Traditional vs. Eclectic: We’re Not “All One Wicca”

Traditional vs. Eclectic: We’re Not “All One Wicca”

Author: Hexeengel

[Please note: For the purposes of this piece, the terms “Wicca” and “Wiccan (s) ” will refer to the British Traditional family of religious Witchcraft Traditions and those who follow them, the Traditions then including, but not limited to, such lines as Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Moshian, Blue Star, etc. “Neo-Wicca” and “Neo-Wiccan (s), ” then, indicate the perhaps more wide-spread and certainly more widely known Eclectic (and often Solitary) practices espoused by such authors as Scott Cunningham, Fiona Horne, Silver Ravenwolf, and others, the majority of them published by Llewellyn Books. I also use the term “Witch” interchangeably with “Wiccan, ” since nearly all Wiccans contend that they are indeed Witches.]

Anyone who’s been a part of the Wiccan or Neo-Wiccan communities for more than a week is undoubtedly aware of the schism between these two groups. The cause of much frustration for Wiccans is that some Neo-Wiccans misunderstand the distinction made between the practices. Wiccans contend that, while there is nothing wrong or bad or invalid or worthless about the practices of Neo-Wiccans, it is nonetheless a separate and distinct practice (or practices, as Neo-Wicca is Eclectic, after all) from Wicca; neither is better (except in a personal preference, subjective sense), but they are certainly different.

Many Neo-Wiccans, on the other hand, dislike that this distinction is made at all. Some are even offended by the use of “Neo-Wicca” or any classification other than “Wicca, ” but are yet very adamant that “we don’t do that, ” meaning that they find some aspects of Wicca ridiculous, unnecessary, or even offensive. It leads one to ask, if it’s all the same thing, then why isn’t it all… well, the same?

This piece is meant to serve as an outline of how much these two groupings of paths really do differ, and to explain some of the more controversial aspects of Wicca that draw much negative attention and criticism from some Neo-Wiccans. The biggest dividing factor, that then encompasses others, is the Wiccan practice of oathbound secrecy.

Many Wiccan Traditions are esoteric, oathbound practices. This means that there are certain things that are not to be revealed to non-initiates, and that initiates swear an oath to protect those aspects (an oath that they are then expected to keep for the rest of their lives, even if they choose to leave the Tradition at a later time). This is not meant to be used as an ego-trip or a form of elitism, but is instead in place to protect the experience of the Tradition and its rites and Mysteries. However, Wiccans do not contend that their path is the only way one may reach and experience the Mysteries, just that this is the way that suits them. What is usually kept secret, then, are the names of the Gods, the specifics of ritual, the identities (Magickal and mundane) of those who participate in the rituals, the tools used in ritual, and any other non-ritual contents of the Tradition’s Book of Shadows.

God-names are kept secret because They (the God and Goddess honored) are considered “tribal, ” wholly unique to the Tradition. In non-initiate training rituals, a Priest and Priestess may choose to utilize place-holder names of similar Deities, ones with compatible traits, qualities, and associations. However, some may choose to simply use the non-specific terms “God and Goddess” or “Lord and Lady” instead of proper names. That decision is left up to the Priest and Priestess of the ritual/group. If place-holder names are used, they are then a tool to help teach those in training about the God and Goddess they will meet and commune with during and after initiation, so that there will be some degree of familiarity once the initiate comes to face the Gods of their chosen Tradition.

The specifics of ritual, as was aforementioned, are not told to non-initiates to protect the experience. Think of it this way; you and a friend both want to see a newly premiered movie, and your friend gets the opportunity to attend a showing before you do. How impolite and improper would it be for your friend to not only tell you every single detail of the film (including the ending), but also the emotions it will evoke from you, and the impact it would have on your life in general? I’m betting anyone would be pretty darn upset.

This is the same reasoning behind Wiccan rituals being kept secret, so that each initiate who experiences them does so as “untainted” as possible. This explains secrecy in regards to those seeking initiation, but for those who do not, a similar analogy is appropriate; if you see a movie but your friend has absolutely no interest in it, regardless of your opinion of said movie, they probably won’t want to hear about it at all. The logic then is that, since those not seeking initiation are assumed to be uninterested in the Tradition all together, what reason do they have to concern themselves with its practices?

Additionally, this secrecy maintains the authenticity of the rituals, and also the integrity of the initiating line back to the Tradition’s founder. Thus, the rituals cannot be altered or misused, and only those experienced in the Tradition’s Mysteries can go on to teach them to others.

As far as participants’ identities go, that’s fairly self-explanatory on one level; “outing” someone as a Witch is not something taken lightly, regardless of where one counts one’s self on the spectrum Wicca has become. But there is another level to it, in that Wiccans tend keep their lineage oathbound as well. One’s lineage is the line of initiating High Priestesses that leads from one initiate back to the founder of the Tradition, be they Gerald Gardner, Alex Sanders, etc.

And lastly, the tools used and the other, non-ritual contents of the Book of Shadows (BoS) are oathbound because they are related to the specifics of Wiccan practice and experience, and so revealing them can take away from those elements, just as describing pivotal scenes from a movie can taint the enjoyment of the whole thing.

These levels of secrecy and occultism (where “occult” takes on its more accurate meaning of “hidden or secret; to be known only by the initiated”) are a stumbling block to some Neo-Wiccans; they cannot fathom the reasons other than to make Wiccans feel special or better somehow, but as illustrated above, there are very real and important reasons.

Some folks though cannot find it in themselves to abide by these guidelines, but still feel the desire to walk a similar path. Partly because of this, Neo-Wicca and its policy of openness and universality were born. Neo-Wiccans are free to follow any and all God forms that may call or appeal to them, regardless of cultural or religious origin. Neo-Wiccans are also more prone to share their ritual scripts and spells with others. Some even post the entirety of their BoSs online or otherwise make it available for public consumption, such as through published books, which then are a large part of Neo-Wiccan learning materials.

Conversely, learning Wicca involves a specified path that utilizes the repetition of form to facilitate function; the actual movements and words are the same at each ritual, however it is the experience that differs and is truly the most important. This is an orthopraxic approach, that of correct practices leading to Divine experience, rather than orthodoxic, that of correct belief.

While many of us have come to associate “orthodox” with meaning oppressive or outdated and referring specifically to Christianity as often as not, if one simply takes the word at its face value, then Neo-Wicca is in fact an orthodox practice; as long as one believes the “right” things, then one is Neo-Wiccan and then can practice it in whatever fashion one desires.

But what are the “right” beliefs? Is it the duality and balance of God and Goddess? Not according to those called Dianic Wiccans, who hold the Goddess superior to the God, if He is even recognized at all. Additionally, as stated before, Wiccan God names are specific to each Tradition and oathbound, so by default Neo-Wiccans do not and cannot honor the God and Goddess by those same identities, so neither does “right belief“ include the specific Deity forms.

Is it then following the Wiccan Rede? That’s not it either, since there are practitioners out there who discard the Rede all together and still lay claim to the “Wiccan title” (and yes, I’m aware that “rede” means “counsel or advice” and not “commandment, ” but I’ve yet to encounter a Wiccan who thinks its irrelevant).

What about celebrating the Sabbats? Well, okay, almost anyone along the Wicca/Neo-Wicca spectrum can agree that these eight points of the year are important, but what’s not agreed on is how one celebrates them, or even what they’re called (as far as I can tell, only Samhain, Yule, and Beltane are universally used names, the rest can vary). In some cases, the dates are even in dispute, since there are those who figure the Greater Sabbats relative to the Lesser Sabbats each year, marking them as the precise midpoints between the astronomical Solstices and Equinoxes rather than the “fixed” dates of the common calendar.

This final point segues nicely into another striking difference, that of ritual form and elements. Not all Neo-Wiccans cast a Circle in the same way nor include all the same components as others (in some cases, even the rituals for the same event differ each time they are performed) , and being that Wiccan ritual structure is oathbound, one can infer that Neo-Wiccan rituals bear little, if any, resemblance to their Traditional counterparts. If Wicca and Neo-Wicca was indeed the same thing, wouldn’t we all use the same rituals, honoring the same God forms in the same ways?

Wiccans also contend that only a Wiccan can make another Wiccan, that one cannot enter Wicca without someone to teach and guide them. A popular Neo-Wiccan counter to this comes from Scott Cunningham, and is something along the lines of, “but who made the first Wiccan? The God and Goddess. So who are we to be so bold and presumptuous as to usurp and appropriate Their power? Who has the real power to make a Wiccan?”

I can agree to a certain extent; the Wiccan Gods are responsible, to a degree, for Wicca’s existence, in that They provided the original inspiration, need, and desire for a way to honor Them. However, I also believe They intended for things to be done in just that way, else why would They have put the idea in a human mind? Why the need for rituals at all, if any way one honors them is acceptable?

Let me clarify – when I say “the Wiccan Gods, ” I mean those names, faces, forms, aspects, and attributes that are oathbound and specific to the Traditions of Wicca. If Gods other than those have different desires and requirements, then so be it, but then They are not the Gods of Wicca, and therefore need not be honored in the Wiccan way.

The Wiccan way is one practiced by humans to reach out to and commune with the Wiccan Gods, and therefore only one who knows that way can teach that way. A dentist, while a medical professional, cannot teach someone to perform open-heart surgery. So it follows that someone inexperienced in the Wiccan Mysteries, regardless of any other gnosis, knowledge, and experience they may have gained, cannot teach them to anyone.

To add to this, in Wicca the initiating High Priest and High Priestess are seen as representations and “substitutes, ” if you will, of the God and Goddess on this material plane. They are infused with Divine Will and Power at the time of initiation (and in all other rites), so in the realism of non-duality, it IS the God and Goddess who are making new Wiccans, not “merely” other humans. However, the HP and HPS are specifically chosen and trained to perform these duties using the structure and methods of their Tradition.

A Neo-Wiccan, or anyone else who is not HP or HPS even if he/she is a Wiccan initiate, has no such training, and so cannot perform an initiation rite as the representative of the Wiccan Gods.

Clearly there is great disparity between not only practice, but also belief, between those called Wiccans and Neo-Wiccans. All this points to Neo-Wicca being an outgrowth of Wicca, rather than a continuation of it, much like Buddhism was an outgrowth of Hinduism. Buddhism and Hinduism both include the ideas of Karma, Dharma, and Samsara, Yantras, etc., but they differ on the nature and application of these ideas.

Buddhists do not recognize a pantheon of Gods in the way Hindus do, and also do not perform elaborate rituals. The two paths do have commonalities, but are distinct and separate belief systems. It would be improper, inaccurate, and doing a disservice to both paths if one was to say they are the same.

This can also be applied to Wicca and Neo-Wicca; Wicca recognizes a specific set of Gods, while Neo-Wicca does not. Wicca includes much formality and formulary in its rituals, which is not necessarily true of Neo-Wicca. They are related practices, one springing from the other, but they are fundamentally different, and it is improper, inaccurate, and doing a disservice to both to try and say that they are the same.

Of course, it’s all very well and good for these kinds of things to be said by someone who prefers Wicca to Neo-Wicca, someone who is seeking to walk the Gardnerian path. I concede that it would be far more impacting and impressive had this article or one similar been written by a Neo-Wiccan, because there’d be less risk of accusations of elitism, or discrimination, or exclusion. If, however, any Neo-Wiccan found truth in what I’ve presented here, I encourage them to write a similar piece, putting the focus on their practices, revealing the value and beauty that perhaps stems from the differences, rather than in spite of them.

What are the benefits of Solitary work? How is self-study more fulfilling than working under another’s tutelage? How does the tapestry of cultures and customs enrich your practice; is the old adage, “student of many trades, master of none” inaccurate?

I’m not personally looking to be convinced, I’ve found my home and my path, but that kind of piece may go a long way to strengthening other Neo-Wiccans’ sense of identity and purpose. And anyone finding peace and feeling whole on their spiritual journey is a beautiful thing, regardless of what that path may be called.

On Choosing and Following Your Own Path

On Choosing and Following Your Own Path

Author: Alfred Willowhawk, MMsc, RMT, CTM, Shaman

“What path is right for me?” is a question that each seeker asks at least once in their lives. As children, most individuals follow the pathways of their parents. Even if a parent has no particular spiritual path, the child is influenced by their parent. This is almost genetic as, regardless of a path, the mother, to the child, is the goddess. As they grow older and begin to think for themselves, they begin to feel a desire to either embrace or reject their parental suggestions. This includes the chosen spiritual path of the individual.

In my own life, I have spent time in many “spiritual” and “religious” pathways. Some of these were even of my own choosing at the time, so I thought. However, as we are social creatures, even the most reclusive of us, we still seem to blunder about until we finally settle on what works well for us.

Over the years as I facilitate myself and others on reaching some kind of accommodation with their desires for spiritual connection, certain indications seem to be prevalent with the majority of individuals.

What is a Spiritual Path? defines the word spiritual, (among other things) as: of or pertaining to the spirit or soul, as distinguished from the physical nature: a spiritual approach to life.

We will not concern ourselves in this article with the definition of the soul, despite differing presuppositional ethics, but accept this as a good working definition to add to our word “path”.

Again, defines a path as: a route, course, or track along which something moves, or a course of action, conduct, or procedure.

So, combining both of these we have a spiritual path is one where an individual is taking a route whether physically or metaphysically that pertains to the non-physical being of a person.

This definition allows for many diverse methodologies including those that are primarily of the physical realms, and those that are primarily of the non-physical realms.

Pressures that act as filters

As we stated in the introduction, many factors influence our examination and determination of our path. Some of these factors include, environment, social network, (including parents, friends, and co-workers), ethnicity or bloodline, and connectedness, or lack of it, to the world around us.

Each of these acts as filters through which we see the world around us. Ask any couple in a relationship how many times they “read between the lines” of a statement just to see how effective filters are in our daily lives.

One example of filters in relationships is as follows:

One partner is cooking dinner and asks the other partner: “Would you please take out the overflowing trash please?”

The partner who was asks responds: “What, why do you do that, I work all day and of course I will take it out. I simply forgot. What do you think I sit and read all day? I work too! If it is too much trouble for you to cook dinner tonight then we could have gone out!”

The first partner is taken aback by the vehemence of the response as all they really asked was for their partner to take out the trash! Not everything else! The second partner read between the lines, of the other through there own filters.

While this is an extreme example, you can see what filters do in this mundane world, imagine what it does for our pursuit of a spiritual path. Each individual’s path is unique. One may utilize the same aspects of the divine; yet call them by another name. Take the deific aspect of healing.

In some pathways, the deity of healing is Bridghid, (and lets not forget that spellings and language for even the same deity show regional differences), others it is Kwan Yin, and others Quanyin. Whole nations have gone to war over the NAME of a particular deity rather than listening to the aspect and intent of the name.

In our early 21st century world we have many examples of what I call “filter-itis”. Christians fight Muslims, Jews fight Christians, and Wiccans fight Heathens, on and on and on.

Therefore, the first step in choosing a path is to put away the expectations of the society you are in and focus on the intent of the pathway without these filters.

Society and Acceptance

There is a quote from John Donne (1572-1631), which is in his “Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions”, Meditation XVII: that goes like this:

“All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated…As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness….No man is an island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

While Mr. Donne was a Christian, the sentiment expressed above is still true, (See, I practice what I preach). We are social creatures that desire the acceptance of those around us. The problem occurs when we desire our existing friends, colleagues, family, etc, to accept our new choice, just because we do!

Our brother or sister, who follows another path, cannot always see that our path is equally valid. Sometimes this is because they are not following their true path either, however, it can also be that they truly feel that their path is RIGHT and yours is WRONG. While, based on the concept that all paths are one path, (my own pre-suppositional ethic), this is not necessarily the filter that others see through.

Therefore, seeking acceptance by others, while part of our social conditioning, does not “play well” with some of those around us that follow a different path.

I have many Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, (not what they call themselves-a topic for another article), Jewish, Pagan, Wiccan, Eclectic, Heathen friends, and family, the only thing that is important to me is that they respect my path as I respect theirs.

What to look for in a path

Since, each of us must live within our own filters, examine the path that calls you in as objective way as possible. If you are called to Quanyin, (the bodhavista form of the deity of Compassion and Love – androgynous) then accept that particular deity as one that speaks to you.

If you feel that the trees speak with you, and you can hear/feel this then follow this where it leads you and don’t automatically say, I am not ____ (insert appropriate group here) and can not really be associated with trees.

If you feel that a particular set of rules (i.e. The Wiccan Rede) speaks to you and reverberates within, then follow it and find others that can support you.

What is important is that it fills some needs within you.

The next step is to investigate the teachings of the path and take on that which speaks to you.

Be true to yourself and don’t belittle, or agonize over the choices you have made.

Be confident in yourself. You are the one who must follow the path, so you are the only one that needs to “understand” the path.

Lastly, do not label yourself if it would put you in a box that you do not wish to be part. Boxes are created by large groups and if you are a “round peg” why fit into a “square hole”?

Enjoy the Journey! After all – ALL life is a Journey.. We don’t REALLY know what is TRUTH – (OOPS, another topic for another day)

Charged Objects: ‘Visa or MasterCard?’

Charged Objects: ‘Visa or MasterCard?’

Author: Lodestone & Lady’s Mantle

We were recently asked to acquire “ju-ju” powder by a local practitioner. When we informed her that it is really nothing more than Galangal* she said that she thought we “charged” it with extra energy.

A lot of charged objects are floating around the Internet, and in local metaphysical shops, the most laughable including a seriously ugly ring that the owner claimed was inhabited by a sex slave. Not to mention the pre-charged candles and spell kits. Seriously? When did the idea of “the effort that you put into a working being directly proportional to the result” become outdated, outmoded, and defunct?

So, you’re buying or selling pre-charged spell components? How stupid is that?

Not only are you selling or buying skills outright, but also each time that object, article, or component is used your Karma is intertwined! You aren’t just buying a “Power Totem”; you’re supposedly paying for another’s power. You’re putting faith in the hope that the merchant has a better idea of what needs doing than you do. Have you so little faith in your own abilities?

How can they possibly know the true desired-end of the spells you cast? Are they more familiar with the social dynamics you are attempting to alter? Do they even fathom the level of gain you attempting to reach? Magic is nothing if not personal, and specific.

If they’ve ever sold a “Charged Object” for a pittance, then the value they’ve placed on that object diminishes the value of the effects they generate for every other charged object, from then on. Good Luck!

Next, how can you be certain that the object is charged at all? Was it charged by a person or just left outside to soak up the moonlight? If you had any ability to detect the energies involved, you’d be charging it yourself! They know that.

I’m smelling a whole lot of “Trust” on this spell already!

Now, for you, Miss-ter Shop Owner:

Have you honestly considered the repercussions of someone using your “Mojo” to their own, unknown ends? Do you just go around randomly enervating, say, poppets, mandrake, boline, or, I don’t know, Shotguns? Do you employ a team of Witches to charge every object for you, around the clock?

Poppets, herbs, and ritual gear can all be used as OBVIOUS tools for discord and mayhem! Let’s be serious, here: Every tool has the potential for severely negative uses! Something as innocuous as pine needles can be used to ruin someone’s life.

Those that offer it aren’t thinking. Those that buy it don’t tell you why. Do you really want to trust someone who doesn’t think these things through? Do you really want your results tied to the “Pay-Back” that person’s careless constructs have sewn in the past? Miss-ter Shop Owner: Are you going to Trust your Destiny to anyone with a credit card number or a Pay-Pal account?

Can you, in any good conscience, sell an object that you charged when you were ill, or having a bad day? Will the back order of products overcome your good judgment so that you either charge them mindlessly, begin to resent your customers for asking this of you, or just say “screw it” and sell the item as is?

Though not all magical practitioners follow the Rede, there is a very good reason why it recommends against accepting money for teaching the Arts or for magical energy and spell casting.

If you’ve already convinced yourself that money is just another form of energy, that it’s an equal trade, you are absolutely right. Congratulations, you’ve just put a monetary cap on your power. It is worth no more and no less than that. Still want to sell that pre-charged love candle for $20.00?

You do not, I repeat, DO NOT have to keep up with the New Age Jones’s! Sound magical and business practices will keep your customers coming back, not seminars with a required “love donation”, not the latest fancy Reiki angel-cat massage wand (whatever the heck THAT means) .

So, dear Witches and Wizards, what’s the solution?

Do it yourself!

Here’s How:

The whole reason for charging an object is to add the proper energies to the spell items in advance, so that it doesn’t distract from the spell work at the moment of execution. You may want to charge an object before hand to add that extra bit of zing to the working, or you may have just concluded a really nice ritual and want to carry that energy with you by placing it in an object.

You can do this by first knowing what the actual article is to be used for, seeing the end-result in your mind’s eye, and charging your aura with the associated emotion to be used in the performance of the spell. (I’ll leave it to you what you know to be the best in these situations) . Next, invoke the feeling of your arm/hands/body filling with a level of energy akin to sunlight, soaking into your skin, into the very marrow of your bones. Feel it fill you until you can’t contain it any longer, and then pour it out, through the palms of your hands and into the object. Some will say that you should be holding it. Others will insist that a bit of distance between you and the object works like a dielectric, and increases the level of energy through that capacitance (Like the difference between Volts and Amps) .

You know what you’re using it for, and now you won’t have to ‘tango’ with anyone else’s misconceptions for its use when you actually cast your spells ~Azzerac and Carmin

* Though various recipes for this formula exist, their authenticity is seriously in question. Galangal root powder is by far the most popular, perhaps because Aleister Crowley sprinkled it onto his cornflakes (no, really, he used it as a condiment) , or maybe because some unscrupulous sellers can get three times the price by renaming it.

A Visit With The Crone – A Short Story

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.”

Samhain: An Underworld Tarot Ritual

Samhain: An Underworld Tarot Ritual


by Yasmine Galenorn

November 1, Samhain — the Festival of the Dead. The year is waning, venturing towards the winter solstice, the darkest night of the year. Leaves lay crisp on the ground, their burnished reds and bronzes a reminder of the fallow fields of autumn. It is the time of spirits, the time of witches, the time of crackling bonfires around which we dance to the thundering pulse of the drum.

On Samhain we not only remember our ancestors, but we seek a better understanding of our psyches. The veil between the worlds of spirit and of mortal-kind is at its thinnest, and we can now see into the darkness of the void, into the shadows of our own self. We seek understanding, we ask for guidance, we remember our roots.

Late on Samhain Eve — October 31, near to the witching hour, set up your scrying altar. Cover it with a black cloth, preferably velvet, and in the center, prop up a magick mirror so that you can easily see into it. On one side of the mirror set an orange candle, on the other a white candle. In back of the mirror, raised so that you can see it, place a black candle. Prepare music (such as Gabrielle Roth & The Mirrors) for your evening’s work. Set your tarot cards in front of the mirror. Light a stick of copal or myrrh incense and smudge the area. Cast a circle, light the candles, turn on the music and invoke the elements of fire and ice:

“Spirit of the Flame, you who are the passion of the bonfire, you who are transformation, come to me. Light my way into this, the night of the dead, that I might see beyond the veil into myself, into the corners of my psyche.”

“Spirit of the ice, you who are the chill of the mists, you who are illumination and clarity, come to me. Freeze-frame those images which I need to see, on this, the night of the dead, that I might understand and come to self-knowledge.”

Spend a little time in a meditation and lower yourself into trance. Then, take your place in front of the altar. Hold your cards as you look into the mirror at your own image. Keep your eyes focused about an inch above your head in the mirror so that you don’t strain them.

Take three deep breaths and knock three times on your cards. Ask aloud:

“What are the karmic lessons I need to learn in this cycle of growth?” Shuffle three times and remove three cards from the deck, set them face down on the altar.

Again, knock three times and ask:

“What are the strengths which I possess that will aid me in my growth?” Shuffle three times and remove three cards from the deck, place them above the first three.

Once again, knock three times and ask:

“What are the obstacles I face in my current cycle of growth?” Shuffle three times and remove three cards from the deck, place them above the second line of cards.

Knock three times and ask:

“What guidance will aid me in my journey?” Shuffle three times and remove three cards from the deck, place them above the third tier.

Lastly, knock three times and ask:

“What is the overall nature of the energy that I am working with this cycle?” Shuffle three times and remove one card, and place it at top-center of the third tier.

Now set the rest of the deck aside and turn over the cards 1 – 3. Meditate on them. These will show you the lessons you are supposed to learn in this current cycle. Cards 4 – 6 will tell you the strengths that you possess in order to meet the life lessons you are learning. If a card seems negative, you will want to look for ways in which the attributes might be blessings in disguise. Cards 7 – 9 will warn you of obstacles forthcoming, so that you can either avoid them or lessen their impact. Cards 10 – 12 will provide guidance. Card 13 is the summation card, providing a summary of what this cycle is all about.

When you are finished, you may wish to record the reading in your journal or Book of Shadows. Extinguish the candles, thank the elements of fire and ice for being with you, and open your circle. It would be a good idea to watch your dreams carefully over the next few days for messages and omens.

Bright blessings this Samhain, and may you walk between the worlds with caution and with brilliance.

13 Ideas for Samhain

13 Ideas for Samhain

by Heather Evenstar Osterman


Let’s face it; Halloween is a major commercialized holiday. So how do you find something meaningful to pull out of all the mainstream commercialism for your Sabbat celebrations? What do you do when most of the people around your family don’t understand the ancient traditions they unconsciously uphold?

Take a close look at the history behind the holiday, then create new traditions for your family to enjoy year after year. You don’t have to reject the mainstream; just teach your children why modern practices exist.

Samhain (also known as the Festival of the Dead or All Hallows’ Eve) is a time for us to release the spirits of those who have died during the previous year and for us to honor our ancestors. It is customary to set an extra place at your supper table on Samhain Eve in honor of the departed. This is not a scary time, rather a time when the veil is thin and we can spend time with the spirits in warmth and love. Here are some activities to try out with your family:

  1. Volunteer to talk to your child’s class about the origins of Halloween and how Wiccans really celebrate Samhain.
  2. Together as a family, create an altar honoring your family’s beloved dead (including pets). Use photos, mementos, keepsakes or anything that seems right.
  3. Make candleholders out of apples, turnips, gourds and small pumpkins by hollowing out deep holes in the tops. Make sure the candles are well-secured in the bases.
  4. Put candles in the windows to guide spirit travelers on their way.
  5. Eat dinner by candlelight, setting a place at the table for your beloved dead. If your children are older, try having a Dumb Supper where the meal is eaten in silence so the spirits are not frightened away.
  6. Bob for apples in your cauldron!
  7. Carve jack-o-lanterns to protect your home from malicious spirits. Have your children help make up a spell of protection to enforce the scary jack-o-lantern faces.
  8. Plant flower bulbs in your yard or somewhere special. Think of this as a special promise for spring, a secret the earth will keep.
  9. Take a walk and observe animals (like squirrels and geese) prepare for winter. At home, prepare for winter in your own way.
  10. Make a family tree on poster board. Let the kids draw pictures of each of the people on your tree.
  11. Snack on seeds and nuts (try toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds). Or try making skull-shaped popcorn balls.
  12. Tell your children stories of when they where younger. Then encourage them to make up stories of their lives in the future.
  13. Why should kids have all the fun? The whole family should make costumes and go trick-or-treating!

Today’s Little Funnies for October 14th

I clean house every other day. Today is the other day!
So this isn’t Home Sweet Home… Adjust!
Ring bell for Maid Service. If no answer, do it yourself!
If you write in the dust, please don’t date it!
I would cook dinner but I can’t find the can opener!
My house was clean last week. Too bad you missed it!
A clean kitchen is the sign of a wasted life.
I came. I saw. I decided to order take out.
If you don’t like my standards of cooking…lower your standards.
Apology. Although you’ll find our house a mess, come in, sit down, converse. It doesn’t always look like this. Some days it’s even worse.
A messy kitchen is a happy kitchen, and this kitchen is delirious.
Martha Stewart doesn’t live here!!
If we are what we eat, then I’m easy, fast, and cheap.
A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand.
Help keep the kitchen clean. Eat out.
My next house will have no kitchen — just vending machines.
Don’t pick up that mess!!! It’s Saturday…relax and have a great day!
Don’t tell me that…I shouldn’t have Arachnophobia? I’ve enjoyed my fear so much and I also have that fear of combustibles…which is such a pleasure for me…it takes a lot of my time so I don’t have to do the things I really need to do or think about anything else…
And finally my kitchen is complete, I’ve turned my oven into a flower pot!


Affirmation of the Day for October 14th

I am this organism, this life. I am the trees, the flowers, the water and the creatures that need it. I am the air we breathe, the food we eat, the love we make, the moon that sings to us, the sun that warms us. I am all of these, and they are me. I am life, I am Earth, for She is me, and I am beautiful.
~ from MaryDawnChild

Rowdy Rabbit of the Day for October 14th

Clover, the Pet of the Day
Name: Clover
Age: Unknown
Gender: Male
Kind: Rabbit
Home: Loogootee, Indiana, USA
Clover is our male rabbit. We don’t know how old he is, as he was an adult when we got him. He is an only rabbit right now. We hope to get another one soon. He loves to eat anything we give him. He eats candy canes, carrots and carrot peels, apples, corn, soybeans, hay, grass and pellets. He likes to be cuddled, even upside down. He doesn’t like the dogs, but he thinks our cats are just playmates. They like him,too, and never try to hurt him. Sometimes we let him run free and he does fine. It’s easy to catch him again and he loves to run as fast as he can. We know he loves us, because if he didn’t want to be caught, there’s no way we could, he’s so fast! We love our bunny.

NASA Image of the Day for October 14th

Carina Nebula: 14,000+ Stars

The Carina Nebula is a star-forming region in the Sagittarius-Carina arm of the Milky Way that is 7,500 light years from Earth and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory has detected more than 14,000 stars in the region.

Chandra’s X-ray vision provides strong evidence that massive stars have self-destructed in this nearby star-forming region. Firstly, there is an observed deficit of bright X-ray sources in the area known as Trumpler 15, suggesting that some of the massive stars in this cluster were already destroyed in supernova explosions. Trumpler 15 is located in the northern part of the image and is one of ten star clusters in the Carina complex.

The detection of six possible neutron stars, the dense cores often left behind after stars explode in supernovas, provides additional evidence that supernova activity is increasing up in Carina. Previous observations had only detected one neutron star in Carina.

Image Credit: NASA/CXC/Penn State/L. Townsley et al.

Astronomy Picture of the Day for October 14th

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2011 October 14

MAGIC Star Trails
Image Credit & Copyright: Babak Tafreshi (TWAN


Explanation: Colorful star trails arc across the night in this surreal timelapse skyscape from the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the Canary island of La Palma. A reflection of the Earth’s daily rotation on its axis, the star trails are also reflected in one of a pair of 17 meter diameter, multi-mirrored MAGIC telescopes. The MAGIC (Major Atmospheric Gamma Imaging Cherenkov) telescope itself is intended to detect gamma rays – photons with over 100 billion times the energy of visible light. As the high energy gamma rays impact the upper atmosphere they produce air showers of high-energy particles. A fast camera monitoring the multi-mirrored surface records in detail brief flashes of optical light, called Cherenkov light, created by the air shower particles Astronomers can then ultimately relate the optical flashes to cosmic sources of extreme gamma-rays.

Your Daily Number for October 14th: 7

You may find yourself feeling somewhat accident prone at work, and even a bit awkward. Exercise extra caution, even with routine tasks. Today is best suited for inner reflection rather than bustling social events.

Fast Facts

About the Number 7

Theme: Quiet, Insightful, Analytical, Mystical, Intuitive
Astro Association: Cancer
Tarot Association: Chariot

Today’s I Ching Hexagram for October 14th is 56: The Wanderer

56: The Wanderer

Hexagram 56

General Meaning: A seasoned traveler knows that a special kind of decorum is called for when one ventures far from home. He or she must develop a yielding nature outwardly, so that the ‘local contact’ or host can open doors and prevent unseemly errors. But inwardly, the wanderer knows that it is sometimes impossible to discern the true intentions of strangers — are they hostile, friendly or merely opportunistic?

The twin houses of mystery and discovery rule any journey. Each new day is launched on a fresh landscape, one that reaches out to grab our full attention. Though new adventures are a great teacher — and often a great equalizer — there is an art to living lightly in a strange land. Mindfulness and discernment become the keys not only to success, but also to survival.

If you are entering a new environment of any sort attempt to be sincere, flexible and undemanding, rather than obstinate. Let go of old attitudes and habits that could encumber you, or make you overly conspicuous. The onset of a great journey is not a favorable time to enter into binding agreements, or to start new enterprises.

Today’s Runes for October 14th is Teiwatz



You can’t do anything but stay out of your own way.
Nothing less is asked of you but to look within, be patient and accept whatever is coming your way.
Courage, devotion, perseverance and patience and the knowledge that you have the strength within, will help you to make another step towards wholeness.