Daily Archives: May 4, 2012

Coral

CORAL

SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION: CaCo3, or calcium carbonate in the form of
calcite, is the main constituent of calcareous corals; minor con-
stituents are MgCo3, or magnesium carbonate and proteinaceous organic
substances, which act as binding agents. At 2.5 to 4, the hardness is
slightly higher than that of calcite. The skeletons of corals vary in
color: from bright to dark red, slightly orange-red, pink and white.

ENVIRONMENT: In all cases, coral consists of the branching skeletons of
animals which live in colonies planted on the seabed at depths varying
from tens to hundreds of meters. They are typical of warmish to very
warm seas.

OCCURENCE: The most famous of these organisms is Corallium rubrum, which
lives in the waters of the Mediterranean and, despite its name,provides
not only red, but orange, pink, and white coral. Similar to this are
Corallium elatius, C. japonicum, and C. secundum, which maily live off
the coasts of Japan, China, Indochina, the Philippines, and other
archipelagos of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Coral colonies occupy
large areas especially in the Pacific, but also near the coast of South
Africa, in the Red Sea, and to the east of Australia.  These latter
colonies, however, consist of madrepore, which has little in common with
the corals used as ornaments.

GEMSTONE INFORMATION: Most of the coral used since antiquity as an
ornamental material comes from the calcareous skeletons of colonies of
marine organisms of the phylum Cnidaria, order Corgonacea, genus
Corallium. Corals take a good polish. They also have a certain degree of
elasticity and can be heated and bent into bangles. Thin brancehes were
and still are polished, pierced, and threaded, unaltered, into neck-
laces. Larger pieces are cut into spherical or faceted necklace beads,
pear shapes for pendant jewelry, or cabochons. It is also used for
carved pieces and small figurines, in both oriental and western
art styles. The most highly prized varities of coral are those that are
a uniform, strong bright red.

NAME: The name is derived from the Latin [corallium,] related to the
Greek [korallion].

LEGEND and LORE: The oldest known findings of red coral date from the
Mesopotamian civilization, i.e. from about 3000 BC. For centuries, this
was the coral par excellence, and at the time of Pliny the Elder it was
apparently much appreciated in India, even more than in Europe.Red coral
has traditionally been used as a protection from the “evil eye” and as
a cure for sterility.  One of the Greek names for Coral was Gorgeia,
from the tradition that blood dripped from the Head of Medea, which
Perseus had deposited on some branches near the sea-shore; which blood,
becoming hard, was taken by the Sea Nymps, and planted in the sea. (8)

MAGICAL PROPERTIES: Coral is associated with Venus, Isis and Water. It
has been used as a form of protective magic for children for hundreds of
years.  Cunningham recommends it as a luck-attractor for living
areas.Sailors use it as a protection from bad weather while at sea.
Red-orange coral is one of the four element gemstones of the Pueblo
Indians. It is one of the four colors used for the directions in the
Hopi/Zuni Road of Life. Coral is considered a representative of the warm
energy of the Sun, and the southern direction.

HEALING: Coral’s healing properties are mostly associated with Women,
young children and the elderly. For women it is said to increase
fertility and regulate menstration. For young children, it is recom-
mended to ease teething and to prevent epilepsy. For the elderly, it is
used as a cure for arthritis.

                      ——-bibliography——-

1. Scientific, Environment, Occurence and Name are from (or paraphrased
from) “Simon & Schuster’s Guide to Gems and Precious Stones”.

2. Precious and semi-precious gemstone information may come from
“Gemstones” by E. H. Rutland.

3. Other Precious and semi-precious gemstone information may come from
“Gem Cutting”, sec. ed., by John Sinkankas.

4. Legends and Lore, Magical Properties are from “Cunningham’s En-
cyclopedia of Crystal, Gem & Metal Magic”, by Scott Cunningham.

5. Some of the healing information may come from “Color and Crystals, A
Journey Through the Chakras” by Joy Gardner.

6. Some of the healing information may come from “A Journey Through the
Chakras” by Joy Gardner.

7. Some occult lore is from “The Occult and Curative Powers of Precious
Stones” by William T. Fernie, M.D.

About these ads
Categories: Crystals/Gems | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Carnelian

CARNELIAN

SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION:Carnelian is the clear red to brownish red member
of the Chalcedony family. It is a microcrystalline variety of Quartz(Si-
licone Dioxide) and may contain small amounts of iron oxides. The
hardness is 7, and the streak is white.

ENVIRONMENT: Chalcedony is formed in several environments, generally
near the surface of the earth where temperatures and pressures are
relatively low. It commonly forms in the zone of alteration of lode and
massive hydrothermal replacement deposits and as bodies of chert in
chemical sedimentary rocks.

OCCURENCE: Fine carnelian comes from India and South America.

GEMSTONE INFORMATION:Carnelian is used as an alternate birthstone for
the month of May.It is normally cut into cabochons, engraved, or made
into seal stones or rounded, polished, and pierced for necklaces and
other items of jewelry.

NAME: The name means “flesh-colored”, from [caro], meaning “genitive”
and [carnis], meaning “flesh”.

LEGEND and LORE: Carnelian has long been associated with courage and
cleansing of the blood. It was beleived that the stone would improve
one’s outlook, making the individual cheerful and expelling fears.

MAGICAL PROPERTIES: Katrina Raphaell says that Carnelian can be used to
“see into the past”. The “Crystal Oracle” says that Carnelian referrs to
the Self, and Current Conditions. It is a grounding stone, and associ-
ated with the Earth.  As such, it is considered practical, sensible and
balanced. Cunningham associates the stone with the element of Fire. He
suggests it as a talisman against Telepathic invasion.

HEALING: It is recommended for infertility or impotency. In addition it
is used for purification of the blood. It has also been suggested that
this stone will stop nosebleeding.

                      ——-bibliography——-

1. Scientific, Environment, Occurence and Name are from (or paraphrased
from) “The Audobon Society Field Guide to North American Rocks and
Minerals”.

2. Precious and semi-precious gemstone information may come from
“Gemstones” by E. H. Rutland.

3. Other Precious and semi-precious gemstone information may come from
“Gem Cutting”, sec. ed., by John Sinkankas.

4. Legends and Lore, Magical Properties are from “Cunningham’s
Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem & Metal Magic”, by Scott Cunningham.

5. Some of the healing information may come from “Color and Crystals, A
Journey Through the Chakras” by Joy Gardner.

6. Some of the healing information may come from “A Journey Through the
Chakras” by Joy Gardner.

Categories: Crystals/Gems | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brown Jasper

BROWN JASPER

SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION: Brown Jasper, sometimes called “picture” Jasper
because of the beautiful variations in coloring, is a type of Chal-
cedony. It is closely related to Quartz, with the chemistry of SiO2. The
color variations are from trace amounts of other minerals, usually iron
and aluminum. The hardness is 7.

ENVIRONMENT: Chalcedony is formed in several environments, generally
near the surface of the earth where temperatures and pressures are
relatively low. It commonly forms in the zone of alteration of lode and
massive hydrothermal replacement deposits and as bodies of chert in
chemical sedimentary rocks.

OCCURENCE: Montana, Utah and Wyoming are prolific locations for Brown
Jasper in the U.S. In addition, fine specimens have come from Brazil,
Uruguay and Egypt.  Other colors and forms of Jasper are abundant in
California, Texas and Arkansas.

NAME: The name Chalcedony is from Chalcedon, an ancient Greek city of
Asia Minor.

LEGEND and LORE: Beautiful Jasper, with light and dark brown markings
was referred to as “Egyptian Marble”. Various Native American tribes
used Jasper as a rubbing stone and some called it “the rain bringer”.

MAGICAL PROPERTIES: Brown Jasper is balancing and grounding. This stone,
carved into an arrowhead, is worn to attract luck. It is a good stone to
use after completing a ritual to help you regain your center and become
grounded.

HEALING: Jasper is stabilizing. It will help to reduce insecurity, fear
and guilt.

NOTES: Agate, Jasper, Flint, Sardonyx, and onyx are all forms of
Chalcedony. In addition, particular colors of Chalcedony have specific
names, such as Heliotrope, Bloodstone, Chrysophrase and Moss Agate.

                      ——-bibliography——-
1. Scientific, Environment, Occurence and Name are from (or paraphrased
from) “The Audobon Society Field Guide to North American Rocks and
Minerals”.

2. Legends and Lore, Magical Properties are from “Cunningham’s En-
cyclopedia of Crystal, Gem & Metal Magic”, by Scott Cunningham.

3. Some of the healing information may come from “Color and Crystals, A
Journey Through the Chakras” by Joy Gardner.

Categories: Crystals/Gems | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bloodstone

BLOODSTONE

SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION: Bloodstone is a member of the Chalcedony
family.It is a variety of quartz (silicon dioxide) often with some iron
and aluminum. The chemistry is SiO2. It is dark, bright green spotted
with red inclusions. The streak is white. This is considered a microcry-
stalline variety of quartz and is not found in crystal form.

ENVIRONMENT: Chalcedony is formed in several environments, generally
near the surface of the earth where temperatures and pressures are
relatively low. It commonly forms in the zone of alteration of lode and
massive hydrothermal replacement deposits and as bodies of chert in
chemical sedimentary rocks.

OCCURENCE: India, Germany.

NAME: This stone is also referred to as “heliotrope,” which is derived
from two Greek words which signify “sun-turning”. It was given this name
because of a notion that when immersed in water it would turn the sun
red. Chalcedony is derived from Chalcedon, an ancient Greek city of Asia
Minor.

LEGEND and LORE: This is one of the birthstones for March.

    “Who in this world of ours, her eyes
    In March first opens, shall be wise.
    In days of peril, firm and brave,
    And wear a Bloodstone to her grave.” (5)

Ancient warriors often carried an amulet of bloodstone which was
intended to stop bleeding when applied to a wound.

MAGICAL PROPERTIES: Because it is green, it can be used for “money
spells”. It is also considered a “lucky” stone for atheletes because it
imparts courage and stamina.

HEALING: Heliotrope is used today in conjunction with anything having to
do with blood.

NOTE: Chrysoprase, carnelian, jasper and agate are all forms of
Chalcedony.

——-bibliography——-

1. Scientific, Environment, Occurance and Name are from (or paraphrased
from) “The Audobon Society Field Guide to North American Rocks and
Minerals”.

2. Legends and Lore, Magical Properties are from “Cunningham’s En-
cyclopedia of Crystal, Gem & Metal Magic”, by Scott Cunningham.

3. Some of the healing information may come from “Color and Crystals, A
Journey Through the Chakras” by Joy Gardner.

4. Personal Experience is from MY personal experience, journals and
notebooks, by <grin> Tandika Star.

5. Birthstone poem from “The Occult and Curative Powers of Precious
Stones” by William T. Fernie, M.D. an interesting experiment (BLOODSTONE cont.)

Categories: Crystals/Gems | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Lost Tools of the Witch

The Lost Tools of the Witch

Author: BellaDonna Saberhagen

When you ask your average neo-Pagan or Wiccan what tools are on their altar (or are important to their craft) , you typically get the following list: athame, wand, pentacle, chalice, besom, cauldron, candles, incense, sometimes herbs and stones, sometimes a “white-handled knife” or boline. That’s about it though. A great number of the tools are things that would have been common household implements during the early-Modern Witchcraft trials. Every household needed a cup, a knife, a pot, a broom and firelight to see by (whether by candles or an oil lamp) . It’s interesting how the common daily tools became associated with witchcraft (it also made it exceedingly easy to tell the magistrate you suspected your neighbor of witchery and for “proof” of said witchery to be found) .

What I find interesting is that some of the most common tools that are also mythologically associated with magic are not mentioned amongst the tools of today. These are the tools of the textile industry; which in older times were the distaff, spindle and loom. Often, in Viking women’s graves, these tools are found amongst the grave goods, meaning they were important enough to be taken to the afterlife. Often, they were noted as the “women’s weapons.” Since they aren’t likely to be physically good at inflicting bodily harm, this must mean something else. That something else is magic.

Since these tools aren’t listed among modern witch and/or magician tools, we have to look to lore, myths and fairy tales to find their significance. This isn’t as hard as it might sound because the fairy tales we were told as children are filled with this information. The most famous example is Sleeping Beauty, but we’ll talk about that story later.

The most famous spinners in folklore are the spinners of fate, the three Fates of Greek mythology and the Norns of Nordic myth. The Fates spin the thread of your life, weave the story into a tapestry and cut the thread at the end of your life. Clearly, the tools of old textile work are deeply connected with fate. A lot of neo-Pagans blanch at the concept of fate; I know I used to be the same way. We make our own destiny and nothing three biddies can do can change that (sticks tongue out for cheeky emphasis) ! The truth is that both are correct. There are some things we cannot change; we will all die someday (after-all life is sexually transmitted and always fatal) . Basically, the choices you make throughout your life bring you to certain places where you make more choices. Now, based on your past choices there is a great likelihood that you will make specific choices at this new crossroads. However, once you become aware that you have a pattern, you can work to change that pattern. It’s a bit confusing, I realize, but it makes sense when you really think about it.

Now, if the Fates or Norns spin your fate and you are seeking to change it, how would you go about doing that? Well, sympathetic magic works wonders in other ways so why not here? If you are willing to concentrate on the fate you want and spin (with either a drop spindle or spinning wheel) , you may be able to spin that fate into existence yourself. In essence, you are replacing the thread spun by Fate with the thread of your choosing. I will admit that I am a failed spinner. I either cannot get fresh enough roving (unspun wool) so that the natural oils can hold my thread together, or I’m just plain rubbish at it. Spinning is hard and it may take years to master, especially in a society where you can just go out and get yarn and thread without the hassle. However, I think spinning will be worthwhile in the long run.

The Norse goddess Frigga, the wife of Odin, is also associated with fate. She knows all fate, but speaks nothing of her knowledge. She is also associated with spinning and some see her as the source of the master material from which all fate is spun. As far as I know, Frigga interceded on the fate she saw but once. Her son, Baldr, was doomed to die and she tried her best to prevent that from happening. She failed and his brother killed him. Baldr’s death might explain her silence, for if she cannot change fate, why speak of it at all? The story of Baldr mirrors the Greek vision of fate as shown in the story of Oedipus: everything done to try to prevent the fate is what brings it about. However, if we go through the thought that our choices bring about our fate, then Oedipus’s father was already patterned to throw his son away at the first sign of trouble (which may have been why he wanted his son’s fate read by the Oracle to begin with, to foresee any trouble) .

Beyond the usefulness of spinning (and by connection, weaving) in regards to fate, there are other uses magically. It is a common held belief that it is better to use natural materials; and that tools have more power if you make them yourself. By spinning your own thread and weaving your own fabric, you can make sure to use only natural fibers for your cords and cloths and you can put your intent into the very fibers of your creation. You may also be able to connect with ancestors that would have spent much of their time with the spindle and at the loom. (Now I am going to be realistic here, most of us have jobs and not as much time to spend on crafting — of any sort — as we would like. I would hazard that you can take shortcuts by mock-spinning pre-spun thread and yarn, as long as you visualize and focus intently.)

So, back to Sleeping Beauty. The spindle was very important in the tale, just as it was important to the very clothes on anyone’s back during the era from which it came. The bad fairy (having been slighted by not being invited to the baby princess’s party) curses her to prick her finger on a spindle on her sixteenth birthday and die. The only good fairy that could do anything to help (the rest having somehow used their blessing allotment for the princess, though what law only allowed each to give only one gift is not stated) only had enough power to put her to sleep if the events should come about rather than die. The King attempted to prevent the fate of his daughter (again with trying to out-maneuver fate) ; rather than keep spindles around and telling his daughter to be careful of them (you know, so she would know it’s not a good idea to play with the pointy ends) , he outlawed spindles, having all the spindles in the kingdom burned (thus, forcing his subjects to wear rags or spend exorbitant amounts of money on imported cloth and thread) . As an added bonus, this also effectively crippled women. If the spindle and loom were the weapons of women, outlawing them put women at an even lower status. So what does our princess do when she sees a spindle for the very first time? She touches its pointy tip, falls asleep, and has to be rescued by a handsome prince willing to fight his way through the briar-patch of doom. He kisses her, she wakes up and they live happily ever after. The spindle? Well, a good look at the Industrial Revolution lets you know its fate.

Fraue Holle is often associated as a witch goddess in Germanic lore and she, too, is associated with spinning. I mentioned in my Yule piece that if you hadn’t finished your years’ worth of spinning by the Solstice, she would come by and befoul it. If a witch goddess thought spinning was important, then it was once an important part of magic and is worth delving into even in this technological age. It’s not easy, but whoever said magic had to be easy?


Footnotes:
Our Troth Volumes 1 and 2 edited by Kveldulf Gundarsson
The Poetic Edda
Hedge-Rider by Eric De Vries
Mythology by Edith Hamilton
Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
Sleeping Beauty collected by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

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

Mundane Magick

Mundane Magick

Author: Soull the University Witch

There are days in which I find myself feeling as if I have forgotten that I am, indeed, a Witch.

When I walk past the living room, I spare a glance with brown eyes at the small altar my partner Lore and I have crafted together using beautiful objects I have collected over the year of us being together. Our first chalice of red and clear glass, the miniature cast iron cauldron, and the brass lantern I had acquired years ago when I was thirteen. I still had it in my possession, even after over ten years. These objects, as well as many others, sat atop a wooden shelf, alone.

They gathered dust far quicker than the speed in which the days passed.

The daily grind can get to a person. The day passes, and you head to bed. Your head touches the pillows, and underneath the warmth of your secure blankets, you fall asleep. The sun rises. The day comes, and you awaken, pull on your clothes, and head out the door. You work. You eat. You come home. After commencing daily tasks, and wind down, you’re heading back to bed again. You may pass many, many days, allowing them to lapse in the same way over and over again, until you realize…

…Where have they gone?

On that shelf, the dust is still there.

It’s easy to forgot, amidst the glamour of the media and our own personal fantasies… that being a Witch does not necessarily mean living up that name at every opportunity. All of that is a front. Not all of us can remember to toss a prayer or thanks to the God and Goddess when something pleasant comes our way, or thank the patrons when a spell we may have managed to squeeze in a couple of weeks ago finally comes to fruition. That’s all right. The God and Goddess can forgive us for our thoughtlessness once in awhile. There are Sabbats that we may find ourselves forgetting about, or end up not having the time to celebrate it at all, not with all the other “mundane” holidays we may have to prepare for (cramming Thanksgiving in between Samhain and Yule, for example) . Often times, a full moon passes us, and there is no spell casting, nor celebration.

It just passes us by.

…Or does it?

It is during these days in which I sit, my laptop computer warm against my legs as I lean against my floral print couch and stare into my cup of tea that I think… what does it really mean to be a Witch? Or rather… am I really doing all that is needed to call myself a Witch?

Even now, I ask these questions of myself that I thought I had answered years ago.

Doesn’t everybody?

It all boils down to something that magick-users alike perhaps forget. We may hear it often, but there is very little within ourselves that helps to drive it home. No, you do not need to cast spells everyday in order to be called a Witch. No, you’re not required to be in a coven to be a Witch. No, there is no need to throw yourself out into the backyard every full moon and dance under it skyclad in order to call yourself a Witch. That’s just crazy talk.

“But what about the days outlined above?”, you may ask. “The days that pass again and again, and I forget, and forget, and when I look upon my altar, or at my spell books or Book of Shadows, and its not lined with words I have written of my rituals… but with dust?”

I’ve learned, while being a Witch… the days that you are not practicing magick are what truly define you.

Read about the day I had today:

Today, my alarm went off at 9:50am. I had stayed up late the night before, meticulously adjusting the Twitter feed for my blog. I hit the snooze button three times, and cuddled into Lore. I finally rose at 10:05am. I needed to get ready for work. I shuffled out of bed, and checked my email, looking over my bank account. My paycheck had rolled in sometime the previous day. I turned on Loreena McKennitt on iTunes, and slowly got dressed for work in the usual black suit uniform. I skipped on breakfast, and soon, I had to run out the door. I ran back into the bedroom to grab my promise ring—the one I had chosen specifically for the month of November, an orange topaz—and I kissed Lore three times on the cheek. “I love you”, then out the door. I whistled and looked up at the clouds, and I attempted to foresee the rest of the day in them. Cloudy, but calm… a slight breeze. I felt that my air element was at my side. It couldn’t be a bad day, right? When I arrived at work, I was late. I ran into Santa Claus as I sped through Nordstrom to make it to the management office of the large shopping center. He smiled and wished me a “Merry Christmas”; I smiled back and replied, “Have a happy Yule.” I ran up the two escalators to make it to the top floor. I tore through the mall to the other end. I pulled out my keys, smiled to the lone Eye of Horus keychain I kept on it, and escaped into the office. I clocked in, and ran back downstairs, and the workday began. During the day, three children had become lost in the shopping center. I sat with one girl and asked her how her Halloween went. I told her about the tradition of wearing masks to scare away the bad spirits. Her mother came, and I thanked the God and Goddess she hadn’t been left behind. I looked up the Harry Potter Blu-Ray box set I was planning on buying a friend for Yule. I thought about what kind of wand I would have if I were in Harry Potter. I was nudged out of my elaborate daydream of running my own metaphysical shop when my shift ended, and it was time to go home. I bought a tin of Godiva hot chocolate for the home, and matching socks for Lore and I, just because I wanted to buy a small gift. As I waited for the bus to come pick me up, I found a heads up penny. I chimed the usual “good luck” phrase as I tucked it into my pocket. When I arrived home after a pleasant day, I entered the keypad code to our apartment—an intricate star-and-number pattern.

It was a day like all days. No spell work. No magick. I passed the altar… and it was still dusty.

But when I looked back over my day… I knew for certain, I was a Witch through and through. How?

I had been tired because I had been working on my blog about being a witch. I hit my alarm three times—I always did. Three is a powerful number, and.. third time is the charm. I turned on Loreena McKennitt to listen to the song “All Souls Night”. My promise ring was the birthstone for November, because I had read that a stone’s magick was strongest when worn during the month it had been assigned to… and I always wanted Lore and I’s love to be at its strongest. While walking to the bus stop for work, I attempted to have a hand at nephomancy: the art of divining clouds. I thought about my element when a wind fluttered by. When I met Santa in the make-up section as I breezed through, I hadn’t wished him a “Merry Christmas”, but a “Happy Yule” without a passing thought. My keychain is adorned with the Eye of Horus, so they would always be in sight (though I still lose them, ha ha) . I taught a little girl about Gaelic culture. I thanked my patrons when she was returned safely to her mother. Harry Potter; does more need to be said? I dreamed about future aspirations of being surrounded by magick in a new age shop, thinking of what I would sell, what I would wear, and how I would run it. I still believe heads up pennies are magickal and are capable of bringing good fortune. My home’s keycode was thought out using shapes and numerology.

This is how I know.

When you are a Witch… even when living the life of a mundane…

Magick is everywhere.

Categories: Articles | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 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 | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Walking The Path, Wear Shoes

When Walking The Path, Wear Shoes

Author: Charmed Boy

I have often asked myself, “Are there others like me?” I am what I like to call a “non- magical” Pagan. I don’t do spell work or ritual. I am just a humble servant of the Goddess. I have tried to cast spells and perform rituals but it never seems to work. I have come to the realization that there are many different types of Pagans out there. There are those of use who cast circles and spells and perform rituals. There are also those like myself who are contented to just be of service.

I began my journey in my sophomore year of high school. I had always known there was something or someone watching over me, I just hadn’t figured what that was yet. I began studying various religions such as Buddhism and Quabalah, which I am still interested in after all these years.

One day I was at the library with my father when I came across the New Age section. I looked at some of the titles and when I found a book on Wicca, I picked it up and started reading.

A friend from high school was also into Wicca. We started wearing black clothing and pentacles. My high school had its various groups. The jocks, the preps, the goths. We were the Witches. Or so we thought. We would meet at a friend’s house and try and cast spells. There is a line from one of my favorite “witchy” movies Practical Magic that applies here: “You can’t practice Witchcraft while looking down your nose at it.” That is, in a sense, what we were doing. We were teenagers. We didn’t know any better.

Later, I discovered Gaia. I was reading a book about various Greek Gods and Goddesses and when I came to the part about Gaia something inside me clicked. For those who don’t know (and I am sure there aren’t very many) , Gaia is the Greek Goddess of Earth. She is the creator of everything that exists in nature. The birds and the winds and the oceans. That is why she is called “Mother Earth”. I felt like I had found what I had been looking for.

I had been hearing a gentle voice in my head comforting me when things went wrong. No, I wasn’t turning into Norman Bates! I had no desire to run a motel or dress in woman’s clothes and chase anyone around with sharp butcher knives. I knew this loving, caring voice could be none other than the Goddess speaking to me.

After High School, I moved from Illinois to Arkansas with my parents. I was bummed because I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if there were any Pagans and Wiccans. I was entering part of the “Bible Belt”. To my amazement, I came across WitchVox.com. I noticed that an event called Pagan Pride Day was going on in Little Rock. I asked my dad if we could go. My father has been supportive of my choice of religion since I first talked with him about it.

On the day we went, I popped a Loreena McKennitt cd in the car’s cd player to get us in the mood. I had never been to an event like PPD and I didn’t know what to expect. The event was being held at a place called Burns Park. We didn’t know where to go, so we stopped at the visitors’ center to ask. The man behind the desk looked up at me when I asked him where the event was and said, “Are you one of them Witch people?” I laughed and said I was. He was smiling when he asked me so I knew he meant no harm.

We followed the directions until we came to a group of tents. We parked and walked across to the entrance. At this point, I was buzzing with excitement. There was the scent of patchouli in the air. We paid the entrance fee and looked around us. There were tents arranged in a circle. We walked around and looked at all the things people were selling. One woman was doing henna tattoos. My dad bought me my first pentacle. We came to a tent where two women were selling homemade perfume and body spray. This was where the patchouli scent was coming from.

I picked up a bottle and smelled it. It smelled like mint and patchouli. One of the women saw me holding the bottle and struck up a conversation with me. Little did I know she would become one of my best friends. She told me her name was Fran and she was the High Priestess of a coven. She held rituals and celebrated the holidays from the circle she had built in the back yard of her trailer. She invited me to attend the next holiday, which was Samhain. We e-mailed each other and on Samhain I went to her house with another friend. When I got there and saw the Circle she had built I was blown away. It was beautiful. The moment I took off my shoes and stepped inside the circle I felt its power and was at peace.

My friend was not Pagan and opted to observe. I had a lot of fun that night. I tasted mead for the first time. It is very good but very strong. Fran and I kept in touch through e-mail and by phone. I was able to attend the next PPD. When I got there Fran was talking with a friend of hers. She ran a tent with friends. When I went up to her to say hello, she didn’t recognize me at first. When I told her who I was she hugged me. We spent most of the day together. She made my father feel welcome. There was entertainment and belly dancing. After it was over and everyone began packing, I was walking to the car with my father when Fran called to me. She gave me a homemade besom her friend had made. A besom is a broom used to clear any negative energy from a room. I will never forget the gift she gave me as long as I live.

The last time I saw Fran was at the last PPD I went to. She was hosting a seminar on Egyptian Gods and Goddesses and history. After that, Fran and I lost touch. One day I decided to e-mail her just to see how she was. We hadn’t spoken for a while, but not because of any hostility between us; we were just busy. I received an e-mail from her husband informing me Fran had passed away. I was heartbroken.

I miss Fran a lot. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about her. She was a wonderful, courageous woman who loved to laugh and enjoyed the occasional dirty joke. I thank the Goddess every day for the privilege of having known her. One thing I took away from attending the rituals at Fran’s was the realization that spells casting and ritual isn’t for me. I am content with just serving the Goddess to the best of my abilities.

What do I hope you take from this article? Be content in your own skin. So you don’t cast spells. So you don’t do ritual. You are serving the God and or Goddess by praying and making offerings. They are spiritual Parents and They love us whether we choose to perform an elaborate ritual… or just to say a prayer and make an offering.

Also, cherish the time you have with your friends. You never know when they might not be there anymore.

Cast your eyes to the ocean. Cast your soul to the sea. When the dark night seems endless, please remember me.” — Loreena McKennitt

Categories: Articles | 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 1,900 other followers