"THINK on THESE THINGS" for September 29th

“THINK on THESE THINGS”
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

To have the desire to quit in the face of despair is not a new story. As long as time, people have wanted to give up when something hindered their progress. But such adversity is sometimes the right time for people to become acquainted with themselves.

It has been written that a smooth sea does not make a skillful mariner. The storms of human life, like those of the seas, awaken us to sharpening our abilities and strengthening us to overcome these present storms to the point where we seldom have to face them again. Most of living is a lesson, and the sooner we learn to study and develop the sooner we are rid of the teacher.

But in the words of Jeremy Taylor, “It is impossible for that man to despair who remembers that his Helper is omnipotent.” And it is impossible for people not to progress if they acknowledge their Helper in the most minute details of their lives.

Prepared for the worst? Forget it! Only worry prepares for the worst. If problems come to you, meet them with courage when they arrive. And worry has never produced courage. Faith produces courage, and keeps us from crossing all those unnecessary bridges. In fact, we cross bridges that have never been in existence, and have no strength except that which we give them by constant preparation for something that isn’t good.

Promise yourself to cross no bridges this day except those you find immediately before you. And nine times out of ten they will lead only to happiness.

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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

Elder's Meditation of the Day – September 29

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – September 29

“So I prayed, but I had to pray from my heart. All of my concentration and thoughts went from my head to my heart. All of my senses – hearing, smell, taste, and feeling – were connected to my heart.”

–Wallace Black Elk, LAKOTA

The heart is the gateway to the Unseen World, to the Spirit World. It takes real concentration to do this. To connect to our own heart is also a mental state. It starts in the head and transitions to the heart. This mental state is our inner stillness. Be still and know. This place of the heart is very joyous and peaceful. It is this place that we become one with God, our Creator.

Great Spirit, teach me to be a heart warrior.

September 29 – Daily Feast

September 29 – Daily Feast

Certain sounds and fragrances come through more clearly in autumn than any other time. It is always satisfying to take a thermos of coffee and a sweet roll and disappear into the countryside just to sit and absorb the unending wonders of nature. Beneath the bent grasses in the meadow is new growth of plants that will survive the winter. Mullein that is called Indian tobacco spreads its broad furry leaves and will grow low until spring. All along the paths are wild turkey tracks and tracks that appear to be small palm prints but belong to the raccoon. Red tail hawks ride the currents overhead and a flock of gulls turn silver as they move swiftly. It is autumn, but it is even more. This is life that gives us peace.

~ Holy Mother Earth, the trees and all nature are witness to your thoughts and deeds. ~

WINNEBAGO WISDOM

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

Daily Motivator for Sept. 29th – Great power

Great power

You have great power, yet much of that power can easily be wasted on trivial,  meaningless things. Imagine what would happen if you devoted more of your power  to the truly important, meaningful things.

In the moments that fill each day, in your thoughts, words and actions, there  is great power. When that power is purposeful and well focused, you can do  amazing things with it.

Every little action you take changes the world in some way. Over the course  of a day, a month or a lifetime, you end up taking a whole lot of actions.

Momentous achievements come from countless small acts all taken in the  service of a specific purpose. That’s the power of purpose, and you most  certainly have it whenever you choose to use it.

Don’t let the great power of your life be drained by what doesn’t matter.  Make the choice to make intentional and meaningful use of that power.

In the life you live there is great, effective, world-changing power. Find  your very own unique and beautiful way to put it to use.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

Daily OM for Sunday, Sept. 29th – Learning To Meditate

Learning To Meditate
From the Learning To Meditate On-Line Course

by Madisyn Taylor


My wish for you is that meditation can be an opportunity to begin a simple practice of self-acceptance and self-
love. If the mere idea of meditating feels uncomfortable—or scary even, that’s okay. Exploring unknown territory usually does. But don’t worry, you won’t turn into a hippie, have to change your friends, or pack up and move to a commune in order to reap the benefits of your meditation practice. This is a gift you’re giving yourself and nobody even needs to know you are meditating, but you just might love it so much that you will want to teach your friends and family.

Let’s take a moment to get clear on what meditation really is. The term “meditation” can refer to any process that leads you to an inner state of relaxed awareness. There needn’t be any big mystery or drama about the process itself, and there’s really no right or wrong way of doing it. There are simply different techniques that can be used as tools to help you focus and quiet your mind, and we’ll work with some of these as the weeks unfold. This will allow you to choose which method works best for you as a person. We have all seen the vision of the yogi sitting crossed legged wearing robes and perhaps meditating in a cave. This is not what meditation is about for most of us and starting with an unrealistic idea of what meditation is about won’t make it an enjoyable experience for you. I still have a hard time quieting my mind and I find that my meditation practice is more fulfilling for me while I’m in nature. Our main purpose here is to help you develop a meditation practice that’s right for you. It’ll be something you feel comfortable doing and that you’re willing and able to do regularly.

For those of us who already have a meditation routine, we’ve come to depend on the way our practice enhances our lives. We’ve discovered an ever-present source of inner peace and wisdom from which we can now draw strength, courage, clarity and compassion. It has become easier to respond to situations from a calm and grounded place, rather than acting out old dysfunctional patterns. We’re also better able to navigate our lives in alignment with our own needs and goals. By giving ourselves the space to simply be ourselves, many of the distractions from other people’s agendas melt away. For many of us, meditation has become an important way to take really good care of ourselves. You wouldn’t dream about leaving your house in the morning without bathing or brushing your teeth and this is eventually how you will feel about your practice. A morning meditation will give you the quiet confidence and the strength you will need for your day.

Research has linked a regular practice of meditation to reduced levels of anxiety and stress, in addition to improved immune function and a host of other health benefits. Studies have shown that the nervous system actually begins responding differently to stressful situations—creativity flows more freely and new solutions begin to emerge. What’s wonderful is that many of these advantages occur after just one session and continue evolving with regular practice. As you develop your own meditation program, you’ll be able to track the benefits for yourself, from changes in your mood to improvements in your energy. Soon you will find yourself reacting from a place of centered calm rather than from your head.

GETTING STARTED

The best results of meditation are seen in those who make it a regular practice. And as with anything, practicing consistently carves out a behavioral pattern that becomes more established and easier to follow over time. Try not to be hard on yourself as you begin this process. You’re the only one who can take this journey and the best place to start is right where you are. At first you may not be able to sit for more than a few minutes and that’s ok, but soon you’ll be meditating for 10, 20 or 30 minutes with ease. The idea is to get a habit started, so aim for consistency (i.e., meditating 10 minutes a day, every day) over longer sessions (i.e., meditating for a whole half hour, every once in a while).

You generally don’t need to purchase anything to start a meditation routine and no special equipment or clothing is required as long as you’re comfortable. Some people buy what’s known as a meditation cushion, but it’s certainly not necessary. Some also find that lighting a candle or incense signals an official start to their meditation and this can help the mind to focus. (Chimes, singing bowls and bells may also be used for this purpose.) Next week, we’ll be exploring some particular meditation practices that use candles and incense, so if you don’t already have these around your home, you may want to get some that you’ll enjoy working with.

It is not uncommon for inspiring ideas and solutions to emerge during meditation. I always have a journal with me so I can jot down what comes up and return to my session without fear of losing the idea. You may want to experiment with this as well. It can help your mind return to silence.

Positioning

Let’s explore a few different ways of sitting. You may be familiar with the classic lotus position or half-lotus position (see photos below) in which many long-term meditators are pictured. This position is ideal because it allows for a balanced and unobstructed flow of energy throughout the energy centers of your body. Some people cannot sit this way because they are physically inflexible or having back or knee issues. You may find that over time you gain the flexibility to meditate in the lotus position; or, you may simply decide that an alternate posture works better for you. Please don’t feel that you have to sit in these positions right away, it can take time to build up to it.

The key to remember when selecting your meditation position is that you’ll want to keep your back straight and your palms open or facing upward. There are a few different positions for your hands to take during meditation, but for the purpose of this course we will place our hands open toward the sky and having them rest on your thighs, knees or ankles depending on what is comfortable once you are in position with the rest of your body.

Here are some positions you might try:

Using a Chair: Sit with your feet on the floor, spine straight against the back of the chair, and your shoulders back. If needed, you can add a pillow behind you for lower back support.

On the Floor: Sit crossed legged or in half or full lotus position. You may want to place a pillow under your tailbone for comfort.

On the Floor, against the Wall: If you have trouble getting your back straight, start out sitting against a wall. If necessary, fold up a small towel to tuck under your tailbone. This is usually the easiest position for beginners, with a wall supporting the back. Over time your muscles will get stronger and the support of a wall will likely become unnecessary.

In Your Bed: If sitting up straight is difficult or painful for you, start out lying down. Most of us associate our bed with sleeping and this can be a problem, as it may create the tendency to fall asleep. But turn yourself 90 degrees on the bed if it’s big enough, or turn yourself 180 degrees and do not use pillows—this may trick your mind to stay awake, as your head will be at a different place than it usually is during the night. Once you have more meditation experience under your belt, try to move from the bed. The bed may also be used in a sitting position with your back against your headboard and pillows placed under your hipbones to get a nice straight spine.

Lotus position: Sit upright with your spine straight and crossing your legs, right over left. You can see from the photo that both feet are off the ground and nested upon each of her legs.

Half-Lotus position: Sit upright with your spine straight and cross one leg on top of the other while the other leg is resting on the floor or cushion beneath you.

Finding Your Place

Once you’ve determined the most appropriate way of sitting (or lying down), select what will become your regular place for meditation. You’ll want a location where you can spend time every day without interruption. While it doesn’t need to be used solely for meditation, it is helpful to be at the same place for each sitting—especially as you try to create a new routine. The perfect spot may be your favorite living room chair, or in front of an altar if you have one, or maybe your bedroom if that’s the most serene place. It just needs to be somewhere that’s comfortable and as quiet as possible. Try to not get to preoccupied with not having a special room for meditation, few people have this luxury.

When you’ve found a place that feels good, you might choose to make the area special by having a favorite pillow or candle nearby. These things aren’t necessary for meditation; they may simply enhance your experience and help bring you to a daily routine.

Not everybody has complete quiet time. You may have children or pets that need your attention, a noisy neighbor or cars driving by. Try not to let this distract you. Meditation can be done even under the noisiest of circumstances. Please do not feel like you are at a disadvantage or that you won’t get the results you desire. In fact, you may find the opposite is true. Having practiced meditation in a loud or raucous environment, you might soon discover that it’s become natural for you to be at peace, no matter what is going on around you.

Preparation

Take some time out now to plan your meditation schedule for the week ahead. Ideally you’ll be able to sit during a morning hour, and if it can be the same hour each day, that’s even better. Many people find that meditating just after they wake up is a great way to start the day. If you’re not able to practice until later on in the afternoon or evening, or if you must sit at a different time each day, this is fine. It’s far better to meditate anytime, than not at all.

You’ll probably want to block out approximately 15 minutes for your sessions at this point. This will give you a couple minutes on either side of your practice and allow for a sitting time of 10 minutes. With 10 minutes of meditation a day, you’ll be able to see and feel results without putting too much pressure on yourself. Advanced practitioners will meditate 20, 30 or more minutes per day. Pretty soon you’ll understand how 30 minutes can be an easy routine to maintain.

After your sitting time is over, it’s important to make sure that you’re grounded. Sometimes meditating can bring you into higher realms and make it difficult to transition back to everyday reality. You may feel “floaty and this can be a lovely feeling, but it means that you aren’t securely grounded in your body and that is where you should be in daily life. There are many different techniques for grounding oneself, and you’ll need to do some experimenting to come up with the practice that works best for you. You can try focusing your attention for a few moments on your connection to the earth, as though you have a light beam emitting down the tailbone of your body or roots like a tree that burrow deep into the earth’s center. Another way is to hold your attention on your center of gravity (just below your navel) or at the base of your spine for a couple of minutes. Other things that may work are eating a light snack, drinking water, taking a short walk outside, or even stretching.

Beginning Your Meditation Practice

Now for your first big step. Over the upcoming week, your job is to faithfully follow the meditation schedule you’ve created. You’ll be sitting in meditation for 10 minutes every day and will undoubtedly have some interesting experiences. Try to pay attention to changes in the way you interpret and interact with the world outside of your meditation sessions. Do you feel calm? Anxious? Happy? Frustrated? There’s no need to judge anything. This is simply an invitation to create greater self-awareness, which can help guide the way your practice evolves.

Below you’ll find a step-by-step guide on a basic meditation process. This is the method you’ll be using this week, so you may wish to print out this lesson and carry it with you into your sittings.

BASIC MEDITATION GUIDE

Before you begin:

1. Put on some loose, comfortable clothing that will not bind while you are sitting.

2. Turn off phones, TV, radio and anything else that may interrupt your quiet time.

3. Prepare your meditation area (every time) before you sit to meditate. A light dusting or cleaning up of the area will set the intention. It says to the Universe, “I am ready.

When you are ready:

1. If you have a candle or incense, a bell or singing bowl, use those items now. Light your candle or incense and ring your bell. (Again, these items are not necessary.)

2. Sit (or lie if you need to) in the position that works best for you and begin to relax. Place your hand on your knees or thighs and open them up towards the ceiling, palms heavenward. Take a giant deep breath and let it out. Acknowledge that this is now your meditation time.

3. Now simply sit and breathe. For the entire 10 minutes, just breathe. Make no judgment on what happens during this time. Most people will not be able to quiet their minds, and may drift into thoughts about their to-do lists, what other people should or shouldn’t have done, and even what’s on the menu that day. Your mind may wander and that’s perfectly okay. As soon as you realize your mind has led you somewhere else, release it and breathe deeply. Do this every time your awareness leaves the present moment. If your mind comes up with something you cannot let drift by, write it down so you can get back to your awareness.

4. At the end of your session, take a couple of minutes to ground yourself.

Wicca v Witchcraft

Wicca v Witchcraft

Author: Irishdize

What are some of the differences between a Witch and a Wiccan?

Wiccans believe in and worship deities, usually a male and female God or a God and Goddess. Most Witches either worship only the Goddess or see the Goddess as a personification of nature, as I do. Wicca is one religion with laws, such as the Wiccan rede and the law of three. The rede says ‘an it harm none, do what ye will’. While I think it’s a wonderful law that covers just about everything you could ever wonder about, I don’t and cannot follow it. I simply instead do the best I can, given my circumstances. I don’t believe in ‘the law of three’ either which is whatever I send out ‘will come back to me times three’. I certainly believe in the law of Return, but it doesn’t work in quite the same way. Whatever I send out does return, but right away and is usually the exact same lesson reversed back at me. As you might surmise, I am not Wiccan.

Another key difference is that Wiccans will generally take gods and goddesses from mythology and call upon them for certain help, such as calling Aphrodite when they are doing a love spell. I simply do not need to use mythological deities to make my magic work; Magic is using natural energies that exist within me and around me in Nature to bring about change. In fact, one can believe that God doesn’t exist and still work Magic. Wiccans have a Wheel of the Year that they celebrate. There are eight holidays — starting on Oct 31st ‘Samhain’ or the Witches New Years. Their holiday structure has four high holy days and four low days as well as 13 Moons, some full and some new, when Magic is usually worked or divination is usually done.

I have random ritual days wherein I will spend the entire day or night in ritual, reading, contemplating, spirit dancing, or just connecting to the trees, rocks, the grass, whatever I feel like doing. Sometimes I will watch spiritually uplifting movies or listen to Native American music. Sometimes, I will just sleep or do readings by dice and Tarot. It’s all unplanned and very spontaneous whereas in Wicca, it’s usually planned down to the letter. Spells are written out before they are performed, as are rituals and of course, as I said, they know what day is a ritual day and what not. Most Wiccans I have encountered believe that their strongest magic can only happen on Full and New Moons. I disagree completely. Magic comes from within; it doesn’t matter what day or night one performs it and it doesn’t matter how well written your spell is or what tools you have (if you even have any tools) .

Most Wiccans have many tools and an Athame to direct energy or cast the circle. This is done for many reasons I am told: to create sacred space, to have a protective barrier against negative energies, lurking spirits or unexpected Visitors (human or animal) or to keep the magic within the circle until they are ready to send it out to do its purpose.

Witches like myself generally see no reason for a circle. Nature is holy; The Universe is Divine. There is no place in Nature that is not sacred already to us, so if the circle is being drawn for that reason, it isn’t needed. The energies that are around us at all times are both positive and negative, and while you can definitely put a mental shield up to protect yourself against such energies that cause you stress or harm, an imaginary circle isn’t needed. but by all means if you feel a need for it, who am I to say you shouldn’t do it?

Lurking spirits aren’t relevant to me as I don’t believe in spirits or ghosts and let me tell you something honestly, I have NEVER cast a circle in ritual while doing magic and never had my spells backfire or had any negative response. Sure, I’ve had spells that didn’t work because I didn’t put the right amount of effort into them but that had nothing to do with not casting an invisible circle or because I didn’t make the backyard sacred enough. As far as unexpected visitors or animals, my cat is just as sacred as the tree is so I am not worried about his energies affecting my work.

Many other tools that a Wiccan might have are cauldrons, mortar and pestle, wands, specific colored candles, incense, specific books by well respected authors, etc. I use only the following: Incense, Oils, Sage, Candles and Dice. I use Tarot Cards on occasion for personal insight, not to read the future. I do believe that you have to use specific colors to achieve certain goals but at the same time I KNOW that this isn’t true, I have used a yellow candle, for example, to bring money into my life and it worked because ultimately the candle is just a tool, Magic comes from within me and around me but I NEED what I NEED at the moment and candle colors represents some inner need, so I embrace that at the moment.

Books are of my own choosing. I read what I am drawn to read. A lot of the times, the books on my shelves are devotionals from different religions or books on Wicca (because that’s all I can find) . I have heard from several Wiccans that we should not read books written by certain authors. Let me tell you, read whatever feels right to you, whatever you are drawn to. Don’t worry about what another person thinks about you or your path. Maybe you need to read something in that book to teach you a lesson?

Of course, we Shadak Witches also have 108 Books of Shadak that we draw inspiration and wisdom from. These books have been handwritten or typed out by modern-day Witches with computers and are leather bound. These books are filled with the thoughts, ideas and opinions of our family members as well as instructions, rules and rule changes, counsel decisions and more and are to be read alongside any other books of our choosing.

Most Wiccans I have met believe in the Summerlands or life after death, ghosts, and angels. I’ve even heard some Wiccans speak of demons, which are from the Christian religion. I suspect these are Wiccans who were raised around Christianity.

I believe that when a person dies, their energy is reabsorbed back into Nature, back into the Goddess. I don’t believe in a traditional afterlife, so no Summerlands, no angels, no ghosts, no demons. I don’t believe in Jesus either -shocking, huh?

My altar is very simple, as well. I have two altars at the moment because I am living in my own apartment and then, part time, with my boyfriend. Both altars are just flat wooden tables. Both have candles on them, incense, oils, sage, some dice, Tarot Cards, books, flowers in a vase. Nothing elaborate; no statues, no athames, no pictures of the lord and lady, no pentacles…though I do wear a pentacle necklace and a pentacle ring, Both to me represent that I am Pagan, that I believe in the 4 elements and spirit and the six senses.

Most Wiccans have a year-and a-day of study. They can start out a bright-eyed bushy-tailed young teen ager and a year later become a High Priestess who doesn’t even know how to read tarot cards!

In Witchcraft, there either is no degree system at all — because progress is marked personally by how much we have learned or how much we have experienced — or there is a personal degree system such as the one that I follow which takes many YEARS to get through until you can become a High Priest. There are six levels within each degree in the system I follow and you earn a level by reading certain books and doing what you are supposed to do in the books. You do a simplistic ritual to see if you have earned a level. The die is instrumental in determining this.

Wiccans care very much about the rede and law of three. They don’t hurt people willy-nilly. But in The Tradition of Witchcraft I was raised in, we must wait for certain changes to happen. We must wait for the doors to open. This means that if I want to go to college, I must read The Books, cast the dice and wait for that door to open, Wiccans may just apply and attend school, not thinking about whether or not this is their intended path, whether or not they have taken a slot that someone else was supposed to have, etc. After all, what rule is there to follow other than the rede?

As far as sex, the body, life on Earth, we have similar views. Sex is sacred to most Wiccans and Witches and whatever someone does, as long as there isn’t harm, is all right. I’m gay and that’s perfectly accepted in both paths. The body is Holy.

Many Wiccans I have encountered tell me that Wicca is the religion and Witchcraft is just Magic. Magic is Magic, folks. You can be a Witch and NEVER practice Magic. There are many Traditions out there called Witchcraft and these people consider this to be their religion or spiritual path, as I do! If someone asked me what my religion was, I would say I am a Unitarian Universalist and a Solitary Eclectic Witch. I might also say that I am a Shadak Witch because Shadakism is the name of the tradition that I was raised in, It would depend on how much time I wanted to invest in explaining myself to the person I was talking with.

Magic is such a small part of being a Witch. I think I have been a Witch for 29 years and have done only about 50 spells in that entire time. Most of what I do is worship Nature, cook, garden, read, contemplate, dance, chant, cleanse, clean, watch TV, listen to music, have sex, walk in the woods, swim and cast dice, which are all parts of being a Witch. You should embrace your spiritual life as well as your ‘mundane’ life.

‘Blessed Be’ is usually a Wiccan saying, much like Merry Meet or Merry Part. Most Witches won’t say this when you meet them. It’s one good way to tell if the person you are speaking with is a Witch or a Wiccan… but some Witches will use the term if they are speaking with someone else who uses it. For example, my sister is Wiccan and will often end our conversations with “Blessed Be!” and out of respect I will also say it.

So, out of respect for the Wiccans who chose to read this, I say, “Blessed Be”!

Why Ritual 'Doesn't Happen'

Why Ritual ‘Doesn’t Happen’

Author: James Bulls

Some of the greatest insights I’ve learned in life came from my karate instructor. Among the pearls he shared with me was the guidance that, “If you intend to do something but you never actually do it, there’s a reason why.” To give you the context in which this advice was given, we were discussing the matter of congruity. Congruity is defined as, “the state or quality of being congruous; the relation or agreement between things; fitness; harmony; correspondence; consistency”1) and its opposite incongruity is defined as, “the quality or state of being incongruous; lack of congruity; unsuitableness; inconsistency; impropriety.”2)

In the dojo the matter of congruity was used to address the common issue of students who complain that their technique isn’t strong but who don’t practice their skills and drills to improve; in other words, these students’ words and actions were incongruent and as martial artists were living in a state of disharmony. Despite their words they were not practicing the rituals necessary to attain congruity with the “spirit” of karate.

When I speak of ritual, I don’t mean any specific ritual but, like I stated above, the forms and methods of religious expression practiced to come into harmony with the Divine. For Polytheists and Pagans these rituals may include song, dance, drumming, creating sacred space, calling the elements, invoking one or more deities, and spellwork. For others their rituals may include meditation, reading Tarot, casting runes, sweats, caring for the trees, channeling spirits, and prayer. For martial artists seeking self-mastery and perfection of spirit, these rituals may be attending class, practicing their katas, working on their skills and drills, and sparring. And for others their rituals may simply be doing good deeds for others, reflecting on the Sun or Moon, or recycling. Whatever set, regular practices one uses to express their religious foundations or attain unity with the Divine may be considered a ritual.

With respect to our spiritual lives and forms of religious expression, I would say that the goal is to attain congruity, or to live in agreement with the Divine and experience spiritual harmony in all that we do… and of course the question that begs to be asked is, “What forms or methods of religious expression do you practice in your path to obtain congruity with the Divine, and if you don’t observe regular practice of those forms or methods of religious expression and regret that you do not, why is that so?” In other words, “If you intend to do something but you never actually do it, there’s a reason why.”

The responses that most often comes up are that there wasn’t enough time, the right materials weren’t on hand, the practitioner didn’t have the stamina, energy, or motivation, another activity got in the way, or simply that the time and date for the ritual was forgotten or overlooked. These are all valid explanations for why an intended ritual didn’t happen, but none of them actually address the root of the issue.

People in some parts of the world are wracked by poverty and spend the majority of their day looking for clean drinking water and even a single meal, but probably all of you reading this article have a lot of free time; for you, it’s “What will I eat tonight?” but for other people in some parts of the world it’s, “Will I eat tonight?” With as much time as those of us who live in safety and prosperity have each day, there really is no reason we can’t set aside time for religious devotion.

Look at how you spend your free time: how many hours each week do you spend on the Internet? Watching TV? Shopping for yourself? Talking on the phone? Eating for pleasure? Reading Men’s Fitness, Maxim, Cosmopolitan, or a celebrity gossip rag? If these questions offend you, consider them a Zen slap calling you to the question of why ritual doesn’t happen.

The simple answer is motivation.

If you were truly motivated to perform a ritual and live congruently with your faith, you would (short of circumstances totally outside of your control) not fail to perform ritual. You would schedule your ritual and remember the date, arrange to have the time available, and ensure that you had the materials and supplies necessary to conduct the ritual. If your ritual needed to be done on a certain day and you could in no way be free of your obligations on that day, you wouldn’t take a pass on it – you would perform the ritual at the next available opportunity. And if you needed specific tools or supplies but couldn’t get them, you wouldn’t not do it – you’d adapt and find another way to conduct that ritual.

Returning to the example of the students who complain that their technique isn’t strong enough but who do not practice their skills and drills, the question may be posed to them, “Is karate the right path for you?” When you find yourself walking a true path, you will know it because you will want to walk it no matter the burning Sun, freezing sleet, torrential rain, and treacherous ground. The risks become no less and the journey as always exhausts you, but your desire to brave the challenges never diminishes. The karate students lived in incongruity – their words and actions did not exist in harmony and they did not desire to observe the rituals.

This does not mean that the students were lazy or had poor character; it simply means that they did not sincerely want to practice the rituals of karate (kata, hundreds of repetitions of single techniques, self-discipline, and hard physical training.) These students are not bad people; they are simply people who may not be walking the right path. Perhaps the rituals which call to them and which inspire them to live congruently are in gymnastics or dance? Or painting in watercolors, sculpting, and flower arranging?

If we use this example to consider Wiccans, Asatru, Druids, Pantheists, Polytheists, Pagans, Heathens, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, and many others, what might it say? If such a person on one of these paths – contrary to his or her stated desire – frequently did not practice the rituals he or she uses to live congruently with his or her beliefs and attain unity with the Divine, is it fair to say that such a person is not walking the right path? Is it fair to say that such a person would find greater satisfaction and fulfillment through the rituals of another religion? Or without any rituals at all? Or even to abandon religion completely?

That’s a question only that person could answer.

As an instructor I would never tell a student, “You’re just not cut out for this;” in time the mediocre student may become a brilliant instructor, and even a passionate black belt may neglect his skills and leave the martial path – but that is a choice each of those students will make for themselves. If a student intends to be a strong martial artist but fails to perform the rituals necessary to attain martial strength and self-discipline, there is a reason why. Such a person may be on a true path and simply needs to take his attention away from Facebook status updates, video games, and eating for pleasure; or it may in fact be that this person would simply be happier and find it easier to live congruently, practice his rituals, and attain unity with the Divine through another avenue.

But when ritual doesn’t happen it will ultimately be that student’s responsibility to ask himself, “If I intend to do something but never actually do it, is there a reason why? ” and to find that answer for himself. Who knows where the path will take him?

Footnotes:
1, 2: [1913 Webster]

Will Paganism Survive Beyond Us? We Must Pay It Forward.

Will Paganism Survive Beyond Us? We Must Pay It Forward.

Author: Beth Owl’s Daughter

What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others. – Pericles

Throughout my life, I have been a passionate spiritual seeker. In fact, I might have been born with an extra “God gene.” When I was school age, I would have given almost anything to be able to answer what I felt was my calling – to be an ordained minister. But at that time, such a thing did not exist for girls in the Episcopal Church (my childhood religion) .

After years of exploring many religions and paths to the Divine, (and having no inkling that there were actual living, practicing Druids!) , I declared that I was a “Shamanic Druidic pantheist mystic with Hindu and Buddhist overtones.” And that was pretty much that. Or so it seemed.

As the years passed, however, I gradually discovered that there were thousands, maybe millions, of others on a similar path. And happily, they had a much easier name to call themselves (and, I might note, one that is far easier to fill in, in the small space allotted on medical forms) .

We are “Pagans.” It’s a broad term, so, as I am using it here, it includes Wiccans, Heathens, Witches, Druids, Goddess worshipers, Hellenic devotees, Kemetic practitioners, and so on.

But there are some real challenges that we face as Pagans (surprise!) . The obvious, dramatic one has to do with the many ignorant people who consider us to be evil, in league with the Devil (their creation, not ours) , or, at best, damned for eternity.

Yet there are other, more irksome issues we face. Ours is a new religion. In some cases, we are trying to reconstruct it from antiquity. Much of our liturgy is founded on creative conjecture, old remnants and historic bits and pieces, and wisdom from a long ago world that is nearly alien to the one in which we now live. By and large, we do not enjoy the unbroken, ever-evolving lineage of most other religious paths.

Of necessity, obviously, we are finding ways to address the life passages and events that spiritual people need to deal with – birth, marriage, disputes, illness, divorce, death and so on. But many Pagan groups find themselves having to make it up as they go along, probably knowing they are often re-inventing the wheel. And for others of us, even if we have created structures of initiation and scholarship within our tradition, recognition, respect and cooperation from the mainstream is still in short supply.

Furthermore, we are extremely lucky if our Circles and Groves have people who are skilled counselors, or inspiring ritualists, or pragmatic, proactive leaders. To grow and mature, and to survive beyond only a generation or two, it seems to me that we are going to need our people to have actual training in such things.

Imagine if we had leaders who had learned pastoral guidance skills specific to Pagan beliefs. What if our scholars and facilitators trained in the history and development of human interaction with the natural world and its ecosystems, directly from an Earth-based spirituality point of view?

Wouldn’t it be great if we had our own institutions of higher learning that could train our Priests, Priestesses, Bards, and Leaders to competently, creatively facilitate our devotions in harmony with our tradition’s values, and guide us across the thresholds of our life’s journeys, and speak knowledgeably to the media, and nurture our relationships with other spiritual groups?

But then, I offer another question…

Is modern Paganism sustainable?

Our traditions are only now beginning to be tested beyond the lifetimes of the original founders and those directly taught by them. With a wildly diverse number of beliefs, Gods and Goddesses, sacred texts and forms, will our practices have relevance for those born in a completely different context than the elders who established them?

Will modern Paganism grow, deepen and flourish for many generations as a strong, meaningful alternative to the major players now dominating the world’s religions? Or will it simply end up being a footnote to our turbulent historical milieu?

I believe that our ability to survive and thrive as a viable spiritual path for the future depends in large measure on whether we have wise, competent, skilled and well-trained leaders, priests and priestesses.

We need a dedicated clergy that is recognizable, both from within the many traditions of Paganism, as well as to mainstream government and religious institutions. We need highly professional, accomplished, seasoned scholars, leaders, teachers, and chaplains who have been educated at the graduate level – in a Pagan learning environment, by Pagans, and for Pagans.

Of course, many of our traditions are building their own internal systems for training future leaders, and, certainly, such programs are important in ensuring the endurance of their particular customs.

But please — let us not repeat the insularity of Christianity’s denominational systems, which have contributed to centuries of misunderstanding and bloodshed.

Instead, it seems to me that an Earth-based spirituality should see the obvious advantage of the cross-pollination of ideas and practices for its budding Priests and Priestesses. Instead of cultivating a monoculture within each tradition, I think we should encourage diversity and exploration.

Consider how much richer our own traditions could become if, say, our Reclaiming tradition Priestesses and Heathen godhis were also fluent in “Dark Green Religion, ” experienced in Voudon, animism and Druid rituals, and formally trained as grief counselors and dispute mediators.

But how can this be accomplished?

Cherry Hill Seminary is the world’s first and only graduate-level education for Pagans of all traditions. Cherry Hill Seminary offers online distance-learning classes, regional workshops and intensive retreats in religious studies and topics at a professional and graduate level. It is where Pagans from all walks can be nurtured and taught the topics so vital to a sustainable Pagan ministry. We offer courses within a degree program, and also on an ad hoc, elective basis.

Because it is not a “bricks and mortar” university, its students are from all over the United States, as well as other English-speaking countries. This means that as long as they have Internet access, qualified individuals can receive a quality higher education not available anywhere else.

Many of Cherry Hill’s students are already accomplished professionals who are ready to deepen their Pagan practice. They seek both the theory and practical skills that will make them more effective in their communities, within the context of their own traditions.

But Cherry Hill Seminary, like all other institutions of higher learning, needs more than student tuition to support its existence.

It needs you and me.

If you believe, as I do, that the time has come for the next generation of Gaia-loving men and women to have access to higher education that honors their beliefs; that teaches them the critical, sometimes complex skills for serving their communities; that hones them into outstanding, creative leaders and scholars, please become a part of history. We need your donations.

Your gift – large or small – will change lives now, today, by ensuring that students who desire this training have it available at an affordable price.

But please know also that your gift will ultimately help shape the legacy of today’s Paganism. Help us build the first living, breathing Pagan-oriented seminary in modern times.

This is an opportunity for weaving enormously important money magic. You can make a gift for our future generations by supporting their mission.

Please pay it forward.

Blessed be.

Footnotes:
The God Gene:

http://www.gnxp.com/MT2/archives/002916.html
Cherry Hill Seminary:

http://www.cherryhillseminary.org/

Young Adult Witches: The Generation In Between

Young Adult Witches: The Generation In Between

Author:   Soull the University Witch   

For some youth, the world of Wicca and magick in general is a rather strange and awkward world. In middle school, they hide their new-found religious interest to “different faith” parents. In high school, they may continue on that course, or flaunt it as a means of rebellion to those same parents whom they had to hide their faith from. Anyone today, from Pagan to Mundane, can read it and see it, in many forms of media. It is almost a stereotypical plot device in books, television, and movies.

But after high school comes the tricky age.

What happens when Witches enter young adulthood? Already, society demands they have the same responsibilities as an adult, and yet they have none of the experience, nor are they really treated as “adults” by the older generation. Those who have entered the world of Witches (or have been so all of their lives) , hit a rather strange crossroads that, for some, can either make or break their religious path.

Many religions have a place of social congregation, such as a church, or a synagogue. The Wiccan/Pagan religions do not, as most of the ritual and any form of ceremony and celebration can take place within the house or backyard of another Witch. Minus the large gatherings of the Sabbaths, other Witches may also practice in covens.

For young Witches, coven is a word, an almost sacred word, that holds some sort of rite of passage to it. In a way, to them, being in a coven makes you a real Witch. Of course, this is not true at all. There are many Witches who are solitary practitioners, young and old.
But is that by choice, or unfortunate circumstance?

There are several books, perhaps hundreds, written to guide the solitary practitioner. That’s far too many. Witches have the word ‘coven’ to use it, to form one, to be in one… and yet there are witches across the country, the whole world, who find their magick merely at their own altar, burning candles and tossing the ashes of their regrets into the wind. Alone.

There’s a bit of disconnect between the older generation and the new Witches who are finding this path in a strange and uncertain new century. Do they think young Witches are merely there for a thrill, or for fun? Do they not believe that the younger generation can take this path seriously?

Of course, we cannot just blame the older generation for the odd gap. Are younger Witches unwilling to sacrifice convenience for tradition? Do they take an interest in Witchcraft merely due to the media, and once they find out it takes more than a wave of wand to create and make magick work for them, do they give up?

The branches of Neopaganism are essentially a religion, even if outsiders such as ‘mundanes’ have a hard time grasping such a concept. It is a spiritual path that does not attempt to bring people into the circle though means of recruiting and “spreading the word”. It is the happenstance that those interested in the Craft find us. Other religions have people who go door-to-door to spread the word of their faith. Witches don’t do such a thing, instead preferring that people decide this path is right for them on their own.

Do all of us take it a step too far when it comes to not pressing our religion onto others? It seems more than not that instead of sharing who we are and what we do with those whom express curiosity, that we merely clam up and choose to not inform supposed outsiders. The ways of Paganism can be something that sounds outlandish to those who have never crossed ways with it before, or only have the knowledge of what the media provides. But how do we expect these new people to become kin with us if we’re unwilling to dispense information? We certainly can’t expect that everyone can merely “look it up” themselves. In an age where paper books are becoming less common and the Internet reigns, someone interested in Neopaganism can easily stumble upon false information.

For those of the younger generation, the Internet may be the only source of information they touch in this regard. For some, it’s the only way; an outing to the bookstore with a parent or guardian could end up badly if they catch them in the new age or metaphysical section, especially if the parent is unaware of their interest. It’s also rather hard to just find people whom are of the same path to speak with in regards to magickal faith. It is this generation whom will be the next High Priests and Priestesses, the metaphysical shop owners, and the authors of many books about magick-based religions. Both parties should make sure the right information is being passed down.

The age of the young adult Witch is a strange time. The Neopagan community as a whole should strive to find ways to make a smoother transition from this early Witch stage and into adulthood. Websites should reconsider the way they separate things for “adults” and “teens”. Witches in their mid to early twenties have a wide variety of interests. Some Witches may still be interested in the topics teen Witches are covering, while others many wish to partake in the more serious discussions you can find in forums for more mature Pagans. Said forums should attempt to find a way to bridge the divide, such as adding a “young adult section” (which could also be handy for teens who wish to move on from the discussions found on younger forums) .

There are plenty of books that offer introductory advice on solitary practice for teenagers, such as Silver Ravenwolf’s Teen Witch and Confessions of a Teenage Witch: Celebrating the Wiccan Life by Gwinevere Rain. However, very rarely can I find something that reaches for an age beyond the teenager years, but not quite into true adulthood.

By implementing a few simple changes, or even supporting and promoting websites, books, workshops, and events geared towards a younger crowd of adult Witches, we can ensure a smoother transition, and perhaps even increased openings for change in the Wiccan community. Like all religions, more people are turning to the path of the Old Ways, and there is a strong potential for growth within this age range.

If both sides are able to set aside generational and cultural differences, there is room for plenty of improvement… and change.

You Don't Always Need Magick

You Don’t Always Need Magick

Author:   Luna 

Many modern people find their way to Wicca and many other Pagan paths through an interest in magick. My only assumption for why that is would be that there is some sort of inherent appeal in magick. Perhaps it’s the thrill of being able to bring about change in one’s life, or discovering and being able to do things originally deemed impossible. Of course, it might just be the media’s portrayal of various forms of magick, even if you’re aware that throwing fireballs around without exerting any energy is pretty much impossible. While it might not be what keeps us walking the paths we walk, it is certainly an important aspect in our lives for those who choose to work it.

That said, there is an important lesson for beginners to learn should they wish to pass beyond the “dabbler stage.” And no, I’m not going to go on a long-winded speech on the ethical side of magick. While ethics are no less important than they were before you started reading this, they’ve been addressed countless times already. I don’t believe I need to restate them here. Nope, today’s lesson, should you care to hear me out on this, is about deciding when magick is appropriate in various circumstances. To do so, I’d like to give two recent examples from my own life (and, by recent, I’m talking within two or three weeks of writing this) involving protection magick.

So let’s start with the first scenario. I’ve already been working at a summer camp for a couple weeks, the same camp that has been my summer job for the last five years. Now, while counselors aren’t allowed to keep food in the cabins (kids can’t have it either, and we don’t want to attract pests) , we are allowed to keep food in the offices and in our staff fridge in the kitchen. Now, I usually kept my stash in the office, most of it sealed up in a watertight, airtight box. Whatever I couldn’t fit in the box, I kept in a plastic bag near my stuff on the desk. However, one morning I came into the office, ostensibly to get stuff ready for class, and discovered an entire unopened package of Oreo cookies missing. Well, you can imagine how upset I was. I asked around the office and even reported it to the assistant dean of the camp, a very nice man I could trust with basically anything. He was as upset as I was, suggested to me that I label my stuff and inform him if anything else went missing, and told me that, if we found the person, they’d be fired on the spot (as someone had been stealing other people’s food as well) .

After labeling my stuff, I then went about the rest of my day (which included an all-camp dance party in the evening—I had so much fun) . When I went back to the office later that evening, the other package of Oreo cookies, which had been opened and labeled, had been cleaned of all but five cookies, even though I was pretty sure I hadn’t eaten that many. After mentioning again to the assistant dean (who promised he keep an eye out for the thief) , I decided enough was enough. Making sure to choose a time when no one else was around the office, I took two stones. One was a holey stone, which has natural protective properties, and the other was a natural piece of quartz I’d found around the camp. With these two stones, I put up a protection spell not only to protect my belongings but also to illuminate the identity of the thief (though not to harm him or scare him) . Once that was done, I hid the stones in a broken electronic toy shark, set that on top of my box and walked away.

Before I get to what happened after I cast the protection spell, let’s set up scenario number two. This happened much later on in the session, close to the end of the camp for the summer, and it happened back at my cabin. On the last night before all the kids went home, a few of my girls approached me and another counselor. They had overheard rumors of one of the boys’ cabins planning pranks on our cabin that night. Now, this wasn’t too much of a surprise to us. The cabin in question had gone a little crazy with pranks that last week, which went from stealing our shoes off the front porch and hiding them in three different places around the camp to breaking into our cabin in the middle of the night and drawing with toothpaste around the toilets (I was kind of annoyed with the fact that I hadn’t managed to hear them break into our cabin) . While the girls had gotten back at them in a less invasive or destructive way (leaving tampons painted with red nail polish on the doorstep) , they were still concerned that the guys were going to go all out that night. In fact, they described the guys’ mentality as “Hey! We’re going home tomorrow. They can’t punish us!” Yeah, you can imagine how concerned we were.

However, in spite of that concern for the girls, I wasn’t sure protection magick was the best answer to this situation. I mean, this wasn’t just my stuff we were talking about. This was my entire cabin, campers and counselors alike. While I’m sure they would’ve appreciated the sentiment (they seemed to like me a lot and knew I had their safety and best interests in mind) , it would’ve been too much of a hassle to get permission from all the girls and the counselors to work a little protection magick. Plus, I can’t see too many of them being okay with the fact that one of their counselors were a Witch. On top of that, it had been a long day, and I had just recently gotten sick. I had enough materials to work another spell (I had lots of holey stones that I’d collected from the rocky paths around the camp) , but, physically, mentally, and emotionally, I was not in a good enough state to be working magick. So what did I do? I instead acted on a suggestion the girls gave me: to sleep in our front hallway near the door to prevent access to unwanted intruders.

So how did everything work out in each scenario? Well, in the first scenario, two things happened. First, the assistant dean bought me a new package of Oreos to replace the ones that had been stolen (such a sweet guy, I can’t remember how many times I thanked him) , and no more of my food was stolen. Second (and more importantly) , one of the other counselors began acting strangely, and some of the other counselors began to talk about recent changes in him. I’d even seen him run out into a terrible storm during a tornado watch with no rain coat, then just stand out there letting out a Tarzan yell. That freaked me out. After hearing how clingy he’d been with one of the other counselors and hearing some of the things he’d done and said to her, I let the assistant dean know. After that, more people began to speak up about his behavior, and the dean and the assistant dean confronted him about it. While I’m not sure exactly what happened between them, I know that he had decided, with suggestion for the dean and assistant dean, to return home and seek help. From what I heard later, it turns out that he had not only been stressed about entering college that fall but had also gotten into marijuana, which, according to my mom, gives you the munchies after the high. And, seeing that he didn’t have his own food stash in the office and my stuff was closest to the door, my guess is he was the thief as well. At any rate, after he left, my stuff was left alone.

But his story doesn’t end sadly, and it brings up what resulted from the second scenario. After a late night spontaneous dance party suggested by the dean to get the kids too tired to play pranks, I set up my sleeping bag out in the front hallway, close enough to the front door that anyone trying to get to the girls’ rooms would have to, quite literally, go through me. Later on, another of our counselors joined me in the hallway, a good friend of mine whom I cared about deeply. We spent the time until we both fell asleep quietly chatting about what had happened over the previous week, how we had enjoyed this cabin much more than our previous cabin (not to say we didn’t love our previous cabin too, but spending two weeks with twenty-five girls between the ages of seven and fourteen can drive you crazy—my room in that cabin was actually dubbed the “madhouse” by the girls I shared it with) , and what we planned to do after we went home.

However, it was during this time that I found out about the counselor who had left. My friend had been probably the closest to that counselor while he was going through the worst of his issues at camp and was the only person I knew of who still maintained contact with him. She let me know that he was doing a lot better, had managed to get help from his parents and some doctors and was drug free. According to the texts she received from him, he was grateful that things unfolded the way they had and that he was getting the help he needed. And, quite honestly, I am too. For everything that he went through, I couldn’t have picked a better ending. I also couldn’t have picked a better ending for the night I spent sleeping in the hallway. No one tried any pranks, and, aside from being woken up at around 7 to make room for the girls leaving early on the bus and crashing on the couch, the only person to sneak past me was one of our cabins counselors who was trying her best not to wake the rest of us up (we joked about her being a ninja) .

So what was the point of these two stories? Well, remember how I started out by mentioning that not all situations call for some kind of magick? I could’ve used protection spells in both those scenarios, but I didn’t. I didn’t need to. They were two completely different situations that needed to be resolved in two different ways, yet both stories have happy endings.

Probably one of the biggest traps that novice Witches and Wiccans can and sometimes do fall into (speaking from personal experience, and I’m sure many of you can relate to this) is thinking that every situation can be resolved with some sort of spell. While magick definitely carries its own sort of charm (pun intended) and can certainly be effective in any situation, not every situation needs magick to be resolved happily. The protection spell I used in the first scenario was something I did because I felt I had exhausted all other options. I never intended for the outcome of it (and I only asked to illuminate the thief’s identity, not to mess with him or scare him off) , but the fact that the thief ended up getting help for some of his own issues brings a little more warmth to my heart. In the second scenario, I was in no shape to work any spells and I still had options at my disposal, one that was even asked for by some of my campers. And, as you guys read, everything still turned out okay (aside from being sore from sleeping on the floor, but I can live with that if it means my girls feel safe and secure) .

So, the lesson for today: there is nothing preventing you from using magick to help out in any situation, but you should carefully consider whether or not magick would be the best option. Take into consideration every factor you can think of and everyone involved, including others and you. People might not want the spell worked, and their wishes could affect the outcome. Look at your own condition. If you’re working magick when you’re sick, angry, depressed or in any way not feeling your best, chances are that will affect your magick. Magick is a wonderful aspect of life, but not every situation calls for magick. You’ll know when one does.

You Do Not Represent Me

You Do Not Represent Me

Author:   Crick   

You know folks, I am getting pretty fed up with individuals and groups claiming to represent all of paganism. To begin with what is it that such entities are supposed to represent? The current reality of the pagan community is a massive chat group spread across the Internet. An electronic format where anyone can jump on and make whatever claims they desire in regards to their alleged pagan heritage. It is a format where folks can claim to be this or that, you know, the High Lord of the coven of Bologna. The only requirement is that they read two Cunningham books. It is a format where folks will sprout words like “Love and Light”, words that resonate the slogans of the old hippie days from the 60’s.

But as soon as someone disagrees with one of these folks, oh my, one has never encountered such diatribes as that which comes out of the mouths of these folks.

Is this the pagan community that such folks proclaim to represent?

The majority of individuals and/or groups that claim to represent the pagan community come from a Wiccan background. That is understandable. There were some well-documented “Witch Wars” that exploded between Gardner and European witches such as John Cochrane. The issue that set these battles off were that Gardner wanted publicity and the majority of the pagan community at that time, did not desire such publicity. This penchant of desiring publicity has become a tenet of Wicca and is practiced to this very day. It is what it is.

But getting back on topic, such folks do not represent the pagan community. That is an ego biscuit that is holding back any true and valid development of a genuine pagan community. For example, I have been involved in my understanding of witchcraft since 1960. Over the years we have expanded into a clan that consists of covens in several states. And yet if one asks one of these self-proclaimed representatives of paganism, what is it that we believe in and how do we practice… they could not provide an answer. How do you proclaim to represent that which you have no clue of?

The point is that such claims of representation are nothing more than an extension of the mythos that was created with the advent of the Internet. In other words, a misrepresentation of the realities of what the current pagan community is.

At one point in history– and for a very extended period of time — paganism consisted of folks who actually sought enlightenment, though this was done within the mists. Folks would gather in small covens, or in some instances, depending on the path chosen, they gathered in elite groups of folks of like mind, who represented no one but themselves. The Golden Dawn is a good example of such a group. They did not claim to be witches but rather Ceremonial magicians. In short, folks did not pretend to be something simply because it sounded cool. But then they did not have to contend with the electronic media that modern pagans seem to savor so much.

Instead, the folks that belonged to these covens and/or such groups as the Golden Dawn concentrated on developing their latent abilities and honing their thirst for the answers to the mysteries of life and in extension the mystical arts… unlike today, where those of European descent and primarily former Christians, sit on the Internet and expend more energy coming up with cool sounding names and enumerating their alleged ranks and abilities, then they do in actual seeking. Why pretend to represent an entire spectrum of paganism when one has but a superficial understanding of one’s own path? And why extend the Christian concept of being the “only true religion” by assuming that all pagans follow a religion? Which is another misnomer of those who claim to represent all pagans. How can those who follow a religion such as Wicca, even remotely represent those who have shed the yoke of dogma and who instead follow a spiritual path. And one is not the same as the other.

In such pagan religions such as Wicca, one has a set of tenets (dogma) that defines the belief system. And it is all good. But those of us who follow Traditional witchcraft have no such set of tenets. We seek out that which works for the individual and thus dogma, which is intended for the masses, would have little chance of working in such a mindset. And again, it is all good. No one path is better than the next. It is what works for the individual that determines the best path for that person.

And so what do we do to move beyond the roadblock that the Internet has created for the desire to develop a valid pagan community?

Well, one suggestion would be for such misleading claims of representation to cease and desist. In all reality, you represent no one but yourself and your particular groups. You don’t represent the Voudon or the Santeria, or Traditional witches or Druids or what have you. And if you are truly interested in contributing to developing a valid pagan community, gain control of your massive egos and concentrate on genuine communication between the various groups that actually represent paganism.

For those of you who are Internet pagans, I would suggest that you stop trying to impress faceless folks on the Internet with your self proclaimed prowess in the mystical arts and actually turn your attention to honing such latent abilities.

Prior to Neo Paganism, the mystical arts consisted of an enlightened community of divergent groups and individuals. Can you say that we are still that enlightened community today?

Before you answer, look at the Internet and take note of all of the daily squabbles that take place over non-issues. Look at all of the pathetic grudges that have originated on the Internet due to something as minor as someone disagreeing with someone. Really? Really?

And look at how some of these petty grudges have been held for long periods of time by some folks. Talk about ego biscuits generated via the Internet. And so here is a challenge for everyone reading this: Get out and meet other folks who follow a pagan path in person at least once a month. And don’t just meet the same folks each month, but mix it up. Reach out to Wiccans, Voudon, Native Americans, Druids, Traditional Witches, Heathens and so forth. And keep in mind that you represent no one but yourself and your particular group. Keep an open mind and seek out genuine understanding of what other folks believe in.

Let’s move beyond the Internet mythos that so misconstrues the reality. Are you up to the challenge or is it easier for you to continue to engage in Internet fantasy?

*Joke Alert* *Joke Alert* Mail Order Witchcraft

Last time, I posted this I caught all types of grief. No one realized it was a joke. That’s why all the “alerts!”

Mail Order Witchcraft

National Enquirer runs my advertisements Even though last week the revoked my license Hexes and Love Spells, for $9.95 It’s this kind of garbage that keeps me alive

(Doot-Doot-Doot, Doot-Doot-Doot, Doot-Doot-Doot, Doot-Doot-Doot)

I’ll sell you crosses and religious icons I buy them wholesale, I get them in Taiwan Copy my spells from off bathroom walls Write them in Latin, my fans are enthralled

Mail Order Witchcraft, it’s a living, and I’m doing well I claim tax exemption because of a religion and then I just sell, sell, sell

)O( )O( )O( )O( )O(

Crowley’s the author of my favorite spell For summoning demons up out of Hell Wasn’t poetic, I changed it a pinch… Last one to use it has not been seen since

(Doot-Doot-Doot, Doot-Doot-Doot, Doot-Doot-Doot, Doot-Doot-Doot)

I’ve written a book about spells and their uses Catching familiars in spell-woven nooses Changing your husband into a small pup It’s all quite authentic, I made it all up

Mail Order Witchcraft, it’s a living, and writing is not hard I’ve written booklets and pamphlets and novels, I’m thinking of greeting cards

)O( )O( )O( )O( )O(

I’m quite advanced, I’ve even made Elder Though at the seminar they made us swelter Took me three days but I got my degree For a nominal fee you can get yours from me

(Doot-Doot-Doot, Doot-Doot-Doot, Doot-Doot-Doot, Doot-Doot-Doot)

My Wiccan acquaintances cause a sensation Claiming that I’ve ruined their reputation I think that’s nonsense, just jealous I fear What I learned in three days has taken them years

Mail Order Witchcraft, it’s a living, my clientele is large I’ll accept cash, money order or Visa, I even take Master Charge

Quiz of the Day: What does your dog's breed say about you?

What Does My Dog’s Breed Say About Me?

In my book It’s a Dog’s Life … but It’s Your Carpet,  I admit,  I make some pretty huge generalizations about breeds and pet  owners. Granted,  they’re my own opinions, but if you really wanted to  know what your  veterinarian thinks of you when you walk in the door with  your breed of dog,  read on!

Labrador Retriever

Dedicated, outdoorsy, loyal, and generally a good person to be around. Shops  at Wal…….. Drives a Subaru.

Chihuahua

May bite. The dog too.

Greyhound

Kind, mild mannered. Has neurotic tendencies. Gentle. Laid back. Drinks  bottled water. Often looks like the dog.

Miniature Poodle

Usually owned by a sweet, old, white-haired person.

Terrier

Potential to be a loyal, family-oriented person. Can be snarky and have an  east-coast attitude.

Golden Retriever

Family oriented and generally a good person to be around. Has two or three  human babies.

Miniature Schnauzer

Family oriented. Owned by older adults. Shops at LL Bean and Lands’ End.  Drives a Volvo.

Yorkshire Terrier

Likes to carry a YSL or Gucci purse, often with their pet in it. Enjoys the  high life. Drinks wine, not beer.

Rottweiler

Bad ass. Loyal. Protective. Doesn’t want to be screwed with.

Maltese

Either wants to have a child or have grandchildren. Loves to nurture   and  carry loved ones in arms. Very well dressed. Likes pink bows.

Beagle

Family oriented. High tolerance level for baying.

Bernese Mountain

Financially secure. Educated. Shops at REI, Best Buy, and Nordstroms.

****

What? Don’t believe me? What do you think? Does your breed represent you?

And yes, I purposely skipped stereotyping us American pit bull terrier  dog  owners. But as a veterinary student once said to me: “Dr. Lee … you  look just  like your dog.”

Daily Feng Shui News for Sept. 29th – 'National Coffee Day'

On ‘National Coffee Day’ I thought that I’d share what magically delicious traditions have to say about this beverage. Mystical thought says that drinking small amounts of coffee or tea stimulate the mind and energize the body. So the next time you sip, make that your clear intention and turn your coffee break into a conscious and sacred experience.

By Ellen Whitehurst for Astrology.com