‘THINK on THESE THINGS’ for January 6th

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’

By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

Think on pleasant things. Deliberately turn your thoughts to something pleasant when the pressures are too intense. And be careful as undisciplined thought quickly sifts back to the unhappy, unsettled mind.

The greater part of the time we are victims of our emotions. They play havoc with our peace of mind and are great friends of pessimism. They tell us things are true with such sincerity that we believe them into fact. They convince us things are a certain way and that we cannot remedy them with any amount of effort.

But stop where you are and consider what it is you are listening to and how it affects your feelings. Do a turnabout and take the positive route of deliberatel

y replacing thoughts of unhappiness, injustices, and misunderstandings with the thought that these are merely chariots to carry us past all that has withheld freedom.

______________________________________

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 – January 6

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – January 6

“When we’re through with this earth and all these problems, we don’t have to come back. But as long as we’re here we have a job to do and a purpose to fulfill and that means dealing with the circumstances around us.”

–Rolling Thunder, CHEROKEE

We are put on the earth to participate in life. We have a beautiful mind, we have the ability to pray, we have the ability to change, we have the ability to accept, and we have choices. All things God created are constantly changing. This constant change causes our circumstances to change. Sometimes we say life is difficult. During these times we need to use our tools: the tools of prayer, and the tools of meditation. We are designed to change and live joyfully on this earth. The only requirement for living joyfully is to live according to the laws, principles and values given to us by the Creator.

Great Spirit, give me Your courage today, and guide my footsteps.

January 6 – Daily Feast

January 6 – Daily Feast

Dare to believe in miracles. Look beyond the mud on the windshield, beyond the impossible, and know life is more than anguish and stress. Reach out to someone, when your heart is too heavy to feel the sunlight or to taste the rain. Rid yourself of dark thought and melancholy. Open your mind to fresh air, to the unlimited music in your soul. Thoreau wrote of waking in the night to hear a strain of music dying away – travelers singing. He said his whole being was so expanded and infinitely and divinely related that he knew how narrow his own thinking had been. The Cherokee always teach their young to listen. We hear not the crash of cymbals or the noise that rise the airwaves – but the sweet song of the meadow, the even rhythmic sounds of nature. It is here where the dikanowadidohi angel sings.

~ Speak to yourself in spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. ~

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

Daily Motivator for Jan. 6th – The time it will take

The time it will take

You cannot turn the corner until you get to it. In order to create a  breakthrough, you must lay the groundwork for it.

Real value is built with time, effort and commitment. Don’t cheat yourself  out of that value by demanding instant results.

When you’re moving in a positive direction, enjoy the ride and give it the  time it takes. Even though the fulfillment is not yet complete, you can already  begin to experience it.

Don’t be afraid of the time it will take to make real progress. Be thankful  for the opportunity to make an increasingly valuable difference as time goes  on.

There is great joy to be found in meaningful effort. The longer and more  committed the effort is, the more joy you are able to experience.

Cheerfully give yourself and your work the time it takes. Choose a worthy  destination, and treasure every step of the journey.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

The Daily OM for January 6th – An Instant Vacation

An Instant Vacation
Relaxing at Home

by Madisyn Taylor

If you can’t get away on a vacation, turn your home into an instant vacation place.

Throughout our lives, most of us are led to believe that relaxation is best pursued outside of the home. As a result, we spend months anticipating weeklong vacations, seldom fully appreciating the leisure time we are blessed with on a more regular basis. It is possible, however, to reexperience the same

utterly relaxed state you slip into while on holiday within your home’s walls. The feelings of serenity you enjoy during a vacation are a product of your outlook rather than your locale. You give yourself permission to enjoy yourself and unwind while on vacation. Granting yourself the same privilege while at home allows you to experience complete relaxation, even when surrounded by routine.

Our homes can be distracting places as most survival tasks are addressed there. Reviving the tranquility you felt on holiday is as easy as creating an atmosphere that helps you relax. First, divest yourself of the notion that messes must be cleaned up immediately and reaffirm that relaxation is as vital as physical nourishment. Then, set the mood. Music that reminds you of a beloved vacation destination can put you in a vacation mind-set. The exotic flavor of a tropical beverage or the spiciness a favorite ethnic dish can transport you to a more restful mental space. Finally, put aside your projects and commit to doing only what you consider truly pleasurable. Your responsibilities will wait as you put up your feet and revel in peacefulness that comes from within.

If you find it difficult to ignore the temptation to simply fall back into your usual schedule, consider that relaxation should occupy a prominent place on your to-do list. You deserve to take “you time and to care for yourself, even during life’s busy periods. While you may not always be able to get away from it all, you can still nurture yourself and regain your peace of mind.

The Daily OM

Why Insist On Pagan Normalcy?

Why Insist On Pagan Normalcy?

Author:   Rev. Jackson Warlock   

I have never considered myself, as people would say, a “normal” person. To give a little bit of perspective, in the area I live the most common response I get from people upon officially meeting them is something along the lines of “Oh, I recognize you, but I didn’t know from where…” In other words, I look different enough from most of the people around me that people see me and remember my face.

This is not horribly intentional most of the time, but I am simply a recognizable person apparently, simply by virtue of my looks. I do not fit a “Pagan stereotype” as it were… with the exception of my hardly-excessive jewelry… but my point in this opening paragraph is to essentially state that I have been the target of tactics in many of my communities to sweep under the carpet people who society might consider too different to somehow be allowed to speak for the community or even, in some cases, myself.

Why do I bring this up? Well, it appears that (as happens in many movements), there has been a push within the Pagan community to oust members of the community who do not fit into a mold which is “normal” and friendly to non-Pagans.

Well, perhaps “oust” is a strong word, but the point is that people are expected to present in a way which is not too extreme… too Hippie, too Gothic, too New Age, too Radical. And Gods forbid we actually wind up in the newspaper or on TV if we don’t look like some happy little clone of what people think the rest of the world is supposed to look like!

An article showing a picture of a person who doesn’t look like a “normal” person is suddenly accused of stereotyping regardless of the information in the article.

We wouldn’t want the rest of the world thinking we poor oppressed Pagans are (gasp) Goths! Such stereotypes as this are, after all, the reason we are so oppressed in today’s society.

Or are they?

I think it is a huge mistake that in our quest for acceptance we start dictating how others should dress and act to avoid scaring the non-Pagan majority.

Somebody gets told at school that they need to keep their pentagram necklace underneath their clothing and gives some ridiculous explanation about it being a “gang symbol” and suddenly we go off on rampages telling everybody who will listen that “We aren’t all Hippies or Goths or conspiracy theorists!” as if the entire problem was those people in our community who look or act different instead of… you know, years upon years of monotheistic preferential treatment.

Stereotypes are perpetuated not by people who appear to fulfill those stereotypes, but by people who are opposed to the people those stereotypes shallowly represent… just as people do not actually oppose rights for Queer people based on the fact that there are flamboyant gay men out there, people do not actually oppose acceptance for Pagans based on the fact that some of us enjoy Gothic subculture.

That, my friends, is just an excuse… were all of us to look exactly like non-Pagans all of the time, people would still have a hard time accepting us who don’t already… we’d only succeed in keeping quiet and making ourselves invisible.

Now, the stereotype that all Pagans are Goths or all Pagans are Hippies or all Pagans are Ecofeminists or whatever else are all stereotypes, and everybody with a lick of sense knows that. But why on Earth does that mean that the Goths, Hippies, Ecofeminists, New Agers, et al. are the actual problem?

Rather than choose to portray Paganism in all its diversity, we push anybody different under the carpet as if somehow shopping at Hot Topic or having a collection of Dungeons and Dragons figurines automatically makes one an immature Pagan unworthy of representing our community.

Or, if we choose to acknowledge that these people exist and are not bad Pagans for it, we still insist that they not be the ones speaking for us because people might think we are all like that.

Or when talking about stereotypes we make a bigger deal about what we are not than what we are.

We punctuate any mention of our own religions with the strong statement that we are NOT like those teenage Goths who wear huge pentagram jewelry and black clothing or those New Age cooks who don’t shave their legs or whatever other Pagan stereotype one chooses to speak of with disdain at that particular moment.

But at what price?

I know I for one want to fight for acceptance and tolerance on my own terms, not on the terms of those people who quite frankly aren’t going to accept me even if I do act just like them.

If I am going to be accepted for being Pagan I want to be able to do so without acting like something I’m not or something I don’t want to and I’d certainly abhor the idea that fighting for Pagan acceptance somehow means making sure everybody knows “people like me” or “people like them” are a minority.

So why should I expect somebody else to change their clothing style or mannerisms so they don’t fit a stereotype, as if I am arrogant enough to think I know what sort of image they really want or need for themselves?

Why should fighting for my own rights, or anybody’s rights for that manner, involve making cutting remarks on people who look and dress different from society’s norms?

My point is this: We need to just lay off the Goths, the Ren Faire junkies, the New Agers, the Hippies, and everybody else.

It does not matter one bit whether or not I am a member of any of these categories… those people are still a part of my Pagan community, and they do not deserve to be spoken of only in a misguided and useless attempt to prove that I am not them.

Why is There a Rule Against Training People Under 18?

Why is There a Rule Against Training People Under 18?

Author:   Belladonna Laveau APs   

I’ve been training people in the Craft for almost two decades. If someone who comes to me looks very young, the first thing I want to know is their age and whether or not their parents are aware that they’re seeking this training.

Under 18? Your parents don’t know you’re here? Then my answer is always an emphatic “No!”

Invariably, these kids want to know, “why not?” There are many reasons why the vast majority of Wiccans and Pagans will not consent to train anyone under 18 in the Craft, and all of them are established to protect the community, including the person wishing to be trained and the group she or he wants to join.

The biggest reason that we won’t train someone under 18 is related to parental consent. Without parental consent, anyone teaching another religion to a child can be prosecuted under the law. Let’s face it; most parents who aren’t Pagan are strongly opposed to having their child (ren) exposed to witchcraft. On the other hand, parents that aren’t opposed are usually studying it themselves. They’re more than fine with letting their kids learn age appropriate material with them, and do.

Which brings me to reason #2.

I say age appropriate, because we are a fertility religion. That means the act of creation, and the sexual union of God and Goddess is sacred to us, and is the basis of our religion. You can’t ethically teach that until someone is over 18, because it’s confusing AND illegal. We, as a culture, have decided that sex with children is wrong. We, as a society, have decided that the age limit is 18.

We, as a people, made this decision based upon the negative experiences that humanity has encountered when adults have crossed this line. It is an important line, and although all of us mature at slightly different rates, you never know if you’ve crossed that line until AFTER someone is emotionally damaged.

Since, the price of safety is only a couple of years, it is foolish to risk it. RESPECT this rule, because if you do not, you cannot undo the damage after it has been done, and you spend the rest of your life trying to get over it. Besides, impatience is a sure sign that one is not ready for magical training.

Reason #3 – What most academic schools are teaching is actually the foundation upon which magical training is built. To be successful in any field, especially Witchcraft, you need a good understanding of Mathematics, Algebra, Mythology, History, Social Studies, Geography, Science, Literature, how to write a research paper, and grammar. These things are very important to know before you begin studying witchcraft. Without this strong foundation, you will never be able to get past the basics of the craft.

I look at the report cards of new students coming into the seminary who are under the age of 30. Students with bad grades inevitably lack the required skill set needed to perform in a college level setting. Since they’ve not developed the discipline required to learn basic educational concepts, they have a difficult time grasping the more complex concepts that are required to train your brain to move from a linear thinking pattern to a spiral-thinking pattern. Basically, schools are doing FAR MORE to establish the roots of magical training than most people realize!

Reason #4 – Teenagers are really busy “growing up.” Teaching them magical concepts creates more trouble for them. For example, look at the stories of “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch”. She causes herself way more problems with her powers than if she’d just be a regular kid. Notice how it takes advice from someone older and more mature to help her find her way out of the trouble she gets into. Maturing teenagers are learning how to interact as an adult in an adult environment: how to be respectful, honorable, grounded, etc. If you dishonor your training, and there are many ways to do this, you could be dismissed and not allowed to return.

Reason #5 – While most of us who are appropriately trained in the craft try to come from our highest place every moment of every day, there are just as many who are lying about their training and looking for anyone to worship and glorify them as God or Goddess incarnate. These people are hard for adults to identify until after they’ve already been spiritually abused.

It’s impossible for Wicca, as an institution, to protect our youth from these predators, if we allow children to enter training too soon. We do not have many safeguards to protect people seeking craft knowledge, and people get deeply challenged in the best training programs. BEWARE of anyone willing to teach students under 18! Oftentimes these are unethical people who are more interested in amassing students and lording their power over others. These people can do just as much harm as the worst abusive parent, and then you could be spend the rest of your life trying to get over it.

All in all, youth is a very short chapter in our lives. There are times in life when one’s energy is just not conducive to studying witchcraft. The teenage years are one of those times. It’s not that you don’t need the spiritual interaction or ministering, because if you feel you do, you should do something about it. But do it the right way.

Get your parents to take you to a Sabbat celebration and participate in the joy of the craft. Pray to the Goddess, meditate, read mythology, learn to read tarot. The time for formal study will come. It will come when you stop being a member that attends meetings, and start learning how to be the person that leads the meetings.

If you seriously want to study Wicca and become a Priestess or Priest, then properly prepare yourself so you’ll be ready for it when the time comes. Make good grades; take your Literature assignments and writing assignments very seriously. You’ll write a lot as a priest/ess, so you should be able to do it well or people will not respect what you have to say. Learn about our history, because there will be other stories that can’t be found in books that you won’t be able to understand, if you don’t know the historical background.

Take your Mythology, Science and Shakespeare lessons very seriously. Shakespeare (a magical name, btw) was a Priest of the craft who took ritual performance to a new level. That crazy language he wrote in is the language of the Fey. It’s fairy speak. It’s hard to understand at first, but it’s very helpful in making magic. These are things they don’t tell you in school.

The mysteries guard themselves very well.

You are already in magical training, because you’re here on the planet. Magical training has to do with the way you look at your life, and how you respect the magic that is already there. This perspective earns you the right to be exposed to more. When the student is ready the teacher will appear. Make sure you’re ready for formal training, by applying yourself in school, making good grades, learning to be honorable, telling the truth, doing the right thing, and respecting your parents, even if you don’t agree with them sometimes.

Respect the fact that people that are older than you have learned many lessons and are trying to help you avoid the same mistakes. The world is this way because experience teaches us things that youthful optimism doesn’t: human nature is not the same in reality as it is in our heads.

Find the long version of the Wiccan Rede and memorize it. Follow it. It has many mysteries in it. Then, when you’re 18 and you apply for training, you will more likely be accepted. Always remember this extremely important part of the path. It’s JUST like college. You APPLY for magical training; you don’t just show up and expect to get it.

A High Priest or High Priestess has absolutely no obligation to teach you. They can dismiss you from training at any time, and will, if you make the experience of teaching you unpleasant. If you come properly prepared, if you’re humble, respectful, appreciative, and hard working, you will find your place among the Wicca.

Consider your relationships with your parents and current teachers. How do you treat them? Do they find you a joy to teach? Do you turn in homework? Do you listen in class, and read the chapters? Do you take the time to understand why your parents make the decisions they make, or do you just rage against the restrictions? These will tell you where you need to grow.

If you make your life successful as a teenager, you’ll make an excellent witch. Good luck.

Who Inherits Your Knowledge?

Who Inherits Your Knowledge?

Author:   Lady GoldenRaven 

Here is a thought: For us older wytchs, have you ever thought about who you will pass down your wytchy items to when your time comes to cross over? By the time we hit our “golden years”, most of us have amassed a rather large collection of books, articles, herbs, oils, etc. So where does it go?

We have thought about how we divide up the money we leave for our children, which one gets the house and this one gets the car. But, has anyone given thought to the wealth of knowledge we have put into our Book of Shadows?

Who gets the special oils you created? What becomes of the beautiful staff and wand we created with our own hands?

Do we leave our sacred Book of Shadows to our covens?

Is there a special child or friend who will use this information wisely and keep its secrets to themselves?

Has anyone thought of donating them to the military or some other organization?

Will they find their rightful owners or will they end up in the trash or floating around space with all the missing socks.

As I approach my Crone years and since I have taught many students in the ways of the Wise, I have often thought about leaving my stuff to one of them. However, several of my students have been online. It would be hard to leave my trusted Book of Shadows to any of them, since I have only had little contact with them. So, that leaves the students I taught in person, who are now either in my coven or have moved on.

However, I am lucky. I recently met a woman who is 25 years old. She and I have become really close friends. She had several pagan friends (who are also my friends) who had taught her a little bit about their path.

She calls me Mama Beth, since I am older and she can talk to me about things one cannot talk to about with her real parents. Since I have no children of my own, she is now my adopted daughter. She is serious about her learning of the craft, so I am now teaching her my ways.

I thought long and hard about whom would be heir to my wytchy fortune. I do not own a home, so all I have to pass along is my wytchy stuff, my Led Zeppelin/Robert Plant collection, and my car.

All that has been decided. And now, I have made my decision as to where my Book of Shadows and the rest of my stuff shall go. My daughter shall be heir to all I have in my Wytchy World. I have such a huge collection of books on the subject that is would fill two walls!

I started thinking about this when a friend of mine nearly died a few months ago in a terrible accident. I put much thought and many hours of thought into this decision. Once I decided, I made my intentions clear.

When I told Debbie of my decision, I thought she would never stop crying. She was happy yet sad. It was something she did not want to think about.

Well, nobody wants to think about such things, but you must. She is the only one allowed to even touch my Book of Shadows, let alone look in it to read from it. She has come over for her lessons on time every time. She is learning the Craft well. Most of all–I TRUST HER.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I surely do not want my Book of Shadows, which I spent many hours working on, ending up in a dumpster somewhere. I wrote every word in that book in calligraphy. If anything, it is a piece of art. For one, I have the fortune of having bought a grand Book of Shadows from a great company called Brahm’s Bookworks (link enclosed at the end), which is like the one you see on the show Charmed. Mine weighs over 30 pounds. Now you see why I do not want it simply dumped in the trash.

Who do I know who would appreciate this? My daughter!

Where will the hundreds of jars of herbs end up? Herbs that I lovingly planted, nurtured, and harvested. I have many bottles of oils which I have made, not to mention the holistic medicines I have made from all the above.

My staff, which I lovingly hand picked, designed by me for me, blessed and consecrated and has become a part of me, I do not want to end up in a burn pile somewhere as trash. If, my daughter chooses to burn it in memory of me so that none can use my “magickal” staff, then so be it.

A few of my friends may end up with a few things–some of the herbs and oils and such. My stones and all I promised to a friend who also makes jewelry. So he can use what he wants for wytchy works and pick what he needs for jewelry.

Of course, some things, I can leave to the world via the net. Some of this I have accomplished already. But face it, out in the world of Cyberspace, one cannot be too sure of who they are dealing with. A lot of my stuff is found and will be found as I continue, on Pathways Seminary.

But, I thought I would offer up this little essay as a reminder to all not to forget about whom you will leave your most precious Wytchy wears to. Since the baby boomers are now into their Crone years or close to it as I am, there are a lot of us pagans who belong to this age group.

So while you are sitting there, making out your wills, reserve space and time to have it in writing, to whom you are passing down your religious and magickal items to. I know, whomever ends up with them shall appreciate both the deep thought you put into giving it to them, as well as appreciating the work you did, and all the knowledge contained within these items.

I am happy that I know where my knowledge is going to be used and appreciated.

Thank you,
LadyGoldenraven

___________________________________

Footnotes:
Link to Book of Shadows: http://www.brahmsbookworks.com/id2.html

White-Washed Witches

White-Washed Witches

Author:   BellaDonna Saberhagen   

Witches are good. They were the great priests and priestesses of the “Old Religion” that everyone turned to in times of need. They were healers and seers, guides and advocates. It was only when the big bad Christians came and burned the Witches (nine million women, to be exact) that they were seen as bad, malevolent, evil things seeking to destroy all that was good and holy. Christianity maligned the good people of the earth, demonized the gods, and spread the hatred and fear of Witches that survives until this very day.

The above sounds familiar, doesn’t it? It’s what many Pagan authors believe and would like their readers to believe. The only problem is, it’s not true. It’s rewritten history. Every bit of it. If we’re to grow beyond the haphazard anthropology of Margaret Murray, we have to accept that. Many Pagans do accept that (most Pagans by now, I would hope) ; but there is one part of it that seems to be ignored: that Witches are good, and in fact MUST be good.

Historically, often the opposite is true. I’m not speaking of Celtic or even Norse tales; one can argue that since they were not written down until after Christians took over their respective regions that they may well have been changed to suit Christian morality. However, the Greeks had tales of witches that far pre-date the Christian take-over, and even these do not paint witches too kindly.

Medea was a princess well skilled in magic. In the tale of Jason and the Golden Fleece, she plays a key role. Hera takes an interest in the success of the mission and asks Aphrodite to have her son Cupid strike Medea with love for Jason so that she would be willing to help him with her “dark knowledge.” Medea’s father was King Aetes, the keeper of the Golden Fleece. After being struck with love for the enemy of her father, Medea considers killing herself with one of her deadly potions rather than betray her father or her love. However, she decides to betray Aetes and help Jason, which sets the tone for future actions. She gives him a balm that makes him invincible for a day and tells him how to win the trial her father has set before him to win the Golden Fleece. After the trial is won, she learns that her father has no intention of honoring his bargain and handing over the Fleece. She tells Jason of this and he and the Argonauts steal the Fleece and take her with them as they flee. During the pursuit, Medea is responsible for allowing the Argonauts to escape by causing her brother’s death; either by asking him to rescue her and sending him into a trap or by cutting him into pieces herself and forcing her father to stop pursuit to gather the remains of his dismembered son.

Upon arriving home, Jason finds that his father, the rightful king, was forced to suicide by the evil Pelias (the entire expedition for the Fleece was a bargain made between he and Jason, if Jason could bring the Fleece, Pelias would relinquish the kingdom back to its rightful ruler) . Jason needs to bring Pelias down and again turns to Medea. Pelias is an old man, so Medea approaches his daughters with a magical way to make the old young again. She cuts up an old ram in front of them, puts the pieces in a pot of boiling water, says a charm and out springs a lamb. That night, the daughters happily cut their own father to ribbons in their effort to make him young again. Jason becomes king. Medea bears Jason two children, but he does not marry her. Instead, he marries the princess of Corinth in order to gain that kingdom as well and forces her and her sons to leave his realms because she threatens harm to his new wife and he has seen what she can do. In exile, Medea sends a poisoned garment that kills Jason’s wife. Once Jason finds out, he threatens to sell his sons into slavery, so Medea kills them herself so that they would not be so tortured and shamed; then she escapes as Jason curses her.

While some of her magic may have been for what she saw as good, she certainly did not live by the codes modernly associated with Witches. She was a Witch, but not a good Witch. Her early magic may not seem so bad, helping Jason to win the Fleece through the trial; but she had to betray her own family to even go that far and that was certainly seen as evil in those days. Circe was a “most beautiful and dangerous witch.” She turned every man she came upon into a beast, but with a human mind so that they remained conscious of their predicament. When Odysseus sent a scouting party out to check the island, she turned them into swine, save one who got away and ran back to tell his captain. Odysseus went alone to face Circe, having been given an herb by Hermes to prevent her magic from affecting him. That he was able to resist her magic sparked Circe’s romantic interest and she freed his men and told him what he must do next on his long journey home.

In another tale, Glaucus sought a love potion from her to make the woman he desired love him. His story made Circe love him, but he was not interested. She decided it was the fault of the woman for which he longed. Circe turned this woman into a monster that destroyed all that tried to get close. Her name was Scylla; she became a monster that different sea-farers worried about in several tales. She was another Witch doing evil things, possibly in the name of love, possibly for her own selfish aims.

The concept of Witches as evil is older than Christendom. These tales prove this. In fact, the idea of Witches as good is more modern than many would prefer to believe. The book, The Wizard of Oz was banned in some places for daring to have good Witches in it. Even Leland’s Aradia has Witches doing bad things (the age of this text is up for conjecture, I date it to Leland, since his claimed source was never heard from again; others consider it to be based on a much older text) . Aradia is told by her mother: “And thou shalt teach the art of poisoning, Of poisoning those who are great lords to all; Yea, thou shalt make them die in their palaces; and thou shalt bind oppressor’s souls; and when ye find a peasant who is rich, then ye shall teach the witch, your pupil how To ruin all his crops with tempests dire (…) And when a priest shall do you injury By his benediction, ye shall do to him double harm and do it in the name of me, Diana, queen of witches all!”

I find that Leland’s Aradia states that Witches should out-right harm those who oppose them (and even those simply better off than they are) very interesting since some of his writings were clearly taken and applied to some forms of modern Wicca. The Charge of the Goddess as written by Doreen Valiente states, “Whenever ye have need of any thing, once in the month, and better it be when the moon is full, then shall ye assemble in some secret place and adore the spirit of She, who is Queen of all witches. There shall ye assemble, ye who are fain to learn all sorcery, yet have not won its deepest secrets; to these will She teach things that are yet unknown. And ye shall be free from slavery; and as a sign that ye be really free, ye shall be naked in your rites.”

From Aradia: ”Whenever ye have need of anything, Once in the month, and when the moon is full, ye shall assemble in some desert place, or in a forest all together join to adore the potent spirit of your Queen, my mother, Great Diana. She who fain would learn all sorcery has not won its deepest secrets, then my mother will teach her, in truth all things as yet unknown. And ye shall be freed from slavery, and so ye shall be free in everything; and as the sign that ye are truly free, ye shall be naked in your rites.”

I only hope Valiente gave Leland credit and did not just outright plagiarize him. This piece is clearly taken from Aradia, but the morality taught in that book (what I took as proof of Witches doing bad things was from the very same chapter as the “Charge” was “borrowed” from) was discarded and the Wiccan Rede placed in its stead. Since, by what most modern Witches would prefer to believe, all Witches follow the Rede, there are no bad Witches; and if you believe Wicca is the “Old Religion” of Europe, there never were bad Witches.

This belief creates individuals who become indignant every time pop-culture and media portray Witches as anything but good. They cry everything from “Christian persecution” to “the patriarchy gets nervous about powerful women, so they have to make them evil, cruel and sometimes insane.” While these beliefs may not be baseless, it must also be understood that Witches are not always good, just as Christians are not always good, just as your five year-old is not always good. Witches are humans and as humans, we can make mistakes, get angry, be selfish, exact revenge and wish to protect our families and property at all costs. If modern Witchcraft really wants to strive to be one with nature, then we cannot go against nature. Nature is both destructive and creative, we need to be the same or we are unbalanced. It may well be true that “The Witch that cannot hex, cannot heal.”

I see the modern good interpretations of Witches to be like old B-rate horror day-for-night shots (outdoor scenes filmed in broad day-light with a filter over the lens trying to create the illusion of darkness and usually failing) ; they give the darkness lip-service but stay within the circle of their white-light lamp. Sometimes you have to step outside your comfort zone to get in touch with reality; you might not always like the reality you see, but at least it is real and not a fantasy. The Witch as always good is just as much a fantasy as the Witch that is always bad.

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Footnotes: Mythology by Edith Hamilton Aradia or Gospel of the Witches by Charles LeLand The Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valiente

Wicca and Respect

Wicca and Respect

Author:   Witcher   

Wicca. The word conjures (pun intended) an image of a young girl, probably dressed in black, almost assuredly Caucasian, wearing a large ostentatious pentacle in silver and draped in a cloak of dime store velveteen while surfing pet listing to find a black cat without that annoying rogue white paw. It probably also brings up youthful ‘phases’ of writing in a Book of Shadows, watching The Craft (but pretending not to like it) and reading whatever you can find at the local bookstore on witches while mispronouncing everything and hollering about ‘the burning times’ at the drop of a hat. It seems to me that all the images we have of Wicca are of young, beginning people who have a very childish approach to religion. Surprisingly, I don’t get these images from anti-Pagan Christians or from mocking nonbelievers. I get these images from fellow Pagans.

Wicca seems to be viewed by other Pagans as an entry-level position, so to speak. Many Pagans I speak with found Paganism through the lens of Wicca before they moved onto their current paths. What I want to highlight in this essay is that moving from Wicca to another Pagan path should not be viewed as a path …but instead as a move ‘away’.  Wicca is a path of its own, with its own symbolism and mythos that is not a simple stop-by on the Pagan spiritual progression.

I came to Wicca late in the game, so to speak. My entry into the Pagan world was not through Wicca but through Hellenismos and other Reconstructionist Pagan paths. When I was researching religion after deciding to leave Christianity and finding Buddhism not working for me, the last thing I wanted was Wicca. Wicca seemed to me to be a childish sort of Paganism reserved for teenagers that had no intellectual weight. The stain of poor history put forth by early Wiccans about witch-cults and Gardner’s past seemed to be unavoidable and troubling to say the least. Reconstructionism seemed to me to offer a more intellectual and historically accurate form of worship and ritual. I had a problem, though. Every time I worshiped or performed ritual in these ways, I felt like I was running into a wall. I felt no inspiration and I felt like I was going through the motions. I was an atheist for a long time and I just felt like nothing was going to move me. Then it happened.

I decided to give Wiccan ways a try. I mean, what did I have to lose? I had read a lot on Wicca and I knew many of the basic ways they worshiped and did ritual. I built an altar with homemade items. I cast the circle, saluting the elements and the God and Goddess. The candles were beautiful, the sweet incense enticing. And it happened. I felt something. It was not some thunderstruck prophet-moment. It was just a simply joy that filled me up. I felt comfortable, beautifully involved with what I was doing and happy. I continued doing rituals and simple blessings daily at my patchwork homemade shrine and my joy continued. I felt refreshed and inspired. I felt like I had found something that truly worked for me. The writings of Gardner, Valiente, Sanders, the Farrars, and the rest were a big inspiration. I no longer took them literally, nor did I need to. I took them as a toolkit: a language, a symbolism, and a system to organize spirituality. It worked.

As I rejoiced personally in my newfound spirituality, I began to get dismayed at how Wicca was talked about and how fellow Pagans portrayed it. I was told on forums and in person that I should give up “that silly stuff” and focus on something more serious. When I talked about the God and Goddess I received frowns or eye-rolls from Recons and irritated sighs from Eclectics who told me that the BTW form of Wicca (the form I feel closest to and want to work with) was elitist and full of holes. I was constantly pointed to “better scholarship” that was meant to show me the error of my silly witchy ways. It began to get overwhelming. When I tried to explain to people that it was the ritual of Wicca that appealed to me and that the Goddess and God duality was simply a form of deity that inspired me, it didn’t seem to matter. How can it not matter?

I do not believe that other approaches to the gods are wrong. I believe that the hard polytheist Recon and the soft polytheist or pantheist Pagan can work together. I know they can for I have seen them do it. What I find puzzling is that these two groups can agree to disagree but all seem to be willing to shoot down Wiccan duotheism as a poor path. This seems unhelpful and judgmental, to say the least. If the pantheist who uses polytheism as a lens through which to see some greater truth is welcome at the table then I see no reason whatsoever that the Wiccan’s duotheism can not be welcome either.

There are serious and dedicated Wiccans out there, believe you me. I have met with them, spoke with them and learned from them. Many Wiccans practice their path with the same dedication and love that other Pagans do. Are there beginners who give a bad name to the religion? Of course there are. Think of this. How many liberal, kind, loving Christians do you know? If you’re like me, you know many. Now, do those free-thinking and loving people allow the screeching conservative faces of their religion to get them down or define their faith? No, of course not. Why can’t we in the Pagan community do the same? Many Asatru practitioners were not willing to allow racists to hijack their religion and we Wiccans are not willing to let sloppy practice and bad scholarship poison ours. You’ve dealt with your wing nuts; we’re dealing with ours.

Wiccan rituals may not be ancient. In fact, most Wiccans freely admit that they aren’t. Does it really matter? If traditional Wiccan practices give people a way in which to worship and a structure for ritual and a mythos of one’s own then I see no reason why it can’t be welcomed openly in contemporary Paganism. Wicca deserves a lot of the credit for bringing Paganism into the mainstream and popularizing earth-centered spirituality. Wicca has allowed thousands of people who felt empty and closed off from religion to find a place where their voices are heard and their experience celebrated. Wicca has been a therapeutic and restorative religion for so many. It deserves a little respect for all of this, does it not?

I am not a teenager. I am educated. I am dedicated. I respect history and scholarship. I respect the views of others and realize that my duotheism may not jive with others. I am all of this, and I am Wiccan. If Wicca was a starting point for you but you felt that it did not fulfill something in you, then that is perfectly fine. If other Pagan paths called to you or if a more Eclectic branch came out of your spiritual workings then that is great. Please, however, do not think that leaving Wicca is somehow graduating to something with more meat and less fluff. I firmly believe that religion can only give out what you put in. If a newly converted Pagan practices Wicca and only uses bad scholars, poorly written rituals and mass media portraitures of witchcraft, then what could the expected outcome be? Many of us, on the other hand, are putting in love and dedication, intelligence and devotion.

What we get out of Wicca is beautiful. Mutual respect is crucial to any religion, especially one as diverse and contemporary Paganism. Let’s try and respect the religion that did so much for modern Pagans, and does so much for thousands of practitioners today.