“THINK on THESE THINGS” for October 30th

“THINK on THESE THINGS”
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

Why is it that the things we love so much can cause us so much pain, and perhaps without realizing it? Why is it that we find so much to worry about in all the “what ifs” that cross our minds with such persistence? What makes fatigue follow us through the hours and drain away precious strength that we need to help us in our daily routine?

All the things that plague us daily have one common cause-fear. To some, fear is a constant companion. We may call it by many other names such as necessity, time, busyness, demands, but all of these can be forms of fear.

Fear produces the most mental, physical, and spiritual fatigue that has ever overtaken humans. It rushes us so that we have accidents. It drains us of strength to resist illness. It tells us we cannot produce enough to meet the demands upon us. And it builds within our minds such dire images so that we cannot face the simplest.

Fear has one antidote. It is not to stop worrying and take it easy, but it is faith. Adverse conditions cannot break us in the face of faith. Faith allows us to look fear in the eyes with such confidence that it loses its power over us.

English divine, Fredrick William Robertson, wrote, “To believe is strong. Doubt cramps energy. Belief is power.”

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

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

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

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day – October 30

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – October 30

“My children, you have forgotten the customs and traditions of your forefathers. …You have bought guns, knives, kettles, and blankets from the white man until you can no longer do without them; and what is worse you have drunk the poison firewater, which turns you into fools. Fling all these things away; live as your forefathers did before you.”

–Pontiac, ODOWA

We need to think as our forefathers did. They knew the culture and the customs. The culture taught them how to live in harmony with each other. We need to think like this again. We must because God-reliant. We don’t need the firewater. This liquid is very destructive to our native people. It kills our spirit. Our Indian people are happiest when we are spiritual. When we depend on anyone or anything else, we get off track. We need to talk to the Elders and find out what the old ways were. We need to ask them to teach us the culture, the tradition and the customs. This will help us become whole again.

My Maker, guide my path as you did my ancestors.

October 30 – Daily Feast

October 30 – Daily Feast

In retrospect, we have ignored common sense in favor of doing what we wanted to do. We wish we had not done it, but we said what we wanted to say, spoke out when it would have been better to stay quiet – we have overruled our common sense. Looking back again, when did we get off track? What little thing stung us into action? If we learn to hear the voice of wisdom we can overcome our foolishness. Wisdom never lets us down, but ignoring it will put away from us the best friend we can have.

~ I am tired of talk that comes to nothing. ~

CHIEF JOSEPH – NEZ PERCE

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

Daily Motivator for October 30th – Focus on the good things

Focus on the good things

Your mind is astonishingly powerful. Focus that power on the good things.

Your thoughts create the landscape in which you experience life. Make that  landscape empowering in a positive and fulfilling way.

Even if something is very small, you can make it enormous in your life by  choosing to intensely focus your thoughts upon it. So focus on what you wish to  make bigger, and not on what you want to avoid.

Let your thoughts center around all that you love, respect, admire and  treasure. Give positive power to each of your moments by giving positive focus  to your thoughts.

Sure, there are plenty of negative things that can quickly capture your  attention. That’s why it is important to be able to just as quickly put yourself  back into a positive perspective.

By all means deal with the bad things as necessary, while keeping your  primary focus on the good things. Make the best use of the mental power that is  yours by keeping it pointed in a positive direction.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

Daily OM for October 30th – A Great Teacher

A Great Teacher

Living Like Water

by Madisyn Taylor

 

Water is a great teacher that shows us how to move through the world with grace, ease, determination, and humility.

 

The journey of water as it flows upon the earth can be a mirror of our own paths through life. Water begins its residence on earth as it falls from the sky or melts from ice and streams down a mountain into a tributary or stream. In the same way, we come into the world and begin our lives on earth. Like a river that flows within the confines of its banks, we are born with certain defining characteristics that govern our identity. We are born in a specific time and place, within a specific family, and with certain gifts and challenges. Within these parameters, we move through life, encountering many twists, turns, and obstacles along the way just as a river flows.

Water is a great teacher that shows us how to move through the world with grace, ease, determination, and humility. When a river breaks at a waterfall, it gains energy and moves on, as we encounter our own waterfalls, we may fall hard but we always keep moving on. Water can inspire us to not become rigid with fear or cling to what’s familiar. Water is brave and does not waste time clinging to its past, but flows onward without looking back. At the same time, when there is a hole to be filled, water does not run away from it in fear of the dark; instead, water humbly and bravely fills the empty space. In the same way, we can face the dark moments of our life rather than run away from them.

Eventually, a river will empty into the sea. Water does not hold back from joining with a larger body, nor does it fear a loss of identity or control. It gracefully and humbly tumbles into the vastness by contributing its energy and merging without resistance. Each time we move beyond our individual egos to become part of something bigger, we can try our best to follow the lead of the river.

The Daily OM

How Many People Can You Fit Under An Umbrella?

How Many People Can You Fit Under An Umbrella?

Author:   BellaDonna Saberhagen   

What is Paganism? Ask a hundred Pagans and you’ll get a hundred answers. The definitions are vast and mostly vague. Many try to describe it by saying what it is not: “Paganism is a name for the many paths that fall outside the Judeo-Christian or Islamic faiths.” By this definition Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Shinto, and even Scientology all fall under the banner of “Pagan”. Would any of these peoples describe themselves as Pagan? Would they appreciate you lumping them with the neo-Pagan movement? Probably not.

Other definitions are somewhat more descriptive, but are again so vague that they could describe almost any path: “Paganism is earth-centered spirituality” or “we choose what we believe so anyone wanting to call themselves Pagan, may do so.” Some Pagans might not see their path as “earth-centered”, so they might feel cut off from the rest of the community for not subscribing to that definition. The second one is better for the individual Pagan, but it does nothing to actually define Paganism to the non-Pagan.

How about this one? “Paganism is an attempt to recreate the indigenous religions of Europe.” That sounds good, but what if you’re a Kemetic Pagan? Sure, there was a lot of cultural trade between Egypt and Greece, but that doesn’t make Egypt a part of Europe. Or, what if you’re Asatru and prefer to be referred to as a Heathen? Does that remove you from this definition?

The best, so far seems to be, “Paganism is an umbrella term for varying paths that attempt to recreate indigenous forms of religions. It’s an umbrella term in the same way that Christianity is an umbrella term for varying paths that follow Christ.” Sounds good, right? However, there is a major problem with it.

All who take shelter under the umbrella of Christianity, whether Catholic, Baptist, Koptic, or Snake-Handler, have one very big thing in common: Jesus Christ was born, lived and died on the cross for their sins. They might duke it out and think the other ones are wrong and “going to hell” for their wrongness, but at the end of the day, they have this unifying principle. Jesus is their umbrella.

We, as Pagans, don’t have that. We can’t agree on a definition of Pagan. We can’t even agree on the fundamental nature of “deity” (or even if there are deities or if they’re just energetic archetypes to be used for our convenience) . In our attempt to make everyone who wanted to fit under the Pagan umbrella feel comfortable, we threw away the umbrella. Paganism is really more of a “cloud” term. You might say Paganism is closer to how “Abrahamic” describes all faiths descended from Abraham (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) by definition, but we really don’t even have that much in common.

This lack of definition has led to several problems, within the community, when dealing with those outside of it and even with deepening individual spiritual connections.

We’ll look at the major issues within the community first. This largely deals with how individualized we are while still wanting to remain some sort of cohesive unit. The Witches’ Voice is a prime example. Certainly not everyone with a profile on this site is a Witch, but since Wicca (an umbrella term for varying paths unto itself, yet another reason that Paganism can’t be referred to as an umbrella term) is the most prominent form of neo-Paganism and many Wiccans also refer to themselves as Witches, it’s a place where many of differing Pagan faiths can get information and network with other local (and not-so-local) people of (some-what) like-mind. It also used to be a site that posted news articles that were relevant to the Pagan community at large (this has now been moved to its Facebook page) , and this leads to the interesting phenomenon of “Pagans in the media.” Every time there is an article that puts an individual Pagan in an unflattering light (such as a 40 year old Wiccan High Priest deciding it’s a good idea to do a private ritual skyclad with a 15 year old girl) , there’s a plethora of comments that say “He/she’s not Wiccan/Pagan because we all believe A and since he/she did B, there’s no way he/she can be a practicing Wiccan/Pagan.”

It doesn’t even have to be an unflattering article. I’ll give an example. Let’s say a large Hof of Asatru are featured in an article (most likely some fluff/local interest piece that goes Pagan-media-internet viral) about what they believe and how they practice. Now, this particular Hof is on a farm and raises organic/free-range goats that are ritually slaughtered in a humane way and then used in blots to Thor (in which the sacrifice is also eaten by the members of the Hof that they might commune better with Thor) . You are bound to get at least one person who (while supposedly an open-minded Pagan) will say something along the lines of, “Oh My Goddess! How terrible! These people are NOT Pagan! Pagans don’t DO animal sacrifice!” And when other commenters try to inform them that ancient Pagans sacrificed a lot (sometimes even having practiced human/cannibalistic sacrifices- no! not the peaceful Celts!) they either ignore archaeological evidence or give some fluff-bunny reason about why “we” don’t need to do that.

Here’s the thing: if we cannot decide on an actual definition of Paganism that is held up by the ENTIRE community, then we have no right to say that anyone else who refers to themselves as Pagan is not Pagan. We can agree that a murderer calling himself Wiccan is not Wiccan as he did not follow the rule that unifies all of Wicca: “An’ it harm none, do as ye will.” However, if he just claims to be Pagan (remember, Caligula was “pagan” too) we cannot say he is not. We can say that it’s no worse than the guy who claims God or The Devil told him to perform a heinous act and that it does not reflect the actions of the majority of adherents, but we cannot just say “He’s not Pagan!” We would need to be able to have a documented definition as to what about his behavior made him a non-Pagan. And the Rede is only applicable to Wicca, despite what some might prefer to believe. We cannot say we accept anyone while at the same time denying people based on nothing more than gut reaction.

When dealing with non-Pagans, this becomes an issue that leads some to ponder if we’re being discriminated against. Recently, The Pagan Federation has been fighting to gain charitable status (exempted from taxes) . Part of the reason they are being denied is that their religion is “too loosely defined” and the non-Pagans don’t know what they stand for and where their money will be going. Could this be discrimination? Perhaps, but given the definition of their religion, I sort of agree: “love and respect for nature, a positive morality and recognition of the divine.” This could define almost any religion. How “the divine” is envisioned (a major part in most religions) is completely left up for individual interpretation. Which is great, if you’re a practicing Pagan and don’t want to feel “left out” of the local community (as I do from the local Wiccan community, really) , but not so great when dealing with non-Pagans. If you refuse to give them even a hint about what you worship, then why should they believe you worship anything at all? Why should they believe this is a religious organization just because the founders say it is? Even Christians have their tax-evading televangelists, and their supposed beliefs were fully visible for the entire world to see.

Pagan churches have gained tax-exempt status in the past. Most notable is the Aquarian Tabernacle Church. The big difference between The Pagan Federation and the ATC is that the ATC is officially a church of Wicca, which has set rules, rituals and interpretations of “the divine” that can be pulled out and shown to non-Pagans and allows them to say, “This is what we believe, this is what we practice.” Now, the ATC does cater to the broader community and many non-Wiccan Pagans attend services there, however, since their basis is a specific Wiccan tradition, they have the definition that lets the general public feel better about their tax-exempt status (I’m not saying everyone likes it, but at least it “feels” more like a religion to them) . This is the model that I think the Pagan Federation (and others fighting for tax exemption) should try to adopt. Narrow the official focus but add something about catering to other alternative religions that have nowhere else to worship to the by-laws. The organization will seem more legitimate in the public eye and it will still be a place where Pagans of varying faiths can attend to their spiritual needs.

There is also the problem with dealing with the non-Pagan public on slightly more individualized scales. I once went to a meeting of ghost investigators that were having an informational lesson on dealing with Pagans. Our friend, also a Pagan, was part of the group and was very keen for us to meet the “expert” (he was a member of a local coven she was thinking about getting involved with and since has) . The problem was, she invited two very experienced, well read and opinionated Pagans (Barnabus Saberhagen and myself-and if you are shocked that I am opinionated…what have you been reading?) to a talk hosted by an expert that had only been practicing for six years (to put this into perspective, Barnabus and I had easily twice that experience under each of our belts, quite possibly more) and while I have met some who’ve only practiced that long but have managed to learn much and go through all three degrees of Wiccan initiation (within that same Tradition, I might add) , he had only managed to finish first degree (now, I don’t know if he decided he was a Witch/Pagan and didn’t find the coven for a few years but considering his opinion of reading books on Paganism-which I’ll get into later- it doesn’t seem likely) .

The point of this talk was to educate the ghost hunters on not being freaked out by Pagans should they ever investigate a haunting at a Pagan’s house. Most of the ghost hunters were some form of Christian and we all know that some of the tools commonly used have seeped into the Satanic Panic media. This was a fine idea…and then the guy opened his mouth. I’m not sure if his research skills are sub-par or if his teacher gave him incorrect information, but almost everything he said was quite frankly wrong, especially when trying to be as generic as possible. So Barnabus and I began to give counter points and examples from our seats. I suppose I could have left his holiday muddling alone (he claimed Ostara was the feast of Brigid) , it did no real harm (other than grate on my nerves) . However, he also claimed that Aleister Crowley wrote the Satanic Bible.

When I said that was Anton LaVey, the crowd of the uninformed asked that Barnabus and I refrain from commenting anymore because they found it confusing. The problem is, now these normal people are going to get freaked out by every tome written by Crowley because they will automatically associate him with Satanism (and even LaVey’s Satanism isn’t the Christian perversion you imagine when saying Satanism) . Many, many magical folk love Crowley; so this could be potentially damaging if and when they actually investigate a Pagan home. At the end of the discussion, the guy (and some of the crowd) performed a John Edwards style “read” (which I am always leery of, no matter who performs them) and was then approached by someone who wanted to learn more about Paganism. He told her NOT TO READ BOOKS, and to attend open circles to see what it’s about.

I don’t know about you, but the open circles I have been to have not been the deep rituals I sought. They were nice and beautiful in their own right, but sometimes depth of meaning and power is sacrificed in an attempt to be open to all. Also, books. BOOKS. Read them. They are important. His tradition was even started by a prolific Pagan author, so that he did not even recommend her works (as unrecommended by the over-all Pagan community as they might be) was a bit of a surprise.

The point is when the crowd asked us not to comment anymore because they were getting confused. They were getting information from two distinct Pagan traditions that had almost nothing in common aside from being called Paganism. I suppose the best thing to do in these situations is to explain that you only know things as your tradition sees them, so you can only comment on that. We step on each other’s toes quite a bit by trying to be all-encompassing in our rhetoric about our paths. We can’t speak for all Pagans and we need to make that clear.

Now we get to the individual. How is lacking a definition of Paganism hurting the individual Pagan? Well, I think it causes “101 Pagans” that don’t move on beyond it. The Pagan 101 books sell like hot-cakes. In fact, that’s the biggest seller and the most easily obtained form of works on Paganism. They try to be as generic as possible, often reading like Pagan Plug-and-Play or (at their very worst) Pagan Mad-Libs. This leads to new-comers thinking that that’s all they need to know and never seeking anything deeper. They think they can substitute Freya for Aphrodite just because they happen to like amber more than seashells. Or worse, their gods are faceless and unknowable, often either distant or immanent “mother/father energies” and often both at the same time. They have no cultural context for their deities and don’t feel they need to look any further because they can just call themselves Pagan.

Here’s the thing, to move beyond 101, you have to specialize. You have to specialize in technique and you have to specialize into a cultural framework. Without that, you lack the roots that connect you to the ancestors and what they practiced and if Paganism really is an attempt to “reconstruct various indigenous faiths” then you can’t move on without that connection.

But what if Paganism isn’t an attempted reconstruction of indigenous faiths? Well, then, what is it? Without a definition, it’s not an umbrella term, and is barely even a cloud term, really. It’s pretty much meaningless. You have to add another descriptor word to even give people a vague idea what you’re talking about and if you refuse to even narrow your focus that much because “you’re not about labels” then don’t expect to be asked deep questions about your path, because many will assume that it’s not deep and meaningful to you. I use at least three words to describe my unique path (sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on with whom I speak) and that is without stating the name of any specific Tradition. The real lesson here is to read books, specialize, and don’t claim to speak for all Pagans, because you just can’t.

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Footnotes:
http://www.thirdsector.co.uk/news/1163381/

http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20121201/NEWS01/712019950#.ULoImKgxv7I.facebook

http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/3018295

 

It Is Time for Paganism to Get Its Due

It Is Time for Paganism to Get Its Due

Author:   Zechari the Serpent   

The idea of pagan seminary is not a new idea, and I easily know that I am not the only one. Sad thing is, this dream and idea I tried to stir support for in my own community died quickly when I tried to get people to rally behind it. The few pagans I had spread word to in my community stood for it but others in power and government would not, laughing at my attempts to raise some form of awareness upon the matter.

Even some of the community colleges I tried to talk to about this only looked at me with a sidelong glance, like I was crazy for even thinking this. They told me there was “not enough support from the community.” I was rather insulted. I did not believe it but that reason was all it took to shut it down before it even left the drawing board.

I do not see the reason why this concept should fall by the wayside and why private groups or government groups cannot offer aid to such students. I am not alone, nor am I truly one of a few.

I have heard voices speaking up all across the country and even in other countries, wishing to have a program or programs such as these. The silence is here to be broken, and others shall join the ringing of one voice. I say to any and all who read this, who support and think why not, to stand behind this cause.

If a Catholic, a Hasidic Jew, a Sunni, A Buddhist or a Sikh can have such open and funded for them, why not have such a program for us pagans. We are not few, we are not small and with this we can truly show you our voice. Not in some tyrannical oppressive speech or in violent actions against others…but in a peaceful way, a proper way and a way that speaks to all our brethren and sisters.

The age of isolation, of covens, circles, and clans hidden away as small little islands, needs to end. It is time for all of we pagan teachers and thinkers to step fully out and reveal the world OUR thoughts. It is our right.

With that said, I am a college student, a hard working blue-collar background college student. In college I am planning to do a double major in Philosophy and Religious Studies, which is part of my goal to create a pagan based seminary. Thusly I have done the obligatory research for funds, grants and whatnot to help pay for my college (seeing as I am poor, every little bit helps).

In my research I have found and noticed things that are rather…disturbing. The main thing I have noticed is that of all the religious based scholarships and grants, I have found next to NONE for ANY on one of the many paths that fall under the branches of paganism.

Seeing as paganism is a collection of the oldest religions in the world and also one of the peaceful groupings of religions, I find it highly odd that there are very little to no offerings of scholarships or grants given. The Abrahamic faiths, Ba’hai, Sikh’s, Buddhists, Jain’s, even some of the newer religions like Scientology or Spiritualist Christianity have scholarships or grants in their name.

I am a pagan, been practicing for two years now. My blend of paganism is a mix of Navajo and Hopi (my ancestors) paths, shamanism, with ritualist magick. I feel it is not right that every other religion has these opportunities given while we pagans are not afforded such opportunities.

There are many Wiccans, Druids, Asatru, ritualists, shamans, revivalists, and eclectic pagans of many paths. We are not a small group and we are growing, so it is insulting that we students of pagan faiths are given so little in the name of our faith while others in the names of their faiths are given so much.

I’m tired of seeing pagan communities have their attempts to start scholarships be drug under or have it dry up because of outside pressures. I’m tired of the government not caring when it is their job to care, which we pay them to do with our tax dollars.

I’m fed up with being jeered at or given a funny look because I wish to do a pagan seminary and start a program so I can teach and aid others, show them that there are many paths and to find their own truth.

In one place, a year back, I tried to gain some information from in searching for a way into seminary I was asked what my faith was. The moment I said “Well ma’am, I am an eclectic pagan.” I could see the look in her eye as her smile faded a bit.

Those thin pressed lips and that replying question “And what exactly is your purpose here?” was just like a dagger in my chest. In three minutes my dreams and aspirations seemed to be crashing down.

I did not see why she needed to be this way; I merely wanted to explore the question of faith and how it relates to the world. I do not let my pagan faith bias me in the slightest and in fact I wondered why I could not be allowed. Thus I was turned away, turned away with bitter disappointment on my face.

Luckily though I was able to apply for a more secular school to pursue my goal. What happened was not right in the slightest, and yet it is not an uncommon thing to have happen. I talked to a few students whom I knew, other pagans I know. They pointed into directions that painted a very sad portrait.

I had been one of a growing number of students who was shuffled off. To this day it sickens me still

There are many seminary branches out there, ranging from Jewish to Unitarian Universalism. It is high time for paganism to be given it’s due. The spectre of fear or intolerance must not be allowed to stifle out these dreams, these hopes for the future. As long as but one of us stands here and fights then they cannot ignore us, they will not ignore us, and we should not let them ignore us. Not anymore.

So I ask those of us out there to help those students, you know who they are or have seen them. Covens, circles, groups of all kinds, this is the hour where we must start banding together and letting our voice be heard.

It’s time we started getting our fair share and our fair do. This is the modern era where ideas can be freely exchanged; there is no excuse to back down when it is our right to have our way freely expressed in seminary setting like every other faith.

Intolerance: A Curable Disease

Intolerance: A Curable Disease

Author:   Kestryl Angell   

For some years now, I have been in solitary practice and have purposely placed myself in a position that allows me to observe the growth of the modern Pagan movement in the United States. One very significant thing has come to bother me through those observations. One that leaves me, to say the least, perturbed with my fellow human beings of every belief system, but assuredly of some that call themselves Pagan, as well.

Now, I realize that everyone on this planet is here for his or her own reasons, as well as for cosmic ones. I also realize that everyone grows, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually at his/her own individual pace. But some things, to my mind, are basic points of human respect and are sadly and sorely missing from a society that is supposed to be “the most advanced society history has ever known, ” as some would phrase it.

Though there are many points of human weakness that are causing overall weakening ripples throughout the newer generations when it comes to ethics, I feel that there are a few that are particularly problematic and need to be addressed at every opportunity. I hope to write about several of these in the coming weeks, as I feel that discourse is where all solutions may be found. With that in mind, I’d like to begin with a personal favorite.

Let’s begin with intolerance.

What, really, is the point of going through a life-changing, spiritual awakening, a “rebirth” as many coming to their Paganism as adults from other more mainstream backgrounds often state they go through, if all they come to be is not Pagan at all, but really could be better characterized as “anti-Christian?”

Coming to a new spiritual path does not automatically make the one you came from innately “wrong.” It simply makes it wrong for you.

Perhaps you did have experiences with the darker side of human nature packaged as harmful behavior, selfishness, egotistical preaching, the use of fear as a control and all the bad things that are written about in the news every day. That does not automatically make every single person that practices that belief system wrong, evil, awful, stupid or deluded.

Therefore, it is just as wrong to condemn others in a blanket fashion as it was for them to condemn the various Pagan paths throughout the course of history. In other words, coming to Paganism just so you can feel justified in Christian- (or other belief systems including alternate paths of Paganism from your own) -bashing is as hypocritical as the day is long! Get real and lose the excuses!

Allowing something to exist and realizing it is different from yourself doesn’t give you the right to pass judgment on it’s correctness for another soul’s growth or it’s validity in the Universal scheme of things! You are not their Creator/Creatrix. You are not here to live their path. In fact, you have no idea what is going on in their karmic path, in their personal development that might be assisting them to be learning lessons you don’t even have the strength to recognize, much less deal with yourself.

If you consider those who follow “younger” faiths than your own to be “deluded, ” it is you that does not understand the growth of the soul. It is you that is still struggling with the idea that the Universe has bigger plans than your little human eyes and mind can fully comprehend and it is you that is making a fool of yourself by stomping your proverbial feet and saying you KNOW better!

For yourself, yes – you may know that what you left behind isn’t what you need. For others? That is theirs to choose and theirs to choose free from your judgment and condemnation of that choice – just as your choice to become Pagan was your own and was equally as worthy of not being judged negatively by their fears or ignorance.

Just because you yourself happen to be in “spiritual middle school” doesn’t mean you have the right to pick on the “spiritual kindergartners.”

Furthermore, spiritual middle-schoolers don’t have anything on the spiritual college students and PhD s, but nearly every single time you will see them shining loudly in their personal struggle with their own ego by the way they attempt to play children’s one-upsmanship-games with their Elders, while showing glaring examples of their own ignorance by their complete lack of basic respect for the efforts, knowledge base and wisdom of the Elders they’ve been honored to come to know and learn from.

They would rather argue entomology of a specific word of a specific dialect than seek out the fullness of all meanings of the given word to more fully explore its meanings before making a decision as it applies to their own cause.

They would rather see other’s ignorance as “proof” of their own self-proclaimed greatness while never realizing that those things greatest in this world don’t need human declarations to make them great.

It was said by the writer, John G. Neihardt, “Humility is bowing before Truth. Humiliation is bowing before people.” Humility, Tolerance and Compassion are the internal partnership that should come to a truly spiritually awakened being – not their old set of personal and world grievances packaged in a new dogmatic format.

There are those under the Pagan umbrella who will say, “Well, I don’t believe in karma like that.” or “Respect is earned, not just given willy-nilly.” or “Well, in my belief system the world runs on the eye for an eye principle so if someone screws me over or makes me feel stupid, I can do whatever it takes to level that playing field.”

You don’t have to believe in karma to understand that what goes around comes around.

Universal principles exist and show themselves, with or without your belief in them or your petty arguments on terminology for said events. The seasons, the life/death cycle, “acts of God” weather and other Universal events will soon show you differently if you truly feel you’re the one in control of the entire world’s development!

The only thing that glaringly, embarrassingly shows, like a run in your brand new stockings, is your own overblown ego if you refuse to understand there are forces larger than yourself at work in the Universe as a whole.

Respect should indeed be earned within specific arenas such as professions and education, to name but a few. However, there should also be a basic, human respect of one living being to another, without the need to prove anything other than that they too are a person living on this planet with the same basic needs and desires as every other human being on the planet – good, nutritional food, clean water, community, family and the like. Even if their needs and desires don’t immediately meet or match your own doesn’t make yours or theirs any more or less vital or valid than the other.

As for the “eye for an eye” folks, all that happens when you take out the eye of another based on that principle is that you end up going blind, in one way or another, yourself.

I am not saying forgiveness is always the answer or that “turn the other cheek” is the answer in all situations either. But more often than not, when a human being thinks his or her own bruised ego, knee-jerk, forceful, violent ways are the answer; it is the opposite answer that is usually the one that would actually solve the problem for good.

Differences in personal dogma have been call and cause for the culling of our world populations for centuries, since the beginning of known, current history. Do we really need to continue to prove to ourselves that human beings can find constantly new and more awful ways to be horrendous to one another?

Furthermore, why are we still actually entertained by such violence or allow something as petty as big business concerns to be the reason our fellow human beings proudly go off to die by the hundreds of thousands in service to their country – with a very few that make it home alive only to find that they have no home to come back to?

This is not to say that I am all the “Light, Love and Happiness, Rainbows and Pretty Unicorns All Day Every Day!” kind of dreamer. I simply feel that the Universe itself already has chaos and death and violence in its own makeup without human beings adding to the mix out of basic ignorance, ego, selfishness and intolerance.

Mother Nature has that whole destruction thing down pat, people! She doesn’t need our scum covered little human toddler hands muddling up the works by trying to “help!”

Like kids in the playground sandbox, we’re still caught up, after all these centuries in basic Intolerance-based border skirmishes! Pagan communities are just as guilty of this issue as many Christian organizations and many of the “problems” that I hear bantered about in mainstream organizations are just as rampant in Pagan ones because we still aren’t addressing Intolerance actively as individuals, much less as a community! You cannot claim to be better than the thing you abhor and left behind if you’re guilty of the same crimes against humanity after you change sides.

Border skirmishes based on differences of dogma were a good portion of the basis of the Middle Eastern conflict since long before the US ever became interested enough in the business aspects that finally rooted our entry into the wars in the Middle East.

Border skirmishes based on intolerance, racial differences, religious differences are at the root basis of much of the gang violence rampant in Los Angeles and many other parts of the US and have even gone so far as to spawn their own subculture out of the necessities of their living circumstances rather than strengthening as a community to truly fight the issues that took them to that point of de-evolution that effects gang neighborhoods.

Border skirmishes based on Intolerance, lies and violence were what displaced every Native American in this country when the English, French, Spanish and others all came to a land the Natives had already figured out how to live harmoniously upon.

Did those people who were new here listen to those that had lived there for generations?

Oh no, they were seen as “ignorant savages” who knew nothing of community elderly and child care, community health care, balanced inter-tribal politics and trade or even the simplest necessities for making it through the winter alive.

Yet, here we are still stuck in wars where body counts, gun counts, missile counts and cash numbers, advertising and fear tactics, biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction threaten the supposedly “enlightened” peoples of this day and age? Seriously?

Can’t we just get out of the sand box, stop fighting over who brought the coolest toys or who can do the most damage and have some dang milk and cookies like good little spiritual brothers and sisters here?

Intolerance should have no place in the modern human mind.

Look to the simpler, tribal times of our ancient ancestors and to those who are still living in those harmonious ways in many places in the world today that we spoiled Americans call “third world, undeveloped” countries. Perhaps they don’t have our amenities in their homes, our advertising and fast and un-nutritious foods on every corner of their city streets or even have motorized vehicles.

But when women group together to gather the water for entire streets and neighborhoods while singing, serving more than just their own family’s needs every single day, it is we who could learn something from their joyful song and service.

When villages in South America that have disagreed for generations can work together to build pipelines for water for both villages’ benefit, we have something to learn from those “savages.”

When doctors and shamans in Tibet still ride donkeys or walk, sometimes for days, to treat the ill in body, mind and spirit and the community comes together to see to the needs of that doctor if the patient cannot pay for services themselves, it is our “modern physicians” and spiritual healers that could learn something about true caring compassionate healing for a patient and our community’s selfishly spoiled upper crust could learn what it means to make sure that all are cared for instead of arguing over whether or not our individual choices can remain as cushy as we’re selfishly accustomed to as we begin to explore a National Health care system in the US.

Get a clue, people! In the United States, our biggest sign of malnutrition is the over 65% of our citizens suffering from obesity! There are currently over 154, 000 US veterans – those that fought for our right to be this freely spoiled rotten – living on the streets, homeless!

Our ignorance, gluttony and selfishness is written all over us in our own fat flesh and high blood pressure ratings while these other “uncivilized” peoples starve from lack of food and clean water, but have us completely beaten on how to treat each other as human beings!

How can that be acceptable to educated, aware, community members? ANY community, much less ones who supposedly WORSHIP Nature’s balance and bounty?

Let’s also be keeping in mind that most of the other major countries of the world have already gotten some of these questions, such as National Health care, answered successfully decades ago and it is the US that is catching up and griping all the way about rises in taxes to help the overall common good of all Americans, top to bottom of the food chain.

Canadians are thrilled to only be paying 10% taxes right now, down from the 18-20% its been in the past to help pay for their health care system and other social amenities currently underdeveloped and desperately needed in the US.

Those in the UK have paid the English equivalent of anywhere from $10-20 per gallon for gasoline for years and yet Americans were having fits over gas hitting $4 per gallon within the last year? Who is it really that needs to get real, learn some Tolerance for people and for change and learn to attune as citizens of the world’s needs instead of for their own selfish, individualized gains and stunted, silent caste systems of bigoted intolerance so obviously still active in many places in our country?

How can it not be seen that intolerance is at the root of all of these issues…and that it is a curable state of being that, if taken on by the whole of a community, doesn’t really weigh all that hard on the individual?

As a student of the Universe, I do not look for a time when all people will “believe as one.” I do not believe that Harmony requires everything be alike, as that in itself would also be an imbalance. Diversity is a necessity of life. If sameness were the truth of how things should be, music wouldn’t have different notes that make up the chords that sing the songs of the Universe through orchestrations. Harmony is created when notes co-exist on different lines for their own sake and in their own timing to a rhythm that is greater than each individual note.

Therefore, what I look forward to is the day when individuals can learn from and about other’s beliefs without their own being threatened in any way, without fear or disgust. I look forward to the day when those that do not believe the same way can simply agree to disagree and still work for the common good of all living beings on the planet. I look forward to the time when tolerance and compassion is as common a pair of qualities in human beings as ego, laziness, selfishness and desire.

I look forward to the awakening of human beings to the idea that tolerance is not acceptance nor is it automatically an admission of support of the differing idea or practice presented. I look forward to the day humans sing in beautiful, diversified harmony, the song of the planet’s common good.

Tolerance is simply the ability to allow all things to exist, as the Universe would have them, not as you would have them. Tolerance means allowing even those things that you do not agree with personally to exist for those who do believe in them.

Tolerance is difficult, however, as it requires a type of fearful and fearless faith in the patterns of the Universe to be “correct, ” whether we human beings see that correctness, the fullness of the pattern or not. This is not a concept that many human beings find easy to comprehend, much less practice inside themselves or in their daily lives. However, if goals such as this were easy, there would be no need for the inner battles that make each of us better people.

I believe Tolerance is a worthy and attainable goal for every individual that can have the bettering ripple effect of creating a harmony as yet unseen by modern history.

Care to join the experiment?

One Voice United

One Voice United

Author:   Lady Fenix   

Wiccan, Pagan, Heathen, Celtic, Shaman, Druid, Witch, etc. The list can go on and on to include different paths within each chosen label. The thing that gives me concern is that we in the community spend so much time defining ourselves that we forget that we are one.

Our goals are the same and each one of us has the same feelings inside us. The reason our path lacks so much understanding from the public is that everyone gives a different explanation as to what the craft is. We (meaning everyone in every path) need to come together and stand as one voice united and proclaim a set of guidelines that thoroughly define the Wiccan faith. (I use the word Wiccan here to encompass all.) Regardless of what path you practice within the religion, we all strictly adhere to the Rede or some form of a code of Ethics.

It is a sad time when our troops cannot get the respect they so richly deserve when it comes to the headstone symbol in a national cemetery. It is also sad that when going to a job interview, a Wiccan removes a ring or necklace that has anything to do with their religion out of fear of not getting the job offer. It is emotionally draining that they have to choke back the desire to speak out against the stereotypes of a witch that are hanging all around their child’s schools during one of our biggest holidays.

We all look back at the persecution of our ancestors and even of people who were not practicing the craft and our hearts ache. Yet we sometimes fail to see the persecution that is still going on all around us today. Why is that we must hide in broom closets when other religious group are not having to hide who they are?

Wiccans are not a threat to society and that is obvious to anyone who has examined Wiccans and Wicca. Yet far too many do not bother to look deeper at the slanderous accusations and merely believe them to be true. The hand fasting I had always wanted never happened due to fear of us casting circles and performing the “forbidden witchcraft” in front of a family that was Christian.

In one man’s words and the best way I have ever heard it put, “Christians have oppressed Jews, Moslems, Buddhists, Pagans, and each other throughout their centuries of power, preaching religious intolerance as the word of Jehovah whenever they had the military, political, or economic power to make it stick — and then piously preaching brotherhood, peace, and toleration when they didn’t.” (Isaac Bonewits)

That being said, maybe it is time that we formed an inner faith council. I am not talking just on a local level. I am talking a state council and the head of that state council would sit as a member of National Council. We need lobbyist to talk to people. A council of elders that will ultimately represent our path.

I personally stood in front of a class of my peers in the middle of the Bible belt dressed in full ceremonial garb and gave a power point presentation on Wicca. Many people were relieved after I explained to them what Wicca was and even asked for sachets, soaps and such.

We need to let the public know that we are not a passing “fad religion” and that we are a religion that is here to stay. Wicca is one of the fastest growing religions in the U.S. and well, ladies and gents, like it or not, opposition to it is growing as well.

Education and a united front is the only way that our faith will be recognized as such. We need public speakers to go to businesses, colleges, and city councils to educate people about our faith. They do not need to know the inner workings of each faith just be given a broad spectrum of what it is about. Let the public know that we are healers, educators, and friends of all.

Let them know that we do not do evil things and we are not what make things go BUMP in the night. God and Goddess willing we may even be able through hard work to form an alliance with other religions that people know little about and have huge fairs where each religion gets a voice. A fair where the public will be able to openly attend and learn.

We need to allow all to participate in the faith and see that it is truly a religion of love and understanding and that there are consequences for ones actions. We hide in shadows and continually allow Hollywood to make anything that has to do with our faith into something evil. Why are we not screaming at the thought of that?

This turning a blind eye or speaking out against it at home simply will not do. As long as we allow people to portray us this way then the mass society will continue to see us this way.

This is a plea to everyone to finally lay down his or her differences within our faith.

Again to stand as One Voice United.

This is a call to the open leaders of the community, the authors, shop owners, and any other open Wiccan that has a mass audience, to come together. Stop letting our differences give the public a reason to doubt the validity of our faith. Stop allowing the horrendous stereotypes that invoke fear in those that know little or nothing of our faith to go unchallenged.

It would be great to see covens and groups nominate officials for their area and who would all come together and discuss how tomorrow will unfold for our faith. This may not change things for the Wiccans of today, but we need to build a better path for the Wiccans of tomorrow.

This is our chance to leave a legacy that our children can be proud of. A chance to change things so that they do not have to hide in a broom closet…so they can wear their religious jewelry without fear.

I beg all of you please: Lets finally have “ONE VOICE UNITED.”

Foxia Rowan Moon

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Footnotes:
Christians have oppressed Jews, Moslems, Buddhists, Pagans, and each other throughout their centuries of power, preaching religious intolerance as the word of Jehovah whenever they had the military, political, or economic power to make it stick — and then piously preaching brotherhood, peace, and toleration when they didn’t.”  — Isaac Bonewits

Also a website about Wicca..
http://www.holysmoke.org/wicca/wicca_defense.html

So What’s the Deal With Divination?

So What’s the Deal With Divination?

Author:   Brunhilde  

That everything occurring in our physical world must first have manifested in the astral plane is the traditional theory behind the art or act of ‘divination’. It is in this astral plane that the patterns of our lives and the events affecting our physical world first take shape. So, if you want to know the future on our physical plane, you can look into the astral plane and see what development is occurring there now. It is knowledge from this astral plane that you are accessing when you perform divination.

How Old Is It?

It is believed that some form of divination existed during the Stone Age. This period spans the time when the races of mankind made the transition from nomadic life to life in stationary farming communities. This transition made the individual villages and tribes more reliant on assistance from the local nature spirits. These communities were no longer able to migrate to other areas if their local food supplies ran out. By establishing farming communities, they tied their continued existence to the local food supply. Therefore, people were well motivated to contact the local nature spirits and establish a rapport with them. One clear way to communicate with the spirits was through the practice of divination. We know that the people of the ancient world relied on divination to make many of their important decisions. Each culture had its own methods for seeking advice from the spirit world. Every leader, from the heads of state to tribal councils to family elders, would utilize some form of divination on a regular basis. It was considered wise and prudent to do so.

How Do You See Into the Astral Plane?

Well, you can’t use the eyes in your face. Instead, you will be looking for signs in the astral plane by using your inner eye. You will be using your psychic sense, your spiritual essence, to open a pathway into the astral plane. You can do this by training your mind. For best results in any type of divination, you should practice placing your mind into a meditative state. It is in that altered state of awareness that you can perceive the subtle energies you are seeking.

What Is a Positive Aspect of Performing Divination?

In addition to helping you to make better decisions, another dividend of practicing divination is that it helps you to develop your psychic abilities—even if you think you don’t have any. All forms of divination require the practitioner to use their psychic sense. We all possess this sense, although it is usually not as strongly developed as our other five physical senses. After all, we have used our other five since birth! Your sixth sense may be understandably weak. But by practicing divination, you can develop and strengthen it. So if you want to be more psychic, learn a skill like divination.

Are There Negative Aspects to Performing Divination?

Of course. You can develop an unhealthy need for constant divination. You can become too dependent upon the process for help. You will feel that you are unable to make even a simple decision without consulting the spirits. You certainly don’t want to become insecure in your own decision-making process. Remember that divination can only suggest a certain course of action to you. In the end, it is you who must make the final decision. So use divination wisely.

Can We Really See Into the Future?

No, divination doesn’t do that. It can only show you a probable result, if nothing changes. Of what value is it then? Well, divination allows us to access more information regarding the question we are posing; information that is not readily apparent to us. Taking all of this additional information into account, we can now make a better decision in the here and now.

You Talkin’ To Me?!

When you perform a divination, you are usually posing a question. Some psychic practitioners, especially those who perform divinations professionally, use the aid of a spiritual third party to facilitate their divination. They may call upon this psychic helper to aid them in accessing the astral plane or assist them in interpreting the answer they receive. This third party can be the practitioner’s own personal spirit guide, a guardian angel, or a teacher spirit. You, too, can choose to perform divinations this way. If you choose to use a facilitator, then you can specifically ask them to help you see the answer to your question. And you can ask them to assist you in interpreting the answer you receive.

Talking To Yourself

To what or to whom are you asking your question? You should decide that issue before you practice divination, because your choice of facilitator may have some bearing on the type of answer you receive.

Perhaps you feel you are not accessing the astral plane when you perform divination. Some people believe that they are simply speaking to their own subconscious mind. They believe that they are communicating with their internal psyche and allowing their personal intuition to take control over their practical, pragmatic conscious mind. You may feel more comfortable with this explanation of divination.

When you think about it, all of our senses are constantly recording information that cannot be brought to the immediate attention of our conscious mind. There is simply too much information for our conscious mind to handle at any given moment. As the saying goes, T.M.I! So, our senses wisely store this glut of information in our subconscious mind. Think of your subconscious mind as a vast repository for all the information gathered by your senses. When you perform divination, you are allowing your subconscious mind to access all of that information. You can then use that data to make a better informed decision. That decision will appear as the answer to your divination.

It’s All in the Past

This idea of communicating with your subconscious mind is valid on more than one level. Many people believe in the idea of past lives and reincarnation. Some folks who believe in reincarnation propose that all the knowledge of our past lives is stored in our subconscious mind. Which makes for a huge personal database! If you believe in this idea, then for you divination is a way to access past-life information.

For example, perhaps you are seeking to answer a question concerning a problem you are having in this life. Maybe you had the same problem in a past life. Or many past lives. Wouldn’t it be great to draw upon all that previous experience dealing with the same problem? Your divination question could be worded to partake of that previous experience in your past lifetimes. For you, divination may be the simple act of viewing your personal storehouse of knowledge. You are scanning your database to help you to make a wise decision in this life.

It’s Already IN There

Some folks believe that all the knowledge you need to succeed in this lifetime is already stored in your brain. When you were on the Other Side, you decided what tasks you would accomplish in this current lifetime. You formulated your goals and decided how best to achieve them. You gathered and stored the information you would need to meet those goals. You arrived here, in this physical plane; with your life-plan and your necessary data already stored in your subconscious. You just need a way to access it and divination is one way to accomplish that task.

Info In Your Aura

There is some evidence that your thoughts and memories are not stored in your mind, conscious or otherwise. You may store information in your light body or aura body, that part of you that transits to the afterlife when your physical body dies. As noted by Debbora Wiles of Psychic Schoolhouse, there are numerous accounts of patients who have been declared clinically dead, but were resuscitated and survived. These patients later described a scenario in which they lifted up out of their physical bodies and hovered in the air above the scene of their death. They heard and saw everything that took place while they were dead. Then their physical body was revived and they floated down back into it. After being revived, they were able to recall in vivid detail all of the activity taking place around them while they were dead.

They have memories and thoughts of the event, even though their brain at the time was no longer functioning, no longer receiving data. These accounts would seem to indicate that our thoughts and memories are not stored in our brains. They are stored in our light body. When we die, our light body detaches from our physical body. Our light body takes our thoughts and memories with it into the afterlife. If we are revived and must transition back into our physical body, our light body reattaches, bringing our thoughts and memories back in with it. So it may be that we are all accessing information stored in our light bodies when we perform divination. That explanation is just one of many ideas on this topic.

What Are Good Times to Perform Divination?

Personally, I like to follow lunar cycles. Through experience, I have found that my divinations performed on the dark of the moon, when the moon and the sun occupy the same zodiac sign, are always more profound for me. The dark of the moon is the lunar phase associated with the Crone, and I have always been drawn to the Crone aspect of the goddess. But you should try performing your divinations in all the lunar phases and see which one works better for you. Start with the lunar phase that appeals to you the most.

Perhaps you are more influenced by solar energy. You may feel that sunlight energizes you psychically. Then changes in sunlight may affect your divination. You may choose to perform divination during certain times of the day, or in the first half of the year (northern hemisphere) when the sunlight is growing stronger every day.

You may be more influenced by seasonal energies. Perhaps there is a certain season of the year that holds more attraction for you than the others. During that season, you may feel more emotionally energized and attuned to psychic energies. For you then, that season may be the time when your divinations are most accurate.

Why Should I Care?

Another element that influences the success of your divination is the importance of your question. How vital is your need for an answer? The more crucial the question, the more heightened are your emotions and the more psychic energy you will pour into the divination process. That surplus of psychic energy will strongly empower your ability to receive the answer you seek.

How Do I Begin?

Examine some of the divination methods currently available. There are many. Tarot, scrying, runes, pendulums, they all require you to use your psychic ability. Explore all the methods you can find. Over time, one method will intrigue you more than the others. Begin your journey with that one. You may add other methods down the line.

Divination is a skill. And like all skills, it must be practiced in order to achieve familiarity and success. Some people have a special innate talent for it, a knack, as it were and they will achieve success at divination sooner than others. But most people will improve their abilities with practice. So don’t give up too soon and cheat yourself out of this wonderful experience.

How Long Does It Take?

It is an unfortunate hallmark of modern society that we are all conditioned to receive instant gratification. We become impatient with standing in lines or waiting our turn. Our ancient ancestors were more conditioned to waiting for results. They knew that some things were worth waiting for, especially esoteric knowledge. They learned vast amounts of information, committing that knowledge to memory over long years of study. In our modern technologically based society, we have forgotten our recent past. We expect to acquire a skill immediately. Sorry, but that is not the case with divination. So try to curb your impatience and give divination, and yourself, a chance to succeed.

My first attempts at divination involved scrying. However, I did not experience success the first time I tried it. But I kept practicing and after a few months I began to receive and interpret messages on a regular basis. And those messages became more and more accurate as I improved my ability to understand and interpret them.

If you can’t decide which method of divination to try, investigate several forms. Over a period of time, you will be attracted to one process and prefer it to all the others. Learn and practice that one process; really work at it. The results will be worth it!

Blessed Be.

________________________________________

Footnotes:
Atwater, P.M.H. The Magical Language of Runes. Bear and Company Publishing, 1990.

McCoy, Edain. Magick and Rituals of the Moon. Llewellyn Publications, 2001.

Thorsson, Edred. Runecaster’s Handbook: the Well of Wyrd. Weiser Books, 1999.