The Issue of Drug Use in Paganism – Charles Wilson, Guest Blogger


~~~Bloggers Note: Charles is a Senior Administrator at Magicians Paganism Witches Necromancers Friendship Group on Facebook. He is a frequent contributor to group discussions, both in starting discussions and adding valuable insight to the group discussions other’s start. He is very knowledgeable, plain spoken in a way that teaches others without offending or intimidating.

Charles is not affiliated with SacredHandsCoven and I have never been blessed to meet him IRL, but from what I have read of his posts he strikes me as one of those people you want to hang out with in a quiet corner of a local pub for hours on end as you trade ideas, concepts, and learn all you can from him. Thanks for permission to post, Charles!~~~

This is certainly an uncomfortable topic to write about, next to sexuality, but alas there are misunderstandings with those outside of the community so it is worth writing about. To begin, we have to define what a drug is. According to the Oxford Dictionary, a drug is “A medicine or other substance which has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body.” This broad definition would include everything from conventional medicine (such as pills), common chemicals found in beverages (such as caffeine or Alcohol), and plants, both poisonous and medicinal. However, most are focused on either the age restrictive or the illegal drugs so I will as well with this discussions.

Now, do pagans use drugs? Some do, and others choose not to. Those who follow pagan belief systems are just like any other group of people in the sense that no absolute statement will work as there is always an exception. Those who choose not to do so either out of personal preference (based or not on past experiences), issues with their health or because it could put their employment to risk (coming from a path that emphasizes family, community, and self reliance, I can understand not wanting to risk employment). It is pretty much the same reasons as anyone else would choose not to.

Before I get into why others choose to, let me clarify what kind of drugs I am talking about. Hard drugs that are not prescribed by the doctor or found in food are very rarely mentioned in the use for ritual (so that knocks out heroin, cocaine, morphine, meth, crack, and various other street drugs). The ones usually mentioned are Alcohol, Nicotine, Marijuana, Peyote, Shrooms, Ayahuasca, and various plants that promotes relaxation. There are three main reasons I have found to why those in the pagan community choose to use drugs. The first reason is pain management (this is especially the cause with pot), which makes sense as medicine has taken many forms throughout the years. Another reason is to help an individual interact with their gods and other spirits through what is known as journeys or “crossing the hedge” sessions for the sake of themselves or another. This is nothing new, as many individuals in cultures throughout the world did the same for their communities in history (usually after years of training of course). The final reason,reason why some in the pagan community may choose to use the drugs I mentioned is simple: pure pleasure, just like anyone who enjoys a beer or wine after a long day at work.

Which brings us to a question that I am sure both my family and others wonder: Do I personally use “drugs”? Yes and no. I am a smoker and I do drink in moderation prior to ritual to aid in the relaxation process. I have had my college experience, which I will not go into details with, that have reinforced my moderation view on things. Now if I were to become seriously injured, I would certainly choose pot to manage the pain over opioids because I have an addictive personality and rather not go down that rabbit hole. It’s one of those plants that makes no sense to keep illegal in my eyes and helps many people with pain management. Over the years, I have became pretty open with the topic of drugs and their uses, but I do not jump into it as quickly as some may think due to my focus on my personally responsibilities. However, I do not judge anyone who do use them.

To wrap this whole thing up, absolute statements never work. People will constantly prove that there are exceptions to every rule and many reasons for their behavior. Not all pagans choose to use drugs, just like with any other faith. It is the same with every other stereotype, and the only way to fight those stereotypes is through education. And it might as well come from someone within the group. Thank you all for reading

Witchery: Why Eclectic Witchcraft?

As previously discussed, there are many different paths to travel for spirituality.  When it comes to the world religions, spiritual paths, and even practices such as secular based witchcraft, there are branched paths leading from some of the oldest and most established belief systems in the world, from all over Africa, Asia, and Europe in numerous directions. Being the cradle of civilization, many of the best known belief systems started in Africa and spread as humanity and written history did to other continents and countries as time progressed and people looked for a place to call their own.

Some of the so-called new, or neo, pagan practices have been based on rediscovered information, some of it extremely well documented as having roots which come from ancient times that have been brought forward, to our modern era, through renewed interest in the ancient ways that our ancestors practiced their beliefs. From African Diasporic Traditions handed down person to person, which held focus on relationships with nature, ancestors and spirits, etc. to Norse beliefs with their own traditions, Gods, and Goddesses, to ancient Celtic beliefs passed down orally for centuries, and finally preserved in written form during the Middle Ages, and on to discovered Egyptian practices found on papyrus centuries after they were written. People are returning to the faiths that call to their individual spirits in record numbers.

From old and new traditional paths to the varying forms of Witchcraft, to Wicca, and to other new age belief systems that have sprung up during the last one hundred years, people are actively seeking a way to make sense of their personal beliefs, whether they are related to a specific faith or stand-alone practices. Many different varieties: Asatru, Candomblé, Hellenic Reconstructionism, Kemetic Reconstructionism, Luciferianism, Neopaganism, Satanism, Vodou, Witchcraft , Yoruba, Zoroastrianism, and so many more systems, or paths, are practiced around the globe, not just centralized to where they once began. People of all ethnicities are discovering practices they never knew existed before, but which seem to be made for their souls.

However, just as the Abrahamic faiths of Christianity, Islam and Judaism have become fractured religions, consisting of many, and in the case of Christianity sometimes thousands, of variations that continue to divide as time and beliefs progress, so have many other belief systems, including the African Diasporic faiths, Buddhist faith, Hindu faith, etc. They have splintered into varied belief forms that change and adapt to the people who follow them. All these various paths are valid for the people who believe in them and each of these paths have their own inherent beliefs and basic truths, and as truth is truth, and truth is universal, all these basic truths may be shared from one path to another. This explains the prevalence of so many paths having the same truths as their core values.

This is my reason for practicing eclectic witchcraft. Eclectic witchcraft tends to blend portions of many paths together as one. It takes the common truths as seen from all the different paths and acknowledges them as equally valid and blends them together into a single craft, or path. Each eclectic witch must make a choice of which portions of belief systems they will use in their practice of witchcraft. Some choose to use a blend of Nordic and Celtic paths; others may choose a blend of Christianity and Vodou; while still others may practice an eclectic blend of witchcraft that is completely devoid of any religious overtones and entirely secular in nature.

The thing about eclectic witchcraft is that it does not have to be a “one-size-fits-all” belief system. With eclectic witchcraft, as you study different paths and belief systems, if something specific calls to you, a particular practice, a specific deity, an accepted way of performing a ritual or casting a spell, etc, you learn all you can about it, try it out, and see if it blends well with your current beliefs and practices. Mixing and mingling various beliefs and practices in a way that specifically suits your soul. For a layman’s way of describing the way it works, imagine that all the spiritual paths are lined up in little bowls on a table, in a fashion similar to a salad bar. Just as you might choose a variety of lettuces, and vegetables whose flavors blend well, so may you find a group of ritual or spell casting techniques that blend into a nice whole for you. Add in some varieties of additional flavors like croutons or cheeses, just as you might add in working with a powerful entity or a deity, or a specific additional layer, like metals, runes, glyphs, or sigils, or themes or colored candles. Top it all off by adding in some herbs, and/or spells oils, just as you would top the salad with a dressing and voilà, it is perfect for you!

By Tudokin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Some say this is cultural appropriation, others say it is a misappropriation, of the cultural beliefs of a group to whom a person was not born. However, in this day and age of mixed ethnicities, multiple lineages, and even belief in past lives and reincarnated souls, which I believe bear direct importance on our current lives, I cannot believe in this strict interpretation of a spiritual path. I am aware that some consider this a very unpopular stance. I understand that some people object to others practicing a faith or path they feel the person is not entitled to, born to, or raised in. Again, I cannot believe in this strict interpretation. I cannot force myself to believe that merely because I was born to a specific set of parent’s with a set variety of ethnic lineages that I am beholden to the one way that my parents chose to raise me, n a narrow subset of a spiritual path shared by the one or two accepted lineages that my parents chose to acknowledge.

If this irritates or inflames others sensibilities; I will apologize for being the source of this irritation, but I will not limit the path that calls to my soul, base on someone’s irritations or even their cultural outrage. Cultural diversity, especially in the United States and other regions that were heavily influenced by centuries of immigration and inter-marriage are known for the multicultural “melting” pots they are. I do not believe, nor have I experienced, being judged by various and assorted deities, merely because my chosen list of deities with whom I have taken the time to build relationships, is not purely based a single pantheon, path, or faith. If this were so, then why would they work together so well when called upon? I find it interesting that the “man-made” rules call for one specific thing, yet the deities do not seem to follow these rules that some men claim they prefer.

As an eclectic, my job is to honor and respect any deities with whom I work. Personally, I speak to them, give gifts, and address them on issues that share important with work for which they are well known. I would not ask a war deity to bless a spell relating to marital health for a couple, any more than I would ask a deity of harvest, drink and song to join their energy with mine to fight against atrocities committed in the name of ISIL or Boko Haram. Common sense is still a requirement for any spiritual path, just as it is for every day life, even for eclectic witches. Follow in the ways your soul leads you, not in arbitrary rules established by some group of people who do not know you. If you are called to a strict interpretation of one specific path, then follow your path with joy, but remember, all witches are different and as such each witch’s path may differ greatly from your own, it is a good point to practice tolerance until you are given a reason not to.