‘THINK on THESE THINGS’ for November 12th

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

At night sometimes the world seems so topsy-turvy and you’re so weary of doing things the same old way. Then nothing seems to please….You try desperately for something new and different, something that doesn’t seem so much like you. Why? Tonight you are different.

One cannot expect the world to be top side up all the time. Such perfection does not come so easily to human nature. And always there is a search for something new and different. A change of pace….that thought that I don’t want to be me today, to think my thoughts and do my daily chores. I want to make a complete change now, to know a whole new way of life. And it is good to leave behind the many daily situations that sometimes stand too closely to be seen clearly, but to be wise enough to know which things should be left behind.

There have been clean sweeps that have left behind the dearest things….and have taken along the same dreary, dark unhappy things of the mind that should have been left behind.

A line from the prayer of serenity is “The wisdom to know the difference…..” And wisdom, says Samuel Taylor Coleridge, is common sense in an uncommon degree. If one has the wisdom to wait a bit, wait until morning – or several mornings – that uncommon degree of common sense will give us the wisdom to know the difference.

______________________

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 – November 12

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – November 12

“I don’t think that anybody anywhere can talk about the future of their people or of an organization without talking about education. Whoever controls the education of our children controls our future, the future of the Cherokee people and of the Cherokee Nation.”

–Wilma P. Mankiller, CHEROKEE

The world has changed in the last 50 years. It will change even more in the next 50 years, and it will change even faster. We must educate ourselves to ensure our future generations will maintain the language and the culture of our people. We need to be concerned about our land because when our land goes away, so will our people. We need to be concerned about leadership, our families and about alcoholism. We need to be concerned about what’s going on around the world. We can only do this by being educated. Then we can control our future.

Great Spirit, please guide our children; let me know how I can help.

November 12 – Daily Feast

November 12 – Daily Feast

Misery seems to justify making someone pay – but there is sweet revenge in finding our own inner spirit can expand quickly to push out unfairness and bitterness. Who doesn’t have the right to be bitter? A hard thing to forget, a mountain to overcome – but such peace follows. Peace spreads like warm honey across a hot biscuit and permeates all the little places that capture and hold it. The heart lifts its hands in praise for relief from the darkness of bitter memories. All of us can do it – all of us must if we are to be well and have something to share. Just let it go. Life will balance the books, it always does.

~ While living I want to live well. ~

GERONIMO – CHIRACAHUA APACHE

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

Daily Motivator for Nov. 12th – Embrace responsibility

Embrace responsibility

Don’t blame others, don’t blame the situation, and don’t blame yourself.  Instead of wasting your energy on assigning blame, empower yourself by accepting  responsibility.

The way you experience life is no one’s fault. It is your choice.

Fully accept and embrace responsibility for all that surrounds you, and  something amazing happens. You gain the power to make a positive difference.

If you run from the troubles, they grow stronger and chase you more and more  relentlessly. Yet the moment you take responsibility for those troubles, you  begin to have some control over them.

If you merely wish for your dreams to come true, they won’t. Yet when you  step up and take responsibility for bringing those dreams to life, they begin to  take on real form and substance.

Responsibility is the key that gives you access to all the best life has to  offer. Embrace responsibility in all things, and unlock the great value that is  yours to live.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

Divorce with Grace

Divorce with Grace
A Life-Altering Decision

by Madisyn Taylor

If you are divorcing, look to your inner heart for guidance and surround yourself with loving friends.

Like the act of marriage that binds two people together, divorce is the result of a life-altering decision. It is the dissolving of a relationship that we believed would last our whole lives. We may not even be able to articulate how we got to this place, yet we may also feel we have no choice but to sever this tie. Whatever we feel, we need the support of the friends and family who will stand by us no matter what we decide. At some point, we may need to be challenged to look deeper inside ourselves as we make this very important decision, but what we need most of all is unconditional love and loyalty.

Divorce is a process that, once in motion, becomes difficult to stop, and this can be painful if we find ourselves having second thoughts. We may feel that we should do more to save the marriage, or we may wonder if there is something about ourselves that we could fix or change instead of going through with this painful separation. On the other hand, we may be seeing in hindsight that our marriage was truly only meant to last for a short time so that we could learn something we needed to know. Whatever the case, we need friends who will allow us to linger in confusion when we don’t have the answers and who will support us whether we find ways to reconcile and stay married or whether we walk away.

Of course, the most essential ally we have lives inside our hearts and speaks to us from within. We can trust this inner guide to help us choose people who will support us in kind and loving ways as we navigate the rough terrain of confusion and loss. Sometimes all we can do is look to the horizon, remembering that we will get through this time, and no matter what happens we will once again feel whole.

The Daily OM

Embraced by the Goddess

Embraced by the Goddess

Author:   Elwin Shadowstrider   

Originally I was planning to place this in my Book of Mirrors, as you see; I changed my mind for many reasons. Some were to let others know of a beautiful life-changing event that forever changed me. I felt that to some it may help, for others maybe just to remind them of when they first set their own two feet on their Path.

Without a short background some of this will not make any sense at all, I will not go into gory detail. Some things are very tragic, some of those things I draw a great deal of strength from. However, my childhood was beyond horrible, abuse was prevalent, both physical and mental abuse. A great deal seems to come from Stephen King’s worst nightmares.

I have been asked many times by those who know me well how I did not become badly damaged goods…I attribute that to strength of will. I refuse to give up, especially when I know there are greater things out there than what I have to experience at that moment in time then. In time, I proved myself right, as you will see.

I was forced as a child to attend church; I really had no interest in going. They never could answer my questions to my satisfaction. The usual Cain slew Abel, then where did his wife come from if there were only four people on this planet at that time? Many explained that it was more than likely his sister, which I went up in flames then. Letting them know that only last week we were told that was forbidden to lie with your sister or brother. Or was it just holier then than it is now? You get the picture; I was seven when this took place.

My parents were begged not to bring me back to Sunday school. They said that I asked questions that no normal seven year old should ask, and that I should take more on “faith” and to be still and be quiet when the teacher was talking. I felt they were legitimate questions and still do, no pastor or otherwise could ever answer what I asked.

Many referred me to so and so apologetic pastor or seminary college since I was so questioning within the “faith”. Faith, no, I wanted clear concise answers as to WHY these things I was to take on “faith” had to not be asked. Too many holes within their stories and parables, I wanted straight facts that they were not equipped to give.

My teen years were pretty much the same; I was honestly kept as a house slave or servant, I was allowed no bed of my own, any furniture, and the least expensive clothes they could find and was told that it was “good” for my soul.

That got really old really quick, I grew up in Miami, Florida, and I had no air conditioning in my room either. The rest of the household had everything; this is just to give you an idea. By now, I had finally begged and cried to this “god” for deliverance, anything, just I wanted out of this household.

I begged for many years, all I got in return was silence…no answers.

I thought at first maybe I was “imperfect”, a “sinner” and god wanted nothing to do with me; just like everyone else in my life then. My despair began to grow to stellar heights, just what was I supposed to do? I left my Dad’s house when I was sixteen; I refused to put up with it any longer.

As the years passed as years will, I occasionally begged “god” for help, by now, I have been begging for years, still, no answer. I sought “help” from pastors; I got the usual praying over, and one even suggested performing an exorcism on me to cast out any “evil spirits” that might have taken up residence within.

Being that my family is from central Ireland we were brought up to trust and believe the clergy. Mostly Catholics, a few Protestants, was what ran in my family. I never could understand just how they could take so much on faith and let it go at that.

I was the one who always read everything, but my favorites still to this day is the “Sword and Sorcery” type epics that I learned so much from. I was the cast off, the one who believed that the Elves still existed and Dragons were around the next corner; during what free time I could steal away I walked the woods, searching for something, just what I never knew then.

What I didn’t know was that our beloved Green Man was whispering to me all that time. There were days I could almost hear what He was saying, almost; but not quite getting it.

Often, I just shrugged my shoulders and continued on, learning what so many just didn’t see. To learn of beauty, to know some small peace in my life. To see animals as more of my friends than Man, to know trees, to breathe in what I needed. In these times I didn’t feel lost at all, I felt at home then.

Here I will leave the past behind, these memories are very painful in ways, but I learned how to be what many never do, Human. To know the fullness of sorrow, anger, and hatred is something I do not recommend to anyone. Better to not know the fullness of what those emotions can do to a person, the hardness in can put in place of what should be someone’s heart.

This is when I looked back on my life, and wanted to know why, just why, “god” never answered me. Why my life was, so far, was so cold inside, why can’t I be happy like so many others here in this world?

Despair grew yet again, yet despair this time was very deep. It lasted for many months instead of just a few days.

I once again went to begging “god” for answers, help, anything; just one answer is all I required, just one. It never came, that answer. Finally, I broke down, after thirty-six years of fighting I broke down.

I gave up, entirely. I had nothing else to believe in.

Yes, I do have a wife and son; I do have family of my own. I love them both very dearly. I wanted faith. I wanted faith to believe in myself, to believe that when this path here on earth is over there is something other than nothing. As I said, I broke down, I wanted nothing anymore, and I gave up.

With that, I began the soul wrenching crying that signified total defeat; “god” wasn’t there. I was truly lost, and that’s what broke my heart more than anything. I was lost.

During this time of defeat, a PRESCENSE is the only way I could begin to describe it. Something unbelievably beyond me, something that radiated Love, I really gave in then. I felt as if I should know who this was, but for some reason I didn’t.

Then in a voice that was VERY female, soft, full of understanding and infinite Love spoke to me, ” Why do you weep? Why is your heart so heavy within your breast? Where is the laughter that I love to hear from you? Where are your smiles?”

I was dumbfounded, I could only answer, “I am lost, god doesn’t answer me, I am alone here, and I want faith in the universe around me.”

She laughed, not a mocking laughter, one full of understanding, and Love. “I have known your ancestors, the Celts, I know you. Why is it you don’t know me?”

I answered, ” My lady, I don’t know you I wish I did, I am tired of not knowing anything.”

She answered, ” So you shall, you are my child, none other’s, you are my son. Love shall be yours.”

At that moment, all the years of hatred, anger, sorrow, animosity, and narrow-minded beliefs fell away, replaced by Love. I fell to crying out of sheer joy and happiness.

At that, she laughed again, full of mirth, and joy that I did remember who She was at last. As I lay there my Goddess embraced me, not in the spiritual sense, it was very physical, yet I couldn’t see Her.

Her embrace was like nothing I have ever known in my life, for just one moment here on this plane of existence, I knew what it was like to Love all, to realize that Love was all my Goddess wanted from me; that and my laughter, my happiness.

Since that day, the Wiccan Rede is indelible upon me. I will harm NONE. I became a vegetarian; I refuse to harm anything, even so much as a bug outside.

My son (Goddess Bless him) came to me not two weeks ago and asked what was making me so happy, why I laughed at nearly everything now. I want to tell him, he’s only eleven, and I won’t alter his Path in life. When he gets a little older and he asks again, then I will tell him.

Just three days later, flying in the face of tradition, I gave myself to my Goddess. It’s been only five weeks from that wonderful day. I oath bound myself to Her, and laughed with Her when she accepted me as her child.

After the turn of events in the beginning of my life I had indeed proven myself right, that there are greater things out there. You just have to look in the right place sometimes.

There may be a few others out there who may have experienced something like this. I do not know, I do not claim to know. I know what gift was given to me, and that gift will be cherished until I see my Goddess yet again.

Please understand I have no hatred for the Christian religion. I have left hatred behind, and that is no longer who I am. I have many friends who are Christians; they know that I am a Witch, a Wiccan. They also know that I will never turn away from my Goddess; they know I will lovingly tell them that I have found my Path if they begin to preach at me.

I have also lost a great deal of friends who were too judgmental and walked away from me. Some of those were indeed painful, many were very good friends. Their children played with my son quite often, now I have yet to see them again.

I am at Peace with their choice; they too have a Path they must follow. As any Pagan, I just send them my Love from time to time. Many of my relatives also have nothing to do with me now, that too I have taken in Peace.

It is somewhat difficult to convey what exactly has happened to me. My life was filled with so much negative energies that I never believed that something such as this could really happen. Life has truly begun for me, to feel Love as never before, to Love all that I see. To feel the sense of the Spirit’s whisperings in all that is around me, to know and see indescribable beauty in all that my eyes behold.

The most fun part is to finally hear the Green Man’s laughter, to hear His dancing steps, to know His Love for all things that grow. I know who He is as well, no longer just whispers that I can’t quite catch, to hear His voice is truly wonderful. To also hear God’s voice in laughter with the Goddess’ laughter as I take my first tentative steps in Life, my heart is full.

There are days I wonder if I can really Love more than the day before, the answer is yes. Goddess, YES! Tears of true joy fall these days; the Goddess has embraced me. I have just scratched the surface of what I will know before I must return to Summerland.

I also no longer fear to die, I actually look forward to the day when I can return to all that knows me, to see those whom I know. To find so many there waiting for my return. I will also state I don’t think I will return to Mother Earth, I will stay in Summerland.

I know that I may return if I wish, however; I will stay. There is work to do there as well.

In closing, yes, I am indeed VERY new to Wicca; I have learned what Wiccan Pride is truly all about. I have learned what Love really is, what Peace, true Peace really is.

I have also learned what Magick is all about. Magick in one word, WOW! I had no real idea of what can be done; it’s real, and its mind blowing of what we can do with it.

I will leave you Sisters and Brothers here, know that one more Wiccan has joined your ranks. Thanks for taking the time to read of my experience with the Goddess. Know that She Loves us all; no matter what Path we take.

Merry Meet, Merry Partings until we Merry Meet again.

Abundant and Brightest Blessings to all,

Elwin Shadowstrider ) O (

Confessions of a Former Otherkin

Confessions of a Former Otherkin

Author:   BellaDonna Saberhagen   

I’ve been contemplating this article for a while, but someone’s response to The Chicken or the Egg prompted its necessity. I was going to make it a less personal piece, however, I think it comes off as less judgmental when explaining my own experiences rather than appearing to tear into others’ beliefs.

Karl Marx stated that ‘religion is the opiate of the masses’. I love being Pagan, I love the gods, and I love being me. Sometimes however, Pagans become deluded; their brand of Paganism seems to have become a wild LSD trip. They refuse to face facts or accept reality at all. These are, unfortunately, the ones who yell the loudest and get the most media attention (making people unfamiliar with our religions assume we’re all wackos) . Those Pagans who speak out against these claims (such as myself on some forums) are called closed-minded and bigoted. But must we be so open-minded that our brains fall out?

Want to know a secret? I used to be one of them. SHHH! Don’t tell anyone! I’m going to take you back to when I was a fairly new Pagan. When the world was all shiny, my friends weren’t just witches and shamans…they were werewolves and dragons and angels and gods. What was I? I was a fairy.

I say I was fairly new because I hardly count my high school days of having two Cunningham books hidden away and being active in my parents Church (and still wishy-washy about which way I wanted to go) as being an active Pagan or Witch. I still hid when I was at home on break, but my closet was non-existent on campus. Sometimes I was too ‘out and proud’ for some of my friends.

The culmination of my personal ‘delusion’ really was the fall semester of 2001. That semester, our group believed we were being psychically attacked by a blind lizard druid (a side note: this guy was actually dangerous; he choked one of my friends) . My boyfriend (at the time) believed we’d always been together in past lives (and that we were the real-life inspiration for Gomez and Morticia Addams in a past life) …he also stalked me when I broke up with him (and I almost beat him upside the head with a Sobe tea bottle. We’ll call him Stalker Boy) . Before I broke up with Stalker Boy, my roommate (henceforth called Dragon) , another friend (henceforth called Angel) , and a third person decided to implant the idea in my head to tell Stalker Boy I loved him by waking me up and pretending to be the Fates. Since when I’m woken up, I’m actually AWAKE, it didn’t work.

Dragon really thought she was a dragon. When her aura got too dirty (as it did from time to time as she was dealing with a bad break-up and the rest of that semester’s insanity; September 11th certainly didn’t help) , it got scaly and had to be cleansed. When it got scaly, she supposedly could not physically move. After the crazy events of 2001, she either stopped being Pagan or stopped practicing as those same events scared her from delving any further. Our friendship ended in May of 2003.

Cleansing was done by our shaman friend (who set himself up as our leader long before this, and either thought he was a werewolf, or was so intimately connected to his totem that his aura could shift against his will) . This was before the term ‘therian’ was used (or at least, if it was, our group remained ignorant of it while we were together) . I’ll call him Wolf. Wolf and I had an odd connection. He set himself up as my teacher, and honestly, I rue the day I saw him as such. The relationship I had with him kept me in my little bubble much longer than I probably would have been otherwise. Whenever I doubted my fey-ness, he would be there to re-affirm it and keep me in the fold. Luckily, I escaped his influence in May of 2004.

Angel is more like me. We have remained friends and laugh about those old days. She still feels a strong connection to heaven, but I don’t think she believes she’s an angel anymore (at least not as far as I am led to believe) .

I can’t say I really knew anyone who professed to be a god from myth reborn in human form. However, in our state, my friends and I saw certain gods in acquaintances. We were wise enough not to tell them, though. We confirmed their godhood through pendulum use (which is a very subjective form of divination, but it was our favorite at the time) . Stalker Boy’s pendulum was a glow stick on a string, which, looking back, hung crookedly, so it couldn’t be properly balanced to work as such. However, I will take this chance to state that this is the most harmful form. Look at cult leaders who tell their followers they’re Jesus Christ. Yes, it’s the same kind of thing. Even if the person claiming to be a god fails to have the charisma to be a cult leader, they (at the very least) have delusions of grandeur and are being extremely rude to those that worship that god.

I’m not saying that a god could not choose to become incarnate for a human lifetime, but I am dubious as to any real reasons why they would choose to do so. Why would they abandon those who believe in them by limiting their perceptions to those of a human being? It just makes no sense to me. Even if they could somehow get the actions of the faithful (prayers, circle castings, and I’m not even sure how invocation would work) fed into their limited human brain, they would not be able to manage… have you ever seen Bruce Almighty? It would be like that but without a computer to help manage it.

In one of the most profound visionary experiences I ever had, I shared some portion of my consciousness with Cernunnos, and it was overwhelming just to feel the forest directly surrounding me in all of its processes for even just a moment. I refuse to believe that such consciousness is maintainable as a human and that therefore being a human would be a viable option for a god.

What does all of this have to do with anything? Well, I outgrew my personal delusions once I left a crowd that fed them. By refusing to allow others like me to call someone on some of these behaviors, we make it impossible for them to escape that cycle and face reality. We create a community that consistently feeds and reaffirms the beliefs of such people. Sadly, the Internet can be blamed for a good bit of the inability to escape that cycle. Even when I was involved, otherkin forums began appearing, though, as with ‘therian’, the word did not seem to exist then.

So how crazy was I? I believed that I not only had fey blood, but a fey soul. I believed I had wings that simply could not manifest due to there not being enough ‘magick’ in the world. I believed that Stalker Boy, Dragon, Wolf, and myself were the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, that we were to tear open the ley line intersections at places such as Stonehenge on December 21, 2012 to bring about the new age of magick into the world. I was crazy. I was deluded. I was insane. Now, I am not.

I’m not saying that to be Pagan, you have to believe exactly as I do, but there is a line of sanity. Some Pagans cross that line.

And guess what? You don’t have to be a god to be an effective magician. You don’t have to be a fairy to work with them or be a powerful Witch. You don’t have to be a dragon to have a hoarding problem. You don’t have to be a therian (wolf or otherwise) to be a wonderful shaman. You are MAGICKAL ENOUGH without giving into delusions.

So why do you need to be more ‘other’ than Pagan? Being Pagan automatically puts you into society’s ‘other’ category.

I felt different from most of society because spiritually, I was different. I wanted something different to feed my soul than what I saw as the obvious options. Maybe that was why I felt so disjointed and jumped to the ‘I must not be human’ thought; maybe that’s why most of those who see themselves as such do this as well. I can’t speak for anyone else. I can speak for me. I can say that having moved beyond that particular period that there were rocky times; there were times when I felt disconnected and lost my faith. I think I purged too much of the ‘good’ of my faith when I purged the ‘bad’ and am now fighting to get some of that back. But it does not mean I really am a fairy in denial and that that denial caused the rockiness of more recent years. I think I am afraid, knowing my propensity for becoming deluded, and I second-guess my spiritual findings too much. That is my own lesson to learn.

At the very least, otherkin claims should be understood to be Unverifiable Personal Gnosis. Not everyone will believe you, or has to believe you because you’re Pagan and they’re Pagan. It doesn’t necessarily have to be part of your religious experience at all. You can have had a vision that King Arthur is really a dragon god and it could be really meaningful to you. That does not mean that everyone (or anyone) else has to accept that vision as well. It is yours and yours alone.

So, if you think you’re (insert otherkin here) , it might be wise to keep it to yourself until you’ve vetted the group you’re entering. They might not want to encourage you and you shouldn’t feel they have to. I would highly recommend that if you do think you’re otherkin to really examine why. If spirits came to you and told you such, examine those spirits; see if they had your best interest at heart (often many like to mess with the human mind, and some definitely do not have our best interest at heart) . If a sensitive told you, examine how accurate he/she has been about other things… and how flighty or grounded he/she is in his/her own life. If you just feel ‘other’ somehow and don’t know why, check for any variations on your sexual orientation or for any forms of gender dysphoria. I couldn’t accept my own bi-sexuality until I acknowledged and accepted my humanity.

Even if being otherkin isn’t a ‘delusion’, there are reasons not to focus on it. You may have been a fairy or a dragon in a past life; but for whatever reason, your soul chose to be born as human now. There are some lessons that are best learned by being human and you cannot truly be human if you’re constantly trying to recapture the magick of your past incarnations. You’ll stagnate and be stuck in a form your soul is not entirely comfortable with… over and over and over again, until you learn to be human.

There might be trace amounts of holdover DNA, however, just as I doubt you could find any of the Cherokee or Italian markers in me that are supposedly a part of my family’s genetic heritage, you will never be able to verify it through science. And I would have to think, just as there’s a ratio cap on your bloodline for being able to call yourself a member of a specific tribe or nation (my 1/64th Cherokee doesn’t get me in) , that fairies and dragons would think similarly and laugh at you for calling yourself ‘Fairy” or ‘Dragon” like you’re a full-blooded member of their camp.

So if you find yourself caught between needing to learn this life’s lessons and being so infinitesimally related by blood that being recognized by full-blooded members of those species is unlikely, you might want to just give it up and be human.

Humans are magickal and that should be enough for any of us.

The Evolution of My Sacred Symbol

The Evolution of My Sacred Symbol

Author:   Lady Rain StarDragon (Teresa Garcia)    

All around us are symbols, and all are sacred when viewed with Sacred Mind, the state that we enter into when we meditate, or pray, smile at a new baby, or gaze in awe as the sky is painted with crimson and gold as Amaterasu leaves our visible sky as she traverses the High Plain of Heaven while our planet turns. The ones I have chosen for my personal use have changed through the years as I have changed and danced with Time.

As a child, I was raised to be Christian, and specifically Seventh Day Adventist, even though some would say my father was rather lax as he almost never went to church- he worked as a Correctional Officer at a fire camp and almost always ended up on-duty Saturdays. For a while, my mother took my brother and I, and the crucifix was a symbol that held power for me without question. My guardian spirit was with me from birth, and though he said he was a ryu and not an angel as believed in my the church I attended, and often encouraged me to consider what the symbols around and in the text read in services meant. Intuitively, the cross was the four directions for me, and Jesus was Man at the center, taking up his burden. Those in the church seemed to miss what I thought an important fact, his primary mission not being a scapegoat for mistakes we make in life, but a lesson in proper conduct towards our fellows so those mistakes would either not be made or would be lesser.

Others didn’t see my point, although my guardian and teacher agreed whole heartedly. To them, our race was unclean because the original humans disobeyed God (who I later learned was a particular deity called Yahweh of a particular tribe, and therefore possibly not the original creator in the grand scheme of things… provided there is one) . They took the Knowledge of Good and Evil without permission. I couldn’t understand, knowledge is for everyone, especially something like that. According to those in the church I attended, it was necessary for an innocent man to die to atone for such an act. For me, this symbol became tainted and sullied, and it took me a long time to discard the surface level understanding and delve back to the core. That is neither here nor there though, and I did not return to that church, setting out on an inner journey for understanding.

My guardian, that I will refer to here as Goruden, shared wisdom with me that day that I will never forget. “Listen to the wind, it will teach you everything you need to know. Become one with it and the water, flowing always home.” In essence, Nature held the answers that I was looking for. He had already helped me to learn to listen to what the trees told me, and I was learning to see through the eyes of animals. When visiting mountains, I listened to their slow, deep breathing, the voices of the stones, and the stories of the inner earth that Mounts Lassen and Shasta shared with me. Mountains and Wind became my symbols, as well as the stars of the night sky that had guided travelers for eons.

It wasn’t long before I was approached by someone Goruden-sensei had told about me, and I found books in the library when Goruden suggested that I look into knowledge about witches, as some of my ancestors reputedly had been killed as witches. While Goruden taught me the magic of his country and people, as different from humans and yet able at times to take humans into their families or join human families, I read what I could about witches from the reference section of the library and pondered what had been shared by the old woman who had come to me. After a while, I chanced upon “The Witches Bible” by the Farrars. After showing the ad to my mother, I used my allowance money and ordered it with her permission, and she had started checking the mail every day before my father could.

One day, he managed to come home early, and wouldn’t you know it, but that’s when the Gods decreed my package would arrive. Since he didn’t know the return address, he insisted I show him what was in it. Oh my, what a mess that was, and the big pentacle, cup and sword on the cover infuriated my father, due to what he had been taught as a boy about witches. Oddly enough, the next day after a long talk with my mother, I came home from school and discovered that my father wanted to speak with me about the book. He gave it back, having looked through it. The whole thing hadn’t gone the way that I intended it too, but we had a good discussion about why witches weren’t evil, and how a pentacle did not equate to Satanism. I was granted permission to explore this further since it had been he himself that had told me of how there was a witch in the family on his side (mother’s too, but that has no bearing on this) . I accepted teaching from the old woman who had come to me earlier, along with another young lady and a young man who became my training partners, my siblings.

It was during this time that I made personal acquaintance with The Lady, who I discovered to be much like Goruden. An indescribable presence in all her forms, both the terrifying and the beauteous, and although she was both harsh and loving I could stand before her without fear even when she revealed something that had ultimately driven my sister back to her former path.

The Pentacle became my symbol then when I had entered this training, and I determined that I would obtain one to wear. Goruden and I poured through the book together and reviewed the verbal lessons I was granted, as he admitted his knowledge of Western magic and religion was rather limited, having come from Okinawa (curiosity is what caused him to follow my father back to America when the time came) . The star is a symbol that is used by his people as well, and we had much interest in seeing the parallels and differences in practices and beliefs. I had something to call my beliefs, although Goruden never told me what he called what he was teaching, other than “The way things are” or “The path of the Spirits.” He wanted me to find my own path, not to copy what was his and followed by some in his own land.

Time continued to dance on, and I did obtain a Pentacle to wear (I had made several for use on my altar) , although I later ended up giving this to a family member through the man who later was my husband. I had outgrown that particular one, as it had the Tetragramaton upon it. By this time, I had also discovered sources on the religions of the East, and began learning about Shinto. I had obtained another Pentacle that bore the symbols of many religions on it, which symbolized to me not only the five elements I had learned of through Wicca, but the five elements as taught by my guide which were more like states than anything as they flowed into each other. This version of the Pentacle also symbolized to me how every religion contains truth, and how if these are found and combined a greater whole is made.

In the academic texts about Shinto, I found the views Goruden had taught me from as a child, and found pictures of the things he had described to me, the red torii, the roadside Jizo, the shrines both plain and ornate, the gorgeous Buddhist temples that he had visited with curiosity, and the shrine that he had to visit for a month every year. I learned the name he had only given me translations of, Shinto, “The Way of the Kami.”

I realized that every time I had learned something new, I had been approaching the stone circle of my ancestors through the red torri erected in my mind, the gate. Perhaps one day I will build a torri on my property. I also knew the central and most influential symbol in my life, which was not the Pentacle of the Element/States, nor the Sacred Mountain that I now live at the foot of which I am bound energetically to, but the Dragon, Ryu.

Dragon in Japanese is Doragon, Tatsu, or Ryu and is a Kami. Kami is translated by some as God, others as Deity, and others as Spirit but is all of these and more. Kami is Kami. Dragon to me stands for wisdom, strength, friendship, protection and love. Dragons can be vain and jealous, some are self-centered and violent, and like us they can be foolish as they too have negative qualities like everything. However, through my experiences with my guardian, he has taught me well and shared what wisdom he has. He has taught me strength, listened to me cry when hurt emotionally and physically, comforted me when he could. He has protected me to the best of his ability, as he does have other responsibilities than a young woman who is Priestess/Goddess and also both Kami and Human, that sometimes loses sight of the fact that she and all else are Kami. Goruden has been a friend to me all my life, and yes, holds my love just as much as my husband does, or my children. My life path is both Wicca and Shinto, and the symbol that I have designed to express my personal path is the Pentacle with a dragon lounging upon it, for it is who I am.

Spirit Guides

Spirit Guides

Author:   Mar-Garet   

My Creative Writing teacher (about 20 years ago) had just assigned to us: ‘Imagine an entity who would symbolize to you great wisdom.’ Then we were to write a dialogue with that entity in our journals. My ‘entity’ turned out to be a Porpoise by the name of Rosa! I enjoyed our journal dialogues so much… .I could ask her anything, and she’d always end up give me good (if sometimes quite hilarious) advice!

One day, I was dialoguing with her when she said to me, ‘Wait, I must assume another form in order to answer that question.’ What was going on? She changed form into a beautiful and wise female ‘presence’ who has been with me since I was a very young child. The name of this ‘presence’ I called ‘Saji.’

It turned out that Rosa was simply one aspect, or form, of Saji. I had always wondered why a porpoise would be named after a Rose… .then I remembered that the Rose was one of Saji’s ‘symbols.’ Saji, I finally comprehended, is one of my Life Guides (I have two of them, one female — Saji — and one male). Saji has always been there for me, through all my good times and bad times, to comfort me when I was young, and to guide me as I grow older. Her presence is total love, and I love her with all my heart. To me, she is the voice of the Goddess in my soul.

As I continued my journal dialogues, I found that Saji was there for me whenever I needed her. Sometimes, my male guide, Zohar, would come through—a completely different energy than Saji, but still full of love. I knew they were my Spiritual Guides because they seemed to embody my ‘ideal’ Self, and they never steered me toward any kind of negativity, always toward love and positivity. And they never demanded that I ‘obey’ them. They simply communicated their perspective to me… and it was and IS a much wider perspective than I am usually able to see! And it was then up to me to decide whether to follow their advice or not. When I DID follow their advice, I always found a positive experience.

My Creative Writing teacher was interested in hypnosis as a creative writing tool, and he asked for volunteers to participate in his experiment. I readily agreed to be a volunteer. For 32 hypnosis sessions, we explored the world of my Guides, and met other Spirits also.

These Spirits included: Many of my own past selves, writers and other historical figures who had lived in the past and who we admired, extra-terrestrials, nature-spirits and elementals, dragons, unicorns, etc. Once Spirit called itself (it was beyond gender) my ‘Oversoul, ‘ and mostly showed itself as a bright light! I met Saji’s teacher and was told that his name was Carrefour. I was curious about this and found that in the Vodu religion, Carrefour means ‘crossroads’ and is the Moon God.

I was a little concerned about Carrefour, as I had read that he sometimes has a negative aspect. Eventually, I came to realize that what is important is how *I* relate to him, because I feel that every Spirit I meet reflects something within my own soul. The Carrefour that I know is a Trickster spirit, and yet he is so full of love and compassion that he practically overflows with these qualities!

My subsequent research into Vodu has brought me a lot of interaction with that pantheon. I am learning a very positive path, but always there is much struggle against the prejudices associated with this ancient way. That is part of the challenge I have chosen in this particular incarnation. To me, these ‘Lwa’s’ (as they are called in their own language — also called Loa’s) are ancestors who have progressed to the point of merging with world-Archetypes as interpreted through their own tribal mythology.

My own Past Lives often come to me and inspire me with creative ideas and projects. Some of them teach me (or, more accurately, remind me) what I have forgotten! They also help me recognize certain spiritual qualities in other people, which can come in handy when I am doing a reading or a healing. And they always bring with them Spiritual contacts that harmonize with the culture, mythology, and worldview of those past lives. Working with past life selves is simple — as long as you remember that the PRESENT is where power resides. The purpose and work of the PRESENT LIFE is the most vital and most important.

Certain of my Guides and Past Lives also serve as ‘Gatekeeper’ when I am searching psychically for information and communication from other spirits. They keep it positive, healthy, and filter out any negative vibes.

One book that I found helpful in ‘discerning’ Spirits (and Lwa’s) is Initiation: A Woman’s Spiritual Adventure in the Heart of the Andes by Elizabeth B. Jenkins. In this book, Ms. Jenkins describes her spiritual quest in the Andes, and how she progressed from a worldview that was dominant/submissive to one that was more egalitarian. As a family therapist herself, she had a unique view of Spirit-Human relationships and she had a ‘feel’ for when they became dysfunctional. She explains her own spiritual lessons and how she went from a child-level to an adult-level in functioning on the spiritual plane.

In Ms. Jenkins’ perspective (as well as mine) one becomes a member of a FAMILY of both human and spiritual beings. A family works together for the good of all, and Spirits assist only if invited and welcomed. As the Spirits participate and prove themselves as allies, they become part of the family, too. (You may substitute ‘coven’ for ‘family’ here, also.)

James Redfield, in his book The Tenth Insight: Holding the Vision, describes ‘Soul Groups’ that contain all the past selves of each individual human. These ‘Soul Groups’ contain all the knowledge that the individual has gleaned from life so far! As we move into the Aquarian Age, we find that groups are becoming more and more important in our spiritual evolution. Working with groups is challenging, but promises a great leap forward in our consciousness. As we work ‘for the good of all, according to free will’ (Thanks, Marion Weinstein!), we learn the meaning of spiritual cooperation, without the loss of individuality.

I enjoy groups that form themselves ‘organically, ‘ and just come together in a natural way. As such, families can be defined as a group of entities who are have come together related to each other in intimate ways. Families have something intrinsic in common. And the families we create are connected by love.

Families do not always get along, nor are they always in the same mood. However, they ARE always close to each other, whether they are in group-formation or not. They experience kinship; that is, they recognize each other as ‘my kind.’

In spiritual pantheons like Vodu, or in shamanic paths, one can be called by, adopted by, mentored by, and even married to, a Spirit or a Lwa. This is a more intimate connection and requires a greater level of commitment than just working together. One becomes, essentially, a priest or priestess of that Spirit or Lwa’s specialty. This doesn’t cancel out one’s HUMAN parent, mentor or mate. However, it does require a certain amount of time that must be dedicated to the relationship between the person and the Spirit or Lwa. During this special dedicated time, the person and the Spirit/Lwa learn from each other and cooperate in channeling specialized energy through that archetype.

I have considered being a Priestess of a certain Spirit/Lwa, but have decided that I like to keep things more flexible. I like being able to have a variety of Spirits/Lwa’s to relate to! This is similar to the way I like to relate to my human family and friends. I like a large variety, to bring out the different aspects of myself. (My Venus and Jupiter are in Aquarius, for those astrologically inclined!) I have had many varied incarnations, and I think that I am a very international person!

Other people may have kept to one culture during a lot of their incarnations and, therefore, relate with a smaller number of Spirits/Lwa’s, in a closer and more intimate way. There is nothing wrong with that inclination, either. There are many ways to relate, and many ways to group. There are many kinds of families, but the ones we CHOOSE to create need to be those that encourage us, bring out our talents, support us emotionally, and merge with our own individual style!

Magick is All Around Us

Magick is All Around Us

Author:   Luna   

Sometimes I get my inspirations from the simplest things. Sometimes it’s just a walk in the woods, and sometimes it’s the time of year or the holiday. Other times, it’s from interacting with a variety of people or animals, from playing with my dogs to working with native Chinese people. This time, inspiration came from somewhere I wasn’t expecting: one of the emails you guys have been sending me (thank you, thank you, thank you, by the way) .

A few weeks before writing this, I got an email from someone with a question I wasn’t quite expecting. The writer asked, “Do you think I can do magic with all this reality around me?” I have to admit that I’ve never been asked a question like that before. And, for a little while, I was confused as to how to respond to it. But then it came to me: perhaps the person who emailed me was having trouble sensing the magick in his everyday life and the forces he wanted to work with. This was something that I struggled with back when I first came to Wicca and that has taken practice for me to become good at. Not only that, but for many people coming to Wicca from a paradigm that sees magick as a thing of fantasy, this can be a really difficult barrier to overcome. So let’s talk about it a bit, shall we?

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about this dilemma is the two different spellings that get used: magic and magick. With just the addition of a simple letter, we can change the meaning of what we would’ve thought of before as just one thing: a force of fantasy capable of creating great change and wonder but that is impossible to achieve in real life.

Now, you guys may or may not have noticed this, but in my essays for the Witches’ Voice, I tend to prefer the spelling with a k, and there is a reason for this. The main reason for this is to maintain a bit of separation between the magick I work with in my life and the magic I’m used to in role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons and video games. When I first came to Wicca, I didn’t know that there could be one letter that could, for some of us, differentiate between two completely different concepts. And let me tell you, if you think I’m talking crazy again: I’m pretty sure throwing fireballs and a simple prosperity spell don’t fall under the same paradigm. That’s just my take on it. But I hope the explanation helps a little.

The next problem we come to in dealing with this barrier has to do with where we come from in terms of religion. I think I speak for a lot of us who came from either a Judeo-Christian background or from another religion that doesn’t see magick the same way that much of the Neopagan or at least the Wiccan community does. I know that for me, when I grew up, I didn’t think of magick in the same way. When I was younger, Harry Potter and The Wizard of Oz provided my definitions of Witchcraft and magic. To my young mind, the only kind of magic I knew existed in fiction and wasn’t possible in real life.

Not only that, but growing up originally in the Christian faith, magic and religion didn’t mix. And I’m sure that, in some areas where you might live (and this is based only on my experience) , magick and Witchcraft are seen in a very different light. I’ve heard about so much about a number of Fundamentalists and some other sects of Christianity who denounce Wiccans and others as being in league with the devil or some such nonsense. Most if not all of us have at least heard of the Salem Witch Trials and other occurrences from what has been called the Burning Times. Now, even though I’ve left my Christian roots somewhat behind, I have a great respect for Christianity and many of its adherents. I have no problem with Christianity as a whole. It’s just some people who become very extreme and hateful about what I choose to believe and practice. I know it’s not always Christians who say these things, but it’s mainly what comes to mind. And I’m sure it’s what comes to mind for some of you, who came to Wicca or another Pagan path from a similar background to mine. And coming from a background and religious paradigm that sees magic as non-existent or confined to fiction (and those who claim to work as, at best, perhaps slightly delusional and, at worst, evil people) , accepting magick into the way one perceives reality can be rather challenging. Believe me when I say that I’ve been there and done that.
(I really hope I’m not confusing any newcomers with the whole magic/magick thing at this point…)

What’s important to keep in mind is that magick doesn’t work the same as how we’ve seen it in books, movies, video games, etc. Magick in reality is much more subtle; you don’t see people throwing fireballs at each other or calling down lightning from the sky because things don’t work that way. In fact, I like to think of how magick works in our world (as opposed to Harry Potter, great though the series is) as something akin to the wonders of a cup of tea. Why a cup of tea, you ask? Well, it may not seem like it’s doing much, but there is a certain calming power about it when you feel distressed (or, in the case of raspberry leaf tea, really helps out with bad and painful—uh, that might be TMI) . That, and it reminds me of something my dad said when I came out of the broom closet to him. While it was obvious (as many of you know from reading my essays) that my dad would see magick as being impossible, he is more than willing to admit the wonders of cup of tea has when I’m having a nuclear meltdown. I must admit that a part of me giggled inside, thinking, “Uh, Dad? That can be magick too.”

It’s often in the little things that we wouldn’t think of as magick or wouldn’t tend to notice. I often find that the magick I sense in the world always gives me a little tingle of excitement or is tied to an emotion. It could be the calming feeling that comes when watching the waves as they drift in and out with the tide. It could be the smell of a rose or any flower. It could be the sun shining down on you on a nice day (or in the midst of a ton of snow) . It could be that feeling you have when you’re with the one you love, that tender moment when you kiss. For me, this magick I sense often comes when I’m swimming, usually in a lake or in the ocean (chlorinated pool water doesn’t cut it for this type of experience, too many chemicals) . For some reason, whenever I get farther out into the water or even when I’m in open water with only a boat nearby, I feel this surge of energy and giddiness. One thing to try is to really pay attention to those feelings and sensations. At least from my experience, they can definitely be magickal.

The last barrier I wan to talk about in talking about magick in one’s life is visualization. Some of us come to Wicca or another Pagan path with a lack of practice in visualization. Now, I talked about this in my “The Importance of Basic Techniques” essay way back when, but visualization is an essential to magickal workings as well as other aspects of a Pagan faith. For many who come to Wicca or another path from a background that doesn’t see magick as part of reality, sometimes a lack of visualization skills can impact their first attempts to work with magick. Believe me, that was I a few years ago when I was first starting out. However, with some practice, I’ve found that this is the easiest barrier to overcome, especially once the importance of this technique has been explained properly. I’ve received an email in response to that essay that thanked me for clearing up why it was so important, as the sender had merely been told to practice these techniques without any explanation as to why it mattered (I really do enjoy some of the responses I get) .

So, thinking back to “The Importance of Basic Techniques” and my evening with Max, I want you to try this exercise, if you care to oblige me (you don’t have to) . Go ahead and hold your hands a little ways apart from each other and try to feel a ball of energy between them. Nothing yet? Now try it again but try to clearly picture the ball in your mind. It doesn’t matter is how big the ball is, but I want you to actively visualize it. Picture a ball forming between your hands. It can be any color you like and can take on any aspect. Are you seeing a difference? Even if you don’t see anything (which may not happen; it didn’t for me before) , you can probably feel something keeping your hands from coming together. Visualization definitely makes a difference in that exercise.

I’m going to leave you with a few resources that really address some of the questions about magick and visualization for those who are still having trouble. The first one is, of course, the “Wicca First Degree” videos from user MagickTV on YouTube. I mentioned them back when I talked about basic techniques, but I want to give it another mention and a recommendation to check out the rest of the series as well. In particular, the exercises they give in addition to the main lessons are extremely helpful when working on visualization. Along with that, I’ve got a bit of reading material for you as well. The two main books I want to recommend are “The Inner Temple of Witchcraft” by Christopher Penczack and “Natural Witchery: Intuitive, Personal and Practical Magick” by Ellen Dugan. These two books place a lot of emphasis on visualization and psychic/magickal development for the beginner, and they’ve been a big help to me.

So, in conclusion, is it hard to sense magick in our everyday lives? For some of us, it can be, especially when we take our first few tentative steps down our chosen paths. Is it there, part of the reality around us? Of course it is, even if we don’t always notice it. And, to answer the question posed to me by a curious reader, can you work magick with all this reality around us? Yes, you can. It may be difficult at times, and you may find that some techniques may not work as well for you. But so long as you keep an open mind and an open heart, and as long as the work is meaningful to you, I personally see no reason why you can’t.

Magick is everywhere around us, part of the reality we live. And, for my part at least, it’s one of the things that makes life and spirituality truly special for any young Pagan, Wiccan or Witch.

____________________________

Footnotes:
“You Don’t Always Need Magick” by Luna
http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usmn and c=words and id=15186

“The Importance of Basic Techniques” by Luna
http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usmn and c=words and id=15057