Daily Archives: June 1, 2011

When You Might Not Want to Come Out of the Broom Closet

Author: Bronwen Forbes

A great deal has been written about the benefits and advantages of coming out as Pagan to your family, friends and co-workers, both here on Witchvox and in other places. Living an honest life, helping Paganism be more accepted as more people say “I know a Pagan, ” and taking pride in who and what you are – these are all excellent reasons to be open about your faith. However, as a friend of mine reminded me recently, coming out is never something you do just once. You continue to choose with every new day, every new situation and every new person you meet whether or not to say anything about your spiritual path.

Which means, of course, that there are some valid reasons to never come out to anyone, or only to a select few in specific situations. For example (obvious as it is) , if you’ve recently begun the process of legally severing your marital bonds with someone and, before the divorce is final and all child and property custody disputes have been resolved, and you realize in the middle of all this that you’re Pagan, it would probably be in your best interests not to announce your new path until after the dust has settled.

Another obvious example is on the job. I hate to sound like an alarmist, but in this economy, just because you think it’s safe to be openly Pagan at work doesn’t mean it *is* safe. I lived for years in the Baltimore-Washington DC area where no one, not even my employers, cared if I was Pagan or not.

I left DC for a Midwest town that had a university – and a very prominent journalism school. As leaders of a training coven (consisting mostly of college students including one journalism major) , my husband and I were pretty good candidates for “interview a witch for the Halloween edition of the school paper.” It happened every year. While I wasn’t exactly out at work, between my regular appearance in the university’s school newspaper and occasional mentions in the city’s paper for being on various Pagan-related discussion panels, I wasn’t exactly hiding my religion, either. Five minutes on Google would have told my employers everything they wanted to know about it. I don’t think it even occurred to them to check.

Unfortunately, I took this lack of interest in my religious affairs for granted when we moved to a tiny town in New Mexico and I got a job at the local (much smaller) university in the admissions office. We also tried to help revive the campus Pagan student group which had been prominently featured in the local paper a year earlier, when every Baptist minister in the county denounced its existence (which should have been a clue to me to keep my flapping mouth shut) . Connections were made among the students, and next thing I knew it was two weeks before Samhain and the editor of the school paper was interviewing me. It was a good, well-written article, and no one in my office said a word about the fact that I’d just outed myself to the entire campus. I didn’t think any more about it.

Until I realized that my immediate supervisor was quietly and subtly going out of her way to make my workday a living hell – and had been since the article appeared in the paper.

For example, whatever I did wrong was discussed loudly and in public, while my co-worker, a Catholic, got a bit of quiet privacy when her errors were pointed out (We started the same day and did the exact same job) . I mentioned it to my boss and was told it was all my imagination and that I was “too sensitive.”

Eventually I quit; I’m convinced that if I hadn’t, I would have been fired. Was it because of the article? I’ll never know for sure, but in retrospect my decision to come out of the broom closet was, in this instance, a pretty poor one.

Sometimes, though, the decision of whether or not to come out as Pagan is not so obvious. Family and close friends, for example, are the people you most want to accept this part of you, and as a result your prediction of their reaction to your news may be skewed; you so very much need them to be happy for you that you could project the reaction you want onto them.

I’ve asked around, and a lot of my friends suggest telling a close sibling, aunt or uncle and see how they react before having the “Big Talk” with Mom and Dad. But – and this is hard – telling your nearest and dearest may not only be a bad idea, you may not know it’s a bad idea until it’s too late.

Back in the mid 1980s when I first realized I was Pagan, I told my parents. I had plenty of solid, valid reasons for doing so: 1) I was about to be divorced by my first husband over my Paganism and I thought they deserved to know the truth. 2) I had a strong feeling, even in the early days, that my spiritual path was going to be a major part of my life (turns out I was right) and I couldn’t see cutting my parents out of that much of my world (we were a lot closer back then) . 3) My parents are highly educated people with five college degrees between the two of them, have been professional performers most their lives (i.e. used to odd, artistic, fringe folk) , and are reasonably liberal in their personal and political views. In other words, if there are (or were) two Christians (Episcopalians) more likely to accept their daughter’s new spiritual path with open-mindedness and grace, I don’t know them.

At first it looked like I made a good decision to come out to my folks. My father, a college librarian, found a copy of Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance on my recommendation and read it. He said that while he’d never be a Pagan, he was struck by how “poetic it is.”

Fast forward a decade or so. In the intervening years my religion has been referred to as “that Pagan b*llsh*t” more than once. I’ve been told, “We’re just so relieved you’ve managed to stay away from the drugs” (What drugs? Did I miss the memo on rampant drug use in the Pagan community?) , and treated to this day like a not-quite-bright teenager by – you guessed it – my intellectual, liberal parents.

Was coming out to my parents a good idea? Probably not.

Knowing what I know now, would I do it today? No.

The decision to tell or not to tell someone you’re Pagan is a deeply personal one, and not in any way something you should be pressured into. Coming out as Pagan is not “cool” or something to do for the shock it might cause the listener. Although it’s true that the more of a presence we are in society the less “other” we become, and the more our faith is accepted in the world.

But we need to be aware that sharing our religious choice with anyone or everyone is not always the best solution. We no longer need to worry about witchfinders, hangings and other historically dire consequences for openly celebrating our faith, but we do need to think very hard about our livelihoods, our children and the feelings of the one we’re outing ourselves to before we choose to share this most personal information.

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Are You a Pagan Individual?

Author: Crick

When one looks about the Neo Pagan community, one common factor that stands out is the constant jockeying of certain individuals/groups to be the learning curve for all other pagans. To my mind this is an attempt to validate ones personal insecurities. For as pagans we should be individuals who are comfortable in the way that we seek our spiritual path.

One cannot be true to and thus accepting of others if we are not true to ourselves first. This is a tenet that separates the individualism of paganism in general and witchcraft in particular, from the tenets of organized religion.

It is interesting to note though that such behavior is unique to Neo Paganism. Not all of those who contributed to the origins of Christianity believe in the concept of “Jesus” as he is portrayed by the organized religions of today.

For instance, the Mandaeans are followers of John the Baptist. They are a people called “Mughtasilah”, which translates as, “Those Who Wash themselves”. They are considered to be the “Children of the Books”, and as such, are said to be “holders of the Word of God.” And though they are hostile to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, (Mandaeans regard Christianity and rabbinical Judaism as false religions that, along with the negative influence and/or alignment of planets and stars, impede the soul’s release from bondage.

With the arrival of Islam in Iraq, in 636 CE, the Mandeans were seen as the third “people of the book”, and were thought to be the mysterious Sabians of the Koran. But the Mandeans still encountered a difficult relationship with Islam, and Muhammad is in their writings called the demon “Bizbat”.

The Mandaeans themselves subscribe to the belief that Judas Thomas was Jesus’ twin brother and that it was actually Judas Thomas who was crucified on the cross and that Jesus then lived out his life as his brother Thomas to avoid persecution for his attempted role as the alleged messiah. To support this belief, the early church father “Irenaeus” wrote around 150 CE that Jesus remained on earth as a teacher for some twenty years after his crucifixion, and that John the Apostle served as a conduit for these teachings.

The Mandaeans are an ancient form of Christian Gnosticism, which practices initiation, ecstasy and various rituals that have been said to resemble those of the Freemasons. They very frequently practice baptism in running water and a sort of “confirmation”, is given to the dying. They repudiate idolatry and circumcision, while celibacy is absolutely forbidden. They practice a moral code of charity and goodwill.”

They hold to a planetary influence on the hours, much like Solomon and others of his kind did and they have a seven-day induction of priests, which is similar to the Sabians. Their year consists of twelve months of thirty days each, followed by five auspicious days of epact. At the New Year they keep vigil for the spirits of light to return from congratulating the Supreme Being for creation.

They utter “Ask and find, speak and listen” like the Harranians, but then invoke a formal denial of the powers of the sun and moon contrary to the Sabians. Their calendar is solar while the Harranian one is luni-solar. And amongst the Mandaeans, women may own property, though divorce is not recognized, and a man may have as many wives as he desires.”

The Mandaeans take their name from “Manda” which means secret knowledge.” The Mandaean priests are called “Nasoreans”, as were the followers of Jesus. Within the Mandaean sect, a Nazarean is equated to the same status as an archbishop. During the first three centuries CE, there were certain Mandaean or Johannite sects, especially in the region of the Tigris-Euphrates basin, who honored John the Baptist, not Jesus, as their prophet.

One of these sects still exists to this day in areas of Iraq. According to their thinking, John the Baptist was “the true prophet”, while Jesus was a rebel, a heretic, who led men astray and whom betrayed secret doctrines.” According to the Mandeans, John the Baptist was Hibil-Ziwa. “Hibil-Ziwa was a Savior who entered the world of darkness and destroyed the evil spirits so that the faithful could obtain liberation before the end of the world.”

The Mandaeans tell of the founding of Jerusalem by a powerful and evil female Goddess named Ru Ha. For Jews, Muslims and Syriac-speaking Christians, Ru Ha, signifies the Holy Spirit who is mentioned in both the Quran and the Bible. She controlled the Seven Planets and worked evil on the Earth through several chosen men. They are Abraham, Moses, David and his son Solomon. Her greatest evil however, was realized through the actions of one man. At her temple in Jerusalem, a young priestess was selected to bear a “special offspring”. The name of this priestess was “Miriam”. The Christians call her Mary. She brought forth the “child of Ru Ha”, the “Imunel” (Immanuel) and he were in turn called, “Jesus”.

He was baptized by John and taught at length by him. In time he turned away from John’s teachings and led the people astray, the Mandaeans claim. The Mandaeans say that Mary is a “Daughter of Moses” and that Moses dwelt on Mt. Sinai.

One of the texts of the Mandeans tells a story about the flight of a group called “Nasoreans”, from areas that are today known as Jordan, to the Mesopotamian region, in the times of the Jewish wars following the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 CE. It is thought that they were driven out by Saul (Paul) himself.

The story goes that Paul arrived as the first Christian missionary in Corinth and in Ephesus, only to discover to his amazement that there were already churches established there. Upon making inquiries he discovered that they were the Church of John the Baptist. Paul believed that the Ephesians and Corinthians would, therefore, be delighted to discover that he represented Jesus Christ, the one prophesied to come after John.

However, contrary to his expectations, they had never heard of such a prophecy.” The following reference is found in the Christian bible: “While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when [or after] you believed?”

They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” So Paul asked, ‘Then what baptism did you receive?’ “John’s baptism, ” they replied. Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 19:1-5

And so though there is an ongoing and determined effort by the three main Abrahamic religions to be seen as the learning curve for all other beliefs in the world, just as there are certain Neo Pagan individuals/groups who follow suit in regards to Paganism. As individuals it is our responsibility to dig beneath the surface of such popular and often misguided rhetoric, for the truth is that which serves the individual and not that of the masses.

As pagans, our spiritual journey is unique to each of us and cannot nor should not be defined by any one group of folks, regardless of such rhetoric…

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Supportive Practices of the Craft

Author: Ian Elliott

In addition to the practices of witchcraft usually discussed, such as divination and herb lore, there are practices, which support a witch’s overall efforts. The following seven sections describe practices I have found useful for tuning up my Craft practice and keeping it properly focused.

1: Cycles

Witches follow cycles in everything they do, out of respect for their overall balance of health. They don’t work all year, and then try to relax through a brief vacation; witches take little mini-vacations all the time. They sometimes appear to be laid back and lazy, but they respond well in a crisis, and they somehow get their tasks done.

A witch aims at discovering her own biorhythms, so as to work with, rather than against, her natural energy cycle. But in practice there are usually compromises to be made with work and other factors. Her actual daily schedule may be set somewhat askew to her biorhythms, but a witch will adapt to it and arrange for periods of rest between work to attend to quarters other than South / Will / Fire. There are knowledge and skills to acquire, and emotions and the circle and the practice of inner and/or outer stillness to attend to. And there is a little goofing off, daytime rest, which is essential; just watch the animals.

Starting with the Sun cycle and making allowances for work, etc., a witch reserves the earlier parts of the day for practical affairs. She will not work on taxes, for instance, into the evening hours, but will start earlier in the season and devote some weekend daytime hours to the chore. Evening is for going within, withdrawing to one’s own hearth and communing with ancestors and familiar spirits.

2: Directions

It isn’t on any list of witch tools, but a compass is important to the modern witch so she can orient her life and work to the four directions. Witchcraft is always done in a physical context. Pagans are highly aware of their immediate environment and traffic with spirits of the field, yard, stream, the most prominent local tree, as well as with household spirits. The key to contacting household spirits lies in feelings.

When you first move into a new house or apartment, it feels cold and uninviting, especially if it hasn’t been lived in for a while. Not much later, it fits you comfortably like a suit of old clothes; and if, in addition, it is alive with saged boundaries and household shrines, you feel liked by the house as well as liking it yourself. This is a boundary perception, which we are taught to ignore or treat as a subjective matter, but if instead we address the good feelings and express our appreciation for the atmosphere of our dwelling, we break that boundary and begin to recover ancient pagan perception.

In the same way, outdoor sprites can be contacted through greater sensitivity to one’s feelings without discounting them from habit.

Upon awakening in the morning, when a witch is ready to start the day, it is a good practice to take out the compass and address the four quarters. One begins in the North, opening oneself to calming energy. Then to the East, holding in mind briefly what needs to be known or learned today. Then to the South, deciding the first tasks. Then to the West, expanding awareness according to one’s ways. Then seal to the North, stilling the mind and body once again. The witch is now ready to face the day.

3: Expanding Awareness

One way of expanding awareness when silently addressing the West is to relax and wait for something in your peripheral awareness to stand out and beckon your attention. It might be the reflection of something in a window, or the shadow of a tree or the spaces in its foliage. Whatever it is, when it gets your attention, continue to view it peripherally. You are in touch with its mana, or magical energy, and can use it throughout the day when you call it to mind. The image in your memory should be peripheral, not central, i.e. the way it looked when it got your attention. This can also be done with things heard peripherally. These are some of my ways.

4: Conserving Magical Energy

There is a kind of energy or power that the modern world has forgotten, though the memory of it is preserved in folk tales and myths. Indigenous peoples are well aware of it and live their lives with reference to it. While the immediate environment abounds in it, and we take it in all the time, we do not notice it because we squander it in habitual ways, habits that have been with us from early childhood. The ancient Latins called it numen, and the Mongolians, hiimori. It is always personal, taking on the features of the person holding it.

It is only by conserving this energy that the witch becomes ready to do magic, both in the circle and life. We don’t realize that everything takes energy, even unconscious ignoring of things in our environment, such as shadows, eyeglass frames, or background sounds. When we expand our attention to include such things, we gain the energy that was used in keeping them in the background of our attention, the penumbra or half-shadow. This energy is always exponentially higher than the small amount required to expand the attention.

The energy takes four forms for witches, associated with the four ancient elements. The energy of Air makes us learn and understand new things that hadn’t occurred to us before. In everyday life, it also manifests in any new knowledge or understanding.

The energy of Fire boosts the will and lets us accomplish tasks in life that seemed too big to tackle. In order to bring changes into our physical lives, we have to both give up some things, at least temporarily, and adopt other things or actions that further the goal. In the Craft, habits or actions that squander magical energy have to be sacrificed, and then the freed energy finds new outlets on its own.

The energy of Water attracts us to the unknown, and gives us the daring to escape the current limitations of our lives. This is the energy of initiation, which expands and transforms our awareness and can give our lives a whole new basis.

The energy of Earth is cloaked in silence. Witches seek inner and outer stillness, quite as much as Zen monks or Hindu yogis do. This stillness is deep, and the deeper the witch descends into it, the more he or she is transformed and the greater the magical energy that results. It is pursued gradually and at first in little things, like learning to sit still and not scratch, or refraining from certain topics in conversation.

Not that the witch is inactive, quite the contrary; Earth, the North, is also the place of our physicality, and the witch exercises regularly, and takes care of business through Fire and the South. Stillness refers instead to the enormous amount of energy we waste in fidgeting and performing other small, unnecessary actions, both mental and physical: for instance, compulsively repeating past conversations in one’s mind or rehearsing conversations to come in some hypothetical future event (for all thoughts of the future are hypothetical) .

The witch sums up a past event and plans for the future, but these are finite acts that come to an end, instead of repeating over and over and wearing on the nerves. The energy to be had by restricting such habits cannot be anticipated in advance. Out of stillness comes new understanding, closing the circle of practice towards Air and the East.

Thus the witch pursues the four powers of the magus: to know, to will, to dare, to keep silence. But there is a fifth power that results from the balanced development of the four: to go. The witch is saving energy for his or her definitive journey, the flight to the True Sabbat, fellowship and celebration with the ancestors, spirits, and deities in the other world. Folklore depicts it as a joyous occasion, and colors it with the pleasures and longings of the time when the tales were spun. Some tried to cut corners and get there more quickly through the use of the witch’s flying ointment. The actual flight may or may not follow traditional lines.

One may not literally fly up the chimney and then meet the Wild Hunt in the sky and fly to a rath or burg and descend therein through a tunnel into the Otherworld. The journey may parallel many of these features, nonetheless; and there are preliminary journeys to be made that go partway there.

The flight to the True Sabbat is a milestone on the way to the witch’s ultimate journey to the Sun, when he or she acquires a body of light that can materialize at will, so that further incarnations here in middle Earth are no longer needed. This transformation seals the work of the Craft and completes the vows made at initiation; thenceforth one does other work, perhaps as a guardian elemental, paying back for the help received along the way on this side by paying forward.

5: The Familiar

Witches traditionally kept a cat, sometimes a horse, as a familiar. The witch’s astral journeys were made in company with the spirit of the familiar.

The best information I have found on this practice is in Timothy Knab’s A War of Witches, a factual account of an anthropologist’s investigation, some twenty plus years later, of a battle with brujos and brujas in the highlands of central Mexico. In the course of his investigation, he is inducted into Toltec brujeria by one of the survivors and makes a journey to Tlalocan, the Toltec Underworld.

Tlaloc, the Lord of the Underworld, keeps animal spirits called naguals in his corrals. He gives a nagual to each human at birth. The nagual could perhaps be thought of as the link, within each of us, to other animals, inherited though latent from the prehistoric past. But it is a real spirit and to be a brujo one must find one’s nagual. Afterwards, an experienced brujo, through many journeys to Tlalocan, may have acquired a number of naguals, keeping them in fetish objects like puma’s claws, or in a special gourd.

The human soul is called the tonal. It has two halves. One faces towards the Sun and stands guard over the body when the dark lower half, the shadow, goes on journeys down the world pillar to the underworlds. The shadow is so called, both because it lies below our daily awareness and faces towards the nether regions, and because it follows its nagual into the depths as the latter’s shadow.

If the nagual is a cat spirit, the shadow takes on the semblance of a cat spirit. This is done for protection from hungry denizens of the deep, who prize the heart blood of a tonal but will let a nagual go by.

The discipline Knab goes through in becoming a brujo is well worth the reading. But to return to our own practice, preparation for a liaison with a cat familiar’s spirit, besides the obvious step of getting a cat, would seem to involve re-molding one’s own psyche closer to that of a feline. We do this unconsciously when we sit in company with a cat and enjoy its utter relaxation. Cats are content to go from moment to moment doing whatever they are doing, even if it is only resting.

We, however, often have a habit of doubting whether we are making best use of our time, or regretting we are not elsewhere doing other things. Cats, apparently, have no such qualms. The daily practice of witchcraft in fact promotes a calm mind fully given to the moment. Apparently cultivation of inner stillness connects us with the animal, pre-rational mind, so that we can enjoy shuttling between two minds, as the occasion permits.

This is only an example of how the witch models him or herself on a cat familiar. Whether or not one goes on journeys with the cat, cultivating a close relationship with one will draw the witch closer to his or her own inner, pre-rational mind, through which he or she can call up power from the Deep in circle.

6: The Patron Deity

It isn’t incumbent upon pagans to have a special relationship with a single deity, but it can be a rewarding experience. The pagan will continue to honor the other deities and spirits, of course, and may enter into a similar relationship with another later on. Suppililiumas, the king of the Hittites, was singularly devoted to his goddess, and as we know, his subject Abraham devoted his wandering life to his family god, the later Yahweh.

All gods stand ready to teach by sharing their consciousness, and by helping the devotee to practice the disciplines that lead to that awareness. Pagans will generally choose a patron deity (male or female) on the basis of temperamental preferences, though they may be influenced by a dream or vision. The relationship can be devotional or more like a friendship. In the latter case the deity is like an older mentor or senior partner. In late heathen times, Thor was popular with people seeking this latter relation.

In the Craft, the Lord and the Lady serve as patrons. The Lord is the year-god, who has waxing and waning aspects, and these replace each other at the solstices. Because the outgoing aspect dies and is reborn six months later, the Lord (sometimes called the Lad) is more of a demigod, and is not quite up to the Lady’s level. Witches and warlocks alike tend to relate to the Lord as a tutor or preceptor, and to the Lady devotionally.

The continental Celtic god Cernunnos is associated by modern witches with the year-god. He is known only from artifacts and only by the description given him by Greek traders in antiquity on the Ister or Danube river – the horned or antlered one (we do not know his Celtic name) . Cernunnos teaches witches the way to deal skillfully with both the outer and inner life.

The Oak King or waxing year aspect teaches, by example, how to deal with the outer world joyfully and fruitfully. The Holly King or waning aspect is the psycho pomp or soul-guide in Craft initiation, and also provides fellowship with ancestors at Samhain, October 31st.

On the Gundestrup cauldron, found in a peat bog in Denmark, Cernunnos is the central carved figure. He has two antlers, wears a torque or neck-ring signifying wealth, and holds another in his right hand, as bestower of wealth. His left hand grasps a ram-headed snake by the neck, an Underworld animal linked with healing and sacrifice.

It often happens that a pagan already pursues some discipline designed to conserve magical energy, and chooses an appropriate god or goddess, asking him or her to be the patron of that practice. If the god is willing, he or she will help, first of all, by reminding the devotee to practice whatever part of the askesis is appropriate for the present situation.

The devotee thanks his or her patron for these reminders, knowing from experience that practice would be slacker without them. As the partnership goes on, the world will start to take on the colors peculiar to that deity’s consciousness and personality, and will cause subtle changes in the personality of the devotee as well.

The patron deity also teaches in dreams and guides the devotee in waking life by means of signs and omens, often peculiar coincidences that seem mysteriously significant.

The Lady nurtures and feeds witches as well as all her children on the earth, and also teaches those who prefer to relate to a female divinity. The discipline taught by the Lady involves cleansing the emotions of their verbal accretions. The devotee learns to feel without thinking or analyzing or labeling the feeling. In this way, the witch or warlock draws closer to the animals, who have naked feelings unclothed in thoughts. The askesis of the Lady is especially suitable for couples.

7: Inventory

Supportive practices of witchcraft aim at optimizing the free flow of energy through the life of a witch.

A cluttered life is full of energy knots that trap old, stale energy called `miasma’ by the ancients. The first phase of a spell, purification, is designed to unravel one or more of these knots, so that an increase in the flow of magical energy renders the flow palpable. The energy must be felt to be directed, and as some of it is flowing all the time (however feebly) , the rate of flow must be increased for it to be felt. It can then be directed to a chosen purpose in the consecration phase, and, in the final phase, charged with all the force the witch can command through expanded awareness.

But if the witch’s life is full of energy knots, untying one or two of them by purification may not result in a very strong flow of energy. For a stronger flow, the witch must gradually remove clutter from his/her life so that energy knots are few and easily unraveled.

Clutter comes in many forms. There is mental and emotional clutter; the clutter of always being too busy because of over-commitment; the memory-clutter of too many unfinished projects; and the material clutter found in the home: over-stuffed closets, garages, basements, storage sheds, etc. This section is about material clutter.

By learning and applying the principles of feng shui, we can facilitate a free flow of the energy the Chinese call ch’i throughout the home; but before putting feng shui into practice, we must face and do something about the mountains of clutter tucked away in corners, closets, cupboards and other hiding places. We may think that if our accumulations are out of sight they will be out of mind as well, but the deeper, pre-rational mind we share with the animals keeps tabs on every least thimble.

When the writer Aldous Huxley’s house in California burned down, he remarked on how clean it felt to be free of so many possessions. This was a drastic example of what we can achieve in a smaller degree through the practice of inventory.

The deep mind keeps a file on every item we own, and these files must be closed and cleared away if the witch is to use the filing function for fulfilling oaths and following threads of self-discipline. Accordingly, at regular intervals a witch will go through some of his or her clutter, putting things together that belong together, and getting rid of items no longer needed. A good rule of thumb to follow is to keep what one can use (sentiment counts as a use) and put the rest where it is likely to do the most good. In this we see an illustration of the balance of the Craft, which aims at getting maximum enjoyment and effectiveness from possessions without getting bogged down in being possessed by them.

Putting things you don’t need where they will do the most good may mean giving things away; but be careful doing this, as you may lose friends if they feel you are dumping stuff on them. And above all, never tell anyone you are following the rule of inventory, as gifts should at least appear to be made from a feeling of friendship.

Closing accounts with past unfinished business, either by abandoning old projects or by completing them, leads to a greater integration with one’s past selves, and can clear a channel through memory, and far memory, for the witch to travel in the inner journey down to the Summerland.

______________________________________

1. For numen see Rose, H.J. in the bibliography.

2. For hiimori see Sangerel, both references, in the bibliography.

3. For the folklore of the Sabbat, see Jackson in the bibliography.

4. On the journey to the Sun, see Grimassi, p. 219, in the bibliography, also Nikhilananda, vol. II, p. 158.

5. See Knab in the bibliography.

6. See Gurney in the bibliography. More recently, a royal charter of King Suppliliumas has been found, authorizing a mercantile expedition to Byblos on the ancient Lebanese coast. Abraham may have been in it.

7. See Davidson (I) in the bibliography.

8. For the significance of Cernunnos in modern witchcraft, see Farrar in the bibliography.

9. See Davidson (II) in the bibliography.



Footnotes:
Bibliography:

Davidson, H.R. (I) , Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, London, Penguin Books, 1990.

__________ (II) , Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe, Syracuse, NY, Syracuse
University Press, 1988.

Farrar, Janet and Stewart, Eight Sabbats for Witches, Custer, WA, Phoenix Publishing, 1988.

Grimassi, Raven, Ways of the Strega, St. Paul, MN, Llwellyn Publications, 1995.

Gurney, O.R., The Hittites, London, Penguin Books, 1952.

Jackson, Nigel, Call of the Horned Piper,

Knab, Timothy J., A War of Witches, Boulder, CO, Westview Press, 1995.

Nikhilananda, Swami, translator, The Upanishads, in 4 vols. New York, Ramakrishna-
Vivekananda Center, 1975. Prasna Upanishad is in Vol. 2.

Rose, H.J., Religion in Greece and Rome, New York, Harper Torchbooks, 1959.

Sarangerel (I) , Chosen by the Spirits, Rochester, VT, Destiny Books, 2001.

_______ (II) , Riding Windhorses, Rochester, VT, Destiny Books, 2000.

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Coven Life: What I Have Learned

Author: Sleeping Moon
I started practicing witchcraft or the ancient path as I prefer to call it, back in 1996 or so. At first I was solitary, read my homework, started working with spells and rituals. Thought it interesting when my cats would act a bit crazy during that time. But, felt something was lacking. I wanted other people to talk to, to practice with. And to make sure I was doing every thing correctly. Because I couldn’t “see” energy with my real eyes, I had doubts.

Let’s face it, when we start off (especially when we are young) and the way Hollywood portrays magicks, we, or at least I thought that’s how it was supposed to be. And I was hoping that’s the way it was supposed to be. When that didn’t happen, I didn’t get discouraged. In fact, quite the opposite. I practiced more. To the point where I was calling the quarters just about every night of the week. I also wanted to understand the difference in feeling the energy as well, both while in circle and out of it.

After a year and a half or so, I had found a store in town that solely based their market on the Craft. Of course I was thrilled! (I think I heard about it through hear say.) I of course spread the word to just about any one that would listen what I did and what I was looking for. Both in personal life and in my professional life. I felt like I wasn’t the only witch in town and the only way to find people of like minds was to open my mouth.

When I first walked into the store, I was mystified and in awe. But was a wee bit disappointed in how small it was. I browsed around for a time, and then got the courage to ask the woman behind the counter if she knew of any covens or groups in the area. She was very sweet and took my number. She didn’t give me any definite information. Of course, I left the store a little disheartened that I didn’t have a group to contact me right away.

I’m not sure how much time passed after that, but that nice woman behind the counter did in fact call me. It just so happened to be around Samhain time and that she had her cousin who is a priest, come up from the city to hold a Samhain celebration. She asked me if I would like to attend.

Needless to say, I was on cloud nine and of course accepted.

That first Samhain celebration was a magickal one for me. We held ritual, the priest did his thing, and we blessed and consecrated some items and did a bit of fire scrying. But, during this session instead of being drawn to the fire (like I normally am) I was drawn to the sky. I did end up seeing something that concerned me and asked the priest about it later. The moon was full and round in her splendor that night, but not only seeing that moon, I saw three others as well. Of course I knew what the three moons meant; maiden, mother, crone, but was flabbergasted about the fourth. When he heard this I recall his eyes growing wide and he said most don’t see the fourth moon and it meant that it was the dark moon or hence the dark goddess. Then, in the next breath, he told me witchcraft wasn’t for me.

Boy, was I literally floored. Why would some one tell me that most witches don’t see the fourth moon and then tell me that it’s not my rightful path? Didn’t make much sense. But some how, since he was the only clergy I knew, I persuaded him to teach me. I worked with him for a bit over a year, he would come up from the city quite often and a friend and I would go down there as well. Life was good.

Until he started discouraging me. He was telling me things that didn’t sit well with me and said that he wasn’t comfortable teaching me any more. Plus a big thing that I didn’t care for was it was his way or the high way. (I find that quite often in more distinguished groups.) So after some time, I told him that I was leaving, as I was uncomfortable with his teachings. (He also told me once that he would not initiate me through the great right! Which of course turned me completely off!) So hence I left. My friend did continue working with him, which I didn’t discourage.

After that, I did work solitary for a time until I found Witchvox. I also found my next coven. Or I hoped it would be. It was several hours away, but I didn’t mind the drive because it wasn’t often. This group did a bit of Pow-Wow magick, which I did like. Then I started speaking up a bit more and telling a few individuals what kind of entities I am drawn to (the fae) and what I was currently working with at the time. (It was more of a neutral energy than a positive one…but NOT negative.) When they found out, I was kicked out. Only light energies where allowed there and they wouldn’t tolerate any thing else. (And this person wrote about negative entities–go figure!) I never once brought this neutral energy into our circles and was stunned speechless that this would have happened.

I never thought that fellow pagans would be so prejudiced against certain energies…negative ones, understandable but not the one I was dealing with. This entity I do give a lot of credit too because it pulled me out of several dark moments in my life. This being one of them.
Like I said, I enjoyed the groups company, felt connected and thought I felt at home. Wow, did I get a slap in the face! They also didn’t care for the fact that my Matron was Hecate and the god I was working with at the time happened to be Hades. Too much dark, they said. You need to balance their energies in order to have effective magick. Ptah! Maybe for them, but not for me.
So, I was back to solitary once again.

I started to petition to the gods then to find me some good folks to practice with and that I can feel comfortable enough to be myself and not have to worry about stepping on any ones toes. And let’s face it, being kicked out of a coven or group.

I then went to a few open groups, several which were more than 50 miles away and each one didn’t sit right. Most where the ones where I just stood in circle with my hands in the goddess position and let the Priest/Priestess do all the work. I felt like a minion. Even lower than that. Many times, I didn’t even lend my energy because I felt like a ghost. I also didn’t like the fact that they made you where this, or you couldn’t where that. How discouraging!

Then, back in 2004 I got the courage to look for individuals this time and in my immediate area to hopefully start up a group of our own. I had no goal at the time, no set of rules and no doctrine. I just didn’t want to be alone in my quest. Not too long after that, some one did contact me! This person happened to live in a town not to far away and I was thrilled. We met at a local coffee shop and hit it off.

We practiced between the two of us for a time, went to open group functions together and I came to this conclusion: We needed to start a group of our own where people can feel free to practice how they see fit, with minimal rules and regulations. So then, I placed a group add on Witchvox again. About several weeks later, a woman from a neighboring town contacted me and we met up. Then a few more. For several years it was only five of us, but we where comfortable with that.

We started to bond, open up more, did activities out side of the craft and simply enjoyed each other’s company. After a while, we decided we would like to look for more individuals to join our tight nit family. Several came and went, some didn’t work out for us, and we didn’t work out for them. Which of course happens, whether it’s through conflicting personality traits or the group wasn’t right for them. Period. We even tried to get men involved and that turned out to be hairy. (Not saying that men weren’t welcome, it’s just the certain men that wanted to join with us.)
A few months ago we did open our group to two new women and are lovely additions! About a month ago two more joined and fit in quite nicely.

My main rule of thumb here is that this group of mine is open to all paths that follow the ancient ways. So long as we come together on a common ground, can enjoy each other’s company and feel comfortable enough to speak our minds. There is no right way or wrong way in this group and there is no such thing as a designated high priestess. For we all are! We don’t go through degree’s or initiations for that is up to you and your guides/gods to decide and for the simple fact that we learn from each other.

It also stems back to the age-old question: Who initiated the first witch? And if that spirit initiated that witch, why can’t it initiate more of us?

The broader we are in our magicks/paths, the more we can learn from each other. I purposely let each lady take the chance to host a circle/sabbat so we can see how that witch likes to practice her path. And if that lady is interested in a different magickal aspect of the craft, she has a chance to express that interest to the group.

I don’t base acceptance on race, creed or age. But it is a women’s group at this time. Because I feel the wider we are in acceptance of others, the more fun and enlightening the group will be. And the more we can learn from each other.

I feel humbled that I finally found or I should say that the Gods led me in the right direction to this wonderful group of special women. Each one of these ladies holds a place in my heart and I am thankful that each one has come into my life. I have learned much from this experience, continue to learn daily and enjoy every minute that I spend with them.

Coven life can be hard and challenging at times. If we don’t find a common ground, a member has to go or if a problem arises and is not fixable again, member has to go. It’s tough but the positives out weigh the negatives in this case. There is something awesome about connecting with a group of women that you wouldn’t get anywhere else.

I feel that each woman is unique unto herself and that her view of the craft is the same and should be shared with the world. Or in this case, this group.

I am not saying that other groups have it wrong. Absolutely not. I just feel that more structured groups aren’t right for me as I like each individual to feel like she has a voice and that freedom can speak it’s tongue. In this, I have found my path and hope each one of you does as well.

There is something awesome about finding people of like minds that you can feel free enough to be you.

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Funny Thought for the Day – Inner Strength

 

  • If you can start the day without caffeine.
  • If you can get going without pep pills.
  • If you can always be cheerful ignoring aches and pains.
  • If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles.
  • If you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it.
  • If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time.
  • If you can overlook it when those you love take it out on you when through no fault of yours something goes wrong.
  • If you can take criticism and blame without resentment.
  • If you can ignore a friend’s limited education and never correct him.
  • If you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend.
  • If you can face the world without lies and deceit.
  • If you can conquer tension without medical help.
  • If you can relax without liquor.
  • If you can sleep without the aid of drugs.
  • …..Then you are probably the family dog!

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Affirmation of the Day for June 1

Summer is for the children to play in water, laugh and sing. Summer time is for the children within us to do the same thing. I affirm that my inner child is free and open to explore that part of me that loves to play and have fun!
~from Hope Cramer

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Feng Shui Tip of the Day for June 1

Shelter your personal space at work by placing in-boxes or plants along the sides. This will increase your self-esteem.

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Psychic Tip of the Day for June 1

CALMING NEEDS


You might have gone too far recently. Today you will discover just what the boundaries of love and commitment are. Prepare to comply in a confrontation. Are you in need of calming down anyway?

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