Posts Tagged With: Wiccan Rede

Wiccan Ethics


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*Wiccan Ethics*
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“An it harm none, do what ye will” is considered the main tenant of Wicca. It is similar to the Golden Rule, in that it mandates that you can do whatever you want, but only if you do not harm anything, anyone or yourself in the process. This belief constantly reminds us that there are many consequences to our actions and we must consider all possible outcomes before acting. The Wiccan Rede thereby binds Wiccans to do the right thing, for if we don’t, then the Law of Three applies: “Whatever you do will return to you threefold”.

The Belief in Light & Dark

Most Wiccans acknowledge that there is “light” and “dark” to the universe. This polarity (light vs. dark) is part of the natural order of things and is not necessarily “evil” or “bad”. What is considered to be “light” are those events or processes which are beneficial, such as the birth of a healthy baby. Whereas, things that are “dark” are events that might be harmful. As an example, death is “dark” but it is part of the natural process of life and is not feared by Wiccans, but natural and accepted.

Evil

Evil is different from “dark” when it is used to describe human actions. When a person commits a certain action for personal gain, or to serve a personal end, it is considered “evil”. If a volcano erupts and destroys a village, this process would be thought of as “dark” but there was no evil or malicious intent on the part of the volcano. However, when an individual commits murder, for instance, this individual set out to harm another person, therefore, their action can be described as “evil”. It is not only the act, but the malicious intent that differentiates “evil” from “dark”

Balance

Wiccan believe in a joyful balance of all human functions. This outlook is perfectly expressed in the Charge of the Goddess, which is an integral part of most of the rituals of all Wiccans, “Let My worship be within the heart that rejoices; for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are My rituals, and therefore let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.”

The Wiccan is always conscious that compassion must be partnered with power, humility with honor, and reverence with mirth. Love of life in all its forms, is the basic ethic of the Nature Religions. We are bound to honor and respect all living things and to serve the Life Force.

We practice rites to attune ourselves with the natural rhythm of life forces marked by the phases of the Moon, and the seasonal Quarters, and Cross Quarters.

We recognize that our intelligence gives us a unique responsibility toward our environment. We seek to live in harmony with Nature, in ecological balance offering fulfillment of life and consciousness within an evolutionary concept.

We acknowledge a depth of power far greater than that apparent to the average person. Because it is far greater than ordinary, it is sometimes called “supernatural,” but we see it as lying within that which is naturally potential to all.

We conceive of the Creative Power in the universe as manifesting through polarity – as masculine and feminine – and that this same Creative Power lies in all people, and functions through the interaction of the masculine and the feminine. We value neither above the other, knowing each to be supportive of the other. We value sex as pleasure, as the symbol and embodiment of life, and as one of the sources of energies used in magickal practice and religious worship.

We recognize both outer worlds and inner, or psychological, worlds sometimes known as the Spiritual World, the Collective Unconsciousness, Inner Planes, etc. – and we see in the inter-action of these two dimensions the basis for paranormal phenomena, and magickal exercises. We neglect neither dimension for the other, seeing both as necessary for our fulfillment.

We do not recognize any authoritarian hierarchy, but do honor those who teach, respect those who share their greater knowledge and wisdom, and acknowledge those who have courageously given of themselves in leadership.

We see religion, magick and wisdom in living as being united in the way one views the world and lives within it – a world view and philosophy of life which we identify as Witchcraft – The Wiccan Way.

Calling oneself “witch” does not make a witch – but neither does heredity itself, nor the collecting of titles, degrees and initiations. A witch seeks to control the forces within her/himself that makes life possible in order to live wisely and well without harm to others and in harmony with nature.

We believe in the affirmation and fulfillment of life in a continuation of evolution and development of consciousness giving meaning to the Universe we know and our personal role within it.

We believe that we should seek within Nature that which is contributory to our health and well-being.

Wicca Chat

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5 Mistakes New Pagans Make – and How To Avoid Them

5 Mistakes New Pagans Make – and How To Avoid Them

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Wizardry and Enchantments on Samhain/Halloween

Wizardry and Enchantments on Samhain/Halloween

 

Halloween is not only a night for contacting spirits, divination, and revelry. For witches throughout the world it is also a time for conjuring, spellcasting, and brewing up the finest of potions.

Magick that inspires love, connects a witch with the spirit world, or works like a magnet to attract good luck is traditionally practiced at this time of year. Since ancient times, there have existed three basic types of magick that witches and other practitioners of the magickal arts have utilized. They are known as imitative, contagious, and sympathetic.

Imitative magick dates back to prehistoric Europe, and is based on the primitive belief that the act of painting or drawing a picture of something happening will actually cause it to manifest. It is believed that many of the pictures painted on the walls of caves over twenty thousand years ago were created for magickal purposes. For instance, a painting of a hunter spearing his four-legged game would have served to magickally empower the hunter whom the painting depicted.

Contagious magick uses various items belonging to the person to whom the spell is directed. Such items commonly include, but are in no way limited to, an article of worn clothing, a lock of hair, and fingernail clippings. Historically, contagious magick has been used in both the arts of love enchantment and the casting of hexes on enemies.

Sympathetic magick, also known as image magick, is a popular form of magick that operates on the basic principle that “like attracts like.” It is common among those who practice Voodoo, African tribal magick, and Hoodoo folk magick. The sticking of pins into a Voodoo doll to bring pain or death to the person whom the doll represents is one example of the darker side of sympathetic magick. Although the use of Voodoo dolls is generally uncommon among practitioners of the Craft, many modern witches have been known to employ special herb-stuffed cloth dolls known as “poppets” in their healing rituals and amatory enchantments. However, sorcery (also known as Black Magick) and the spreading of negative energy to harm others, gain revenge, or satisfy selfish desires is not what Halloween is about.

The majority of modern witches adhere to a simple and benevolent moral code known as the Rede (or Wiccan Rede), which is as follows: “An’ it harm none, do what thou wilt.” The exact origin of the Rede is somewhat of a mystery; however, some writers have suggested that it is the witches’ version of the Christian’s “Golden Rule.” Its meaning is basically this: Be free to do, either magickally or mundanely, what your heart tells you is the correct thing to do as long as your actions bring harm to none. Most witches believe that if they work any form of magick that is contradictory to the Rede, bad karma (threefold or greater) will return to haunt him or her sooner or later.

 

 

Witch’s Halloween: A Complete Guide to the Magick, Incantations, Recipes, Spells, and Lore
Gerina Dunwich
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Lessons Learned from Self-Teaching and from Teaching Others

Lessons Learned from Self-Teaching and from Teaching Others

Author: Trey Justice

I’m writing this article in response to the current topic of teaching and learning in our community. I have always been and still consider myself a solitary Wiccan. Despite my solitary status, I have participated in group teaching/lessons, group ritual, group exercise, and a few years ago, taught a person new to Wicca and helped guide her on her own solitary path. I am currently a member of a Wiccan/Pagan study group.

I have learned a few lessons from my experiences and am sharing them to, at the very least, make at least one person’s spiritual path a little easier. I’ll start with lessons I learned for myself and then discuss lessons I’ve learned from teaching others. I think that lessons from both can be equally applied to both situations.

Lessons from Self-Teaching

1. Read a lot. Read as many books as you can get your hands on. Read books from different publishers. Read different authors. Try to find books written in the beginning of the Witchcraft revival. Try reading a mixture of several books BEFORE beginning any type of magickal or ritual work. No matter how experienced you are, you can always still learn and it’s just waiting for you to get involved!

2. Learn and understand history and geography. In my case, the preference was for northern Europe before and during early Christianity. This will help you later with mythology, the history of the Craft, and God/Goddess studies.

3. Learn to meditate and visualize. Practice! Continue to practice even long after “you’ve got it”.

4. Question yourself and examine your motivations/knowledge. Always.

5. Keep an open mind and eye to other religions. They all contribute to your understanding of your path and yourself.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself or others unpopular questions or questions that will cause doubt or confusion in your understanding of Wicca. You need to examine the path you’re on from as many angles as possible. This can only be done by examination and searching.

7. Don’t be afraid of admitting you’re wrong or ignorant on a topic. There’s no shame in admitting that you don’t know everything. Accept all information from as many sources as possible. In time, you will be experienced enough to sort out what is right, what is wrong, and what is just plain crap.

8. Be honest with yourself and your intentions long before thinking of self-dedication or self initiation. You should have a very solid understanding of Wicca, Witchcraft, Paganism, and Magick before embarking on your path as a “full fledged” Witch.

9. When choosing books, always try to find those done by actual scholars and historians. Anyone can write a book. Not anyone can write a book with decent material AND sources for information. Go for academics, not fluff to make you feel good.

10. Try to study early Christianity as much as possible. This will shed light on information about the history of Witchcraft, Paganism, and how things came to be. Medieval history and Roman history are good sources that offer insight into Celtic and Teutonic history/paganism as well.

11. When conducting ritual or casting magick, start out small. Focus on the basics and essentials. You can always build up on that at your leisure. And of course, remember the Wiccan Rede and Three Fold Law.

12. There’s no such thing as a stupid question.

13. I do recommend finding and meeting other Witches and Pagans. I’m not necessarily talking about teacher/student relationships. It’s good to meet others because it will reaffirm that, at the very least, you’re not alone, and by talking to others, you learn automatically and will gain new insights into the path that you’ve chosen. It’s always good to make new friends as well.

Lessons from Teaching Others

1. My first biggest lesson was to examine myself as to WHY I wanted to teach, and in turn, I had to deal with the responsibility of teaching someone else. I didn’t want to teach for glory, ego, reputation, fame, money, sex, etc. I wanted to give something back to the community for all that I have learned; I wanted to contribute to the greater whole, I wanted to give to and strengthen our community. I still forced myself to examine my intentions as to what I knew, why I thought I could be a teacher, and what I would be getting out of this. You need to ask yourself some hard questions before even beginning to teach. At first glance, you might have good intentions, but if your ultimate goal in teaching another is for selfish reasons, you probably shouldn’t be teaching. Remember the Three Fold Law and Wiccan Rede. Teaching from a wrong reason/desire/position on your part is just wrong.

2. It’s very important to know yourself and to know what it is that you actually know. It’s very important to know what it is you can actually offer someone as a teacher. I began teaching AFTER several years of self-study (tons of books AND discussions with others), group study, group/individual ritual, and personal experiences on the path. I would not have been in a position to teach prior to all of that and I recognized that in myself.

Don’t think that reading one or two books or “dabbling” in ritual is sufficient. You have to have mastered the fundamentals (core beliefs and concepts) long ago. Ritual should be easy and natural for you. You have to use critical thinking skills to rationally understand, explain, teach, and defend your beliefs and knowledge. You need to get out in the Pagan world before taking the mantle of “teacher”. If you don’t have the credentials- and I’m not talking about a degree system or prior coven initiation- you shouldn’t be teaching.

Remember, your student must leave the training better educated and equipped to walk on their path than what they were before the training began. Teaching is designed to IMPROVE someone’s knowledge, skills, and abilities.

3. Another lesson that I mentioned earlier was responsibility. You have to be responsible enough to honestly examine yourself and what you have to offer. If you don’t have what is needed to give another, then be responsible and don’t give. It’s also important to be responsible in the knowledge that you give. Don’t just mention the Wiccan Rede and Three Fold Law in two sentences and then walk away from the topic forever. You are responsible for explaining, in its entirety, the topics that you are teaching. Don’t give them lip service. You have to examine them, you have to examine them with your student, and you have to discuss the ramifications of what you’ve gone over. No matter the topic, you must thoroughly understand it and then present it with all angles for the student. One of the greater failures in a teacher is to “under teach” a topic and leave the student still ignorant of what was taught. You’re supposed to teach, not to confuse, or create ignorance.

Look at it this way: you are taking it upon yourself to help someone who wishes to walk the path of the Lord and Lady. If you don’t do a good, thorough job of teaching that person, have you caused more harm than good in the end? Have you helped someone truly understand and appreciate the God and Goddess? Have you helped the community by releasing someone who is ignorant of the path into that very community, or the “outside” community? Be responsible in your preparation and execution of teaching. Your student and community deserve nothing less.

4. This might sound stupid or redundant, but my student and I agreed up front on what our relationship was and what it would not be. Learning, living, and practicing on the path of the Lord and Lady with someone else forms a close, personal relationship. I wanted to make it clear that romantic love, sex, and relationships were NOT a part of what we were doing. I was the teacher, she was the student. In time we became close friends, but that relationship should be clearly defined up front and should be adhered to. I gave her personal references if she wanted to “check up on me” before the teaching began.

5. My student and I agreed on the length of time the entire teaching would take place — we used the traditional year and a day for our training period. We agreed to meet at least once a week and agreed to religiously (pardon the pun) stick to our schedule. Nothing kills the teaching/learning experience more than excessive absenteeism. Regular sessions reinforce what was learned before and keep the topic “fresh” in our minds. Make a regular schedule and keep to it. That’s not to say that you can change days for special events (ritual, Sabbats, etc.) but you must maintain a regular habit of teaching and learning.

6. Before I began to teach, I had to examine and determine what to teach and when. This included which books to use, and I had my student get the same books. I created a syllabus of topics and general dates. I listed the books that we would use to learn.

I broke the overall training topics into: General Information (an introduction if you will); Construction of a Book of Shadows (this BoS was constructed by the student and expanded throughout the entire training cycle); History of Wicca/Witchcraft (included were geography and northern European history); Core Beliefs; Laws/Rules (including discussions of morality and other issues relating to the Wiccan Rede, Three Fold Law, etc.); Cycle of Life (the Sabbats/Esbats); Meditation/Visualization; Goddess Studies; God Studies; Celtic Mythology; Norse/Teutonic Mythology; Magick; Ritual; and a Final Test. I also broke the topics/aspects/subjects up into smaller sub-topics. This way, I could thoroughly go over and teach each one in detail.

By breaking up the entirety of what I would teach into smaller portions, we were better able to both teach and learn by focusing on the subject at hand. It’s easier to digest a little here and there without throwing it all together in some vast melting pot. There’s a lot to Wicca. You can’t teach or learn it all in one day. You wouldn’t be fair or honest to yourself if you did.

7. Throughout the entire training cycle, I had tests for reviewing what was learned to ensure that we weren’t leaving a topic under examined or incompletely explained. I also ended up going over each Sabbat in detail prior to the actual Sabbat. I gave a copy of the syllabus to the student and we made every effort to stick to is as much as possible.

8. At the beginning of each training session, we would go over questions my student had from the previous session. This included questions that came up through self-study on her part. I would answer questions throughout the session (I encourage them!) and would answer questions at the end of the session. Demand that your student asks questions.

9. Personally, go over your training materials and subject in detail days before the class/session begins. Go over the material again right before class. You should have your act together before actually teaching. There’s no shame in having to refresh yourself on something that you are already very familiar with. Be as prepared as possible; your student deserves no less.

10. I focused on the academics before the practice. It was important to get the essentials fully understood before conducting magick and ritual. For me, this is because I see Wicca as a religion, not just “another method” of conducting magick. Our mind, heart, and soul must be in the right place before creating spells and playing with energy. My opinion, but I kept to it.

11. I had my student write essays, write out answers to questions, conduct exercises, and actually conduct ritual on her own. I used the building block technique, in that we started out with the core concepts and worked our way up the cycle piece by piece. We rehearsed ritual often and I routinely tested her on magick/ritual tools. I gave both scheduled and non-scheduled tests to find out what material had been learned sufficiently and what wasn’t still understood.

12. Near the end of the entire training cycle, we began to attend group ritual in order to expose my student to that aspect of the path and to introduce her to the community at large. It was important for my student to be exposed to others and their thoughts/ideas, as opposed to only getting information from me. I routinely told her that I was one person with my own opinions and that she should meet and talk with others to complement her education.

13. I taught my student about my experiences as a solitary and taught her my lessons in self-study. I encouraged my student to continue her studies on her own in addition to what I was teaching. I also encouraged my student to meet with others and talk to them about the path.

14. I learned more of the path that I walk by teaching. That lesson shouldn’t have been such a big surprise, but it was. By having to explain and teach Wicca, I have learned of it from an angle that was previously denied to me. I am very thankful of the experience for being able to appreciate and understand my path in more detail.

Hopefully, the lessons I learned will be of help to you in the future. Blessed Be.

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Some Thoughts on Ethics and the Wiccan Rede

Some Thoughts on Ethics and the Wiccan Rede

Author: Lark   

Let me say unequivocally that ethics is not some arcane and boring subject that we study in school and promptly forget as soon as we walk out the door. Ethics is the way we honor the Divine in ourselves and in others. It is a way of behaving that is at the core of our beliefs and the basis for how we choose to live our lives. You can call it by many names; good manners, the Ten Commandments, The Golden Rule, the Wiccan Rede…all are essentially a way of describing the same thing. Without ethics, civilization as we know it would cease to exist. Without them, we would lose the connection to the Divine that we treasure.

Let us look at the Wiccan Rede. “An it harm none, do as ye will.” It is a simple and elegant rule on the surface. But people tie themselves in all sorts of knots trying to live according to its precepts.

First, and most importantly, the Rede is generally misinterpreted, and from this misinterpretation all sorts of problems arise. Taking all of the archaic language out of the Rede, what it is really saying is that any action which does not cause harm to yourself or to others is OK to do. In most of the Wiccan community, however, this meaning has been stood on its head and stated as any action which MIGHT cause harm to another is not acceptable. These are very, very different rules of ethical behavior. And herein lies the problem; because the second interpretation is impossible to fulfill.

The common misinterpretation of the Rede says we must harm NONE…no exceptions, no excuses…no harm to the Earth, our fellow creatures, the people around us, or to ourselves. Is this possible? No, of course it is not. We are living beings who require the resources of our planet to survive and to maintain ourselves. Unless you have learned a way to live on air and sunshine, you must cause the death of other living beings in order to eat. We build our homes out of trees sacrificed to provide us shelter. If we get the job we wanted, it means that someone else did not. By the standard interpretation of the Rede, we should have neither food, nor fuel, no electricity, nor shelter, nor even modern medicines because each of these involves causing harm in some form or another.

By the standard interpretation of the Rede, harming someone in your own self-defense is a violation of the Rede. Yet you would also violate it by allowing harm to come to yourself or to another through your lack of action. No one who is a policeman or a soldier could be a Wiccan as well..at least according to the generally accepted interpretation of the Rede; yet both are necessary for our society to survive. Is this reasonable?

When we first come to the Wiccan path and we are taught the usual interpretation of the Rede, it sounds so simple and clear-cut. And then we start seeing the inconsistencies…and we start rationalizing to make the Rede fit situation it was never meant to fit. We may begin to say that the Rede only applies within a cast circle or in regards to magical workings. Or perhaps we come to look at the Rede as a quaint piece of doggerel which really is meaningless. And when we do that, we leave ourselves without an ethical framework on which to build our beliefs on right living.

So, let us go back to the first interpretation; that any action which does not cause harm is OK to do. That is simple, straightforward, and fairly easy to live by.

But what about actions that may cause harm? The Rede says nothing of these. It leaves us to make the judgment on our own as to whether we want to pursue a course of action or not. What this involves is considering each decision you make very carefully before you commit yourself to a course of action. You do this by looking at all the possible consequences of that action and whether that will cause harm to any, choosing the path that causes the least harm and (THIS IS THE KEY) accepting the responsibility for the consequences of your actions whether intentional or unintentional. That is what our religion is all about PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. You can’t stand before the Gods saying, “I didn’t mean…”, or “I didn’t think…”, or “the Devil made me do it”…it won’t wash! Your answer MUST BE, “I chose to do this”. And if you did it, it’s all yours to deal with. OUCH! That can be pretty uncomfortable to face up to. We all like to shift the blame away from ourselves. But taking the difficult path is the way to spiritual growth.

And here is another hard pill to swallow. If you take a course of action which you felt initially (or which you managed to convince yourself) would not cause any harm…and harm does come of it, you are still responsible for the consequences. Part of that responsibility then becomes trying to make right the harm which you inadvertently caused. We all make mistakes, we are after all only human. But being willing to acknowledge our mistakes and repair the harm we caused brings us closer to becoming one with the Divine.

We are also taught early in our spiritual journey as Wiccans about the Three-Fold Law, that whatever we do for good or ill returns to us three-fold. . And again it becomes a concept rife with misunderstanding and misinterpretations. We behave because we are afraid of being smacked with the Karmic paddle. Being good little Witches because we fear punishment if we break the rules does not make ethical beings, just clever ones. There is no Karmic scorekeeper out there keeping a list of who’s been naughty or nice. There is no Divine retribution, or something like the Christian Hell for violations on the Rede. What the Three-Fold Law is telling us is choices of action have consequences for which we alone are responsible. And if our choices are consistently negative or harmful towards others, then the energy which tends to return to us will also be negative and harmful. To live our lives full of anger, guilt, and negative thoughts can lead to both physical and mental illness right here in this lifetime. In effect, we become the tools of our own Karma. So, what kind of energy would you like to wake up and find on your doorstep one morning??

Ours is a religion of personal responsibility, not a religion if rules and strictures. This is both a liberating and an extremely difficult path to follow. The biggest obstacle to living rightly is ourselves. For man is not so much a rational being as a rationalizing being. We are often apt to confuse WANT with NEED. We mistake that which will bring us happiness. We pretend that a course of action will not bring any harm, when we truly know otherwise. And out of these wrong choices we cause great harm and evil in the world. In other faiths you might chuckle to think that you broke a rule and no one saw. You might feel that you had successfully gotten away with something, or you might have managed to make excuses, to put the blame on someone else. Wicca does not allow you that freedom. In Wicca, you and only you are responsible for your choices. And you, and only you will stand before the Gods to make answer for your deeds.

Lark

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Do Pagan Religions Have Rules?

Do Pagan Religions Have Rules?

By , About.com

 

Question: Do Pagan Religions Have Rules?

I read a book on Wicca that says “all Wiccans must do this and never do that,” and then I read another one that said Pagans can make their own rules. Some people believe in the Threefold Law, and others don’t. Others say that the Wiccan Rede is only for Wiccans but not other Pagans. What’s going on here? Are there rules in Pagan religions like Wicca, or not?

 

Answer:

The word “rules” can be a puzzling one, because while there are guidelines, they do tend to vary from one tradition to another. In general, most Pagans – including Wiccans – follow some set of rules that is unique to their own tradition – however, it’s important to note that these standards are not universal. In other words, what Group A holds true as law cannot be applied towards Group B.

The Wiccan Rede

Many groups, particularly NeoWiccan ones, follow one form or another of the Wiccan Rede, which says, “An’ it harm none, do as you will.” This means that you can’t intentionally or knowingly cause harm to another person. Because there are so many different forms of Wicca, there are dozens of different interpretations of the Rede. Some people believe it means you can’t hunt or eat meat, join the military, or even swear at the guy who took your parking spot. Others interpret it a bit more liberally, and some believe that the rule of “harm none” doesn’t apply to self-defense.

The Rule of Three

Many traditions of Paganism, including most variations of Wicca, believe in the Law of Threefold Return. This is essentially a karmic payback – anything you do comes back to you three times more intensely. If good attracts good, then guess what bad behavior brings you?

The 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief

In the 1970s, a group of witches decided to assemble a cohesive set of rules for modern witches to follow. Seventy or so individuals from a variety of magical backgrounds and traditions got together and formed a group called the American Council of Witches, although depending on who you ask, they are sometimes called the Council of American Witches. At any rate, this group decided to try to assemble a list of common principles and guidelines that the entire magical community could follow. These principles are not adhered to by everyone, but are often used as a template in many sets of coven mandates.

The Ardanes

In the 1950s, when Gerald Gardner was writing what eventually become the Gardnerian Book of Shadows, one of the items he included was a list of guidelines called the Ardanes. The word “ardane” is a variant on “ordain”, or law. Gardner claimed that the Ardanes were ancient knowledge that had been passed down to him by way of the New Forest coven of witches. Today, these guidelines are followed by some traditional Gardnerian covens, but are not often found in other NeoWiccan groups.

Coven Bylaws

In many traditions, each coven is responsible for establishing its own set of bylaws or mandates. Bylaws may be created by a High Priestess or High Priest, or they may be written by a committee, depending on the rules of the tradition. Bylaws provide a sense of continuity for all members. They typically cover things like standards of behavior, principles of the tradition, guidelines for acceptable use of magic, and an agreement from members to abide by those rules. Again, these are rules which are applied to the group that creates them, but should not be held as a standard for people outside of this tradition.

Personal Responsibility

Finally, keep in mind that your own sense of magical ethics should be a guideline to you as well – particularly if you’re a solitary practitioner who doesn’t have the history of a tradition to follow back on. You can’t enforce your rules and ethics on other people, though — they have their own set of laws to follow, and those may be different from your own. Remember, there’s no Big Pagan Council that sits and writes you a Bad Karma Ticket when you do something wrong. Pagans are big on the concept of personal responsibility, so ultimately it’s up to you to police your own behavior, accept the consequences of your own actions, and live by your own ethical standards.

 

 

 

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The Power of Words

The Power of Words

Author: Kestryl Angell 

Recently, it is all over the news where celebrities are being “caught with their pants down” over racial slurs, backbiting remarks against each other, tearing at the fabric of the illusion of the “Peaceful American Community” that Hollywood is supposed to be so integral a part of creating in the framework of our society. Even within pagan communities themselves, a place where many claim to have found the first bit of peace in their spirit in their entire lives up to the point of their discovery of paganism grow more and more rife with stories of people that have, in their own way, attempted to serve their community and been shunned due to human mistakes or misunderstandings. America’s illusion says that Americans are supposed to be Keepers of the Peace.

But Americans, and in many cases humans in general it seems, have forgotten that there is Power in words.

I was trained in classical music from a very young age. Because of this training, my ears have been fine tuned to hear tone before I even hear actual words. As well, I have come to understand over the years the reasons why the Celts, the Native Americans and so many other cultures taught their deepest and most spiritual lessons to rhythm, dance and in rhyme. The cadence, the effect on the body, mind, heart and spirit, the effect on the chakras…all attribute pieces of the beautiful stained glass window of reality that is the Power of Words.

Everyone has had the experience, in or out of Circle, of feeling truly and deeply moved to their deepest self by a piece of music or poetry. The way a High Priest or High Priestess speaks a lesson, their tone and manner focused totally on opening the hearts and minds of their students that sets that lesson forever in the mind of those attending them or the way a Shaman or Medicine Man or Woman guides their patient through a Journey or necessary healing process to the rhythm of a Medicine drum, all are designed to not only speak the lesson, tell the journey…but to set it indelibly into the brain and memory so that we do not forget.

In the day and age when it was still dangerous to know the legal names of coven mates, knowing a single word—a name—could mean death and the end of entire family lines, no matter what guilt or innocence was the truth of their existence or beliefs.

Do you, as a magickal person, honestly believe that there was not a time when Words of Power were used far more frequently than they are now? Do you honestly believe that science fiction is the only place where something like Frank Herbert’s concept of the Voice, held in his works in the Dune series…where single syllables could be used to shatter bone, burst organs, bring down entire cities? If you truly believe this, look at the way that the cruelty of words spoken in haste can shatter families, permanently scar minds, hearts, souls and weigh heavily on our Karmic scale in the long run.

If we truly know that words have Power, this means that we must consider more carefully how we speak to and of each other. This is not to say that we should become completely unrealistic in the “sunshine” we spout, but rather we should speak the best reality we may into being.

Rather than simply wishing each other “Happy Holidays” a holiday season or wishing for “world peace, ” why not truly speak with clarity and vision the positives you see possible in this world. Instead of finding fault with a child’s grades or social performance, teach them pride enough in themselves, their families and their community that such things wouldn’t even occur to them as long as they have the academic support their personal learning curve requires.

Instead of “preaching” our faith or hearing only “preaching” in other’s words about their faith and beliefs this time of year, why not listen with compassion in your ears and find the commonalities with your own, sharing those with a smile and a warm heart (Merry Meet, Merry Part, Bright the Cheeks and Warm the Heart—from the long Wiccan Rede, sound familiar?)

When we speak of our faith, speak of what we ourselves practice—not just the history of those that died for our faith. Speak the beauty, not just the once-mysteries and mythologies. Speak the usefulness, the daily contact with Deity, the ways that the Universe reflects Its Infinite Wisdom and Complex Simplicity to you as an individual every single day, instead of finding the reasons to nit-pick your neighbors or their lives to death or place personal judgment on other’s lives for reasons of pride, ego or simple human differences of opinion.

Spend less time finding fault and more time finding blessings—no matter how small or unlikely the arrival or package they come in. Spend less time speaking poison, thus poisoning your own heart and spirit and drawing the same to yourself in the process—if you live by the Law of Three or other like law of balance in your system of beliefs. Sing praises over your own life and accomplishments instead of doubt that you’ll ever truly “get there.” Find places to smile each day instead of facing a list of stresses and duties alone with a sense of dread in your heart, mind and voice.

If your faith does not make your spirit smile enough to share something of its Light with the world around you, then my friend, you need some work on you first—and like the Christian Bible says, “Judge not, lest ye be judged” and “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”

No man or woman is above another on the scale of the Universe—but all are on various levels of the spiral, all learning, all growing, all paying debts and moving up and either fast or slow, they are finding ways to make themselves and their world better. Some are just a bit further along in the process than others and those are our treasured teachers and Elders. Yet, all in life truly have something to teach if only you are brave enough to listen to the lesson when the package it comes in doesn’t seem pleasing to your senses at first glance.

Just as many mythologies tell stories of Gods and Goddesses taking the form of injured animals or ugly or deformed creatures to teach lessons to the ones they were in the story with, so too does the Universe often scream our lessons in that tone of voice that makes us wish we were deaf on every level or put them in a package we find so distasteful we might not stick around for the lesson itself, no matter how sweetly delivered from the distasteful representation—it is often part of the test the God/dess gives us, one that we commonly fail.

However, if we are open to the lesson, even when it is yelled or screeched or even when it is in the simple deafening silence of darkness, the power of words remains a truth that cannot be denied. Therefore, it is necessary that we take responsibility for our use of this magick in a far more active way than many often choose to keep on their everyday mouth and perceptions. However, as aware and ethical magickal folk, it cannot be said too often that awareness is only the first step.

There is a large difference, when working through life issues, in sharing your experience and speaking poison over the hardships of your past. There is a difference between sharing positive information that you have to share and insisting another must use the information just as you have in their lives or practice or it will immediately invalidate the information in your eyes.

There is a difference in speaking an honest disagreement with an issue or person and defaming them out of bruised ego, hurt feelings or mistaken sense of prideful or righteous indignation. There is a difference in realizing that shadow must exist for light to have its balance point, but when something already has a momentum of its own, it is not always correct for us to “add our two cents worth” to the engines by pumping our own poison into the process.

Not if we take seriously the idea that we will eventually reap what we sow.

If you are aware that the words you say and how you say them are like seeds in soil and what you bring back to you is the harvest of those words, think about the words you speak in a day. Do you speak brightly, positively, encouragingly to the world and your reality and those in it? Or do you speak doubt into your every sentence?

In your attempt to be a “realist” have you become a “pessimist” instead? When ill or in pain, do you speak the truth of the pain or issue and truly seek help or do you play it up for attention and shun any real assistance?

When you bring up a difference of opinion with someone, do you bring it up or do you attack him or her with it and then expect him or her to “understand, because they are your friend” and then become upset when they do not react as you expect them to? Do you take responsibility for your own expectations?

All these are examples of the places where the power of words is often simply forgotten or conveniently passed up in favor of the more instant gratification of a snap decision or reaction. Being Children of the Light, attempting in some small human way to be reflections of our Gods and Goddesses, do we honestly think that our Deity would speak in the poisonous terms most human beings use on one another every single day? If you do not know what I am talking about, read a newspaper or watch the evening news or an episode of Jerry Springer.

Insults, invasion of privacy, making jokes of infirmity or life circumstances beyond the control of the center of the joke, finding joy in other’s pain or thinking peace comes out of war are all ways in which even the words themselves can show us they are not what will draw us the most positive ends if the magick of words is truly something we understand and choose to manifest in our every day lives.

Instead of arguing how horrible it is that places like Macy’s and Wal-Mart Corporation are “forbidding” the Happy Holidays greetings in stores in favor of using a strict “Merry Christmas” (or “Happy Easter”) policy, why not try something different?

Of course it’s horrible they are denying others their holidays as well in society and putting forward such a prevailing discriminatory front to their business, but do we really need to RE-state the obvious? Why not plant more positive seeds instead?

Try, through this and every holiday season to give the gift of using a voice of compassion, a voice of sharing, a voice of joy, wisdom, peace and beauty.

Just share the joys of all of the various holiday seasons as you pass others at home, at work, at the store. And even if it is only in a few words, delivered with a smile, you can share a bit of this magick that is the power of words simply by planting the seed with a voice that says, “Have a Happy Holiday, whatever yours may be.”

See what harvests come your way; you might just be pleasantly surprised.

Brightest Blessings!

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Do Pagan Religions Have Rules?

Do Pagan Religions Have Rules?

By , About.com

 

Question: Do Pagan Religions Have Rules?

I read a book on Wicca that says “all Wiccans must do this and never do that,” and then I read another one that said Pagans can make their own rules. Some people believe in the Threefold Law, and others don’t. Others say that the Wiccan Rede is only for Wiccans but not other Pagans. What’s going on here? Are there rules in Pagan religions like Wicca, or not?

 

Answer:

The word “rules” can be a puzzling one, because while there are guidelines, they do tend to vary from one tradition to another. In general, most Pagans – including Wiccans – follow some set of rules that is unique to their own tradition – however, it’s important to note that these standards are not universal. In other words, what Group A holds true as law cannot be applied towards Group B.

The Wiccan Rede

Many groups, particularly NeoWiccan ones, follow one form or another of the Wiccan Rede, which says, “An’ it harm none, do as you will.” This means that you can’t intentionally or knowingly cause harm to another person. Because there are so many different forms of Wicca, there are dozens of different interpretations of the Rede. Some people believe it means you can’t hunt or eat meat, join the military, or even swear at the guy who took your parking spot. Others interpret it a bit more liberally, and some believe that the rule of “harm none” doesn’t apply to self-defense.

The Rule of Three

Many traditions of Paganism, including most variations of Wicca, believe in the Law of Threefold Return. This is essentially a karmic payback – anything you do comes back to you three times more intensely. If good attracts good, then guess what bad behavior brings you?

The 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief

In the 1970s, a group of witches decided to assemble a cohesive set of rules for modern witches to follow. Seventy or so individuals from a variety of magical backgrounds and traditions got together and formed a group called the American Council of Witches, although depending on who you ask, they are sometimes called the Council of American Witches. At any rate, this group decided to try to assemble a list of common principles and guidelines that the entire magical community could follow. These principles are not adhered to by everyone, but are often used as a template in many sets of coven mandates.

The Ardanes

In the 1950s, when Gerald Gardner was writing what eventually become the Gardnerian Book of Shadows, one of the items he included was a list of guidelines called the Ardanes. The word “ardane” is a variant on “ordain”, or law. Gardner claimed that the Ardanes were ancient knowledge that had been passed down to him by way of the New Forest coven of witches. Today, these guidelines are followed by some traditional Gardnerian covens, but are not often found in other NeoWiccan groups.

Coven Bylaws

In many traditions, each coven is responsible for establishing its own set of bylaws or mandates. Bylaws may be created by a High Priestess or High Priest, or they may be written by a committee, depending on the rules of the tradition. Bylaws provide a sense of continuity for all members. They typically cover things like standards of behavior, principles of the tradition, guidelines for acceptable use of magic, and an agreement from members to abide by those rules. Again, these are rules which are applied to the group that creates them, but should not be held as a standard for people outside of this tradition.

Personal Responsibility

Finally, keep in mind that your own sense of magical ethics should be a guideline to you as well – particularly if you’re a solitary practitioner who doesn’t have the history of a tradition to follow back on. You can’t enforce your rules and ethics on other people, though — they have their own set of laws to follow, and those may be different from your own. Remember, there’s no Big Pagan Council that sits and writes you a Bad Karma Ticket when you do something wrong. Pagans are big on the concept of personal responsibility, so ultimately it’s up to you to police your own behavior, accept the consequences of your own actions, and live by your own ethical standards.

 

 

Categories: Articles, Daily Posts, Wicca, Witchcraft | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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