Daily Archives: December 27, 2011

The ‘Power’ Of A Word

The ‘Power’ Of A Word

Author: Lady GoldenRaven

I am so tired of hearing the constant misuse of one particular word: POWER.

We need to lose the egos people. Being a Wytch, Pagan, or Wiccan is not about power. It is about honoring and celebrating the Old Ones and Their Ways. It is about keeping them alive.

Being a Wytch (from this point on WYTCH will refer to Wytch, Pagan and Wiccan only to simplify the writing) is about caring for Mother Earth and her children. These children include ALL life, not just human. Being a Wytch is about honoring the God and Goddess. It is about observing the Sabbats as well as other rituals.

First, we must understand what the word power itself means. According to Merriman Webster Dictionary, the word power means:

Main Entry: 1pow·er
Function: noun
Pronunciation: ‘pau (- and ) r
Usage: often attributive
Etymology: Middle English, from Old French poeir, from poeir to be able, from (assumed) Vulgar Latin potere, alteration of Latin posse — more at POTENT
1 a (1) : ability to act or produce an effect (2) : ability to get extra-base hits (3) : capacity for being acted upon or undergoing an effect b : legal or official authority, capacity, or right
2 a: possession of control, authority, or influence over others b: one having such power; specifically: a sovereign state c: a controlling group

For most people, the word usually refers to the second meaning: possession of control, authority, or influence over others. For those making the transition from other religions to the Old Ways, they misuse this word.

As a Wytch, we DO have power according to the first definition. We can produce effects, but we can also misuse it as in the second definition.

Being a Wytch for over 30 years, I have seen many folks attempt to threaten others with their wytchy “powers”. I have seen wytches brag how “powerful” they are over other wytches.

In those 30 years, all those who claim to have this “power” have all misused it. They use it to control other people.

They use it to get what they want instead of either working for it, or obtaining it from some other means such as bartering for it. Most of what they want is not material items, but just the ability to “show off” to friends, feel threatening to those they wish to bully.

We need to first of all, strip the old familiar mindset of what power truly is. The power as described in the second definition is one that comes from man’s need to control everything. Yes, I mean men as opposed to women.

Don’t get me wrong, many women throughout history have misused this as well, but true misuse did not come along until Christianity and when MEN decided they had more power than women. I am not writing this to bash men–that is not my intent.

When women ruled this planet, there was a lot less war, killing, and rape? Puh–leeease!

But, I digress.

I hear so many young people say that they turned to Wytchcraft for the power. They are NOT in it for the religion. This upsets me terribly. We are trying to get rid of negative connotations to our religion and along come those who think they can have Power like they see on television.

I tell people, if I were a wytch like they portray on television, why would I be working my butt off week after week? I would not be in debt; I would have enough food so I would not go hungry, etc.

If I were a wytch as seen on television, I would be popping over to Paris for lunch with a twytch of my nose. I would be in the Bahamas with a blink of my eye during the cold winter nights.

I would not be driving a car that is old and falling apart. I would drive my Mercedes one day, my Porsche the next. I would have hit the lottery for millions several times over.

You get the picture.

What really almost pushed me to my limits was an event that occurred the other day. Debbie, a friend of mine considered an “adopted” daughter, is under my guidance as she learns our Ways.

She met a 23 yr old girl whom I will call Mary and they were talking about wytchcraft.

Mary said my daughter, ” I am more powerful than you will ever be!”

At age 23!

This girl claims to have more power than those older than her?

The wrath of a pissed off Wytch comes to the surface. Now, all my self-control was sorely needed. Not just because I felt the urge to just slap her silly, but I also had to watch my mouth.

I think the definition of the word ‘Power ‘should be changed to “the ability to maintain control over oneself”.

I am glad I had some time in between hearing the above statements and in my future meeting with Mary. It gave me time to think how I would handle this situation. I am still torn in some ways. The egotistical human side of me wants to just beat her down (verbally), but the Old Crone in me knows there is a better way to handle this situation.

I think we need to redefine the word power. As wytches, we do have the ability to influence not just other people, but events our professions, etc.

Have you ever heard the phrase: He had the Power to Influence others on the jury?” (Ok, the statement is redundant. It is like saying He had the Power to Power others.)

Our biggest “job” as a wytch is to not just worshipping and praying to our respective God/Goddesses, it is not only to heal Mother Earth and Her children.

Our biggest job is not letting egos affect us in any way.

We are HUMAN–we will NEVER be so powerful that we can instantly snap our fingers and have a mansion appear on our path.

Our jobs in healing the earth and in other rituals and/or spell works that we do is, in fact, to act only as a conduit through which the Ancient Ones may affect Their will. They alone know the Big Plan.

Let’s say we were doing a healing ritual for a person who is ill. This person recovers. Did WE do the actual healing? No. We sent our energies, prayers, and thought forms to the Ancient Ones. It was in Their plan that this person recover.

What if this person had crossed over? Some people blame themselves. Again, it is not our choosing nor is it our call on what happens to whom. If this person has crossed, the Ancient Ones had it in Their plans long before any of us were born.

As a Reiki Master/Teacher, I give my body to the God/Goddess to use as a conduit for their energy to heal. One can stand in the room and feel the heat increasing.

I am not supplying the energy that is being used to heal. If this were the case, none of the Healers in this world would be doing anything except sleeping to restock their supply of energy. The amount of energy used is far greater than what I as a human could ever “conjure” up.

Final words: Drop the word POWER from your repertoire. You really are not all that mighty and powerful.

About these ads
Categories: Articles, Daily Posts | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Grasping Witchcraft

Grasping Witchcraft

Author: Charmed By The Moon

I know the title is a bit misleading as Witchcraft isn’t something we can physically hold. In fact, it’s more of something we can embrace and become. I’m referring more to the idea of getting a hold on it, seeing it, understanding it and living it.

I’ve been on this road for so long but haven’t made the true connection to the facts and ideas that are Witchcraft. There is so much to learn and so much to do and so much to envelop, it can often feel like a horse running down the road and I’m trying to get a rope on it to bring it back in again. It gets away from me sometimes. It becomes too big for me to truly grasp and hold close to me.

Some would say, “Well faith isn’t something you can capture; it is a free moving spirit of the Universe knowing no bounds, limits, or time”.

I agree to a point.

How do Christians and Jewish and Muslim people get a hold of their religion? I believe in some cases it is indoctrinated into them at birth and they have spent years studying and applying what they learn through weekly ritual, holidays etc. They have parents and family and friends in the same realms and it becomes a part of their life.

They have many years of preparation and teaching to reach the important milestones of their particular faith. There are huge parties and gatherings of celebration, families bonding and loving, and a strong sense of community.

That’s fine and wonderful if you are of a major Belief System but what about us? Or should I say me?

What about the Witchcraft of today and how it is still perceived by our peers?

There is no building to belong to, no sense of community really. No one wants to hear how you just made a second initiation and chose a new name. No one wants to know what crystals you bought for ritual. No one cares about the books and discoveries you are making.

Point is unless you have friends and family in the know, you don’t have any real support or ways to learn and certainly no one to celebrate with that might matter to you.

I do have a partner in my life and for that I am grateful and he too is on the same road as I but he knows about as much as I do. We can share moments and lessons but we still need more, still need direction so I set it as my personal goal to gain enlightenment on a different level at least for myself.

That leaves us on fact-finding missions. It leaves us open to strangers in our Belief System to guide us. (Some of which I have to say based on personal experience are total flakes!) Or, we meet people whom ‘don’t owe us anything’ and they choose not to teach what they have learned or even help to get us started. Fine. They have the right.

Next we have books by 1, 000 authors at least! Some writers and practitioners are on the same page, others are more complex, more don’t make any sense, some are so busy saying “this is the only way” and how do they really know? Books are great but there is no real way to ask a book a question! No way to talk to the author directly so it leaves many an unanswered query. So then we move to the online world and there is no real way to know if the person on the other end is real or not, what their motivations are, what they represent and where do they get their information. I suppose you can find a local coven and hope they accept you if your willing to do the work. Again these are strangers and you are in a vulnerable state as it is and for some insecure people they can fall into a terrible way.

It can be such a lonely world and very disheartening. There had to be a better way and I think I may have found it! I had to put some trust in someone I didn’t know and I am pleasantly surprised to say the least.

I paid for my classes. I exchanged money for knowledge.

Granted it isn’t a lot but there is a personal responsibility to each person and we carry it out. I know there are many people who are telling me that I shouldn’t have to pay. I can find information everywhere and yes, I have indeed found info. I’ve found so much I can’t organize it all and I don’t know how to manage one particular sect of Witchcraft.

I’m overwhelmed. I need direction, accountability, projects, motivation, detail, organization and even coaching.

That’s it!

I needed a Witch Coach! I needed someone to break it down and give me a starting point.

So, after a 2-year search and investigation I did come across one woman. She teaches many classes in person as well as correspondence and her style completely resonates with me, and I like her! I like the way she thinks. I like how she isn’t all about props and deliverance as much as common sense and developing natural ability. I got a cool little lesson book with projects, ritual ideas, reading material, supplies to buy, etc. and a nice note saying to me “Welcome” and a few other things.

I loved it. Granted I’ve not had a conversation with her yet and I will soon but I still felt like someone was at least a nice person and to the point. Anyone can say welcome to the group but I picked up a sincere feeling.

Upon receiving my materials I set out to start by doing the first lesson and I am still doing them day-by-day.

I feel good and I feel like I might actually one day grasp the element of being a Witch. I know I am one. I always knew but didn’t know how to get it off the ground.

It isn’t a race to ensue one’s faith; it is a journey of mind, body and spirit and it is meant to be as such. I want to taste it in my breath, feel it in my soul, and wake everyday knowing I am special and I know what many others do not know but seek.

No one can become anything over night. it takes study and determination and a natural love of what your doing. It takes wanting it more than you’ve wanted anything and not giving up because it becomes hard. In reality if we don’t learn how to do things right, we can cause more harm than good.

In all the information I’ve gathered in four years I couldn’t differentiate what was bogus and what was truth and then who deemed it to be truthful? I discovered I have to find my own truth in what makes sense to me and what calls to me.

I found it, finally.

Categories: Articles, Daily Posts | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Please, Don’t Think You Know Me!

Please, Don’t Think You Know Me!

Author: Lady Abigail

I have no fear of who you see,
For I can be only me
.”

For me, it was a wonderful gift, being raised in the love and nurturing compassion of my Great Grandmother and learning from her the wisdom of family and history of her heritage, which was mixed in Native American traditions, Ozark Magick, Healing and Wisdom. She was truly an amazing person, and, oh yes, she was a Witch.

But it was not something she dressed up in; it was just simply who she was.

My Great Grandmother was a small woman just barely five foot tall. I would have to guess that she weighed maybe a hundred pounds and that would if she was soaking wet. For most of my life, I remember her wearing dark skirts and long-sleeve blouses even in summer. She wore a bonnet and sometimes gloves to keep the sun from darkening her skin. She dressed much as she had in her younger days.

She was in no way a threatening-looking person. In fact she was quite the opposite. Reflecting back, I would have to say, she gave the appearance of a “little house on the prairie” schoolteacher. But, those who knew her, truly knew her and respected her for the force of nature that she was unto this world, a person of good, healing, and wisdom.

Occasionally I would hear people saying things about my Great Grandmother and her being a Witch. I understood, even as a child, people enjoyed saying things about other people as long as they were not around. Sometimes it was about her goodness, but it was often filled with their fear and ignorance for someone they were afraid to know.

Over the years I have had people assume that because my Great Grandmother was a practicing Witch, it must have been somehow hard on me. Perhaps they believed that my Great Grandmother’s house was filled with rat tails and bat wings. Others would assume that since I was born into a family of Witches, then that made me a Witch.

Okay, kind of, yes, but not exactly.

My Great Grandmother believed that you were whom you made yourself into, the choice being yours. She taught me and gave me the gifts of knowledge, magick, and understanding of the powers hidden within the moon, earth, and nature. However, I had to also study and learn them.

Then, as I grew, the lessons grew and in time I learned that living within a world of magick, meant you would be learning for the rest of you life.

Witches know that once we open that first book, that study and knowledge are like a thirst we can never quench; a thirst that truly gives us an understand that surpasses every part of life.

Recently I had a young ‘witchlit’ make the comment that, “people were afraid of her … you know, since she was a witch and all.” (scary) But that is only because they knew that they should not mess with her, or make her mad because if she got mad, no telling what would happen.

I laughed, since most people have no idea I am a witch. I’m not in the broom closet by any means; I just don’t announce it as I walk into a room. I don’t need too.

In time, I will tell those in my life, friends outside my magick world, if I feel they need to know, which normally comes after they have a chance to get to know me. Then I let them decided how they feel about me, who and what they think I am.

If they stay in my life, I will cherish them. If they walk away, I let them go with understanding.

My Great Grandmother taught me at a young age, that it is not fear that brings a person respect. It only brings fear. And fear will in time breed hatred and contempt.

Unfortunately, there are some in our life’s who seem to confuse the two of these. Respect and Honor come from what others see deep within us, from our deeds and not our words.

My Great Grandmother was a Witch, but she was so much more. She was a daughter of the old south with Native American parents who walked the trail and escaped into a new life. She was the sister of a brother who was taken away by a religion that was not of her family’s believing, then forced by the government to send him away on a train to never be seen or heard from again. She was a wife and a mother. She was a widow and understood the struggles and joys of marriage, life, family, as well as the pains of losing those she loved.

Her husband died in World War I and her only son died in World War II. She was an honored grandmother and great grandmother. (Now a great-great-grandmother, as well.) She was a woman of means who survived alone and raised a family with no aid from anyone during the great depression.

Yes, she was a Witch, a Shaman, a Healer and a Wise Women. But she was so much more. All anyone even needs to have done was ask and she would have welcomed him or her into her life.

I have had people tell me that it freaked them out once they found out I was a practicing Witch. I have had some people feel so uncomfortable with that knowledge that they had to separate themselves from me completely, somehow unable to see past a label to the person within. How funny that people want to think they can guess who we are by just looking at us or by the title we carry in our life.

I have to tell you it is not a good idea to think you know someone because of how they dress, how they look, or what they may do in their life’s.

If you met me on a street, it is possible you would think I was the church lady. Other days you might think I was a streetwalker. But you never really know who a person is on the inside, unless they share that part of themselves with you.

Most of us know how to carefully mask the secrets we protect within ourselves. But that is because we carry our power within our spirits. No one can take it, nor do we give it away. We don’t need to put on a show, or act high and mighty to prove to someone who we are.

We know already.

In peace and magick,
Lady Abigail



Footnotes:
FYI: Practicing Witch- One who is actively working at the profession and skill of magick and/or Witchcraft. A Witch of continuing study and actively presuming additional levels of skill within the craft.

A Witch endeavoring to learn and grow beyond. Establishing magickal habits and continuing methods. Uninterrupted growth and study within the chosen occupation and skills of magick and/or Witchcraft.

Categories: Articles, Daily Posts | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Simple Thoughts on Churches and Personal Spirituality

Simple Thoughts on Churches and Personal Spirituality

Author: Disciple of Oghma

I left the Christian faith this last year. After 25 years, I had became everything one seeks to become in a Christian (I still had my issues, but who doesn’t?). But I met a balanced person who gave a thought provoking life testimony. I nearly flipped when I found out this person was a dark pagan. I started rethinking my whole world.

Now I am on a new personal path with a much greater respect for others.

Once I had left Christianity, I started seeing clearly a lot of the odd misconceptions that it promotes… such as the twisted definition of ‘love’ among other things.

If a Christian’s relationship with his or her God could be put in the context of human marriage terms, then the Christian should get a restraining order on God, change his or her name and leave. A funny thought unless you find truth in it.

Anyway… after a year of thought, I have realigned my perspective of the Path.

When I first left the Christian religion, I realized all the hate and rage and condemnation that I was throwing around in the name of ‘love’. In an attempt to decide if that was ‘just me’ or the teachings of the church, I have studied the faith from a different angle.

At first, I drew the conclusion it was a parasitic organism that has been using its popularity and influence to corrupt the nations.
But an idea struck me and I no longer think Christianity is to blame for the problems with people.

I think the Christian church is a symptom of the underlying weaknesses of people not the illness itself. It’s all about our desire to have a set of black-and-white fatalistic standards to use as a system of measurement to understand our world.

So we create a system of “Absolute Truths”.

Then we create a control-based system to ‘run it’ so that we can take advantage of our own desire not to take responsibility for ourselves and to enrich ourselves at the cost of others all… the while feeling pride at our ‘humble spirituality’.

So then what do we do?

We build a large comfortable plush little shrine to an image of human perfection and greatness. The average church, not including all the zoning permits, costs an average of $3-$5 million to build. (I Googled the “cost of church building” and plucked a few sums. It isn’t an absolute number but it gives a good idea to the cost.)

Then we throw our individual responsibilities at it, pray, and ask it to do everything for us. Our only real ‘job’, it would seem, is to use it as an excuse to hate, kill, steal, and harm any whom disagree with us and our god.

Jehovah is the icon of what the average selfish lazy person would be if he or she was a god:

“Let there be “less of you more of me in your life.”

“Give me the upper 10% of your prosperity.”

“I love you if you sing my praises and enslave yourself to me.”

“I’ll help if it suits me and if I don’t, it will work to your benefit”.

(These are beliefs that were generally promoted to me in my churches. I have been through four branches of Protestantism and studied several of the “spinoff faiths of Judaism.” So if you find this inaccurate, I only mean to explain the background from which I draw my current musings).

It is possible for any faith to become in every way as ‘dark’ as we have often accused the Judeo-Christian belief and all its related spin-offs (Mormon, Judaism, Catholic, Jehovah witness, Satanism, protestant, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, etc.) as being.

It seems the only way to avoid this path is to cut the problem off at the roots.

Personal Growth and Responsibility

It seems when we face ourselves, we very often discover that all the roots of our problems stem from either bad reactions to outside stimuli or a passive/active bad decision on our part.

This includes a new growing trend I am seeing in “disorganized religion” as well: The pop up Wicca/Pagan Sunday schools and the adoption of opposing religious practices like Wiccan “CHRISTenings”.

There is a great freedom in disorganized paths but people who seeks any sort of power should exercise a measure of discretion and be assured that they are grounded. Power without responsibility is dangerous, no matter what badge one wears.

Also we must accept ourselves entirely. We must accept all of our darkness as well as all of our light. To do otherwise is to dwarf one’s growth as well as grant power to the darkness, thus leaving it unchecked.

All of the dark aspects of ourselves, in proper controlled amounts, are actually healthy things. Greed, sloth, envy, pride, etc. Without any of these things, we would never strive, never seek to achieve or grow. They are integral parts of ourselves.

It is as unbalanced to applaud tendencies of light while divorcing ones of darkness just as it is to believe only in a female or only in a male creator.

We don’t have to be destructive either. To find balance and growth, one should simply accept both the inner darkness and inner light to be whole. If you are not whole, how can you grow and stand?

When we recognize our weakness, we master it and find balance. Otherwise it doesn’t matter what the name of your faith is or what you call yourself. You will simply continue to commit acts of cruelty, ignorance, sloth, malice, strife, theft, condemnation, and pride.

If we all would seize the opportunity to take responsibility, accept ourselves, correct our own errors, love and respect everyone – including respecting their rights to their own paths and their own views — and stop trying to make a black-and-white standard in this colorful world, perhaps we can be a better people and encourage growth in a better world.

Disciple_of_oghma

Categories: Articles, Daily Posts | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Planning and Performing Handfastings

Planning and Performing Handfastings

Author: Iris Firemoon

Handfastings are pagan wedding ceremonies, in which typically the couple’s hands are tied together to symbolize the joining of two people, or specifically, “tying the knot”. A handfasting can be a trial, lifetime, or eternal (spiritual) marriage. Depending on the intent of the couple and the national, state, or province laws, a handfasting can be a legal marriage as well.

Regardless of the legal or time extent of the union, marriages typically have one requirement. Both parties must willingly consent to a joining. However, this is not always a universal requirement.

In Ireland and Scotland, during the early Christian period it was a form of trial marriage, often performed in rural areas when a priest was not available. The couple could form a temporary, trial marriage, and then be married “in the Church” the next time a priest visited their area. This is similar to a betrothal, or a ceremony of exchanging vows of consent to a marriage at a future date and/or agreeing to a marriage contract.

“Telltown marriages” were named for the year and a day trial marriages contracted at the yearly festival held in Telltown, Ireland. The festival took place at Lughnassadh (August 1), and the trial marriage would last until the next Lughnassadh festival. At that time, they were free to leave the union if they desired.

We are going to explore two sides to a handfasting. On one side, we are planning the handfasting, and on the other, we are officiating. While not all of us will plan a handfasting, and not all of us will officiate them, these topics go hand in hand.

To plan a wedding, you must understand what it takes from your officiant, and to officiate, you must understand what goes into planning it. Priests and Priestesses are in essence clergy of this religion, and it may be requested of us to perform or aid in these duties.

PLANNING A HANDFASTING: While there are lots of things to consider when planning a wedding, such as a caterer and photographer, today we will stick to planning the ceremony itself.

When picking a date, the astrological influences around that time should be taken into consideration. At the very least, you would probably want to steer clear of getting hitched during a moon void-of-course, Mercury Retrograde, or when the Sun is in opposition of Venus.

Who to put on the guest list is an important fact to think about. When thinking of non-Pagan family members, and even those you will invite that might scoff at the idea of a Pagan wedding, the couple has to sit down and decide how obviously pagan they are going to let the ceremony become. In what a handfasting ritual implies and was first practiced in Wicca, there was no audience of people invited for the novelty of sharing the experience, or non-Craft people. However, since our society is more open to these experiences, things have changed.

Some families are more open to new experiences, and other families are more conservative. A wedding is not the best place to come out of the broom closet. Not only could it ruin a day that is considered to be special to most people, but also it could make everyone uncomfortable, and cause problems down the road.

However, allowing the thoughts and beliefs of family members to heavily influence the ceremony that you want could create feelings of regret. Think about what you and your partner want in the ceremony, and then think about how the guests would respond.

If the couple is set on having a more elaborate handfasting, but do not want to involve family and friends, two ceremonies could be held. The legal bond could be established at a more non-denominational ceremony, while the spiritual bond is fortified in an all-out handfasting.

My good friend who got married in 2004, she sent out a notice in her invitations about the nature of the ceremony. This gave guests a chance to opt out then. I believe that she also passed out programs that explained some of the various part of the ritual (their purpose, some history, and explanation), as well as contained the script of the ritual. The priestess also reinforced these explanations during the ceremony. She also let people come forward after the ceremony and ask questions.

When planning for cowan family members and friends, there are many elements standard to ritual that must be considered, such as the language of the ceremony, the altar, attire, casting a circle, calling quarters, cakes and ale, etc.

One way to make family and friends more comfortable with the background of the ceremony is to adapt the softer language. I have written and performed handfastings in which the couple asked that I omit words that may be misunderstood…such as Witch, Wiccan, and Pagan. Instead, I would create a strong earth-based theme in my ceremony.

I described concepts in terms of the cycles of the sun and the moon, our connection to all things, and in the symbolism of the circle. It may also be wise to explain the history and practice of included elements in the ceremony that might be alien to the guests, such as jumping over the broom, binding, the circle as sacred space, etc.

Keep in mind the attire that you will wear. While Pagan ritual attire is different than traditional wedding garb, you may want to think twice about what you wear. For example, you probably will not want to end up skyclad in front of your parents, and that it typically illegal in public. It would also be a wise move to alert Craft folk attending about any general attire suggestions, mention that family and friends will be in attendance, and to keep that in mind.

Also, think about other traditional elements of rituals, such as how the altar will be structured, whether or not you will set the area up in a physical circle, as well as cast a circle, and call Quarters, Goddess, and God.

Most rituals involved us casting a circle, and with a handfasting, this is no exception. Because of non-pagan family guests, some choose to cast and call the quarters before the guests arrive.

At my most recent ceremony, I all of the prep work, while the bride and groom sorted their affairs. A good friend of mine got married and had us cast a circle while the guests were there. Guests were explained the importance of the magick circle, sacred space, and the barrier that it created. They could then choose to sit inside the circle, or outside the circle.

There are many elements of a handfasting that make it different from other rituals, such as a wedding party, binding, challenge, exchange of vows and rings, as well as jumping over the broom.

Who’s in the wedding party? Handfastings are not the typical ritual, and as a result, we end up with some non-typical situations. If the guests at a wedding are cowan and Pagan, then there is a chance that some of the wedding party may be a mix.

The wedding party can range from coven members and Pagan friends, to the Pagan-friendly and the pagan-skeptical. Keep this in mind when planning on whether or not your wedding party will participate in the actual ceremony.

Find out whether or not they are comfortable with the roles that you are thinking of assigning them, and make sure that they know what to expect. The wedding party can take on group roles, such as setting up the altar, casting the circle, and calling quarters, etc.

Most weddings include an exchanging of vows, which are promises that the bride and groom make to each other. More conventional handfastings will also include exchanging of rings.

During the binding, the wrists of the bride and groom are bound together with ribbon. They clasp right_hand-to-right_hand, and left_hand-to-left_hand, crossing wrists. The priest/ess asks one of them if they wish to be bound to the other. This takes place of traditional “I do’s.”

Then, they may be a set of challenges the bride and group must pass to receive a blessing. The bride and groom, bound, are led to each element, then to any close family members (such as little ones) who want to participate. Bound, their bond is challenged by each.

Either the bride and groom are brought to each quarter, or the person representing that quarter (if you have them) comes to the bride and groom. They present a challenge of some sort, such as “I am the Elemental of the East, Guardian of Air. This is the element of life, of intelligence, of communication, and of thoughtfulness. It is the inspiration that moves us forward.

Do you and will you continue to share your thoughts, ideas, and burdens? Your hopes and dreams?” The bride and groom answer “We do.” They may then receive the blessing of that challenger.

Then, move around through a challenge by the remaining quarter guardians. In one handfasting I participated in, after the elemental challenges, the daughter of the bride had her own challenge. I would imagine that it could be extended to any person directly involved in the union.

When cakes and ale are partaken, this is the bride and groom’s first meal as a united couple.

Jumping over the broom is an African tradition still used today. Brooms were given as wedding gifts as a blessing of abundance, and they were decorated, and kept as keepsakes.

The action of jumping the broom also symbolizes crossing the threshold, as well as taking a leap of faith. Since the besom is a tool of cleansing, it also symbolizes the couple entering the marriage unencumbered. The wedding party or designated people hold the ends of the broom, while the bride/groom jump over it.

For more information on planning a handfasting, Selena Fox put together a great page: http://www.circlesanctuary.org/events/weddings.html

OFFICIATING A HANDFASTING: As priests and priestesses, we are sometimes asked, and at times required, to perform certain clergy duties. Included in the rites of passage that we may be asked to preside over are handfastings.

Not all handfastings are intended to be legal. Some are trial, some symbolic, and some only spiritual ceremonial unions. Legally recognized marriages have several benefits, however none of them are universal to all cultures and countries. In the United States, some of the benefits of a legal marriage include the ability to file joint taxes (which may decrease their total income tax), to control property, to be added to the same insurance policy, to make decisions for their spouse (including life and death decisions, such as the controversial “pulling the plug” scenario), and others.

Legal marriages also afford some spouses benefits should the couple divorce, such as child and spousal support. They can also sometimes establish the man as the legal father of a woman’s child, the woman as the legal mother of a man’s child, give the husband or wife and their family control over the sexual services, labor, and/or property of the spouse, and establish a joint fund of property for the benefit of children.

However, each state, province, or country will have its own requirements for deeming a marriage legal. As the officiant of any wedding ceremony, it is your responsibility to find out what is legally required of the ceremony, if the couple desires it to be legal. You cannot risk performing a ceremony that the couple believes is legal, and finding out later on that it was not. Should something ill happen as a result, you put yourself at risk for a lawsuit.

For example, a person could attempt to add a spouse (who was not previously covered) onto his or her insurance plan, but only to discover that their marriage was not legal, and cannot be added on to the policy. While they are wrestling with paperwork and arranging another ceremony that is legal, the spouse that was not covered is in an accident, all of which is not covered by any insurance.

Check with the local courts for the exact laws for the area. A marriage license, blood test, witnesses, and a licensed officiant may be required (among other things). For example, in Ohio, a marriage license must be obtained by the bride and groom in person at least three days prior to the ceremony. This license is valid for only 30 days. A blood test is no longer necessary.

However, if not a judge, mayor, or other public figure deemed eligible to perform such ceremonies, the officiant must be licensed by the State of Ohio. To obtain a license, the officiant must mail in $10 with an application and a photocopy of the ordination certificate.

While any person can officiate a handfasting, whether or not the ceremony that person performs is legally recognized depends on each state, province, or country. The area that you live in will have its own laws on who can officiate marriages and have them recognized by the government.

Some places require a license, some say that anyone ordained by their religious body can perform weddings, and others require a letter of good standing from the ordaining organization. In Washington D.C., a license must be obtained, and if you are not from the District, a person that is currently licensed in the city must go with you to vouch for you.

There is more information on various state and region laws here, but keep in mind that you will still want to verify with the local courts: http://www.themonastery.org/?destination=ulcLibraryMarriageLaws

To find someone to officiate your handfasting: http://www.witchvox.com/vn/vn_index/xclergy.html

Now, where can you get ordained? Ordination can occur through any religious body. Ordination “is the process in which clergy, monks or nuns are set apart and authorized by their religious denomination or non denominational seminary to perform religious rituals and ceremonies or otherwise to minister in a clerical capacity.” It typically occurs when a student has completed a certain level of study, or certain requirements within a religious group, and thus the requirements vary from group to group.

While eclectic Wicca teaches that self-initiation is permissible, thus indicating that this person is a priest or priestess of Wicca, this person is still not ordained.

In the U.S., most people have heard of the Universal Life Church, and its free online ordinations. I typically do not talk about it, because I do not believe that every person should go online and sign up for ordination, though it is possible. While there are laws on the legality of weddings, and the requirements to perform legal marriages, there are no laws on which religious bodies can perform ordinations.

If Wicca is a recognized religion, and a religious body deems a person capable of performing such ceremonies, then that person is ordained. But I would rather not mail in an ordination certificate from my Wiccan coven to the state of Ohio. Yes, I would rather mail in my ULC certificate for which I paid $4.95. It also gives solitaries the ability to apply for licenses if required and legally perform marriage ceremonies.

There is information on the ULC website as to which states accept and do not accept ULC ordinations, as well as which countries outside of the U.S. do accept them. Many people consider it a joke that people’s pets can be ordained through ULC. Of course, I feel that those people make it a joke, for it serves its purpose.

To check the Universal Life Church: http://www.ulc.org

In some situations, you may be asked to write the ceremony, or give input as to some of the elements. You must be familiar with the elements of a handfasting, as well as how to write and perform rituals. You should at least have a basic handfasting ritual that can be adapted if need be (somewhere stuffed in your pointed hat). If they wish to write their own, this basic ritual can also be given to the couple as a guideline.

You may be asked to counsel the couple, or be put in a situation where the couple needs advice. It is not uncommon for either the bride or groom to get cold feet, to ask questions about commitment, or have questions about the ceremony itself. It is part of the clergy role to act as a mentor and guide.

Be prepared to answer these sorts of questions, should they come up. However, if there are major differences that need to be reconciled, you may want to refer the couple to a professional that can help them sort issues out.

You also have the right to advise the couple address these issues before the ceremony, and even refuse to perform the ceremony should you feel it necessary.

While officiating a ceremony, you have the option of charging for services. Some people feel that it is unethical to charge for such services, but it is a service nonetheless. Some areas have laws establishing a maximum amount that can be charged for ministerial services.

Some of these laws are vague and say, for example, that no more than $15 dollars can be charged for the service of a minister. This type of wording does not say how much work is worth $15. Writing a ritual could be one set of services, performing the ceremony another set of services, etc. Check your local laws for specific information. When I officiate handfastings, I do not charge for my services, but have usually asked that my travel costs be covered.

Suggested reading:
Handfasted and Heartjoined by Lady Rhea
Handfasting and Wedding Rituals by Raven Kaldera and Tannin Schwartzstein
A Romantic Guide to Handfasting by Anna Franklin



Footnotes:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handfasting
http://www.religioustolerance.org/mar_hand.htm
http://www.themonastery.org/?destination=ulcLibraryMarriageLaws
Handfasting and Wedding Rituals by Raven Kaldera and Tannin Schwartzstein

Categories: Articles, Daily Posts | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Top 5 Things Your Local Witch Wants You to Know

The Top 5 Things Your Local Witch Wants You to Know

Author: Holly Risingstar

I am a fairly ordinary woman. I’m in my early thirties; I have a Master’s Degree in Counseling Services; I work with families in crisis. I’ve got two kids, a husband, and family nearby; I love the arts, shopping, beadwork, travel, and photography. I’m addicted to the Grey’s Anatomy and Heroes. I drive a black Honda that has seen better days. I wish gas prices would go down. I’m in desperate need of a haircut.

Oh, and did I mention, I’m a witch?

No, really.

I was born into a nominally Jewish family and had five years’ worth of Hebrew school growing up, but it never felt right to me. I never felt connected, spiritually, to God. By the time I was hitting my teens, I had started to read more and more about the occult, and finally came across Scott Cunningham’s book Wicca: a Guide for the Solitary Practitioner (considered by many to be the best introductory book on Wicca there is). Finally, I Got It. Something inside me knew this was my path, where I was supposed to be and what I was supposed to be doing. I’ve been Wiccan for 17 years now, and I’ve never looked back.

Wicca is an earth-based, non-Judeo-Christian religion. The modern form was created from various pieces of pagan religion by Gerald Gardner in the 1930s, but from there has exploded into a rainbow of traditions, each with its own particular blend of magic, faith, and morals. Wicca is a legally recognized religion in the U.S and you can even have it imprinted on your dog tags in the Armed Forces. It is often cited as being the fastest-growing religion in the country.

When asked to write this piece on Wicca, I considered carefully what I might want to say. Should I launch into a defense of my beliefs? Normalize Wicca with other religions? Simply compare and contrast? Deliver an anecdotal “Day in the Life of a Witch” kind of thing?

I settled on this:

THE TOP FIVE THINGS YOUR LOCAL WITCH WOULD WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT WICCA

1.We are not Satanists.

You heard it here first! Wicca does not subscribe to a Judeo-Christian belief in God; therefore, we don’t believe in a Devil, Hell, or Heaven. Wiccans revere nature and treat the Mother Earth with great respect. Many (though not all) of us believe in some aspect of the Goddess; many also believe in some form of the God, Her consort.

The most common belief system involves the Triple Goddess; a Mother Goddess, symbolized by the moon, who watches over mothers and children, family and all matters pertaining to that phase of a woman’s life; a Maiden Goddess, who reigns over joy, youth, vitality, freedom, and so on; and a Crone Goddess, who holds the secrets of magic and is the Guardian of the Crossroads (in other words, a death-related Goddess. Not one who causes death, mind, but who assists those who are in this stage of existence.)

Often the Goddess has a God consort, symbolized by the Sun, who is her lover and assists her with Creation of all things. Often he is associated with forests, certain animals, and a vast variety of human experiences ranging from sex to war to creativity. One of the great joys of Wicca is the ability to choose which Goddesses and Gods have meaning and connection for you – though they’ve been known to choose the practitioner!

2.We have one law – An It Harm None, So Mote It Be.

Which means don’t harm anyone, including yourself. Sounds fairly simple, right? Not so easy. It’s a tough moral code to live by. We cannot, in good conscience, take revenge, cause harm, or cause another person problems on purpose. No killing, no stealing, respecting other human beings – sound familiar?

3.You probably know one of us.

Wiccans (and pagans of all flavors) are everywhere. We come from all walks of life; nurses, doctors, teachers, lawyers, convenience store clerks, computer programmers, business owners, you name it. We are not necessarily the odd chick down the street with the long hippie skirts and twelve cats. . .ok, well, she might be one of us.

We have our share of hippies, vegans, Goths, and assorted subcultures. But you won’t necessarily know us just looking at us – most people I tell about my religious leanings are surprised. As a co-worker (and devout Christian) recently said to me, “I was so surprised that you are – you know, what you are. I kept saying, “How can Holly be a heathen? She’s so nice!”

4.Yes, we do cast spells.

It’s very similar to praying. Spell casting simply means using rituals to help bring about a desired outcome; no more, no less. A conscientious witch never casts on another human being without that person’s consent and full knowledge, and she won’t do it for money, if she’s the real deal. Witches try never to violate another person’s free will. There are no big flashes like in the movies; I can’t fly, float, or make things disappear (though there’s a shot if I put it on my desk!), and lightning has certainly never flown out of my fingertips.

What I can do is help protect, heal, bring about some occurrences (like employment or good legal results), marry couples and bless children, and things of that nature. I do not hex, curse, or cause harm through magic. It’s not cool with the Goddess.

5.You may have participated in a Wiccan or Pagan tradition.

We have holidays, creation myths, and rituals just like any other religion.

Wiccans generally celebrate eight high holidays: Samhain (pronounced so-when) on October 31st is one of them. That jack o’lantern on your porch? Started out as turnips, decorated to keep away evil spirits. Next comes Yule, the Winter Solstice, on December 21st – and if you have a Christmas tree, know that it started as the use of evergreen to symbolize life and rebirth in Roman and Druidic rituals.

Following are Candlemas on February 2nd, which celebrates the lambing of the ewes and the returning spring; Litha, the spring equinox, on March 21st; Beltane on May 1st, which celebrates life, generativity, and is where the Maypole comes from (you are dancing around a phallus to make the fields fruitful, folks!) Next, the Summer Solstice on June 21st, then Lammas on August 2nd, which celebrates the height of summer.

Lastly we have Mabon, the autumnal equinox, which ends the cycle of growth and prepares us for Samhain and the winter to come. We also celebrate and worship on the night of the full moon; we may also celebrate life events like births, weddings, maturation of our children, and death. In this way we remain close to the cycles of the earth, never forgetting who we are and what is happening in the world around us.

Wicca and Paganism are rapidly becoming mainstreamed. Your local bookstore probably has a decent-sized section on Metaphysical Studies, and you’ll find plenty on the religion there.

We have our own magazines, hundreds of websites, bumper stickers, T-shirts, music, and so on. Being Wiccan or Pagan does not necessarily mean we’re strange; it means that we have a different belief system than the general American public.

If you run across a Wiccan or a Pagan, don’t be afraid to ask us questions. We won’t come to you, but if you ask we’re generally happy to share what we know with others. Most witches are delighted to have a chance to combat the stereotyping and misconceptions the public has of us.

When we part, Wiccans often say, “Blessed Be.” And so I’ll leave you with a Blessed Be – merry met, merry part, and merry meet again.



Footnotes:
Previously published in a Mensa newsletter.

Categories: Articles, Daily Posts | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crone’s Corner – Catnip!

Crone’s Corner – Catnip!

It’s more than just fun for your cat. Researchers in the Department of Entomology at Iowa State University found that chemicals produced naturally in catnip (Nepeta cataria) repel cockroaches. Folklore includes numerous claims that catnip are repellent to insects and spiders. Results show that when given a choice between a surface treated with these plant oils and an untreated surface, cockroaches spent much more time on the untreated surface. One researcher observed that “the roaches will venture onto the treated surface, stop, turn around and walk off onto the untreated surface.” The chemical repellent in catnip is nepetalactone. Not every cat responds to the effects of catnip. If the cat doesn’t have a specific gene, it won’t react. About 80% of cats do have the gene, and enjoy the effects of catnip, which is purr-fectly safe and non-addictive.

Catnip tea was a regular beverage in England before the introduction of tea from China. It is also used today as an herbal remedy for upset stomach, insomnia (it contains a mild muscle relaxant), and cough.

GrannyMoon’s Morning Feast

 

Categories: Articles, Daily Posts | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tuesday’s Herbal Meditation

 Tuesday’s Herbal Meditation

Combine bay leaves, cinnamon, cedar, and sagebrush, and meditate with them, asking for their blessings and giving thanks for their energies. Light one green and one yellow candle, then hold your hands out over the herbs. Visualize your home and land filled with the healing energy of the Sun. See this merge with Earth energy, creating a bubble that surrounds your home and family. Send this visualization into the herbs through your hands, and say:
Sacred herbs of Earth and Sun,
Bring health and light to every one.
Bless our travels and our hearth,
Honored plants of Sun and Earth.
Bury the mixture at the entrance to your land or at your front and back doors of your home.
By: Kristin Madden
Categories: Daily Posts | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com. The Adventure Journal Theme.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,168 other followers