Paganism is by nature a very individual path. Because of this, it is sometimes easy to lose track of where you are and how far you have come. There seem to be five phases that pagans often go through. The period of questioning and searching is the first, and we sometimes refer to be as the Seeker phase. The Beginner phase is a time of exploration and discovery. Then comes the Intermediate phase during which we gain a wealth of knowledge and experience. The Advanced phase is a time where we learn to combine our magickal selves with our mundane selves to live in harmony and balance. The expert stage is a time of study, experimentation, and teaching or passing on the knowledge and experience.
When you are seeking the right path, you are a seeker. That period ends when you find the right path and begin the journey, at which point you are a beginner. As a beginner you will learn what your chosen path is about, how to follow that path, why you do what you do, and how to live in a manner that supports your beliefs, and many other important lessons pertaining to the why, how, when and where type questions you have. You might learn the basic ideas behind your spiritual path, and the names and uses of tools etc. This stage is very important for self-exploration.
At some point, when you feel well adjusted and feel ready for a further exploration, you will move on and begin studying the specific areas of knowledge and interest you might find useful on your path. This would include learning the names and uses of stones and herbs, what various moon phases are best for, and how to move beyond just the material and spiritual knowledge you will need, but to gain experience. One of the most important parts of the intermediate phase is learning to focus, meditate, and be comfortable with yourself and your abilities. During this time you will identify which areas you seem to be good at and which need a bit of work. You will lay the foundation for more difficult work.
Each phase may last a very short or very long period of time, and there is absolutely no use in rushing. You will encounter the information you are to learn, as you go. The longer you take the more time you have to learn and put that new knowledge to use and gain experience.
Once you have learned the basic correspondences and techniques, you will be ready to move into advanced studies, which might include specialty knowledge, various types of magick, more difficult forms of meditation, and a very close look at personal issues such as your patron deities, your purpose on earth, your past lives, your personal and magickal goals. The advanced phase is the one in which you take the knowledge you have gained from the previous stages and put it all to use. It is the stage in which you tie your spiritual and magickal life to your mundane daily life and learn to combine them as one. You learn that all of life is magickal and your religion is as tied to your mundane life as your soul is to your body.
After the advanced phase, comes what some people refer to as the Expert stage. An expert is one who has studied, and studies still. To be an expert is to have gotten a good core of knowledge and learned to infuse your daily life with magick. This is the stage in which many people choose to pass on their knowledge in the form of teaching or writing.
It is important to note that these are only basic guidelines, and because each of us is different, so will our paths be. If you are not sure what phase you fit into, thats fine. You dont have to fit into any of them. The best tools you will constantly use on your journey are your mind, and your heart. If you follow those, all paths lead to the same place.
Maelea Amairgen 2004
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