The Trail of Breadcrumbs

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

I was recently speaking to a high priestess who was a bit bereft. During her years of training, the intensity of the classes helped her keep focus. There were assignments, feedback, and work to be done. Now that the training was over, what next?

She compared herself to those around her, who all seemed to have a clear road of mystical work and service before them. She couldn’t help wondering, what do I do now?

I had to tell her, despite appearances to the contrary, we have all been left wondering “what’s next?” And while some of us never find anything, those on the path know it becomes a trail of breadcrumbs to follow. One thing leads to the next, and you might not see the pattern or preparation for years to come, and then only in hindsight. The twists and turns are what make ours a crooked path. But we truly have no other choice.

My friend Raven Grimassi would describe it in terms of the Well Worn path of tradition and the Hidden Path to be cut by the next generation. At a certain point, we all walk a less frequented hidden path, with variations of it suited to us uniquely until perhaps we make some maps and point out the trail to others.

On this path, we get clues as we are doing the work. We have to unravel one clue to get to the next one. The right book, conversation, or class comes along at the right time and transforms our process.

Things can come at us out of left field if we are open and willing. Strange gods might be willing to share with us, but if we have a calcified practice or belief system that won’t let them in, we lose the trail of breadcrumbs being laid out by our highest and deepest guidance within.

The path is punctuated with high points of mystical contact, and even some insight. We often have to process those moments, sitting with them, reflecting deeply, journaling, or talking about them with trusted peers and mentors. If we do this diligently, the long-term result is the continual evolutionary shaping of our consciousness and behavior. Much of the way can be repetitive meditation, rituals, and mindfulness. Every day cannot be an epiphany, but everyday lack of focus can cause you to miss potential epiphanies on the horizon. All the mundane skills of our craft—meditation, journaling, trance, simple ritual, and offerings—provide the structure to seek, experience, process, and continue onward on the path. We often have to return to basics to go deeper personally. And nothing is more basic than seeking once again, after you have “found,” returning to the eternal quest by hunting deeper in the woods for the next breadcrumb on the trail of the mysteries.

Temple of Witchcraft