Good Afternoon & Good Evening, my dear loved ones!

Good Evening Images
A Prayer For Evening Devotion
 
 
Dearest parents, Father God and Mother Goddess,
I wish to thank you for a truly wonderful day.
I have experienced many ups and downs today,
and with your help, I have gained much joy and
wisdom along the way.
 
 
Thank you for my health, thank you for my friends
and family, thank you for my faith and thank you
for the opportunity to be a part of your world.
 
Blessed Be!

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Create A Protection Ring To Carry With You At All Times

Protection With You, 24/7 Spell

You Will Need:

  • Waning Moon
  • Hematite Rings Or Any Ring
  • Dirt
  • Needle or Bobby Pin
  • Paper
  • Pen
  • Cauldron (optional, but recommended)
  • Matches

 

The Spell:

Take off your shoes and socks and stomp and rub your feet in dirt. Then take 1 handful of the dirt you just stomped in and put t in the cauldron in a pile (if you have no cauldron, put the dirt in a pile over something fireproof).
Write your full name (first, middle last) and birth date (month, day, year) on the paper with the pen. The poke your ring finger hard enough to draw blood. Drop/place three drops of your blood on the paper. Then put it on the pile. Then place the ring on top of the paper. Lite the paper on fire, chanting:

“Skin to skin, blood to blood,
bone to bone, sinew to sinew.
I banish all evil from my revenue.”
* Say 7 times *

After chanting look up at the sky and spread your arms wide, like your embracing the night, chanting:

“Great Wise Crone of the Waning Moon,
cloak your sacred shadows around this ring,
charge it with your banishing energies so that
Whenever I wear this ring it shall be protected
from all that wish to bring harm to myself.”
* Chant 7 times *

Wait for the fire to extinguish (if still going), then take the ring and put it on the ring finger you pricked. Throw the ashes and dirt into running water or bury it at the roots of an old tree.

 

Living Shield Spell

Living Shield Spell

A shield using your element in the form of an energy leach to guard you.

Items You Will Need:

  • Knowledge of your element
  • Your third eye
  • A representation of earth, air, fire, or water.

The Spell:

First enter into chakra meditation and make sure you are properly grounded. This is a good first step for any spell. Take the representation of your element,( a stone for earth, lit candle for fire, glass of water for water, air shouldn’t need a representative since it surrounds us all), and place it in front of you, within a small circle. Enter a state of higher awareness so that you can feel the energy of the item in use. Reach out with your subtle body and pull the energy of the item out and form a large ball. Then, with your crown chakra’s energy, reach out and create a bridge, through which you will instruct your thought form. Finally, press into it your instructions. Tell it to guard you both, and offer to allow it to borrow your energy to do so. At this time, you can offer any extra instructions you desire, but remember two things; one, its a new life. It knows very little, so keep it simple. Two, it can not go far from you without dying. When you are done, it will attach itself to your subtle body. This guardian can intercept some negative magic, block access to your body by spirits, and is only visible to the third eye. Be prepared to explain the odd growth on your subtle body to other witches.

As a warning, do not attempt this with the wrong element. They will be unpredictable. In order to dismiss the guardian, you can either reform the bridge with your crown chakra and bid it farewell, or, you cannot dismiss it and gain an unruly thought form, pull the creature into you and absorb the energy.

 

Help and Thoughts for Pagans New to the Journey

Help and Thoughts for Pagans New to the Journey

Author: Hallowed Order of Witches Liberated   

The New Year aroused some thoughts in me that I wanted to share; hopefully some will be of use to new Witches or those considering some aspect of Witchcraft or a Pagan path. I would like to minimize the explanation of my own experience to that which is necessary for background of what I am about to share. I am an eclectic practitioner with a strong interest in Feri Witchcraft. I am a member of a coven and I am a college graduate now 37 years old.
Our coven has a presence on Witchvox and we tend to get a moderate number of inquiries concerning membership, general Witchcraft information from folks looking to explore a “new religion”, questions of a “how-to” nature and other interesting things. For the past ten years, our coven has had people come and go: some for better, some of whom we were happy to see leave. What I wanted to offer up for someone who is starting on their journey or considering such an endeavor are some ideas to think about, and some things to think about if looking at working with others.

One thing we have noticed repeatedly is that there are people seeking out our community and membership within our coven who are folks with problems (or who are getting over problems) that are better off not dealt with in a coven setting or are things that need to be dealt with in terms of help by professionals. While religions can be helpful in some areas, I strongly urge those who fall into this category to let religion wait until the problem has been resolved. Understand that this advice is not a one-size-fits-all. I am speaking of problems like exposure to some sort of abuse or violence, drug abuse and/or early recovery stages, domestic issues that have not been resolved, etc… In our short ten years, we have had multitudes of people petition for membership or participate in public events and some who made membership, who seem to be using religion as an outlet for dealing with bigger problems. Perhaps they are using religion to fill a hole.

If one is dealing with issues similar to the ones mentioned, it is generally a better idea to protect others from your issue and have it dealt with professionally with a counselor, medical professional, advocate or so on, rather than take it into a group who may not have the proper background to deal with the root problem. Our group suffered numerous times from people with addiction problems, victims of physical violence and some other issues who came into the group and nearly shut down effective spiritual work because their personal problems were not yet resolved. While our hearts are with these people, religion is often not the answer to a heroin problem, for example. One should deal with the addiction, and then explore the religion after the problem is solved. A victim of domestic violence may be attracted to a small group of empathetic people, but sometimes professional help is needed and the issues that come up following such a terrible experience can eventually become a poison of sorts in a group that works together very closely.

This leads me to my second suggestion: Be ultra-cautious in regards to any person or group you are considering for advice (or with whom you wish to work) who claim to have a million years of experience and a Pagan heritage that is 20 generations deep. Statements of this nature, in my experience, are usually lies. For some reason, Pagans in general — and particularly inexperienced ones — appear to feel a need to cite heaps of years of experience in the Craft in their resumes. The time that passes from the point a person considers her or himself a Witch to the present time does not directly equate to effectiveness in practice. A fisherman with 30 years of experience can lose in a fishing derby to an 8 year-old who is holding a fishing rod for the first time. Ability and level of determination are not directly proportional to “time in service.”

The overwhelming majority of modern Pagans (speaking for U.S. Pagans) are former Christians. That is the truth. If someone is telling you otherwise, it is worth asking (politely) for proof or otherwise substantiating his or her claim of multi-generational and unbroken lineage. It is often the same person who, five years later, is wishing you a happy “Mid-Winter Equinox.” You will figure out who is who as time goes on. There is also nothing wrong with someone who is willing to help you who has been practicing for a year, but feels she has a good footing on a particular subject. Think logically and use good sense.

Suggestion number three: your own thoughts are worth something. Often, especially when coming from other religious (particularly in the U.S.) backgrounds, it is easy for one to fall into a trap of seeking Truth from a book or seemingly credible online source. Print seems like it holds weight. Sometimes it does, sometimes it does not. What is important to remember is that when you get a feel for what you are doing and are able to perform to some degree on your own, it is quite possibly time to set down the books. Books and online sources are great for general information, starting points, correspondence lists and so on. Remember, though, your experience and your thoughts are important and are ultimately what will be your guide.

I have seen too many Witches fall apart in practice trying to adhere to what someone else has published to not mention this. If standing on your head in bright moonlight on the third Saturday of the month while burning purple candles and copal incense isn’t bringing you in touch with that one Goddess or God you were seeking to work with, then knock it off! Your path will be your path. And remember that when you are working with the next new person.

My last suggestion is that opposition or rejection by a local group does not disqualify you from practicing Witchcraft and there is more to the Craft than sitting in front of a computer. There are certain Pagan practices that require a long and somewhat formalized study period, or certain covens that exist that will want you to follow a degree plan or jump through certain hoops. All of that is fine. However, if it doesn’t suit you, understand that it doesn’t mean you can’t do what you want. Even those members of the most defined and restrictive groups are doing his or her individual thing within those respective groups. If you share your solitary experience with an online group, for example, and several people bock at what you’re doing, keep in mind that those are opinions. Also, it is often worth regarding what the person is saying, even if he or she is not saying tactfully. Sometimes great ideas come from what is hard to hear. And while not all of us have vast landscapes and groves within which to practice our own Crafts, there is more to being a Witch or Pagan than sitting in front of a computer and reading about it or typing about it. In terms of actual spiritual and religious practice, one can make something happen even within the confines of a tiny powder room. Keep your practice real, front and center, and worth your time and effort. It pays off.

In summary, I wanted to throw these few suggestions and ideas out there because, at least in our region, we noticed some trends and felt we had enough time and experience (and numbers of people dealt with) to make some non-professional and generalized observations. These thoughts are certainly not meant to offend and we hope the root of what is being presented is helpful. Enjoy your time in the Craft, make it substantial and, for the sake of the Pagan community in its entirety, please be a thinking and active participant. Look out for the best interest of others with whom you are working and take care to protect them from your own “funk”, if need be. Help will be there from the group, but try to address problems that require professional help prior to engaging a religion (meaning any religion) . Remember, there are tons of people who find religion in a jail cell or hospital bed. That works for some, but keep in mind what of yourself you are introducing into a group. Think, know yourself and practice love.

Finding The Right Group

Finding The Right Group

Author: Shadow  

Finding a group is like playing the lottery sometimes. In order to find a group that is right for you or to gain more knowledge it is important that you are persistent.

Beginning the search:

First things first, remember that often the contact person is often the group leader and is a busy person. They too have a personal life, professional life and a life separate from the Craft. When attempting to contact them, send them an email at regular intervals. Do not be insulted if a response does not arrive, as soon you would like. In fact, do not be surprised if they do not respond to you right away or within the week. In this age of technology and instant gratification, we expect everyone to respond to our inquiries right away. This is not the case.

Some leaders often use a method to sort out the seekers that are searching on a whim. They realize that with the click of a search engine you have access to several groups. The sincere seeker though, will not give up. This is not a passing fad for them.

A good group leader will try their best to take the time (A very precious resource it is) to respond to every email. Often times many emails are from individuals that have little or no interest in sincerely learning the Craft. These seekers do not have the patience necessary to learn Wicca and often do not realize the time and energy investment that is involved with teaching a student.

When one can move pass the impact on only themselves but the impact that their wants and needs have on others, they can begin to knock on the door of the Mysteries.

Some teachers will not respond immediately and give it at least a week or two to receive a response. If you do not hear back from them, send out another friendly email expressing your interest. Remember to be polite as you are the one seeking to be a part of their group.

No group or teacher HAS to teach every one that inquires. This is a choice that they consciously make and can withdraw at any time.

Repeat this process to see if you have success. At no point should you to be rude to the group. This will close you out to the option of working with that particular group (and if they are from a larger umbrella, many of the associated groups).

When a teacher utilizes a method to scrutinize potential students, they are obviously looking for quality students and those that are willing to work with them for an extended period of time. This will benefit both the student and the teacher. It is only the sincere seeker that will find the rewards of working with a group and enjoying the benefits of bonding and knowledge gained from that.

What to do when you have found a Group:

When you do find a group and have established communication, it is time to meet one another. This can be accomplished over the phone, email, in person, etc. It is important to see if you are a correct fit for the group and they are a good fit with you. Groves, covens and groups tend to be a small tightly knit cohesive unit.

They do not want to welcome a new person to the group that may cause its unraveling. They most likely have worked for a long time in order to develop a strong group mind. One bad apple can cause unrest and discomfort with the other members. This is can be enough to dissolve the group especially if it is a relatively new one.

Meeting over coffee in a public place is a recommended event that you should participate in with your potential group. This gives you a chance to speak with your new potential teacher (quite possibly priesthood) face-to-face. This subtle interaction will give you key insight into many things about them, the group and who they are. You can see if your personalities “mesh” and if there is potential to build a strong lasting relationship with the group.

Even if you are not looking to become a permanent part of the group, you can see if they are a worthwhile group of individuals to spend time with. Of course, you cannot expect to learn everything about the group in one sitting (or it will be a long one). But from this meeting, you should be able to have enough information about them to make an informed decision to take the next step of working with the group or not.

Warning Signs:

During your meetings with the group, there are many warning signs that they may exhibit to give you clues as to whether or not you should continue to work with them. There are several things that you want to keep in mind when you are finding a group to work with. The process itself can be lengthy and you might not wish to work with every group you run into. Here are some red flags that should pay attention to:

Exorbitant Fees:

Be on the lookout for groups that charge excessive amounts of money for teachings. Is this group/teacher truly promoting spiritual development or simply utilizing this as another source of income? Some groups take a modest fee in order to cover the costs of teaching. Some do not. If fees are charged, fees should be reasonable in comparison with what you would pay to take a community course, such as yoga, exercise, etc.

In addition, be alert for those groups that have unrealistic demands of their new members. Understand that this does not include an expectation of you to attend every ritual and class. This is normal so that the group will have time to meet and learn about the new member.

Unrealistic demands can include something such as; requiring new members to wait on a Priestess or Priest hand over foot. Requiring you to be at their every beck and call is excessive. In addition, there should be no humiliation of members and a healthy relationship between group members.

Drugs:

Stay away from groups that promulgate the use of drugs. If there are members of the group that use drugs privately that is an issue they need to resolve. There are those in this world that are addicts and need help. Each person will find help in his or her own time.

However, if the group is offering you drugs or requiring you to use drugs to be a part of them, this is a sign of a serious issue. The group may not be anything other than a social gathering of drug users looking for more to join.

Illegal or Unethical Acts:

Be weary of groups that participate in illegal or unethical acts. Anyone asking you to participate in these types of actions should be avoided altogether and reported to the proper authorities. This includes acts such as theft, fraud, etc. These types of actions have no place in the Craft and are not a part of it. After all, one of the major principles of Wicca is “An’ it harm none, do what thou wilt.”

If the group does not conform to the Rede, it may be wise to look elsewhere. In addition, sex should not be a requirement for participating within a group. If a teacher demands sex from the student, move on, this is not a group promoting spiritual development.

Cultish Behavior:

Isaac Bonewits put together a great resource tool for seekers looking for a new group. It is known as “The Advanced Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Frame, ” and a copy of the worksheet can be found on Witchvox. This is an excellent scale assessing the varying degrees of control a group will exercise over their members.

There is quite a difference between the commitment level required by a group in order to maintain a strong, cohesive relationship and to conduct training with a new member and that of a “cultish” group. It would be wise to stray clear of fundamentalist behavior as this can be a dangerous preview of what is ahead with your experience with the group.

Success at Last!

Once you have located a group that is a match for you, it is time to participate. Take as much time as you need to learn from the group. Take the time to build a relationship with the other members. From these, life long friendships can develop.

If you are unable to find a group at the current time, evaluate what is going on with your life and see if it is really the time to try to take on such an endeavor. Maybe it just is not the right time for you.

Patience and persistence though are the keys to finding a group that will surround you with those of like mind and spiritual practice.

_________________________________________

Footnotes:
Bonewits, Isaac (2001) . The Advanced Bonewits’ Cult Danger Evaluation Frame (ver 2.6):

http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usny&c=basics&id=2877

Finding the Right Coven

Finding the Right Coven

Author: Rowan of Oakmist 

A coven is a group of people who join together to practice the Craft. They make a covenant to follow certain agreed-upon paths.

Traditionally, a coven has thirteen members, but covens often function with any number of people, from three to whatever is comfortable. In my experience, smaller is better than larger. The energy raised by too many people can be difficult to harness and direct. A small group used to working together often is much more powerful than a large group which only meets occasionally. Some covens work with equal numbers of male and female members; others may be more flexible. Still others consist of entirely one gender.

To become a member of a coven, you usually must prove yourself to be trustworthy and determined. Some groups have Rites of Dedication, which may be undertaken once one has been accepted as a prospective member of a coven. Some, after a specified time, traditionally a year and a day, offer initiation in order to become a full-fledged member of the coven.

During the required introductory period, it is common to undergo vigorous training. You must make a serious commitment to attend regular meetings. You must learn to concentrate on the lessons of life, which are going on around you every moment. You must begin to learn to control your mind and your will, and you must learn the first steps in “bending” nature. You must learn about perfect love and perfect trust. You must learn to be a little less independent and to work as a team during ritual.

If you are successfully matched you will feel a strong sense of belonging when meeting with your group. If you don’t feel this way, it does not mean you are not a witch or that you cannot be part of a coven; it simply means that this particular group of people may not be where you belong. Speak with the leaders of the coven and ask them if they can recommend another group where you might feel more comfortable. As a rule, coven leaders in contact with each other, and if you are an earnest student, they are usually happy to introduce you to leaders of more compatible covens in order to help you find your path. Above all else, continue searching.

When I first began studying the Craft, visiting other covens or participating in their rituals was discouraged. Coven secrets were jealously guarded and students were almost cloistered. But today, covens, groves, and circles often meet together for Sabbats and Esbats. They share information and rituals and often form strong bonds, creating the feel of a clan or tribe. This coin has two sides: although It is encouraging to see the result of this phenomenon (many small pieces of a larger puzzle slowly coming together for the good of all) , could we be making a mistake in sacrificing the safety and secrecy so highly prized by our ancestors? This is a decision each witch must make individually.

Supplies are needed to run a coven and members should make unsolicited contributions. The Priest or Priestess should not be expected to furnish the coven with materials. In Oakmist’s training covens, students pay a small materials fee at each meeting. This fee purchases most of the supplies needed to complete the student’s training.

Finding a coven to join can be difficult. One route is through personal contacts. If Wicca is your chosen path, sometimes, there are classes in Wicca available at community colleges. If you are earnestly seeking a coven to join you might consider speaking to the folks in metaphysical bookstores. Pagan and Wiccan festivals are advertised in periodicals or on bulletin boards in occult shops and bookstores. You also could try placing an advertisement in a free press newsletter or periodical. Another good resource is the Internet, and there are many wonderful web pages where contacts are listed. You might think about posting a note on a bulletin board in the bohemian part of town. Something like “NEOPHYTE SEEKING TRAINING IN WICCA.” Chances are, you will get a few responses. Witches are everywhere!

BE CAUTIOUS

There is a difference between being cautious and being paranoid. If you choose to find a coven through advertising, whether you place the ad or answer the ad, it is good practice to be cautious. I would counsel you to open a post office box during your search and receive all mail there instead of at your home. No matter who’s in charge, it always seems somebody wants to feed the lions!

Do not invite a stranger into your house. Do not go to a stranger’s house. When you make a prospective contact, arrange the first two or three meetings in a public place, such as a coffee shop or the public library. Take a friend along for support. A legitimate priestess or priest will not discourage you from bringing a friend along to the meeting place, although the friend may not be invited to sit in on the meeting itself. Your friend should come prepared with something to read or to otherwise keep them busy while you speak confidentially with your contact person. It is acceptable to use a pseudonym when first meeting your contact. Later, however, your priestess or priest will probably expect you to give your legal name.

Be prepared to answer questions about your prior experience, your beliefs, and your ethics. The contact person needs to determine whether or not you will fit comfortably into their coven before they invite you to visit. It is quite permissible for you to question the contact person as well and they should encourage it. It is a good idea to sit down before the meeting and make a list of questions and concerns that you may have, both magical and practical.

If a group chooses not to accept you, don’t let it hurt your feelings. It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you. It doesn’t mean they don’t think you are good enough or that your answers to their questions were wrong. It simply means that for one reason or another, they don’t feel things will work well for you and their particular group. If this happens, you should feel free to ask if they know of anyone else who may be accepting students or coven members. A priest or priestess will often know what’s going on in the Craft community and can give you good leads.

After the interview, go home and do some sort of divinatory reading. More important than anything else, listen to your inner voice. If you feel uncomfortable or if it just doesn’t feel right — do not get involved. If you feel any sexual overtones at all, do not get involved. You will never be asked to exchange sexual favors for training by a legitimate teacher. You should never be asked to do anything that compromises your own ethics or morals. If this happens, hit the door as fast as you can and don’t look back.

Remember, the Craft itself is not for sale. There are no fees for initiation. If someone offers to teach you Wicca in exchange for a large sum of money, I would seriously recommend you contemplate looking elsewhere. However, there are those who make their living doing psychic counseling, teaching public classes, or managing correspondence courses These people are allowed to charge a fair fee for their time and labor. Materials required for learning should also be the responsibility of the student. Just bear in mind that if it seems too expensive . . . it is! Don’t haggle, keep looking, and you will find a teacher who will fit your needs.

AGE DOES MATTER!

Most teachers I know will not take students under the age of majority for legal and other magical reasons. Some teachers will take minor students with written parental permission. Never lie about your age to a teacher. You can get them in serious trouble! Laws exist to protect the parent-child relationship from those who would interfere from the outside. The legal system is very supportive of parents. Although I personally gave my children a choice in their religious belief, I would not have responded well to someone sneaking behind my back to indoctrinate my children when they were young. If you think about it carefully, you probably wouldn’t like it either!

If you are looking for a teacher on the Internet, be very cautious. Never give anyone your home address or phone number. Know who you are talking to. Ask for and check references. Never agree to meet anyone alone and never, ever be alone with an adult teacher.

If your parents absolutely refuse to let you search for a teacher or if you cannot find a teacher to take you until you are of age, study on your own until then. Honor your parents. Two of the first things to learn about being a witch are patience and honesty. Your parents’ religion may be the path you chose before coming to this plane of existence or the path the Goddess wishes you to take. There may be a reason; lessons to learn. Trust Her.

BE PATIENT

Read, study, watch nature, and wait patiently until you are of age.
At that time, you will be free to seek a teacher or coven to work with.

Working with a coven can be an enriching experience. Having others to learn from and to share with is wonderful! But it is certainly not the ideal or the only worthwhile experience. Much can be learned by being a solitary witch. While you work alone, the God/dess is just as accessible, if not more so.

Remember the words of the Charge, “If that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without…” Wisdom is found by looking within. One of the primary lessons a witch must learn is to be still… and listen.

May the Goddess lead you on your path to wisdom.
Blessed Be!
Rowan of Oakmist

_______________________________________

Footnotes:
From “The Secret Door; Oakmist Tradition Training Manual” by Rowan Carvalho

Temples, Covens and Groves – Oh, My!

TEMPLES, COVENS AND GROVES – OH MY!
by KHALED

There appears to be a fair amount of ongoing confusion as to what each of these is and what each of them should be doing, so let me stick my oar into it, too. But first, let’s play the definition game.

CIRCLE
Three or more people who gather together to work ritual or Craft. Some are ritual only, some worship only, but most do both. The following are all special cases of a Circle:

GROVE
Circle usually led by, and under the auspices of, a coven. Frequently eclectic in practice, Groves are commonly used as an introduction to the Craft as a whole but not necessarily to any given Tradition. Groves usually don’t initiate. May also be called a study group.

COVEN
Circle gathering at least once per month (with a majority gathering twice) for worship and/or magic. Membership tends to be stable with gradual personnel changes. Normally practicing within a single Tradition, Covens typically have strong group  rapport. Most train their members to whatever standard they use. Rites of passage (the “I” word) are the norm.

TEMPLE
Two or more Circles, generally at least one Coven (the Inner Circle) and a Grove (the Outer Circle), the latter being open to the public. Serves the public as a place to worship and/or learn about the Gods with advanced training for those seekers who meet the Temple’s standards. I’m on shakier ground here, never having run a Temple, but I see a Circle/Grove open to the general public as essential to the definition, while the strong affiliation to one or more covens
is a matter of observation (as is the relationship between Groves and Covens cited earlier.)

A fair number of practitioners do not distinguish among these terms (nor, for that matter, among Wicca, Paganism and New Age). Feel free to take issue with any of these definitions, but they are what I have in mind as I write this. Let’s take a closer look at what each of these is and how they tend to function within Neo-Paganism.

A Circle is a gathering of, preferably like-minded, individuals for purposes of magic and/or worship. None of those gathered need be of the same Tradition, nor even Initiate, though it makes for better results if at least some of them are. All Groves, Covens and Temples are therefore Circles. The reverse, however, isn’t always the case since many Circles do not also meet the criteria for a Grove, Coven or Temple.

A Grove, or Study Group, is a Circle of students learning the basics of Neo-Pagan (or Wiccan or any of the other subsets of Pagan) worship and Circle techniques. While normally under the tutelage of one or more Initiates, the members are not necessarily being trained towards Initiation in any particular Tradition, nor need the tutors be of the same Tradition(s) as the students (nor even of each other).Mystery religions, by their very nature, aren’t for everyone, nor is any given Mystery suitable for all Initiates. The Grove is a way for potential Initiates to take a good look at one or more Traditions while learning how to handle themselves in just about any basic Circle. If this isn’t for them, they can easily drop it. If it is, they can focus on the specific
Tradition (or family of Traditions) which seems to speak most clearly to them (assuming they were exposed to more than one). Similarly, the tutor(s) can teach general techniques to any serious Seeker without worrying about an implied commitment to Initiate someone unsuited to their particular Tradition.

Groves do not normally do Initiations (they’re done by the sponsoring Coven, if any), and tend to be oriented more towards teaching and worship than towards magical practice. They are also more likely to be fairly open to new members or even the general public than is the case with established Covens, while study groups, in my experience at least, are more likely to be invitation-only. The most effective Groves (or study groups, of course) are under the helpful eye, if not out-and-out sponsorship, of an established Coven or family of Covens.

A Coven, on the other hand, is a regularly meeting Circle, all of the same Tradition, at least some of whom are Initiates (and at least one of whom holds Initiatory power if the Coven is to survive or grow). Such a group tends to become very close (“closer than kin”) and is bound by the rules and styles (deliberately non-existent in some cases) of its Tradition, and by its own internal rules and customs. A member of a Coven is normally provided training and, when deemed ready, Initiation or Elevation by that Coven’s Priesthood/Elders.

There are also magical considerations which go into the making of a Coven which further differentiate it from a Grove/study group, but it isn’t my intention to go into them here. Suffice it to say that they are connected to the closeness and tend to enhance it. Because the bond is tight, and because a Coven generally intends to be around for a few decades, they’re kinda fussy about who joins. The wise Seeker is equally fussy about which, if any, Coven s/he eventually joins.
You’re not joining a social club here, you’re adopting, and being adopted into, an extended family. And this time round you have some control over who your kin will be!

Neo-Pagan Temples are a fairly new phenomena combining many of the characteristics of Covens and Groves. I think that the clearest description of just what they’re about comes from the (draft) Constitution of the proposed Victoria (B.C.) Temple:

a) To minister to the Pagan community by way of providing support, education, and sponsoring religious celebrations;

b) to establish and maintain a religious sanctuary and place of worship accessible to all who would worship the Goddess and the God;

c) to provide a seminary for the training of Wiccan clergy;

d) to provide accredited ordination for Wiccan clergy;

e) to provide accurate information about Witchcraft to all who would ask and to engage in dialogue with other religious groups with the purpose of furthering understanding and friendship between us; and

f) to do other charitable acts of goodwill as will benefit the community at large.

As stated in my definition of Temple above, I consider the provision of Neo-Pagan (not necessarily Wiccan) religious instruction and services to the general public to be essential, and provision of community services to the local Neo-Pagan population highly desirable. To be taken seriously in the wider world, we need to have our clergy recognized by our government(s), which in turn means that we need to be visibly providing training and ordination which meets
government accreditation criteria (which can vary significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction). Such accredited ordination is most easily adminitered through Temples.

To address a diatribe current on the Nets (computer Network Bulletin Boards: Ed.) so long as the governments we seek accreditation from think in Christian terms, then we will have to use Christian terms, carefully defined to earmark differences in usage, to describe ourselves to them. Sure, there’s some danger of picking up some inappropriate (to Wicca) ways of thinking along with those terms, but we’re more likely to import them with converts who were raised as
Christians. The solution to both problems is the same: clearly understood (by the tutors above all!) religious instruction. And if a Christian notion isn’t inappropriate, and if it’s truly useful, why shouldn’t we adopt it? Religious intolerance itself is inappropriate to Wiccan thought, and I think we should be clearer in condemning it.

So how does it all tie together? I think that the Neo-Pagan community needs a mix of solitaires, coveners and templers, along with significant variety among their Traditions, to remain intellectually and spiritually healthy. We also need umbrella organisations capable of meeting the needs of each of them, not only for credibility with governments and the general public, but to spread new (and not so new) ideas around the very community they should exist to serve. I’ll
talk more on what this umbrella organization should look like in a bit. For now, let’s get back to roles of the different types of Circle.

One of the things that fascinates about the Craft is our teaching that the Gods don’t need a Priesthood to run interference between Them and Their worshippers. Nor is this a new idea. Heroditus recorded with a certain amazement that Persians must call on a Magus to perform every little sacrifice, whereas among the Greeks of his time, anyone, including housewives and slaves, could sacrifice at any time, assuming they had the desire and the means. We have a
Priesthood because some people feel called to a deeper understanding and expression of their faith than is the case for many. And while They don’t need Initiated Priesthoods, humans find them very useful both as a source of  thoughtful religious instruction and as a ready source of warm bodies to stick with the administrivia of organizing group ritual.

Like sex, however, effective worship isn’t something that just comes naturally. It must be learnt, and practiced. Groves, festivals and Temples are all good places to learn the fundamentals, assuming you weren’t fortunate enough to learn them at home. They are also good places to socialize with people who think much the way you do, a deeply-seated human need we do well not to overlook. If your need runs deeper, you will find Priesthood there to talk to. If your needs prove more mystically oriented, they should be able to arrange contact with one or more Covens, who can in turn, if appropriate, Initiate you into whichever flavor of the Mysteries they practice.

Different Circle structures serve different needs. None is superior to the other except to the extent that it serves your needs better. For those of us simply seeking to express our religious feelings in sympathetic company, whichever form best serves that expression is all we’re likely to need. But those of us who feel called to serve the greater community will need all of them to achieve the mandate we have set ourselves.

To return to our model umbrella organization, to serve a significant majority of
the community it will have to address as many of the rather different needs of
solitaires, Covens and Temples as is feasible without stepping on the concerns
of any of them. To be effective, it has to have some standards, but it can’t
impose them from above without violating the sovereignty that all three segments
of the community value rather highly.

One of the difficulties with any ideal is that it manifests imperfectly, if
indeed it can be brought to manifestation at all. Rather than a discouragement,
however, I find that a challenge: to bring about the best fit possible between
reality and our ideal. Here then are my ideas on some of the attributes such an
organization can aim for. To start from the top, I think the stated purpose of
the organization should be to serve as a liaison between member clergy and the
Establishment, whether government or public. Why clergy? Because we don’t need
government approval simply to worship our Gods, especially if we’re doing so
discreetly and on private property.

It’s our institutions which need public recognition in order to be able to avail
themselves of public resources available to other, already recognized,
religions, not the worshippers themselves. And institutions effectively mean the
clergy. Note I don’t say Priesthood. It’s one of the earmarks of the Craft that
all Initiates are clergy, but in many of our Traditions, Priesthood requires a
deeper understanding of traditional lore and techniques.

The immediate needs such an organization should attempt to fulfill are essentially three:

1)   Establishment of a Seminary to provide the training necessary for government accreditation as a minister of religion for those who need or seek said accreditation. To achieve this it will be necessary to look into the minimal training expected by any intended licensing bodies and ensure that those standards are being met or exceeded by all graduates of said certification
program. This accreditation is to serve no other purpose within the organization: all of our members will be recognized by us as clergy, whether or not they seek further accreditation.

2)   To act as a public relations and information office on the Craft to the general public. If we exist, we will be used as an information source, so we might as well plan on it and do the job properly.

3)   To act as a Craft contact and social network to facilitate Pagan networking among members and non-members alike.

To expand upon the seminary somewhat, any member should be able to sit for an examination without taking the associated classes (a process known in Ontario as “challenge for credit”). If s/he passes, s/he is given the credit, if not, the associated courses must be taken before s/he may sit for another examination on that subject. In this way we can grant credit for existing knowledge without in any way compromising our standards. I think it would be a very bad idea to grant an exemption from this procedure to anyone.

Because very few of us are likely to be able to drop everything for a couple of years to travel to wherever we happen to establish the campus, one should be able to complete the courses necessary for certification by correspondence. Nor should the topics of instruction be limited for those required for accreditation with government.

Let’s also see to it that our ministers have a grounding in the philosophy of religion, comparative religion (especially comparative Pagan religion) and chaplaincy as well. Note too that I keep referring to the document as a Certificate, not a college degree. A university level of education, while great for the egos of graduates, is unnecessarily high to meet the needs of our Pagan laity – a Community College is much more appropriate. The stages of learning in a guildcraft are apprentice, journeyman and master, NOT baccalaureate, master and doctor! Mind, I have no objection to our Seminary offering college level courses, nor any other course or seminar it may choose to offer. I merely object to the insistence in some quarters that since most Christian ministers must hold graduate degrees, then by golly ours must too! Horsefeathers!

Our Organization then breaks down into a Seminary to provide internal education, and accreditation, to Pagan religious tutors; a PR office to provide external education, and referrals to the public; and one or more Festivals, and no doubt a periodical (e.g. a newsletter), to provide for contacts and networking both internal and external.

Further, I see our Organization as an ecclesia in the ancient Athenian sense of the term, and assembly of all those having the right to vote in our affairs. I don’t feel the ecclesia should either set or attempt to enforce any standards beyond those required for government accreditation and a minimal ethical standard for membership. I feel that member-ship should be restricted to ordained clergy within a Pagan tradition, nor should the ecclesia itself set any standard as to what does or does not constitute clergy (though I expect it may have to define criteria for determining what is or isn’t Pagan). All this because any other approach compromises the essential sovereignty of our Covens and Temples (for which purpose I see a solitary as a Coven of 1).

Since our membership is composed of clergy, not Covens and Temples, I favor one-person-one-vote. Certainly, groups with a large number of ordained members will thereby gain a larger number of votes in the ecclesia, why not? The ecclesia has no authority over individual members nor the organizations they may represent. Its most extreme power is to suspend the membership of persons found to be in violation of the ethical code, which code is set and policed by the members themselves. Or to appoint officers to manage the ecclesia’s property and affairs, which officers will be legally and constitutionally answerable to the membership.

On the topic of polity, I see the ecclesia/AGM as setting policy which is then administered and interpreted by the officers. The officers should have no power to set policy themselves. Our structure should be absolutely minimalist to avoid unpleasant takeover bids later. Any office or function which doesn’t need to be there, shouldn’t be there. If someone has grounds for an ethics complaint, an ad hoc committee should be assembled to look into it. If amends are made or the
objectionable behavior corrected, then the case should be dropped (i.e. the committee is focused on correcting unethical behavior, not punishing it).

On the subject of officers and their terms of office, I rather like the notion of electing them in alternate years for two- year terms. A one-year term is too hard on continuity. One possibility to avoid little fiefdoms is to provide each function with two officers, one senior and the other junior. Each year the senior officer retires, the junior officer becomes the senior and a new
junior officer is elected. Continuity is preserved, and each officer gains an assistant who has a year in which to learn the ropes. I think that barring the outgoing senior from seeking re-election as a junior would be wasteful of resources, myself, but it would certainly serve to break up fiefdoms even further, should the ecclesia happen to be particularly paranoid about them.

A not-so-little proposal, but the subject is an important one. This is only somewhat-baked, and I see the need as both real and immediate.

LOOKING AT YOURSELF

LOOKING AT YOURSELF

Before you go a step further, take a good long look at your desires, motivation and skills. What role do you see yourself playing in this new group? “Ordinary” member?   Democratic facilitator? High Priestess?  And if the last — why do you want the job?

The title of High Priestess and Priestess are seductive, conjuring up exotic images of yourself in embroidered robes, a silver crescent (or horned helm) on your brow, adoring celebrants hanging on every word which drops from your lips…

Reality check. The robes will be stained with wine and candle wax soon enough, and  not every word you speak is worth remembering. A coven leader’s job is mostly hard work between rituals and behind the scene. It is not always a good place to act out your fantasies, because the lives and well-being of others are involved, and what is flattering or enjoyable to you man not be in their best
interest. So consider carefully.

If your prime motive is establishing a coven is to gain status and ego gratification, other people will quickly sense that. If they are intelligent, independent individuals, they will refuse to play Adoring Disciple to your Witch Queen impressions. They will disappear,  and  that vanishing act will be the last magick they do with you.

And if you do attract a group ready to be subservient Spear Carriers in your fantasy drama — well, do you really want to associate with that kind of personality?  What are you going to do when you want someone strong around to help you or teach you, and  next New Moon you look out upon a handful of Henry Milquetoasts and Frieda Handmaidens? If a person is willing to serve you, then
they will also become dependent on you, drain your energy, and become disillusioned if you ever let down the Infallible Witch Queen mask for even a moment.

Some other not-so-great reasons for starting a coven: a) because it seems glamorous,  exotic, and a little wicked;

b) because it will shock your mother,or

c) because you can endure your boring, flunky job more easily if you get to go home and play Witch at night.

Some better reasons for setting up a coven, and even nominating yourself as High Priest/ess, include: a) you feel that you will be performing a useful job for yourself and others; b) you have enjoyed leadership roles in the past, and proven yourself capable; or c) you look forward to learning and growing in the role.

Even with the best motives in the world, you will still need to have — or quickly develop — a whole range of skills in order to handle a leadership role. If you are to be a facilitator of a study group, group process insights and skills are important. These include:

1) Gatekeeping, or guiding discussion in such a way that everyone has an opportunity to express ideas and opinions;

2) Summarizing and clarifying;

3) Conflict resolution or helping participants understand points of disagreement and find potential solutions which respect everyone’s interests;

4) Moving the discussion toward consensus, or at any rate decision, by identifying diversions and refocusing attention on goals and priorities; and

5) Achieving closure smoothly when the essential work is completed, or an appropriate stopping place is reached.

In addition to group process skills, four other competencies necessary to the functioning of a coven are: ritual leadership, administration, teaching, and counseling.  In a study group the last one may not be considered a necessary function, and the other three may be shared among all participants. But in a coven the leaders are expected to be fairly capable in all these areas, even if responsibilities are frequently shared or delegated. Let us look briefly at each.

Ritual leadership involves much more that reading invocations by candlelight. Leaders must understand the powers they intend to manipulate: how they are raised, channeled and grounded. They must be adept at designing rituals which involve all the sensory modes. They should have a repertoire of songs and chants, dances and gestures or mudras, incense and oils, invocations and spells, visual effects and symbols, meditations and postures; and the skill to combine these in a powerful, focused pattern.  They must have clarity of purpose and firm ethics. And they must understand timing: both where a given ritual fits in the cycles of the Moon, the Wheel of the Year, and the dance of the spheres, and how to pace the ritual once started, so that energy peaks and is channeled at the perfect moment. And they must understand the Laws of Magick, and the
correspondences, and when ritual is appropriate and when it is not.

By administration, we refer to basic management practices necessary to any organization. These include apportioning work fairly, and following up on its progress; locating resources and obtaining them (information, money, supplies); fostering communications (by telephone, printed schedules, newsletters etc.); and keeping  records (minutes, accounts, Witch Book entries, or ritual logbook). Someone or several someone’s has to collect the dues if any, buy the candles, chill the wine, and so forth.

Teaching is crucial to both covens and study groups. If only one person has any formal training or experience in magick, s/he should transmit that knowledge in a way which respects the intuitions, re-emerging past life skills, and creativity of the others. If several participants have some knowledge in differing areas, they can all share the teaching role. If no one in the group has training and you are uncertain where to begin, they you may need to call on outside resources: informed and ethical priest/esses who can act as visiting faculty, or who are willing to offer guidance by telephone or correspondence. Much can be gleaned from books, or course — assuming you know which books are trustworthy and at the appropriate level — but there is no substitute for
personal instruction for some things.  Magick can be harmful if misused, and an experienced practitioner can help you avoid pitfalls as well as offering hints and techniques not found in the literature.

Counseling is a special role of the High Priest/ess. It is assumed that all members of a coven share concern for each other’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual welfare, and are willing to help each other out in practical ways.

However, coven leaders are expected to have a special ability to help coveners explore the roots of their personal problems and choose strategies and tactics to overcome them. This is not to suggest that one must be a trained psychoanalyst; but at the least, good listening skills, clear thinking and some insight into human nature are helpful. Often, magickal skills such as guided visualization, Tarot counseling and radiasthesia (pendulum work) are valuable tools as well.

Think carefully about your skills in these areas, as you have demonstrated them in other organizations. Ask acquaintances or co-workers, who can be trusted to give you a candid opinion, how they see you in some of these roles. Meditate, and decide what you really want for yourself in organizing the new group. Will you be content with being a catalyst and contact person — simply bringing people with a common interest together, then letting the group guide its destiny from that point on?  Would you rather be a facilitator, either for the first months or permanently: a low-key discussion leader who enables the group to move forward with a minimum of misunderstanding and wasted energy? Or do you really want to be High Priestess — whatever that means to you —      and serve as the guiding spirit and acknowledged leader of a coven? And if you do want that job, exactly how much authority and work do you envision as part of it? Some coven leaders want a great deal of power and control; others simply take an extra share of responsibility for setting up the rituals (whether or not they actually conduct the rites), and act as “magickal advisor” to less experienced members. Thus the High Priest/ess can be the center around which the life of the coven revolves, or primarily an honorary title, or anything in between. That is one area which you will need to have crystal-clear in your own mind before the first meeting (of if you are flexible, at least be very clear that you are). You must also be clear as to your personal needs on other points: program emphasis, size, meeting schedule, finances, degree of secrecy, and affiliation with a tradition or network. You owe it to prospective members and to yourself to make your minimum requirements known from the outset: it can be disastrous to a group to discover that members have major disagreements on these points after you have been meeting for six months.

Eight Gifts That Do Not Cost A Cent

Witchy Comments & Graphics

 Eight Gifts That Do Not Cost A Cent

 

1. THE GIFT OF LISTENING…
But you must REALLY listen. No interrupting, no daydreaming, no planning your response. Just listening.

2. THE GIFT OF AFFECTION…
Be generous with appropriate hugs, kisses, pats on the back and handholds. Let these small actions demonstrate the love you have for family and friends.

3. THE GIFT OF LAUGHTER…
Clip cartoons. Share articles and funny stories. Your gift will say, “I love to laugh with you.”

4. THE GIFT OF A WRITTEN NOTE…
It can be a simple “Thanks for the help” note or a full sonnet. A brief, handwritten note may be remembered for a lifetime, and may even change a life.

5. THE GIFT OF A COMPLIMENT…
A simple and sincere, “You look great in red,” “You did a super job” or “That was a wonderful meal” can make someone’s day.

6. THE GIFT OF A FAVOR…
Every day, go out of your way to do something kind.

7. THE GIFT OF SOLITUDE…
There are times when we want nothing better than to be left alone. Be sensitive to those times and give the gift of solitude to others.

8. THE GIFT OF A CHEERFUL DISPOSITION…
The easiest way to feel good is to extend a kind word to someone, really it’s not that hard to say, Hello or Thank You.

Friends are a very rare jewel, indeed. They make you smile and encourage you to succeed. They lend an ear, they share a word of praise, and they always want to open their hearts to us. Show your friends how much you care.

Love Is The Law

Spring Comments
LOVE IS THE LAW

Do what thou wilt is the Whole of the Law
The time of The Will
Bursts forth Now, in the Spring
Implacable bud!
 
 
Let your Love burst forth and blossom freely
Thunder of roses
Unfettered by harsh will
Love willed to be Free
 
 
To soar with on Her Wings into New Heavens
Over pure New Earths
Love is Will purified
Love is Her own Law!
 
 
Sun is born again in primitive Light
With Arian Force
In the Spring House of Mars
New Life Exploding
 
From cold Winter’s Icy dark Womb
Gives force to our Wills
Time of re-SOL-ution
We are born again
 
Juices of Spring wash us from Winter Womb
As Spring buds push out
We drop from Her belly
Like damp, new born colts
 
 
This is the time to re-SOL-ve our new lives
With Nature’s Forces
Supporting and healing
As Old Winter dies   
 
 
 
 
Author Unknown