Welcome to the Order of the Sacred Star! This Pagan/Wiccan group, based in Winnipeg, Canada, is committed to teaching the Craft to all those who wish to learn. Our goal is to provide a complete and fulfulling learning experience. Our public classes are offered through the Winnipeg Pagan Teaching Circle.

Friday, March 18, 2011

How to Find Your Animal Totem

Animal totems have existed in many cultures throughout the world. Recent years have seen a renewed interest in totems and their meaning, and their popularity only continues to increase. Today, many people are searching out their totem animals in the hope of deepening their understanding of self.

What is a Totem Animal?

In essence, animal totems are symbolic objects that are generally used to get in touch with certain qualities that you may already possess, but are hidden. These qualities are found within the particular totem animal, and often, you will feel a specific affinity for the animal totem, but this is not always the case.

It is possible to have several animal totems at different points in your life, as there are several types of totems. Totem animals will come into your life when you need them, and then be replaced when their assistance is no longer required. The direction your life takes will determine which totem animals you attract. These ‘animal guides’ will instruct and protect you, and will guide you back to your natural state of being. That is, they will help you to find the person you were meant to be. However, before they can do this, you must know who your totem animal is.

How Can I Discover My Animal Guide?

Some people know instinctively which animal is their totem without any guidance. Most people do not. If you fall into the latter category, there are several questions you can ask yourself to determine which animal might be your guide at this moment. Remember that your animal guide can change, so revisit these questions whenever you feel the need to.
  • Which animal do you feel most resonates with you? In other words, which animal are you most drawn to?
  • When you go to your local zoo, which animal do you always insist on seeing?
  • Is there an animal that you frequently see in your life with no logical reason? For example, do you see a squirrel every time you turn around?
  • If you could only research a single animal, which animal would you choose to research?
  • Is there any animal that you find particularly frightening or intriguing?
  • When you dream, does the same animal seem to present itself?
Search Yourself For Clues to Your Animal Totem

The answers to these questions may not yield any particular results. For some people, the answers will lead them to believe that they have several totem animals. For example, it is possible that you feel attracted to cats, want to see the monkeys at the zoo, see many squirrels around your house, love to research bears, and are terrified of spiders. Maybe you are also intrigued by horses, and see tigers in your dreams.

It is unlikely that all of these will be your totems all at the same time (though it is possible that they will all eventually have their parts to play). In this case, you’ll want to do some additional searching to find your totem animal. There are some exercises you can do to help you discover your animal guide, but you must never try to force an animal guide to come. They will sense this and avoid you.

This exercise takes patience, but it does eventually work for most people. Start by considering your answers to the pervious questions. Make a list of the animals on that list, and add any animal that has played a significant role in your life at any point. Look around your personal space and see if you have pictures or carvings of specific animals around you.

Start an animal journal. In this journal, record any animal that shows up in your life more than once. Your pet cat doesn’t count, because the cat will obviously be in your life. See if a stray cat sits outside your door frequently. Perhaps ravens gather outside your window. Maybe that hawk just will not get out of your dreams. Add these animals to your list.

Sit quietly and meditate upon your list. Ask that your true totem animal be revealed to you. If you feel the need, use incense, candles, or any other tools you feel comfortable with. Take your time and commit yourself to finding your totem animal.

Be patient when attempting to connect to your animal guide. There are many different types of totems out there, so it may take a while for your own totem to make itself known. Repeat your meditation over and over again until you are successful.

When you do eventually find your animal totem, make sure you honor the animal in question. Fill your space with pictures, paintings, of sculptures of your animal. Perhaps wear a pendant representing your totem. You might even want to have the animal itself in your home, assuming that your totem isn’t something exotic. Your animal totem should be respected as a friend, teacher, and guide.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Magickal Ethics: Sex and Sacred Sex

When studying many magickal systems, Wicca included, the idea of sacred sex eventually arises. Often the term isn’t properly explained to new seekers, perhaps due to modern society’s view of sex in general. This can lead to a great deal of confusion, especially for young people new to the Craft. The most important thing to realize about sacred sex is that magickal ethics apply just as they do to any other magickal practice.

What is Sacred Sex?

There are as many differences between sex and sacred sex as there are between a cat and a dog. Both animals are cute, intelligent, and make excellent house pets. But you couldn’t exchange a cat for a dog and expect that no one would notice.

The same principle applies to sex. Sex can be a sacred thing, but sex isn’t always a sacrament. It is also important to realize that just because Wiccan and Paganism are accepting of all sexual lifestyles doesn’t mean you can freely engage in dangerous behavior or take advantage of others. There are few firm rules in Wicca, but the most universal is the Wiccan Rede: “An ye harm none, do as ye will.”

This means that it is important to act responsibility, both towards yourself and others. Magickal ethics operate on the principle that the energy you send out comes back to you. Therefore, it is in your own best interests to treat yourself and others with respect.

So how do you know if sex is sacred? Usually, if sex has a higher purpose than procreation or fun, it can be considered sacred sex. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have sex for fun or to get pregnant. You can, but that isn’t sacred sex. Sacred sex would be sex that both parties agree to with one or more of the following purposes:
  • To honor the Goddess and the God; or
  • To raise energy for a spell or ritual.
These goals can, of course, have many different expressions. It is the intention that defines sacred sex and sex magick, not the exact form.

Sacred Sex and Teenagers

More young adults and teenagers than ever are exploring Pagan religions, including Wicca. Though many of these people are bright and responsible, growing up isn’t easy. Things are moving faster than ever before, and we, as a society, are expecting more of young people than we have in the past.

The decision to become sexually active is on of the most difficult choices facing young people today. Teenagers of all religions and walks of life experience pressure to have sex. This is an intensely personal choice that can only be made after much personal reflection. However, it is generally accepted that teenagers should not participate in literal sacred sex. This act takes far more emotional maturity and control than most teenagers are capable of.

That does not mean that teenagers must be excluded from the sacred union of the divine. The Great Rite, which is a celebration of the union of the masculine and the feminine, can be experienced symbolically as well as literally. A teenager who understands Pagan spirituality and recognizes the sacred meaning of sex might be better off incorporating the lowering of the athame into the chalice as a representation of the divine union of the Goddess and the God.

Sex is a very powerful thing, and its connection to Paganism stretches back through the ages. From the sexual nature of Ostara to the use of sex for magick, sacred sex is an act that requires a thorough knowledge of yourself, your partner, and your goal. It should only be engaged in by fully consenting adults.