A Year And A Day

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The first soft light of Solstice dawn was cresting the horizon, tinting the wispy cirrus and altostratus clouds a gentle gold, the colour of fresh butter as it starts to melt. The first singers in the choir, blackbirds and robins, began their warm-up with small warbles, later to explode into the full symphony of the dawn chorus. The altar was set up and dressed with plants cut before the dawn – honeysuckle, lavender, marigold, mint, St John’s Wort. A beeswax candle was lit in a small lantern, the flame dancing in the barely-felt breeze. With a nod to the rising sun, the witches began their ritual.

And so began the Summer Solstice dawn rite that my partner and I carried out in our small, ordinary, suburban garden around 4:30 this morning. In that ritual, we honoured the sun and the tides of the seasons, and asked for blessings on our paths ahead.

In that rite, I also dedicated myself to a year and a day practicing and studying witchcraft. After lots of thought following my previous post, Witch Way For My Druidry?, I realised that the call of the Witch was a deep inner call, the sort that it’s worthwhile listening to and at the very least exploring.

A year and a day is, in the words of Deborah Blake, “the traditional length of time used in contemporary witchcraft; sometimes for study as in those paths that follow a degree system, so that a person would study for a year and a day to reach a certain level” (Blake, 2017). Using a year and a day to study, practice, and experience witchcraft “allows you to give your practice structure” (Wigington, 2018).

A year and a day, as well as being traditional, offers a nicely bounded period of time – it is long enough to immerse yourself in a new practice, learning new skills and ways of doing things, but also short enough to be manageable, without the pressure of long-term commitments, and with an easy “out” at the end if the path turns out not to be the right one.

Within the ritual, which was based on elements taken from Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham (1988) and some personal amendments from other sources, I spoke aloud my dedication. However, a dedication alone does not make change – only a change to daily habits and routines can do this. So, with that in mind, and in the absence of a formal training course, I created my year and a day goals, and aimed to make them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Acheivable, Realistic and Timely – Boogard, 2020).

  • Honour the eightfold Wheel of the Year festivals (Sabbats) and the Full Moons (Esbats)
  • Read and review at least 6 books on witchcraft and/or Paganism
  • Learn and practice at least 3 basic forms of spellwork
  • Learn and practice one divination tool
  • Spend time in nature, observing the “20/5/3” rule (Easter, 2021)

This is, as you can see, a very basic list. Notably it does not include things like “meditate for an hour every day”, because I want this to be acheivable within my existing daily framework of work, chores, fitness etc. So this is, in effect, a “minimun effective dose” of witchcraft to help me get a feel for it as a path, and decide if it is something I want to explore more deeply.

I will of course be blogging along with this training year, so hopefully my reflections will be helpful for some of my readers too.

In the days leading up to this ritual, my daily divination readings have provided some very positive messages that this is the right path for me where I am in my life now. In the ritual itself, the reading came from Deborah Blake’s The Everyday Witch Tarot (2017), and gave the following cards:

Left, the past: the seven of pentacles: “At a certain point in any endeavour it is good to stop and take stock, but sometimes all you can do is wait for things to come to fruition”.

Centre, the present: the page of pentacles: “My path is wide open and I am prepared for new adventures”

Right, the future: Judgement: “Where has your path led you, and where will it lead you now?”

After a long while of feeling stuck in a spiritual rut with my Druidry, I am excited to try something new and also explore the relations and connections between this path and the Druid path I am more familiar with. I won’t try and practice both at once, although this can be done, because I am the sort of person who prefers to focus on one thing at a time. So for now at least, I intend to make witchcraft my primary spiritual practice.

I also intend to practice as a solitary (or semi-solitary with my partner) rather than seek out a coven or circle at this point. I want to take this year and a day as a chance to reconnect with my spirituality rather than outsource it to other people, and to deeply explore my own path, philosophy, theology and what witchcraft means to me as a queer, trans, neurodivergent person undergoing some major life changes. Having worked with various groups in other ways, I need this time for me, with the land, sea and sky, the spirits of the elements and my own magic.

I hope you will join me on here for this journey, and if you have any experience with witchcraft, I would always appreciate tips for books to read (or avoid), things you found useful starting out, things to try and anything else that you would be willing and able to share.

Solstice blessings!

References:

Blake, Deborah. The Everyday Witch Tarot. Llewellyn, 2017.

Blake, Deborah. A Year And A Day Of Everyday Witchcraft: 366 Ways to Witchify Your Life. Llewellyn, 2017.

Boogard, Kat. “An Explanation Of SMART Goals”, Atlassian 2020 [Online: https://www.atlassian.com/blog/productivity/how-to-write-smart-goals accessed 21 June 2021].

Cunningham, Scott. Wicca: A Guide For The Solitary Practitioner. Llewellyn, 2004 (first published 1988).

Easter, Michael. “The 20-5-3 Rule Prescribes How Much Time To Spend Outisde”, Men’s Health 2021 [Online: https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a36547849/how-much-time-should-i-spend-outside/ accessed 21 June 2021].

Wigington, Patti. “Importance Of A Year And A Day In Paganism”, Learn Religions 2018 [Online: https://www.learnreligions.com/year-and-a-day-2561939 accessed 21 June 2020].

3 comments

  1. Well done in getting yourself organised! I have given myself to “the flow” as my life has been quite tumultuous in the past few years. As I have now settled in my home with my wife, I am now doing things I always thought I would when I start “adulting”. And so, here I am and dedicating Sunday evenings to my Druidry. My point is: we have to undergo changes to our lives in order to find structure, which you have outlined for yourself. Looking forward to seeing where your new path takes you. Brightest Blessings, Locksley. 🙂

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