by Kurt Hunter
Samhain is a time of both celebration and communion, of thanksgiving and of reflection. It’s a perfect time to examine our own lives and seek guidance from beyond the veil about how things are proceeding for us. It’s a time of endings and of beginnings. We sacrifice the things we carry that will not serve us or are too costly a personal burden to bring through the darkness. Then, come Imbolc, we emerge from that darkness in a hopefully lighter, more purified, place, ready to once again put what we’ve ruminated on into practice on the Earth and see if these seeds take root and grow.
I think if we sat down and thought about it for a bit, most of us could come up with a handful of self-identified spiritual “laws” that we try to guide our behavior and outlook by. Many books and articles have been written on this subject. They are all very much instructions on how to live a richer and more spiritually connected life. They’re supposed to bring us clarity of purpose, alignment with the Divine Source, or peace of mind. While we might not always live up to our own standards, they do give us a “bar” to aim for. They should also be something that can be shared with others, and even if others frame their particular laws in a different fashion, I think they should be able to be communicated in a way that is understood. If we can’t communicate them to others, how can we truly understand them for ourselves?
I have chosen to carry five critical laws with me. Like many gifts of the Goddess, five is an often repeated number. Five is the number of the four elements united by spirit. Five is the union of the Three who are One (Triple Goddess) and the Two who are One (Dual God). Five are the points on the Witch’s Pentagram, one of our most sacred and protective symbols. When I allow myself to be guided by these laws, I feel I am being the most genuine and true Witch I can be. When I get away from these laws, I know that the burdens and distractions of mortal life have separated me from eternal spirit and I probably need to figure out where I am and what it is I’m really doing. You may choose other numbers, but the exact number is not as important as the fact that you can quantify your guidance in a way that lets you measure yourself in a way that is both loving and exacting. A way this is not too hot, not too cold, not too many, not too few but — like Goldilocks finding the home of the three bears — “just right” for you.
These are the laws that have worked for me:
1. Have compassion of heart, cunning of mind, and curiosity of spirit
This has some definite similarities to the Temple of Witchcraft’s Three Rays of Love, Wisdom and Power. That compassion represents love is a self-evident. Cunning and wisdom are often thought of synonymous as well. But how is curiosity an expression of power? I think that it is of the spirit, the seeking out of the unknown, and by extension the willingness to change and be challenged by your exploration. Curiosity of spirit is the impetus behind the change-work I choose to do, whether on myself or acting outwardly in the Universe. Truly both of these things are a part of the same thing. Curiosity says “What if…”? Then it emboldens us to take the steps to make those changes that need doing. How many people do you know who are not guided by a sense of curiosity? Who live in their own completely safe and known boxes of life and don’t ever voyage into dangerous territory? Only seekers find, and when you find something, you might be able to bring it out of potential and into the reality of life.
2. Practice authenticity, but be open to change, which is eternal
Be Yourself, but acknowledge that the Self is on a journey of transformation and enlightenment. Who I am today isn’t the same person as who I was yesterday. Practicing authenticity means more than simply being honest in our dealings with others. It focuses on the intention of genuinely being ourselves and knowing that we can exist without subsuming or being subsumed by another. I don’t have to always be at my best, most grounded, or perfectly aligned in all my dealings. But authenticity requires that I at least give it a shot. I make the attempt to not hide from myself or from others.
3. Seek out the Mysteries
Are you starting to see that these laws are all slightly different ways of saying very much the same thing? This is another reinforcement of the importance of curiosity, integration and transformation. Dive bravely into the river of your own life. It’s filled with wonders and dangers that will delight and terrify you. Our lives are our greatest gift of opportunity for spiritual evolution. It is the crucible in which we burn away all that does not serve, and add all that serves us better. “The Mysteries” are a mystical way of referring to all these opportunities collectively. While no one has the exact same experience, we all share common source material since we have all — by definition — emanated from the same Source. We walk together, but we take the steps on our own. Though we can be supported in our quest for the Mysteries, no one can actually come to them for us but us.
4. Protect those of the Craft, your sisters and brothers, who are favored by the Gods
Essentially a rewritten version of one of the Ordaines found in several Traditions’ Books of Shadows, this law is important because of the principle of “spiritual solidarity.” We recognize that ours is a path of service to our communities and to each other. We see that each of us is a conduit for the love, wisdom and power of the Gods (whoever They may be to us). By aiding others, we allow ourselves the gift of receiving aid when we need it. We also recognize that ours is a world where the Witch is not always warmly welcomed, especially not by those who do not seek out the Mysteries. Be authentically the Witch. This doesn’t mean you have to be “out of the broom closet” publicly, or even use that word to self-identify as I do. I consider this an ethical obligation to battle prejudice and persecution. If we all cover one another, to some degree, then we are all the more free for it.
5. Know Thyself, and more than that, Share Thyself with others
“Know Thyself” is the commonly known inscription at the Temple of Delphi in Ancient Greece. It has been adopted by many mystical Traditions as a Charge to better understand ourselves — our thoughts, our feelings, our spiritual reality, and ultimately, our Higher Purpose. This is the bedrock principle upon which many a spiritual practice has been built. But this isn’t the end of it. It’s just the start of it. We are living in an Age (of Aquarius) where it becomes necessary for us to reach out to others and collectively share our wisdom and experiences for the good of all. If we are all mirrors for each other, then a piece of me reflects a piece of you. My own Truth may help to inform yours. It doesn’t dictate yours, but neither is it divorced from yours. Sharing isn’t forcing another to take; it is merely offering to give. It may be accepted freely, or refused equally as freely, but don’t keep your wisdom hidden so tightly that none may see it: “It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” How much better, then, if we all light candles as we spin through the night on our solitary-yet-unified journey?
What are your own “spiritual laws” then? Samhain is upon us, and use this time to dig deeply, reach further and uncover a guiding principle or principles that can light your way throughout the rest of the year.
Kurt Hunter is Georgian elder and NROOGD red cord who has been working in the Craft for over 25 years. He is High Priest of ElvenOak Coven in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and is currently a student in the ministerial seminary of the Temple of Witchcraft. Kurt works as a professional counselor and clinical supervisor and enjoys stone collecting, gardening, photography and gaming. He lives in Portland, OR and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org