Relationships: When Only One of You is Pagan

Relationships: When Only One of You is Pagan

Author: Ryan Hatcher

I’ve been in my current relationship for about a year and a quarter and like any relationship, we have our ups and downs. One thing that tends to pop up regularly, whether in jest or debate and sometimes a jibe, is the subject of my being a Pagan, because my partner isn’t and this will sometimes cause conflict.

And so, I thought it would be interesting to write about what it’s like to be in a relationship with a Pagan when you aren’t one. And the best way I could think of doing that would be to do a sort of interview with my other half. And that’s exactly what I did! I’ve also included my side of the response so it gives both perspectives (a Pagan with a non-Pagan partner and vice versa) .

[Begin interview]

How would you define your personal spiritual or religious standpoint?

Chris: I don’t really have a religion and I wouldn’t really class myself as being particularly spiritual, I feel there’s no physical presence [of divinity] but we enlighten ourselves through our interaction with nature and natural forces. I see nature and natural forces as the spiritual essence of the planet.

Ryan: If I was to label myself, I would say I was a Witch of my own tradition, though mostly I use the term Pagan first. I see nature and the forces of nature personified through my Gods.

Have you ever had any experience with paganism prior to meeting your partner? (If so, what did you make of it?)

Chris: [lengthy pause]…Charmed, Buffy, The Craft…media images! I bought a couple of books from a local ‘witchy shop’ when I was younger to see if it took me to a place where I wanted to be. Experimenting with the spells wasn’t what I expected. I expected there would be more obvious results.

Has your perspective or any preconceptions of paganism been changed or confirmed? How do you perceive paganism now?

Chris: I see paganism now as any other form of religion/worship, etc. with its own set of beliefs, which I respect even if though I’m not pagan.

What do you find are the difficulties of being in a partnership when one of you is Pagan?

Chris: Finding space for the paraphernalia mostly! Such as trying to find areas for some things to be on display while not imposing on the rest of the house! I’m not too keen on ritual clothing; robes and stuff makes it seem much more like dressing up, like a play or pretending. It makes it seem more ‘out there’ to me.

I find it difficult trying to understand his need and want to practice Paganism. It makes me think that he must feel there’s something lacking in his life or in himself… as if he’s not enough of a person as he is, like he needs some extra support. Does he lack a self-belief to be able to go out there and do things himself? Maybe he needs to work behind closed doors using spells to get a result instead of going out there and grabbing the bull by the horns?

Ryan: It’s kind of hard trying to get him to understand the point behind my beliefs and practices. The religious and spiritual side of paganism is easier to understand, as it’s not that dissimilar to Chris’ own point of view, though perhaps I take it to another level. The hard part is trying to explain magic and spell work. It ranges from trying to quantify the ‘how’ of magic to justifying reasons why. I think it gets taken out of perspective sometimes and he thinks I work a spell for everything I want in life, when it’s really only for things I can’t physically influence in the world.

Sometimes I think he feels embarrassed as well. I like to have some things on display, for a mixture of aesthetic value and providing a sense of spiritual connection to our home. It may be that he is worried whether people will think we’re/I’m odd and not want to get involved any more, or more likely it’s because I’ve gathered so much stuff over the last 10 years he’s worried about clutter!

I think the hardest thing, though, is that I’ve got someone to share my life with, yet I can’t share all of it as he’s not interested, or embarrassed. It just means ritual has to still be done alone, but when he’s out of the house, just in case he thinks I’m being weird!

Are there any advantages or things you enjoy about only one of you being Pagan?

Chris: I don’t think there are any advantages or anything I enjoy that is different to having a non-pagan partner.

Ryan: Not really. I guess there are no arguments on the right way to do ritual and things like that, but apart from that, there are the same basic dynamics as in any other relationship.

Have you ever been involved in ritual together and what did you make of it?

Chris: Yes. I don’t know what to make of it. It wasn’t like I expected. I expected to be able to feel presences and energies, which, unfortunately I did not. I understand the concepts of ritual and offerings, but it’s not for me. I don’t feel it achieves much for me.

Ryan: It did feel a bit awkward as, admittedly, I spent a lot of the time wondering what he thought of it and whether he was put off me! I was also kind of embarrassed with saying ritual words and what he’d think of the idea of chanting. Turns out chanting wasn’t taken to all that well, so we didn’t bother so much. Sad though it is, I can safely say I’ve had better solo rituals.

Would you ever consider reading or studying some Pagan introductory books to learn and understand your partner’s spirituality and religion better?

Chris: Not really if I’m honest, unless I had a specific interest in it to begin with and then I’d want to read up on the subject anyway.

Ryan: I’d like him to, as I feel it would give him a better perspective rather than it just coming from me. Authors are generally better at explaining things clearly and in a way for people with no Pagan background to be able to understand.

[End interview]

I just hope this essay provides a different perspective on Pagan life, and maybe strikes a chord with people in a similar situation. It may seem like a public therapy session, but sometimes it’s nice to share experiences that could be just as valid to someone else. I hope you stuck with it and it gave you a little bit of food for thought.

Church Envy

Church Envy

Author: Arion The Blue

I live in the Bible Belt, and it’s hard to throw a stick without hitting at least a couple of churches. Christians take their religion seriously, here, and in some rural parts of my state it isn’t unusual for the devout to attend church three or four days a week. Sometimes more than one. It seems like any two-bit preacher with a bible and a hat to pass can bootstrap himself into a successful storefront church dispensing the Gospel in neat, affordable, easy-to-swallow bite-sized pieces. Religion, at least Christianity, is an industry in the South as much as it is a spiritual exercise.

Of course I’m Pagan, and so I view these guys with a kind of amused tolerance. Watching a street corner preacher attract enough followers to justify a permanent building is a kind of rite of passage, here, and the lengths to which they’ll go to do that are impressive. Everything from culture-warfare to anti-homosexuality to tent revivals go towards that magical goal: giving the preacher a chance to quit his day-job.

I’m less amused when I see my Pagan coreligionists attempt to do the same thing. For more than twenty years I’ve been listening to a long line of self-appointed Pagan leaders decry our lack of organization and attempt to browbeat the members of this nascent religion into aping the forms and fashions of the dominant religion.

Once upon a time I might have agreed with them, back in my more militant youth. But with age and experience comes Wisdom, if you’ve the wit to realize it, and at this point in my life I feel that what these would-be Pagan bishops are actually suggesting is unhealthy for the development of our religion.

Don’t misunderstand me – the traditional Southern Christian church plays an important role in the community outside of its purely religious functions. In most rural communities churches act as a kind of tribe, a social safety network that looks after the parishioners’ many needs when no one else will. Churches here hold softball tournaments, bake sales, dances (except the Baptists) , concerts, yard sales, and all manner of other social function. People meet their future spouses at these events. When someone’s house burns down, it is the community church to which they turn for solace and support. And they have those big, impressive buildings . . .

When faced with that kind of organized alternative to your happy, whacky Pagan circle or coven, for a certain kind of Pagan a bad case of Church Envy begins to creep in. Maybe you mentioned to a Christian preacher that you, too, are clergy, and had him dismiss your faith and your spiritual vocation out of hand.

Maybe you tried to get your coven listed on the local Interfaith Council and were rejected because you aren’t a “real church” in their eyes. Maybe you just got asked one too many times “So what church do you attend” and were tired of explaining your religious philosophy to someone with no conception of anything but “Baptist or Methodist”. Or maybe you decided to devote your life to Paganism in a big way and simply believe you should get paid the same way that Christian preachers are paid for their work.

The fact of the matter is we aren’t Christians, and we don’t have churches, in the strictest sense. The idea of the church was Christianity’s answer to Paleo-Pagan temples, and the early Church certainly emphasized the church community over the adoration of a particular divinity. Those early churches were known as Meeting Houses, implying the community of believers gathering to hear the Word – and since the vast majority of the believers were illiterate, the only way they could participate in the community was to hear someone read to them.

Eventually the reader became a priest, and the function of the church became more similar to Pagan temples before they destroyed all of the Pagan temples. That position was supported by the contributions of the members, who were conveniently divinely mandated to bring 10% of their earnings to the priest for his maintenance and upkeep. That institutionalized the Christian priesthood and created a professional class of priests whose actual jobs varied from real community support to praying non-stop for the salvation of humanity. You probably know the rest of the story from there.

But there are fundamental differences between Christianity and Neo-Paganism, differences that make “churching up” a poor idea. Again, I’m not attempting to discourage Pagans of all sorts from gathering together however the spirits move them – good community is the bedrock of all successful religions, and it’s never more important than when you’re a minority religion. Indeed, our traditional feelings of oppression from the majority have long encouraged us to gather in small, intimate groups for our religious rituals and instruction – the covens and groves.

But does it necessarily follow that, in order for us to be successful, we parrot the organizational structure and paradigms of Christianity? I think not. Indeed, I believe we lose something very valuable in doing so.

The arguments for institutionalizing the Pagan clergy and leadership usually revolve around a few individuals who see these big churches around them and want to feel competitive. They claim to need manicured temples in which to hold handfastings and wiccanings and requiems. They make a big deal about the inconvenience of buying a lot of camping gear and driving across the country to meet up with fellow Pagans, preferring instead to do so in the luxury of a well-appointed temple with spacious parking and expensive landscaping. The simple coven or grove is not enough for them – not big enough, not organized enough, not impressive enough.

They want more.

They’ve got a bad case of Church Envy, and nothing less than full parity with the older, well-established, well-funded Christian churches will satisfy them.

Worse, they claim that only through Pagan churches can we find our place in the community and serve the greater community at large. Individual efforts, or the efforts of small groups, are disparaged as being pointless and selfish – only by gathering in great numbers, buying buildings, and passing the ubiquitous hat can we affect positive change in our community. They put our coreligionists in decidedly Christian terms: throngs of seekers begging for ministering, as if they were helpless sheep waiting to be spoon-fed their spiritual development by a small group of wise elders (in an air-conditioned facility with a break room and splendidly appointed clergy office, presumably) .

Why can’t we be more like churches, they whine, and why can’t we pay our leadership so that they can lead us properly, instead of mucking about with a day job?

These divinity-school wannabes devoutly want a paid gig, and who can blame them? Christian preachers only “work” one day a week – and Pagan festivals are much further apart. Considering our low population density in even the thickest urban jungles, one would be hard pressed to find 300-400 Pagans of any stripe to even join such an institution, much less subsidize the self-appointed leadership. They seem to have a long list of “services” they’re willing to provide for that fee, some of which have traditionally been performed gratis for the benefit of the Pagan community. Apparently planning a simple Beltaine ritual requires a salary and benefits, in their minds, and should be subsidized. Likewise instruction on tarot, spellcraft, and all the other aspects of our religion that have always been given freely by the Wise.

In their arguments they cite our “ineffectiveness”, without recognizing the basic truths about Paganism: we are not Christians, and our values, goals, and spiritual pursuits do not conform to the Abrahamic Faiths’ structure, physical and metaphysical. Why do we need manicured lawns and pristine buildings for our rituals, when the open sky and green grass serves the purpose so admirably? We are a Nature Religion, and retreating to indoor temples in our quest to commune with Nature is counterintuitive. Why must we pay someone to do our spellwork for us, when the focus of Wicca, Druidism, and the other Pagan traditions has always been on the spiritual development of the individual, guided at need by capable elders (without coin passing hands) ?

Why do some feel compelled to be “taken seriously” by Christian churches, when we all know that at best the recognition will be patronizing, and at worst stir up enmity among the ignorant? It is a hallmark of Wisdom to be true to our own selves, not clamor to be like the religion which most of us fled at first opportunity. Incorporating as a religious organization is simple, in most states, and many of us have done just that to satisfy certain legal or insurance requirements for rituals, take advantage of tax-exempt status, or have a useful paper organization available at need.

But does legal incorporation necessarily mandate that we get buildings, paid clergy, and institute tithing to cover these costs? I don’t believe so. Indeed, I believe that following down that path leads away from Wisdom, and unnecessarily eschews some of the very principals most of us came to Paganism to follow.

Paganism, from Wicca and Druidism onwards, has never been a pay-to-play, fee-for-service religion. It has been a religion about cultivating individual spiritual development, free from the structures and strictures of Christianity and the other Abrahamic faiths. Indeed calling us a “Faith” is itself a misnomer. Faith does not play a central role in our religion, Wisdom does. And compensating our leaders for that which they should be happily willing to give for free defies Wisdom and invites maliciousness into our ranks.

The issue isn’t a High Priestess misappropriating Church funds to buy a new car – it’s establishing an institutionalized clergy in the first place. Paganism is a religion of the clergy – we are all, in most traditions, priestesses and priests of the Old Gods. To choose a few among us to conduct rites on our behalf, or try to teach that which is best learned on our own, or to organize a major event that has traditionally been run on volunteer labor, and pay them for that purpose ignores and defames the essential role of the individual in our religion.

And that volunteerism is critical. While it won’t pay the light bill, buy land or a building, the moon and sun seem pretty reasonably priced, and the public parks and private gardens most of us have traditionally used are a real bargain. Considering it our Paganly duty to contribute towards these things for the benefit of others smacks too much of Jim and Tammy Faye Baker’s pathetic pleas for alms back in the 1980s. Insisting that solitaries and those who don’t care to contribute to the upkeep of a professional clergy are somehow undermining the Pagan religion and stifling its growth and development is disingenuous and hurtful. Most of the Pagans I know are solitaries, and they choose to be so often because they are hesitant about joining an “organized” religion.

If you want some land, get a job, go to work, earn some money and buy some – and if you’re public spirited enough, deed it outright to the non-profit religious organization of your choice. If you want a building, then start a PayPal fund and hold a bake sale. Win the lotto and buy a nemeton. Write and sell a book and donate the proceeds towards it. Have a yard sale. Solicit volunteer donations, perhaps, for a specific purpose. Plenty of us have done that time and again when there is need in the community.

If there really are throngs of eager seekers just begging to get out of our beautiful natural parks and into a majestic, air-conditioned and well-lighted temple, then they’ll be more than happy to fill your coffers full – but I’m not certain that the result would be, in fact, a Pagan one. Time, treasure and talent might be fitting offerings to the Goddess, but personal sacrifice is also demanded from time to time. If you aren’t willing to suffer, you aren’t willing to learn. If you want it so badly, you should find a way to pay for it yourself.

Some tout the great benefit to having a public temple and offering “free” classes and workshops, once they’ve been freed of the responsibility of working for a living. While I respect their dedication to the Craft, I have to wonder about the value of such “free services”. Once you make ministering to the Pagan community a job, then you begin to strip away the value of the pursuit of Wisdom as your vocation.

Everyone gets paid for their job, and once they’ve accepted that coin they’ve also accepted a whole host of other things that go along with having a job – including indifference, clock-watching, medical benefits, labor relations, and the lot.

But a true vocation for the priesthood should be pursued honorably and with a willingness to sacrifice. The efficacy of the ritual of someone who is paid to do it is, in my experience, considerably less than that done by someone who has, themselves, sacrificed their time and treasure (with no hope or expectation of reward or recompense) to perform it.

Pooling resources might make sense in specific instances, but the fact is we don’t have the same needs as other religions, the same values or the same philosophy – so paying for the privilege of “enjoying” the services of those religions seems like a hollow and cynical endeavor. It certainly doesn’t seem like a wise way to advance the Pagan cause. Since most of us provide these “services” to each other without money changing hands anyway, I can’t see this as progress towards anything but making us “Christianity Lite”.

When Pagans in my community are in need, word goes out and stuff gets done by those who take individual responsibility to do it. And that is what lies at the crux of this matter: Responsibility. Once we start paying for our clergy and these so-called clerical services, we cheapen the spirit of individual responsibility and sacrifice that called many of us to the groves and covens in the first place. Once we put a price-tag on such things as devotion, respect, instruction and service, we start down the dark and lonely road of abandoning our individual responsibility – and there are plenty of other churches out there that already offer that “service”.

“Lack of funding” isn’t an obstacle to getting things done; it’s merely a challenge of the moment. If the Gods so will something like a temple to be, then you can bet that the resources will magickally appear.

For those who walk in Wisdom, thus has it always been, and thus shall it always be.

Shielding Method 1: Pagan Grid of Protection

Shielding Method 1: Pagan Grid of Protection

Author: Nita

I want to share a protection method for those who practice a religion that is not oriented towards angels. I hope this will be a big help for people who are learning how to shield themselves from harmful energies and vibrations.

I have felt that many people who begin in magic pick up what others think, and do not understand their abilities and talents. The most difficult talent is being an empath where others feelings are sent to you. Many people have problems because they do not know the difference between their emotions and others.

I hope this shielding method helps everyone to keep balanced, centered and grounded. Blessed Be.

Arianhod, Goddess of Heaven, I ask that you send a grid of energy that nothing harmful may pass. May I be defended from the East, in the realm of air by your beauty and might. May this day go well with no slander, communication problems, misunderstandings, quarrels or arguments. May your mighty shield deflect all energies of air meant to harm me or cause discord and may I be sealed and contained from all harm through the element of air. Let me be protected in my body, mind, and soul. May all the positive spirits, Gods, Goddesses of air and the east bring the positive effects of wisdom, thought, and communications to be glorified this day in service to the light and goodness of life.

Lugh, God of the light, may your innovations, defense, and fiery nature defend me from all harm through the element of fire and the direction of the South. I ask that a grid of energy be sent to me so I will be protected from all accidents, war, terrorism, acts of violence or cruelty, May all energies of fire meant to harm me or cause discord, hatred and jealousy be deflected by your mighty shield of energy and may you add this grid around the grid of air so I may be protected from all combinations of fire, and air this day. May I also be protected from all harm through the direction of east and south or any combination of those directions and elements. Let me be protected in my body, mind and higher self. May all the positive spirits, Gods, and Goddesses of the south and east bring the positive effects of fire and air to be glorified this day in service to the light and goodness of life.

Morrigan, Lady of the Lake, may you send an invincible grid of the element of water to surround the elemental shields and grids of air and earth. May nothing use the emotions, thoughts, fears, and upset that can be sent through the element of water and west against me. May no combinations of air, fire, and water harm me or influence me negatively in any way.

May no harm come through the directions of East, South, and West or any combinations of these directions and elements. May I be protected in my body, mind and soul. May all of the positive sprits, Gods, Goddesses of Air, fire and water bring the positive effects of these elements to be glorified this day in service to the light and goodness of life.

Danu, Mother Goddess of all, may I be shielded from all harm from the North and through the element of earth by your might and loving protection being sent to me in an invincible grid of protection that goes around the grids of air, fire and water. May it protect me from all harm through the elements of air, fire, water and earth. May no single element or combination of elements be able to harm me in any fashion.

May I be freed of poverty, problems through metal and wood, inertia, and any other harm that links to the negative powers of the earth and the north. May all of the positive spirits, Gods, Goddesses, bring the positive effects of the elements of air, fire, water, and earth to be glorified this day in service to the light and Goodness of Life.

I ask that this grid be sealed by all the Gods and Goddess with an impenetrable energy shield so that no harm may come to me in any way. Be it simple energies of life or others emotions, harmful magic, or evil spirits, ghosts, hexes, curses or harm. Nothing shall past these shields. Nothing may use the energies of spirit, life, or elements against me. The Gods and Goddesses protect me and keep me safe this day and every day.

Face each direction and say:

Arianhod seal the grids completely from the East and the element of Air.
Lugh seal the grids completely from the direction of South and the element of fire.
Morrigan seal the grids completely from the direction of West and the element of water.
Danu seal the grids completely from the direction of North and the element of Earth.

Say this shielding spell every day. It will keep you safe and help you to build your energies and have a permanently strong shield of safety and protection.

You may substitute any Gods or Goddesses from any practice with these Gods and Goddesses. This method will seal the elements and directions that should keep you safe and well.

I know the basics for any grid of protection using the elements and the directions is to pick God’s and Goddesses that correspond to those directions and abilities. Ones of Earth for earth, water for water, air for air, and fire for fire. You then can assign them to the directions or find if they are present or known to defend a certain element or direction.

It means that any pantheon of Gods or Goddesses can be used for these methods. The sealing of the directions and elements is useful in most forms of magic. It will contain and seal off the direction the person who is sending the negative magic is living in or doing their magic in a certain area.

The elements are important because all of them cover every method that can be used to harm others. Earth is the elements of spell casting equipment. Air is the element of the spoken word and spirit connections. Fire is the light of the fire or candle. Water is any liquids or oils. So all of the elements combined to seal the person and protect them are very powerful. It can also be used on vehicles, houses, and places of business to protect everything that needs to be protected from harm.

I always encourage people to improvise and add in sentences or variations that fit their needs. Inspiration is important but always write down what you said and what you do. It is the only way to be sure that your method worked and to verify the results.

The World of Dryads

The World of Dryads

Author: Crick

As a child growing up in the mountains of Tennessee, Dryads were welcome companions. They often took the place of human companions who were scattered about on neighboring farms that dotted the area. Over the years I have always respected these woodland spirits as wise teachers. I realize that many neo pagans underutilize such wonderful spirits, but they are there willing and able to assist ones spiritual journey as we traverse the mysteries of life.

Dryads are often thought of as originating from the Greek. In fact the word Dryad comes from the Greek word “drus” (Tree) . In Greek mythology there are two types of Dryads. There were the nymphs who lived in the trees but could leave them to revel away the night.

And then there were the Hamadryads. These Dryads were said to have the upper body of a woman with the lower body being that of a tree trunk.

These particular Dryads were permanently attached to their trees and when the tree died, so did the Nymph attached to the tree. Within Greek society, it was believed that Deity would punish anyone who cut down a tree without first honoring the Dryad within.

Unfortunately, humans now mow down trees without any sign of respect or remorse. Perhaps this is why there is so much death and destruction amongst members of the human race, retribution by the Gods if you will. At any rate the “Deipnosophistae of Athenaeus” (The Banquet of the Learned) lists eight Hamadryads. They are the daughters of Oxylus and Hamadryas. And they are:

Karya (Walnut or Hazelnut)
Balanos (Oak)
Kraneia (Dogwood)
Morea (Mulberry)
Aigeiros (Black Poplar)
Ptelea (Elm)
Ampelos (Vines)
Syke (Fig)

In addition, the Greek dryad of ash trees was called the Meliai. According to Hesiod (father of Greek didactic poetry) , Theogony 187, the Meliai appeared from the drops of blood spilled when Cronus castrated Uranus. Along with their association to ash trees they are also associated with fruit trees.

One of the Meliai, known as Amalthia, is thought to have tended Zeus when he was an infant. His mother, Rhea hid him in Idaion Andron to protect him from his father, Cronus, and she had Amaithia in attendance as his nurse.

And if one reads the myth of “Daphne”, you will discover that she was the nymph pursued by Apollo and that she became a dryad associated with the laurel bush. But the Dryads are not limited to the Greek pantheon, they are found all around the world.

For instance there is the Shamantin (Tall Ghost) . This African Dryad forest faery is thought to be the female form of the “Sasabonsum”. Her name comes from the word “srahman” (ghost) . She is said to be white and is very tall. Unlike her male aspect, she is benevolent to forest travelers. If you come across her she will teach you the lore of the forest. But the male aspect is known to be quite evil to though who pass by their trees.

Next are the Vanadevata, these Indian Dryads make their homes in the trees and are quick to punish those who cut down their trees. These female dryads are often portrayed embracing a nagakesara tree with their left arm and leg while her right hand grasps a branch above her. Throughout the European continent one can find Dryads who are associated with various trees and who have varying degrees of temperament.

In Romania for instance resides Zina Magdalina. She is a Romanian faery/dryad who resides in the World Tree, which is thought to support the earth. To the south in Albania one can find the “Aerico”. These Albanian Dryads can be found in old and barren Cherry trees. They are very mean spirited and do not like humans. It’s said that if one were to venture into the shade beneath their branches that one will come away with pain and swelling in both, the hands and feet.

If you travel to Scandinavia you may encounter the “Askafroa” (Wife of the Ash) . She is considered to be a very evil Dryad. At one point in history she was presented with a sacrifice every Ash Wednesday just to keep her appeased.

Also found in Scandinavia and Germany as well is the Wood Wives (Wish wives) . They are said to inhabit old forests and sacred groves. They are also said to be extremely emotional, as they will start crying and wailing without warning. They are said to be covered in moss and to have a shaggy like appearance. On occasion they will ask humans for assistance or for food and in return they leave a handful of wood chips that turn into gold. They are considered to be the prey of the Wild Huntsmen, though if they can reach a tree with a cross-etched in it they are safe from the frenzied Huntsmen.

There are also other Dryads to be found in Germany such as the “Barstukken”. This is a German or Prussian Dryad that lives in the roots of trees. In addition there is the “Baumesel” (Ass of the Trees) . This is a German Dryad that lives in the branches of the trees and is considered to be evil.

If you travel to Hungary you may encounter the “Vadleany” (Forest Girl) . This forest dryad is said to have long hair that drags the ground. She excels at seducing young men in order to drain their strength. When the forest trees rustle it is said that she is about in the area.

From here we look towards Poland, which is home to the “Boruta”. This Polish Dryad prefers to inhabit Fir trees. And not too far away In Lithuania resides the “Kirnis”. The Kirnis are Lithuanian dryads who guard the Cherry trees. Local folks once placed lit candles in the crowns of the cherry tree to honor the Kirnis. There are some interesting dryads in the Near East regions as well.

For instance in Indonesia there resides the Bela. These are Indonesian Dryads of course, live in the trees. If a forester wishes to cut down a Bela’s tree, they must first offer it food and politely coach it to move to another tree. Failure to do so will cause the Bela to inflict illness or cause nightmares to the offender.

The dryads of Burma are known as the “Nats ‘. They are divided into four different classifications. The “Akakasoh” are said to dwell in the top branches of a tree. The “Shekkasoh” dwell in the trunk of the tree. The “Boomasoh” dwell in the roots of the tree. And last, the “Hmin” range freely through the forest and are said to violently shake those unfortunate humans they encounter, thus causing them to come down with malaria. And you thought it was mosquitoes that were responsible for malaria!

The list of dryads goes on, but I would like to finish this article with the dryads from my favorite country of Ireland. In beloved Ireland resides the Bodach Na Croibhe Moire. This Irish tree faery lives in the branches of trees. He is often depicted as a small, strong old man and is sometimes mistaken for a goblin. And there is the Lunantishee (Moon Faeries) . These Irish dryads appear as old bald men with pointed ears. They have long arms and teeth. And they guard the Blackthorn bushes.

It is said that they will not allow a branch to be cut on May 11th or Nov 11th (these are the old dates for Beltain and Samhain) . To do so will result in bad luck. They are said to dance in the moonlight and to have a strong dislike for humans.

And last but certainly not least is the Elder Mother. She is said to be the guardian of the Elder tree. If one wishes to pick Elderberries, they must first obtain her permission. If one fails to do so, then their livestock will become afflicted with illness, so show some manners. As you wander about what is left of the woods in the area and you feel that someone is watching you, perhaps it’s a dryad. And just maybe they will offer a lesson of life to you.

Will you be willing to listen?

The Hedge Witch’s Home (Or A Guide to Practical Paganism)

The Hedge Witch’s Home (Or A Guide to Practical Paganism)

Author: Liofrun

For most of us Pagans, the altar can be seen as a spiritual or peaceful refuge in our own special corner away from the mundane and away from the rest of the world. For others of us, we may prefer to meditate and still others would like nothing more than a peaceful walk in a forest. But our homes can be places of spiritual refuge as well, from the front door to the bedroom at the furthest end of the house. In fact, the home should be a refuge, a Pagan one. It goes without saying that most of us want to feel Pagan and live Pagan but for some of us this can be difficult.

Some of us live in must urban settings or very small dwellings with little room. Maybe you’re renting an apartment with strict rules such as no holes in the walls. But it’s anything but hopeless. We can “Pagan” up our houses in the simplest of ways. It is possible even if we live in tiny, cramped apartments or dorm rooms where lighting candles and incense isn’t practical and is prohibited by post-secondary institutions.

Kitchen Witches make much use of their kitchens. Their altars are their counters and their ritual tools are the big wooden spoons and saucepans by the stove. Green Witches have their gardens and hedge witches have the tinted jars of sundry herbs lined upon the shelves.

There are a few simple steps a Pagan can take to make their home really their home. Setting up a modest altar in a preferred room is one way, perhaps with a smudge stick or perhaps with images of ancestors lining the edges. This is really very simple, a nicely framed picture of Grandma and Grandpa on a side table will most surely do! My altar has a calendar set up neatly on the left side. You can decorate your altar according to your path’s holidays and decorate your house with seasonal sprigs or seasonal emblems.

One can also make use of many readily available herbs to feel close to nature such as creating sachets, herbal rinses, soaps, incenses, teas or any variety of delicious culinary dishes. I have only a few words of advice and those are: DO NOT OVERPICK. And be sure to pick ethically as many plants are endangered or becoming endangered just as animals do. And do not pick anything out in the wild without thoroughly making sure you know what it is and use it to the best of its abilities If you can’t be sure, leave it or consult someone who knows. That being said, the practical Pagan may want to get rosehips from the roses in his garden and they appear when the blooms die for any number of practical purposes from teas to desserts.

These and many other herbs can also be found at a local loose-leaf teashop, or if you’re lucky enough, your local herb shop or Pagan shop. There are many practical ways to utilize these small charms as well. A kitchen Witch might go to the supermarket and buy some thyme or ginger to cook with and saturate it with his or her witchy knack for cooking. If you live in the city, and want to feel more “naturey”, set up a windowsill spice garden and be sure to get a few potted plants.

When friends come over, the hedge Witch can brew a mean tea from those same rosehips, which are high in vitamin C and thus helpful with colds. If you’re looking for a sleeping potion and warm milk just isn’t doing the trick, try some chamomile. As a mild sedative, it does wonders to help you, or your active children get to sleep.

To make your home feel like being home and feel more Pagan, you could tie an herb sachet by the bathtub and the scent will be released with the steam. You could collect your favorite Pagan authors and place them on a bookshelf in the living room. You could keep a diary, dream journal or recipe book by your bed stand.

For the more spiritual, you could buy a nice broom and decorate it to your tastes and use cleaning the home as a ritual or if you’re Heathen, place a blót horn or ancestor image on the mantel. Mine is only big enough for a single shot so if you’re space is cramped you can still aim small. You do not have to feel like you are trapped in a cramped, mundane and utterly unPagan apartment.

You can imbue almost anything with a spiritual significance. Even if you are a teenager in a strict nonPagan home you can try your hand at cooking or placing a broom in your room to clean with and of course you can buy little figurines for your bedroom that have special significance to you.

Last but not least, you could try your creative hand and add a very personal element. If you can write, write a prayer for your bedroom wall. If you can paint, paint an image of your patron God. If you can carve, carve an image of your totem. If you can work with wood, well, you get the idea.

It is very easy to be the Practical Pagan without cheapening the experience or overdoing it dramatically. After all, no one really need a big witch hat and a cast iron cauldron sitting dead centre in the front foyer for all to see to have a Pagan home and neither do you need to set up a mini Stonehenge in the backyard (a small altar by a tree or birdfeeder may do just fine) .

If space is an issue, aim small. If disapproving eyes are an issue, aim for subtle and above all, aim for modest and something which will complement your personality!

Make your home really feel like yours and let it be inspired by your Pagan path.

Happy (Pagan) interior decorating!



Pets in Ritual: Some Basics

Pets in Ritual: Some Basics

Author: Bronwen Forbes

For the purpose of this article, I’m going to assume that you want your pet in ritual with you, and not that he or she has wandered in by accident. That being the case, here are some things you need to consider and plan for.

If you normally cast a circle as part of your magickal workings, and if you have issues with pets casually crossing that magical barrier, you need to figure out in advance how to keep your furry friend from leaving once you’ve started. A dog can be leashed and kept in your circle. So, in some instances, can a ferret, a rabbit, or an iguana. But a cat isn’t likely to take too kindly to a harness or collar and a leash. And if your cat is anything like mine, he will yowl like he’s dying if you put him in a carrier.

What are you going to do? Frankly, you’ve got two choices: either resign yourself to the idea that a cat is going to cross the energy barrier you’ve erected but not affect it, or shut your cat away so he or she can’t participate.

Our cat likes to patrol the perimeter of the circle, but he never comes near the altar. Maybe he’s keeping an eye out for unwelcome entities. I really don’t know. His predecessor used to lie in the center of ritual space with the attitude, “You may all now commence adoring me.”

By the way, if you plan to have your dog in ritual, it’s a good idea to let him or her go outside and do his business beforehand. Nothing interrupts a good ritual like one of the participants barking because he needs to potty!

Something else to consider on this same topic: for obvious reasons, small puppies aren’t the best participants in long rituals, say, longer than thirty minutes. For lengthy sabbats or esbats, take your puppy out beforehand, and then crate him or her (or whatever you do at night) during the ritual. Post-ritual pee and poop cleanups when you’re trying to dismantle the altar and get the ritual feast ready just aren’t fun.

Speaking of altars, if you like to have an altar or shrine set up at all times, you might want to consider setting it up where an inquisitive cat or teething puppy can’t get to it. Cats love to knock things off altars. Puppies like to chew things – and they don’t care if it’s your $70 wand, your favorite Buddha statue (true story) , or a chew toy.

When I first started doing ritual, my cat at the time loved nothing better than to yukk up a hairball on my altar. Needless to say, a hairball was so not the kind of offering I wanted to make to my Gods! If your pets are doing your altar more harm than good, consider moving it to a pet-free room or large closet with a firmly latching door, or to a wall shelf strategically placed where Kitty can’t comfortably jump to.

If you frequently invite newcomers, especially people who are new to Paganism, to your ritual, you may notice that your pet chooses to sit on or next to that person while you all ground and center. This frequently happens in my group, and the newcomer always reports that the pet’s presence helped them feel less nervous, and they were better able to follow the grounding and centering meditation.

Another note about newcomers to your ritual: inform them at the time of invitation that you have pets, and what kind. That way, if they have serious allergies or major phobias, they know ahead of time and can choose for themselves how they want to deal with it, i.e. take antihistamines or not accept the invite.

We share our home with a shaggy, extra large old-fashioned German shepherd, and we always warn people that there’s a HUGE, LONG-HAIRED dog in the house! Karl is a complete goofball who wouldn’t hurt a soul (and in fact, is totally, utterly, and completely devoted to our four-year-old) , but he sheds constantly and weighs approximately 120 pounds. That way, people who don’t think dog hair counts as a condiment (despite the fact that we regularly dust and vacuum) or who might be too scared to concentrate on ritual with a humongous wolf-looking creature in the house can choose in advance not to come.

For safety’s sake, consider making some adjustments to the placement of Cakes and Wine during your ritual. Most of us are used to setting the cakes and drink on the altar – or under it, if the altar is too small. Let me tell you: with pets actively participating in ritual, that doesn’t work! Remember that alcohol, grapes (including grape juice) , raisins, any sort citrus fruit or juice, and chocolate are extremely toxic to cats and dogs.

Besides, do you really want to drink out of a chalice after your toilet-drinking, butt-sniffing dog had a sip? Or eat a cookie she’s licked? I didn’t think so! Put the stuff somewhere your furry friend can’t reach, like a nearby bookshelf or table. That way, all the humans can partake without grossing out – or poisoning the pet.

Maybe you could also have some water and dog and cat treats for your furry participants to enjoy during Cakes and Wine! I have heard that people who invite their ferrets or rabbits into ritual provide a small plate with a couple of raisins or lettuce on it.

With a little pre-planning, adult pets and carefully supervised kittens and puppies can be delightful, useful, and meaningful participants in your rituals. But always leave yourself the option of letting them out – and keeping them out – if they get too rowdy or otherwise disruptive.

Our ritual room is also where we keep our dogs’ crates, and for the most part they’re voluntarily hanging out in their crates (with the doors open) when we do ritual. We know the ritual is a success if the dogs are snoring!

Astronomy Picture of the Day for November 18th – A Colorful Side of the Moon

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 November 18
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.

A Colorful Side of the Moon
NASA / GSFC / DLR / Arizona State Univ. / Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter 

Explanation: This colorful topographical map of the Moon is centered on the lunar farside, the side not seen from planet Earth. That view is available to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter though, as the spacecraft’s wide angle camera images almost the entire lunar surface every month. Stereo overlap of the imaging has allowed the computation of topographical maps with coverage between 80 degrees north and south latitude. The results have about a 300 meter resolution on the lunar surface and 10 to 20 meter elevation accuracy. Data closer to the north and south poles is filled in using the orbiter’s laser altimeter. In this map, white, red, green, and purple represent progressively lower elevations. In fact, the large circular splotch tending to purple hues at the bottom is the farside’s South Pole-Aitken Basin. About 2500 kilometers in diameter and over 12 kilometers deep, it is one of the largest impact basins in the Solar System.

NASA Image of the Day for November 18th – Saturn’s Northern Storm

S Saturn

Saturn’s Northern Storm

This false-color mosaic from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shows the tail of Saturn’s huge northern storm. In mid-September 2004, the Cassini spacecraft chronicled a similar, but smaller, storm in the southern hemisphere called the “Dragon Storm.”

The head of this storm is beyond the horizon in this view. Saturn’s atmosphere and its rings are shown here in a false color composite made from 12 images taken in near-infrared light through filters that are sensitive to varying degrees of methane absorption. Red and orange colors in this view indicate clouds that are deep in the atmosphere. Yellow and green colors, most noticeable near the top of the view, indicate intermediate clouds. White and blue indicate high clouds and haze. The rings appear as a thin horizontal line of bright blue because they are outside of the atmosphere and not affected by methane absorption.

The oval in the upper left of this image that appears slightly blue is the same hole in the deep clouds of the planet’s atmosphere that can be seen near the tail in a larger false-color mosaic, PIA14903. The blue color comes from the high haze overlying the hole.

This view looks toward the northern, sunlit side of the rings from just above the ring plane. The shadow of the moon Enceladus is visible on the planet in the lower left of the image.

The images were taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera using a combination of spectral filters sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light. The images filtered at 890 nanometers are projected as blue. The images filtered at 728 nanometers are projected as green, and images filtered at 752 nanometers are projected as red.

The images were taken on Jan. 12, 2011, over about one hour at a distance of approximately 684,000 miles (1.1 million kilometers) from Saturn and at a sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 52 degrees. The images were re-projected to the same viewing geometry, so that scale in this final mosaic is 76 miles (122 kilometers) per pixel.

Image Credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Feng Shui Tip of the Day for November18th

M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E! Remember when JT, JC or Xtina, Britney or Ryan (to name a few) sang that very same line on their way to superstardom? What do you mean, you don’t remember? Before Timberlake, Spears and Aguilera were tweeting, they were singing that same theme song! And apparently a lot of you were all ears too! Today you’ll have to move that melody out of your head to make way for another well-known one, the Happy Birthday song, because today is Mickey’s 83rd birthday! And, let’s face it, Disney’s most important icon never goes out of style. That little mouse that roared across the cinema screen has also made a lot of money and garnered even more luck for the Disney studio. Could it be because Walt Disney knew his Feng Shui and also knew that, according to the ancient Shui texts, the mouse or the rat is associated with intelligence, street smarts and survivability? Or could it just be that Disney was also aware that Feng Shui says the rat symbol represents and activates both career and income fortune and luck? Either way, let’s take a page from the Disney comic book and use an image of the rat if you want to scurry away with the sort of money that that big cheese Walt and his ancestors keep earning. Place an image of the Feng Shui ‘money mouse’ in your Wealth area and trap some abundance luck of your very own! On Mickey’s birthday, putting this cure into place could be considered very fortunate and, of course, a piece of cake!

By Ellen Whitehurst for

Your Daily Number for November 18th: 8

Open, honest communication is important today. You’re a bottomless well of ideas. Money matters are likely to improve, and it’s a great day to conduct business. Romantic relationships may be a bit shaky.

Fast Facts

About the Number 8

Theme: Power, Responsibility, Good Judgment, Financial Rewards
Astro Association: Leo
Tarot Association: Strength

Today’s I Ching Hexagram for November 18th is 19: Approach of Spring

19: Approach of Spring

Hexagram 19

General Meaning: It is as if spring is approaching. Good times ahead feel inevitable; there is vitality in the air. This is a most auspicious time. Like a snake emerging from hibernation, negative forces are barely stirring and can be effectively controlled. This is a time of hopeful progress, and must be used to best advantage. When approaching good fortune, paying attention to what is happening now earns great dividends. All in all, a clear road lies ahead.

Take some action now, for at some point this ripe opportunity for advancement will be reversed. No spring lasts forever. It’s wise to stay alert and note the changing seasons and the energy they call for.

Spring is the season of new relationships. In the bounty of good times, new bonds form effortlessly. Relationships born in spring can serve well to warm the following autumn and winter.

Today’s Runes for Friday, November 18th is Berkana

Today’s Runes

Stone Runes are most commonly used for questions about the natural world and things beyond human control. Berkana represents the birch tree. The birch is frequently symbolic of renewal, rebirth, birth, growth and fertility. This rune is a joyous one, representing good outcomes from ventures undertaken. It is the rune of the family and of a good household.

Today’s Tarot Card for November 18th is The Magician

The Magician

This Tarot Deck: Cat People

General Meaning: Traditionally, the Magus is one who can demonstrate hands-on magic — as in healing, transformative rituals, alchemical transmutations, charging of talismans and the like. A modern Magus is any person who completes the circuit between heaven and Earth, one who seeks to bring forth the divine ‘gold’ within her or himself.

At the birth of Tarot, even a gifted healer who was not an ordained clergyman was considered to be in league with the Devil! For obvious reasons, the line between fooling the eye with sleight of hand, and charging the world with magical will was not clearly differentiated in the early Tarot cards.

Waite’s image of the Magus as the solitary ritualist communing with the spirits of the elements — with its formal arrangement of symbols and postures — is a token of the freedom we have in modern times to declare our spiritual politics without fear of reprisal. The older cards were never so explicit about what the Magus was doing. It’s best to keep your imagination open with this card. Visualize yourself manifesting something unique, guided by evolutionary forces that emerge spontaneously from within your soul.

Your Horoscope Bird of Power

Your Horoscope Bird of Power

  • posted by Annie B. Bond

Inspired by Earth Magic, by Claire Nahmad (Inner Traditions, 1994).

Ever wish you could fly? Your sun sign is traditionally associated with different birds that can carry messages to the Great Spirit for you, offer spirit-support and healing, or sing a song for your soul.

Find out which birds are your horoscope birds of power here.

Aries, March 21-April 19: Vulture, magpie, robin.

Taurus, April 20-May 21: Dove, sparrow, swan.

Gemini, May 22-June 20: Parrot, linnet, eagle, finch.

Cancer, June 21-July 22: Seagull, owl, white peacock.

Leo, July 23- Aug. 22: Peacock, rooster, eagle.

Virgo, Aug. 23-Sept. 22: Rooster, magpie, parrot.

Libra, Sept. 23-Oct. 22: Dove, swan, sparrow.

Scorpio, Oct. 23-Nov. 21: Eagle, vulture.

Sagittarius, Nov. 22-Dec. 21: Eagle, peacock, bird of paradise.

Capricorn, Dec. 22-Jan. 19: Owl, falcon.

Aquarius, Jan. 20-Feb. 18: Cuckoo, albatross.

Pisces, Feb. 19-March 20: Swan, stork, sandpiper.

Your Daily Horoscopes for Friday, November 18th

Today’s expressive Leo Moon provokes us to do whatever is necessary to be seen and heard by those we love. We don’t want to sit on the sidelines now, yet our intentions can become muddled when the Moon squares the Sun and opposes dreamy Neptune this morning. Clear thinking returns as the Moon shifts into precise Virgo at 5:18 pm EST. Still, it helps to remember that our feelings are important and that logic doesn’t give us all the answers.


Aries Horoscope
Aries Horoscope (Mar 21 – Apr 19)

You may believe that no one should tell you what to do today. You might even feel like doing the opposite of what everyone expects, but this arrogant attitude won’t lead to anything positive. It’s smarter to take time to ask what others think and then listen carefully to what they say. There’s nothing wrong with having goals of your own as long as you temper your actions so you won’t upset your best allies.

Taurus Horoscope
Taurus Horoscope (Apr 20 – May 20)

Sometimes you can be stubborn without even realizing that you have dug your heels into the ground. However, you know exactly what you’re doing today and you most likely have a good reason to hold on to your position. But it still can be a challenge to justify your behavior now because your intense emotions prompt you to be overly defensive. Even if you won’t change your mind, be aware that you’ll have a better chance of getting what you want if you try to be more flexible in your thinking.

Gemini Horoscope
Gemini Horoscope (May 21 – Jun 20)

Your need to interact with other people at work today may be blocked by circumstances that appear to be beyond your control. However, you can have a positive effect on your day by envisioning your ideal future instead of concentrating on your current frustrations. A simple shift of focus could alleviate the pressure and prevent rash behavior on your part. Extreme reactions aren’t necessary; moderation improves your chances to achieve satisfaction.

Cancer Horoscope
Cancer Horoscope (June 21 – Jul 22)

The people in your immediate environment could be so pushy today that you want to resist following their agenda. Unfortunately, passive-aggressive behavior isn’t conducive to getting what you want; neither is losing your temper. Nevertheless, revealing your feelings can be helpful if you present them in a non-judgmental way. Expressing yourself without blaming anyone else is tricky, yet it’s possible with a bit of conscious intention.

Leo Horoscope
Leo Horoscope (Jul 23 – Aug 22)

You could respond so quickly to someone’s invitation that you end up saying yes to more activities than you can handle. It’s worthwhile to take time and think about what happens next or you may be unpleasantly surprised by where your overinflated optimism leads you. However, you don’t need to act too cautiously if you simply temper your enthusiasm. Making good use of your common sense can minimize the chances of a difficult situation developing later on.

Virgo Horoscope
Virgo Horoscope (Aug 23 – Sep 22)

Hiding your anger today isn’t the best approach to managing an intense interaction with an emotional person. Unfortunately, your feelings are more transparent than you think, leading others to mistrust you if they see that you aren’t being completely honest. Don’t wait until your frustration reaches the boiling point before you say something. Avoid unnecessary arguments by sharing your inner process before it grows out of control.

Libra Horoscope
Libra Horoscope (Sep 23 – Oct 22)

Your need to please your friends may lead to more enjoyment today than you expect. But if you’re only thinking about what you can get out of a situation, your expectations will surely stand in the way of a potentially joyful experience. You may have to manage your desire to maintain control, even if you appear to be unattached to what happens. Your best chance of finding happiness now is interacting with others without trying to manipulate the outcome.

Scorpio Horoscope
Scorpio Horoscope (Oct 23 – Nov 21)

You are motivated to take a firm stand on an issue that demonstrates your integrity today. However, your concerns about being judged in a negative light could tempt you to overstate your position. You may be so adamant that others go quiet, thinking there’s no room for meaningful dialogue. You can soften your words without having to compromise your convictions by remembering that someone can hold a different point of view without taking anything away from yours.

Sagittarius Horoscope
Sagittarius Horoscope (Nov 22 – Dec 21)

Your confidence has returned, prompting you to shut off anyone else’s negative feedback about your big plans. If someone is dissatisfied with your stated intentions now, you may be tempted to walk away and do your own thing without any further discussion. However, it’s not wise to be so quick to leave your friends behind. Take a deep breath and slow down today; give others sufficient time to come around to your perspective because everyone will have more fun playing in a group.

Capricorn Horoscope
Capricorn Horoscope (Dec 22 – Jan 19)

You may believe that someone is exerting unnecessary control over you now and you aren’t happy about it. Rather than quietly avoiding a direct confrontation, you’re eager to face it head-on. Unfortunately, if you believe that you are right, the dynamics can take a turn for the worse. However, creating a win-win situation flips you into a cooperative mode where everyone comes out ahead.

Aquarius Horoscope
Aquarius Horoscope (Jan 20 – Feb 18)

You are supportive of others who are extra clear about their needs; however, you’re not as enamored with those who act selfishly. You may try to maintain an upbeat attitude today, but someone could inadvertently push you too hard, provoking a forceful response. However, you don’t have to slip unconsciously into conflict. Deflect overt aggression by confidently holding your position and cheerfully waiting for things to work out.

Pisces Horoscope
Pisces Horoscope (Feb 19 – Mar 20)

You might inadvertently make too big of a deal out of what you are doing today because you crave positive feedback, rather than criticism, from others. But doing your work isn’t a guaranteed path to gaining more attention. Don’t waste energy wondering if you are appreciated by your peers; just complete your assignments as efficiently as possible, without looking back. Ultimately, your performance brings more positive recognition than shining the spotlight on yourself.