Posts Tagged With: Pagan

Ode to Ostara

Ode to Ostara

Author:   Morgan Ravenwood 

I really feel sorry for those who complain that their lives seem to pass in a blur. One minute it’s winter, the next it’s summer, and so many people never seem to mark the changing of the seasons until the day they look in the mirror, see the lines on their own faces and the gray hair on their heads, and wonder when they acquired them. I feel fortunate that because I am a Pagan I’m not only observing the seasonal changes but am also actually participating in them (or, as I like to put it, “living a conscious life”) , unlike those who simply view them as a spectator or, worse yet, fail to notice them at all. For surely, if life is but a classroom and we are here to learn certain lessons, we can hardly do otherwise and expect to achieve spiritual growth.

While we Pagans are most famous for our celebration of Samhain, which symbolizes the death of the old year and the beginning of the new one, I believe that it is the Spring Equinox that carries a much more important connotation: that of birth and renewal. There is no better place to watch this cycle play itself out than in a garden.

I live in the southwestern desert where we don’t usually get much of a winter, albeit the nighttime temperatures do dip below freezing at times. Despite the mild weather, my small but productive garden knows what the seasons are, and shows its pleasure in the warmer weather with a riotous green display.

I’m like an excited little kid after I first plant the seeds I’ve chosen to grow; every day I anxiously peer into the various pots, barrels and seedbeds, beside myself with curiosity to see if the first seedling has made its appearance yet. Of all the stress-relieving exercises known to man, this has got to be one of the easiest and best. It’s also highly effective for a Pagan in that it offers an opportunity to temporarily abandon the cares of the world and perform a life-affirming activity, which is also one in which they can actually commune with the divine if they will but listen as well as speak. That this can be achieved by performing such a simple activity as tending a garden is part of the deep appeal of Paganism. This is why I feel that every Pagan should attempt to grow something, even if it’s just a houseplant or a few herb seeds in a small pot on a windowsill. It’s also a particularly great way to introduce children to one of the fundamental beliefs of Paganism: that divinity is inherent in all of nature.

In a garden we not only can see the metaphorical drama of the Goddess and God, but of our own lives as well: the seed is planted, it grows to adulthood, produces seed of its own, dies, and is resurrected through its seed, which has been planted in its place. The message is, of course, that nothing is ever truly wasted or dies. Anybody who would argue with that has surely never been a gardener!

This birth-death-resurrection cycle plays in all aspects of organic and biological life. I had an opportunity to meditate on this when my pregnant daughter showed me an ultrasound picture of her baby girl, who was my first grandchild. A myriad of images and emotions swept through me as I gazed upon the image of this tiny little creature lying curled up like a new rosebud. It seemed that I could hear my mother’s voice and see my father’s face and feel their love and pride, and yet above that I also heard and felt the presence of something even greater and more awesome.

Other images flashed before my eyes and mind; I saw myself as a baby and my husband as a child. I thought of the day I learned that I was pregnant with my daughter and saw my husband’s joyful countenance when he held her for the first time. And then I thought how appropriate the term “family tree” is. Whoever coined it must have had some Pagan leanings, to be sure! But most of all, as I looked at that picture, I felt like I’d actually made a difference in this world. And I think that anyone who takes the opportunity-and responsibility–in nurturing a life, whether it’s planting a garden, raising a kitten or having a child, has been given the wonderful opportunity to share a little bit of the divinity—and immortality—that is unique to the gods. For sure, allowing us to share this with them is their greatest gift to us.

The idea of new life springing forward after a long period of silence and stillness is a concept that is shared in most religions today, and it is no secret that all of them have incorporated many elements of the earlier Pagan faiths into their own doctrines. I am betting that many people in these religions today are unaware of the extent of their syncretism. All that most Christians know about Neo-Paganism is that its one and only holiday appears to be “Halloween” (which is known to us as Samhain) . They do not realize that while they are celebrating Easter as a strictly Christian holiday, its roots, as well as its name, originated completely in Pagan faiths.

Ostara, of course, is the holiday that is celebrated at the Vernal Equinox to herald the return of life and light to the world, and its rituals and events largely mirror those of the Christians sans the religious observances in a church, of course. Pagan children need not miss out on the usual springtime celebrations; when my children were still living at home, we always colored and hid eggs for them. We would always plant some seeds or young plants and try to balance eggs on one end at the minute of the Equinox, with which we had a fair amount of luck. The kids loved Ostara because it came earlier than Easter.

However, no children are required for Pagan adults to join in the fun. I still color eggs even when the grandkids can’t visit, and will always continue my seed-planting ritual. The weather around Ostara is usually pretty nice where I live, so I try to get outdoors to spend some time with Nature and observe its rapid changes. After so many years of celebrating our sabbats, it would feel strange NOT to do these things.

I hope I have given some helpful tips on how to celebrate Ostara. May all your celebrations be blessed ones!

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The Matter Of Faith

The Matter Of Faith

Author:   RuneWolf   

Faith, simply put, is trust.

Some Pagans have a negative reaction to the entire concept of faith, because it has become synonymous in our culture with one particular brand of faith: Christian. But I submit that, whether one is Christian or Pagan or whatever, faith is the root and foundation of any serious spiritual life. Christian faith and Pagan faith may differ radically, but I believe that faith itself, that is to say trust, is indispensable in any genuine relationship with the Divine, however we may understand It. If I have no trust in my Goddess and my God, then I am simply going through the motions of being a Witch, and I might as well just declare myself an atheist and get it over with.

From my experience as a nominal Christian in my youth, and from my observations since then, it seems that Christian faith is an almost fanatical trust that God or Jesus will deliver the faithful from the tribulations of this life, and secure that person a place in Paradise in the afterlife. Pagan faith, on the other hand – at least as I practice it – is an implicit trust that my Goddess and my God will always help me to find within myself the resources to deal with the trials of life. A large part of my spiritual life as a Witch is spent opening myself to the various ways in which the Divine communicates with me in the course of my daily life, so that when a crisis does occur, the lines of communication are already open.

These two types of faith may be labeled “passive” and “active, ” and objectively neither is really superior to the other. I do, however, have my personal opinions and preferences.

Faced with a crisis, a Christian will tend to pray and “put things in God’s hand, ” trusting that their Lord will set things right. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as most negative situations are beyond our human control anyway, and the more we meddle, trying to “fix” things, the worse the situation gets, and the more stressful it becomes. “Getting out of our own way” by turning the matter over to a spiritual power, and trusting that the situation will work out, may indeed be the best course of action, and in this situation, faith becomes the psychic buffer that allows someone to let circumstances run their course without living in constant anxiety. Using their version of prayer and having deep faith in their Lord and Savior, the Christian is effectively working magic, if one defines magic as “changing consciousness at will.”

Speaking solely for myself, I believe that this type of faith ultimately disempowers the individual. Like a child who never escapes the apron strings, the practitioner of passive faith learns nothing from the challenges of life, and can only meet each new challenge as the last was met, with passivity and an abdication of responsibility.

Active faith, on the other hand, encourages – even demands – that the individual take responsibility and take action, even if that action is taking no action at all. This last may seem a bit paradoxical, but it is really an important and subtle point. A practitioner of passive faith may take no action by default – the matter has been turned over to God, and there is no further need for personal action. Indeed, continuing to struggle after invoking Divine intercession could be seen as a denial of faith. The practitioner of active faith, on the other hand, may elect to take no action, but only after appropriate contemplation of the situation, and due consultation with the Gods. In this context, taking no action becomes a choice, perhaps just one among many.

There is a Jewish proverb that says: “Pray as if everything depends on God, act as if everything depends on you.” I think this is a beautiful and concise definition of active faith, one that is both eminently mystical and logically practical, and it is the manner in which I strive to live my life as a Witch.

One important function of faith, in the spiritual or religious sense, is indeed to satisfy deep psychological needs. My faith, my trust, that my Goddess and God are always with me helps me to feel secure, appreciated and loved unconditionally, often in the face of insecurity, rejection and hatred. My Deities do not eliminate the negative circumstances willy-nilly. Rather, They provide the guidance whereby I find within myself the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual resources to deal with those negative circumstances. I do not hide behind Them, but I know They are “watching my back.”

For many people, Pagan and non-Pagan, this sense of “Divine parenting” is all that is required of faith. Many people can accept it and practice it simply because it is a tenet of their chosen religion, and it is so effective in their lives that they never find the need to go deeper.

For some of us, however, the matter of faith runs much deeper, into realms that are difficult to address via the cumbersome medium of the spoken or written word, and the linchpin of this difference is often the “spiritual experience.”

I have heard it said that there is a difference between “faith” and “belief.” One is said to have faith when one trusts in something that cannot be or has not been proven. One believes in something that one has directly experienced. Today, the words are synonymous to me, largely because I have been fortunate enough to have had two powerful “spiritual experiences” in my Pagan life. Members of 12 Step fellowships often refer to these as “burning bushes;” the immediate and undeniable manifestation of Divine presence in our ordinary reality. Before the first such event, I had “faith” in the Gods because that was what a good Pagan was “supposed” to do. Actually, it was simply a matter of fitting the spiritual beliefs that I had developed on my own into the Pagan context. But still, I took it “on faith” that the Gods were real, as I had not yet had direct experience of Them. After my first spiritual experience, I believed in the Gods the same way I believed in my ’92 Taurus, for They were suddenly just as “real” and just as “present” in my life.

Faith and belief have their own logic, if one can call it that, and it is certainly fractal in nature. I think, at times, we grasp that logic in a brief and tentative manner. Ultimately, however, it eludes examination and defeats definition. Nor is it necessary, for me at least, to know “how” or “why” it works. It is enough that I have faith, belief and trust in my Deities. These, along with willingness, are the doors through which They enter my life, that we may dance together.

In Their Service…

RuneWolf

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A Little Secret That Only Witches Can Know About. Can I Trust You?

Every secret organization or religion has a secret or two. Of course, you won’t never hear about them because they are secrets. Makes senses. Most of these organizations and religions have secrets to keep the public out and in the dark, to exclude them. On the other hand, our religion is not like that we have had to keep it secret just to keep it alive. If it was for our ancestors keeping our entire religion secret, we wouldn’t have a religion.

The secret I am getting ready to share with you is not that big of deal. It was used in the Burning Times to determine if the person you were meeting was a witch. You can see during this period of time why it was very important to know who you were meeting.

Here is the ritual. Enjoy!

This is a magic witches hand shake spell. This spell is cast to find out if someone you know may or may not be a witch. After casting this magic spell, you will then shake the hand of the person you are inquiring about, and your answer will be revealed in the handshake. It can also be used to slightly put a thought or idea inside the mind of a person without coming right out and suggesting it. We offer many more free magic spells here for you to use and to try.

Extend your right index finger and lightly touch the wrist of the person exactly where the pulse is felt. By touching the pulse it throws the acquaintance completely off his balance for just an instant , but in that instant plant an initial
thought, ( example : I am the one you want for the job) this
really works and is cool, try it.

*You can also determine if the other person is a witch by the way they grasp your hand. If their right index finger is extended and touching your pulse area, more than likely they are a with.*

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On Being Wiccan: Some Unsolicited Advice

On Being Wiccan: Some Unsolicited Advice

Author:   Kame   

I knew I wanted to write essays about my experience of being Wiccan. I wrote a few pithy pieces, full of well-turned phrases and stunningly cogent allusions. But that’s all just verbal masturbation. I threw them in the trash. In the end, I kept asking myself… what is the purpose of these essays? What wisdom (written with a roll of my eyes) do I have to impart? Sigh.

I lost twenty-five pounds last year. Yea, pat me on the back. I have another twenty-five to lose, but that’s another story. When strangers find out about my feat, the first thing they want to know is “What’s your secret?” “How did you do it?” I gave them all the same answer: “Eat less, exercise more.” That is how you lose weight. That’s all there is to it. It is that simple. But every time I told someone that, I could see the disappointment on his or her face. They wanted it to be some elaborate thing…so they could brag about how they were able to accomplish this enormous task if they succeeded or so that they could excuse themselves if they failed by saying it was just too hard.

First bit of unsolicited advice: Quit trying to make simple things complicated. Whatever you are attempting to do, boil it down to its simplest element and never lose sight of that core truth.

Second bit of unsolicited advice: tame the boob tube or anything else in your life that is distracting you. And before you think I’m one of those snooty ‘no TV’, cold turkey types, let me tell you I have a TV — two in fact. I’m an avid fan of Mad Men, Once Upon a Time, Ghost Hunter, etc.

When my youngest was a toddler, she went to daycare at the house of a childhood friend of mine. The TV in that house was always on and I would always end up being distracted by it so that I was unable to complete a conversation with my friend without staring off at it. She frequently remarked that I, the only one of her clients without a TV, was the only one who seemed distracted by it. Actually, we owned a TV then but I didn’t have the heart to break her illusion that we were goody-two-shoe, tree hugging, neo-hippie types. Something about her reaction bothered me for many years… some niggling need to understand why I was so distracted by the thing and others weren’t. To put it simply I don’t multi-task. Not in the way most people understand that term. If you look at the studies that have been done on multi-tasking, they all come to the same conclusion: if you multi-task, your brain does not divide its attention evenly between the tasks. Dividing your attention degrades your ability to concentrate on any one thing. I record everything I want to watch. I skip commercials entirely. When I sit down to watch TV, I watch TV and that is all I do. I like to think that the difference between me and those who leave the TV running all the time is that I, to paraphrase Thoreau, “live in this world, not on it.” So do one, and only one, thing at a time.

That brings me to my last bit of unsolicited advise in this essay and after this, I’ll tie everything back to Wicca. If you’ve made it this far, and the last paragraph bothered you, it’s probably because you are trapped in the ‘time paradox’. There is never enough time to get all the things you need to do done. You probably think you have to multi-task. If you didn’t, you would fall so far behind, even though you feel like you are running as fast as you can, that you would sink into a cartoony, circling, morass of never ending tasks. Get off the treadmill. You can do it. Go ahead; step off. Turn off every electronic device, close every book, close the door. Do this at a time when you can be alone. Sit down and do nothing. Clear your mind and just listen.

There is no clock ticking. All those things you need to do are illusions. They are the bars of the cage that keeps you from being who you really want to be, from doing what you really want to do. You are so busy doing all those things you think you are supposed to do that you don’t have time to figure out whether they are what you need to do to be the person you want to be. (See first bit of advise. Insert here.) Take the time, once a day, once a week, every once in a while, to reduce the clutter of your life down to its simplest elements and think about whether those elements are the building blocks for the person you want to be.

Easier said than done. The first four essays I started and threw out revolved around ritual and historical interpretations, poetry and being a Solitary Wiccan. When I followed the first of my own pieces of advice here and reduced them down to their simplest elements, I kept coming back to the idea of “foundation”. The strength of the ‘what’ part of your path will be constrained by the strength of your ‘how’. Without a balanced approach, you will never bring your practice to full-flower.

I grew up Presbyterian. On Sunday, we would get dressed in our best clothes, drive to the church, sit quietly while the preacher imparted biblical wisdom to us and then go home get changed and eat a big meal. That was our ritual. When it was over, the TV went back on and we went back to our normal life. There was a separation between religion and real life; though it was never spoken of, it was made clear by our actions. I tried to make a go of being a Christian many times. The last time was after my father’s death because I knew it had saddened him that I had left the church. I couldn’t make it work.

The last Christian church I attended had this thing called an ‘Alpha’ course. It was supposed to teach you how to become a ‘real’ Christian. I learned some time after taking the class that one of the couples who attended had been a ‘plant’. They were actually the church members who had brought the course to the Minister’s attention. They went undercover to be a catalyst, to show the newbies by their actions how real Christians behaved. I had a conversation with a friend in the church shortly after that discovery and their advice to me was to keep doing all the things I had been shown in the ‘Alpha’ class by the two fake newbies and eventually it would all make sense. In other words, you don’t need a foundation for your belief; you just need repetition to instill the behavior patterns and the belief will follow. I grew up following religion in that way. I knew where that path leads. That was my ‘Truffaut moment’.

In the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” Francois Truffaut played the scientist Claude Lacombe. In one scene, he taps out the tune they keep hearing everywhere the aliens have dropped clues and says, “Ecoute, ecoute. This means something. This is important.” Anytime I hear something that reads as ‘BS’, but I can’t quite put my finger on why, that’s a ‘Truffaut moment’.

I left that church and all of Christianity behind that day, for good. I went back to the basics. I knew I wanted spirituality in my life, not as a pantomime with costumes and props, but as something as important to me as my breathing. I read a lot stuff: Cunningham and Campbell, anthropology, history, and eastern religion. I think it was Margot Adler’s “Drawing Down The Moon” that made me realize Wiccan wasn’t something I was becoming, it was something I already was; something I had been all my life.

I have five or six Moleskin notebooks I keep. They are full of notes, lists, book titles, drawings; none of them in any particular order in any particular book (though I do habitually date my entries) . When the mood to write comes, I pick up whichever one of my Moleskins is closest and start writing. I’m not sure anyone else could make sense of them. But I can. They are my ‘memory ball’.

I remember seeing a great ball of knotted twine and cloth in the Native American Museum in Washington DC. In my own head, I call it a memory ball. I don’t remember if that was what the scholar who wrote the tag for it named the thing. I don’t remember what tribe it came from, or what era it covered or who made it. I only remember the idea of it:

The ball represented a person’s memories of their life. When events they felt were important occurred, they would take up the ball and add to it a knot or a bead, a bit of cloth to represent their memory of that event. Knot by knot, the ball would grow as they grew old. When they touched it, unwound it, they would have available to them a linear representation of their entire life.

My Moleskin notebooks are a representation of how I came to understand the Wiccan inside of me. If I feel lost or question why I believe what I believe, I open one of the Moleskins and leaf through until I find something that catches my attention… a thought I had, a fact I learned, a place I went that brought me closer to understanding my path and myself. Sometimes reading is enough. Sometimes I take that bit and do more research, more thinking. In some ways, these notebooks are my ‘Grimoire’, though there isn’t much about spells or ritual in them. They are the things I use to bring me back into balance.

One last bit of unsolicited advice: find yourself something like that, something that can bring you back into balance. Maybe it’s a walk in the woods, a soft prayer, a bit of meditation. Don’t hesitate to use it when your life feels scattered and stressed.

There is no secret to becoming a Wiccan, Pagan, Druid or whatever you choose to call yourself. You either are or you aren’t; without meaning to sound like Yoda, there is no ‘becoming’. The only destination before us is death. Everything else is just the path to that destination. Break it down. Make it simple. Build up from there. If you don’t have a foundation for your belief, it’s just a pantomime with costumes and a meal afterward. You deserve better than that.

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Wishing A Very Blessed Thursday to All My Brothers & Sisters Of The Craft!

Blessed Be Comments
Bless this gathering of Witches
Brought together this day
In the name of the Goddess and the God
To dedicate themselves to each other
And to the Old Way that led them here.
 
Bless this gathering of Witches
That we might work together in harmony
Learning and growing together
As we follow the Wheel of the Year
And bask in the glory of this Day.
 
May the Earth grant us all strength
May the Air grant us wisdom
May the Fire grant us passion
May the Water grant us all flexibility
So that we might work together for the good of All.
 
Bless this gathering of Witches
Brought together this Day
In the name of the Goddess and the God
To dedicate us to each other.
 
Bless us, O Goddess and God,
And bless the WOTC, all our
Brothers and Sister of The Craft
and all who enter our site.
 

So Mote It Be.

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Magical Wiccan Names – 5 Tips To Choosing the Best One For You

Magical Wiccan Names – 5 Tips To Choosing the Best One For You

By

Upon joining a Wiccan coven, members are usually asked to pick out a new  name. This symbolizes the person being “born” into a new life. It also helps the  individual separate his old self from his newly chosen one. With so much  importance placed on this decision, choosing magical Wiccan names requires a  fair amount of thought and effort.

Here are 5 tips to make choosing magical Wiccan names easier:

1. Use a baby names book. These resources are very easy to find at your local  library or bookstore and have thousands of names and their respective meanings.  If “wisdom” is a characteristic you want to embody, choose names that share that  meaning.

2. Use “earthly” words. Because Wicca is centered around the energy and  spirit found in Nature, it is common practice to use earthly words, or their  derivatives, to help create your Wiccan name. Examples include using names of  animals (Raeven, Magwolfe, Serpenta, etc), names of trees and shrubs (Furne,  Wadoak, Salvini, etc) or other nature-related words.

3. Use historic names. Pick up a book about the history of witchcraft, and  your head will be spinning with ideas for new names. You don’t have to choose  the exact spelling. But if there is a past witch whose life you admire, you may  use a derivative of that name for your own.

4. Use numerology. Every name can be broken down to a single number, and that  number has a meaning of its own. So if you are wanting a magical Wiccan name  that has to do with individuality, you would want a name whose single digit  value was 1. Doing a little research online will give you a listing of the  values of all digits, from 0-9. Make sure that your new name is in line with the  characteristics you want to embody.

5. Use elders. If you are having trouble coming up with a new name, talk to  an elder of your coven. That’s what they are there for. There are times when an  outsider looking in can give you the answer you are looking for.

Choosing magical Wiccan names does not have to be a long or difficult  process. But because it will be the name that represents who you want to be in  your new Wiccan lifestyle, it needs to be chosen with care.

_______________________________________

Ravine Masters is the owner of http://www.More-Info-On.com  [http://www.more-info-on.com/witchcraft-love-spell-what-you-need-to-know/]

Ezine Articles 

 

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Your Rune For Wednesday, February 19th is Isa

bw-isa

bw-isaYour Rune For Today  

Isa

The Ice Rune,  represents stagnation and a passionless existence. Your life’s course may seem blurry at the moment, but if you persevere you will move onto better days.

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The Witches Magick for February 18th – Full Moon Cleansing Rite

Witchy Comments & Graphics

The Witches Magick for February 18th – Full Moon Cleansing Rite

Special tools:

Cauldron filled with salt water

Do Your Altar Devotion

Cast the circle. Invocate the Goddess

I greet the Lady and call upon thee Mighty Mother of us all, bringer of all fruitfulness.
I ask you, Mother, to descend upon my circle and reside within me, thy priest/ess.

Invocation of the God

I call upon thee O Great Father, Sun and Consort of the Mother ,who brings her light and warmth. Come forth Mighty Horned One. Live now within the body of this thy priest/ess.

Cleansing

Anoint forehead with salt water

“I cleanse my thoughts that they might be pure and honest -
grant that they always be pleasing to the God and Goddess.”

Anoint throat

“I cleanse my voice that all that I say might be for good and naught for ill or harm.”

Anoint heart

“I cleanse my heart that it might be open, giving and full of light. Grant that I might give
freely of my love and care to others.”

Anoint hands

“I cleanse my hands that I might use them for workings of good, to help and never to harm.”

Anoint feet

“I cleanse my feet that they might take me far in life, that my journeys may be filled with love,
light, peace and the joy of the Goddess and God.”

Meditation for a time.

Cakes and Wine (eating bread and drinking wine or juice to restore energies spent during ritual)

Release the circle, thank the God and Goddess.

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