‘THINK on THESE THINGS’ for January 9th

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

It takes such a little whiff of memory to carry us all the way back. Small things tucked here and there remind us of some place, some thing, some person who has played a special part in our lives.

We want to go forward, try new things, know new people, visit new places, yet how nice to slip on those comfortable old slippers of the familiar bygones and remember loving faces and happy times.

It is said that we should never return to places that have a sacred spot in our memories. Everything changes with time, so little remains recognizable to us. We begin to think that perhaps those hallowed places were not so wonderful as we remember.

But they were, for in their time and that place it was as it should have been, happy and meaningful. They may have changed, but so have we.

A little of every place and every person goes with us in the building of even happier times. We have not lost anyone or anything but it is the combination of all that we have lived and learned that builds our character and teaches us the way of life.

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

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

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

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day – January 9

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – January 9

“So, with the Native way, it’s not whether people find out about what you’ve done or not… that’s not nearly as strong as having your source of morality within you, having your morality arise out of an inner perception of what is wrong, ridiculous, or shameful. You are your own judge.”

 

–Eunice Baumann-Nelson, Ph.D., PENOBSCOT

Inside each of us is a voice. It is a quiet voice. It is a guiding voice. If we listen for it, it will guide us, and help us avoid disaster. It is especially active when we are afraid, when we are in doubt, when we are scared, when we need help, and when we get angry. If we are excited emotionally, it is hard to hear this voice. If we are angry, it’s hard to hear this voice because it is usually quiet. The best thing we can do is to practice getting quiet. If we don’t get quiet, there is another voice called the judge. It tells us to attack or say bad things to other people or to judge ourselves. This voice is loud and usually gets us into trouble.

Creator, Great Mystery, help me listen for the quiet voice. Let me know this voice of Yours. Your ways are gentle. Guide me with this voice. Thank you.

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January 9 – Daily Feast

January 9 – Daily Feast

 

Sometimes great distances exist between the high points of our lives. Time moves swiftly and we tend to let it slip away without making it count while we wait on another high experience. We discount it as nothing unless we have reached some spectacular height and have passed ten other people on the way. The Indian does not consider himself idle when he stands still watching, listening, seeing the stars, or watching the sunset. His spirit-eyes absorb these signs and wonders to feed him when he cannot see the rolling hills, the flowing streams. A narrow view is one that constantly asks, What shall I eat? What shall I wear? What can make me feel secure? And all the time, the beauty and peace which cost nothing surround us unnoticed. Envy and lack of inner joy rob us of our peace of mind.

~ O, listen! Hear! Sing with me, for I am joy. ~

CHEROKEE SONG

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

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The Daily Motivator for Jan. 9th – Stop waiting

Stop waiting

Don’t wait to be inspired. Get busy, and find your inspiration in making  something good and useful happen.

Don’t wait for the moment to be right. Go ahead and make the moment right by  what you do with it.

If you wish for fortune to shine upon you, give it a good reason to do so.  The reliable way to be lucky is to make your own luck with your own efforts.

The way to get what you want is not to beg for it or hope for it or demand  it. The way to get what you want is to do what you must to make it happen.

You know that, so go ahead and put your knowledge to good use. Feel the  irreplaceable satisfaction that comes from being master of your own fate.

Stop waiting for life to be the way you want. Start doing all you can to make  it great.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

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Daily OM for January 9th – Curative Attentiveness

Curative Attentiveness

Being Aware of Your Thoughts

by Madisyn Taylor

We seldom accept negative comments from others, however, we so often accept our own inner negative chatter.

Few people enjoy the company of individuals whose attitudes are persistently negative. Yet many of us tolerate the critical chatter that can originate within our own minds. Since we are so used to the stream of self-limiting, critical consciousness that winds its way through our thoughts, we are often unaware of the impact these musings have on our lives. It is only when we become aware of the power of such thoughts that we can divest ourselves of them and fill the emptiness they leave with loving, peaceful affirmations. Many people, upon paying careful attention to their thinking patterns, are surprised at the negativity they find there. But when we take notice of involuntary thoughts in a nonjudgmental way, we initiate a healing process that will eventually allow us to replace intimidating and upsetting self-talk with positive, empowering thoughts.

While the occasional downbeat or judgmental thought may have little impact on your contentment, the ongoing negativity that passes unnoticed can have a dampening effect on your mood and your outlook. When you are aware of the tone of your thoughts, however, you can challenge them. Try to be conscious of your feelings, opinions, and judgments for a single day. From sunup to sundown, scrutinize the messages you are feeding into your subconscious mind. Consider your thoughts from the perspective of a detached observer and try not to judge yourself based on the notions that come unbidden into your mind. Simply watch the flow of your consciousness and make a note of the number of times you find yourself focusing on gloomy notions or indulging in self-directed criticism.

As you become increasingly aware of your patterns of thought, whether positive and negative, you will gradually learn to control the character of your stream of consciousness. Endeavor always to remember that the images and ideas that pass through your mind are transient and not a true representation of who you are. In training yourself to be cognizant of your thoughts, you gain the ability to actively modulate your mood. The awareness you cultivate within yourself will eventually enable you to create a foundation of positivity from which you can build a more authentic existence.

The Daily OM

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A Call from the Ancestors

A Call from the Ancestors

Author:   Rev.Roman Delgado   

As I sit before my altar, I’ve had a memory, a vague knowing of something past calling me to return to myself. As if the echoes of those gone before call me into a path walked by many in Aeons past. A feeling as if what I have lost to the sands of time and waves of progress and technology as only been forgotten and craves to return.

So many have felt this call before me. I have seen it on the news, then Internet, books. Everywhere people today seem to want to return to the ways that have been lost to time. Revival and reconstructionist religious movements are being seen from the black fertile lands of Egyptian religion and the fields of Greece to the Ancient Aztec world.

The path of the ancient ones calls, yet so much of it is forgotten. Through the Aeons past in which change and progress have changed the landscape of Gaia, those gone before us seem to have been swallowed by sands of time. No longer do we seem to want to cross the river Styx; few are those that delve into the path of transformation and cross the bridge to the land of the dead and return like the true initiates of the mysteries of the ancients transformed and renewed.

Today’s society has rejected death. On a pragmatic level it makes sense. Life is meant to be lived not mourned. Life is lived for its own merit not for the sake of its end. However, in the process of forgetting the importance of death, we have forgotten the reality of transformation. Death and life is not only a never-ending spiral in the great wheel of rebirth.

Death is all around in times when only life can be seen. Death is the forbearer of rebirth and, as each thing grows anew, it is a sign of transformation. It is a sign that something else has come to an end in order to bring forth the light of a new era. In paganism this becomes obvious through myth and celebration of the changes in the cycles of life and nature. We celebrate change, yet only delve into what brings change when we actually face it.

As I sit before my altar every day, I hear a call so many ignore unless they wheel of the year tells them it’s time to hear it. A call to change and transform, to die and be reborn. In my path as a pagan, I come from an indigenous background, I have traveled in body, mind and spirit cross cultures to better understand my own past, to understand the Alchemies of the soul.

Along that path I have understood that ritual is transformational. Every time I am in the presence of the divine I am changed and healed. Yet when I traveled outside of my roots into the modern world so many ignore the call of death in their ritual. The call to let go and surrender to the divine, to commune with the God and Goddess, is a pivotal role: the Alchemy of the soul.

In Mexico, I learned about this alchemy as the rites of Coatlicue an ancestral deity ruling over life and death. Her rites were those of shamanic initiation, the dismemberment of the initiate and his reconstruction as a being that holds the wisdom of the ancestors.

Once that pivotal moment is passed I learned the Alchemy of Tezcatlipoca. His rites are of initiation into the darkest parts of one’s own soul. His mysteries are for the ones destined to tame their own fire and harness it into the power to weave destiny. It is the magic of the Ancestors.

Now in a later stage of my development I learn the Alchemy of duality. My Ancestors called this the teachings of Quetzalcoatl and Xochiquetzal. The ancient Egyptians called it the Alchemies of Isis and Osiris and the Alchemies of Horus. Their teaching is the teaching of embracing change, the inner change that fortifies the soul and life-force in order to withstand the change that is the ultimate test of the Alchemist: the culmination of the alchemical process, the attainment of eternal life. A mystery that can only be lived, a choice moment to be in this world or in spirit. That too is the magic of the Ancestors.

Throughout the world, religion is centered on eternal life. Some along the never-ending cycle of re-incarnation. Some in the rebirth after death into an eternal moment of bliss and rest. Yet there are some that only embrace this moment and this life; it is in this moment and life that some religions find death and rebirth.

In the rebirth of Paganism in the western world, so many have ceased to hear the call of the Ancestors. The teachings of the departed are more or less confined to grieving the dead and honoring their memory when the natural world turns to darkness. I must tell you, there is far more to it than that.

The Alchemies of which I speak are the teachings of those who have lived them and mastered them. Blood bonds or not, we are all descendants of our spiritual lines. The Alchemies of the soul are the legacy of the ancient priests and priestesses of the Gods.

The role of the Alchemies is to prepare the Initiate for eternal joy and mastery, be it in the afterlife among the dearly departed or in the ever-present moment that is this world.

The call to the Alchemical mysteries of the ancients lies through the land of the ancestors. It is a call to acknowledge the need for death in life. Not giving up the joys of the world, but to give up what keeps us apart from divinity. It said among initiates of mysteries schools that the true magician must jump the great chasm to achieve the great work. One of the dual secret meanings of this phrase is that the chasm is both internal (states of mind) and spiritual: the chasm between one’s self and divinity itself. As voodoo practitioners say to westerners under a different context: “ You people go to church and pray to God; we go to church and become God”. You see the inner mysteries path of the ancients is simple. It is found in words of Doreen Valiente’s poem, “The Charge of the Goddess”:

“…If what thou seek that does not find within, thou shall never find without. For I am that which has been with thee from the beginning, and I am that which is attained at the end of desire…”

The path to desire lies through the path of death and rebirth. Through letting go and being transformed, it is a path of internal sacrifice, letting go of what separates us from the Gods, our Ancestors and all creation, sacred from the times of the ancients to this day. As it is said in the Charge of the God:

“Let my name be within the body that sings, for all acts of willing sacrifice are my rituals…”

Let us not forget the call the Gods made to the Ancestors long ago. A call passed on to us. A call to death and rebirth, life and afterlife. A call that shall echo in the minds and souls of the initiates through all eternity…

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A Brief History of Paganism in America

A Brief History of Paganism in America

Author:   CoyoteSkyWoman   

Author’s note: This essay was originally a submission to my American History class at Southern New Hampshire University. I felt that I should share it with the Pagan Community at large since it was apparently well received by my professor, who had no previous background or knowledge in Paganism. It is written in APA style, so the notations in the reference section are correct. The reference to Witchvox will probably give you a chuckle. – Deb J.

There is a religion in America today that has been slowly growing since the late 1960’s and has been gaining in popularity and acceptance throughout the years. Neo-Paganism, which includes such diverse branches as Wicca, Druidism, Asatru (a worship of Norse deities) , and many other reconstructionist and revivalist groups often based on the deeply researched practices of the ancients. Far from being the Hollywood vision of witches and witchdoctors, the “worldview of witchcraft is, above all, one that values life” (Starhawk 1979, p 32) , and is tied closer to the natural world than many world religions, save for other nature-oriented sects such as Buddhism and Shinto.

The roots of the modern Pagan movement in America can be traced back to the early 1950’s in England where a man by the name of Gerald B. Gardner first made public his beliefs in an older Goddess based religion called Wica (also known as Wicca, the Craft of the Wise, or simply, the Craft) that had persisted from ancient times. Aidan Kelley, founder of the New Reformed Orthodox Order of the Golden Dawn states that “it really makes no difference whether or not Gardner was initiated into an older coven. He invented a new religion, a ‘living system’ and modern covens have adopted a lot of it because it fulfills a need” (Adler 1979, p 80) . Gardner himself claimed that a lot of what he taught came directly from an ancient coven, and that he was initiated by an old neighbor woman by the name of Dorothy Clutterbuck. The veracity of this claim has never been firmly established, and although birth and death records for “Old Dorothy” have been uncovered, how much involvement she had in Gardner’s vision still remains a topic of hot debate.

It is the view of many Neo-Pagans including Kelley that Gardner has never properly “been given credit for creative genius. He had a vision of a reformed Craft. He pulled together pieces from magic and folklore; he assimilated the ‘matriarchal theology set forth in (Robert) Graves, (Charles) Leland, and Apuleius. With these elements, he created a system that grew” (Adler 1979, p 83) .

Whatever the true background of the first English branch of Wicca, by the early 1970’s “all of the main English branches of Pagan Witchcraft had arrived in the United States: and “the books of (Margaret) Murray, Graves, and Gardner found a wide readership” (Hutton 1999, p 341) . There is some evidence that there were indigenous branches of American Paganism on record as early as 1938 when “the very first self-conscious modern Pagan religion, the Church of Aphrodite, ” was ”established in Long Island”, (Hutton 1999, p 340) , however, none of these had the staying power of the English branches. By 1975, Paganism was becoming firmly entrenched on our soil.

The next phase of the assimilation of English Pagan beliefs was a large turning point for the blossoming American Pagans. The radical feminist movement, which was developing during the mid seventies, came into contact with these very Goddess-oriented, female affirming worshipers, and there was a great merging of beliefs. By the mid 1970’s the “view of witchcraft expressed being ‘female, untamed, angry, joyous, and immortal’ “ and this “became embedded firmly in American Radical Feminism” (Hutton 1999, p 341) . The problem was that the feminist view overtook the religious aspects and by the late seventies, witchcraft had decayed into a feminist-rallying cry, centered around the so-called Burning Times when men dehumanized women and supposedly burned them at the stake because they interfered with the newly created practice of the doctor.

Midwives and herbalists were claimed to be some of the targets of this attack, so naturally, feminists flocked to this banner of outrage, seeing it as proof of continued patriarchal persecution.

Not all of the Pagan feminists lost sight of the religious aspects, however. In 1971, a young woman by the name of Zsuzanna Budapest formed the Susan B Anthony coven in Hollywood, CA, and went on to become one of the most respected feminist Pagan writers of the period. While she was staunchly feminist, she also was very much a follower of Wiccan beliefs, and was one of the most influential writers those who were to follow in her footsteps. In 1980, she wrote The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries which went on to become an instant classic, and is one of the standards by which modern Pagans judge all other books in the genre.

Another feminist writer gained fame when she published her first book, The Spiral Dance, on Hallowe’en in 1979. The woman’s penname was Starhawk, and her book gained much praise, not so much for its religious material that was extensive, but also for its poetic prose. Starhawk was a Witch who had been “trained by Gardnerians, and then initiated into one of the homegrown American strains of Pagan Witchcraft which had also absorbed some material from Wicca, the Faery (or Feri) , taught by Victor Anderson” (Hutton 1999, p 345).

Starhawk described her vision of the Craft as “a joyous, life-affirming, tolerant path; a religion of poetry not theology, which yet demanded responsibility” (Hutton 1999, p 346). Starhawk is one of the most often quoted Pagan writers, and The Spiral Dance is considered to be one of the top five selling pagan books of all time. Starhawk’s vision of Wicca floats through the words on every page, and the words are lyric and insightful. The Spiral Dance does not so much instruct readers on how to follow Paganism, but more leads by telling stories and giving examples of what the Pagan life is like through the eyes of a Pagan. Starhawk’s following books, Dreaming the Dark and Truth or Dare delve more deeply into the history of religious movements and examine the dualism present in most religions. Although somewhat darker than The Spiral Dance in tenor, the books never the less contain important ideas that have helped to develop Paganism into the new millennium.

The 1980’s were a time of great change for the Pagan movement in terms of the spread of information and the pursuit of general acceptance. The word was out, either on the newly created Internet or in the increasing number of books available. By the end of the 1980’s there were thousands of established Pagan groups across the country, and festivals were being celebrated on the eight major holidays in the open. While there was still a lot of prejudice, especially in the Midwestern Bible-belt, in the North-East and West coast, there were more and more publicly announced rituals and events that were open to the public. New England’s own Earthspirit community was among the first to hold an annual Beltaine or Mayday event at Sheepfold Meadow in Medford, MA. Complete with Maypole, donated foods by participants, and drumming and dancing, these yearly events were no longer hidden and performed in seclusion, but were held out in the open for all to see.

Other events followed, becoming more widespread and more diverse. By the early nineties, what had once been a small celebration between invited guests in Salem, MA on Hallowe’en or Samhain had become a giant affair involving most of the local merchants and Pagan groups. Huge psychic fairs were held at the Olde Town Hall, and lines went out the door for attendees of such events.

Elsewhere in the country, other similar events were being held, and a website devoted to the progress of the Pagan community as a whole in the U.S. was formed. The Witches Voice or Witchvox as it was commonly known, was a place to meet local pagans, promote events, post informational articles, and advertise skills such as clergy and tarot readers. Most groups interested in promoting their events would post their information online for everyone to see, and from there, hold their events. As of the time of this writing, the Witches Voice community listings are still the most popular way of getting information on upcoming Pagan events.

The amount of Pagan oriented books skyrocketed in the 1990’s. With the publication of books by SilverRavenWolf, Amber K, Edain MacCoy and countless others, the amount of information available at any local bookstore or online bookseller was staggering. Whether it was information on various Pagan holidays like Llewellyn’s Wheel of the Year by the Campanelli’s or on legal issues, like Dana Eiler’s Pagans and the Law, there was a reference out there for anything you could want.

That did not mean that the information was always solid, and there was a lot of repetitiveness, especially since the publishers at Llewellyn knew a good thing when they saw it, but by the mid-nineties, there was no longer a question of whether the Pagan movement would be dying out any time soon. Neo-Paganism was here to stay.
A testament to how deeply entrenched the alternative culture had penetrated the minds of America came from an unlikely source. On November 27, 1995, “an episode of the cult science fiction show, The X-files neatly had its ideological cake and ate it too…” While dealing with a cult-oriented murder case, “the heroine (Agent Scully) burst out that ‘Wiccans love all living things’ – and that settled the matter. Suddenly, the story was in the 1990’s” (Hutton 1999, p 386).

The X-files was not the first television show to portray pro-pagan sentiment. The most stunning “display of motifs taken ultimately from Wicca in the 1980’s and 1990’s” was the hit show broadcast first in the UK and then over here in America. Hosted by Showtime, the show “Robin of Sherwood” produced by HTV was a hit both in America and across the pond. With its stunning scenery and costuming, Robin of Sherwood starred both Michael Praed and, later, Jason Connery, as the title character. The show “portrayed Robin Hood as a pagan guided by the antlered god of the greenwood – here called Herne” (Hutton 1999, p 388) . This show would influence an entire generation of Neo-Pagans, and flavor their view of magic and mystery for years to come.

Now, in the new century, Paganism is alive and well. Annual Pagan Pride events that take place across the country serve as educational tools for both Pagans and non-Pagans alike. Books and movies continue to act as influential means of education, and Paganism continues to grow. As a positive, life-affirming religion, it has its heart in the right place, and as long as it remains so, with its goals intact, it will continue to prosper and spread its message of peace for many years to come.

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References

Adler, M. (1979) . Drawing down the moon. Boston: Beacon Press.
Hutton, R. (1999) . The triumph of the moon: a history of modern pagan witchcraft. New York: Oxford University Press Inc.
Simos, M. (Starhawk) , (1979) . The spiral dance; a rebirth of the ancient religion of the great goddess. New York: Harper and Row Publishers.

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New, Old, or Returning to your Path…

New, Old, or Returning to your Path…

Author:   Darksky   

Firstly, like anything else in life no matter where you’re at in your stage, degree, or practice of the Magickal arts, you’re not the only one that has felt the way you do. We have all been overwhelmed, frustrated, unsure, or confused. New, old, or returning let me say congratulation and welcome! Taking the first step is always a big decision, but you did and now your here.

So now what? You have read everything in print, you have spoken to folks who practice the craft, you have heard from craft store owners, and of course people with their own witch/occult web site. I would say, take everything that you have heard with a grain of salt and do some research. Do not always take what you read or hear so literally. Getting into anything new or returning to it needs a point of origin.

Start with the basics, you cant do advanced work if you haven’t got a good working concept of the basics, and should you be rusty go back and review. True, there is so much to learn, but there are so many paths, traditions, and pantheons to experience. Patience, and being methodical will yield knowledge, safety, and rewards for all your hard work.

So…back to an origin, a jumping off point, Magick is the control of ones own environment, to be able to manifest change in ones self and ones surrounds. So how do we achieve this if we are not in control, distracted, or unsure? To just read books, take classes, buy tools, light candles, deal tarot cards, and attend seminars and book signings are merely actions. Magick without intention and intuition is incomplete and void. A magician needs to have confidence, intuition, and be able to infuse, inject, and penetrate every single aspect of his or her work with intention.

While magick is the art of control in order to manifest, it is also a connection with the universe, nature and the Lord and Lady, that is true, but more importantly it is a connection with ones self.
Self is so vital to magick. True magick is practiced without ego, but without knowing ones self, is it possible?

New, old or returning to your path, your thinking am I ready, have I read enough, how will I know if I doing it right? You may be thinking “I need a teacher, some one to tell me if I’m doing it right.” Sound familiar?

What you need is to learn to listen to yourself, feel the flow of magick, feel nature, feel the universe, and make and keep that connection with the Lord and Lady in your own way. Magick is without doubt, but it’s not without planning, studying, execution, re-evaluation, and perfecting. Never sell yourself short, or underestimate your abilities. I mentioned it before in another post, all the best and great magicians all started out on their journey the same as you and I, with a curiosity and yearning to be more, a feeling akin to something was missing, in short a calling.

You don’t need a certificate, or a degree program that says you are a witch. You will know if you are or aren’t. Would all the great magicians have been lesser practitioners if they had not attended classes? Don’t get me wrong, instruction is good and having someone impart his or her experience and mistakes can be an asset to your practice, if used as a resource. You need to make the magick you practice and craft your own.

Take all you read, hear, try, and are taught and refine it to suit your needs. What works for one witch may not have such a positive outcome for another witch. Write your own spells, your own rituals, make your own oils/incense. Study with out doubt, listen to what the elements, spirits, and the universe have to offer you and make it your own. Practicing the craft and being a witch isn’t the same for everyone. The early magicians that started out with the Golden Dawn took what they learned and applied and formed their own brand of magick. Alex and Maxine Sanders developed their own brand of magick; as did Gardner and Crowley, just to name a few. Christopher Penczak was a Laurie Cabot taught witch and he went on to develop his own brand, as I’m sure Laurie Cabot did.

Magick is personal, intimate, and forever growing. It’s always developing within all of us. Practicing the craft is just that it’s practice, hard work and commitment. Constantly revisit your BOS, and your rituals and styles of writing and preparations to become more in tune with the surrounds and yourself, until you reach a level of proficiency and confidence and belief, but in no way cocky or arrogant. Re-evaluate your workings, combinations of colors, planetary hours, days and nights of the week, and most of all your intentions and intuitions.

We all get a little lax in any en-devour and may look to a quicker way of doing things, and sometimes that a good thing. Magick and the practice of it, is not about the quick and easy way. Slow, methodical, purposeful, with anticipation and excitement. Never bite the magickal hand that feeds you.

So new, old, or returning to your path go slow, prioritize, research, meditate, question, experiment, re-evaluate, and keep silent, remember Crowley said, “Every man and every woman is a star”. Believe it!

_____________________________________________
Magic is believing in yourself. If you can do that, you can make anything happen.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Paganism is wholesome because it faces the facts of life.
Aleister Crowley

A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.
Albert Einstein

Small is the number of people who see with their eyes and think with their minds.
Albert Einstein

“Do what thou will shall be the whole of the law, love is the law. Love under will.”
Aleister Crowley

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Pagan Parenting: Combating the Violence of the World Today

Pagan Parenting: Combating the Violence of the World Today

Author:   Crystal Blanton   

There are violence, crime, pain, drugs and death all around us. It has become a part of society and we have begun the process of normalizing it into our everyday world.

The video games, music videos and songs that depict violence are just unbelievable. So, if you are anything like me, as a parent there is a certain amount of anxiety you carry when thinking of your kids in the “real” world.

You may be thinking, “What does this have to do with Paganism?” Well, it has everything to do with paganism and living a spiritual path. We, as adults, know we make different and make better decisions when we are rooted in a spiritual path. Why do we automatically assume that kids are so different from us?

Granted, children don’t have the life skills and experiences we do. Children do not have the critical thinking skills some adults have, and notice I did say some.

Children are learning how to operate in the world with every passing moment. Sometimes, in the world of an adult where things seem to move so fast, we forget the true path of a kid and that path is all about learning the life skills to live and make decisions. More often than not, it is about learning to recognize choices and make better choices.

With those thoughts at the forefront of our minds, let’s go back and revisit the original thought. As humans, children and adults alike, we make different and better decisions when we are rooted in a spiritual path.

So by putting that concept into the proper perspective, the time for action is now.

The time is now to teach our children responsibility and accountability, not by preaching but by example. Remember, attraction rather than promotion and we can always show better than we can “tell”.

The time is now for spiritual knowledge. Broaden their minds; kids can never have too much knowledge or understanding of the world that is beyond this world.

The time is now to teach our kids structure. We cannot pretend that our kids will automatically understand that the world is based on rules, some real and some invisible. If we don’t provide our kids structure, how will they learn how to exist in the world?

The time is now to teach our kids to respect life and everything in it. They must begin the long process of understanding that we are connected to everything and everything is connected to us. Understanding this principle helps to take away the false illusion that we are not affecting others, the world or ourselves with our attentions.

The time is now to teach our kids how to think. Children are accustomed to reacting to life instead of thinking things through and evaluating consequences. This is a skill many adults didn’t learn and they are still suffering the effects of bad choices made in the past and in the present.

The time is now to have open and honest communication with our children about life.
We think we can save our kids from the reality of the world but, when our kids don’t get the answers from us, they are looking from the answers from others. And sometimes the places our kids look for answers is the last place we would wish.

The time is now to teach our kids that they create their own reality. Kids often immediately think life is horrible or unfair when things don’t go their way. We all need to understand life is hard but I chose how I am going to deal with it or what feelings I am going to accept or adopt. How I chose to look at life will dictate how I feel about my life. There are people who have much less in life than I do and they wake up happy in the morning because they actually opened their eyes to another day. Wow, what a harsh realization at how many of us are self-centered and don’t appreciate our blessings. Guess what? We pass that along to our kids.

The time is now to teach our kids that we cannot control other people’s thoughts or actions. We just have to learn to live in spite of the outside world. The building of coping and life skills through spiritual foundation can be invaluable to a child, especially since most children feel like their power resides in the choices of others

With all of that in mind, again let’s look at the mission of this article. We cannot actually remove our children from the violence in the world today because, no matter how far away we move, and violence is a part of our everyday life. But we can give our kids the tools to understand life in a way that doesn’t promote violence and destruction.

Let’s stop acting like it is ok that our kids are exposed to senseless violence in movies and TV. I am not promoting censorship but our attitudes will help dictate how our children see these things. If we were acting like it is ok or “cool” then why wouldn’t we think our kids would think the same thing?

Ask yourself what things are you lenient with that you should tighten up on and what things should you give more freedoms? What are you teaching your children when you are not mentally and spiritually present?

Sit with yourself and a piece of paper and think of some of the discussion topics that you feel you need to start opening the lines of communication around, and then just start. Start talking about the values of your faith and what is means to them. Talk about almost anything to help forge the connection between you as the parent and the supporter of spiritual development. Don’t get stuck on how to do this or what to say. Sometimes it isn’t about the how but just to do. And don’t forget to incorporate spirituality into almost everything.

Just imagine if all parents started doing the same.

Blessed Be!!

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Continuing the Tradition

Continuing the Tradition

Author:   Talma Stormphoenix  

There’s a great deal of anticipation in the air of my home right now. My daughter, my eldest child, is about to become a mother. Her pregnancy has taken me back to when I was pregnant with her. I was so excited to see my baby I just thought about how the little person was that I was carrying.

Was my child a boy or a girl? Would my child have ten finger and toes? Would my child be healthy? Did I eat right; walk enough? What would my child look like?

All of my questions were answered the night she was born. She was born healthy and strong and beautiful.

Now seeing as I was still Catholic at the time it was expected that I get her baptized and I did even though it wasn’t something that I really wanted to do. I had become more dissatisfied with my faith then but still didn’t have any alternatives in mind.

I had no idea that Wicca or any other Pagan faith existed. The Internet was still years away and I had no idea of where to go or to look for other information. No idea that I could even search for what my heart yearned for.

Before I found Wicca I had three more children but I did feel strongly enough to not get them baptized in a faith that I didn’t agree with.

Now about seven years ago I told my daughter about being Wiccan and she confided that she had also found Wicca. Talk about a pleasant surprise! Ever since then we’ve been studying together.

Now that I’m going to be a grandmother we’re going to teach her child, her daughter, our faith. And that is what brings me to the debate that has surrounded other Pagan parents and grandparents.

Do you teach this new child about your Pagan faith to the exclusion of others or be more open-minded and teach about all others?

My daughter wants me to perform my granddaughter’s Wiccaning and I will. I see no problem with teaching her Wicca first and then when questions arise teaching about other faiths that are more dominant in our society. In this way this little girl will be able to function without feeling that we’re hiding anything and she’ll understand that while not in the mainstream there’s nothing wrong with our faith.

My daughter was ten when she found Wicca and came to it on her own and the truth is why shouldn’t we teach her daughter the same things that we learned by trial and error? I can’t imagine teaching her what I was of other faiths. The only thing I was told about other faiths was that they were wrong and those folks were going to ‘hell’ but I did differently with my daughter to the consternation of my family and those lessons about other faiths have allowed her to be friends with people her age and teach about her faith and allay their fears.

One of her friends is a girl whose mother is a reverend. Her friend was nervous for a while but now, three years later, it’s nothing to her and even admitted that for a while it scared her until she got to know my daughter better.

I’ve been the maiden and the mother, now I begin my journey as the crone. Like any other grandparent I get to pass on stories to another generation about my daughter, my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and the rest of the family, including myself.

I get to teach lessons like I did with my children about why ants collect food and how you know it’s about to rain when you see them all over the sidewalk and how to smell it for yourself when it’s close. I get to teach her all the things that I know and about the lessons I’ve learned about my life.

I know she’ll still make mistakes but I get to pass all this knowledge on. I look forward to this beautiful challenge.

My daughter baby-sits a friend’s baby and has been watching me like a hawk. Her friend’s baby didn’t crawl because the previous baby sitter left her on her back the whole time she had her. We were trying to get her to work her legs so I put the baby on my bed and lay down too.

I let her watch me get up and crawl across the bed and then she began moving her legs trying to get her knees up under herself. My daughter had a look of shock and pleasure on her face. She couldn’t believe it. She and her friend had tried to get her to crawl but never thought about getting on the floor with her! It’s another one of those things that I still have to teach my own daughter. I look forward to that too.

Now this other child is making her way across the floor on all fours.

It’s not even all the magickal stuff that I look forward to passing on to my granddaughter. Yes we’ll have ritual and celebrate the seasons and each full moon but there’s also crossing the street and tying her shoes. Showing her how to use the DVD player right instead of like her mother with the VCR sticking pennies in it and frying it out. Singing sing-a-long songs with her and teaching her games like Red Rover, Red Rover and Fox in the morning.

Granted that’s all years away but I want to do it. Help her learn to write her name, learn her English and math and even some geography and history before she even starts school. My daughter speaks Spanish and I did also. My two youngest sons are learning to speak French so she’ll have two languages under her belt before she goes to school.

My oldest son is a car fanatic! This little girl will be able like Marissa Tomei’s character in My Cousin Vinny!

This child is the furthest thing away from being a chore for all of us and we are looking forward to being able to teach her, with her parents, all that we can. I love learning things, as do my daughter and my new son so this first grandchild of mine is probably going to suck up everything!

I thought about ways of passing on our beliefs and traditions, as we obvious will be doing. We have an open view of how things are and want to pass that on. There is what we believe in as right and wrong which is simply “Would you want it done to you?“ Which is another way of saying harm none. We’ve been blessed with the opportunity to pass on what we know and I look forward to this next generation as the blessing that it is.

Ashleen O’Gaea wrote Raising Witches and uses a term to describe what we should be doing as parents that I’ve tried to do. It’s called regency parenting. Working to raise your child to be a responsible adult and able to function in the world independent of the parents. Able to live their lives when they turn eighteen and leave your home if they choose and being able to let them go live.

Thankfully my daughter has learned well from me because she is my granddaughter’s first teacher. Right now while she is still in the womb my daughter eats pretty healthy so her daughter has learned to look forward to the taste of fruits and vegetables instead of candy and junk food. Although there is still that craving for gyros and hoagies. At least there’s a lot of lettuce!

Raising children is only so hard as you make it and that includes the discipline. My daughter was a fairly spoiled child but has become a very responsible adult so I can’t complain about how she came out so that’s another thing that is, hopefully, going to be passed on.

Yes, things can be totally different than what you plan on them to be but as it stands we’ve got our foundation firmly in place and are more than willing to work to do our best for this little girl coming in the world in the next couple weeks.

A new chapter has opened up in all of our lives and it’s up to us to make the best of it and give her the best that we can while teaching her the best that we can about everything that we can. That includes being Wiccan and practicing Witchcraft and being under the big, beautiful umbrella of Paganism.

Let the adventure begin!!

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Signs of a True Elder, Master or Priest

Signs of a True Elder, Master or Priest

Author:   Patricia Telesco 

I have been very disturbed by the increase in the use of titles like Priest, Priestess, Elder, Teacher, Shaman, Lady, and Lord in our community, specifically by those who really do not have the training to claim such honorable terms. You would not see anyone in the Christian church calling themselves by such a title without ordination and schooling, yet among neo-pagans it seems that nearly anyone who wishes to can take up a title and wield it for boon or bane.
Now, I realize that at the heart of things we are our own Priest and Priestess, but that’s far different than being the spiritual guide for many people (not to mention the difference in Karmic implications). To use a title without having earned it in the eyes of others, through training, or by calling is to dishonor all those who have earned their place as our teachers, elders, priests and priestesses. It also doesn’t present the most positive, responsible image of neo-paganism to outsiders who view such antics as manipulative power trips (often rightly so).
Reading one book does not make anyone an expert. Attending a year’s worth or rituals does not qualify a person for eldership or priesthood! In a world of seemingly shake-and-bake shamanism and instant priesthood, the route to true magical mastery isn’t traversed quickly or without sacrifice, and it can’t be found in the yellow pages. And it certainly has very little to do with a fancy or powerful sounding title. At its pinnacle, adepthood isn’t about impressing people; it’s a way of living and being. In other words, the focus is not on “talking the talk,” but on “walking the walk.” What are some of the signs of a true elder, master or priest?
How about someone who:

  1. Reclaims ancient knowledge, tradition, and powers, keeping them alive for future generations
  2. Safeguards magical history so that we can learn from the past in building the future
  3. Personally accepts the responsibility implied by gaining and using mystical knowledge and skill
  4. Honors the earth as a sacred space and use its resources wisely
  5. Acknowledges that life is an act of worship, and strives to keep his or her words and actions in accord
  6. Respects individual diversity, knowing there are many paths to enlightenment and that each person is a sacred space unto themselves.
  7. Embraces creativity and change as a fundamental necessity in keeping magic vital
  8. Encourages balance in all things, especially in his or her own life
  9. Teaches others the ways of magic in simple, understandable steps (no “instant enlightenment” no fluffy bunny magick).
  10. Offers metaphysical aid, consultation, and insights freely to those in need, without personal expectations of gain
  11. Gives back something to their art, or those who practice it
  12. Realizes that tools are only helpmates to magic. Real power comes from the mind, heart, and will working in harmony with earth and Spirit.

In some ways a priest or elder doesn’t ever “arrive” — we are always getting there, realizing that the more we know, the more we realize how LITTLE we know (smile). When we finally reach this understanding, we’re often ready to teach and lead with both heart and head; in balance is spiritual wisdom. In fact, I would hazard to guess that most people who are truly our priests, priestesses, elders and teachers are those who don’t have to say so – we just know it by the example of their lives!

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Pagan Doers – How To Get Things Done

Pagan Doers – How To Get Things Done

Author:   Sia@FullCircle   
There has been a lot of talk in our community lately about what our Pagan Leaders do for us (and in some cases, to us). But I’m not going to speak on that subject, because the folks here at Full Circle are not Leaders, we’re Doers.
Doers make things happen and their actions light the way for those that wish to follow their example. Full Circle lights the way by organizing events for the Earth Wise Community as a whole. Those who want to join us, show up and get to work. Our volunteers have a say in what we do and how we do it. Those who simply want to attend our events, do that. The latter vote with their feet and with their pocketbooks and we think that’s fair.
What we do here at Full Circle is done at a grass roots level. We work in and for the community. You have a chance to meet and talk to any of us whenever you attend or work on one of our events. You also have the power to help our organization grow and to make a difference in your community.
Full Circle was started by two women with a vision of a Pagan Event Group that was non-denominational and community based. We were committed to networking and to charity work and we wanted this organization to reflect that. We also wanted to create a group that was family friendly but offered adult only events, as well. Finally, we wanted to do Inter-faith work because we wanted to meet people of like mind who cared for Mama Gaia and respected Earth Wise Spirituality. And so we began the work of creating Full Circle. We were later joined by some marvelous men who helped us make this vision into a reality.
I occasionally hear stories that paint Full Circle as some huge organization with deep pockets and a vast network of volunteers. The stories are born, in part, because we do complex events, like M.U.S.E Camp and The Witches Ball, rather well. Would that these stories were true. The money that funds Full Circle comes from several of our Council members. We are not rich and we have families to support, so this was cause for some nail biting on our part. Happily, we have managed to end every year in the black. As for our volunteers, they are few in number, but highly organized, extremely competent, and very dedicated.
The Council members and our Web Builder put in a lot of volunteer time for Full Circle. This is added to the time we spend at our jobs and with our families. Over time, we’ve found others who share the vision and, equally important, they are people who share our work ethic. While we would never ask our volunteers to work the insane kinds of hours we put in (we’re twisted, we freely admit it) we do ask them to follow through on the things they commit to do. We have been wonderfully surprised at the results. We always knew in our hearts that responsible Pagans were out there and they’ve proved that to us. We also knew that the other kind were out there, and sure enough, they’ve taken on projects only to “flake” and let us down. Thankfully, that has happened only a few times and we’ve always been able to regroup, so it has never hurt the quality of our events.
Yet, even responsible and dedicated people can get hit by what our Chief of Operations calls “The Cosmic Twinkie Truck”. For this reason, we try to train two people for any one position, just in case. It is not unlike the apprentice programs you’ll find in the various guilds or in the martial arts. By training up those who will replace us, we insure that our people won’t burn out and that our work will go on after we’re gone. Otherwise, we ‘ll have nurtured nothing more than a Cult of Personality and that’s not what we’re about.
But how do you find people with whom you can share both authority and responsibility? We do that by working with our volunteers over a period of time. We get to know their skills and their areas of interest. When they have shown us that they are committed and capable, then we ask if they’d like to do more. If they say “yes”, they are given more responsibility. We try to give them work to do that excites them because people with a passion can move mountains. At the same time, we make sure that the folks who do the dull jobs get first pick when something fun comes around. In this way, we find the Doers: the people who have the time, commitment, skills, and resources to make things happen. For example, acting Chairs from two of last year’s events were asked to join the Council this year. Some of last years’ volunteers were asked to act as Chairs of Committees. Some members have now become very active volunteers on certain committees. Members of other Pagan groups have since signed up to work on special projects with us for next year. We believe that by doing this work in an organized fashion we are building something of value for all Pagans.
We’re blessed here and we know it. Very often, the people we’ve needed have miraculously appeared and they’ve done a stellar job. As for the few people who’ve let us down … well, what can you do? Flaky people are everywhere, not just in the Pagan community. Alas, they are often the most charming and enthusiastic people we encounter. The so-called “Flake Factor” is the reason why most non-profit groups don’t hand important responsibilities over to untried volunteers. You see, we’ve all been disappointed too many times to take anyone on at face value. Don’t let that worry you though, you will find a welcome here. We don’t pre-judge anyone but we do pay close attention. What you say is not as important as what you do and how well you play with others. If you let us down, we’ll release you with blessings, wave goodbye and wish you well. Then we’ll get on with the work we have on hand.
Some people come to us and want to give us their power. To this we say “Thanks, but no thanks”. None of us want to be Gurus. We believe that being Pagan means accepting responsibility for yourself, your actions and for the quality of your life. We believe that it means claiming your own power and not giving it over to someone else. Ideally, it also means that you use your power to better the world you live in. That’s what Pagan Doers do.
Occasionally, we’ll have someone approach us who wants to pad their “Pagan Resume” and they think that our group might be a good way to do that. These people often want to start at the top and they are disappointed to find that we don’t care very much for titles around here. You may be Lord Duck-a-Muck or a 5th Generation Atlantian or even an Elf-friend. That’s fine; this is California after all, but when you’re here among us, you’re just one of the gang.
For this and other reasons, I ask our people to read books on subjects such as:

  • Active Listening,
  • Positive Confrontation
  • Codependency & Dysfunctional Family Systems
  • Group Dynamics
  • Stress & Anger Management &
  • Effective Management Techniques

We then sit with our volunteers and work out ways of dealing with certain situations. “Praise people very publicly, ” we say, “and correct mistakes privately”. “Don’t spread gossip”. “Listen more then you talk”. “Remember” , we say, “to place principals before personalities.” And most importantly, “Fight fair when you disagree and treat each other with respect.”
Not everyone has these tools placed in their toolbox during childhood. Some of us have to add them in as adults. I know many Pagans who can claim to have 50 books on ritual techniques in their library but they don’t own a single book on conflict resolution. I believe that this is one reason why so many Pagan groups don’t last.
We’re an eclectic bunch, we Pagans, so that means we need to listen to as many different voices as possible if we want to serve our community. We have people in positions of responsibility that are Gay, Lesbian, Straight, or Bi-sexual. Some of our folks are in monogamous relationships, some live the single life, and some are in polyamorous households. Some have children and some do not. Overall, we encompass a wide range of Paths and Traditions. Our backgrounds, ages and life experience vary widely. We also do inter-faith work, as I’ve said, and I’m proud to say that we have Jewish folks, Buddhists, New Age Thinkers, Christians, and Secular Humanists working right alongside of us. Some of these people attend our events, some are involved in groups we sponsor, some serve in Operations, and some work on various committees. All are valued for their greatness of heart and for their many skills.
When we do use a title such as “Leader” we have a wyrd way of defining it. A “Leader” at Full Circle is the one you see doing the donkey work. This comes as a shock to some people. We’ve had folks approach us who want to have all the “fun” of leading, that is, they want to pick and choose all the interesting tasks for themselves and they want to have other people do the dull and boring jobs. Other types think that leading means telling other people what to do and doing nothing at all themselves. Here at Full Circle we think differently. We think that being in charge of something means that you do the most work of anyone in your group. It means you’re the first one to arrive and the last one to leave. You do whatever needs doing. If that means you clean the toilets before an event, then so be it. Don’t laugh, I’ ve done that. The closest I’ve ever gotten to holding a Staff of Office is that toilet brush. So it goes.
Often people come to us and say “You should do THIS!” (“And with what army?” I think to myself). What I reply to them, though, is this: “That’s a great idea! Now, how are you going to make that happen?” I even have a form for them to fill out. (1) . It asks for details, schedules, budgets, fund raising ideas, and a list of likely volunteers for said project. Ninety-nine people out of a hundred shake their heads and walk away. But sometimes that one special person approaches us and says “I’d like to see this happen and here’s what I can do to help”. That person usually ends up on a Committee. And then, Goddess help them, because they are now a Pagan Doer. As such, their goal will be, as our motto states, to “Honor the past, celebrate the present and create the future”.
Wishing you strength, laughter and good company,
Sia
(1) Oh, yes I do! How do you think I’ve survived this long?
Bio: Sia recently completed a two year term on the Board of Directors of the Wildlife Rescue Effort. Overall, she has worked with a total of 5 different non-profit groups on a variety of social & educational issues. She has over 15 years of experience working behind the scenes at a variety of conventions and gatherings; mostly in the Neo-Pagan, Science Fiction and Feminist communities. Her academic background is in English Literature, with an emphasis on Women’s Studies and Art History.
She practices in a Green Tradition and is active in several Ritual Circles in Silicon Valley and in Santa Cruz. For the last 6 years she has presented lectures and led workshops on such topics as wildlife preservation, conflict resolution and Neo-Paganism.
Sia is the Owner of Snapdragon Gifts (www.snapdragongifts.com). She lives with her husband and 4 cats in Santa Clara, California. In her spare time, she gardens and works as a volunteer Rehabilitator for various wildlife and cat rescue groups. She is currently writing a book on the use of humor in Ritual.
Photo credit: The amazing image above comes from the Fairy Oracle by Brian Froud mnd is used by permission. Other images by Brian can be viewed at www.worldoffroud.com


   Author’s Note: If you have enjoyed reading this piece, I would ask the you help support the Witches Voice in their efforts to celebrate and support the Pagan community by becoming a Witchvox Sponsor. They rely on our support to keep this non-profit website up and running, so please, do your part to help our community and send them a donation. With thanks, Sia

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A Little Humor for Your Day – How To Maintain Insanity At Work, lol!

How to Maintain a Healthy Level of Insanity in the Workplace

1) Page yourself over the intercom. Don’t disguise your voice.
2) Find out where your boss shops and buy exactly the same outfits. Wear them one day after you boss does. This is especially effective if your boss is a different gender.
3) Make up nicknames for all your coworkers and refer to them only by these names. “That’s a good point, Sparky.” “No, I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to disagree with you there, Cha-cha.”
4) Send e-mail to the rest of the company telling them exactly what you’re doing. For example: “If anyone needs me, I’ll be in the bathroom.”
5) Hi-Lite your shoes. Tell people you haven’t lost them as much since you did this.
6) While sitting at your desk, soak your fingers in Palmolive liquid. Call everyone Madge.
7) Hang mosquito netting around your cubicle. When you emerge to get coffee or a printout or whatever, slap yourself randomly the whole way.
8) Put a chair facing a printer. Sit there all day and tell people you’re waiting for your document.
9) Every time someone asks you to do something, anything, ask them if they want fries with that.
10) Send e-mail back and forth to yourself engaging yourself in an intellectual debate. Forward the mail to a co-worker and ask her to settle the disagreement.
11) Encourage your colleagues to join you in a little synchronized chair-dancing.
12) Put your trash can on your desk. Label it “IN.”
13) Feign an unnatural and hysterical fear of staplers.
14) Send e-mail messages saying there’s free pizza or donuts or cake in the lunch room. When people drift back to work complaining that they found none, lean back, pat your stomach and say, “Oh you’ve got to be faster than that.”
15) Put decaf in the coffee maker for three weeks. Once everyone has withdrawn from caffeine addiction, switch to espresso.

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