Last Time I will bug you…….

We received a phone call from Lady A. She is antsy to come home. She is planning on hopping the plane in the morning. She said she should be here around 1 or 2 o’clock. We still have a few hours left to pull of this birthday surprise. If you would like to contribute, please do so. Remember, I am only asking for a $1.00 and I hate to ask for that. As previously stated that pentagram is rather expensive and it will be from all of us.

This post is the last post I will make about Lady A’s birthday present. If you would like to participate and have your name on her b-day card, please do so. I know she is going to love the necklace. I am going to try to catch a pic of her with it on. I should say if I am still alive after all this, ha, ha! If I turn up missing, please come and look for me (just kidding). The rest of this is just a repost from this morning. WordPress is acting up and it is hard to copy the PayPal button from the other page. I decided to just copy the most of the post and hope it goes through.

We would like to thank…….

Susan Randis

Tabitha Rust

Kari Vela

Shari Lenway

Remember we aren’t asking for fifty or sixty dollars, we are only asking for $1.00. This pentagram necklace is rather expensive. That is why it is on Lady A’s “want” list. But she won’t never buy it for herself. She always puts others before herself. I believe this would be the perfect gift for her birthday and a very nice surprise (especially since she wants it).

If you have an extra dollar and would like to get in on Lady A’s birthday present, please do so. Time is still on our side. My brother will be going to Nashville either this evening or early tomorrow to pick up the necklace. We still need your help. If you love Lady A, do it for her.

Thank you!

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‘THINK on THESE THINGS’ for March 18th

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

“There is no royal road to anything – One thing at a time, and all things in succession. That which grows slowly endures.”
– J.G. Holland

The first lesson we have to learn is that instant success in anything is a fantasy. The overnight success stories we hear about are really products of much preparation.

If we could view a life laid out before us, we could see it is much like a hand sewn quilt, built of many tiny pieces, colors of every hue, fabrics of every kind, and patiently joined together by tiny stitches to give many years of service. Maybe we missed a stitch someplace and it caused a weak place, but the strength of many other stitches will carry it through. Finally a complete quilt has been created and it is strong and lasting.

When we truly want to move ahead we build our lives a quilt block at a time, patiently adding to another part of life until we have the strength and courage to endure.

Take one step at a time, but take it positively forward! The patience will be rewarded. To have a dream come true we must first have a dream. Don’t look back. The past is gone, but the future is still in our hands.

___________________________________

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

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – March 18

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – March 18

“The sacred fire used to heat the rocks represents the eternal fire that burns at the center of the universe.”

–Dr. A.C. Ross (Ehanamani), LAKOTA

Our Sweat Lodge represents the womb of Mother Earth. This is the place of forgiveness. The altar is the place where the Grandfathers are heated. The Sweat Lodge and the altar represent the whole story of the universe. The Sweat Lodge and the ceremonies are sacred. The Great Spirit gave these things to us to help us. He taught us to do the ceremonies in harmony with Mother Earth. We need to know and understand these things.

Great Spirit, let me understand harmony.

March 18 – Daily Feast

March 18 – Daily Feast

Other people have so much happen in their lives before we get to know them that we don’t always know how to meet their needs. If they have been hurt, they may box themselves in and our reach is not long enough. But we cannot go back and make up for what someone else has done. All of us have come to the present with some memory, some experience, that has affected us negatively. It would be hard to live in a world of hurt and not be touched by it. But the Cherokee knows that change can take place suddenly to heal life. A Seneca chief had been sick a long time, but he was visited in his dreams by three supernatural beings sent by the Great Spirit, and rose up cured to teach the good message given him by the Master of Life. His people thrived and flourished and developed gifts. So can we. When we seek we find. And it may be by helping others.

~ We were a lawless people, but we were on pretty good terms with the Great Spirit. ~

WALKING BUFFALO

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

The Daily Motivator for March 18th: The opportunity is now

The opportunity is now

Right now is your opportunity to fully live this day. It’s an opportunity  that will never come again.

If you waste the opportunity that is now, you are guaranteed to deeply regret  it later. If you make the most of the opportunity of today, then tomorrow you’ll  have access to an even greater opportunity.

To live a rich, fulfilling life, you must do valuable, fulfilling things.  Today is when you can choose to do those things.

You can either punish yourself by avoiding the opportunity of now, or you can  reward yourself by doing all you can to make the most of it. Think of that when  you’re deciding how to spend the next moment, and the rest of this day.

There is unclaimed value right in front of you, right now. By giving of  yourself and by sincerely making your very best efforts, that value can be  yours.

If you wish to fill your life and your world with richness, the opportunity  is now. There is so very much to give and to live, so get busy and do it.

— Ralph Marston

 

 

Straight from

The Daily Motivator

The Daily OM for March 18th: Valuable Information

Valuable Information

The Message of Pain

by Madisyn Taylor

Both emotional and physical pain are messages that we need to stop and pay attention.

When we feel pain, our first impulse is often to eradicate it with medication. This is an understandable response, but sometimes in our hurry to get rid of pain, we forget that it is the body’s way of letting us know that it needs our attention. A headache can inform us that we’re hungry or stressed just as a sore throat might be telling us that we need to rest our voice. If we override these messages instead of respond to them, we risk worsening our condition. In addition, we create a feeling of disconnectedness between our minds and our bodies.

Physical pain is not the only kind of pain that lets us know our attention is needed. Emotional pain provides us with valuable information about the state of our psyche, letting us know that we have been affected by something and that we would do well to focus our awareness inward. Just as we tend to a cut on our arm by cleaning and bandaging it, we treat a broken heart by surrounding ourselves with love and support. In both cases, if we listen to our pain we will know what to do to heal ourselves. It’s natural to want to resist pain, but once we understand that it is here to give us valuable information, we can relax a bit more, and take a moment to listen before we reach for medication. Sometimes this is enough to noticeably reduce the pain, because its message has been heard. Perhaps we seek to medicate pain because we fear that if we don’t, it will never go away. It can be empowering to realize that, at least some of the time, it is just a matter of listening and responding.

The next time you feel pain, either physical or emotional, you might want to try listening to your own intuition about how to relieve your pain. Maybe taking a few deep breaths will put an end to that headache. Perhaps writing in your journal about hurt feelings will ease your heart. Ultimately, the message of pain is all about healing.

 

Straight from

The Daily OM

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

Reflecting on Witchcraft, Then and Now

Reflecting on Witchcraft, Then and Now

Author:   Crick   

These days I find myself in periods of reflection on my experiences in the Craft and the ways that is has affected my personal views on life. As part of this reflection, I often wonder in what direction the Craft is now undertaking.

My girlfriend of many years, who is a Druid, and who has spent hours engaged in discussions with the old guy, will occasionally tell me, “you just aren’t right” before flashing a huge grin. When she says this I feel honored because it confirms that I have walked through this life as an individual. And it is has been the experiences of being involved in traditional Witchcraft that has made such a life experience possible.

But now I find myself in a quandary as to my personal views of witchcraft.

When I was growing up on a farm in Tennessee in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s and later in suburbia in MD, our family quietly practiced the Craft as we knew it by way of our Irish heritage and the Appalachia influence that we grew up around.

Outwardly we were like any other family at the time; just our beliefs were a bit different from some. And though we referred to folks outside of our personal family as “the others” we were never obvious about such beliefs and so folks around us in the community had no clue. In fact, only one outsider, a Mrs. Bowie, who was a retired minister of a mystical Christian church and close friend of my grandmother Ina and a family from Ohio that used to visit my grandparents when we lived in MD, were the only non-family members that were aware of our ways.

Were we special?

Absolutely not, we were just as dysfunctional in some ways as any other family from that era. However, we never believed in publicity as far as our particular beliefs in the Craft. This was not due to fear of any public backlash or what have you; it was just our way to be private about our family ways.

In those days, folks believed that went on behind closed doors stayed behind those same doors. When my mother branched off into a coven separate from our immediate family at the beginning of 1970, a coven whose focus was primarily on Astrology and its influences on life, the ways of silence were such that though I as a teenager was aware of the existence of that coven, I knew next to nothing beyond that tiny morsel of information.

Some of you may have met my mother at some point in time for during the 1970’s she performed astrological and Tarot readings for a cruise ship liner that traveled between the coast of Florida and the Bahamas.

At any rate, during the mid 1970’s I spent three years in Germany with the military and during that time I was associated with a coven that engaged the path of Hecate and thus would probably be seen as a “dark” coven by Neo pagans today. And yet, though we were very active, we did not seek and in fact went to great pains to avoid publicity.

And now I come to my reservations and thus conflicting emotions about the openness if you will of witchcraft in today’s times. During the years that I have mentioned above, privacy was something that was as a natural way of life at the time and was respected as such.

I am keenly aware that during these same times, that those of the Wicca were in fact moving in the opposite direction and actively seeking publicity at every opportunity. Beyond this observation I personally have no comment to share about the Wicca during those times, for I am speaking about witchcraft as I know it from my personal experiences and not about the fledgling religion of Wicca.

In today’s day and age, with the advent of the Internet where information is readily assessable and where there are now a plethora of Wicca and witchcraft 101 books, it is difficult to find folks who adhere to the tenets of privacy that witchcraft once knew. My personal concerns are that is such openness really a positive step forward in regards to witchcraft?

When I examine my personal views of witchcraft, I see a spiritual path that is wide open to “personal” discovery. Nor do I see any valid restrictions on what or how a practitioner of witchcraft may engage in order to arrive at such discoveries. If one sees the need to conjure up a spirit or other entity in an effort to experience such a discovery, then so be it. If one needs to resort to witchcraft to correct a wrong from another, then again, so be it.

As a witch, I believe that each of us is an individual and as such I do not believe in Karma, a concept that is foreign to the art of witchcraft. But I do believe in maintaining personal responsibility. As an old school witch, I feel that I know my personal goals and the experiences needed to achieve them far better than any group of folks such as those found within the many religions that make up our world. If I make a mistake than I am the one who has to pay for them.

I personally do not believe that a public forum has the right to outline boundaries that defines what steps I am allowed to take to arrive at my experiences in witchcraft. As an individual I do not believe that anyone outside of me has a say on how I personally pursue the path of witchcraft.

Again, I am the one that has to answer for any trial and errors that I engage in within the parameters of witchcraft. And yet this is exactly the perception that we are at in today’s Neo pagan community.

Witchcraft is now defined (erroneously to my mind) as a religion. And as a religion all of the tenets that were once diametrically opposed to the tenets of witchcraft are now accepted as being the norm.

Because of the instantaneous communication of the Internet, folks who engage in witchcraft are cast into a false image of being light and fluffy folks. I personally do not believe in Good and Evil, as these is primarily concepts that originated with the Abrahamic religions. I do believe that there are shades of light and dark, but only in the sense that we need such labels in order to put a sense of understanding on such concepts as they relate to the human experience.

And so I have to wonder, if we took the overwhelming desire for publicity that defines the art of witchcraft today, would witchcraft still be defined as it is by today’s standards. Or would the freedoms that were once a tenet of witchcraft, flourish yet once again?

And are such modern standards, which in effect are enhanced by way of the Internet, realistic as it pertains to the practice of witchcraft?

Massive publicity may bode well for a religion in the sense that it needs such attention in order to boost its membership. But is such publicity really a positive and useful approach to a mystical spiritual path that requires no such membership beyond that of the individual practitioner?

Is the personal responsibility that has always been an unavoidable tenet of witchcraft still possible or even a consideration in the concept of witchcraft as it is defined by today’s standards? Has such massive publicity made witchcraft into a completely unrealistic concept in order to be acceptable to today’s society? Has such publicity taken away from the base realities of witchcraft?

The Changing Role of Men in Wicca

The Changing Role of Men in Wicca

Author:   Morgan Ravenwood 

It is unfortunate but too often true that male Wiccans find themselves relegated to a passive, almost non-existent role in Wicca and many other Pagan traditions, thereby depriving their female counterparts of some potentially useful interaction, observations and teachings.

While many Wiccan women would defend this stance by pointing out that the Abrahamic faiths are male-centered and that they came to Paganism to avoid being forced to submit to male authority, they fail to realize that any faith that places emphasis on one gender over another is simply out of balance and deprives its members of both spiritual satisfaction and education.

We Wiccans must remember that it was a man, Gerald Gardiner, who originally gave birth and identity to the faith we practice today. However, he didn’t do so all by himself—he a lot of help and encouragement from women such as Doreen Valiente. Perhaps that is why the Gardnerian tradition has always promoted gender equality. Since then there have been some notable male Pagans such as Stuart Farrar, Oberon Zell, Isaac Bonewits, and more recently, Kerr Cuhulain and Christopher Penczak (who has written a great deal about gay Wiccans, whose numbers continue to grow) whose knowledge and experience have benefited us all.

A quick overview of some of the major Wiccan traditions certainly doesn’t inspire a man to want to join most of them unless he is willing to play a subordinate—and submissive- –role. While ones such as the various Druid groups and the Alexandrian and Gardnerian traditions seem to be more welcoming to the male practitioner, others such as the Dianic and Avalonian traditions are strictly matrifocal with no male participation at all. There are endless lists of Wiccan female-only groups on the web as opposed to barely a handful for men. All of this amounts to the same kind of sexism practiced by the mainstream religions, and is just as counter-productive.

We are all familiar with the concept of the Triple Goddess, which is of course worshiped by male and female Wiccans alike. While most female Wiccans relate the phases of the Goddess to our own lives, how do we apply this to the God, and in so doing, contemplate how this concept can be applied to men?

In my long years of study and correspondence with other practitioners, I have learned quite a bit from some very wise male Pagans. I recently asked some of them their opinions on this, and actually got some pretty similar answers, though one male friend said, “I hadn’t really ever thought about it!”

I can’t help but feeling that that is a very great shame indeed.

Equal gender identification really isn’t that difficult when you think about it. When we see the young Goddess as the Maiden, we could see her male counterpart as the Youth/Warrior/Student. As She reaches Her Mother stage, Her consort matures into the Father/Warrior/Hunter.

Opinions vary on when a woman has aged sufficiently to regard herself (and be regarded by others) as a “Crone, ” but on the other side of the coin, we again have her consort becoming an Elder/Sage/Grandfather. Though male Wiccans revere and venerate the Goddess in these various incarnations, might they not feel a little more comfortable if the God was given equal consideration?

Those female Wiccans who may belong to covens who worship the Goddess to the exclusion of the God might feel a little more in balance also.

When we look at the history of Paganism we find a large number of male deities such as Cernunnos, Dagda, Lugh, Cuchulainn, Pan, Osiris, Zeus, Apollo, and so many more. In ritual, particularly when petitioning for a special purpose, it is wise to aim such petitions towards a deity who may have certain characteristics particular to the object of the petition.

Male Wiccans especially may have certain issues that they feel more comfortable sharing with a male deity as opposed to a female one. That doesn’t mean, however, that they would (or should) eliminate worship of the Goddess in Her many forms—on the contrary, the male Wiccans of my acquaintance are very devoted to Her.

As in everything, balance and moderation are the keys.

We need look no further than our own Wheel of the Year to understand how important the God is to our religion. From Yule, when we celebrate the birth of the God, to Samhain, when He dies and prepares to be born yet again at Yule, our Sabbats are ironically centered on the God, with the Goddess both assisting and participating in a supporting (but no less important) role.

Consequently, it seems illogical and counter-productive to relegate the God along with male practitioners to a minor role in other Wiccan rites. While I am certainly not advocating the dissolution of all female-only covens, I DO encourage them to give some serious consideration to allowing serious male practitioners to participate in their rites. This would present many opportunities for fellowship and the sharing of knowledge, which would surely outweigh any perceived disadvantages.

The Religioustolerance.org website contains Edain McCoy’s description of the worship of Wiccan deities thusly: “We worship a deity that is both male and female, a mother Goddess and father God, who together created all that is, was, or will be. We respect life, cherish the free will of sentient beings, and accept the sacredness of all creation.” And yet, the same article also says, “Wiccans celebrate the sexual polarity of nature.

For example, the fertilizing rain is one manifestation of the male principle; the nurturing earth symbolizes the female. Females are respected as equal (and sometimes at a slightly higher rank) to males. A priestess is often the most senior person among covens — a local group of Wiccans. They aim for a female-male balance in most of their covens (local groups), although men are typically in the minority.”

The last sentence really reinforces the imbalance that exists in Wiccan practice and brings up a salient point: perhaps if more men chose to become involved in Wicca, it would drive up the numbers of Wiccan adherents and consequently make us more of a force to be reckoned with. The days of “broom closet” Wicca are coming to a close and we are already seeing the benefits such as the V.A. approval of the pentacle on the headstones of Wiccan veterans.

However, we must keep in mind that in order for more men to become interested in Wicca, they must be allowed equal consideration and status.

It’s a concept whose time has come.

We Who Shall Inherit Ourselves

We Who Shall Inherit Ourselves

Author:  Brannawen Ravenhart

 

Over the course of the past decade or two, the giant surge of information on Paganism and Wicca, and Witchcraft in general has swelled to enormous proportions. Whereas I used to have to scratch pathetically through musty bookstores, or wait patiently for a dog-eared and battered single paperback copy of “Drawing Down the Moon” by Margot Adler at the library, or, if great luck would have it, borrow a book or two from some other fortunate soul who not only owned books, but might even know someone who knew someone who might have more; now I can walk into any mall, Barnes and Noble, Borders, Waldenbooks and find many different books in a wide range of topics, depths, and styles. I can surf the Internet and find information on anything I desire. Videos, DVD’s, television documentaries, are all available to me like chocolates in a candy store. What do I want to pick today? What do I wish to learn? What path do I want to know more about? What do I want to know of our own history? The plethora of books and authors allow luxuries today that were unheard of years ago. They also allow a freedom of choice that was never dreamed of. Before, we had to be happy with what we got, and if we did manage to get our hands on something, we often followed that specific information to the people and paths where we eventually ended up. The ways to wisdom had but few trails in the wilderness, and we ended up exactly where they took us.

In a way, this was a very good thing. The hardworking, dedicated individual could find their way only through the mysterious maze of the guidance of others. This led to strength and conviction and solidarity within the covens, groves, groups or even to the Solitary Practitioner, due to the inherent nature of the learning. There are pros and cons about the ‘opening of the Book of Shadows’ to the general public, and there are many valid points to each pro and each con. However, I know what I have felt transform in my own life. I have to base my experience and knowledge on what is real to me. No longer do I have to hide. I may still be cautious, but I know that I can stand in community now, shoulder to shoulder with other battle weary survivors of the shrouded times. I am not alone. I can now say ‘We.’ To that I add “We, who live in the Information Age.”

To me, it is the transformation of having to get up and manually changing one of the three grainy channels on a TV dial to holding the remote control for 400+ stations on digital cable. It is my great luck and fortune to be living in this time, the same way my grandmother and great-grandmother lived through horse and buggy days to rocket ships to the moon. I am a witness. I will never lose sight of that blessing.

This deluge of information, of availability, has propelled Paganism into the face of the forefront of our American culture. No longer complete outcasts, or hidden away, we now have been recognized, have constitutional protections, freedom of speech and religion that is allowed to any other person in this country, as it should be. And we are growing. The information feeding tube has given birth to fantastic amounts of interest, media coverage, watchdog organizations and it is a burgeoning vein that feeds back into itself. By this very exposure we have been given tools and opportunities to defend ourselves against ignorance and segregation, against defamation and harassment (and worse) from other faiths or beliefs who once shunned and persecuted us.

In the same breath, I will also say that I fully agree that now, our own worst enemy is ourselves. Over the years, I have run into many myths about Wicca and Witchcraft, from the days when I wrote my first little book on Witches at age seven (a horrible caricature which makes me squirm due to the naivetŽ it represents — I was equally fascinated and repelled by the wicked witch myth, ) up to today where I see infighting and slander from one group to another. Here is the irony: I conquered my own reservations and cultural enslavement to the myth of ‘evil and Witchcraft, ‘ and then found my way. I conquered my fear of the unknown and of unknown people when I reached out to find others who believed the way I do, and found my way again. I conquered my fear of speaking out and letting my family and friends know about my beliefs, and found acceptance. Now I find myself trying to conquer the anxiety and confusion caused by our own infighting.

I do realize that something this new, this tremendous, this explosive, this controversial will have, by it’s own combustive nature (the birth of a new wave of faith) these types of interwoven battles. Are they of supremacy? Possibly. Jealousy? Of what, I am not sure, but yes, of jealousy too. Does this make sense? No. But I think that at this time, we are not only here to find ourselves, but to find and define each other.

Every single one of us has at this time the potential to make a mark in this path. Relatively speaking, there are so few of us. Human nature makes us want to shine out, speak out, be noticed, be recognized. I have to admit to that. The key here is; what mark is it that we truly want to leave? This is why it is so important to be careful, think hard, and speak wisely. We all have the opportunity here to be heard, if we stop pushing a little. No biting, kicking, scratching or shoving, and as for our kids, well, they just better mind their manners also! We should take the opportunity now of our few numbers, and our own voices, to promote the greater good, rather than ourselves. We can all be heard. Perhaps in another millennium, surrounded by billions of Wiccans, Druids, Shamans and Neo Pagans of all paths, when we are culturally mainstream, we would not have this chance. But now? This is the time to work with each other. To be here and now in this time is such a gift. It is sobering to realize that not everyone can see this.

We are writing our own history. This has been said many ways, many times. This is so true. This is also what upsets me sometimes, when I see someone or hear someone who doesn’t seem to understand or recognize this, or who uses subversion or duplicity to undermine one faction just to promote his or her own. On the other hand, I also feel compassion. We do have to make mistakes to ‘get’ the lesson. That is why we are here, after all. The most we can do is hold onto that thought if and when we do make those mistakes ourselves. All we have to do is notice and thank the ones who do manage to speak out clearly, and fight not only the misconceptions about us, but also the misconceptions we have about each other. We hold in our hands the pen that will leave the mark on the wall of our history. Will it be graffiti? Or poetry? Caricatures? Or great art? We are at the beginning. Our forefathers are living here among us. They could even be ourselves. This is an endowment we should never lose sight of.

Ravenhart