‘THINK on THESE THINGS’ for May 8th

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

Today I heard the laughter of children at play. Their voices filled the air almost like chimes. And I felt their arms about my neck and their sticky kisses on my face. How blessed I am! Today I heard a mockingbird trilling out every single song it ever heard from its winged friends. I closed my eyes and in the trees I heard all the voices I’ve heard since childhood, and it took me through all the happy, breathless, precious times I loved so much.

Today I heard my mother’s voice calling to me happily. It was a good, strong, healthy voice that has called to me courage, and hope and peace, and shall continue to call down many lanes to me.

Today I heard my child’s voice. I heard her singing, I heard her praying, I heard her laughing and talking. I heard her teasing and moving from place to place in all the activities I love to see her in.

Now, even more than ever I realize how grateful I am that God has given me the excellent faculty of hearing. I shall with all diligence try to hear nothing evil, but only love and peace which is my heritage.

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Available online! ‘Cherokee Feast of Days’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler.

Visit her web site to purchase the wonderful books by Joyce as gifts for yourself or for loved ones……and also for those who don’t have access to the Internet: http://www.hifler.com
Click Here to Buy her books at Amazon.com

Elder’s Meditation of the Day
By White Bison, Inc., an American Indian-owned nonprofit organization. Order their many products from their web site: http://www.whitebison.org

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day May 8

Elder’s Meditation of the Day May 8

“We must all become caretakers of the Earth.”

—- Haida Gwaii Traditional Circle of Elders

Mother Earth is the source of all life. We should not only be concerned about the part of the Earth we live on, but we should be concerned about the parts of the Earth that other people live on. The Earth is one great whole. The trees in Brazil generate the air in the Untied States. If the trees are cut in Brazil, it affects the air that all people breathe. Every person needs to conscientiously think about how they respect the Earth. Do we dump our garbage out of the car? Do we poison the water? Do we poison the air? Am I taking on the responsibility of being a caretaker of the Earth?

Great Spirit, today, I will be aware of the Earth. I will be responsible.

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May 8 – Daily Feast

May 8 – Daily Feast

If we ignore everything beautiful and look down the road to some future time, chances are it will be the same. This is the time, the e to a, the now, the present, to see the dearness of other people, the chance to be grateful – to enjoy. Why wait? Perfect times are elusive. They create an atmosphere that life should be lived on some high emotional level instead of experiencing love. Time goes by. The peaks were not what made life worthwhile – but the in-between times that gave us a chance to stand in the quiet of a wooded glen, even if it is just in our hearts, and know that love made it all worthwhile. Love will continue to make each a giant of peace in our souls.

~ I want to tell you if the Great Spirit had chosen anyone to be chief of this country, it is myself. ~

SITTING BULL

‘A Cherokee Feast of Days’, by Joyce Sequichie Hifler

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The Daily Motivator for May 8th – A life well lived

A life well lived

Pleasure is nice, but it is never enough. Material wealth can be immensely helpful, but brings no fulfillment of its own accord.

Power can give great satisfaction to your ego. Yet a life lived solely in the service of ego ends up being small and pathetic.

What truly makes life good is the commitment you put into making life good. What makes life good is the experience of making a difference.

There is much that’s already been given to you by virtue of your existence, and there is much more that may or may not be given to you. What matters at the core of your spirit, though, is not what you have but what you do with it.

No person, situation, event or possession can give you fulfillment. What brings about real fulfillment is your participation in bringing it about.

Life’s rewards are not what you long for. What you long for is to genuinely earn your own significance.

Every moment is an opportunity to do so. Treasure each of those opportunities, make full use of them, and you will have the priceless experience of a life well lived.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

Daily OM for Tuesday, May 8th – The Power Within

The Power Within
Energy 101

by Madisyn Taylor

 

Energy cannot be destroyed, but it be changed and transformed.

There is an undercurrent of energy thrumming through the Universe. Like the wind or a whisper, we can sometimes hear it and often feel it. Most of the time, we sense this energy unconsciously without any tangible proof it is really there. Thoughts, emotions, and the life force in all living things are forms of this kind of energy. So are creativity, growth, and change. The impressions, images, and vague premonitions we get about people and situations are other examples of formless energy. When you enter a space and feel an “intangible tension” in the air that gives you a sense of foreboding in your gut, what you are likely experiencing is energy.

Energy cannot be destroyed, but it can be transformed or transferred from one person, thing, or source to another. Though energy is formless, it does take form and shape in the way it flows and resides within all things: a grain of sand, a bird, a stone, and an ocean wave. Living things radiate complex vibrations while nonliving things’ vibrations are simpler. Energy is a magnifier that can attract like energies while repelling disparate ones. Many of our reactions to people and circumstances are based on unconscious reactions to their energies. We may even intuitively tune into the energy of a situation we are facing when making a decision about how to proceed. With careful practice and meditation, we can learn to sense the energy within other living things and ourselves. We can also become more attuned to how we are impacted by different kinds of energy. For instance, being around too many energies can leave one person feeling edgy or excited, while another person will feel tired and drained.

While some people feel that energy can be controlled, others see it is as the unknowable force that moves through all things. The combined energy in all things plays a hand in birth, death, growth, movement, and stillness. Practitioners of Aikido believe that all living beings share a common energy source that is our life force. Whatever your beliefs, it is worthwhile to explore the roles energy plays in your life so you can understand it more fully.

The Voice of Spirit

The Voice of Spirit

Author: Crick

From the realm of spirit to the physical realm we are each sent forth. And like a babe in the woods we are exposed from the instant of birth until our final breath, to the cacophony of life. We experience the intrusion of sound and physical experiences at every step of our journey. Throughout our lives the voices and actions of others of our kind seek to influence us to their ways. Like a leaf caught in the maelstrom of the ocean, we are tossed this way and that by the opinions and biases of those around us.

Every human on earth seeks to offer answers to questions that they don’t understand. And yet so few will admit to such a lack of understanding. Rather then admit to being ignorant of the meaning of life, humans will create endless facades.

We create religions and politics and engage in wars in the name of Deity, and still we don’t follow the most obvious choice and that is to stop and listen to the voice of Spirit.

And yet I wonder if the voice of Spirit is of a sound that we cannot hear.

Unless of course we shut out the din of those around us who themselves have not the answers.
Every human on earth from an atheist to a member of a religion to those who follow a spiritual path is a seeker to some degree. And even though we are all naive students in the course of life the din of voices never seems to subside. At what point do we admit that we don’t have all of the answers and finally sit back and simply listen?

Every person on earth has one thing in common. And that commonality is belief. Whether it is in the belief of something or against a given belief, it serves as a common ground for all. And so what us it, that drives us to such lengths to establish our thoughts in such a manner?
Could this be the language in which Spirit speaks to each of us?

When a student of life walks into the comforting embrace of a deep and ancient forest, and thoughts that are not ones own begin to fill ones head, could this be the voice of Spirit?
Is it that Spirit speaks to us in a way that requires us to set aside our own voices and simply listen?

What if the whole world suddenly ceased the din of self serving admonishments of each other’s beliefs and personal biases and just listened to the voice of Spirit?

What kind of a world would we have then, I wonder? Would it be the chaotic morass of humanity that we have today? Would humanity be splintered into so many invectives if we were able and willing to recognize our lack of existential knowledge and let Spirit show us the way?

Realistically our species has proven as a whole to be incapable of such a basic discipline, preferring instead to engage in insecurities brought on by our lack of understanding of life not only in this realm but throughout the spiritual journey assigned to each of us.

These insecurities are borne out by our eagerness to engage in prejudices based upon the color of ones skin, ones religious/spiritual beliefs, political views, ethnicity and a myriad of other redundant excuses of why one student is crowing about how they are superior to another, at least within each ones own minds. And yet there is a small reprieve from such self-imposed roadblocks on seeking such answers to the Great Mysteries of life.

Fortunately spiritual growth is not dependent on our species as a whole crossing through the threshold of realization as one. Each one of us has the opportunity to make an independent decision on whether to allow the voice of Spirit to filter through the detritus of our minds. We can each decide on whether to be an attentive student or simply melding into the mob of lost souls who seek no better alternatives.

As it is, Spirit speaks to us in many different ways. If only we are willing to take the time to listen.

Have you ever found yourself drifting off into that mysterious realm of dreams only to encounter a dream that was so vivid and different from your normal experiences in such an ethereal landscape that it left you questioning the import of such a dream?

Could this be the voice of Spirit speaking out to you?

Have you ever ascended into the depths of a deep and contemplative meditation and while on your journey you began to have images from an unknown source flash across the dark void of your subconscious?

Could this be Spirit seeking to make a connection?

The voice of Spirit comes across as a quiet offering that does not attempt to shout above the din of noise created by humankind. For Spirit is indisputably the ancient teacher and not the boisterous students known as humankind. The voice of Spirit is a teacher that transcends the dawn of humanity itself.

How many times have you found yourself in a contentious situation that required a difficult decision to be made and it was suggested that you listen to your “Inner” voice? Could this Inner voice actually be the sage voice of Spirit patiently waiting to offer you guidance in your time of dire need? Could such an inner voice be the thread of communication that Spirit uses to connect with all of humanity regardless of the multitude of divisions that we devise to separate ourselves from one another?

Oftentimes a loud voice is used to drown out that which we don’t want to hear or that which we are uncomfortable with or simply don’t understand. Could it be that humanity as a whole is through its very self-destructive actions, doing just this? Could it be that our ignorance and/or our fear of the unknown is causing us to drown out the voice of Spirit?

The voice of Spirit is the torch in the night that will lead us along the path of growth when all else is in darkness.

Are you willing and able to heed it?

Who Is A Real Witch Anyway?

Who Is A Real Witch Anyway?

Author: Amergin Aradia

It seems that the debate about who is and who is not a “real Witch” is coming to a head. Is this sect real as opposed to that sect? Are those in covens real Witches as opposed to solitaries’. And on and on it goes. It’s beginning to sound like the fight between factions of the Christian religion or between organized religions as a whole. That’s probably the way they began too.

This silly useless debate is pulling our community apart as well. The truth is, are any of us real Witches. And how do you define a real Witch? By whose standards and rules?

As an illustration of my point I’ll tell you my story. I have always known that I was a Witch, even before I really knew what that was. When I was very young (grade school) I had certain abilities and interests that other kids didn’t. I practiced raising energy, practiced ESP (as it was called then) , I astral projected, and I cast spells. I was drawn to the night, the moon and stars, and I identified with all things “magical.”

I wasn’t trained by anyone because there was no one to train me. I had to figure it out for myself and that was in the 1950’s so you know there were very few references to rely on even if I knew where to look. As I grew up I did what everyone else did then, got a job and tried to live what was considered a “normal” life, as unsatisfying as that was.

I maintained my interests and practices over the years as best I could, if only peripherally. There may have been one or two occult bookstores in the area but you really had to search them out and I only managed to get to one every so often and then only to browse because I didn’t know what I was looking for. You didn’t just walk up to someone and tell him or her you were a Witch and wanted to join a coven. And people didn’t come out of the woodwork to invite you to join one, even if you knew where to look.

So I dabbled, training myself the best way I could using instinct as my guide. At the time I would have loved to have found someone to train me and I would have loved to have found a coven to join so that I wouldn’t feel so alone. But they didn’t exactly advertise. And there was no Internet in those days to bring us all together.

So unless you were lucky, you were on your own. Like it or not.

Now that we have all these books, magazines, and web sites to fill in the gaps I find that my instincts did very well by me. Everything that I taught myself way back then is now being touted as the way to do it by the “experts.” I have since collected an entire library of books hoping to find information that would help me advance my practice but with the exception of a few interesting bits that I’ve added here and there, I have been disappointed.

I have also attended classes, open groves, and ceremonies, and while the people that I met were very nice it just didn’t feel right for me. I’ve also become very disillusioned with the influx of the newest brick and mortar shops. They seem to have become havens of self-help, yoga, meditation, and coffee and music.

And while I practice yoga and meditation myself I don’t want to go to my local Craft shop to pick up a yoga mat, balance ball, or a book by Dr. Phil. I want to pick up the tools for my ceremonies and spell crafting and, unfortunately, the kind of shop I want seems to be few and far between (except on line.) It feels as though the craft as I remember it is being homogenized and made so “acceptable” in the eyes of the general public that it is becoming useless to serious practitioners. But I digress here.

So to sum up this article, does it mean that I am not a real Witch because I had no one to “lead the way” or no coven to adopt me and teach me “their right way”? Quite frankly I think that makes me an even better real Witch because I had to figure it out for myself. And because of that my understanding and beliefs don’t quite fit into any prescribed dogma. So that is why I stay a solitary practitioner and that is why I have stepped back from the community as a whole.

But then I don’t look at being a Witch as a religion, with all of its implied rules and regulations and dogma. I look at being a Witch in the same way that the old village Witches looked at it. I revere the earth and heavens and do my best to respect and tread lightly on her.

I try to live a spiritual life without bowing to or begging the acceptance of any one archetypal being. I look at the Goddess and Gods as a representation on this plane of the source of all energy and power. I cast spells for my own benefit, and mine alone, as I don’t believe I have the right to manipulate anyone else’s life. And I believe that Karma will out eventually.

I believe that being a Witch is as simple as that. It’s in your heart, it’s in your soul, and it’s who YOU know you really are. Not because someone gives you permission to be one simply because you read and adhere to someone else’s views as written down and published. Or because you attend meetings once a week, or once a month, or even once a quarter.

But because YOU know you are. And whether you are solitary or a member of a group, no matter what that group represents, you are really on your own. You must practice, practice, practice, and hold that knowing in your own heart…alone.

That’s what makes you a “real Witch.”

Doing What the Book Says: A Cautionary Tale

Doing What the Book Says: A Cautionary Tale

Author: Bronwen Forbes 

I was young, I was a shiny new Pagan, the Internet – which made contacting my fellow religionists as easy as calling my mom – was about ten years away from being invented, and by gosh I was going to perform this solitary sabbat exactly as The Book told me to! (And no, I’m not going to tell you which “The Book” it was. It would only embarrass me further and wouldn’t do the now-deceased author’s reputation any good. Okay, okay I’ll give you a hint somewhere below) : By the time I’d finished my ritual, I’d nearly burned the house down – a house that included my dog, four cats, and my born again Christian (now ex) husband.

But I learned a valuable lesson that night, a lesson that I see more and more new Pagans ignoring these days:

Books (and now the Internet) are no substitute for practical, hands-on experience with a group of like-minded people. But allow me to continue my illustration:

The Book said I needed a cauldron for this ritual, so I found a really cute brass one at Pier One – it even had soldered-on brass feet which I thought was particularly important – it’d be up off the hideous pumpkin orange shag carpet in my den because Gods forbid I scorch the hideous pumpkin orange shag carpet. The Book said to pour about an inch and a half of rubbing alcohol into the cauldron. And light it.

And, Gods help me and my now ex-husband who was sleeping – oblivious to the ritual and the fire – in the next room and the dog and the cats, I lit it.

The Book didn’t say (or maybe I missed that part) that this ritual had been designed to be performed outside. Outside where, theoretically, a six-foot column of flame shooting out of a brass cauldron wouldn’t be quite so much of an issue. Naturally, The Book didn’t say anything about having a pot lid or sand nearby to smother the flames, so I had no way to douse the tall bonfire that was pretty much the same shade as the hideous pumpkin orange shag carpet.

The Book also didn’t say that the cauldron would, ideally, be cast iron, and not soldered brass bits. Any intelligent, experienced ritualist could have told me that, but I didn’t know any other ritualists yet – intelligent or otherwise – so I was on my own. And it finally dawned on me that I was in big trouble when the solder attaching one of the cauldron legs melted from the heat, causing the pot to tip sideways.

I now had about four feet of flame at about a forty to forty-five degree angle from the floor. I’m just damn lucky it didn’t tip so far that the alcohol poured out onto the aforementioned lovely orange shag carpet. As it was, some of the individual threads were a little black and crunchy if you examined them too closely.

Eventually, the inch and a half of rubbing alcohol burned itself out. Subdued, I finished the rest of the ritual as quickly as possible, put my things away, and crawled into bed beside my still-sleeping spouse. All that was left to deal with was the interesting conversation the next day.

Him: How did that black stuff get on the ceiling in the den? It looks like soot.

Me: I have no idea, dear.

Him: And the carpet looks like it’s singed or something.

Me: Really? I hadn’t noticed.

Funny? Yes. Stupid and potentially lethal? You betcha. However, the incident made me understand the contemporary wisdom of the old phrase, “You cannot be a witch alone” and I started circling and studying with the nearest group before the next sabbat. (Nice to know I’m not as dumb as I look!)

I am not saying that being a solitary practitioner is a bad thing. Far from it, whether you choose to be so for personal or geographical reasons. I am saying, don’t leave your common sense in the back pocket of your other pants whenever you open a book of Pagan rituals or click on a Pagan how-to website. It’s not common sense to wear a short, sleeveless tunic at an outdoor ritual in January. In Wisconsin. It’s not common sense to fast if you have any sort of blood sugar issue. And it’s sure not common sense to try to set your den on fire just because The Book said to do something a certain way. If I’d been thinking, instead of slavishly following, I’d have had one heck of a less exciting evening – to my benefit. And yes, these are all examples of bad advice I’ve seen in books and online.

If some faceless Pagan authority (me included) writes that you should do something and your gut tells you it’s a bad idea, listen to your gut. Better yet, go find someone who’s actually been in ritual with other people and ask them – and their friends. If, through Witchvox, you can’t find someone in your neighborhood, well, it’s better to go online and ask around rather than suffer frostbite – or burn your house down. Better yet, see if you can spend a few holidays in ritual with them, ask questions, learn how rituals are — and are not — supposed to go.

I’m on a lot of online Pagan forums, and I can’t even begin to count how many posts go something like, “I tried this ritual with my friends last night and now I feel sick and I have the worst headache. What did I do wrong?” Well, did you ground and center beforehand? “No, the ritual didn’t say to.” Did you check to see if you might be allergic to whatever you burned as incense? “Um, no.” Did you eat anything beforehand? “Um, no.” Five minutes asking about these sorts of basics beforehand, either online or at a local Pagan meet up would stop most, if not all, of these sad posts.

I’m also a print journalism major, and my professors are always cautioning me that if something, no matter how preposterous, is written down, people will believe it. This includes you. So we future newspaper reporters need to be extra careful about making sure our stories are as accurate as possible. How do we do that? We confirm through other sources anything we’re told as “fact.”

I cannot advise you too strongly to do the same.

An Introduction to Traditional Wicca

An Introduction to Traditional Wicca

© 1987, Keepers of the Ancient Mysteries ( .K.A.M. )

Often Traditional Wiccans are asked to describe our religion and beliefs for interested people, who may or may not have confused us with other Pagan religions, with inversions of Christian/Islamic religions like Satanism, or with purely magical traditions with no religious base. There is a lot of flexibility in the ways that we describe ourselves, and one characteristic of Wicca is a large degree of personal liberty to practice as we please. Still, there is an outline that can be described in general terms. Many traditions will depart from one particular or another, but groups departing from all or most of these features are probably non-Wiccan Traditions attempting to stretch or distort the Wiccan name to cover what they want to do.

Mysteries and Initiation

Wicca is an Initiatory religion descended from the Ancient Mystery Religions. A mystery religion is not like Catholicism where a Priest is the contact point between the worshiper and the Deity, nor like Protestantism where a sacred Book provides the contact and guidelines for being with the divine. Rather a Mystery Religion is a religion of personal experience and responsibility, in which each worshiper is encouraged, taught and expected to develop an ongoing and positive direct relationship with the Gods. The religion is called a “Mystery” because such experiences are very hard to communicate in words, and are usually distorted in the telling. You have to have been there in person to appreciate what is meant. Near and far-Eastern religions like Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and Shinto are probably Mystery traditions, but Wicca is very western in cultural flavor and quite different than eastern religions in many ways.

A Blend of Pagan Roots

Most Wiccan Traditions, .K.A.M. included, have particular roots in the British Mystery Traditions. This includes traditions of the Picts who lived before the rise of Celtic consciousness, the early Celts, and some selected aspects of Celtic Druidism. American Wicca is directly descended from British Wicca, brought in the late 1950’s by English and American Initiates of Gardnerian, Alexandrian and Celtic Wicca. These traditions are a little like the denominations in Christianity, but hopefully far more harmonious.

While British Traditions are very strong in Wicca, or the Craft as it is sometimes called, other Western Mystery traditions feature prominently, including the ancient Greek Mysteries of Eleusis, Italian Mysteries of Rome, Etruria and the general countryside, Mysteries of Egypt and Persia before Islam, and various Babylonian, Assyrian and other mid-eastern Mysteries that flourished before the political rise of the advocates of “one god”.

What’s In a Name?

Wicca, Witchcraft, and “The Craft” are used interchangeably at times by many kinds of people. It is fair to say that all Wiccans are Witches, and many of us believe we are the only people entitled to the name. It is important to know that many people call themselves witches who are not in the least Wiccan, and that Masons also refer to themselves as “Craft”, with good historical precedent. Carefully question people on the particular things they do and believe as part of their religion rather than relying on labels. Any real Wiccan would welcome such honest inquiry.

Traditions and Flavor

There are specific Wiccan beliefs and traditions, including worship of an equal and mated Goddess and God who take many forms and have many Names. Groups who worship only a Goddess or only a God are not traditional Wicca however they may protest, although they may be perfectly good Pagans of another sort. The Wiccan Goddess and God are linked to nature, ordinary love and children — Wicca is very life affirming in flavor.

Because we have and love our own Gods, Wiccans have nothing to do with other people’s deities or devils, like the Christian God or Satan, the Muslim Allah or the Jewish Jehovah (reputedly not his real name). Christians often deny this fact because they think that their particular god is the only God, and everybody else in the whole world must be worshipping their devil. How arrogant. They’re wrong on both counts.

Traditional Wicca is a religion of personal responsibility and growth. Initiates take on a particular obligation to personal development throughout their lives, and work hard to achieve what we call our “True Will”, which is the best possibility that we can conceive for ourselves. Finding your Will isn’t easy, and requires a lot of honesty, courage and hard work. It is also very rewarding.

Wicca is generally a cheerful religion, and has many holidays and festivals. In fact, most of the more pleasant holidays now on our calendar are descended from the roots Wicca draws on, including Christmas, May Day, Easter and Summer Vacation. Wicca is definitely not always serious. Dancing, feasting and general merriment are a central part of the celebrations.

Wiccan Ethics

Wiccans have ethics which are different in nature than most “one-god” religions, which hand out a list of “do’s and don’ts”. We have a single extremely powerful ethical principal which Initiates are responsible for applying in specific situations according to their best judgment. That principle is called the Wiccan Rede (Old-English for rule) and reads:

    “An (if) it harm none, do as ye Will”

Based on the earlier mention of “True Will”, you will understand that the Rede is far more complex than it sounds, and is quite different than saying “Do whatever you want as long as nobody is hurt”. Finding out your Will is difficult sometimes, and figuring out what is harmful, rather than just painful or unpleasant is not much easier.

Initiation into Wicca

People become Wiccans only by Initiation, which is a process of contacting and forming a good relationship with the Gods and Goddesses of Wicca. Initiation is preceded by at least a year and a day of preparation and study, and must be performed by a qualified Wiccan Priestess and Priest. The central event of Initiation is between you and your Gods, but the Priestess is necessary to make the Initiation a Wiccan one, to pass some of her power onto you as a new-made Priestess or Priest and to connect you to the Tradition you’re joining.

Women hold the central place in Wicca. A Traditional Coven is always headed by a High Priestess, a Third Degree female Witch with at least three years and three days of specific training. A Priest is optional, but the Priestess is essential. Similarly, a Priest may not Initiate without a Priestess, but a Priestess alone is sufficient. Women are primary in Wicca for many reasons, one of which is that the Goddess is central to our religion.

One Religion at a Time

People often ask “Can I become a Wiccan and still remain a Christian, Muslim, practicing Jew, etc. The answer is no. The “one god” religions reject other paths besides their own, including each other’s. “One-god” religions also do not exalt the Female as does Wicca, and mixing two such different traditions would water them both down. Besides, you’d have to ask how serious a person who practiced two religions was about either one. Being Jewish is an exception, since it is a race and culture as well as a religion. There are many Wiccan Jews, but they practice Wicca, not Judaism.

Magick and Science

People interested in Wicca are usually curious about the magick that Wiccans can do. While magick (spelled with a “k” to distinguish from stage conjuring) is not a religion in itself, it is related to our religious beliefs. Wiccans believe that people have many more abilities than are generally realized, and that it is a good idea to develop them. Our magick is a way of using natural forces to change consciousness and material conditions as an expression of our “True Wills”. Part of becoming a Wiccan is training in our methods of psychic and magickal development.

Because we believe that everything a person does returns to them magnified, a Wiccan will not work a magick for harm, since they would pay too high a price. But a helpful magick is good for both the giver and receiver! Wicca is entirely compatible with the scientific method, and we believe all the Gods and forces we work with to be quite natural, not supernatural at all. We do not, however, hold with the kind of scientific dogma or pseudo religion that sees everything as dead matter and neglects its own method by trumpeting “facts” without honest examination of evidence.

Priestesses at Large?

Long ago the spiritual (and sometimes physical) ancestors of Wiccans were Priestesses and Priests to the Pagan culture as well as devotees of their Mystery. Now that a Pagan culture is rising again, some ask if today’s Wiccans could resume that role. This seems unlikely.

Today’s Pagan culture is very diverse and more interested in exploring and creating new forms than in building on existing traditions. A public role would either dilute our traditions or force them on an unwilling audience. The neo-Pagan community generally prefers “media figures” and rapid membership and growth. This is not compatible with our slow methods of training and Initiation, the insistence that livelihood come from work outside the Craft, or our needs for privacy. Our religion is not accepted in the American workplace or political system, and may never be. The most powerful Priestesses are often unknown to all but their Coveners. While all Wiccans are Pagans, all Pagans are not Wiccan, and it is best that it remain so.

Two Witches

Two Witches

A Modern Craft Fairy-Tale

by Mike Nichols

Once upon a time, there were two Witches. One was a Feminist Witch and the other was a Traditionalist Witch. And, although both of them were deeply religious, they had rather different ideas about what their religion meant. The Feminist Witch tended to believe that Witchcraft was a religion especially suited to women because the image of the Goddess was empowering and a strong weapon against patriarchal tyranny. And there was distrust in the heart of the Feminist Witch for the Traditionalist Witch because, from the Feminist perspective, the Traditionalist Witch seemed subversive and a threat to “the Cause”.

The Traditionalist Witch tended to believe that Witchcraft was a religion for both men and women because anything less would be divisive. And although the Goddess was worshipped, care was taken to give equal stress to the God-force in nature, the Horned One. And there was distrust in the heart of the Traditionalist Witch for the Feminist Witch because, from the Traditionalist viewpoint, the Feminist Witch seemed like a late-comer and a threat to “Tradition”. These two Witches lived in the same community but each belonged to a different Coven, so they did not often run into one another. Strange to say, the few times they did meet, they felt an odd sort of mutual attraction, at least on the physical level. But both recognized the folly of this attraction, for their ideologies were worlds apart, and nothing, it seemed, could ever bridge them.

Then one year the community decided to hold a Grand Coven, and all the Covens in the area were invited to attend. After the rituals, the singing, the magicks, the feasting, the poetry, and dancing were concluded, all retired to their tents and sleeping bags. All but these two. For they were troubled by their differences and couldn’t sleep. They alone remained sitting by the campfire while all others around them dreamed. And before long, they began to talk about their differing views of the Goddess. And, since they were both relatively inexperienced Witches, they soon began to argue about what was the “true” image of the Goddess.

“Describe your image of the Goddess to me,” challenged the Feminist Witch. The Traditionalist Witch smiled, sighed, and said in a rapt voice, “She is the embodiment of all loveliness. The quintessence of feminine beauty. I picture her with silver-blond hair like moonlight, rich and thick, falling down around her soft shoulders. She has the voluptuous young body of a maiden in her prime, and her clothes are the most seductive, gossamer thin and clinging to her willowy frame. I see her dancing like a young elfin nymph in a moonlit glade, the dance of a temple priestess. And she calls to her lover, the Horned One, in a voice that is gentle and soft and sweet, and as musical as a silver bell frosted with ice. She is Aphrodite, goddess of sensual love. And her lover comes in answer to her call, for she is destined to become the Great Mother. That is how I see the Goddess.”

The Feminist Witch hooted with laughter and said, “Your Goddess is a Cosmic Barbie Doll! The Jungian archetype of a cheer-leader! She is all glitter and no substance. Where is her strength? Her power? I see the Goddess very differently. To me, she is the embodiment of strength and courage and wisdom. A living symbol of the collective power of women everywhere. I picture her with hair as black as a moonless night, cropped short for ease of care on the field of battle. She has the muscular body of a woman at the peak of health and fitness. And her clothes are the most practical and sensible, not slinky cocktail dresses. She does not paint her face or perfume her hair or shave her legs to please men’s vanities. Nor does she do pornographic dances to attract a man to her. For when she calls to a male, in a voice that is strong and defiant, it will be to do battle with the repressive masculine ego. She is Artemis the huntress, and it is fatal for any man to cast a leering glance in her direction. For, although she may be the many-breasted Mother, she is also the dark Crone of wisdom, who destroys the old order. That is how I see the Goddess.”

Now the Traditionalist Witch hooted with laughter and said, “Your Goddess is the antithesis of all that is feminine! She is Yahweh hiding behind a feminine mask! Don’t forget that it was his followers who burned Witches at the stake for the “sin” of having “painted faces”. After all, Witches with their knowledge of herbs were the ones who developed the art of cosmetics. So what of beauty? What of love and desire?”

And so the argument raged, until the sound of their voices awakened a Coven Elder who was sleeping nearby. The Elder looked from the Feminist Witch to the Traditionalist Witch and back again, saying nothing for a long moment. Then the Elder suggested that both Witches go into the woods apart from one another and there, by magick and meditation, that each seek a “true” vision of the Goddess. This they both agreed to do.

After a time of invocations, there was a moment of perfect stillness. Then a glimmer of light could be seen in the forest, a light shaded deepest green by the dense foliage. Both Witches ran toward the source of the radiance. To their wonder and amazement, they discovered the Goddess had appeared in a clearing directly between them, so that neither Witch could see the other. And the Traditionalist Witch yelled “What did I tell you!” at the same instant the Feminist Witch yelled “You see, I was right!” and so neither Witch heard the other.

To the Feminist Witch, the Goddess seemed to be a shining matrix of power and strength, with courage and energy flowing outward. The Goddess seemed to be holding out her arms to embrace the Feminist Witch, as a comrade in arms. To the Traditionalist Witch, the Goddess seemed to be the zenith of feminine beauty, lightly playing a harp and singing a siren song of seduction. Energy seemed to flow towards her. And she seemed to hold out her arms to the Traditionalist Witch, invitingly.

From opposite sides of the clearing, the Witches ran toward the figure of the Goddess they both loved so well, desiring to be held in the ecstasy of that divine embrace. But just before they reached her, the apparition vanished. And the two Witches were startled to find themselves embracing each other.

And then they both heard the voice of the Goddess. And, oddly enough, it sounded exactly the same to both of them. It sounded like laughter.