‘THINK on THESE THINGS’ for November 20th

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

How much voice do we really have in our own affairs? How free are we to speak out on the things we know and believe and want to say? How much voice do we have in public affairs?

How much goes unsaid because it may be bad for business, or it might make us look foolish? How often we should speak up but think it is none of our business? How quiet we are when someone’s unethical hand does wrong.

What is it that inhibits us? Our own fears. Fear of our own ignorance, fear of losing, fear of the bugaboos we know lurk somewhere, but just aren’t sure where.

Who are the people who are free of fears? They are the individuals who govern themselves in such a manner as to have thought out their own ideas enough to be able to speak freely for themselves.

Ethics would seem to be something to ignore if you wish to be successful in business. Many people strive harder today than at any other time to divide their lives so that being seen in church is good taste, and being unethical in business proves they are shrewd. Being successful isn’t nearly as important as proving that they’ve gotten that way by the clever undoing of their opposition.

There was a time when building a better mouse trap by the most efficient methods gave us satisfaction, but too often these days we are impressed because someone is smart. Not smart with intelligence, but smart with the cunning that goes along with the jungle code of getting before someone gets you.

The person who tries to get ahead by ethical methods, and by wanting only to provide something better than is already in existence, must also be equipped to withstand ridicule.

Frankly, the race of the tortoise and the hare is still on, and while the hare is tearing around showing off its ability to be a fast runner, the tortoise is making progress, and never losing its way.

Socrates, being asked the way to honest fame, said, “Study to be what you wish to seem.” Success takes time and moral discipline, but our successes will be as human beings first, and then the crown of success in business will sit easily and firmly.

____________________________

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 20

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – November 20

“Money cannot buy affection.”

–Mangas Coloradas, APACHE

In these modern times we put too much emphasis on material things and on money. We believe that money is power. If we have money, people will respect us. If we have money, people will admire us. If we have money, we can have anything we want. Maybe we can purchase anything in the material world, but we cannot purchase anything in the Unseen World. The Unseen World is not for sale. It can only be given away. Love, affection, admiration, trust, respect, commitment — these must be earned or given away. If we use these things from the Unseen World, we are using real power.

My Creator, let me demonstrate Your power today. Let me be loving to all I meet.

November 20 – Daily Feast

November 20 – Daily Feast

Always take into account what your mind has in it. What of the world have you taken in and stored in all the little crevices and avenues of your mind and thinking? Guard your mind, for out of it comes what you think is possible for you. If you have stored defeat and rejection, those are the only things you have to draw on. Our voices record everything we say within our minds and hearts. Blessing or swear words, sarcasm or snappy cynicism, all are there, and all have a part in ruling life. This is the hardest part to sweep out and control, but it can be done – and it is better than storing trash.

~ Neither anger nor fury shall be found lodging in their minds. ~

IROQUOIS – CIRCA 1570

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

Daily Motivator for Nov. 20th – Creating fulfillment

Creating fulfillment

Your fulfillment does not depend on getting others to think or act in certain  ways. Your fulfillment does not depend on being impressive or successful in the  eyes of the world.

Your fulfillment depends on you. It depends on how much of yourself you  genuinely give and authentically express.

Governments, corporations, interest groups and institutions cannot give you  fulfillment or keep you from it. Regardless of your situation, you are  responsible for the fulfillment you experience.

People have all sorts of different abilities, resources, challenges,  opportunities and circumstances. Yet every person, in his or her own way, has  the possibility for true fulfillment at any time.

Don’t waste your time begging for help, assigning blame, or wishing that  things could be different. Wisely use every bit of your time joyfully and  gratefully creating the special fulfillment that is yours to create.

Stop imagining excuses and start experiencing the satisfaction of bringing  real fulfillment to every day. Now is your moment, so fill it with delightful  meaning.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

Daily OM for November 20th – Healing with Hurt

Healing with Hurt
Using Your Pain to Help Others

by Madisyn Taylor

You can channel your pain into helping others and spreading a tide of curative energy throughout the world.

Pain is a fact of being and one that permeates all of our lives to some degree. Since the hurt we feel may be a part of the experiences that have touched us most deeply, we are often loathe to let it go. It is frequently easier to keep our pain at our sides, where it a

cts as a shield that shelters us from others and gives us an identity—that of victim—from which we can draw bitter strength. However, pain’s universality can also empower us to use our hurt to help others heal. Since no pain is any greater or more profound than any other, what you feel can give you the ability to help bring about the recovery of individuals whose hurts are both similar to and vastly different from your own. You can channel your pain into transformative and healing love that aids you in helping individuals on a one-to-one basis and spreading a tide of curative energy throughout the world.

The capacity to heal others evolves naturally within those who are ready to disassociate themselves from their identity as victims. In fact, the simple decision to put aside the pain we have carried is what grants us the strength to redeem that pain through service. There are many ways to use the hurt you feel to help others. Your pain gives you a unique insight into the minds of people who have experienced trauma and heartache. You can draw from the wellspring of strength that allowed you to emerge on the other side of a painful experience and pass that strength to individuals still suffering from their wounds. You may be able to council individuals in need by showing them the coping methods that have helped you survive or simply by offering sympathy. A kinship can develop that allows you to relate more closely with those you are trying to aid and comfort.

Helping others can be a restorative experience that makes your own heart grow stronger. In channeling your pain into compassionate service and watching others successfully recover, you may feel a sense of euphoria that leads to increased feelings of self-worth and optimism. Your courageous decision to reach out to others can be the best way to declare to yourself and the world that your pain didn’t defeat you, and in fact it helped you heal.

The Goddess and The God

The Goddess and The God

Author:   Danielle.dyer   

The Goddess has been worshipped as a Triple Deity -Maiden, Mother, and Crone (Dark Mother, Wise Woman, The Hag) – from the beginning of religion. The numbers three, and multiples of three, are sacred in many ancient cultures. The priests of Babylon taught that three was a lucky number as well. In the writings of Pythagoras, we find that the philosopher called three a “triple Word, ” meaning that using the number three in particular circumstances, such as repeating spells and rituals three times, can create whatever is held in the mind of the user.

Later in history, the alchemist Paracelsus associated the number three with gold; to alchemists, gold was not so much a physical metal as a symbol for spiritual enlightenment. The ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-Tsu said that three is the perfect number, for it engenders all things. In numerology, the number three represents creativity, activity, and knowledge.

Ancient Mystery Schools always had three main steps or degrees through which the student must pass. Today, we still find this idea of three degrees of knowledge used to designate a Witch’s progress in a coven.

We can understand this trinity better if we compare it to the three stages of human life: youth and puberty, adulthood, and old age. Since the Goddess’s power is all encompassing She will present aspects that speak to all humans, regardless of their age. These esoteric ideas cover and comfort from birth to death and beyond.

The first Goddess aspect is the Maiden. This phase holds the matrix of creation, which will produce and create when the time is ripe. She is matter and energy held in suspension until the right time arrives. The Maiden, sometimes called the Virgin or the Huntress, represents the Spring of the year, the dawn, fresh beginnings of all life, the repeating cycle of birth and rebirth, the waxing moon and the crescent moon, enchantment, and seduction. Her traditional color is white. She is the Way-Shower, the Guide through the inner labyrinth to the Divine Center where the greatest of spiritual Mysteries lie.

The second Goddess aspect is the Mother. This is the matrix in motion, the archetype involved in active creation. In humans, the physical desire, the mental will and concentration, and the spiritual balance and understanding are all necessary to produce a desired result. It is easy for humans to identify with the Mother aspect, for they see the Mother around them in all human and animal mothers. The Mother aspect of the Goddess represents the Summer, blazing noon, reproduction, and fertility, the ripeness of life, the Full Moon, and high point in all cycles. Her traditional color is red, the color of blood and life itself. She is the Great Teacher of the Mysteries.

The last aspect is the crone, also called the Dark Mother, the Old Wise One, or the Hag. Since this aspect symbolizes death and dissolution, it is frightening to many people. Everything in the universe has a life cycle, at the end of which they malfunction, decay, and transform into a different set of materials, elements that are recycled and reformed into something new. In humans, the soul is recycled by the Crone and her cauldron into a new incarnation. The Crone represents winter, the night, the universal abyss where life rests before rebirth, the gateway to death and reincarnation, the waning moon and the New Moon, and the deepest of Mysteries and prophecies. Her traditional color is black, and sometimes the deepest of purples or dark blue. She is the Initiator into the Mysteries.

The fact that She is a single archetype plus a trinity of aspects makes Her very complex. It is impossible to reduce the Goddess’s spiritual form and meaning to words on paper. She is the beginning, the ending, and everything in between.

The Horned God has been recognized and worshipped as far back as the Stone Age, where we find paintings of horned, ithyphallic men. The Horned God is not the Christian devil. We find the image of the Pagan God in the Egyptian god Amun-Ra, with his ram’s horns and in the Greek Great God Pan, with his goat horns and hooves. Among the Celts, the Horned God was called Cernunnos. This deity was sometimes linked with the Otherworld, particularly the Underworld section, and reincarnation.

In the original myths concerning the God, one finds him as the co-creator, vital companion, and mystical priest of the Goddess. His prime purpose is to join with Her to create order out of chaos, substance of spiritual matter, and life from universal energies swirling in the dark abyss. His next purpose is to carry out Her will and see that Her laws are obeyed.

The God is also frequently seen in trinity form, although, like the Goddess, His more complex that this simple definition. The three aspects are the Divine Child, the Son/Lover, and the Sacrificed Savior/Lord of Death. Even though these three aspects are the most important, the God has many others: Sky-Father and Ruler of the Heavens, Lord of the Forest and Animals, the Supreme Healer, the Trickster, God of Judgment, the Great Magus or Magician, God of the Waters, and the Hero-Warrior.

As the Divine Child, the God represents beginnings and the start of new cycles. This includes new hope and new opportunities, physical as well as mental, emotional, and spiritual. His traditional color is the dark green of plant life. The Divine Child is the signpost of the inner spiritual journey we each must take, the sign that says, “begin here.” We begin as a child, taking the first tentative steps along an unknown and unfamiliar path that leads to a mystical destination that is difficult to understand until we reach the end.

The Son/Lover aspect symbolizes maturity and responsibility, the desire to take into account the needs of others more than oneself. The God in this aspect balances sexual desire and need with companionship and tenderness. His traditional color is red, the color of the life force and the birth fluids. Combined with the powers of the Goddess, He shows us that there must be a blending of different energies to create. This creation includes ideas, inventions, and the arts. He is the Companion on our spiritual journey, the one who points out the path if we start to go astray.

The Great Rite of Wicca is connected with the Mother aspect of the Goddess and the Son/Lover aspect of the God. Those outside the Wiccan religion can misunderstand this Rite. The Great Rite has its roots in the ancient Sacred Marriage between priestess and King, which dates back to the Neolithic era. Originally, a king or tribal ruler could not hold the office unless he wed the Goddess. He had to be a Chosen One, either appointed by the High Priestess of the tribe’s religion, or have passed certain stringent tests. This esoteric, spiritual marriage was symbolized by actual nuptials between the would-be king and the High Priestess of the Goddess or the land, which included sexual rites.

Today, Wiccan groups usually practice this Rite in symbolic form, rather than in actuality. The symbolic act is the dipping of the athame into a cup of wine or juice during a ritual (the cup symbolizes the womb of the Goddess and the athame the phallus of the God) . Some Witches believe that the priestess should dip the athame into a cup of wine or juice held by the priest. However, you can reverse this, with the priestess holding the cup and the priest using the athame. If the Great Rite is physically performed, it is in private and between a husband and wife, high priestess and priest.

The Sacrificed Savior/Lord of Death aspect of the God can be difficult to understand as the dark aspect of the Crone. Mystery Religions frequently were connected with the Sacrificed Savior, who gave his life so that spiritual knowledge and enlightenment could come into the world. This aspect of the God always resurrected and lived again, reminding us that everything is recycled and that human life reincarnates. The Greeks used the word soter for Savior; soter means “one who sows the seed.” In mythology, the Sacrificed Savior was reborn of the Earth Mother aspect of the Goddess.

The Lord of Death was originally the Lord of Comfort for the souls who rest in the abyss before rebirth. At the will of the Goddess, He gathers souls at the proper time and guides them to the afterlife, while comforting those who fear or are in pain. Under His Celtic guise of Lord or the Wild Hunt, the God sees that karmic debts are paid and that destiny is fulfilled. In this, He is the equivalent of the Greek goddesses, the Erinyes. However, unlike the Erinyes, who relentlessly and mercilessly hunted down those guilty of the breaking of blood laws, the Lord of the Hunt makes certain that the souls He seeks are ready for the transition, that they are in the right place at the right time to meet their destiny.

Although His appearance and actions are fearsome, this aspect of the God is actually one of great compassion. His traditional color is the black of the abyss in the Underworld, the temporary black of death that absorbs and erases pain and suffering. He is the Gate-Keeper, who tests our worth before we are allowed to enter the deepest Mysteries.

Southern Hemisphere Magick

Southern Hemisphere Magick

Author: Frances

Despite what appears to be a wealth of information available on neo-Pagan traditions, one section of the community seems to be grossly under-represented and that is those of us who reside in the Southern Hemisphere – Australia, New Zealand and even South Africa, to name but three countries. The majority of authors residing in the Northern Hemisphere seem to have little or no knowledge at all of the differences between the hemispheres. And if such a difference is acknowledged, it is usually limited to only the Sabbats. It is no wonder that endless debates occur on how to “do things” down under.

The following is a suggestion based on my own personal observances as both a Wytch and magickian who resides in the Southern Hemisphere, which may be of assistance to others.

There are at least four major differences between the Hemispheres. The first is the obvious six-month difference in the seasons. When it is Midsummer in the Northern Hemisphere, we in the South are celebrating Midwinter (the “Christmas in July” theme is becoming a popular event even amongst non-Pagans). The dates, according to general consensus, of the Southern Sabbats are:

Samhain – 30 April

Midwinter Solstice (Yule) – 21 June

Imbolg – 1 August

Spring or Vernal Equinox (Eostre) – 21 September

Bealtaine – 1 November

Midsummer Solstice (Litha) – 21 December

Lughnasadh – 1 February

Autumn Equinox (Mabon) – 21 March

If we use the astrological signs in which the Sun moves into to determine each Sabbat date as opposed to actual calendar dates, then this too is changed by six months:

Samhain – 15 deg Taurus

Midwinter Solstice – 0 deg Cancer

Imbolg – 15 deg Leo

Spring Equinox – 0 deg Libra

Bealtaine – 15 deg Scorpio

Midsummer Solstice – 0 deg Capricorn

Lughnasadh – 15 deg Aquarius

Autumn Equinox – 0 deg Aries

This means that Northern Hemisphere-based festivals appear largely out of place in the Southern Hemisphere. Our Morris Dances however still celebrate “May Day” on 1 May regardless of the fact that it marks the beginning of Winter; likewise the Christian Easter falls in Autumn as opposed to Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. However, there are specific events that do align – in particular specific Southern Hemisphere-based public holidays. One good example is ANZAC Day, the day on which we remember Australian and New Zealand service men and women that died at war. This day of remembrance occurs on 25 April, close to the Southern Samhain on 30 April.

The next major difference between the Hemispheres is the direction in which the Sun moves across the sky. As in the Northern Hemisphere, the Sun still rises in the East and sets in the West, however on its journey across the sky in the Southern Hemisphere, it travels via the North because of the tilt of the Earth’s axis. For this reason, most Pagans in the Southern Hemisphere cast their circles in this direction, via the North or in an anti-clockwise direction.

It irks me when authors refer to deosil as meaning “clockwise” and widdershins as meaning “anticlockwise.” Not only does this not apply to the Southern Hemisphere, but also it is etymologically incorrect. According to the Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary, the word deosil comes from the Anglo-Saxon word meaning “sunwise” or “in the direction of the (apparent) motion of the sun,” and in the Southern Hemisphere this is anticlockwise. The term widdershins comes from the Middle High Germanic word “widersinnes” meaning “against the sun.” In the Southern Hemisphere, this is clockwise, representing the direction for banishing, winding down energies or even for darker workings. Of course, as English – as well as other European languages incorporated into the English language – stem from the Northern Hemisphere as opposed to the Southern Hemisphere, Northern associations are more dominant. For example, deosil is also said to come from the Irish word “cor deiseil” which means “auspicious right hand turn,” while widdershins is akin to the Irish “cor tuathal” meaning “the mundane left-hand turn.” To save confusion, however, for Southern Hemispheric Pagans, I prefer and recommend the first definition with respect to the Sun.

A further observance is that the energy flow of the Earth between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres is also reversed. Prior to spending time in England I was told to observe the direction in which the water drained down the plughole. In the Northern Hemisphere, energy moves in a clockwise direction, whereas in the Southern Hemisphere, it is anti-clockwise.

If we take the above information into consideration when placing the elements around our magickal circle, it then seems logical for the placement of Fire to be in the North, while Earth is placed in the South. Environmentally, to the North is the Equator and from the North come the scorching Summer winds. North is also the placement in the sky of the Noonday Sun. In the South however, where the Sun never appears in the Southern Hemisphere, are the bitter cold Winter winds, as well as the frozen mass we refer to as Antarctica. However, this goes against the directional placements of the elements in more traditional Pagan groups.

I know a number of traditional Crafters who continue to place their altars in the North because according to their tradition (despite it being Northern Hemispheric-based) this is the “dark quarter.” One reasoning behind this is that on the astral the directional placements of the elements do not matter. If this is the case, then when I operate between the worlds, it should not matter if my physical altar and circle casting reflects the land in which I reside. Surely, if the founders of Earth-based traditions such as the Craft and Wicca (for example, Gerald Gardner, Alex Sanders or even Aleister Crowley) were based, or had spent some time, in the Southern Hemisphere, would they not have taken the differences into consideration?

Some Pagans living in the eastern states of Australia not only swap the elemental directions of Fire and Earth around, but also Water and Air. When you take the environment into consideration, it is easy to see why they do this. East of Australia is the Tasman Sea or even the Pacific Ocean – large bodies of water. In the Southern Hemisphere our weather patterns move largely from the West (therefore the placement of Air).

Another difference between the hemispheres, which is often overlooked, is the direction in which the crescents of the Waxing and Waning Moons point. In the Southern Hemisphere, the Waxing Moon in the sky actually points to the right, while the Waning Moon points to the left. Therefore the symbol of the Triple Moon Goddess (the maiden, mother and crone) reflects an introverted appearance opposed to the extroverted appearance in the Northern Hemisphere. But there are times where the Moon decides to really throw the spanner into the works and the Waxing Moon can be observed lying on her back pointing upwards, and the corresponding Waning Moon pointing downwards.

For us Southern Pagan practitioners, there is more to take into consideration when we work our magick and our circles than simply swapping the Sabbat dates around. And with the varying opinions and reasons behind even basic circle casting, it is little wonder newcomers to the various Pagan traditions in the Southern Hemisphere find it all very confusing. Maybe Pagan book publishers should take this into consideration, and if anyone is interested in issuing a contract for such a book, I would be interested in writing one (shameless plug, but I couldn’t resist).

In the Southern Hemisphere not only do we appear to do things standing on our heads but also working backwards as well – or maybe it is you Northern Hemispheric Pagans who have got it wrong.

The Pagan Man

The Pagan Man

Author:   Panisch Lockelear   

When you see images of the green man, Hermes, and the horned gods of many pagan religious paths, it is easy to deduce that the male role is important within out pagan society. When I was younger, I went from elder to elder seeking to understand my role as a male in the ways of the various pagan paths. Although my findings were varied, a single idea prevailed. One of a strong man, full of wisdom. A protector of the innocent and a hunter and provider.

This was somewhat different from the images I was exposed to as a younger pagan male. The men that made up most of the pagan community seemed to be a little more and a little less, when measured to this general sense or idea of a pagan man.

On first impressions of the male pagan, I saw a man full of strong drink, drumming from dusk until dawn, a savage sexual appetite, and servant to the woman of their choosing. On the other hand I could also see a man that cared about his own and all children. I found a wealth of teachings about the land we call mother, and the ways and order of the circle of life we all share.

I must say that many ways and experiences from the pagan men who influenced me greatly, were in my mind conflicting. How could a strong man be a hunter, provider and protector of his clan or those who he was sided and also be sub servant, nurturing and bow to what seemed like a lesser position within our religion?

The men, who I learned from, were all of these things and more. Why then would they seem to take a lesser position within our pagan community?

In talking to a man who had the greatest impact on me as a pagan young man, I learned a lot from my mentor and elder Pond hopper I think he had the greatest impact on me, because he seemed to always have time to answer my often strange questions. He took the time to explain this to me and what I noticed was these were teachings he himself actually lived by.

I remember getting into the subject of pagan male role models and I asked him who his were. His answer surprised me. He said ‘ the Grey Squirrel’.

His words hit home for me. ‘You see, the Grey Squirrel helps his mate to make a house in the trees for the family, he helps her in gathering nuts and food for the long winter’. ‘ When a wayward bird comes along to attack him and his young, he becomes a fierce fighter, yet to see the male Grey Squirrel with his young, he is tender and playful.’

I thought on this and quickly replied to Pond hopper asking him, ‘ well what about sharks or fish, who eat their young or leave their young to fend for themselves, never becoming a part of their life?’

I realize his reply to me now was to make me think for myself. He said to me, ‘ Have you ever heard on the television or read in a paper where a man hurt one of his kids or left his family alone?’

Then he asked me…’ Why do you think that is?’

Of course I had no idea at that age as to why. Later on he explained by simply asking, it is funny how we mirror nature and nature seems to mirror us? The fact is we are not being mirrored at all, because we are apart of this circle of life.

We must play our role in this circle. The only difference between the animals and us is the fact that we can choose. We can choose to either be like the Grey Squirrel or like the shark. I pondered this for many years and found a lot of honor in his teachings.

I slowly began to understand that a good pagan man could be fierce and strong when need be. He can be a hunter and he can be a teacher as well.

A mature pagan man also understands that he is apart of a larger circle as well and must learn to adapt, live and work within both the clan family and the natural circles he finds himself in. I learned that there is a natural order and there is a wisdom needed to be able to navigate this order. This is something the pagan male will strive to become comfortable with by making mistakes and testing his bounds.

Falling down, becomes our teacher and the prize is wisdom. I have fallen down a lot in my life and on my pagan path. For that, I thank the gods and pond hopper for the effort and the gift of time they took to raise me to be a pagan man.

I still strive to understand the mother Earth and her circle that I must be a part of. I learned that I would fall down and in doing so I will learn. I know now that the role of the pagan male is something different to all of us depending on the teachers we have had. The way we have gained our wisdom to navigate the circles we are in are important. They are as important and those elders who take the time to teach us.

I am reminded that in my life as a pagan male, I am a role model for those younger men who watch me. They look to me for the knowledge needed to find their place within the circle as hunters, providers, protectors, servants, and men of real wisdom. I know that I owe a debt to the circle of life.

I know now that Pond Hopper was a man that understood the need to lead by example. I also know that while I may fall down, this is not the end of me. To be strong enough to do that means that I am not relegated to a lesser role within the pagan religion. My role is very well defined and the gods and my mentors are my guides.

Witches Do It In A Magical Circle

Witches Do It In A Magical Circle

Author:   Rhys Chisnall   

Sacred space is a space that is ‘experienced or seen as’ sacred but remember, this need not mean it has any extra unseen property. In many religions, it is a permanent structure such as a church, a mosque, a druid’s grove or a temple. The place is seen as sacred, as numinous and special suitable and worthy of where the Divine can be experienced. These places are often made sacred through certain rites and ritual… a form of magic, which to my mind is the manipulation of meaning to transform phenomenal reality. The rites are the manipulation of meaning which leads to ‘experiencing as’ the church as sacred (even to those who never partook in the original rituals) and if that is not the transformation of phenomenal reality I don’t know what is.

Witchcraft differs from other religious and spiritual traditions in that it does not have any permanent sacred spaces. There are no permanent temples in the initiatory Craft perhaps because it is a spiritual tradition where the focus of the experience of the Divine is through life and death, where there is no dualism between the sacred and the profane, therefore there is no need for a permanent temple. In the Craft the sacred space is declared at every meeting, wherever and whenever the coven meets.

This sacred space is declared when the circle is cast by the High Priestess with her athame and is both psychological and mythological in character. It is psychological, firstly, as it is visualised by and ‘felt by’ the participants as the sphere is formed about them. It is ‘experienced as’ by the mind through an act of imagination. Secondly, the setting up of the sacred space in the Craft prepares the Witches for the rite in which they are to participate. For example a church is laid out to either assault the senses such as in the stain glass, incense, bells, candles, crucifixes and robes of the priest in Catholicism, or the in the stark whitewash and lack of symbolism of the Methodists. The symbolism, the bells and smells of the Catholic or the austerity stemming from the suspicion of idolatry of the Protestant both work to put the worshipper into a worshipful and receptive state of mind.

Likewise the words, gestures, incense, candle light and nudity involved in the casting of the circle puts the Witches into the state of mind where magic (the manipulation of meaning to transform phenomenal reality) can occur. If the same method of casting is used each time (as in Initiatory Craft) , then expectation and classical conditioning (like Pavlov’s dogs) combine to create the appropriate state of mind with little effort on the part of the Witch. Vivianne Crowley (1989) tells us of one priestess who says something like, “I only need to hear the swish of a broom and I am in an altered state of consciousness”. I can confirm from experience that that this is certainly the case. During the set up of our rituals and the casting of the circle, after twelve years of being with the same coven, I automatically slip into ritual consciousness.

The circle is also mythological and is full of symbolism. The circle can relate to four of the classical elements, air, fire, water and earth. It can relate, like the phases of the moon and the wheel of the year to the stages of life such as youth, maturity, old age and death. To my mind this means it can relate to stages in the hero’s journey, the mono-myth described by Professor Joseph Campbell in his book, The Hero with a Thousand faces. This is the journey of the mystic, who goes out into the metaphorical wilderness, fairy land, the world of adventure. It is here that the mystic has their adventure/experience, attaining gnosis (spiritual knowledge) , before returning to everyday life where they have to integrate what they have learnt. The failed hero or mystic is not able to do this and is stuck in the adventure world and so perishes. The circle can also be symbolic of the changing seasons of the year, spring, summer, autumn, and winter, which of course, underpin the myths of the Craft.

The circle, mythologically speaking, is out of time. It is also all time, all the seasons, all the stages of life, all parts of the hero’s quest and so paradoxically, which can happen in myth, is all time and at the same time it is out of time. The circle is experienced as the mythological every-when, fairy land and eternity where the tick, tick, tick of time does not pass; there is no past, present or future. Mythologically speaking, this is the mystical state. It is in this space were we experience mythologically, rather than logically. We participate in mythology, finding meaning that allows us to engage with the mysteries.

It acts as a mythological circle that psychologically contains the emotion and meaning. It represents the keeping away of thoughts and feeling not required for the ritual. These are the daily round of duties and thoughts, which might be stresses about work, money, or whether we have left the cooker on. They are outside the psychological circle and we within the ritual are on the inside. It is a psychological and mythological barrier between the emotions, thoughts and meaning necessary for the job at hand, and those that would distract us from our purpose. So the circle acts as a boundary and protection of meaning containing the emotional power we raise.

To conclude it is both a mythological space where we engage with and act mythologically and a psychological boundary. However, while this requires imagination, visualisation and concentration; it is not the same thing as play-acting. Rather it is ‘seeing as’, making and experiencing as profound meaning rather than simply make believe. This meaning can be allegorical but it is also archetypal in that it related to our deep feelings that are invoked by what is fundamentally important in life.

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Footnotes:
Campbell, J, (1993) , The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Fortana Press
Crowley, V., (1989) , Wicca: The Old Religion in the New Age, Aquarian Press

Which Witch? Philosophical and Psychological Roots of Wicca

Which Witch? Philosophical and Psychological Roots of Wicca

Author:   Radko Vacek   

Here is the background story for the jackpot question! English folklore is a treasury of tales. Two of these are so old that they probably helped Jeoffrey Chaucer as a little boy (c. 1350) to develop his imagination to write The Canterbury Tales. Both folktales involve Witches. The one involves a Witch getting melted by water, which was incorporated into The Wizard of Oz. The second actually involves a Witch getting EATEN, by a little boy! Which Witch is she? For the jackpot, name that Witch! Tick-tick-tick- time’s up! Did you win? Check* at the end of this article!

I really did it this time! Here I am supposed to be a writer, and I make my entry as a game show host! Am I guilty of foolishness, rightly convicted to rejection?

No! I was guilty, but I CHOOSE to make myself innocent through the power of Witchcraft! As Witches, we can choose to do that, contrary to what Christians say. They say that the human condition is a coin which has the following two sides: 1) no matter what we ever do, never can we by our powers alone redeem our sins, and 2) no matter what we did, our souls can be saved, if we accept the love of God.

I say that whatever I did is irrelevant with respect to my status now, because I can choose to do this: to develop and use my power to magically transform my nature from weakness to strength, including in the moral sense from guilt to innocence. According to Christians, we are doomed to be sinners by our powerless nature, whereas we can exercise our power of choice to magically empower ourselves.

I agree with Christians up to this point: human nature strongly tends to be evil. The ideas of many prominent philosophers and writers over the ages were summarized by Dr. Sigmund Freud, in this statement in his book Civilization and Its Discontents: “Man is a savage beast”. First of all, man is an animal; it is impossible for any animal to ‘harm none’. No animal can make its own nutrients, as do plants in cooperation with the sun. All animals are in competition with one another to kill other life in order to sustain their own lives. Even so-called harmless hares are not, because they compete to kill plants to survive. Plants, although different from animals, are forms of life nonetheless.

In us, this harmfulness is especially pronounced through the powers of our human brains. The more powerful, the more dangerous, and this is especially important to us, empowered through choosing Witchcraft! We have a moral obligation to the world to abide 100% under ALL circumstances to the ideal of the Wiccan Rede, meaning always to avoid harming to the utmost limits of our capacities.

The vileness of our species is not limited to adults. In fact, it often is more pronounced in children. Many people love to sentimentally depict little children as little angels. Is that ever a joke! Generally, it is lucky that they don’t have the power coming with being big. In order to keep them under control, sometimes you must play the part of the wicked Witch of the West. How fascinating to note that Margaret Hamilton, who played her, started out teaching kindergarten! I bet she got practice for her most famous role with the little devils, nipping those horns at the buds. Young children have not developed their consciences enough to where they can nip those points themselves.

As we move on into our later childhoods and beyond, the conscience is nurtured into a more potent force, so that it starts to hurt our self-esteem to recognize ourselves as evil. This does not necessarily at all mean that we stop doing bad deeds. Our brains also grow, to where we can rationalize our bad deeds in order to keep feeling good about ourselves, even as we act cruelly. For instance, many Christians love to rationalize their cruelty to animals by saying, “They don’t have souls, ” even though in their Bible, Proverbs 12: 10, cruelty to animals is condemned as wicked. Lest I be accused of picking on Christians, we Witches are great at rationalizing our cruelty, making brilliant excuses for working black magic on those we judge worth “the best!”

Never do I have the right, being just human myself, to execute judgment on another person, “to play God, ” as they say. I think that we are okay in working a spell to petition our grievances about others, and ourselves too, to the Higher Powers, but for their judgment, not ours! The domain of the REAL Witch always has been healing, never malpractice on perceived enemies. If we do, then we disgrace our calling no less than Nazi doctors.

So that I am not accused of advocating standards that I myself could not keep, I have experienced such temptations, and for a while, I did yield to them. I have had quite some stresses over the past twenty-two years, and have blamed certain perceived enemies and a side of myself, and I have hated them, and them in me, for it. An important lesson in psychology is that, when I point my finger at others, my four remaining ones are pointing back at me. That is, the things I hate in others probably also are things that I hate in myself. I have yielded to temptation in starting to hex in order to destroy those enemies and that hated side of myself. I am thankful that I have since grown into a real Witch, one strong enough to stop myself from playing judge. I have not forgotten, but now I leave the matter to Divine Judgment regarding others and myself. We become real Witches when we realize that we do not have the right to destroy. The Wiccan Rede is not an afterthought; it is at the very heart of real Witchcraft.

Besides rationalizing, unconsciously lying, how else do grown-ups remedy guilt? Christians believe that, although we all are doomed to be sinners, we can become saved sinners. As a Witch, I believe that I am not doomed to stay wicked, no matter what I may have done. I have magical powers to develop, and, beyond regenerating things physically, among the most noble uses of these powers is rehabilitating myself morally, so that I can look myself in the mirror and have self-respect without self-deception.

One of the worst side effects of Christianity is to deny rehabilitation as a serious possibility. Even though Jesus taught us to forgive one another, in practice Christian society has become unforgiving. Christians have corrupted the premise that we are morally powerless into a prejudice that people do not have the power to rehabilitate. There is an attitude of, “Once a crook, always one, ” very much in effect everywhere. In fact, all it takes to be off the list of candidates is having changed jobs a lot when you were younger, even being unemployed for more than six months! How merciful! People are judged by their resumes, what they have done in the past, without regard for what they may have made of themselves through learning from experience. I define Error as the best teacher. Show me the person who never made errors and I will show you someone who has not learned much, and is among my prime suspects for the fool! Christians say we are sinners for being imperfect, and I say no one gets wise by being perfect. They call them sinners, but I call a few of them sages, the real Witches.

This topic of real Witches as ones exercising their magical powers to perfect their imperfections leads into another essential point. Beginners, I do suspect, see Witchcraft as a means to bend the surrounding world to their wills. However, much of the Craft, and often the most effective working, is directed toward changing the inner reality of the world made largely out of our own perceptions.

Let us embark on an active way of knowing what makes the Witch a Witch.

Why not start this in a light vein, or may I say, a light paw? In my poem, Meeeow! posted on Witchvox, the speaker, a Witch, declares, “No matter what you think I am, I know I am the cat, for how my light paws go.” The witch has changed her very being, from human to feline, by most thoroughly playing the part of the cat. This is not much a matter of the objective truth of what the Witch is, but much more of the subjective reality of how she is perceived to be. As far as all the other cats experience her, “I am one too, to all the other cats, for what I do.” Her acts determine their and our perceptions, which determine the reality of the subjective world, in which we all also live. In fact, more of what we know as the world arises from experiencing our own, personal, inner reality than from experiencing whatever the truths of the surrounding, outside world may be.

This brings to mind, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a well-known short story by James Thurber. The author described the world in which his character lived, consisting of a reality only vaguely corresponding to the truth of the outer world, largely made by Mr. Mitty himself out of his own perceptions. We all could be a.k.a. Walter Mitty, because we all live in our private worlds made largely out of the reality of our own unique perceptions. We can make sense out of seemingly nonsensical behavior, if we understand the reality of perceptions underlying it.

I have come to value the redeeming graces of the cat – magical, graceful, redeemed by beauty – more than ever before, because now dogs no longer scare them out of my field of experience. Canine-oriented parents raised me, and until three years ago, always I had dogs, mostly more than one at a time. Up until the end of 2009, I used to walk a pack of four dogs, a feat for which I was well known but hardly always lauded. Whatever other people might have thought I was, to my dogs I was one of them, “top dog” of the pack. It was not a matter of the truth of what I was, but rather the reality of what I was perceived to be. The truth versus the reality – that is the distinction at the heart of understanding the working of magic and the nature of a Witch.

I propose that at least two-thirds of magic happens in the minds of perceivers. There is this common misunderstanding that when something is in your mind, it is “just in your mind”, meaning it is not real. Nothing can be further from the truth! The magic happening in your mind is among the most potent, energy-efficient, and moral magic that can be. Below follows my rationale for my statement:

Suppose that you are discontent with your limited material possessions. If you are a typical disciple of the Craft, then you will work some form of spell for prosperity or better employment. A better working, however, would treat the discontent. Why? Because really the problem is much more that your discontent is causing you to perceive your material possessions as inadequate, rather than that your material possessions are truly inadequate and cause you to feel discontent. The following maxim makes quite some sense: treasure what you have and you have treasure. Objectively, you may have little, but if you are satisfied with it, then you are subjectively richer than someone among the richest, yet who is not satisfied and always wants more. Therefore, it is better to work the magic between your ears, turning your discontented mind into a contented one.

Besides, it usually takes less energy to magically transform your mind than to bend the whole, wide world out there to suit your desire! This also is more moral; because it often is unfair to impose on the world in order fulfill your own selfish wishes. The world has its own legitimate pursuits for which that extra energy is needed; so do not hog it for yourself! The following story clarifies this:

Once upon a time, a boy was born with very sensitive eyes. Every time he went outside, he would feel nearly blinded by the daylight, which was very painful to his eyes. He decided to invoke the god Hyperion, to beg his cooperation in a spell to dull the intensity of sunshine when he was outside. The spelled worked and he gave his utmost gratitude to “The One Above”. Really though, the sunshine was just as bright as ever. Hyperion knew that the trees and all other living things welcomed the brightness of sunshine after winter, and that their survival depended on it. The spell was granted between the boy’s ears, so that his mind would better tolerate the sunshine. But the result was exactly the same as far as the boy could tell, and this way both he and the world were left contented.

As I have written, the distinction between the truth and the reality is at the heart of understanding the working of magic and the nature of a Witch. In terms of the example I just gave, the truth of the brightness of sunshine stayed the same, but the reality of the world as the boy perceived it changed, and this clearly was the easier, far kinder magical solution. What does this tell us about the nature of the Witch?

The competent Witch has the wisdom and the ethics to choose the better solution. It is forgotten that the name ‘Witch’ shares its roots with the word ‘wisdom’. The real Witch discerns that, at least sometimes, the better solution may not even be the magical one, and that the moral solution typically is the more efficient one as well.

I may be ready to give a tentative definition of the Witch: A Witch is a person with a deep knowledge of the objective truths and the subjective realities of the world, acquired through CHOOSING to interact, not only physically, but also metaphysically, that is, magically, with the things of the world.

Why would the real Witch sometimes not choose a magical solution? Consider the example of a student who wants to be a doctor, but is not making the grades. Should she work a spell to do so? She could, but very few medical students have worked spells to get into and through school. When I was in graduate school working toward an M.A. in psychology, my academic advisor asked me how many hours of sleep I got each night. I answered eight. Dr. Benjamin Luck told me, “If you ever go on for your doctorate, you will have to learn to get by on less than eight hours of sleep. When I was working on mine, I was lucky if I got five.” His advice also would make a fine solution for the would-be medical student in my example. Diligence sometimes beats spells in solving problems!

On the other hand, there are times when one type of magic may be the best solution after all. All the diligence may not work without the prerequisite aptitude. For instance, medical students are very diligent, but doctors also have I.Q.s averaging about 130, in the top 2% of the population. If someone’s intelligence is only average, the M.D. is most likely an unrealistic goal. In similar cases, the magical transformation between the ears, meaning changing perception, often is the best solution.

I have heard many young adults who like animals say they want to be veterinarians. The D.V.M. often is even harder than the M.D. to accomplish. It is obvious that most of these young people will not meet the requirements. Why not try going the vet. tech. route? That may not be so easy either, but usually it is much more realistic! They need to work the magic of turning their fantasies into realistic goals. As I wrote before, this is a very real magic. It is not necessary to be a “big shot” in order to feel fulfilled; this feeling of fulfillment, rather than egotistical pride, is the goal of much worthwhile magic.

Is it possible to raise I.Q. magically? Yours yes, mine no! I am hopeless! But are you sure you want to be a genius? A quote of Sir Henry Maximilian Beerhohm advises us, “I have known no man of genius who had not to pay, in some affliction or defect, either physical or spiritual, for what the gods had given him.” He himself was an ingenious writer, so I bet he knew what he was talking about. Before you sign your name in the blood of magical commitment, be sure to read the fine print!

This leads to a common misunderstanding of the nature of Witchcraft, the idea that magic is a way to make major changes with minimal investment. It is the misconception that, by using a few affordable supplies, you can bend the whole world to grant your wishes. This is a lottery-ticket type of fantasy.

All Witches should remember one of the most essential laws ever: the Law of Conservation. Although it is taught in physics, it is equally essential to metaphysics, and applies every bit as much here and now as it does in a chemistry lab. In lay terms its essential meaning is that we cannot get something for nothing. We should only expect to get out of the world, what we put into it.

Yes, the Witch accepts that the world has enough degrees of freedom to allow magical transformations to be, but still, no real Witch is foolish enough to expect extraordinary magic, that which bends the whole world, without extraordinary discipline. Every beginner would love to have the powers of a Witch Doctor. They forget that Witch Doctors typically have endured prerequisite ordeals, which could easily have been fatal, in order to acquire their world-bending powers. Yes, some problems do require Herculean power to solve, but perhaps most magical solutions involve the mental magic of changing our perceived reality, much easier on us and, as I have stated, probably fairer to the surrounding world.

The choice is yours as the aspiring Witch. Neither choice is inherently better. The easier way, although maybe not heroic, often is more realistic, and life is, after all, hard enough without making it harder. On the other hand, the harder way, although earned at great cost, may well be heroic, and there is a satisfaction in reaching “the seemingly unreachable star” not to be gained any other way. Novice Witch, CHOOSE your values and pursue your way!

The verb ‘to choose’ is highlighted because our strong endorsement of choosing is largely what sets us apart from Christians. They believe none of us has the choice to transcend our sinful nature, just to let it be redeemed through accepting Divine Love. Let us turn our attention to the Witch defined in terms of being someone who chooses to believe in a certain way. I do not think one can choose to be an atheist and stay consistent with being a Witch. There is a religious component that naturally goes together with the Craft, with the practice and the theology being like two sides of one coin.

Here is a tentative, expanded version of my definition: A Witch is a person with a deep knowledge of the objective truths and the subjective realities of the world, acquired through CHOOSING to interact, not only physically, but also metaphysically, that is, magically, with the things of the world. An essential part of the subjective reality of the Witch arises from CHOOSING to revere Higher Powers operating in nature, and to realize the divine, magical potentials in oneself.

We do well in asking, does the Witch need to be defined in any theological context at all? In the Oxford definition, the Devil is implied; the word ‘evil’ is contained in ‘Devil’, the personification of evil. In my tentative definition, I have referred to Higher Powers and divine potentials. Can we find a new, secular definition of Witch, as illustrated by the series Bewitched? The Witches there, I am fairly sure, never were portrayed as practicing a religion, nor, as far as I know, were there ever any allusions made to religion.

Nonetheless, at a subliminal level, it was the overturning of the conservative, tyrannical stance toward being a Witch, and more generally being somehow different, which gave that series its charm. In fact, the story-line of the series would have failed as comedy without religion subliminally supporting it. It was comical mainly because of Darrin playing nearly a parody of a minister saying, thou shalt not do it, while Samantha always ended up wiggling her nose anyway. The main point was that she did it without tragic results, without getting struck by lightning for doing it. She could be seen as practicing a religion of liberalism, obviously without the scripts explicitly making this point. Her behavior can be seen as reflecting an underlying, liberal philosophy of seeing the God of Genesis as Mr. Liberal, with the right to CHOOSE as his first and finest gift to her and to all of us. Therefore, I do not think that Witches as magically empowered persons can be divorced from the deity empowering them.

The verb ‘to CHOOSE’ is in caps throughout for an essential reason. All people, when they say that they do some action, really mean that they choose to do it, but this fact is kept implicit, and therefore done nearly automatically and just semiconsciously. The distinction of the Witch is making the choice explicitly, choosing deliberately. By doing so, she considerably extends her power to choose, and indirectly to change her inner reality and the outside world as well. By making herself aware that she is choosing to do anything, not limited to magic, she gains more and more control over her faculty of choice and more refinement in exercising this power to choose.

No, I am not guilty of sexism for using the feminine pronoun. Witchcraft continues to be associated with femininity, but males too have the feminine inner reality of their anima, according to the great psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung.

Have I been guilty of wasting your time with this article? If so, I apologize. We can assume that I think it was worth writing, but regarding whether or not it was worth your reading, only you are smart enough to be the judge! I accept your judgment!

*Are you a winner as well? The answer to the QUESTION is: The SandWich!

P.S. If you are a winner, congratulations! Just to let you know, at last I have picked a magical name: The SandWich. I find it in good taste. I hope you do too!