Posts Tagged With: Satan

The Ouija Board: Is It Really Evil?

The Ouija Board: Is It Really Evil?

Why don’t ghost hunting groups use it to contact ghosts?

By , About.com

MENTION THE USE of a Ouija board to a paranormal research group these days and you’ll get a lot of head shaking and statements about “opening portals” and “demonic entities”. Mention it to religious fundamentalists and you’ll practically see them shudder and back away on shaky legs, as if the board was created by Satan himself as a means of enslaving human souls.

How did the Ouija board and similar “talking boards” get this reputation? Is it deserved? How is it different than other methods of spirit communication?

EVIL? SAYS WHO?

The talking board has been around for well over 100 years. Its most popular incarnation today is the Ouija board, marketed by Hasbro. There have been many editions over the years and several imitators, but the concept is always the same: a board on which are printed letters and numbers; a planchette or pointer that spells out answers to questions when the users place their fingertips on it.

Marketed as a toy, the Ouija has been a best-seller for decades. When I was a kid, it was seen as a harmless, if mysterious and somewhat spooky diversion. It was especially used around the Halloween season when thoughts turn to ghosts and the unknown. We never took it very seriously, however. If it did spell out answers, each user suspected the other of making the pointer do it… or maybe – just maybe – it was moved by g-g-g-ghosts! But we never had the notion that it was controlled by demons.

This seems to be a relatively new idea. Where did this literal demonization of the Ouija board come from? I can’t say with 100 percent certainty, but I think this idea came from (or at least was popularized by) The Exorcist, both the book and the movie. In this work of fiction, pre-teen Regan tells her mother she’s been using the Ouija board by herself, conversing with someone named Captain Howdy. Shortly thereafter, she becomes possessed by the Devil.

Subsequent movies such as Witchboard, The Craft, and others further promoted the idea that the Ouija was a conduit to dark forces. Previous to these Hollywood productions, the Ouija was not generally regarded in this way. But the idea was also latched onto by many Christian fundamentalists, who tend to consider just about anything they don’t agree with as the work of Satan.

Then many paranormal researchers also came around to this way of thinking, but I’ve never come across any convincing evidence that would lead to this position. Yes, we’ve all heard the horror stories from people who claim to have serious negative experiences with the board. But how many of them can be verified? And how many of the tales are the products of active, highly suggestive, and eager-for-drama teenage imaginations? Yet the majority of paranormal investigators today will advise you not to use a Ouija board, taking the same stance as books such as Stoker Hunt’s Ouija: The Most Dangerous Game.

DEMONS OR THE SUBCONSCIOUS?

For the sake of argument, however, let’s say that at least some of these tales of terror are true. Some of them might be. Should we blame the board? Or should we blame the people using the board? In other words, where is this negativity really coming from? Is it coming from a demon, who I guess we have to assume is sitting around with nothing better to do, waiting for teenagers to sit down at a Ouija board to scare the crap out of them with a selection of supernatural antics? Or is it more likely that any effects – supernatural or not – arise out of the energized subconscious of the users?

If you read related articles of mine on this subject, you’ll know that I do not buy in to the notions of demons and possession. These are ancient superstitions – completely made up – for which there is no reasonable evidence. The idea of the Devil was created by humans to help humans explain to ourselves the evil that humans do. The sad truth is, however, that we create our own evil in the world. We’re responsible for it, not some discarnate demon. We create it, just as we create good in the world.

And what of the supernatural aspects? Just as it is now commonly accepted among most paranormal researchers that poltergeist activity – objects moved telekinetically, bangs on walls, and the rest of it – is created by the subconscious of a person or persons, so too can any extraordinary manifestations in a Ouija session be credited to the subconscious. Why is it often so negative? Because that is often the expectation of the users involved. Intention creates reality.

We cannot blame the Ouija board. In fact, if you press the paranormal researcher who warns against evils of the Ouija with the question: How can a device made of pressed cardboard and plastic possibly be evil? They will relent and say, “Well, it’s not really the board itself, it’s the people and the act of using it….”

Exactly. It’s not the board, it’s not a hoard of demons lying in wait… it’s the energy of the people involved.

And back to those tales of the Ouija for a moment. The stories about good and positive experiences with the board are not as widely publicized. (People want to read scary Ouija stories.) Many people have actually received useful information from the board. On one of the rare occasions that I have used a Ouija (although I have several in my house – without any ill effects, I might add), I asked it for some lottery numbers. I tried those numbers, and although I did not win the jackpot, I did win $40 – the most I’ve ever won with a lottery ticket. I hasten to add here that I tried getting more winning numbers from the Ouija without any success. So was my one win due to the Ouija or just a coincidence?

GHOST HUNTING TOOLS

Now let’s return to the Ouija as it relates to ghost hunting, which is how I originally began to think about this article.

Can the “mystifying oracle” really be used to communicate with ghosts? I don’t know. As I said, I suspect that the board’s effects are most likely generated by the users’ subconscious. But again, for the sake of argument, let’s say that the talking board can communicate with the spirit world, as many spirit mediums of the late 19th and early 20th century believed it could. Why, then, isn’t it used as a tool for possible spirit communication by today’s ghost hunting groups?

We actually answered that question earlier: They’re afraid of it. They’ve been told that the Ouija can open a portal to negative forces – a portal that once open is difficult to close and can lead to dire consequences. If this is so, then I once again have to ask: What makes the Ouija – this thing of cardboard and plastic – so special in this regard?

Why aren’t all the other tools that ghost hunters use to communicate with the spirit world also considered portals? What about dowsing rods? What about those ghost boxes? What about cameras and camcorders? What about all those voice recorders they use to capture EVP? After all, they’re not just spelling out words, they’re capturing actual voices! Why wouldn’t those pesky demons-in-wait also jump at the chance to use those tools as a means of entering our dimension to work their nefarious misdeeds? Do they have a special affinity for the Ouija board? Do they have a contract with Hasbro?

(Suffice it to say, the religious fundamentalist would almost certainly agree that all of those ghost hunting tools are potential portals for Satan!)

POSITIVE SPIN

Now, I’m not promoting the use of the Ouija board in ghost hunting. I’m not promoting anything. I just don’t see the logic in discriminating against it when many of the other tools used are trying to do the same thing.

But maybe it’s too late to use it. Maybe the Ouija has such a bad reputation as an instrument of evil that it might be difficult to use it without people freaking out. Maybe it is now too difficult to get a good intention going for it.

Perhaps that’s why a few clever manufacturers have come out with talking boards with a positive spin. Guiding Light Products offers the Guiding Light Angel Board (“not a Ouija but an Angel Board, talk with Angels and Spirit Guides”), Light of Change has the Angel Light Communication Board, and Doreen Virtue gives us the Angel Guidance Board.

Wow! Finally! Now I can try to get those winning lottery numbers without worrying about demons crawling under my rug. I’ll have angels – the good guys – guiding me instead!

But wait… What if it’s all a trick? What if Satan has contracts with these manufacturers, too, and he’s just using this angel angle as a ruse to mess with our heads and possess us? Doh! Gosh darn that trickster Satan!

If I want someone to mess with my head, I’ll use Stonerware’s Weed-Ja, the marijuana-themed talking board. Talk about making contact with other worlds, man….

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Your Ancient Symbol Card for Feb. 14th is The Tree

Your Ancient Symbol Card for Today

 

The Tree                       

 The Tree symbolizes spiritual health and growth. The healthy tree is rooted in a rich, nurturing medium, has a strong trunk from which leaf laden branches fan out to capture the sun’s energy. The Tree represents a healthy spirit entrenched in experience and strengthened by wisdom. It is a spirit that is happy with itself, but continues reaching to become even wiser, more complete, happier, stronger. While The Tree represents a strong and independent spirit, it is also a life-force that owes much of its strength and growth to being surrounded by other healthy spirits.

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Morals of a Witch

Morals of a Witch

Witchcraft is often understood to be evil, demoralizing, and immoral because it  goes against the beliefs of the catholic church. This is due mostly to a  misunderstanding of the modern use of the term “witch.” In earlier times,  witchcraft was essentially the term used for “devil worship.” Witches of old  were said to be in league with the devil. They hurt people, traveled to  gatherings where they engaged in evil spell-casting, demoralizing acts, and  Satan worship. At the same time, there were wisepeople in villages. These people  were the healers, the midwives, and the elders who knew things which might be  considered witchery today. These people were not, at the time, considered or  even called witches. Today, for some reason, these people have chosen to take on  the name of witchcraft. Even in medieval times, people engaged in witchery.  These things included charms to predict love or the weather, good luck charms,  and psychic sight (gifts of the angels). For example, people knew charms that  were used in prediction such as limericks and poems. These went something like:  “cat’s paw upon the water, first sigh of storm-king’s daughter.” This limerick  means that if you see a cat place its paw in water, then there will be a storm.  These are sometimes called “old wives’ tales.” Other superstitions are: walking  under a ladder is bad luck and smashing a mirror is 7 years bad luck. Magical  charms were and are also used: four-leaf clovers, found pennies, locks of hair,  horseshoes when turned upside down, and lucky and unlucky numbers. These things  were never considered witchcraft the way we use it in witchcraft today.
Many Christians are beginning to understand the differences between what is  now called witchcraft and the old word witchcraft which was used for “devil  worship.” No one is really sure why the healers of today have chosen this once  derogatory term to describe themselves. Likely, it has stemmed from small groups  of adolescents forming “covens.” Early Wiccans were not called witches.
Today, witches are known for their good deeds. Witches believe in eternal  learning. Witches believe in truth and truth telling. We are always trying to  help those around us and find ways to better ourselves. Witches also follow many  of the traditional views of Christianity. We believe in harming no living being.  We believe in fidelity (loyalty), we love our families and raise our children to  have good moral standards. We do not believe in forming cults or any other  harmful or mind-controlling groups. We stand against killing and oppression of  all kinds. We believe in the freedom to love who we choose to love. We believe  in self-sacrifice for the good of others. We believe in charity.

Source:
Witch Crafted

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THE PHYSICS AND ETHICS OF MAGICK

              THE PHYSICS AND ETHICS OF MAGICK

What we truly and earnestly aspire to be, that in some sense, we are. The mere
aspiration, by changing the frame of mind, for the moment realizes itself
- Anna Jameson

Magick has always been part of Witchcraft. From the dawn of humanity it has been
a tool used to help alter the forces which shape our lives. Today’s Pagans have
reclaimed this viewpoint; we are not merely helpless masses of flesh, void of
any personal power, groveling at the mercy of the fates.
The precise content of our spells has changed over the centuries, but not
the methods, and certainly not human need. It is interesting to note that the
magickal desires found in weathered grimoires are the same desires we have
today, principally: love, security, health, and fertility.

What Magick Is and How It Works

Our detractors try to tell us, and anyone else who will listen, that magick is
inherently evil; that it utilizes “unnatural” or evil forces in order to work.
They believe that mere humans cannot naturally possess any power of their own;
therefore it must be obtained from some supernatural source and, they
illogically rationalize, any force that would aid human desire must therefore be
wicked and ask a perverse allegiance in return. This source was personified as
(need I say it?) their Satan, or anti-God.
It is this inherent power, one with which we are all born, that is the
force behind successful magick. Often we may combine this personal energy with
that of nature (by using herbs, stones, etc., as our catalyst and focal point),
or with that of the elemental world (by aligning our inherent power with that of
faeries, elementals, or of the elements themselves), or by working in tandem
with the creative power of Gods and Goddesses. But no matter how many of these
combinations we try, we, the practicing magickians, are the ultimate source of
magickal power.
Belief in magick as part of religious practice was an accepted part of
everyday ancient Pagan life, and flourished for many, many centuries before
Satan became an accepted theological construct of Christianity nearly two
thousand years ago. For the old Witches, magick was not viewed as an operation
of supernatural forces since, logically, nothing supernatural could exist.
Whether one believed the universe was created by a sentient deity, or wished to
believe that it exploded into existence of its own accord, the fact remained
that certain natural laws operated from which no deviation could occur. Cats
don’t sprout antlers overnight, autumn does not suddenly appear to follow
winter, and a maple tree doesn’t become an elm at will. Everything has its place
in the time/space continuum – including magick.
Magick has long been understood by its practitioners to be no more than
the manipulation of natural forces not yet understood by either science or
psychology. To create a spell we teach ourselves to sense and “see” these
energies, and invest them with our own energies in order to bend them to our
will. On the physical plane we can see this same concept used in the martial art
known as Judo. Through Judo one is taught to take advantage of the natural
energy and momentum of one’s opponent, making it possible for a ninety-pound
woman to toss a two hundred-pound man over her head. The natural energy that
makes this feat possible is there, waiting to be harnessed and directed to
release itself to the desired outcome.
Look around you. Right now. Put down this book and note all the items in
the place you are in at this moment. Note all those modern miracles of
technology you take for granted that would have gotten you hanged for being in
league with the Devil only two hundred years ago: your car, your television,
your CD player, radios, electric lights, even a simple ballpoint pen. All of
these things would have been seen as manifestations of magick by virtually
everyone, and as a sign of the presence of evil by more than just a few. But for
those who understand – or pretend to understand – the factual scientific
principles on which these items work, they are not “magickal” at all. They are
simply things which operate through natural scientific principles.
It is highly likely that the magick of today will be the science of
tomorrow, that eventually we will discover what it is about the energy of the
trained magickal mind that can manifest wishes and desires. As scientists and
psychologists continue to study the evolving human mind, they may unlock the
secrets of creation from a single directed thought. This conceptual hinge upon
which all magick is hung may be seen as being overly simplified, but it is the
basis of all spellwork. Everything that exists – everything – had to first begin
as a single thought, and somehow those thoughts had to be directed, both on the
mental and on the physical planes, in order to manifest as reality. (Even Judeo-
Christian mysticism teaches that we are merely thought-forms in the mind of
God and, when he ceases to think about us, we will perish.)

Five basic ingredients are needed for any successful spell.

1. The desire or need for something
2. An emotional investment in the outcome of the spell
3. The knowledge to work the spell
4. The belief that it exists on the mental/astral planes
5. The ability to keep silent

Without desire and need there can be no spark of the imagination that
fires the emotions to drive the spells. Without magickal knowledge a Witch has
no idea of what to do to make the magick. Without belief that focused thoughts
create a reality that can be brought into the physical world, there is no magick
at all.

Keeping silent about magickal work is another very old belief. It may have
stemmed partly from fear of discovery by the Witch hunters. On another level
there is an old adage that energy divided is energy lost. In other words, the
more you speak to others of your work, the more energy you lose, energy which
could otherwise be channeled into your desired outcome. You may also find
yourself talking to someone who does not believe in the power of magick, or has
some vested interest in your failure, perhaps jealousy or a need to “prove” the
unworkability of magick. Such people can do great damage to your magick by their counter-energy. Never mind that they do not believe in what you are doing. We all have the power to project energy, and their mental output can work against you.

Those who do not understand the principles of magic fear the mysterious
source of the manifestation more than the manifestation itself. If we look again
to the natural laws of the universe for answers, we find there is really no
mystery. All of us were taught the basic law of physics in junior high science
which states:

MATTER CAN BE NEITHER CREATED NOR DESTROYED, IT CAN ONLY CHANGE FORM.

Unlike television Witches, such as the ever-popular Samantha Stephens, we
cannot wiggle our noses and create something from nothing. In order to manifest a house on a vacant lot we do not – and cannot – create matter. Rather, we set up energy patterns that draw the energy to us and shape it into the form we want to see. This would involve consorting with a good contractor rather than with demons. The language that has evolved around magick over the centuries also tells us that it is not an instantaneous event, but a process of building piece-by-piece. Various mythologies tell of Goddesses of magick who are spinners and
weavers, creating their reality step-by-step as a seamstress embroiders a
tapestry. With her patience and persistence a rich picture is born, and it is no
accident that we have adopted the words spinning, weaving, casting, working,
crafting, and creating to describe our spellwork. There is no rule anywhere in Paganism to tell us how much or how little magick we must weave, or even that we have to make magick at all. If you are not sure about its working principles, or feel that you are not ready for magick in your life, then don’t do it. If you continue to follow a Pagan path the time will eventually come when you win find yourself casting a spell as easily as you call upon your deities.Once you decide to create a spell to meet a need, begin constructing it by following these twenty-four steps:

1. Clearly understand and define your magickal goal. Write it down or state it
out loud to help form it solidly in your mind. By doing this you begin to invest
the spell and the desired outcome with your emotions and energy. If you have
more than one need, you may wish to spread them out. You can work more than one spell at a “session,” but doing so will dissipate and scatter your energies,
leaving less for each spell. If you feel you must do multiple spells, limit them
to three and try to relate them in some way, so that the energy you raise
remains as focused as possible.

2. Be sure of the ethics of your hoped-for outcome. Approach the spell from
all angles to satisfy yourself that you are not violating anyone else’s free
will or being manipulative. Many Witches like to do a divination first, to be
doubly sure that their spell will not have any unforeseen ramifications. If the
results of the divination are negative, try rethinking your intent to see if you
can circumvent the problem. Then do another divination and see what comes up.

3. If you wish to use a specific element as a focus for your magick, decide
which one is most appropriate and collect items to represent that energy.

4. Plan how you will visualize your goal and believe in what you see. The powers
of the mind are only just now beginning to be explored by science. We have all
heard stories of terminal patients who have healed themselves, and of faith
healers who use belief to manifest miracle cures. Visualization uses that power
to form mental pictures that are invested with personal energy and emotion. It
is the soul that breathes life into all magick, and the soul that is the most
important element in its outcome. The moment you start visualizing the
resolution of a magickal need is the moment you begin to create the changes in
your deep mind necessary for the magick to manifest.

5. If you are working with advanced natural magick you will need to prepare a
long-range plan in accordance with the above guidelines. This will entail
checking moon phases, laying in enough supplies for the duration of the spell,
and planning how the energy can be sustained through each day.

6. Gather candles, stones, or whatever else you intend to use as a catalyst for
your focus or to direct the energy you will raise. Empower those items with your
personal energy by projecting into them the energy of your goal. Keep in mind
that these tools, including your cherished ritual tools, have no power in and of
themselves. The power is not in the tools, but inside the Witch trained to use
them. Without you, they are useless. They merely provide a way to focus your
energy and a means for directing it towards its goal.

7. Decide upon your “words of power,” the words or chants you will use to help
focus and raise energy. You may write them out, or simply remember key phrases you wish to use as you improvise. Some Witches like to create simple poems so they will be easier to remember.

8. If you wish to use a special deity or mythic figure in your magick, decide on
which one or ones, and on how you will evoke, invoke, and/or honor them. You may wish to write out special prayers or blessings and memorize them.

9. Decide when you want to do the spell. This can be any time you personally
need the magick, at the time when your coven regularly meets, or you may wish to take into consideration moon phases and/or other astrological influences. If
your life is as busy as most people’s today, you may have to choose the only
night when you will be free and alone. The timing is much less important than
the energy you bring to the spell.

10. At the appropriate time, gather what you will be using and go to the place
where you will perform the spell. This can be at your altar, indoors or
outdoors, at your coven meeting site, or anywhere else that feels appropriate,
comfortable, and private.

11. Cast your circle and, if you like, call the quarters, or do as you would
when opening any other ritual. If you are using advanced magickal techniques you win definitely need to employ these visualizations to be effective.

12. Your magick is now beginning in earnest. Invite whatever elementals,
faeries, spirits, or deities you wish to have present as you work. They should
always be welcome, but they are not necessary for spellwork.

13. Clear your mind and begin visualizing your goal. This is probably the most
important step in the spell-casting process and you should invest the mental
image with as much energy as you can muster. Recall your need and make your
emotional connection with it as deep as you can, on as many levels as possible.

14. Raise energy within yourself and pour it into the magickal object(s) in
whatever way feels right to you. This can be done as a mental projection,
through dance or song, or intense visualization.

15. Do whatever physical actions your spell requires. Some need no special
actions, but many require some basic movement, even if it is only lighting a
candle. Use your words of power, light your candles, bury your herbs, mentally
charge your stones, and/or raise your cone of power.

16. Take advantage of natural phenomena that can help you raise energy. A storm, for instance, is an excellent source of energy that any Witch can draw upon to help feed a spell. Allow yourself to become part of the storm and feel yourself psychically drawing on its vast stores of energy as you seek to raise your own energies or cone of power.

17. When you feel you have put as much energy into the spell as you possibly
can, send the energy out to do your will. You can visualize this as a cone of
power being sent out, or use any other mental image you like. Body language
helps, too. Relax, throw up your arms, raise a tool, kneel, send out a cone of
power, or do whatever else makes you feel the energy go forth. Be sure to direct
it out from you visually as well.

18. You should finish your spell with words such as the traditional “So Mote It
Be.’ Mote is an obsolete word for “must’ The phrase is synonymous with “Amen,”
“So It Is,” and “It is Done” It is a statement of completion and an affirmation
that you know your magick is successful. All magick is worked from the point of
view that the desired goal is already manifest – it will not come to be, but IT
IS. Always phrase your magickal desires in the present tense; for example, “I
have love in my life now,” or, “My bins are now paid in full.’ Talking of magick
happening in the future will keep it forever in the future, always just out of
reach.

19. Meditate briefly on your goal. Again, visualize it as already manifest.
Smile, breathe a sigh of relief, and know the magick is already at work for you.

20. Thank and dismiss all faeries, spirits, and deities who have come to witness
or aid in your magick.

21. Ground your excess energy into the earth and open your circle. Excess
energy, raised during your spell work but not fully sent away from you when you
sent it to do its job, lingers on and around you, The best way to ground this
excess is to place your hands palms down on the earth, into a bowl of soil, or
on the floor of your home. Physically and psychically feel the excess energy
draining out of you. Know that it is being absorbed and dispersed into mother
earth.

22. If you have ritualized your spell, dismiss your quarters or do whatever
other endings your rituals traditionally require. If you are working your magick
with a coven this is standard practice.

23. Record your spell in your Magickal Diary or Book of Shadows with the date,
time, weather conditions, and any astrological data you wish to include. This
will be useful later when you have done enough spells to look for patterns. For
example, you may see that your most efficacious spells were done on Sundays or
when it was cloudy or snowing, or when you had faeries present, worked with a
particular deity, burned green candles, or when the moon was full. Everyone has
different affinities. These patterns will help you pick the best times for your
spell work.

24. Back up your desire on the physical plane. This is a must. For example, if
you have done a spell for healing don’t avoid seeing your doctor. You will need
all the help at your disposal to overcome your illness, and magick and medical
science make great partners.

Until you achieve your magickal goal you should spend some time each day
focusing on it by dearly visualizing it as a fait accompli. These added boosts
of daily energy can often mean the difference between success and failure.
                      ————————————

**This is an excerpt from Lady of the Night – A Handbook of Moon Magick &
Rituals by Edain McCoy, 1995. If you like this information, please buy a copy of
this book. It will make a great addition to your book collection. ISBN 1-56718-
660-2

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Let’s Talk Witch – How to Explain Your Beliefs

Let’s Talk Witch - How to Explain Your Beliefs

When describing your beliefs to someone, it’s not always necessary to explain everything. It’s best to start with your personal beliefs, and then to segue into a longer explanation. It also helps to make connections between Neo-Pagan practices and the practices of other religions. Finally, you should be prepared to allay fears people have about magic and those wild Pagan orgies.

Share the Basics

When first explaining your beliefs, stick to a skeleton of your basic belief system. For a coworker, it’s enough to say something like, “I follow a nature religion.” You can answer further questions if you want to, but try to steer clear of talk about working skyclad. With friends, you can explain your beliefs a little more deeply. It’s okay to mention the deities you follow, your holiday celebrations, or anything else that seems appropriate. Your friend may or may not ask questions. If she does, then explain further. For example, if you’re asked if you believe in God, you can answer that you believe in a god and goddess. If you are asked if you worship Satan, you can explain that Satan is a Christian construct and that you don’t worship anything that could be construed as evil.

Answer the Questions

Family members and people you have a romantic connection to will ask the most questions. Work slowly, starting from the basics. Allow the person time to digest your answers and then think of new questions. You might want to invite them to attend a ritual with you, or send them a copy of a ritual so they can see what it’s like.

You will most likely be asked if you still celebrate the holidays of your original faith. Many Pagans choose to celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday and share the day with family and friends, just as they did before, but without the trip to church. Most Jewish Pagans find that their traditions work very well with Neo-Paganism and are able to honor both the Jewish and Pagan holidays. You can also explain that you honor the cycles of the sun and earth, or adhere to a holiday calendar that predates Christianity. You can point out that many of these celebrations continue in the regions where they originated.

Some Christians don’t know that Christ’s actual birth date is unknown. Christmas was first moved to December 25 in the fourth century, and was later set by Pope Gregory. The new date coincided with Pagan celebrations of Saturnalia, the winter solstice, and the birth of the sun god Mithras.

If you are asked specifically what you do, then give a very basic rundown of an average ritual. You will most likely be asked if you use magic. If you do use magic, you can explain that you don’t practice black magic or sacrifice animals during your rituals (unless you’re Santerían). Magic can be likened to prayer because both are tools for asking the gods for help.

The tools, especially ritual knives, usually arouse the most curiosity. Explain as much of it as you feel comfortable with. For example, you could explain that your athame is a symbol of the element of fire because steel is forged from fire. You don’t need to get into its relation to male energy and the symbolic Great Rite unless you already explained Beltane.

Make Connections Between Religions

When explaining your faith, it also helps to make connections to more familiar religions and holidays. For example, you can liken the goddess to Mary, mother of Jesus Christ, whom many Pagans honor as a goddess. When asked about Yule, explain that you celebrate the return of the light in the form of the sun god, spelled Sun. You can point out that the Christmas tree, holiday wreaths, and decorations are all pre-Christian practices.

If you use other practices, such as shamanic journeying or meditation, compare your practices to those of Native Americans or Buddhists. Other practices, like wearing a Celtic Cross pendant or hanging a Witch Ball in your window for protection, can be related to the folk traditions of Europe and the British Isles.

Allay Fears

When people hear the words heathen, Pagan, and Witch, all sorts of scary images are conjured up. Your family members may worry that you’ve joined a cult or gone off the deep end. You should clarify that you are not a sorcerer or the Wicked Witch of the West. You should explain that Pagans have no single leader, you’re not required to give all your money to anyone, and there is no strict dogma, so it would be difficult for you to be a member of a Pagan cult.

 

If a friend or family member insists on trying to “save” you, gently but firmly explain that you believe differently, but you appreciate the concern. You might want to give him a copy of a beginner’s book on your chosen path or direct him to an explanatory Web site.

Once you’ve explained your personal beliefs, your friends and family members may be less worried but might still have a few concerns. You may be asked if you have orgies in the forest. Even if you do, that might not be the right thing to tell your mom. You might be asked if you hex people. Again answer with a simple “no,” unless you want to get into a long conversation about magical ethics.

The most common fear is that you’ll become a different person. Reassure them that you are the same person you always were, and you just have a different religion. Chances are you had Pagan leanings before you made the conversion, and once they recognize that, they will be better able to accept your religious choices.

 

Source:

“The Everything Paganism Book
How to Explain Your Beliefs
by Selene Silverwind
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Herb of the Day – Mandrake

Herb of the Day

Mandrake

Botanical: Atropa mandragora
Family: N.O. Solanaceae

—Synonyms—Mandragora. Satan’s Apple.
—Part Used—Herb.
—Habitat—The Mandrake, the object of so many strange superstitions, is a native of Southern Europe and the Levant, but will grow here in gardens if given a warm situation, though otherwise it may not survive severe winters. It was cultivated in England in 1562 by Turner, the author of the

Niewe Herball.

The name Mandragora is derived from two Greek words implying ‘hurtful to cattle. ‘ The Arabs call it ‘Satan’s apple.’

—Description—It has a large, brown root, somewhat like a parsnip, running 3 or 4 feet deep into the ground, sometimes single and sometimes divided into two or three branches. Immediately from the crown of the root arise several large, dark-green leaves, which at first stand erect, but when grown to full size a foot or more in length and 4 or 5 inches in width – spread open and lie upon the ground. They are sharp pointed at the apex and of a foetid odour. From among these leaves spring the flowers, each on a separate foot-stalk, 3 or 4 inches high. They are somewhat of the shape and size of a primrose, the corolla bell-shaped, cut into five spreading segments, of a whitish colour, somewhat tinged with purple. They are succeeded by a smooth, round fruit, about as large as a small apple, of a deep yellow colour when ripe, full of pulp and with a strong, apple-like scent.

—Medicinal Action and Uses—The leaves are quite harmless and cooling, and have been used for ointments and other external application. Boiled in milk and used as a poultice, they were employed by Boerhaave as an application to indolent ulcers.

The fresh root operates very powerfully as an emetic and purgative. The dried bark of the root was used also as a rough emetic.

Mandrake was much used by the Ancients, who considered it an anodyne and soporific. In large doses it is said to excite delirium and madness. They used it for procuring rest and sleep in continued pain, also in melancholy, convulsions, rheumatic pains and scrofulous tumours. They mostly employed the bark of the root, either expressing the juice or infusing it in wine or water. The root finely scraped into a pulp and mixed with brandy was said to be efficacious in chronic rheumatism.

Mandrake was used in Pliny’s days as an anaesthetic for operations, a piece of the root being given to the patient to chew before undergoing the operation. In small doses it was employed by the Ancients in maniacal cases.

A tincture is used in homoeopathy to-day, made from the fresh plant.

Among the old Anglo-Saxon herbals both Mandrake and periwinkle are endowed with mysterious powers against demoniacal possession. At the end of a description of the Mandrake in the Herbarium of Apuleius there is this prescription:

‘For witlessness, that is devil sickness or demoniacal possession, take from the body of this said wort mandrake by the weight of three pennies, administer to drink in warm water as he may find most convenient – soon he will be healed.’Bartholomew gives the old Mandrake legend in full, though he adds: ‘It is so feynd of churles others of wytches.’ He also refers to its use as an anaesthetic:’the rind thereof medled with wine . . . gene to them to drink that shall be cut in their body, for they should slepe and not fele the sore knitting.’

Bartholomew gives two other beliefs about the Mandrake which are not found in any other English Herbal – namely, that while uprooting it the digger must beware of contrary winds, and that he must go on digging for it uptil sunset.

In the Grete Herball (printed by Peter Treveris in 1526) we find the first avowal of disbelief in the supposed powers of the Mandrake. Gerard also pours scorn on the Mandrake legend.

‘There have been,’ he says, ‘many ridiculous tales brought up of this plant, whether of old wives or runnegate surgeons or phisick mongers, I know not, all which dreames and old wives tales you shall from henceforth cast out your bookes of memorie.’

Parkinson says that if ivory is boiled with Mandrake root for six hours, the ivory will become so soft ‘that it will take what form or impression you will give it.’

Josephus says that the Mandrake – which he calls Baaras – has but one virtue, that of expelling demons from sick persons, as the demons cannot bear either its smell or its presence. He even relates that it was certain death to touch this plant, except under certain circumstances which he details. (Wars of the Jews, book vii, cap. vi.)

The roots of the Mandrake are very nearly allied to Belladonna, both in external appearance and in structure. The plant is by modern botanists assigned to the same genus, though formerly was known as Mandragora officinalis, with varieties M. vernalis and M. autumnalis. According to Southall (Organic Materia Medica, 8th edition, revised by Ernest Mann, 1915), the root:
‘contains a mydriatic alkaloid, Mandragorine (Cl7H27O3N), which in spite of the name and formula which have been assigned to it, is probably identical with atropine or hyoscyamine.’

The roots of Mandrake were supposed to bear a resemblance to the human form, on account of their habit of forking into two and shooting on each side. In the old Herbals we find them frequently figured as a male with a long beard, and a female with a very bushy head of hair. Many weird superstitions collected round the Mandrake root. As an amulet, it was once placed on mantelpieces to avert misfortune and to bringprosperity and happiness to the house. Bryony roots were often cut into fancy shapes and passed off as Mandrake, being even trained to grow in moulds till they assumed the desired forms. In Henry VIII’s time quaint little images made from Bryony roots, cut into the figure of a man, with grains of millet inserted into the face as eyes, fetched high prices. They were known as puppettes or mammettes, and were accredited with magical powers. Italian ladies were known to pay as much as thirty golden ducats for similar artificial Mandrakes.

Turner alludes to these ‘puppettes and mammettes,’ and says, ‘they are so trimmed of crafty thieves to mock the poor people withal and to rob them both of their wit and their money.’ But he adds:
‘Of the apples of mandrake, if a man smell of them they will make him sleep and also if they be eaten. But they that smell to muche of the apples become dumb . . . this herb diverse ways taken is very jeopardous for a man and may kill hym if he eat it or drink it out of measure and have no remedy from it…. If mandragora be taken out of measure, by and by sleep ensued and a great lousing of the strengthen with a forgetfulness.’

The plant was fabled to grow under the gallows of murderers, and it was believed to be death to dig up the root, which was said to utter a shriek and terrible groans on being dug up, which none might hear and live. It was held, therefore, that he who would take up a plant of Mandrake should tie a dog to it for that purpose, who drawing it out would certainly perish, as the man would have done, had he attempted to dig it up in the ordinary manner.

There are many allusions to the Mandrake in ancient writers. From the earliest times a notion prevailed in the East that the Mandrake will remove sterility, and there is a reference to this belief in Genesis xxx. 14.

—Cultivation—Mandrake can be propagated by seeds, sown upon a bed of light earth, soon after they are ripe, when they are more sure to come up than if the sowing is left to the spring.

When the plants come up in the spring, they must be kept well watered through the summer and kept free from weeds. At the end of August they should be taken up carefully and transplanted where they are to remain. The soil should be light and deep, as the roots run far down – if too wet, they will rot in winter, if too near chalk or gravel, they will make little progress. Where the soil is good and they are not disturbed, these plants will grow to a large size in a few years, and will produce great quantities of flowers and fruit.

Culpepper tells us the Mandrake is governed by Mercury. The fruit has been accounted poisonous, but without cause…. The root formerly was supposed to have the human form, but it really resembles a carrot or parsnip.

 

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The Impact of Paganism on the American Culture, Past, Present, and Future

The Impact of Paganism on the American Culture, Past, Present, and Future

Author:   Under A Pagan Moon   

Paganism has played, and will continue to play, a positive, and growing role in the American culture.

There are many misconceptions about Paganism, and it’s role in the American culture. In this essay I will present a fair amount of factual information supporting the afore-mentioned statement. Among the facts of this essay you will find that the men who put America and the American government together were more Pagan in thinking than they were Christian. You will see that major American monuments are modeled largely after temples built to Pagan gods, and you will learn that Paganism is more common than one might anticipate.

America, land of the free, and home of the brave. The greatest country in the world. A place where people can be whatever they choose to be, a place where a person can be successful no matter what their background or current status in life is. A country based at its very roots in the Judeo-Christian religion.

Or is it?

Most Americans believe that the people who founded America were strong Christians, and that America would not be the country it is today without a Christian based history.

This belief is based on many things, including the words imprinted on money, and the word God in patriotic songs and pledges. Why does this word God have to refer to the Christian god?

There is proof almost on every corner of America that leads one to believe that this country was actually founded more on a Pagan belief system rather than a Christian one.

Before we discuss the effects of Paganism on America, let’s learn about the Pagan belief system, and the history of Paganism.

Paganism is a peaceful, nature based religion, with many of the same ethics and morals as Christianity. Paganism is the oldest belief system in the world. From the times of cave men, to the inception of Christianity, to the persecutions, all the way up to present day.

All religions and all groups of people have been mainly a “Pagan people” at some time in their history. This includes Greeks, Romans, Native Americans, and basically all ethnic groups and nationalities.

According to the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, the first and oldest book of the Bible, (the basis of Christianity), Genesis, was written around 1445 B.C. (Slick, 1996) Paganism, is so old, no one can actually put any kind of date on it.

There is proof of Pagans everywhere. One can see depictions of various gods etched into cave walls, as well as, statues and monuments in great, old cities like Rome and Egypt.

If paganism were older than Christianity, logically, one would see evidence of this in Christianity. Pagans and Christians share many of the same methods for communicating with their respective Deities.

For example, it is widely known that Pagans would gather in groups to worship. They would dance, sing, light candles, burn incense, perform ancient rituals, and speak to the gods through chanting or playing instruments.

Many Christians can be found to do many of these same acts when worshipping their god. The main difference in these practices is the fact that most Pagans prefer to worship outside, as Paganism is a nature based religion, whereas Christians generally have a church to enter for worship.

Now that we understand the practices of Pagans and Christians, which are almost identical, let’s look at the beliefs and morals of the two religions.

There are very large differences in the beliefs of Pagans and Christians. The main differences are rooted in the belief of what happens after we die and the consequences of our actions in this life.

Most Pagans believe in the theories of reincarnation and karma. The reincarnation theory basically states that after our bodies die, our souls continue on to born again into a physical body again and again.

The karma theory is the belief that whatever actions of thoughts we have, be they negative or positive, have a direct effect on our current physical world. Put simply, if we project a positive energy, or strive to create a positive environment, then positive things will happen in our lives and in our souls. The same thinking would also apply to negative thoughts or actions.

Most Pagans also celebrate the changing of the seasons and hold nature to be instrumental in worship and communicating with the gods. Christians, in turn, believe in a concept of one lifetime wherein a person must believe in the “Son of God” and live by a strict moral code.

If a person does those things, they will be allowed into Heaven, the home of God, to live in everlasting happiness with Him. If a person, any person, not just a Christian, does not adhere strictly to the Christian belief system, that person will be denied eternal bliss and will spend all eternity in Hell with Satan, the creator of all things evil and sworn enemy of God.

Most Christians are also taught that all other religions are false and that Paganism is a form of Satanism, which is the worship of the enemy of God, Satan.

In researching Paganism, one will find that the morals and ethics of Pagans are actually much like that of Christians, and nothing like Satanists.

Pagans and Christians believe that humans in general should be treated with respect and love, to harm no one, and to treat others the same way you would want to be treated. Both religions hold certain days as holy and perform ceremonies and rituals on those days to celebrate their god/gods. Both believe in moderation and respect of nature.

Now that we understand the beliefs and history of Christianity and Paganism, let’s discuss how Paganism is deeply rooted in the American culture.

Let’s start at the beginning of America. The first inhabitants of America were the Native Americans. These people were absolutely a pagan people. The worshipped many gods, and the changing of the seasons and nature.

The next inhabitants of America were European colonists. They came to America to be free of religious persecution. In most cases this persecution was coming from Christians.
“…These early European-Americans eventually succumbed to the government of Great Britain. The religious-right propagandists like to put emphasis on this period of American history because, indeed, these first European-Americans did live under Christian rule and it makes it seem as if these first colonists established the government of the United States. They did not.” (Jim, 2005)

Although these early colonists would eventually bow to Christianity, Paganism would not stay hidden for long.

The government system that the colonists, now calling themselves Americans, set-up is what set America apart from the Monarchy system which most of the colonists came from, and which they desperately wanted to avoid. The Monarchy system is one of kings and queens where religion, now mostly Christian, also plays a large part in government due to the fact that most believers in Monarchy believe the king or queen to be direct descendants of the divinity.

“The most influential American colonists rebelled against Great Britain and their taxes, institutional churches, and desired to form an independent government free from religion and Monarchies.

On July 4, 1776, The Declaration of Independence (written by a deist) announced their independence to the world.” Thomas Jefferson, a scientist, clearly believed that nature was God. He once wrote, “”Nature intended me for the tranquil pursuits of science, by rendering them my supreme delight.”

Even in the Declaration of Independence he wrote, “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

Thomas Paine also helped lead the way in separating church from state and questioning the Christian and Monarchist beliefs.

The Constitution itself barely mentions religion, quite on purpose. (Jim, 2005) With all this being true, how can it be truthfully said that America is a Christian based country?

Even the monuments in Washington D.C. replicate buildings or monuments to pagan gods. The Washington Monument being an Egyptian obelisk, as well as many of the buildings is designed after the Greek Parthenon and the Roman Pantheon, buildings specifically built for the worship of Pagan gods.

There are statues of Pagan gods littered across courthouses and monuments all over the United States. Even the graves of many of the founding fathers of America are decorated with Pagan symbols and bare no crucifixes, crosses, or any mention of Christianity. (Jim, 2005)

Even some of the holidays that Americans celebrate today are derived from Pagan holidays or seasonal celebrations. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and New Years, were all Pagan, seasonal, traditions long before the advent of Christianity; the holidays were just known by different names.

There are over one billion reported Christians living in the world today. Most Americans are professed Christians. One of the main duties of a good Christian is to spread the word. This is not so in Paganism.

Christians have persecuted the Pagans for decades. They have “gone into hiding” let’s say. So Christianity continues to spread throughout the world and throughout America. It continues to be the most prevalent religion in the world.

Paganism is, as we have learned, a very old religion. It also happens to be a quite private one now, due to the harsh treatment of Pagans during the advent of Christianity. There are many Pagans across the world, though, many more than will ever be known due to the fact that most the people that are yet undiscovered must be Pagan in their beliefs.

Pagans are also becoming more open with their beliefs in America. When Gerald Gardener came to America and publicly published his beliefs and started teaching Paganism again, the floodgates were opened.

The future looks very good for Pagans in America. In America, people are free to belief whatever they want. We can worship whom we choose and worship how we choose as long as we are not infringing on any one else’s rights. It is not this way in all countries. Even Pagans in Africa were forced to accept the colonial view of Christianity. (Levernier, 2002)

Because of this freedom Americans enjoy, Pagans in America continue to become a rising force in the American culture. There are even laws in place to protect the rights of pagans specifically. Even the U.S. Military chaplain’s manual gives instruction to the military chaplain as to how they would assist a soldier in worship. (A Handbook for Chaplains, pgs 231-236)

In the future, one can expect to see more and more Pagans expressing their opinions, and even moving into American government. There are hundreds, even thousands of Pagan churches across America, and even some Pagan schools. There are Pagan organizations for kids and adults, much like the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts.

In conclusion, you can see now, how America was founded more on Pagan beliefs than Christian ones. From the Native Americans, to the founding fathers, to the documents and monuments that are part of America’s creation and history, to the children being taught by Pagan parents today, America has always been a Pagan country, and always will be. This can be seen in history, and in the tombs of our forefathers, also in the up rising of Paganism in America today.

As more and more Pagans are revealing themselves and teaching others the Old Ways, there will be an a growing opportunity for Pagans to reclaim the American government and promote a real change in American thinking.

____________________________________

Footnotes:
Working Reference List:

The United States: A Country founded on Paganism By Pagan Jim, March 2005

United States Army, US Army Chaplain’s Manual, Excerpt from the U.S. Army’s Religious Requirements and Practices of Certain Selected Groups: A Handbook for Chaplains (pgs 231-236)

Wheatley’s ON BEING BROUGHT FROM AFRICA TO AMERICA,
By: Levernier, James A. Explicator, Fall81, Vol. 40 Issue 1, p25, 2p

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day – October 24

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – October 24

“We create that bad among ourselves. We create it; then we try to call it devil, Satan, or evil. But man creates it. There is no devil. Man creates the devil.”

–Wallace Black Elk, LAKOTA

Inside every human being are the laws and codes by which we should live. These laws and codes are communicated to us through a little voice. When we are still, this voice guides us. If we choose to live out of harmony, our lives become filled with anger, hate, selfishness, dishonesty, etc. When these things appear in our lives, we give up accountability and blame it on something or someone else. If we want to live in harmony, we need to pray our way back to living the principles the Creator gave us.

Grandfather, today let me walk with the principles.

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