Daily Archives: November 10, 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!

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Raising, Directing and Releasing Energy in Ritual and Spell Work

Raising, Directing and Releasing Energy in Ritual and Spell Work

Author: Seleya
One of the most important aspects of both ritual and spell work is the raising, directing and releasing of energy. While most understand the concepts, the reality is something altogether different. Since no two people are the same, and no two people resonate with the same methods of raising, directing and releasing energy, it is important to understand the nature of these three functions of energy usage.

While it’s simple to say: “…here is where we raise the energy, direct it and than release it…” it’s quite another thing to actually accomplish those three little things. Some say dance, sing, chant, drum, etc., but what are we actually doing while we dance, sing, chant, drum, etc.? Does the dancing, singing, chanting, drumming themselves matter? The answer is no! What matters is the energy raised when these actions are performed by the person or people involved.

So how do we raise, direct and release energy? By using any method we are comfortable with that will help us to focus our minds, focus our intent, focus the energy in us, around us in our immediate environment, in the Earth, the Sun and the Universe; to bring the energy to us, and into our circles, to accomplish the desired purpose.

Many people are in such a hurry, they omit the “grounding” part, that should always be at the very beginning or any work, be it ritual, ceremony or spell. First, this helps to connect us to the energy in ourselves, our environment and the Earth, Sun and Universe, than that connection “grounds” us, by helping us to shift our attention, our focus and our consciousness to an altered state (i.e.: from the mundane to the sacred or higher consciousness) . It is from this “altered” state that we raise, direct, and release energy, by setting aside all thoughts and focus on our daily lives and moving into an altered state.

Without the shift in consciousness, it’s just dancing, singing, chanting, or drumming… all mundane experiences, in and of themselves. The “magic” starts with the mind shifting to an altered state, where it can focus on actually raising, directing and releasing energy.

By “raising” energy, we are increasing the level of energy within not only ourselves but within the circle we have cast. As the energy begins to increase, we focus and concentrate it or condense it, until it is nearly palpable. It doesn’t matter what “method” we use to raise the energy, only that that form resonates with our psychic, our bodies, or emotions and our spirits. We have to reach out to the energy we are attempting to raise, with our hearts, minds, souls and spirits; we have to become one with it. Once that connection has been established, we can than move on to “directing”.

The directing of energy is the beginning of actually “using” the energy raised. It’s the part where we take the focused and condensed energy, and “point” it at and “direct” it into the work at hand; be it ritual, healing or spell. The raised energy must be sent into that which we desire to become reality. Without this step the energy will simply dissipate, and eventually drain into the Earth; any residual, left over energy will make us feel edgy, nervous, agitated or nauseous.

The most important part is the “releasing” part. We have to release the raised energy into the working; we can’t “hold” onto it, or the working will fail for a lack of energy. However, this last step is the most difficult to accomplish. Because we have connected with the energy we have raised, in the process of raising it; it is natural to “hang on” and stay connected to it. In order to “release” it we must sever that connection and re-shift our consciousness back into a mundane state. We have to move our consciousness away from the “work” and focus on something mundane, like the “cakes and ale”.

Now comes the hardest part of all. Just saying, “I am releasing the energy”, during the ritual or spell, is not enough. We have to actually and COMPLETELY release all the energy, all focus, thought and worry or anticipation about the “working”. If we hang onto to any part of it, we are maintaining our connection to the energy, and will drain it away from our work. We cannot think about, worry about or “wonder” when the ”work” will come to fruition. We have to “know” that by fully releasing all energy, all thought, all connection to the work, it has already become reality, even if we have not yet experienced it.

There is no magic wand like in the Harry Potter novels; the “work” or “magic” has to be allowed to function along natural lines in accordance with the Universal Laws of physics. We will not wake up in the morning miraculously thin, rich, etc. Everything in its due course. If the energy has been properly raised, directed and released, then the work is already done. It has already come about, whether we can see it at the moment or not. It’s out there, and on its way to us in what ever form we need or that the Gods determine.

The more we want something, need something; the more difficult it will be to do the last part – the releasing. In the mid 80’s, I attended several “spoon bending” workshops conducted by a physicist named Jack Hoak. He and a Metallurgist friend were working for the Pentagon at the time, conducting experiments on using the mind to bend metal (with a war application, of course) . In the workshops we learned to bend silver spoons, forks and knives with the power of our minds. And yes, it does work!

The children did if first and the rest followed quickly. The trick? Release.

It was during these workshops that I really learned to understand the concept of “release”. It was easy to concentrate on the spoon bending, but quite another thing to remove all focus from the spoon so it could actually “bend”. My first spoon bent, when the person next to me squealed with delight as their spoon bent, the moment my attention was completely drawn away from my own spoon, it bent. I had released the energy I was mentally focusing and directing at the spoon “to bend”, and then it did.

While it seemed to work best when there are many people present (easily raising the energy?) , it has yet to work for me when I am alone. Partly because of my own belief that it will only work with others present, and partly because there is nothing to distract me into releasing my energy. Practice – I need more practice.

It all takes practice. Be patient, it’s helpful to start out with the little things and work up to the bigger things. We must believe to see, not the other way around.

As with everything – practice, practice, practice.

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Gods, Magic and Bending Energy – What Other Oddities Do We Believe In?

Gods, Magic and Bending Energy – What Other Oddities Do We Believe In?

Author: Bronwen Forbes

You’ve got to admit – to the outside world, we Pagans and Witches believe in some pretty weird stuff. For example, most, if not all of us, actively work with deities that a large chunk of the world doesn’t believe exist; either Apollo, Thor and the Morrigan (for example) were never Gods to begin with since there’s only One, or they were once considered Gods but now they’re just archetypes, or part of our psyches, or both. But to us they’re quite real. They think they’re real, too – just ask them. And the fact that some of us can actually invite these deities to inhabit our bodies for brief periods of time, i.e. draw down? Psychosis, plain and simple. Ask just about any non-Pagan psychiatrist.

And then there’s magic. Say “magic” to most non-Pagans and they’ll assume you’re talking about pulling a rabbit out of a hat, or card tricks, or sawing someone in half. What we call magic is “change in accordance with will” which, if you’ve actually done it, can be as amazing as pulling a rabbit out of a hat for real, but it’s not the same thing. Still, I’ve gotten a lot of derisive and condescending looks from non-Pagans when the subject of magic comes up, mostly because our definitions of the word are so different.

For the record, stage magic has always fascinated me. Whenever there’s a kid’s program at the local library that features a magician, my daughter and I are right there. Magic act at the local renaissance faire? I’m in the front row – at least twice, if it’s good. And one of my favorite adventures when my family and I lived in Wisconsin? Visiting the Houdini museum in Oshkosh. Not only do I find his escape feats to be really cool, but also the work he did to debunk fake mediums interests me. But I digress.

And the idea that we can “play with” natural energy just boggles the mind of those not part of this path. Have you ever triggered heat-activated elevator buttons without touching them? Or sensed lay lines in your yard or town? Or felt a change in temperature once the circle was fully cast? That’s all energy work – and the bit with the elevator buttons is kind of fun. If elevators are a regular part of your life, it’s a great way to brighten up an otherwise dull workday. Plus, it will scare the hell out of your co-workers once you perfect the trick. Trust me.

So my question is, is one of the reasons you and I became Pagan the fact that we have the innate ability to accept somewhat fantastic or “out there” concepts as truth? Or do we have the ability to possibly accept the fantastic as truth because we once made an informed decision to follow a Pagan path? Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

I suspect, just as with the chicken and egg question, that the answer doesn’t matter much. So I’m going to ask a different question: what other “out there” ideas or oddities do you believe?

Take, for example, the idea that beings from other planets regularly visit ours, or at least do drive-bys from time to time. I think it’s hubris to assume this one small ball contains all the life in the universe, but that’s just me. I also look at some reality television shows and seriously consider the possibility that we are just not evolved enough as a species to handle contact with alien beings yet. Do I think aliens kidnap people? Yes and no. And I’m saying this as someone who spent a very…interesting evening with several members of MUFON (Mutual UFO Network – a support group for alien abductees. Long story.) There are hundreds of folk stories, songs and legends about people who were taken into Faery and weren’t seen for weeks, months, or even decades. Now we have the same basic story, but the “others” in the story aren’t faeries and elves, they’re little grey people with big black almond-shaped eyes. I think the phenomena, whatever it is – actual or imagined – is the same, but the details changed as humans moved into a more technological culture.

And then there are ghosts. I’ve never seen one, although I have seen “paranormal activity” such as lights turning on and off by themselves, shadows moving across the backyard, things like that. When I was about five months pregnant, we moved into a new house, and one day after getting out of a particularly long, hot shower (during which the bathroom mirror fogged up much more than usual) I saw the name “floyd” (ghosts apparently don’t use basic capitalization) written in the steam on the mirror. I did what any self-respecting crazy pregnant woman would do and screamed for my spouse. We tried everything to clean “floyd” off the mirror including pure ammonia. But every hot shower brought out floyd’s graffiti tendencies for the next four years. Maybe Windex should carry a warning on the label “Does Not Work On Ectoplasm.”

Here’s another “out there” idea that some of us probably believe and some of us don’t. Let me tell you my story about it. As of this writing, my family and I live in what I call The Little House in the Little Woods outside the city limits of Bloomington, Indiana. We are completely surrounded by woods that connect, with the occasional break for a road, to other woods for several miles, although we also have plenty of pastureland in the immediate neighborhood. The other night I was up far later than usual, and didn’t take the dogs out for their last-pee-before-bedtime run until about 11:15 p.m. So the three dogs and I were about to come inside when I heard four or five VERY loud, low WOOTS from the woods.

When something like this happens, believe me, the mind tries to come up with all kinds of plausible explanations. My first thought, I swear to Gods, was “We are too damn far south for moose” and then I ran through all other animals I could think of. Thing is, I watch those shows like Monster Quest and Destination Truth on TV. I recognized the sound.

The dogs’ behavior was most telling. The old one did her usual hide behind me, the beagle barked – and the wooter WOOTed back another two or three times. The big German shepherd, though, was seriously considering plunging into the woods to deal with it, but I was able to call him back. The fact that I was able to call him back *immediately* says a lot – normally he chooses not to listen to a word I say.

I got us back into the house and confirmed with my spouse that I did indeed hear the sounds. Only then did my spouse bother to inform me that he’d been hearing them for the past four or five nights (the rat!) . The next morning he logged onto a (you knew this was where I was going, right?) Bigfoot research site and played me some recordings. They sounded identical to what I’d heard the night before.

So I, at least, am convinced I heard Bigfoot last week. I must say I’m handling it much more calmly than the poor people they interview on those programs – the ones who are still freaking out twenty years after seeing or hearing one. I like to think it’s because, as a Pagan, I’m fully invested in the idea “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Or maybe Bigfoot is less scary than ghosts. Hard to say.

What oddities do you believe in, and why? And what does that tell you about your Pagan path? Tell me, I really want to know.

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My Meeting with the Goddess

My Meeting with the Goddess

Author: Raphael Eventide

I’m sitting here at this computer and I suddenly feel inspired by the Goddess to compose something: To tell you the way I first met her. I don’t know why, but here goes…

I was scared. Afraid. I’d just found out that there was going to be some major changes in my life. Normally, I didn’t handle change well. To be honest, it terrified me. I stood in front of the bathroom mirror. Trying to come to grips with what I knew was inevitable. I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry, “I don’t want to change!” But it wouldn’t have done any good. As I stood there, feeling the inner war consume my mind, suddenly, I heard a gently voice say, ‘Meditate.’ I had just recently become a dedicant a few days ago, and I was learning about the Goddess and wondering about her. The voice in my head sounded feminine, so I wondered… Could the Goddess be speaking to me? Well, even if it wasn’t the Goddess, it was some good sound advice, which was what I needed. So I went and sat down and closed my eyes and began to meditate.

I was in a forest. It was close to the evening hours, with the lazy sunlight gently touching the leaves and branches above my head. I was on a path through the woods and followed it. Then I saw her. She was the most beautiful mother I’d ever seen. She stood there before me cloaked in periwinkle robes, with long red hair, and skin as white as milk. Her eyes where a soft purple, and as soon as she saw me, she cried out with joy, “Oh my son! Welcome home!”

She ran to me, and I realized I was crying. As she embraced me, I realized how small I really was, and leapt into her arms and cried as if I had lost her. But now I was home, safe, in her arms. The love I felt all around me was overwhelming. But yet soft and gentle. I started blurting out how scared I was and how I wanted it all to go away! She held me in her arms and gently soothed me and waited until I was finished.

“My dear son, you are so spiritual and intelligent, but when it comes to change you rarely move. It’s not a bad thing, but you must remember, how can a flower grow if it does not move? How can you hope to go to college if you are afraid to even apply? You cannot wait for everything to come to you. Sometimes you must go to it.” She said it gently, and brushed my tears off my cheeks.

I sat on her lap now, looking up at her in awe. It was very wise. I always knew she was, but looking up into her face, I was sure she must be wiser then anyone knew. “Mother you are so wise!” I exclaimed. “You must know everything! And I know so little…”

She smiled warmly, and laughed. “My son, you are wise too. To know that you know little is the first step to true wisdom.” I smiled a little, and felt much better. Then my mother told me about how I came to be, and even now, it still causes my heart to flutter. As she spoke it, I saw it all happen before my eyes.

“When you were just a thought, you were like a seed that was carried on the wind. On it, you soared high in the sky with your father, God. He showed you the whole world. And carried you until you were ready and then into your mother’s womb. There, you grew. And your father and I worked hard. He was the great planner, deciding what you would look like, what you might do, what gifts we would give you.

“While he made the plans, I crafted you from the clay of the earth. I worked and worked and worked! I wanted to make you special and unique. Finally we were done. And you were born to your mother on the earth. You see my son, you are the physical manifestation of the love the God and I share. You are the product of our love sent out to the entire world. You are my precious jewel. My diamond. You catch the light of our Universal Divine Love and radiate it and shine it out to the whole world to see.

“We love you so much! And every day you take the step to hear us, and become the best you can be, you shine! You have many things to learn my son, but you can do all things. For you are from my flesh and your father’s breath. You are the place between, the magickal place where things are born that can change the world.”

She gently touched my heart and as she spoke these last words, I felt I was shining.

“Momma, when will I meet God?” I asked solemnly.

She smiled and spoke quietly, “Very soon my son, but for now, you are with me.” I don’t know how much longer we sat there, but eventually, she stood up, set me down and told me what I should do. I came back, and since then have begun to try and change for the best. I know it will be hard, but knowing that my mother and father are behind me and helping me always… where can I go wrong?

I am still on the path of becoming a witch/wiccan, as I started my Dedicant training in December of 2009. I’m so excited and have learned so much and still have so much to learn in my year and a day. I have also met my father God and he is just as beautiful and loving as the Goddess. I’m still not sure why she insisted I write this, but I have a feeling you know.

Even today my mother, the Goddess’ words come to me, and I try every day to make her and my father God proud. I hope my little story brought a smile to your face and maybe an answer to your searching heart. I pray that the God and Goddess speak to you through these words. My they lead and guide you to your own everlasting shine.

Until we meet again my friend, the circle is broken but unbroken. May the Truth, Love and Wisdom from the God and Goddess stay in our hearts always.

Blessed be.
You’re brother in the Craft

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The Shamanic Witch and Ethics

The Shamanic Witch and Ethics

Author: Eilan

When ethics from a Pagan perspective are discussed in the public domain the ultimatum of “Harm None” arises. I have written on the Harm None ethic and the Pure Will in my book, Spirited. When I write, I am conscious of the fact that I cater to a wider audience than those of the decidedly shamanic and traditionalist inclinations, therefore I aim to be largely accessible. For this reason, some people misinterpret me as decidedly eclectic, when I am actually avowedly syncretic within my personal path.

I am also an initiate of the WildWood Tradition of Witchcraft. I do not say these things to place myself above the eclectic philosophies, which are entirely valid and of completely equal worth, I merely wish to assert my personal practice as distinct from the implications derived from my publications thus far (1) .

Not all Witches of the WildWood share the same focus or emphasis on the shamanic arts (ecstatic, visionary, Gnostic, etc.) as I do; however these aspects of spirituality innately inform our philosophies and cosmologies. We teach one ‘ultimatum’ when exploring ethics and the Craft, and it can be summed up by the following – total freedom equals total responsibility. “An ye harm none, do what ye will” is contextualized by this precept of freedom and responsibility.

Let me orient this flow of philosophy; I will begin with our definitive foundation – What is a Witch?

A Witch is an individual who through ignited, expanded and deepened awareness serves and celebrates the Life-Force as manifest both in unity and plurality. Our belief in, experience of and reverence for the interconnectivity of all things creates an aptitude for the magickal arts and through science and craft (spiritual philosophy and technology) we are able to consciously ride the tides of change, which rule the cycle of birth, death and renewal.

This is by no means an official definition of ‘Witch’, however this definition has been an evolving and shared understanding within the WildWood over the past three or four years. We uphold it because it conveys that Witchcraft is a spiritual and mystical discipline without implying dogmatic interpretations of ritual or theo (a) logy. It allows for the personal connection, supported by a fertile paradigm, which implies its own ethic.

That all are divine, and equal in that divinity, that we are held in Being by Mystery and we are alive and conscious creates a self-reflection. This reflection speaks tomes on the sacred realities of interconnection and the rhythms and tides of vitality. A Witch knows, by virtue of his/her spiritual experience, that humanity (and all of life) is not inherently moral. Nature (what Is) teaches us that Life feeds from Life, but always with balance. The All equalizes itself – this is the power of death; that energy transforms and evolves is testimony to the rise and fall of flesh.

Witches embrace matter as Mother (Latin ‘mater’) and declare and experience the physical world as intelligent, sentient and holy. Flesh and form are merely receptacles for and of Spirit, they are the perfect expression of Spirit – the Temple houses the God.

An ethic that derives from the sacred autonomy of an aware individual is informed and directed by experience. One cannot warn a youth of this or that unless it is contextualized, relevant and pragmatic. One cannot say, “Do not lie because lying is sinful!” If lying as an act is considered holistically and as interwoven with the entirety of the faculties, then it can be said that if one beholds integrity and honours the implicit balance of Life and wishes to flow and be, rather than to ‘disregard and desecrate’, lying becomes relative. The onus is on an individual’s autonomous self-determination, in other words, according to one’s principles as a collective how would lying impede on or dishonour my personal ethic?

Personally I hold honesty as valuable and therefore sacred. I cannot hope to cultivate honesty in my life unless I myself perpetuate the ethic. I am only as virtuous as I choose to be. I do good because it is good, rather than as the opposite of or alternative to ‘evil’.

When ethical behaviour concerns itself with the rejection of evil as core principle (motivation to make a contrasting example) we enter the realm of morality. When a Wiccan declares that he/she will do no harm because the threefold law would mean that thrice-greater harm would return, this is morality equal to the often-Christian desire to secure heavenly-admission by performing acts of charity. An ethical Witch claims virtue as a lamp to bring clarity to circumstance, rather than to blind hidden demons in the shadows. If we perceive the natural as adversary rather than ally (albeit volatile) we engender the philosophy of dualism, and this paradigm has often proven to be at the source of the world’s imbalance and injustice. To be able to look upon one’s reflection and see the attempt of virtue, here and now is the truth of compassion revealed.

If I am intrinsically free and thus entirely responsible for ‘self’, then the ‘virtue’ of Life is in understanding that self is in all things. Thus ecstasy is the natural product of virtue. Ecstasy forms the foundation of shamanism, and thus Shamanic Witchcraft (2) . This is not limited to the physical sweating, shaking and shivering which characterize the methods of some medicine people; I speak of ecstasy as something of a metaphor. This metaphor relates directly to the word’s etymology – ek stasis, Greek for ‘outside standing’. The qualifying factor of ecstasy is, in context, that the boundary of the ego is dissolved…there is no limit to self because the perspective has shifted and we understand the true nature of self as unbound and free, and therefore responsible. Divine Unity creates Divine Synchronicity and to those who have eyes to see and ears to listen the ‘magick and miracle’ of Life opens up.

Witchcraft is a sacred spiritual discipline that has manifested the world over as magickal tradition – Witches have been and are feared because we do know, we do see and we are powerful. All this because we accept the Immanent Divine and see ourselves as woven into it.

Every act then becomes imbued with consciousness – my being here now is a gift and I intend to honour the giver…this is in right relationship with the world, and all is in balance because of it.



Footnotes:
(1) My most recent publication, By Land, Sky and Sea: Three Realms of Shamanic Witchcraft, speaks briefly on the contrast between eclecticism and syncretism.

(2) I tend to teach that Witchcraft is inherently shamanic at its core.

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Earth Science Pic of the Day for November 10th

Lake Loma Sunset

November 10, 2011

Lakelomasunsetlayers

Photographer
: Robert Farrimond
Summary Author: Robert Farrimond; Jim Foster

The photo above showing a magnificent early autumn sunset was taken at Lake Loma, near Marysville, Washington on September 24, 2010. When I first noticed this sunset I was in my front yard. As the impact of the colors started to sink in, I grabbed my camera and then loped over to the lake’s boat launch to snap this shot. It seems that often the camera doesn’t record what you’re actually seeing but fortunately, this wasn’t one of those times.

The formula for the most vibrant sunsets and sunrises does not include an expression for clear skies. When the sky is as clear as a bell as the Sun is setting, the western sky is in fact not very remarkable at all. To get the best colors, there must be something in the sky to scatter and reflect sunlight. On this evening, it was clouds at different heights. Even without clouds, certain aerosols and particulates (including smoke, soot and ash) may produce fine color too. The upper and most colorful cloud layer on this photo is composed of cirrus clouds. These are high enough to capture fiery color though at the surface the Sun had already set several minutes earlier. Clouds carrying less and less color are seen lower and lower in the sky. Accent these lower clouds with a few odd holes, add in some silhouetted conifers plus a rippled lake that reflects the sunset and conifers, then place some floating vegetation and reeds in the foreground, and voila – your masterpiece is complete.

Photo details: Canon T1i camera; 50mm EF lens; f/8.

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Astronomy Picture of the Day for November 10th

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.

2011 November 10
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.

RCW 86: Historical Supernova Remnant
Credit: X-ray: XMM-Newton, Chandra / IR: WISE, Spitzer 

 

 Explanation: In 185 AD, Chinese astronomers recorded the appearance of a new star in the Nanmen asterism – a part of the sky identified with Alpha and Beta Centauri on modern star charts. The new star was visible for months and is thought to be the earliest recorded supernova. This multiwavelength composite image from orbiting telescopes of the 21st century, XMM-Newton and Chandra in X-rays, and Spitzer and WISE in infrared, show supernova remnant RCW 86, understood to be the remnant of that stellar explosion. The false-color view shows interstellar gas heated by the expanding supernova shock wave at X-ray energies (blue and green) and interstellar dust radiating at cooler temperatures in infrared light (yellow and red). An abundance of the element iron and lack of a neutron star or pulsar in the remnant suggest that the original supernova was Type Ia. Type Ia supernovae are thermonuclear explosions that destroy a white dwarf star as it accretes material from a companion in a binary star system. Shock velocities measured in the X-ray emitting shell and infrared dust temperatures indicate that the remnant is expanding extremely rapidly into a remarkable low density bubble created before the explosion by the white dwarf system. Near the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy, RCW 86 is about 8,200 light-years away and has an estimated radius of 50 light-years.

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