Daily Archives: January 12, 2012

Are The ’13 Goals of the Witch’ Being Thrown Out the Window Today?

Are The ’13 Goals of the Witch’ Being Thrown Out the Window Today?

Author: Gullveig

The 13 Goals of the Witch has been attributed to Scott Cunningham and other authors, but is treated by traditionalists and non-traditional Pagans alike to be the cornerstone of what a Witch is. However, many Pagans pay lip service to these rules in public while going against them once they are in their own groups and private lives. Even our group leaders, who are supposed to support and encourage us, fail in passing on these goals and living by example. How can we be great Witches if our leaders are backstabbing and living chaotic lives? Simple. We can’t. So we have to be those leaders.

Each goal is listed with a modern explanation below, most having to do with how I see those goals being violated in our Pagan community and how to stop such behavior.

Know Thyself – This is the most important of the goals. This goal is often taken as if you are a jerk in life and you know it, then you “know yourself”. People do believe this. Know Thyself, however, means to be constantly working on yourself, to know your shortcomings and not give in to them. It means also not to make up excuses for bad behavior. If you do not know yourself or work on yourself to make yourself better and therefore be in a spot to help others become better, you might as well not be a Witch.

Know Your Craft — The Craft is a vague word for getting to know your world; because anything you learn in the world can be applied to Witchcraft. I have known natural Witches in my time that would say they could do magick without reading a single book, but these Witches I found had no sympathy or empathy with the world around them. You need to learn about religions, even Christianity, the good points and the bad, in order to see how paganism fits in the time frame of history and religion. On top of this, you need to practice, meditate and keep notes of your observations. That way you can reflect on them and share them with others.

An open mind is key, but there are a good number of Witches out there that can be as judgmental as those closed-minded. A Witch who isn’t educated in the sense of being a “world student” isn’t a true Witch.

Learn — How many of us learn from our mistakes? How many Witches redo the same hurtful actions to others without thinking, “Maybe I shouldn’t start any ill will in the Pagan community?” The role of learning goes way beyond books and knowing your Craft, but how you apply the knowledge gained. It is to learn how to fix problems, heal hurt and bring people together instead of gossiping, sneering at the nemesis coven down the road or sitting back and doing nothing when you want a problem to be solved. This learning is key to being a moral Witch. We only will repeat ignorant actions if we never learn to stop them.

Have Patience — Patience is essential for the Craft. You have to have the patience of a spider, still in its web in order to deal with others and your life goals. People take advantage of patience, such in covens where one person does all the work and the others come and go when they please, not understanding the violation of trust they are causing. They hurt this person by thinking that the person will always have patience with them. It is up to every single witch to be patient and also not violate the patience of others, even if they have a lot of it. It is the one goal that is used most by others disrespectfully.

“Don’t like the childish way I am acting? Don’t you have patience? A Witch has patience, so you shouldn’t be upset I am here two hours late.” Don’t be one of those people. Don’t turn patience on those in your life.

Apply Knowledge With Wisdom — A Witch can know a lot about the world. But Witches that run off at the mouth about this knowledge can be show offs. A true Witch takes what he or she has learning and tapers it with wisdom, also known as tact. If you are a leader, don’t put down others because they don’t understand what you know.

If you are a student and your coven is being immature, speak out about it; use your knowledge to help to solve the problem. Add action into the mix of knowledge and wisdom, and you can be a Witch who does good for yourself, your group, the Pagan community and for humanity and the world. Use your knowledge for good too, not to put someone else down. Set a good example to others about what a Witch is.

Achieve Balance – Witches try to live lives of balance, not chaos. Yet many Witches try to live lives of drama and anger. Some think being a Witch will add spice or drama to their lives. Some of these Witches do it intentionally; some may have an inner problem they need to work on. They might not mean to cause harm by the chaos in their lives, but give into it.

A Witch’s life should be like the calm sea. Not that storms can’t rage in the sea, but problems are taken care of. Stress is controlled and moderate. A Witch tries to combat anxiety and depression, not let illness take over them. A Witch tackles problems head on and doesn’t let others do it for them. Sometimes in the Pagan community, people try to hurt those who have balance. Maybe it is human nature, but it is a sad display of our Witchcraft community to hurt someone just because your life is chaotic and theirs isn’t.

Keep Your Words In Good Order – This means, no gossip and gossip runs rampant in our community. I’ve known Witches who have gone out of their way to say insulting things to others. If you wonder why the Pagan community isn’t taken seriously, this is why. You can’t be a good Witch if you are smiling and talking to someone at a Pagan event, only to stab him or her in the back once you are done. I’ve had people praise a Pagan ritual only to laugh at it to others once it was done.

If everyone would lock their lips and not try to hurt others with words, more problems would be solved or probably wouldn’t happen in the first place. Your words are your honor and those who use them badly don’t have honor for the Craft. If your words don’t ring true, people can’t take you seriously. They will never know if you mean you will show up for event or can be trusted if your words don’t match your actions. So say what you mean and follow through with your actions. If you say you are going to do something, do it. No excuses.

This goal can be lifted if you are having abuse problems with your coven. By all means if someone is hurting you mentally, psychologically or physically or threatens you in a pagan group or coven, let the Pagan community know. This not only helps you, it also helps those who might end up getting the same teacher or stop them from having a bad experience. Don’t let the seriousness of this goal stop you from using your words to make things right. Sometimes a little speaking of the mind works miracles, even if it is tough love.

Keep Your Thoughts in Good Order – Try to solve problems. Sometimes people don’t care how you feel so you have to take the time to get over that and move on. It is hard not to hold malice if someone hurts you, but holding in means thoughts about a person inside yourself will only hurt you. Try to talk and if that person doesn’t wish to listen, move on. Don’t dwell on bad things in your life. This goal is much like keeping your words in order.

Speak out when a situation is bad; use your thoughts to try to heal it. Think good of people. If you can’t then try not to think about the person or situation at all, if you tried your best to clear it up. But please, use your thoughts and words to try to problem solve instead of doing nothing. Make your thoughts strong and positive. Focus on goals. Live those goals. And be aware getting over problems can take a long time. Give yourself that time.

There are comments in our community that state there will never be any more Scott Cunninghams or Doreen Valientes. But we can be. Why can’t I use that as a goal? Why defeat myself with the thought I can never be grand? These thoughts are what hurt our community. We need thoughts with more ambition. We need to think we can all be leaders and that starts now!

Celebrate Life — Celebrate your own life, the lives of others, the lives of animals and nature. This means not harming nature. This one can be tricky if you own a car. But try to respect nature by being as eco-friendly as you can. Some Pagans I have encountered smoke like chimneys, flicking their butts into the street and littering the road with pieces of paper from their cars. It is like kicking the Goddess in the face. She made you this great world and you litter and make it toxic.

Take care of others, work in the community, donate items to your Pagan community, and ask how you can be of service. It isn’t only about having fun, but when you celebrate life, you should have that too. You are a Pagan, connected to all life. What hurts humanity, should hurt you. You should want to take action, even in small ways, like recycling or spending time helping those less fortunate.

Be happy for what you have. Maybe of us Pagans come from countries where we think luxury items are needed for our survival, but we don’t take time to reflect how lucky we are to live in places where we can get an education and have our wants taken care of. One should pray to the God and Goddess for these gifts.

Observe insects and other animals. Pay attention to the value of life. Take joy in the flight of a month or the jumping of a cricket. Or the smile of a friend.

Attune With The Cycles of the Earth– I am surprised by the number of Witches who don’t celebrate the Sabbats or Esbats. Even if you don’t have a ritual, one can toast Demeter during Lammas, for example or harvest berries during Strawberry Moon. Talk to animals and trees. It may sound overly hippie, but you will find you connect. As I said before, many Pagans I have seen, even leaders, throw trash into the street or don’t keep the Sabbats. How will students learn if their leader doesn’t care if it’s the full moon or not? Again, they won’t.

Not keeping the Sabbats also creates a wishy-washy year for students and missing pages in their Books of Shadows. If a group can’t meet, a ritual should be provided for those to do at home. Solitary rituals should be encouraged. I find writing my own rituals helps me develop as a person, because I put myself and my goals into them. They transform me into a better person.

So attune yourself with Mother Gaia, plant native plants, treat animals with respect, acknowledge and learn the cycles of the moon and names of the seasons. Even their symbols. If you don’t live in a place with four seasons, use the ebbs and tides of your areas or imagine how it must be to live in a place with snow in December.

Being a transplant from the Midwest to Southern California, it is hard to do, but must be done. There are lessons for each season to that reflect into one’s own life. It is hard to be a Witch without knowing the land, the grass, the sun, the moon and the stars.

Keep Yourself Healthy – This means, healthy food, no smoking, no excessive drinking, exercise and no harmful activities affecting the body. Yes, I know pagans who tan in tanners, who smoke, who drink and who have even done drugs. This violates the temple the Goddess has given you.

I am not saying you can’t have a burger if you want it, or a cigar at a party, but constant use of these or addiction to them can hurt your temple and also hurt your mind and your outlook on life. I don’t think one has to be a vegan to be a better witch, but a healthy diet helps. I do eat meat, but sparingly. I would smoke a cigar at a party. Yet I don’t have addictions to these things.

As your body ages, you realize you may want to become healthier and quit even the occasional cigarette or dinner of fast food. That happened to me! I even know people I tried to teach meditation too that coughed when they took long breaths because of smoking. So how can you meditate if you can’t even breathe?

Take care of yourself. Be a healthy weight. Note I didn’t say starve yourself either. A person can be a size 0 and be very unhealthy. Witches look healthy and alive. Even the Goth ones. (I would consider myself Gothy by nature.) Take care of yourself before you have to see the doctor.

Meditate – Meditation is a state of mind. It can be from a book or walking along a shady path in the woods. All Pagans should make time for personal meditation and reflection. They should make time to talk to their deities or to nature. This can be a time to write out one’s problems in a journal or to be creative. To me, this should be at least an hour a day, or more ideally, an hour in the morning and an hour at night.

If you don’t think you have time for meditation, you do. Turn off the TV, get off the computer and find a silent place to be. Let your thoughts go. Sit quietly and hear the world around you. Fall into that noise and be. Get books on meditation if you can’t focus. All Witches should be able to meditate because you need to be able to focus in rituals and to direct magickal energy, for example, in spellwork. It is a very crucial part of our religion, being able to focus our will.

Honor the Goddess and God — I wonder when this one went out of style? I have run into a lot of people who tend to speak very vaguely about Gods. As if I need to hide my Athena worship from someone who is into Freya as not to offend their sensibilities. There are a lot of Gods out there and some pagans who don’t even have Gods, but to me, there is nothing more spiritual than making an altar to a God and praising them. I feel it connects action to ritual. It tells the ritual where to go.

So what if someone does a ritual to Shiva when I only worship Diana? Can’t I get something out of that ritual as well? I also find Pagans calling and dismissing Godforms like they are puppets to do their bidding.

What happened to thanking the Gods? Thanking the Sun and the Moon, being grateful for each day given? Listen to what the Gods say to you. If you have a pantheon, read up on the Gods in it. Sometimes I go to rituals and people, even though they are in a coven with a certain pantheon, the members of that group can’t even recite the names and myths of their Gods. It’s a shame.

Study up on the Gods, read mythology and folklore; learn how stories connect to people in real life. You will learn much. Planting an organic apple in the ground for Venus or pouring spring water in the ground for Elen of the Ways is good practice to showing the Gods you appreciate them.

Looking at these goals, I can see why they have stood the test of time and people use them as public domain, though I know that Scott Cunningham’s Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner has these goals phrased like this but I have seen it in many other forms. Using this goal list as a moral framework, a Witch can succeed in magick and working in the community, both the Pagan one and world of humanity and nature.

As Witches, we need to go back to structure in our practice and not freeform, to turn our passivity and bad character traits into ones that benefit life, from without to within. I urge you to print these goals out and follow them. I challenge you. And in meeting the challenge, we can be better Witches and better people.

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Where Have All the Gardners and Crowleys Gone? (An Answer)

Where Have All the Gardners and Crowleys Gone? (An Answer)

Author: Juniper

In the last couple of weeks a question, or rather a few similar questions, have been coming across my radar, again and again. I do try to pay attention to such things, when they come my way. One or more of these times were in articles posted on Witchvox, while other times this question has been uttered to me by friends. Here are the questions:

“Why are there no more Gardners and Crowleys?”

“Where are the women like Doreen Valentine and Janet Farrar and Dion Fortune in younger generations?”

“Where have all the good Elders gone?”

“Why are there no impressive High Priest/ess any more?”

… And such similar ponderings.

Despite the fact the fact that I am no Crowley, nor Starhawk, nor Elder, I think I may have hit upon an answer. It’s an ugly answer, and I know that sharing it may only cause me problems. Yet, I feel compelled to share it. So folks, if you are easily offended, please … keep reading. Bear with me, let me sit upon a “high horse” for but a moment and allow me to say some things you may not want to hear.

Gardner and Crowley were trailblazers. They were bold and daring, they said and did outrageous things. People like Gardner, Crowley, Cochrane and Hutton (to name a few) were eclectics, they tried stuff out, and they mixed and matched. They mixed pantheons and traditions. Nowadays we pagans use the word “eclectic” like a dirty word, an insult to be slung at anyone who dares to mix traditions or practices.

Because our watered-down version of paganism and occultism does not breed such people, does not encourage them. In fact, we make them pariahs. We are not comfortable with controversial leaders. We don’t want teachers with a reputation for being eccentric. We don’t like it when someone walks through the mall wearing a giant pentagram, or purple hair or a black dress. We don’t want to rock the boat. We don’t like it when someone says or does something new or different or outside the box. We are uncomfortable with pagans who don’t fit neatly into some label.

There are no more good elders for two reasons.

One, we treat them horribly, you know it and I know it. We give them no reason to participate in the community. We are pleading and demanding and completely lacking in respect. We expect them to do all the work for us, with barely an introduction. We never finish what they work so hard to help us start.

Two, many of our elders and pagans who have been around for a while have become jaded and disenfranchised. They have decided to give up on us and are hiding away somewhere. Far too often now, when they do decide to show up, it is either for our adulation or to make fun of other less experienced pagans… which only leads to a lack of respect for our elders. And thus we create a vicious cycle.

We all understand cycles do we not?

Because we seem to think that High Priestess and other spiritual leaders and teachers of such caliber are “born”, not slowly grown over time. We think that once a pagan reaches 40, they should just magickally turn into a great leader, teacher or guru. We think we do not need to support our young leaders and teachers. We feel that we do not need to help them to grow into great elders.

No, instead we pick and snipe at them and demand to see credentials and examine their birth certificate as if age is what matters. Because we forget that people like Janet Farrar, Doreen Valentine, and Starhawk were in their twenties when they first made their claim to fame. We forget, and we treat our young witches and priestesses like idiot children.

Because we buy white-lighter, easy-to-read, fluffy little books when we should be buying the books Chapters and Barnes and Noble refuse to sell. How many of you actually have books written by Gardner, Valentine, Farrar, and Crowley? How many of you have more books written by the likes of Sylvia Browne than books by our great old Elders?

There are no more Gardners and Crowleys because we are afraid. Afraid of controversy, afraid of not being politically correct, afraid of being judged, afraid of ourselves, afraid of what the neighbors might think. Afraid of what the rest of the pagan community might think or do.

Because we are afraid to try something that no one has done before, we need to read three instructional books on how to do it first. We need an author, teacher, or Internet friend to assure us that nothing bad might happen, that it will be fun and safe … and boring. Because we panic when a hedgewitch posts Flying Ointment recipes on her blog.

And we are lazy. We have become a community whose majority are little more than armchair pagans. We study more than we practice and we think that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Paganism, witchcraft, magick … these are PRACTICES. You have to practice them! These pissing contests about what you know are meaningless. We need to focus on ourselves and our practices, not on what someone else has memorized.

Because we have made paganism too commercial, too user friendly, too easy, too accessible. We are more comfortable with a clean, neat, organized, sterilized version of spirituality. We don’t want something messy, sexy, nitty and gritty. We want something that matches the row upon row of identical pink stucco houses that litter suburbia.

Because we don’t want to have to work hard to find wisdom. We want it handed to us in a textbook format.

There are no more Gardners and Crowleys and the like because you’re supposed to be one.

That’s right. YOU.

Who else is going to do it? So what’s stopping ya?

You want more visionaries, teachers, and leaders? You want to see the next generation of Gardners and Crowleys crop up? Then go and do it yourself. Because chances are everyone else is too yellowbelly to do it for you. And why should anyone do it for you anyway?

Think about it.

*climbs off high-horse and raises shield*

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Can A Pagan Still Have Blind Faith?

Can A Pagan Still Have Blind Faith?

Author: Lady Julie of Ravensgrove Coven

Can you be Pagan and still have blind faith? Do you have to have tangible proof of the Goddess’s and the God’s existence? Do you actually have to see the gifts bestowed upon us by deities to believe in them?

Growing up in the Christian churches, the one thing that I have carried with me in my Wiccan path is the idea of blind faith. You sometimes just have to believe and just leave it at that. Not to say that you cannot have questions, it would be silly not to. If I do not understand an aspect of the path or a topic I am learning, I have no qualms about asking a question to try to understand it better. If we do not question, we cannot find answers, therefore we cannot grow. I do not want my high priestess to tell me, as the ministers of my early youth did, “Because the Goddess/God said so.” That is not what I consider faith.

Then again, I do not feel the need to question every single thing and need that tangible, “I have to touch it to believe it” proof. Do I need to see a physical manifestation of the Goddess or God? No. Would it make my belief in them stronger if I did? I do not think so.

I feel them with me everyday. I see their existence in the sun and the moon, in the flowers and the trees. I see them in the faces of my coven family during ritual. I see them every time I look into my granddaughter’s eyes. I feel them every day when I get out of bed to start my day, and I feel them every night as I ready myself for sleep.

My High Priestess is a gifted psychic and medium. I have seen the reactions of people after she has done reading for them. I have seen the looks on the faces of some when she describes a spirit that she sees. I cannot see what she sees; yet I still believe her. And there are times that what she sees may not make sense to the client, or even her at that moment, yet I still believe in her and her gifts. I am not going to run and throw everything I have learned from her away because something did not come through to her clearly and I felt it should. What kind of student would I be then? And most often, in time, what she had seen becomes clearer to all involved and they begin to understand.

It would be a very hard life to live, I feel, if we did not just sometimes believe, to feel that we had to have everything explained and proven in detail. It would be exhausting to question every aspect of your life, religion, belief, etc. How sad it would be to never be happy with just knowing that sometimes, things just are; that there is no rhyme or reason to the universe around us, to know that life is everywhere without having to see its DNA. I love the fact that I look around my life in wonder and see the gifts that have been bestowed upon me, knowing that I am a child of the Goddess and God.

I know the concept of “blind faith” carries a tremendous amount of Christian connotations to it, especially for those of us who grew up in the Christian churches. I cannot tell you how many times I was told that it were “God’s will” or “Give faith unto the Lord” in times of trouble. I know my mother has “put things in God’s hands” when money was tight or there was some other crisis in her life.

I believe that you have to help yourself to achieve your goals. Every time I cast a spell, no matter what the need, I know that I have to take actions myself to obtain that goal. I do not have the mindset that I am going to get what I want or need just because I have faith.

I know many Pagans who grew up in the Christian churches moved on from them because of the “just believe” attitude and the inability to feel free to question what they were being taught, the scorn that they received from the members of the congregations if they spoke out and questioned the Bible. I remember the fear I felt as a child when I was told that if I did not believe I would burn in Hell. The fire and brimstone fear, as I call it.

Yet now, in my Pagan life, there are times that I cannot see, or hear, or touch something, but I still believe it is there. I know that the Goddess and God are with me daily, because I feel their presence, yet I do not question their existence because they are not in a physical form.

I believe that there are spirits around me all the time, yet I am not one of the lucky ones who can actually see them. I believe that there is life in the grass, flowers and trees, yet I cannot physically hear them breathe.

I believe that there are people who have lived many lives, yet I was not there to witness those lives that they lived before. I believe that my High Priestess can see people and places here and now as well as the past, yet I cannot see them with her.

Blind faith, to me it is a comforting thought. To know that there is something out there that you believe in, that you cannot explain. Something you cannot see, but it is out there regardless. You do not have to be Christian to have blind faith. I believe that in any religion you have to have to have the ability to say, “I cannot explain it, I cannot see it, but I know it is real.

If you do not, then you might as well stay in bed and not look forward to a new day, not raise you face to the warmth of the sun, or breathe deep the fragrance of the flower. You might as well not look into the night sky and smile when you look at the Goddess in her moon form.

Can a Pagan still have blind faith?

I certainly hope so. I do.

Brightest Blessings,

Lady Jasmyne Dragonskye
Ravensgrove Coven
Indianapolis, IN area

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The Journey of a Wild Witch

The Journey of a Wild Witch

Author: Eilan

It has been eight years since I first discovered Witchcraft in a spiritual context. Prior to this Magick was very much alive in my life as I was lucky enough to have been born into a family that understands the spiritual dimension of life. My family also had the insight and experience to see and live this dimension in their everyday. In truth there is no difference between what is conceived to be ‘spiritual’ and that which is apparent and ‘mundane’. It is all one. This is my truth and my wild way.

I am an initiated Witch and Priest of the WildWood Tradition of Witchcraft. This means a great deal to me, as I am also a ‘co-founder’ of the original Mother Coven, based in Brisbane and initiated at Samhain (April 30th) 2006. Our ‘tradition’ and way of living the Craft is deeply interwoven with what many people call ‘shamanism’; derived from the Siberian Tungus word for their medicine people – saman. Mircea Eliade, the late Romanian historian, described shamanism as a “technique of ecstasy” and my coven has come to define Witchcraft as an “ecstasy-driven, Earth-based, mystery tradition”.

Our (and all Witches’) rituals and methods of practice allow us to transcend the illusion of separation and therefore to dissolve the ego and actualize the freedom that lives in the heart of all things. I often call and relate to this ‘All’ as the Great Mystery. The beauty of being a Wild Witch is that nothing is absolute and I have come to realize that all of Life is a holy continuum, which constantly seeks to express itself through diversity. Through expression comes manifestation, which allows us to experience Beauty through Perfection (the world in which we live) and then once more we come to the Wholeness of Unity and the cycle repeats itself.

We are born into a plural world of many and pass into the One only to yearn to divide ourselves once more to grow, deepen and enrich our understandings and experiences of that subtle/overt thing – the Great Mystery.

My coven’s tradition has developed and evolved around this wild-trance-dance-of-wonder. The only consistency between our covens is that we honor and acknowledge our heartland the WildWood, keep holy our covenant with the Sacred Four (the Weaver, the Green Man, the Crescent-Crowned Goddess and the Stag-Horned God) and that we remain open and receptive to personal/group gnosis and to Awen (the divine flow of inspiration) . Other than this there are some structural similarities regarding dedication and priesthood and inner and outer courts.

Essentially however we are wild Witches who fly in the face of authority and seek the wilderness underlying the apparent ‘civilization’ of things. Nothing can be tamed, for the wild is free and the free is divine! As we say in the WildWood – “we have actualized our radness!”

What do Wild Witches do? First and foremost – we live! We breathe, we sleep, we eat, we drink, we sing, we dance, we make love, we scream and we spend time sharing presence and being with our loved ones. ‘Being’ is an important principle to consider. To be is quite simple but so many people find themselves distracted by the “this and that” that they leave ‘being’ behind and pursue illusion instead.

This isn’t the same concept found in various Christian philosophies which espouses a “Satan’s fault!” message when sheep stray from the flock so to speak. Witches understand self-responsibility and are aware of action, reaction and consequence (the Threefold Law) . Why not exist in euphoric awareness of self as Self – the animate Cosmos? You are not only a cell within a larger body of universal wholeness; you are whole and thus a perfect embodiment, expression and reflection of the Great Mystery whose cause, undercurrent and outcome is Life.

When we free ourselves from the illusion of past, present and future and surrender to the Flow of the Continuum (the spirals, the wayward ins and outs, the labyrinthine, serpentine undulations of fate becoming) we make real for ourselves the state of being known commonly as “here and now”. This seems to constitute location and time, however it simply addresses the emphasis of indwelling consciousness regardless of where you are and what frame of time constrains it.

There are moments in my life, which I refer to as ‘Nostalgic Rites’. They are pure, simple, soothing, knowing moments that are like the punctuation points in a flow of sentences. They are the markers and the thresholds that appear along our paths when it is time to pause, reflect and feel. I have them often enough in my life to understand their imminent message of timelessness, peace and overwhelming Love! For what I have learnt above all else thus far is that dwelling within the chaos in the cosmos is the peace which neither subsumes or overrides it, but embraces it and lets it be. Chaos is what happens naturally when the undifferentiated potential becomes “this and that” and peace is the understanding that this is the way of Life. All of this is wild; we dwell in a far-reaching, limitless wilderness.

In a recent priestess training session with two beautiful women from my coven I asked both of them to divulge their feelings and reflections of the journey toward their priestesshood, as they are nearing to the ‘end’ of the beginning – Initiation. One of the women honestly came out and said to us that she feared for us (the other priestess-in-training and I) because we are on the top of the mountain, but because we are risk-takers it is inevitable that we will fall.

I had to stop and wonder in that moment why anyone would not want to fall. In fact I also wondered whether it had occurred to her that surrounding the mountain were vast forests, plains, rivers, deserts, tundra, bushland, seas, oceans and lakes; not to mention all of the beings who inhabit these places.

For me the mountain is not the point. It is part of the whole Great Mystery, but the journey does not lead to a single place; in fact the journey doesn’t really lead anywhere. There is no aim to my wandering, to my blissful dance through the wilderness – I simply embrace every experience because it is worthy of it and I laugh, smile, cry, choke, rage, relax, love, ***, change, grow, and a million other things that I couldn’t possibly articulate or fathom for the purposes of this article.

The other woman, who knows me very well, and is one of my closest friends, then turned to me smiling and said, “You are so glib!” She then went on to explain that it was the “natural, offhand ease and articulate fluency and flow” of how I expressed my truth that made me glib in her opinion.

It wasn’t a criticism on her part, merely an observation. I think it is actually quite accurate. I have such ease and flow in my expression because I don’t have to think too hard about who I am or how I feel because I am and I feel in the “here and the now”. I live and I am, and in my experience Life itself is glib.

To my fellow journeyers of the wild way who know in their hearts that they are heading nowhere, anywhere and everywhere – may you dance the Wander with all you are. My deepest well of love to you all!

The Wanderer

The sages say that samsara is to wander, to pass through,
I say samsara is to know the way and dance it.
To dance is to live, and to live is never “to pass through”;
Dance doll – dance and light up the stage…

Then they came with their wrought-iron weapons
And they pierced my soul, and looked for the mark.
I sang to them to soothe their battered spirits.
They sunk their swords in harder, my heart is in shreds.

The blood ran dry and the old seas heaved
And there in the darkest hour all was forgotten,
And tattered clothes were left in tatters,
And the ashes were left in mounds at the pyres.

Is it a fact that when we are lost we wander?
Is it true that when we are in love we dance?
Or do we dance when we are lost?
And do we wander when in love?

Samsara, O holy wheel of Life,
Keep turning, I want to stay.
I don’t want nirvana in clouds far away
For I feel it already…here.

The Wanderer – the Fool?
I don’t mind, I don’t mind being;
For all the pain and suffering and the attachment to desire
There is a keenness that is not worth losing.

I want to live,
I want to wander if that’s what it takes,
But through all this I will dance
And I will dance because I love.

- Gede Parma

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The Dark Side of Leading: Covens, Groups or Groves

The Dark Side of Leading: Covens, Groups or Groves

Author: Lady Abigail

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Perhaps the biggest challenge in any group is in understanding the people you work with. In search of the perfect solution, most people become oblivious to those of differencing opinions. It is not negative; it shows passion to their beliefs. But be careful, passion can sometimes lead to wishing and hoping for things to be different than they truly are or thinking that you have the only answer. This can set up problems when things don‘t go your way.

Gaining the respect of a group is paramount as a leader. Respect comes from knowledge, understanding and accomplishments. You must also show your credibility and reliability within the group so that there is an awareness that you will always do what is in the group’s best interests.

For effectiveness in leadership there must be trust and humility. It is a mistake to try to “become an authority” in all matters. Know when to ask the right questions and be able to test the answers. Your greater knowledge within any group is the freedom to rely on the other members and respect their input.

However, this is different than trying to find answers that will make everyone happy or allowing the personal opinions of anyone to overshadow what is best for the group.

Over my many years of leading groups, I find that people join a group for many different reasons. Some join to learn, some join for community and meeting others of like-minded spirit. Some join for the energy they find working in a circle with others and some join to come together on and give honor to the Gods.

But, far and above, the number one reason I hear is FAMILY: the need to be accepted and comfortable with others who understand who they are, being a part of something greater than themselves.

As a High Priestess of a coven (Ravensgrove Coven) , I find that all of these reasons can all be good as long as there is also an understanding that your reasons may not be the same as the person standing next to you. Yet theirs are just as valid. That is as long as each member can work well with the other.

Nevertheless, problems can arise. Hurt feelings, anger and even jealousy. These must be dealt with as they happen, quickly, personally, privately and honestly. Discretion is honorable is such matters. We are not children who need to be scolded and made example of, nor should be pick sides. We are adults and Pagans; therefore, we are to use wisdom and consideration, not the emotion of the moment.

Once a problem is seen, it is the leader’s place to handle it quickly and as they believe best for all concerned. Those with experience within a group will tell you, when there is any discourse in any group; working together in circle or for magickal intention is not going to happen. Anytime, whether in circle, in life, home or job, you try to work with someone you are angry at … you know it will not succeed. Unpleasant or angry energy is not going to give you any positive results, only negative. Plus all those who have been working within this circle have been drawing the negative energy in and that is detrimental. There must be harmony within any circle, be it for magickal working, healing or energy work. This is for the positive nature of the circle and all its members.

It is not always easy being the leader, since with every decision there will be some that are going to be disappointed once it is made. That is why on matters of great importance you, as the leader, may want to ask your group to vote or give their options on certain issues. Yet, when all is said and done, you will be the one making the finial decision. Good or bad, you will also be the one held accountable, and that is because it is your responsibly to make all decisions in the best interest of the group. On the group as a whole, not your friends, not even your family but for the group as a whole.

I have found that whenever you have more than one person in a room you are generally going to have more than one opinion. The more people in a group the more likely that someone is going to disagree with the decisions made. It is nature; we all think different and have different concerns and outlooks. But when all is said and done, it is the leader’s decision that must be final.

Once the decision is made, everyone within the group must uphold the decision, whether they were in agreement with it or not. This is part of the trust you promised, and gave, to your group and your leader when you joined the group. This is the trust that any decision that would be made would be in the best interest of the group as a whole. Remember: ‘in perfect love and perfect trust’ is not always as easy to implement as it is to say.

Everyone should try to understand that it could be difficult for any leader to continually deal with internal problems between members. If you are having a problem with a member, remember most likely, the group leader is hearing your problem from two sides.

Dealing with constant turmoil can spiritually and personally drain anyone, even a group leader. For some, it can leave them wondering if they should keep the group going if it is a continued drain on energy and not the energy building force any group should be. Sometimes people forget that even your group leader is human, with human emotions and limits. Unfortunately, this is the reason so many new groups fail and the leaders walk away.

*Therefore, here are some of possible problems within any group. To be aware of them may help you or your group to avoid them.

One extremely detrimentally problem within any group is a lack of honest communication. There is nothing more frustrating to any leader than hearing that people are afraid to talk to them. Or that people are worried the leader will get mad. How can you work to heal or fix problems within a group if those within it don’t know that they have one?

Then there is what my Great Grandmother would call the chicken pen syndrome. Where those in a group believe that it is somehow better to talk to someone else about what they consider wrong, or their worries within the group, rather than talk to leader.

If you cannot talk to your leader, directly and clearly, then you cannot trust them. Trust is one of the greatest parts of any group leader’s job. They are your clergy unto your traditions as a whole, so where are you without trust.

When someone feels they need to talk to someone else as a go between with their group leader, this is not only detrimental to everyone in the group but also extremely upsetting to your group leader once they find out. And they will find out, since people love to talk. And if you have a group of people who love to gossip and back bite, do you really think that what you say is going to be confidential?

Any group leader is both a human and an emotional being. They get hurt, angry, sad, and happy. Sometimes within their emotions they will say more than they should. It is called being human. So, you need to remember they are the representation of the Deities, but they are still very human.

A.) When anyone has a problem with anyone or something they believe is wrong, then talk to your group leader.

B.) If you have a problem with someone, then you need to privately talk to that person and handle it. If that does not work then, and only then, you go to the group leader and then you both go and talk with who ever your issue is with together.

C.) If someone comes to you and wants to talk about anyone else (including your group leader) … you to tell the other person that you will not listen (and you need not to listen.) Tell them they need to talk to the person with whom they have a problem. If it is a group concern then they need to talk to your group leader.

D.) Once something is over, finished, or fixed, stop rekindling the fire by rehashing it over and over with others. This just brings it all up again and causes everyone to think they need to pick sides when there are no sides to pick. When it is done, let it be done and put it behind you.

Don’t expect the world when you see childish behavior that seems to come to every group at sometime. Remind each other of the reasons you are there. The friendship, community and energy of being in a group of like-minded souls.

Don’t get disheartened because you think the group should be all about magick or spell work or whatever. There needs to be a balance in all things. Energy work, magick, blessings and power work. Remember your Rituals are a time of honor and worship first, then a time of magickal and energy work.

Let us never forget the honor we give unto our Deities first.

Many groups set up a round table just to deal with any concerns that might arise within the group. It is a time set aside to talk and work together and decide what is best for everyone in the group. You have an open forum for discussion that everyone has a change to speak up and out if need be. But once you leave the table the issues are closed.

Again, once it is over. Let it be truly over. Once a group has made a decision together even if it was not what you wanted, the vote is made and you need to honor the vote.

Everyone must be willing to completely clean away the old rubbish, or as some say, ‘DRAMA’ of the past, and leave it behind or it will destroy any group.

Respect the elders. Teach the young. Cooperate with the pack.
Play when you can. Hunt when you must. Rest in between.
Share your affections. Voice your feelings and Leave your mark.
‘Wolf Creed’

Blessing be unto all,

Lady Abigail
High Priestess of Ravensgrove Coven

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Choosing Happiness, It’s actually your choice

Nature Comments & Graphics
Choosing Happiness

It’s actually your choice

From Jaelin K. Reece,

Did you know that happiness is up to you?

It’s actually your choice.

You can choose to be happy instead of waiting around for it to suddenly appear out of nowhere one day and land in your lap. Happiness is called upon and cultivated.

I am the Creator of My Own Thoughts

Now keep in mind, this is my personal perspective of happiness. You might have a different view. Everyone has a unique view point, especially where emotion is concerned. But, nonetheless, I like my outlook on happiness. It helps me to see that I am the creator of my own thoughts and state of mind. It is my choice what feeling I choose to have on any given day. This does not mean I don’t go with the flow of feelings, but that I can choose at any given moment to change what it is I desire.

For example, if I am having a hectic day, and I do have my share, I can choose to be breathless with activity or I can remind myself to stop and choose to be calm. I can go out for a walk and embrace the beauty that surrounds me and choose to experience that aesthetic as appreciation, gratitude, joy or numbness. I can choose to vacate and disconnect from my feelings, I can space out and be oblivious, or I can call upon the grace of the moment and be one with the beauty. These are all options.

We Have the Power to Choose

I think we as a society, collectively lose sight of how power-full we really are. I mean really full of power. We have the power to choose. It is something we are born with. No one has the power to take that away from us. It is our birthright.

The key to owning that power fully, is to accept that you are a rightful heir to it. Knowing that you are empowered within to choose your emotion, to choose how you respond or react to something, is all up to you. It is all choice.

Choosing Powerlessness

Many times, our childhood experiences and life learning gear us away from our power. We learned to give it all away, to quietly accept whatever happens to us, without question, without standing up and saying ‘No!’ We have become a passive society of powerless and uninspired automatons, going along with the crowd. It’s a sad state of affairs that we have been raised in. Somewhere along the line, a standard was laid out and we are ‘expected’ to magically meet this invisible ‘standard’ by compromising and living according to someone else’s perspectives. Where is the happiness in that?

I guess that leads me back to my original statement.

Choosing happiness is a choice.

Anytime you choose, you are making a decision. You are engaging your power.

Think about how you are feeling right now. How long has it been since you chose what you wanted to feel?

I am not suggesting that you go into a state of denial if you are in trauma, but I am suggesting that you insert a new option for yourself. Instead of sitting in pain, decide for 10 minutes that you will focus on happiness.

How does it make you feel? Are you lighter? Was a burden lifted? Even if it was a mere 10 minutes, it was a starting point. It was a choice. Would you rather go through life choosing happiness and drawing happy experiences to you, or by sitting in pain and expecting the worst, thereby feeling the worst?

It is still a choice.

It is your choice.

Why Not Choose to Experience Happiness?

I ask only that this stirs a thought within you. It is my hope that you will look at the power you possess and carpe diem – seize the day! Make a choice! Choose to experience happiness in your life.

It’s all up to you.

Enjoy – or not- it’s your choice.

    
~Magickal Graphics~

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Today’s Affirmation for Jan. 12th

Nature Comments & Graphics
I only think positive things about myself. I speak only positive things about myself. I accept who I am.

~from MoonDragon 

~Magickal Graphics~

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Today We Honor Branwen

Branwen

by Karen Davis
 
Branwen (“white raven”) a daughter of Llyr and Penarddun, and sister of Bran, and Manawydan, and half-sister of Nisien and Efnisien. Matholwch of Ireland sued for her hand, and gave horses to Bran. Efnisien mutilated the horses, nearly precipitating warfare, but Matholwch was appeased by the gift of a cauldron that could resurrect the dead. Branwen wed him, and went to Ireland, where she bore him a son, Gwern. But the Irish began to complain about their foreign queen, and she was banished to the kitchen, where she was a slave and boxed on the ears by the butcher daily. This lasted three years, during which Branwen trained a starling to speak and sent it to Wales, where it told Bran of her plight, and he sailed to rescue her.Matholwch was terrified at the sight of a forest approaching Ireland across the sea: no one could make it out, until he called for Branwen, who explained it as Bran’s navy, and Bran himself wading through the water. He sued for peace, they built a house big enough for Bran, and Matholwch agreed to settle the kingdom on Gwern.
 
 
Some Irish lords objected, and hid themselves in flour bags to attack the Welsh. But Efnisien, scenting Irish treachery, cast them into the fire, and then cast Gwern himself in (avoiding the geas against shedding kinsmen’s blood thereby). A war broke out, and the Irish replenished themselves through the cauldron. Efnisien, repenting, sacrificed himself by feigning death and being thrown into the cauldron, which he then broke, dying in the process. Only seven Welshmen survived, and Bran was fatally wounded. His head, which remained alive and talking, was returned to Wales and buried, and soon afterwards Branwen sailed to Aber Alaw and died. She is one of the three “matriarchs of Britain”, along with (probably) Rhiannon and Arianrhod.

 Encyclopedia Mythica

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