some people who are very, very introverted and they may not want to engage with a group at all, or they may wanna go to a Hallows event at Halloween, the height of the witchy time, and that's kind of their hit of. Communal experience for the year. Right? Or maybe they go to a, a built-in mayday thing and a Hall saan thing,

Yucca: or participate in online discussions.

Mark: right?

Yucca: Maybe they're not doing ritual with other people, but they're discussing these ideas and you know, sharing the cool images that they have of their garden with the morning dew on it or something like that.

Mark: Yeah. Or their focus, their alter or you know, some piece of art that they created that's thematically along the lines of of what their practice is about. Yeah, all of those things are very true and I mean, obviously that's why we have the Ethiopia, pagan, Facebook, and Discord so that people have opportunities for those kinds of discussions and that kind of engagement. and the, the Zoom mixers that we have as well, so people can come together, see one another's faces and be in a space.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: And just because you do some of that doesn't mean you're not still basically a solitary If you, if you aren't meeting with a group of people that you do rituals with on a somewhat regular basis, even if it's only every two, three months, you're still basically in a solitary practice.

And so that's what we're talking about today. What's, what's useful for that kind of practice? What kind of approaches are helpful? What are some things to keep in mind?

Yucca: Right. So let's talk about, let's, we've got a lot of different directions to come at this, so let's talk about some of the possible topics. So I think a good one to start with is the daily practice. And that's one that we definitely have talked a lot about here on the podcast. But it's always worth coming back to

Mark: Yeah, because being a pagan, other than the fact that nobody can really define what that is, other than that it means, you know, that we self-identify as pagans. But being a Pagan is a, it's a state of being. It's not a. You know, it's not like you, you pay for your membership card once a year and now you're a pagan, like belonging to the aaa. It's about what we do. And so having a daily practice or a weekly practice or a monthly lunar cycle practice, something that's

Yucca: regular practice of some kind. Mm-hmm.

Mark: practice. Where you are acknowledging the passage of time and what that means to you and, and doing stuff in a ritualistic manner, which can be all kinds of things.

I mean, it can be everything from kind of formally working in an alter focused sort of setting. With tools and symbols and elements in order to bring yourself into a contemplative flow sense of, of mind in order to transform your consciousness. Or it can be planting seeds under the full moon in your garden because that's meaningful to you and it's how you would like things to grow.

You know, and saying a little chant over them or implanting a, a figure or a symbol next to them to give them sort of a magical quality, right? The range of options is really broad but you, but you really need to have, so,

Yucca: Right, and I, I think a good place to start with that would be what? Really observing and thinking about what your goals are, right? What are you trying to achieve with your daily practice or your regular, whatever your practice is. So that's going to influence what particular practices you'd actually do based on what it is that you're trying to achieve.

Mark: Right, and I think it's fair to say that there aren't really any. Off limits goals for a practice like that. If your goal is, I want to feel witchy,

Yucca: Awesome. Right?

Mark: awesome. That, that, that is totally cool. Great.

Yucca: I'm on board there with you. Yeah. Right.

Mark: your cauldron out and light some candles and burn some incense and do the thing. I like that a lot.

I enjoy it. It's very ple. And when I'm in that state, I find I can transform myself in ways that are really powerful. So go for it. That's great. If your focus is primarily around self-healing or around growth or around philosophical contemplation of big questions like. What am I doing here and what's the universe for?

And that kind of stuff. All of those totally lend themselves to a

Yucca: you get through, get through a a day that, you know is, is really busy. Right.

Mark: Yeah. Assembling, assembling skills that help you in times like that and practicing them.

Yucca: Right. And it can also, you know, the skills that help you be a better, whatever your profession is, or a better student or a better parent, or whatever it is that you are, that matters to you. It's, it's about you and your life. Not, you know. Does Mark and Yucca prove of it? Does it match their life, right?

Like,

Mark: right.

Yucca: yeah. Or, you know, God's sitting on clouds in a heavenly throne or anything like that,

Mark: Right, because remember, everything that we're talking about is within the context of a naturalistic framework to paganism. So we don't believe in the supernatural stuff.

Yucca: right?

Mark: We believe in the psychological stuff, but not in the supernatural stuff.

Yucca: right. This is all, these are tools that we're choosing to use in order to live the kind of life that we want to live. and each person decides for themselves what that life is. Yeah. And it's not like if you make a different choice than someone else, that you're a bad pagan or a good pagan.

That's, that's just not part of the framework that we're operating with.

Mark: Oh, this actually brings up a, an interesting and controversial topic, which is hexing.

Yucca: Ah.

Mark: The reason that I don't do that is because I don't want to be a vindictive person.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: I don't want to be the kind of person that that lusts for revenge,

Yucca: right?

Mark: and that's why I don't. You know, wish harm on people. For one thing, my understanding as a naturalistic pagan is that my wishing harm on them isn't harming them at all. It's, it's harming me, but it's not harming them.

Yucca: that's my experience too. The more I dwell on it, the more I just feel bad about the whole thing.

Mark: Yeah.

Yucca: Right. And you know, wishing harm on someone else. I think that when I am doing what we might call magic in, in quotes, is really changing how I. So if I am, if I'm texting or cursing or somebody, I think I'm just doing that.

To me, I don't think I'm doing it to them doing it to me.

Mark: Yeah. That that is. That is my experience of it. The reason that I mentioned this is that, you know, we talk about how, what motivates you to have a practice can be many different things. Well, within Paganism generally, there are some people who just lust for power. You know, they want supernatural power and they like to play around with supernatural power that they believe they have.

So it, it helps them to feel powerful to do, you know, what they think of as hexes on other people curses. Right. Now I don't believe that any of that stuff works, so I just want to keep in mind that everything that we say here is about a naturalistic science, consistent reality-based. Practice. So when you think about, you know, what are you in this for?

If you just want to feel witchy and powerful, that's great. Don't hurt yourself with it.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: You know, it, it's, it's a good rule for life. Don't hurt yourself.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: We, we try teaching that to kids when they're really young to, you know, that hurts. Don't.

Yucca: Yeah. So. How about staying motivated?

Mark: Yeah, that is a big one. Yeah, because and that, that dovetails with that whole issue of the critic voice, the internal voice that says, this is stupid. You're making an idiot out of yourself. You know, none of this has any effect. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Which can sap your motivation. You know, and there's another voice right behind it that is the sort of defeatist voice, which is, oh, what's the use?

Yucca: right.

Mark: Well, the use is, it, it adds sparkle to your life, right? It adds color and magic to your experience of daily living to do these things.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: That has intrinsic value. It's not, it's not extraneous and it's not self-indulgent. It helps you to be a happier, wiser, more together person, and all of those things are important.

Yucca: Yeah. and you're building skills, those things that you're choosing to focus on every time you are doing them, you're, you're building your ability in that. And even if you miss, right, oops, oops, I forgot I missed it yesterday. Oh, I missed it for a whole week. Right. You can always just do it again.

Just start again. Right.

Mark: We learn things through trial and error and. The things that are hardest to learn, we have the most errors while we're in the process of learning them. Right? Hard stuff to learn takes practice. So if you wanna have a daily practice and you've got it planned out for one thing, make sure you're biting off as much as you can.

Chew at a. So maybe an hour of grand opera ritualizing every day is not the thing.

Yucca: You wanna work towards that, great. Right. But if you're, if you're starting that from, you've done nothing. Regularly and you're trying to build that into being a habit, it's a lot to to jump into. Right? So we're not saying if that's something that you wanna do to not do it, but think about whether that's a realistic thing for you, where you're at right now.

Mark: Right.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: But if you, if you construct a daily practice for yourself where simply lighting a candle or two, or, and maybe saying some words counts as your daily practice, you can always add more stuff in later,

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: right? But the fact of doing it on a daily basis, becomes really important.

Yucca: right.

Mark: and what will happen is your understanding of yourself as a practitioner will strengthen as you do that, because that critic voice that says, ah, you're just kidding yourself.

You're, you're, you're not a, you're, you're not a witch. You're a, you're an idiot. Yeah. That voice. That is gonna inherently get weaker and weaker when you can look back on six months of, no, I do this every day and I pay attention to the turning of the seasons and the faces of the moon, and I'm aware of my interstate and I, I navigate that interstate and I use psychological tools in order to ground and calm and get myself through difficult situations. I, I am a practitioner. I, I am a pagan, I am an atheopagan or a naturalistic pagan. And so that voice that says that you're faking, it gets weaker over time, and that's the way that you wear it down until after a while it just shuts up. I don't get that anymore. I go, I go to my focus and I, you know, start to do ritual stuff and I don't get that.

That voice at all anymore, but it took a long time to get there.

Yucca: Right. And we did do, it's been a couple years now, but we did do a whole episode on dealing with the critic voice.

Mark: Yes,

Yucca: so certainly it's still a presence in my life. Not for ritual. Something that I'm very confident in with ritual, but other places it's still, it's there, right? It's something that, that we all deal with, so, yeah.

Mark: And that's, I mean, to be honest, that's part of the journey. It is. That is just part of the journey of life. And when I look at where I was 20 years ago, that voice was stronger than it is now. And that means I'm steadily chewing away at it getting, you know, getting better. And it, I. In many senses, just getting better is kind of the point of living, isn't it?

Ex having wonderful experiences and getting to be a better and better person.

Yucca: Yeah.

what about ritual for the solitary.

Mark: Yeah. This is something I haven't really written about on the blog. , but I think about writing about it on the blog now and then because, you know, in the, in the atheopagan book and on the blog I presented a, a five part, well, six part really structure for a ritual, right? Starting with preparation, which is the sixth.

So preparation, arrival. Qualities, working, gratitude benediction.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: Those are those, those six pieces. But when you're working and, and those work very well for structuring group rituals it's not, as I always say, it is not the only structure that works. It's just a structure that works. So if you're getting started, it's something that's reliable, but you can always improvise and.

In different directions, depending on what you feel

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: when you're working with yourself and you don't need to kind of coordinate a bunch of people's experience together, you can be a lot more fluid.

Yucca: Right. You can pivot and go in a different direction than you were going to do. And you know, you can suddenly stop talking or stop singing and just sit if that's what you need, or get up and dance or do something different than what was planned. But when you're reading, when you're leading a ritual for.

10 other people, that doesn't always work. Right, because you're considering their experience as well as your own experience.

Mark: Right. You have to consider where you can take them with you when you're leading a group ritual, but when you're by yourself. Whatever your impulse is, is where you can go. Right? So if it's picking up a deck of Terro cards and doing a quick three card reading, or if it's, as you say, you know, breaking into dance or breaking into song, or grabbing a pen and a pad of paper and scribbling down a poem or ideas or. Or even what the, the critic voice is saying to you at this moment so that you can get it out and get it onto paper and then crumble it up and throw it in the trash. Whatever that is. Over time as you become a more practiced practitioner, you'll learn to follow your instincts on this and. Really rich, rewarding, personally tailored rituals that follow exactly what you need to do.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: And they may last three minutes, they may last two hours.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: Just depends on what you need and what you want to do. Sometimes I just like to kind of marinate in the magical world in the the witchy feeling. I just, I like to be in that. I like to contemplate the, the things on my focus that remind me of that light candles in my room and look around at my witchy space and go, yeah, this is really a cool place to be.

I like this. Other times I just wanna call any anxiety I have about going forward. In the day and do that real quick and then move on with my day.

Yucca: Right, and I wanna assure people who are just getting into ritual that, that, even if it doesn't come, Naturally or quickly at first. It is, it is a skill that can be built. And so it, when you're first starting out, y you might not feel comfortable yet just changing the plan and going with the feel and just adapting.

And that's okay, right? You just, it's okay if what you need to do in the beginning is work with a particular structure. Everybody. There isn't an end goal that everybody's going towards, that we're all moving towards. It's gonna be a very different journey to different places for different people.

So you can, if you hear somebody describing something like you hear Mark or me talking about our experiences with ritual and you're not feeling that same thing, that's not a failing on your part. , right? Like you just have a different experience and over time you're gonna build different experiences and, and skillsets.

Mark: Right, right. And, and bear in mind, an awful lot of the schools and practices of pagan ritual or religious ritual generally, honestly, are about helping you. To go into that ritual state of inner calm and focus and presence. And so use them right light incense. Read a poem that takes you into a particular vibe.

That's where you want to go. You know, be in candlelight because it's a lot more conducive than electrical light. As you become more practiced, you may find that simply stepping in front of your focus and contemplating the things there allows you to kind of downshift into the ritual state because you're so accustomed to going there and you're so accustomed to having that experience in that spot, right?

But that's something you learn to do. The incense.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: why they use it in, you know, Catholic churches, in orthodox churches.

Yucca: All across the world.

Mark: yeah, all over the world. There's there's reasons why things like dragon's, blood, and sandalwood were among the most valuable commodities that were transported all over the world during the Middle Ages, well, all over the Eastern Hemisphere during the Middle Ages because they had that psychological impact on people. So, you know, avail yourself of those kinds of tools. Music put on music that helps you feel a particular way that, that, you know, kind of connects you into your body and gives you a feeling of your animal nature and the power of that. There are, there are so many sensory things you can do. One of the things that I do sometimes that helps me is I'll have a glass of wine, just one, but it's enough to sort of lessen my inhibitions, quiet that critic voice, and make it possible for me then to go into my thing,

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: whatever that thing might happen to be.

Honestly, it, it's just about, and, and the reason that I choose wine rather than some other kind of alcohol is that, first of all, when you drink a glass of wine, you know exactly what you're getting. I mean, it, they vary from like 11% to 14% alcohol, which is not that big a variation. You, you, it's a pretty carefully titrated dose, right.

But the other reason is that red wine is so explosively delicious in, in all those different flavorful ways. There's just a way that sipping a good red wine makes me go, oh, life is good

Yucca: you find the thing that works for you, right? Yeah, I'm not a wine person. That's, that's why I, I chuckle at that because I appreciate your appreciation of it, but I have a very, very different experience when I drink it.

Mark: I think I would have to move away from where I live, if I didn't like wine. Because it, it's all that we grow around here. I mean, we grow some apples most of which end up cider actually. But generally it's, it's one country. So you were saying.

Yucca: I love the idea of it, but I just, I just don't like it.

Mark: have you had good wine?

Yucca: I've had wine that people have claimed is good when they've given it to

Mark: Ah, well

Yucca: but I don't, I

Mark: didn't like it. Okay.

Yucca: don't particularly, you know,

Mark: Well, the definition of good wine is wine that you like. So you've, you know, however,

Yucca: haven't,

Mark: However cheap it is, however, you know, disrespectful It is. If you like it, it's good. I, I do not truck with the snobbiness around wine.

Yucca: That's a whole world. That's

Mark: it, it is and it's, it's everywhere where I live and and it's pretty annoying to be honest.

the the self importance that people can get around rotten grape juice.

Yucca: Yeah. Well, and it's certainly. . You know, I think it, it goes without saying, but we're certainly not saying that you need to have any sort of substance to help you with a ritual or something like that. But, but that this, this is one particular tool, right? This is, and, you know, find that, again, find the tool that's gonna be the thing that, or the things that help you, right.

Mark: You can have a similar taste experience maybe with a, a perfect peach or a couple of dark chocolate chips, you know, the same kind of that,

Yucca: cup of thick broth or something

Mark: right? Yeah. Something that gives you that, that deep sense. You know that your body is being nourished and you are. Your senses are being pleased just by the simple fact of existence in doing this thing.

There's, there's just so much to be said for that. And there's a reason why pagans are thought of as being hedonistic. Because we embrace pleasure, we embrace joy,

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: And, you know, joy can be a portal into a ritual.

Yucca: Mm-hmm. . Yeah.

So what else? Anything else that you wanna touch on? For solitary

Mark: I, I'd like to say a little bit more about, I mean, we, we talked about kind of unstructured ritual time. I really want to encourage people that are primarily solitary practitioners or who are just. Building a daily practice or a, a regular practice create that environment

Yucca: Hmm. Mm-hmm.

Mark: you see in your mind as being the magical place. You know, do that. If, if you don't have a, a space, a personal space right now that enables you to do that, see what you can do about fixing it up to make it more that.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: I know, you know, some folks are in the broom closet and they don't wanna reveal that they have a practice to other people around them.

And that's fine. And I totally respect that. Maybe you have some things that you can take out and set around the room when you do your ritual

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: that will help communicate that vibe.

Yucca: right? Or a. Right. If a journaling book or, or even something like a picture book that has just that feeling to it, right? That the artwork has, that particular feel that you're going for, looking for you know, there's a lot, a lot to do.

Mark: Right. You mentioned a journal and that's a really useful thing for a lot of solitary practitioners is capturing. What they did ritually,

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: you know, whether it's tore readings or whether it's just lighting, some candles or anything that feels like it was special or different, you know, keep it, keep a a, a nice leather bound, cool looking magical book and write the dates in and, and capture that stuff because if you do that for a long time, you'll find that when you, when you skip.

And look at your earlier entries, you've evolved.

Yucca: Yes.

Mark: You, you will have changed things that used to feel kind of hokey to you or like they weren't really working, are now really effective. And they, they, they feel effortless. So,

Yucca: you found this new thing through that process that you know you found the thing that really helps you just enter that state, you know, right away or something.

Mark: Yeah. Yeah. And of course, as we always say, pay attention and keep going. That's, that's the way to a, a richly lived life. And it's, it is the pagan life, I believe. Pay attention. Know what's going on in the world around, you know, what's going on in the world inside of you and keep going.

Yucca: Mm-hmm. . Yeah.

Mark: So I'm really glad we did this episode Yucca, because we did another one a few years ago about solitary practice, but I feel like there really was a lot more to say. And I know that so many, especially new practitioners who join our community through the pod, through hearing the podcast or hearing about it from someone else and joining the Facebook or Discord communities or seeing a YouTube video in many cases it's kind of mystifying.

They, they almost feel like they need permiss. You know, to do ritual stuff, you don't need permission to do ritual stuff. You can do it all on your own, but if you need it, you have mine.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: You have my permission to gather what cool stuff is to you, whatever that means. I know what cool stuff is to me around yourself and start doing ritual behavior.

It'll feel good and it's a starting.

Yucca: Right. And it really. It opens up so many doors, right? So many possibilities and, and as such a tool when we really need it in life, and having practiced it. When you practice, then when you really, when the time comes that you actually need the skill, you've got it right?

Mark: And I think, I mean, that, that is true in the ultimate sense. Like when we're dying,

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: I have a feeling that having learned to navigate my inner world and, you know, calm or disregard or overcome or whatever the, you know, the demonn voices that we all have within us,

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: I have a feeling that when I'm dying, it's gonna be kind of an. Road, I, I, I don't have to be terrified. I don't have to be filled with remorse. I mean, there are a lot of, there are a lot of experiences that people have in their last moments that I think could be pretty terrible.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: And. I, I think that becoming familiar with working with your own psychology is a means to easing that process.

Yucca: Yeah,

Mark: I can't prove it It's

Yucca: It's, it's a, it's a feeling you got.

Mark: yeah, it's a, it's a supposition.

Yucca: Well, I hope you're right on that.

Mark: I hope I am too, but I hope I don't find out for a long time.

Yucca: Yeah. . And in the meantime, it's what we got every day, right?

Mark: every day, every beautiful day.

Yucca: Yeah. Well, thanks, mark.

Mark: Thank you, Yucca. It is always so great to talk with you.

Yucca: Likewise, and we'll see you all next week.

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