After cleansing the energy in your home, it’s always nice to invite sweet and helpful spirits into your space. This is a ritual that will help you do just that. Because it has to do with inviting spirits from the other side (spirit guides, helpful deceased loved one, etc.,), this ritual is best done at night. To begin, obtain a sweetgrass braid (a form of smudge stick or dried herb bundle, burned like ince) or a stick of sweetgrass or copal incense. Light a white or off-white candle, and bring your hands together near your heart in prayer pose. Close yoou eyes and take some deep breaths while consciously relaxing and tuning in to the subtle energetic realm and what is known as the otherworld. When you feel ready, light the braid or incense and say:“Sweet spirits of the other, I call you. Divine beings of light, I invite you. You are welcome here. Reside, abide, dwell, and bless us (me) with your presence in our (my) home.” Carry the smoking wand from room to room, being very aware of fire safety while continuing to summon sweet spirits, either mentally or aloud. when you’re finished, give thanks to the beings you’ve summoned for answering your call, and extinguish the bundle or incense and candle. You’ll find that after you do this, your home is filled with remarkable feelings of sweetness, light, comfort and joy.
THINK ON THESE THINGS
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler
Let’s not forget Dr. Schuller’s words when he was asked why so many of our people were killed in the terrorists’ attack on New York and in Washington. He said, “Take an O out of good and we have God; put a D before evil and we have devil.”
Can it be any plainer? We are told that we are not dealing with flesh and blood but with principalities and powers in evil places. Our spirits are whispering, “In all these things I am more than a conqueror.” This is not just a wish but a truth.
At one time it was “cool” to say we did not believe in spiritual help, but now it is cool to know we are of ourselves no strength, but with help we are overcomers, conquerors in the truest sense.
Available online! ‘Cherokee Feast of Days’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler.
Elder’s Meditation of the Day – October 5
“The dances are prayers.”
–Pop Chalee, TAOS PUEBLO
When we dance to the drum we pray to the Creator and attract the heartbeat of the earth. We never dance without reason; every dance has a purpose. We dance for rain; we dance for healing; we dance for seasons; we dance for joy; we dance for our children; we dance for the people; we dance for courage. The drum plays to the beat of the heart, to the beat of the Earth. The drum connects us to the Earth while we dance our prayers.
Oh, Great One, let my dance and prayer be heard by You.
October 5 – Daily Feast
Dozens of experts are ready to tell you what cannot be done. The difference is in the person doing it. It isn’t a matter of trying harder or giving more. Frequently, something doesn’t click into place until we turn it loose and walk away. The release is not to accept defeat but it is saying we have done what we can and now we will stand and let it work. Mental and spiritual work continues – even after we relax. The mind will try to take over but can be brought into line by the spirit, which is most important from start to finish. It furnishes the wisdom, the gratitude, the connection with U ne la nv hi, Who made all things.
~ The Great Spirit put it in the right place. ~
“A Cherokee Feast of Days” by Joyce Sequichie Hifler
The Survival of Ancient Ways in Today’s World
Author: wolf witch
Witchcraft, Wicca, and Pagan belief systems in general are more popular now than since the advent of Christianity in the West. As society gradually moves away from the group and toward individuality with respect to spiritual development, people seek alternatives to “organized” religion in order to more thoroughly immerse themselves in that sense of inner spirituality that, in the East, comes from meditation and a closely controlled lifestyle and in the West has its roots in the ancient Western Mystery Tradition in part or in whole surrounding the teaching founded upon Hermetic philosophy.
Wicca is, depending on which “expert’ you read, either very ancient or extremely new and linked to Neo-Paganism. Still, its practices demand individual dedication and action, and, even in its most basic form, stirs the inner workings further toward the sort of self-realization equated with spiritual enlightenment. Whether this enlightenment is as thorough as that of the Buddhists or is that a devoted Christian attains through constant prayer is unimportant. What is truly a key factor here is that Wicca, in whatever form, requires the individual to ultimately take responsibility for his own spiritual development, as must the Buddhist or the Christian or any other person of faith.
The claim for the Craft being a part of the spiritual movement of modern times collapses in the face of archeological and anthropological evidence to the contrary. The Internet and the ready availability of books from a wide range of authors resulted in an incredible number of “traditions” birthing literally overnight, each of which possesses their adherents and, in the case of many founding members, zealots, a rather surprising response from a religion that is by no means evangelical. The point of this text is not to criticize new or old traditions. Each finds its place in spiritual development. Those with more parochial views may learn something here but will find no further argument with any modern path.
If no other law holds true in the Craft, “Each to his own” certainly applies.
In order to understand Western occult philosophy, one must grasp the words of the Emerald Tablet, the essence of which is the statement, “As above, so below, ” and its reverse. There is no dictum of control implied here, so the phrase does not lose, as suggested by some authors, its validity in reverse. It merely explains that the nature of things is best discovered in any one thing within the set; that is, if something exists in this universe, then its structure and function resulting from that physical existence resembles in kind all other things in this universe.
The axiom applies equally to Man and Spirit. The whole reason for its existence is to tell man that the universe he sees and the Universe his spirit knows is hardly imaginary but very, very real. The stone is the Almighty’s message to Man that what he cannot see has no reality whosoever in relation to the greater Universe of gods, angels, demons, and the like. Man is part of that magnificent continuum.
Thus is the Creator known to Man.
There are as many paths to spiritual awakening as there are people on the planet. Some folks are so convinced their method is right that they insist on bringing it to others which in some cases is a truly positive gesture. However, when that new system comes into place through the annihilation of what went before, then the result proves destructive and dangerous.
In the time of Charlemagne, Paganism died in Europe at the hands of Christians bent on destroying every other belief system but their own. St. Patrick did not drive the snakes out of Ireland (there were none to begin with) , but he did burn every piece of literature concerning the religious history of the Celts, a close equivalent to the burning of the great library at Alexandria by the Romans who simply knew no better. Patrick knew exactly what he was doing, and the Church made a practice of eliminating all but their own warped view of religion as a source of power and authority.
The Craft has few written records that cover events from the Dark Ages. All such literature became personal as each witch kept a Book of Shadows though few would have called it that. The books held recipes and formulae for everything from herbal remedies to dynamic rituals, most of which these days are drawn from a single surviving grimier, the Key of Solomon. From this text, Gardner drew the rituals in his book.
Fortunately, the worst persecution could not eliminate folkways, and many made their way to the present, especially those regarding healing. This knowledge forged an excellent foundation for modern witches to expand their knowledge of the human psyche in order to better help those in need.
All of the present day’s rites and rituals owe much to Hermes and his simple statement. Understanding the universe makes clear the path delineated by the Craft, so the study of how the universe works is definitely worth the effort. In the end, the universe unfolds itself to each in its own way.
Here is one of the great gifts of the Goddess, as claimed in Celtic tradition: the Stone, a foundation upon which all else stands.
The occult deals with those entities and forces that, in general, lie outside the bounds of what most would define as normal existence. Where the world around us takes its description from physics, the occultist studies metaphysics. Where the scientist relies on proof as determined by experimental data, the occultist speculates using intuition as an equally valid point that influences understanding the true reality of any situation. While science plods on toward a complete understanding of the universe in detail, the occultist works more as a generalist using Hermes’ statement as a guide: “As above, so below”.
Today’s trend, thanks to the rapid spread of information and its verification relying very much on popularity rather than true alacrity, creates almost as many Craft belief systems as there are individuals capable of committing those beliefs onto a web page. More than a few seek a sense of authority within the old religion earned only in their own right. Many forget the trials that shaped Wicca over the years and the powerful forces and strong enemies that sought to wipe the Craft from the planet, burning, killing, and torturing every follower and many more who were rumored to be followers of the ancient ways.
There is a common feeling among these folk and a host of other witches that the burning times are over; that the public broadcast of one’s own faith can safely travel the Internet airways without fear of any repercussion.
One careful perusal of the news will prove this merry affection dangerously incorrect. With the smallest change in today’s status quo, the burning time could come back in force. Fundamentalism favors intolerance. There is absolutely nothing wrong with stating one’s beliefs in any public forum, but the defense of those beliefs to the blood must be the heart of that statement.
A Visit With The Crone – A Short Story
Author: Jadalya Boudicca
The inspiration for this short story came to me after a very turbulent and uncertain time in my life. I had just taken a major leap of faith that would have long-lasting effects, and whether it was positive or negative I didn’t know. Basically, one period of my life was ending, and another was beginning. I was terrified and unsure of myself, peering over the edge of the proverbial cliff and readying myself for the leap into Goddess-knew-what. I was coming face-to-face with the Crone, that unpleasant and brutally honest Hag that always appears when a death is imminent.
For those unacquainted with Crone energy, She can be one of the most terrifying aspects of the Goddess to face. Whether She be Black Annis, Baba Yaga, Kali, or one of the Fates, She always evokes a sense of foreboding, and it is well that She does, for She is not surrounded by flowers and sunshine, like the Maiden, nor does she carry a countenance of nurturing comfort, like the Mother. She is the essence of wisdom in its most raw form; She sees what lies in the murky darkness beyond and stares into it without fear. By communing with the energy of the Crone, one learns to accept death in life and acknowledge its necessity in growth. This is a hard lesson to face, and many of us will continue to struggle with it time and time again; however, when we learn it, we are graced with the ability to accept life’s flow and live in continuity with it’s cycles rather than fight it, and by doing so, we grow.
Let me introduce you now to the Crone.
A Visit With the Crone – A Short Story
I have met the Crone once or twice. Her fearsome eyes look you through to your bones, the houses of your stories, and read there all that you are and from whence you have come. She judges there where you will go, for she knows where all things must go.
The first time I met her, she scowled at me. “Your stories are dry; your words have no flavor and your lips are all but dead. One day you will die, and then what? Ha! Come back to me when you learn of it, and THEN share with me a story worth hearing, and I shall give you one as well.”
“But I do not know how, Grandmother, ” I said. “The only way I know to learn IS to die, or become near-death, and I fear it…Grandmother, I fear it’s grasp!”
“Heh…you are dead enough now, living as you are, “she replied, her voice harsh and rasping. “Go from me, now, and do not return until you have something worth saying and something worth hearing.”
I departed from the Old Hag then, forlorn. What is this she asked of me? To die, and THEN tell a story? One cannot do such a thing; it is impossible! Foolish old woman, I thought. Better to never go back…she spins old wives’ tales from the cobwebs of her senile mind!
I went to sleep then, and dreamt of great suffering, and of the Grandmother gnashing her teeth and swallowing me whole. “No, Grandmother!” I screamed. “Do you not recognize me? Do your eyes not know me?”
“I do not know you, ” she said, her eyes dark and glistening, her teeth yellow and tearing at me. “I do not know you because you do not know yourself.”
I leapt awake then, sweating and gasping for breath. Just a dream, I told myself. The old Hag has me scared out of my wits, with all her talk of death and dying! Let me throw her off now, out of my mind. And with that, I rested my head once more, and fell back into dreaming.
Once again, the Grandmother appeared in my dreams, with her fearsome grin and watery eyes. “Grandmother, ” I screamed, “why do you do this to me!”
“I do not do this to you, ” she smirked, “for you do it to yourself.”
Once again, I leapt awake, trembling and fearful. Were these just dreams? I shall face the Hag, once and for all, I thought. And a third time I slept, and a third time she appeared, more terrible and ferocious than before, making wrathful sounds and threatening to tear me apart.
“Grandmother, ” I said, my voice small from fear. “Three times you have appeared to me, and three times you have come to me with death. I am afraid, but I am here to face you now.”
“Then face me you will, ” she said, and swallowed me up. Down into the darkness of her belly I fell, but it instead of pain, I felt only warmth. How strange, I thought. The softness cradled me, and down I went, until a light could be seen. The light terrified me, but on and on I went, until I was enveloped no longer in darkness, but in light, and I felt arms around me, cradling me. “There, there, my sweet daughter, my beautiful one, ” a voice whispered, and when I opened my eyes I saw not the Hag beast, but a beautiful woman, and I knew this to be Mother.
“Mother, where has the old Hag gone?” I asked.
“She is here, too, ” the Mother said. And with that, I awoke, no longer afraid.
I rose and sought out the old Crone. “Well, ” she croaked. “What have we here! You are not the same sniveling girl that was here yesterday. Sit, and tell me what has changed. Tell me your story.”
I told her of my dreams, and as I told her my story, her eyes softened. “I have learned not to fear endings, Grandmother, for with all endings come beginnings.”
The Crone nodded, and her bones creaked as she roused herself. “That is a good story, child, ” she said. “Now, as promised, I shall tell you one myself.”
She looked at me then, and the darkness of her eyes drew me in until I once again could see nothing but black. In the darkness I saw swirls of light, small suns and stars. I saw these lights split and come back together, until they took the shapes of animals, great and small, all coming from the same light, and all returning to the same light. I saw men singing their songs, and women weaving their tapestries, until sound and material became one, intertwining all life together.
“You see, child, ” she whispered. “All comes from One, and all is connected. You are I, and I am you.”
Understanding the Warrior Goddess
Author: Stephanie Woodfield
When I tell most people my patron Goddess in the Morrigan usually their first questions is “Why would you want to worship a Goddess of war?” Those who have worked with the Great Queen will already know the Morrigan has many faces and aspects, war and battle only being one of them. But it is this attribute, one she shares with many other Dark Goddesses, which sadly makes some people question working with her.
Why is it that we fear the warrior Goddess? She appears to us in many forms, and across several cultures. In Egypt, she was Sekhmet, the lioness Goddess who drank the blood of her enemies. In Greek she was Athena, goddess of wisdom and war. As Durga, she was called upon by the Gods to battle demons, as only she had the power and strength to defeat them. She is Kali, Oya, Andraste, Freya, Bellona, and many others. In so many cultures the warrior Goddess was revered and held sacred. She defended clan and country, her fierceness filled enemies with despair. Those she favored were blessed with courage, battle frenzy and victory. Yet now she has become to many a deity to be avoided. What has changed? Have we suddenly recognized these Goddesses as representing something dangerous or have our attitudes towards her mysteries changed?
I think part of why we are afraid of the warrior Goddess is because our concept of war has drastically changed. We live in a world where we don’t have to worry about our food being stolen by people in the neighboring town. The battlefields our armed forces fight and die on are often far away, leaving us with the illusion that the violence of war is something distant, only to be viewed from afar on TV. Modern warfare more often than not is motivated by political agendas, but to our ancestors war was often an aspect of everyday life and most importantly survival.
In the Morrigan’s case, we must remember that warriors were held in high esteem in the Celtic mind and that the warrior caste was one of the highest in their society. Why? Because they kept everyone safe. Take a moment to bring some of our modern day warriors to mind: our military personnel, our police officers and firefighter. Soldiers and police officers sometimes need to use force and violence to protect us. It’s part of their job. They aren’t evil people because they use force. We hold them in esteem for doing a difficult and dangerous job, one that protects the rest of us and maintains peace (most of the time) in the world. In many ways, this is how the warrior archetype, divine and otherwise, was seen by ancient Pagans. When we consider this the warrior Goddess isn’t so unapproachable. Her nature is sometimes fierce, she is a Dark Goddess, her lessons difficult, but she is not by any means evil, nor is there any reason why modern practitioners should avoid working with her.
Generally war Gods or Goddesses reflect the type of warfare their culture participated in, embodying their ideals of honor and glory on the battlefield. War itself varies from culture to culture. The highly organized warfare of the Roman legions bears little resemblance to the somewhat haphazard style of warfare the Celts participated in or for that matter to our modern day high tech approach to war. Irish warfare in particular revolved around cattle raids. Cattle where seen as the ultimate source of wealth, were used as currency to pay debts and as bride prices. Cattle raids against other clans were a way not only to add to the wealth of the clan through heads of cattle and conquered land, but also to establish a leader’s prowess on the battlefield.
The fact that Celtic warfare revolved around cattle, (and ultimately sovereignty over the land and its wealth) is reflected in their Goddess of war, as the Morrigan is usually occupied in stealing cattle, herding them or making it difficult for others to obtain them; all functions that reflect the Celtic cosmology of warfare.
Oddly enough the Morrigan’s male counterparts Dagda, Lugh and Bran who participated in battle do not retain a stigma for being “bloodthirsty” or “evil”. The fact that the Morrigan is female and connected to battle makes her dangerous. Although women have gained equality with men in many ways we are still afraid of women who are dominate. War in the modern mind is still very much thought of as belonging to the realm of men. Women who participate in it become unfeminine and unnatural. Women today who aggressively pursue their dreams and desires, (whether that be a career or other goals in life) and who stand up for themselves are often accused of acting like men. This is especially true in the business world. Unfortunately the message our culture is sending women is that strength and power belong to the realm of men and it is unnatural for women to display these traits. Yet they can be found in warrior goddesses in cultures all around the globe.
Ultimately our concept of war and that of the Celts (or any ancient culture for that matter) is vastly different. We can neither divorce Morrigan from war, nor can we call her evil for being a Goddess of battle. Like the warriors the Celts revered, she protects her people, inspires those who take a stand, and guards her children. She reflects the Celtic concept of battle and war, not our modern ones. That is not to say she cannot be called upon in this guise today, just that to understand her role as a Goddess of war we must keep in mind the culture she came from.
But where does that leave the modern worshiper? Can the warrior Goddess still have a role in our lives today? Absolutely. Her role in our lives may have changed compared to that of our ancestors, but that does not mean we should abandon her mysteries. The warrior Goddess, in all her many guises, is concerned with all forms of conflict and its resolution, and her knack for bringing victory to those who invoke her make her a powerful ally when dealing with life’s problems.
Embracing the warrior Goddess has nothing to do with brandishing a sword or joining the military. You can be a pacifist and still work with a warrior deity. Modern warriors can be found in the most mundane places. The single mom working two jobs to provide for her family, firefighters, police officers, teachers, social workers and environmental activists, these are all warriors and draw on the power of the warrior Goddess. People, who draw on an inner strength to help themselves and others, all embody the warrior spirit.
The warrior Goddess challenges us to stand up and be counted, to draw on our inner strength and champion life’s battles. She knows the most important wars are not the physical ones. Whether it is overcoming an obstacle in life or fighting our inner demons the warrior Goddess is there to champion our cause. Maybe the warrior Goddess will challenge you to fight a “war” against poverty by working to help low income families. Maybe your “war” will be against animal cruelty and you will feel drawn to donate time at an animal shelter. Maybe you wish to draw on her strength to settle a conflict, to end an abusive relationship, to confront sexual harassment in the work place, or negotiating a raise from your boss. Whatever you do, whatever your battle, when life has you down say a prayer to the warrior Goddess.
She is always there, waiting for us to embrace her, ready to offer us victory.
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.
And so concludes my first essay submission to The Witches Voice. Thanks for reading!
“The Best Teacher?” essay by Arianna Reibia ( http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=uswv and c=words and id=12019)