Daily Archives: August 7, 2011

The Maiden, Mother and Crone Within the Mundane

The Maiden, Mother and Crone Within the Mundane

Author: Horizons Coven
The Maiden

There was once a time in your life that everything was filled with wonder and hope. Everything was brand new, colorful and the world immense and full of beauty. We were young and innocent. Life was the priceless pearl we discovered by opening the shell. There were Fairy Tales with happy endings where everyone lived happily ever after, and we believed in this possibility. Dandelions were just as lovely as roses and we gathered them as offerings of love to our mothers. We were imaginative; our creative spark took us anywhere we wished to be. Strangers were exciting and mysterious, but were not to be feared. Instead they were heroes with make believe talents and abilities. Clouds became a never-ending parade of circus animals. Unicorns danced in our dreams. We were open to possibilities. We could be anything we wanted to be. We knew without a doubt that some day we would meet our prince charming. We would live happily ever after.

Over time, we were taught to be strong and capable. We were taught that dreams were okay, but we needed to keep our feet on the ground. Our heads were filled with ideals that weren’t our own. We learned to be afraid. The world wasn’t what we imagined, but a place where danger lurked at each corner.

Childlike and innocent is the Maiden. Her hopes and dreams are as certain as truth. Loving and gentle, her world is very fragile as her trust rules over fears. She dreams of a loving relationship that will outshine any tale. Yet she blushes easily when admired. She has not experienced the ways of the world. She is the eternal optimist. Her spirit cannot be crushed and hope reigns eternal. The world is enchanting and magickal. She resides within each of us as the innocent one. She dances with us in a field of wildflowers and tumbles to ground next to us in ecstasy. She whispers her secret desires to the winds and they tickle our ears as the find their place in our heart. We are the oysters and she is the pearl contained within. She is the beauty emanating from within our being for the world to see. She is pure, untouched by the harsh reality of the mundane world.

I can see her as if standing before me, her long hair flowing about her as she dances with the Fae in a circle beneath the crescent moon. Her graceful, lithe body moves gently in the rhythm of lunar energies. Her spirit glows, the radiant light emanating from her heart. Her long flowing gown cannot hide the young woman’s frame beneath. Her laughter is like chimes in my ears. Her smile lights the universe.

Growing in strength and brightness each night, the Maiden, known as Diana and Artemis in the Mediterranean area, is usually depicted carrying a bow and quiver. She is the first aspect of the triple Goddess. Sometimes called the virgin or huntress, she represents the spring of the year, the dawn, fresh beginnings of all life, the repeating cycle of birth and rebirth, the waxing moon and the crescent moon, enchantment and seduction. She shows the way through the inner labyrinth to the divine center where the greatest of spiritual mysteries lie. She is matter and energy held in suspension until the right time arrives. She is a shape shifting Goddess who drives a chariot pulled by silver stags. She helps women who are threatened or harassed by men.

She rules over animals, singing, enchantment, psychic power, fertility, purification, magic, sports, mental healing, dance, forests, and healing. She carries the seeds of all potential: anything is possible and all possibilities are within her. She does not limit herself by the needs or beliefs of others. She is in love with the mystery of life. The Maiden represents expansion, the female principle, and promise of new beginnings, youth, and excitement. The Maiden is associated with the colors white, light pink and light yellow. She symbolizes youth and anticipation of life. Associated with purity and nature, She is usually seen in the company of animals. In the aspect of the Maiden we see the world with child-like wonder, and also huntress and warrior, as Athena and Artemis are known to be.

The Mother
There is nothing like being pregnant. When I was pregnant with my daughter I was happier than I had ever been in my life. Knowing that a life was growing inside me was amazing. I felt more alive than ever before. I could not wait to hold this little miracle of love.

Okay, there are times where you are so sick you want to die. When the baby decides to try to use your rib cage to score a touchdown it doesn’t feel great. You have weird cravings for food.
You are swollen and can’t see your toes and feel like a blimp that swallowed a blimp.

When a child is born, we always want to count fingers and toes and to know once and for all, girl or boy. We have such great expectations for this tiny bundle of joy. Perhaps he will be president. Perhaps she will be a ballerina. We cannot wait to dress them, to show them off and to take pictures of everything from their first diaper change to the first smile.

Fear sets in once you get home. You call the doctor often. Is this the best formula? Are these the best diapers? She/He spit up, is she sick? Do I need to bring the baby to the hospital! The baby gets colicky and cries all the time. You can’t sleep because you worry excessively. You can’t sleep because the baby is crying. Is she hungry or sick? You have to go check and make sure she is breathing! Our maternal, protective instinct has kicked into high gear.

Now, imagine for a moment, we may have a few children; some families have 13 or more, think how many the Goddess has! We are all children of the Goddess, no matter our age. Our child learns to speak and says Mama so many times we want to pull our heads off! Imagine all of the voices and prayers going out at any given time to our Mother, the Goddess.

Our Goddess Mother has our best interest at heart. She wants for us to be happy and healthy. She never turns away because she is tired and wants some peace and quit. She loves us unconditionally. She understands our hopes and desires and dreams. She lives within our hearts. You can lean on her when you need strength and patience with your little one. You can place your child and yourself within the love and light of the Great Mother and trust that she will always be there for you.

The second Goddess aspect is the Mother, the archetype involved in active creation. She represents the summer, blazing noon, reproduction and fertility, the ripeness of life, the Full Moon, and the high point in all cycles. Her traditional color is red, the color of blood and of life itself. She is the great teacher of the Mysteries. The Romans named her Ceres and the Greeks named her Demeter. A virgin of the oldest sense, independent and unmarried, this Goddess gives birth to a son. Called the Grain Mother, the Eternal Mother, and the Sorrowing Mother, she is the mother of Persephone, who wed the lord of the Underworld. Her power extends over protection of women, crops, initiation, renewal, fertility, civilization, law, motherhood, marriage, and higher magic.

The mother devotes herself to “other”: people and things outside of herself. Though the archetype of the mother often makes one think of a woman giving birth to or devoting herself to her children and family, here we are speaking of all of the possibilities of creation. She is a selfless soul whose devotion and love are unconditional. It is here that responsibility and commitment is established.

Some of the symbols of the goddess in the Mother aspect include the serpent, the poppy, and the symbol of Underworld Goddesses, the torch. The Mother also represents fulfillment, stability, and power. The color associated with the Mother is red, the color of blood and the life force, and green, a fertile color. In ancient societies, the pregnant Mother was a metaphor for the fertile fields that sustained the people of the land. The menstrual blood of the Mother has been associated with magick and ritual since Paleolithic times and was thought to have power for healing and fertility.

The Mother is a pillar of grace under pressure. She is capable, strong, and loving. She smiles as the young child plays, joy flooding her heart as her offspring giggles in delight at some new discovery. She keeps the fear and panic hidden when we are sick, be it in body or in spirit. She continually prays for us. She wipes the tears from our eyes, chases us down to give us medicine, and helps to build a pretend fort with blankets. She watches you while you are sleeping and love fills her heart. She is like a tree in that she is able to bend, but is has a strong foundation supporting her.

Climb into the Mothers arms and be nurtured. Within her embrace we are ever safe and loved. Share your dreams with her. She will do all things possible to help you to achieve them and more.

The Crone

We have all seen the little old woman, her hair thin and sparse, her skin aged with wrinkles, her smile crooked as her false teeth lay in a glass to the side. Many associate this image with the Crone. Her hands tremble as she brings food to her mouth. She looks like a baby with food dripping down her chin. Time isn’t always kind to us in that our bodies betray us. But if you were to take some time with this woman, you would find a font of wisdom, a history of love, of sorrow, of experience.

Her spirit still shines. Her face is soft and compassion flows from her heart. Though she appears weak, her essence is strong and sure. She understands your dreams and desires. She has shared them and she has experienced them. She knows what is important in life. She no longer rushes about headstrong seeking. She delights in the memories of all she has seen and known. Some think she has endured. The truth is, she has lived. That is what is important, the living and loving.

Pain causes a momentary tremor in her voice. She will tell you truths. Will you be willing to listen, to hear her words? Can you sit and hold her hand and experience the journey she is willing to share with you? Can you look at her with respect? Can you look beyond the fears of your body aging?

I see my grandmother, gentle and soft spoken, holding me close in her lap. Beside her lays some yarn and knitting needles. She always has time for me and my questions. She receives great joy in watching the young ones at play and reminiscing about her life as the children begin their lives. There is depth to her heart and eyes that show the years of learning the importance of compassion. There is understanding well beyond that of the dreamer’s hopes.

She moves a little slower now and can no longer bare children. In this day and time, people tend to cast the elderly aside. This is heartbreaking. There is so much love and wisdom they have to share. It may be a time of rest, but it isn’t a time to be tossed away. They should not have to live through memories, as they are still able to give so much to this world!

Most cultures cherished their grandmothers and counted them as wise ones once upon a time. They had seen things and done things to survive in new worlds. Once upon a time they were maidens. Once upon a time they were mothers. They know the mysteries of womanhood.

As I entered into the stage of the Crone, I realized that all I have seen and done helped me to become whom I am today. I am a little slower, but I have more patience, more love, and more compassion. I know there are times to sit quietly and say nothing. I know there are times I should offer my wisdom. What others think of me isn’t important, as I know self-love. I know how precious life and time are. I have found that worry does not save me from sorrow or pain. I have found that life isn’t about satisfying the ego. Life is about acknowledging the blessings we have received from joy and from pain, from fear and from faith. I realize that I cannot change the past but that what I have learned from it provides comfort. She is a fount of wisdom, untapped by a modern world. Not because she isn’t willing to share her wisdom, but because we are so self-involved. I cry for the Crone because so many have forgotten her value.

The Crone, also called the Dark Mother, the Old Wise One, or the hag, represents winter, the night, the universal abyss where life rests before rebirth, the gateway to death, reincarnation, the waning moon and the New Moon, and the deepest of Mysteries and prophecies. She is the third aspect of the Triple Goddess. Her traditional color is black and sometimes the deepest of purples or dark blue. She is the initiator into the Mysteries. This aspect symbolizes death and dissolution. Everything in the universe has a life cycle, at the end of which they malfunction, decay, and transform into a different set of materials, elements that are recycled and reformed into something new. The souls of humans are recycled by the Crone and her cauldron, into a new incarnation.

The embodiment of the Crone, Hecate, Queen of the world of spirits, Patron of Priestesses, and the Goddess of Witchcraft, has keys and cauldrons as her symbols. She has power over enchantments, averting evil, dark magic, riches, wisdom, transformation, purification, limits, incantations, and renewal. She is not detached from the world; just not involved in the ways she was before. She can be completely honest because she has nothing to lose. She holds the wisdom, teaches and shares stories with those who will listen.

The crone was once revered as an old woman embodying wisdom and for her knowledge of the truth of cyclic existence. Crones cared for the dying and were spiritual midwives at the end of life, the link in the cycle of death and rebirth. They were known as healers, teachers, way-showers, and bearers of sacred power. They knew the mysteries, were mediators between the world of spirit and the world of form. In pre-patriarchal societies, women’s wisdom held healing power. The crone wisdom was the most potent of all. For nearly thirty thousand years, old women were strong, powerful sources of wisdom. Crones were respected and honored in their communities.

Our appearance may show a lot about our lives. Weathered hands showing our hard work. Our skin weathered like tanned hides show we spent a lot of time outdoors. These outward appearances don’t begin to show the person beneath the surface. They don’t show the entire journey. Look beyond the obvious and you will discover the treasures of life, the joy, the sorrow, all blessings, to the Crone. Don’t sorrow for her because her time draws nigh upon this plane. Rejoice with her. Embrace what will come, accept what has been, and dare to experience all.

From my manuscript – From My Pagan Heart by Lady Kiya

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The Magick is in the Witch…Not the Bitch

The Magick is in the Witch…Not the Bitch

Author: Phoenix Forestsong

I recently placed myself in a position where I had to “explain myself” to a non-magickal person. Surprisingly, this situation planted a very interesting seed into the fertile soil of my mind. Ultimately that seed has culminated in this essay, minus the offensive title. Without getting into irrelevant details, the conversation essentially boiled down to “I don’t care what you say, Magick doesn’t work because I refuse to believe in it.”

Yup. That statement is one hundred percent factually true. Magick only works if you open yourself to it first, even if you don’t believe but still accept the possibility, then Magick can move in your life. A non-magickal person or, to upset those witches that take themselves way too seriously, a Muggle who “does not believe”, but “refuses to believe” will not be knowingly influenced by Magick. The key here is in the word knowingly. Magick is life and Magick is energy, thus all that lives is filled with the energy of Life; whether it knows, believes, or denies the possibility of Magick, the human spirit is still affected by Magick.

The problem that most non-magickal people have with Magick, aside from centuries of brainwashing by Christianity, is the concept of a binary world. The concept of a binary world is anathema to traditional stratified religions where there is Earth, Heaven, Hell, and only The Creator and The Destroyer can manipulate “Magick” to make things happen. Even then, it is only good and “Holy” when that power comes from God or Jesus, and “evil”, “unnatural”, or “Satanic” when it comes from any other source, for as we all know, that which is not exclusively from the domain of God, comes from the Devil’s own hand.

To Wiccans and pagans there are two worlds that make up our lives. There is the physical and material world that simultaneously and conterminously coexists with the spiritual world, which is the world of energy, the world of magick. When we see the forest, we see the physical world with trees, rocks, leaves, streams, and forest creatures; however, we also see the energies that these seemingly simple physical things are made of. It is natural to see this world and to live in this world; in fact, from the moment of birth we are completely opened up to the True World. As we gradually learn more about the “Real World”, the exclusive world of the physical, we do so ignorant of the natural abilities that we were born with. Thus, the situation creates a disconnect within us where “something” is missing, but we’re not quite sure what.

The Witch

The Witch, The Wise, A Wise One, or whatever name we are known by, changes neither the responsibilities nor dedication that it takes to become a Witch. When you first began to follow your path, there was a tremendous amount of information that had to be learned, a lot of books to read, and a ton of thinking, meditating, and writing that needed to be completed before you really had even the slightest clue of just what you were doing. However, setting aside your confusion you pressed on, slowly coming to master the basic talents required by the Craft. You can now raise power, know your correspondences for candles, herbs, and gemstones. More than likely you have delved into divination with the Tarot, a pendulum, or Runes.

In any event, you are a Witch and it took a lot of thought and effort to, not only learn and master your skills, but to acquire the right philosophy and spirit to actually put them to use. It is the same as a computer technician who spends long hours in class working for a Bachelor’s degree. Though some of what will be learned may seem pointless at the time, overall it has taken at least four years to learn enough of the basics of Computer Science to be proficient at your chosen field. While you may not be an expert in every area of computer technology, you are pretty damn good when it comes to identifying, troubleshooting, and repairing a computer whenever it fails…it’s all fundamentals to you now.

For the IT Professional, the medium that is best used to faithfully execute their duties is the Internet. Obviously I use this profession for the example because, well, write what you know. I have the B.S. Degree, I’ve had several technical positions, including a management position and a consulting business, and so I have witnessed and experienced the IT field from several different angles. I would regularly run into computer programs that I’ve never even heard about prior to accepting the client. So I would research.

I would hit the Internet, learn more about this new technology, and I would test it out prior to taking any drastic action. I taught myself how to operate that computer program, usually better than the employees who had to use it on a daily basis. The point is that I didn’t know it before, I recognized the fact, did the research, got the hands on experience, and incorporated new, albeit somewhat situational, knowledge into my life. I had to make an effort to grow, to learn, to develop something within myself in order to learn this new skill.

How does this have any relationship to Wicca? Imagine that your sister is in a relationship with one real bad dude. When you do see her, which rarely ever happens, she always wears clothing and makeup that conceal the abuse. When you say something about it she gets worried, not angry, and begs you to stay out of her life. Just this past Thanksgiving she missed the traditional family meal, so you decided to stop by her house and check everything out. She answers the door in tears, blood streaming from her broken nose. She tells you, panic blazing from her eyes that she broke her nose falling down the stairs and that everything is all right. Don’t worry; just go home she’ll be fine.

Sure. What do you do? Right off the top of your head the best solution is to call the police. If they can’t (or won’t) do anything, then call the YWCA, even a local church with a women’s outreach group, someone who is trained to handle domestic violence. So, once you’ve called the cops, and no one presses charges, and the beatings continue, and you see your sister less and less often, in greater agony at each and every meeting. What do you do?

You are a Witch, you know the basics inside and out, you have the Rede, and you have a very desperate need. Using the Rede as your guide, you begin to peruse the Internet and your own Magickal library to research how to safely and permanently get rid of this guy. You find the best way is through a spell of binding placed on him (‘An it harm none…’An he IS harming someone) so that he will be unable to harm your sister in any way followed by a spell of protection placed on your sister. The research completed, you hit up your local craft shop or Wally World and get what you need for the ritual. You create the necessary components required for your ritual, prepare the ritual, work the ritual, raise power, empower the spell with your most desperate need, and fire it off into the Aether, knowing with all certainty that it has already worked.

When a computer guy fixes a computer, he or she knows that it is fixed because there is a very noticeable and measurable change in the machine. Mainly, that change is that the computer now works, however, in more complicated computers, such as Internet Servers, the change may not be drastically noticeable as the computer is not running just one or two applications like your PC, it is executing thousands at a time. An adjustment here and a tweak there will create noticeable results; however, it takes patience and experience to notice those changes.

When a Witch fixes a situation, he or she knows that it is fixed because there is a very noticeable, yet subtle change in the situation. As our “Fundamentals” are not well-documented scientific skills but rather are naturally-born abilities that, once trained, unlock greater levels of perception in the Witch, we notice the change in energy before the event actually moves in that direction. Two very important rules to remember are: “Magick always follows the path of least resistance” and “Energy always occurs before motion.”

Energy occurs before motion is an accepted scientific law. Simply look to the famous Sir Isaac Newton and his three marvelous and Magickal laws of motion. The First Law of Motion, which is the only one we’re interested in, states that an object in motion will stay in constant uniform motion and an object at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by some external force, with force being kinetic energy.

To simplify even further, things tend to do what they were already doing unless some outside force influences it. Thus, the ball just sits there and does nothing until you kick it, which is the application of kinetic energy. Thus the bastard will remain abusive (an A-hole in motion) until some outside force (emotion, Magick, POLICE) pushes him (and his energy) onto another constant, uniform course, which hopefully leads straight to a jail cell and a karmic reward.

Now, I know all you eggheads out there are just drooling about the big flaw in my argument. I can hear it right now, it goes something like this…Dude, that only applies to an object with constant mass, not to something that can grow or shrink, thus changing its mass and, potentially, its momentum and direction! That is what is so cool about the flaw; the first law only ALWAYS works on things, static things, things that don’t change and people their situations are dynamic.

In the world of spirit, we’re not simply bundles of energy floating around without thought, without direction. Hell no! People are driven, motivated, self-directed, and above all else, highly intelligent and sentient individuals. We steer ourselves through life; our Spirit hops into the driver’s seat, takes the wheel, puts the pedal to the metal, slams on the break, grinds the transmission, and tries to go where it wants to go. Magick, like a sudden gust of wind upon the interstate or two tons of rolling steel smacking fatally into you, still affects your motion. The difference between a gust of wind pushing your car and the horror of a traffic fatality is force, which is energy.

In Magick, it is a disciplined and focused Will that sets the direction of the spell, and it emotion and desire that give our spells force, “kinetic energy”, the kick. Correspondences naturally add additional power to the magick, thus increasing the force of the spell. The energy is raised, the desire for change churns at the heart of the spell, waiting to be let loose, the spell is directed, it’s energy changing to comply with the Will of the Witch, transforming into what it needs to become to do its job. The spell is let loose, it’s aim is true and the force behind the spell is mind-shatteringly intense. You ground, center, thank your Deities, and close out your circle, cleaning up along the way. You listen for the phone.

An hour passes, you near nothing. Two hours pass, still nothing. After four hours you have to sleep, the ritual was too much of a draining process to keep sleep over the horizon for much longer. One day goes by, nothing, two, three, five, still nothing. You stop by her house but she won’t open the door, she keeps the chain latched and hides her face in the safety of shadows. You know. You’re not upset; you’re pissed. “’An it harm none…” as your first thought is to personally explain Newton’s Laws of Motion using the example of his face as the object with your fist as the application of kinetic energy, which would technically violate that whole “harm none” thing. As Plan A won’t really work out, you fall back to Plan B and call the Police who rush out to arrest the guy who, surprisingly, actually gets charged, convicted, and sees the inside of the Pokey for a while.

The Bitch

Oh! I see. You spent all that time worrying and worshiping the Devil, and all you had to do was call the Cops. See! Magick doesn’t work! Tee-hee! Tee-hee! Sure, the Police were called and it was the Police who dragged the human filth out of the house and into a cruiser, but they had already been called before without any result. Now, there is a noticeable result. Notice that the spell took time to work; it could have taken months even! Why?

The Jerk is self-motivated, self-directed, and self-centered, thus instead of a ball of rock floating idly in space, he is a jerk behind the wheel of car and he’s going wherever he wants to God Dammed go! Your Sister, for her own reasons, was attracted to him which drew her closer to him, the distance between them lessened and he began to influence her. The proximity of their paths and the momentum of his desire and his will to be abusive does not simply stop and cease to be because one wishes for it too. It stops because some outside force, some outside energy, slammed full-force into him and pushed him in another direction. The spell of protection cast upon your sister, it too slammed into her life, pushing her away from his abuse.

Now, neither the Jerk nor your Sister were ever aware of your spell, so to their knowledge nothing abnormal ever occurred. However, Magick always follows the path of least resistance. The Jerk, being a physical guy, liked his drink and he liked women, but when he got drunk he would get violent. It was his nature and he followed his nature. Your sister, after having a half-remembered dream about watching some show on TV last week about fidelity and abuse, was growing more resentful and angry the more she thought about things. It took a few days but when you stopped by the house the tension that had been mounting over the past few days, the stress fractures of two lives being pushed away from each other, were the trigger.

Directly, did you Physically do anything to anyone in that scenario? No. What did you do? You gave a situation, two lives, a necessary push and nature took care of the rest, because Magick follows the path of least resistance. This is a completely fictional story, but one designed to show the mechanics of Magick. While situations for your spells will be different, never doubt its power. Even science has proven that Energy comes before Motion, therefore the mechanics of Magick, the First Law of Magical Motion, is a logical and “provable” concept.

In Land of the Blind…

I walk down the street at noon, a gentle breeze ruffles my hair, trees shimmy and shake their leaves, making a cacophony of sound like hundreds of sheets of paper being torn to shreds. The bright golden sun assaults my eyes as it glares angrily from dingy storefront windows and the hot windshields of boiling parked cars. A sea of people flows around me, or I flow amongst them, I don’t really know and It doesn’t really matter, I’m a part of something.

I come abruptly upon the strangest sight, a plaza full of men, women, and children with blindfolds painfully tight upon their heads, dirty thick padding covers their ears, a cloth gag obstructs their mouths, while filthy rags consist of their clothing. Each and every soul in the plaza sits in silence, suffering etched deep into their faces while one lone man cries loudly above the noise of the city. You strain to hear him over the sounds of construction, but eventually his message is heard.

“Fear! Fear my God! For he has declared this world to be an illusion and all upon to be evil and ill. Repent of your sins, surrender your body, mind, and soul unto me, blind yourself unto the evil illusion of this world and you will be rewarded in your next life.”

Out of a morbid sense of curiosity I wandered into the plaza; I had to know what was going on. Ignoring the absolute stench of the place, I located the preaching man and moved swiftly to him. His blind eyes passed me over, seeing nothing. Questions flooded my mind, yet I remained in control and simply spoke to the man. “What are you doing Sir?” I ask him, “What are all of you doing here?” His answer surprised me, shocking me into an absolute funk.

“My God, My God, My most powerful and omnipotent Lord. He has told me that this world is nothing more than a great illusion, a false reality, and the evil of this place is too great and My God demands judgment. Fire and Death shall rein down from the heavens, the earth will crack and the seas shall heave. The blood of the unsaved shall run like a river of crimson Justice! Join me and blind your eyes, deafen your ears, silence your tongue, and feel the full suffering of the flesh. For only through suffering can we purify our souls in order to gain Paradise! Give your Illusionary life to me and My God, and you will receive wealth and wisdom beyond measure after death.”

It just sounded too good to be true! Blind my eyes, block my ears, silence my tongue, suffer in the flesh, but at least I wouldn’t be dead from fire, death, cracking, or heaving. I was confused.

“Sir, how do you know this to be true? Have you any proof?” His grimy hands rummaged through a tattered burlap sack, quickly withdrawing a badly damaged cassette tape player. “God himself recorded his message for me on this holy artifact. Unfortunately even the most enlightened individuals cannot bear to hear the true voice of God without its perfection causing immediate and violent death. For the mysteries of God are Deadly to the wicked and can only be revealed through suffering in darkness and silence. Join Me! Else you will be punished for your lack of faith for all eternity, for my God is a wrathful God!”

…The One-Eyed Man Will Be King

After that exciting excursion into the world of Sir Isaac Newton and his wonderful First Law of Motion, and a quick escapade to an obviously allegorical plaza filled with walk-ons left over from the filming of Tommy, what was the whole point? There is a morbidly humorous saying: In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man will be king. When we are born, all of us, are born with two eyes, we see both worlds, the world of the physical and the world of energy.

As our world really is a binary world, we are literally being asked to blind one eye in order to become a part of society. Our society is one that is based upon science and Judeo-Christian values. Magick, and any other current scientifically improvable concept, is not “real” because it cannot be measured and it goes against those long-standing values that are so important to our national identity. Although, just because something is not scientifically proven beyond a shadow of a doubt does not mean that it is wrong.

I work magick, you work magick, and millions of people the world over work some kind of Magick. We believe in it because we can feel it, it may not be quantifiable, yet it exists. We believe in Magick because it works, and it works every time we try it. The situation may not be completely resolved, but it will begin to move, slowly at first, but soon it will be defused in no time at all because you gave it a little nudge to knock it out of the way.

The sun still shines its light of love and heat of hope upon the Earth oblivious to the fact that Jim in Accounting absolutely refuses to believe in the Sun’s existence. It still doesn’t change the fact that the Sun is a star and that Jim in Accounting probably could use a long vacation somewhere with sun, sand, and surf. Of course Jim won’t burn on his vacation because he doesn’t believe in the Sun.

When Jim finally returns from his long vacation, he is as red as a steamed lobster. He begins to explain to you how he contracted this strange skin disease at the beach and how it was strange to be at the beach without the Sun. As a Witch, and since Jim is nuttier than a fruitcake by now, you promise to work some magick on his…rare condition. Jim doesn’t believe in Magick and is violently opposed to it. You decide to work a spell on him to alleviate the pain from his sunburn without telling him. He feels better the next day after discovering an exotic cure for his illness…aloe.

Show Me Da Magick!

This essay has been a bit juvenile in its examples, yet the point was not to provide the very best example of a situation, it was to provide the best example of the mechanics of Magick. If you begin to study your own spellcraft, watch where the energy that you send out ends up by feeling for it. You will begin to learn and eventually understand just how Magick, and Life, flows and brings change where it’s needed most. The one fatal mistake that any Witch can make is to give away their power in the face of a challenge. The idea that “I can’t help with that! It’s too tough!” Well, you’re right; you can’t do anything because you have decided that you do not have the power to…so now you don’t.

But, just like the blind man who ignored the visible world, and the overzealous Christian who demands suffering and pain as a sign of submission, their refusal to accept the real world around them doesn’t change the nature of the world around them. It only changes their reactions to that outside stimulus that they detest. A closed-minded individual who refuses to believe in magick can still be swayed by magick, just as the boy who believes himself to invincible can be knocked over by powerful wave. Their refusal to accept does not change the fact that Magick exists, has always existed, and will always exist. The blindness in their eyes does not change the fact that there are Two Worlds, not one, two. Just because a person refuses to see a painting does not mean that it was never painted, it exists in all its intricate beauty, that person simply refuses to appreciate it.

As Witches we walk the world with all our senses developed and alert, this allows us a greater depth of understanding and perception concerning people and situations. We do not walk our Path with our eyes blinded, nor do we walk our Path with one eye closed. We walk our paths with both eyes open; both worlds, the physical and the spiritual are real and readily available to us, each just as real as the other. We have to remember that WE hold the power to create change in the world, it is not something that can ever be delegated to another, it is our power, our will, and our destiny to develop into the individual who we want to be.

Magick, a natural part of life, will always be an influence even on skeptics, for just as matter moves, so does energy. Regardless of denials, misunderstandings, and flat-out lies, one can no more banish Magick than one could Banish the oceans, it is a natural part Life, just like the rising and setting of the sun and the migration of birds in the Winter. It’s natural, it exists, and nothing and no one can ever change that.

Blessed Be,
-Phoenix Forestsong

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The Cult of Mary

The Cult of Mary

Author: Fire Lyte

There is a hidden mystery that exists in the Christian faith that bubbles just under the surface of common knowledge, yet remains in essence an ageless conundrum. This mystery actually started off with the same question that this paper will attempt to answer: “Why me?” Or, more specifically, why Mary? The Catholic Church has hailed her as “the Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven; as Our Lady of Lourdes, Walsingham, Guadalupe, Czestochowa; as Flower of Carmel, House of Gold, Ark of the Covenant, ” (Ashe 14) . Men hold Mary close to them as a personal mother, revere her as one of mankind deified, and yet hold her above, still.

The question is why.

There is no data concerning the mother of Christ except in Christian writings, and there is really nothing of Christian merit to compare her to. In order to even fervently research her, one must first accept that Christ existed, which any skeptic could dispel with a call for burden of proof beyond the Bible. Despite this, it is the position of this research to answer the question of “Why Mary?” The answer is that she is the Christian expression of a tradition in place since time immemorial of deifying a Mother Goddess.

In a collection of essays entitled The Blessed Virgin Mary, the author John de Satgé, an evangelical canon, states this about the origin of the veneration of Mary:

The evangelical has a strong suspicion that the deepest roots of the Marian cults are not to be found in the Christian tradition at all. The religious history of mankind shows a recurring tendency to worship a mother-goddess. Three factors in particular suggest that the cult of Mary may be an intrusion into Christianity from the dark realms of natural religion. First, it seems that historically the earliest traces of Marian devotion seem to come from Christian circles to some extent at least tainted with syncretizing Gnosticism.

The second is the ease with which the devotion becomes associated with local holy places so that the faithful make their prayers to our Lady of a particular shrine. May it not be the case, the evangelical wonders, that what we have here is in reality an older religion, a paganism which has been too lightly baptized into Christ and whose ancient features persist under a thin Christian veil? The third factor is an apparent correlation between Marian devotion and an elevation of chastity to a point of esteem where marriage and sexual intercourse are depreciated if not reprehended. (Mascall 77)

Here is a summation of the problem in reasoning Mary’s divinity with Christianity, as Christianity is supposedly patriarchal in nature and supposes that there is only one, true god. This same author goes on to say that the worship of Mary did not begin as the veneration of Christ’s holy mother, but as a deity unto herself. However, Christianity dodges the issue of Mary as a Goddess by referring to a sacred book that one must accept as an article of faith. In point of fact, the veneration, or more adequately, the cult of Mary cannot be fully examined through the lens of Christianity alone. Rather, it must be looked at in a historical context.

There are many variations of this adage, but it is said that to know where you are going you must know where you came from. The same is true in the case of the Goddess Mary and her cult. In order to know why the cult of Mary exists in Christendom, one must know about the veneration of female deity and its importance in ancient cultures. Before the rise of gods or any recorded patriarchal forms of worship, there is evidence to suggest the reverence and worship of goddess worship. More specifically, there is evidence to support worship of The Goddess – or, as Goethe puts it, the Ewig-Weibliche, or Eternal-Womanly (Ashe 24) . It is believed that the stone carvings, dating back to over 10, 000 BC, of women with “gross breasts and bellies” were “exaggerated tokens of motherhood” that were used as cult-objects of early Siberian and European hunting tribes (Ashe 24) .

This early reverence does not stop with the Eternal-Womanly, but continues into every pantheon across the world. Upon moving from the prehistoric era to the oldest recorded myths and legends, The Goddess is “One at her apogee – not always through conscious intercommunication of cults, but psychologically One, under many names and aspects, ” (James 41) . She becomes known by many names, and is credited, depending on your mythos of choice, as a world-matriarch, a wife or mistress, a maiden, an animal, or some combination of the above. She has been called Nintu in Sumeria, Inanna in Babylon as well as Ishtar, Astarte in Canaan, Neith or Isis in Egypt, Cybele in Asia Minor, Artemis or Diana by the Romans, and Aphrodite by the Greeks. (James 77)

By the second millennium BC, however, the waning of The Goddess’ hold had begun. During the reign of The Goddess, however, it has been supposed that a matriarchy was in place with kings married to priestesses as sacred functionaries. (Campbell 315) On the other side, it is more than likely a bit too extreme to suppose that the whole of Europe was under the rule of women. There is much evidence to state the contrary, or at least that women were not in powerful enough positions to rival the reign of a king. Although, more than likely, women were possibly powerful through a knowledge of magic, and, thus, the Eternal-Womanly powerful along with them. (Campbell 316) .

There is also the hint of the idea of matrilinear family lines, that is the tracing of parentage back through the mother’s line rather than the father’s. (Ashe 26) This comes from the now-practical idea that while the mother of a child can be known for certain, his or her father is another matter. Paternal parentage could be hard to prove, or hushed up altogether. Furthermore, the very nature of procreation was a mystery to early peoples. Many cultures, when dealing with the issue of pregnancy, doubted the father’s identity, and some doubted his very existence. (Ashe 27) This deals directly with the nature of this perpetual Goddess ideal. If sex-relations could occur without resulting in a pregnancy, could not pregnancy result without sex-relations?

Early people attempted to answer this question by saying that Earth, the great Cosmic Mother, was a life-giver, and needed no man to do so. In fact, sometimes there was no cause at all other than the Great Mother’s will. Now, we finally get to the point in history where the idea of virgin birth becomes profound and permeates culture. The Egyptian Goddess Neith gives birth to the Sun-God Ra without any aide and by her own power. Cybele splits off a male consort named Attis for herself by her own creation power. In these earliest tales of The Goddess, she is both a virgin and a mother, not unlike a certain Biblical virgin-mother. (Boslooper 162) These days, as was stated earlier, were doomed to end. The days of the reign of The Goddess, in whatever capacity She was in power, began to die out at the beginning of the second millennium BC. (Neumann 163)

The reign of power passed rather swiftly – considering the expanse of time – over to male deities. This happened “partly through the ever-strengthening institution of kingship, partly through changes in kingship, partly through changes in relations between the sexes, [and] partly through war and conquest.” (Ashe 29) The lunar calendar – a female allusion – was replaced by a solar calendar – male-centric. Gods like Zeus became central and chief of many pantheons of Europe, western Asia, and Northeastern Africa. Even worse, however, was what this new male-dominated society did to the veneration of the Goddess. She was torn apart and turned into various, easier to digest deities that seemed much more human and inferior to the now-chief deities. The Goddess in Greece became Athena, Artemis, Hera, Aphrodite, and the rest.

Femininity as a whole was attacked through the myth of Pandora, who was bestowed many gifts by the gods, but was too weak-willed to hold to her pact to never open her ubiquitous box. Thus, the divine feminine was turned into an insipid girl who would never measure up to the standards set before her, and, oh yeah, she was the source of all evil on the planet. (Guthrie 37)
One of the most powerful of female symbols, the serpent, was turned into something that male gods should triumph over.

During New Year’s festivals “Babylonian priests chanted a Creation Epic telling how the god Marduk had created the world by destroying a she-monster of chaos, Tiamat, and re-arranging her fragments. The Goddess’s serpents, formerly wise and benign, were now portrayed as malicious.” (Ashe 30-31) The greatest of these injustices to The Goddess, the Eternal-Womanly, was the Fall. As it went with the change of status among the ancient Israelites, so did it go with the idea of Eve, whose name means Life, and who was the mother of all living. (Gen. 3:20)

At first, she was the naked mother of paradise, walking in the Garden of Eden at the place where a stream turned into four mighty rivers – sources of the earth’s fertility – beside the Tree of Life. (Gen. 2:9) The story quickly turns, however, into the telling of a second-rate creation that causes far too much trouble for the dominant man, and, like Pandora, brings about the evils of the world. How does she do this? Well, the mother eats a fruit tempted her by a serpent; all of these are ancient Goddess symbols that were turned into a warning to paternalistic religious society to condemn the old religion.

Not all feminine entries into Christianity are considered evil. Wisdom, which may very well be a tribute to Athena, is a feminine entity in the Bible, though, admittedly, a widely overlooked entity. When Job asks Yahweh where “Wisdom” is to be found, it is to the feminine counterpart to Yahweh that sits enthroned in Zion to which he is referring. (Ashe 43-44) Wisdom is seen as the mediator between Yahweh and mankind. She was the inspiration for the Torah, supposedly befriended Biblical characters, and guides her devotees to the next world. (Knox 60) In fact, Canon Wilfred Knox says further:

The personified Wisdom is a female figure definitely on the divine side of the gulf, which separates God from man….

There can be little doubt as to the original of this highly coloured portrait. The lady who dwells in the city of Jerusalem and in its Temple, who is also to be compared to all the forest trees of Hermon and the luxuriant verdure of the Jordan valley, is the great Syrian goddess Asarte, at once the goddess of great cities and the mother manifested in the fertility of nature (Knox 70) .

So now the stage is set for the emergence of the cult of Mary. The Goddess, in all of her many aspects, was subdued by a patriarchal society and vilified by its main religion. However, the positive ideal of Her as Wisdom seeped its way into the Bible despite the book’s otherwise masculine leanings. Instead of Wisdom being the mediator and chief female sitting enthroned in Zion, it will soon be Mary, the mother of the savior, who would take that spot.

The deification of Mary was not an overnight creation. When her story was written into the Gospels of the New Testament, she was not immediately charged with the titles aforementioned – Queen of Heaven, etc. To understand how this came about, and how her prominence became so in the first place, one must look to the early church. That is, one must understand the nature of those that wrote the Gospels. According to the Jews, Jesus was not the Messiah, and to consider him such was a blasphemy. (Ashe 50) However, he was a teacher, and he changed the lives of his disciples in the grandest way by seemingly coming back from the dead after his crucifixion.

Christianity was about the teachings of one person, and various subsets or denominations attempted – and still attempt today – to figure out the meaning of Christ’s words. At the heart of the religion was still a man, and the religion is as much about his life as it is about his teachings. His life, however, most definitely includes his mother:

In his [Jesus’] role as dying-and-rising Saviour he could not be readily conceived as standing alone. Such gods had never normally done so. They were rooted in the world of the Goddess, and in some form she accompanied them. You could not have Osiris without Isis, or Attis without Cybele. The death-conquering Christ of the Pauline missions cast a shadow behind him, whether or not Paul was ever aware of it. He evoked a role for another to fill – a woman. The world’s nostalgic desire would prepare a place for her. Doubtless, like Christ, she would transcend myth as well as fulfilling it. And the original relationship of the Young God to the Goddess made Christ’s mother the best candidate (Ashe 53) .

Mary is the cause of Jesus’ first miracle. At her prompting, Jesus turned water into wine at Cana. (John 2:1-12) Other than this, her appearance at his crucifixion, and a handful of other appearances in the Gospels and finally in Acts, she has no place in the rest of the Bible. The author we know as Matthew is chief author that first introduces the symbol of Mary to the Bible. It was said, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) This name is said to mean God with us, which symbolically identifies him as the incarnation of Yahweh. However, the word ‘virgin’ may or may not be translated correctly as one who has never been sexually intimate with a man, as it is rather ambiguous in the original Hebrew. (Ashe 66) Whether or not the child was biologically Joseph’s, or any other man’s, is irrelevant, as it is believe that he was the wondrous child conceived without intercourse through a miracle. Sound like a familiar theme? It should.

In fact, several times throughout the Gospels, and a few times in Paul’s Epistles, Joseph is culturally completely taken out of the equation. It was customary to call a man the son of his father even after his father’s death and for several years afterwards. However, Jesus was always called the “son of Mary.” (Mascall 32) Even during the writing of the Gospels, the authors had already begun to slightly venerate Mary more than other characters of the New Testament by turning Joseph into more of a later consort, mentioned far fewer times in the Gospels than Mary.

The problem in studying the idea of the virgin birth quickly turns into a problem of irrefutability, as the only texts on the matter are the Christian texts. There are some whispers of contradiction in the way certain verses are worded throughout the New Testament, however many such discrepancies occurred due to the need to copy these texts by hand over and over again through the years. Mistakes could have happened. Since these discrepancies are negligible and do not provide any concrete evidence of the contrary, they must be thrown out. (Boslooper 230-234) Thus, the problem of irrefutability.

Now we have a Biblical veneration of Mary, as she was assuredly held above Joseph and many others. We have a miraculous virgin birth, echoed from a long-ago history of deifying the sacred feminine, the Eternal-Womanly. The pregnancy itself is a nearly direct mimic of local Greek or Roman culture – a la Zeus and his many supposed impregnations of various female deities. However, the religion and practice of Christianity was still a purely patriarchal one. Yahweh was a solely jealous male god that did not want his followers to put anybody else on a throne. In the late 370s, however, much of that changed with the public singing of hymns popularized by Syrian Gnostics and Ephraem. (Ashe 195-196) These poems, granted, might be a bit beyond the realm of theology, however:

His many hymns and poems include several addressed to the Virgin. Their flowery praise strikes a new note in Christianity. Its language should not be pressed too far…. Still it is arresting to find Ephraem calling Mary Christ’s ‘bride’ or ‘spouse (thus being the first Christian to clear the hurdle of the Goddess-and-Son relationship, though with a wrench to doctrine) , and writing what seem to be prayers to her, implying her power as a living intercessor with God (Palmer 20) .

These same hymns echo a second Eve theme, but begin to title Mary with the names we are so familiar with. He calls Mary “O Virgin Mother of God” – the Blessed Virgin – as well as the “Gate of Heaven, and Ark, in thee I have a secure salvation. Save me, O Lady, out of thy pure mercy.” (Palmer 24) Through these poems, and the later Gnostic Christian beliefs, Mary becomes the Garden of Eden itself, the Earth. Mary is the mediator between mankind and God, one who is addressed as the Mother of God whose “prayers obtainest for thy faithful ones a covenant, peace, and a scepter wherewith to rule all.” (Palmer 24) Granted, these verses are hidden in messages praising the Father God, but they are there, and they quickly permeated society creating a subculture of Mary worship.

Upon the time of Ephraem’s death a few years later, the practice of praying to The Virgin directly for absolution or intercessory prayer had become commonplace. The ideas perpetuated by the Gnostics entered mainstream consciousness, albeit in a less than matriarchal method. However, many sects, including Rome in some instances, began to retroactively credit Mary with being a far greater presence in the Bible than was originally believed. She had become a patroness of celibacy and virgins that had yet to consummate a marriage. (Boslooper 85) Furthering the idea of her expanded presence, St. Augustine, revering Mary in a nearly Goddess-like deification of maidenhood, stated that “[quoting Isaiah 19:1] ‘Behold, the Lord comes seated on a light cloud, ’” and claims that the light cloud is a symbol of Mary, free from any burden of vice. St. Augustine continues to proselytize, “Receive, receive, O consecrated virgins, the spiritual rain that falls from this cloud, which will temper the burning desires of the body.” (Palmer 27)

Mary became a Goddess of Virginity, though very few actually referred to her as the patron Goddess of Virginity. Rather, it is seen more often this sort of allusion, the idea that she is The Virgin, Queen of Heaven, who calms temptations, desires, and worldly ills. She could be compared to several goddesses of peace, but that might be an oversimplification of her reverence.

The rise of Mary’s importance in Christianity happened swiftly over several centuries, and continues until today. Mary is now the patron saint of many locations, known by many names, just as the idea of The Goddess was disseminated into many names and purposes. She is an intercessor of prayer, a healer of humanity, the Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven, and a source of miracles herself. (Ashe 244) In the latter part of the first millennium BC, and well into the second millennium, Mary was and still is attributed with healing many sick and dying individuals. This usually occurs through some medium claiming to be blessed by Mary, or by making a pilgrimage to a site that is purportedly blessed with the presence of The Virgin. (Ashe 245)

The power of Mary as a healer and Holy Virgin Mother holds great sway over many in the Catholic faith still. Gnostic revivalists are mixed about whether or not Mary is the revival of The Goddess, or merely a highly praised saint and important Bible character. The cult of Mary, however, has strikingly similar corollaries to past ideals of The Goddess, and so does her worship. Venerated as Eden itself, she becomes the Goddess of the Earth, the Eternal-Womanly’s oldest and most recognizably universal form.

As The Virgin, her cult harkens back to the days of Artemis, Diana, and the ancient virgin goddesses that created the world without any help from a man, to the time of Cybele who created her own consort without the aide of anything but her own will and sheer power. As a healer and source of miracles, she is likened to the ancient goddesses of magic and spellcraft that abound in Egyptian, Sumerian, Syrian, Greek, Roman, Celtic, and Norse pantheons. As a guider of souls and intercessor of prayer, she is like the psychopomps of ancient times.

But, whether or not Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven, Intercessor, Guider of Maidens, Healer of the World, Eden, the cloud the Lord sits upon, should add “aspect of The Goddess or Eternal-Womanly” to her litany of titles is, perhaps, a mystery for the ages. However, it cannot be denied that the reverence bestowed upon Mary is deserving of the title “Goddess.”



Footnotes:
Ashe, Geoffrey. The Virgin: Mary’s Cult and the Re-Emergence of the Goddess. Great Britain: The History Press, 1976. Print.
‘Common Bible’, Revised Standard Version. translation by Ronald Knox, 1973.
Boslooper, Thomas, The Virgin Birth, Preachers Library, 1962. Print.
Campbell, Joseph. The Masks of God. vol. 1. Secker and Warburg, 1960-5. Print.
Guthrie, W.K.C.. The Greeks and their Gods. Methuen, 1950. Print.
James, E. O.. The Cult of the Mother-Goddess. Thames and Hudson, 1965. Print.
James, E. O.. Prehistoric Religion, Thames and Hudson, 1957. Print.
Knox , W. L., St. Paul and the Church of the Gentiles, Cambridge University Press, 1939.
Mascall, E.L. and Box, H.S (eds) , The Blessed Virgin Mary, Darton, 1963. Print.
Neumann, Erich. The Great Mother. Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1955. Print.
Palmer, Paul S. J., Mary in the Documents of the Church, Burns Oates and Washborne, 1953.

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Sea Glass as a Magickal Item?

Sea Glass as a Magickal Item?

Author: Jillian

I have collected sea glass (glass that has been smoothed and etched by the water and sand of the ocean) since I was a child. Each piece seems to call to me, and often great finds wash up at my feet, like gifts from the waves. I have never heard of sea glass holding any magic properties, beyond that of making beauty out of garbage, but it seems that sea glass does have something about it that is otherworldly.

It comes in every color of the rainbow, with white being the most common, then greens and browns from liquor bottles, but I have found yellows, oranges, reds, and blues. These rare colors are a prize to collectors, and walking on the beach, hunting for pieces encourages meditative thought. The colors can be symbolic, as they are in ritual candles, but I don’t know if the same holds true for sea glass.

As a searcher walks, they take notice of all that is around them, as they look for glass, they also see the other flotsam that has washed up. Many see trash that has washed up, and gather it to properly dispose of. Many take a step further, to work with others to keep plastic trash out of the sea and shore, ensuring a cleaner home for the Goddess and God here on earth, as well as a cleaner home for man and animals. Searchers see dead sea creatures, damaged by pollution. They see live animals, hope for the future. They see children, men, and women enjoying the sea, just as humans have done since antiquity. The ocean calls to us, grants gifts to us.

Glass is simply silica sand and other minerals molten together into a liquid, then shaped and cooled back into a solid. This in itself can be a symbol of how a person’s common background can be transformed through the “trials and tribulations” of life into something beautiful and precious.

Sea glass has gone through two more steps. It has been discarded and broken, deemed worthless, and left to the elements. Worn by sand, broken down by the natural chemical reactions of ocean water, it loses it’s hard sheen, and sharp edges. It smoothes down, sometimes into intricate shapes, and washes up. It has become a gemstone of sorts, helped by man, but ultimately affected most by the acts of nature that surround it.

Sea glass has lost some of its minerals and silica, from being physically worn away, or from being leached out by chemical reactions with the seawater. So too do we lose some of our “selves”, when we work through our adversities. We lose our jagged edges, our impurities. As minerals return to the sea and earth, so too should we offer our losses of selfish behavior, prejudices, avarice, and sloth.

Is that not how we are shaped? We are a part of mankind, and we are partly shaped by our relations to our fellow people, but so much more so are we shaped by our interactions with our Gods and Goddesses, with our spiritual experiences. Just like silica and minerals, we are a part of the earth, but through our interactions with people, we grow stronger, more solidified, and become more valuable and useful after being shaped and molded. However, we do need the final finishing through our spiritual experiences.

Interactions with our deities smooth our sharp edges; they teach us that we are not all-knowing. If we remain sharp and smooth, all we have is our outward appearance and our knowledge. We have no deeper wisdom, no real learning. Just as the sand and salt water buff and scour discarded glass, we must allow our faith to shape us. We too must be spiritually buffed and scoured, so that we might become people of inner and outer beauty and strength.

I take out broken glass, marbles, and beads to the sea, and as I offer them to the Goddess, I offer myself to her. As each shard falls to the bottom of the kelp beds, far out enough that it will not have an easy journey back to shore, I reflect that my journey will not be easy either, but that I will improve through my struggles, just as broken glass improves from trash into treasure. I choose colors of glass that are rare, so that I can give to the future. I buy glass from charity thrift stores, so that others might benefit. Collectors of all ages may one day find joy and astonishment finding a rare color of sea glass that came from one of my offerings. I pray they do.

What does sea glass hold in terms of magic? I feel as though it must hold some spark of sacredness, to have changed so very much into a new and beautiful form. I have searched for information, but found none that speaks about sea glass. Is this because it is a relatively “new” occurrence? Sea glass only became common after glass could be mass-produced and easily discarded, and trash collected as a public service, not disposed of in communal trash pits.

For myself, I have made charms to hang from dream catchers, and some pieces reside in my witch bottle. My mate has his own lucky piece that I gifted him, made of glass and wire found in the surf, a small green medallion of glass. Green is his lucky color, as he is a full-fledged Taurus. These pieces might hold the power of good intentions concentrated on them, but do they hold more?

Should I just take sea glass pieces as gifts from the Goddess, or do they have significance? Are they signs of becoming more “beautiful” through surviving adversity, or do they hold any real strength? Can they be used in offerings or spells? What deities might there be that would most appreciate these offerings, aside from the Goddess?

I hope that you, dear readers, can answer some of my questions, and offer ideas and suggestions of your own. I am so new here, and new to my beliefs, that I really would appreciate guidance.

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Burning ‘The Burning Times’

Burning ‘The Burning Times’

Author: Zan Fraser

It seems that there is a recent body of misinformation regarding the Burning Times making its way through the Wiccan/Pagan community, which amounts to a revisionist “take” on the Witches’ Holocaust. Being something of a debunking, this new school of thought asserts that the Burning Times is “over-hyped” and hysterically blown out of proportion. While as a rule, I am a huge fan of revisionist history, I find this development (which adds up to a sort of “Burning Times denial-ism”) a bit depressing.

Proponents of this new school of thought seem to me mistaken in a number of important ways. (1) They tend to describe the Burning Times as a sort of invention of Margaret Murray’s, the Egyptologist whose “pro-Pagan” interpretation of European history was so influential to the early Craft revival. (2) They challenge the conventional belief in huge numbers of Burning Times victims as overwrought, with the numbers inflated. (3) They question the interpretation of the Great Witch-Hunts as a “War on Women.”

Far from being a concept of Murray’s, among the broadest reaching of her theories, the first realizations of the Burning Times emanate centuries before her writing, expressed in horror by the period’s contemporaries. As early as the 1560s, Weyer was publishing denunciations of the excesses of German Witch-Hunting; Spee (confessor during the Wurzburg trials of the 1620s) , theology professor Meyfarth (in the 1630s) , and Junius (a torture-victim who generated one of the few Witch-Hunting documents told from the perspective of the tortured Witch) powerfully describe the hysterical panic of the populace and the agonized suffering of the accused. They leave no doubt as to the alarm and trauma that must have pervaded the German regions in the latter 1500s and early 1600s.

Burning Times revisionists make the vital point that the German cases (for their exceptional violence and cruelty) give us a skewed picture of the Hunt Periods. In the 1620s alone, some 600 persons were said to have been killed as devil-worshipping Witches at Bamberg, with some 900 more in Wurzburg. There are many reasons for this, notably that the German Prince-Bishops ruled as absolute authorities on both the secular and religious levels, and the particular Prince-Bishops during this period and in these regions appear to have been especially sadistic sorts. These numbers may be inflated to a certain degree (they probably don’t have a modern bureaucratic accounting system to keep track of such things) , but they clearly intend to describe large numbers of victims, with much resulting social terror and disruption. Revisionists are correct to point out that these levels of destruction are not matched elsewhere and tend to provide a somewhat distorted view of the Witch-Hunts.

(On more than one occasion, I have heard Wiccans describe the “Burning Times” in England as if the English Witch-cases were on a par with those of Germany, or to relate how English Witches “fled the Burning Times in England, ” to come to the New World of America in order to keep the “Old Ways” in safety. This ignores the reality that the English were relatively lenient in their regards to Witchcraft. Importantly they never accepted the idea of Witches as demonic- sparing themselves the hysterical “Satan panic” reactions experienced on the Continent- and they observed legal proprieties in their judgment of Witch-cases, as opposed to the German regions, which held Witchcraft to be such a subversive and lethal instrument that it justified abandoning basic legal protections for the accused. In an important difference, the English did not employ torture in Witchcraft cases.

This is not to say that on the social level the English never responded hysterically to fears or accusations of Witchcraft or that there were not English miscarriages of justice- but it is to say that the English made an effort to hold themselves in check regarding Witchcraft, which makes the Burning Times period in England of a different character than that in other parts of Europe.)

Conceding the point that the extreme degree of persecution in Germany leaves a lop-sided impression, it should be remembered that even in England, Reginald Scot was so alarmed over what he saw as the rise of “anti-Witch” prejudice that he published Discoverie of Witchcraft in 1584, decrying the stereotyping of elderly ladies as Witches (the English overwhelmingly imagined Witches to be elderly single women) ; according to Scot, this exposed defenseless old women to acts of violence. In A Briefe Historie of Wytches, , I collect from the period-drama several examples in which assault is thought justifiable if its victim is imagined to be a Witch.

In Sweden, Queen Christina was so dismayed over Witch-Hunting in her realm that in 1649 she ordered a series of reforms; this is the one instance in 300 years in which a European monarch so used the royal power, which Robbins finds “notable as the first legislation curbing witch hunts.” (Rossell Hope Robbins, The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology, “Sweden, Witchcraft In”) In all of these cases, the individuals involved- Weyer, Spee, Meyfarth, Junius, Scot, and Christina- are identifying “Witch-Hunting” as a feature of life around them, expressing the first glimmerings of understanding that they were living through a “Burning Times.”

In the early 1800s, the famous novelist Walter Scott was studying the Scots Witch-cases, publishing his summaries in Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft. The eminent Wilhelm Gottlieb Soldan conducted another early scholarly review of the medieval Witch-Business, presented in 1843; this was followed by the majestic history collected by Joseph Hansen, published in German in 1900. We see here that identification and study of the Burning Times commenced well before Margaret Murray, who first published in the early 1920s.

One of her initial critics, Harvard professor George Lyman Kittredge, issued his fine volume Witchcraft in Old and New England in the latter 1920s. Although he hardly agrees with Murray, it is clear that the Burning Times is “set” in his mind as a historical phenomenon (p. 243) : “Such were the orgies of the Witches’ Sabbath as systematized in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries by the scholastic ingenuity of devout theologians and described in confessions innumerable wrung by torture from ignorant and superstitious defendants in response to leading questions framed by inquisitors who had the whole system in mind before the trial began.”

I believe that- far from being among Margaret Murray’s “theories”- the medieval Burning Times is indeed a well-documented and reasonably well-understood phenomenon.

Another assertion made by the promoters of this new reading of the Burning Times is that not really very many persons were killed. They will quite properly dismiss the hysterically overwrought 9 million citation, then quote “recorded data” as giving an extremely paltry number, with “many countries” reporting only 3-10 victims, or certainly less than 50.

I find Anne Llewellyn Barstow to be persuasive on the issue of numbers: Witchcraze: A New History of the European Witch Hunts Pandora Books, 1994 (p. 19-23) . Acknowledging the woefully imperfect state of records (many lost or defective) , Barstow nonetheless finds herself compelled to keep careful count as she works her way through the dim documentation of the past. Although this pains-taking approach adds hours of extra work, and great though the temptation is to start rounding off numbers, she retains “each awkward figure, ” remembering Holocaust historian Joan Ringelheim’s observation: to drop numbers now was to kill that individual twice. Accordingly Barstow provides in her Appendix B “the most complete record available at this time.”

Barstow comments upon Levack’s work (p. 22) , crediting him with producing the “most careful totals made so far.” She finds his figures “reasonable, ” but “almost certainly too low.” Given the faulty state of records, with additional cases emerging “steadily, ” and given that posse-style murders and lynching-deaths will not be recorded, Barstow finds it judicious to expand Levack’s numbers to 200, 000 accused, with 100, 000 dead. She finds it interesting that- just after the “recently ended holocaust”- Voltaire estimated that about 100, 000 had been put to death.

Contrary to the assertion of Burning Times revisionists that “many countries” had less than 50 Witch-Victims apiece, Barstow’s Appendix B describes only Montbeliard (55+) , Vaud (90) , Labourd (80) , Champagne (50+) , Essex (74) , New England (35) , Estonia (65) , Russia (10+) , Logrono (6) , Catalonia (45) , and Navarre (50) with less than 100 murdered Witches. She finds some 50, 000+ to have been killed in the German states; some 5000 in France; some 1000 in England; 1, 337+ in Scotland; 1500-1800 in Scandinavia; and approximately 15, 000+ in Poland.

The third claim of this would-be up-ending of conventional Hunt-Period consideration is that in “many countries” the “vast majority” of victims were male. Scandinavia, Finland, and Iceland are listed as places where “nearly all of the accused” were men. From this, the interpretation of the medieval Witch-Hunts as a “Holocaust of women” is questioned.

Barstow notes that the trials in Finland, Estonia, and Iceland (“which did not have a true witch hunt”) offer the “rare phenomenon” of predominantly male Witches. (p. 86) Finns had traditionally presumed sorcery to lie with men and some 60% of Estonia’s accused were males, often with reputations as healers or magic-workers. (Barstow, by the way, notes that Witchcraft in Scandinavia and the Baltic regions- the areas isolated from Christianity the longest- is “deeply rooted in European folk customs”; Robbins observes that “heathen beliefs in natural and magical powers” lingered in Finland longer than anywhere else in Europe, as Christianity was not introduced until 1157. (Encyclopedia, “Finland, Witchcraft in”)

Interesting though that is, male Witches appear to be the exception rather than the rule. Barstow remarks that the figures show women to have been “overwhelmingly victimized, ” constituting roughly 80% of the accused and 85% of the executed. (p. 23) In places such as Essex, females make up 92% of the accused, as they do during a Hunt in Belgium. During a Scare in Basel, the percentage of women accused shoots to 95%. Barstow quotes the observation of historian Christina Larner, “the chronicler of Scottish witchcraft, ” who felt that there must have been periods in East Lothian or Fife when no woman could have “felt free from the fear of accusation.” She notes the two German villages finally left with but one female inhabitant apiece, and the Rhenish village where one person (generally female) out of every two families was killed. (p. 24)

Barstow feels that her statistics “document an intentional mass murder of women.” To not see that is to “deny the most persistent fact about the persecutions.” (p.26)

Burning Times revisionists conclude that the Burning Times is a farce, a “theory” of Margaret Murray’s run amuck, fed by pumped-up numbers and a hysterical view of a “Holocaust of Women.”

With all respect, I feel that:

(1) The Burning Times is established as a medieval phenomenon well beyond Murray.

(2) Anne Llewellyn Barstow provides extremely well-researched figures, pointing to some 200, 000 accused, with some 100, 000 executed, around 85% of whom were women.

(3) Far from men being the primary victims during the Burning Times (Iceland, Finland, and Estonia notwithstanding) , I believe that so many women were targeted that the Burning Times might well be understood as a Religious War on Women- predicated upon the interesting assumption that Witches are most likely to be Female.

It is for this reason that one of the rallying cries of the Modern Wiccan Witchcraft Revival is: Never Again the Burning Times.

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“You Lied!” Some Thoughts on Honesty and Pagan Practice

“You Lied!” Some Thoughts on Honesty and Pagan Practice

Author: Bronwen Forbes

When I first began to formally study Paganism, it was drilled into my head over and over: “A witch is only as good as his or her word.” In other words, there is a direct relationship between the quality and effectiveness of your magick and how good you are at telling the truth and keeping promises.

Which makes sense, when you think bout it, because say, for example, you are doing a working to find a new job and you promise Hestia that if you get a job you will volunteer so many hours a week a the local soup kitchen in Her name. Then suppose you promise your friend that you will meet her for lunch and something better comes up and you break your promise to your friend. Why, then, if you don’t keep your word to your friend should Hestia have any reason to believe you’ll keep your promise to her? Odds are you won’t get that new job if Hestia has anything to do with it.

This is partly a matter of will. If magick is, as some say, “change in accordance with will, ” this implies t hat a person’s will is pretty important. And a major component of will is the strength to do what you say you will do – no matter how hard that may become. If your word is good, chances are your will and your magick will be pretty strong.

I was also taught that it’s okay to lie if it’s a matter of life and death. I would say: evaluate the situation very carefully before choosing to lie “for the greater good.” Let me give an example. About eight years ago I was a very busy volunteer with a local no-kill animal rescue organization. I was also – and still am – totally, utterly and completely smitten with beagles.

So when I saw a miserable shy little beagle on our town’s high-kill Humane Society’s web page, I leapt into action. I tried to adopt Joe the Shy Beagle, stating openly that I was a volunteer with the no-kill rescue group. The folks at the Humane Society wouldn’t let me have him, stating that they were afraid I’d just turn around and adopt him out to someone else. We went back and forth on this issue for a few days while Joe cowered in the back of his cage. Meanwhile, the clock ticked down to the day that Joe was scheduled to be euthanized. And since no one wants to adopt a dog that’s literally paralyzed with fear (except me, apparently) , I was running out of time if I wanted to save Joe’s life.

So I lied.

I told the staff at the Humane Society that my husband had completely fallen in love with Joe and we now wanted to keep him. And a day later I brought Joe home. Within a month I’d sent him to live with my mother after he freaked out because the neighborhood kids had gone a little overboard with Fourth of July fireworks. He’s been with my mother ever since.

Did I do the right thing? On the surface, yes I did. I deliberately lied – and made my husband lie – in order to save an animal’s life; an animal, I should add, that my mother loves very much. For years I used this example to teach my students to think about their actions and the ethics of those actions. I was actually proud of the fact that I’d saved Joe’s life and cited the whole incident as an example of “harm none; all life is sacred.”

Except there’s more to the story. My family currently lives with my mother, which means we live with Joe. Beagles are, in general, cheerful, outgoing, friendly, cuddly, happy little dogs. Eight years after I pulled him out of the back of his cage at the Humane Society, Joe is still none of these things. He cowers, snarls at the other dogs, and (most disturbingly) if startled by motion four or five feet away, snaps at my five-year-old daughter (who was raised with dogs and knows how to behave around them) . It’s only a matter of time before he bites her. Joe is also slowly dying of stress-related health issues.

Had I not lied to the Humane Society staff all those years ago, Joe would have lived a few more days and been humanely euthanized by a painless overdose of barbiturates. But I did, and now I get to watch a desperately unhappy dog take years to die by inches – and possibly do serious damage to my child before he goes.

Did I ultimately do Joe any favor? In my opinion, no. Have I done him harm? Absolutely. And that, gentle readers, is bad magick.

There are also less painful, more practical spiritual reasons to keep your word and live as truthful a life as possible. For example, if you aspire to join a British Traditional or a British Traditional-based coven, you’re going to be expected to swear at least a few oaths. And these groups take these oaths pretty seriously. In other words, if you’ve developed a reputation in the community for being flaky about commitments or gossiping (breaking your word) spreading wild stories or inventing training/lineage credentials (lying) or you’re just generally an all-around unreliable person, you’re not going to be invited to join an oath-taking group. Of course, even if you’re not interested in joining a traditionally-minded group, it would still be nice not to have a bad reputation in the community, wouldn’t it?

On the other hand, and completely tongue-in-cheek here, the “white lie” rules that apply outside the Pagan community apply here, too. In other words, if anyone of any gender asks you, “Does this robe make me look fat?” your best option is, of course, to say no!

But in all seriousness, being as truthful as possible can only make you a better practitioner, a better covener, a better community member, and an all-around better person. We need more of those. I think Joe the Beagle would agree.

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Your Daily Influences for August 7th

Your Daily Influences
August 7, 2011

Tarot Influence

Rune Influence


Charm Influence
Temperance
This card represents harmony, self control and synchronization with the world and others.
Isa
The Ice Rune, represents stagnation and a passionless existence. Your life’s course may seem blurry at the moment, but if you persevere you will move onto better days.
The Amulet Box
There are papers in your near future. This aspect is affected by legal papers of some kind–a contract, a legal action or a fine of some kind. These papers will cost you financially and emotionally.
Your Daily Influences represent events and challenges the current day will present for you. They may represent opportunities you should be ready to seize. Or they may forewarn you of problems you may be able to avoid or lessen. Generally it is best to use them as tips to help you manage your day and nothing more.
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Today’s Runes for August 7th is Raido

Today’s Runes

Gold Runes are most commonly used for questions about business, career, and property. Raido means to ride. In this rune, the image is not so much the riding of a horse as in riding in a cart or as cargo. As such Raido may suggest a journey, but is much more indicative of communication. Alternate interpretations based on the use of Raido as a cognate in other words give it the meaning of council, judgment, and moral correctness. Therefore, this rune is the rune of wise advice and good leadership.
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