Daily Archives: October 7, 2011

Similarities Between Christian Sacraments and Pagan Rites

Similarities Between Christian Sacraments and Pagan Rites

Author: Kaya DeDanu

 
Magick was first spelled with a “k” by Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) to differentiate between religious magick, and the stunts and illusions performed by stage magicians. Crowley was the leader of a cult called Ordo Templi Orientis, but is better known for his time with The Golden Dawn. Crowley says, “Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.” (The Sidereus Foundation)

There is another part to this definition that will have to be added in to make a usable definition for this article. Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will and the Will of Deity. Since we are talking about religious magick here, there must be some sense of a divine being in our working definition. There are practitioners of magick who believe that magick comes from within, not from a deity. In this case, I would say that their “deity” is the life energy within themselves. Deity comes in many forms.

I would first like to pause and make it clear from the start that there are many movies out there about Pagan rites (The Craft, a movie about 4 teenage girls that dabble in magick comes to mind first) that are highly inaccurate. Since that movie came out, I can’t count how many people I’ve had approach me asking if I’ll help the “call the quarters.” Movies like that make real practicing Pagans look bad. When you think of magick, don’t think of movies or TV. Remember that those are not real.

I used to sit in church and feel inspired. When I was young, I saw the magick of God in the church in the faces of the people around me. I felt it in the air around me. I was a child then, so naturally I felt bored, but I can still recall feeling something there. I won’t deny that there is some kind of magick involved with the church experience, even if people don’t want to call it that.

I haven’t been to church in fourteen years. As I grew older and kept returning to church, week after week, year after year, I felt the magick slipping away. I knew it was time to move on. I needed to find magick again. I took my Bible and my thirst for spiritual fulfillment, and walked away.

Since it had been so long, I had almost forgotten about the magick of the church. But when I take a step back, I can’t help but see that there is magick on both sides. It’s easy to see that Pagans have magick in their spells, blessings, coming of age rites, and Sabbats, because Pagans will openly call it Magick. The Christians, however, simply choose to call their Magick by different names: prayer, Communion, Baptism, holidays, and other holy sacraments. All of these involve some kind of ritual and divine power, whether from within, or from an outside source.

As I study the differences between the Christian world and the Pagan world, I see that Christians and Pagans will debate and battle about this topic, and there are some from both religions on each side. Many Christians argue that magick is wrong, immoral, and satanic. Many Pagans say that Christians use magick too, to try and put both religions on a more equal base. Some will say that magick comes in many forms. Some Pagans will even say that Christians do not use magick, and to say that prayer is the same as a spell is an insult to both religions.

I have a friend who is a very strict Christian, and whenever something went wrong, or she felt scared, she would pray. In her prayer, she would put her hands together, with clasped fingers, bow her head, and close her eyes ask God to help her, or guide her. She would begin with a phrase such as “Dear Heavenly Father, ” or “Dear Jesus, ” speak her wishes, and then end with “in Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.” It is systematic, ritualistic, and it is used to request something of a higher power. Is it magick?

Marina Patelos, a member of the Greek Orthodox church in Albany, NY, says “for your average person a ‘Hail Mary’ or an ‘Our Father’ wouldn’t count [as magick] because most people just say the words and never really stop to look at what they’re actually saying. But if someone’s praying for, say, their mother not to die of cancer, then yeah, that could count.”

Shirley Oscamp-Colletti, a United Methodist Minister who has been with the Church of the Wild Wood for the past 10 years, says that prayer is a form of magick “If I use your definition. Prayer is a form of connection with an inner or outer deity. Prayer connects with God; some say it is to accomplish a goal. I say it’s more to open yourself to possibilities. The highest form of prayer is to focus on a person and allow the divine light to that person, so the goal is to bring the divine light into that person or situation, not that you want a certain thing to happen.”

I used to find a lot of magick in Communion when I was finally considered mature enough to take it. There was no real class or preparation for it at the Calvary Baptist Church in Springfield, Vermont, but when a person reached the age of 12 they were expected to sit through a whole service instead of attending junior service in another room, and were offered Communion.

The lights in the church were dim, I remember, but sunlight shined brilliantly through the stained glass windows on either side of the room. Each window depicted a different Bible story in symbols and color choices. They were the most beautiful things about the church. Small clear plastic cups that resembled test tubes filled with grape juice would be waiting in circular holders on the backs of the pews next to the hymnal pockets. The pastor would speak the same words ever communion service as bowls of bread were passed around the church and people took a piece out for themselves.

“And Christ said, ‘take, eat. This is my body, ’” the Pastor would say, and everyone in the church would eat their piece of bread. The same pattern was followed with the grape juice, and then everyone would gather in a circle around the pews and sing. It seemed like God was there at those moments when we all held hands and sung together.

I have learned that the little Protestant church that I grew up in was a little different from other churches. Some use wafers instead of bread, and drink wine instead of grape juice. Some churches see this as a symbolic ritual, and some others see it as literal. “According to the Greek Orthodox Church, ” says Patelos, “the bread and wine are transubstantiated into the body and blood of Christ.” This means that “The Holy Spirit” changes the food into the blood and body of Christ. “[This] happens at the part of the blessing where he (the priest) holds up the chalice of wine and says ‘this is the blood of Christ’, in Greek, and then holds up the bread and says ‘this is the body of Christ’ and crumbles it into the wine, ” says Patelos. This sounds like a magickal transformation to me. “Although most of the people at my church would sh*t a brick if someone suggested that, yeah, I would [call it magickal, ]” Patelos says.

Colletti says that Communion is symbolic. “The other interesting things about this in the Methodist church, we don’t use wine. Methodists have been involved in the prohibition movement.” They do this out of respect for those who can’t drink. “We didn’t want them to not take Communion, ” she said.

”I do Communion very informally, ” Colletti continued. “If you’ve been to church there are words in the Hymnal that you’re supposed to read, but I speak more from the heart because I feel that is what the meal is supposed to be a time for people to come and share a simple meal together. My Communion is very earthy. When people in my church come up, they give hugs to me and the person that helps me serve, so it’s a very connective thing, and I like that. People come up out of the pews. I also often will tie it back to Jesus eating with his disciples and the meals that he shared and that’s when people let their hair down and get close to each other. Part of what Communion is about is to break down the barrier.”

“There are two sacraments, ” Colletti says, “[and] the other is Baptism. It’s initiation. The Baptism sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an outward and spiritual grace, so it’s kind of enacting something that’s already happened, which that might be where one of the difference is. When you’re talking about Magick you’re creating magick to make something happen, where as Christian magick, if you want to call it that, is an expression of what has already happened, rather than asking the divine to do something for us, and that’s Methodist through Shirley’s eyes. Catholics [say that] if you don’t have a baby baptized it’s bad. We believe babies are a part of God. Basically showing it’s bringing someone into the Christian church. It’s dying and being brought back to life in the traditional sense.”

Baptism is when a person chooses to accept God, and they are dunked in water to show that they trust God, and to represent dying and being reborn. Catholics do not completely submerge a baby when they baptize him/her; they only pour water over the baby’s forehead.

Catholics aren’t the only ones who baptize babies. “Our kids get completely dunked, ” says Patelos. “For Orthodox it’s Baptism, Chrismation, first Communion and Confirmation all in one go. After you go through that, you’re entitled to all the Rights in the Church.”

The way I see it, Baptism is very much like a cleansing in Paganism. Water washes away negativity and cleanses both physically and spiritually. This cleansing can be used for tools, as well as for initiation. There are many different ways a Pagan can use water to cleanse. Sometimes different oils or herbs can be mixed in, as with the Orthodox Baptism to add blessing properties. Often salt will be added to the water, which makes it holy because salt is part of the earth. Another common additive is rose oil for both its blessing and cleansing properties. A tool that will be used for magickal rituals can be dunked into a goblet of water and left in the moonlight overnight to be cleansed. Some initiations use this water and its additives to draw a pentacle on the forehead of an initiate. Many rituals will vary from tradition to tradition, making it impossible to cover all of them.

Pagans have their form of prayer in spells. I will reiterate that spells will vary in many traditions. Some will be the simple lighting of a candle and wishing. Some will involve chanting or poetry. Some will involve knives, wands, pentacles, circles of candles of every color shape and size, robes, and a script. It just depends on who you’re working with. I prefer the simpler rituals.

I take a candle of the appropriate color (different colors mean different things) , carve what I want down the side with my athame (ritual knife) , such as “good health, ” or “confidence, ” carve the first and last initials of the person who is to receive these things on the bottom, cover the candle with ashes, and light it, letting it burn all the way down. I will frequently sit in front of my altar (usually a table decorated with a cloth, statues of Pagan gods and goddesses, candles, and ritual tools, such as that athame) and think on this act and its results, but I usually do not incorporate words into the spell. I can’t remember where I picked it up, but it is the one spell that has worked for me consistently for the last dozen years.

“I feel that a prayer works the opposite way, ” says Salgamma, in her article “Magick Vs. Prayer” for The Pagan Library, an online Pagan journal. “The prayer is a request to effect a change in the ambient energy and invoke God. This change in energy is slower because it is ‘diluted’ in the surrounding energy and depends solely on faith (‘I believe it will happen, so it will’) .”

I have read of a Wiccan ceremony that may somewhat equate to communion. In the “Cakes and Ale” (Or “Cakes and Wine”) ceremony the bread represents the body of The God, and the wine (red) represents the blood of the Virgin Goddess. The cake does not have to be cake. It can be bread or something else as long as it has been blessed for the purpose of this ritual. Wine can be replaced with juice if necessary. This is a ritual to give thanks to the God and Goddess. After a poem of thanks is recited, all who participate partake of these symbolic food items, and leave what is left as an offering to the deities.

It seems to me that the Sacraments that I’ve covered above all have a Pagan equivalent. Baptism is a cleansing; Communion and the Cakes and Ale Ceremony are symbolic of taking in deity (deities) ; and a prayer is a spell. I have participated in most of these rituals (save the cakes and ale, but I’ve done similar things as well) at various times in my life, and I will say that there is something magickal about all of them.

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2012- A Witches View of Life and the ‘End’

2012- A Witches View of Life and the ‘End’

Author: Fayte Ravencraft

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have undoubtedly heard of the phenomenon that is 2012. The calendar of the ancient Mayan civilization ends on December 21, 2012, and many believe that it spells out disaster for our planet. Others think that it will be a time of transformation and spiritual rebirth. Here is the opinion of one humble Witch:

I won’t lie and say that the whole ‘2012 hysteria isn’t a little scary. I mean we have several extremely rare celestial occurrences, which also coincide with this exact date, which seem to add to the possibility of strange or catastrophic events occurring. The Earth and the Sun will be perfectly aligned with the ‘Great Rift, in the center of our galaxy, and this alignment is said to occur only every 21, 000 years or so. The Sun will also reach its solar maximum, the peak in its level of sunspot activity. Scientists have noticed recently that the Sun has been alarmingly weak for this point in the cycle — the lowest in over one-hundred years according to one article—, which may mean, in my own opinion, that when the Sun activity does pick up, it may cause a little trouble here on Earth.

The Sun’s own magnetic poles are supposed to switch in 2012 as well, which may cause further issues here on earth. These are simply the facts. Not even the most brilliant among us can truly say what they mean because it has never happened before in recorded history, and all theories are just that: theories. I encourage you to do your own research before coming to any assumption, and do not panic about the ‘approaching disaster, ” because there is not necessarily anything to be worried about. You do, I’m sure, remember the same mass hysteria about the supposed apocalypse in 2000, which never occurred.

I say all this simply so that you, the reader, may come to your own conclusions as to what the future may hold, and so that you know just what everyone is causing all the commotion about. I have listed as many Internet sources as possible so that you may further research them if you wish.

It is my personal feeling that December 21, 2012 will be a time of extraordinary power, a time when the veil between the worlds will be at its absolute thinnest. The Great Rift in the center of our galaxy has always been symbolic of the creative power of the Goddess, the ‘Great Womb, so to speak. The fact that the Sun, the symbol of the Lord, The Great Rift, a symbol of the Lady, and our Earth will be aligned will have a significant meaning magickally. There will never be a better time in our lives to perform magick of all types especially that of the divinatory type.

I do feel like it is a significant milestone in the history of human kind, and that, for those of us who are enlightened and willing, it is the perfect time to reach the maximum of our potential. Being a time of great power, it is also a time when we can make a powerful commitment to change things, both within and without, and to decided just where it is we want to go with our lives. Any energies set to work during this rare alignment are going to have extraordinary results, so why not use this as a time to heal the Earth, and with it, all of mankind. The Maya knew that this would be a time of immense power, and both feared and respected it.

We have a great thing here on our planet, and we too often take even the air we breathe for granted. The gifts we have received from the Universe have been greater than we could ever ask for, and it is time now to realize that. I am not convinced that 2012 marks the end of our world, but I certainly hope it marks a great change within the heart of mankind. We must learn to be grateful for all that we have; our lives and this astoundingly beautiful planet, or we might as well have never been here. I hate to say it, but if by some chance the world truly does end in 2012, I am just glad that I’ve had the blessing of spending this life on this beautiful planet. If it doesn’t end, I hope we all do our very best to be more appreciative; we have a good thing going on here, and we get too caught up in the daily grind of things to realize it sometimes.

While I do not feel that the world is truly about to end, I do think that we need to start living as though the end of the world were today, because it very well could be. We have never been guaranteed any amount of time here, and should view every second, the good and bad, as a gift. If we could truly follow ‘In perfect love and perfect trust, ” and have that love and trust towards ourselves and our fellow man, we would truly be making the absolute best of our time here.

As the great Henry David Thoreau said:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

Let us learn all that we can in this life so that when the end comes, we will have the satisfaction of knowing that we have done something that few ever have: Truly lived. If we can say in all honesty that we have lived a full life, then we cannot possibly grieve at its ending. We were lucky even to have one day here, let alone an entire life of loving, laughing and learning! The Great Cycle will continue eternally and we are all but small parts of the infinite cycle. When we embrace the entire cycle, life, death, and rebirth, then there is absolutely nothing to fear.

Nothing is ever truly destroyed, simply changed; and change, my friends, is a very good thing. Embracing change is embracing life.

Blessed Be,
Fayte Ravencraft



Footnotes:
Interview with NASA Solar Scientist

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/sthttp://www.witchvox.com/vu/fms/farticle.htmlory.php?storyId=128268488

http://www.interestingfacts.org/fact/2012-interesting-facts

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4JuoBD56HQ

Contact me if you would like more veritable facts.

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Is There a Right Time to Curse?

Is There a Right Time to Curse?

Author: Sleeping Moon

First off, I want to get something straight that even pagans seem to misunderstand. Or have been misguided into believing. (Not all, mind you, but most.) Hexes are NOT curses! Hexes are painted signs posted on barns down in the south to promote positive influences over the property and those that live there.

Curses are quite different. From the Wikipedia (on-line dictionary) the definition is: A curse (also called execration) is any expressed wish that some form of adversity or misfortune will befall or attach to some other entity—one or more persons, a place, or an object. In particular, “curse” may refer to a wish that harm or hurt will be inflicted by any supernatural power, such as a spell, a prayer, an imprecation, an execration, magic, witchcraft, a god, a natural force, or a spirit. In many belief systems, the curse itself (or accompanying ritual) is considered to have some causative force in the result.

They claim that a curse holds no power unless the recipient believes in it. I don’t believe that’s necessarily true. A curse has merit no matter what. It’s a solid form of magick just as a spell is. It has its purpose and has a place. They exist for a reason and if used correctly, they can be a force of nature to be reckoned with.

There are a few pagans who have called a dark deity as their matron/patron. Kali, The Morrigan, Calliach, Hecate, Badb, Skatha, Nemisis, Morgana, Innana and Lilith, Hades, Anubis, Setesh, Hoder, just to name a few.

What’s the difference with calling one of these dark deities and a curse? There are many forms of magic to use in calling forth the dark deities, but all in all, the dark deities are: Dark. You wouldn’t call on Kali or The Morrigan to cast a love spell. They are more for revenge and war than love and laughter.

In the beginning I would never have even thought about cursing any one. For any reason whatsoever. Many years later, my logic has changed.

I feel that there is a time to curse and a time to use another approach. If harm befell upon your loved one, for example if he/she was raped, shot, or killed, (these being the more serious offenses) , I can agree that a curse is more of an appropriate form of magick than to send that person ‘peace and love’. The damage has been done and is irrevocable so in my opinion, a curse is warranted and justifiable. Surrounding yourself with protection and that loved one (whether living or not) is always a positive take, but you would want to see that person get the justice he/she deserves. Right? You wouldn’t want that person to be able to harm other folk, right? You’d do every thing with in your capable means (with in the law) to get what they deserve.
So why not a curse?

I understand that Wiccans, the traditional ones, wouldn’t condone such a notion because of the three-fold law. But, as I stated beforehand, the damage HAS been done, so there is no further harm. Every thing in life has a good and bad side to it, just as it does in magick. No matter what we do in magick, we are taking something from some one else. That extra energy we use to cast a spell could be used for some one fighting a serious illness. In the air we breathe, we are taking that air from some one else. We use a candle to focus. We use that source of light from some one that may need it during a power outage or in a third world country that has no power what so ever. The list could go on and on. It’s a nice rule, but it’s an oxy moron. It doesn’t fit. Not technically.
Of course I would never agree to a curse just because I didn’t like some one. The damage that would warrant a curse from me would have to be severe.

Curses have a long history. It dates back to ancient Egyptian times. Probably dates back to the cave men, but for theory’s use, I will stick to then.

In Haiti, curses are called getting “crossed”. In Voodoo it’s called a jinx as well as a form of foot track magic. The “evil eye” is thought to stem from the Middle Eastern and the Mediterranean areas.

In Greece they are called katadesmoi and in Rome, tabulae defixiones. In Ireland there are many known forms of curses such as curse stones or egg curses, New Year curses and milk curses. Chinese peoples have them. The Indonesians, the Indians (not with the feather!) the Europeans, the Brits and the Scottish people have curses in their history. Even Native Americans.

The Native American people of the southern plains called these types of witches Skin Walkers. Skin Walkers where as nasty as one witch or wizard could possible get with the use of black magick. These beings are supposed to be able to extract revenge upon the help less victim by placing an animal skin over their human bodies and thus shape shifting into the form of that animal. While in the guise of the animal they choose, they can wreck havoc upon the poor soul they choose to victimize.

Even in the bible there are curses hidden within. God himself placed a curse upon the snake “You are cursed more than all cattle”, (Genesis 3:14) . As a result of Adam and Eve disobeying God, the ground is also cursed: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life.” (3:17) . Cain is cursed from the earth, “So now you are cursed from the earth”, (4:11) . In the New Testament Paul sees curses as central to the meaning of Jesus’ crucifixion. In Galatians 3:13 he says: “Christ redeems us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…”. He refers to Deuteronomy: ” anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse.” (21:23 RAEDM)

So if even God himself used them, they are credited aren’t they? Why can’t we use them if the damage has been done?

I wish the world were all frilly and white. But, it’s not. There are lines of grey that border on crossing over to black; there are lines of grey that border on crossing over to the lines of white. That’s the way life works. It’s the way Nature lives and the way humans are bred. Nature is neither cruel nor loving, it just is. And magick is the same, in my book.

Again, if the damage has been done, why can’t a curse be warranted?
 

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Hekate: A Devotee’s View

Hekate: A Devotee’s View

Author: Alorer
Hekate (Hecate is the Latin spelling and being Greek I prefer the Greek one) is perhaps one of the most misinterpreted and misrepresented deities in modern Paganism. From being given the Crone aspect when no historical or mythological source supports it verifiably (and because Neo-Paganism tends to cater to stereotypes heavily) to the misinterpretation of Her triplicity to unfounded overemphasizing of Her darker traits to virtually anything you can imagine.

Hekate has been misconstrued by many Neo-Pagans, mainly due to the lack of research and study of reputed sources (Hesiod’s Theogony comes to mind as a very basic and vital work on the mythology of the Gods) but also due to the overwhelming sense of “being special” that many Neo-Pagans seem to have. Note that this isn’t a blog on poking the – admittedly big – portion of the “bad apples” in our big community tree. This is a post attempting to educate somewhat regarding a well-known but also exploited deity. However, in order to do so, one needs to shed light upon the shadows of ignorance and misinformation that cloud Hekate’s image.

Before I delve deeper into Hekate’s case, let me share some information on Her.

Hekate is the daughter and only child of the Titans Perses and Asteria. She inherited power over the earth, sea and sky from Her parents. Hekate is one of the very few Titans to have survived the Titanomachy and the Olympian reign “unscathed” (which is an allegoric/mythological way to portray the survival of Her cults and worship as opposed to that of most other Titans) as well as the only Titan to be praised equally to the Olympians. In the Theogony, Hesiod notes how Zeus praised Her above all others, did not take anything from Her power and even gave Her a share in the dominion of most other Gods. She is the one He often went to for advice.

Hekate is a Goddess of liminal places and times, key and torch bearing maiden, guide, psycho pomp and “opener of ways”. She is a counselor and companion of those in need and protectress from and against witchcraft. At the same time She is the governor of all magical acts and believed to have invented theurgy. That is also why Hekate, alongside Hermes and/or Iris, was to be appeased and petitioned before any ritual act for the Gods, as She was the one (or rather one of those) responsible for and permitting the mortals to reach out for the Gods. Should Hekate refuse to aid you, your calls will remain unanswered and fall to deaf ears.

Hekate is also a Goddess related to the Moon (especially with the Dark/New Moon) , childbirth (or more appropriately, child-nurturing) and crossroads. She is one of the minor household deities, a protectress of the home and household from outside perils, alongside Hermes. Note that she only has a connection to the moon. The only Moon Goddess (and that is understood as the one presiding over, embodying and ruling the Moon) in Greek mythology and theology is Selene.

She presides over the darker side of the self as well as the inner one. She governs intuition, divination and insight. Hekate is the Goddess-In-The-Shadows but also the one who can pierce the shadows. She is a “dark Goddess” in the sense that She is Queen of the Unseen but not in the sense of negativity or “evil”. Gods are beyond such human concepts.

She is a maiden Goddess and not a crone contrary to popular (mis) belief. Most mythological-related texts consider Her a virgin as well although some have her double as the mother of Skylla (by Phorkys – in the works of Apollonius Rhodius) or as the mother of Circe, Medea and Aigialeus (by Aeetes – in the works of Diodorus Siculus) . Personally, I prefer the virgin Goddess theory since the rest conflict with the other mythological family trees.

Hekate is often portrayed as a crone due to Her association with Magic. In medieval times, the image of Hekate merged with the stereotypical image of an elderly, scary-looking woman over a cauldron. From that, as well as Her, somewhat “grim” duties, spawned the image of a physically old Hekate, which is, of course, mistaken.

Another “faulty” interpretation of Hekate is Her triplicity. Due to the popularity of the Wiccan/Neo-Wiccan tenet of a Triple Goddess, other “Triple” Goddesses were misappropriated and deemed as being “triple” in the same manner. That is also incorrect. Hekate is triple in a literal sense. Being associated with crossroads and liminal places, Hekate is literally a “three-headed/formed figure”, seeing in all directions. The Triple Goddess tenet of modern Paganism (specifically Wicca) is allegoric in the sense that it’s related to aspects and periods as opposed to a literal, physical figure. In addition, Hekate was also portrayed often as a single person or as having three distinct bodies.

Finally, Hekate is a strict and stern Goddess. She can be very loving, warm and intimate with Her followers, especially those that praise and satisfy Her but She is also not as forgiving as other deities as well as intolerant of many vices, in a greater degree than most deities. A bright example is how She can be quick to remove (at least temporarily or until reformation occurs) Her favor and aid from even a devoted follower of Hers, should he/she stray from the path and fail to meet the requirements and standards set, not so much by the Goddess Herself, as much as by the person. Unlike other deities, Hekate is less direct and more influential, meaning She works in more subtle and indirect ways as well as more affecting ones, since She approaches you in a gentle fashion as opposed to a strong, straightforward manner.

If Hekate calls to you, don’t freak out. She can be strict but also very rewarding. As Hesiod says: “He who has her favor will be showered with riches, for it is within her power.” (paraphrased) . However, be wary. She won’t tolerate the unworthy.


Footnotes:
Hekate: Her Sacred Fires, edited by Sorita D’Este

the Theoi (dot) com website

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Pondering for Friday, October 7th……

A healthy attitude is contagious but don’t wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier.

On the spiritual side…

1. The best way to get even is to forget.
2. Feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death.
3. God wants spiritual fruit, not religious nuts.
4. Some folks wear their halos much to tight.
5. Some marriages are made in heaven, but they all have to be maintained on earth.
6. Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, but faith looks up.
7. Standing in the middle of the road is dangerous. You will get knocked down by the traffic from both sides.
8. Too many people offer God prayers, with claw marks all over them.
9 You must wonder about humans, they think God is dead and Elvis is alive.
10.The shortest distance between a problem and a solution is the distance between your knees and the floor.The one who kneels to pray can stand up to anything.
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Affirmation of the Day for October 7th

My whole life, all of my experiences, all of the people I have known including those who have passed, and those who are still here have made me who I am today. I am special and unique in the world. I am who I want to be!
~from MoonDragon

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NASA Image of the Day for October 7th

Seeing Red

This NASA Hubble Space Telescope infrared mosaic image represents the sharpest survey of the Galactic Center to date. It reveals a new population of massive stars and new details in complex structures in the hot ionized gas swirling around the central 300 x 115 light-years. This sweeping infrared panorama offers a nearby laboratory for how massive stars form and influence their environment in the often violent nuclear regions of other galaxies. The infrared mosaic was taken with with Hubble’s Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS). The Galactic core is obscured in visible light by dust clouds, which infrared light can penetrate.

The new NICMOS data show the glow from ionized hydrogen gas as well as a multitude of stars. NICMOS shows a large number of these massive stars distributed throughout the region. A new finding is that astronomers now see that the massive stars are not confined to one of the three known clusters of massive stars in the Galactic Center, known as the Central cluster, the Arches cluster, and the Quintuplet cluster. These three clusters are easily seen as tight concentrations of bright, massive stars in the NICMOS image. The distributed stars may have formed in isolation, or they may have originated in clusters that have been disrupted by strong gravitational tidal forces.
The winds and radiation from these stars form the complex structures seen in the core and in some cases they may be triggering new generations of stars. At upper left, large arcs of ionized gas are resolved into arrays of intriguingly organized linear filaments indicating a critical role of the influence of locally strong magnetic fields.
The lower left region shows pillars of gas sculpted by winds from hot massive stars in the Quintuplet cluster. At the center of the image, ionized gas surrounding the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy is confined to a bright spiral embedded within a circum-nuclear dusty inner-tube-shaped torus.
The false-color image was taken through a filter that reveals the glow of hot hydrogen in space.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and Q.D. Wang (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)

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Astronomy Picture of the Day for October 7th

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

A Sun Pillar Over Ontario
Image Credit & Copyright: Rick Stankiewicz (Peterborough Astronomical Association) 

Explanation: What is that on the horizon? No, it’s not an alien starship battling distant Earthlings, but rather a sun pillar. When driving across Ontario, Canada in early June, the photographer was surprised to encounter such an “eerie and beautiful” vista, and immediately took pictures. When the atmosphere is cold, ice sometimes forms flat six-sided crystals as it falls from high-level clouds. Air resistance then causes these crystals to lie nearly flat much of the time as they flutter to the ground. If viewed toward a rising or setting Sun, these flat crystals will reflect sunlight and create an unusual column of light — a sun pillar as seen above. Such columns of light are not uncommon to see, and a retrospective of past APODs that have featured picturesque sun pillars can be found here.

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