Daily Archives: April 18, 2012

Just In – ‘American Bandstand’ Host Dick Clark Has Died

‘American Bandstand’ Host Dick Clark Has Died

 

BY LYNN ELBER,AP Television Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Dick Clark, the ever-youthful television host and tireless entrepreneur who helped bring rock ‘n’ roll into the mainstream on “American Bandstand,” and later produced and hosted a vast range of programming from game shows to the year-end countdown from Times Square on “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” has died. He was 82.

Spokesman Paul Shefrin said Clark had a heart attack Wednesday morning at Saint John’s hospital in Santa Monica, a day after he was admitted for an outpatient procedure.

Clark had continued performing even after he suffered a stroke in 2004 that affected his ability to speak and walk.

The world’s oldest teenager

Long dubbed “the world’s oldest teenager” because of his boyish appearance, Clark bridged the rebellious new music scene and traditional show business, and equally comfortable whether chatting about music with Sam Cooke or bantering with Ed McMahon about TV bloopers. He thrived as the founder of Dick Clark Productions, supplying movies, game and music shows, beauty contests and more to TV. Among his credits: “The $25,000 Pyramid,” ”TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes” and the American Music Awards.

For a time in the 1980s, he had shows on all three networks and was listed among the Forbes 400 of wealthiest Americans. Clark also was part of radio as partner in the United Stations Radio Network, which provided programs — including Clark’s — to thousands of stations.

“There’s hardly any segment of the population that doesn’t see what I do,” Clark told The Associated Press in a 1985 interview. “It can be embarrassing. People come up to me and say, ‘I love your show,’ and I have no idea which one they’re talking about.”

The original “American Bandstand” was one of network TV’s longest-running series as part of ABC’s daytime lineup from 1957 to 1987. It later aired for a year in syndication and briefly on the USA Network. Over the years, it introduced stars ranging from Buddy Holly to Madonna. The show’s status as an American cultural institution was solidified when Clark donated Bandstand’s original podium and backdrop to the Smithsonian Institution.

Clark joined “Bandstand” in 1956 after Bob Horn, who’d been the host since its 1952 debut, was fired. Under Clark’s guidance, it went from a local Philadelphia show to a national phenomenon.

“I played records, the kids danced, and America watched,” was how Clark once described the series’ simplicity. In his 1958 hit “Sweet Little Sixteen,” Chuck Berry sang that “they’ll be rocking on Bandstand, Philadelphia, P-A.”

As a host, he had the smooth delivery of a seasoned radio announcer. As a producer, he had an ear for a hit record. He also knew how to make wary adults welcome this odd new breed of music in their homes.

Clark endured accusations that he was in with the squares, with critic Lester Bangs defining Bandstand as “a leggily acceptable euphemism of the teenage experience.” In a 1985 interview, Clark acknowledged the complaints. “But I knew at the time that if we didn’t make the presentation to the older generation palatable, it could kill it.”

“So along with Little Richard and Chuck Berry and the Platters and the Crows and the Jayhawks … the boys wore coats and ties and the girls combed their hair and they all looked like sweet little kids into a high school dance,” he said.

Fought censorship

But Clark defended pop artists and artistic freedom, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame said in an online biography of the 1993 inductee. He helped give black artists their due by playing original R&B recordings instead of cover versions by white performers, and he condemned censorship.

His stroke in December 2004 forced him to miss his annual appearance on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.” He returned the following year and, although his speech at times was difficult to understand, many praised his bravery, including other stroke victims.

Still speaking with difficulty, he continued taking part in his New Year’s shows, though in a diminished role. Ryan Seacrest became the main host.

“I’m just thankful I’m still able to enjoy this once-a-year treat,” he told The Associated Press by e-mail in December 2008 as another New Year’s Eve approached.

He was honored at the Emmy Awards in 2006, telling the crowd: “I have accomplished my childhood dream, to be in show business. Everybody should be so lucky to have their dreams come true. I’ve been truly blessed.”

He was born Richard Wagstaff Clark in Mount Vernon, N.Y., in 1929. His father, Richard Augustus Clark, was a sales manager who worked in radio.

Clark idolized his athletic older brother, Bradley, who was killed in World War II. In his 1976 autobiography, “Rock, Roll & Remember,” Clark recalled how radio helped ease his loneliness and turned him into a fan of Steve Allen, Arthur Godfrey and other popular hosts.

From Godfrey, he said, he learned that “a radio announcer does not talk to ‘those of you out there in radio land’; a radio announcer talks to me as an individual.”

Clark began his career in the mailroom of a Utica, N.Y., radio station in 1945. By age 26, he was a broadcasting veteran, with nine years’ experience on radio and TV stations in Syracuse and Utica, N.Y., and Philadelphia. He held a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University. While in Philadelphia, Clark befriended McMahon, who later credited Clark for introducing him to his future “Tonight Show” boss, Johnny Carson.

In the 1960s, “American Bandstand” moved from black-and-white to color, from weekday broadcasts to once-a-week Saturday shows and from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. Although its influence started to ebb, it still featured some of the biggest stars of each decade, whether Janis Joplin, the Jackson 5, Talking Heads or Prince. But Clark never did book two of rock’s iconic groups, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Elvis Presley also never performed, although Clark managed an on-air telephone interview while Presley was in the Army.

Remembering Michael Jackson

When Michael Jackson died in June 2009, Clark recalled working with him since he was a child, adding, “of all the thousands of entertainers I have worked with, Michael was THE most outstanding. Many have tried and will try to copy him, but his talent will never be matched.”

Clark kept more than records spinning with his Dick Clark Productions. Its credits included the Academy of Country Music and Golden Globe awards; TV movies including the Emmy-winning “The Woman Who Willed a Miracle” (1984), the “$25,000 Pyramid” game show and the 1985 film “Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins.” Clark himself made a cameo on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and a dramatic appearance as a witness on the original “Perry Mason.” He was an involuntary part of Michael Moore’s Academy Award-winning “Bowling for Columbine,” in which Clark is seen brushing off Moore as the filmmaker confronts him about working conditions at a restaurant owned by Clark.

In 1974, at ABC’s request, Clark created the American Music Awards after the network lost the broadcast rights to the Grammy Awards.

He was also an author, with “Dick Clark’s American Bandstand” and such self-help books as “Dick Clark’s Program for Success in Your Business and Personal Life” and “Looking Great, Staying Young.” His unchanging looks inspired a joke in “Peggy Sue Gets Married,” the 1986 comedy starring Kathleen Turner as an unhappy wife and mother transported back to 1960. Watching Clark on a black and white TV set, she shakes her head in amazement, “Look at that man, he never ages.”

Clark’s clean-cut image survived a music industry scandal. In 1960, during a congressional investigation of “payola” or bribery in the record and radio industry, Clark was called on to testify.

He was cleared of any suspicions but was required by ABC to divest himself of record-company interests to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest. The demand cost him $8 million, Clark once estimated. His holdings included partial ownership of Swan Records, which later released the first U.S. version of the Beatles’ smash “She Loves You.”

In 2004, Clark announced plans for a revamped version of “American Bandstand.” The show, produced with “American Idol” creator Simon Fuller, was to feature a host other than Clark.

He was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 1994 and served as spokesman for the American Association of Diabetes Educators.

Clark, twice divorced, had a son, Richard Augustus II, with first wife Barbara Mallery and two children, Duane and Cindy, with second wife Loretta Martin. He married Kari Wigton in 1977.

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Christian Witchcraft: What it means to me.

Christian Witchcraft: What it means to me.

Author: Pall Tryggr Ageirr

Keep in mind that I am still a seeker, but I believe that I have found a path that speaks to me. Combining my belief in Jesus Christ, and the comforting Holy Spirit (though I see the Holy Spirit in a feminine aspect and as such refer to her as the Mother Holy Spirit, or lady Holy Spirit) , With Pagan ideologies and practices. More specifically I am interested in general Paganism, The Greek Pantheon, The Nordic and Celtic traditions, Wiccan theology, beliefs, and practices, Native American Spirituality/Shamanism, and the art and practice of magick. I am also interested in the Jewish Qabbala and Gnosticism (an unorthodox sect of Christianity that was systematically stamped out by early fundamentalist.)

In essence I am an eclectic since I combine belief systems. I prefer the to label myself as a seeking eclectic Christian Witch, since we as humans have this condition to want to label everything. I grew up in a heavily Christian background, but I questioned a lot of it, and I always felt like other religions and spiritualities have certain truths to them. I am a subscriber to the tree theory which is as follows: The roots of the tree is the unknowable divine energy you cannot see it but you know that it is there. Then there is the tree trunk which manifests to some people as a God or a Goddess or sometimes both…it manifests to me in the form of a God and Goddess. They are two separate entities but they come from the same source – some people will tend to stop there. But if you go on up the tree to the branches that is each individual pantheon (Greek, Roman, Nordic, Celtic, Egyptian, ect.) * I believe other religions can fit on there as well – examples: Christianity, the Jewish faith, Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, ect.* and then if you go even farther to each little twig that is each individual god (s) and goddess (s) . They are all separate yet they flow into the one divine energy.

I whole heartedly believe that mainstream Christianity today is not was Jesus Christ envisioned 2,000 + years ago. I do try to read the Bible as often as possible, and I do believe that it contains good examples to try to live by, but I also believe that it has been “translated” way too many times to suit man’s political agendas of the times. I believe the early Christians after Christ died on the cross, became corrupt and tried to pervert teachings to suit their needs.

Thoughout the gospels Jesus teaches about friendship, tolerance, love and kindness. Things that I rarely see exhibited by Mainstream Christians today.

I do believe Jesus Christ was a profound teacher and a messiah, but I am also a Goddess worshipper. I worship the Mother right along with the Father. I believe in Magick, and I believe it is another valid way to attune with and interact with the divine. As well Magick is another valid form to help affect changes in my life for the better, I believe it is a gift from the divine and as such it should be utilized. I am also a nature worshipper, because divinity created nature and us, therefore nature as well as us humans contain little sparks of divinity. I am mystical, and my spiritual cup runneth over, in ways it never did wheh I was a practing Baptist Christian. I believe that if Jesus Christ was alive today then he would be the witchiest Christian Witch of them all.

When I started this path I thought Christian Witchcraft was in the minority, but as I continue with my studies and down my spiritual path of choice I find more like minded people like me everyday.

We may never be totally accepted in Pagan circles, because Pagans have been persecuted thoughout the centuries by the right-wing Fundamentalist Christians, so the mere mention of Christian influenced spirituality may send some people the wrong message. And on the reverse side, to the right-wing fundamentalist Christians we are seen as heretics, who are misusing the gospels, and who are perverted and in league with the devil because of our magickal and mystical sides. But we are here, and we follow what our hearts, minds, and spirits tell us to do, we do not care about religious dogma, instead we do what we feel is right in our hearts, we worship the God and Goddess and all of their creations and try to use all the things they have given to us. We also rely on the comforting Mother Holy Spirit in times of great sadness, and we try to strive to live by the teachings of our Savior Jesus Christ, and show everyone, Pagan or Christian, or agnostic, or atheist, or Islamic, or Buddhist – just how Christ like we are.

We are loving, and kind, and gracious, and forgiving, atleast we try to be, we are still human we are still flawed we make mistakes, but We listen to our hearts and try to do what we believe is morally right – and we never tell anyone that they are wrong for any spiritual or religious belief they may have, instead we celebrate the diversity.

This is what being a Christian Witch means to me, and I love every second of being one, I honestly have never felt more spiritually fulfilled.

I am still a seeker, yes. But arn’t we all? we should never stop learning.Each day I find something new about myself, my spirituality, and my craft.

Alot of people may not agree with what I have to say, or may not agree with my chosen blend of paths and spiritualities – but this is the blended path that has called to me and I feel this is where I am supposed to be. I do not care about religious dogma, instead I follow my heart and let my spirit and the divine energy ( the Lord and Lady, each individual God and Goddess, Jesus Christ, and the Mother Holy Spirit) Guide me to where they want me to be.

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Which Witch is Witch?

Which Witch is Witch?

Author: Autumn’s Witch

I have been reading a lot lately about what it means to be a Witch. This is a topic very close to home and one that I now feel compelled to comment on.

I grew up on a small farm in rural Tennessee. When I was about seven or eight years old my grandmother explained to me that she was a Witch and by heredity so was I. To me, this didn’t seem like a great revelation but it was confusing because the only real concept I had of what a Witch was, was the either scary hags in fairy tales or the over the top witch called “Witch Hazel” from the Bugs Bunny cartoons. But as time went by, my grandmother tutored me in the ways of The Goddess and pretty soon I had a completely new concept of what being a Witch meant. It was someone who nurtured the earth and worshiped the divinely submerged power in nature and life. It was someone who looked to The Goddess with complete, unquestioning love. It was someone who healed wounds and tended broken hearts. It was someone who helped the needy and stood up to the bullies. It was someone who understood the divine gift of magic. It was someone who was filled with kindness, charity and warmth, even at times when others weren’t. Above all else, it was someone who devoted their lives to being a reflection of the Goddess. Someone who made every second of life sacred.

To this day, I live my life in accordance to the above. I will until the day I die. There is no question of why or how. My life is in devotion to my Goddess and I do it freely with all of my heart and soul. I can’t change who I am any more than a tiger can change its stripes. It defines who I am.

Being a Witch is a lifestyle not only and life choice. There are responsibilities, duties and obligations. It is not a life for everyone nor should it be.

When I first started calling myself a Witch, it was something only done it private. Back in the 1970s rural Tennessee had no tolerance for Witches, especially in Baptist country. I remember feeling so weird at school on holidays. I remember how I had to pretend to be someone I wasn’t. I remember being forced to pray and worship something I did not hold sacred. It was a very scary and frustrating time in my life. But the thing I hated most was when people openly called me a Christian. It was brutal and it made me nauseous. I remember crying on the way home, jealous that I couldn’t be who I wanted to be. I prayed to The Goddess that someday I could be open and free with who and what I was. Little did I know, that day was not too far off.

Flash forward to the 1990’s. I was amazed how the Pagan/Wiccan community sort if just came alive. All of a sudden there were thousands of people calling themselves Witches. There were dozens of books at the bookstores on the topic. It appeared as if there was a rebirth of the old ways. I was a happy as I could be. It was nice to be able to say in public that I was a Witch.

But alas, I found that things were not as they seemed. It became obvious after a few years, that all these people who all of a sudden were calling themselves Witches, were not exactly what I had expected. It was a hard time for me. I wanted to help people understand. But it seemed as if there were dozens of theories on what it meant to be a Witch. There were stringent rules and rituals and processes and so on. This was all very different than what I had been taught. There were times when I wondered to myself, how can we all be Witches? There were groups diametrically opposed to each other. Rules, regulations and red tape seemed to more important than the root passion of our spirituality.

Then people started calling me Wiccan or Wicca. I was stunned. I had never in all my life been called that. So I studied up on this whole Wicca thing. It was in no way a reflection of who I was and how I worshiped. And frankly I didn’t like being associated with it at all. For many years I would glare at anyone calling me Wiccan. As the 90’s ended I became aware of the general debate of Witch versus Wiccan.

Now I am not going to debate the merits or academic ramifications of what the words Wicca or Witch means. I have an extensive scholastic background but I don’t feel this issue is something that should be debated that way. But let me say simply this. I am a Witch. I have been my whole life. That is the only label that I will accept. I have no problems with anyone else calling themselves Wiccans or Witches. But I do take issue when people try to label me something I am not. I respect everyone’s right to call themselves what ever they like. I also respect other’s limits and opinions. At the same times I expect others to respect my limits.

The Wiccan/Pagan community does need unity, but in the rush to create an all inclusive sense of unity, some of us have been trampled below. I love Pagans and Wiccans. They are my brothers and sisters. I support our cause but no matter how it’s all wrapped or presented, I am a Witch, above all else. I do not want to be labeled anything other than what I am. It is an insult to my, my family and everything being a Witch stands for. Please respect our choice to be who we are and who we are not.

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Are you Magically Insecure?

Are you Magically Insecure?

Author: Mistress Ravenfyre


I’m better than you. One may think they are hearing this in the local playground, but this is not the case. This phrase seems to be coming by the adults that are in the realm of magick.

Why is this feeling becoming so widespread? It is not just an emotional outbreak by individuals but also by those that are in groups or associations in the community. One may hear that this group is better than this other group, but are they? Aren’t they all practicing something similar? Isn’t the basis of our ways the same? So why is it that normally intelligent people are resorting to the comparison of who is better than whom?

This came to my direct attention some time ago. Individually speaking this has always been a humorous avenue for me listening to those that come to me. Telling of how they are able to do this that and the other. While putting them through mild-mannered tests they seem to not know what they are doing. This is not to degrade them, only to see what it is they are really capable of. Each person that practices the Art has their own ways, belief structure. Their knowledge and abilities have been built on how much they have actually studied. Finding that some are simply fluff and bluff, while others are to be admired and listened to. The point of the matter is that these individuals seem to think that with the knowledge they have they are the “best”. They are able to do things that others can not. Or they insist that they can simply do it better.

Why is being the best so important?

To some being the best they can be is an individual’s path. They strive for perfection in everything they happen upon. These people must be into everything, from the old to the new. Yet they do not take the time to explore the road to the fullest. They will briefly get into a subject, read a few books and then proclaim they are able to do what they have read. Maybe they are able to, I can not judge this. Yet, it seems to me in my past training, that one must practice certain forms of magic and know the theory fully before moving on to even thinking you know what you are doing. I am amazed at those who read an article, magazine or book, and say they know what to do. No practice, no more research, no thought.

Proceeding to tell whomever will listen what they have learned. In actuality they only have learned the basics, if that. It has taken me years of study and research to be comfortable in what I am and know. Practice, learning, trial and error, taking the time to have things sink in, while those around me take a week and know as much if not more than I. I am still learning, practicing and thinking, time and age has not stopped this. In conversations, I see they are trying to be something, what I really do not know, but something. Of course, on those times of trying to out wit and out do, all they have accomplished is to show their insecurity. I have in the past tried to explain to those that you can pick up a book and not know everything about the subject. One must research, compile information and think about what it is they are looking into. Some studies of magic may take years to learn if ever. By this I am implying to learn how to use properly and proficiently. Not sloppy, make shift attempts. Just because you think you can do something does not necessarily mean you should.

While these individuals, sit around comparing their selves to others they are telling those that listen their weaknesses. Trouble with ego, they seek to be something they are not. Not being satisfied with who they are and what they are able to do. They do not care to listen to others and truly hear what they are saying. Doubting those that have taken the time to study the craft and theoretical aspects. It is a good thing to question those that are speaking, but it is even better to listen silently, grasping what you are being told. Let the words of those Elders sink in before you leap in to say something ludicrous. Examples of statements that make the magician look insecure are:

  • Oh, I can do that
  • Where’s the entity bring it on
  • My shields are so strong nothing can get through (famous last words)
  • If he/she can do that, I can also. If I tried
  • I read a book on that subject, tried a ritual, it worked
  • What do they know?
  • Who do they think they are?

Those that have been in the Craft for years have heard more than their share of egotistical phrases. Age does not limit the usage of statements issued by egomaniacs.

What happened to the days of old when one was honored to listen to those with experience, to learn from them, not comparing our knowledge with theirs ( meaning we were better?) What happened to wishing to learn theory instead of leaping in to the casting of spells, seeing auras and putting up psychic shields? What has happened to the love of our ways? Has it gone by the wayside, being replaced with selfish magicians who just have to be the best?

These individuals have no idea of the ways of Old. They are too caught up in being the best they do not know what the true way is any longer. Lost is the feeling of warmth, love and devotion. Now it seems to be all about the spells and psychic abilities. Which is a shame.

Our group is the best

How many times have I heard this one? Some Coven leaders act as if they are a Marine Recruitment officer. Join us, we are the cream of the crop. Don’t practice with that other group because they are impostors of the Craft.

What makes Head Priestesses / Priests of covens feel and act this way? Superiority of their status goes to their head. A fraction of these HPs are self imposed leaders that have formed groups because they wanted one. They did not achieve a group in the old manner. They float around as if they are the God and or Goddess they worship. Looking disdainful at other leaders of the same stature. Thinking and feeling they are the true leaders.

I have been approached by various leaders asking, telling or implying that their’s is the coven of all covens. Speaking out against other coven members, leaders or those of the solitaire way. Acting in a way that makes them look like novices of the Craft. I have attended meetings of such leaders only to find that in the end they are the same as the other prestigious group. A pack of people talking about everything other than magic, worship and doing a make shift ritual to accomplish something the HP wishes to accomplish. Some I have attended seemed to be more of Magical Tupperware parties. If this HP is the best, show me the worst.

The main thing that these “magical know it alls” have to remember is that it is all about what is inside. Balance of logic and emotion in the craft. A path of continual study. Study does not stop once you have earned all your degrees. It should be advanced with your workings, the thirst of knowledge should never be quenched. Another point to think about is that it is NOT all about being able to do magick.

All those individuals and group leaders need to stop trying to be something they are not. The best. Try being who you are. Silence is the best remedy for bragging. For one that is silent is taking in what is being said and done around them. Weighing the words they are hearing, feeling the emotions that surround them.

At a time in my life I have been asked how does it feel that others come to me and ask to be taught, ask for guidance in certain areas etc. Do I not feel like I am so much better than others. My reply is generally the same, for one that is good there is another who is better. We each have more to learn, I am open to learning something every single day that I breathe. There is no comparison of abilities and knowledge to be done by me in regards to others. I meet people that amaze me, they are able to take me back to a time and place of being a novice. I am honored by this feeling. For I know that I am still on the path of gaining spiritual knowledge.
We may not be equals in the Craft but we are not so advanced not to be humbled. Once we are no longer humbled we are at a stumbling block. We have taken to placing blinders on, no longer seeing others and their ways of practice. Yes, I am also amazed at those on the other side of the spectrum. Those that tell me how great they are. Those individuals and leaders I can only smile and keep my silence.

In the end

One must work on arrogance in the Craft. Do not let your ego get in the way of what you are trying to do. There will always be someone that is more knowledgeable than you. Yet this person will listen and learn from your words and experiences. If you are attempting to impress them they will hope for the best on your travels, that you will someday live up to your words and falsehoods of grandeur.

If at the end of the day, you are able to look into the mirror of your soul and know that you did your best in all ways, then you are the best; for yourself.

Remember that even the most proficient and experienced magician has room for improvement.

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To Be or Not to be Skyclad

To Be or Not to be Skyclad

Author: Lady Abigail

As a High Priestess of a Coven, I am often asked by initiates if the Coven works “skyclad.” When a coven works skyclad, they will or should be upfront about it when you first approach them for membership. Any group that springs this on you after you have joined is unethical and not a group you want to be involved with.

To work skyclad means to work only clad or dressed within the sky and nature; nude, within all the powers that be; to work magick and ritual unencumbered by mortal threads.

It sounds wonderful, don’t you think? Just you and a few very close friends, all standing around in nature. One with the God/dess, not to mention a few thousand mosquitoes and other biting things.

Please don’t misunderstand; I love nature in all of her boundless beauty. But being dressed or undressed to work ritual or magick in circle seems more of a stress than release to most.

I am not saying that one tradition is any better than another because they leave their clothes on or drop the cloak. Don’t assume because I choose not to work skyclad that I have never have. Although I have found over the years that, many times, the idea of working skyclad gets lost and somehow misused by some less than honorable people who will take advantage of any opportunity to abuse.

The human body is a magickal and beautiful part of magick. Nudity without shame is also a statement of freedom from prejudice, inhibition, coercion, and so on. However, some people are not comfortable with the idea of nudity, and that should be equally acceptable.

Working skyclad is traditional for some groups. Many Gardnerian covens still perform their rites skyclad.

The idea has been stated that it was a common practice for the Old World Witches to do ritual and magick skyclad. I disagree. I don’t believe that Native American Shaman or Celtic Witches would have stood in the shivering cold while trying to perform magick as their fingers (not to mention other parts) became frost bitten from the ice and snow. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

The reasons given for working skyclad are many and varied. Most are also sincere in design.

According to some, clothing blocks the energy. This is a personal issue. For myself, the icicles hanging off my butt cheeks block way more energy than that cotton tunic.

I have heard that being nude in ritual deepens the trust between coven members. If I have trust issues with a Coven or its members, standing in front of them with all my wrinkles hanging out isn’t going to increase my trust. Being naked for some is an issue of shame or embarrassment. For whatever reason this may be, once shamed, they will never trust or be less for it.

It is believed that removing the robes will remove all indications of rank, and therefore places all members as equals. Again, a good concept. But the truth is that Joe Bob is still Joe Bob, with and without his clothes.

Being able to remove one’s clothes shows the level of commitment one has to the Craft and/or coven. My level of commitment comes from my heart and soul, not how or whether I am dressed.

Being dressed or skyclad should not affect how you work ritual or magick. There should be nothing sexual about performing rituals in the nude, but in this society, it is hard to keep the crazies out and keep the circle protected from them all.

Do not feel that you must go skyclad because that’s what real Witches do. Real Witches decide for themselves. Feeling uncomfortable during ritual will only detract from your purpose. So if you feel awkward being naked with others or even alone, then cover up.

As a child, I was allowed to watch and, in time, participate in rituals and circle with my Great Grandmother. She and the Sister (her coven) would gather and work great mystical rites of magick. They didn’t read books on what made them Witches, they just knew. They didn’t allow anyone to tell them how to do it, they just did. They didn’t worry about how it was, it just was. And not once did they work or perform any of their sacred magick skyclad. They knew magick is magick until you make it something less.

Some people have something special to wear whenever working ritual and magick. It should be something personal to you alone. It can be a medieval gown, a tunic or jeans and t-shirt. But only wear it for working and bless it to that end. Be comfortable in whatever you choose.

Some arguments for working skyclad can be found in the book Aradia, also called the Gospel of the Witches, by Charles G. Leland. In the Aradia, Witches in worship are specifically instructed to conduct their rites naked as a sign that ‘ye shall be truly free’. Because of this book, many have decided that all rites should be conducted skyclad. I enjoy Leland’s book, parts of which are extremely poetic. However, say it is the basics for a structure of a religion I disagree with.

Also put forth as evidence is artwork and early engraving by artists such Albrecht Durer. In 1497 his engraving portrayed four women undressing for a Witchcraft ritual. If this is the evidence, then no man shall be a Witch. Does no one think it odd that men, during a time when even men were somewhat oppressed, would tell stories or draw the Witches or women naked in their magickal workings?

Witchcraft, ritual and magick unite us on a higher level; One with the oldest Gods and Nature. The freedom and exhilaration of dancing under a Full Moon is one of the ways of drawing close to all those energies and powers. But that freedom should not come at the price of your personal power. You choose if your dance shall be in the sky or skyclad. Magick should always hold a bit of mystery.

If you are considering joining a coven and they perform their rituals skyclad, but you do not feel comfortable with it, find another coven. Do not expect any group to bend their rules for you, just as you should not bend your personal power or comfort to fit any coven or group.

Dance as if no one were watching,
Sing as if no one were listening,
And live every day as if it were your last.

Lady Abigail
High Priestess Ravensgrove Coven
Orlando, Fl
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‘Pagan’ Safer Than ‘Wiccan’?

‘Pagan’ Safer Than ‘Wiccan’?

Author: Shadow

So I’m up at the student union at my campus, watching from the sidewalk as our local fundamentalist group is preaching in lieu of Mardi Gras. While I’m there, my friend from high school, Adam, comes up to me. We were never really tight, but still, we were pretty good friends. One thing that he didn’t know about me until that moment was that I was Wiccan (I wasn’t exactly out of the broom closet in high school).

Now on campus, I’m pretty much open about my Wiccan beliefs. Generally, nobody asks, even when they see me wearing my pentacle – it’s simply implied, and nobody cares. This time, however, Adam gave an exasperated sigh and asked what I was wearing. “Um, a pentacle.” I responded. He began to laugh. When he asked why, he said something to the effect of Wicca being a fad. Needless to say, that struck a chord in me.

What’d I say? “Actually, I Pagan.”

He didn’t know what being Pagan entailed, so I explained my beliefs a bit. I did say that my practices and beliefs were influenced by Wicca, but that I dealt more with the Egyptian deities, and I believed that all religions were right in their own way. He took this definition more seriously than Wicca, and moved on.

Unfortunately, now I felt bad, because I felt like I was denying something I felt so passionately about. I love the Wiccan religion, and am glad to be a part of it. Yet when Wicca is put in a bad light by someone I know, I’ve been finding myself reverting to saying I’m just Pagan, instead of defending my choice of faith.

In my experience, this doesn’t just happen with non-Pagans, although those who do find fault with Wicca tend to be more vicious or mean about it than Pagans who look poorly at Wicca. In part this is because of my age – teenagers like me who are serious about Wicca are nonetheless almost always perceived, especially at first impressions, as fluffy bunny, angst-driven teens using Wicca for attention.

But this can be compounded by non-Pagans who don’t think of Wicca as being a real religion. They see the vast number of people who follow this path (in their eyes, predominantly teenagers) as being part of a hippie fad. In most of their eyes, they see Wicca equated with Witchcraft, and since most of them don’t believe Witchcraft to be real, they seem to dismiss Wicca as being a fantasy in and of itself.

When it comes to these people, I do tend to be quieter about my beliefs. As with Adam, I just say I’m Pagan, explain a little bit about what that is, and go about my regular business. And for the most part they tend to accept my being Pagan more than my being Wiccan. Why? In my opinion, it’s because Paganism hasn’t received as much media hype as Wicca has. Wicca has been played up in our modern pop-culture, whereas Paganism is resigned to just being a real religion. Simply put, Paganism sounds more real than Wicca to those who think Wicca is a fad religion.

This problem isn’t resigned to just non-Pagans. I know some Pagans who feel that Wicca has indeed been far too hyped in our culture, having overshadowed other Pagan religions such as Asatru, Reconstructionist religions, Afro-Caribbean religions, etc. In this case, they see new Wiccans as being part of that hype. And the general attitude is that Wicca has indeed become a fad and as such needs to be ignored.

Then there are the elitist and fundamentalist Pagans – yes, such Pagans, and even Wiccans, exist. As with the above groups, I can’t speak accurately for everyone, but the general consensus of this group of Pagans is that most people who call themselves Wiccan are in fact fooling themselves, because most of them are not a part of the original Wiccan traditions, such as Gardnerian and Alexandrian. If not this, then it’s because they’re solitary practitioners, or because they’re eclectic in their practices, or, heaven forbid, they’re publicly open about their beliefs. Woe be to the Wiccan who fulfills these criteria, for in the eyes of the elitist, they are regarded with great contempt.

Truthfully, all these negative attitudes towards Wicca, at least in my experience, have been minimal. But when faced with such adversity, is it any wonder I wouldn’t want to say that I’m Wiccan? I know it sounds like a cop-out, but I’m not the kind of person who likes to make waves. I’m a pacifist at heart who looks for ways to avoid conflict. And it is my belief that if someone truly has a problem with my Wiccan beliefs, then it’s none of their business, and they’ll just have to live with what I tell them. In these cases, it’s a matter of peacemaking and protection as opposed to stirring up arguments and hurting feelings.

Still, no matter how much I justify my lying, it doesn’t erase what I feel inside – that I’m not being true to myself. Anybody who lives a life hiding a secret about themselves knows what I’m talking about, and I’m sure many of you in the broom closet know this feeling all too well.

And at times this conflict has made me question my commitment to Wicca. While I’m completely in love with the religion and the philosophy behind it, what does it say about me when I deny loving it? Is it a sign of shame? In the eyes of the above groups, yes, because let’s face it – Wicca holds a stigma about it that other Pagan religions don’t. Otherwise it’s just a matter of safety, in which case I’m not ashamed. As far as I’m concerned, I’m not in a place where I can be proudly open about being Wiccan with everyone.

But it is a growing problem when saying you’re Pagan is more appropriate than saying you’re Wiccan. It’s a sign that we’re willing to let ourselves be ignored, that we’re willing to hide ourselves under the umbrella of Paganism. In short, when we allow this, we’re turning into doormats, letting everyone walk all over us. I for one no longer wish to be a doormat. I’m working very hard to stand firm in my Wiccan beliefs, not just hiding behind being Pagan. I’m careful about who knows, obviously, but I am making a commitment to not be afraid of being Wiccan. After all, those who matter won’t care, and those that care won’t matter, right?

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‘THINK on THESE THINGS’ for April 18th

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

A graphologist is a handwriting analysis expert who can take apart the loops and dashes of our penmanship and tell us about our nature. We have a natural curiosity about ourselves. We want to know whether our self-image is the true one. We often think we are capable of seeing another’s true nature, but we seem to lack the ability to really know ourselves. In fact, so much about us reveals our disposition and temperament that it can be distressing.

Our handwriting may tell us about our emotional nature, and we may learn that we are introverts by the slant of our letters, but much of our disposition can be self-analyzed by the way other people respond to us.

It doesn’t take a graphologist to tell us that if we are inconsistent in our friendliness, if the tongue alternates acid and honey, if we continually complain, continually gossip, criticize and pout, we are revealing a nature we too often think is hidden.

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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

Elder’s Meditation of the Day
By White Bison, Inc., an American Indian-owned nonprofit organization. Order their many products from their web site: http://www.whitebison.org

 
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Elder’s Meditation of the Day April 18

Elder’s Meditation of the Day April 18

“Our people don’t come in parts. Either you are Indian, or you are not.”

–Nippawanock, ARAPAHOE

We really need to take a look at how Indian People are talking about Indian People. We say there are Rez Indians, Traditional Indians, Urban Indians and Breeds. This type of thinking will keep us separated. An Indian is an Indian, a brother is a brother, a sister is a sister. We are all related. Today, let us respect ourselves and our people. Today, let me realize Indians are Indians.

Great Spirit, let me see the Unity of the People. Indians are Indians.

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