I think, therefore I am...

...I am aware, therefore I live.

Most people do not understand what we mean when we tell them that we are "Witches" or "Wicce." Normally the first thing to come to mind is some old hag who rides a broom on nights of the full moon. Or of groups of naked devil-worshipers that kill babies or small fuzzies while dancing around a bonfire. OK, so maybe the dancing around a fire is true, but most of their opinions of us are based on fairy-tale and misconception. Unfortunately, though, most really don't want to be told differently.

There are those, however, who are curious, or have things happen to them that they do not tell anyone because it's "weird" or "crazy." They may ask a question or two here and there, tentatively, not sure exactly why. As if you might understand. Or they may sit back and listen as you dicuss with someone else why you don't go to church. However they come, come they will. And you will need to have some answers ready that will either satisfy their curiosity, or spur that same curiosity into new questions for you.

One of the first questions that I often get asked is what is it that "we" do. Do we cast spells, do we summon demons, what? This one is a little hard to explain, since asking any one of us "How do you cast a spell?" will get more answers than people asked. Most of the time I tell the questioner (we'll call him "Bob" for now) that I can sense and move energy that most people aren't even aware of. More often that not I'm answered with a blank look (something that all the Bobs in the world seem to have mastered), so I try to add a little detail.

"Rub your hands together. Do you feel the heat? That's from your hands interacting with each other. Now, slowly pull your hands apart, still rubbing. The heat may lessen, but doesn't go entirely away. That energy is what I use- the interaction of all the things around me. Because of some exercises I've learned, I am a little more aware of the energy than someone who hasn't."

Usually the follow-up to that is "Well, what are some of those exercises?" Well, here are a few. There are a lot more, and I may talk about them later, but this will give Bob a good place to start.

SHADOWPLAY (from The Sprial Dance, by Starhawk)

Take a sheet of blank paper and a soft pencil or stick of charcoal. Sit down and observe a scene that interests you.  Forgetting about objects, names, and things, observe only the play of light and shadow over various forms. Block in the shadows, not with lines, but with patches of broad strokes. Do not be distracted by local color; do not be worried about creating "things." Let the patches of shade create forms. Spend at least ten minutes on this exercise. Remember, the point is not to create a "good" drawing, or to prove your artistic talent (or lack of it); the point is to experience another way of seeing, in which separate objects disappear and only patterns remain.

RHYTHM PLAY (from The Sprial Dance, by Starhawk)

Close your eyes. Listen to the sounds around you, forgetting what they represent. Be conscious only of the vast rhythm they create. Even in the city, forget that the whooshes, thumps, clacks, chirping, rumbles, and bangs are passing cars, workman's hammers, footsteps, sparrows, trucks, and slamming doors- hear only the intricate, organic pattern in which each is a separate beat.

SENSING ENERGY (from The Sprial Dance, by Starhawk)

The energy we talk about in the Craft is a real, subtle force that can be perceived. Sit quietly sometime and get comfortable. Let yourself be aware of the energy you sense around you. How does it feel? Excited? Aware? Calm or anxious? Tense or relaxed? Each of us will sense it differently- some will see colors, others will only get impressions, others may hear music, others still may detect different scents. It's not how you know it's there that is important. It's how it makes you feel, how it moves you. Once you begin to trust yourself and your sense, it will come easier to sense, to understand and interpret.

The energy is always flowing, moving. It moves up and down your spine, through your body, rising and ebbing like the ocean as you take every breath. How well it moves, and its effect, can change with your moods, your thoughts, even how you stand. Try standing in different stances, different postures, and notice the difference in how you feel, in how the energy flows.

Breathe deep. Breathe from your stomach, from your diaphragm. Feel the energy rise and fall like your chest and stomach. Feel it recharge you as you take in air, and relax you as you breath out and it takes the negative away. Let it build within you, filling your being with each breath. Notice the difference in how you feel.

Now relax, and let the natural tide of your breathing gradually take with it the excess energy as it leaves your body. Slowly, let go of the energy until your levels are back to normal. How do you feel now? Relaxed? Refreshed?

Try this a couple times a week, and see if there is a change in how you feel. Notice especially any changes in your attitude, or that of others' toward you. You may just be surprised.

Eventually, the subject of beliefs will come up. I'll talk more about what we believe later, but, for now, here are the basic goals of the Wicca :

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