I open my hands and welcome prosperity into my life. Abundance comes to me easily.
I Just Happen To Be Pagan!
Author: Nellie Carlton
“Hello, I am a Witch, ” says the man sporting a pentagram the size of an SUV, wearing all black and just waiting for some one to call him out for being different.
My god! He will kill my cat and steal my babies.
I won’t hire him/ be his friend/have further dealings with him!
Now lets try a different scenario:
John just got a new job and he is getting along great with every one. He shows that he has great work ethic, contributes new and helpful ideas, and he is dependable and trust worthy. After working at his job for a few months, some religious topics come up in the break room and John is asked his opinion.
“Well as a Pagan I believe….”
In which situation does it seem more likely that some one would be open to learning the positive side to a way of life they are not used to? As Pagans we hold the responsibility for others opinions of our entire community. Stereotypes are everywhere. Chose not to contribute to them.
John, the regular guy, just gave a whole group of people a reason to trust the Pagan community more than they might have already because he presented himself as part of the mainstream society as well. The other guy just added to the, “Those freaks all dress the same, and act out. They are up to no good. STAY AWAY.”
I am not saying not to wear you favorite Pagan jewelry, or not to disclose that you follow a different path to your new friend. I am asking you to think about how you are representing the rest of us when you do these things. If you are the only Pagan that some one knows then your personality traits, be they flaws or wonderful merits to your character, become a “stereotype” that they will associate with the next Pagan they meet.
Think of people in a different religion. Pagans so often have angst with Christianity. The main reason is that most Christians they have come into to contact with were not the “norm.” Maybe you met them in the mall and the first words out of their mouth were, “Do you know Jesus Christ as your lord and savior?” followed by hassling to listen to their spiel.
Maybe they came to your doorstep to tell you about their religion. Maybe it was a co-worker or classmate that always talks about uncomfortable topics to see how you would react. Those people’s actions could easily take over your opinion of Christianity if they were the only Christians you ever encountered. Luckily, they probably are not.
You probably have the opportunity to know many great people that just happen to be Christian, not people who are defined by their Christianity. However, Pagans are not as numerous, and you may be the only pagan some one knows for quite a while.
Do you want that person to think that Pagans are religious zealots who define every aspect of their lives by their religion? I would hope you would rather them think that you are an everyday guy who just happens to be Pagan.
So many times I go out into the Pagan community for a meet and greet of other local pagans and I come back with a bad taste in my mouth. I see exactly what I just described above, but it is in our circles. Pagans who enjoy stirring up trouble. They feed off others attention so they act out. People notice. They also notice the pentagram around their neck. Many times the people like this are only “Pagan” for the attention so even if the people noticing them decide to ask about Paganism or Wicca the “attention getter” would not really know what they were explaining.
Sadly, the rest of us are on our best behavior and we do not get noticed. The only recognizing being done is for those who don’t deserve it. A common saying goes, “It takes one ‘aw sh**’, to erase a thousand ‘atta boys.’” People always remember the bad over the good.
It would be so amazing to see a society where a Pagan was the same as any one else and we did not have to worry about these things.
A lot of people get hung up on the fact they should not have to act a certain way or be sensitive to what a Christian might think if they do this or that. I know you should not have to. I know it is wrong to be judged. You are being judged though.
So, now, I ask even more of you. Something that I think many people will not like.
When out in public watch what you say about Paganism. You may know what is involved in “casting a spell” or “invoking the goddess” but Jane Doe in the grocery Isle does not. Hearing tidbits of a conversation you are having with your buddy about a ritual you did the other day is probably unsettling for some one who does not know what you are talking about. It can also be the cause of untrue rumors and gossip. By the time Jane Doe is finished telling about her encounter with you the church down the street may be holding a service about how there are local witches summoning demons from hell and poisoning the local duck pond.
Now I challenge you with what might be the hardest thing yet.
If some one confronts you directly about your religion or beliefs looking for an argument, WALK AWAY! Walk away especially if you are in view of other people. You may know you can win. You may even think you can change their mind about Paganism. You will not achieve either however.
They approached you with intent on being right so in their mind they will be no matter what you say. If there are on lookers you will both seem immature for your dispute. It can only lead to negative energy and scuffed up feelings and egos on both sides. Here is the alternative I offer you. Send them a letter outlining what you believe, make it sweet and understanding. Then they cannot provoke you to say something you will regret. Also, you win. You showed maturity in the situation. They may be so impressed that actually listen to what you had to say in your letter.
So you say, “I don’t do any of that stuff. I am good, why did I even read this trash?”
Well then I ask you, “What do you do?”
If we, Pagans, don’t need people out there stirring up negative talk and publicity for us then what do we need? Pagans who stir up positive attention for our side. Pagans raising money for charity, Pagans cleaning up the environment, Pagans volunteering at their local hospital or building homes with habitat for humanity.
We need Pagans taking up leadership roles in our community. We need to be getting noticed for all the right reasons. I don’t care how poor or busy you may think you are you can find time or money to give to a worthy cause. You will not regret it. I have had some of the most rewarding experiences of my life helping others.
I challenge you! Don’t be showy about what you believe; other people do not like that. Remember what you do changes peoples opinions of you and others. Be discrete in what you talk about it public. Don’t try to stir up trouble. Walk away from arguments. Make a positive difference in other peoples lives so they have higher standards for the rest of us.
Be that nice person who just happens to be Pagan.
Tell It Like It Is – And Make It Count
Author: Autumn Heartsong
“I’m not a pussy-foot Pagan; I speak my mind I don’t care if everybody gets mad at me.”
“I call it like I see it. If you’ve got a lousy attitude I’m going to tell you about it. That’s what makes me such a terrific high priestess.”
“I hate that we’re not friends anymore. I was just trying to help and she got so angry.”
Know any of these people? Maybe you’ve made one of those statements yourself.
There’s no doubt that honest feedback is helpful. People with the skill and willingness to provide good feedback are valuable in any community. Unfortunately, some people are long on willingness and short on skill. They tell it like they think it is, like they wish it were, like they hope it will be, but without the skill needed to make all that telling count for something. Some succeed handily in expressing their opinions and making people angry, and they excel at turning angry reactions into badges of honor. They may even feel a little smug when they tell everyone exactly what they’re doing wrong and no one does anything about it. There’s a lot of moral superiority in being the one with the answers and even more intellectual smugness when no one else is smart enough to take your good advice. More often, though, people are just sad and disappointed when their attempt to help is, at best, rejected or, at worst, creates angry confrontation and lasting resentment.
Why should we care about the effectiveness of our communications? Because honest, helpful feedback is essential to any community. Whether you’re addressing your circle, your coworkers, your family, or the customer service rep with whom you’re trying to resolve a problem, clear, effective communication gets the best results.
Nowhere is the need for good feedback skills more evident than in our spiritual communities. In a spiritual path that stresses personal accountability, each of us is responsible not just for what we say but how we say it. If we truly have the best interest of another in mind, we have a responsibility to do the best job we can when we offer constructive criticism or positive feedback. And for those who hold positions of leadership, the ability to guide a coven or circle is directly tied to the ability to effectively deal with behaviors that can erode the group’s foundation, as well as to offer praise that is meaningful and encourages continued success. Yet time and again, circles and covens undergo major upheavals over poorly thought-out and badly delivered feedback. Broader communities experience rifts that all but destroy those communities. Online groups explode into flame wars over emails that set out to improve some situation but miss the mark. Best friends have walked away from each other over what was meant to be helpful guidance but was delivered and received as anything but helpful. The phrase heard most often after such events is, “What just happened?”
Fortunately, willingness to engage in feedback is more than half the battle, and anyone with a sincere desire to tell it like it is and make it count can learn how to give feedback that is both honest and helpful. Whether you’re telling someone that their habitual Pagan Standard Time arrival for ritual is impacting the group or complimenting them on the stellar job they did organizing the community clean-up event, you will create more impact with a well crafted and delivered message.
In this article, I’ll discuss the characteristics of effective feedback. I’ll also outline models for giving honest, direct feedback with candor and skill. Finally, I’ll share a model for how we receive feedback to help us understand and plan for reactions in others and ourselves.
For those of you who are thinking, “This isn’t standard Pagan essay material, ” I respectfully disagree. This is EGM – Elbow Grease Magick, physical effort to accompany your energetic contribution in your community. Just as doing a “find a job” spell without sending out a resume or filling out an application isn’t likely to land you employment, opening your mouth to deliver constructive feedback without paying attention to how you do it isn’t likely to net the results you hope for. By combining a willing spirit with proven techniques, we can strengthen our relationships and our communities.
Characteristics of Effective Feedback
Think back to a time when you received truly helpful feedback from someone – maybe a teacher, a boss, a coworker or friend. What made it helpful? If you’re like most people, your recollections will include some or all of the following:
They were specific and used examples.
Vague feedback isn’t very helpful. Telling someone, “You need to do better in circle, ” doesn’t offer any clues as to what “better” means. “Your ritual robe has a wine stain on it from when you dropped the chalice at our last moon. You should make sure your robe is clean before you come to circle, ” is more effective. Likewise, “You’re such a joy to work with, ” doesn’t give the recipient any guidance on how to continue to be a joy. Try, “I enjoy working with you on community projects because you’re energetic, detail oriented, and always willing to pitch in wherever needed.”
They focused on behavior, not a personal attack.
Telling someone, “You’re a slob!” is far less effective than, “You left your feast gear unwashed on the counter and Moondrop had to clean up after you.”
They were sincere, had my best interest at heart.
Sincerity is often a matter of perception. Body language and tone can speak louder than our words. It’s estimated that in face-to-face communications as little as seven percent of a message is perceived from the actual words. (Read Radical Collaboration, by James W. Tamm and Ronald J. Luyet) .
They helped me understand why it was important.
Everyone receiving feedback asks, at some level, “So what?” When we include the why, the what has more impact. “When you’re late for ritual, feast runs late, the children get hungry and cranky, and everyone’s enjoyment of the evening is lessened.” The why can also include the benefits of change or the consequences of continued behavior. “In the future, we’ll have to start without you if you’re late.”
They included suggestions for improvement or alternate behavior.
If a behavior is causing problems, suggest a better behavior. “We need you to be here at least 15 minutes before ritual is scheduled to begin.”
They chose an appropriate time/place.
Common wisdom suggests that we correct privately and praise publicly. While public praise isn’t always necessary, constructive criticism is almost always best done privately. An embarrassed person is not receptive.
They kept their emotions in check.
If you cannot control you own emotions when delivering feedback, the message will be lost. Crying and anger are sometimes understandable reactions to bad behavior, but get them under control before you enter into dialog about the behavior. If you lose your cool, you lose control.
Models for delivering feedback
Two models provide specific steps to help craft and deliver effective feedback.
NORMS is a model for crafting your message and helps ensure that you’re focusing on behavior and that your feedback is specific. This should be your first step every time to make sure your feedback is behavior focused. NORMS is an acronym for five attributes of objective feedback.
N – Not an interpretation. Address the behavior, not how you interpret the behavior. “You’ve been late for the last three circles, ” is behavior. “You don’t have enough respect for me, your coven, or the gods to show up on time, ” is an interpretation.
O – Observable. Address behavior that can be seen, heard, or otherwise observed by more than one person.
R – Reliable. Goes along with observable. Base your feedback on reliable observations, not hearsay or conjecture.
M – Measurable. Address behavior in terms of how many, how long, etc. Avoid absolutes like never and always. Use actual numbers, times, etc., whenever possible.
S – Specific. Address specific behaviors and cite specific examples.
DISC is a model for delivering your message and is an acronym for four steps to ensure that your message conveys both what and why, offers suggested alternative behavior, and identifies benefits/consequences.
D – Describe the behavior. Describe the behavior you identified using the NORMS model. Include measurements and observations when possible.
I – Identify the impact. Why is this behavior a problem? How is it impacting the individual, you, or the group?
S – Specify what you would like to see. Suggest alternate behavior or ways to improve.
C – Clarify the benefits/consequences. What will the individual gain by changing behavior? What are the consequences if she doesn’t change?
Putting it together
Scenario: Oak Moon, a member of your coven, wears a strong patchouli oil fragrance. Three coveners have commented on it and at least one covener, Starlight, is asthmatic and has difficulty breathing when she stands next to Oak Moon in circle.
Using NORMS, you focus only on the behavior – wearing strong fragrance that bothers others in circle. The strong fragrance is easily observable by anyone present and has been reliably observed by other coveners. It is measurable – three coveners have spoken up about it. You’ve made your message specific – the strength of the patchouli oil fragrance and its effect on other coveners is the issue.
Delivering the message using DISC might sound like this:
Describe: “Oak Moon, your patchouli oil is a lovely, strong fragrance – sometimes a bit too strong for the closeness of circle. Three people have come to me because the fragrance bothers them when we’re in circle, including Starlight.”
Identify: “You may not know that Starlight is asthmatic and has trouble breathing around strong fragrances.”
Specify: “Could you skip the patchouli when we’re in circle?”
Clarify: “It will let everyone breathe easier and focus more on what’s happening in the circle.”
The DISC model works well with positive feedback, too. Here’s an example:
Describe: “Oak Moon, you did an exceptional job on the essay you sent to WitchVox last month. The organization was excellent, and your analogies really helped me understand your point of view.”
Identify: “Sharing experience and thoughts with others helps our larger community grow and sets a good example for newer members of the coven.”
Specify: “I hope you’ll write more articles in the future.”
Clarify: “You’ll probably get a lot of comments and make some good contacts from your writing.”
Receiving feedback – the SARAH Model
So far, our examples have all been delivering feedback with no response from the person receiving. Of course, the person receiving will respond, and anticipating and preparing for the reaction is part of the effective feedback process.
SARAH is an acronym for five stages people go through when receiving constructive feedback. In addition to helping us deliver effective feedback, SARAH also helps us when we’re on the receiving end of constructive criticism. Recognizing our reaction can help us move more quickly through the stages and get the most benefit from the feedback.
S – Shock. “What? You’ve got to be kidding? I can’t believe anyone would say that about me!”
A – Anger. “How dare she! Who does she think she is? She’s got no right to talk to me that way. It’s none of her business.”
R – Rejection. “Well, that’s just stupid. She doesn’t know everything and I don’t need her advice.”
A – Acceptance. “Well, she did say it…and maybe there’s some truth in it.”
H – Help. “I can see her point. Maybe I’ll try her suggestions and see what happens.”
Do you recognize your own reactions? Have you experienced those reactions from others? When planning your feedback, take some time to anticipate the reactions and think about how you will respond. How can you keep the conversation on track? By thinking through the possible conversation ahead of time, you can avoid being caught off guard by emotional response from the recipient.
What if they just won’t listen?
It’s important to note that people don’t always get through all five stages. Shock, anger, and rejection may be as far as it goes. What do you do when your best efforts fail to produce results?
Perhaps the best advice is an adaptation of The Fourfold Way by Angeles Arrien:
Speak your truth.
Let go of the outcome.
You’ve shown up when you care enough to give feedback. You’ve paid attention when you learn and practice effective feedback skills. Once you’ve spoken your truth, the rest is up to the recipient. Let go of the outcome and let the recipient process your message and do with it what they will. For every friendship that is lost because someone gets angry over feedback they’ve received, another is lost because the person giving the feedback becomes angry and frustrated when their good counsel isn’t taken. Don’t let that happen to you.
Thanks for reading this far. I hope you’ll consider applying these skills in your interactions. Sharing our love for each other with honest, candid, effective feedback is a great gift. May all your efforts be blessed and rewarded.
I Am A Witch. Now What?
I am writing this in response to an increasing number of people young and old who have something in common. They are all new or inexperienced in the Ways of the Wise, Wicca, Shaman, Witch, etc. They all have a similar question, “ Ok I’m a witch. What now?” They all have a yearning for a purpose or direction. As far as I know there is not a handbook, or instruction manual with illustrations that will lead a person down their life’s path. A person’s path is very personal and each person chooses the direction whether it was a conscious choice or not.
So my intent is to give anyone who is interested the tools necessary to at least make an informed choice. Also an idea of how to find out what to do once they have chosen to be a Witch. The opinions and advice here are just that, and should be taken in that light. I am not all seeing, all knowing, but I am a third generation Witch with some experience.
To start with I use the term Witch to refer to all the nature-based practices, as there are so many and they each have their own name. Most people these days use parts and pieces from many to form their own path, which is completely fine. Just for comparison my own path is a mix of Shaman, Wicca, Egyptian, Celt, with a little Chaos thrown in for fun. I also use Magick to refer to the changes made by the Witch, to his/her own self, and to the world in general. I list the two separately because you can practice one without the other although they both have always worked together for me.
Being a Witch is being sensitive to and caring about the world and all of the living things in it. That includes people, animals, plants, rocks, water, air, …etc. I hope you get where I am going with this: everything has a life force. Scientists have proven that there is an energy that ties and binds the universe and everything in it together. That energy is known as life force. The energy can even be measured, and seen, if you allow yourself to see it.
The life force is made up of positive/negative or male/female currents, which can be felt and used by anyone who allows him or herself to recognize it. Not an easy thing to do when you consider that we as a society are programmed to only believe what we are told is ok to believe in.
If you allow yourself to make the choice for yourself and open your mind to the possibility that your cat or dog or bird or horse or flowers or whatever really does communicate with you, and you are not crazy. You will have made the first step toward understanding one of the great mysteries.
The male/female life force is an example of the duality in everything. This is where we get God/Goddess, and the names we use for them are a personal choice, because after all we are talking about a religion and/or way of life. Since we touched on a way of life I think it would be good to mention the Wiccan Rede, which I feel, is very valid. Although it’s ideals can be very difficult to live up to.
One of the main values is “Harm none, Do as you will” The other is the rule of three, “What you send out comes back to you, times three”. The life force is a give and take thing, positive attracts positive and negative attracts negative, again another choice. As a Witch you are the keeper or protector of all living things. But remember above all, your spiritual path should make you happy and feel good about yourself.
Magick is the use of the energy or life force that is all around and in everything around you. All knowledge is there also, if you learn how to see. Which is why some can tell the future, some the past, some can travel to other places and times (astral projection) . Don’t worry I’ll explain.
Human beings are gifted with the ability to focus and receive/direct energy with their minds, scientifically known as psychokinetic, or more simply to alter and effect change according to their will. Change to themselves but also change to things around them. One general rule my family has always tried to follow is that if you use Magick, you replace Magick.
What I mean by that is, energy borrowed must be returned either in kind or by actions. I cannot stress enough that Magick is very real and powerful. The only limit is the Witch. If your intent is weak, the Magick will be weak. But if your intent is absolute, the Magick will be also. So please be careful, and remember the rule of three.
I have tried to be general and non-specific but still open the door to “the good red road” as the native shamans call it. But this is a very basic start and there are a lot of books, web sights, groups, etc. out there with good information. Be curious and research whatever interests you.
If you meet someone who can help guide you, make sure you trust him or her and use what fits for you and discard the rest. In fact the only person I can recommend completely is you. Listen to the little voice inside; it doesn’t lie. Remember no one has all the answers for you, your path is your own and your choices are your own.
My grandmother once told me “ If you follow your heart while listening to your soul you will never be lost”. Your path through this life should be fun and an adventure, remember to stop and admire the beauty and wonder along the way, whichever path that may be.
I hope our paths cross some day. If by chance they do not, we can all discuss the adventure on the other side. The “Old Ones” are with you to help guide your steps. So it is said, so it is done.
|Your Daily Influences
March 30, 2011
|King of Swords
The ability to govern and give good advice. A powerful enemy and staunch friend. Strong, authorative and able to lead.
Tiwaz is the Warrior Rune. It represents pure, masculine power and the ability to successfully fight to meet your goals. However, you must be careful that costs of attaining your goals overshadow their values.
You may need help from a higher law to balance this aspect. This law could be a supervisor, a mediator or even a judgement through a legal venue.
|Your Daily Influences represent events and challenges the current day will present for you. They may represent opportunities you should be ready to seize. Or they may forewarn you of problems you may be able to avoid or lessen. Generally it is best to use them as tips to help you manage your day and nothing more.|
|Your Charm for Today|
|<!– Interpretation Basics–>|
This aspect is affected by good financial fortune. Your good fortune will come from an investment, an unexpected windfall, or a change of vocation.
In India and Tibet, and other countries were Buddhism is practiced, the Conch Shell is prized as a charm for oratory, learning, protection, good fortune and riches. As Conch Shells were used as the current coin among all the primitive peoples of the East, no doubt this has suggested their use as charms for bringing wealth. The Conch Shell is also one of the eight emblems of Buddha, all of which are used as talismans. They consist of the Wheel of the Law, Conch Shell, Lucky Diagram, Goldn Fish, Umbrella, Vase, Lotus, and the Turmpet of Victory.
Your Animal Spirit for Today
Crow is always on the alert for trouble—and their loud caws! warn each other of impending danger, Very little escapes Crow’s keen vision—which is why many cultures associate Crow with the keeper of knowledge. Crow has flapped his way into your life today to bring a message of watchfulness—have you built your nest high enough to really understand what’s going on around you?
|Today’s Chakra Energy Levels
|The Chakras represent the seven primary energy hubs in the body. Life force energy is constantly flowing in and out of these centers. Just as the cosmos is constantly changing, so too are the levels of energy absorbed and radiated by our Chakra centers. The graph below is a representation of the quantities of Chakra energies available today.
|Your Deck of Ancient Symbols Card for Today
As in the game of chess, where the towers stand guard at the corners of the battlefield, The Tower represents a defense and stronghold, perhaps at the edge of life, of change, of sanity. The tower rises out of solid bedrock and is a place to take refuge, to recoup, to meditate upon the next step. United as it is with solid earth, it also rises into the heavens, and it is there the answers appear to us, when we have climbed above daily worldly matters into a higher consciousness. When the Tower appears, seek solitude and cultivate inner strength, prepare for coming challenges.
As a daily card The Tower suggests you are in a time when you are likely to face major challenges. The Tower indicates that the best way for you to face these challenges is to fortify your inner resources and keep yourself solidly grounded.
|Your Crowley Thoth Tarot Card for Today
Only The Universe card of the Crowley Tarot can match the blessings that come with The Sun. While it certainly doesn’t promise a life’s path without some bumps in the road, The Sun indicates all will be well. The Sun is our Cosmic Nurturer. Life flourishes under its radiant beams. It provides the illumination to find Truths and lights one’s path so they do not get lost. To stand in the rays of The Sun is to shine. To absorb its energy promotes growth, exceptional physical and mental health, and good fortune. The Sun is empowering, elevating and fills those who bask in it with confidence and sense of self-worth.
Feng Shui Tip of the Day
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
For bravery and courage, keep a representation of a tiger in the center portion of the right side of your home or office.
of the Day
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
You might anger or upset a lover with a casual comment. Be careful about where you take a relationship in discussions. Can you avoid confrontation with pleasant silence?
Today’s I Ching Hexagram for Everyone:
Wednesday, March 30th, 2011
General Meaning: A state of standstill is a state of decline. Confusion and disorder prevail. Inferior elements are on the rise, while the powers of clarity and creativity are waning. In such times, the wise take shelter in their own integrity and quietly remain faithful to their highest selves. Retreat from public activities and common exchanges until the time once again favors assertive action.
During periods of stagnation, inferior elements can rise to power. When the inmates are overrunning the asylum, summon up your fortitude, hide your worth and withdraw. Concentrate on your personal affairs with a quiet dignity, even if that means giving up short-term rewards.
Desiring to change a situation too quickly often creates extra conflict. By accepting hardship, while striving to maintain integrity, you are preparing for future growth. A seed of prosperity is often hidden inside the husk of misfortune.