Daily Archives: September 8, 2011
Pagan? Witch! She’s A Witch!!
Why is it when you mention the word ‘pagan’ people freak out? It is something I simply don’t understand considering that all current religions stem from that one word. Of course, many will simply not believe that this is true and believe any person who would announce himself or herself as such, well, evil.
Back to Basics: Are You Forgetting Something?
It is amazing how often we forget things we learned as a child. Proper manners “Yes Sir. No Sir.” To make our beds daily and do our homework. As adults, we have more responsibility and more chances to be slack in said responsibility. We often find ourselves not eating a healthy breakfast and staying up until all hours. Then we pay for it the next day (or later that day with a sick stomach).
Our mothers told you to brush twice daily, eat your veggies, and remember to say thank you. When was the last time you said thank you and really meant it? Heck, when was the last time you purposefully ate veggies? I’m talking to all of you out there, like me, who procrastinate and put want ahead of need. However, I’d like to focus on a part of your life your mother may not have included, but is just as important.
It has to do with the basics of magical workings.
What was the first thing you learned while doing energy work? Hopefully it was to ground your energies. Grounding is the act of basically connecting your energies to the Earth, generally in a root-like manner, to keep one’s energies from spiking and also to tap into a source of energies. It is alternately brimming forth energy and also a cord for any excess energy to safely be distributed into the Earth. Just think ‘root.’
Yes, I’m sure you ‘automatically’ ground and get on with things, but when was the last time you reveled in the act of tapping into the Earth? Grounding is much more sacred and important to do offhand. People like very much to hurry through life, why not savor the moment when your energy merges with something larger?
A few months ago I was reminded of the importance of grounding. I was asked to do something for a friend and readily offered my aid. I didn’t feel anything at first, only sleepiness. Then, bam! The headache happened. It’s like an energy hangover. Other people’s backlash can be different and it can simply be prevented. In fact, following this first suggestion can prevent much more.
1: Be aware of yourself.
If you are tired before you start the crafting, perhaps it is not the right time to do a circle. Need before want, remember? I know spells and workings are fun. I also know that people like to show off their talents. So, before you do anything crafty, take a moment and look over the situation.
Is anyone goading you into something? If someone were calling you out, what purpose would performing the spell be? Would your deity/ies like what you were doing? Would this potential moment embarrass you later on? Then there’s the situation where no one is goading you, and the one who initiated the showing off is just you.
All spells should have a purpose. What would showing off do but show that you are insecure and flamboyant? Often when we do spellcraft on the spur of the moment, we forget things. I don’t know, perhaps grounding for one. Also, we forget to be aware of our surroundings (the spiritual side and the more physical side alike).
If you pull out tools in the middle of school or at a busy restaurant, the teachers and other customers might get a little suspicious. I know we like attention, but is this the attention you really want? To be called to the Vice Principal’s office and asked about chanting in the middle of the courtyard during lunch?
Witchcraft is a mystery art, ‘showing off’ makes you part of the jokes that more experienced Witches chuckle at. Please, I know that there’s more to you than showing off. In fact, you probably don’t even know you’re doing it until it’s all over.
Discretion is the better part of valor and keeps outside people from interfering. Besides, is that the sort of energy you want associated with whatever craft you are planning? Which leads me to the next suggestion.
2. Does it feel right?
Often we find ourselves just looking for a spell to do. Ok, not everyone does this, but many people go through a stage where they “Just gotta do something!” Being still, being calm, simply being isn’t enough. They have to do something. So, they go crazy looking through spell books in the local Barnes and Noble or divine at anything that moves.
You ignore the feeling your guides touch on you ever so gently in lieu of more. More what, power? Attention? Basically, more fuel to feed your pride. In the end this can cause burn out or worse yet, a chaotic mind that forgets to do suggestion 1, to be aware of yourself.
I’ve had moments like that. It wasn’t enlightening. It was just busywork. Why make more work for you to do when you can minimize your energy expenditure by keeping your craftwork nice and neat? Try to reduce the number of spells you do and increase purposeful grounding. I’m sure you’ll notice a difference in how you think, feel, and act.
When your mind kicks up a lot of chaotic energy, it’s like a muddy pool of water. Once the waters still and the dirt settles, you can see more clearly. Also, you can trust yourself more readily. Which leads me to 3.
3. Trust Thyself.
This is the biggie. People are going to tell you you’re wrong, misguided, or just stupid for anything and everything. They might just disagree with you concerning a tarot reading you are giving them (other Practitioners will do this more than you would think). They might say that you are casting a circle wrong because you do it differently from them or think that you are a flake when in fact you are earnest in your ways.
It’s interesting to note that some of the harshest criticism I’ve seen comes from inside the Pagan and Witchcraft community. It can cause rock hard cliques, withdrawal of those who can be great teachers and worse yet, hesitation to reach out for others who could be great circle members.
In order to trust others, you must trust yourself. In order to know what feels right, you must trust yourself. In order to ground properly, you must trust yourself that you are in fact grounding properly. If you have done any successful working, you must have had trust in yourself to some point. Having complete trust in yourself is difficult when many in society call you wrong or when your best friend says you are doing things incorrectly (which just feels like another way of saying wrong). If it works for you, it works for you.
Trusting thyself is what brings everything together. Trust is being aware of yourself and knowing what you are doing is right. So, doing suggestions 1 and 2 will lead to true self-trust. If you already have self-trust, it never hurts to take a moment and reflect. Refine your baser skills of grounding, meditation, and remembering to draw in energy like you used to when all of this was new and shimmering with possibilities.
Learn to listen to your gut, because often it knows if something is a bad idea before your brain does.
4. You Are a Sponge.
Don’t forget to look at whom you practice with. Are they good to you? Would they help you move out of your house if you asked? More importantly, would they offer to help you move out if you didn’t ask? These are the kinds of people you want to be around. People who want to help you and not harm you.
Many go on the notion of perfect love and perfect trust, is this perfect love and perfect trust? Or is it just playing games? Find people that you can really learn from, and look to people who don’t boast or cover themselves in “Look at me” vibes (or perhaps clothing for that matter).
The most inconspicuous person might hold a treasure of knowledge and friendship if you trust your instincts to say, “Blessed be.” to them. Just make sure you’re not saying hi to them because they’re quiet.
Trust your instincts and your common sense; you have them for a reason. Remember, you are a sponge. You share energies with other people, and you start picking up those attributes. Haven’t you noticed that you start sounding like people you’re around often? It’s called mirroring. You copy what you see most around you to fit in.
American society says a T-shirt jeans or shorts are the norm in the warmer months. Wearing a civil war reenactment outfit would stick out like a sore thumb. Mirroring what you see others do is how you stay socially viable, and not an outcast.
It’s the same when you are with your circle or coven. If someone’s morals differ in a way that you would see as unacceptable, the more you are around them (and their energies), the less harmful their acts seem. Then you are no longer the person you were.
Are you the person you wanted to be?
Look at people like aspects of an art piece. Will your final work be magnificent and beautiful? Or will it make you feel full of dread when you look on it? Friends and circle members should not make you feel trepidation.
Try to follow the previous three suggestions, and the right people will start to come out of the woodwork.
I suppose some of these suggestions aren’t in the books we read when we first started out. Trusting yourself is something that comes in time. Being aware is simple enough, but often overlooked.
Asking yourself if something feels right can be relative. It can only be answered by the Practitioner doing the craft. Sometimes we forget about the need and do a want, just because we felt like it.
Sometimes we get smacked upside the head by backlash of some sort. We’re always in such a hurry. But, one thing that we can choose is our friends. Just because someone looks interesting doesn’t mean that they are trustworthy.
Never settle for less than the best. You are worth it. So, remember that next time you take a few seconds extra in that pre-spellcraft grounding.
The Top 5 Things Your Local Witch Wants You to Know
Author: Holly Risingstar
I am a fairly ordinary woman. I’m in my early thirties; I have a Master’s Degree in Counseling Services; I work with families in crisis. I’ve got two kids, a husband, and family nearby; I love the arts, shopping, beadwork, travel, and photography. I’m addicted to the Grey’s Anatomy and Heroes. I drive a black Honda that has seen better days. I wish gas prices would go down. I’m in desperate need of a haircut.
Oh, and did I mention, I’m a witch?
I was born into a nominally Jewish family and had five years’ worth of Hebrew school growing up, but it never felt right to me. I never felt connected, spiritually, to God. By the time I was hitting my teens, I had started to read more and more about the occult, and finally came across Scott Cunningham’s book Wicca: a Guide for the Solitary Practitioner (considered by many to be the best introductory book on Wicca there is). Finally, I Got It. Something inside me knew this was my path, where I was supposed to be and what I was supposed to be doing. I’ve been Wiccan for 17 years now, and I’ve never looked back.
Wicca is an earth-based, non-Judeo-Christian religion. The modern form was created from various pieces of pagan religion by Gerald Gardner in the 1930s, but from there has exploded into a rainbow of traditions, each with its own particular blend of magic, faith, and morals. Wicca is a legally recognized religion in the U.S and you can even have it imprinted on your dog tags in the Armed Forces. It is often cited as being the fastest-growing religion in the country.
When asked to write this piece on Wicca, I considered carefully what I might want to say. Should I launch into a defense of my beliefs? Normalize Wicca with other religions? Simply compare and contrast? Deliver an anecdotal “Day in the Life of a Witch” kind of thing?
I settled on this:
THE TOP FIVE THINGS YOUR LOCAL WITCH WOULD WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT WICCA
1.We are not Satanists.
You heard it here first! Wicca does not subscribe to a Judeo-Christian belief in God; therefore, we don’t believe in a Devil, Hell, or Heaven. Wiccans revere nature and treat the Mother Earth with great respect. Many (though not all) of us believe in some aspect of the Goddess; many also believe in some form of the God, Her consort.
The most common belief system involves the Triple Goddess; a Mother Goddess, symbolized by the moon, who watches over mothers and children, family and all matters pertaining to that phase of a woman’s life; a Maiden Goddess, who reigns over joy, youth, vitality, freedom, and so on; and a Crone Goddess, who holds the secrets of magic and is the Guardian of the Crossroads (in other words, a death-related Goddess. Not one who causes death, mind, but who assists those who are in this stage of existence.)
Often the Goddess has a God consort, symbolized by the Sun, who is her lover and assists her with Creation of all things. Often he is associated with forests, certain animals, and a vast variety of human experiences ranging from sex to war to creativity. One of the great joys of Wicca is the ability to choose which Goddesses and Gods have meaning and connection for you – though they’ve been known to choose the practitioner!
2.We have one law – An It Harm None, So Mote It Be.
Which means don’t harm anyone, including yourself. Sounds fairly simple, right? Not so easy. It’s a tough moral code to live by. We cannot, in good conscience, take revenge, cause harm, or cause another person problems on purpose. No killing, no stealing, respecting other human beings – sound familiar?
3.You probably know one of us.
Wiccans (and pagans of all flavors) are everywhere. We come from all walks of life; nurses, doctors, teachers, lawyers, convenience store clerks, computer programmers, business owners, you name it. We are not necessarily the odd chick down the street with the long hippie skirts and twelve cats. . .ok, well, she might be one of us.
We have our share of hippies, vegans, Goths, and assorted subcultures. But you won’t necessarily know us just looking at us – most people I tell about my religious leanings are surprised. As a co-worker (and devout Christian) recently said to me, “I was so surprised that you are – you know, what you are. I kept saying, “How can Holly be a heathen? She’s so nice!”
4.Yes, we do cast spells.
It’s very similar to praying. Spell casting simply means using rituals to help bring about a desired outcome; no more, no less. A conscientious witch never casts on another human being without that person’s consent and full knowledge, and she won’t do it for money, if she’s the real deal. Witches try never to violate another person’s free will. There are no big flashes like in the movies; I can’t fly, float, or make things disappear (though there’s a shot if I put it on my desk!), and lightning has certainly never flown out of my fingertips.
What I can do is help protect, heal, bring about some occurrences (like employment or good legal results), marry couples and bless children, and things of that nature. I do not hex, curse, or cause harm through magic. It’s not cool with the Goddess.
5.You may have participated in a Wiccan or Pagan tradition.
We have holidays, creation myths, and rituals just like any other religion.
Wiccans generally celebrate eight high holidays: Samhain (pronounced so-when) on October 31st is one of them. That jack o’lantern on your porch? Started out as turnips, decorated to keep away evil spirits. Next comes Yule, the Winter Solstice, on December 21st – and if you have a Christmas tree, know that it started as the use of evergreen to symbolize life and rebirth in Roman and Druidic rituals.
Following are Candlemas on February 2nd, which celebrates the lambing of the ewes and the returning spring; Litha, the spring equinox, on March 21st; Beltane on May 1st, which celebrates life, generativity, and is where the Maypole comes from (you are dancing around a phallus to make the fields fruitful, folks!) Next, the Summer Solstice on June 21st, then Lammas on August 2nd, which celebrates the height of summer.
Lastly we have Mabon, the autumnal equinox, which ends the cycle of growth and prepares us for Samhain and the winter to come. We also celebrate and worship on the night of the full moon; we may also celebrate life events like births, weddings, maturation of our children, and death. In this way we remain close to the cycles of the earth, never forgetting who we are and what is happening in the world around us.
Wicca and Paganism are rapidly becoming mainstreamed. Your local bookstore probably has a decent-sized section on Metaphysical Studies, and you’ll find plenty on the religion there.
We have our own magazines, hundreds of websites, bumper stickers, T-shirts, music, and so on. Being Wiccan or Pagan does not necessarily mean we’re strange; it means that we have a different belief system than the general American public.
If you run across a Wiccan or a Pagan, don’t be afraid to ask us questions. We won’t come to you, but if you ask we’re generally happy to share what we know with others. Most witches are delighted to have a chance to combat the stereotyping and misconceptions the public has of us.
When we part, Wiccans often say, “Blessed Be.” And so I’ll leave you with a Blessed Be – merry met, merry part, and merry meet again.
Previously published in a Mensa newsletter.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
If you’re a neat freak, you may want to warm up your space with plants, photographs, and personally made handicrafts.
|Jade Runes are most commonly used for questions about love, friendship, and relationships. Hagalaz is the rune of hail. Hail is a destructive and elemental force, so one can expect this rune to represent the disruption of one’s life. In the harsh northern winter there is a halt to activity, and so delay or hindrance is frequently associated with this rune. The opposite of chaos is yet more chaos, as illustrated by the fact that this rune cannot be reversed.|
22: Grace and Beauty
General Meaning: A splashy sunset bathes the mountains in a soft radiance; the light of a full moon dances on the surface of a rippling river. Grace and beauty adorn the natural world. Grace is not an all-powerful force, nor is it the essential or fundamental thing. By itself, it is form without content. Grace is moonlight on water, not the sunlight at noon. Yet grace brings artistic expression into the world, and enhances the quality of our lives.
In the arts, grace arises out of adherence to form: the dancer becoming the form of the dance, the musician giving life to the form of a musical score, the painter becoming one with the brush and canvas. In human affairs, grace is also aligned with form — with mastery of aesthetic and cultural patterns honed by time and honored by tradition. Through appreciation of graceful customs in human relationships we apprehend the pure beauty of the ideal, of life raised above the mere struggle for survival.
Possession of grace, like the bearing of a beautiful gift to a wedding, can add stature to those in humble positions. Take care to lend grace and dignity even to small happenings, while giving the weight of deep and careful consideration to matters of greater consequence. Though it should not be confused with true substance, an artistic flair can take one far in this world.
Wheel of Fortune
This Tarot Deck: Moon Garden
Every one of us will occupy all the points on the wheel at some time or another. The cycle of the wheel is its lesson — and we can learn to take comfort in it (as we do when we celebrate our birthday). If you don’t like the look of things right now, just wait — things will change. Of course, if you do like the look of things right now, enjoy it while it lasts, because that will change too!