Daily Archives: September 4, 2011

How the Internet Changed Paganism

How the Internet Changed Paganism

Author: Vivienne
The Internet is a wonderful tool used by numerous people worldwide. Although some might not admit it, most people rely on the Internet for most things that they do. Now, how does this relate to Paganism, one might ask? Well it seems that the Internet has made information on Paganism and the various traditions that it encompasses (i.e. Druidism, Wicca, etc) more accessible to people now a days. There are many articles on Paganism available to read on the Internet (not all are good but there are many informative pieces out there) .

If it weren’t for the wonder that is the world wide Internet, I probably would not be on the spiritual path that I am today- I cannot say that for sure but it is improbable. To be honest, I can’t quite remember exactly how I ended up typing “Wicca” into the Google search engine on my laptop computer. However, what I do know is that for some reason I did and it led me to reading various articles on the religion, that I now call my own. It led me to discover that there is a spiritual path that seems to encompass basically everything that I believe- in terms of what the divine is. It felt to me like I finally had found the spiritual path that I was meant to be on. Many people will understand what I am saying by this; that something which had been missing was finally filled. In fact, Wicca helped me become a better person and Paganism in general, is something that I find myself feeling extremely passionate about.

Now, I am a very music oriented person and immediately after making my little “discovery”, if you will, I went to YouTube and listened to various Pagan chants. It was the reassurance that I needed to go out and buy a few books on Paganism in general and Wicca specifically. Now, my story may seem a bit off topic, but I assure you it is perfectly relevant. The point I am trying to make it that through the Internet I had found Paganism- without the Internet I probably wouldn’t have. I even learned much of what I know from Pagan Podcasts, which I listened to on iTunes.

I do not consider myself what some would refer to as a Techno Pagan, to be honest, however I do believe that technology heavily contributed to my finding my current spiritual path; and I do not doubt for one second that many others would have similar stories to mine. So this may be a bit repetitive, for I mentioned it in various forms throughout this article, but I am very grateful that the Internet helped lead me to my Pagan spiritual path.

Some people may argue that the Internet making information on Paganism more accessible to be a negative thing; that it is becoming too “mainstream” because of how easily people can learn about it through the Internet. However, I strongly disagree with the people who say that, sure it is their opinion and they have a right to it but it is something that I will argue with- because quite frankly I disagree with it.

For one thing, just because something is mainstream doesn’t necessarily make it a bad thing at all. Sure some people may find that Paganism being a bit mysterious adds to its appeal. However, it is my belief that it also leads to some of the problems that people who do not consider themselves Pagan have with the spiritual path that we choose to follow. It is fair to say that generally people are afraid of what they don’t understand or what they don’t know. For example, most people are afraid of death because there is no one can definitively say what the afterlife is like, furthermore if there is even an afterlife. Sure we have many guesses about what comes after death but we never will really know. Therefore many people are afraid of death.

My analogy can apply to Paganism as well; some may see it as something that is to be feared and that it is something evil when in truth it’s not. But when something is shrouded in mystery then it is easier for people to be ignorant about not just Paganism, but anything in general. So basically what I am trying to say is that information about Paganism becoming more accessible to anyone isn’t a bad thing at all and in fact it is probably a good thing. If people at least have an idea of what something truly is, then it is probable that people will not jump to ignorant assumptions so much.

So basically, I think the Internet’s impact on Paganism in general has potential to be quite positive. In fact, I think it actually already is quite positive. Not only does it give basic information on our beliefs it also can help unite the Pagan community. Think about it, the Internet’s principle purpose is communication.

Even this article that I am writing is a form of communication using the Internet. I am communicating to you, the readers, my opinion on the matter of the Internet’s impact on paganism. Not only does the Internet help unite the Pagan community through *Witchvox (for example) , but other websites are helpful in allowing us the ability to communicate with one another.

Sites such as forums help us get to know about other members of the Pagan community as well as allow us to discuss and debate different issues and the like within our community. As well as communication, the Internet makes life easier for those of us who choose to remain “in the broom closet” do so. The web allows us to purchase things such as books, music, and tools for ritual, etcetera through the Internet. It allows those people anonymity that they may not have if they had to go to a Witch shop. Speaking of which- not everyone has a Pagan store where they live which is another way in which the Internet positively affects Paganism.

Any tools and such that one may need who do not happen to have a Witch shop where they live, have the ability to purchase whatever they might need through the internet. So in conclusion, the Internet has enabled us as Pagans to do so much. Communication, anonymity, and access to information being only some of the positive impacts that the Internet has made on Paganism.

Sure, one could argue that there may be some negatives when it comes to Paganism and the Internet. However, I ask you to ask yourself, is the Internet really making more of a negative impact on the Pagan community than a positive one? I certainly think not.


Footnotes:
Inciting a Riot Podcast- Hosted by Firelyte

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Daily Devotional Practises

Daily Devotional Practises

Author: Mr Araújo
For as long as I have been chatting online with other Pagans, I have been told stories of how life was somewhat sad without the presence of a religion with which a person can identify itself. I believe that this must be the case of nearly everybody here at The Witches’ Voice and it happens to be my case, of course. This is going to be an essay that explains my point of view on my own practices and how they came to be.

When one first decides to take the first step and enter the Craft, it is hard to avoid the temptation of jumping headfirst to the Initiation Ceremony. Although I have not discussed this with anyone else, I imagine that it might be quite true. After I decided that Wicca was a good Path for me, I immediately began searching online for its history and I was shocked – nearly all of the “founders” and their “heirs” belonged to covens and from what I could tell, their knowledge seemed so vast.

“How will I ever be as good as them?” I thought, worried that Gerald Gardner’s, Doreen Valiente’s, Raymond Buckland’s, Dayonis’ (amongst many others) legacy would be doomed in my hands. Whatever could I do not to venture off, far away from Wicca? And, most importantly, from the God and the Goddess?

First of all, I did a small Dedication ceremony – which was my very first ritual, in fact. I then began to focus very hard on my study of the Craft and I chose my sources very carefully. After I had read some of writings of the Founding Fathers and Mothers of Wicca, I decided to study earlier Pagan rituals.

Eventually my studies, beliefs and emotions led me to instituting my own set of devotional practices that filled in the blank left by the joy of the previous Sabbath and the yearning for the next one (I have never had the chance of safely celebrating an Esbat) . And so I began to wonder, yet again, if others did the same. But since I didn’t know of any other Pagan, let alone a Wiccan, I kept going. Today I know quite a few Pagans and most like to frequently keep in touch with the Gods, one way or another.

Yet, there are those – I have never met them, but I have been told that they are out there – who only celebrate the Sabbaths and Esbats and probably exclude any other contact with the divine. Forgive me for sounding too full of myself, but I don’t know how they do it. Perhaps it’s because they celebrate 20 or 21 rituals per year and that satisfies them – whilst I only have an average of 6 or 7, since I’ve never managed to celebrate Yule and I sometimes can’t celebrate Ostara or Mabon.

Personally, I feel a need, a thirst and a hunger to be in almost constant contact with the Gods! I’m not a religious fanatic, but ever since I discovered Wicca, I can’t have enough of the joy that is Their presence wherever I am.

So what are my daily rituals? To me, they aren’t very orthodox, since I am quite fond of my European background and heritage, but my research led me to the Ancient Egyptian practices. In case you’re familiar with them, yes, you’re right – I’ve adapted some of their rituals to my little “tradition”. Basically, I try to recognize the God and the Goddess in Their different aspects as the day goes by, and so I’ve adapted and made up small rituals for each aspect – devoid of almost all previous Egyptian symbolism.

When I wake up, I thank the Goddess for having protected me during my slumber. When I’m done with my morning routine, I go outside and greet the Sun Child and ask for His energy throughout the morning. If I happen to pass by my town’s river, I greet the Maiden; if I don’t, I do it in the bathroom (yes, that’s right) .

Once it’s time for lunch, I pray to the Sun Father for his strength, outside. If I have a patch of earth close to where I am, I drop by and give thanks to the Earth Mother for the meal I will enjoy in a few moments from then.

Finally, at dusk, I say my goodbye to the Elder God and give thanks for His gifts. At night, I greet the Goddess in whichever aspect She has taken, according to the Moon’s phase, of course – this can be considered a mini-Esbat, in fact. When I have the time, I actually gift the God and Goddess with offerings and I might use a Sacred Circle.

I know there are still other aspects of the Gods, but I doubt I could ever make up a ritual for each and every one of them and insert them into my daily routine. I also take some time to take care of my plants and to go to one of my town’s parks, where I enjoy the silent company of the trees.

I’ve never encountered anyone else who has such a need for daily devotions, or any website that details how they can be performed. That might be because they’re personal and intimate things that you simply don’t do if you’re not into them. Perhaps they can only be found after some research and introspection, but I bet most can find a personal little niche – be it praying, making offerings, meditating…

However I consider this to be an interesting subject, since Wicca has been evolving for many decades and its current diversity is overwhelming, even if we don’t take the unknown Traditions that have sprouted all over the world into consideration. Wicca began with just four Sabbaths and the Esbats; then, another four Sabbaths were added. Wiccaning, funeral, marriage and divorce rites followed.

Are daily devotions the next addition? Only time, the Wiccans, and the Gods will tell.

Merry meet and merry part, until we happily meet again!

Blessed be!

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Wandering Through Faerie Land: Metaphor and the Semantic Landscape

Wandering Through Faerie Land: Metaphor and the Semantic Landscape

Author: Rhys Chisnall
On Midsummer’s Day, the corn stood half grown and green, knee high in Suffolk fields. The bumblebee buzzed as it flew from flower to flower and overhead high above the corn the skylark sang. The midsummer’s sun beat down from high in the clear blue sky as I walked along besides the footpath than ran between the field and the hedgerow. I hadn’t drunk enough water so as I walked I noticed the sleight effects of dehydration. I continued onwards, creeping thorns grasping at my boots, while the stinging nettles failed to penetrate my jeans. The heat of midday, the smell of the corn, the summer flowers, the humming bee, the singing skylark all swirled in my awareness. And then it seemed to me that time stopped; it stood still.

I was in eternity, in faerie land, out of time. The experience and the realisation of timelessness was both beautiful and horrible. Beautiful as there is no ageing and no sting of death. But it was also horrible for nothing reaches its potential in faerie land. The corn never ripens and babies are never born; trapped in between time beautiful and horrible, both and neither.

Then the air moved again and a breeze stirred the corn which began to ripple and sway. I heard the buzzing of the bee again and the skylark continued to sings up high. I was back in time, back in the field. Did I ever really leave it? Had I really been in faerie land? Is it really a real place?

For some people it is, they believe that fairyland is an actual literal place. They may have had experiences similar to mine or more likely have read about it in books on popular Wicca or even in books on mythology. Many of the ‘Celtic’ myths feature stories of fairies, the Sidhe or the Tuatha de Danaan (what fairies are is another story) . How are we to view such things as intelligent people who are interested in a view of the world, which is life-enhancing but still congruent with what we know about reality? There just seems to be no way that faerie land can be a literal place. Remembering as Doreen Valiente reminds us in her book An ABC of Witchcraft that faerie comes from the Old French meaning enchantment, perhaps it could still be saved as a metaphor.

Metaphors are essential to how we use language; linguists tell us that we could not have complex language without them. Simply put they are when we describe something (called the target by linguists) by analogy (the source) . So, for example, we might say that my child is a fairy. The child is the target and the fairy is the source. This does not mean that we believe that our child is literally a fairy rather we are suggesting that she has some fae like qualities. Interestingly we somehow know which fairy qualities to apply to the child, so unless we are on the autistic spectrum we would not think that the child is an immortal with wings or likes to steal babies and put changelings in their place (remember no babies are born in faerie land) . Rather we would assume that the metaphor meant that she was small and cute looking or perhaps cute and full of mischief. So the description of my experience is a metaphor, an analogy. But what is it a metaphor for?

This metaphor is how I would try to communicate what my experience is like and what it means to me. Quite simply, we use metaphors to hint at things we can’t describe directly or in any other way. To understand this we need to look at three types of metaphor although there are in reality many more. The three we are interested in are conceptual metaphors, paralogical (or absolute) metaphors and extended metaphors. My experience falls under the heading of paralogical and extended metaphors but let’s first discuss conceptual metaphors.

Conceptual metaphors are used to illustrate one concept with reference to another. It sounds complicated but you may be surprised to learn that you use conceptual metaphors all the time. Consider for example when we say, “it was the high point of my life”. This is a classic example of a conceptual metaphor. If you think about it unless you were parachuting or bungee jumping you were not literally high up. It is a metaphor that we use to describe how we feel about a particular time in our lives. Another example is “I turned the music down”, after all music noise does not literally have a direction. What is especially interesting about conceptual metaphors is that they are indicative of our subjective view of reality. They illustrate some of the filters through which we perceive the world.

Consider for a moment what we mean by high point. It rests on an assumption that high is something that is good and desirable, while conversely low, as in “it was a low point in my life” we see as bad and something that we intuitively see as undesirable. The American magician and Linguist Patrick Dunn in his book, ‘Magic, Power, Language, Symbol’ (a book well worth reading) suggests that metaphors in general are so ingrained in our though patterns and assumptions that they often fall under the radar to all but linguists. Yet language and thought are fundamental to how we subjectively experience the world.

The underlying metaphors which make up beliefs are so important and taken so literally that Professor Joseph Campbell has lamented, “People are dying for metaphors all over the place”. Conceptual metaphors are worth a great deal of consideration and I recommend keeping your ears open for them and meditating on how they underpin your assumptions of reality. This is a very worthwhile and illuminating exercise.

Without paralogical metaphors the Craft, the occult or religion in general could not operate. Paralogical metaphors are utterances where there is no obvious link between the source and the target. So when we say, “the weather is pants”, you have to be in on the metaphor to understand what is being said. There is no way to infer the link between weather and pants if you were not already in on the expression and understood what it means. It also makes some underlying assumptions on pants suggesting that they are not very nice things. I wonder what assumptions people who use the term, “the dog’s bollocks”, make.

Paralogical metaphors can be seen as being symbols and the study of symbols is called semiotics. The discipline of semiotics includes not just written things like pentagrams and ankhs as symbols, nor even just spoken language, but body language, haircuts and the deliberate arrangement of trees; in fact anything that carries information. Some postmodernists such as the magician Patrick Dunn argue that as everything we perceive and experience is represented by information (via symbols to consciousness) in the brain, so our whole subjective experience is a symbolic representation. There may be an objective world out there, in fact there probably is, but we can never know it directly. We only know it indirectly through our senses that provide us with symbolic a representation filtered through an attention bottleneck based on biology, biases and the symbolic information of our beliefs formed by experiences. We live in our own little reality bubbles, in our own stories and narratives created from our symbolic representations. This is an idea that is finding considerable favour with many modern occultists, mostly because it seems to be backed up from the finding of perceptual, cognitive and discursive psychology.

The most obvious examples of paralogical metaphors in the Craft are tools, symbols, the elements, and the gods. Let us take tools to illustrate what I mean. In the Craft, as in ceremonial magic, there are several symbolic tools, which represent certain things. These are paralogical metaphors because these symbols are not obvious and difficult to infer the target (the concept/experience we are trying to understand) from the source (the tool and metaphorical expression) . There are several tools and symbols used in the Craft. As the Craft is organised into small autonomous covens which tools are used depends upon the Craft tradition and the coven.

In the coven in which I am a member the tools used are the besom, the athame (sword) , the dish, the chalice, and the censer. We also use other symbols such as the stang, the cords, the skull, the hare and others. Like all good symbols these parabolic metaphors have a loose associations, allowing room for individual investment of meaning. Roughly speaking the stang is a metaphor for the Dark Lord (who is himself a metaphor) , raised during the winter months between Halloween and Beltaine, the besom is the union of male and female, the cords for masculinity or femininity depending on the colour and the skull for death. The elemental tools are the athame for will and phallus (a metaphor for masculinity) , the dish for the body, the censer for thought and the cup for both emotions and the mystery of femininity, life and the Lady (again more metaphors for metaphors) . The tools themselves are not important, it is what they are metaphors for, in other words what they represent which is.

This is all very well but you would be justified in asking why bother with this talk of metaphors? The answer is that these metaphors have a semantic content in the mind of the practitioner. In linguistics, semantics means meaning. So in other words the tools and symbols of the Craft hold meaning for the practitioner. These symbols activate the meanings in the mind of the Witch when they are used. For example, if the Witch uses the athame to cast the circle (another paralogical metaphor) then its meaning infers and invokes the will of the Witch. These metaphors are like keys that flip the mind into the state that the metaphor represents, provided they have been invested with their semantic content.

As such the Witch can deliberately buy into and build up these semantic connections. As paralogical metaphors are not obvious, so then associations need to be built and assumptions about reality implicit in the metaphors need to be examined. The witch builds up a semantic landscape, a landscape of meaning and metaphor. It is in this semantic landscape, itself a metaphor, in which the Craft operates. The world of faerie, the world of enchantment.

Occultists, philosophers and scientists have a long history of using metaphorical places in order to better understand difficult concepts and meanings. For example in the Western Mystery Traditions we have the astral and inner planes. The problem with using metaphor, especially in the Occult, is they are often taken as literal, in other words some people believe that the astral and inner planes are real places. Rather they are analogous to the ideas of ‘prime space’ in mathematics, ‘design space’ in evolutionary biology and ‘possible worlds’ in philosophy, though used to understand different concepts.

Prime space is a metaphorical space which helps mathematicians understand how reality would be effected if the mathematical language of the universe was different in some way. It is a useful tool because by understanding what would happen under different conditions it helps mathematicians to get to grips with why the math of the universe behaves the way it does. Likewise with design space, in enables the evolutionary biologist to understand why organisms are the way they are by exploring the way they could be but are not. The ‘possible worlds’ in philosophy allows philosophers to conduct thought experiments, which highlight our intuitions about concepts, and the way the world is. These are metaphors, conceptual tools and so are astral and inner planes. In a sense like myth, they are extended metaphors. They go beyond just one symbol, into many symbols that are analogous to states of mind, complex concepts and help us to understand complex information.

The astral plane is a metaphor for the emotional mind while the inner planes are a metaphor for the deeper levels of the psyche. They describe states of mind where the characters of deities, elementals and other spirits (more metaphors and memeplexes) can communicate with the occultist, or where the unconscious mind can come through, communicating according to Freud and Jung through the language of symbols. Likewise the semantic landscape is not a real place, but rather entering into a state of mind where one is aware of the symbols as metaphors and what they represent. The more one connects with and builds up these metaphors, the richer ones semantic landscape. For example, if you learn the folklore, the medicinal and magical properties of local plants, a walk in the countryside becomes richer in the sense that you will also be taking a walk through a semantic landscape full of meaning and association. Each plant will be a metaphor for various states of minds, various experiences, various connections, enriching your life and being put at your disposal.

You may be tempted to ask the question so what? And that would be a good question to ask. Why bother building up our semantic landscape and considering what assumptions our metaphors make about reality? The answer is as mentioned before, we are as Stewart and Cohen suggests ‘the storytelling ape’. We perceive and communicate our reality as a narrative. This is why Jung’s ideas about archetypes are so powerful even though we know they are not literally embedded in our brains (if you cut open a brain you won’t find a single archetype anywhere) . Rather they are embedded in how we tell stories, including the stories of ourselves. Stories are metaphors, they are full of meaning, which operates on many different levels, but they are not directly the way the world is. If they were then we would have discovered evolution, germ theory, the heliocentric solar system much, much sooner than we did.

By building up our semantic landscape, by taking control of our stories of reality, we can then change them if we wish. And if we are really good at it, and understand other people’s stories, we can change those as well. By understanding that our experience of the world (and entities) is a collection of narratives we can also avoid the obsession and eventual mental breakdown that has afflicted some literally minded dabblers in the occult. When we build up our semantic landscape, when we weave meaning and metaphor it gives us some power over the narrative, though the narrative will always have some control over us.

My experience of wandering through faerie land is a metaphor for an experience. It is a metaphor for the state of mind where I experienced the wonder and horror of eternity. Faerie land is not a real place, there are no literal fairies out there, but the experience nonetheless like many other experiences that many others and I have had was real and very useful. The experience of faerie is the state of mind that we enter into when we cast the magic circle. Putting aside the results of operant conditioning of casting the circle in that after a period of time and experience it automatically puts us into a certain state of mind, the circle becomes the semantic landscape. It is the world of metaphor, representing not only the totality universe but also the state of mind that is out of time and all of time.

The circle represents the whole of time, a metaphor for all the year, the whole of our lives and so, like faerie land, it is a mind state in eternity. We are metaphorically between the world of the physical and the semantic landscape of our narrative minds, wandering through the story, wandering through fairyland. And it is from here, in those states of mind that we can experience and change the stories and encounter the characters of our narratives including our self. It is when we are wandering through faerie land that we meet that grand narrative which we call the Divine.

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Finding My Way To Wicca

Finding My Way To Wicca

Author: Elle Sea

Like most kids, I grew up Christian. Even as a child, religion was a big part of my life. I went to church on Sundays and went to an additional church group (Awanas) each Thursday night after dance class. I knew that all the “bad guys” went to Hell and that the “good guys” went to Heaven to live with God and His angels. I wanted to study the bible and be a good girl, so I could go live with God and the angels too.

I became the model student in Awana. I always remembered verses from the bible that no one else could remember. The preacher was very kind to me and he was like a father to me, in a way (I never knew and still don’t know my father, so it was a big deal to me) . He told me all about Heaven and that I was going to go live with the angels and God too. He said that all Christians would be saved, that God loved them and he would forgive all their sins. But, he never said one word about anyone in the other religions. At the time, this didn’t trouble me. He is a good man, and I’m sure he didn’t mean anything by not talking about the other religions. The point is that I didn’t think of them either. Some part of me, deep inside, didn’t care, because my family would all be going to Heaven, as they are mostly Christian (I don’t know any that aren’t, excluding myself and my mother) .

I, of course, believed every word he said. A relative worked in Awanas too, because he lived near the church. I loved talking to him. I also loved being able to go and see kids my age. They were all nice and we would hang out and mess around before we had to go in church and study. We became close friends.

Eventually, I started to lose faith in what the preacher said. I no longer craved his approval, as I had when I was young. Although I didn’t realize it the time, I stopped believing in God and worrying about going to Hell.

Then, one night, my mother gave me an article about Wicca. I’ve always loved learning about religions and mythology. She knew someone that was Pagan and thought I’d think it was cool. She never really meant for me to learn (and, not in the least, to start believing) it. Things about Wicca just simply drew me in. I’d never been so curious in my life, not that I could remember, anyway.

So I began to learn more about Wicca. I was young then, too, but I was at the stage where I went to the computer when I wanted to learn something. I went to a couple websites and became even more intrigued. My mom then bought me a few books about Wicca. I devoured the first one faster than when I’d read Harry Potter, one of my favorites, so this was saying something.

The more I learned of Wicca, the more interested I became. Of course, this was the same with some of the other religions I’ve studied. I want to know as much as possible. But, still, there seemed to be something different. Something that made me want to know everything that I could, and then some more. It didn’t seem strange to me. It still doesn’t, it felt natural to me.

Automatically, I felt a deep connection to the Goddess. Maybe it was just that she was a woman, someone I could relate to. Or maybe it was because that I could more easily picture a mother than a father, as I don’t know what one is like. Whatever it was, I knew that She was special. So one night, I sent a prayer to her.

It wasn’t really a prayer, exactly. I just spoke to her like I would to a normal person. Like I would to my mother, with whom I share a very close relationship. I’d like to say that I felt a spiritual awakening or something, but I didn’t. It wasn’t any different than talking to someone who wasn’t really there. I eventually lost hope that She was even real.

Then, more than a week later, I was pushed to talk to her again. Somewhere, deep inside, I knew She was there. The first time hadn’t been like that. It had been something I wanted to experiment with. This time, I knew that She would listen. I felt it, knew it. From what I learned, I thought the best place would be outside, in nature, surrounded my earth.

So I spoke quietly to her. As time went on, I became more confident that She would listen. It was different than the first time. It was like talking to someone, just to get it off your chest, but still knowing that they sincerely wanted to hear you out, to know what you had to say. That may be a bad way to explain it, but that’s the only way I can think of.

Time flew by and I studied for a year and a day. Then, I did a horrible self-initiation. When I’d thought I’d messed it all up and was about to forget it, I changed my mind. I decided it didn’t matter whether I had a big ceremony or whatever; it was just that I believed in the Goddess and God enough to try. So I finished my ridiculous initiation with some strips of pride still intact.

I think that, more than anything, made me feel better. I have been studying Wicca ever since, and still am. Wicca has helped me feel more in tune with nature. Plus, I feel more confident within myself. I care less about what people think and more about how I feel about myself. Altogether, Wicca did some really good things for me. I know that whatever I do, the Lord and Lady will be there beside me to guide me through it. To me, this is a comforting thought.

Blessed be. ) O (

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Cranberry and Cool Weather Kitchen Magick

Cranberry and Cool Weather Kitchen Magick

Author: Kiki’s Cauldron

For many, cranberries become a part of the meal between Samhain and Yule. Prior Samhain, fresh cranberries are harvested from northern bogs and available for many autumn dishes. At Thanksgiving, stuffing is sweetened with a heaping spoonful of delicious cranberry chutney. And at Yule, many enjoy the fragrant smell of cranberry cooking in dessert dishes or in its perfume smell by the hearth with cranberry-scented candles. The cranberry’s deep red color is admirable, exotic, and comforting. It’s unique tale of growth in bog and harvest in water, it’s lavish mythical lore, and even its long list of health benefits make it a berry worthy of examining for magickal qualities.

Cranberry Growth
Cranberries are one of only three berries native to North America (the other two being the blueberry and concord grape) . They grow on low-level vines and flourish in bogs (that is to say: they need acidic peat soil and fresh water to grow) . Cranberries are also a berry of the north, commonly growing in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, and Canada. A smaller variety of the cranberry also grows in Scandinavia. Oftentimes when we see commercials on television with cranberry gardeners knee-high in cranberry-filled water, we assume that the cranberries actually grow in water. However, this is an image of a specific farming technique known as “water harvesting.” In this process, the cranberry vine-filled bogs are flooded with water. Special farming equipment known as watering reels turn and stir the water in the flooded bogs, loosening the berries from the vine. Because the cranberries contain pockets of air inside them, they float to the surface, which then makes it easy to corral and harvest. Cranberries can also be harvested the old fashion way. “Dry harvesting” is the simple method of plucking the berry from the dry vines during the fall.

The Cranberry in History, Lore and Mythology
The bog is the home of the cranberry, but was also sacrificial stomping ground of ancient societies in Northern Europe. Consider all of the archeological findings that have been discovered in bogs from Denmark Scotland, England, Sweden, and Northern Germany: daggers, swords, shields, spears, javelins, drinking vessels, sickles, y-shaped dowsing rods and jewelry have all be recovered from bogs. Also recovered from a bog was the famous Gundestrup Cauldron, a silver cauldron of Celtic origin, which had mythological narratives on it. Even more shockingly, excellently preserved human bodies, which appear to have been victims of sacrifice, have been discovered in bog. It appears that to ancient society, the watery bog was a place of significant importance, where sacrifices and treasures were willingly deposited.

Some researchers and academics have suggested that the bog deposits were offerings for protection, or rituals to bring fertility to the land and well-being to the land’s inhabitants. One cannot avoid the idea of a spooky, dank bog on a cold dark night either. Perhaps it is the fact that the unstable, marshy territory could lead to hazardous falls and injuries. Legend has it that the murky, watery parts of a bog were bottomless, so to step in one meant imminent doom. Hans Christian Andersen shared many stories of the bog, most of which involved witches, elves and fairies. And in English and Welsh folklore, Will-o-the-wisps are said to be glowing lights that would float above the bog. Some believed that they were benevolent fairy or nature spirits that acted as guides to lost travelers; on the other hand, some saw the Will-’o-the-Wisps as ill spirited fairies, dark elves or spirits connected to the devil.

It’s also interesting to note that the cranberry has a special place in the hearts of the Finnish and students and admirers of ancient Lapland mythology. The Kalevala, epic legend of Finland, and reputed inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, is a compiled collection of Finnish oral stories that have been sung by Lapland bards for centuries. In the final passage, or Rune, of The Kalevala, we hear of the tale of a virgin Goddess’ encounter with the cranberry. Described as a beautiful maiden, Marjatta is a Goddess who is chaste, yet connected with her Northland home. While roaming the forests, she hears the singing of the cranberry, which begs her to eat him. Because of her maidenhood, she couldn’t pluck the berry, but instead used a charm to have the berry rise from the vine and into her mouth. After she ate the berry, she was impregnated. (*See endnote) . When her family found out of her pregnancy, they did not believe her story of the cranberry and was shunned. Similar to the story of Christ’s birth, Marjatta gave birth to her sun in a stable in a forest. The heroic god of The Kalevala, Väinämöinen, is summoned to decide the destiny of the baby. When it is told that the child’s father is a cranberry, Väinämöinen sentences the baby to banishment in the forest and seals his death. However, when the baby pleads for his life by pointing out Väinämöinen’s unfair judgement, he is saved. Väinämöinen also recognizes that the son of the cranberry would grow to be his successor: a royal king and mighty ruler.

Some of the American history and lore of cranberries is fascinating as well. Native Americans were very familiar with the cranberry, and used it graciously as food, medicine, and dye. They used the berry to flavor meats, in a poultice to heal wounds and lower inflammation, and as a dye to make deep burgundy rugs. When Dutch and German settlers came to America, they named the berry “Crane Berry.” This name was inspired by the berry’s pink spring blossoms, which were said to resemble the head and bill of a Sandhill Crane.

The Cranberry’s Astounding Health Benefits
There are so many health benefits for cranberries that after seeing how they can help your general health, you may consider keeping cranberry juice, tea or supplements in stock in your kitchen. Cranberries are very effective in the healing and relief of urinary tract infections. Cranberries are chock-full of antioxidants, which could mean that cranberries could have anti-aging qualities. The juice is said to prevent peptic ulcers, while eating the berry is said to cut back dental plaque. Recent research has suggested that cranberry can reduce the development of kidney stones and the risk of cancer and heart disease. Cranberries contain no cholesterol, trace amounts of fat and minimal sodium. They have a hearty amount of Vitamin C and fiber, and historically were taken to sea by mariners who wished to fight scurvy.

Cranberry Recipes
There are countless recipes for cranberries available. If you have not indulged in the tart, yet sweet taste of cranberries, autumn and winter are the seasons to incorporate them into your meals, as they will usually be in stock between September and December. Two websites I highly recommend for recipes are the recipes available at Cape Cod Cranberry Grower’s Association ( http://www.cranberries.org/cranberries/recipes.html) and my favorite kitchen magazine: Cook’s Illustrated ( http://www.cooksillustrated.com/) .

Cranberries can be frozen, so they can last in the freezer for a long period of time. And, they are a “Prepper” and “Homesteader” friendly food, as they can be purchased canned, or be made into a preserve. Keep in mind as well: cranberries were used as a form of barter amongst Native American tribes!

Cranberry’s Magickal Components
Oftentimes, the cranberry’s beautiful red color has associated it with the planet Mars, and as a result, its magickal correspondences are similar to that of Mars. Because of this, cranberry can be used for protection, positive energy, courage, passion, determination, goals, and action. Consider having Cranberry Sauce as part of a protective meal, or drinking cranberry juice or tea while doing magick for anything associated with Mars.

If color were considered as a way of marking the cranberry’s magickal associations, it would be foolish to not highlight the deep, sensual and erotic red color as corresponding to love and lust magick. If you are cooking a meal for a loved one, consider incorporating cranberry into the meal. There is actually cranberry wine available, which fermentors of homemade wines and meads would find easy to brew (see “How to Make Cranberry Wine” for details: http://www.ehow.com/how_2123157_make-cranberry-wine.html) . In Magick Potions: How to Prepare and Use Homemade Incense, Oils, Aphrodisiacs and Much More, Gerina Dunwich supplies a recipe for “Lovers’ Meditation Blend.” In the context of her book, she suggests using this while working with the Lovers Tarot Card. You may also want to sip this tea while performing love magick. Simply add two teaspoons cherry juice to 1-cup hot cranberry tea. Stir it with a cinnamon stick clockwise. There is something incredibly comforting and warming about Cranberry, so to show your love and appreciation for your family and friends, consider adding Cranberry sauce or chutney to a dinner. It will bring a feeling of peace, comfort, warmth, good health and love to those who enjoy it.

Tale of Marjatta reminds us of the nutritional value of the cranberry- so fertile and powerful is the cranberry, that it is the vehicle for immaculate conception. Since it is tied to immaculate conception, and the birth of a child who will replace the old King, it can be linked to rejuvenation, reincarnation, and the themes of Yule and Christmas. Cranberry also has clear links to fertility magick in this context. Spell work aside, the nutritional benefits of the cranberry are worthy enough to be incorporated into a routine diet, as it will aid in overall health and well being.

Finally, it is important to not forget the magick of the bog, the motherland of cranberry. Here, we see cranberry’s tie to the supernatural, mystical, and ancient. In a place where humans and precious objects were sacrificed, there was much value put on the mystical powers of the bog. It is a place where the protection of people and armies, the fertility of land and nature, and the well being of those who visit it, could be determined and sought after through ritual and sacrifice. Perhaps you will include a bowl of cranberries next to your pomegranate on your Samhain altar to show thanks to the supernatural powers of the bog. Or simply, while cooking cranberries during the colder season or enjoying its fragrance in oil or a candle, you can reflect on the mystical, protective, and fertile powers of the deep red berry.

*Please note: Many translators cannot agree on which berry Marjatta actually enjoys in The Kalevala. Translations include cranberry, bilberry, lingonberry, blackberry and strawberry. The original Finnish word used was “punapuola, ” which is indeed a variety of cranberry, though smaller and sweeter than the one grown in Northern America.



Footnotes:
Bonser, Wilfrid. “The Magic Birth ‘Motif’ in The Kalevala.” Man 18 (1918) : 20-22. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2787792.
Chamberlain, A.F. “Notes on the History, Customs, and Beliefs of the Mississagua Indians.” The Journal of American Folklore 1.2 (1888) : 150-160. http://www.jstor.org/stable/533821.
“Cranberry Benefits and Information.” NutraSanus. http://www.nutrasansu.com/cranberry.html.
Cunningham, Scott. Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen. Llewellyn Publications: St. Paul, Minnesota, 2003.
Dunwich, Gerina. Magick Potions: How To Prepare and Use Homemade Incense, Oil, Aphrodisiacs and More. Citadel Press Books: New York, 1998.
Glob, P.V. Trans. Rupert Bruce-Mitford. The Bog People: Iron-Age Man Preserved. New York Review Books: New York, 1969.
“History of Cranberries.” Cape Cod Cranberry Association. http://www.cranberries.org.
Holland, Eileen. The Spellcaster’s Reference: Magickal Timing for the Wheel of the Year. Weiser Books: San Francisco, 2009.
Kelly, Eaomonn P. “Secrets of the Bog Bodies: The Enigma of the Iron Age Explained.” Archaeology Ireland 20.1: 26-30 (2006) . http://www.jstor.org/stable/20559121.
Meredith, Dianne. “Hazards in the Bog- Real and Imagined.” Geographical Review 92.3: 319-332 (2002) . http://www.jstor.org/stable/4140913.
The Kalevala. Compiled by Elias Lönnrot. Trans. John John Marin Crawford. Project Guttenberg. 31 May 2002. http://www.gutenberg.org/.
“Where do Cranberries Grow?” Ocean Spray Food Service. http://www.oceansprayfoodservice.com.

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The Wisdom of Buddha for September 4th

Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others.

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Your Daily Influences for September 4th

Your Daily Influences
September 4, 2011

Tarot Influence

Rune Influence


Charm Influence
Two of Pentacles Reversed
Faked happiness. Inability to manage more than one thing at a time.
Jera
Jera denotes positive, recurring cycles, fertility and a time to harvest rewards from your hard work.
The Cornucopia
This aspect suffers from excess. You need too sift through the influences and eliminate the frivolous ones before this aspect will become pleasant again.
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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Feng Shui Tip of the Day for 4th

Sunday, September 4, 2011

If your home faces southeast, it’s perfect for building a fortune, acquiring leadership skills, and realizing your personal power

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