Daily Archives: November 30, 2011

Roads Not Travelled

Roads Not Travelled

Author: Lawmage

I hate roads. Once upon a time, I thought of roads as something full of promise. They seemed to offer the opportunity to go anywhere and with that opportunity to go anywhere, they seemed to offer the opportunity to do anything once you had arrived. As I got a little older and more experienced, I learned to appreciate the road for itself…to appreciate the journey rather than the destination.

Lately however, I have lost that appreciation. In its place sprouted a seed of distrust. It grew before long into dislike and then, in the course of things, into full-blown hate. So, here I am.

I absolutely hate the roads.

I am a Soldier deployed to Iraq. It was perhaps the experience here that has served to water the seeds of hatred. The roads in Iraq do not offer an opportunity to go anywhere—at least not anywhere most of us are anxious to go. They do not offer an opportunity to do anything. Instead, they offer an opportunity to cease doing anything…ever again.

Anyone who has watched the news is familiar with the roadside bombs we call IEDs. It is hardly surprising such experiences with the roads would engender disaffection.

The truth is those experiences in and of themselves are not responsible for my hatred of the road. They merely set the stage. They got me thinking about roads in general. They got me thinking about the deceptiveness of roads and their siren song. They got me thinking about the false promises of freedom and opportunity roads make to the unwary.

They got me thinking about how the roads offer only an illusion, like the proverbial gilded cage. They offer to take you anywhere you want to go but in truth, they can only take you to the place they go.

They pretend to offer you a choice of paths to follow. You can select which turning in the road to take.

Is that really a choice though?

Rather than allowing you to go wherever you would like, they reduce your choices to those on offer by the road itself. You can go left or right or continue straight ahead. What if you wish to go in some other direction?

Well, then you must leave the road.

What does any of this have to do with Paganism? More than you might think.

As I spent more time thinking about roads, I began to think not just about the literal road on which we travel but also about those figurative roads upon which we travel through life.

How many of us in the Pagan community have described our religious experience in terms of following a particular Path? I daresay it is quite a few of us, even most of us.

Are these figurative roads any less deceptive than the literal roads that channel us in one direction or another? Do these figurative roads offer us any greater choice of destinations than do the roads of the real world?

Why have we become so enamored of our spiritual Paths? What do they offer in order to entice us?

I suspect many modern Pagans and neo-Pagans were drawn toward paganism because it embraces individuality to an extent conventional or mainstream religion does not. So, why do we give up the allure of that individuality in favor of placing ourselves on a particular Path?

I think perhaps a look at the mundane world might by illustrative.

Why do we travel on roads and paths in our everyday lives? The answer is they are easy. It is far easier to follow a path or a road than it is to blaze our own trail across unfamiliar country. We look at the world around us and we want to see it, to experience it. We look around and determine where it is we want to be or what it is we want to obtain and then we look for a route to reach that destination or goal.

We look for a road. In so doing, we miss out on all those things that are not on or alongside the road. We keep our focus on our objective and in so doing we ignore those things around us.

Similarly, in our spiritual lives we decide where we want to go and then we seek a road or Path to take us there. In so doing, we miss out on all that the world has to show and teach us. Rather than focus on experience, we focus on movement, on progression. We strive to reach the next circle or the next order or the next rank. Some even “magically” transport themselves to their destination and claim for themselves the title High Priest or High Priestess or Grand Poobah.

Yet, this focus often leaves us feeling unfulfilled. We reach our destination only to discover that it is not the place for which we were looking. We are left with an eternal search for our real destination.

That destination does not lie at the end of any road. No road leads to our destination. The roads are a lie. They promise us something they can never deliver. We can travel our entire lives and not reach that elusive destination because there is no destination. Instead, there is only the journey.

Yet, all roads lead somewhere.

If we elect to follow a road or a path, it will inevitably take us someplace. We should strive to avoid this “arrival” at all costs because any arrival is a lie. There is no destination and anything that offers or promises to take us there is engaged in a deceit. This is why I have grown to hate roads. To avoid the lie we must avoid the liar.

We must avoid the road.

It is no surprise our early animistic and shamanistic ancestors placed such great importance on things like vision quests or other experiences that sent the seeker out into the wilderness in search of spiritual awakening and enlightenment. The wilderness by definition lacks roads. Roads are the chains with which civilization binds the wild parts of the world and inexorably reduces them to slavery in service of the artificial construct we call society.

On these vision quests, our ancestors were not seeking a destination. They were seeking an experience. Where they went was immaterial. What mattered was what they experienced.

Roads served no useful purpose on these journeys. Indeed, one could well argue roads would have prevented the journey because they would have deprived the seeker of the experiences necessary to achieve the spiritual awakening being sought.

All this brings me back to the real question. Why do we elect to follow so-called spiritual Paths in our lives? Is it because we are unconsciously adverse to the amount of work it would take to blaze our own trail through the wilderness?

Is it because we have fallen prey to the deceptively sweet siren songs these roads sing to us? Are we afraid to loose ourselves in the spiritual wilderness?

I cannot speak for anyone else but I am unwilling to indulge the lies. I refuse to be led astray by the illusion of freedom that roads offer.

I hate roads.

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Many from One: Wicca and Roman Catholicism Entangled

Many from One: Wicca and Roman Catholicism Entangled

Author: Bryce

I know that many Wiccans do not have fond memories of Christianity, especially Roman Catholicism. (You know the Burning Times, eternal damnation, and all that good stuff.) However, I ask you, the reader, just to hear me out. You may be surprised at what you read.

Recently I traveled to a Roman Catholic Youth conference, called Steubenville, which was held in Denver, Colorado. My friends (Catholic) and I (Wiccan) looked forward to this event.

So I am not Christian and this conference is very Jesus-centric. So why did I go?

The first, and simplest, reason is that I love to travel. The second reason is that I want to grow closer to my friends and religion is a great structure to build friendship upon, even if your religious views differ. The last and most complicated reason is the experience of the events of the conference (I will explain this later).

On this particular trip, I became very frustrated. Hailing from Wisconsin and traveling on a bus, I spent the greater majority of twenty-one hours listening to talks on modesty and why women cannot become Catholic priests. Of course, being open about sexuality and greatly for women’s rights, this annoyed me very much.

To add to my dissatisfaction, it seemed like my friends had deserted me for a new guy in the group. I felt a complete outcast and not welcome (which was the first time after going to these conferences for the past two years).

For the majority of the trip, I let my anger boil under the surface of my smiley there-is-nothing-wrong-everything-is-great face.

Finally, after days of a mixed emotion rollercoaster, Saturday night came. Now, Saturday night is the highlight of the Steubenville conference. It is on this night that a very powerful adoration takes place. (Adoration is when a consecrated host, believed by the Catholics to be the body of Jesus, is set upon the altar in a container called a monstrance.)

Prior to adoration, the youth celebrate God with song, dance, clapping, etc. This of course, as Witches know, raises energy (and lot of it when there are 2, 300 people doing it!) After this energy is raised, adoration begins and people, whether they know it or not, draw upon this energy and go into fits of emotion (crying, laughing, etc).

During this particular adoration, while people were praying and “fitting”, I was praying to the Lady and Lord that all at the conference would find what they were looking for and that those having fits would be healed. (I had heard once, on a trip in the Underworld, that “things in the Underworld move backwards.” In other words, one has to move back through the pain to be free of it.

This all seemed very appropriate at the time, giving reason and knowledge as to what was happening and why.) While I was praying for those around me, I felt the Lady in Her form of Healer touch me. Suddenly, in just an instant, all that anger that I had been harboring just melted away. I was filled with an inner peace. Catholics would call this a form of “resting in the Spirit”.

As great as this was, what happened next was even more spectacular.

After I had been calmed, I looked at the image of the monstrance that had been projected upon the screen in front of me. As I gazed at the consecrated host, its appearance changed. Instead of a speckled, brown circle, I saw the Divine Androgyne, half male and half female.

In Its right hand was a sun and in Its left, a moon. Soon the image changed again. The Divine Androgyne faded and in Its place were people of all ethnicities and nations. I then herd the Androgyne telling me that no matter what form, all religions and all people worship It.

At this point, I felt completely connected: to myself, to everyone around me, and to everything. I had always believed that Wiccans, Pagans, and Christians had the same Divine; but now I, for the first time, felt the connection in my heart.

I had one more experience that night. After all the images had faded from the consecrated host, I saw in my mind’s eye the World Tree. It grew out from the middle of the room, with deep roots reaching into the oldest parts of the Earth and tall branches that exceeded the sky. I could see that everyone in the room was connected to It and to the All of Creation.

To me, the World Tree is the ultimate expression of the Divine: It contains everything and is everything. To see that my Catholic friends were connected to this image of my Androgyne and my Gods really made me realize just how close our Gods really are.

Besides for just seeing everyone’s connection to the World Tree, I also saw the energy flow from the people, to the World Tree, and back again. I could see streams of used energy leaving people to the roots of the World Tree, where it would wait to be reformed in the Crone’s cauldron. I also saw fresh energy coming from the branches and flowing to the people so that they may use it and be liberated from their old negativity.

This great sight really made me feel that, as a Wiccan and a Witch, Catholics are very dear kith and kin.

Once I had been exposed to the connectedness that everyone in the room shared, I began to see my place within the greater picture. I was there, at that conference, to help people. I was a Witch: a healer, a magick worker, and a friend to all Creation.

Remembering my office, I used the power of it to help those around me. I sent energy to them to make them relive their sadness so that it may be released and they may be as happy as they were before they knew pain and suffering; that they may remember the love of the Gods. (I am not saying that suffering is bad or evil, I just think that we often get too caught up in suffering and pain to remember the love that Creation also holds for us.) I also helped others direct the energy to the World Tree so that fresh energy may enter them.

This was a very empowering experience for me: being able to help those for whom I cared so deeply.

Now, as I write this, the sun is setting over the mountains as we wind our way back towards Wisconsin. I am no longer frustrated, even though I listen to the same talks as I did on the way to Denver. Rather, I feel peaceful and connected to everyone that I travel with.

I can really say that now I feel that we all worship the same Divine, just in slightly different ways. Religion had to start somewhere, and then it probably developed factions with minor differences; until, eventually, we have the religions of today.

When you really put your mind to it, Jesus Christ (whose name may be connected to those of Shiva and Krishna of the Dravidic and Hindu religions) closely resembles early forms of Mithras and Dionysus. Mithras and Dionysus are respected by Wiccans, so why should Jesus Christ not be?

Even if he never did really live, he is still an archetype of the Divine; and the Divine deserve our respect, don’t they?

I know that Witches and Pagans have had problems with Christians in the past, but those were the people, not the religion. Times have changed, and we don’t want the Burning Times back. Not upon us or anyone else.

Think about it, the religious paths of Roman Catholicism and Wicca really do have a lot in common. Wiccans have an Unnameable Force that created the All; Catholics have God the Father who created everything but is unapproachable except through others (such as Jesus).

Wicca has polar opposites that define each other and are connected as One; Catholicism has God and Satan (who, if you think about it, is really not evil but the physical/material form of God).

Wicca has gods and goddesses that express a personification of one or more Divine aspects/powers; Catholicism has the saints that serve relatively the same purposes. Wiccans have magick; Catholics have miracles.

Both Catholicism and Wicca are here for the same reason: to connect with the Divine.

So when you think about it, we really are not that different.

“Live and let live; fairly take and fairly give.” ~From the Wiccan Rede

Brightest Blessings,

~Raven Dove~



Footnotes:
Holland, Eileen. The Wicca Handbook. Boston, Massachusetts: Weiser Books, 2000.

Moura, Ann (Aoumiel) . Green Witchcraft: Folk Magic, Fairy Lore, and Herb Craft. St. Paul, Minnesota: Llewellyn, 2002.

Moura, Ann (Aoumiel) . Origins of Modern Witchcraft: The Evolution of a World Religion. St. Paul, Minnesota: Llewellyn, 2000.

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Are You Wicked Enough? Exploring the Archetype of the Wicked Witch…

Are You Wicked Enough? Exploring the Archetype of the Wicked Witch…

Author: Gray Lady

The Wicked Witch is a main stay of the word “Witchcraft” whether anyone likes it or not. We see her as the commercialized Halloween Witch and the nasty witch in the Wizard of Oz. Many of us practicing witches have attempted to throw out the ugly green-faced hag to embrace a more realistic and pleasing vision of our religion. But is really what we should do?

The Wicked Witch is a powerful archetype of unrestrained women power. She is a dark and ugly, self-serving loner who cackles at the misfortunes of others. She wields the power of the dark side of nature and can be seen at the end of every story flying off on her own high above the world of others. She has few mundane concerns other than eating local children and enslaving others.

Upon examining her taboo past-times, we can find our own power hiding within…

She is always a loner. How often do you see a coven of “Wicked Witches”? She doesn’t have a best friend to spend her time with. She has no one to judge her and no one to question her.

She is always dark and ugly. She is never surrounded by light. She chooses to be in the dark. Does she choose to be ugly? Who Cares?

Because she certainly does not.

Her looks and cosmetics are trivial. She always has a wart because why bother getting it removed? Concerns for looks are social concerns to gain status and acceptance.

The wicked witch needs neither. She is her own acceptance and her status is outside of normal society.

She is always self-serving. If you showed up on her doorstep starving, she would ask, “what can you do for me?” If you tried to reason with higher ethics or the charity of a deity like Jesus, she’d tell you to go ask Jesus for food. She already knows she’s “damned” and cares nothing for ethics.

We cringe at her archetype because her eyes always ask the same question: “What is it you really want?” Morals and ethics aside, if you could have anything… what is it?

Somewhere in her cauldron is the way to get anything, but in her humble life is the answer. We cringe because we know that in self-knowledge comes the answer that everything you have worked for is not what you really wanted all along.

She knows that if you really achieved all your mundane goals, you wouldn’t really be happy. So when anyone comes knocking on her door looking for favors, she knows that no favor is going to cure the world or your life… so for a petty quick fix for your pathetic life, what is it that she gets out of it?

She finds humor in others’ suffering. She is always seen cackling at the conundrums that people get themselves into. She has given up pity for other people running the rat race. They are to her … entertainment.

She has great knowledge of animals and spirits within the dark side of nature. Whether it’s their magickal qualities or where to find them in the forest, she always knows. She lives side by side with the darker animals.

Animals always surround the hollow in the woods. The cat and the owl are her familiars. She doesn’t “command” them because they do what they do for her willingly.

She has few mundane concerns. She never starves to death. Does the Wicked Witch ever ask for a mansion? A new wardrobe? Does she go to the doctor? Her concerns are in the realm of the spirit, far beyond the material focuses community she lives in.

She is always flying high above and journeying on her own. She has her own agenda and vacation plans that no one else ever understands. Her personal activities are not meant to be understood because your approval of her plans is unnecessary and unsolicited.

She eats children. Although highly overrated, it’s not the child of flesh that she eats, but the child of innocence. It’s a perfect world where children roam free, hold hands, and sing songs. Everyone stands in line to play on the playground and the snacks are always divided evenly. But then we grow up and realize that our snacks are not even.

“Fair” and “right” are spiritual ideals. We innocently hold on to the hope that there will someday be peace in the Middle East as we flip-off people on the high way and curse behind our neighbor’s back. The Wicked Witch eats our childlike view of the world and scoffs at our ideas of fairness and peace. She burst our bubble by throwing realistic pessimism in our face.

Our “treats” will NEVER be divided evenly and someone will always suffer… Get over it.

She enslaves others. Her ability to enslave others is her scariest quality. As lay people, we are scared by her entrapment because those who seek her are willingly enslaved and become stuck. She never chains them down and they could run away at anytime… but they never do. Somehow, they are bewitched by the thought that she may provide for them.

They never realize that you cannot achieve the magick that you seek within from someone else. But what makes her so wicked is that she allows them to be enslaved by their own greed. That’s their concern, not hers.

Plastered in the Christmas commercialism is the jolly belly of the Holly King smiling back from the outside of a McDonald’s cup, knowing that he is resurrected each year in the cyclical wheel of Holidays.

His older sister, the wicked witch, sticks her head out every year and laughs at the millions of Halloween costumes that mock or hide the darker side of human nature. She is still around because of the power she wields.

No one knows her name, but they all seem to take comfort in believing that she is different than them… except for the few people who feel her power in their blood. They are the people who don’t “sympathize” with her, but see and feel her as a guide, a challenge, and a threshold guardian.

I now realize my own pull toward her wisdom. I now understand that every time I’ve wanted “Wicked Witch” paraphernalia, what I wanted was to “be” her, to feel her power.

Every time I see her face cartooned on Halloween decorations, she asked the same question:

“Are you wicked enough to find out what you really want in life?”

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The Dragon in Wicca and Witchcraft

The Dragon in Wicca and Witchcraft

Author: Draconis Wierinsan Kinthasil

I have found the dragon to be one of the most powerful beings. By visualizing the God and Goddess as dragons, it lends the legendary strength of dragons to the spell or ritual being performed.

Through out the ages, on land and in the air, the Dragon has left its mark on the folklore of our ancestors.

These powerful beings were considered evil incarnate during the middle ages (more Church propaganda), thus creating the myth of Knights who climbed a mountain to slay a dragon and were drawn into the mist never to be seen again. But by focusing on the myths, a seed of truth can be seen.

For those who give reverence to the Horned god or (like my self WierinO), it may be easier to visualize them as a Chinese Lung dragon, as these types of dragon are usually pictured as having antlers or antler-like horns.

Here is a simple exercise that can help you to see the God and Goddess as more dragon-like over time so as to grant more power to your workings.

Start by visualizing a field of black, a night sky with out stars, the complete absence of light and color. Next see a small blue flame as a pinpoint of light and warmth. As you focus, see the flame grow up and out until it takes the shape of a blazing pentagram within a circle of earth.

Then turn the pentagram slowly so that it lies flat on the earth. Visualize the topmost points’ flame transforming into a bright white light. This is the element of Spirit. Then let the left hand middle point become as clear as a quartz crystal. This is the element of Air.

Next, see the right hand middle point burn white hot. This is the element of Fire. See the left hand bottom point meld with the earth and become a rich loamy brown. This is the element of Earth. Lastly, see the right hand bottom point become flooded with clear water. This is the element of Water.

Watch a serpentine dragon emerge from the pentagon in the center of the star, and wrap itself around the star to cut off the circle. Let the One come forth in whatever form you prefer and take its place within the Spirit point. Visualize the Goddess in the form of the Maiden and the Mother and watch the Maiden take her place within the point of Air, the Mother within the point of Earth.

Let the point of Fire burn reddish gold as the Horned god, or whatever Lord of the hunt you prefer, enters. Lastly watch the Crone, the Oak King or any preferred god (dess) take the place within the point of Water.

Open your heart and mind and the Gods will give you small bits of advice on how to proceed. Then watch them shift form until five dragons sit within the pentagram. This is the time to seek help from the gods, the One may or may not offer an opinion but the others most certainly will.

When you are finished, watch the gods return to normal and reenter the pentagon and vanish. Then bid the circle drake farewell and watch him go. Reverse the pentagram back to blazing flames starting at Earth and ending with Fire.

Let the fire return from whence it came until it is but a small blue flame. As the flame winks out, let all fade into black, then count from one to fifty-six then become slowly more aware of yourself until you have regained full consciousness. It may be helpful to write down your experience in a journal or in your Book of Shadows.

This exercise will help you attune your self to the power of dragons that lives within you and the elements. By attuning your personal power to the might of dragon, you can give a spell that extra boost, lend strength to your ritual, and bring blessings on a Handfasting.

This can be used with any creature of semi-mythical origin (here is a hint: try using five different creatures to better represent the nature of the gods involved.) The power that the dragon has within the human mind is amazing because whether hated or worshiped the dragon has been an integral part of the folklore of every country, land and people of the world. Historically, there are many ancient cultures that could have never interacted.

Yet there are stories of dragons.

From England to America, and every place in between, there stories of massive Winged predators that steal sheep and cattle devour whole villages and feast on maidens. But there are also the tales of dragons that gave life to humans by becoming great rivers, dragons that pull the sun across the sky and dragons that grant power or gold to those who help then out of a tight spot.

Some dragons are tied to certain elements like Air and Fire and there are a few examples of Earth and Water dragons in various myths. If you wish, dragons could be the keepers of the elements Fire and Air are the most logical choices. And if you desire to add a keeper of each of the four directions, a dragon can be a guardian of the west and Keeper of the dead.

Also it may help to use a dragon like Tiamat from myth to be the circle guardian to as the Rede says ‘keep unwelcome spirits out.

Keep in mind these are only suggestion and are not set in stone and can be adapted to fit any sort of tradition or path. Any sort of fantastic creature can lend power to spell or ritual work. As I identify very strongly with dragons (Its even part of my chosen name), I prefer to seek the aid of dragons more often than not.

In closing I wish you luck, May Kinthalas O keep your heart strong, and Wierin help in the hunt, the Air Maiden lend her Will and the Earth Mother Smile on you.

Blessed Be.



Footnotes:
O A stag antlered god from the novel Realms of the Gods.
O An Elven Name for Sargonnas one of the gods from the Dragonlance novels.

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Witchcraft Permitted … A View of Now and Then

Witchcraft Permitted … A View of Now and Then

Author: Crystal Crone

It’s 3 a.m. here in the UK. Strange for me to be wide awake and at my pc writing away. My advancing years scarcely see me out of my bed at this small hour of the early morning.

However, my meditations last night, far from preparing me to end the day in a peaceful and contented state, stirred up a now rare and unusual desire to revisit all the old ground I had walked over in my youth.

I am sure that many of us will do this from time to time as a matter of course, just in case anything was missed that may have bearing on where our path took us and how we decided that the path we were on was the way we were meant to go.

No problem with my choice for sure, I have never had any real doubts about the road I walked in almost fifty years of traveling along it.

Unusually for me however, I am gripped by a will to be the “inquisitor”. Just for this time I am pulled from my bed by a thirst to revisit old issues I have already faced and “put to bed”!

Just for today, I will allow myself to forget political correctness, even to the extent that the dreaded “thought police” will pick up on my very mixed up mind as I examine issues that trouble my mind.

Only for today, at this time and on this night.
I think that maybe my mind has been stirred by some of the issues raised here over the past weeks.

Much is being said about the profile, high or otherwise, of Pagan faiths in regard to those of mainstream faiths, and just how much this should trouble us, stir up our pride, or have us running for the broom cupboard and slamming the door behind us to hide away with our “secret devotions”.

I am not going into any issue of the rights or wrongs of any of that, I merely intend to revisit how I dealt with it all in the past. Sort of an old crone’s refresher course, I guess you could say.

One thing is clear to me; mainstream faiths have become far more vocal in regard to Pagans of any path of late. Some will say this is because we have become more vocal and open about the paths we are on and they are fearful that because much of mankind is becoming more enlightened to things spiritual that are frowned on by mainstream faiths, there is an element of panic amongst the clergy of these faiths that maybe their control is slipping.

I guess that what started all this off for me was when I read the end of year report for my grandson, who will take his all important exams next year. He had just completed his “mocks” and his grades were quite presentable, warm feelings of pride had filled my heart.

That was until I came to his result for Religious Education, which is compulsory as an exam for all students in the UK.

He got a U, which meant he underachieved with a grade of only 15%.

My heart sank at that point as his tutor had added a comment about her set piece named “Thinking about God”, a question of morality and faith and how she thought that if my grandson had paid more attention to it, he MIGHT have achieved a better mark!

How so? I thought. The Christian God has no monopoly on morality, or even faith, as far as I could see, so I sat down with him and asked him for his thoughts on this and why was his grade so low.

This almost sixteen year old gave me a lesson in life that I shall be quite content to carry with me to journey’s end for sure.

First of all, he pointed out that his mother, my dear departed daughter, had taught him and his brothers and sister the basics of ALL faiths when they were very young. She had told him that this was because he would one day have to find his own belief system and if he had a little knowledge of what was there for him to seek, the choices he would make would be a bit easier for him.

She also told him that on his journey through life he would be in peer groups with people of all different faiths and if he was to understand and give respect to those people, then he needed to know a little of what they believed in.

It seems that he told his tutor this and had tried to explain that his traditional family life, caring for other human beings, animals and the planet he shared with them, had helped him form his own morals that had not come from any religious book or God.

He had said to her that he felt it was the responsibility of all human kind to be the best they could be without having to be fearful that some vengeful God would condemn them to a place he did not believe in if they made mistakes along the way. (I assume this was hell, although he never actually said that).

If I can confirm at this point, although the children have been brought up celebrating our Pagan life, most ritual work and magick has been done beyond their sight as it is important to us that all will find their own paths to walk in the future.

I felt quite proud of his answers, but this still did not account for his poor grade in the subject of faiths as he obviously had very adequate knowledge to gain at least an average in the exam.

Probing a little deeper, I asked what his tutor had thought of his answers. Oh, she said I must be a Pagan, like my family, he answered, and with that his demeanor showed me that he had said all he was going to say about it.

Troubled by his answer, I had rung his College the following day and had quite a long conversation with the tutor who had set his work for the exam. She was quite a nice lady, a little pious maybe, but easy enough to talk to. I asked her why she thought my grandson had done so poorly in RE grading and her answer was this.

All children in the UK are required to have knowledge of, and good identification with, all mainstream faiths. I am aware of this I said, although in my schooldays in South Wales we were not required to sit RE as a compulsory subject and I had actually opted out and taken Celtic History and Heritage instead.

Well times have changed said she, all children have to learn about the morals and respect that faith brings to their lives and as teachers we are charged to do that.

Hello, I said, have you found my grandson to be lacking in morality or respect then?

Well no, she said. He is a lovely boy, always cheerful and polite and popular with his peers.

So what was his average mark for his religious study in regard to Paganism, I asked innocently.

After a lengthy hush, she said that only mainstream faiths come into the religious curriculum and that Paganism would be “touched on” in History under the heading of “the Witchcraft purges of Matthew Hopkins, Witchfinder General”.

It was obvious to me that I was going to get nowhere as far as resolving the faith issue with her, so I asked for ways to best help him through this exam next year and ended the call.

But now I am angry!

Religion is a personal choice as far as I am aware. It begins in the home with the parents, when the children are to young to teach themselves. Presumably the parents would also, at this early stage of their child’s development, be teaching them respect, morality and caring.

To make religion compulsory in the classroom takes away the freedom of choice from the child to seek their own truths, and places their future spiritual development in the hands a stranger who may, or may not, have their own religious agenda for the child.

Then I remembered the words of my grandfather many years ago following a census at the end of a decade. He remarked that most people in Britain had marked themselves down as Christians, not because they practiced the faith, or even knew anything much about it, but because they lived in a “Christian” country.

Of course censuses have changed since that day of his remarks long ago, as now we have “diversity” of faiths and cultures, so I think if the actual practicing Christians only were to register their faith, they would in fact be in the minority to Islam, with most of their devotees being active and practicing in their faith and happy to have that fact known on the census.

Pagans must be reluctant to register it seems, as their numbers on census bear no reflection to the estimates put out by various Pagan organizations and groups in the UK.

But enough of all that! My aim in these early hours is to revisit my dealings with these issues. Were they any different in my youth? Well, yes they were!

Time marches on, changing at a rapid rate, as it does. Same issues for sure, but the way I dealt with them then, would not be the way I would do it as a sixteen year old today.

Following the repeal of the Witchcraft Act in the 1950’s, Pagans banged open the doors of the broom cupboard with their new freedom to see, and be seen on, their path for knowledge and enlightenment.

Some turned to ancient books in well stocked libraries, they formed their covens, were unafraid to be seen as “strange or weird” by cynics of their beliefs, they followed their own rules, making a lot of them up as they went along, I have to accept.

All that was good, but what really mattered was that even if they were subjected to ridicule and scorn for those beliefs, there was now no law saying that they were committing a crime for believing or following them!

There should have been a lot of “bridge building” done at that crucial time, however. I guess that Pagans were so wrapped up with their joy of decriminalization that they marginalized themselves into their own communities, taking their knowledge, wisdom, ritual and celebrations back under cover.

Of course this had left other faiths free to peddle the “evil” and “demonic” aspects that they have used to denigrate Pagan faiths since times long past.

Had we tried to engage in debate with these faiths at the point of decriminalization, then understanding and respect may have followed, but those who could have done that, those with the skills to put the case over from a point of theological knowledge, took the view that they needed no acceptance, or even respect from other faiths, for their faiths and beliefs.

It is a fact that the majority of people will fear that which they have no understanding or knowledge of; so here was a missed chance to invite questions.

I also think we lacked a good “orator”, which may sound strange, but put together with the power of the spoken word we could have made a very good case for our inclusion into the “exclusive club” of mainstream faiths.

The Christians claim that Jesus needed no Church in his lifetime, to preach his messages to the multitudes he just climbed a mountain or had gatherings in safe places.

Makes sense to me really, I would have valued someone with good communication skills coming to a mountain or field near to my home, to bring me a message of hope and inspiration as my shaky feet set out on my Pagan path.

It would have saved me a long journey one wet weekend when I was 16, to Glastonbury from my home in Wales, to listen to a witch with the most wonderfully inspiring voice, speak to us about Goddess Devotion.

All faiths need figureheads, human beings of deeper enlightenment than others; many have crossed my path in my sixty plus years who could, and should, have tried to fill these roles.

I fear that many of us, however, will not see that happen before we head off for the blessed peace of the Summerlands.

So where is the sixteen year old Pagan at today? Is he/she any more open and honest in faith and belief than I was in the 1950’s?

Well, from all the essays I read on here from these young ones, I would say that their knowledge base of their faiths is much more solid than mine was back then.

They are certainly more vocal and visible than we were, winning their arguments in education and law, but are we any more “accepted” because of that?

They have the Internet now, a valuable source of information and communication, as opposed to the “grapevine” information source that was available to us back then.

I to have found my very best inspirations from the Internet, namely Mike Nichols Witches Sabbats site and this site with Wren’s wonderful format for news and information. Two inspirational people who would have made good orators and figureheads for Pagan faiths, I feel. How I wish they had been based here in the UK when I was 16 for sure, and coming to a hill or field near me!

I can’t get my head around the Christian/Wiccan thing, the two are not the same whichever way I try to look at it and it doesn’t make sense to me, but I wish those who happily walk this path, every joy on their journey.

Nor am I happy to keep bleating on about who plundered what belief from whom, and why they did this. Its stale, negative and I find it to tiresome for this old mind to cope with these days.

It seems to me that our “clergy” should have been arguing these points way back when, not complaining now when all the mud that has been slung, has stuck like tacky glue.

Better now, I would think, to seek to bring Paganism into the Interfaith club and break down the barriers and prejudices that have been built up about us, from the centre, and not by standing on the fringes complaining.

Temples are good focal points for devotional celebrations, but please let us not forget about gatherings for times when inspiration is needed to feed the hungry soul and may all you good people with the skills of communication find time to spare to lift a seeker with shaky feet, back on to firmer ground again.

Remember always the power of the spoken word!

There will always be a hill or field near you and good strong words need no amplification, only the sound of the speakers voice ringing out on the wind, with feeling for those who listen.

I can’t say I enjoyed revisiting these issues from my past, but I am glad that I was pulled from my sleep to do so. The joy in gaining legality to follow my beliefs was somewhat lessened by the lack of will, or inclination, to be taken seriously by mainstream faiths.

Will we look back with regret for that ?…

I guess so, for sure we missed a main chance situation way back then. But that time is done, a memory on the path that I had supposedly made sure to leave in the shadows of a journey in progress at that time.

However, my meditation sent me swirling back there for a reason, and it had to be a good one to keep me out of my bed at this hour of the morning. Maybe it really has been an old crone’s refresher course (lol), or just maybe the reason is that these young and enlightened ones are raising the energy levels of those of us who have felt a little weary of late, and are forcing us to examine where we went wrong way back then.

All this debate will continue long after my demise for sure, but at this time we have to make our best efforts to break the monopoly of mainstream faiths to claims that morality, respect and clean living is only to be found amongst their followers.

They can still get away with calling us “evil, weird etc, with no fear of redress, but you try even thinking that about a Muslim or Christian and the “thought police” will be at the door at the speed of light. Most just play lip service to the law of civil rights when it comes to us.

And how are we supposed to debate anyway, if things we may have to say are “uncomfortable or offensive” to every other belief system but our own?

Who defines these words as offensive, following what guidelines? Yes we gained legality, but did we then lose the plot by not maximizing our chances to be transparent and vocal about our beliefs? I guess that the jury was out on that one long ago and it could be that a good case was made for “could have done so much better”!

I have now made a decision not to address this issue from my past ever again. My progression on the smoother and more contented path of my advancing years will now be spent thinking about all that gives me joy in my beliefs, and I feel good about that, knowing that far younger and stronger souls have picked up the banner bearing our beliefs and will move forward in a determined manner to set it down in its rightful place, in the fullness of time.

That it will not happen in my lifetime seems unimportant now…. what really matters is that somewhere, someday, a great orator will stand out from the masses and stir up the cauldron of pride and passion until it boils.

As the curtains of prejudice, dogma and mistrust fall away, the light and energy we are so capable of giving out will bathe the earth and its inhabitants with the peace, cleansing and healing that should be the aim of every single one of us, whatever our faith or belief.

Maybe this is why sleep was pulled from my eyes … to be replaced by a vision of what is to be! It can be … so there fore is, they say!! I truly believe that it will be so.

As I go to crawl up the stairs to my room, I feel less tired than when I sat down at the pc earlier. I wish all you good souls a restful nights sleep, may you always love and laugh, dance, sing and play, in good health and happiness and may we all

Categories: Daily Posts | 5 Comments

Earth Science Picture of the Day for Nov. 30th

Tibetan Halo

November 30, 2011

Tibet Nepal (362) resize

Photographer: Alan Millar
Summary Author: Alan Millar; Jim Foster

The particularly colorful halo featured above was snapped at Yamdrok Tso Lake, Tibet on October 29, 2011. This is a 22-degree halo — the radius of the inner ring to the Sun. It’s the most frequently observed of the circular halos. Randomly oriented, hexagonal ice crystals in cirrus clouds are responsible for its formation. After entering one of the ice crystal’s side faces, sunlight (or moonlight) is refracted by 22 degrees (the angle of minimum deviation) before exiting an alternate side face of the same crystal. Note that the darkened area within the halo is similar to the dark region between the primary and secondary rainbow (Alexander’s dark band). In this region of the sky, light can’t be scattered by means of refraction alone. The rainbow-like rings on the inside of the halo are lens artifacts. Shield your eyes whenever you look in the direction of the Sun.

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Astronomy Picture of the Day for November 30th

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 30
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.

Curiosity Rover Lifts Off for Mars
Image Credit: NASA 

 

Explanation: Next stop: Mars. This past weekend the Mars Science Laboratory carrying the Curiosity Rover blasted off for the red planet atop an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA, as pictured above. At five times the size of the Opportunity rover currently operating on Mars, Curiosity is like a strange little car with six small wheels, a head-like camera mast, a rock crusher, a long robotic arm, and a plutonium power source. Curiosity is scheduled to land on Mars next August and start a two year mission to explore Gale crater, to help determine whether Mars could ever have supported life, and to help determine how humans might one day visit Earth’s planetary neighbor.

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Feng Shui Tip of the Day for Nov. 30th

“Mirrors reflecting the cooking fire bring about accidents and problems with young children.”

 

The WOFS

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