lifetime, my personal path has included Vedanta Hinduism,
Catholic and Protestant Christianity, Wicca from two
different traditions, Quakerism, Taoism, Native American
spiritual beliefs, and Samkhya Hinduism. I have learned something
from each of these. I do not regret my involvement in any of
those. I am open to any goodness-oriented path for
incorporation or assimilation into my own path. This is a
work in progress. It will never be complete.
The two major spiritualities I use are Samkhya and Eclectic Wicca. They go together nicely. I seem to be incapable of teaching one without inclusion of the other.
There are some generally accepted Craft Laws. I have included one set here, commonly called the "JRF Laws". Although these specifically date from the late 1980s, many other sets of related laws in archaic language were included. This improves understanding by translating into modern language which is widely understood, and considers modern realities. Times of persecution are over, and let us all hope that remains so!
The divine can be found everywhere, and at all times. No matter where you are or what you are doing, the divine can be found. That is just as true in a quiet mountain valley as it is in the downtown of a major city. God does NOT just live in a temple, circle, or other place of formal worship. If formal worship of some type goes along with how you live and operate, by all means do that formal worship in the manner and with the persons you are most comfortable.
Personally, the divine is most apparent to me within nature. I can see God all around me and in everything best there. Assorted sounds from non-natural sources are simply not conductive to me, and many other people are less so. That is something for me to work on though. All of these things are just as validly divine as any other.
But nature has a sound! Certainly there is the singing of birds, the rustling of leaves, and the song of a waterfall. Silence itself has a sound - and a loud one - if you merely find a very quiet place, stop and listen.
There are both good and bad reasons to choose for or against anything. In general, I have found that it is preferable to leave one thing in favor of something better that has been found than it is to merely choose away from something in one's life, and falling into "whatever comes next" or "whatever is convenient". In choosing toward something that is better, you can and will keep the good and useful things you have learned through everything previous, and continue growth in whatever one is moving toward. To choose away from something, to abandon it, is to abandon the practice, the teachings, and whatever growth you have gotten there. In truth, there are people, organizations and situations which require being "turned away from", as those are toxic in themselves. In that case, one does not need to have something lined up to "replace" the toxic element in one's life before one can get rid of the toxic item. It must take a lot of soul-searching to determine whether something in particular is toxic. If it is, it should be dropped IMMEDIATELY, and all ties to it must also be dropped. It remains toxic so long as it is in your life in any way. With that being said, there are toxic, evil-oriented religions, and some that may damage you in some way or stunt your growth in some way. I cannot not give a list of them, as every person and situation is unique. With a faith or religion, you do not NEED to have a new one lined up before you can leave the old one, such as may be necessary even if it is an employment situation which has become intolerable. One must have an income. However, it is not necessary to have a spirituality, an organized spiritual path, or even any religion, whether organized or disorganized. Following is a partial list of possible good reasons someone would wish to study Wicca, or Samkhya Wicca in particular:
Just as there are good reasons, there are bad reasons to study Wicca, Samkhya Wicca, or to begin identifying oneself as a witch:
Many other religions have a deity Who is perceived to be "jealous", or the religion itself is "jealous" of all others. This is an attribute which has been invented by humans to keep other human beings in the religion working to further the goals of the leaders of that religion. They wish to keep the money, the power, the human power to continue to keep their power structure going. Fortunately, there are many religions which are not jealous in this way. Wicca is an example of a religion that is not "jealous" of any other religion or method or mode of faith. It mixes well with any other religion that will accept it. That is partly how I have successfully mixed it with the Samkhya sect of Hinduism. Neither faith is "jealous" nor does either faith demand to be anyone's "only" faith, nor does either perceive anything that is not doctrine of the faith to be against the faith. Truly, this is a laughable concept for Wicca, because there are no "articles of faith". Wicca is just whatever you want or need it to be at this time. It can grow into whatever you need it to be next year.
Samkhya Wicca is not what sells a lot of products and seminars in the "New Age" movement. Everything is "not" sweetness and light, and you (personally) do not (completely) create your own reality. There are not classes of "angels" or "muses" whose reason for being is to in some ways please humanity, or particular human beings. Most entities are selfishly benevolent, not outright "good". Humanity is not the focal point of "creation". It is pure egotism to think so. Especially with discarnate entities, trust nothing and no one until he, she, or it proves that he, she, or it is trustworthy. Channelling any entity before knowing It intimately is like lending an uninsured car that you just spent your life savings to buy to a complete stranger!
Samkhya does have a LOT of written literature. These are descriptions and categorizations of the natural and supernatural world, how it fits together, what does and does not go together, and what must precede what in order to attain some goal. It's much like a cookbook. The recipes tell you step by step what you need to add in what amounts to produce a particular dish. You may follow those directions or not. If you do not follow them, or do not follow them exactly within some level of tolerance, which varies, you will not get the result predicted. You may get a better one if you have *really* thought about it, thought about how things go together with what other things, and what you want or need. There is a remote possibility that you can get something better if you don't know much or anything about cooking. Randomly changing the recipe, leaving things out, adding additional things, changing the times, the temperature, or the methods will likely cause you to get something that you do not want.
I had been a Wiccan many years before I became a Samkhyin. For various reasons which I will not go into here, I had stopped identifying myself as Wiccan. I found myself drawn toward Hinduism, which I had been exposed to many years earlier. I found my way to Samkhya there, then through a chain of very unlikely events, found myself joyfully drawn back toward Wicca, but at the same time not away from Samkhya. I blended the two, and got good results.
Neither Samkhya nor Wicca demand to be an exclusive faith. There is no concept like "heresy" in either religion. Neither is jealous of the other. They have different focus, and for some goals, they work better to get what you want. For me, the theism of Wicca through its combination of monism, dualism, polytheism, and pantheism adds "life" to the pretty dry intellectuality of Samkhya. It adds a reason behind the meditation of Samkhya/Yoga. Samkhya adds some theory, theology, and understanding of the reasons and the nature of the divine and nature to Wicca. Samkhya/Yoga puts a real KNOWLEDGE of the divine into the emotion of love for the divine that is in Wicca.
Truly, one can be a Wiccan, and eclectic, or drawing on any other religion so long as that religion does not demand exclusivity, or as you practice that religion it does not demand exclusivity. Restated, the other religion or elements of religions may in themselves in "orthodox" form demand exclusivity from other religions, but for yourself you have decided to leave the exclusiveness of that religion by the wayside in that respect. That is fine. There are people who mix Wicca with traditional Native American spiritual beliefs or "Shamanism", Wicca with Druidism, Wicca with Voodoo, Wicca with Buddhism, Wicca with Christianity. This site is devoted to a mixture of Wicca with Hinduism in its Samkhya sect, and elements of some other sects of Hinduism. Eclecticism really is what works. It is a way of making a spirituality that works for yourself, rather than just adopting one that worked for someone else at some point in time, and doing it without completely reinventing all of religion and spirituality - a task which I believe is beyond anyone's ability to do. Alas, many other people may have some good ideas which you have not thought of which may work for you in part.
This takes form in respect for our own being and other people's. Everyone is sovereign over their own life, in so long as it does not directly effect someone else. For your self, take care to be giving yourself what you need. Treat yourself as a beloved pet. You are of Goddess! Give yourself the right amount of sleep, exercise, and food. Do not ingest chemicals which are not good for you. How good or bad they might be is a judgment call, but at least know the pros and cons of anything. These can include environmental chemicals, ingested chemicals whether food, medicine, or supplements. You've got to take responsibility for yourself. No minister, doctor, counselor, or other authority has this responsibility. They can make suggestions, but only you can decide whether or how to act upon those. Likewise, in accepting responsibility, you have to take responsibility for all results. So, you need to know the consequences. Our current litigious society has pushed the responsibility for everything from the use of baby swings to getting fat onto someone else! The responsibility of someone else to keep you safe ended when you left childhood. You are an adult now. Accept the responsibility.
Along with this, I have a belief in and value of not harming anyone or anything else, beyond what I may have to in order to survive. Along with the above are teachings of pacifism, or non-violence, albeit with a bit of a twist from how this word is often used. This is a non-violence, and at the same time ensuring that your safety, the safety of your loved ones whom you have an obligation to protect, and everyone's needs are met. Read about Pacifism here.
Wicca in its balanced traditions, as the ones from which I use the teachings, the form, and the ritual, also sees the divine in two parts, that of a Goddess and of a God, in feminine and masculine. These are our divine parents, and They are equal, although They have different attributes and different specialties.
As should be readily apparent, Samkhya and Wicca mesh on their basic view of divinity as being in two parts - one masculine and one feminine. Samkhya though, breaks primordial materiality down into its component parts. Wicca, on the other hand, breaks both the feminine aspects of divinity into various parts, or individual goddesses. These component parts can be worshiped or beseeched for given purposes befitting that goddess. Samkhya has the component parts broken down. Samkhya does not further break down the masculine aspect, but it's perfectly acceptable to do so. It is perfectly valid within Samkhya to attribute a name, personality, and any other factors to These. The gods are real! Any particular way of dividing things up, and attributing a god or goddess to those aspects is as valid as any other view of the gods. However, traditional gods from any world religion have the added value of having power from many people's worship over the years. These gods each have Their realm and Their attributes. It is quite beneficial to have one or more gods on your side.
Hinduism in general breaks the divine down various ways - in masculine or feminine, in creator, preserver, destroyer, different aspects of These, and each of Their powers. In that respect you get an unwieldy polytheism. It is broken into Creator, Preserver, Destroyer and each of those archetypes has His own Wife, Shakti, or associated goddess. The goddesses Themselves have power in Their own right, and are often more approachable by us, Their children, than are Their male counterparts.
Wicca breaks down the masculine and feminine aspects differently. The feminine aspect is typically broken down into Maiden, Mother, and Crone. These can be looked upon or called upon by any set of names from any pantheon.
The Maiden is a girl or young woman. She is often still a virgin, although not always. Often She has a warrior god as a lover. She may be very sweet or she may be chaste by Her own choice and very capable. In the latter aspect, She may be a warrior goddess.
The Mother is middle aged, She is married to a father or preserver god, and She has children. These children may have among them other gods and goddesses, as well as all of creation, including us. She is Mother Nature and Mother Earth. We can go to Her often as "Mommy", and tell her what's wrong, and ask Her to console us or somehow fix the problem - even and especially if we have no idea what the solution might be. She is the loving mother everyone wishes we had. However, She does not take kindly to anyone threatening or harming Her children! That is true even if it is another of her children inflicting the harm.
The Crone is elderly. She may be married to an older god, or a sage, or god of the afterlife in which case She may be viewed as a widow. She usually has acquired much wisdom throughout Her lifetime. If a particular form is a grandmotherly crone, She will be much like a mother but with more wisdom and patience. She will impart such wisdom as She thinks we need it, want it, or are ready to use it properly. Some crones are bitter, cranky, or tired. These are best left undisturbed.
Similar attributes of goddesses can be found within Hinduism, especially within the Tantras as the Dash MahaVidya. That is a set of 10 goddesses, in each of several attributes, and different ages and forms, and these go in very well with the Wiccan view of goddess.
There is ultimately one divine being. This being has many names, and manifests through many forms. Perhaps an infinite number. Everyone has different symbols to use, and everyone uses them differently, and understands everything differently. We each have our unique life experiences and unique psycho-social makeup. So, we're all different in all of our understandings. As personal as one's relationship is with a deity, it is pretty well impossible to completely take and use something from someone else!
There are several ways the divine can be divided into two parts. Male and female is one. There is Purusa and Prakritti, or Pure Consciousness and Primordial materiality as defined in Samkhya. I don't believe that it is any coincidence that these nouns are male and female, respectively. I reject the whole good/evil dichotomy. There are others such as light/dark, male/female, active/passive, visible/invisible. The problem with those is that in every case I have listed, the things to the left of the / are viewed as "good, right, and proper" and thing to the right of the / are viewed as "bad, wrong, and evil".
There are various ways I can divide things into 3 parts. There is Maiden, Mother, Crone. There is Creator, Preserver, Destroyer. There is Student, Householder, Sage. These are all true too.
Each of the elements, directions, and "parts" of reality can be rightly referred to as a God. Any of their individual powers can be viewed as a God.
This is discussed in depth in The Brhadaranyaka Upanishad. There are many answers to this question!
I had a dream years ago about a divine form coming to me in that dream. He said to me, "I have many forms. You must use the form you can see Me best through." He continued with some personal things about myself, and suggested a particular form of Himself. Not coincidentally, that was the form I had before me in the dream. The deity was one Who is considered to be a form of Lord Shiva.
Most people have a favorite way of looking at God and/or Goddess. That is fine. One must use the forms that call to that person. Yet, these are not the only possibilities. It must be recognized that others can understand the divine better through other divine forms, and even understand different aspects of the same form. Others may use different forms or the same form differently at different times and under different circumstances. Every form is as valid as any other form.
While magickal powers or abilities can be a nice thing to have or to use, they must not be the whole focus. Generally, the easiest way to something is to obtain it through mundane means. If getting a lot of power is your goal, you are very likely to be disappointed. If you are successful at it, that will be even worse! Without complete knowledge of all situations, that's almost the shortcut to REALLY destroy your goodwill with the gods, or most gods anyway, have the whole thing backfire, and you're much worse off than you were. It'll mess up karma. To clarify that, it can be short term, long term, or extend past death. It's all the same thing. If something is wrong, unethical, or illegal to do mundanely, it's at least as bad if you do it magickally. Some people think it's worse. I change my mind periodically on whether or not there's a multiplier, but the idea is the same no matter by how much it increases or not when it comes back. If you do something, something similar will come back to you.
The Sanskrit word siddhi literally means "success". It means a lot more than that though. It means "divine grace", or "supernatural gift", or "ability". There are traditionally 8 "great" siddhis, and there are probably an infinite number of minor ones. The minor ones can have a mundane explanation. Your friend George might have a "siddhi" to get you first base line tickets at the baseball game. He has this siddhi because his wife's friend is the team owner's secretary. There's nothing "magickal" about this ability. Or, Mary might have a siddhi for working the weather. It's a magickal skill that came easily and naturally to her. She may not, however, have a siddhi for producing prosperity. Note that any of these can be used ethically or not ethically. The best rule on using any of these is if in doubt, don't.
There are probably an infinite number of siddhi that can be bestowed by the various gods. Some gods may make you prosperous, some may make you beautiful, some may give you lots of healthy children, some may make you irresistable to the desired sex or gender, some may give you the power of persuasion. Having such a blessing from one or more deities is indeed a great gift. That gift does remain the "property" of the deity Who gave it. If you use it in a manner inconsistant with that deity, it is likely that it will be taken away or modified in such a way so as you do not get your wishes.
Traditionally there are "8 Great Siddhi" listed. They are becoming large, microscopic, greatly heavy, levitation, power to obtain any object desired, power to accompish anything you wish, power of creation, power to beguile. Truly, even having a portion of any one of these would be formidable! Even at that though, their level of "success" is limited. While you can proverbally "shoot yourself in the foot" with something minor like working the weather or producing or warding off prosperity, you can proverbially nuke yourself with these "Great Siddhi".
If you're given anything, it's to a degree a test. How attached are you going to be to having that power or ability, or how steadfast are you in persuit of the goals of your faith? As the Charge says, "Let naught stop you nor turn you aside". That includes magickal gifts or gifts from the Gods!
Magickal powers, or successes with magick, is very often a distraction from the real goal. The goal is none other than the divine Itself. If you are given some power, success, ability, the correct way to deal with it is to say, "Thank You for the gifts. They are very nice. I am quite happy with them. What I really want though, is You." Then, proceed to make use of the gift, harming no one, in accordance with the Wiccan Rede, and all of the ethical considerations I've put out here. Truly, if you misuse them, you'll get a bad result from it, but you really can only get away with so much. After awhile, they will be taken away... and you've also got the whole backlash of what you have done.
If you use them, make the best use of them, and you steadfastly show the Gods that what you want though is Them, or It if you are a monist, eventually the answer will be "Oh, All right", and you will get the Gods, They will get or have you, or You will realize your identity with the Gods. If at any time you show that the "toys" They gave you are more important to you than They are, you will either not be offered that TRUE gift of the divine, or it will quickly be taken away from you.
There is a lot of personal responsibility tied up with all of this. If you do the wrong thing, it's a lot more than a matter of saying you're sorry, being forgiven, and going on. Sure, you can be forgiven. There's still payback.
It's true that if you've got the graces of a divine being Who is evil, He, She, or It won't be "mad" at you for using the power in an evil manner. They've done the same as "forgiveness". While the good graces of a God can help you, it won't get rid of this high-level natural force. You will still get back what you give out. Oh, sure, the evil God gets "evil" in return for the "evil" He or She does, but that deity may choose to perceive goodness and evilness in a much different way than you will. He or She can't protect you from what's coming. Also, if it's an evil being, what makes you think that evil deity will choose to protect you? That could be another evil deed on that being's part... to convince you that something evil was your idea, do it, and now get to pay the consequences for it!
Be sure what you are doing and why before you start to do anything. Within Wicca, this sort of thing is what is referred to as The Art, and Wicca regards it as sacred. This is specifically what Craft Laws specifically say must be taught within a Magic Circle. Rarely does power come quickly. It is usually best if it does not. You need to have the wisdom to know when and how to use it before you actually have it, or to have a teacher you can rely on 100% of the time to have all of the answers! If you don't have a teacher, or your teacher is a human being who has limited knowledge and wisdom, and you're doing things with magick, chances are that you're going to make a mistake. There are some GOOD reasons why the Craft Laws state that use of Magick, or The Art should be debated at length before use. It must never be used to endanger anyone of the Craft, or the Craft itself. You MUST be certain of this before you begin, or the curses of the Gods may befall you. Do you wish to take that risk, and risk others as well? gift of the divine, or it will quickly be taken away from you.