Daily Archives: May 24, 2012

Find and Use Places of Power

Find and Use Places of Power

by George D. Jackson

Most of us have been in areas where we have experienced a certain alignment of comfort, creativity and sometimes awe. The waves of positive probability seem to be especially high in these locations. Some locations, in contrast, cause one to feel uneasy and unwelcome. In magickal terminology, this sense of presence is often called the “genius loci,” the spirit of the place. This phenomenon can vary in size from a whole region to areas just a few inches in measurement.

How this presence makes itself felt frequently depends on a person’s mental, spiritual, and emotional makeup. It has been said that no matter what your educational background, emotionally you’re an alchemist. You live in a world of liquids, solids and gases and the heat transfer that accompanies changes in state. These are the things you perceive, the things you feel. So when it comes to the day-to-day sensations of living, you treat with the five elements of the ancient philosophers: earth, air, fire, water and spirit.

Experienced magick users generally use these five elemental levels of sensation to acquire a consciousness of their environmental conditions — including the genius loci. Tools to use to acquire this consciousness include observation and invocation. Emotion is the prime fuel for magickal operations of most sorts, and experienced magick users actively seek out positive places of power where evocation can be practiced to focus various emotional energies. For example, if one determines a place makes one feel creative, and one has magickally explored it by observation and meditation, it may well be a good place to focus energies in spell work for creativity.

With all of this in mind, I would like to relate to you how the genius loci in various places have affected me during my life.

In July 1973, I decided to move to the High Sierra. I owned a cabin in an area called Cold Springs, which is on the western slope of the mountains. Highway 108 leads to this place, which is about 30 miles above Sonora, California. The location is thickly forested and marked in places with old lava flows, some of them over a hundred feet high. I hadn’t spent any real time there before, a couple of days now and then, but now I was settling in for a long stay.

In a very short time, I began to feel I was being watched, combined with a sense of isolation. However, to balance this I felt a strong flow of creative energy. After being there for a few months, I invited a friend who was a professional astrologer to come up and stay for a while. During his visit, I found two how-to books on witchcraft at a nearby resort village and started studying and experimenting with the Art. At the same time, my friend began to develop a new style of approach to astrology. After about three months, he returned to Southern California, and in July 1974 so did I.

All during my residence in the High Sierra, the genius loci made me feel a bit alienated and unwelcome. I found out from talking to some of the long-term dwellers in the area that this sense of disapproving presence was not uncommon among them. States of depression often bedeviled them, particularly during the winter when snowfall made travel difficult. The spirit of that area extracted a heavy toll for living in its province, alive with scenic beauty as it is.

I remember driving up the mountain one winter night all alone on the highway. The sky was clear, and the moon was full. The whole landscape blazed with a silver fire reflected off the snow-covered lava flows and the branches of the trees. It filled me with awe, and I will never forget that experience. The genius loci seemed to say, “This is what I am in my glory.” Still, the price for moments like this was very high, and in the end I fled the raw, aggressive presence of that place.

Southern California is a vortex of creativity, dreams and illusions. This is epitomized in Hollywood, which could be considered the world capital of illusion. Surrounding this center of illusionary activity was at one time more than 50 percent of the nation’s aerospace industry, where dreams were converted into reality. The Los Angeles basin is border on one side by mountains and on the other by the Pacific Ocean. The land on which it rests is crisscrossed with fault lines that cause movement often enough that the locals have come to accept earthquakes as relatively normal occurrences. Further, they consider this a small price to pay for being able to dwell in a place where the overall climate, semiarid, is close to ideal. Over this area hangs an inversion layer like the lid on a pot that has a tendency to allow the several million cars traveling on the area’s many roads to turn it into a gigantic gas chamber. This does have the effect of mitigating the otherwise idyllic climatic conditions. Be this what it may, the regional genius loci draws people to it like a magnet does iron filings. However, it is not the only spirit of the place that is in residence there.

It was to Southern California I returned in 1974, and after a year or so of moving about in the area finally settled in a district in Long Beach called Belmont Shores. The apartment I moved into was about four blocks from where the ocean meets the sand.

During this period, magick had become an established part of my psyche, and the years to come would only reinforce this. I took a part-time job in an occult store located in Sea Port Village in San Pedro and began to further develop my magickal outlook and practice. Thanks to my part-time job, I began to meet like-minded people and finally became able to engage in group rituals.

About six blocks or so from my apartment, a stairway led down from the top of the bluffs facing the ocean to the beach below. Many years before, I had often come to this place to contemplate what was going on in my life. The genius loci in that immediate area had always had a welcoming and calming effect on me. Now I went there to practice spell work on the beach and call upon the powers of the ocean to aid in my efforts. The Spirit of the Place seemed to revel in this activity, and some of my most successful rituals were accomplished there. Years later an elemental force, probably the genius loci, manifested in this location as a whirlwind of sand and water, clearly visible to all of the participants in the ritual who had unwittingly helped to raise it. The experience left some of them a bit shaken and me in a high state of elation. That is a true place of power.

I mentioned at the beginning of this article that some places of power can be quite small. Among the most common places of this nature are certain fishing spots. Fishermen frequently refer to their secret fishing holes as places of power, though not often in this exact terminology. My astrologer friend and I had one at Don Pedro Reservoir in central California. It consisted of a boulder that extended a bit over the water. It never failed to yield fish when the water levels were right. I’ve been a fisherman for many years and have read all kinds of explanation for why certain areas draw fish. The last time I visited that place, the lake had been lowered and the rock was 50 feet above the water line. No surface structure in the ground below the boulder was apparent that would make it a gathering place for fish. I suspect that the genius loci of that spot attracted fish.

I have noticed the spirit of a place can change over time. Perhaps, like a battery, constant use saps its energy, or in some cases changes positive to negative. Maybe the attitudes of the people who come to live in such a place help to effect this type of change. In chaos theory, there is a phenomenon referred to as strange attractors, which are outside forces affecting flow. We may fit this description in the case of spirits of place. How often have you returned to a place to find the presence you expected changed or in some cases vanished?

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Modern Witches Connect on the Internet

Modern Witches Connect on the Internet

by BlackCat

Back in 1980, the personal computer was new. As a preteen, I used to wonder why anyone would use one. I knew, however, that this was a part of the future, and so I thought it must be a good thing. At the same time, I was spending many hot afternoons in the forest near my home, communing with nature and searching for spiritual connection. I found that connection with all of the life and energy around me. I yearned to learn more and find others to whom I could relate in these matters.

It was hard. There was no huge assortment of “Wicca for beginners” books available, as there is today. I was lucky to find two books on witchcraft at the local library. Even now, a trip to the downtown Seattle Public Library finds fewer selections on witchcraft than the chain bookstore up the street. Funny that the Seattle Public Library has several bookcases full of selections on religious studies of a Judeo-Christian nature, but only a handful of titles on Wicca. It strikes me that ignorance and prejudice still rear their ugly little heads, even in the free-thinking culture of Seattle.

Since my childhood hometown library yielded some results, I also checked bookstores. I discovered that an independent bookstore in town sold Tarot cards. As my ethnic background is Hungarian Gypsy, Tarot cards were considered okay in our household. I believe it was my elder sister who said, “Tarot cards are okay, Mom. They’re like astrology.” I started collecting them with allowance money. I scanned the shelves at that store, looking at the selections. Seeing books by Starhawk classified as “women’s studies,” in my youthful ignorance I didn’t even pick one up.

After a few visits to the bookshop, a woman behind the counter began to chat with me about the Tarot cards. I did not get to know her personally, but looking back I would say that she, like I, was searching and knew there was some way of connecting out there, but we just didn’t have a vehicle to find it.

For most, it was the true witch-shop that connected them. Generally in larger cities, shops specializing in occult merchandise and books became small magnets for like-minded individuals. In a small town, you relied on mail order catalogs. I bought my first athamé via the mail and even a “spell kit.”

Because neo-paganism is a minority spiritual system or religion, its adherents have generally already broken some ties to the cultural mainstream. Our practices require of us new ways of thinking and rethinking previously accepted norms. We do not have a sacred scripture to keep us all in a line, so we are ever seeking and learning new ideas. All the while, we rediscover the beliefs and practices of our ancestors. The use of the Internet is a natural enhancement for these quests.

The Internet can be so helpful in learning that you’d have to be a fool to stay away from it, in my opinion. It is in essence a huge library. All you do is type a word on your computer, and pictures and text are presented on any subject. I use the Internet for news, weather, shopping and especially for e-mail. Like a telephone call, e-mail is immediate, but unlike a phone call it does not interrupt. The receiver can get the communication whenever is a good time for the receiver.

The pagan community using the Internet is large and diverse. Made up of so many creative people and free thinkers, this graphic and opinionated medium was an easy hit. Today, there are thousands of pagan-related Web sites, Webrings that link sites together, e-mail lists, chat rooms and even virtual covens that have sprung up. We already knew that our magick was transcending time and space. Why not use the computer to further this transcendence to commune with other like-minded individuals? Many of these are separated by great physical distance and, yes, time (it’s afternoon here, but it’s tomorrow morning in Japan). Nevertheless, virtual covens communicate via e-mail and online chat-rooms. Rituals are held online, often using a graphic interface that each member can watch on his or her computer during the ritual.

Where to start? Most people have some search feature on the start page of their Internet service provider. According to Lycos, one of these search engines, of the top 1000 most widely searched-for Web topics, the subject of witchcraft ranked 72 and Wicca ranked 91. A search on the word “Wicca” I just did brings up 59,305 Web sites. That’s right, 59,305 individual listings of Web sites you could look at on the subject. Witchcraft brings up a whopping 108,542!

Such a list is hard to sort through, with many of the listings being redundant or actually off the topic you are looking for. The Internet is so extensive as to be almost too big to handle. I have a suggestion. There is one site in particular that stands out among all the thousands to choose from.

The Witches Voice Web site, Witchvox (www.witchvox.com), is a nonprofit organization. Wren Walker, Fritz Jung and Peg Aloi created the organization and Web site in 1997. Wren and Fritz had both previously done work for the Witches League for Public Awareness. They currently operate out of their home in Clearwater, Florida. The Witches Voice is one of the most widely used religious Web sites in the world, having registered since its creation over 30,850,000 pages viewed! Their tagline, “Those who walk in love and truth shall grow in honor and strength,” clearly reflects their honest, noble cause.

Each week, an update is posted, reflecting current events in the pagan community worldwide. The site is extensive, with 34 chapters containing 3410 Web pages. There are over 5000 working links and over 39,000 personal connections verified every three months. The site is rich in graphics, yet with no annoying advertisements. The Witchvox staff does not take any money for the work they do and state they never have and never will. The Witches’ Voice is funded by the community only.

To quote from their Web site, “The Witches’ Voice provides the information, resources, educational materials, networking sections, latest news and all of the other support documents on the Web site to everyone free of charge. What you don’t see on the site are the more personal letters and information packets that are sent to local agencies, schools and individuals, the many hours of research, the discussions with mainstream media on issues that affect pagans, the phone calls offering emotional support and guidance and all the other ways the staff supports the pagan community.”

I use the Witchvox site for many reasons. Sometimes I just browse the well-organized links section and learn about different Craft traditions. One will find widdershins.org and several other Pacific Northwest links. Maybe I want to learn about pagan musicians or an Internet pagan “radio” address. “Wren’s Nest” offers the latest news and is a credited source for my own news column, the Speculum. There are surveys and essays written by community members from all over the world.

The site encourages and accepts sponsorship donations from those that deem its mission of value, and the site uses those funds to pay for communication costs and for donations to events or situations in the community that need help.I can best offer more information by simply quoting the site:

· Witchvox does not teach Wicca or Witchcraft, nor do we promote our personal spiritual beliefs on this site. We offer some of the more popular tenets to those outside of this community in an effort to help them better understand who we are and what we do. Witchvox is about supporting and celebrating the work of the local communities. We are constantly approached for interviews by some of the most famous publications in the world. We defer 85 percent of these requests to witches, Wiccans and pagans at the local level.

· The Witches’ Voice will never be about titles, degrees or fame. Our focus will always be related to the work itself. We live in a world of spin, idle promises and hype. It is our observation that the work will ultimately speak for itself.

· The Witches’ Voice is a community effort; we don’t pay writers or famous names for articles. Even if we could afford to do this, it’s doubtful that we would do it. We are a site by the community… for the community. All are welcome to submit articles and always have been. Notable pagans are encouraged to share their wisdom and experiences.

· The “pages viewed” stats on our splash page are indeed real. They have been faithfully culled from our server logs from day one. They indicate a running daily total of both Witchvox.com and Witchvox.net. Witchvox.com stats are added daily, and Witchvox.net stats are only added at the end of the month. At present, we are pacing at close to 35,000 pages viewed on a daily basis. If you prefer to work with the concept of “hits” (page elements) you can multiply that number by 5; if your preference is for actual visitors, divide this number by 5.

· The Witchvox focus is on the present day and the present way. To us everyone is special and valid in their own personal beliefs. All you have to do to get “featured” here is to do something for the community. We don’t care if you found this path last month or 25 years ago. We do “lean into” individuals and groups that consistently work for the community. Current selfless work, for the good of all, means everything to us.

· The Witchvox staff have no desire to impose our own personal morals on anyone. “An it harm none, do what ye will” — we do maintain a strong sense of ethics. We encourage honesty and direct contact by anyone that has concerns related to what we do.

· We have a rich history of answering 99 percent of our e-mail on a daily basis (we sure have received a mountain of it). We do not participate in “he said/she said” gossip and do not respond to background bitching. Our e-mail addresses are accessible via links at the bottom of all of our pages.

· As always, our goal is to create solutions that are both valuable and useful to the pagan community. Both Witchvox.com and Witchvox.net are here for your news and networking needs. Use them with our love.

· Use the Internet! Start with The Witches’ Voice, www.witchvox.com, and you’re on a firm launching pad for all of your neo-pagan spiritual explorations through cyberspace.

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One Pagan Steps Out of the Broom Closet

One Pagan Steps Out of the Broom Closet

by L. Lisa Harris

In days past, stepping out of the broom closet meant sitting at the dinner table and blurting out, “Mom, I’m a witch,” then waiting for her to accept the fact and ask you questions, or faint dead away. She might tell you it was a phase you were going though or refuse to talk to you for a period of time. As a general rule, if it wasn’t accepted, it never left the dinner table. It just wouldn’t do to air the family’s dirty laundry to the neighbors (what would they think?).

Today, it could still be as simple as telling a trusted co-worker that you go to circle, instead of church, or explaining to a potential significant other why there is 7-inch dagger on a small table next to your bed. You might even be lucky enough to be outed by your 9-year-old child, who in an argument with a neighborhood kid yells, “Yeah, well, my mom’s a witch, and I’m going to go get her right now.”

However, with the advent of the Internet, one’s “witchiness” (along with anything else of interest) can be world news in a matter of seconds, as I quickly learned. The speed at which such information can travel and how far it can get can be quite surprising, even for one who is “out of the broom closet.” You can give in an interview to the local paper, and the next thing you know, you’re getting e-mail from Australia.

My adventure in pagan PR and world news began early last winter when I received a phone call from Steve Maynard of the Tacoma News Tribune advising me that he was planning to do a feature story on the Earth Centered Spirituality Group at the Unitarian Universalist (UU) Church in Tacoma, which I have facilitated for the past two and a half years. Steve covers religion for the paper and was slowly but surely making progress with his editor in getting earth-centered events covered on the religion page. We both knew he had a long way to go before he would be permitted to treat our group as the paper did other religious groups when, last Easter season, his editor would not allow him to use the word “pagan” when he was describing a UU church service in which elders read children stories of how four traditions (pagan, Hebrew, Christian and Unitarian) celebrated the Easter season.

I was expecting his feature story to be on the religion page, as we were just beginning to get calendar space in the Saturday edition in that section. Imagine my surprise when he told me that it was going to be the cover for the “Sound Life” magazine section and that there was also going to be a photo layout. He was even going to use the words “pagan” and “witch.” For a moment, I couldn’t believe it. All the months of pestering him and sending press releases and information had paid off. We were going to be taken seriously. We were going to have a chance to let Western Washington know what we were and what we weren’t. I was elated.

But on the drive home from work, I asked myself, “What was I thinking?” A nice little column on the religion page was one thing, but to be on the magazine cover of a Sunday edition was another matter. I have been “out” with my family and friends for 13 years and even wear a triple moon pentacle at work, where I have no problem educating those who would malign others’ religion out of ignorance. But when I thought about the conservative Christian parents of the girls I coach in softball and volleyball on the South Hill of Puyallup reading in the Sunday paper about their coach being a witch, something in my stomach did a double back-flip with a twist. I had visions of girls being pulled from the team by parents who didn’t want them corrupted by that “tool of Satan,” other kids not being allowed to play with my daughter and picketers throwing rocks in front of the church. Steve and I had been working towards this for almost a year and a half, so it was no small matter that I found myself reconsidering the wisdom of the situation.

Most witches I know would meditate or cast a circle and ask the Goddess for guidance when dealing with an important situation like this. My goddess never waits for me to do that. I’ve learned to deal with it. She likes to slip into the passenger seat of my car when I’m trying to drive home at the end of a busy day or corner me when I’m in the bathroom and can’t get up and leave because my pants are around my ankles. This time she chose the car, and she really let me have it. “You’re the one that wanted to be a warrior. Now you’re given a chance to battle ignorance and you’re afraid? Don’t be a wimp! Get out there and act like a priestess, not a weenie!” I don’t recommend dedicating yourself to the Morrigane unless you’re the type of person who can stand up to a drill sergeant without flinching. Of course, as I remember it, I didn’t have a lot of say in the matter. She chose me.

About the time I was feeling completely unworthy, my cell phone rang. It was my daughter letting me know that she was home from school. “Honey, how would you feel if the next article about me was in a bigger paper than the last one?” I asked.

“Um, okay, why?” she replied, her mouth overly full of partially chewed banana. I explained that it would be a front page spread and my picture was likely to be in it. More chewing, and another “Um, okay” followed the sound of the fridge being rummaged through. I asked her what her friends would think if they saw the article, and she assured me that her friends don’t read anything other than the horoscopes, music reviews and comics.

“How would you feel if one of your friends wouldn’t hang out with you anymore because your mom’s a witch?”

“I don’t think that would happen,” she said.

“But what if it did?” I pushed.

She swallowed the rest of her banana, which I’m sure was not properly chewed, and in her best exasperated-adolescent voice said, “Well, that wouldn’t make them very good friends, now, would it? Can I go over to Morgan’s?” So much for the girl being traumatized by it. That was one excuse gone. I reminded her to chew with her mouth closed and take smaller bites, then hung up the phone.

The next call came in right on schedule, from Hubby, who was on his break at work. “Hi, honey, how would you feel if all the guys in the break room at work read in the paper that I’m a witch?” I asked, thinking that there was no point in beating around the bush since he only had 10 minutes to talk.

His response was immediate and enthusiastic, “Cool!” he said. “When will it come out? I’d love for some of those dumb, right-wing conservative jerks I argue politics with to see it, so that I can yank their chain.” When he found out it would be in the Sunday edition, he was extremely disappointed he wouldn’t be there at work to watch the looks on his co-workers’ faces when they read it. It would have been amusing, since I used to work in the same place and know all of them. Great, Hubby wasn’t going to be an excuse either. I was going to have to go through with it.

The next step was to set up interviews and photo opportunities. The interviews weren’t going to be a problem. I’d been talking to Steve for over a year and a half and had sent him volumes of information. How much was there that he could possibly ask? I found out that there was plenty. It seemed that the more information I gave him, the more questions he had. He found that the more people he talked to and the more research he did, the more disagreement on basic issues he found. After a month of spending my lunch hours, breaks and time after work talking to Steve, I still couldn’t come up with answers to some questions other than, “Well, if you ask 30 people that question, you’ll likely get 30 different answers.”

I could hear him shaking his head on the other end of the phone line, but he kept with it. He interviewed Ph.D.s, ministers, theologians, authors and other high priestesses in the local community. He attended Tarot classes and rune workshops that we put on in order to get a better understanding of what our group does and interviewed several people at those classes to get a feel for the local community.

The photo editor wanted to photograph a ritual. “We don’t allow photographers at our rituals,” I explained. When I offered to set something up with people who didn’t mind being photographed, he told me that at the paper they “don’t like things that are staged.” “Great!” I muttered to myself. I already had a Brigid ritual to write, a class on the runes to put together and lines to memorize for a Candlemas ritual that another group was putting on. I knew that the only way the layout was going to work would be to put on a real working with participants who didn’t mind being photographed. I made the offer of a special ritual, with a real working, and once he was convinced it wouldn’t be “staged” and I had his agreement the photographer would not disrupt the flow of the ritual, the date was set. I put out a call to the local pagan e-mail lists for volunteers who didn’t mind being photographed.

Getting the volunteers was much easier than I had imagined, and I was rather pleased with how things were working out. The difficult part, I discovered, was going to be finding a ritual that wouldn’t expose material that many in the pagan community would consider “inappropriate” for public use or that would offend or exclude anyone. I soon discovered that what some considered “outer court” material, suitable for any public occasion, others considered “oath-bound.” I was also faced with the fact that just because something is published and sitting on a shelf at Borders doesn’t mean that it isn’t considered oath-bound by one tradition or another. I suddenly had to worry about being pagan politically correct.

Then there were the personal preferences of those who were going to be in the circle. My Wiccan friends didn’t want a Wiccan ritual “performed” for the media. Some of the pagans didn’t want to be confused with witches, the neo-pagans didn’t want to be confused with “New Agers,” my Brit-trad friends didn’t want to be mistakenly identified as Unitarians, and some of the Unitarians didn’t want to be labeled at all. I had 17 ritualists with 17 different ideas of what would and wouldn’t be appropriate.

As I sat at my computer, staring out the window at the woods out back, I thought to myself, “If my close friends and those who trust me to present paganism to the media are this fired up, what about all the pagans who are going to read this in the paper and had no say in the matter? What are they going to think?” Suddenly I went from feeling like a champion of those who suffer religious oppression to feeling like someone not worthy of the task. I had lost count of the number of people who thought that no reporter could be trusted and that I was making a huge mistake. But I had been talking to Steve for a long time. I knew him. I knew what he wanted to accomplish and trusted him to do right by us. I thought I was doing a good thing, and it seemed that it just ticked everyone off. Visions of angry pagans wanting my hide were added to the already scary ones of crosses burning on my lawn or windows being broken at the church by those who fear us. More doubt filled my mind. I tried to brush it away as quickly as I could. I really wasn’t up for a bathroom visit from a ticked-off goddess. I was starting to get a headache.

Two glasses of wine later, I had decided that we would use only published material, to which I would make some changes so that no tradition’s sacred material would be exposed to the media. The ritual would be a working for community understanding, which seemed fitting for a media event. I scanned my bookshelves, literally sagging under the weight of what my hubby considers my “excessive” book collection, hoping that something would present itself.

I noticed my old dog-eared copy of The Spiral Dance sticking out a bit farther than the other books on the shelf. “Starhawk! She knows how to deal with the public and fight for the cause. I don’t really think she’d mind if I borrowed a few things,” I told myself. I found a ritual written by Alan Acacia titled “A Circle for Healing During Struggle,” which fit in perfectly with what we were planning. I modified it to be less priestess-centered and to have the quarters read their parts themselves. I picked out some nice invocations to the God and Goddess, and soon I had a basic ritual ready to go.

The ritual was beautiful, so beautiful in fact that I forgave my friend Dana without even giving her a hard time for calling me a “circle Nazi” in rehearsal. Everyone showed up in festive clothing and colorful robes. People who came to sit and watch but didn’t want to risk being “outed” by being in the circle were drawn in; they just couldn’t stay out. The quarter callers performed their parts perfectly, the candles all stayed lit, and our sound and lighting person hit every musical cue. We passed a small cauldron, which was later lit, around the room, so that each person in turn could hold it and speak aloud what they hoped to accomplish with the ritual. Everyone was so eloquent and sincere and came up with such wonderful, positive wishes that the reporter was frantic trying to copy them all down. We danced a spiral to raise energy, and everyone in that room could feel a strong, palpable force, even the photographer. We had been asked prior to the ritual to send healing energy to a critically ill girl who was on a respirator in a children’s hospital, so we added that to our ritual working and sent it all flying out of the circle in a powerful stream of golden light. Afterwards, everyone in the circle had a look on his or her face as if they had just had amazing sex. I’d call that good energy.

At 4 a.m. on February 8, after weeks of worries and what ifs, I drove down the hill to the mini-mart to get a copy of the paper. I took a deep breath, readying myself in case it wasn’t really there or my trust in the reporter had been misplaced. On the cover of the “Sound Life” section was a full color picture of the ritualists with their outstretched arms, adorned with rings, bracelets and colorful robes, sending healing energy to the ill girl, and the headline “Pagans at Peace.” The light bouncing off of the sanctuary wall in the background looked just like a ball of gold light being tossed out to the universe. There were pictures of the rune workshop and flaming cauldrons. I must say it was possibly the best article I have ever seen on paganism in the mainstream press. Steve had even quoted Christian clergy to explain what attracts seekers to witchcraft and paganism. Yes, there were some things left out, and a couple of people didn’t think that the press should have made it sound like all pagans share a common set of beliefs. All I could do was say, “Well done, Steve. Thank you.”

There were no picketers in front of the UU church that morning. No threatening messages had been left on the answering machine there or at home. Everyone in the church was excited about the article, and some new people even showed up because of it. A friend who works in a local hospital arrived at work to find the article pinned to the bulletin board and a request for pagan clergy posted. The hospital staff had taken notice of the article section that spoke of pagan hospital patients not having access to clergy services. Now there is a group in Pierce County putting together a program to get pagan clergy registered with local hospitals.

The article made it around the globe in a few hours, thanks to the Internet mailings lists and bulletin boards. It made at least two appearances in the “Wren’s Nest” section of The Witches Voice Web site, and I received congratulations from Circle Sanctuary. Soon I started receiving e-mail messages from all over the world. One told me how the article came at a perfect time to show to a judge in a child custody battle in which the mother’s Wiccan religion was being used against her. Another letter told of a case where a young girl was missing and the local media had blamed it on the fact that she had visited a Web site on Wicca. The story went out on the Howard-Scripps News Service and was reprinted in several other newspapers, sparking a whole new batch of letters, all with similar stories and gratitude to Steve for portraying us in a positive light, not just as a media curiosity at Halloween, as many newspapers do.

When it was apparent that nothing bad was going to happen because of the article, I was almost disappointed. I wasn’t going to have to do battle against ignorance or have an exciting and dangerous story to tell in Widdershins. I came to realize, though, that I did have a story to tell. It isn’t about confrontation or hate. It is about battling my own fear and self-doubt. It is a story of a group of people who came together, regardless of personal risk, to accomplish a goal for the greater community. It is the story of a little girl who got off of a respirator and is back home with her family, who incidentally are not pagan.

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‘THINK on THESE THINGS’ for May 24th

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

“Though we speak with the tongues of men and angels and give our bodies to be burned, if we are irritable or hard to live with, it all accounts for nothing,” wrote Margaret Widdemer.

Wouldn’t it be a blessing to ourselves and to others if we could be as gentle and considerate in temper as we expect others to be? It is not a good thing to keep pent up the emotions that rule us so continually, but neither is it good to be too quick and too constantly blowing off steam.

It may serve as a tension reliever to us, but it can also ruin our relationships with others. And without our realizing it, we can soon become chronic complainers.

Worry, physical ailments and weariness can cause a short temper that we think others should understand. And most have a way of knowing if that is the case, but prolonged impositions on other people will wear that tolerance very thin. It takes two to have an argument, but it takes only one to start it.

The need to forgive and to be forgiven should never be overlooked. To pass over a disagreement quickly without thought to the damage we’ve done can take the shine off any friendship. There can be no merit in forgetting if we cannot first forgive.

There are two voices in this world that will be forever unpopular. One is the voice of self-pity, the other the voice that yells all the time. One declares itself to be the victim of great injustice, the other yells to demand justice.

Those who believe themselves to be the victims of injustice – those who believe they are meant to suffer – will always find conditions to prove they are right.

And those who yell, “Look what I’ve sacrificed,” and always with the theme, “What I’ve tried to do for you,” have slowed another’s progress and stopped their own.

True victims of circumstances are easily recognized, and do not care to be noticed as such. And those who tell their merits have received their rewards, so there aren’t any others.

Both have their attentions turned inward, but to the sorrow of most….their voices are not.

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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 May 24

Elder’s Meditation of the Day May 24

“…in Tunkashila, there is no time. Everything moves in the blink of an eye. It’s as fast as thought. So there is no speed there. There is no time in between.”

–Wallace Black Elk, LAKOTA

There is a relationship between thought and reality. Every thought is alive, and as soon as you think it a result occurs immediately. However, to make something happen it may take a series of 1,000 thoughts before you can actually see it with your eyes. This occurs because the Laws of the Great Spirit act immediately. When you tell a lie, you immediately experience fear. When you tell the truth, you immediately experience freedom. To the Creator, there is no time. For us to experience the meaning of this requires us to act on faith. Faith is belief without evidence.

Great Spirit, today, let me act on my faith.

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May 24 – Daily Feast

May 24 – Daily Feast

A thick layer of doubt like fog across the hilltops, can shut out the light. Without light, we are depleted of energy and vitality – and eventually hope. An elderly Cherokee woman said, “It is true that the Cherokee suffered when their houses and gardens and very way of life were taken from them. We loved the land and trees and treated them as family. It was not the Great Holy Spirit that caused it. It was the a s ga na (wickedness) of the world.” It seems that no good time exists when we can despair. The Cherokees still dance – but to the Great Spirit in gratitude, the way David danced before the Lord. And it is high time we shout and clap our hands right in the face of trouble.

~ You have said to me….that I could send out a voice four times….and you could hear me. Today I send a voice for a people in despair. ~

BLACK ELK

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

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Daily Motivator for May 24th – The greatest success

The greatest success

You don’t have to be famous to be important. You don’t have to be a celebrity to be successful.

You don’t have to live in opulent luxury to be rich. You don’t have to be irresponsible to be free.

You don’t have to be outrageous to be creative. You don’t have to be abusive to be impressive.

You can be quietly humble and still be amazingly effective. You can be kind and considerate and still have great influence.

Just because people don’t fall at your feet and worship you, doesn’t mean you are a failure. Quiet success is just as sweet as loud, flamboyant success, and usually much more real.

Success is what you choose for it to be, not what everyone else says it must be. Live your life in each moment in a way that truly fulfills you and brings value to your world, for that is the greatest success.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

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Daily OM for May 24th – Centering and Expressing

Centering and Expressing
Communication

by Madisyn Taylor

 

Expressing ourselves honestly in any relationship is essential to our well-being.

When we are in a relationship where we feel listened to and understood, we count ourselves lucky because we know how rare that experience is. We reserve our most intimate selves for the people who, along with us, cocreate an open space where we feel free to express ourselves and listen without judgment. These relationships, which thrive on open communication, can mean the difference between existential loneliness and a deep sense of belonging. We all long to feel heard, understood, and loved, and clear communication makes this possible.

Sometimes problems arise in the process of expressing how we feel, but it is always worth it to do the work. Even in our less intimate relationships, expressing ourselves honestly is essential to our sense of well-being. Whether at home with family or in the outside world, successful communication requires some forethought; otherwise we risk blundering through our relationships like the proverbial bull in a china shop. However, too much forethought can stifle us or cause us to pad our words so extremely that we end up saying nothing at all or confusing the matter further. The good news is that there are many methods that can come to our rescue, from meditation to visualization to journaling.

If the person we need to communicate with is open to sitting in meditation together for a set period of time before speaking, this can be invaluable. When we are calm and centered, we can count on ourselves to speak and respond truthfully. We can also meditate on our own time and then practice what we need to say. A visualization in which we sit with the person and lovingly exchange a few words can also be a great precedent to an actual conversation. If writing comes easily, we can write out what we need to say; it may take several drafts, but we will eventually find the words. The key is to find ways to center ourselves so that we communicate meaningfully, lovingly, and wisely. In this way, we honor our companions and create relationships in which there is a genuine sense of understanding and respect.

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