‘THINK on THESE THINGS’ for December 31st

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

Today I hear 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 every 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 – December 31

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – December 31

 

“They must give themselves to Wakan’ Tanka and live a spiritual life. They will have the peace that frees them from fear.”

 

–Frank Fools Crow, LAKOTA

There are two wills available for us: self will and God’s will. Our choice is: figure it out ourselves, or have the Creator involved in our lives. If we are honest with ourselves and look at past experiences, what are our lives like when we try to figure it out ourselves? Is there fear, confusion, frustration, anger, attacking others, conflict, fault finding, manipulation, teasing others, belittling others or devaluation? If these things are present, they indicate that we are choosing self will. What is it like if we turn our will over to the Creator? What are the results if we ask the Great Spirit to guide our life? Examples are: freedom, choices, consequences, love forgiveness, helping others, happiness, joy, solutions, and peace. Which will I choose today, self will or God’s will?

Creator, I know what my choice is. I want You to direct my life. I want You to direct my thinking. You are the Grandfather. You know what I need even before I do. Today I ask You to tell me what I can do for You today. Tell me in a way I can understand and I will be happy to do it.

December 31 – Daily Feast

December 31 – Daily Feast

 

A feast is a huge banquet of wonderful foods and wonderful friends to share it. It is a time when people honor people – and many memories are laid aside for this celebration. But another kind of feast is in the heart – at the core where life is decided. It is the human way to believe himself victim of many things, and he starves at his center. He worries excessively about who will take care of him and who will feed him and if he will survive at all. Never start a day without gratitude – without an inner singing of “Praise God from whom all blessings flow!” Never start a day being sour and hard to get along with. Never talk trouble nor give credence to those who do. Never give another person reason to be unhappy….. And remember, this is your day. This is a day of celebrating new life and purpose.

~ On the other side of the river there is plenty of buffalo. When we are poor we will tell you. ~

BLACKFOOT – MOUNTAIN CROW

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

Daily OM for December 31st – Faith in the future

Faith in the future

It is not inherently difficult to be positive, though you can make it so  difficult that it is impossible for you. It is entirely realistic to have faith  in the future, though you can certainly convince yourself that such faith is  completely misguided.

When you do choose to live with positive faith, you’re able to journey  through life in the light rather than in darkness. You give the forward-looking  power of faith to your thoughts and actions.

Instead of being dismayed by the setbacks, you can be energized by them.  Instead of having the desire to give up, you’ll have the determination to give  more.

Your faith in the future enables you to be your best in the present. It is by  envisioning the positive possibilities that you begin to make them real.

Even when the whole world seems to be falling down around you, have faith.  Hold steadfastly to what is good and right, and create your future with  authentic goodness in your heart.

Live with faith, and engage the power of your own best possibilities. Live  with faith, and keep yourself connected to the affirmative side of life.

— Ralph Marston

 

The Daily Motivator

The Daily OM For December 31st – Letting Yourself Be Seen

Letting Yourself Be Seen

Being Witnessed

by Madisyn Taylor

A powerful healing tool can be allowing yourself to be witnessed by your friends, sharing your pain to a listening audience.

When we allow ourselves to be witnessed by another, we cannot help but be transformed by the experience. Whether we are sharing a personal experience, standing in front of friends to celebrate a special occasion, or expressing our unbridled joy or sorrow in front of a loved one, we are allowing ourselves to be seen and experienced in a very intimate way. Not only are we baring ourselves to someone else, but we are allowing that person to hold a very specific kind of space with us so this powerful act can take place. To be witnessed is to let ourselves be seen as we truly are in that moment.

Our friends and loved ones can easily be witnesses for us, if only we are brave enough to let them. Your next birthday may be the perfect occasion to experience this sacred act: Invite your friends and loved ones to your special day. During the celebration, stand in front of them and thank them for being there for you. Feel their gratitude, attention, warmth, and support, while noticing the sense of safety you feel as they surround you. If you feel inspired, share your innermost thoughts about the day and your life. You may be surprised at the feelings of peace and validation that arise within you, when you feel safe enough to go deep into your soul and share yourself with those you trust.

Anyone who has ever seen love, admiration, acceptance, or appreciation reflected in a friend or loved one’s eyes knows how transformative that experience can be. When you bare yourself to another, you are giving them the gift of you and showing them that they also matter. In letting yourself be witnessed, you are letting others into your intimate space, stepping in the sacred container they have created for you, and creating a cauldron of positive affirmation, support, love, and goodwill that will stay with you forever.

 

Daily OM

Love and the Use Of Magick

Love and the Use Of Magick

Author:   Gentle Deer Lion Tamer 

In this rambling, I will talk about the ever-present topic of Love Spells and also offer some guidance on the use of any spell, ritual or potion for manipulative purposes. By manipulative purposes, I am referring to a working where the object of said working is not aware it is being done, nor has he or she consented to such a working.

Of course this is only my opinion and it is not intended to embarrass anyone. These are simply my thoughts on a subject that gets batted around quite frequently, so take it for what is worth. From the mail I receive from those who have made or seen these mistakes happen, I’m confident the majority who are experienced in this path shares them.

The primary question one must consider before undertaking any ritual working, especially where Love Magick is concerned is, “Is This Working Consistent With The Basic Tenant of HARM NONE as expressed in The Rede.”

Upon asking yourself the following two questions, you can effectively analyze the reasons to either justify or dismiss the working.

1. What is my intent in performing this work?
2. Is this spell or ritual influenced by anger; hatred; lust; greed; jealousy or envy?

If your answer to question number 1 is found within question number 2, then as a Wiccan and follower of the Light Path, you must abandon this spell or ritual because it will not be consistent with the Rede.

Likewise, if question 1 is answered by question 2 and you continue, you can no longer rightfully call yourself Wiccan. A True Wiccan will not use manipulative magick to negatively influence another for his/her own personal interests.

The whole purpose of following this path is to live in harmony and balance with the natural rhythms of life, not to manipulate them to suit a selfish goal. At this point, you need to refer to yourself as a follower of the Dark Path since manipulative magick for personal gain without consideration of the outcome falls within that realm…

Harsh Words? You Bet…

Does It Make You Uncomfortable?

Good…

By undertaking such an action without the consent or approval of another, you are clearly disregarding the Rede and using your gifts for purely selfish reasons. Therefore, you are setting forces in motion that will ultimately have negative impact in one way or another and you are practicing Dark Magick.

You must remember that once you create and release this energy as a thought form, it will acquire life, form and substance. It will run it’s course, and the final outcome through the laws of cause and effect may not be what you wanted. The potential for great harm to both yourself and others are clearly evident in such a working. This is especially clear when you consider that you will eventually need to absorb this energy back into yourself after it has ruined your life and the lives of who knows how many others…

Let’s Look At a Potential Outcome of Such a Working for a Moment…

You create a Love Spell, focus your energy and release it toward your victim. I use the word victim because that is what you have just made this person if they are unaware of your work and have not given their consent.

Through the laws of magick, your victim begins to fall hopelessly in love with you or the person you performed this spell for. So much so that they become increasingly dependent as time passes. They can no longer function without your presence and guidance. You cannot get a moments peace because they constantly have to be with you. You can no longer function at work because they are calling every ten minutes. They become increasingly jealous, possessive and suspicious because they cannot have all of your time. The list of undesirable effects could go on and on and can become more than a little frightening.

Ultimately, you must ask yourself the following questions. Would “you” want someone doing this to you, and if you truly cared for someone, how could you risk doing something like this to them? In my humble opinion, it does not show a very high regard or respect for others or yourself and the decision on whether or not to proceed is clear.

I caution you that non-consensual Love Magic is a double-edged sword and borders on the manipulation of another human being against their “Free Will”. It is also dangerously close to Psychic Rape and is considered highly unethical by most who practice the Craft.

I hope this has given those who have considered using such practices food for thought. While all may not share my opinion, it illustrates the need to consider all potential outcomes before focusing and releasing a spell.

A Better Solution

A friend who wishes to be known as “Betty” writes this:

A couple of years ago, I was single again after the demise of a long marriage. I was lonely, and hoping I would not spend the rest of my life alone. I had decided to ask the Goddess for help, using my own energies and powers. So, not wanting another not-so-good marriage, I was asking for what qualities in a person I wanted, and asked to be -SENT- someone rather than just find someone. I went outside and performed a ritual under the full moon, by myself. I asked that I be sent -THE RIGHT- person, with no particular idea of who that person would be, or any specific qualities about that person. From my previous marriage, I knew that it was important to me that the person share important things in my life, including my religion, at least in a basic sense.

Well, in a couple of days, I met a new person online. I thought we were writing about our shared interest in folk music. Then, after a little while, first he, then I, admitted that there was more interest than that. One thing led to another there, he came to visit me. He told me that he too, had been doing a simple ritual during that same full moon: Lighting candles, and asking Goddess, “Please Mother, send me someone to love so I don’t spend my life alone”. He ended up staying and sending for his things, and we were later married.

This is a better solution than asking for a specific thing, in a specific way, or especially from a specific person. For one thing, the issue of manipulation completely went away. Instead, the person who was sent was also asking for someone to love, through his own ritual. We did not know each other when we did these rituals.

For another thing, we were both asking for a “right person” for us. In both of our cases, sure, other people (former spouses) believed that we were not “the right person”. We probably weren’t for them. For each other, we may well be. Neither of us is perfect, no one is a “perfect partner” for everyone.

We have always been amused that we were doing these rituals with similar intent, although the specifics of the operation of the rituals were very different at the same time, for the same purpose. Perhaps Goddess runs a “cosmic switchboard” of sorts. When She gets various requests, She just introduces people on some criteria – kind of like a dating service with ALL of the information.

Diary of a High Priestess

Diary of a High Priestess

Author:   Ehstemai 
 
MONDAY:
Morning: Homeschool my children.

Afternoon: Maintaining website, responding to e-mail inquiries and voicemails. Most of my inquiries are the normal stuff. “I need a teacher, ” and “Please help!” Luckily I have a few form replies I use. “Thank you so much for contacting me. I’d love to chat with you some more and answer any questions that you have. First off, what all books have you read about Wicca? How long have you been practicing or interested in Wicca? How old are you? What town do you live in?” It’s all just a way to get some more information. Most of the people who e-mail me at first never reply to my question letter.

4:00 PM: Time to call coven members who’ve volunteered to get stuff done for the upcoming Pagan Pride Day. As expected, half of them have done nothing. I have to spend some time getting them motivated.

5:00 PM: Dinner

6:00 PM: Willow comes over for her weekly counseling session. Willow’s been battling with depression for months now and can sometimes be moody and sullen at coven events. The coven elders have “sentenced” her to 3 months of weekly counseling with Yours Truly.

7:00 PM: Time to call coven mentors. I try to call them at least once a week to see how their students are doing and if they’re noticing any problems. I also want to make sure they’re doing okay. Managing students can sometimes be very stressful and difficult, so I try to give them lots of support and encouragement, and to help out wherever I can.

Sure enough, Oakthorn is still having problems with his student, Amber. I was really hoping he could manage her, but after two months he’s making no real progress. Amber has some childhood issues—lots of anger toward her father who she feels abandoned her. Oakthorn is a middle-aged father of three, and I really hoped that he could be a good influence on her. Amber is becoming openly defiant towards Oakthorn—refusing to do her assignments, being openly disrespectful to him, and so forth. I know that Amber would not treat a female mentor like this (and our coven has no hard and fast rules about gender pairings) , but I really think she needs a male mentor so she can overcome these issues.

8:00 PM: Put my kids to bed.

9:00 PM: I need to call Amber to get her take on things. She immediately accused Oakthorn of “spreading lies” about her. After I got her calmed down, she told me that she feels Oakthorn is too demanding and strict with her. I’m strongly suspecting that he bears a resemblance in her mind to her father. She sounds like she’s been crying. I squeeze her in for a counseling session the earliest I can find the time—1:00 tomorrow while my kids are doing their independent work.

When I hang up with Amber, I call Galadriel. She’s a fellow High Priestess in the community that I’m a close friend with—our covens work together on PPD and some other large events. Sometimes another High Priestess is the only one who can understand. I ask her what she would do with my situation. She agrees that Amber’s behavior is a problem. Her coven is much more strict and closed than ours—she says that her coven wouldn’t allow Amber to remain. I explain that we’ve accepted Amber for Dedication, and so Amber is like a child to us. She says she thinks drastic action is called for. I agree. I’ll see if I can get the Council on chat this evening.

10:00 PM: Red Horn can’t chat tonight—he’s working third shift. We’ll do a Council chat tomorrow night. I get to work on paperwork. We’ve got that big PPD celebration coming up and I have to send out some PR requests and finish polishing press releases.

I update Willow’s file, Amber’s file, and Oakthorn’s file. I draft up a proposed itinerary for PPD—we’ll vote on it at our next Council meeting. I re-read the coven by-laws to see if there’s any wisdom there for me on the Oakthorn/Amber issue. It’s open to interpretation. At around midnight, I go to bed.

TUESDAY:
Morning: Homeschool my children.

1:00 PM: Counseling session with Amber. I mostly let her talk. I learned a lot from what she had to say. I think again that a lot of her problems with men are related to her relationship from her father. I’m still trying to dig to find out what was so bad about him. He was around her entire childhood and even into adulthood. She says that she was a tomboy until she hit puberty and then he stopped being so friendly to her, and she always felt the sting of that. I understand, but I can’t help but wonder what else is here. There’s something she’s not telling me.

3:00 PM: I want to do a rune spread on Amber. I keep getting this feeling that something more is going on here than I’m getting. The runes are inconclusive. I keep getting the “father figure” theme and the abandonment, but I already knew that. The runes aren’t giving me any new information. Oh, well. I’ll write down the reading, put it in her file, and maybe it’ll become clearer in time.

4:00 PM: I got an unexpected phone call from Sierra and her husband, Alex. Sierra’s doubled over in pain and feeling faint. I advise Alex to take her to the ER and call me as soon as they know what’s wrong. I go light a candle for Sierra.

5:00 PM: Dinner

6:00 PM: Another unexpected phone call, this time from Blue Stag. He tells me that his girlfriend (a non-practicing Christian) has been complaining to him about ghosts in her new apartment. I tell Blue Stag to let his girlfriend come over to his house and call me—I want to talk to her first.

6:30 PM: Blue Stag’s girlfriend, Susan, calls me from Blue Stag’s house. She tells me about doors opening and closing unexpectedly, cold spots, etc.–all the usual signs of a haunting. It doesn’t sound immediately dangerous, though. She indicates that she’s okay with spending the night with Blue Stag tonight, and I promise to go out and take a gander at it tomorrow afternoon. (I do wonder, however, how much of this apparent fear might be a subconscious desire to spend the night with Blue Stag? She may be a non-practicing Christian, but according to Blue Stag, she’s been using her religion as an excuse to not get too close to him. Maybe he’ll be smiling at class tomorrow!)

8:00 PM: Put my kids to bed.

9:00 PM: Council chat. It’s always nice to touch base with my Council Elders throughout the week. We go over the upcoming schedule and then I ask for input on the Amber/Oakthorn issue. After much debate and discussion (and frequent off-topic ramblings) , it is decided that she will be temporarily placed under my personal mentorship and be ordered to attend weekly counseling for one full quarter, at which time we’ll attempt to re-evaluate her progress. I get to bed early tonight, at about 11.

WEDNESDAY:
2 AM: The whole getting to bed early thing didn’t help me that much. Alex called with news from Sierra. She’s been admitted to the hospital with an inflamed gall bladder. Alex is frantic. I try to calm him down. They’ll be doing emergency surgery on Sierra tonight. I ask if Alex needs me down at the hospital tonight or if he’ll be able to manage. Thankfully, he says he’ll manage. He promises to call me if there are any other complications, and I promise to come check in on Sierra Wednesday afternoon. I fire off an e-mail to my Maiden who has no morning classes tomorrow and ask her to go out early in the morning for me. Then I drop back into bed.

Morning (when the sun is up) : Homeschool my kids.

1:00 PM: Go visit Sierra. She’s doing just fine. Alex is a bit sheepish about his freak-out last night. Sierra’s managing it like a trooper. My Maiden did stop by this morning.

3:00 PM: Call Amber to let her know what the Council has decided. She seems relieved to have me as her mentor. We’ll see how she feels about that in a month or so. There’s a reason my coven doesn’t usually let me be a direct mentor to younger candidates: I tend to be a slave driver. I go ahead and set up a counseling session for Amber on Tuesdays at 1:00 PM, indefinitely. I also call Oakthorn to tell him the news. He seems relieved.

4:00 PM: Galadriel calls me. She’s on a break from work and wanted to see how the Amber thing was going. I fill her in. She also wanted to tell me about a person they’ve had to kick out of their coven. Apparently an older woman named Phoebe has been causing problems in their coven. She’s been disrespectful to the elders, difficult to teach, a know-it-all, and a general pain in their butt. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when she brought marijuana to an open event—a clear violation of their coven by-laws.

I thank Galadriel for the heads-up. We don’t allow marijuana at ANY of our events, nor do we allow any of our coven members to use illicit drugs, so Phoebe wouldn’t be a good fit in our group.

5:00 PM: I went to see Susan’s new apartment. Sure enough, she’s got some very minor ghost activity. I do a sage smudging (although I hardly think it necessary—these ghosts are harmless) and then advise her to hand some religious artwork on her walls in the dining room. Blue Stag is smiling.

6:00 PM: Tonight’s class is one of my favorites. Every Wednesday night we teach a class. Dedicants (training for First-Degree Initiate) are on the first Wednesday of the month. Initiates (training for Second-Degree Witch) are on the second Wednesday of the month, and Witches (training for Third-Degree Priest/ess) are on the third Wednesday of the month. On the fourth Wednesday of the month, we hold our Coven Council meetings.

Tonight I get to do the “Experiencing the Goddess” class for my Dedicants. It’s one of my favorite classes to teach, although it is quite possibly the most challenging and exhausting class that I do. We begin with a review of their homework assignments and answering questions (as in every class) , but then we set up a mini-ritual and do a Goddess invocation in me. I’ll do the Charge of the Goddess and then spend as much time as they need answering their questions and talking with them as the Goddess.

It’s so much fun to see how their attitudes change with this class (and the Experiencing the God class that’s next month) ! They finally start to see the Goddess as a woman! But maintaining an invocation for 2-3 hours is kind of exhausting.

10:00 PM: The last student has finally left. I’m exhausted. I’m going straight to bed.

THURSDAY:
Today is a ritual day. We’re doing the Full Moon Esbat this evening, so I’m purposely taking it very easy today. Sierra’s out of the hospital and should recover nicely, although she (obviously) won’t be able to make ritual tonight. I get the coven phone calls starting at around 1:00 PM, and they don’t end until about 5:00 PM. The baby-sitter had a schedule conflict, so I have to spend the afternoon calling our alternate sitters to see if I can find someone to watch the little ones while we do ritual.

I field a few calls from Congregation members asking if they can come. “Sorry, but most Esbats are coven only. We look forward to seeing you at PPD, though!”

I do have one set of phone calls to make, and that’s the Congregational calls about tomorrow night’s social event. We’re doing a coven movie night, so I have to make sure everything is still set up and ready to go for the event.

Finally, everyone starts to arrive for the Esbat at about 6:00. It’s a good thing I spent the afternoon cooking. All our Esbats are potluck and yet only Blue Stag and Willow brought a dish. I’m surprised Willow brought a dish. She seems to be doing better tonight. Where the other coveners are able to enjoy this before-ritual time, I’m constantly answering questions. Finally, we get down to business. After we go over the purposes of the ritual and get everything set up, we have a nice, normal Full Moon Esbat.

Then everyone starts to eat. I have to watch everything to make sure everyone is playing nice. As soon as the food is gone and it’s obviously time to clean up our mess, everyone in the coven suddenly remembers how late it is and has to head home in a hurry. They all left at 10, but I’ll be down here until at least 11 cleaning everything up again.

FRIDAY:
Morning: Homeschool my kids.

Afternoon: Task the kids on cleaning the house to get ready for the Congregation social event. We have a lot more people at the Congregation events than the coven events, so the house has to be picked up and re-arranged a bit. Go pick up the movies from the video rental place. We’re doing a pagan movie night with “The Craft” (bad) and “Practical Magic” (not so bad) . I start getting the kitchen set up buffet-style. At least I don’t have to cook for Congregation events. Since our Congregation is more of an informal thing, they tend to help out a lot more than the coven does.

Evening: Movie night. A couple of the Congregation members stayed to help clean up, even though it was already midnight. Cool!

SATURDAY:
9:00 AM: Arrive at the library and begin setup for Wicca 101 class. We hold these once a month and everyone who is interested in Dedicating has to attend them. They’re also a good source for friends and family members of pagans. About once or twice a year, we also do the Wicca 101 for the local police department and Child Protective Services workers—that class is a little bit different and geared more towards law enforcement and CPS stuff, though. The room at the library is mostly set up. We get the PowerPoint slides up and set up the back table. Our back table has several 20-page booklets that go along with the class—we’re expecting 10 guests today, so the 20 booklets I had printed cost me about $20.00. We also have some “Recommended Reading” lists and some of our favorite Wiccan books that our students can look at during breaks.

10:00: We begin our first session of the Wicca 101 class. Although 10 RSVP’ed, only 5 showed up. Typical.

12:00 PM: We break for lunch. I always think it’s really cool that the students want to follow you to whatever fast food restaurant you’re having lunch at, but I must confess that sometimes I really would love the opportunity to get away from my students for an hour. Still, I can’t really turn them down.

1:00: We finish the class with our second session. Although we finish our presentation by about 3:00, we always reserve the room until 4. The question-and-answer period can be long sometimes. I always advise them to pick up a copy of the Recommended Reading list on their way out, and if they’re interested in joining the coven, to fill out an interest form (also on the back table) . I always beg them to fill out a survey and drop it into the collection basket, and I point out that while we do the class for free, we do spend a lot of our time and money making it happen and if they could possibly donate a few dollars to help us defray our cost, that would be great.

3:45: Now it’s time to rush through cleaning up our room. As expected, the collection basket contains 4 interest forms, 2 surveys, and only one dollar in donations. Why am I not surprised?

4:00: My High Priest and I go out for coffee and take along the interest forms and survey. We spend some time talking about how it went and what our impressions were of the students. I express my frustration with the fact that it seems like we work our butts off and nobody seems to care.

It’s not that I expect to get rich off of holding Wicca 101 classes, but when we spend almost six hours with five people and we do a good enough job that four of them want to join our coven, what does it say when only ONE of those people thought our time and presentation was worth a whole dollar?

He commiserates, but it’s not like we haven’t done this class a hundred times before, and this ALWAYS happens. One time we had a woman put a $20 into the collection basket—it was rare enough that we still remember that day.

6:00: I’m really down now. It’s not that I mind putting in the time and the money. I’ve spent probably 40 hours putting together just the Power Point for the Wicca 101 class. The booklets took me another 40 hours. Then I put out the advertising, arrange for the meeting place, field questions, and everything else.

When the day finally comes, my High Priest and I are doing setup and cleanup, PLUS teaching a 6-hour class. We do this every month, and every month it’s the same old thing. We have a lot of people that want to join the coven. We always get lots of positive surveys (only two negative surveys in three years of teaching these) . And yet nobody thinks that our time and energy is worth anything. I just feel like I’m getting taken advantage of.

GRRRRR! I’m going home to get into a hot bath. I’m way too flustered and upset now to do much else.

SUNDAY:
Today I’m feeling a lot better after my bath. Most weeks I might have Sunday off, but this is the week our coven does our volunteering with Galadriel’s coven to Adopt-A-Highway. It’s going to be a long, hot day. I dress warmly, comfortably, and practically, and then I stop by Sam’s to fill up my cooler with bottled water, juice, and trash bags. I’m even taking the kiddos out to help pick up the litter today.

Galadriel and I are the first ones there. She had the same idea I did and brought a cooler! We go ahead and get started while we wait on our covens.

Out of the twelve active coven members that I have and the fifty-something Congregation members, only 4 of my coveners showed up and 5 of my Congregation members. Galadriel has a full thirteen members, but only 5 of hers showed up.

My coveners are in BIG trouble. They knew this service project was mandatory. They are required to complete community service as a requirement of their degree training. I’m going to have to think up something nice and creative for them, but they WILL be making this up to me.

We finished up at about 3:00, and Galadriel and I went to get ice cream. I couldn’t believe what Galadriel told me—she’s stepping down from her coven! She hasn’t notified her coven yet but she plans to tell them next week. She told me that she’s just tired of running the coven and getting no appreciation. She’s going to move to her coven’s “Outer Circle”–their version of a Congregation.

I can’t believe it. Galadriel’s one of my dearest friends. She’s been leading her coven for six years, and she’s been a priestess for about fifteen! But as shocking as it is, I can most certainly see her point.

It’s hard to keep going on when nobody seems to care.

{Note: This is not an actual page from my datebook, but it’s pretty close! Names and identifying info have been changed.}

The Natural Witch

The Natural Witch

Author:   Hypatia 

My mother was a natural witch. she died in 1998. She was not a nice witch. She practiced dark magick and was not a good mother. She abandoned me when I was just a child. My father tells me she was powerful and passionate. She would scare him with witchcraft.

The memories I have of her are so intense. I remember she loved nature… but she was a hunter. I remember she had a madness that seemed to plague the thoughts of others. I was four when she left on her journey. I guess it’s where she felt she needed to be.

Me… I stayed and waited… the journey of a four-year-old witch was a rollercoaster ride of emotion, turmoil and eventual discovery.

Even at four I felt different. My whole childhood I felt a strange connections to nature and my dreams. My stepmother used to say I was one with my dreams. I talked, walked and enacted my dreams even as I slept.

I ran away a handful of times. I wanted to find my birth mother. The first time I ran away I was 13. I was chanting on the streets of Long Beach, “I will be fine, no one will hurt me”. I came up to a Jack-in-the-Box and sure enough a large black man (maybe large to me because I was all of 13) offered to buy me fries and a drink and asked me to sit down.

I could tell by his eyes that he was a kind man, intuition mind you that I would begin discounting in my late teens. He knew I was running away and managed to talk me down from my emotional ledge. I walked home at midnight on a busy street across from a strip club with a sense of accomplishment. I may not have found my mother, but at least I was looking.

My parents thought I was strange about nature but put it off onto my Navajo roots. I used to stick my head out the window while my parents were driving to get a better look at trees. I spent hours in forest preserves. I always felt like someone was waiting for me. At first I thought it was my mother. It was, but not any mother I could visualize with my mental database at 13.

At 16, I was pushing my birth mother out, everything about her, especially the fact that she was a witch. Actually, as open-minded as I was, I wasn’t very apt to listening to the nonsense people spewed about witchcraft. I didn’t mock it. Somehow even at a rebellious 16, I was still respectful. I hated her though. I hated what she had done to my father.

At 18, I met and fell in love with a beautiful woman; it was the first time I had ever loved another woman in a romantic way. She was a witch. She was older than me. She was my mentor in many ways. I would laugh though as she would cast spells.

I would think she was ridiculous as she tried to teach me. I was intrigued, and the power was still in me, but the chaos was so strong. I couldn’t pull together a fragment of a thought, let alone try to piece together the history of my people.

My beautiful kept telling me that I was a natural witch. She said I had a power that I didn’t even know how to harness. She said she observed my connections with nature, but abilities to get anything I wanted without hurting people and again… the dreams. I told her I didn’t believe in that voodoo. I slowly pulled away from the first coven that I was ever in, without even knowing I was a part of something real.

It wasn’t until I turned 30 and forgave my birth mother that the Goddess really started to hone in on me. I felt Her everywhere. I craved the outdoors just to be near Her. I saw Her face in everything: the trees, the sky and the ocean. It seemed that even the wind was calling my name.

Still friends with the witch from my childhood, I began to confess my feelings. She smiled and said that she had known all along. She was just waiting for me to be found.

I have always had this power. It is confidence. It is love. It is compassion. And it is so much more. I cannot tell you any more than this. I am a private woman with my craft. I will not even share my name with others. The only person I tell anything to is my friend, and she only hears some things.

My husband doesn’t know. My kids are probably natural witches as well and that is a path they will find on their own. I found it, because the Goddess willed it so. I do not know if secrecy makes my powers stronger, but I figure I have no reason to share my identity with the world. If the Goddess wills it to be, it will be.

I wanted to share my story because I believe that others are like me. My grandfather was touched. My mother was touched. My brother and I are both touched. We never talk about it; but we know.

Maybe every person has the potential to harness such great power, but I know in my heart that the Goddess chose me. She sought me out. She spent 30 years waiting for me to find her. After my discovery I knew that She had been with me all along.

In retrospect, I felt Her with me at 11 while I was running through the meadow in the back of my house. I was a bookworm who never read outside. It was almost like outside is sacred. It was my first altar of sorts. I need this always to be my place of solace.

I respect my Mother, my Goddess, and reciprocate her kindnesses. I will always protect Her, the way She has always protected me.

Finding Serendipity

Finding Serendipity

Author:   Mirage 

When I was first drawn to Paganism and Wicca, I had some high expectations. I thought that I could summon dragons and fairies and they would appear whenever I wanted. I expected sparks to fly out of the end of my wand and every love spell I cast would bring the man of my dreams right to my door. As we all know, those events never came to be. One thing I didn’t expect, or even consider for that matter, was the relationship I would develop with the Divine. The ironic thing is, the one expectation I didn’t have became the most profound part of my spiritual journey.

I was brought up hardcore Catholic. I only knew of ONE God and His fury if you did something that He disapproved. Not a very fulfilling spiritual experience if you ask me… I was dragged to mass on a weekly basis and I also had to suffer through religion classes as well. I was forced to receive Holy Communion and become a Confirmed Catholic. This was a very angering experience for me- it never felt quite right and it left me feeling empty. I am by no means bashing the Catholic religion; I am just sharing my experience with it.

I was spiritually lost and confused and I had nobody to turn to with my questions and doubts. For a while, I did not believe in anything at all and considered myself Agnostic. I questioned the existence of the Divine and wondered why I should waste my time praying and worshipping something that never responded.

On top of that, I was going through a rough time at school and at home- I didn’t fit in and everybody knew it. The worst part of the whole thing was that people always had to express their feelings of disapproval toward me and that just made things even more difficult and awkward.

When I hit rock bottom and pretty much didn’t care if I lived another day, the Egyptian Goddess Isis called to me. I can’t recall the exact moment that it happened, but I was strangely drawn to Her. I researched Her online and at libraries and also bought everything I could that related to Her (jewelry, statues, books, etc.)

At first I thought the fascination was just something to distract me from all of my emotional issues, but now that I look back on the situation, I think She saved me from myself and my situation. She gave me a new focus and a reason to live.

Unfortunately, I had to hide my beliefs because I was still living with my parents and they considered anything other than what they believed to be “devil worship”. I still continued learning and worshiping, trying to avoid their “blasphemy radar”- I know they knew what I was doing, but they had no proof since I would do most of it after they went to sleep.

I hate to say it, but even after Isis had called to me, I was still skeptical about the existence of the Divine, so I decided to conduct a little “test”. I made several requests to Isis and if they came to be, I told myself that I would never doubt the existence of the Divine again.

Sure enough, my requests were met- not always in ways that I expected, but Isis definitely got Her point across. In the midst of all this, I ended up leaving my parents house-for two reasons to be exact. First of all, I couldn’t stand them continually bashing my spiritual beliefs and trying to impose their beliefs on me again. They never made an effort to learn about my beliefs or ask me why I didn’t want to be a part of their faith any more, and I found that disrespectful. They just assumed I was trying to be rebellious and if they kept threatening me with the fires of hell I would come back to their church and their beliefs. Second, they disapproved the greatest gift that Isis had given to me- my husband (at the time we had just been engaged) .

Once I was out of my parent’s house, I was able to worship and learn freely. No more hiding books and statues… Isis was my fortress. With Her I felt like nothing could harm me- She would let me stumble to learn my lessons, but She would never let me fail completely. I continued my studies pertaining to Wicca and Egyptian Paganism, but I felt something was missing…

Isis was wonderful and She was everything I could possibly want in a Deity, but Wicca emphasized both a Mother and Father God and there were also several Egyptian Gods I read about in my studies as well. As you can well imagine, every time I thought about the idea of a male Deity, I would cringe because of my experiences (or lack thereof) with the Christian God who so happens to be male. I suppose my past had caused me to develop a negative view of the Male Divine. The thought would cross my mind every now and then, but I would brush it aside because it would bring back those uncomfortable feelings I had as a Catholic.

Several years passed and I met a man who was a coven leader. I was a solitary practitioner and still am, but I am always interested in the viewpoints of others. His coven was Ecclectic, so they dealt with various Pantheons and Deities. I refused to budge from the Egyptian Pantheon when it came to worship and working magick, but I was willing to listen and learn about other Pantheons and Deities. I was having some personal issues at the time, and I needed a way to effectively let go of issues in my life that were holding me back.

The coven leader and I held a small private ritual in which we asked the Egyptian God Set for help to clear away my issues. I was both skeptical and uncomfortable for a few reasons. First of all, in Egyptian mythology, Set murdered the husband of Isis so he could be ruler of Egypt. Basically people have viewed him as being evil. I was afraid that by dealing with Set, this would irritate Isis and I would lose everything I had with Her. Second, my issue with the Male Divine came to mind as well.

I decided to let things take their course and go from there.

Months passed, and things gradually got better for me. I moved to a better apartment, got a promotion at work, and improved my relationship with my husband. I also strengthened my relationship with Isis and began a relationship with Set. I began to look past the gender of a Deity and focused on their aspects and how to develop a relationship with them.

I have several personality characteristics in common with both Isis and Set and I think this is why I am so close to both of them. I know it is an odd combination of Deities to work with (for those of you who follow the Egyptian Pantheon, I’m sure you can see why) , but they have both shown me that faith doesn’t have to be a blind and empty ordeal- the Divine is out there and if you know how to connect with it in a way that is personally moving to you, you will feel it and experience it!

I guess you can say that Set allowed me to let go of my negative preconceptions of the Male Divine and also helped me balance my spiritual life with guidance and protection from both a God and Goddess.

What I’m trying to say here is not to take religion or spirituality at face value. You can get caught up in all the glitz and glamour of magic and such, but our path has so much more to offer us! Expect the unexpected and view it as a gift from the Divine. I hope my story has inspired you to take a look at your spiritual life and count your blessings as well 🙂

Brightest Blessings,

Mirage

A Synopsis of Evil

A Synopsis of Evil

Author:   Bryce 

Within the Pagan community, we tend to avoid discussing the topic of evil. While many of us accept the idea of at least some form of karma or retribution, we do not generally dwell in depth on it. Indeed many of us were raised within the “mainstream” religions that focused all too much on the topics of sin and Satan. Thus we try to stray from these concepts and instead focus on the “brighter” side of things.

Yet as human beings, we cannot deny that there is a certain level of evil and negativity in our world. We also cannot reject the simple truth that we ourselves often take part in such acts. So how do we, as Pagans, react to this concept? How can we come to understand it and combat it?

Now I cannot and would never tell you what to believe. Spirituality is a journey, and we must come to accept it and understand it on our own terms. Thus what I have provided here is my understanding of evil. If you agree with it, that is wonderful. If you cannot quite accept it, that is just as well. Either way it is my intention that this perspective will give you new-found strength in dealing with and understanding evil in your own life.

What Is Evil?

Over the millennia, evil as accrued many different titles, the most popular of which among the Western World is sin. However no matter by which name you call evil, its nature is the same. Evil is the conscious choice to turn ourselves away from the Divine. We hear this a lot in Christianity under the summary that “sin separates us from God.” While this is true, for Pagans it is not quite the whole of it.

Many Pagans view the Divine as being within Creation. Thus the Creator and its Creation are one. In this light, then, the meaning of evil begins to take on a new identity for Pagans. While evil separates us from the Divine, it moreover separates us from our Divine-selves. This self is the Divine spark that lies within us and connects us to the great All. Thus in choosing to commit evil, to act so that we go against this notion of solidarity, we cut ourselves off from the Divinity within us.

In accordance with this, we now have a Pagan understanding of evil: a choice that fails to recognize our Oneness and thus separates us from our Divine-selves.

How Does Evil Exist?

If we can accept that the Creator is within its Creation, therefore making it one, we encounter another puzzling question: If the Divine is perfection and the perfection is here, how can evil exist within it? In truth, the answer to this question is the same as what prompted it.

The Divine is within everything, including us. As such, the Divine seeks to work through us that we and others may come to experience it. Thus we, and all other life, are co-creators of our own reality. However we are different from other life on this planet in that we are reasoning beings; as humans we have the ability to decipher what is right and wrong.

This gives us options: we can choose to work for the betterment of Creation, or we can choose to work only for ourselves. It is when we choose the latter that we allow evil into our lives, for no longer are we working for the Whole but only the singular.

What Prompts Evil?

Only we can ultimately decide to allow evil into our lives and our world. Yet we know that there is a certain prompting, a certain push toward evil that is often involved in our choices. Like evil, this too has been known by many titles, such as Satan and demons. However I would like to present a revised understanding of this concept, one that does not view it as a being but rather as a natural human condition.

In the natural world, both energy and matter flow through the path of least resistance. The human psyche seeks to do the same. It wishes to follow by the easiest path in order to get what it desires. However this route is not always the best, and we may end up harming others. Therefore, while we are provoked to do what is most convenient, we must remember that we are reasoning beings. We must do what is right rather than what is easy. If we fail in this, then we allow evil to enter our lives.

For example, while it may be easier to steal the apple rather than paying for it, we must use our reasoning abilities to discern what the just path is.

How Is Evil Combated?

This is a question that has been tried and tested over many thousands of years. From confessing your sins to a priest to allowing an aesthetic Yogi to pay for your wrongs, religions the world over have found their own ways to eradicate their practitioners’ evil. Yet what about in Paganism? What do we have that allows us to move beyond this state and back into alignment with our Divine-selves?

Most of us would say that we have some understanding of karma and that we will pay for our evil acts. However, while this may help us recognize them, it does not necessarily get us to move beyond these actions. To do that, I believe that we must look again at a reoccurring theme in this essay: Oneness.

If we accept that the Divine is within Creation, we must accept that it is also within evil. To absolve evil from us and from our world, then, we must seek the Divine within it. If we allow ourselves to revisit our acts and instances of wrongdoing, we can invite the Divine into these experiences and look for its messages and teachings.

There is something to be learned in everything, even the most heinous of crimes. If we open ourselves up to these Divine lessons, we can pass them on not only to ourselves but to others as well; thus we can help prevent the same evil from being reintroduced into our world. And it is in this act that we leave behind our evil, our sin – for we have turned it from selfish evil to love that will benefit the Whole.

The Great Irony

There is a great irony in all of this, of course. While evil may be done, it can never prevail. Energy spent on evil is useless, for it ultimately benefits no one. As we can tell from the natural world, Creation abhors anything useless and therefore makes it useful, whether it is through the decaying of dead organisms or the evolution of a species. Thus it is with evil. It is useless, but the Divine may make it useful in the form of lessons and teachings. Therefore the only way that evil can ever win is if we, the reasoning co-creators of our reality, let it.

My Advice

What I have presented here is a summary of my thoughts on and reasoning behind the concept of evil. Whether you accept all or any of it is up to you. However, this is my hope for you: take your negatives and create them into positives. Live life not by what you have done but rather by what you have learned. Above all remember that in the Divine—no matter how you perceive it—all things are possible.

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