‘THINK on THESE THINGS’ for March 24th

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

There comes a time when we have to turn a firm and deaf ear to those people who have no other intention than to disturb our peace of mind. There comes a time when we have to turn ourselves about in our very tracks and ignore the bitter complaining voice of experience.

There comes a time when we have to get angry with ourselves for allowing bad to become worse when there is Someone bigger than we are who can handle everything.

There comes a time when we have to make a decision and to be so firm that it leaves no doubt in our minds that we know what we must do – and then do it.

There comes a time when we have to hear music and feel peace, or we have no foundation for living.

There comes a time when we must learn to appreciate and be thankful or lose all that matters to us.

There comes a time when we recognize the many faces of God as true blessings and give thanks.

______________________________________

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

Advertisements

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – March 24

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – March 24

“Our religion is the traditions of our ancestors, the dreams of our old men, given them in the solemn hours of night by the Great Spirit; and the visions of our sachems, and is written in the hearts of our people.”

–Chief Seattle, DWAMISH

Our Spiritual ways have carefully been given to chosen people. Slowly, through our past generations, through past conflicts, our Elders prayed for guidance, which the Creator provided. Then it was passed down to the next generation through culture, ceremony and oral traditions. Our Indian religion has been tested and is about how we should behave and treat other people, animals and the earth. This knowledge is written in the heart of every person. We can find this knowledge by looking inside ourselves.

My Creator, today, when conflict occurs, I will look inside myself for the answers.

March 24 – Daily Feast

March 24 – Daily Feast

Evening walks have a beauty all their own as the sun moves through one phase after another, coloring and shading the fields and woods. Although the air is still wintry at times, the calendar says it is spring – good enough to stir up anticipation. The sunset changes from pale pink touched with gold to lilacs and purples and deep blues. The hills along the horizon have the deepest colors, all shades of Indian, gi ga ge, to match the read earth, the red skin. Above the darkening shadows, clouds like long tresses of silky hair spread out to the evening star. Everything gives way to that last bit of color, the burning embers that fire the distant hills – and then the velvet hour. Silence reigns. A coyote’s long, thin wail tells the world that night has fallen.

~ I know every stream and every wood…..like my fathers before me, I lived happily. ~

TEN BEARS

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

The Daily Motivator for March 24th – Empowering positive energy

Empowering positive energy

Negative thoughts affect more than just your mind. Those thoughts create negative energy that flows destructively throughout your entire life.

If you are extremely negative about one thing, that negativity seeps into everything. That’s why it is so important to transform the negative influences into positive thoughts and endeavors.

There will always be people, events and circumstances that have the potential to get you down. However, you don’t have to let them keep you down for long.

Much of what comes to you, and happens beyond you, is out of your control. Yet you always can precisely and dependably control what you do with it.

The best thing to do with whatever happens is to find a positive, purposeful way to respond. If something threatens to get you down, choose to do something even more consequential that lifts your world up.

Instead of letting the negativity drain you, create your own empowering positive energy. A positive response is always there, so find it and choose it every time.

— Ralph Marston
Source:

The Daily Motivator

The Daily OM for March 24th – Eternally Present

Eternally Present
Past Life Healing

by Madisyn Taylor

The key to working with past lives is maintaining awareness of the current reality in which the present takes priority.

Exploring our past lives is a valuable way to understand ourselves better and often leads to healing and the resolution of issues plaguing us in this life. However, the key to working with past lives is maintaining an awareness of the current reality in which the present always takes priority. Past lives can be fascinating and entertaining, or emotionally seductive, and we can get lost in them, losing touch with the most important thing—the life we are living right now.

Of course, there is a deep connection between our past lives and our current life, so it’s sometimes hard to say where one begins and the other one ends. For example, we may be aware that one of our closest friends or partners is someone we knew from a past life, and that connection feels like an unbroken chord reaching into the past, reminding us of the vast nature of the soul. We may have issues with this person that stem from the past, or we may just be blessed with a deep love that we are fortunate to have with us in this life. Either way, the issues must be resolved in this life, in the present moment. The love is our gift to experience in this life, not in the past. In many ways, the gift of dealing with our past lives is the profound revelation of how truly eternal we all are. Once we comprehend this, we can let go of focusing on the details of the past and simply allow our awareness of the eternal to positively influence our ability to be in the present moment.

You will know you have received the full fruits of past-life exploration when you find yourself even more powerfully present in the eternal now. The past becomes less distinct as it resolves itself, merging with the present and the future in the nexus of consciousness that holds all time and space. We realize that this moment holds everything within it, the resolved and the unresolved, the past and the future, and that it is from this moment that we must live our lives.

 

Source:

The Daily OM

Once a Witch, Always a Witch

Once a Witch, Always a Witch

Author: RuneWolf   

I’ve heard it said “Once a Witch, always a Witch, ” meaning that if we were a Witch in a previous life, we are more or less destined to be a Witch in this one. I don’t know if that’s specifically true in my case, but it might explain some things in the story of my journey to the Craft.

As with many of my generation (and other generations, of course!), my first introduction to the concept of a Witch was the infamous Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz. Oddly enough, when most of my friends and relatives were rooting for Dorothy and her crew, I was on the side of the Witch. After all, she wasn’t that horrid to me – Margaret Hamilton looked better in green and black than she did in plain black-and-white, and she had a better personality than many of my friends’ mothers! And most importantly, all she wanted were her late sister’s shoes. More than anything, it was the matter of the Witch of the East’s death and the dispute over the slippers that really set my young mind in turmoil. Why shouldn’t the Witch be mad at Dorothy? The little brat had killed her sister and stolen her slippers. Wasn’t that wrong? It seemed perfectly logical to me that the Witch should be irate. Even after my parents and friend tried to “explain” things to me, I still had my doubts.

Then came Bewitched. I don’t think I missed an episode in the first run. Aside from the madcap comedy, I was attracted by the underlying story of Samantha – a Witch just trying to live an everyday life. Little did I know that that admittedly exaggerated and fictionalized story line would become my own life story decades later! But despite the enthusiasm I had for the show, I also realized intuitively that Witchcraft was much more that waving your hands, reciting rhymes and twitching your nose. On some level, I knew that although they might have some things right, they were still way off the mark.

So much for the media influence on my childhood – what about religion and spirituality? My parents are devout Methodists in their own right, and raised us as such. That is to say, they believed that your religion (synonymous, to them, with spirituality) was something that you lived and breathed every day, not just in the confines of the church or congregation. To the point, in fact, where going to church became less and less of a priority for my parents as their children matured. Eventually, we would all drift away from the “fold” to find our own ways. There came a time when my parents no longer insisted that I accompany them to church. This was about the time I “came of age” and began to search for my own independence. I stopped going to church, not because I was particularly anti-Christianity, but because I found no spiritual fulfillment in our church. It was the early ’70s, and the church was heavily involved in “political” issues – the War in Viet Nam, women’s rights, racial equality and so on. All very worthy endeavors – but to me, they were just newspaper headlines, and did not address the yearning that was beginning to awaken within me. So I left the church but not in anger, and I bear it no particular animosity to this day. I know many people for whom it has become a spiritual anchor, a source of strength and beauty in their lives, and who can decry that?

Thus began my journey, though I didn’t think of it as such at the time. Over the next few years, into my early 20s, I would develop my own understanding of the Divine that, oddly enough, would dovetail very neatly with the Paganism that I would encounter years later. Principally, I came to see that Deity was immanent in the world, not separate from it, and that Deity could as easily be Her as Him. In fact, I clearly remember one of the most insightful moments of my young life, when I saw the bumper sticker that read “God Is Coming, And Boy Is She Pissed!” – and I thought “Of course! Why shouldn’t God be female? He/She/Them/It can be anything They want!”

Interestingly, during this period, I was heavily involved in school theatre, and played the Rev. Hale in The Crucible, and John the Witch-Boy in Dark of the Moon. It was the latter experience that really fueled my nascent interest in Witchcraft as a viable and living Tradition, as well as a mystical Path, and would stay with me through the dark and tumultuous years that were to come. It was also through Dark of the Moon that I made a connection with my Appalachian roots, and the long, deep tradition of Witchcraft that runs through the hollows.

Unfortunately, shortly after my graduation from high school, my life ran aground on the shoals of alcoholism, and remained marooned there for the next decade and a half. That’s not to say that I didn’t try to find my way, but spirituality and addiction are mutually exclusive. As much as I sought, and read and tried to practice, I never could make any headway. Duh! Zen meditation doesn’t really work if you’re getting up every five minutes to get a cold beer.

I ran the gamut from Taoism to Zen to Shinto to Western Occultism and even into Satanism, and nothing seemed to “work.” Eventually, I just gave up and drifted, empty and in pain.

When I’d had enough of that, I finally got sober. It’s interesting that it was through the gateway of AA, a spiritual program with decidedly Christian origins, that I finally came to the Craft. For years, I had assumed that the concept of Deity I had evolved in my late teens was somehow “wrong” because it wasn’t like “everyone else’s.” Then I got into AA, and one of the first things I really heard was “God as we understand Him.” That went through me like a lightening bolt, and suddenly everything that I used to think I believed in was supported, validated and encouraged. Suddenly, I was back on the Path, back to my journey of discovery.

It would take another two years, involve a side-journey through the realms of shamanism, and finally an introduction to the Internet, but at last I came “home” to the Craft. Even that was a near thing – my Teacher and I met on the Internet, began a correspondence that became a friendship and eventually led to my Dedication and Initiation. But how easily we could have missed each other! Surely the Gods were working that day to make sure we got together.

Since then, my journey has continued through many trials, including lapses in my sobriety. And I am even more convinced than ever that my sobriety must come first, for without it, I am totally cut off from the Gods. But when I am sober, and in tune with my Deities, my life is sweet beyond any ability of mine to describe. Not always easy, mind you – not always gentle. But always sweet, even if there is a little tartness or bitterness to set off the sweetness.

I began as a lone wanderer, became a Wiccan Priest, and now find myself something of a wanderer again. I must confess I am more at home in the role of Solitary – what some call a Hedge Witch – than I am as part of a coven or even less formal group. The Tradition into which I am Initiated is descended from Gardnerian Wicca, but would surely be considered Eclectic by hard-core Traditionalists. And I am a bit eclectic even for my Tradition!

And so it goes. Each day, I find a new aspect to my Craft. Some of them fit into my practice of Wicca, some fit into my practice of hedgecraft. I’ve come to realize lately that when I thing of myself as Wiccan, I think in terms of the religion and the group. When I think of myself as a Witch, I think in terms of my individual spiritual life and practice. There is, to me, a wildness and freedom about being a Witch that doesn’t always fit well into even the most liberal of Wiccan frameworks. And yet I derive strength and awen – a Druid term – from each.

This is my tale. These are my thoughts and opinions. May they be of amusement or use to someone out there.

Responsibility and Right Action

Responsibility and Right Action

Author: RuneWolf   

I’ve lately taken to thinking of and describing what I do as “Zen Wicca,” or “Zen Witchcraft.” And I do that with the full realization that what I practice actually bears very little resemblance to Zen as it is normally practiced, and I apologize to those Zen practitioners who may take exception to my libertine use of the term. But, like “shamanism,” Zen has fallen into common (mis-) usage, and who am I to buck a current trend?

When I say “Zen Wicca,” I mean a practice that is holistic and pervasive, to such an extent that it impacts and informs all aspects of my life. I am not a “Sabbats Only” Witch – I don’t just come out of the woodwork on the High Holy Days, don my robes, gird my athame and fare forth to impress the impressible. I am a Witch every day of the week, every minute of the day, whether I’m at my altar or on the toilet. I don’t think about being a Witch constantly; to me that infers an intellectual process that is anathema to the spiritual experience. Rather I am always aware of being a Witch. And with that awareness comes recognition of the obligations that I accepted when I made my initiatory oaths to the Gods, the Craft and myself.

Wicca is work, pure and simple. When the Gods bless me, that work involves helping others in my life and my community, maybe even the world. But most of the time, it means working on myself, so that when I am called on to help others in some way, I am ready, willing and able. A big part of that inner work involves the practice of Right Action, which itself involves taking personal responsibility for my life and my actions.

There is an axiom in recovery: “I am responsible for my own recovery.” This means that, while I am powerless over my addiction, I am responsible for doing what I have to do to recover and stay clean and sober. Nobody is going to do it for me, no matter how much they want to – no one can do it for me. Only I can make the decision to not pick up a drink or a drug, to go to a meeting, to talk to someone in recovery, etc.

So it is with life. While I am often powerless over people, places and things, I do have the power to respond appropriately, when I choose to do so. Sometimes this means standing up for myself when my boundaries are violated, and sometimes it means apologizing and making amends when I violate the boundaries of others. What I strive for is the intuitive ability to know what the Right Action is in any situation, and to have the courage and willingness to take that action, even when it is uncomfortable, inconvenient or scary. If I am able to do this, I don’t end up needing to apologize, because my actions are not harmful to others.

Where I come from – as the saying goes – personal responsibility is a requirement in the practice of the Craft. If I am not practicing personal responsibility to the best of my ability at any given moment, I ain’t practicing the Craft. The good news is that, in a holistic practice, each part of that practice supports and strengthens every other part. To the linear mind, this makes no sense. But then, I don’t really care if it makes sense to a linearist – all I care about is that it works.

When I look at it from a non-linear perspective, it really makes perfect sense. As I said above, my goal is that intuitive knowledge of what is the Right Action in any situation. Intuition can be described as the sensing of subtle energies below the level of analytical consciousness. When I work with energy, I am exercising my “subtle energy muscle.” I am consciously practicing the perception and manipulation of extremely subtle energies. Projecting and receiving energy, circulating energy and creating and manipulating energy forms all improve my ability to perceive subtle energies. The side effect is that by increasing that ability, I am also increasing my intuitive abilities, since those are based on the same “subtle energy muscle.”

So tai chi really does help me to be more personally responsible.

In “Zen Wicca,” everything I do is magick. That’s the Big Secret. When I am in the middle of a full-blown ritual and am wandering hither and yon between the worlds, its magick! When I am sitting in traffic fussing about being late to work, its magick! In both situations, I am walking my chosen Path – neither is more or less holy, more or less mystical, more or less magickal than the other. If I am infused with the Power of the Lady and the Lord during a ritual trance, then I am just as infused with that Power sitting at a traffic light. The only difference is that I am more aware of it during the ritual. But if I can focus my awareness properly while I’m waiting for the green light, then “suddenly” that Power is available to me. And with that kind of Power available to me, it becomes easier to intuit – and take – the next Right Action.

The disciplines of the Craft, which for me include many that I have “grafted” on to it from other traditions and cultures, don’t necessarily give me more control over my mind, emotions or events in my life. However, diligent practice of these disciplines does tend to make my mind more supple and relaxed, my emotions less turbulent, and my overall perception of life less anxious. And they certainly improve my awareness of the processes of my mind, the ebb and flow of my emotions and the essential unpredictability and uncontrollability of daily life. That awareness improves my ability to work with my circumstances and myself in a positive way. Accessing the Power of the Gods at a traffic light won’t necessarily make the light change faster, but it allows me to widen my perspective, to appreciate the “Big Picture,” and realize that being late to work is not the end of the world, so I can relax.

Witches – like other such folk – are never “off duty.” This doesn’t mean that we don’t sleep, take vacations or say “No” on occasion. It means that we are never disconnected from the Web of Life, even when we feel disconnected. It means that every breath is a chant, every step is a dance, every word is an invocation. We are not adrift in the currents of life, we are stroking downstream! We are little vortexes of energy moving through the manifest world, and it is incumbent upon us to be aware of and responsible for what we do to that world and its inhabitants with that energy. A touch can heal or harm: the choice is always ours. Even when we harm unintentionally, we made the choice to be unaware or careless in the moment.

I can’t tell you what constitutes personal responsibility for you, and I won’t bore you trying to tell you what it means to me. But a pretty good summary is: “Say what you mean, mean what you say, and do what you say you’re going to do.” That doesn’t mean that I always live up to that, but I’m getting a little bit better at it every day. Mostly because I have come to realize that when I practice Right Action, I draw closer to the Gods, and when I don’t, I move away from Them. I can live with the material consequences of personal irresponsibility, but I cannot live without the Gods.

For those who are just joining us, the best things I can suggest are perseverance and consistency. The nature of the techniques is not really as important as staying with the practice. There is an awful lot of material available to the newcomer, and the down side of that is the temptation to jump from one thing to another if one is not getting “results.” If we don’t find enlightenment after doing what this book says for a week or so, we toss it out and buy a new book, and start the cycle all over again. My experience has been that, while the synergy of certain individuals and certain techniques can yield immediate and impressive results, for the most part any technique should be practiced for a period of at least three (3) months, before evaluating whether it is useful or not. So the real first step is to consider, as objectively as possible, whether the technique appears to have any merit conceptually, and whether it seems sustainable over the long run.

For instance, driving 40 miles into the country every night to meditate in the woods hoping to meet the Horned Lord face-to-face is probably not sustainable for someone working a 9-to-5 in the city, and He’d most likely stay out of sight just to be difficult anyway! On the other hand, a commitment to 13 days of early morning meditation and prayer as an offering to the Lord seems both sustainable and rewarding.

How will this build a more positive and responsible life for you? I don’t exactly know. I mean, I can’t give you a formula to prove it, or a guarantee that it will actually happen. But one of the cornerstones of magick is focused intent. If you approach anything with focused intent, it will manifest results in your life. And everything affects everything else. Somehow, when I quiet my mind for a few minutes every day, my life becomes quieter. When I work with energy, I become more energetic. When I talk to the Gods, They talk back. When I respect myself, I respect other people. And when I accept the responsibility for being Who I Really Am, I find that I am willing to accept responsibility for my life.

It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense sometimes, but it always works.

In Their service…

RuneWolf

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?

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.

The Witches’ Federal Law Memorandum

The Witches’ Federal Law Memorandum

Statement of the Facts:
Witchcraft in the United States is a living, growing religion. As a religion, Witchcraft is protected by the Constitution. The Law has the obligation to serve and protect Witches in their religious endeavors, equally as much as it protects the rights and freedoms of other groups. In the United States today, Witches are entitled to the same rights and protections as other groups under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

ISSUE I:
Is Witchcraft recognized as a legitimate religion in the United States?

Witchcraft is recognized in the United States as a legitimate religion. In 1985, Dettmer v Landon (617 F Supp 592) the District Court of Virginia pursuant to rule 52 (a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ruled that Witchcraft is a legitimate religion and falls within a recognizable
religious category In 1986 in the Federal Appeals court fourth circuit. Butzner, J. affirmed the decision (799 F 2d 929) Since in most cases Federal law, even case law supersedes state law in this type of matter, the affirmation by judge Butzner clearly sets Witchcraft as a religion under
the protection of constitutional rights. The Church of Wicca (or Witchcraft) is clearly a religion for First Amendment purposes.

Members of the Church sincerely adhere to a fairly complex set of doctrines relating to the spiritual aspect of their lives, and in doing so they have ultimate concerns’ in much the same way as followers of more accepted religions. Their ceremonies and leadership structure, their rather
elaborate set of articulated doctrine, their belief in the concept of another world, and their broad concern for improving the quality of life for others gives them at least some facial similarity to other more widely recognized religions.

While there are certainly aspects of Wiccan philosophy that may strike most people as strange or incomprehensible. the mere fact that a belief may be unusual does not strip it of constitutional protection. Accordingly the Court concludes that the Church of Wicca. of which the plaintiff is a
sincere follower. is a religion for the purpose of the free exercise clause.” Williams. J. 1985 Dettmer v. Landon Supra. We agree with the district court that the doctrine taught by the Church of Wicca is a religion.” Butzner. J. 19864th Circuit. Dettmer v. Landon Supra.

ISSUE II:
Does the practice of Witchcraft fall within the parameters of the First Amendment? protection clause?

The first amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of religious belief. The USCA states that a practice is a religion if it is for an individual a belief system for their whole life. The constitution does not wish to dictate what an individual should hold as a belief system or how it is practiced and will not enter into a ruling on that. “Court may not inquire into worthiness of parties’ religious belief to ascertain whether they merit. First Amendment protection, but need only consider whether beliefs are ‘religious’ in parties’ own scheme of things and whether their beliefs are sincere. USCA Const. Amend. I “To be a bona
fide religious belief entitled to protection under either the First Amendment or Title VII, a belief must be sincerely held” and within the believers own scheme of things religious. USCA Const. Amend. 1: Civil Rights Act 1964 701 et seq., 717 as amended 42 USCA 2000e-16″

ISSUE III:
Are Witches entitled to rights under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?

The equal protection clause is guaranteed to all people and groups. If one group of people is entitled to equal protection than all groups are. Witchcraft is accepted as a religion, therefore, Witches are entitled to the same protections as al] other religious groups; under the equal
protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. First and Fourteenth Amendments insures without qualification that a state may not forbid the holding of any religious belief or opinion, nor may it force anyone to embrace any religious belief or to say or believe anything in conflict with his religious tenets. USCA Const. Amend. 1, (14 Africa v. Anderson 542 F. Supp. 224.”) (16 FPD 212-216)

ISSUE IV:
Are Witches entitled to the same rights and protections under State Laws. applicable to where they live, as they are under Federal Law?

USCA ARTICLE VII # 2 states: This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be The Supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.”In light of the fact that Dettmer v. Landon supra, being a Federally Adjudicated case. it is thereby protected by the Constitution. No state can override this Federal adjudication. No Witch can be denied his/her civil liberty and right to be a Witch, open and free, in any state in the land; within the parameters of the Law.

CONCLUSION:

Witchcraft is a legally recognized religion in the United States and Witches are entitled to every right and protection for freedom of religion, including freedom from harassment and prejudice as every other recognized religion in the United States.

The United States Constitution, under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. supports the right of all peoples in the United States to practice their own belief system and to enjoy this in each their own manner.

Lawyers and Law Enforcement Agencies have the obligation to protect the rights of all people in their religious endeavors, no matter what they maybe, without bias or prejudice.

Witches desire only to retain their right of religious privacy and to practice their Craft as they see fit within the parameters of the law.