Lady A’s Spell of the Day: Hexbreaker Bath-Marie Laveau Bath

This spell is attributed in Marie Laveau.

  1. Draw a bath of warm water.
  2. Make an infusion by pouring boiling water over a dish containing one head of garlic (broken into cloves, but not peeled), one bunch of basil, one bunch of parsley and one bunch of sage.
  3. Let the infusion stand. Do not strain.
  4. Add eight ounces (about 250 ml) of geranium hydrosol.
  5. Stir in one teaspoon of saltpeter.
  6. The bathroom should be cleansed and fumigated.
  7. When you’ve ready get into the tub: either pour the entire dish of clearing materials over you or ladle it gradually. Then soak in the tub.
  8. Let the water out. Air-dry, let the water dry on you. Don’t worry about clearing up the tub for at least a hour, and preferably wait until the next day.
  9. Rub your body with Bay Rum

Your Daily Influences for 4/17

Your Daily Influences
April 17, 2011 
 

Tarot Influence

Rune Influence


Charm Influence
Nine of Cups Reversed
Unfulfilled wishes, bad health and deprivation are possible.
Laguz
Laguz is the feminine Rune. It denotes a deep sexuality and fertility. Laguz also represents that which is ever changing and renewal. You may be in a tremendous spiritual growth period.
Pisces the Fishes
This aspect of your life will be strongly influenced by a person who is escapist and idealistic, secretive and vague, weak-willed and easily led. This person probably relies to heavily upon you to make decisions for them.
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 4/17

Your Charm for Today

 
 

The Tusk
 
Today’s Meaning:
There is a good vibration surrounding this aspect. It feels better than it has in quite some time. Maintain your faith in your diety of choice and this good vibration will remain. Waiver from your faith and this good vibration will dissapate.General Description:
This Estruscan talisman – a tusk carved in basalt, and elaborately mounted in gold filigree work – was worn as a protector from danger and evil influences. The charm was supposed to attract good fortune and success. The Tusk represented one of the horns of the Crescent Moon, which was a symbol of the Egyptian goddess Isis, who, in the course of time, became the most universal nad powerful of all the goddesses. The Estrucans, Greeks and romans had great faith in the reputed virtues of amulets, a belief which was greatly influenced by the Egyptians.

Your Animal Spirit for 4/17

Your Animal Spirit for Today
April 17, 2011 
 

your daily animal spirit for today

Raven

Raven has long been known as the magical bird—the one who carries our messages and our prayers to spirit. Raven has been called a shape-shifter, and his message to you today is one of change—expect the unexpected, but know that Raven is flying close and will help you transform life’s challenges into life’s greatest blessings.

Today’s Chakra Energy Levels for 4/17

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.

Sahasrara:
   
24%
Ajna:
   
47%
Vishuddha:
   
26%
Anahata:
   
70%
Manipura:
   
99%
Svadhisthana:
   
33%
Muladhara:
   
60%

Legend:
Sahasrara – The Crown Chakra represents energies associated with cosmic consciousness, spirituality, knowledge, wisdom and inner peace.
Ajna – The Third Eye Chakra represents energies focused on both physical and spiritual vision. Psychic powers resonate from the Ajna Chakra, as well as your image of the Cosmos as a whole (the big picture) and the many nuances that make your journey unique.
Vishuddha – Throat Chakra is the energy center associated with communication and creativity. Your energy to express yourself verbally and creatively are derived from the Vishuddha Chakra.
Anahata – The Heart Chakra’s energy is concentrated on issues concerning your emotions. This energy fuels your power to love, feel compassion and maintain balance between disparate aspects of your being.
Manipura – The Power Chakra provides the energy that fuels our strength of will, individuality and sense of self-worth.
Svadhisthana – The Spleen or Sacral Chakra supplies the energy we use emotionally and sexually. This is the energy used to connect to others.
Muladhara – The Root or Base Chakra furnishes the energy used to create and maintain our foundation. This is the energy that keeps us on firm ground and provides us with the basic skills to uphold a place in the world.

The Planets Now for 4/17

 

Position of the planets based on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
 
Sun:
27° 24′
in Aries
Moon:
22° 23′
in Libra
Mercury:
14° 14′
in Aries
Venus:
25° 54′
in Pisces
Mars:
12° 05′
in Aries
Jupiter:
19° 05′
in Aries
Saturn:
12° 46′
in Libra
Uranus:
02° 08′
in Aries
Neptune:
00° 33′
in Pisces
Pluto:
07° 12′
in Capricorn
Aspects:
Conjunction: Mars Jupiter 6º
Conjunction: Mercury Jupiter 4º
Conjunction: Mercury Mars 2º
Conjunction: Sun Jupiter 8º
Conjunction: Venus Uranus 6º
Opposition: Jupiter Saturn 6º
Opposition: Mars Saturn 0º
Opposition: Mercury Saturn 1º
Opposition: Moon Jupiter 3º
Opposition: Sun Moon 5º
Semi-Sextile: Sun Venus 1º
Semi-Sextile: Uranus Neptune 1º
Sextile: Sun Neptune 3º
Square: Mars Pluto 4º
Square: Saturn Pluto 5º
Square: Uranus Pluto 5º
The Sun in Aries
Leadership qualities tend to come to the forefront. Optimism is high and challenges seem a bit easier to meet. Taking care of number one can be a main theme in this period. Aggression levels and the need for adventure are likely to rise as well. Impulsive, decisive, and courageous actions by even the meekest of souls are very possible at this time.Sun Opposition or Square Moon
This aspect can create a polarity of desires. As an example, one may desire maximum personal freedom while longing for a powerful intimate relationship based on a long term commitment.

Sun Conjunct Jupiter
Optimism and confidence are likely to be high in many. Life’s positive energies are very strong. Gain through luck is very possible.

Sun Sextile or Trine Neptune
Artistic pursuits and mysticism may be very attractive at this time.

Moon In Libra
The need for tranquil, conflict free environment is likely to be high. Many will be wrestling with what direction to take their lives in.Moon Opposition or Square Jupiter
This aspect provides a healthy influence that makes it easier for people to forgive and forget. Many will find themselves very open to helping those in need.
Mercury In Aries
Mercury in Aries is an influence that does not favor diplomacy. Many will be far more outspoken than usual. Dissension will be prevalent. Traditional approaches to handling challenges are likely to be replaced by new, more affective strategies. The need to be on the cutting edge of things will be strong.Mercury Conjunct Mars
Debates and analytical thinking are likely. The candid words of some may be so frank that they may be seen as offensive to those on the receiving end.

Mercury Conjunct Jupiter
Seeking the “essence” of things may become a preoccupation. The need and ability to share ideas is strong.

Mercury Opposition or Square Saturn
This aspect provides a favorable window for tackling complex intellectual problems.

Venus In Pisces
Feelings are likely to run very deep. One may find themselves swelled with compassion that the need to help others becomes a major motivator. Creativity should be very strong and could lead to the development of exceptional innovations in the future.Venus Conjunct Uranus
The need for personal freedom will be very acute in many, and may cause strain in their personal and professional relationships.
Mars In Aries
Action is the keyword at this time. Those who act quickly and decisively should be favored. Self-sufficiency and the ability to act alone are valuable assets. Many will do well by focusing on short term goals.Mars Conjunct Jupiter
Success in all arenas is possible. Energy levels and optimism should be relatively high.

Mars Opposition or Square Saturn
This aspect favors launching projects and starting relationships that one intends to commit to for the long term. Substantial progress in ongoing projects is likely as well.

Mars Opposition or Square Pluto
This aspect favors those who put the full force of their will into reaching their goals. During this time it would be wise not to share one’s plans and ideas with a broad audience.

Jupiter In Aries
Self-reliance and optimism are favored at this time. Those who enjoy challenges and competition are favored. Adopting a never surrender attitude is a key component to attaining success.Jupiter Opposition or Square Saturn
This aspect tends to muddle the distinction between what is real and what one wishes to be real. Setbacks can be experienced due to this nebulous vision of reality.
Saturn In Libra
Intimacy may be more of a chore than a pleasure. Some will find their progress towards strengthening intimate bonds and attaining goals muted by feelings of inadequacy.

Saturn Opposition or Square Pluto
This aspect may make it difficult to commit one’s self to anything beyond the moment at hand. However, those who do take on new goals will put the full force of their nature into achieving them.

Uranus In Aries
The astrological influence of Uranus is measured in increments of 7 years. What this means is that the effects of Uranus influence an entire generation. Day to day the Uranian influence may be imperceptible, but when the period is viewed as a whole the impact of Uranus is likely to be strikingly apparent.Iconoclasm, independence and self-sufficiency are likely to be major themes during this period. Traditional values will be challenged. Those with a pioneering spirit will flourish.

Uranus Square Pluto
A mental restlessness and the need for complete personal freedom are possible influences of this aspect. In some the need for total autonomy may be so strong that they will challenge any attempt to subdue their independence.

Neptune In Pisces
Because Neptune takes approximately 14 years to move across Pisces its day to day influence may be imperceptible, but when the period is viewed as a whole the impact of Neptune in Pisces is likely to be strikingly apparent.Gentleness, creativity, and the pursuit of spiritual truth are strong influences at this time. Many may find mysticism and unorthodox religions very attractive.
Pluto In Capricorn
Because Pluto takes approximately 15 years to move across Capricorn its day to day influence may be imperceptible, but when the period is viewed as a whole the impact of Pluto in Capricorn is likely to be strikingly apparent.Strong economic gains can be made during this period. Pluto in Capricorn favors those who are able to make logical decisions and devise pragmatic solutions to the challenges before them.

Your Deck of Ancient Symbols Card for 4/17

Your Deck of Ancient Symbols Card for Today
 
 

Creation

The Creation card suggest that your creative powers are at or near their peak and that the raw material from which you can craft new and lasting creations is all around you. The question is can you free your mind from your everyday routines to take advantage of this powerful moment in your life? As Eric Fromm said, “Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.” The full force of Creation can only be realized by those who are prepared to sacrifice the comfort concomitant with sticking to the tried and true.

As a daily card, Creation indicates your are currently bursting with creativity. Where others see chaos and waste, you see the stuff from which great things arise. If you have the courage to look beyond the comfort of your day to day life, you have the command to soar creatively at this time.

Shamanism and Shape-shifting

Shamanism and Shape-shifting

Author: Gentle Deer Lion Tamer

Shamanism:

Shamanism is a set of tools and techniques used to interact with the spirit world and the world around us. It has no specific pantheon of gods and is attached to no particular culture. It is a way of looking at the world and at yourself. There are no hard-set rules, no hierarchy to try and work through. Shamanism is the oldest known form of spiritual practice. It is a time-tested practice, what works is kept, what doesn’t is left behind. When our ancient ancestors prayed that the spirit of the Deer would come to them allowing them a good hunt, they were using shamanic techniques although I am sure that was not the word they used to describe it.

Shamanism is a personal quest for knowledge and inner power, but it is a quest that has traditionally taken place within the confines of a tribe or family group. The same holds true for those who follow a shamanic path today, but our groups might be different. We could work to guide and aid our family or a group of friends or a pagan circle. These groups are just as valid and appropriate a place for a modern person walking a shamanic path as a tribe was to an ancient one. A shaman’s place is within a community, not apart from it.

Shamans have held an important place in many different cultures throughout the world since our beginnings. They have been mediators, ceremonialists, healers, diviners, many different kinds of artists and much more. They learn and work with power for both themselves and the good of those around them. They understand the connection and need for balance amongst all things, that all aspects of the world that we share with the rest of creation is alive, humans, animals, plants, rocks, and even the wind.

Traditionally people generally came to a shamanic path by being chosen and trained by an experienced shaman, or by inheriting the role from a parent. Often people choose or are led to follow a shamanic path after a near death experience, but that doesn’t mean that you have to go out and try to kill yourself if you want to learn shamanism. In today’s world many people come to the shamanic path because they feel drawn to it or curious about it. Anyone can incorporate shamanic practices into their lives. You only need to believe that you can.

However, interest in shamanism does not make you a Shaman. If you are just starting this path it is much more appropriate to say you are following a shamanic path or a student of shamanism. Shaman is one among many titles that can be used for a person who has followed and studied this path for many years. Another common title is Medicine Woman or Man.

Another common misconception is that shamanism is synonymous with Native American spirituality. Native Americans were one of many groups that used shamanic practices in their spirituality. Many other cultures did and still do, from South America all the way to Siberia in fact. Some of the better known shamanic paths include Native American shamanism, Celtic shamanism, and Siberian shamanism.

Shape-shifting:

Shape-shifting is a type of meditation on the relationship between humankind and nature, in particular animals. Shapeshifting is based on assuming certain characteristics of an animal. Traits and talents are also included in these characteristics. These characteristics, traits, and talents are assumed for a limited time and for a particular purpose. A shape-shifter is able to change shape either at will or under special circumstances.

Shape-shifters are not just human; they are also animals and plants. Shape-shifting ability depends on the level or degree of energy or quality of life the creature possesses. It is more difficult for plants because they are stationary, and least difficult for human beings because they are most able to understand the dynamics involved. Animals, including humans, are mobile, and it follows that animals are adept at moving and directing energy. It is, as humans, our innate nature, and our state of being.

For Chinese Taoists, there are two methods or purposes for shape-shifting. One, to strengthen or improve your vital essence by the study of metaphysics and nature. Two, to share your vital essence with others. This shift can be accomplished through meditation, channeling, dancing, and singing – as well as chanting, ritual, and making love. More or less, any situation where people merge together as One and build energy.

Toltec shamans shape-shift and gather energy by pulling together the power from the universe, for instance, from dead stars. Through a complex set of physical movements, breath and intention, the Toltec shaman gathers and collects energy to be used toward specific purposes.

The Celtic shaman also understands that things never truly die; they merely change form. Thus, the cycle of life becomes more understood. All things continuously change shape. A child grows to adulthood to old age to death and again. Everything is continuously reborn through shape-shifting and the elemental components are constantly recycling.

A glass of water is a good example of these changes. If given a glass of water, you cannot destroy it; it is impossible to destroy the water. If poured our, the water becomes part of whatever you pour it into or onto. If evaporated, it later becomes rain. If drank, it becomes part of the body then waste that is recycled into the Earth. In other words, like all other things, it cannot be destroyed. Nothing can be destroyed. All is ever-beginning, never-ending. All things merely shift shape. This very strongly suggests that shapeshifting is a natural state of existence.

Human reason and logic do not necessarily apply to shapeshifting. To shift into another person, animal, or elemental energy means being privy to the secrets of a state of being where you are able to feel the unexplainable, the mysterious. By setting aside known and accepted natural laws, like inertia, you can merge into the body of any animal, plant, rock, body of water – anything you choose. This merging allows you to experience the world of instinct. This world is frightening to most humans who have separated themselves from nature and from the “natural” state of being.

As you learn more about shifting, and abandon the structures and forces that hold you to the Earth, time and space become very fluid and soft. This creates a gateway to Oneness, a threshold of awareness where your perspective alters and changes permanently. Once you move through that threshold, you are transformed. It becomes a metamorphosis.

The fluidity of reality becomes “normal” and you realize you are not a fixed human being on this planet but a multidimensional being with the potential of experiencing an infinite number of lifetimes, worlds, and shapes. One important thing to remember in practicing shape-shifting is that nothing is what it seems to be, especially time, matter, and space.

On a very basic level, shifting allows for a richer and fuller perspective of life and experience. As a way to gather information and build magickal skill, shape-shifting connects you with your creative ability and your spiritual center, regardless of your religious, philosophical, or cultural preferences.

The key to learning how to shape-shift is merging, sometimes called the “thirteenth factor.” Merging, or the thirteenth factor is the point where there is no division between body, mind and spirit. Everything becomes Oneness, and all knowledge and wisdom are readily accessible in this place of being, depending on your intentions and desire. Merging is the mystic state where you become one with all things. This occurs naturally when you are in a beautiful nature area, and suddenly you feel yourself becoming part of the trees, the waterfall, and the rocks.

It also occurs when you fall in love. You merge and meld with your partner. Another example is the bonding that happens between parent and child, or between twins.

The Two Main Components of the merging process are breath and intention. First, your intention needs to be specific, simple, and directed. Focus on the intention before, during and after merging.

Second, pay close attention to how you are breathing. Relax. Use “in, 2, 3, 4 – out, 2, 3, 4.” Hold your breath briefly in between. Repeat this as many times as needed for you to relax. After practice, you will find that merging becomes automatic.

When you merge into an animal, you enter the energetic being of the animal, stepping into catness or wolfness, and so on. It is as if you enter the domain of essence, becoming the animal, almost like becoming a mirror of the animal. Each animal becomes an aspect of yourself, your eyes, your legs, your heart become one with the eagle, the horse, the lion, etc.

When you incarnate into the physical, you take form and become flesh, embodied and defined. Definition gives temporary form and shape as a human being. Shape-shifting allow you to briefly step out of that form. It also allows you to move out of “ordinary” reality into multidimensional awareness, realizing you can be here and there at the same time.

It is a strange feeling at first, until you accustom yourself to this new perspective. With practice, you can eventually learn to experimentally be in several places (worlds) at once, hence the concept of simultaneous lifetimes.

There are three levels of shape-shifting: mental, physical (usually accompanied by mental) , and astral.

Put The Book Down!

Put The Book Down!

Author: Siantia
I quarrel about the meaning of the term ‘Wicca’ or ‘Pagan’. I argue over the rules and structures of the various ‘Wiccan paths’. I label myself with the correct label for my position in the craft and demand others do the same. I adhere to set structures and rituals and judge those that do not. I look to occult figures to gather my instructions on how to worship my Goddess and God. I rely on another human being to give me permission to have a spiritual identity. Does this sound like you? If you have ticked any of the ‘boxes’ above then I urge you to read this article. But I’m warning you – there are no labels here for you. No man/woman to tell you the rules of your religion and no words given to you to describe what you are.

How many books on Wicca/Witchcraft/Paganism and any others of a similar nature do you own?

How many of these books have rituals for you to follow, incantations for you to recite and sabbats for you to adhere to?

How many people do you know that say you MUST be in a coven, or you MUST do that or you HAVE TO think this way?

How often, when engaging in a Wiccan/Magickal discussion or argument have you opened your most prestigious Wiccan book to read the answer and then quoted it and sat back happily knowing you must have won the argument because you used the words of an occult icon?

Quarrels about rules and words feature so strongly in Wicca/Witchcraft, everyone has their own opinion and everyone seems to have their biography of Gerald Gardner or Alex Sanders at the ready to use if the argument gets tough. But I ask you – where is your Goddess and God when you are debating this and arguing about that and proclaiming you know more than this person about that subject?

How many times do you put your book down, step away from the laws of your coven, stop listening to the ‘more experienced’ Witch and look inside your heart to talk to your Mother and Father? What do you think they would tell you about all these rules, paths and words?

“Quarrelling about words only serves to ruin those who listen to them” is one of my favorite quotes, and one I read often when I find myself almost getting involved in an argument. There is no piece of information so grand that you need to quarrel and argue over it. There is no right so right that has not come directly from The Goddess and God. I urge people to put their books down and to talk to the source that can give them all the knowledge they’re looking for. It starts by looking inside yourself and not at your favorite author; once you have looked inside yourself you find the Goddess and the God were there all along.

When you next meet someone that refers to him/herself using certain labels, or when you next are involved in a conversation about the rules of a Wiccan ritual ask the goddess and the god to show you the truth of these man-made creations. Listen and feel what you receive. What do you think your Goddess and God would say to the people arguing over the exact meaning of the term Wiccan? What do you think they would say to the couple trying to win the argument about the importance of initiation? Do you think our loving Mother and Father would see the relevance or importance of any of this?

When you feel afraid that something you are doing is not correct, who are you afraid of? The person who wrote the book you are following? The high priestess of the coven you have just joined? Or the judgmental ‘experienced’ witches you socialize with? Out of all the people you are afraid will judge you if you are not adhering to the label you have been given (or have given yourself) do you think any of them have the authority or power to say anything? Do you believe a man or a woman has more knowledge about The Goddess and The God than the Goddess and The God themselves? And do you believe that anyone but yourself can find the right answer to your problems?

Put the book down, and while you’re at it socialize with less rigid people. We are our own masters, because all of us are children of our Mother and Father. No matter what words you read in books, no matter what ‘high’ priest/ess tells you – no being knows more than The Goddess and God. It is to them you should talk, not to ‘man’.

Religion can be a beautiful life choice that makes your incarnation more colorful and interesting; a way of life that inspires you and makes you feel fulfilled as a human experiencing the Earth, knowing deep inside that it is a creation of man and that simple love of your creators will always triumph. Is this you? Or have you become so consumed with your chosen label, so consumed with the words and their meanings that you have forgotten the simplicity of the universe? What is it they say we have here? Ah yes – free will.

Perhaps you feel your religion and structure, fine details and correct interpretation of words are still important to you? Perhaps you feel that the Goddess and God are with you on that, and they wouldn’t like you to throw away labels and boxes? Then, debate away. Open your forum and join with everyone else that wants words to be important. Words have power after all!

I will go and sit beside the Goddess and The God and we shall watch you in your hall of right and wrong. When you are ready…put the book down, and see what the Goddess and God has to discuss with you.

Merry Meet to all the masters of themselves.


Footnotes:
*This article is intended for thought provoking and not direct insult. The opinions expressed are my own and so of course are not being imposed or ordered onto anyone else. Live and let live after all.

Has Neo-Paganism Gone Back Into the Broom Closet?

Has Neo-Paganism Gone Back Into the Broom Closet?

Author: Cathryn Platine

Having been a practicing Pagan for most of a somewhat long life, I’ve noticed what appears to be a retreat lately from organized groups back to a solitary form of practice among modern Neo-Pagans. Thirty or so years ago we were blossoming as a religious movement, new groups forming on a daily basis and frequently cited as the fastest growing religious movement on the planet. What happened?

In many ways those very things that were our strengths at first seemed to have worked against us in the long run. We became a religious movement of mostly chiefs and few Indians. Our leaders didn’t fail us, the idea that we all needed to be leaders did.

This isn’t just a failing of Paganism. It seems to hold true with any marginalized group that has been forced into individualized closets. Thirty years ago while public awareness of Paganism was growing, we still had an era where many local police departments were still operating “Occult Squads” which were little more than modern extensions of the Burning Times.

The more timid did not openly wear symbols of their religion and did not openly belong to groups. Those who were bursting forth did so in independent open defiance of the status quo. All that was required to be a Pagan leader back then was a soapbox, a loud voice and a general willingness to be “out and proud”.

It was an exciting time to be Pagan but it also meant that there were a lot of turf wars over ideology and even legitimacy. These are remembered today as the Great Witch Wars and they did hurt us, but at the same time several of our best known Elders came out of this period.

Just as the Women’s Movement, which came of age around the same time, the GLB movement and today the Transgender Movement, Neo-Paganism thrusts together highly individualistic and independently minded people under a common cause which at first is very exciting but then gets lost in the individual differences. We can do better than this; we must do better than this if we are to survive. It is possible for us to band together in celebrations that actually celebrate our unique qualities. It is necessary we gather in common to fight for our collective civil rights without turf wars. We need to learn that those whose practices are somewhat different from our own are still our sisters and brothers.

A strange thing happened our way towards revival…traditions that were originally spread by oral teachings, plays, storytelling, mentoring and other non-written forms became enslaved in the written word. This actually changes even the way you think and process what you learn from the emotional side to the logical one. An excellent (ironically enough) book on the subject is The Alphabet Vs. The Goddess by Leonard Shlain, which I highly recommend as vital reading for all Neo-Pagans.

An argument can easily be made that the very revival of Goddess awareness resulted from a shift away from the written word to the visual in the form of movies and television that allowed a return to a more ancient mode of informational processing and yet the paradox of the Neo-Pagan religious movement was a rush towards an ever growing number of Pagan authors as it grew!

Over the years I’ve witnessed pagans group together in mutually exclusive groups based on different Occult bookstores in an area, the bookstore owners becoming the de facto local Pagan warlords. The Pagan authors have replaced local deities with completely predictable results. Those Pagan centres won at the cost of often great expense and work have trouble getting community support and frequently find themselves at odds with local governments over issues such as basic recognition of religious status.

We Cybelines find ourselves in that position right now, our property denied tax-exempt status locally despite both Federal and State recognition as a legitimate religious group doing charitable work. While we won the right to Pagan clergy in the Armed Forces back in the seventies, recently a major battle was required simply to get the Veterans Administration to acknowledge the Pentacle as a valid religious symbol. We are meekly allowing ourselves to be shoved back into the broom closet once again.

One of the frequently voiced justifications for less than full recognition of our legal status goes like this: Where are the Pagan hospitals, orphanages, and shelters? Those who voice this then point to Christianity, as somehow more worthy for having them but forgetting the Christians didn’t invent charitable works, they learned them from ancient Pagans. There exists a smallish but growing groups of Pagans who are restoring ancient forms of living together in religious communities complete with the charitable works. Pagan Pride events now routinely do food drives as part and parcel of organizing their events.

We can do this. We can support each other and still respect our individual beliefs and practices. We can live together in supportive communities. We can and must do charitable outreach as part and parcel of our very spiritual nature.

Without taking anything away from Pagans who personify Deities, I have also witnessed a growth of those whose spiritual awareness has moved towards recognition of the Divine in all around us. Most of those with this viewpoint embrace the ancient Mother Goddess traditions, especially what was known in classical times as the Mystery Religions. Many solo practitioners today also embrace this point of view.

If you understand that everyone you encounter is as much part of the Goddess as you are, you don’t need carrot and stick theology to understand that treating others decently is simply another form of worshiping the Divine. You don’t require leaders to spoon-feed you the requirements of “loving” deity to give you your birthright, a personal connection with the Divine that is within you. All you need is those who help you locate the Divine within you and connect with it.

After a lifetime of study and research and soul searching I found this was the “Old Religion” that in the early days of the Neo-Pagan revival everyone claimed descent from. I found it was almost universal in the ancient world going back as far as is possible to go in history.

I saw it first revived in modern times in the “Women’s Spirituality” movement but much of that became sidetracked, in my own opinion, in understandable feminist reaction to living in a world controlled by the patriarchy. I’ve been saddened to see some groups retreat into matriarchal thinking that seeks to replace patriarchy with a macho form of matriarchy. It is not so much the actual gender of the individual that is the problem with patriarchy, it’s the dismissal an entire way of living and thinking embodied in Goddess traditions that seek to live in harmony with nature understanding we are all intimately connected and the ideals of nurturing rather than dominating. Replacing one form of domination with another is a zero sum game.

It’s time that all of us who embrace a Pagan identity ask ourselves exactly what do we hold as core values and do we actually live those values? If your personal answers are similar to my own, how can you celebrate your connection to the Divine without making connections with others part of that?

Why aren’t you seeking out groups that share your core beliefs? If you cannot find such a group, why aren’t you forming them?

Don’t retreat to the broom closets, don’t seek answers from others outside yourself, join in celebrations and living with those who share your worldview. Rather than seeking leaders or worse, trying to become one, why not pursue a life of service to others in recognition that they are part of yourself?

Stuck On Stupid?: A Seeker’s Perspective

Stuck On Stupid?: A Seeker’s Perspective

Author: R. T. Hummingbird

Anyone who has done Customer Service work in just about any capacity has encountered a scenario similar to this one at least once, if not many times: A customer or client is not able to access their account, or use whatever service is provided by your company, and they call Customer Service for assistance.

Let’s say for example that this particular problem the customer is experiencing is usually resolved by a Customer Service specialist resetting or unlocking their account. But, in this particular instance, the customer needs to submit an access request form to get the account restored from a disabled state. From the point of view of the Customer Service specialist, this is a very simple process that provides a very quick resolution to the issue.

However, from the customer’s perspective, this may be an alien and frightening territory you’re asking them to enter… and, for whatever the reason may be, they feel apprehensive about performing whatever steps are required to resolve their issue. They would much rather have the Customer Service person “work their magic” and make their problem (s) go away for them… a testament to our society’s addiction to instant gratification, but that’s a whole other essay.

For my full-time job, I work at a somewhat huge Information Technology firm that provides computer services to many big-named companies here in the United States and worldwide. My job function at this firm is to provide end-user support to our client company’s employees. This particular client I support is another huge corporation whose primary business is quite different from Information Technology.

Our client’s employees are very skilled in their own crafts, and see the computer sitting on the foreman’s desk, or in the manager’s office, as a mere tool that is only used for one or more specific purpose, and nothing more. Whereas, for someone who works in Information Technology, a computer is much more than a mere tool. The Information Technology person tends to have a much deeper understanding of these machines and how they work… and (most of the time) knows how to fix them when they break.

To illustrate the contrast, if you were to place me in an aircraft mechanical shop and told me to diagnose and fix an issue with a broke-down airplane, I wouldn’t have a clue what I was doing. Whereas, if you were to take an airline mechanic, place him in front of a crashed computer and ask him to diagnose and fix it, he wouldn’t know what to do either. In fact, he may grab a sledgehammer or whatever heavy tool he had handy and smash it to pieces in frustration.

He may or may not be willing (or have the patience) to perform whatever steps may be necessary to correct the issue with the machine simply because he is not familiar with it… or perhaps he doesn’t understand how it works well enough. Or, maybe this person is a “techno-phobe” – one who tends to steer away from new technology, and favors the “old-fashioned” ways of doing things.

Whatever the reason may be, a specialist or expert would perceive this individual as someone who doesn’t seem to possess enough intelligence to tie their own shoes, let alone use whatever product or service the specialist supports… when in fact they may be quite intelligent in their own right, and are likely more knowledgeable in other subject matters than the specialist. This could apply to many things aside from Customer Service. I’m sure this perspective applies to just about every occupation there is.

As for me, I’ve worked in Customer Service for about a decade for various companies and in various capacities, and at just about every job I’ve held, I’ve experienced the scenario I described above many, many times. Currently at my job, I am training to take on a new position with new responsibilities. My trainer (to whom I owe a tremendous amount of credit and respect) is the most-skilled Customer Service specialist I have ever met. She has a very broad understanding of how most people think, and knows how to appease a customer while resolving their issue at the same time. This is a skill that I’m working on perfecting myself, but I doubt I’ll ever be at the same level as she.

While I’m pretty sure she is a church-going Christian, one can definitely sense the Goddess within her. She is aglow with Her Love, and is also extremely patient. She could be considered the exact opposite of the “Teacher” described in Arianna Reibia’s essay “The Best Teacher?” ( http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=uswv and c=words and id=12019) .

Yesterday during class, our Trainer was describing a scenario where a client customer had called our Help Desk 16 times within the last 3 days about an issue with an account on our system. Each time, the customer was directed to the correct procedure she needed to perform to restore her access. Apparently this particular procedure was well outside her comfort zone, as she didn’t seem willing to do it herself.

The Trainer described this person as being “stuck on stupid”, implying that she was being too stubborn about remaining inside her comfort zone, and insisting that the Help Desk would solve her issue if she asked enough times.

When this customer received the good fortune to speak with our Trainer about the issue, our Trainer used her mastery of Customer Service to appease the customer, and figuratively “take her by the hand”, lead her to where she needed to go, and walked her through the process. Later that day her issue was resolved.

As a new seeker of Wicca, I see a lesson from The Goddess in this. While something may be second nature to you, it may be uncharted territory to someone else. This doesn’t make the other person any less intelligent (or perhaps it does, depending on the person and the situation) .

When such a person approaches you for help with something that may seem amazingly simple to you, this doesn’t mean they lack intelligence. Instead, they may be in search of a caring, patient individual who will take them by the hand, relieve their fears with a caring disposition, and show them how it’s done. I believe this to be one of the qualities embodied by the Goddess, and as I continue to learn and pursue my Wiccan faith, I will bring honor to the Goddess by offering a caring hand to those who seek my help… within my job and in the world.



Footnotes:
“The Best Teacher?” essay by Arianna Reibia ( http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=uswv and c=words and id=12019)

Realistic Magical Advice for the “Good” Witch

Realistic Magical Advice for the “Good” Witch

Author: The Wyld Dream

As a spell slinger I am often referred to those in “dire need.” Sometimes the problem is rather simple. I have been sent after lost keys, a missing cat, and have had many requests for the usual prosperity spells. Occasionally the difficulty is more occult in nature and there is a problem spirit, a nasty Witch, or even a demonic possession.

Often the person in need is not a Witch and has little or no familiarity with real Magic. They have heard from others that I am “the real deal” and that I can help them. They are willing to suspend their disbelief and trust their contact’s assertion that I can and will magically solve the problem for free. Such is the way of the “good Witch.” A real Magic user often puts themselves out there as a white hat, a do-gooder, a veritable magnet for trouble and we traditionally do it for free.

There is a little saying, “You get what you pay for.” In the case of magical advice this well-known axiom tends to work in the reverse. Very few truly good and helpful Witches make significant amounts of money from practicing their craft. Most won’t take a dime. All that these generous folk ask for is the acknowledgement that they are “real” Magic users, and that you fully accept that when all is said and done that you have been helped by their use of Magic.

I firmly believe that the craft of will working reality is a skill. Yes some people have natural talent, but in the end most people can learn how to consciously change reality and “make things happen.” I believe that everyone, even the most dense and ardent disbeliever already uses Magic daily. The difference between Witches, sorcerers, Wicca, and other will workers is that we do it with purpose.

Using Magic is like dreaming. All people must sleep and all must dream but some people are able to lucid dream. They can control their dream reality. Some have a natural ability to lucid dream, others have taught themselves this skill, several people can lucid dream only rarely, and a few people simply cannot seem to ever remember their dreams at all. Those who can lucid dream have different levels of skill, a number of them can change themselves, some can change their environment, and others can force various people or elements into a dream.

In our waking world there are people that are natural magi. They don’t think much about how they do Magic and find that almost any technique of ritual, focus, or magical practice will work for them. Then there are people who have to try a little bit harder. They have to seek out the magical practice that works best for them. This is an ongoing process of trial and error that can at times be exhausting.

Then there are the difficult ones, the ones that really want to believe, but simply cannot “see” Magic. Where others see providence, they can only see coincidence. And then there are the unfortunate ones. They are completely blind to all Magic and insist that those those of us who do see Magic are mistaken.

Real Magic is a balance between the two opposites of providence and coincidence. For one who is aware of the underlying structure of reality there is no such thing as coincidence, and therefore conversely there is also no true providence. Somewhere between destiny and random happenstance lies the will worker’s mutable continuum of existence. They see that there is a multiplicity of Truths to this existence, and often Witches who are actually capable of effecting change can choose the Truth or the reality that they want to accept at any given moment.

This leads us back to the simple problem of a set of missing keys. When dealing with this predicament there are certain Truths that must be established: Have the keys been stolen, or are the keys “lost?” When and where the keys last seen? Where would the keys normally be? How many other people could have affected the location of the keys?

However before I lift so much as an eyebrow in an effort to find the keys using Magic I must first establish that the client has tried every mundane way possible to find the keys. Why? Because Magic isn’t a toy. Magic is not the easy button you slam whenever you are finding that things in life are inconvenient. If they were my keys, and I was practicing my skill with Magic I would attempt to use my ability of just “knowing” to find the keys. This practice would be for my own edification, and would teach me a valuable lesson on accepting my “knowing” but when working for someone else I need to consider the fact that I may be removing an opportunity for them to learn.

There are many lessons in a lost set of keys. Just telling someone where their keys are teaches them nothing. There are lessons about responsibility, about caution, about being organized, and in the case of an unrecoverable set of keys, about replacing locks. Casting a Magic spell won’t help them in the long run because they will just lose their keys again. Do I have a right to helps someone circumvent their lessons? Do I want the client to put me in their speed dial and call me every time they lose their keys or a contact lens? I don’t think so. Though, maybe just this once they need to learn that Magic is real. So, if I decide that is indeed the lesson that they need to learn the best way to teach them is to let them do it for themselves.

If someone has tried every mundane means feasible short of renting a metal detector to find their keys and are ready to ask for magical help I would consider what would work best for them. In this case dowsing rods seem appropriate. I would take two pieces of thick wire of nearly the same length, bend the ends to make handles and give them to the client and explain that they will point toward the keys. This has in the past lead to a merry chase where in we find every set of keys except the right ones when all the while I know the keys are in their car.

Sometimes there are no keys to find. The keys have been “found” and moved and are no longer lost. A stranger picked them up off the sidewalk or a coworker absconded with them. In these instances I have no choice but to tell people, “Sorry. I don’t see them. I don’t think that they are lost.” We can try to find them, but sometimes some things don’t come back even with real magical help. At this point I recommend putting an ad in the local paper.

This same logical approach can be applied to even the worst situations such as the negative spirit, and the demonic possession. First have they tried any and every possible mundane way to deal with the problem? Have they looked into medical help and made sure they don’t have a brain tumor or a chemical imbalance? Do they live underneath major power lines? Are they exposed to hallucinogens or drugs on a regular basis? Did they do LSD in high school? Think about it, the client isn’t a doctor, nor are they a Witch, can they honestly tell the difference between a hallucination and a visitation? Probably not, so try to encourage them to seek medical advice first.

Once you have established that they are indeed sane and healthy, ask them why they haven’t gone to their church. This is an important question. I am a Polytheist and therefore I don’t casually recommend organized religion as a way to deal with these problems but historically it has been effective to use high ritual to strengthen the mind of the afflicted and allow them to use their faith to either overcome the spirit or close their mind to random spiritual minutia. If you are their clergy then it is your duty to give them as much help as you can. Do not offer help you are not qualified to give, such as medical advice. Do seek a second opinion. Sometimes when you have a very good hammer, such as Magic, all problems start looking like nails, but not every problem is magical or spiritual.

The difference between a hallucination and a visitation is generally speaking academic. Do you honestly believe that there is a presence behind the voices your client hears? Do you hear them too? Can you “feel” a presence? Do you think you can make them go away? If the answer is yes, then you have a visitation. Otherwise if only a single individual can experience the disembodied presence it is a hallucination, and if it isn’t caused by a chemical imbalance there are a myriad of other mundane explanations that can be examined, and finally there is the potential for a genuine but singular haunting or possession.

It is important to consider the possibility that the problem can also be both chemical and magical, and sometimes solving one half of the equation; the chemical, you can also solve the magical problem. Someone who has a lithium imbalance or a drinking problem is far more likely to draw dark spirits than other people. In essence their minds are often more open to negative influence. Righting their chemical imbalance through professional help of doctors, medications, or addiction programs can lead to a reduction in spiritual problems.

And then there are those that don’t fit into either category, the emotional. Occasionally you will find that a person is physically healthy, spiritually unhindered but still disturbed by an inability to cope with reality. Some people have emotional damage that you cannot help. They seek attention, are overly dramatic, and while they might truly believe that they are haunted are completely unwilling to take logical action to take care of the problem. Generally they will only take steps to make things worse because they are seeking attention. In such cases it is best for you to walk away and don’t look back.

Furthermore, it is very dangerous to try to help people who are not mentally well, and whether magical, chemical, or simply emotional someone who is fighting a dark presence is not well. Proceed with caution. Emphasize a mundane solution first. A sane healthy person has nothing to lose going to get a cursory medical examine. They won’t balk at speaking to their doctor nor will they shun getting their home checked for uncommonly strong electromagnetic fields caused by power lines, fault lines, or poor wiring. Someone who doesn’t want to deal with the mundane problem and solutions probably won’t actually be able to accept your magical help either, so don’t waste your time.

This leads me to EM fields, radiation, and other sources for visual and auditory delusions. There can be many reasons why someone suddenly experiences negative or positive “spiritual” presences that have to do not with their personal psychic or magical ability but instead are based on their environment. By spiritual I mean disembodied non-corporeal entities. These disturbances can come in a vast array of visual, auditory, tactile, and olfactory “hallucinations”.

Again I must emphasize that it can be both a real tangible scientific cause, such as disruptive electromagnetic fields that cause the brain to see things that aren’t there, and it can also be a spirit using those same EM fields as fuel and “messing” with their poor human neighbors because they can. Take care of one problem, poor wiring causing a high EM field in a house, and generally the person won’t have visions, or the ghost won’t be able to bother them any more. (Or at least, not as much.)

And as frightening as the situation likely is for your client there are things they can do that will help. First they must deal with the problem rationally and explore all possible causes and cures and consider possible compromises. Not all spirits are evil. Usually they will come to a Magic user for help because this is a new and frightening experience for them. You must ask them is the really that bad, or is it something they just aren’t accustomed to? If you believe the presence is tied to a location you must ask them why they won’t move. Keep in mind that just because their house is old doesn’t mean it is a ghost bothering them, nor is the strange noise just the house settling. Sometimes the answer is both, and occasionally it is neither.

Teenagers, mostly girls, tend to draw particularly violent and aggressive spiritual disturbances known as poltergeists. This label is a misnomer. It indicates that there is a “noisy ghost” haunting the subject but I have fond that half the time it is subject herself having uncontrollable psychic energy surges unrelated to any outside manifestations. Generally these go away as the girl matures; rarely does the individual learn to control the phenomenon. Some have reoccurrences later in life under particularly stressful situations. If you interrogate a subject you might ask if they were “haunted” in their teenage years and if they are currently under stress from a source other than the visitation.

In the case of possession, there is no positive compromise. A human has exclusive and prime right to their body and under no circumstance should they be encouraged to “share” that private space. In this instance I must insist you ask for and ardently seek help in your area. Start with medical. A chemical imbalance can make a person weak, and susceptible to possession. An emotional imbalance can cause that as well. Remember that if you are not experienced at exorcism you can get hurt, the client can get hurt, and sometimes you can fail utterly. Possession is often linked with suicide, homicide and self-mutilation. It is not for the inexperienced. Do not take it lightly.

Finally sometimes there is no solution, all your best efforts mundane and magical fail, and the best advice you can give to a client is in any situation other than a possession is “Deal with it.” Sometimes a person just has to be strong and accept that their reality is not going to conform to the norm.

Before you compose an email to me you should know that I am not going to help you any more than I already am right now. I wrote this article to give you all the advice I have. It is my very best advice. I am not going to let you fly me to your city to deal with a ghost. I am not going to let you drive the possessed individual to me. This is your quest, and if it leads to them being institutionalized. I’m sorry but it is for the best. At least they won’t be able to hurt themselves as easily.

Remember, a good Magic user is a practical Magic user. Seek every solution, not just the magical solution. Try the mundane way first; it works for billions of other human beings.

Remember that real Magic comes in many forms. Sometimes the magical solution comes through apparently mundane means such as a client getting your number from a friend who happened to be ease dropping on a conversation and thereby leads to you wisely mentioning that they should the couch or the car for the keys. Use the techniques that work for you and just let Magic be.