Daily Archives: April 16, 2012

Dear Wicca, Thank You.

Dear Wicca, Thank You.

Author: Selena Rose

I began to research Wicca when I was eleven or twelve years old. I – obviously – was not extremely serious about it at that point, and the interest came and went for a year or two. I always loved the idea of the religion, but I didn’t seriously start studying until I was about thirteen. And I studied for almost a solid two years before I started to practice. I know that it was still very young and, looking back, maybe it was too young. But I don’t regret starting early because it just gave me more time to develop into the kind of spiritual person that I wanted to become.

When I was sixteen I developed Anorexia Nervosa. During the year and a half battle, I dropped over twenty pounds, yo-yoed between weights, dealt with depression, anxiety, and a number of other “issues”. Twenty pounds is not nearly as serious as it could have become, I know. I got lucky that it didn’t get worse. Physically, I was not that ill. The illness was completely and entirely mental. I was dealing with self-hatred, feeling worthless, like I was created wrong.

Over the December holidays, I was shopping for gifts with my family. We celebrate a very secular Christmas and I celebrate Yule in my own ways on my own. I was seventeen at this point, a senior in high school. I decided to buy myself a Yule gift while I was at Borders and headed back to the religion section of the store.

There were a few titles I was familiar with but never purchased, a few I owned. I ran my hands over the spines, trying to get some kind of idea of what to purchase. My body and mind stopped on a thin, black binding. I bought the book and took it home. Literally, that night, my life changed.

The book was The Circle Within by Dianne Sylvan. If you’ve ever read it, you should realize how beautiful it was to me. It opened my eyes to parts of Wicca and Witchcraft that I never knew existed and somehow, I wanted them in my life. I can’t point out a specific passage that changed everything. It was everything at once. I finished the book in less than twenty-four hours. And I started my own journey toward recovery of my eating disorder.

Yes, one book did all that. I brought that book to school. I underlined and starred passages that I needed to remember. I kept it in my mind all the time as I tried to work my way up to a semi-normal number of calories a day. And it worked. I ended up purchasing Sylvan’s other book, The Body Sacred. That was probably one of the greatest purchases of my life, as well. I kind of owe everything to her. After that, I began to read more about the spirituality of Wicca, and created my own bond with the God and Goddess that was one of the most beautiful feelings I have ever felt in my life. I felt genuine and I felt new.

For several months, I was deep into my spirituality and practice. For that summer I worked at a very Zen coffee house where incense was always burning and Bob Marley was constantly on the sound system. Everything was organic and healthy and I felt extremely at peace for a whole summer as I prepared to go away to college. I had a wonderful therapist helping me with my “launching phase” who helped me heal my relationship with my mother (that was always a troubling spot for me) . I was in the good place in my life. And I went away to college and my life did a tailspin again.

In college, I gained a good eight or ten pounds. I didn’t really mind too much at first. I was okay. I just started to go to the gym a little more often and I paid more attention to what I was eating. It’s difficult in the dining hall because you don’t exactly know what you’re getting on your plate. Around October, I noticed one of my roommates acting strange. I noticed classic symptoms of Anorexia in her. I saw myself. She was dropping weight like crazy, sleeping way too often, spending hours at the gym and becoming very secluded. It took me two times of addressing the situation to her to get her to fess up.

Meanwhile, I retreated back into my old bad habits, turning to Anorexia as a crutch when I was stressed out about school, friends, or relationships. In just about a month I dropped over ten pounds. I lost all the weight I gained when I arrived, and then some. I was becoming happier with my body, but worse about my soul. I knew that what I was doing was wrong, but I couldn’t stop it. I was afraid to lose it. I had just started talking to a guy that I seriously liked and he liked me and I wanted to be lovely.

During this year I also stopped practicing Wicca. I still considered it my religion, but I was not as active as I could have been. I would pray once in a while to try and figure out my life, but it was difficult to keep focused on it. A few days ago, things changed again.

I opened up to one of my friends about my eating disorder. She then told me that she had similar problems, only on the Bulimia side. She had been in and out of treatment and offered to help me any way she could. I told her that I didn’t want help right now. And I lost two more pounds the next day. Losing weight made me feel secure, but it also scared me. I felt a bit out of control when the number kept dropping lower, lower. I was starting to get very worried and unhappy. I would go on drinking binges because I knew that it would make me weight less in the morning. (FYI – NOT a reason to have a drink, especially if you’re underage. I do NOT condone drinking to excess.) I had become reckless. I was scared. I had a breakdown in the shower after going to the gym one day and asked myself – when will I be happy? When will I become complete again? I thought it was about the number, but there was another voice in my head telling me that there was something more out there for me. I had to learn that I was more than my eating disorder.

Somewhere along the way, I tried to eat a little more. Mostly it was to appease everyone else who was worried: my friends, my sister, and somewhere deep in me, myself. Then my second roommate found a great website with a ton of yoga and some meditation. I had completely stopped doing yoga and meditating and I needed that. So I decided to try again and be serious about it. I also pulled out my good ‘ol Dianne Sylvan book again. I wanted to get back to the girl I used to be. I was happiest when I was greeting Divinity each morning and saying goodnight before bed. I was happiest when I could sit outside for hours just staring at the trees and feeling the Earth breathe beneath me. I was happiest when I could fully be myself, in my own skin. Every time a Sabbat comes around, I remember how this religion is Me. Because I always miss celebrating one to the fullest extent that I can because of the completeness that celebration always brings to me.

The beauty of Wicca is seeing the beauty in everything and feeling the magic pulse within yourself and all around you. If I’m not living, I can’t feel that. If I’m not being alive to the greatest extent that I can, there is no point. We are all a part of the Divine. The Divine is not ugly, or fat, or useless. And through learning this, I have to learn to respect myself.

If you’re struggling in any of the same ways that I did – I am feeling your pain. It is a meal-to-meal struggle. And that’s sad because food is one of the most magical pieces of art in the entire world. But it is possible to survive, and spirituality can help. It is not the only tool; you have to want to get better. I was not sure that I wanted to get better, and then I realized that not only did I want to – I needed to. In order to feel the beauty of the world around us, we have to be alive. I’m used to being completely dead inside because of this disease and for the last few days I’ve felt alive. Not completely – but much more than I have in a while.

Recovery is one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. And now I’m doing it for the second time. It is damn scary and I’m afraid for every day. Yet I continue to try. Some days are worse than others, but I still keep on, and I hope to continue to keep on until I have a healthy relationship with food again.

Do something scary and live. Because I firmly believe that it is worth it. Especially as Pagans, we have the ability to see the world in a way that not everyone can. We have different ways of appreciating the unbelievable qualities all around us. So appreciate it, and live. It’s what I’m trying to do.

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The Natural Witch

The Natural Witch

Author: Hypatia

My mother was a natural witch. she died in 1998. She was not a nice witch. She practiced dark magick and was not a good mother. She abandoned me when I was just a child. My father tells me she was powerful and passionate. She would scare him with witchcraft.

The memories I have of her are so intense. I remember she loved nature… but she was a hunter. I remember she had a madness that seemed to plague the thoughts of others. I was four when she left on her journey. I guess it’s where she felt she needed to be.

Me… I stayed and waited… the journey of a four-year-old witch was a rollercoaster ride of emotion, turmoil and eventual discovery.

Even at four I felt different. My whole childhood I felt a strange connections to nature and my dreams. My stepmother used to say I was one with my dreams. I talked, walked and enacted my dreams even as I slept.

I ran away a handful of times. I wanted to find my birth mother. The first time I ran away I was 13. I was chanting on the streets of Long Beach, “I will be fine, no one will hurt me”. I came up to a Jack-in-the-Box and sure enough a large black man (maybe large to me because I was all of 13) offered to buy me fries and a drink and asked me to sit down.

I could tell by his eyes that he was a kind man, intuition mind you that I would begin discounting in my late teens. He knew I was running away and managed to talk me down from my emotional ledge. I walked home at midnight on a busy street across from a strip club with a sense of accomplishment. I may not have found my mother, but at least I was looking.

My parents thought I was strange about nature but put it off onto my Navajo roots. I used to stick my head out the window while my parents were driving to get a better look at trees. I spent hours in forest preserves. I always felt like someone was waiting for me. At first I thought it was my mother. It was, but not any mother I could visualize with my mental database at 13.

At 16, I was pushing my birth mother out, everything about her, especially the fact that she was a witch. Actually, as open-minded as I was, I wasn’t very apt to listening to the nonsense people spewed about witchcraft. I didn’t mock it. Somehow even at a rebellious 16, I was still respectful. I hated her though. I hated what she had done to my father.

At 18, I met and fell in love with a beautiful woman; it was the first time I had ever loved another woman in a romantic way. She was a witch. She was older than me. She was my mentor in many ways. I would laugh though as she would cast spells.

I would think she was ridiculous as she tried to teach me. I was intrigued, and the power was still in me, but the chaos was so strong. I couldn’t pull together a fragment of a thought, let alone try to piece together the history of my people.

My beautiful kept telling me that I was a natural witch. She said I had a power that I didn’t even know how to harness. She said she observed my connections with nature, but abilities to get anything I wanted without hurting people and again… the dreams. I told her I didn’t believe in that voodoo. I slowly pulled away from the first coven that I was ever in, without even knowing I was a part of something real.

It wasn’t until I turned 30 and forgave my birth mother that the Goddess really started to hone in on me. I felt Her everywhere. I craved the outdoors just to be near Her. I saw Her face in everything: the trees, the sky and the ocean. It seemed that even the wind was calling my name.

Still friends with the witch from my childhood, I began to confess my feelings. She smiled and said that she had known all along. She was just waiting for me to be found.

I have always had this power. It is confidence. It is love. It is compassion. And it is so much more. I cannot tell you any more than this. I am a private woman with my craft. I will not even share my name with others. The only person I tell anything to is my friend, and she only hears some things.

My husband doesn’t know. My kids are probably natural witches as well and that is a path they will find on their own. I found it, because the Goddess willed it so. I do not know if secrecy makes my powers stronger, but I figure I have no reason to share my identity with the world. If the Goddess wills it to be, it will be.

I wanted to share my story because I believe that others are like me. My grandfather was touched. My mother was touched. My brother and I are both touched. We never talk about it; but we know.

Maybe every person has the potential to harness such great power, but I know in my heart that the Goddess chose me. She sought me out. She spent 30 years waiting for me to find her. After my discovery I knew that She had been with me all along.

In retrospect, I felt Her with me at 11 while I was running through the meadow in the back of my house. I was a bookworm who never read outside. It was almost like outside is sacred. It was my first altar of sorts. I need this always to be my place of solace.

I respect my Mother, my Goddess, and reciprocate her kindnesses. I will always protect Her, the way She has always protected me.

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For the Goddess So Loved the World

For the Goddess So Loved the World

Author: Jeffe

It had always been my dream to own my own house, with a yard and lots of trees. To have nature in my backyard, teeming with life, and a garden of vegetables I would tend to feed my family. It would connect me more to the Earth, far more than did the apartments and condos I’d been living in for the better part of two decades. But such conquests often come with doomful forebodings.

“That lawn isn’t going to mow itself, ” my Dad warned. “And just wait until the snow starts piling up!”

Dad had been there. Nobody’s quite sure where “there” is, exactly, but one look from Dad told me I’d know I was “there” when I got “there.” Shoveling snow with my father is actually one of my fondest memories of childhood, but therein lies the difference between a child’s memory and an adult’s. I remember it as playing in the snow with Dad, and Mom serving us hot cocoa when we came in. For Dad, it was hard work. These days, my father still perceives nature as work, while I see it as divinity.

This thirty-something Pagan, yours truly, hasn’t always been a city dweller. My graduate studies began at age nineteen, plucking me from the country home where my Mom and Dad raised me. My studies were followed by instructor and professor positions at several universities, all of them in the middle of cities. I lived in a series of apartments and condos. Nature had become a destination, an excursion, a break from the norm. I longed for it to be part of my everyday life again.

Shortly after Samhain of 2008, I finally got my house wish. My wife and newborn son and I moved into the first house we’ve ever owned. We had navigated the troubled waters of the depressed housing market to find a good deal on the perfect house in an area with award-winning schools. If you look up our house on Google Earth, you’ll see our yard has by far the most trees for blocks around. Squirrels, birds, rabbits, raccoons, and at least one groundhog are regular visitors. Ducks and crows pop in from time to time. Of course, most of them enjoy my garden a little too much, and apparently there’s a neighborhood skunk who likes to dig up grubs in the yard at night, but that’s alright – I’ll take a little bad with the good.

During the unpacking process, our computers had emerged first, a necessity since my wife and I both teach for a living. But we had yet to set up wireless or any other office stuff. Just on a lark one evening, I tried to search for a local wireless connection. With a little luck, I might be able to piggyback someone else’s signal long enough to check my work e-mail.

There was one wireless network available; a secure networked named “John316.” Perhaps the most famous Bible verse of them all. The verse well-known for its appearances in sports arenas. For its mystical ability to change the course of a football or baseball in mid-air.

“Oh great, ” I thought. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will have high-speed internet.” Like many eclectic Pagans, I’m actually quite well versed in the Bible, as well as numerous other spiritual texts. Blame it on a Catholic upbringing, or several Theology classes in undergraduate school. I like to keep as many doors to wisdom open as possible.

I thought it was a tacky name for an Internet server, until I remembered the numbers of Witches and Pagans I’d met who’d named their pets Merlin, or Lilith, or Hex. Glass houses and all that. I pictured the neighborhood in my mind, and narrowed it down to three houses close enough for their wireless signal to reach us. There were no outward clues to spoil my shell game of “Find the Evangelical, ” but I was sure I would learn soon.

I confess to having felt a little apprehensive about my new neighbors. As a mathematics professor at a Jesuit University, I’d met more than my share of avid Evangelicals. One year, after introducing myself and handing out the syllabus on the first day of class, I asked the class if they had any questions. One student stood bolt upright and asked, “Have you accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal savior?”

“Um … does anyone have any ‘math’ questions?” I responded.

Call it an irrational fear, but I admit that it hung in the back of mind, for weeks to come: that being open about who I am and how I live might make me target. Not a target of violence, mind you, but a target of general disdain. The “black sheep” of the neighborhood. I envisioned my children someday being gawked at or picked on by the other children at the playground.

There is certain vulnerability inherent in the practice of a religious path that differs from the community norm. It takes courage to be yourself amidst strangers.

A few months passed, and I had enjoyed Yule, just before celebrating Christmas with the rest of family (everyone else in my family is Christian, Catholic mostly) . It was early January when the first monster storm of winter hit the Detroit area. My northern suburb tallied fifteen inches of snow, which came in three nearly equal waves over two days. My shovel was about to get some good use.

I soon learned that it takes me about 30 minutes to shovel 5 inches of snow off my driveway and sidewalks – quite the workout. For those who live far enough South to have not experienced the joys of snow shoveling, let me explain the effort involved. From a standing position, bend over and pick up a bowling ball. Then stand back up and toss it several feet to your left. Repeat this continually for 30 minutes. A quick tip – toss half of the balls in each direction, to even up the back strain.

When it was time for the second round of shoveling, I bundled back up and stepped out into the garage. My wife was out and my son had just settled in for a nap, so I put the baby monitor in my coat pocket. As the garage door went up and I put my boots on, I noticed curtains moving in the window of the large house across the street. I tried not to notice that I was being watched, and set to my labors.

A few minutes into shoveling, out came the neighbor, similarly bundled and pushing his new snow blower. I waved hello and he waved back. By the time I was halfway done shoveling, he had completely finished removing all of his snow, about twice as much as mine, without much effort. I pretended not to notice as he went back into his garage for a few minutes, talking to someone just out of sight, looking over at me now and then.

Finally he came over, with the blower, and with a few arm gestures asked if I’d like some help. I was happy for it, and together we quickly finished off my shoveling and did a little of another neighbor’s. I shook his hand and invited him for a warm-up coffee, and we introduced ourselves. I can’t remember his name, possibly because this is the only time we’ve ever spoken – I’ll just refer to him as “John316.”

John wasted no time and immediately started talking about the Bible Study his family had hosted the night before. I smiled as I poured the coffees. It quickly became clear that he had what I jokingly refer to as “Jesus Tourette’s” … the inability to have a two-minute conversation without mentioning Jesus three times. It’s the Christian version of “Pagan Tourette’s” … I define this as the inability to attend a Pagan meet-up in normal clothing and without mystical jewelry or flair.

John began steering the conversation in ways intended to draw out whether I was a Christian. I probably could have nimbly avoided his transparent attempts for hours, but I decided not to torment him. I let him know who I am. To blunt the trauma suddenly apparent on his face, I told him that I have a lot of respect for Christians who do Bible Studies. And that’s the truth.

Anytime people get together and talk about their faith and its literature, and then think about the moral and ethical implications, they are far more likely to learn something than if they just listen to a preacher. We could all take a lesson in that.

I have to say I enjoyed the conversation immensely. It’s so rare that I get to talk to someone about a spiritual text that we’ve both studied profusely. Any awkwardness was probably from the difference of our viewpoints. For him, the Bible is indisputable truth, laying down the laws and guidelines for the one true path to salvation. For me, it’s a storybook full of Middle Eastern history, both pacifistic and militaristic philosophies, poetry and prose, and fables that sometimes bear pearls of wisdom.

And let’s admit it, the book of Revelations is just plain cool.

He never discussed anything about Paganism, or Witchcraft, or the occult. He wasn’t interested in my faith at all – he just wanted to tell me about his, on the assumption that his way should be everyone’s way. And that’s fine with me. Pagan tolerance and acceptance means letting people be whoever they need to be, so long as they aren’t harming themselves or others. He was doing me no harm; in fact, from his perspective, his intentions were noble and good.

John needed to “witness” to me, so I let him. I think it’s important, as Pagans, to recognize that there are no wrong gods or goddesses, so long as their worshippers use them to try to become better people.

Our back-and-forth banter continued for about forty minutes. He seemed excited to meet a non-Christian could talk about obscure parables, the authors and histories of the lesser known books, and of course the “End Times.” But he also seemed a little angry that I could have studied the book so thoroughly without accepting it as absolute truth. It was as though he wanted to like me, but couldn’t accept me because I don’t fit into his working definition of “good person.”

Finally, perhaps mercifully, my son woke up from his nap. John shook my hand, thanked me for the coffee, and left.

“Have a blessed day, ” he called over his shoulder, with a tone of irritation and resignation, as he pulled the door shut behind him.

“Blessed day ever, ” I thought, wondering whether I’d made a begrudging new friend.

Apparently not. We haven’t spoken since, and he seldom returns a wave.

His wife once approached my wife, to gossip about that awful Mr. Obama and all the bad things he has planned for our troops. My wife, to her credit, exhibited amazing restraint.

“I feel like they’re constantly judging us, ” my wife has told me, on more than one occasion.

That’s a strange thought, considering that John and his family never interact with us in any way. But I feel it too. It’s hard to say how much of it exists just in our heads. I can’t help but wonder what discussions they have about us. I have the feeling that they look down us, but the irony is that by making this assumption about them, I am in fact passing judgment on them.

It saddens me somewhat, but I take comfort in the little, normal rivalries we neighbors have. John’s lawn is a point of pride for him, and my yard is an altar for me. I see him on his porch sometimes, watching me gather up fallen twigs before I mow the lawn. And in the winter, whenever it snows heavily, he seems to wait until I’m shoveling before he starts, just so I can see him finish faster and more easily.

I catch a shadow of a smirk on his face sometimes, as though he’s thinking, “Look how easy it is when you have the right tools.” In my head, I respond, “Look how nice it is to exercise and be in shape.”

And that’s terrific! That’s normal neighbor stuff. I take it as an affirmation that I’m not considered a pox on humanity.

Tolerance doesn’t always begin with a welcome basket and an invitation to dinner. Sometimes it begins with a few people being just as irritated with each other as they are with everyone else. That’s human nature, and it’s messy, and sticky, and beautiful. Amen.


Footnotes:
The Bible, John 3:16 (paraphrased)

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Reflecting on Witchcraft, Then and Now

Reflecting on Witchcraft, Then and Now

Author: Crick

These days I find myself in periods of reflection on my experiences in the Craft and the ways that is has affected my personal views on life. As part of this reflection, I often wonder in what direction the Craft is now undertaking.

My girlfriend of many years, who is a Druid, and who has spent hours engaged in discussions with the old guy, will occasionally tell me, “you just aren’t right” before flashing a huge grin. When she says this I feel honored because it confirms that I have walked through this life as an individual. And it is has been the experiences of being involved in traditional Witchcraft that has made such a life experience possible.

But now I find myself in a quandary as to my personal views of witchcraft.

When I was growing up on a farm in Tennessee in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s and later in suburbia in MD, our family quietly practiced the Craft as we knew it by way of our Irish heritage and the Appalachia influence that we grew up around.

Outwardly we were like any other family at the time; just our beliefs were a bit different from some. And though we referred to folks outside of our personal family as “the others” we were never obvious about such beliefs and so folks around us in the community had no clue. In fact, only one outsider, a Mrs. Bowie, who was a retired minister of a mystical Christian church and close friend of my grandmother Ina and a family from Ohio that used to visit my grandparents when we lived in MD, were the only non-family members that were aware of our ways.

Were we special?

Absolutely not, we were just as dysfunctional in some ways as any other family from that era. However, we never believed in publicity as far as our particular beliefs in the Craft. This was not due to fear of any public backlash or what have you; it was just our way to be private about our family ways.

In those days, folks believed that went on behind closed doors stayed behind those same doors. When my mother branched off into a coven separate from our immediate family at the beginning of 1970, a coven whose focus was primarily on Astrology and its influences on life, the ways of silence were such that though I as a teenager was aware of the existence of that coven, I knew next to nothing beyond that tiny morsel of information.

Some of you may have met my mother at some point in time for during the 1970’s she performed astrological and Tarot readings for a cruise ship liner that traveled between the coast of Florida and the Bahamas.

At any rate, during the mid 1970’s I spent three years in Germany with the military and during that time I was associated with a coven that engaged the path of Hecate and thus would probably be seen as a “dark” coven by Neo pagans today. And yet, though we were very active, we did not seek and in fact went to great pains to avoid publicity.

And now I come to my reservations and thus conflicting emotions about the openness if you will of witchcraft in today’s times. During the years that I have mentioned above, privacy was something that was as a natural way of life at the time and was respected as such.

I am keenly aware that during these same times, that those of the Wicca were in fact moving in the opposite direction and actively seeking publicity at every opportunity. Beyond this observation I personally have no comment to share about the Wicca during those times, for I am speaking about witchcraft as I know it from my personal experiences and not about the fledgling religion of Wicca.

In today’s day and age, with the advent of the Internet where information is readily assessable and where there are now a plethora of Wicca and witchcraft 101 books, it is difficult to find folks who adhere to the tenets of privacy that witchcraft once knew. My personal concerns are that is such openness really a positive step forward in regards to witchcraft?

When I examine my personal views of witchcraft, I see a spiritual path that is wide open to “personal” discovery. Nor do I see any valid restrictions on what or how a practitioner of witchcraft may engage in order to arrive at such discoveries. If one sees the need to conjure up a spirit or other entity in an effort to experience such a discovery, then so be it. If one needs to resort to witchcraft to correct a wrong from another, then again, so be it.

As a witch, I believe that each of us is an individual and as such I do not believe in Karma, a concept that is foreign to the art of witchcraft. But I do believe in maintaining personal responsibility. As an old school witch, I feel that I know my personal goals and the experiences needed to achieve them far better than any group of folks such as those found within the many religions that make up our world. If I make a mistake than I am the one who has to pay for them.

I personally do not believe that a public forum has the right to outline boundaries that defines what steps I am allowed to take to arrive at my experiences in witchcraft. As an individual I do not believe that anyone outside of me has a say on how I personally pursue the path of witchcraft.

Again, I am the one that has to answer for any trial and errors that I engage in within the parameters of witchcraft. And yet this is exactly the perception that we are at in today’s Neo pagan community.

Witchcraft is now defined (erroneously to my mind) as a religion. And as a religion all of the tenets that were once diametrically opposed to the tenets of witchcraft are now accepted as being the norm.

Because of the instantaneous communication of the Internet, folks who engage in witchcraft are cast into a false image of being light and fluffy folks. I personally do not believe in Good and Evil, as these is primarily concepts that originated with the Abrahamic religions. I do believe that there are shades of light and dark, but only in the sense that we need such labels in order to put a sense of understanding on such concepts as they relate to the human experience.

And so I have to wonder, if we took the overwhelming desire for publicity that defines the art of witchcraft today, would witchcraft still be defined as it is by today’s standards. Or would the freedoms that were once a tenet of witchcraft, flourish yet once again?

And are such modern standards, which in effect are enhanced by way of the Internet, realistic as it pertains to the practice of witchcraft?

Massive publicity may bode well for a religion in the sense that it needs such attention in order to boost its membership. But is such publicity really a positive and useful approach to a mystical spiritual path that requires no such membership beyond that of the individual practitioner?

Is the personal responsibility that has always been an unavoidable tenet of witchcraft still possible or even a consideration in the concept of witchcraft as it is defined by today’s standards? Has such massive publicity made witchcraft into a completely unrealistic concept in order to be acceptable to today’s society? Has such publicity taken away from the base realities of witchcraft?

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You’re Forgetting Something…

You’re Forgetting Something…

Author: Chi

The Pagan culture has forgotten something, very dire, and very central to who we are. (And I say this with no degree of arrogance, because I forget it, too) We lie docile in armchairs or on couch cushions, meditating for some time each day and quietly hoping divinity will swoop down and come to us in the midst of our internal peace. Which is all fine and good-

-For a while.

But there is, undeniably and importantly, something else. There’s another kind of divine contact, another way to get to the core of who we are. I have often contemplated that perhaps we like to quietly go about our spirituality because it’s easier that way. We like to think that if we sit in quiet for a few minutes that we can manipulate energy and reach the divine – it is, after all, much easier than “the old fashioned way”.

So, what is “The old fashioned way”?

To break your leashes. They may have been put there by the media or today’s society. But break them, every now and again, in thousands of little ways.

Be natural. We have the ancestors of empires that ceased opportunities, we have tribal blood in our veins, and even back further we have our cousins in the animal kingdoms, of apes and chimps, and back even further we even have the spirits of other creatures; if you go back far enough we are the gazelles on the grass plains, and we are the cheetahs who are hunting them.

We’re like a plump house pet. A tubby dog or cat. We laze around the house. Our idea of excitement is dinner time (just for the sake of the food) . But common house pets, if you give them a chance, can race through the rainforest chasing prey – even if it’s a rainforest of garage tools.

Now, animals are capable of things that many humans, me included, find unacceptable. Gang rape and cold blood murder aren’t foreign in the animal world. But think: mothering instinct, playfulness, and a respect for the harshness and caring of nature are parts of the animal world too. Is it not unreasonable to think that there may be some part of spiritual wisdom that comes from the chaos of the natural world, maybe even a kind you can’t get from reading books and meditating?

Think about it. How often do your eyes flash with an animal instinct? How often do you race through the forest? How sacred is the feeling of the earth on the soles of your bare feet? When the wind whispers to you, do you hear what its saying? Do you know the smell of rain or drought? Can you tell when it’s going to snow based on the pinkish color of the skies?

There are ways of reaching the divine, or some altered state of consciousness, from exhilaration. From going off our instincts. The bears and the snakes know the earth better than we do.

But in every house cat, there is the spirit of a lion or tiger or panther (oh my!) and in every dog there is a wolf or coyote; in every canary there is an eagle. And no matter how ‘cushy’ they seem, they have that instinct inside of them, there are still their roots in the feral realm, they have a deep connection with the earth, and maybe ours will never be that pure.

But it’s still there. The living things of this world are our cousins. We have that wild spirit inside of us too, we have a pack instinct somewhere, even if it’s buried under “does this make me look fat?” or “Darn you, Microsoft! Why won’t you open Word?” It’s there, but you have to get rid of your quiet house pet nature to get to it, even if just for a minute.

When was the last time you pounced an unsuspecting sibling? When did you last roll around in the soil and not worry about your clothes? Do you know how bright a butterfly’s wings are when you hold still, and let one land on your nose such that you can see the light through its wings? Do you ever chase the dragons made of incense smoke around the room? Do you know the best mattresses or furniture in your house to jump on?

Can you play tag with your cats? Do you climb just to climb and play just to play? When was the last time you ran just to see how far you could go? Can you feel Divinity when you swing from tree branches? Because it’s there…

Most of us like to think that we don’t care what others think of us. But that isn’t totally true, no matter how much you think it is. And I’m guilty too, here…Otherwise, I would probably walk around public naked whilst chasing and pouncing on strangers (To clarify, I don’t) .

But there is a kind of divine peace that comes with the excitement of getting in touch with that childlike, wild part of ourselves. Even if we can’t be animal, we can still make snow angels and roll down grassy hills.

And you can do this in your back yard; with your parents, kids, friends or siblings; you can be alone in a deep forest; you can be puddle-jumping across the parking lot. You can do it in your dreams, the astral plane, or anywhere, because it’s all a way of discovering Divinity “the way nature intended” so anywhere you can be with the Divine you can let loose.

Sometimes I think that we’ve forgotten our roots as people. We come from so many diverse cultures, and we come from such a rich earth and animal kingdom that there must be some profound glimmer of it left – but where?

It’s in the parents that still have contests to see who can go the highest on children’s swing sets. It’s in those of us that know how to talk to the trees and grass. It’s an animal part of us, and a childish part of us, but it is vital. Maybe society can’t take us impersonating lions in the middle of the grocery store. But I’m sure we won’t shred the fabric of life as we know it too much if we dance to music on a whim, or if we race to the car, or roll around in the park.

You can’t forget how to play, how to run, or how to climb. Some part of it is always going to be there, and you have to be able to connect to it when you need to.

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‘THINK on THESE THINGS’

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

In this jet age when almost “instant there” is commonly accepted, the world has become very small. The days of remaining in one’s own birthplace are near an end, and those who never dreamed of traveling have adjusted themselves to it quite well.

And with shorter distances between us and our neighbors it seems our worlds should find more opportunities for mutual understanding. But we must realize that even though our material worlds may be easily crossed, our thoughts are worlds apart. Until we can bring together a thinking people with the desire to create living conditions that are peaceful and full of kindness, fast travel can waver between good and bad.

A British novelist and poet, George Moore, said, “It is thought, and thought only, that divides right from wrong; it is thought, and thought only, that elevates or degrades human deeds and desires.”

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Available online! ‘Cherokee Feast of Days’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler.

Visit her web site to purchase the wonderful books by Joyce as gifts for yourself or for loved ones……and also for those who don’t have access to the Internet: http://www.hifler.com
Click Here to Buy her books at Amazon.com

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day April 16

Elder’s Meditation of the Day April 16

“But one should pray in one’s heart during a sacred ceremony; this is the purpose of the ceremony, to purify the participants both inside and outside.”

–Thomas Yellowtail, CROW

How do you know if you are praying from your heart or from your head? Pray from your head and you will feel nothing; pray from your heart and you will feel feelings. You may feel sorrow, you may feel joy, you may want to cry, depending on what you are praying for. During the ceremony, the cleansing will take place. The Medicine Wheel teaches the four directions of inner power: emotional, mental, physical and spiritual. The prayer controls the emotional, mental and physical. When we ask for purification of our feelings, our mental mind and our physical body, the spiritual direction causes the cleansing to happen.

Great Spirit, create in me a clean heart.

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April 16 – Daily Feast

April 16 – Daily Feast

April is the color of jonquils, the fragrance of hyacinths, and the dewiness of violets. The sunlit meadows are carpeted with tiny blue flowers, and along the ravines wild strawberries are as sweet and tart as April air. We forget that while the earth sleeps, life goes on, growing, developing, spreading, until at the right moment it reveals itself in glorious colors and shapes. A few short weeks ago everything was brown and somber. Now the colors are radiant and the very air is tinted the color of new leaves. A new aura outlines the distant hills and only human beings have to see and taste and stir themselves to new life.

~ I love the land and….the trees which cover it, the grass growing on it. ~

COMO

‘A Cherokee Feast of Days’, by Joyce Sequichie Hifler

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