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Pagans: Loved, Yet Misunderstood

Pagans: Loved, Yet Misunderstood

Author:   Davina Sullivan 

“We are loved, yet misunderstood.”

Within the last few months, I have recently explained to my friends and family that I am a Pagan, and more than proud to say so. I have been asked so many questions sense then, it’s unbelievable. However, I’m glad that they asked because I’ve realized that many people in general has such a high misunderstanding, that we Pagan’s are judged unfairly. I have the opportunity to be able to help others understand and not judge us based on the word of others.

I was raised in a Baptist family, therefore, a great many of my relatives were upset, confused, hurt, or a combination of all three. My mother particularly, believed that being a Pagan was the devil’s way of tricking us into worshipping him, specifically because of the pentagram. I calmly explained to her that yes, the five-point star originated from the Pagan religion. After, that same star also became the Star of Bethlehem, which represents Jesus’ birth and carnation in the Christian religion. The bible explains this in the book of Matthews in chapter two. Lastly, Satanists took the five-point star and turned it upside down to claim as their own.

The image of the devil was the most difficult questions to answer. Even though I had explained that the image of Satan also originated from a Greek God, the Horned God named Pan. He has horns as well as hooves and carries a flute. That is where Satan’s image originated. Many didn’t want to hear my explanations or did not believe it to be so. Of course, everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. I only talk of the questions that people ask.

Another explanation that was quite interesting to give was the use of magic. I was asked questions such as, “How do you do magic?” “Why do you think magic is real?” “Don’t you think that God is the only one that can bring magic?” There was one question that I found very surprising, which was, “Will you teach me to do magic?”

When I was asked how to do magic, I simply explained that magic is just channeling what is already there. You are working as one with the elements of the earth to bring the God’s and Goddesses into your heart and soul to walk together into the Divine. This also brought questions about. However, I truly believe that no one can answer what the Divine is but you, and only when you feel it.

Those that has asked me why I believe magic to be real, this was the easiest explanation of all. Every time I answer this question, I smile and reply, “Because I’ve felt it. I’ve been there. I’ve become one with magic and have become one with The Divine.” Some are confused at this point, but the answer to this specific question is something only you can answer for yourself.

Many were respectful, many horrified at my response to God being the only one that can bring magic into my life. I respect those that live by the bible and God’s word. Though, I truly feel the connection with the Pagan God’s and Goddesses. My personal Goddess, Isis, has brought a light and a great sense of fulfillment into my life. I call upon her often and the magic that I have done and experienced is unexplainable. For someone who does not believe magic to be true, it will sound like nonsense to them. Until they experience magic for themselves and can answer that same question for me, there is nothing that I could say to them about working with Earth Mother to do magic.

There was one person and one person only who asked me to teach her magic. She is a very good friend of mine. I explained a few basics of my religion, and explained to her that being a witch and learning of magic by doing your own personal studies and research is the first step. Being a witch is something to be taken very seriously and to understand every aspect of everything or any spell before attempting to actually performing one. I also explained that I have seen those dabble in black magic, and that is something that will bring you sorrow and pain in the long run. ‘An ye’ harm none, do as ye’ will.’ I most defiantly expressed how important it is to keep the Three Fold Law in mind.

The purpose for me writing this paper is to express to anyone that is willing to listen that you should always be proud of who and what you are. It has taken me 24 years to find my path because it is sometimes difficult to step away from what you are so accustomed to and be able to search for your true self.

Religion, regardless of what it may be is a big part of every one person’s life. To lie and hide from your self is the most painful lie that anyone could tell. To be a witch is hard, it is difficult, it can be stressful and it can seem almost impossible to be accepted by society at times. In today’s world, yes, we need to be in society in some way, shape or form. Just remember, we are no better, nor are we any worse than any other person that may walk this glorious earth. Paganism is rejected by many, but accepted and loved by so many more. We have support and family to help us through these times.

Today, we have the wonderful world of technology! Take advantage of it. Witchvox.com is only the start. Wiccantogether.com is a lot like a myspace.com page for Wiccans. There’s plenty of ways on the Internet, not to mention the people around you that you have no idea are even there to help you.

I cannot express enough how strongly I believe that there are many that are afraid to be their true selves because of societies opinions of our religion. Be strong, stand tall, and be proud of who you are. Please, help, love and support those who need us.

In conclusion, we are loved, yet misunderstood. This is not our fault; this is our pride. I’m more than willing to help those who are misunderstood to understand. No matter the outcome may be, I am who I am. I’m being true to myself, and that is what is most important in my opinion.

Pagans with Training and Those Self-taught

Pagans with Training and Those Self-taught

Author:   Peter Beckley 

The various paths we tread contained under the “umbrella” of Paganism can benefit greatly from structured, formal training. Several of the benefits from having a structured system of passing knowledge from teacher to student include the following:

1. Being able to track progress along a charted plan can provide a beneficial sense of achievement. To know that you are making progress along your chosen path isn’t just a spiritual need; it is also a significant psychological one. Everyone likes to know that they are making gains whenever they embark on a quest. It is especially important when topics such a sympathetic magick are involved since everything one does either helps or hinders the focus that is placed and required to perform this type of magick. Whether spiritual or educational, the nature of the quest doesn’t matter either,  although these two are seldom mutually exclusive anyway. Even during a physical journey, it is always nice to know that you’re going in the right direction to get where you want to go.

2. Another need that most people have is the one of tribe or group membership, otherwise known as identification. Many people have a desire to identify themselves as part of a group, from those who go to a ritual solely to socialize afterwards, to those who are interested in achieving planned results and raising specific energies.  Even those who identify themselves as solitary are doing it. They belong to a group, and label themselves and that group. The need of tribe or group membership may be strongest during childhood and young adulthood, but people never really outgrow the need to belong to something. One of the most common questions we ask when meeting someone for the first time who we know to be Pagan is, “What are you?” or “What is your path?”. This also explains the reason we wear symbols of our faith, be it pentacle, Thor’s hammer or whatever, and even why we put bumper stickers, signs and other such things on and in our cars.

3. When you are part of a Pagan group that has a formal training program in place, whether face to face or by correspondence, you have opportunities to gain a sense of order to the mysterious world beyond the mundane one that self-teaching might not be able to provide. It can be comforting to know that there is someone you can turn to when you have a question that can be answered within the construct of your chosen “path”.

4. Using a system of responsibly passing knowledge from teacher to student helps to make sure that the information is not lost or forgotten. The programs usually have a specific form that the knowledge is in, a Book of Shadows for example, that gets copied bit by bit as the person learns more of the knowledge. In oral traditions, great care is taken to emphasize remembering the entire breadth of knowledge as it gets passed from student to teacher.

There are also benefits that need to be mentioned when approaching Paganism and its knowledge from the self-taught point-of-view.

1. One of the benefits to teaching yourself about the path you choose to walk is that, if it turns out to not be what you spiritually identify with, it is very easy to start exploring another one. There is not the guilt which is sometimes associated with leaving a spiritual group, nor are there the hurt feelings members of that group might feel if you choose to leave.

2. Following that same line of thought, being self-taught probably increases the amount of convenient exposure to other paths for you to explore. Eclectic Pagans, whether Wiccan, Druid or whatever, use this idea to their advantage by using parts, concepts, ideas and even pantheons from various paths they’ve walked or read about to create their very own, personal Pagan path.

3. While not exclusive to those identifying themselves an eclectic, the idea of being self-taught lends itself most readily to the idea of eclectic Paganism. There is also something to be said for being “your own person” and that can be developed more easily when you aren’t compelled to follow a specific path of structured traditions.

Bringing a third point of view to the table, not all people who belong to groups with formal instruction believe that they should solely rely on the formal teachings as a source for magickal/spiritual instruction. There are folks who feel that self-teaching or exploring topics related to your chosen path should be viewed as a supplement to the knowledge you gain from “inside” your path. Still others have the exact opposite view, seeing the knowledge outside of what their own path teaches as less valuable, perhaps even flawed.

Quite often, it is the source of the information that can bring the question of self-taught vs. formal training to the forefront. Those who believe that, if it didn’t come from someone they regard as an authoritative figure or expert on the subject, then the information isn’t accurate or at all to be considered for use, argue that self-teaching runs the risk of diluting the accurate information in the world. Some go so far as to refuse certain sources of information entirely. On the other hand, there are those who will assume the “good faith” of the sources they find until proven otherwise. These folks will take information from many sources, whether books at the library, stories and training from a teacher, or even the internet, and gather them all up to cross-reference, double-check and verify to find the useful and most accurate information from it all and apply it to their purpose. They may even go so far as to tell others what they find “good” and “bad” about the sources of information. By using the paradigm of the laws of supply and demand, this invariably leads to better resources

While this essay is certainly geared toward the positive side of both choices, there are drawbacks to both as well. This essay doesn’t seek to be complete in the discussion of such a broad subject, but I hope that it has provided some useful and thought-provoking information for you to consider. The most important thing to remember, and I’m sure even those just starting out on any Pagan path have heard it, is that as long as it doesn’t hurt anything, and you feel the spiritual connection you desire, then you’re on the right path.

Raising a Kitchen Witch From Scratch

Raising a Kitchen Witch From Scratch

Author:   Seba O’Kiley  
“In fact, people who posses not magic at all can instill their home-cooked meals with love and security and health, transforming ingredients and bringing disparate people together as family and friends. There’s a reason that when opening one’s home to guests, the first thing you do is offer food and drink. Cooking is a kind of everyday magic.” — Juliet Blackwell
When I was wee, I stayed with my Grandma quite a bit. She was my mentor, my teacher, my “other momma” and augmented my kitchen learnin’ in her own natural way. Her grapevines were teaching tools, as in: grow them slow, water daily, “feel” their skin for trouble and dry them, molasses-slow-like, in the hottest rays of the sun–then rest them in cool niches for storage. (Her own aunties were down-home wine makers over around Elk River, Alabama. We didn’t talk about that much.) Grandma was rightly specific about the element of touch when it came to process. I can still smell her favorite peach stand on Highway 72–that cloying, somehow musky aroma that smacks of pies and late afternoon sun and where all the best “picked anything” sat on rough wood shelves. The memory that resonates the most is:
Dusky, bruised pink horizon slung low under an already indigo sky . . . fireflies dancing in the dim outline of pines . . . and there, off the highway, a brightly lit “farm stand” called her name. A kitchen witch’s dream, complete with roughshod tables, sawdust floors, jams and jellies glimmering purple, red and golden under the hum of precariously hung light fixtures. And the process: her hand reaching out to melons, tomatoes, cucumbers, feeling the texture, feeling for a soft spot indicating hidden rot, running her chewed fingernails across the microscopic hairs of peaches and okra. I think I finally understand now, all these decades later, what she was teaching me back then. We were feeling our way through choices that otherwise might have been mislead by labels, presentation or advertisement.
If Paganism is the “Old Religion, ” then the cooking that we do down here in the Deep South is the “Old Kitchen Witchery.” It is marked by a disregard of measurements, tasting each and every step, burning our fingers and palms and tongues in our refusal to disconnect from each and every sacred step and the rustic presentation of soul-satisfying suppers. It is the art of seed preservation, pickling, canning, growing, sowing, harvesting and frying or simmering in hundred-year-old, seasoned iron skillets. It is the unabashed reverence for home and hearth, community and family and a well-fed body. For that, y’all, we need to feel our way.
Perhaps this is why we tend to keep our recipes within the family, pass them down in grease-stained books and reminisce on the soul who crafted it when its spell weaves its way onto our tables. They represent the sacred process, the sacred thump of someone’s divine presence in the realm of the living. Sometimes, that process was a journey as a momma. Sometimes, that process is the struggle through an economically crippling period of life. Most times?
Sustenance. Pure and simple.
One night, my grandma had suffered my whining on about being “hongry” about all she could. Before I knew it, flour was sifting through the air, butter was being melted slowly in a pot and cocoa met sugar across the plane of the most delicate crust, rolled and sliced like buns. Little more than pantry items had conjured themselves into a little soul food for her grandchild–and I never forgot the story with which I sopped it all down. Seems that, in the Depression, treats like Poptarts and Little Debbie cakes weren’t within the reach of chubby child fingers (imagine my shock) forcing mommas across the land to get a might creative. Love. Simple and sweet. Love manifested itself out of bare pantries and broken pocketbooks and landed on the tongues of country younguns and lit their hearts like butter on a biscuit.
Sacred process.
Is that not an oral tradition? In more ways than one? Stories, legends, legacies weaving from farm to table, ancestors to children, echoing their way through time in fatback and the juice of the perfect peach, sliding down sticky Alabama fingers. I hear her voice every time touch a peach. I feel her warmth with every stir of a wooden spoon. I know my own thread in the tapestry as I write, by hand: pinch of salt, an egg or two (depending on their girth) , serves ’round six if fin they ain’t that ravished. Now, if that doesn’t represent tradition, the creek’s done gone dry and the fish have flopped uneaten on red clay.
And catfish is what’s for dinner tonight, y’all. (The Southern Fried Initiate/Daughter hankered for it and I plan to feed that sweet flesh of hers. Right after I teach her how to batter it, just so, with buttermilk and stone ground yellow meal.)
I reckon’ that night at the Limestone County Farm Stand taught me most of what I needed to get by in life. Lessee:
1. Support your locals. This builds a foundation for the community and helps sustain all in the circle.
2. Local sustenance tastes sweeter, brighter and fosters a connection between the dirt between our feet and the neighbor waving howdy from the yard.
3. Eating locally works in healing ways. Local honey can ease yor’ allergies. Backyard flowering vegetation is safer in a pollination drift.
4. Rotted fruit is best in the compost heap, so as it can be recycled into an element of growth.
5. Growing things your own self nurtures a sense of pride, wholeness and is sustainable for your wallet and the cheapest Prozac in town. (Get yor’ hands in the dirt. I guarantee that the cucumbers won’t be the only things fruiting soon.)
6. Share healthy seed, extra sprouts, bushels of harvest, recipes, preserves and suppers. Believe it or not, there is ALWAYS room for another set of feet under a table.
7. Thank the universe, and yor’ local farmer, for the bounty. Divine process made that dinner. Hit knees, bless sustenance and grab a fork.
8. Pay it forward. Share those potions and tricks to ward off caterpillars, aphids and rabbits. Get over to some soul’s house and help build that chicken house. (Good energy out, good energy in. This is true building of a community, y’all. And you never know when a wolf might blow YOUR house down. Re-read “Stone Soup.”)
9. Barter. Money sure ain’t everything, and in fact, it doesn’t represent much at all. Got a bushel of banana peppers, but sure would like some cayenne? Are you one helluva seamstress, but need someone who tinkers on cars? Well, skip the government taxes and get to trading! (This is a lost art in our community and one of the most Pagan things you can do.)
10. Revel, wildly and hopelessly, in the tastes and smells and textures of our sweet Mother Earth. We all think too damn much. Feel your way. Feel the grass beneath your toes. Feel the energy traversing through the veins of a spinach leave, the sweet burst of tomato seed, the vinegar tart of a pickled pear. We are so short for this world. What blasphemy do we enact when we forget to commune with it all?
Imagine, for one moment, if Gran hadn’t stopped there on Highway 72 with that young wile chile?
Kitchen Witchery: The art of sustaining legacy, legend, community and family through the sacred process of communion with Mother Earth. Produces magic, healthy bodies, balanced minds and promotes sustainability in all realms.

Serves . . . .
All of us.
Aho.
Seba


Footnotes: This post first appeared at Southernkitchenwitch.com on August 12th, 2012.

Religion: From A Witch’s Perspective

Religion: From A Witch’s Perspective

Author:   Crick   

Have you ever wondered why humans are so scared to face life and the spiritual lessons that are in waiting for each of us? I ask this because since the dawning of humankind we have created religions. Religion in all reality is a subterfuge and a distraction from the individual pursuit of spirituality.

A state of spirituality is a journey of the individual. It does not require the presence of the many such as is found within a religion. This applies whether a religion is one of the so-called organized religions, pagan, or one of the myriad other religions created by humans.

A religion comes into existence by the hand of a human, generally a man or group of men. A concept of Deity and the mysteries of life are created and then transformed into a specific dogma or set of beliefs. The only problem with this approach is that it is predicated upon the narrow precepts of one or even a few select humans.

This is fine, if such beliefs were confined to the originators of such beliefs. For each individual is entitled to the beliefs that define their personal existence in regards to Deity and the mysteries that comprise this existence of life.

But when such personal opinions are then extended to the masses, the concept of individualism becomes mired in the tentacles of censorship that goes by the label of dogma. When this occurs, the concept of individuality is lost.

Another concern with such an approach is that those opinions that form the basis for religions are based upon select human perspectives and are not the direct offering of Deity. Of course there will be those humans who will insist that their perception of Deity was the driving force that has inspired the particular religion that they themselves subscribe to.

However with literally thousands of divergent concepts of deity that has been proffered since the beginning of humankind, who is actually right and just as importantly, who is wrong? Is there such delineation when it comes to spirituality and/or religion? Does one person have to be right in order for all others to be wrong?

As individuals, each seeking their own definition and thus understanding of deity, this self-imposed quandary goes away. For as individuals, the belief in deity and the search for a comprehensive understanding of the mysteries of life become a personal pursuit and as such, do not require the approval of any other human being on earth.

Paganism was at one time a path that actually encouraged individual seeking and thus a personal sense of understanding. And in many ways it still is to this very day. However the specter of religion and the pressure of peer acceptance as defined by the few have stretched its tentacles into paganism as well. This modern attempt at conversion is commonly referred to as neo paganism. In essence, there is an attempt by some of these modern converts to turn paganism, which once defined individual spirituality, into a religion which follows the same parameters as the so called organized religions.

Why is this being attempted when it is blatantly obvious that organized religions and paganism are diametrically opposed in their approach to the concepts of deity and the mysteries of life?

The most obvious reason for this forced perception of dogma is the entrance of the many who formerly subscribed to an established religious pattern of acceptance in regards to their spiritual journey. However there may be a deeper reason for such an imposition of foreign values when discussing the parameters of paganism.

For instance why does humankind even need the anonymity of a concept known as religion where one can comfortably become a faceless member of a pre-conceived set of beliefs (dogma) ? And as already noted, said set of beliefs, which in every man-made religion on earth is defined by a select few.

Could it be because there is a segment of society who is apathetic about their spiritual beliefs? Could such folks be personally insecure of what they may encounter if they were to actually seek out their own answers to spirituality? Does this observation offend you?

If so, perhaps there is a gem of truth here that you may want to explore within your Inner self. When a select person or group of persons places the concept of deity and the mysteries of life into an imposition such as religious dogma, there is in effect a barricade to any real spiritual growth. The individual loses the gift of self-identity because they are pressured into a specific set of beliefs (dogma) , which limits any further exploration of the many possibilities that are inherent in un-fettered spirituality.

Many man-made religions have mechanisms in place that are designed to ensure that their members do not stray outside of the accepted parameters of belief has dictated by the few. Where is the freedom of the individual in such a setting? And where within the tenets of paganism do such man-made impositions apply?

These same man-made religions also have mechanisms in place to cast out those who dare to seek out the truths of life as they apply to their personal seeking and yet are outside of the accepted dogma of the particular religion that one is subscribing to.

In my personal opinion such an approach has absolutely nothing to do with any real concept of paganism. And so the push to “convert” paganism into the parameters of organized religion is somewhat troubling and may border on hypocrisy.

There is a common saying that “trying to get pagans to come together is like herding cats”. I personally hope that such an analogy retains some iota of truth as paganism wends its way into the consciousness of modern practitioners. Once those who follow the path of paganism lose the inherent right to live as individuals and once members of paganism lose the drive to seek out Inner truths, which are not restrained by the masses that blindly follow the lead of the few, then it is no longer a true spiritual path. Rather it becomes nothing more than an extension of the mind numbing control of religion.

And those who describe themselves as pagans, in all reality become nothing more than faceless minions of yet another man-made religion

Religion vs. Spirituality

Religion vs. Spirituality

Author:   Crick   

There is often a blurring of the lines when it comes to the difference between what is a religion and what is a spiritual path. Neo pagans in particular are guilty of this lack of distinction, perhaps because so many neo pagans come from a Abrahamic religion originally. I also believe that because Wicca tries to define itself as a religion that it readily serves as the stepping stone for those who are interested in the mystic arts.

This is not a bad thing, just a pragmatic observation from one who follows a spiritual path rather then a religion.

But then that is where the dual focus of this article comes into play.

To begin with, religions of all types have to define themselves in a manner that sets them apart from other types of religions in order to be seen as a distinctive school of thought and/or belief.

The ironic result of this attempt is that basically all religions have the same underlying theme, whether it be an Abrahamic religion, Judaic, Muslim, Wicca or any of the other four hundred plus religions in the world.

And that theme is that their particular gathering represents all others in the world.

And that the gathering in question does it better then all of the rest. For instance within the Abrahamic religions the Christians claim to be the only “true religion”, within the Muslim religion there are the Baha i, amongst others that claim to represent a better way and so on. Within the neo pagan community the Wicca claim to represent all other pagans, though such claims are simply naive.

For instance those who follow the Shamanic path do not belong to a religion but rather engage in a very personal and thus individualistic spiritual path. They are represented by none but themselves.

My question is; if religion is supposed to be a means of communicating with deity then why does such a communication require so many middle men as it were?

What makes specific folks so special that only they can talk directly to the deity of ones choice?

Is it possible that religion is more about elitism and the many human travails that define our existence as a species?

As far as paganism goes, does connecting with other-wordly entities really require all of the trappings that a religion imposes upon a person?

For instance, does one really need to cast a “Sacred Circle” every single time they want to communicate with deity? Is not the entire earth and all that she contains not sacred?

Has the Sacred Circle simply become a substitute for a raised dais that one uses to distinguish themselves from others with?

This is not to say that there are not “times” when the Sacred Circle should be employed. Such a tool should in my personal opinion, be used as a form of protection when dealing with certain entities and in other instances as a portal to travel to other-wordly realms.

But I also personally believe that some neo pagan religions have perhaps appended the use of such a tool in an effort to define themselves as a separate religion, in short, an attempt at elitism. And as such, the use of such a special tool has become mere dogma and thus has lost much of the meaning of its originally intended use.

One of the problems that I see with religions in general and with neo pagan religions in particular is that when one sets up parameters, especially when dealing with the magickal arts, one sets up barriers to any real spiritual growth.

Paganism was never meant to be stifled by the whims of certain humans and that is exactly what a religion is.

A personage or small group of personages set out a particular dogma and thus a religion is created.

This may work well for those who need such a group mentality in order to relate to their choice of deity. However, paganism is a school of thought and action that does not fit within such a group consciousness.

The magickal arts that are a prevalent part of paganism is never discovered within its entirety. It is a on going process of trial and error which in many cases is what constitutes a real Book of Shadows and not the kind that is purchased off of a book shelf.

What works for one may not work for another and so there is no one BOS for all. Which brings me to yet another thought. Todays neo paganism, on the surface at least, appears to be less about the discovery of ones latent abilities and more about the commercialism that is so prevalent amongst certain so called mystical neo pagan religions. If paganism is about the individual experience, then how can one person define this experience within a book in a way that represents everyone. In reality, they cannot accomplish such a feat and yet there are thousands of neo pagan books written over the last 30 or 40 years that claim to do just that.

As a result the true meaning of paganism and what it represents has become mired in the blatant commercialism that now defines neo paganism.

This sad situation is the direct result of a few folks attempting to fit the concept and workings of paganism into the restrictive parameters of religious dogma. Such an attempt is like trying to fit a square peg into a circle.

In short, this attempt has in many ways stifled the growth and knowledge of what paganism is really about.

And what is that you may ask?

In my personal opinion, paganism is not about yet another form of religion, rather it is about the individual growth of each person who seeks what I personally see as a spiritual path.

If neo pagans would spend less energy in trying to re-invent paganism and instead would spend more time learning about themselves there would be no need for the elitism and commercialism that neo pagan religions bring to the table.

There are many spiritual belief systems under the real pagan umbrella that one could learn from. Those such as the various shaman practices, Native American, practices, Australian bushman and so forth, have been practising their forms of paganism for generations. And yet these folks are not flooding the marketplace with how to books on paganism. But neither do they claim to belong to a mystickal religion either.

They practice and learn from a spiritual point of view. And isn’t that what true paganism is supposed to be all about?There is often a blurring of the lines when it comes to the difference between what is a religion and what is a spiritual path. Neo pagans in particular are guilty of this lack of distinction, perhaps because so many neo pagans come from a Abrahamic religion originally. I also believe that because Wicca tries to define itself as a religion that it readily serves as the stepping stone for those who are interested in the mystic arts.

This is not a bad thing, just a pragmatic observation from one who follows a spiritual path rather then a religion.

But then that is where the dual focus of this article comes into play.

To begin with, religions of all types have to define themselves in a manner that sets them apart from other types of religions in order to be seen as a distinctive school of thought and/or belief.

The ironic result of this attempt is that basically all religions have the same underlying theme, whether it be an Abrahamic religion, Judaic, Muslim, Wicca or any of the other four hundred plus religions in the world.

And that theme is that their particular gathering represents all others in the world.

And that the gathering in question does it better then all of the rest. For instance within the Abrahamic religions the Christians claim to be the only “true religion”, within the Muslim religion there are the Baha i, amongst others that claim to represent a better way and so on. Within the neo pagan community the Wicca claim to represent all other pagans, though such claims are simply naive.

For instance those who follow the Shamanic path do not belong to a religion but rather engage in a very personal and thus individualistic spiritual path. They are represented by none but themselves.

My question is; if religion is supposed to be a means of communicating with deity then why does such a communication require so many middle men as it were?

What makes specific folks so special that only they can talk directly to the deity of ones choice?

Is it possible that religion is more about elitism and the many human travails that define our existence as a species?

As far as paganism goes, does connecting with other-wordly entities really require all of the trappings that a religion imposes upon a person?

For instance, does one really need to cast a “Sacred Circle” every single time they want to communicate with deity? Is not the entire earth and all that she contains not sacred?

Has the Sacred Circle simply become a substitute for a raised dais that one uses to distinguish themselves from others with?

This is not to say that there are not “times” when the Sacred Circle should be employed. Such a tool should in my personal opinion, be used as a form of protection when dealing with certain entities and in other instances as a portal to travel to other-wordly realms.

But I also personally believe that some neo pagan religions have perhaps appended the use of such a tool in an effort to define themselves as a separate religion, in short, an attempt at elitism. And as such, the use of such a special tool has become mere dogma and thus has lost much of the meaning of its originally intended use.

One of the problems that I see with religions in general and with neo pagan religions in particular is that when one sets up parameters, especially when dealing with the magickal arts, one sets up barriers to any real spiritual growth.

Paganism was never meant to be stifled by the whims of certain humans and that is exactly what a religion is.

A personage or small group of personages set out a particular dogma and thus a religion is created.

This may work well for those who need such a group mentality in order to relate to their choice of deity. However, paganism is a school of thought and action that does not fit within such a group consciousness.

The magickal arts that are a prevalent part of paganism is never discovered within its entirety. It is a on going process of trial and error which in many cases is what constitutes a real Book of Shadows and not the kind that is purchased off of a book shelf.

What works for one may not work for another and so there is no one BOS for all. Which brings me to yet another thought. Todays neo paganism, on the surface at least, appears to be less about the discovery of ones latent abilities and more about the commercialism that is so prevalent amongst certain so called mystical neo pagan religions. If paganism is about the individual experience, then how can one person define this experience within a book in a way that represents everyone. In reality, they cannot accomplish such a feat and yet there are thousands of neo pagan books written over the last 30 or 40 years that claim to do just that.

As a result the true meaning of paganism and what it represents has become mired in the blatant commercialism that now defines neo paganism.

This sad situation is the direct result of a few folks attempting to fit the concept and workings of paganism into the restrictive parameters of religious dogma. Such an attempt is like trying to fit a square peg into a circle.

In short, this attempt has in many ways stifled the growth and knowledge of what paganism is really about.

And what is that you may ask?

In my personal opinion, paganism is not about yet another form of religion, rather it is about the individual growth of each person who seeks what I personally see as a spiritual path.

If neo pagans would spend less energy in trying to re-invent paganism and instead would spend more time learning about themselves there would be no need for the elitism and commercialism that neo pagan religions bring to the table.

There are many spiritual belief systems under the real pagan umbrella that one could learn from. Those such as the various shaman practices, Native American, practices, Australian bushman and so forth, have been practising their forms of paganism for generations. And yet these folks are not flooding the marketplace with how to books on paganism. But neither do they claim to belong to a mystickal religion either.

They practice and learn from a spiritual point of view. And isn’t that what true paganism is supposed to be all about?There is often a blurring of the lines when it comes to the difference between what is a religion and what is a spiritual path. Neo pagans in particular are guilty of this lack of distinction, perhaps because so many neo pagans come from a Abrahamic religion originally. I also believe that because Wicca tries to define itself as a religion that it readily serves as the stepping stone for those who are interested in the mystic arts.

This is not a bad thing, just a pragmatic observation from one who follows a spiritual path rather then a religion.

But then that is where the dual focus of this article comes into play.

To begin with, religions of all types have to define themselves in a manner that sets them apart from other types of religions in order to be seen as a distinctive school of thought and/or belief.

The ironic result of this attempt is that basically all religions have the same underlying theme, whether it be an Abrahamic religion, Judaic, Muslim, Wicca or any of the other four hundred plus religions in the world.

And that theme is that their particular gathering represents all others in the world.

And that the gathering in question does it better then all of the rest. For instance within the Abrahamic religions the Christians claim to be the only “true religion”, within the Muslim religion there are the Baha i, amongst others that claim to represent a better way and so on. Within the neo pagan community the Wicca claim to represent all other pagans, though such claims are simply naive.

For instance those who follow the Shamanic path do not belong to a religion but rather engage in a very personal and thus individualistic spiritual path. They are represented by none but themselves.

My question is; if religion is supposed to be a means of communicating with deity then why does such a communication require so many middle men as it were?

What makes specific folks so special that only they can talk directly to the deity of ones choice?

Is it possible that religion is more about elitism and the many human travails that define our existence as a species?

As far as paganism goes, does connecting with other-wordly entities really require all of the trappings that a religion imposes upon a person?

For instance, does one really need to cast a “Sacred Circle” every single time they want to communicate with deity? Is not the entire earth and all that she contains not sacred?

Has the Sacred Circle simply become a substitute for a raised dais that one uses to distinguish themselves from others with?

This is not to say that there are not “times” when the Sacred Circle should be employed. Such a tool should in my personal opinion, be used as a form of protection when dealing with certain entities and in other instances as a portal to travel to other-wordly realms.

But I also personally believe that some neo pagan religions have perhaps appended the use of such a tool in an effort to define themselves as a separate religion, in short, an attempt at elitism. And as such, the use of such a special tool has become mere dogma and thus has lost much of the meaning of its originally intended use.

One of the problems that I see with religions in general and with neo pagan religions in particular is that when one sets up parameters, especially when dealing with the magickal arts, one sets up barriers to any real spiritual growth.

Paganism was never meant to be stifled by the whims of certain humans and that is exactly what a religion is.

A personage or small group of personages set out a particular dogma and thus a religion is created.

This may work well for those who need such a group mentality in order to relate to their choice of deity. However, paganism is a school of thought and action that does not fit within such a group consciousness.

The magickal arts that are a prevalent part of paganism is never discovered within its entirety. It is a on going process of trial and error which in many cases is what constitutes a real Book of Shadows and not the kind that is purchased off of a book shelf.

What works for one may not work for another and so there is no one BOS for all. Which brings me to yet another thought. Todays neo paganism, on the surface at least, appears to be less about the discovery of ones latent abilities and more about the commercialism that is so prevalent amongst certain so called mystical neo pagan religions. If paganism is about the individual experience, then how can one person define this experience within a book in a way that represents everyone. In reality, they cannot accomplish such a feat and yet there are thousands of neo pagan books written over the last 30 or 40 years that claim to do just that.

As a result the true meaning of paganism and what it represents has become mired in the blatant commercialism that now defines neo paganism.

This sad situation is the direct result of a few folks attempting to fit the concept and workings of paganism into the restrictive parameters of religious dogma. Such an attempt is like trying to fit a square peg into a circle.

In short, this attempt has in many ways stifled the growth and knowledge of what paganism is really about.

And what is that you may ask?

In my personal opinion, paganism is not about yet another form of religion, rather it is about the individual growth of each person who seeks what I personally see as a spiritual path.

If neo pagans would spend less energy in trying to re-invent paganism and instead would spend more time learning about themselves there would be no need for the elitism and commercialism that neo pagan religions bring to the table.

There are many spiritual belief systems under the real pagan umbrella that one could learn from. Those such as the various shaman practices, Native American, practices, Australian bushman and so forth, have been practising their forms of paganism for generations. And yet these folks are not flooding the marketplace with how to books on paganism. But neither do they claim to belong to a mystickal religion either.

They practice and learn from a spiritual point of view. And isn’t that what true paganism is supposed to be all about?

A Pagan’s Prayer

pentacle58

A Pagan’s Prayer

May I be no man’s enemy, and may I be the friend of that
which is eternal and abides.
May I never quarrel with those nearest me, and if I do, may
I be reconciled quickly.
May I never devise evil against any man, and if any devise
evil against me, may I escape uninjured and without the
need of hurting him.
May I love, seek, and attain only that which is good.
May I wish for all men’s happiness, and envy none. May I
never rejoice in the ill fortune of one who has wronged me.
When I have done or said what is wrong, may I never wait
for the rebuke of another, but always rebuke myself until I
make amends.
May I win no victory that harms either me or my opponent.
May I reconcile friends who are angry with one another.
May I, to the extent of my power, give all needful help to my
friends, and to all who are in want.
May I never fail a friend in danger.
When visiting those in grief, may I be able, by gentle and
healing words, to soften their pain.
May I respect myself. May I always keep tame that which
rages within me.
May I accustom myself to be gentle, and never to be angry
with people because of circumstances.
May I never discuss who is wicked and what wicked things
he has done, but know good men and follow in their
footsteps.

Eusebius, a Stoic

 WiccanOne’s Universe

Laugh-A-Day: Home Remedies That Really Work

Home Remedies That Really Work

If you are choking on an ice cube, don’t panic! Simply pour a cup of boiling water down your throat and presto! The blockage will be almost instantly removed.

Clumsy? Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

Avoid arguments about lifting or lowering the toilet seat by simply using the sink.

For high blood pressure sufferers: Just cut yourself and bleed for a few minutes, thus reducing the pressure in your veins.

A mouse trap, placed on top of your alarm clock, will prevent you from rolling over and going back to sleep after you hit the snooze button.

If you have a bad cough, take a large dose of laxatives, and then you will be afraid to cough.

Have a bad toothache? Smash your thumb with a hammer and you will forget about the toothache.

You only need two tools: WD-40 and Duct Tape. If it doesn’t move and should, use the WD-40. If it shouldn’t move and does, use the duct tape.

Note: When applying these home remedies, remember to be really nice to your family and friends. You never know when you might need them to empty your bedpan.

Turok’s Cabana

Daily Feng Shui Tip for Oct. 13th – ‘Chrysanthemum’

Mums the word today, as the chrysanthemum is the floral most associated with October. In Eastern philosophy the mum has long been favored, as they are said to convey so much strong yang energy that they can instantly attract fortune and luck. They also symbolize a long life of ease and durability, so anything that you want to last — be it love, success, prosperity or harmony — can be auspiciously augmented by displaying these flowers. When positioned in the ‘Fame’ area of the home or office in October, yellow chrysanthemum will bring honor, opportunity, recognition and rewards.

By Ellen Whitehurst for Astrology.com