Daily Archives: September 29, 2011

“THINK on THESE THINGS”

“THINK on THESE THINGS”
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

Do you want to know the truth about worry? It hits everyone. It is not an ailment just for weaklings or cowards. Worry is the cat you throw out only to have it back in before you can close the door.

Worry has another side. It proves we care very much, and that we appreciate our God-given gifts and loved ones. In a way, it is a sign of strength, for if we can turn it to faith, then faith can be just as strong. And to overcome worry, or to at least control it, there must be faith.

Faith, and the knowledge that if you could be in all the places, watching closely all the things about which you are concerned, you couldn’t do a tenth as much good as one simple prayer.

We are taught, “Be not anxious,” “Fear not,” and “Be not afraid,” and too quickly we become anxious, fearful, and very frightened. But even then, we have only to put worry to flight by remembering those quieting words that are so absolutely true, “Be still and know that I am God.”

Recently we had a summer storm. It was rumbling and heavy with darkness. The lightning flashed across the sky and currents. When the first huge drops of rain spattered across the walks and lawns, our thoughts turned to the safety of anyone or anything that might be caught out in the wind and rain.

We’ve been through many summer storms. Some of them left permanent marks upon our memories. The threatening, the darkness, the pressure of the atmosphere are not so different from the emotional storms of the human life. We see lives under pressure bend to and fro in the uncertainty of life. We know concern for the safety of those who experience emotional storms. Then we know the only answer is in God’s hands. There is no other way.

The good earth rights itself quickly after a storm. Nature comes forth more richly for having gone through the storm, and the scars are lost in new growth. And blessed are we when we lift ourselves up to a new, deeper radiance and peace.

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Available online! ‘Cherokee Feast of Days’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler.

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day – September 29

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – September 29

“Love is something that you can leave behind you when you die. It’s that powerful.”

–John (Fire) Lame Deer, ROSEBUD LAKOTA

The Old Ones say, love is all anyone needs. Love doesn’t go away nor can love be divided. Once you commit an act of love, you’ll find it continues. Love is like setting up dominos one behind the other. Once you hit the first domino, it will touch the second one which will touch the third one and so on. Every love act or love thought has an affect on each person as well as touching the whole world. If you live a life filled with love, the results will affect your friends, relatives and other people, even after you go to the other side. So… Love.

My Creator, let me love. Let me put into action the love dominos.

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September 29 – Daily Feast

September 29 – Daily Feast

 

On rare occasions you may have felt a word drop into your heart that you knew meant something because it never faded and always stood as a reminder that something profound happened. You may not have understood then, but your mind has gone back to it numerous times, wondering what it meant. Years can pass between an event and the understanding of it. It may be we have to grow up to it, or our minds and spirits have to mature enough to see how it is to play out in our lives. It is little different from building a house, you can see the structure going up, but you know it can’t be used until it is finished. Sometimes ideas and visions need time to firm up before we can use them.

~ The designs of Providence, in the course of events, are mysterious…. ~

JOHN ROSS – CHEROKEE CHIEF

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A Witch Brewing among Catholics

A Witch Brewing among Catholics

Author: Magaly Guerrero

How often do you think about the day you discovered Paganism? Not when you found it, at least not in my case—I have always been a Witch; I just didn’t call it that until I was teenager. Ironically, I saw my witchy light in a church…

The church looked amazing. The altar was adorned with huge candelabras, white roses and tulips, and there were chains of white daisies draping from the back of every pew. My catechism instructor had told the class that Father Elias was going to marry a couple after he was done with our confessions. I was a little confused because it was Wednesday, and I thought people only got married during Sunday mass.

I looked at my watch. I had been sitting on a wooden pew for over an hour; my butt was numb.

“You’re next.” Manuel Tapia’s voice made me jump. He was the oldest boy in my catechism group, and I had a crush on him. I confessed it to God as soon as I realized I liked him. I wasn’t sure if liking Manuel was a sin, but I told God anyway—you can never be too safe in the ever-watchful eyes of God.

I walked to the confession booth rubbing my behind. Please God, let the seat have some padding, I prayed in silence. My poor butt couldn’t take any more pew torture.

I got to the booth, climbed three steps, and took a look. Crap, another wooden pew. I stood very still waiting for my punishment, and then I guessed that saying or thinking the word ‘crap’ wasn’t a sin because God didn’t strike me on the spot. I sat on the bench.

“You have to kneel.”

“Crap.” Father Elias scared the living Jesus out of me. For a moment, I believed God had decided that saying ‘crap’ in his house was a sin after all, and I was about to get it. But it wasn’t God. The horrible breath sipping through the tiny-screened window belonged to a familiar mortal.

“I won’t tolerate that kind of language in the house of God.” Father Elias moved so closed to the window that I could clearly see his angry little eyes. I wanted to protest and tell him that God hadn’t said anything when I said crap, and it was his house. But Father Elias’s putrid breath made me dizzy. I just nodded.

“Well?” asked Father Elias impatiently. “Didn’t you learn how to confess? You need to kneel.”

“But I don’t have anything to confess. I ask God for forgiveness as soon as I make a mistake.”

“Insolent girl, you can’t confess without a priest.”

I stared at the livid man thanking God for the screened window. Father Elias would have probably spat all over my face if it weren’t for it. He continued ranting and I continued to stare without listening. My mind’s voice was screaming at me. Why do I need a priest to confess my sins? Why am I here? Why would I share anything with this lunatic? Will my mom be mad if I leave?

One question actually crossed my lips: “Why can’t I talk to my God on my own?”

Father Elias was in my face a couple of seconds later. “Get out! Go talk to your teacher and tell her you are not ready. I will speak to her later. Send in whoever is next.”

I walked out of the booth and looked at my best friend, Dahlia, who had been seating behind me, waiting for her turn. I froze. What kind of friend would I be, if I let her face the crazy man without warning? Help me God!

“Well?” Father Elias spat into my thoughts.

I looked at the condemning fire in his eyes, and I knew that I had to do something, and I had to do it fast. I took off running. I ran until my 11-year-old lungs ordered me to stop. I found an old oak tree to lean on, and waited for my breath to catch up.

“Maggy, what’s wrong? Why are you crying?”

It was Ms. Toledo, the town librarian. She was always nice to me. I touched my face and realized she was right. I was crying. I told her everything as we walked to the library. When we got there, Ms. Toledo offered me a chair, but I declined.

She let out a long sigh. “Oh, don’t worry too much. It’s not the end of the world.”

I knew she was trying to help, but she hadn’t seen Father Elias’s face. She wasn’t there when he told me that I wasn’t ready. Ready for what anyway? And why didn’t he answer my question?

Ms. Toledo must have read my mind because she said, “I’ll have a word with Father Elias.”

I gave her a pained look and said, “Thanks.” I just wasn’t sure talking to the priest was the best idea.

Ms. Toledo walked away and I thought about stopping her. She should know that Father Elias wouldn’t listen. I gathered some courage and was ready to go find her, but she came back before I had a chance to move.

“Here, ” she whispered. “Take it home. Come back next week and tell me what you think.”

The excitement of taking a book home made me forget all about Father Elias, sins, and confessions. You see, the library in my town was so small that it couldn’t allow people to check out books. So taking the book with me was an adventure, especially because I didn’t own any books. My family was very poor, so we couldn’t afford them. That was the reason why I was such a good friend with Ms. Toledo. I used to spend as much time in the library as I was allowed, in order to finish a book.

I thanked Ms. Toledo and left with a smile on my face. I walked the three miles from the library to my house, taking glances at the book every now and then, but not daring to open it. What if I dropped it and ruined it?

I got home, climbed my favorite mango tree, and opened my borrowed treasure. I read about ancient gods—males and females—who interacted with their people. I learned about olden times when humanity lived in harmony with the earth, when people honored the moon and the sun and these Old Powers listened; times when folks believe in the power of their own energy.

I enjoyed the book so much that I was really sad when Monday came and I had to return it. But my gloom didn’t last long. Ms. Toledo replaced the book. The new volume was filled with gods from all over the world. Some of the gods were terrible and scary, but I loved learning about each and every one of them. Their eclectic nature, the spontaneity of their ways, their darkness and light, reminded me of me.

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Beyond the Fluff

Beyond the Fluff

Author: Maggi Setti

I’ve been struggling with not feeling that I want to call myself a Pagan; that somehow I missed the cultural boat. This boat feels like something I will never understand nor connect with. Yet, my religion is Wicca, and I am a Qabalist, ritualist, and magick worker. I never towed the feminist political line enough for the Goddess community, wasn’t political enough for others communities either. I’ve always been missing the Pagan cultural “norm” boat!

I have finally come to a resolution for why I go into culture shock every time I go to a festival. I don’t see Wicca, my religion, as a game and its certainly not something to mock or laugh at. Yet time and time again I meet Pagans with the audacity to laugh and sneer in the face of the Gods. I meet people who introduce themselves as Lady Twinkle Toes and are dressed like clowns. There seems to be acceptance in flamboyant, attention seeking behavior that to the rest of the world makes us look like we weren’t allowed to play dress-up as kids.

I want our government to take my religion seriously. I want a respect and understanding among the families, Friends, park owners, co-workers, Masons, and neighbors in my community. I want the seats we seek on the Parliament of World Religions to be seats that are respected, and be positions with voice and gravity. How can our society take us seriously if we persist in presenting to the rest of the world like a joke and don’t even take ourselves seriously? I don’t even need to mention witches on reality TV shows.

On the surface, Paganism is freedom, freedom from guilt, sin, the strict confines of the mindless ranks of conservative society. So why not throw care unto the wind? Drink until you win an award for the most gruesome vomit! Leave all your regular medication at home so that you’ll have the conscientious EMT’s rushing you to the ER when you start having a major medical emergency. Don’t eat, don’t hydrate, and for Gods’ sake run around naked all day in your Celtic-skinned red-headedness without sunscreen! It would but funny, only if I actually were exaggerating.

We say that we are a religion that lives the value of personal responsibility. We say that we seek balance and the mastery and integration of the parts of our being. How can it be that we are so bored, suppressed, or alone in our every day lives that we must make cartoonish spectacles of ourselves when we get together to learn and worship?

I like a raucous party as much as the next person. When it’s time to party, I let my hair down and pull the stops out. But my point is that worshipping, doing important magickal work, and studying, is not the same thing or the same time as a party. “What is your intent” is the constantly echoed question for planning ritual. If my intent is to party, then I should throw a party, not have a ritual. When I plan a ritual, it’s time to get some magickal work done.

I meet people that insist on wearing all black and gigantic pentacles to their jobs run by conservative religious groups (other religions mind you) , preach forced “acceptance” of their religion as part of their freedom of religion. These same people are flabbergasted when they are disliked at their jobs and are then fired. If we create a hostile work environment and scare people, what do we suspect?

Our religion may be in its early stages, but it’s time for each one of us to grow up and think about our actions. My religion is not a game, not a circus, and I do not want to be seen like a clown. I worry about grouping myself with the same label with people who, because they are more colorful and flamboyant, are more seen by the media and the greater society. Those same people wind up being spokespeople for the whole community. The result is that society doesn’t take us seriously or outright disrespects us because they wind up with no common ground for understanding.

Is there a solution to this labeling issue? I don’t know. It makes it harder and harder as this movement grows for serious seekers to find the heart of the real stuff past the layers and layers of sugarcoated fluff. I fear a dilution of the availability of magickal training opportunities as time progresses. I am led back to a qabalistic image of the shining spark concealed within and hidden. This means several things, foremost that the eternal spark of spirit within every person’s mortal, physical body. In this instance though, I think it could shed some light that the spark of truth and real magick is buried beneath the extraneous layers of fluff and distraction. Even the meaning of esoteric is hidden.

To those wondering if there is more, there is. Follow your nose and keep searching. You’ll find it in connection beyond words. You’ll find it in your own cry out to the Gods. You’ll find it in the exact moment of the solstices and equinoxes. You’ll find it in the voice of that hidden spark calling to you in the dark of the moon.

Such part of me that wishes for decorum and for actions and interactions to makes sense wants to go underground. My coven could work quietly in hiding to the betterment of the individuals within our small population. We won’t though for we are all ready hidden within the meaningless hullabaloo swarming about already.

What is your intent? What are you seeking? A party? A club? Experiences? What about magick, wholeness, power, gnosis, connection, life purpose? It’s all there. Know your intent and stay true to that which you seek. You will find it, hidden and tarnished, water stained, and rusted beneath the layers of fluff. A little bit of polish will let that spark of truth and magick shine through. Don’t give up. You’re not alone out there.

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The Responsibility of the Witch in the Modern World

The Responsibility of the Witch in the Modern World

Author: wolf witch

In ancient times, the person most gifted in reading nature’s sign and in maintaining the health and well-being of the tribe became, essentially, the wise one or witch of that tribe. Through the periodic exchange of information with others of such kind and the constant study of herbs, natural phenomena, and basic human nature, such individuals gained an encyclopedic knowledge that vastly raised the survivability of the tribe existing in a harsh environment, providing an important barrier against human extinction.

Witches took responsibility for healing the sick, predicting the weather, determining the best times for planting and harvest, animal husbandry, finding the best places to live, and generally developing the circumstances under which a community could flourish. Lately, tremendous academic effort goes into delineating shamanism from witchcraft, and those individuals intent on proper nomenclature deny one in favor of another, but reality removes any doubt that function within a society belies any title. That the individual with a demonstrated talent for providing the tribe with information and service outside the practical efforts of hunting and gathering had significant value deserving of some distinction from the average person is all that mattered.

The progression of human development over time reduced the apparent need for these talented people, and the final blow to their overt existence came with the rise of organized religion and its dread of any source of spiritual power other than its own as an influence upon humanity. Culminating in the “burning times”, the position of village wise one was erased throughout most of the civilized world. The very capabilities that gave them note resulted in their demise, and the fact that the deaths of ten ordinary folk for every witch (counting those people accused of heresy and other such nefarious crimes among the ten) mattered little to an organization bent on control of human destiny in the name of its particular god.

One terrible consequence of those persecutions was the abandonment by the truly wise of humanity to its own devices. Spurned and burned, tortured and cursed, those who once directed the fate of entire communities retired almost completely from any participation in society, in part driven away by fear and, once the burning times ended, kept distant by the conviction that Man was no longer in need of their talents.

Currently a new openness and the removal of oppression from significant portions of modern society is allowing paganism to flourish and has removed most of the dangers associated with being publicly acknowledged as being a witch.

Unfortunately, the new witch is more dedicated to personal spiritual development that to helping humanity to survive in these trying times. There can be no faulting found for witches taking this direction. Hundreds of years of repression coupled with the present crop of very vocal fundamentalists determined to link the Craft to whatever devil they happen to fear go a long way toward pushing the average solitary practitioner back into the closet.

Exclusivity has always been a part of the Craft as well, so the IT revolution that has opened communications globally to anyone who can work a keyboard has actually increased the closed tribal nature of people within the Craft birthing a tremendous number of web sites each proclaiming itself and its owners the one true way to achieve whatever spiritual goal one desires. Forums are full of backbiting based on everything from the “true” names of the gods to the simple linguistics of “Wicca” and “witch”.

Considering that we live in a time when the errant acts of man, whether they be the push of a little red button launching a nuclear nightmare or the endless denuding of the planet to strip its resources at the expense of the very environment that sustains human life, witches have far more important matters at hand than debating what name best applies to the craft of the wise.

Not all of us are equipped to dedicate resources to organizations designed to provide help to those who are in need, but each of us can write to those in government responsible for the allocation of such resources. Our most valuable asset has always been our ability to persuade those responsible for some aspect of human existence to follow the wise way as determined by our talents for divination, conversing with the Otherworld, and understanding the special needs of nature as it applies to human existence. We are more than a lobbying group and much more than a political party.

We carry a tradition of aiding in the survival of humanity, and we cannot abandon that responsibility now or ever if we intend to live up to our calling.

Some of us have very little free time, but each of us can buy an extra can of food for the collection bin at the supermarket door.

All of us can ask those who have what others need to donate what may be no longer needed there to someplace where the need is great. One country in Africa has only a single working dialysis machine. A letter to major hospitals and regional dialysis centers asking them to donate replaced machines that still have a working life takes minutes, and email makes the whole process faster, it will cover more ground than any old fashioned conventional mail-out.

Many witches are already involved in charitable programs and deserve the highest accolade for understanding our real, historic place in society, but there are still a great number who are not involved and must become so if humanity is ever to find its true calling as a unified species dedicated to the well-being of each member of the species and the preservation of our greatest treasure, the planet upon which we rely for our survival.

The tribe is no longer a few isolated individuals in a tiny ecosystem. We are globally united, a genuine tribe of Man. The responsibility of the wise one is no longer the survival of a handful but of entirety of humanity.

We, as witches, must accept this responsibility, fir it is the single most essential element to our spiritual development and maturity.

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Relationships: When Only One of You is Pagan

Relationships: When Only One of You is Pagan

Author: Ryan Hatcher
I’ve been in my current relationship for about a year and a quarter and like any relationship, we have our ups and downs. One thing that tends to pop up regularly, whether in jest or debate and sometimes a jibe, is the subject of my being a Pagan, because my partner isn’t and this will sometimes cause conflict.

And so, I thought it would be interesting to write about what it’s like to be in a relationship with a Pagan when you aren’t one. And the best way I could think of doing that would be to do a sort of interview with my other half. And that’s exactly what I did! I’ve also included my side of the response so it gives both perspectives (a Pagan with a non-Pagan partner and vice versa) .

[Begin interview]

How would you define your personal spiritual or religious standpoint?

Chris: I don’t really have a religion and I wouldn’t really class myself as being particularly spiritual, I feel there’s no physical presence [of divinity] but we enlighten ourselves through our interaction with nature and natural forces. I see nature and natural forces as the spiritual essence of the planet.

Ryan: If I was to label myself, I would say I was a Witch of my own tradition, though mostly I use the term Pagan first. I see nature and the forces of nature personified through my Gods.

Have you ever had any experience with paganism prior to meeting your partner? (If so, what did you make of it?)

Chris: [lengthy pause]…Charmed, Buffy, The Craft…media images! I bought a couple of books from a local ‘witchy shop’ when I was younger to see if it took me to a place where I wanted to be. Experimenting with the spells wasn’t what I expected. I expected there would be more obvious results.

Has your perspective or any preconceptions of paganism been changed or confirmed? How do you perceive paganism now?

Chris: I see paganism now as any other form of religion/worship, etc. with its own set of beliefs, which I respect even if though I’m not pagan.

What do you find are the difficulties of being in a partnership when one of you is Pagan?

Chris: Finding space for the paraphernalia mostly! Such as trying to find areas for some things to be on display while not imposing on the rest of the house! I’m not too keen on ritual clothing; robes and stuff makes it seem much more like dressing up, like a play or pretending. It makes it seem more ‘out there’ to me.

I find it difficult trying to understand his need and want to practice Paganism. It makes me think that he must feel there’s something lacking in his life or in himself… as if he’s not enough of a person as he is, like he needs some extra support. Does he lack a self-belief to be able to go out there and do things himself? Maybe he needs to work behind closed doors using spells to get a result instead of going out there and grabbing the bull by the horns?

Ryan: It’s kind of hard trying to get him to understand the point behind my beliefs and practices. The religious and spiritual side of paganism is easier to understand, as it’s not that dissimilar to Chris’ own point of view, though perhaps I take it to another level. The hard part is trying to explain magic and spell work. It ranges from trying to quantify the ‘how’ of magic to justifying reasons why. I think it gets taken out of perspective sometimes and he thinks I work a spell for everything I want in life, when it’s really only for things I can’t physically influence in the world.

Sometimes I think he feels embarrassed as well. I like to have some things on display, for a mixture of aesthetic value and providing a sense of spiritual connection to our home. It may be that he is worried whether people will think we’re/I’m odd and not want to get involved any more, or more likely it’s because I’ve gathered so much stuff over the last 10 years he’s worried about clutter!

I think the hardest thing, though, is that I’ve got someone to share my life with, yet I can’t share all of it as he’s not interested, or embarrassed. It just means ritual has to still be done alone, but when he’s out of the house, just in case he thinks I’m being weird!

Are there any advantages or things you enjoy about only one of you being Pagan?

Chris: I don’t think there are any advantages or anything I enjoy that is different to having a non-pagan partner.

Ryan: Not really. I guess there are no arguments on the right way to do ritual and things like that, but apart from that, there are the same basic dynamics as in any other relationship.

Have you ever been involved in ritual together and what did you make of it?

Chris: Yes. I don’t know what to make of it. It wasn’t like I expected. I expected to be able to feel presences and energies, which, unfortunately I did not. I understand the concepts of ritual and offerings, but it’s not for me. I don’t feel it achieves much for me.

Ryan: It did feel a bit awkward as, admittedly, I spent a lot of the time wondering what he thought of it and whether he was put off me! I was also kind of embarrassed with saying ritual words and what he’d think of the idea of chanting. Turns out chanting wasn’t taken to all that well, so we didn’t bother so much. Sad though it is, I can safely say I’ve had better solo rituals.

Would you ever consider reading or studying some Pagan introductory books to learn and understand your partner’s spirituality and religion better?

Chris: Not really if I’m honest, unless I had a specific interest in it to begin with and then I’d want to read up on the subject anyway.

Ryan: I’d like him to, as I feel it would give him a better perspective rather than it just coming from me. Authors are generally better at explaining things clearly and in a way for people with no Pagan background to be able to understand.

[End interview]

I just hope this essay provides a different perspective on Pagan life, and maybe strikes a chord with people in a similar situation. It may seem like a public therapy session, but sometimes it’s nice to share experiences that could be just as valid to someone else. I hope you stuck with it and it gave you a little bit of food for thought.

Thanks for reading!

Blessed Be!

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The Way We Were vs The Way We Are

The Way We Were vs The Way We Are

Author: Ryan Hatcher

 

If we are to look back to the inception of modern paganism and the people who were the force behind it and were to observe how they practiced, worshipped and worked magic and compared it to how we practice, worship and work magic in modern times, while there is guaranteed to be a great deal of difference, the basic, core values should have remained the same.

I was in Norwich yesterday, a city with a strong pagan undercurrent of its own, for a brief look around the shops to pass some time while my partner enjoyed a 2-hour birthday massage, because of which my wallet had experienced a mass weight loss. So window-shopping it was. On my journey around the city I ventured into a Waterstones bookshop to have a look at their MBS section and had a skim through some of the material. Now, 90% of these books were paganism 101, which is fair enough for a standard mainstream bookshop, but reading through some of these 101 books — some of them recently published — it got me to reflecting: what is taught and considered western paganism now is much different than what it would have been considered to be 60-70 years ago.

What do I mean by this? Well, much of my personal pagan practice is inspired by these ‘old school’ methods with a touch of the modern for flavor (I’m talking about Doreen Valiente and Kevin Cochrane for the older styles, particularly Valiente; the Farrars (Stewart and Janet) represent an in-between period. Kate West and Christopher Penczack add the modern flare.) as I feel their values and ideas resonate with me. Now, keeping Valiente and Cochrane’s ideals in mind (again, more Valiente than Cochrane) , compare them to a lot of Penczack’s work and the work of similar contemporary styles and you’ll see what I’m trying to get at.

The styles and traditions of Valiente and Cochrane (hereon called the ‘older styles’) focus more on the earth-based worship side of paganism: seeing their Gods as personified manifestations of the forces of Life, Love, Death and Rebirth as well as the forces of nature in all it’s guises (be this as the four elements or simply as the grass in your lawn) . I also feel that animism in a subtler form was still there, if only felt and respected rather than overtly expressed.

The crafting of magic seems to have been simpler, as was the training (which doesn’t mean it was by any means easier than today; I’m inclined to say it was harder) . Metaphysical ideas such as energy centres, auras and layers of existence appear to have been acknowledged but were not the priority. The same for ‘the mysteries’ of the craft such as hypnosis, astral projection/trance journeying and psychism in all its forms. The works of the older styles show that they were an important part of their practice along with magic, but they were not the primary focus. I feel they were considered tools and techniques that developed along with the witch as he or she progressed down the spiritual path and was able to understand themselves and their developing abilities better and learn to control, focus and use them.

In contrast, the works of Penczack and his contemporaries (hereon called the ‘newer styles’) seem to focus more on the metaphysical ideas of paganism (energy centres, auras and layers of existence) , ‘the mysteries’ of the craft and magic as being of primary importance and therefore many chapters are devoted to these concepts. Now, I’m not saying this is strictly a bad thing; it may well suit many a new student to paganism, but when it comes to the core values about the spiritual and worship side of paganism, we start to enter the world of ‘love, light and blessed be’.

The realm of the FB, and those big furry ears seem to be cropping up more frequently in pagan literature. The spirituality of the newer styles appears to see the Old Gods as playmates: happy, fun, smiley and They do anything their precious ‘hidden children’ ask for. And unfortunately kids, you just have to look at the global history of paganism and myths of the world to now that is definitely not true. The honouring of nature and the earth extends as far as litter picking and recycling, which are very, very good ideas, and more is being suggested such as planting new trees, getting involved with wildlife protection trusts etc. Unfortunately, I feel many of the witches of the older styles, though some did get involved in these things, chose not to, possibly considering ritual devotion to be sufficient.

Ritual then is the moot point of both the old and new styles. As we are all aware, spiritual practice is a subjective thing, especially when it comes to ritual. Both new and old styles of witchcraft and paganism have placed varying levels of focus on ritual, and all have varying styles and methods in ritual that meets with their needs and the ideals of their respective traditions. However (there had to be a however) , and this goes for both old and new styles of paganism, whatever happened to just going out there and communing with nature face-to-face? No pomp and ceremony, no matter how elaborate or simple, just getting out there and being in the presence of the forces that we as pagans honour and worship.

I say, if you’re in a situation where celebrating a sabbat or an esbat with formal ritual isn’t an option, but you are within distance of a beautiful woodland, then screw it! Go for a walk in the woodland, sit under a tree and meditate! Commune with the spirits of the natural world around you and feel the power of the Old Gods, the powers of life, love, death and rebirth and pour your heart out in gratitude for all you have and for all that it means to be alive.

Wrapping it up: to me, the older styles and the newer styles and those of the styles in-between all have their good points and their bad points. The older styles are more grounded, simple and earthly. The newer styles are more flighty, ‘new-age’, hippy-esque and spiritual (in the modern concept of the word) . I’m sure you can see we have a Yin-Yang situation. And like the Yin and Yang, symbols of the older and newer styles do have parts of the other within them, but what we need to achieve is a balance between the two.

Paganism is a living and growing spiritual path and naturally changes with time, but it shouldn’t lose its heart. If we can bring together old and new, Yin and Yang, then we might be able to evolve paganism further, making it stronger, more refined and give us a definitive direction for us to aim for.

I hope that this essay will encourage pagans, both old hands and new, to review their beliefs, practices and crafts… to look back at the old, and freely explore the new and therein decide what is the best way forward in their spiritual path.



Footnotes:
Witchcraft for Tomorrow – Doreen Valiente

Witchcraft a Tradition Renewed – Evan John Jones with Doreen Valiente

The Witches’ Bible – Janet and Stuart Farrar

The Real Witches’ Handbook – Kate West

Gay Witchcraft – Christopher Penczack

Instant Magick – Christopher Penczack

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