Just My Thoughts…….

As you can imagine, I have been kind of down in the dumps for the last few days. It was late last night and I couldn’t sleep. I got to thinking back when the WOTC was first formed. The WOTC was my baby from the very start. I created her and I had others that helped with publishing information. I was so proud of the WOTC and I always protected her no matter what. As she started to grow, it was like watching your very own child grow. From those very first baby steps to a full grown teenager. And as you can imagine, just like a teenagers the WOTC was plagued with problems. We made our share of enemies along the way. Those who had always ruled the roost and now here comes this new kid and she is walking all over them. We weren’t doing anything wrong except telling the truth about the Craft and actually giving the people what they wanted. We eventually won all those fights and ended up being the number one “Other Spirituality” group on MSN for years. In fact, we were number 1 until MSN closed with over 2000 members. We had really grown from 10 dedicated members to over 2000. We were still growing when MSN pulled the rug from out of our feet and closed down.

 

With MSN closing, that left all the groups scattered to the winds. We tried to built a home on Yuku but that didn’t work out. I guess I got upset because we were pouring our blood and sweat into this site and nothing worked. I know one Sunday morning, I got to looking around. I saw individuals who were suppose to be Asst. Managers on that site in other sites. Laughing, carrying on, having a grand old time. Oh, don’t get me wrong, they would come and make an occasional post but that was about it. I got to thinking if they don’t give a damn, why should I? So that Sunday morning without a word to anyone I closed that site down.

 

I was off the internet for a few months. I think that was probably the lowest point in my life. I missed the internet and most of all I missed my friends. I just couldn’t bring myself to even turn the computer on. I had lost my baby. I figured I was a total failure. I guess the Goddess got tired of me dragging my ass and She gave me one hell of a Cosmic slap. Ever been Cosmic slapped, take my word for it you don’t want to get slapped. She re-lit the fire that was once in me. She gave me the strength to pull my life back together and actually think straight. She also pointed me in the direction of WordPress. I didn’t know a thing about blogging, I know for sure it was the Goddess guiding me through it. The way the site took off, I knew the Goddess had a hand in it. It was something to see.

 

Last night, I was thinking about all that. Now we have a few days before it will over again. I feel like I have failed in my mission and my commitment to the Goddess. I have tried everything I know to do. Nothing has worked. I even went as far as applying for loans on-line. All that got me was my account frozen because I actually hit a fraudulent site (just my luck). Thank the Goddess, I caught it in time, no major damage was done but I ended up with a frozen account for a while. I even asked someone on here to give us a loan, which we would pay back. We had no luck on that either. But let’s make it clear, if someone would give us a loan, I will swear in blood to pay it back.

 

Back to my depression though, we are now looking at seven days. To think it took all this time to build the WOTC up to what it is and then in 7 days it will all be gone. It breaks my heart, I know what all we have done to make this group successful. Now all our efforts will die in vain. Personally, I have done this for twelve years, I wonder what my life will be like. I will probably be lost for a while. I know I will miss all of you and I hope you will miss me. I cannot begin to imagine actually hitting the delete button on this site or the others. That is very painful even to think about. You start something, watch it grow and in the end it is over with a simple push of the button. Doesn’t seem fair.

 

I have never been good at saying goodbye especially to people I care about. So I figure it is just simpler next week to push the button and walk away. Of course there will be tears shed probably for a few days. Hell, I am crying right now even thinking about it. I can say I have met some very nice people and we have become friends. I have experienced things I would imagine no one else ever has. I can honestly say I don’t regret anything until now. Now I regret losing the WOTC. The WOTC is a family, we always have been. It hurts more than anything to think I will lose all of you. But I am much the better for meeting you. I hope you can say the same about me.

 

We have a few days left. I know I said earlier that we would carry on as usual but I found that extremely difficult today. What little time we have left, let’s make the best of it. I do want you to remember one thing, I have always loved you and always will. You have all become very dear to me and will be in my heart forever. I love you.

 

Lady Of The Abyss

 

To All Those Celebrating Cinco De Mayo…..

Cinco de Mayo Images

Cinco de Mayo is the day
Let’s celebrate real big
Join us all for fun and play
Our piñata is a pig

Don’t forget the victory
Of 1862
It’s all part of history
And good to have a view

We will plan the best of fun
Our guests will have a blast
Mariachi on the run
And flags all at full mast

Laughter, fun and playing hard
Is what we’ll do May 5th
With songs for dancing in the yard
Our party is no myth

So:
Be of good cheer
Come out and play
Drink a beer
And say olé!

Published by Langley Cornwell

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’ for May 5th

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

Realizing that there is a multitude of wonderful things to appreciate, we must shake them all together in our minds and wait for the chosen ones to rise up the top like bubbles. Life is such a challenge, such a joy to live when it is appreciated. If we could only realize who gave is life, we would understand even more why the Creator intended us to appreciate and love all that is about us.

The things we can appreciate are never in any particular order, but mingled together as they are in our lives. We can so beautifully and joyfully appreciate the sound of our children’s laughter when sudden happiness overtakes them; the tremendous and moving power of silent prayer; a strong voice singing a song of inspiration, or of sentiment; early morning sunrises, misty pink and fresh; a mockingbird singing out its heart in the depth of night; the touch of souls in understanding; violin music; and our children in prayer, in spells of delight, or in any other movement.

To name them all would be an impossibility, to live them all is a blessing. We must not pass these things by without appreciating them. We must not lose them by failing to give thanks. These are the things we always have near us, and we can appreciate them merely by attuning our senses to them.

______________________________________

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

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

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

Elder’s Meditation of the Day May 5

Elder’s Meditation of the Day May 5

“There are many things to be shared with the four colors of man in our common destiny as one family upon our Mother the Earth.”

—- Traditional Circle of Elders, NORTHERN CHEYENNE

The Elders tell us the time will come when the four colors of Man will unite into one family. According to prophecies, we were told this would happen when the Sun was blocked in the Seventh Moon. There was an eclipse of the Sun in July, 1991. We are now in a new Springtime called the Coming Together Time. Each of the four colors of man has knowledge that the other colors need to heal their families. Let us all be willing to sit in a circle and respect our differences.

Creator, let me be willing to have an open mind

May 5 – Daily Feast

May 5 – Daily Feast

Remembering can be painful and sometimes without any real benefit. But much of the time it helps us move ahead like a spur that tells us not to tarry but to go on and do what we have to do. It is far too easy to carry around, a u s ga nv tsv, a false guilt, a wrong idea, to override our good memories. We lose sight of the positive things we have done and the happiness we have shared by recalling a thousand impossible wishes we wanted to come true. But it does no good to dwarf the present time because the past was not what we hoped it would be. We cannot help but recall things and times and people dear to us – but to remember them with pleasure does them more honor than to focus on what we did or couldn’t do in the past.

~ Our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch of our ancestors as we walk over this earth. ~

SEATTLE

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

The Daily Motivator for May 5th – Tomorrow can wait

Tomorrow can wait

If your mind is always jumping ahead to what might be next, you miss the opportunity to fully live what is now. Be patient, be thankful, and let life come at its own pace.

Stop looking so much at the clock, and focus more on your purpose. Tomorrow can wait while you make today great.

If you hurry, concerned that you don’t have enough time, you’ll waste much of the time you do have. Take the necessary time and give sufficient attention to each task, so as to get maximum value from it.

Live each moment with deliberate, peaceful purpose, not with hurried, worried anxiety. In your eagerness to get ahead don’t leave the opportunity of this day behind.

Be ambitious while also being patient about it. Then you can truly enjoy the fruits of your ambition.

Take a deep, relaxing breath and feel the great value of the moment you’re already in. Fully live that value, here and now, and make it always yours.

— Ralph Marston
Source:

The Daily Motivator

Daily OM for May 5th – No Wrong Response

No Wrong Response
Experiences Shape Your Reactions

by Madisyn Taylor

There is no such thing as a right or wrong response to any given situation as we all come to it with our own experience.

Our view of the universe is largely determined by our experiences. It is when we are caught off guard by the spontaneity of existence that we are most apt to respond authentically, even when our feelings do not correspond with those of the multitude. Events that arouse strong emotions with us or are surprising in nature can be disquieting, for it often is in their aftermath that we discover how profoundly our histories have shaped us. The differences that divide us from our peers are highlighted in our reactions when these diverge from the mainstream, and this can be highly upsetting because it forces us to confront the uniqueness of our lives.

When our response to unexpected news or startling ideas is not the same as that of the people around us, we may feel driven by a desire to dismiss our feelings as irrational or incorrect. But reactions themselves are neither right, nor wrong. The forces that sculpted the patterns that to a large extent dictate our development are not the same forces that shaped the development of our relatives, friends, colleagues, or neighbors. There is no reason to believe that one person’s reaction to a particular event is somehow more valid than another’s. How we respond to the constant changes taking place in the world around us is a product of our history, a testament to our individuality, and a part of the healing process that allows us to address key elements of our past in a context we can grasp in the present.

Life’s pivotal events can provide you with a way to define yourself as a unique and matchless being, but you must put aside the judgments that might otherwise prevent you from gaining insight into your distinct mode of interpreting the world. Try to internalize your feelings without categorizing or evaluating them. When you feel unsure of the legitimacy of your reactions, remember that cultural, sociological, spiritual, and familial differences can cause two people to interpret a single event in widely dissimilar ways. Examining your responses outside of the context provided by others can show you that your emotional complexity is something to be valued, for it has made you who you are today.

 

Source:

The Daily OM

The Power of Words

The Power of Words

Author: Kestryl Angell 

Recently, it is all over the news where celebrities are being “caught with their pants down” over racial slurs, backbiting remarks against each other, tearing at the fabric of the illusion of the “Peaceful American Community” that Hollywood is supposed to be so integral a part of creating in the framework of our society. Even within pagan communities themselves, a place where many claim to have found the first bit of peace in their spirit in their entire lives up to the point of their discovery of paganism grow more and more rife with stories of people that have, in their own way, attempted to serve their community and been shunned due to human mistakes or misunderstandings. America’s illusion says that Americans are supposed to be Keepers of the Peace.

But Americans, and in many cases humans in general it seems, have forgotten that there is Power in words.

I was trained in classical music from a very young age. Because of this training, my ears have been fine tuned to hear tone before I even hear actual words. As well, I have come to understand over the years the reasons why the Celts, the Native Americans and so many other cultures taught their deepest and most spiritual lessons to rhythm, dance and in rhyme. The cadence, the effect on the body, mind, heart and spirit, the effect on the chakras…all attribute pieces of the beautiful stained glass window of reality that is the Power of Words.

Everyone has had the experience, in or out of Circle, of feeling truly and deeply moved to their deepest self by a piece of music or poetry. The way a High Priest or High Priestess speaks a lesson, their tone and manner focused totally on opening the hearts and minds of their students that sets that lesson forever in the mind of those attending them or the way a Shaman or Medicine Man or Woman guides their patient through a Journey or necessary healing process to the rhythm of a Medicine drum, all are designed to not only speak the lesson, tell the journey…but to set it indelibly into the brain and memory so that we do not forget.

In the day and age when it was still dangerous to know the legal names of coven mates, knowing a single word—a name—could mean death and the end of entire family lines, no matter what guilt or innocence was the truth of their existence or beliefs.

Do you, as a magickal person, honestly believe that there was not a time when Words of Power were used far more frequently than they are now? Do you honestly believe that science fiction is the only place where something like Frank Herbert’s concept of the Voice, held in his works in the Dune series…where single syllables could be used to shatter bone, burst organs, bring down entire cities? If you truly believe this, look at the way that the cruelty of words spoken in haste can shatter families, permanently scar minds, hearts, souls and weigh heavily on our Karmic scale in the long run.

If we truly know that words have Power, this means that we must consider more carefully how we speak to and of each other. This is not to say that we should become completely unrealistic in the “sunshine” we spout, but rather we should speak the best reality we may into being.

Rather than simply wishing each other “Happy Holidays” a holiday season or wishing for “world peace, ” why not truly speak with clarity and vision the positives you see possible in this world. Instead of finding fault with a child’s grades or social performance, teach them pride enough in themselves, their families and their community that such things wouldn’t even occur to them as long as they have the academic support their personal learning curve requires.

Instead of “preaching” our faith or hearing only “preaching” in other’s words about their faith and beliefs this time of year, why not listen with compassion in your ears and find the commonalities with your own, sharing those with a smile and a warm heart (Merry Meet, Merry Part, Bright the Cheeks and Warm the Heart—from the long Wiccan Rede, sound familiar?)

When we speak of our faith, speak of what we ourselves practice—not just the history of those that died for our faith. Speak the beauty, not just the once-mysteries and mythologies. Speak the usefulness, the daily contact with Deity, the ways that the Universe reflects Its Infinite Wisdom and Complex Simplicity to you as an individual every single day, instead of finding the reasons to nit-pick your neighbors or their lives to death or place personal judgment on other’s lives for reasons of pride, ego or simple human differences of opinion.

Spend less time finding fault and more time finding blessings—no matter how small or unlikely the arrival or package they come in. Spend less time speaking poison, thus poisoning your own heart and spirit and drawing the same to yourself in the process—if you live by the Law of Three or other like law of balance in your system of beliefs. Sing praises over your own life and accomplishments instead of doubt that you’ll ever truly “get there.” Find places to smile each day instead of facing a list of stresses and duties alone with a sense of dread in your heart, mind and voice.

If your faith does not make your spirit smile enough to share something of its Light with the world around you, then my friend, you need some work on you first—and like the Christian Bible says, “Judge not, lest ye be judged” and “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”

No man or woman is above another on the scale of the Universe—but all are on various levels of the spiral, all learning, all growing, all paying debts and moving up and either fast or slow, they are finding ways to make themselves and their world better. Some are just a bit further along in the process than others and those are our treasured teachers and Elders. Yet, all in life truly have something to teach if only you are brave enough to listen to the lesson when the package it comes in doesn’t seem pleasing to your senses at first glance.

Just as many mythologies tell stories of Gods and Goddesses taking the form of injured animals or ugly or deformed creatures to teach lessons to the ones they were in the story with, so too does the Universe often scream our lessons in that tone of voice that makes us wish we were deaf on every level or put them in a package we find so distasteful we might not stick around for the lesson itself, no matter how sweetly delivered from the distasteful representation—it is often part of the test the God/dess gives us, one that we commonly fail.

However, if we are open to the lesson, even when it is yelled or screeched or even when it is in the simple deafening silence of darkness, the power of words remains a truth that cannot be denied. Therefore, it is necessary that we take responsibility for our use of this magick in a far more active way than many often choose to keep on their everyday mouth and perceptions. However, as aware and ethical magickal folk, it cannot be said too often that awareness is only the first step.

There is a large difference, when working through life issues, in sharing your experience and speaking poison over the hardships of your past. There is a difference between sharing positive information that you have to share and insisting another must use the information just as you have in their lives or practice or it will immediately invalidate the information in your eyes.

There is a difference in speaking an honest disagreement with an issue or person and defaming them out of bruised ego, hurt feelings or mistaken sense of prideful or righteous indignation. There is a difference in realizing that shadow must exist for light to have its balance point, but when something already has a momentum of its own, it is not always correct for us to “add our two cents worth” to the engines by pumping our own poison into the process.

Not if we take seriously the idea that we will eventually reap what we sow.

If you are aware that the words you say and how you say them are like seeds in soil and what you bring back to you is the harvest of those words, think about the words you speak in a day. Do you speak brightly, positively, encouragingly to the world and your reality and those in it? Or do you speak doubt into your every sentence?

In your attempt to be a “realist” have you become a “pessimist” instead? When ill or in pain, do you speak the truth of the pain or issue and truly seek help or do you play it up for attention and shun any real assistance?

When you bring up a difference of opinion with someone, do you bring it up or do you attack him or her with it and then expect him or her to “understand, because they are your friend” and then become upset when they do not react as you expect them to? Do you take responsibility for your own expectations?

All these are examples of the places where the power of words is often simply forgotten or conveniently passed up in favor of the more instant gratification of a snap decision or reaction. Being Children of the Light, attempting in some small human way to be reflections of our Gods and Goddesses, do we honestly think that our Deity would speak in the poisonous terms most human beings use on one another every single day? If you do not know what I am talking about, read a newspaper or watch the evening news or an episode of Jerry Springer.

Insults, invasion of privacy, making jokes of infirmity or life circumstances beyond the control of the center of the joke, finding joy in other’s pain or thinking peace comes out of war are all ways in which even the words themselves can show us they are not what will draw us the most positive ends if the magick of words is truly something we understand and choose to manifest in our every day lives.

Instead of arguing how horrible it is that places like Macy’s and Wal-Mart Corporation are “forbidding” the Happy Holidays greetings in stores in favor of using a strict “Merry Christmas” (or “Happy Easter”) policy, why not try something different?

Of course it’s horrible they are denying others their holidays as well in society and putting forward such a prevailing discriminatory front to their business, but do we really need to RE-state the obvious? Why not plant more positive seeds instead?

Try, through this and every holiday season to give the gift of using a voice of compassion, a voice of sharing, a voice of joy, wisdom, peace and beauty.

Just share the joys of all of the various holiday seasons as you pass others at home, at work, at the store. And even if it is only in a few words, delivered with a smile, you can share a bit of this magick that is the power of words simply by planting the seed with a voice that says, “Have a Happy Holiday, whatever yours may be.”

See what harvests come your way; you might just be pleasantly surprised.

Brightest Blessings!

The Power of the Individual

The Power of the Individual

Author: Crick   

As I walk into the comfort of the forest a deep sigh of relief escapes my lips. I find solace amongst the towering oak trees, which provides a much-needed break from the din of what passes for a pagan community.

With so many folks coming from the Abrahamic belief systems onto a path that is diametrically opposed to their former comfort zone, the tenets of paganism are becoming ever so blurred.
Many of those who call themselves Neo Pagans banter about words like acceptance, diversity, and individualism and ponder over what constitutes a pagan community. However the intent behind these words carries less weight than the gentle breeze that is now caressing my brow as I walk along a quiet wooded ridge.

For instance, the concept of community is one that has been borrowed from the Abrahamic belief systems and has absolutely no chance of becoming a reality amongst those who walk the pagan path. There are many reasons for this summation.

One of the largest stumbling blocks to community is the neo pagans themselves. True paganism is about individualism and yet there are some neo pagan groups that see their mission in life as being regarded as the ‘Pagan standard’, though they represent no one but themselves. And as their concept of self-importance as a group becomes broader and broader, the concept of individualism gets lost in the mix. And so the one tenet that would validate them as true pagans becomes more of a façade then reality.

Such groups make ridiculous claims that paganism has died out and they are re-creating the concept of paganism. Off in the distance a crow begins to caw, as if laughing at such a foolish declaration. The Deities, which pagans ascribe to, have never left us. It is not up to the Deities to validate Themselves. Rather it is up to humans to empower themselves through the lessons that have always been proffered by Deity.

The universal energy that pagans manifest to enhance their personal workings has been in place long before humankind took its first breath and will be here long after humankind takes its last breath. For such energy is not beholden to the whim of humans, and to claim that it was ‘re-discovered’ is at best a naïve statement.

Such neo pagan groups expend more energy trying to validate their perceived position in Paganism than they do recognizing the power of the individual. It is such hypocrisy that leads to the constant posturing of personal points of view and to “my group is more pagan then your group” attitudes.

But if one embraces individualism, then who cares?

Such groups waste so much energy trying to be validated and accepted by general society and by others who see themselves as pagans that they fail to see the hypocrisy that they are engaging in.

A prime example of this is the word “community”. Such a concept as envisioned by Neo pagans is fine for those of the Abrahamic belief systems for many of these folks, with some slight variations believe in pretty much the same concepts.

But in all reality, it is an oxymoron as far as paganism goes for several reasons.

The most obvious reason is that “community” implies a central leadership of some sort. If pagans are truly individuals, then such a centralized leadership will never work beyond the coven setting. Even within the coven setting, each member is an individual who has come together with other individuals for a common purpose. Leadership is based upon actual experience and wisdom, not self-declaring oneself as a leader as is often the case in neo-pagan groups.

Another observation is that far too often are the times I have seen a respected Elder from one group or area being ripped to shreds by members of another group who are just an hour or so away. Such a realistic and yet deplorable setting will forever doom such a divergent concept as community in regards to paganism.

But not all is lost as far as paganism if only folks are willing to put forth the effort.

Instead of mimicking the Abrahamic religious concepts — which by the way are fine for those folks that such an approach works for — why not strive to create a pagan society?

The difference between ‘community’ and ‘society’ as I see it is quite clear.

Instead of a central leadership as one would expect to find in a community, under a mystical society the average mindset would have to be adjusted to accepting that there are numerous divergent pagan paths, each with its own form of leadership and representatives (Elders) .

Of course, this would knock the legs out from under the elitist groups who claim to “be the one” or who see themselves as representing all pagan paths (not a very realistic assumption really) , but then if one is going to be a pagan and mouth the words diversity, acceptance and individualism, then actually embracing such concepts should be the norm rather then the exception as it is today in modern paganism.

But it doesn’t stop there.

For a pagan society to become a reality, those who would make up the membership of such a society have a responsibility as well. Such folks, whether they are solitaire, or belong to a gathering such as a coven, teaching group, what have you, must re-learn how to be actual individuals.

With so many coming from the Abrahamic belief systems, there is a tendency to keep the same ingrained habits as before. As a member of one of the Abrahamic belief systems, one is discouraged from being an individual, which is another tenet that is diametrically opposed to the tenets of paganism and yet is one that is often over-looked by modern pagans. Within such beliefs, folks are told when to stand, when to kneel, when to sing, and when to put their funds into the collection plate.

And granted, some of the Neo pagan groups follow the same pattern in their approach to paganism, but then again, old habits are hard to break and are in fact selling themselves short as far as the experiences that the mystical path holds for them.

But again, we each choose our own cup of tea.

In order to learn how to become an individual, one must be willing to tackle the lesson of the ego, for this is a major stumbling block to the creation of a true pagan “society”. How many self-described pagans I wonder actually take the time to look deep within one‘s self?

As individuals we bring a unique source of energy and power to the table as a whole. Each person has latent abilities that are just waiting to have the eons of detritus dusted off so that one can begin to grow spiritually again. We have become a community of followers and as such, these latent abilities have become buried in the layers of disuse.

Could you just imagine how creative and thriving a mystical society would be if each of its members re-learned such abilities and talents and then united in a loose way with others of such abilities?

With the albatross of ego out of the way, there would be room for common respect and thus a natural environment for learning and true spiritual growth, as paganism was meant to be and not as it is dictated today by this group or that who by their own actions have yet to learn these lessons and thus are more of a hindrance then a help.

The last hurdle that I want to touch upon is the misguided belief that paganism died out and was re-created. There are some groups out there who emphasize that we must practice paganism as it was done by our ancestors. This is yet another myth that creates a barrier to a mystical society. Paganism is about life and how it affects ones surroundings. It is about being tuned into those changes as they occur. Paganism is an ever-changing concept that reflects the current situation in the world.

The Egyptians did not practice as the Incas did, The Romans did not practice as the Celts did. Each society was affected in different ways by their environment and style of living.

Folks today do not build pyramids or ride chariots, therefore there are separate and “individual” needs as far as paganism of today goes. This myth that one must practice as those of 3, 000 years ago did, may serve the groups that engage in such a misguided belief, but it does little if anything in advancing real paganism amongst folks.

Also, in spite of such a common misconception, there are many societies today who have never left their pagan lifestyles as such. There are the Eskimos, members of the Yoruba, Bushmen of Australia, tribes in parts of Africa and South America, Shamans of Siberia and the Native Americans and so forth who have always held on and continue to practice their traditions without all of the hoopla that some Neo pagan groups seek for themselves as far as attention and exposure.

I see such groups as trying to create an elitist persona based upon their inability to control their egos. Such attempts serve as a stepping-stone for those new to paganism but not much more as far as any real substance when it comes to the introduction of a pagan society. For the society and many wonderful teachers are already in place by the folks mentioned above.

Neo pagans just need to realize this and move past the hype put out by those who want to just sell books or stroke their egos. Once the neo pagan part of paganism finds the maturity to move past such hurdles one will find that paganism is a wonderful world of exploration indeed. But it will take the power of the individual to move such a concept forward.

Are you a pagan individual?

10 Facts About Paganism and Wicca

10 Facts About Paganism and Wicca

By , About.com

There’s a lot of information out there on Paganism, including but not limited to Wicca, in books, on the Internet, and through local groups. But how much of it is accurate? How do you learn to separate the wheat from the chaff? The fact is, there are several basic things you should understand about Wicca and other forms of Paganism before you make the decision to join a new spiritual path. Let’s eliminate some of the misconceptions and talk about actual facts… it will make your spiritual journey all the more valuable if you understand these issues from the beginning.

1. Most Pagan Traditions Have Rules

Sure, a lot of people think that just because there’s no Grand High Pagan Council that there must be all kinds of magical carnage going on. Truth is, there are some fairly standard guidelines followed by a number of different Pagan traditions. While they vary from one group to the next, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the concepts. Learn more about the rules of magic before you continue your studies.

2. Not All Witches are Pagans are Wiccans

There are dozens of Pagan traditions, and as many different versions of Wicca. Not all are the same, and just because someone is a witch or Pagan doesn’t necessarily mean they practice Wicca. Learn about the differences in paths found among the umbrella term “Paganism.”

3. There’s No Pagan Dress Code

Contrary to what many popular movies might have you believe, you don’t have to be a teenage goth princess to be Pagan or Wiccan. In fact, you don’t “have to be” anything at all. Pagans come from all walks of life — they are parents and teens, lawyers, nurses, firefighters, waitresses, teachers and writers. They come from all different walks of life, all socioeconomic groups, and all sorts of racial backgrounds. There’s no Pagan Dress Code that says you have to toss away your polo shirt or khakis in favor of capes and an all-black wardrobe. On the other hand, if you prefer the goth look, go for it… just remember that goth and Pagan are not synonymous.

4. Religious Freedom Applies to Pagans Too

Believe it or not, as a Pagan you have the same rights as people of any other religion. Despite the fact that some members of other faiths might disapprove of the existence of Wicca and Paganism, the fact is that if you live in the United States, you’re entitled to protection just like anyone else. It’s against the law for anyone to discriminate against you because you practice an earth-based faith. Learn about your rights as a Pagan or Wiccan parent, as an employee, and even as a member of the United States military.

5. It’s Okay to Be Out of the Broom Closet… or Not

Countless numbers of Pagans have made the choice to “come out of the broom closet”… in other words, they’ve stopped hiding their spiritual path from others. For many people, this is a huge decision. You may feel that it’s not in your best interest to make your religious beliefs known, and that’s okay too. If you feel you could be in danger if you reveal that you are Pagan, or that it might put a strain on family relations, going public might be something you should postpone. Get all the pros and cons on coming out of the broom closet.

6. Pagans Are Not Satanists

Ask any Pagan about the cornerstone of their faith, and they’ll probably tell you it’s a reverence for their ancestors, a belief in the sacredness of nature, a willingness to embrace the Divine within ourselves, or an acceptance of polarity between the male and female. It may be a combination of those principles. It will not have anything to do with the Satan, Old Scratch, Beelzebub, or any of the other names attributed to the Christian devil. Pagans and Wiccans aren’t devil worshipers, Satanists, or Diabolists. Learn more about how Pagans and Wiccans feel about such an entity.

7. Join a Coven, or Practice Solitary?

Many Wiccans and Pagans choose to join a coven or study group because it allows them the chance to learn from like-minded people. It’s an opportunity to share ideas and get new perspectives on any number of things. However, for some folks it’s just more practical or desirable to remain as a solitary practitioner.

8. Parents and Teens

Nothing will set a teenager at odds with a parent quite like coming into the house wearing a giant pentacle, toting a candle, and yelling, “I’m a witch now, leave me alone!” Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. Parents, you may have some concerns about Wicca and other forms of Paganism… and teens, you probably aren’t sure how to talk to mom and dad about your new-found interest. Rest easy, though. With a little bit of good communication, both parents and teenagers should be able to find a happy medium.

9. You Don’t Need a Lot of Fancy Tools

Many people think they need to stock up on hundreds of dollars worth of incense, herbs, wands and candles before they can even begin to practice Wicca or Paganism. That’s simply not the case. While a few basic magical tools are nice to have, the key element of most traditions are the beliefs, not the tangible, physical items. If you’d like to gather a very basic “starter kit” of tools, there are several which are common to nearly every tradition.

10. You Can Write Your Own Spells and Rituals

Despite a commonly held (and generally Internet-based) belief to the contrary, anyone can write and cast a spell. The trick is to recognize what the key elements are to successful spellcrafting — intent or goal, components, and putting it into practice are all key. Don’t let anyone tell you that beginners can’t write a spell. Just like any other skill set, it will take some practice, but with a little work you can become a perfectly effective spellworker.

Living a Magical Life – Tips for Day to Day Magickal Living

Living a Magical Life

Tips for Day to Day Magical Living

By , About.com

 

People find themselves drawn to Paganism and Wicca for a variety of reasons. Some may be trying to escape some other religion. Others may be looking for a sense of personal empowerment. Still others may realize that the beliefs they’ve held all along are in tune with those of a Pagan path. Regardless, once you’ve found your new path, there comes a time when you may ask yourself “How can I make this spiritual system part of my daily life?”

Are you someone who thinks about the principles of your tradition all the time, or only when it’s convenient? If you honor a particular deity in your path, do you do so just on the eight Sabbats, but not bother the rest of the time? Are you constantly reading and learning, or do you figure everything you need to know is contained in the three books you already own? In other words, are you a “weekend Wiccan”?

Living a magical life is something that one does twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Depending on the needs of your tradition, it may involve something as complex as daily ritual, or as simple as taking a moment to thank your gods each morning when you get out of bed. It means being in tune with the spiritual world around you, and staying in balance physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Does this mean you need to run around shouting “The Goddess loves you!” all day long? Not at all… in fact, the rest of us would appreciate it if you didn’t do that. What it does mean is there’s a difference between seeing Paganism and Wicca as something you “do” versus something you believe.

How can you bring more magic into your daily life? Try one, or more, of the following — and if something doesn’t apply to your particular flavor of Paganism, don’t sweat it. Use what you need, and set the rest aside.

  • Pay attention to the phases of the moon. Know what’s happening in the skies, and notice how (or if) it affects the way you feel.
  • Recognize that you don’t know everything there is to know. Continue learning and growing, and be willing to accept that sometimes new knowledge will come from unexpected sources. Don’t assume that you’re always right, just because you’ve always done or thought something.
  • Show respect for nature — do things on a daily basis that are good for the planet. Recycle, compost, cut back on excess energy consumption. If you believe the earth is sacred, treat it as such.
  • Get in touch with the land. Plant a garden, study the changes of the seasons. Realize how good it feels to grow your own herbs and vegetables.
  • Be empowered. Know that you have control over many of the things that happen to you. If someone or something makes you miserable, make the changes that are necessary to bring yourself happiness.
  • Understand that just as you have control over your life, you are also responsible for your actions. Take ownership of everything you do — even if that includes admitting you’re wrong sometimes.
  • Find a way to honor the Divine in your daily life, rather than just at monthly Esbats or the eight Sabbats each year. Even if you just start your day with a morning “thank you” to your gods or to the universe itself, it’s not a bad thing to acknowledge the gifts that we have in our lives.
  • Behave in a way that is honorable — if you make a promise, keep it. If someone needs help and you can provide it, offer it.
  • When you do something, think about how you can use it in a magical application. For example, when you’re baking cookies, consider what sort of magical working you can incorporate into the recipe.
  • Consider the impact that your words and actions have on not only the environment, but also on other people and on yourself.

 

Wicca, Witchcraft or Paganism? What’s the Difference?

Wicca, Witchcraft or Paganism?

What’s the Difference, Anyway?

By , About.com

 

Wicca is a tradition of Witchcraft that was brought to the public by Gerald Gardner in the 1950s. There is a great deal of debate among the Pagan community about whether or not Wicca is truly the same form of Witchcraft that the ancients practiced. Regardless, many people use the terms Wicca and Witchcraft interchangeably. Paganism is an umbrella term used to apply to a number of different earth-based faiths. Wicca falls under that heading, although not all Pagans are Wiccan.

So, in a nutshell, here’s what’s going on. All Wiccans are witches, but not all witches are Wiccans. All Wiccans are Pagans, but not all Pagans are Wiccans. Finally, some witches are Pagans, but some are not.

If you’re reading this page, chances are you’re either a Wiccan or Pagan, or you’re someone who’s interested in learning more about the modern Pagan movement. You may be a parent who’s curious about what your child is reading, or you might be someone who is unsatisfied with the spiritual path you’re on right now. Perhaps you’re seeking something more than what you’ve had in the past. You might be someone who’s practiced Wicca or Paganism for years, and who just wants to learn more.

For many people, the embracing of an earth-based spirituality is a feeling of “coming home”. Often, people say that when they first discovered Wicca, they felt like they finally fit in. For others, it’s a journey TO something new, rather than running away from something else.

Paganism is an Umbrella Term

Please bear in mind that there are dozens of different traditions that fall under the umbrella title of “Paganism”. While one group may have a certain practice, not everyone will follow the same criteria. Statements made on this site referring to Wiccans and Pagans generally refer to MOST Wiccans and Pagans, with the acknowledgement that not all practices are identical.

Not All Pagans are Wiccans

There are many Witches who are not Wiccans. Some are Pagans, but some consider themselves something else entirely.

Just to make sure everyone’s on the same page, let’s clear up one thing right off the bat: not all Pagans are Wiccans. The term “Pagan” (derived from the Latin paganus, which translates roughly to “hick from the sticks”) was originally used to describe people who lived in rural areas. As time progressed and Christianity spread, those same country folk were often the last holdouts clinging to their old religions. Thus, “Pagan” came to mean people who didn’t worship the god of Abraham.

In the 1950s, Gerald Gardner brought Wicca to the public, and many contemporary Pagans embraced the practice. Although Wicca itself was founded by Gardner, he based it upon old traditions. However, a lot of Witches and Pagans were perfectly happy to continue practicing their own spiritual path without converting to Wicca.

Therefore, “Pagan” is an umbrella term that includes many different spiritual belief systems – Wicca is just one of many.

Think of it this way:

Christian > Lutheran or Methodist or Jehovah’s Witness

Pagan > Wiccan or Asatru or Dianic or Eclectic Witchcraft

As if that wasn’t confusing enough, not all people who practice witchcraft are Wiccans, or even Pagans. There are a few witches who embrace the Christian god as well as a Wiccan goddess – the Christian Witch movement is alive and well! There are also people out there who practice Jewish mysticism, or “Jewitchery”, and atheist witches who practice magic but do not follow a deity.

What About Magic?

There are a number of people who consider themselves Witches, but who are not necessarily Wiccan or even Pagan. Typically, these are people who use the term “eclectic Witch” or to apply to themselves. In many cases, Witchcraft is seen as a skill set in addition to or instead of a religious system. A Witch may practice magic in a manner completely separate from their spirituality; in other words, one does not have to interact with the Divine to be a Witch.

Basic Principles and Concepts of Wicca

Basic Principles and Concepts of Wicca

By , About.com

Introduction:

There’s an old saying that if you ask any ten Wiccans about their religion, you’ll get at least fifteen different answers. That’s not far from the truth, because with nearly half a million Americans practicing Wicca today, there are dozens — perhaps even hundreds — of different Wiccan groups out there. There is no one governing body over Wicca, nor is there a “Bible” that lays down a universal set of guidelines. While specifics vary from one tradition to the next, there are actually a few ideals and beliefs common to nearly all modern Wiccan groups.

Do keep in mind that this article is primarily focused on Wiccan traditions, rather than on the principles of non-Wiccan Pagan belief systems. Not all Pagans are Wiccans, and not all Pagan traditions have the same set of principles as the core beliefs of modern Wicca.

Origins of Wicca:

Wicca as a religion was introduced by Gerald Gardner in the 1950s. Gardner’s tradition was oathbound, initiatory, and secret. However, after a few years splinter groups began forming, and new traditions were formed. Today, many Wiccan groups owe their basic foundation to the principles laid out by Gardner. Wicca is not an ancient religion, but Gardner did incorporate some old esoteric knowledge into his original tradition, including Eastern mysticism, Kabballah, and British legend.

Who Is a Wiccan, and How Do You Find Them?:

Wiccans come from all walks of life. They are doctors and nurses, teachers and soccer moms, writers and firefighters, waitresses and computer programmers. In other words, anyone can be Wiccan, and people become Wiccan for many reasons. In fact, there are nearly half a million Wiccans in the United States today. As to where to find them, that might take a bit of digging — as a mystery religion that doesn’t proselytize or actively recruit, it can sometimes be difficult to find a group in your area. Never fear, though — the Wiccans are out there, and if you ask around enough, you’ll bump into one eventually.

Calling Upon the Divine:

Wicca acknowledges the polarity of the Divine, which means that both the male and female deities are often honored. A Wiccan may honor simply a non-specific god and goddess, or they may choose to worship specific deities of their tradition, whether it be Isis and Osiris, Cerridwen and Herne, or Apollo and Athena. In Gardnerian Wicca, the true names of the gods are revealed only to initiated members, and are kept secret from anyone outside the tradition.

Initiation and Degree Systems:

In most Wiccan covens, there is some form of initiation and a degree system. Initiation is a symbolic rebirth, in which the initiant dedicates themselves to the gods of their tradition. Typically, only an individual who has attained the rank of Third Degree dedicant may act as a High Priest or High Priestess. Study is required before an individual may advance to the next degree level, and often this is the traditional “year and a day” period.

Someone who is not a member of a coven or formal group may choose to perform a self-dedication ritual to pledge themselves to the gods of their path.

Magic Happens:

The belief in and use of magic and spellwork is nearly universal within Wicca. This is because for most Wiccans, there’s nothing supernatural about magic at all — it’s the harnessing and redirection of natural energy to effect change in the world around us. In Wicca, magic is simply another skill set or tool. Most Wiccans do use specific tools in spellcrafting, such as an athame, wand, herbs, crystals, and candles. Magical workings are often performed within a sacred circle. The use of magic is not limited only to the priesthood — anyone can craft and perform a spell with a little bit of practice.

The Spirit World is Out There:

Because the concept of an afterlife of some sort is typical in most branches of Wicca, there is a general willingness to accept interaction with the spirit world. Seances and contact with the unknown are not uncommon among Wiccans, although not all Wiccans actively seek communication with the dead. Divination such as tarot, runes, and astrology are often used as well.

What Wicca Isn’t:

Wicca does not embrace the concepts of sin, heaven or hell, the evils of sex or nudity, confession, Satanism, animal sacrifice, or the inferiority of women. Wicca is not a fashion statement, and you do not have to dress a certain way to be a “real Wiccan.”

Basic Beliefs of Wicca:

While not exclusive to every single tradition, the following are some of the core tenets found in most Wiccan systems:

  • The Divine is present in nature, and so nature should be honored and respected. Everything from animals and plants to trees and rocks are elements of the sacred. You’ll find that many practicing Wiccans are passionate about the environment.
  • The idea of karma and an afterlife is a valid one. What we do in this lifetime will be revisited upon us in the next. Part of this idea of a cosmic payback system is echoed in the Law of Threefold Return.
  • Our ancestors should be spoken of with honor. Because it’s not considered out of the ordinary to commune with the spirit world, many Wiccans feel that their ancestors are watching over them at all times.
  • The Divine has polarity — both male and female. In most paths of Wicca, both a god and goddess are honored.
  • The Divine is present in all of us. We are all sacred beings, and interaction with the gods is not limited just to the priesthood or a select group of individuals.
  • Holidays are based on the turning of the earth and the cycle of the seasons. In Wicca, eight major Sabbats are celebrated, as well as monthly Esbats.
  • Everyone is responsible for their own actions. Personal responsiblity is the key. Whether magical or mundane, one must be willing to accept the consquences — either good or bad — of their behaviour.
  • Harm none, or something like it. While there are a few different interpretation of what actually constitutes harm, most Wiccans follow the concept that no harm should intentionally be done to another individual.
  • Respect the beliefs of others. There’s no Recruiting Club in Wicca, and the Wiccans are not out to preach at you, convert you, or prosetylize. Wiccan groups recognize that each individual must find their spiritual path on their own, without coercion. While a Wiccan may honor different gods than you do, they will always respect your right to believe differently.