The Way We Were vs The Way We Are

The Way We Were vs The Way We Are

Author: Ryan Hatcher

If we are to look back to the inception of modern paganism and the people who were the force behind it and were to observe how they practiced, worshipped and worked magic and compared it to how we practice, worship and work magic in modern times, while there is guaranteed to be a great deal of difference, the basic, core values should have remained the same.

I was in Norwich yesterday, a city with a strong pagan undercurrent of its own, for a brief look around the shops to pass some time while my partner enjoyed a 2-hour birthday massage, because of which my wallet had experienced a mass weight loss. So window-shopping it was. On my journey around the city I ventured into a Waterstones bookshop to have a look at their MBS section and had a skim through some of the material. Now, 90% of these books were paganism 101, which is fair enough for a standard mainstream bookshop, but reading through some of these 101 books — some of them recently published — it got me to reflecting: what is taught and considered western paganism now is much different than what it would have been considered to be 60-70 years ago.

What do I mean by this? Well, much of my personal pagan practice is inspired by these ‘old school’ methods with a touch of the modern for flavor (I’m talking about Doreen Valiente and Kevin Cochrane for the older styles, particularly Valiente; the Farrars (Stewart and Janet) represent an in-between period. Kate West and Christopher Penczack add the modern flare.) as I feel their values and ideas resonate with me. Now, keeping Valiente and Cochrane’s ideals in mind (again, more Valiente than Cochrane) , compare them to a lot of Penczack’s work and the work of similar contemporary styles and you’ll see what I’m trying to get at.

The styles and traditions of Valiente and Cochrane (hereon called the ‘older styles’) focus more on the earth-based worship side of paganism: seeing their Gods as personified manifestations of the forces of Life, Love, Death and Rebirth as well as the forces of nature in all it’s guises (be this as the four elements or simply as the grass in your lawn) . I also feel that animism in a subtler form was still there, if only felt and respected rather than overtly expressed.

The crafting of magic seems to have been simpler, as was the training (which doesn’t mean it was by any means easier than today; I’m inclined to say it was harder) . Metaphysical ideas such as energy centres, auras and layers of existence appear to have been acknowledged but were not the priority. The same for ‘the mysteries’ of the craft such as hypnosis, astral projection/trance journeying and psychism in all its forms. The works of the older styles show that they were an important part of their practice along with magic, but they were not the primary focus. I feel they were considered tools and techniques that developed along with the witch as he or she progressed down the spiritual path and was able to understand themselves and their developing abilities better and learn to control, focus and use them.

In contrast, the works of Penczack and his contemporaries (hereon called the ‘newer styles’) seem to focus more on the metaphysical ideas of paganism (energy centres, auras and layers of existence) , ‘the mysteries’ of the craft and magic as being of primary importance and therefore many chapters are devoted to these concepts. Now, I’m not saying this is strictly a bad thing; it may well suit many a new student to paganism, but when it comes to the core values about the spiritual and worship side of paganism, we start to enter the world of ‘love, light and blessed be’.

The realm of the FB, and those big furry ears seem to be cropping up more frequently in pagan literature. The spirituality of the newer styles appears to see the Old Gods as playmates: happy, fun, smiley and They do anything their precious ‘hidden children’ ask for. And unfortunately kids, you just have to look at the global history of paganism and myths of the world to now that is definitely not true. The honouring of nature and the earth extends as far as litter picking and recycling, which are very, very good ideas, and more is being suggested such as planting new trees, getting involved with wildlife protection trusts etc. Unfortunately, I feel many of the witches of the older styles, though some did get involved in these things, chose not to, possibly considering ritual devotion to be sufficient.

Ritual then is the moot point of both the old and new styles. As we are all aware, spiritual practice is a subjective thing, especially when it comes to ritual. Both new and old styles of witchcraft and paganism have placed varying levels of focus on ritual, and all have varying styles and methods in ritual that meets with their needs and the ideals of their respective traditions. However (there had to be a however) , and this goes for both old and new styles of paganism, whatever happened to just going out there and communing with nature face-to-face? No pomp and ceremony, no matter how elaborate or simple, just getting out there and being in the presence of the forces that we as pagans honour and worship.

I say, if you’re in a situation where celebrating a sabbat or an esbat with formal ritual isn’t an option, but you are within distance of a beautiful woodland, then screw it! Go for a walk in the woodland, sit under a tree and meditate! Commune with the spirits of the natural world around you and feel the power of the Old Gods, the powers of life, love, death and rebirth and pour your heart out in gratitude for all you have and for all that it means to be alive.

Wrapping it up: to me, the older styles and the newer styles and those of the styles in-between all have their good points and their bad points. The older styles are more grounded, simple and earthly. The newer styles are more flighty, ‘new-age’, hippy-esque and spiritual (in the modern concept of the word) . I’m sure you can see we have a Yin-Yang situation. And like the Yin and Yang, symbols of the older and newer styles do have parts of the other within them, but what we need to achieve is a balance between the two.

Paganism is a living and growing spiritual path and naturally changes with time, but it shouldn’t lose its heart. If we can bring together old and new, Yin and Yang, then we might be able to evolve paganism further, making it stronger, more refined and give us a definitive direction for us to aim for.

I hope that this essay will encourage pagans, both old hands and new, to review their beliefs, practices and crafts… to look back at the old, and freely explore the new and therein decide what is the best way forward in their spiritual path.

Footnotes:
Witchcraft for Tomorrow – Doreen Valiente

Witchcraft a Tradition Renewed – Evan John Jones with Doreen Valiente

The Witches’ Bible – Janet and Stuart Farrar

The Real Witches’ Handbook – Kate West

Gay Witchcraft – Christopher Penczack

Instant Magick – Christopher Penczack

The Law of Return

mabon-1

The Law of Return


 

The Law Of Return

The Law of Return means that what you do affects what happens to you. If you do good, good is going to happen to you; if you do evil, evil will happen. The Law of Return exists in every religion in one form or another. In some it’s given a multiplier. Good and bad are said to come back upon you three- or tenfold.

The Ethics of Self Responsibility

Simply put, We and only we, are responsible for our own actions. In Wicca, there is no “The devil made me do it.” We don’t believe in devils.

The Ethics of Self Improvement

The desire to improve the world around us, guided in part by the Law of Return. Ecology, teaching and preaching tolerance, racial harmony and reverence for the arts and history, and living one’s life toward peace are important examples. Only by being constant in our learning, and growth, do we help prevent intolerance.

The Ethics of Attunement

Divinity is within us and around us, and becoming in-tune with this power is a major facet of Wicca.

1. We, in our Self, are divine. No one is in control of us except us.

2. The Gods/other powers are divine. The gods/goddesses are more like parents, and less like the god of Christianity.

3. Earth is a living being. Each individual being, plant, animal or mineral on Earth is a part of that being. Everything has a spirit of its own.

taken from ” The Five Points of Wiccan Belief,” laid out by Universal Eclectic Wicca

A Little Humor for Your Day – My Daily Prayer

My Daily Prayer

So far today, Goddess, I’ve done all right. I haven’t gossiped, haven’t lost my temper, haven’t been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish or overindulgent. I’m really glad about that.

But in a few minutes, I’m going to get out of bed, and from then on I’m probably going to need a lot more help!

Turok’s Cabana

Daily Feng Shui News for Oct. 2nd – ‘Feast Of The Guardian Angels’

I pray that you love today’s ‘Feast Of The Guardian Angels’ just as much as I do. According to angel archeologist and author JoAnn Cornug, Angel Eliel has long been called upon to put magic and miracles in our lives. It’s believed that when this angel is invoked, he can conjure your wishes for you, especially if you say the following invocation: ‘Eliel, Eliel, Eliel, reveal the magic in our purpose. Eliel, Eliel, Eliel grant me my wish. Eliel, Eliel, Eliel amaze me with your grace.’ Amazing grace indeed.

By Ellen Whitehurst for Astrology.com

Your Animal Spirit for October 2nd is

Your Animal Spirit for Today
October 2, 2013

Bear

Bear represents a time of reflection and stillness—a time of entering the inner cave of  Self to contemplate life’s challenges. Bear often appears during times of confusion and unrest—those unsettling moments when you turn to everyone you know for answers—everyone except yourself. Go within, ask the hard questions—then listen.

Your Ancient Symbols Card for October 2nd is Strength

Your Ancient Symbols Card for Today

Strength

Strength denotes an inner power, mastery of will, development of inner might, and the ability to lead effectively. Through mastering one’s emotions and learning from both success and failure the person Strength represents has reached a place where they are influential without applying physical force, able to weather the roughest of storms, and not likely to abandon the less fortunate. Strength also denotes a large capacity for forgiveness and compassion. Strength is not as much about winning as it is about overcoming hardship, and using well crafted persuasion to ease others to your side.

As a daily card, Strength indicates a period in which your psychological powers are extremely strong. Your mental endurance may well astound even you at this time. Possibly it is time for you to stand up and take command of any loosely run situations in your life. If you take the lead others will follow.

Today’s Tarot Card for October 2nd is The Devil

The Devil

Wednesday, Oct 2nd, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What has traditionally been known as the Devil card expresses the realm of the Taboo, the culturally rejected wildness and undigested shadow side that each of us carries in our subconscious. This shadow is actually at the core of our being, which we cannot get rid of and will never succeed in taming. From its earliest versions, which portrayed a vampire-demon, this card evoked the Church-fueled fear that a person could “lose their soul” to wild and passionate forces.

The image which emerged in the mid-1700’s gives us a more sophisticated rendition — that of the “scapegoated Goddess,” whose esoteric name is Baphomet. Volcanic reserves of passion and primal desire empower her efforts to overcome the pressure of stereotyped roles and experience true freedom of soul. Tavaglione’s highly evolved image (Stella deck) portrays the magical formula for harnessing and transmuting primal and obsessive emotions into transformative energies. As a part of the Gnostic message of Tarot, this fearsome passion and power must be reintegrated into the personality, to fuel the soul’s passage from mortal to immortal.

Daily Horoscopes for Wednesday, October 2nd

Issues of the heart may require less logic and more intensity now that passionate Pluto and magnetic Venus drive our desires to the surface. Even the sensible Virgo Moon won’t offer much help since she forms a trine with relentless Pluto. Seeking balance is wise as the nights grow longer, but our emotional needs deepen, making equilibrium more elusive. Meanwhile, a verbally assertive Mercury-Mars aspect complicates communication with tough talk.

Aries Horoscope

(Mar 21 – Apr 19)

Anyone who gets in your way today could be in for a big surprise when you arrive dressed for battle. The bottom line is that you’re in no mood to deal with someone else’s arbitrary judgments. Although your feelings are very strong now, there’s little need to worry about any resistance you currently face. Be true to yourself; instead of looking for a fight, just keep pushing your best ideas ahead, one step at a time

Taurus Horoscope

(Apr 20 – May 20)

Feelings of sweet love may temporarily transform into an intense meltdown today as your key planet Venus creates an anxious aspect with dark Pluto. Although your desires are slightly obsessive now, you’re able to avoid trouble, even if you set your common sense aside to attain the pleasure you want. There’s nothing wrong with a little indulgent behavior as long as you don’t lose your moral compass.

Gemini Horoscope

(May 21 – Jun 20)

You might make a number of attempts to tell someone your story now, but it can be frustrating when others don’t seem to care about the same things that are significant to you. Nevertheless, don’t waste your time and energy worrying about the possibility of being hurt by rejection. There’s really no place for negative thinking in your life. You’re better off if you focus your positive thoughts on the journey ahead.

Cancer Horoscope

(Jun 21 – Jul 22)

Making choices about your personal life is a challenge today because there seems to be a wide array of appealing possibilities until you examine them more closely. However, it isn’t smart to put off any decisions that could help you realize your potential. Thankfully, you have powerful friends that are eager to support your ambitions now, so don’t be afraid to ask for their assistance. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Leo Horoscope

(Jul 23 – Aug 22)

You don’t want to let go of a recent experience just yet, and you may try every trick in the book to extend your playful feelings into the workday. But don’t worry about missing out on a little fun if you have more important things to do today. Instead, think about the positive impact you can have on others if you jump in now and show them the way. Your I-can-do-it attitude is contagious so spread it around.

Virgo Horoscope

(Aug 23 – Sep 22)

You may not be willing to give an inch today, especially if someone is questioning your ability to handle a situation while suggesting an alternative plan. Be careful, since this current predicament isn’t about right versus wrong. Everyone can be correct, for there are many ways to reach the same goal. Remember, progressing according to your strategy keeps your heart in the game while enabling you to remain passionately committed to the greater cause.

Libra Horoscope

(Sep 23 – Oct 22)

Your light and easy thoughts of love are interwoven into a more complex web of attachments as dark Pluto gives your key planet Venus something mysterious to ponder today. You might prefer to remain detached from your feelings by having fun with someone else. Unfortunately, you can’t outrun the work you must do to sort out your relationships. Stop focusing on dreams that are just out of reach so you can appreciate what’s right in front of you.

Scorpio Horoscope

(Oct 23 – Nov 21)

You must tread very carefully and watch your step now because you are more impulsive than usual. It’s tough to filter out any anger if your emotions suddenly surface because you still haven’t had enough time to process them. However, blocking your feelings won’t help your cause in the long run. Go ahead and share what’s on your mind, but try not to inflame an already sensitive situation. A little compassion goes a long way.

Sagittarius Horoscope

(Nov 22 – Dec 21)

Make time for some physical activity today because keeping your energy in motion is crucial to preventing you from becoming a couch potato. However, you want to do everything just right now that the Moon is visiting perfectionist Virgo. The downside is that you might get so hung up in the details that you can’t move forward with confidence. Don’t worry about every little thought that enters your mind. Tackling one small task at a time is the best way to maximize your productivity.

Capricorn Horoscope

(Dec 22 – Jan 19)

You have lots to share now and you shouldn’t let anything or anyone stand in the way of expressing your truth. Don’t restrain the power of your words because persuasive Pluto harmonizes with captivating Venus in your 11th House of Goals. But it’s not about what you say today; it’s more how you say it. Keep in mind that you can be both ambitious and kind in your drive for success.

Aquarius Horoscope

(Jan 20 – Feb 18)

Your overall situation is growing brighter day by day, but there are still a few loose ends that must be tied up before you can move on to the next chapter of your life. However, the rate of change could pick up speed over the next few weeks, so make a commitment to concentrate on the present moment and not on the future. It’s wonderful to be spontaneous, but in your haste don’t let any unfinished tasks slip by unattended. Sometimes you have to give up a little freedom to reach your full potential.

Pisces Horoscope

(Feb 19 – Mar 20)

Love isn’t always simple and today you have an opportunity to experience a more complicated kind of pleasure. Beautiful Venus usually adds sweetness and grace to your life but an uneasy aspect from shadowy Pluto offers up sensual delights from the hidden recesses of your subconscious mind. No matter what, don’t let fear stand in your way of a meaningful experience. Open your heart and let love in.