‘THINK on THESE THINGS’ for January 14

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

If you don’t know what to do about a situation – wait awhile, the answer will come. If weariness overcomes you before you’ve completed a difficult job, wait awhile, you’ll get your second wind.

If you do not agree with someone else’s philosophy, don’t fret, perhaps later you will come to know that the same philosophy can be reached from many different directions.

If you think the activities of another person or group are frivolous and unnecessary, wait a bit, they most likely will feel the same way about you sometime.

If you don’t like what others have to say, wait, they may clarify it – or you may change your mind.

If life hasn’t dished you unhappiness, wait a bit, if you’ve planted any happiness seeds, you will also reap.

We can’t always wait, but sometimes waiting is action, and action of the hardest kind. It is difficult to keep quiet when you have something to say, but it more often saves your face later and sometimes your life

_______________________________

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 14

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – January 14

“It is a native tradition to sit in a circle and talk-to share what is in your heart.”

–John Peters (Slow Turtle), WAMPANOAG

The talking circle is also a listening circle. The talking circle allows one person to talk at a time for as long as they need to talk. So much can be gained by listening. Is it a coincidence that the Creator gave us one mouth and two ears? The power of the circle allows the heart to be shared with each other. What we share with each other also heals each other. When we talk about our pain in the circle, it is distributed to the circle, and we are free of the pain. The talking circle works because when the people form a circle, the Great Mystery is in the center.

My Creator, give me the courage to share, and the courage to listen.

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January 14 – Daily Feast

January 14 – Daily Feast

 

What we take for granted someone else thinks is beautiful. What we want to get rid of is someone else’s treasure. Sometimes we stand so close to something dear that we cannot see that it is dear. Our lack of awareness robs us of what we assume is ours forever. We have many eyes, but most are closed or glazed over. The eyes of the mind and spirit perceive far more than our physical eyes will ever see. The eyes of our hearing detect sound but also feelings and attitude – and the music of he sphere. There is a word in the Cherokee language, agowhtvhdi, which means sight. When we touch something we not only feel but we also see the gentleness or the hardships, the depths and the heights. No, we are never blind except when we close ourselves off and deny the very Spirit of Life.

~ Give heed, my child, lift up your eyes, behold the One who has brought you life. ~

CEREMONIAL SONG

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

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The Daily Motivator for Jan. 14th – Lumpy richness

Lumpy richness

There will be pleasure and pain, triumphs and regrets. Embrace it all as it  comes, make the best of it, and move steadily forward.

Disappointments will come, and then new opportunities will soon appear. Each  day, each season will have its share of ups and downs, beginnings and  endings.

Life is wonderfully rich, and yet that richness is not creamy and smooth like  a chocolate milkshake. Life’s richness is highly lumpy and inconsistent, and  that’s what makes it so magnificent.

You’re much more able to fully treasure the good times when you’ve been  through difficulties. The victories taste so much sweeter after a string of  defeats.

Just remember as you go along that it’s all part of the richness. Just as  night gives value to day which in turn gives value to night, all life’s  experiences mesh together in a truly sumptuous adventure.

On this day, in this moment, it is all yours to take in. Whatever may come,  treasure the richness in all its lumpiness, now and always.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

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Daily OM for Jan. 14 – Let Go and Let Flow

Let Go and Let Flow
Taking a Leap of Faith

by Madisyn Taylor

 

When you make a leap of faith you can accomplish almost anything you set out to do.

Many people, in heeding the guidance of their souls, find themselves contemplating goals that seem outrageous or unattainable. In the mind’s eye, these individuals stand at the edge of a precipice and look out over the abyss at the fruit of their ambition. Some resist the urge to jump, paralyzed by the gap between their current circumstances and the life of their dreams. Others make a leap of faith into the unknown, unsure of what they will encounter but certain that they will gain more in their attempts than they would bowing to self-protective instincts. This leap can be exceedingly difficult for individuals with control issues because the act of embracing uncertainty requires them to trust that surrender will net them the rewards they seek. Yet when you make a leap of faith, believing without a doubt that you will land safely on the other side, you can accomplish almost anything you set out to do.

There have no doubt been times in your life when you chose to go where the universal flow took you. Yet you may encounter instances in which your objectives require you to step outside of the boundaries of your established comfort zone so that you may freely and actively jettison yourself into a new phase of your life. While you may fear what seems to be the inevitable fall, consider that in all likelihood you will find yourself flying. A successful leap of faith requires your attention, as it is the quiet and often indistinct voice of your inner self that will point you toward your ultimate destination. Understand that the leap across the chasm of ambiguity may challenge you in unforeseen ways but you will make it across if you trust yourself.

If your mind and heart resist, you can dampen this resistance by building a bridge of knowledge. The more you know about the leap you are poised to take, the smaller the gap between “here and “there will appear to be. Your courageous leap of faith can lead you into uncharted territory, enabling you to build a new, more adventurous life. Though you may anticipate that fear will be your guide on your journey across the abyss, you will likely discover that exhilaration is your constant companion.


The Daily OM

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Realities of Acceptance

Realities of Acceptance

Author:   Crick   

I have long felt that man-made religions are a device to control the hearts and minds of fellow humans. And to my mind have little if anything to do with true spirituality in regards to the individual. This is not to say that folks who are members of a religion, whatever path it may be, do not have spirituality. Rather I believe that said spirituality is more of an individual accomplishment rather than that of the religion in question. At any rate religions throughout the ages have focused a great deal of attention to political maneuverings and material wealth and little if any on allowing freedom of exploration in regards to one’s personal spiritual endeavors. Religions tend to be organizations based upon rigid parameters that dictate how its members may think and behave.

This approach in and of itself creates barriers to any true growth and esoteric experiences that may lead to an enlightened understanding of the mystical arts in general and of the deeper mysteries of spirituality in particular. In following a personal spiritual path, one needs the freedom to experience one lesson/experience after another and as it is presented, without worrying about whether such experiences opens the door further than a select group of folks deem acceptable.

Religious parameters simply don’t work in a mystical spiritual setting where one often does not know what to expect in regards to the stimuli/energy that set the experience in motion. In regards to the Abraham religions the Catholic Church stands in the forefront of such manipulation in the pursuit of power here on earth. Some will erroneously see this as a slam against Catholics. But then this article is intended to be a pragmatic discussion in regards to but one aspect of actions taken by a particular religion, which in this instance happens to be the Catholic Church. With their long history of societal influence here on earth the Catholic Church is ripe for such observation and discussion.

The Catholic Church may well be the largest and most powerful religion on the planet. I think that many of us are familiar with the Papal Bull, Summis desiderantes affectibus, issued by Pope Innocent VIII on December 5, 1484 CE. This in turn was the premise used to create the Malleus Maleficarum (Witches Hammer) two years later by the Catholic monks, Kramer and Sprenger. Prior to this Papal Bull being issued, witchcraft was not even recognized by the Catholic Church, though such practices have been around since the beginning of humankind. And then due to the fear of witchcraft by the Catholic Church brought on by the theological and commercial competition, many folks subsequently lost their lives by rather horrible means.

This massive upheaval in society reflects the power that a religion may aspire to and thus attain as part of its Inner Tenets, said tenets, which are vigorously kept from the public eye. But did you know that prior to the Papal Bull against witchcraft 1484 CE, that in 1184 CE, the first medieval inquisition, known as the Episcopal inquisition, introduced a papal bull entitled “Ad abolendam” (For the purpose of doing away with) . The inquisition was in response to the growing Catharist heresy that was forming in southern France.

The Catharists held dualistic and Gnostic tenets as part of their beliefs. Another of the examples, which I would like to proffer as a point of interest and discussion, is the Eminenti Apostolatus Specula. This was the first Papal Bull from the Catholic Church to be issued against the Freemasons. Pope Clement XII issued it on April 28, 1738 CE, and it banned Catholics from becoming Freemasons. It should be noted that the oldest Masonic text is the “Regius Manuscript” circa 1390 CE. And so these actions took place quite a few years after the establishment of Freemasonry.

But just as with witchcraft and many other non-Catholic beliefs, the expansion of the Freemasons became a point of serious contention for the leaders of the Catholic Church. In response to this Bull, and in order to minimize the actions of the Catholic Church, certain high ranking Freemasons created a parallel group that would not be identified with the Masons and yet would retain the core values and rituals of the Freemasons. This group was in essence a subterfuge and was called the “Mopses”. The differences between the two groups became quite evident.

For instance, in traditional Masonry lodges, only men could become members. In the Mopses, women could become members as well. They could also ascend to various offices within the lodge with the sole exception of Grand Master. Though some lodges did institute a Grand Mistress position that unlike the lifelong tenure of the Grand Master was open to election every six months. The Mopes were thought by some to engage in Black Magic, but in general it was seen simply as a satirical response to a real or perceived threat as presented by the Freemasons.

Another custom of the Mopses was to recruit solely from the ranks of the Catholics. Instead of requiring a new member to take an oath of secrecy, ones word of honor was accepted. Such recruitment tactics ensured that the reaction from the Church would be minimal considering it was Catholic folk who made up the ranks of the Mopses. Additionally there is also a school of thought that sympathetic member’s of the Catholic Church created this organization in an effort to preserve the tenets of Masonry that they secretly embraced, while publicly supporting the efforts of the Church to deter folks from joining an organization that was considered objectionable by the Catholic Church.

The Mopses celebrated the Sabbat in the Gnostic sense but they veered away from the Kabalistic approach by substituting the Kabalistic Goat with that of a dog as an object of worship. The word Mopses comes from the German word “Mops” which translates as “Mastiff”. As time goes on the Catholic Church has steadily reaffirmed its stance of intolerance towards the Freemasons. In 1917 CE, Pope Leo XIII presented the “Code of Canon Law” explicitly declared that joining Freemasonry entailed automatic excommunication, and this same canon also forbids books which are friendly to Freemasonry.

In 1983 CE the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued “Quaesitum est” (Declaration on Masonic Associations) , which reiterates the Church’s objections to Freemasonry and clarifies that those who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion. Quaesitum est is currently considered the authoritative interpretation of the Vatican’s position on this subject.

The intent of this article is not to point fingers. Rather it is to highlight a fact of life. The Neo Pagan perception is one of acceptance and tolerance. However such a notion may be a bit altruistic.

As a Traditional witch, I adhere to the tenet that the only right religion/spiritual path is that of the individual. But we would be wise to realize that many religions do not encourage nor tolerate the path of the individual. If Paganism is to be the religious/spiritual path of the individual, than we should be aware of the established history (not just the Catholic Church) of those who are not as altruistic when it comes to religious/spiritual acceptance.

Engaging the mystical arts requires unlimited parameters, for ones knowledge changes with each enlightening experience. This may be by way of a Vision quest, astral projection, mind melding with a Dryad, energy work and so forth. All of which are elements ignored and denied by powerful religions. It is only by the Pagan community validating itself through its own standards and actions, that paganism will become validated by those who would do so only very reluctantly.

Creating bridges is fine, but make sure that it is connected to the other side before attempting to cross…

Respecting and Honoring Yourself – and Your Religious Choices

Respecting and Honoring Yourself – and Your Religious Choices

Author:   nasionnaich   

How many of you have ever used religious rituals that are not your own? I have, and now that I have learned why I should not have, I deeply regret having used them. Oh, I don’t mean rituals that are a part of the culture of a place you are visiting, so you feel “obligated” to participate out of respect towards your host. I mean rituals that you have decided to incorporate into your own “brand” of religious belief and/or spirituality. You know, taking bits and pieces of something and using them in a way that “fits your style” — without proper instruction on the meaning behind the ritual (as well as where, when and how to do it) .

For more than 20 years, I have been learning about the various aspects of various religions, and trying to find my own particular Spiritual Path. I have never deliberately intended to be disrespectful towards any religion or spirituality — I have always had good intentions as my motive for learning. Well, I may have been disrespectful anyway, no matter the reason for doing it, no matter the “good intentions”.

A little history on one part of the subject may be in order — specifically, Native American Indian religious and spiritual rituals — as a way of actually illustrating what I intend to convey. I apologize in advance if any of it seems “disjointed” or “rambling”; I am not at all used to this essay-writing thing (I always had problems writing essays when I was in school, too) , so please, bear with me. (Just so you know, I am a “Native American”, I was born in “America” – but I am not a Native American Indian. Yes, there is a difference.)

Back when the Europeans first came to the Western Hemisphere, they found a number of very distinct Cultures and Peoples with rich traditions of their own, including complex religions and a deeply ingrained spirituality, which permeated the entire social structure of each region. Of course, being the “Good Christians” they were, those Europeans felt bound by their Duty towards their Church to change or eradicate what they didn’t like or understand. And they made no real efforts to truly understand what they didn’t like.

The Christian missionaries were usually the first to “study” the Native American Indian rituals, and they promptly decided that the rituals were “Satanic” in nature — most after having “studied” those rituals for less than one year. Fast-forward more than 500 years, and most Christian churches still have no true understanding of what the rituals really mean. (I place much of the blame on the Christian missionaries and anthropologists, who tend to “interpret” things strictly according to their Christian up-bringing…never mind what they actually see or are told.)

But there are many non-Christian groups (and individual Christians) who have realized that “Satan” has nothing to do with the Native American Indian rituals and spirituality, and have been working towards a full acceptance of the “Native American Church” — a loose conglomeration of religious practices and beliefs which happen to share a common set of central beliefs, but followers of which never called themselves a “church” prior to the 20th Century.

These “hippies”, as they were once known in the 1960s and 1970s, as a means of “promoting” Native American Indian spirituality decided on their own to selectively “adopt” Native American Indian religious and spiritual rituals, rarely fully understanding the meanings and the social importance of those rituals in what are very specific settings.

They learned the rituals from reading what the Christian missionaries and anthropologists wrote. I did, too, to a large extent. Later, I found how wrong many of those descriptions really are.

The Sun Dance, for example, is done only at certain times during the Summer months, and it is to help the men of the community know what it is like to give birth — they endure a great amount of pain and privation which most “White Men” can only imagine; it has little, if anything, to do with any so-called “sun worship”.

And the Sweat Lodge Ceremonies are for the Purification of those who are about to begin – or have recently completed – specific socially and spiritually important tasks — it isn’t just another fraternally-organized steam bath where you can get stoned out of your mind.

The Vision Quest is not what most people seem to think it is, either. These and other rituals have been taken up in a willy-nilly fashion by neo-Pagan and New Age groups and individuals (the “hippies” previously mentioned) because of some perceived need to “preserve” them, or because they “like” the rituals. Or much worse, out of a misguided attempt to “honor” Native American Indians.

They do not bother to truly consider how wrong it can be to do so, not thinking about how their own ancestors’ religious beliefs and rituals were corrupted by the very same piece-meal picking and choosing of whatever happened to be “popular” (or “pleasing”) at the time, nor how those rituals were wrongly “interpreted” by others. I doubt very much that the Druids of Ancient Ireland, for example, would have been pleased with a Roman follower of Jupiter “adopting” Druidic practices with no real thought to the actual meaning of those practices.

But the Native American Indians who still practice their religion are expected to accept the corruption and bastardization of their rituals, all in the name of “preserving” and “honoring” them.

As an example, I saw a photo of a “Burning Man” attendee wearing a “Native American spirit mask”, and at first didn’t think much of it — until I noticed that he was naked from the waist up (the photo was cropped just above his waist, so I have no idea what he was wearing below the waist – but I can guess) .

For one thing — and this is extremely important — the People who happen to use that style of mask do not go naked during their public rituals, not even from the waist up, so that was a huge tip-off that if the man was “honoring” the “Native American Church”, he either never received the instruction needed, or ignored what instruction he may have received and in either case was being extremely disrespectful…no matter what “good intentions” he may have had.

If there is no instruction concerning the rituals, they should not be used; there is no “But, I’m honoring such-and-such religion and/or group”. And, as any Judge will tell you concerning another subject: Ignorance is not an excuse, because there are many ways to obtain the necessary knowledge and instruction.

Native American Indian rituals are a sacred thing to the practitioners and Teachers of the Native American Indian religion, and they should be treated with the exact same respect, as you would demand of anyone towards your own religion. I have heard from many Pagans and Wiccans — as well as read here on WitchVox — that before anyone decides to use or take part in any ritual, those people should be instructed in the proper methods, times and places to do those rituals. And there are many Pagan and Wiccan rituals that are to be conducted only by Ordained Priests and Priestesses, not by just anyone who feels like using them.

Yet, again, there are many neo-Pagans and New Agers who feel it is somehow OK for anyone who wishes to just “adopt” whatever rituals they want, from wherever they want, and without having first gone through the necessary instruction on how, where and when to properly conduct those rituals….

Some religions may be OK with that, but most are not. It took me more than 20 years to fully realize this simple truth as it concerns the “Native American Church”, but if I had actually bothered to think about it when I began my “spiritual journey” (which, I admit, is still not completed) , I would have come to the same realization after first learning how truly Sacred certain rituals are to most religious groups.

So, why was it wrong to use certain rituals in my own “brand” of spirituality? Because I did not know what those rituals truly mean, which was because I had not received any real instruction as to how, when and where to use them. I was not authorized to use those rituals because I did not receive instruction from someone who was authorized to give that instruction.

I had no true respect for myself, because I had no true respect for my religious/spiritual choices.

Now that I have spent more than 20 years learning about and teaching myself the various aspects of “religion”, Native American Indian religion and spirituality included, I can only hope to help others in their own journeys towards a true Spiritual Awareness and respect for (and towards) themselves, as well as religious beliefs and practices they may someday wish to “adopt” (if not actually live by) .

We all want others to show some measure of respect towards our religious choices, and it is my opinion that the first step towards that is to truly respect other religions by making an honest attempt, doing everything within our means, to understand the rituals before we “adopt” any part of them.

Very few out-spoken Wiccans and Pagans, after all, would simply stand by and watch a “Fluffy-bunny” neo-Pagan or New Ager improperly conduct a Purification Ritual to cleanse their laptop computer — using a plastic drinking straw as a “wand”. (Hey, we all know what is meant by “Fluffy-bunny”) I don’t really understand why the improper use of Native American Indian rituals would — or should be allowed.

We gain respect for ourselves by respecting others, and we respect others by showing respect for and towards their religions by understanding the rituals involved in those religions.

So, I ask again, in all seriousness: How many of you have ever used religious rituals that are not your own?

–nasionnaich

Repudiating Bad Wiccan History

Repudiating Bad Wiccan History

Author:   Zan Fraser 

The problem is that we Wiccans have inherited two sets of history. One is the history shared by the persons of the world around us, recognized as an academic and intellectual discipline, and based upon consensus agreement as to demonstrable facts. The other is what I call the “Wicca Fantasy-Land” version of European history.

Wicca Fantasy-Land is without question a colorful and dramatic place, dominated as it is by a malignant and pervasive Institution of Villainy (the medieval Church) , countered by a bold and oppressed culture of Paganism, and by Pagans who band into defiant pockets reminiscent of the organizers of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising or the French Resistance during World War II.

There are English kings who secretly keep to the Old Pagan Ways and who sympathetically guard and preserve Pagans; there are even English kings who bravely end their own lives as a Magical Sacrifice to the Old Gods to preserve the Ancient Ways. There are gallant women like Aradia and Joan of Arc who lead armed forays against the evil forces of the Inquisition to liberate captured Pagans. And there are countless devout Witches who meet in covens of thirteen, under threat of mortal danger, to worship the Horned God of Witches and to count out the seasons of the year.

It makes a really good story, with the disadvantage of not being true- or at least not really true in the manner in which it is invariably presented.

Wicca Fantasy-Land made its way into our collective history at a time well before there was even Wicca.

Margaret Murray was a respected British Egyptologist at the turn of the twentieth century, whose notes and observations upon archeological digs in Egypt are apparently still thought worthwhile. In the 19-teens, she turned her attentions to European history, producing The Witch-Cult in Western Europe in the early 1920s. Here she offered the startling (for its time) opinion that those called “Witches” during the medieval period were actually continuing the old Pagan Faith of Europe, meeting in covens of thirteen under a Master or High Priest who impersonated the God of Witches- the Horned Forest-God called Pan or Cernunnos.

The Church demonized this Deity into the Christian Devil and (according to Murray’s thinking) the rest of the Middle Ages (including the 300 years Burning Times) represented an on-going series of efforts on the part of the Church to destroy this stubborn Paganism. Murrray went on to elaborate upon her theories in two subsequent books- The God of the Witches and The Divine King in England.

Discussing Murray can be tricky, because she produced some penetrating insight into medieval history as it pertains to Witches (and therefore to the spiritual, if not actual genealogical, descendents of medieval Witches- modern Wiccans) . Her basic observation- that Paganism did not die out suddenly and completely at the Conversion of Europe, but actually continued for some time after, sometimes under threat of violence (Charlemagne proscribed death for any Saxons who continued to worship the sun, trees, and rocks) – was revelatory for its time, but is now understood as a given to researchers of the Middle Ages (especially researchers of the Pagan variety) .

Her insight that the European Devil represents a demonized version of the Horned Forest-God (known by many names, in endless local variations) was likewise a thunderbolt of perception, now also part of the bedrock of Pagan and Wiccan medieval understanding. For reasons such as these, the eminent and formidable historian Anne Llewellyn Barstow (in Witchcraze: A New History of the European Witch Hunts Pandora Publishing, 1994, p. 83) credits Murray for her detection of “ancient ‘folk religious’ practices throughout the Western witchcraft material.”

Barstow also finds in comparative studies with Russian sources support for Murray’s basic theory that Satan represents in perverse form the “lost God (s) ” of Western Europe. Likewise, in his Introduction to Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches’ Sabbath (Pantheon Books, 1991, p. 9) the brilliant researcher Carlo Ginzburg discerns a “core of truth” and a “correct intuition” to Murray’s work.

Be this as it may- Murray is now considered discredited in the academic and scholastic world. Every serious historian on the subject throughout the twentieth century has concluded that she pushed her theories far too far- well beyond what evidence supports. Beginning with Harvard professor Kittredge in the latter 1920s, and continuing through Robbins, Briggs, Cohn, Russell, Kors and Peters, and including Barstow and Ginzburg- all have found that Murray finally reached to absurd and unsustainable lengths.

The decisive nail was struck in the early 1960s, with Elliot Rose’s A Razor for a Goat: A Discussion of Certain Problems in the History of Witchcraft and Diabolism (University of Toronto Press, 1962) , wherein he systemically blew apart Murray’s thesis bit by bit.

For the better part of the twentieth century, however, Murray was widely held almost as a sibyl breathing discernment into the murky cauldron of medieval history- so much so that it was her article on “witchcraft” that appeared in the Encyclopedia Britannica in the 1950s, when Gerald Gardner was writing Witchcraft Today.

Desiring to include an account of what many at the time thought “true” Witchcraft history in his volume, Gardner turned to Murray’s works. Therefore (at a time when they were already called into question) , Murray’s theories and highly unique recounting of European Witchcraft made their way into the founding book of the current Wiccan and Neo-Pagan movement.

Through Gardner, tales of the Divine Sacrifice of William Rufus and the Witcheries of the Countess of Salisbury (mistress to the secretly Pagan Edward III) circulated into the publishing of Doreen Valiente and Patricia Crowther, thence outside the Gardnerian line to Sybil Leek and Alex Sanders, thence to the Farrars- thence to Wicca at large.

Despite the fact that Rose devoted a special chapter in A Razor for a Goat (in the 1960s, one notes) to Gerald Gardner’s assertions of medieval “Wiccan history” as regards Murray’s interpretations, Margaret Murray’s “Wicca Fantasy-Land” version of European history continues to circulate throughout American Paganism. How else to explain the presentation offered at a well-known gathering this summer, wherein one who advertised himself by his Third-Degree Initiatory Tradition status, as well as by (it must be admitted) his forth-coming Llewellyn publication, produced a talk chock-full not only of outright mistakes (he incorrectly placed Edward III and the Burning Times in the 1200s; Edward lived in the 1300s and the Burnings do not start until the 1400s) , but of pure, unreconstructed Murrayism- the same Murrayism discredited decisively since the 1960s.

Despite treating his audience to a opening establishing the unique and special quality of Third-Degree Initiates- indeed ho-ho-ho-ing the very idea that a non-Initiated Wiccan bereft of Initiatory Training even counted as a “Wiccan” (thereby specifically invalidating self-directed, self-Initiated Wiccans such as myself) and referring at one point to himself and his “peers” with a smug self-regard that frankly rankled me- and despite much reference to his forth-coming Llewellyn volume (apparently on a subject different from that of this particular talk, giving me every confidence that it will be a far-better researched project) – I found the gentleman’s presentation to be an alarming mish-mash of outright error and wild “Wiccan Faerey-tales, ” offered without substantiation as genuine history.

The Countess of Salisbury was a Witch! Edward III founded the Order of the Garter as a secret Witches’ Coven! He charged its knights with the protection of Witches against the Inquisition! – (Despite that fact that Murray’s fanciful re-interpretation of the Order of the Garter is one of the areas specifically disproved by Rose, with no one presenting persuasive evidence to the contrary since- and despite the fact that the Inquisition was never really that powerful in England- and despite the fact that few people actually cared about punishing Witches in the 1300s, in many ways the last truly Magical era of the Middle Ages.)

The gentleman continued- the Knights Templars were closet Ceremonial Magicians, preserving the Secrets of Magic from the Inquisition! – (Never mind that the Knights broadcast themselves as a Christian order akin to monks, and were perceived as such throughout Europe) . The Masons delivered the Templars from destruction, saving the ancient wisdom of Ceremonial Magic! (This last contains all sorts of mistakes.

It ignores the historical reality that the Templars were deliberately taken unawares, leaving very few to be “saved”; that the majority of the Templars were without question killed; that the reason for their assault was without question the seizure of their properties, rather than an effort to destroy Ceremonial Magic; that the Masons as such do not come into existence until the early 1700s; and finally that there is no need for the Templars to preserve Ceremonial Magic, as Ceremonial Magic is preserved very nicely in the medieval grimoires of Bacon and Agrippa and Paracelsus.)

The part of the man’s presentation that bothered me the most was his projection of modern (Initiatory) Wicca into the medieval past. Wiccan Witch-Queens wear garters- therefore one can tell that the Countess of Salisbury was a Wiccan Witch-Queen, as she wore a garter! (Never mind that many people of the fourteenth century probably wore garters as a means of keeping their leggings straight.) Initiatory Wiccans maintain Books of Shadow- therefore medieval Witches kept Books of Shadow! – Despite the fact that few medieval Witches could probably read or write.

These Books of Shadow were in constant danger of being destroyed by the Inquisition, erasing forever the secrets of Witchery- never mind that many, many grimoires are plainly in circulation and that the “secrets of the Witches’ Craft” (far from being so closely guarded as to be in danger of vanishing) are in fact well-known enough in Elizabethan England (I assume through the avenue of oral folk-culture) that playwrights such as Shakespeare and Jonson compose plays around them.

My point finally is not to diss a bad historical presentation, but to decry the situation whereby such outmoded stuff can be peddled as a “Wiccan History-lesson.” We Wiccans are in the kind of odd position that knowledgeable observers have actually discredited much of what we assert and allege as our “Historical past”. If our movement is to receive respect in the world, we need a history that can withstand scrutiny, as well as movement-participants educated enough to separate fact from plausible supposition from outright nonsense.

Regrettably this means we must abandon a lot of what our founding elders declared to us was our past; we must locate ourselves in the genuine records of medieval Europe established by scholars such as Kittredge and Robbins and Russell (et al) .

We must insist upon elders who can deliver a reasonable review of European Witch-History and we must foreswear the colorful (but unsupportable) Murayite/ Gardnerian “Wicca Faerey-tales” that have hitherto been our history tomes.

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The ‘Power’ Of A Word

The ‘Power’ Of A Word

Author:   Lady GoldenRaven  

I am so tired of hearing the constant misuse of one particular word: POWER.

We need to lose the egos people. Being a Wytch, Pagan, or Wiccan is not about power. It is about honoring and celebrating the Old Ones and Their Ways. It is about keeping them alive.

Being a Wytch (from this point on WYTCH will refer to Wytch, Pagan and Wiccan only to simplify the writing) is about caring for Mother Earth and her children. These children include ALL life, not just human. Being a Wytch is about honoring the God and Goddess. It is about observing the Sabbats as well as other rituals.

First, we must understand what the word power itself means. According to Merriman Webster Dictionary, the word power means:

Main Entry: 1pow·er
Function: noun
Pronunciation: ‘pau (- and ) r
Usage: often attributive
Etymology: Middle English, from Old French poeir, from poeir to be able, from (assumed) Vulgar Latin potere, alteration of Latin posse — more at POTENT
1 a (1) : ability to act or produce an effect (2) : ability to get extra-base hits (3) : capacity for being acted upon or undergoing an effect b : legal or official authority, capacity, or right
2 a: possession of control, authority, or influence over others b: one having such power; specifically: a sovereign state c: a controlling group

For most people, the word usually refers to the second meaning: possession of control, authority, or influence over others. For those making the transition from other religions to the Old Ways, they misuse this word.

As a Wytch, we DO have power according to the first definition. We can produce effects, but we can also misuse it as in the second definition.

Being a Wytch for over 30 years, I have seen many folks attempt to threaten others with their wytchy “powers”. I have seen wytches brag how “powerful” they are over other wytches.

In those 30 years, all those who claim to have this “power” have all misused it. They use it to control other people.

They use it to get what they want instead of either working for it, or obtaining it from some other means such as bartering for it. Most of what they want is not material items, but just the ability to “show off” to friends, feel threatening to those they wish to bully.

We need to first of all, strip the old familiar mindset of what power truly is. The power as described in the second definition is one that comes from man’s need to control everything. Yes, I mean men as opposed to women.

Don’t get me wrong, many women throughout history have misused this as well, but true misuse did not come along until Christianity and when MEN decided they had more power than women. I am not writing this to bash men–that is not my intent.

When women ruled this planet, there was a lot less war, killing, and rape? Puh–leeease!

But, I digress.

I hear so many young people say that they turned to Wytchcraft for the power. They are NOT in it for the religion. This upsets me terribly. We are trying to get rid of negative connotations to our religion and along come those who think they can have Power like they see on television.

I tell people, if I were a wytch like they portray on television, why would I be working my butt off week after week? I would not be in debt; I would have enough food so I would not go hungry, etc.

If I were a wytch as seen on television, I would be popping over to Paris for lunch with a twytch of my nose. I would be in the Bahamas with a blink of my eye during the cold winter nights.

I would not be driving a car that is old and falling apart. I would drive my Mercedes one day, my Porsche the next. I would have hit the lottery for millions several times over.

You get the picture.

What really almost pushed me to my limits was an event that occurred the other day. Debbie, a friend of mine considered an “adopted” daughter, is under my guidance as she learns our Ways.

She met a 23 yr old girl whom I will call Mary and they were talking about wytchcraft.

Mary said my daughter, ” I am more powerful than you will ever be!”

At age 23!

This girl claims to have more power than those older than her?

The wrath of a pissed off Wytch comes to the surface. Now, all my self-control was sorely needed. Not just because I felt the urge to just slap her silly, but I also had to watch my mouth.

I think the definition of the word ‘Power ‘should be changed to “the ability to maintain control over oneself”.

I am glad I had some time in between hearing the above statements and in my future meeting with Mary. It gave me time to think how I would handle this situation. I am still torn in some ways. The egotistical human side of me wants to just beat her down (verbally), but the Old Crone in me knows there is a better way to handle this situation.

I think we need to redefine the word power. As wytches, we do have the ability to influence not just other people, but events our professions, etc.

Have you ever heard the phrase: He had the Power to Influence others on the jury?” (Ok, the statement is redundant. It is like saying He had the Power to Power others.)

Our biggest “job” as a wytch is to not just worshipping and praying to our respective God/Goddesses, it is not only to heal Mother Earth and Her children.

Our biggest job is not letting egos affect us in any way.

We are HUMAN–we will NEVER be so powerful that we can instantly snap our fingers and have a mansion appear on our path.

Our jobs in healing the earth and in other rituals and/or spell works that we do is, in fact, to act only as a conduit through which the Ancient Ones may affect Their will. They alone know the Big Plan.

Let’s say we were doing a healing ritual for a person who is ill. This person recovers. Did WE do the actual healing? No. We sent our energies, prayers, and thought forms to the Ancient Ones. It was in Their plan that this person recover.

What if this person had crossed over? Some people blame themselves. Again, it is not our choosing nor is it our call on what happens to whom. If this person has crossed, the Ancient Ones had it in Their plans long before any of us were born.

As a Reiki Master/Teacher, I give my body to the God/Goddess to use as a conduit for their energy to heal. One can stand in the room and feel the heat increasing.

I am not supplying the energy that is being used to heal. If this were the case, none of the Healers in this world would be doing anything except sleeping to restock their supply of energy. The amount of energy used is far greater than what I as a human could ever “conjure” up.

Final words: Drop the word POWER from your repertoire. You really are not all that mighty and powerful.

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The Answers You Seek

The Answers You Seek

Author:   Lady Wolfwind  

My daughter tells me that the answers that I seek are in the Bible. Oh, if she only knew. She doesn’t know me very well. I laugh to myself. I don’t seek any answers. I am at total peace within myself. I know that the answers will be revealed to me when I am ready. The more you chase after them, the least likely you are to find them at all.

True, at one point in my life I ran here and there. I was never satisfied. I was always reading and questioning everything. Surely, the great knowledge that I seek must be in a book somewhere. I was impatient and surrounded by chaotic thoughts. Caught up in the mundane world where money mattered above all else.

I don’t know when it changed. A few years ago. I’m not sure why. Some inner voice was whispering, nagging me. I wouldn’t ever listen. If I listened I knew I would have to take a different road, one no one else understood. I would stand out, I would not fit in. Long ago these were important things to me.

One day something changed. A new thought appeared. I had read and studied most of the world’s major religions. None of them appealed to me. What did appeal to me? Something I had heard long ago. A distant memory of quiet words spoken. “Follow your heart, for it will never deceive you. You are one of the few who has been chosen to walk with me.”

It seems like forever that I ignored that voice. That beautiful musical voice that one day would show me a path so magical that it seems an injustice that more people cannot hear. I now understand all that She had to tell me. To be quiet and listen. That all is not silent. The Universe speaks volumes to your soul. That I was born to be different; to march to a different beat and it is okay. That I have a purpose here on Earth to do Her work. To stop asking the questions and chasing answers.

The answers that I seek are on the wind. They are in the raindrops and the stars shining at night. Departed ancestors who deserve to be honored whisper them to me. They are heard in my children’s laughter and felt in my cat’s soft breath. They are all around me. I had to be still to hear. They’ve always been there.

When I first set foot on my path I was overwhelmed and could not learn enough. I read everything I could find, I researched terms and tried to find groups to join. I wanted to buy everything I thought I needed. I still wasn’t paying attention. Soon I learned to meditate, to open and heal my chakras, yoga. I learned and I practiced how to be still. Then I began to hear.

I am now a solitary and a very happy one at that. I don’t need all those fancy tools. Our ancestors and fellow wise women did not buy their tools. They didn’t gather together in secrecy. Most were loners who loved nature and knew how to use it to make the lives of everyone better. There is no chaos within me. I do not seek answers. The Bible, which my daughter speaks of, holds no interest to me. I feel that she is the one who has been blinded by false leaders and it saddens me.

Witches of old were wise women and men who knew the value of the silence. Great secrets are not written in books. They are not shared with just anybody. The witches of yesteryear listened and learned and healed. It was a mistake to forsake them, to bury them in history, to make them creatures to be feared. The true witches know the secrets and know how to keep them and who to share them with. The true witches are full of love for the world and all of the creatures in it. Witches do not need manmade laws to control their actions. We have a strong moral code within us that makes it impossible to hurt what we view as divine.

My daughter made a last ditch effort to convert me. It was a mistake. It made me think deeper. It made me realize how peaceful I was compared to others. She does not see the happiness in me. I sat and thought and really understood who I had become since I took the Goddess’s hand and began to walk with her. I am happy, I am wise and I am powerful. I am beautiful and I see beauty in everything around me.

I’m not so sure that her Bible will teach her any of this. Her words were filled with anger and disdain. Words that a child should never say to their mother. I had to step back and think about all that she had said. Were her words true? If so, I had made some terrible errors in my life. I talked to others who know me best, who have been with me for years. No, they didn’t understand what she was talking about or where this anger came from. It had been an attack that was unprovoked.

I listened and chose to write back. Why does it matter so much which path that I follow? Is this what she learns in her church? I chose not to send the letter. It is my belief to never do anything preceded by strong emotions. This is my child; I will not use words to hurt her. My answer is silence.

I say a blessing for her and her family. I shield my two younger children and myself. If anything, her mistake was to ingrain in the two younger ones the realization that Christianity may not be all that it is said to be. They asked me how her god could create such anger and pain. Didn’t her Bible teach her to love and honor her ancestors? Deep questions that I need to take the time to answer.

I suppose things will be a little different this full moon. We will need to send positive energy out to my daughter and her family. We will need to talk about forgiveness. We will need to discuss anger and pain and how it can be a bad thing as well as a good thing if dealt with properly. We will need to address how to deal with it properly and learn not to become consumed by it. I’ll need to teach them what happens when these emotions take control of your mind, how it will destroy you and those around you. How you cannot hear the Goddess speak to you if your mind is full of hate and not tolerance for others and their beliefs.

This morning I smile to myself. No, the answers I seek are not in the Bible. From what I can tell the answers my daughter seeks are not in the Bible either. All of this has confirmed that I am treading the right path, gently guiding the others who follow me. The Goddess has shown me how difficult life can become, even between a mother and daughter. I’m sure in time this will all heal. I know that I will forgive her, just not yet. I am human and first I must deal with the hurt.

It will be interesting to see what lesson comes from this situation and who was meant to learn it. I suppose there will be something for each of us. The question is, who will listen?

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