‘THINK on THESE THINGS’ for December 30

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

Henry David Thoreau, whose cry was “Simplify! Simplify!” went to great measures to prove to himself, and perhaps to society, that life could be lived in the most simple manner and at the least expense. With only a few dollars he managed to provide for himself the things of absolute necessity for quite a long period of time.

Not many of us would care to exist on the absolute necessities. We have become too much accustomed to easier living. Things that were once thought of as luxuries are now considered necessities. And yet, with all of this, life is anything but simple. We seem to have the ability to complicate the best laid plans and find ourselves shadow boxing.

Like many of the trite old adages, “Life is what we make it,” is so true. By our own minds we accept or reject, by ignoring or by searching out the causes of shadows and removing the cause. It is whatever we elect to do about our individual lives that makes the difference. But we shall make great strides when we recognize the supreme excellence in all things of simplicity.

We don’t need to worry about doing without the necessary things in life – if we have a grateful heart. A grateful heart is not just remembering to write a few words to someone who has done a kindness, or saying thank you graciously and at the right moment. A grateful heart is the feeling of great blessings which precedes that thank you note and that verbal expression.

A grateful heart is one that always knows the fullness of that rich feeling of first being grateful without cause. And then, all other gratitude and its expression comes naturally.

Perhaps true gratitude is a grateful though toward heaven that I should be chosen to fill this spot, do this work, and have been given the strength to do it.

It was Romaine, the English theologian, who said, “Gratitude to God makes even a temporal blessing a taste of heaven.” We can have so much more heaven with a grateful heart.

________________________

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 – December 30

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – December 30

“Always remember that the Great Mystery is good; evil can come only from ourselves!”

–Grandmother of Charles Eastman. SANTEE SIOUX

The Great Mystery is love, good and principle. He is a guiding Father. He doesn’t play games. He knows only how to love. Sometimes, when things go wrong, we blame Him or others. Usually, if we are honest, we can see how decisions or things done in the past put us in a position to be hurt. It comes back to us. When this happens, it is not something the Creator caused, but something we, ourselves caused. Most of our problems are of our own making. When this happens, we should correct what we’ve done, ask the Great Spirit for forgiveness and pray for guidance in the future.

My Creator, bless me with Your good.

December 30 – Daily Feast

December 30 – Daily Feast

 

We move now toward a new year. It gives reason to think who we are and what we are about. Do we reach eagerly toward the future or does it frighten us with its weapons and voices and anger? Think long and hard about this, for it reveals your state of existence. A person cannot go on thinking “someday” and change anything. But to say that this day is the day to make changes and to bring one’s own personal spirit into alignment, that is an accomplishment. Some feel they are not good enough to be any different. But what they don’t realize is that making the effort to change makes them good enough. A person can’t get there until he takes an action.

~ Some of our people have gone from here in order that they may have a change. ~

SPOTTED TAIL – SIOUX

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

Daily Motivator for December 30th – Right where you are

Right where you are

Start where you are, and do what you can. Make use of what you have, in the  time available to you, and there’s much you can get done.

Don’t waste your time waiting for conditions to be perfect, for they will  never be. Go ahead, with things as they are, and begin making real progress.

The place to aim is as high as you can imagine. Yet the place to start is  right where you are.

Let go of any concerns about not having enough time, or money, resources or  anything else. Focus instead on the great value and potential of what you do  have and of what you can do right now.

See the real treasure that exists in your opportunity and ability to make  good, effective use of this moment. Claim that treasure by going ahead and  putting forth your very best effort.

Today is your day to achieve and to make your world a better place. Start  where you are, and get yourself solidly on the way to wherever you wish to be.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

Daily OM for December 30th – Owning Your Tendencies

Owning Your Tendencies

Understanding All Sides

by Madisyn Taylor

 

Looking at only one side of our life can make us blind to the many other ways of looking at our situation.

 

Whenever we examine our lives, we examine them from a particular side or angle. Most of us tend to favor one side over the others. For example, we may tend to look at things from an emotional perspective rather than a financial perspective, or we may prefer to think in terms of details rather than the big picture, or vice versa. To a certain degree, this is not a problem, and these tendencies add color to our individual personalities. However, they can also make us one-sided, blind to the many other ways of looking at our situation. Even if we have decided that we are most happy when we focus on one particular side of things, it is always worth exploring the other sides. When we do, we become well rounded, more understanding of other viewpoints, and even more solid in our own.

Perhaps you are a person who tends to see your life in terms of your spiritual well-being. As a result, other concerns such as financial comfort or social standing may not be prominent in your mind as you make decisions. However, taking just a moment to consider those angles will help you in several ways. One, it will enable you to see more clearly what your priorities are and how they influence your life situation. Two, it will enhance your sense of confidence, because you will see your situation from all sides, even as you choose one. And three, it will help you communicate with others about who you are and what you are doing, because you will come from a place of understanding that your own biases and tendencies are unique as are theirs.

Most of us instinctively come at things from a particular angle, and in many cases this is the right way for us. Still, understanding the other angles only strengthens us. When we look at our lives from all sides, we shed light on the big picture, giving ourselves access to many points of view and highlighting more clearly the one we have chosen to take.

Daily OM

What Does It Mean To Be A Pagan In Today’s World?

What Does It Mean To Be A Pagan In Today’s World?

Author:   Brid’s Closet   
 
What does it mean to be a Pagan in today’s world?

I was sitting by my desk, thinking about topics for classes at my store. Many topics come to mind, but nothing seemed to “jump” out at me. I brought up this subject to a good friend of mine (who is not pagan), and she brought up this topic.

What does it mean to be Pagan? A “card carrying” PAGAN?

Many people are still very quiet about their choices in life, even to how they practice their religion or their form of spirituality. Many friends of mine are still in the “closet” about being a Pagan or being Wiccan. That is their choice, but not mine. I have the wonderful opportunity to be open about whatever it is that I do because I own my own business.

My sons also have choice as far as to what they believe. My oldest was degreed by me, because that was his choice, and I am proud of him because of that. My middle son considers himself to be agnostic (like his dad), but still is always looking. My youngest is still not sure as of yet. He takes in a lot, asks a lot of questions and is processing what he receives. They are fine young men, all of whom I am fiercely protective and proud of.

Some keywords that come into my mind are “love, strength, happiness, comfort, inner confidence empowerment, and honor”. Being a Pagan has helped to see that I have the ability to make a change in my own life, whether it is on a magical level or a mundane one.

A lot of people come into my store asking very similar questions, but what I do most of the time is to explain what I am not:

I am not a Satanist (the term “Satan” doesn’t exist in the pagan world.)
I don’t work or believe in the devil.

I don’t walk around in black clothes all the time (though it is fun sometimes!)

I don’t sacrifice animals…or use them in any rituals (my dog does like to run in and out of circle sometimes!)

I don’t bash other Pagan traditions.

I am not evil, nor is my spirituality evil.

I don’t run round naked, except in the privacy of my own room (maybe!)

I don’t have sex with others in ritual.

I don’t insult or blast other religions. People have done that for far too long in history to Pagans. I won’t do that to others!

Nope…don’t do the orgy thingy either!

What I do….hmmm…

I do honor Mother Earth. I see the earth as a living and breathing organism.

I do believe that all animals have a soul, and should be treated and loved as we expect to be loved ourselves.

I do try to live as “chemical free” as possible. This means that no chemicals or bug killers are applied to my lawn. 2 of my animals eat the grass on my lawn if the weather permits. No bleached flour, raw sugar, recycled paper. A friend of mine raises organically raised chickens, so I have organic eggs!

I keep as many trees as possible on the land that I am blessed to live on. Trees block the sun and keep your home cooler!

I do honor other people’s religions and their chosen paths.

I go love the Goddess and the God, as I would honor my own parents.
I try to use cosmetic products that are cruelty free.

I do try to grow my own herbs and vegetables when possible.

I recycle my paper, bottles, plastic and cans.

I do a full moon ritual once a month and celebrate the 8 holidays in the wheel of the year.

I guess I could just go on and on!

Once, a person came in and asked me why I was insulting myself by using the words “HEATHEN”, “PAGAN”, and “WITCH” to describe myself! In his teachings, he was taught that these words were an insult. He was shocked that I was proud of these terms!

The word “PAGAN” actually means “country dweller” or “civilian” or “peasant”.
1: Definition: Refers to any of the pre-Christian, (usually) polytheistic religions, or those who practice them. Wicca is one Pagan religion, as is Asatru, Santeria, Voodoo, or Shamanism.

The term “HEATHEN” is old English for Germanic paganism.
2: Definition: Among non-Pagans, the term ‘heathen’ just means anyone who is non-Christian. But Pagans use the term to refer specifically to those who follow a Norse or Germanic path.

A WITCH was known as a “wise” person, an herbalist, a midwife or a medicine person. (I’m an Alexandrian Witch!)
3: Definition: A witch is someone who practices witchcraft (either male or female), regardless of their religious standing. Not necessarily the same thing as a Wiccan (someone who follows the religion of Wicca)

These are words that I have come to embrace and be proud of. These words open up conversation and dialog, so that others will learn, understand and appreciate. Sometimes people appreciate the information that is given, other times, they don’t.

As a Pagan, I’ve raised 3 fantastic sons, have a “metaphysical” store that I share with my best friend, counsel people, rehabilitate birds, rescued a dog, a chinchilla and a bunny (who think they own my home!), teach classes, train special needs people (personal training) and in love with the most remarkable man.

What does it mean to be a “PAGAN”?

It means being a mom, a lover, a caregiver, councilor, herbalist, a cook, storeowner, and a woman dealing with today’s modern world who practices a very old way of worship.

Bernadette Montana is a very eclectic 3rd degree Alexandrian Priestess, a pipe carrier in the Sun Bear Native American Tribe, professional Tarot reader, a mom to 3 sons, one dog, 2 parrots, a bunny and a chinchilla and owns a metaphysical store named Brid’s Closet in Orange County, New York. Bernadette@bridscloset.com

Thanks to Terri Paajanen who posted the definitions of Pagan, Heathen, and Witch on the About website!

___________________________________

Footnotes:
Terri Paajanen who posted the definitions of PAGAN, HEATHEN, and WITCH on the About website!

 

Witch for Sale!

Witch for Sale!

Author:   Hecatian Nights 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will Paganism Survive Beyond Us? We Must Pay It Forward.

Will Paganism Survive Beyond Us? We Must Pay It Forward.

Author:   Beth Owl’s Daughter  

What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others. – Pericles

Throughout my life, I have been a passionate spiritual seeker. In fact, I might have been born with an extra “God gene.” When I was school age, I would have given almost anything to be able to answer what I felt was my calling – to be an ordained minister. But at that time, such a thing did not exist for girls in the Episcopal Church (my childhood religion) .

After years of exploring many religions and paths to the Divine, (and having no inkling that there were actual living, practicing Druids!) , I declared that I was a “Shamanic Druidic pantheist mystic with Hindu and Buddhist overtones.” And that was pretty much that. Or so it seemed.

As the years passed, however, I gradually discovered that there were thousands, maybe millions, of others on a similar path. And happily, they had a much easier name to call themselves (and, I might note, one that is far easier to fill in, in the small space allotted on medical forms) .

We are “Pagans.” It’s a broad term, so, as I am using it here, it includes Wiccans, Heathens, Witches, Druids, Goddess worshipers, Hellenic devotees, Kemetic practitioners, and so on.

But there are some real challenges that we face as Pagans (surprise!) . The obvious, dramatic one has to do with the many ignorant people who consider us to be evil, in league with the Devil (their creation, not ours) , or, at best, damned for eternity.

Yet there are other, more irksome issues we face. Ours is a new religion. In some cases, we are trying to reconstruct it from antiquity. Much of our liturgy is founded on creative conjecture, old remnants and historic bits and pieces, and wisdom from a long ago world that is nearly alien to the one in which we now live. By and large, we do not enjoy the unbroken, ever-evolving lineage of most other religious paths.

Of necessity, obviously, we are finding ways to address the life passages and events that spiritual people need to deal with – birth, marriage, disputes, illness, divorce, death and so on. But many Pagan groups find themselves having to make it up as they go along, probably knowing they are often re-inventing the wheel. And for others of us, even if we have created structures of initiation and scholarship within our tradition, recognition, respect and cooperation from the mainstream is still in short supply.

Furthermore, we are extremely lucky if our Circles and Groves have people who are skilled counselors, or inspiring ritualists, or pragmatic, proactive leaders. To grow and mature, and to survive beyond only a generation or two, it seems to me that we are going to need our people to have actual training in such things.

Imagine if we had leaders who had learned pastoral guidance skills specific to Pagan beliefs. What if our scholars and facilitators trained in the history and development of human interaction with the natural world and its ecosystems, directly from an Earth-based spirituality point of view?

Wouldn’t it be great if we had our own institutions of higher learning that could train our Priests, Priestesses, Bards, and Leaders to competently, creatively facilitate our devotions in harmony with our tradition’s values, and guide us across the thresholds of our life’s journeys, and speak knowledgeably to the media, and nurture our relationships with other spiritual groups?

But then, I offer another question…

Is modern Paganism sustainable?

Our traditions are only now beginning to be tested beyond the lifetimes of the original founders and those directly taught by them. With a wildly diverse number of beliefs, Gods and Goddesses, sacred texts and forms, will our practices have relevance for those born in a completely different context than the elders who established them?

Will modern Paganism grow, deepen and flourish for many generations as a strong, meaningful alternative to the major players now dominating the world’s religions? Or will it simply end up being a footnote to our turbulent historical milieu?

I believe that our ability to survive and thrive as a viable spiritual path for the future depends in large measure on whether we have wise, competent, skilled and well-trained leaders, priests and priestesses.

We need a dedicated clergy that is recognizable, both from within the many traditions of Paganism, as well as to mainstream government and religious institutions. We need highly professional, accomplished, seasoned scholars, leaders, teachers, and chaplains who have been educated at the graduate level – in a Pagan learning environment, by Pagans, and for Pagans.

Of course, many of our traditions are building their own internal systems for training future leaders, and, certainly, such programs are important in ensuring the endurance of their particular customs.

But please — let us not repeat the insularity of Christianity’s denominational systems, which have contributed to centuries of misunderstanding and bloodshed.

Instead, it seems to me that an Earth-based spirituality should see the obvious advantage of the cross-pollination of ideas and practices for its budding Priests and Priestesses. Instead of cultivating a monoculture within each tradition, I think we should encourage diversity and exploration.

Consider how much richer our own traditions could become if, say, our Reclaiming tradition Priestesses and Heathen godhis were also fluent in “Dark Green Religion, ” experienced in Voudon, animism and Druid rituals, and formally trained as grief counselors and dispute mediators.

But how can this be accomplished?

Cherry Hill Seminary is the world’s first and only graduate-level education for Pagans of all traditions. Cherry Hill Seminary offers online distance-learning classes, regional workshops and intensive retreats in religious studies and topics at a professional and graduate level. It is where Pagans from all walks can be nurtured and taught the topics so vital to a sustainable Pagan ministry. We offer courses within a degree program, and also on an ad hoc, elective basis.

Because it is not a “bricks and mortar” university, its students are from all over the United States, as well as other English-speaking countries. This means that as long as they have Internet access, qualified individuals can receive a quality higher education not available anywhere else.

Many of Cherry Hill’s students are already accomplished professionals who are ready to deepen their Pagan practice. They seek both the theory and practical skills that will make them more effective in their communities, within the context of their own traditions.

But Cherry Hill Seminary, like all other institutions of higher learning, needs more than student tuition to support its existence.

It needs you and me.

If you believe, as I do, that the time has come for the next generation of Gaia-loving men and women to have access to higher education that honors their beliefs; that teaches them the critical, sometimes complex skills for serving their communities; that hones them into outstanding, creative leaders and scholars, please become a part of history. We need your donations.

Your gift – large or small – will change lives now, today, by ensuring that students who desire this training have it available at an affordable price.

But please know also that your gift will ultimately help shape the legacy of today’s Paganism. Help us build the first living, breathing Pagan-oriented seminary in modern times.

This is an opportunity for weaving enormously important money magic. You can make a gift for our future generations by supporting their mission.

Please pay it forward.

Blessed be.

_____________________________________

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

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

Wicca v Witchcraft

Wicca v Witchcraft

Author:   Irishdize   

What are some of the differences between a Witch and a Wiccan?

Wiccans believe in and worship deities, usually a male and female God or a God and Goddess. Most Witches either worship only the Goddess or see the Goddess as a personification of nature, as I do. Wicca is one religion with laws, such as the Wiccan rede and the law of three. The rede says ‘an it harm none, do what ye will’. While I think it’s a wonderful law that covers just about everything you could ever wonder about, I don’t and cannot follow it. I simply instead do the best I can, given my circumstances. I don’t believe in ‘the law of three’ either which is whatever I send out ‘will come back to me times three’. I certainly believe in the law of Return, but it doesn’t work in quite the same way. Whatever I send out does return, but right away and is usually the exact same lesson reversed back at me. As you might surmise, I am not Wiccan.

Another key difference is that Wiccans will generally take gods and goddesses from mythology and call upon them for certain help, such as calling Aphrodite when they are doing a love spell. I simply do not need to use mythological deities to make my magic work; Magic is using natural energies that exist within me and around me in Nature to bring about change. In fact, one can believe that God doesn’t exist and still work Magic. Wiccans have a Wheel of the Year that they celebrate. There are eight holidays — starting on Oct 31st ‘Samhain’ or the Witches New Years. Their holiday structure has four high holy days and four low days as well as 13 Moons, some full and some new, when Magic is usually worked or divination is usually done.

I have random ritual days wherein I will spend the entire day or night in ritual, reading, contemplating, spirit dancing, or just connecting to the trees, rocks, the grass, whatever I feel like doing. Sometimes I will watch spiritually uplifting movies or listen to Native American music. Sometimes, I will just sleep or do readings by dice and Tarot. It’s all unplanned and very spontaneous whereas in Wicca, it’s usually planned down to the letter. Spells are written out before they are performed, as are rituals and of course, as I said, they know what day is a ritual day and what not. Most Wiccans I have encountered believe that their strongest magic can only happen on Full and New Moons. I disagree completely. Magic comes from within; it doesn’t matter what day or night one performs it and it doesn’t matter how well written your spell is or what tools you have (if you even have any tools) .

Most Wiccans have many tools and an Athame to direct energy or cast the circle. This is done for many reasons I am told: to create sacred space, to have a protective barrier against negative energies, lurking spirits or unexpected Visitors (human or animal) or to keep the magic within the circle until they are ready to send it out to do its purpose.

Witches like myself generally see no reason for a circle. Nature is holy; The Universe is Divine. There is no place in Nature that is not sacred already to us, so if the circle is being drawn for that reason, it isn’t needed. The energies that are around us at all times are both positive and negative, and while you can definitely put a mental shield up to protect yourself against such energies that cause you stress or harm, an imaginary circle isn’t needed. but by all means if you feel a need for it, who am I to say you shouldn’t do it?

Lurking spirits aren’t relevant to me as I don’t believe in spirits or ghosts and let me tell you something honestly, I have NEVER cast a circle in ritual while doing magic and never had my spells backfire or had any negative response. Sure, I’ve had spells that didn’t work because I didn’t put the right amount of effort into them but that had nothing to do with not casting an invisible circle or because I didn’t make the backyard sacred enough. As far as unexpected visitors or animals, my cat is just as sacred as the tree is so I am not worried about his energies affecting my work.

Many other tools that a Wiccan might have are cauldrons, mortar and pestle, wands, specific colored candles, incense, specific books by well respected authors, etc. I use only the following: Incense, Oils, Sage, Candles and Dice. I use Tarot Cards on occasion for personal insight, not to read the future. I do believe that you have to use specific colors to achieve certain goals but at the same time I KNOW that this isn’t true, I have used a yellow candle, for example, to bring money into my life and it worked because ultimately the candle is just a tool, Magic comes from within me and around me but I NEED what I NEED at the moment and candle colors represents some inner need, so I embrace that at the moment.

Books are of my own choosing. I read what I am drawn to read. A lot of the times, the books on my shelves are devotionals from different religions or books on Wicca (because that’s all I can find) . I have heard from several Wiccans that we should not read books written by certain authors. Let me tell you, read whatever feels right to you, whatever you are drawn to. Don’t worry about what another person thinks about you or your path. Maybe you need to read something in that book to teach you a lesson?

Of course, we Shadak Witches also have 108 Books of Shadak that we draw inspiration and wisdom from. These books have been handwritten or typed out by modern-day Witches with computers and are leather bound. These books are filled with the thoughts, ideas and opinions of our family members as well as instructions, rules and rule changes, counsel decisions and more and are to be read alongside any other books of our choosing.

Most Wiccans I have met believe in the Summerlands or life after death, ghosts, and angels. I’ve even heard some Wiccans speak of demons, which are from the Christian religion. I suspect these are Wiccans who were raised around Christianity.

I believe that when a person dies, their energy is reabsorbed back into Nature, back into the Goddess. I don’t believe in a traditional afterlife, so no Summerlands, no angels, no ghosts, no demons. I don’t believe in Jesus either -shocking, huh?

My altar is very simple, as well. I have two altars at the moment because I am living in my own apartment and then, part time, with my boyfriend. Both altars are just flat wooden tables. Both have candles on them, incense, oils, sage, some dice, Tarot Cards, books, flowers in a vase. Nothing elaborate; no statues, no athames, no pictures of the lord and lady, no pentacles…though I do wear a pentacle necklace and a pentacle ring, Both to me represent that I am Pagan, that I believe in the 4 elements and spirit and the six senses.

Most Wiccans have a year-and a-day of study. They can start out a bright-eyed bushy-tailed young teen ager and a year later become a High Priestess who doesn’t even know how to read tarot cards!

In Witchcraft, there either is no degree system at all — because progress is marked personally by how much we have learned or how much we have experienced — or there is a personal degree system such as the one that I follow which takes many YEARS to get through until you can become a High Priest. There are six levels within each degree in the system I follow and you earn a level by reading certain books and doing what you are supposed to do in the books. You do a simplistic ritual to see if you have earned a level. The die is instrumental in determining this.

Wiccans care very much about the rede and law of three. They don’t hurt people willy-nilly. But in The Tradition of Witchcraft I was raised in, we must wait for certain changes to happen. We must wait for the doors to open. This means that if I want to go to college, I must read The Books, cast the dice and wait for that door to open, Wiccans may just apply and attend school, not thinking about whether or not this is their intended path, whether or not they have taken a slot that someone else was supposed to have, etc. After all, what rule is there to follow other than the rede?

As far as sex, the body, life on Earth, we have similar views. Sex is sacred to most Wiccans and Witches and whatever someone does, as long as there isn’t harm, is all right. I’m gay and that’s perfectly accepted in both paths. The body is Holy.

Many Wiccans I have encountered tell me that Wicca is the religion and Witchcraft is just Magic. Magic is Magic, folks. You can be a Witch and NEVER practice Magic. There are many Traditions out there called Witchcraft and these people consider this to be their religion or spiritual path, as I do! If someone asked me what my religion was, I would say I am a Unitarian Universalist and a Solitary Eclectic Witch. I might also say that I am a Shadak Witch because Shadakism is the name of the tradition that I was raised in, It would depend on how much time I wanted to invest in explaining myself to the person I was talking with.

Magic is such a small part of being a Witch. I think I have been a Witch for 29 years and have done only about 50 spells in that entire time. Most of what I do is worship Nature, cook, garden, read, contemplate, dance, chant, cleanse, clean, watch TV, listen to music, have sex, walk in the woods, swim and cast dice, which are all parts of being a Witch. You should embrace your spiritual life as well as your ‘mundane’ life.

‘Blessed Be’ is usually a Wiccan saying, much like Merry Meet or Merry Part. Most Witches won’t say this when you meet them. It’s one good way to tell if the person you are speaking with is a Witch or a Wiccan… but some Witches will use the term if they are speaking with someone else who uses it. For example, my sister is Wiccan and will often end our conversations with “Blessed Be!” and out of respect I will also say it.

So, out of respect for the Wiccans who chose to read this, I say, “Blessed Be”!

Ten Factoids You Need to Know About Paganism and Wicca

Ten Factoids You Need to Know About Paganism and Wicca

By , About.com

There’s a lot of information out there on Wicca and Paganism, in books, on the Internet, and through local groups. But how much of it is accurate? How do you learn to separate the wheat from the chaff? The fact is, there are several basic things you should understand about Wicca and Paganism before you make the decision to join a new spiritual path. Let’s eliminate some of the misconceptions and talk about actual facts… it will make your spiritual journey all the more valuable if you understand these issues from the begining.

1. Yes, Even Wicca Has Rules

Sure, a lot of people think that just because there’s no Grand High Wiccan and Pagan Council that there must be all kinds of magical carnage going on. Truth is, there are some fairly standard guidelines followed by a number of different Pagan traditions. While they vary from one group to the next, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the concepts. Learn more about the rules of magic before you continue your studies.

2. Not All Witches are Pagans are Wiccans

There are dozens of Pagan traditions, and as many different versions of Wicca. Not all are the same, and just because someone is a witch or Pagan doesn’t necessarily mean they practice Wicca. Learn about the differences in paths found among the umbrella term “Paganism.”

3. Wicca is a Religion, Not a Fashion Statement

Contrary to what many popular movies might have you believe, you don’t have to be a teenage goth princess to be Wiccan. In fact, you don’t “have to be” anything at all. Wiccans come from all walks of life — they are parents and teens, lawyers, nurses, firefighters, waitresses, teachers and writers. Pagans come from all different walks of life, all socio-economic groups, and all sorts of racial backgrounds. There’s no Pagan Dress Code that says you have to toss away your polo shirt or khakis in favor of capes and an all-black wardrobe. On the other hand, if you prefer the goth look, go for it… just remember that goth and Wiccan are not synonymous.

4. Religious Freedom Applies to Wiccans and Pagans Too

Believe it or not, as a Wiccan or Pagan you have the same rights as people of any other religion. Despite the fact that some members of other faiths might disapprove of the existence of Wicca and Paganism, the fact is that if you live in the United States, you’re entitled to protection just like anyone else. It’s against the law for anyone to discriminate against you because you practice an earth-based faith. Learn about your rights as a Pagan or Wiccan parent, as an employee, and even as a member of the United States military.

5. It’s Okay to Be Out of the Broom Closet… or Not

Countless numbers of Pagans and Wiccans have made the choice to “come out of the broom closet”… in other words, they’ve stopped hiding their spiritual path from others. For many people, this is a huge decision. You may feel that it’s not in your best interest to make your religious beliefs known, and that’s okay too. If you feel you could be in danger if you reveal that you are Wiccan, or that it might put a strain on family relations, going public might be something you should postpone. Get all the pros and cons on coming out of the broom closet.

6. Wiccans and Pagans Are Not Satanists

Ask any Pagan or Wiccan about the cornerstone of their faith, and they’ll probably tell you it’s a reverence for their ancestors, a belief in the sacredness of nature, a willingness to embrace the Divine within ourselves, or an acceptance of polarity between the male and female. It may be a combination of those principles. It will not have anything to do with the Satan, Old Scratch, Beelzebub, or any of the other names attributed to the Christian devil. Pagans and Wiccans aren’t devil worshippers, Satanists, or Diabolists. Learn more about how Pagans and Wiccans feel about such an entity.

7. Join a Coven, or Practice Solitary?

Many Wiccans and Pagans choose to join a coven or study group because it allows them the chance to learn from like-minded people. It’s an opportunity to share ideas and get new perspectives on any number of things. However, for some folks it’s just more practical or desirable to remain as a solitary practitioner.

8. Parents and Teens

Nothing will set a teenager at odds with a parent quite like coming into the house wearing a giant pentacle, toting a candle, and yelling, “I’m a witch now, leave me alone!” Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. Parents, you may have some concerns about Wicca and Paganism… and teens, you probably aren’t sure how to talk to mom and dad about your newfound interest. Rest easy, though. With a little bit of good communication, both parents and teenagers should be able to find a happy medium.

9. You Don’t Need a Lot of Fancy Tools

Many people think they need to stock up on hundreds of dollars worth of incense, herbs, wands and candles before they can even begin to practice Wicca or Paganism. That’s simply not the case. While a few basic magical tools3 are nice to have, the key element of most traditions are the beliefs, not the tangible, physical items. If you’d like to gather a very basic “starter kit” of tools, there are several which are common to nearly every tradition.

10. You Can Write Your Own Spells and Rituals

Despite a commonly held (and generally Internet-based) belief, anyone can write a spell. The trick is to recognize what the key elements are to successful spellcrafting — intent or goal, components, and putting it into practice are all key. Don’t let anyone tell you that beginners can’t write a spell. Just like any other skill set, it will take some practice, but with a little work you can become a perfectly effective spellworker.