“THINK on THESE THINGS” for October 22nd

“THINK on THESE THINGS”
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

The longest face and the saddest cry Always seem to come with the question why. Why did you take what belonged to me?

It has always been mine, or can’t you see That you have no rights, no right to claim,
And you did just that, you’re to blame For all my unhappiness, all of my tears.

Well, perhaps not all, part were my fears. And I suppose if I think I can also say That if I’ve lost anything, it’s really the way That I treated the things that used to be mine. I saw clouds on the days where there was really sunshine, I turned often to darkness instead of the light. I saw all of the wrong, but never the right, And in all honesty I suppose I must say If I’ve lost anything, I gave it away.

______________________________________

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

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

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

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day – October 22

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – October 22

“Growth is a painful process.”

–Wilma Mankiller, CHEROKEE

Whenever we grow, we usually need to let go of emotional attachments. Letting go can be painful. Sometimes growth allows us to deal with fear. All fear can fit into two categories: one, we’re going to lose something we have, and two, we’re not going to get something we want. Both of these categories can cause pain. The best way to grow is to pray to the Great Spirit and ask Him to guide and protect us. All growth is guided by God.

My Creator, guide my growth today and give me Your love and courage to help my pain.

October 22 – Daily Feast

October 22 – Daily Feast

Life is a decision, a personal decision. We can stand on drifting sand and believe that whatever will be, will be, or we can stand firmly on principle that if something is wrong we can change it. Instead of nursing pulse-taking tendencies and listening to every commercial on what is available for medical treatment, remember our instructions: Let the weak say, “I am strong.” We can become victims of temporary relief or we can separate ourselves from the hype and discover renewal that is not temporary – but eternal. Relief by the Spirit is a reality – and totally free.

~ This house, the home of the English, is a medicine house, and you come here to tell us lies. ~

SITTING BULL – SIOUX

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

The Daily Motivator for Oct. 22nd – Energy and drive

Energy and drive

Just about any technique, process or system can lead to success or to  failure. What matters most is not the technique, but the energy and drive you  put into it.

If you feel you’re stuck in a hopeless situation, you’ll remain stuck as long  as you feel that way. As soon as you become enthusiastic about the opportunities  for improvement, you’ll begin to make those improvements.

In every kind of endeavor, there are those who succeed spectacularly and  those who barely get by. The difference is not in the occupation, but in  attitude, commitment and level of energy.

There are people who make it their business to make a positive difference in  life. Choosing each day to be one of those people will give you a continuing  supply of amazingly effective energy.

Even though you may not be in an ideal situation, you can create an ideal  outcome. Use the day, use the moment, use the encounter, use the circumstance to  lift the world higher.

With an attitude of generosity and a commitment to excellence, every day can  be a great day. Decide to give real, meaningful value to life right now, and  feel the positive energy begin

Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

Daily OM for Oct. 22nd – You Deserve to Have Your Dreams Come True

You Deserve to Have Your Dreams Come True

Personal Power

by Madisyn Taylor

Power is not about exerting our will over others, it is about being in complete truth with yourself.

Many of us have do not understand what personal power means. We have been given the false notion that power is bad—that it is something we use to exert our will upon others. In fact, when our personal power is intact, we are neither overbearing nor meek. We have a clear sense of our strength and the impact we can have on others. This actually enables us to be more sensitive. Personal power is what permits us to work on behalf of our dreams and desires. It allows us to realize that we are worthy and deserve to be heard. In addition, our personal power lets us extend the respect we know that we deserve to the people around us. There is no reason to be afraid or ashamed of fully owning your power.

In the chakra system, the solar plexus is the seat of personal power. One way to evaluate your sense of power is to breathe into this part of the body. If it feels tight or nervous, it is an indication that you may not be fully expressing your power. You can heal this imbalance by expanding the area of the solar plexus with your breath. You can also visualize a bright yellow sun in this part of your body. Allow its heat to melt any tension, and let its light dissolve any darkness or heaviness. Repeating this exercise on a regular basis can restore and rejuvenate your sense of power.

Another way to nurture your personal power is to honor your dreams and desires by making concrete plans to manifest them in the world. Start by making a list of things you want, and let yourself think big. Choose one goal from the list and commit to bringing it to fruition. In addition, break the goal into tasks that you can work on each day. Know that you deserve to have your dreams come true and that you have the power to bring them into being.

The Daily OM

Making Your Life Magical

Making Your Life Magical

Author:   Wulfcempa  

Most Wiccans and witches – and many other pagans – practice some form of “magic” (often spelled “magick” to distinguish it from stage illusions) . Magick is a topic at which most modern westerners would likely scoff, and doubtless this attitude throws into question the credibility of those who claim to practice it.

We do not believe in the “supernatural“. All that exists that is part of this universe, is part of nature itself and is therefore “natural”. If intrusions from other universes or realities happen in this one, then that too is part of its natural processes. In other words, everything – everything – can be rationally and scientifically explained; we just don’t know all of those explanations yet.

We accept that there are many things about this universe that we not only cannot explain in concrete terms, but things of which we’re not even aware. Bear in mind that there was a time that germs, bacteria, and viruses were all completely unknown to humanity; a microscopic world of living creatures has surrounded us for as long as we’ve been on this planet and we only recently learned of it.

Scientists have never actually seen an atom, and many modern physicists feel confident that evidence indicates such incredible things as multiple universes. We’ve learned so much, but that which we still do not know boggles the mind while thrilling the imagination.

As I have said many times, being a witch or a pagan is more about what we do than what we believe. Whether it’s a magickal activity or a religious ritual, we engage in time-honored rites that – for whatever reason – just seem to work for us. It’s a bit like exercise; one need not understand advanced kinetics and physiology in order to benefit from a brisk, daily walk. Nor does one need to understand ritual and magick in order to reap its benefits; those who do it regularly will experience mental and spiritual gains.

But this post isn’t about magick; it’s about life.

I have an Egyptian-themed altar/shrine at home, and among the items on it is a statue of Thoth. In Egyptian mythology, Thoth was – among other things – a god of writing, magick, and science. I’m not sure what initially drew me to him, but my attachment is long-standing and strong enough that I made an altar for him and the goddess Bast.

By day, I’m a computer programmer. I write, using computer languages, things like this:

begin
select responder, recipient_role
into v_emp_user_name, v_recipient_role
from temp_notifications
where message_type = itemtype
and user_key = v_requisition_no
and notification_id = history_record.notification_id;
exception
when no_data_found then
v_emp_user_name := null;
v_recipient_role := null;
result := ‘COMPLETE:N’;
end;

…and when these words are “executed”, they result in the taking place of literal, real-world actions.

Remember Arthur C. Clarke’s famous statement, “any sufficiently-advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic“? It is easy to see the parallels between what I do by day and the concepts of magick. I use special languages full of words that have power, and yet I must order these words properly for them to have the desired effect. Sometimes they definitely backfire! But most of the time, I get the desired results.

Over time, I began to think of Thoth as having a modern role in addition to those normally attributed to him: the “patron saint” of computer programmers! But then, more recently, I made another connection. If what we pagans call “magick” isn’t supernatural, and if what computer programmers do is so similar to the methods of magickal practices… what, then, separates the two? Is it merely the fact that we humans have a scientific understanding of computer processing?

If modern magickal workings were to be defined scientifically tomorrow, would we put a new name on those activities and cease to call them “magick”?

I’m fond of blurring lines. A line that we’re forced to cross is no different from a line that holds us back; true freedom happens when there are no lines. And true magick happens all around us, every day.

Aleister Crowley defined magick as “the art and science of causing change in conformity with will”. We all do this, every day. For instance, when I sat down to write this post, it was something that I chose – to share my thoughts – and because my will to do this was strong enough, I made the time and put forth the effort. It is art (writing) and science (grammar, spelling, word processors and the Internet) , it is change (because this document didn’t exist before I wrote it) and it was my will.

Am I trying to diminish the practice of magick? Of course not. Instead, I am suggesting that we bring magick into our everyday lives… where it belongs. Learning to see the “magick” in the things that we choose to do means seeing those things in a whole new light… because when we realize that those elements that make up an act of magick exist in so many of our daily actions, we begin to see ways that even the mundane can be made special.

In many eastern philosophies, adherents are taught the value of living in each and every moment:

“As you practice Zen in your life, you will see that living in the present moment is like living heaven on earth. Even though we can all deal with this one moment right in front of us, we rarely live in this one moment right in front of us. We don’t know how. We have been conditioned since our early childhoods to live in the future or the past.” -Everything.com, Zen: Living in the Moment

Seeing ordinary actions as magickal is one way of helping us to live more consciously and building in us the habit of “living in the moment”. Yet it works in the other direction, as well… for as people who have studied the ways of “magick”, we are already trained in the skills necessary to embrace a magickal life.

This is convergence; when the ordinary and the magical become one in a person’s life, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The ordinary takes on new vibrancy, and those energies, which are normally reserved for our rituals suddenly, work their way into our everyday lives.

________________________________________

Footnotes:
http://www.everything.com/zen-philosophy-living-in-moment/

A Coven of Solitaries

A Coven of Solitaries

Author:   Lady Abigail   

Over the last year since we began Ravensgrove Coven here in Florida, I have received hundreds of emails asking how it works and how is it possible to have a Coven of Solitary Witches. I am Lady Abigail, High Priestess of Ravensgrove Coven and how it works is with perfect love and perfect trust and some gentle patience given by all.

First and foremost we are each Solitary Witches in our own right with our own traditions, beliefs and Deities. We do not seek permission at any time from anyone to practice or work our Craft individually or together. We simply share with and commit ourselves to those we call family within the Ravensgrove Coven.

There are many Witches who are self-dedicated and self-initiated. There are more Solitary Witches now than ever within the Craft. We are Witches proud of our diversity, personal independence and strength. Nevertheless we don’t always have a voice in our magickal society. While we Solitaries are a valid and legitimate spiritual group within many differing paths, we also face a few unique dilemmas. We have trouble finding others of like mind and heart with whom to share our faith. We normally spend Sabbats and Esbats on your own. We have a hard time finding others to converse with who have experience or who could help us with rituals, spells and magick.

For good or bad most of our knowledge and information comes from books or the Internet; although these are excellent places for finding information, they are not always accurate. Sifting through the truth and someone’s perceptions of the truth can be difficult at best. Many times this information will push us toward a belief within the Craft that is not completely our own. I have met some who have found themselves choosing Deities because of books or the Internet rather than seeking their own.

Ravensgrove Coven is made up of Solitary Witches. Each member brings their own unique skills and understanding into this new and eclectic gathering of Witches. A Coven consisting of a group of Solitary Witches with differing beliefs may sound like new territory. The idea of Solitary Witches coming together and having their own Coven, being a part of the whole yet still independent, sounds unusual to most.

On the contrary; this is not a new concept, but a very old one. If you consider those who were Witches in the Old World or harken to my great-grandmother’s time, each and every one was a Solitary Witch with her or his own beliefs. They had families, homes and lives. They were the healers, the teachers, and the wise men and women others would turn to in times of trouble. They came together without controversy whenever needed, to work magick, ritual and worship.

How can such a proposal work, Witches being both Solitaires and Coveners? Extremely well… This allows each member their personal freedoms within the Craft and yet they are all a part of a working, learning and growing Coven.

In truth, we are each individuals; our practices and beliefs are equally individual. We are all following our own personal spiritual and magickal path. Ravensgrove Coven is a gathering of like-minded souls who come together to meet, talk, study and work. However, at the same time, we all strive to be open-minded and accepting of each of our personal differences.

This is not always easy, being an eclectic combination of many different traditions. Within a Coven of Solitary Witches, most of whom have worked alone and independently – sometimes for years – it can at times be difficult. It’s not always easy to put aside one’s personal feelings and not eclipse another’s individual needs. If any one person within the group becomes rigid in their personal desires for how things should take place, someone else will feel their needs are unimportant. So a balance is always necessary. Learning what each individual Covener needs within rituals, magick and gatherings will bring the balanced blending needed. This is sometimes made easier when we remember we are each distinct Solitary Witches who independently work as we think best for ourselves. Even so, within a Coven of Solitaries everyone must be accepting and respectful of the requests and desires of all within the group.

A Coven of Solitaries should be a collective management; each member should learn, take part, and lead a meeting, ritual or work, as they feel comfortable. This will assure no problems in the personality area (ego) or someone feeling they are doing it all – both common problems within Covens.

When running the gathering, you should operate the Coven by the guidelines set within the group. There are “rules of consideration” when it comes to traditions and Witchcraft (be it Wicca, Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Celtic, Cajun, etc). Your Coven should have its on traditions. Commonly all Covens honor the Deities, the Gods or the Lord and Lady, in some fashion. The calling of the watchtowers or elements, casting circles and so forth are also common.

Having a good group of Coveners who share the foundation is an important requirement and is the cornerstone on which the Coven ensures progress. Members must feel comfortable with each other, as the interrelated energy of the whole circle is paramount in the success of any ritual or magickal work.

We have found that a Round Table is the perfect time to discuss things and works best when scheduled apart from the rituals, gatherings and work. This is the time for Coven business and a time to set forth plans for the rituals, meetings and gatherings. The Round Table is a time to discuss needs and work out problems that may arise. It is also the time for preparation of what work needs doing, who brings what when and where, who’s doing what and who cleans up afterwards.

For those wishing to begin such a Coven of Solitaries you must make sure you have the heart, background and degree of study to complete such a task. Personally I don’t believe just anyone should start a Coven. It is a lot of hard, constant work and you must be ready to give up a part of yourself to the Coven and its members.

Then you will need to find others that are also seeking to be a part of a Solitary Coven, with the understanding that they will not be giving up their own personal identity within the Craft. This can be done by contacting local metaphysical shops, book stores, and even online. Remember, this is a new concept so be ready to answer questions on what your goals are for this new group. Do be careful what personal information you give out about yourself to others – phone numbers, emails and so on. Unfortunately, there are a lot of nuts out there. It is a good idea to have each person interested in joining the Coven answer some questions that you feel would give insight into their personal beliefs within the Craft.

Set a time and date for the first meeting of those interested. It would be best if this could be a public place like a coffee house, library or book store. This is only a time to get to meet people and get to know them. See who you feel comfortable with, who seems open to others and accepting of everyone’s ideas. This is not the time to discuss details, just an overlay of plans. Once you get a feel for others you will be able to see how you want to go forward.

Finally one extremely important point to remember as you begin a new group or Coven: STORMS ARE NORMAL. Once your Coven moves past the “NEW” stage, you will find there will be a few bumps along the road; you will have members come and go for various reasons and you will have to make some adjustments. All this is normal when a new group of any kind is forming.

You will have to help members see that no one should assume the responsibility for what happens or for any little problems that may arise. All groups experience disappointments, setbacks, and some level of conflict occasionally. Especially in the beginning.

When groups come together for the first time, they are starting the step of forming. While forming, you know very little about each other, about common beliefs and hopes for the Coven that may have drawn everyone together. Everyone is on their best behavior, a little on eggshells because there is so much you don’t know about each other.

As you become more familiar with each other, you become more comfortable. Individual differences emerge, sometimes in contrast with your own Solitary practices. As a group, you will find you sometimes make assumptions with regard to each other’s beliefs and sensitivity.

As a fledgling group with little experience with each other and with untested agreements on dealing with conflicts, differences can boil quickly and tend to take their own course at times.

In distinguishing your Coven’s path you must work to resolve problems as you stumble through the storm. This storming is a natural occurrence in every group. It’s a passage that helps the group to come together to validate common beliefs and to determine new agreements in dealing with challenges as they arise.

This storming or growing results in the “personality of the Coven” emerging as group members put their individual preferences secondary to the greater vision for the Coven’s personality. But remember that you are different spirits with different personalities.

Once a problem arises you work to resolve it. But more importantly, you grow with new agreements and understanding on how to deal with such issues next time they arise. The coming together and new agreements allow the Coven to move forward, to be strengthened and to center on its true vision.

It’s the common vision that will keep you all together. It’s the diversity within the group that will make it strong and will enable you to achieve a greater vision than any of you could ever hope to attain! You are again Solitary Witches working within a single group, a Coven.

When the storms come, don’t quit. Don’t assume blame. Recognize the storms for what they are – storms. Don’t forget the feelings of excitement and great expectations you all had when you first came together…

May all those that walk along this path find truth and light.

Who Is A Real Witch Anyway?

Who Is A Real Witch Anyway?

Author:   Amergin Aradia  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s what makes you a “real Witch.”

Witch for Sale!

Witch for Sale!

Author:   Hecatian Nights   

Sure go ahead and laugh, but just you wait – you may have never been in MY shoes. So what puts me here trying to market myself off to the first bidder that would have me? I, Hecatian Nights, am looking for a coven to call home. That’s right – I’m searching for my very first coven.

I live in Alaska, in my opinion the most beautiful state in our marvelous country, complete with unimaginable mountain terrain, more lakes than Minnesota, just about any kind of animal you could ask for, forests galore and last but not least Santa and the North Pole. Tell me, can any other state compete with Santa? I think not!

According to Witchvox there are about eight covens here. None of which are located in my city, which just so happens to be the largest city in all of Alaska. What sense does that make? Well maybe more than I am willing to admit. After all most Pagans I’ve read of prefer to live in nature, and we sure have it up here.

I have been studying Wicca and Paganism for a little over seven years; granted that makes me quite young when I started and sure I will admit that I only seriously began studying and practicing four years ago. But the attraction between the Craft and me was instant. I fell in love with Wicca; it was something that was so different than what I had grown up with, in my church and in the Catholic school that I had attended. I threw myself into the Craft and soaked up all the knowledge that was lent to me though the books that I read.

Throughout my years I never met another serious Witch, I never talked to anyone that was a member of a “real” coven, and as the years went by I began to feel more and more alone. A feeling of loneliness and a paradoxical sense of belonging are things that I believe go hand in hand with being a Wiccan teen. You feel connected to a Pagan consciousness so alive and vibrant, but at the same time you feel utterly alone and shunned the community.

For a few years I knew a girl who also had an interest in Wicca; we practiced together and even did a ritual on the beach once. It was magical – to me anyway. We re-created a scene between the fighting Brothers, sang a song to the one that had fallen, and afterwards we ate and watched the sun set on the Sleeping Lady Mountain across the inlet. I always thought that every year we could come back on Summer Solstice and do it again. But dreams sometimes fade and old friends can change. We never went back to the beach again.

Though my friend’s interest waned and our friendship failed, my interest in the Craft only grew stronger. I was fine with being alone; I enjoyed it, and I felt special and was content. But as time went on I realized that I wasn’t as content as I once was. I found my solitary state warring on me and I began to understand that I wasn’t meant to be alone. I began to search for others out there. I even met a few people but nothing really panned out. They were either not serious enough or not serious at all.

I felt alone, alone as the only serious Pagan teen that I knew. Adult Pagans, who I don’t blame, wouldn’t meet me, talk to me or offer advice on how I could become more involved. I knew that this was my fate until I was legally an adult but as the years came closer and the time finally arrived, I still found myself detached from the rest of the Pagan world. Coven-less.

Sure there are books, wonderful ones. They opened my mind and gave me exercises and rituals to try. I spent many hours hiding in my room with a Pagan book, reading the stories of men and women and how they found the Craft. And I loved them; I bought just about every single book that would give me a sense of what it was like to be involved in a community of Pagans. Phyllis Curott’s Book of Shadows was one of my favorites, and I can happily recommend it to any person who wonders about Wicca. These books momentarily gave me a glimpse of what a connected Pagans life was like, but as soon as I was done with the book the yearning to be part of a group was back. I knew that I couldn’t ignore it forever. And that is what leads me here.

I feel ready to join a coven, if one will have me. Or at least begin to understand what one truly is. I always thought I would end up a solitary Witch by choice, but that feeling of loneliness has only grown stronger and now I feel a definite want and need to be with those who refer to me as their kindred. It’s time for me to learn, and I feel that books and solitary practicing can only take one so far.

I now believe that it is necessary for wiser Wiccans to allot their knowledge to the next generation, not only in the form of books but to also take us under their wings. Teach to us, learn with us, lead us, speak to us and learn to know us. We are your future and the next generation of Witches and Wiccans. No I don’t mean go out and search for the first 13-year-old pentacle-toting teen you see, but don’t forget the of-age Witches out there!

So, where do I sign up? I’m ready and I’m here to learn. So poke me, prod me, see if I’m ripe; but give me a chance to see if I can call your coven home.

Hecatian Nights

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.

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Footnotes:
The God Gene:
http://www.gnxp.com/MT2/archives/002916.html

Cherry Hill Seminary:
http://www.cherryhillseminary.org/