Daily Archives: February 25, 2012

Kitchen Witches Do It Root Up

Kitchen Witches Do It Root Up

Author: Seba O’Kiley

Not too long ago, I was thinking about the idea of “selfishness.” As a Kitchen Witch, and as a Southerner, it is not in my nature to be selfish. After all, I provide sustenance and healing energy to my tribe, show up to a neighbor’s house with casseroles after a loss and am surrounded by other Southerners who would hand you the shirt off of their backs. I never forget a birthday and will sit in my rocking chair on the front porch until the wee hours of the morning to lend an ear if someone is in pain. Raised in a primarily Christian state, it was impressed upon me as a young child that to be selfish is a sin–but here’s where the equation gets a bit slippery. I’m Pagan. I’m a Hereditary Witch. It occurs to me often to ask: where’s the line between the concept of selfishness and the preservation of legacy? The answer comes back to me, more and more lately, as simply this: when the gift is demanded.

Let’s say your great auntie had a recipe for peach cobbler. Now, she finally taught you said recipe under an oath of secrecy, or if you are Pagan, an Oathe of Secrecy (big deal, y’all) . You get inundated at the football tailgate, somewhere between the cheese ball and the crescent rolls, with plaintive pleas for the recipe.

Do you:

A. Smile with restraint, hand it over, worry over it all the way home and never bring the dish back?

B. Throw a hissy fit, storm out, then have your husband tell everyone it was the “change?”

C. Thank them for their compliments, but graciously say “no” until they stop asking?

That depends. Are you going through the change? Sounds like the only fun to be had, then. (Make it a good one, though. Think Scarlett O’Hara. They’re never having you back, anyway. Stomp, wail and take off your brassiere yelling “yeehaw” on the way out the door. Then call me and we’ll have a good guffaw over a glass of wine.)

I pick C every time. There are Oathes in our practice that preempt all politeness, and my friend RB always says when someone stops being polite to you, all bets are off. Like all other situations in life, if you Oathe something you just stepped all the way into the water. In the South, this equivalates to baptisms, consecrations or anointings and there’s no way out but death. I grew up specifically in Alabama, but have lived around the South a bit, too, and one sure-fire promise you never break is the blessed transference of a hereditary recipe. Sharing is in the food, not the preparation — and if folks act a fool about it, take their fork away.

Now, sometimes the reason something is secret is simply because it’s always been. Some of us do not relish the thought of losing the sacredness of an oral tradition and the history it protects. Other times, it’s simply because we swore on it and that’s good enough. Occasionally, though, it’s due to the nature of the transference. My Grandma thought me to be of sound spirit, a good heart and a natural spoon-hand, but she also relied upon my respect for the old ways. She counted on the fact that I would rather wax my nose hairs than let someone put walnuts or clove in her cobbler–thereby keeping a dish that her own momma whipped up in one divine, pure, peachy piece. Perhaps she was protecting its simplicity and possible criticisms, or perhaps she was preserving the whisperings of a matrilineal cooking heritage: hand-over-hand, steam and thick, molasses love. That moment cannot be handed out on a three by five card, y’all. Wouldn’t come out the same, anyway.

I have a sister-friend who loves several things I create: dark chocolate, hazelnut torte, brown sugar, bacon sweet potatoes and homemade honey and ginger ricotta. I have offered her, as she is my sister and as I invented these dishes my-own-self, the recipes. She has graciously declined. Her feeling on it is thus: wouldn’t come out the same. I plan to teach her son, thereby insuring a new hereditary cooking line as well as her own culinary satisfaction when I’m long gone. (See my posts on adopted family and being Cherokee.) That being said, about a month of Sundays ago she asked me to teach her how to make gravy. Not just any gravy, but the one I Divine with wine or brandy, a little bacon grease, a smidge of sugar and thyme. It took only about twenty minutes over her cast iron cauldron, but with a little hip swinging and a helping of giggles, gravy came into being on her stovetop. The difference between handing a recipe down and handing it over is simple: being present. Stirring and chopping to the sound of heartbeats and the warmth of camaraderie. Can’t buy or steal that, folks. Gotta’ inherit it proper. Camenae DeWelles did it with an Oathe to only transfer that moment to family. Imagine the blasphemy of disregarding that form of magic?

No, skip the eternal damnation of your soul and just pick C. Or B, as I do dig a good full-tilt-boogie in-your-face slap-down. But do the right thing. You see, kitchen witchery has a full set of other ancestors to consider. Mine, for instance hails a little Cherokee/Celt/Christian/Southern, but also holds to other rituals and precepts outside of the kitchen. As a Kitchen Witch (since about 1970) , I am perplexed and saddened at concepts of our craft as only “domestic” and find those considerations to be at best ignorant of our heritage. While there is nothing belittling about the term “domestic, ” it simply does not accurately encapsulate our craft in all of its amorphous facets. A true Kitchen Witch is always already Pagan somewhere in his/her bones and most often has farming knowledge, garden experience, merchant proficiency, story-telling and humanity enough to eclipse any diplomat. The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world, folks, and the heart of the home is the kitchen. My Celt, and my Cherokee, ancestors knew one thing to be true: if no one eats, no one fights, no one lives. (And nothing beats down an unruly dog or unwelcome visitor like an iron skillet. Or a butcher knife.) No, we are often just a bit underestimated and that’s just how we like it. But just for fun, and no Oathe breakin’, how about:

I plant by the moon. Every single time. This requires a steady knowledge of the phases, the seasons, inter-planetary space, meteorological cycles and celestial bodies. Later, all of this will taste one way or the other in my herbs, eggplant and peppers, depending.[1]

I utilize scientific ratios for minerals, water, sun and fertilizers to grow my garden. Slip that one up, and you end up with pumpkins that won’t fruit. (An overworked witch is a civilian, at best.) [2]

I consider the spiritual nature of my plants. How are they placed? Do you have a table set out in their circle from which they can draw upon your laughter? Are their roots well-tended, protected, fed, aerated?

I utilize every bit of the plant, root to fruit. No man is left behind. We have made burning men/women out of old vine, crumbled dried tomato leaf in jars for craftwork and cooked squash flowers in garlic butter. The impulse is both Cherokee and Celt, although I have known ancient Cherokee woman to pray before a plant as prelude to the reaping.[3] Blessed be.

And then, garden aside, we have process:

I bless my knife, my spoon and my food. Comfortable clothes and bare feet are usually requisite measures to insure good standing in my kitchen while music plays, soft and acoustic over candles and a glass of port wine. A good Kitchen Witch clears her mind, her metaphysical space and her counter before calling in this kind of magic. She/he considers everything from the temperature of the room to the speed of the wind outside of the window before cutting nary a stalk of celery. It’s a heavy responsibility, this fuel of the soul and body of family and friends; it is, in effect, the lifeblood of the human heart. I believe in transference, and ain’t nothing good ever come of transferring slop into life. (Except maybe a pig. But even then . . . best consider the desired taste of your bacon.)

As to transference, it’s a “root-up” kind of magic. While I teach top-down (moon phases, how they affect life cycles, why moon flowers open only at night, how their seed must be planted in the waxing phase, etc.) , I cast root-up. A good Kitchen Witch understands the paradox of utilizing pre-existing energy (reduce, reuse, recycle) from the ground on which she/he stands. Attempting to cast top-down is, as my oldest mentor taught me, playin’ God. Everything that goes up must come down, and until we are not, we are physically on this plane of existence. To be a little crass, my sister-friend likes to put it like this: you just can’t go down on that. My molecular energy, among other metaphysical things, desires and aligns to that which is around itself. Bungee cords are fine–but first one must climb the ladder. Everything else is EGO, plain and simple, and nothing shoves its fist up spirituality like that bitchy beast. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed; therefore my work begins at home. Call me domestic, if you will, but mundane? Naw, shuga. It’s the ontology of the craft. Labeling kitchen witchery as simply “domestic” shrugs off its inherent roots of potion-making, world-leveling potential.[4] No one messes with a cook who boils her bones, every time, and dances with a knife called an athame. Not if they know what’s good for ‘em.

The rest is, well, secret. I took an Oathe a long time ago with butter on my tongue and a kitchen towel tucked into my dress for a napkin. It was about the only thing I inherited, and I’ll be damned if I’m handing that out like candy. Hereditary cooking is akin to hereditary teaching: we do not go all Sophist on that number.[5] You won’t catch me teaching the Secrets on an open forum simply because it’s sacrilegious to my heritage. Plato and Socrates would be proud at this “purist” notion of keeping the flies out of the ointment, I believe, and I’m damn certain my Grandma would agree with them. While I dearly value, respect and honor other traditions and the folks who follow them, I hold mine tight to my chest so that it beats with my heart. A hereditary anything refuses to hand over that indelible legacy simply because it wouldn’t be polite to do otherwise. Why, I don’t find it very Southern for anyone to ask me to do so.

But that won’t stop me from defending my heritage. My kin never did place much value in monetary goods, but Laws, we did in our traditions. You see, there are folks out there that understand friendship or cordiality as something owed and paid out in material increments or measurable checks and balances. Sad to think, isn’t it, that these souls walk around and never understand that words like “I love you” or time spent waxing long on a telephone about their children, their worries, and their hopes were always already goods. When those folks demand payment that they can see, say, a recipe on a card, this means that they missed the point. It was always in just the sharing of the cobbler, ‘specially if you got it handed to you by a Kitchen Witch. She got that from her Grandma.

We are taught right slap out of the word “mine” when we are small.[6] It’s not nice. You aren’t sharing. Hand that over to Susie right now. Let me tell y’all something secret here: some things are yours. Some things are sacred and sweet and without it, your heart won’t be right. I don’t share my man, my skivvies, nor my Hereditary Inheritance.[7] If there is such a thing as sin, it’s in the asking of these precious treasures. It’s vampiric in the truest sense of the word. Naw, I pee all around those trees and keep my leg down around ‘yorn.

But I will offer you my time, my love and a sweet, buttery piece of cobbler.

Blessed Be,

Seba


Footnotes:
[1] For the delicious science and history of the art, read the article here: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/07/0710_030710_moongarden.html

[2] Regretfully, I learned this one the hard way. Last spring, exhausted from planting, I confused my watermelon seed for pumpkin, thereby planting pumpkin in late March. When the aphids landed, I fell horribly from grace and in a shameful moment of weakness declared “war” by the use of Sevin dust. Neither of these sins will be repeated by the Southern Kitchen Witch. Ever.

[3] My little tribe is a wild Southern hybrid of Celt and Cherokee. At Mabon, cornhusk dolls nestle neatly next to Green Man wreaths on the table. Amen.

[4] See the etymology of the word at: ttp://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=domestic

[5] Plato had strong views on the transference of the art of rhetoric to unethical practitioners. I strongly disagree with the Sophistic disregard for form and ethics. Marina McCoy writes that: “Plato differentiates [the sophist and the philosopher] by the philosopher’s love of the forms and his possession of moral and intellectual virtues. However, because sophists do not even acknowledge that the forms exist, the philosopher is separable from the sophist only from the viewpoint of the philosopher. From the sophist’s viewpoint, a philosopher is merely a deficient sophist.” McCoy, Marina. Plato on the Rhetoric of Philosophers and Sophists. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008: 111.

[6] It tears my soul up a little to think that, especially as Pagan parents, we don’t allow a little “mine” in a child’s life. To grow up believing that everything is up for grabs cannot be good for their sweet souls and is a direct violation of their personal rights. Rather, I would like to see a parent correct them if ownership is in question, then remind them of all those lovely things that are, in fact, their own. This is particularly crucial when dealing with female babes. Think about it.

[7] Hereditary recipes and their sharing has to do with friendship and family. But as my momma has pointed out, when you are at a function and someone is judging you by your shoes, you just go on and tell them you made that lemonade (and skip the part about Country Time Lemonade and some sliced lemons for good measure.)

About these ads
Categories: Articles | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Morality and Spell-craft

Morality and Spell-craft

Author: Solonius

As adult thinking human beings, we all follow a certain set of moral guidelines that we have learned from our ancestors, or which were indoctrinated into us throughout our upbringing. We call this idea of what we would, or would not do, our conscience. Our angel and devil are sitting there on our shoulders, arguing over the idea of selflessness and selfishness. This argument leads us into a personal conflict. We have to come to a justification of why we wish to do a thing. When that thing contradicts what we know to be right, or what society tells us is right, we become morally conflicted.

So the question is where do our basest levels of morality lie? There is a base level of what we would or would not do; from there our higher morals are built in increasing complexity. To find out where we stand, think on the following topics: At a base level, there is my life (or the lives of my loved ones) first, and everyone else’s second. If the choice was between my or my loved ones lives against any other’s life, I choose mine and my loved ones. I’m sure everyone else would view that choice in the same way.

If you have spent your life building up a home, property and future prosperity, then others come along who haven’t done those things and just want to take what you have built, for themselves, you’d fight and kill to keep what you had made for yourself. What right does anyone else have to come and take what you have made away from you? So is it morally right to fight to keep what you have made, or to fight for you and your loved ones lives? One group of people is very prosperous through their own efforts, and another group is not. Is it morally right for those less prosperous to demand a portion of the wealth of the more prosperous? Is it morally right for one group to force their concepts upon others? Where do we draw the line of right verses wrong?

My right might be your wrong. I don’t wish to force another to follow my concept of right; however others wish to force me to follow their concept of right. Who is morally correct? You are given a choice: One child can live or be put to death, but that death will result in a cure for AIDS. Would you sacrifice that one child for the greater good? If not, then possibly millions will suffer and die as opposed to one. If you chose the child to live, then you believe that individual good is more important than group good. If you choose the child to die, then you view the society as more important than the individual. So therefore it is morally okay for someone to come and take away what you have through your own efforts, and give your abundance to those who do not contribute.

These morality questions are all the same. There is no moral difference between any of these situations. On one hand, there is individual good, and on the other, there is group good (with the group being viewed as an individual entity) . These morality questions can also be viewed as situational. Or we rationalize that a moral good is universal to all, when in fact, we are just rationalizing that good for all from the aspect that ‘our group’ is the ‘all’ that matters.

In order to be at peace with ourselves, our internal moral compasses should all be aligned in the same direction. We need to honestly look at our own morality and decide where it lies and in which direction it points. That is who we are on our basest level. From there we can move upward morally, consistently, because you shouldn’t believe one thing this way and another thing contradictorily that way.

So what does this all have to do with the Pagan etc. community? The Rede instructs: “And it harm none, do what you will.” That ‘will’ should have a healthy dose of morality applied to it before devoting any energy to ‘doing what you will’. [As a side note, I feel that many confuse the word ‘will’ with ‘what you want’. Will, in this instance, is using the force of your gathered and focused WILL (purposeful directed energy) to implement your desires.] All the above leads down to this: When you spell-craft, are you doing so from a morally correct position?

It is often said what you put out comes back to you three-fold. This is to give you caution, to pause, and to really think about what you are trying to accomplish for yourself or others. As adult thinking human beings, we must acknowledge our culpability in the actions we take, to admit to ourselves our true purpose. Only then, without inner conflict, can we fully enact our desires. Conflicted morality leads to conflicted emotions, which lead to conflicted energies.

How can you effectively enact your WILL if you think you are doing something against your moral fiber? If your thoughts are scattered how can you direct your distracted energy? And this is just with our OWN desires, what of the desires of others who wish us to enact something on their behalf? You can see how difficult this becomes without a moral underpinning?

Prior to performing any spell work, you should do an honest self-assessment. Will what I wish to put into action cause harm to others? If harm is possible, is it justified? As an example: if you help out a friend by performing a spell that they get a promotion at work, is the person who is currently holding that position ineffectual, and therefore not as deserving of the position as well as your hard working friend? That person could be fired, that is harmful to them personally, financially, and their family’s well-being could be in jeopardy because of them getting fired. You were doing something good for your friend, but your actions could cause harm to more than you think. See how morally sticky this can get without thoroughly thinking something through before beginning?

Why not do the same thing, but more expansively? Perform your spell that the Boss gets promoted, and in the vacuum of the vacant position your friend is chosen to fill it. Who loses there? Not a lot of moral conflict to overcome in the second situation, you can therefore direct the energy to accomplish your desire with more focus and positive emotion.

Above I asked, ‘is it justified?’ Justice is the means of society to enforce the laws or moral standards of that society. Your friends car gets bashed by a hit and run driver. You perform a spell that the culprit is discovered and gets thrown in jail for reckless driving. Not a lot of conflict there because of the ‘wrong’ done. However, you should not go wishing for more harm to befall the hit and run driver. That driver was rushing an injured family member to the ER (hey, you don’t know) . While the hit and run was unfortunate, and they couldn’t take the time to get your friends license plate number, they definitely had more urgent worries. It would be morally wrong to wish more harm to someone who intended none. Why not wish that the culprit be discovered, and that JUSTICE be served. Simply leave the details for the universe to work out. As you can see this requires LESS detail, and leaves you morally un-conflicted as well.

We could play these scenarios out all day, but at the heart of the matter is using your morality to keep yourself out of conflict when preparing for spell work. In order to lessen undesired consequences, practice honesty with yourself and admit your true reasons for doing what you WILL.

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

Conception of God

Conception of God

Author: Katie Koumatos

“How do you envision God?”
“As a witch, do you believe in God? In Jesus?”
“How can you have multiple Gods?”

When I talk to non-pagans about my spiritual beliefs, I get these questions a lot. I imagine this will only increase as I begin my time as a seminary student. While the community at Pacific School of Religion is open minded and welcoming to pagans, I imagine that there is still a lot of ignorance about pagan practices. Even within our community, there are a lot of discussions about how to approach the conceptualization of the divine. So let me share with you my own approach. After many years of searching, I found a beautiful metaphor that describes it perfectly.

Consider the ocean. For any of you who are lucky to have lived in a coastal town, it isn’t easy to imagine that we know the ocean. Growing up in San Diego, I spent many childhood days playing at the foot of the Great Pacific Ocean. As I learned how to spell and do long division, I also learned how to negotiate the fickle nature of the ocean, survive the rising tides and avoid the hidden dangers.

So it is easy to say I know the ocean. But what I actually know is one small piece. I have come to know the Pacific Ocean through half a dozen spots where it comes into contact with the land up and down the California Coast. I know the ocean at its boundaries, its borders. And even then, I only know THIS ocean and I only know it at THESE boundaries.

Every time I go to the ocean, even if I go to the very same beach, it is always a different ocean. Each wave falls differently along the sand, making small but powerful changes in the shape of the land. For me growing up in San Diego, the ocean was blue and relatively warm, playing along long flat beaches filled with sun worshiping beach-goers. The ocean of my adulthood is a colder ocean, breaking against the picturesque rocks of the Northern California coast. Up here the ocean is a grey and windy creature, with swirling and powerful tides. Up here I sit far above the ocean’s break, enjoying the view and the spray but rarely submerging myself in the water.

After many years, I have finally realized that God is like this.

The ocean is truly unknowable. We can list facts and send boats out to gather bits and return. But no human being will ever fully know the ocean. It is simply too vast, constantly changing, and so very deep. However, while the full ocean is unknowable, human beings from the beginning of time have had complex and important relationships with the ocean. We know her in our own spaces, at the boundaries of where she meets the land upon which we live.

Each human being who reaches out into the void seeking the divine cannot ever expect to understand the wholeness of God / Goddess / Universe / Great Spirit / the All. But in our little space, at the boundary between our short, incarnate existence and the vast eternity of divine energy, we find our face of God. Like the ocean, it changes over time, waves shifting the shape of our lives as we adjust and grow in our relationship. And while many people may gather at the same beach, but have different experiences of the ocean, so too may many people gather together in fellowship and yet remain separated by the different faces they see in God.

People can shape God as well, just as humans can shift the land where the ocean meets them. We shape the stories and the perceptions, the expectations and visual imagery. Over time this shaping can become powerful and deeply ingrained. But they are still open to interpretation.

We need these interpretations. The immensity of the divine energy is just too big to engage and feel the comfort and solace that religion offers. Having a personal relationship with God is only possible when God is squeezed down a bit, into a form that we can conceptualize having a personal relationship with. So we humanize the divine energy. Some religions are monotheistic, and give one face of God their full attention. While others simply spread out the realms of symbolic control, creating multiple faces and personalities for us to engage.

Whether your face of the divine is a multi-armed Hindu deity, the kami of the stream near your home, the Virgin of Guadalupe, or your own higher spirit, we are all just seeking a personified form to engage with. As we are made by divine energy, the worship and energy of human beings creates a real and tangible presence for the forms and faces that we have created for the divine. These faces of God are not stagnant, but they can and do exist separately and distinctly from our own personal experience because they are and have been conceived of by other human beings. With each ritual calling, we are making and remaking our Gods just as they are making and remaking us.

In the end, I believe that divine energy is the sum of all of us, along with all the animals and the plants and the whole wide universe. It is the spark of distant stars and the reproduction of the smallest bacteria. It is life and death and the shifting movement of existence here and everywhere, in this moment and in all moments before and after it. I believe that this whole is greater than the sum of these little parts and that collectively, we are conscious. I believe in a pattern, a tapestry of life in which we all play our part. We can make choices in this, but we have a part to play and there are pieces in our lives that guide us. And in all of this, different Gods are just convenient faces, ways to engage an unknowable energy.

The way I see it, God doesn’t care or even acknowledge the differences in our practices. Only human beings, with our limited sight and infinite distractions, could come up with a way to make such a small difference into a reason for centuries of war, dominance, and animosity.

Categories: Articles, Book of Spells | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Wicca in the World: Our Place in the 21st Century

Wicca in the World: Our Place in the 21st Century

Author: Ash’lynn Gaoithe

Religion has always been a sensitive subject. Religious conflicts and disagreements have a long and bloody history. I’ve heard it said that a belief system couldn’t be a true religion unless someone has died in its name. And while martyrdom is a powerful way to express the ultimate conviction for a cause, what does that say about human tolerance and our inability to coexist with people who do not believe the same things as us? I have many opinions on this subject, and I’d like to believe that they are a lovely shade of grey, instead of the black and white that religion usually is. I’ll talk about my views of religion in the abstract, how Wicca fits in, and then why I don’t believe that science in any way discredits our faith.

First of all, I think the theory of religion is beautiful and comforting. The belief in a power greater than one’s self puts me at ease, because it puts responsibility in the hands of someone more qualified than any man. I find it easy to rationalize that whatever happens, happens for a reason, and for the greater good (even if the “greater good” doesn’t quite work out in my favor) . There is a Navajo belief that every religion contains a thread of truth, and only when all the threads are woven together can the complete tapestry, the full truth, be seen. I mention this because I have a hard time accepting religions that claim to be the only “right” way to salvation. These religions then of course condemn other beliefs as false.

Now, I was raised a Christian, because it’s what my parents believed. This is easy to understand, because Christianity is the predominant religion where I was born. I’m sure that if I had been born in Afghanistan, I would have grown up a Muslim, or had I grown up in India or China, I would have been Hindu or Taoist, respectively. Religion, it seems, is quite culturally based. That’s why I always felt very uncomfortable with the whole “Jesus is the only way to salvation” thing. If the Christian God knows all, then He must know that a child born in the Middle East is not likely to turn to Christianity, because of harsh social pressure to be Muslim. And what about children born in remote parts of the world, like in tribal Africa, or aborigines in Oceania? In cases like that, He would know, perhaps, that western missionary would come to preach Christianity, at least not in that child’s lifetime. (And it’s not to say that conversions can’t happen; although cultural backgrounds do hold influence on people, personality is not indicative of where you were born. I recognize that. But if religion is part of an accepted social norm, conversion might be unlikely.)

It seemed to me, that if in the Christian doctrine anyone who did not accept Jesus into his or her heart could not enter heaven, then by determining that a child would be born into a “heathen” part of the world, then He was damning that soul to hell. And I could not relate to this God of predestination. He did not strike me as a loving God.

A couple months ago, I read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It was a wonderful book, and in the author’s quest to find spiritual enlightenment, she found her spark in a Hindu temple in India. When she described her experience, which happened during meditation, I remember thinking: “Wow, how lucky she was, to have had a personal experience like that. She found her spark through Hindu guidance and meditation; I wish I could find something that would work for me!” When I mentioned book to some women at my church, I was shocked at the reaction one woman had. She warned me that the book was dangerous, that the woman was following a path of evil, because she too, had been raised Christian, but had begun to walk a different path. She finished by locking me in a fixed stare and saying: “Jesus is the one true savior. You know that. Right?”

I nodded, to keep the peace, but inside, I was so confused. The Hindu religion was a peaceful, legitimate belief system, with many followers. How could so many people be wrong? And that’s not to claim that people can’t make mistakes, but when it comes to religion, there is so much doubt. Anyone who commits to a faith, especially those who find a faith without being born into it, does a lot of soul searching. They learn about a belief, and they might test the waters to see if the faith speaks to them. And while nothing is perfect, any widely recognized religion that exists, exists because it has been able to stand up to scrutiny. Organized religion is a mass of variables, but behind religions are thousands of people who are well-learned and accepting of the doctrine. And she had found a religion that spoke to her; surely connection to a higher power of any kind is a good thing? How could anyone condemn that experience, and write it off as a false god, or a path of evil?

I have since come to the conclusion that all Gods are one. I read somewhere that God does not care what you call Him, as long as you call Him. This rings so true to me. I find it very sad when I hear people born Christian that are now atheists, because they carried similar beliefs as me, which simply did not have a place among Christian teachings. And because that belief system did not suit them, they gave up belief altogether. And I’m not saying that Deity is supposed to align with what we want. But different religions exist because people have different views on what God is, and our personal beliefs should align with a belief system.

As a Christian, I was told that Jesus was savior. I could not believe that, it didn’t ring true with me. And there was no good in pretending to believe something that I could not accept in my heart; we cannot force ourselves to believe in something, we either do, or don’t. Therefore if one particular belief system does not “click”, search for something that does. Religions are many, and diverse. Religion should be a reflection of what you already believe. How else can you put your faith in something that cannot be proven?

There are many different types of people in this world (and thank goodness! Without diversity, we would be a boring human race!) . There are introverts and extroverts, athletes and bookworms, liberals and conservatives. Not everyone thinks quite the same way. So why shouldn’t there be different religions?

I believe everyone should explore, to find what suits him or her. There is no conviction without question. And it would be stifling to proclaim yourself a practitioner of a certain faith simply because others around you believe that! You always hear it said: “Be yourself, ” and “If everyone else were jumping off a bridge, would you?” But you never hear those things when it comes to faith; it seems everyone is telling you what to believe, telling you that it’s the only true way, the only right thing to believe.

I mean, belief is a personal thing. Some people can relate to God as a stern, disciplinary father, who has strict concepts of right and wrong, do this and not that. Some people want a loving embrace that can accept them and forgive their sins. Some people can relate more to an ambiguous deity who leaves life a matter of free will. Some people believe in one God, and others believe in many. Even in Wicca, no two people believe the same thing. Some could envision many individual Gods and Goddesses from several different pantheons, another person may call only on the all-encompassing God and Goddess, and another person may call only on the One. To me, all beliefs are just different faces of the same power.

I was recently reading a book in which a very good analogy was brought up: a disco ball. “A sphere made up of many small mirrors, each of which is one named aspect of Deity, and together they compose the whole, the One.” (How to Become a Witch: The Path of Nature, Spirit and Magick by Amber K and Azrael Arynn K)

And to me this is true on a bigger scale as well. Each mirror, each religion and belief system is a facet of the same thing. Whichever one you look at, it’s just a different way to see the same thing. And I just don’t know how someone looking into one tiny mirror can tell someone looking at a mirror on the other side that they’re not looking at the disco ball the right way, or that what they’re seeing isn’t real because they’re not standing in a certain way, looking at it from a certain angle.

Man can never come close to understanding the divine; it is simply beyond our comprehension. We can only seek to understand. Much of any religion is man-made, anyway. Men, believing themselves to be divinely inspired, wrote all the Bible, Torah, and Qur’an. And I’m not saying those books didn’t contain divine truth to the men who wrote them. And there are of course many who believe those sacred holy books to contain the only real truth. But in any religion, you will find man at its roots, seeking only to find enlightenment in the way he believes is best. Likeminded individuals who agree join together to seek the truth together, and a religion is born.

Unless it wasn’t clear, I am not seeking to condemn any religion, or convert anyone. As I said before: I believe all Gods are one, and religions are just different ways to worship. Different methods for different people. I am merely calling you to think and question. Keep an open mind, and learn as much as you can. Find what works for you. I found my spark. I had my own religious experience. And I am happily following my own path.

And that is a part of why Wicca is so beautiful to me: we don’t seek to convert people, or claim that there is only one “right” God to follow, one “right” way to worship. Yes, some Traditions may claim their way has been around longer, or that only people who have been initiated in a certain way are legitimate, but for the most part we respect diversity, and we acknowledge that not everyone thinks the same way. In Wicca, not only do my wide views of religion as a whole fit in comfortably, but also there is a lot of freedom within the Wiccan faith to worship in a personal way. For those familiar with the geometric principle of fractals, having the freedom to choose which Gods and Goddesses speak to you is just the same as seeing which religious path speaks to you, but on a smaller and more specific scale.

The other point I would like to make is on the topic of science: when people of faith are not defending their beliefs from one another, they are defending their beliefs from the chiefly logical and scientifically minded who claim that the existence of deity is scientifically disproven. For me, the more I learn about the laws of physics which govern how our universe works and newly discovered wonders, the more validation I have that a higher power exists. Science and discovery reinforces the belief in a divine being (s) ; they do not disprove it.

Take Stephen Hawking’s theory for example. He said that a God could not have created the universe, because before the Big Bang, there was no time, space, or energy. He says that our entire universe exists deep within a giant black hole, and outside of that is nothing. This baffles me. If we even raise the question ‘Could a God have caused the Big Bang’ only to dismiss it because time did not exist? Ridiculous! It seems to me that if we even acknowledge that a God could conceivably have had the power to create and trigger the beginning of our universe, if only there had been time to do so… I can’t even finish that sentence.

If a God has the power to create the universe, then I don’t think little nuances like lack of the vector of time could stand in his or her way. Anyway, if we buy into the multiverse theory, or even acknowledge that outside our universe there is a timeless void (which Hawking’s black hole theory suggests) , then I believe that something ageless could very well exist there. Whether you want to call it heaven, Summerland, or simply acknowledge it as a place between worlds and out of time, some separate plane of existence other than ours, many scientists agree that it exists. Our universe is ever expanding, and we don’t know the half of what’s out there.

And in Wicca, especially, no part of our philosophy contradicts proven science. We revere what is natural and easily observed: the path of the moon across the sky, the turning wheel of the seasons, the growth of crops and the harvest, etc. And as for the magickal element, we are only manipulating the natural energies that exist on earth to produce results. (At the root of Wicca is ‘wic’ which suggests ‘to bend’ as in wicker chair. In Swedish, ‘wika’ literally translates as ‘to bend’) . (Simple Magic by Michele Morgan)

A mundane example is food: food is a natural product of the harvest and hunt on earth, which turns to energy in our bodies. And because it is natural and life-sustaining, it is sacred, and we give thanks for the sustenance. It is the same energy which comes in light and heat from the sun, and which helps plants grow. Although magick is thought of as supernatural, because it is certainly extraordinary, it is not above of or outside of the natural. It brings about physical effects, and can be measured. Just because other parts of religion, like the existence of heaven or God, cannot be measured yet, it does not mean they do not exist.

Atoms and quanta existed even in the Stone Age, although the people living then were totally unaware of them and could not have measured or even understood them. Perhaps, in the same way, we simply do not have the means (or the imagination) to discover some of these things yet. To believe that everything that exists has already been found and understood would be the ultimate arrogance and stupidity.

In summary, I guess I’m just saying that when rational minds say that a supernatural design cannot exist in an increasingly scientific world, I completely agree. The supernatural does not exist. But something which is a part of the universe just as we are, something natural yet much grander than us…? Yes, I believe that exists, whether it is “out there”, or more simply, alive and sustained in every living thing on earth.

I hope that I have given you something to think about, and some ways to defend our faith to those who would seek to convert us or discredit us, be they missionaries of other faiths or the scientifically minded.

Blessed Be.


Footnotes:
“How to Become a Witch: The Path of Nature, Spirit and Magick” by Amber K and Azrael Arynn K

“Simple Magic” by Michele Morgan

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

Cult Characteristics: Is Wicca a Cult or a Genuine Religion?

Cult Characteristics: Is Wicca a Cult or a Genuine Religion?

Author: Rev. Mirado Crow

Is Wicca a cult or is it a genuine religion? Many Wiccans have asked me this, and on many occasions, I just want to tell them to do their research on what a cult actually is. But since I really don’t see myself doing that, I have instead provided the following information.

One of the most devastating experiences someone could face is to realize that a loved one is involved in a cult. So many family members, friends, co workers or other people may tell you that Wicca is a cult and that Christianity (or whatever religion they believe in) is the only genuine or “True Religion”. They will try to ‘save’ you from a self-defeating dark force known as the ‘Devil’ or ‘Satan’. The birth/origin of Satan is up to interpretation, but can be traced back to the Christian misinterpretation of the pagan Horned God. Since this belief sprang out of the area of the Mediterranean, perhaps it derived from the worship of the God, Pan, or Cernnunos, The Horned God of The Field, Rebirth and Fertility. Some of the imagery and descriptions of the devil is almost identical to that of the Horned God.

The claim of Satan or ‘Devil’ worship made by the some Christian doctrines about our faith is something I dismiss easily with a smile on my face. The actual word, Satan, is not a real name for a spirit but a Hebrew term meaning “adversary”. So if you happen to be called, a “Satan”, they are actually correct ala their doctrinal terminology because Witchcraft, and all sorts of Paganism, are considered as the “adversaries” to Christianity.

The Christian story of Lucifer however, is a misrepresentation because we also see him in the Roman Pantheon the later being his true Pantheon. Lucifer is, in the Roman Pantheon, the brother of the Goddess Diana [1] (Goddess of Witches) , and the “Bearer of Light”. Lucifer, in Christian mythology was considered — as he was in some stories in Roman mythology — the ‘morning star’ and the term is referred to within the Bible. ‘Lucifer, son of the morning’ is translated into Hebrew as “Helel ben Shakhar”, which then translates to ‘Day-star, son of the Dawn’. Though the morning star is the planet Venus (as it is the ‘star’ you would still see in the morning despite the rising of the sun) , the Greeks, Romans, Jews, and Arabs identified the morning star as male. In Latin, Lucifer means “Light Bearer”, and in Greek, the morning star was called, “Phosphoros”, also meaning “Light Bearer”. So how Lucifer was translated later into meaning “devil” is a complete invention of the early Christian Church.

The observation of the morning star, and it’s defiance of the sun was the basis for the influence of the Christian story of how the Seraphim Lucifer defied Yahweh, and for that, must be punished. Another story of how Lucifer fell from grace in Christian lore was for his pride and lust when he refused to worship Adam because he thought only his maker deserved worship. (Though in the story, it was not Lucifer’s lust, but his angel’s of who were lusting for the feeling of a family life that caused them to also fall, and the destruction of mankind with the Great Flood as told in the story of Noah and the Ark [i].) That may have been derived from the story of the “Epic of Gilgamesh”, and possibly the story of the “Lost City of Atlantis”, both of which are tales [written long before the story of Noah] of a Great Flood. It wasn’t until St. Jerome mistranslated ‘Lucifer’ that it became interchangeable with ‘Devil’ [2].

When someone hears the word “cult”, one could automatically think “devil worship” though to the trained mind, this may not be the case. In order for a group to be known as a cult in today’s world, it would usually employ some forms of manipulation. Though groups of believers and worshippers were known as cults in ancient times, the term has evolved with the times. Cults in today’s world are those whose groups will insinuate their ‘personality’ into your everyday life, taking away from your personal spiritual and social growth.

Cult – Formal religious veneration…great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book) , especially: such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad.” [3]

One of the ways I refute anyone in a crusade against Wicca, should that person claim Wicca is a cult, is by providing the actual definition of the word, “cult”. With observation, you will notice and realize that Wicca is actually not a cult but a genuine religion, and that all the major religions of today’s world could be accused of being cults because they idolize purported historical persons or supposed ‘saviors’. Christianity worships Jesus (someone they claim to be an actual person, and some denominations go the further route to worship Mary) , Islam idolize Mohammed, Buddhism idolizes Siddhârtha Gautama (also known as Buddha or the Supreme Buddha) , and Hinduism idolizes His Divine Grace (a person within the highest office of the religion) . …and many more cults are out there, claiming to be genuine religions.

Paganism, though a group of religions based on ancient worship, do not worship or idolize people; they work toward the divine and the many aspects thereof. They do however, give respect to those of a higher office, because they have given of themselves to the Craft, to better the communities understanding of ancient worship and how it can improve the wellbeing of the world and the society of today and tomorrow.

Lore Twisting: The first mark of a cult is its manipulation of lore. It’s religious lore (and those of other religions) is twisted to fit that group’s interpretation. Private interpretations are forbidden because the leader is, of course, the only one who is able to understand the Divine properly. The teachings distort the historic and obvious truths of other beliefs to not only fit their own gains, but to make that other faith appear to be influenced by evil or bogus.

Historical Manipulation: This appears when the group has forged historical documentation for induction within doctrinal belief. There is very little regard for historical accuracy or fact, except what will benefit the group’s claim and attempt to disprove others. Though many of the documentations/declaration might be proven to be untrue or historical forgeries (and therefore mere hearsay) , cult members must hold to the belief that what the cult says is true is indeed true and dismiss any proof to the contrary.

Suppressive Manipulation: Almost all cults will definitely try to suppress other ways of life or beliefs. If you are not what they expect you to be, your rights are suppressed and you are not trusted throughout that community until you conform to their standards.

Mental Manipulation:: Many times cults manipulate people’s minds. There is basically no respect for individual thought and individual interpretation is sometimes preached against. Cultists claim that spiritual and mental development can “ONLY” be achieved if you are within their group or worship their pantheon. Education is usually directed away from anything that may challenge their doctrinal teachings, and the convert is bombarded with the cult’s doctrine and literature. The cult calls for its members to convert others to its doctrine, and have them to abandon their old way of life (or family) , and depend on the cult’s way of living.

Finally, cults are really fond of manipulating reality. They foster an exclusive “us/them” mentality in which ‘society’ and old associates are all out to get them. Everyone outside of the group is an evil person who must be shunned and/or punished. I have listened to many Christians tell me “If it’s not in the Bible, then it’s not real.”

You can see that Wicca, and all sorts of Paganism, are not cults because they do NOT fall under the categories mentioned, or the dictionary definition above. Many of the major religions of today’s world have fought to suppress ways that did not conform to their own. In November of 2008, an organized voter block of religious advocates helped to pass Proposition 8 in California, which prohibits same sex marriage. (Happily this has since been reversed.) And in Africa, Witch Hunts still go on, along with major hate crimes against others of different faith groups (non-Christian) spearheaded by various Christian sects [even ministers and priests]. In 2010, many people were accused of witchcraft, and either jailed or killed there. Organizations from within the United States sometimes funded these groups.

So when you encounter accusations of being a member of a cult, as a Wiccan remember that Wicca is NOT a cult by definition. Wicca is a genuine religion by practicality and actuality in every aspect of definable definition. Wicca’s goal is to reach toward the Divine, and does not worship any one person or persons but rather has facilitators by which individual spiritual growth may freely be reached.


Footnotes:
[1] Which the rumors of Witches being in League withthe Christian Devil is probably derived from. The relationship between Lucifer and Diana is possibly how the Christians link Witchcraft to their Spiritual villain. Which the rumors of Witches being in League with the Christian Devil is probably derived from. The relationship between Lucifer and Diana is possibly how the Christians link Witchcraft to their Spiritual villain.

[2] Helel ben Shakhar, translated into latin would be, “Lux ferre”; which means, “Light-Bearer”, and another rendering of this translation is, “Lucis fer” which is, “To carry Light”. This is the translation he used to link the God of Light to the Christian villain ‘Devil’.

[3] Merriam Webster’s Deluxe Dictionary; Tenth Collegiate® Edition (1998) see Cult Pg. 441

Endnotes:

[i] More on the Origins of Satan can be found in “The Black Arts: A Concise History of Witchcraft, Demonology, Astrology, Alchemy, and Other Mystical Practices Throughout The Ages” by Richard Cavendish Pg. 269

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

Friendship Pictures, Images, Comments, Graphics

Categories: Daily Posts | Leave a comment

Calendar of the Moon for Saturday, February 25th

Calendar of the Moon

Ash Tree Month

Color: Pale Blue
Elements: Water and air
Altar: On a cloth of pale blue set a great bowl of salt water in which are set many shells and stones, a shell full of salt, incense, and the figures of sea-birds and fishes.
Offerings: Wash something clean, or air it out.
Daily Meal: Either fish or seafood, or poultry.

Nion/Anthesterion Invocation

Call: Now is the time of wind and water.
Response: Now is the time of sea and sky.
Call: Now is the time of the Gods of weather.
Response: Now is the time of the great waves.
Call: Now is the time of terrible flooding.
Response: Now is the time of needed rain.
Call: Now is the time of battering gales.
Response: Now is the time of winds of change.
Call: Now is the time of fear of change.
Response: Now, and always, change will win.
Call: The wild winds disturb our dreams.
Response: The wild winds awake our minds.
Call: The heavy rains flood our hearts.
Response: The heavy rains water our future.
Call: The sea will sweep us away.
Response: The sea will bear us up.
Call: The sea is cold and unending.
Response: The sea is the source of life.
Call: We are ships on the lost expanse of the ocean.
Response: We are winds that call to one another.
Call: We will brave the wind and water.
Response: We will bring together mind and heart.
Call: We will come home safely after wandering.
Response: We will anchor safely after our journeys.
Call: We will come through wind and water!
Response: We will come through wind and water!
(Repeat last two lines twice more.)

Chant:
We will come through wind and water
We will come through sea and sky

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

Calendar of the Sun for Saturday, February 25

Calendar of the Sun

Media Hiems

Color: White and grey
Element: Earth
Altar: Set out a cloth of white and grey, a vase of bare branches, a single grey candle, a pitcher of melted snow or rainwater, pots of earth, and seeds to be sown and nurtured in the greenhouse.
Offering: Seeds, preferably saved from the year before.
Daily Meal: Vegetarian.

Media Hiems Invocation

Earth that lies asleep
Waiting for the touch of the Sun
To grow in strength and light
And awaken thee to life,
We warm thee with our breath,
We prepare thee with our hands,
We plant thee with our hopes,
We await thy awakening
With faith in the coming of Spring.

Chant:
Breath warms thee
Hands prepare thee
Hope sows thee
Sun awaken thee.

(All take seeds and plant them in the pots of earth, water them, and breathe onto them, visualizing the seeds awakening and growing. The remainder of the water is poured out as a libation to the Earth. The pots are then taken to the greenhouse in procession to be nurtured until planting time.)

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

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com. The Adventure Journal Theme.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,056 other followers