“THINK on THESE THINGS” for August 24

By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

It takes such a little whiff of memory to carry us all the way back. Small things tucked here and there remind us of some place, some thing, some person who has played a special part in our lives.

We want to go forward, try new things, know new people, visit new places, yet how nice to slip on those comfortable old slippers of the familiar bygones and remember loving faces and happy times.

It is said that we should never return to places that have a sacred spot in our memories. Everything changes with time, so little remains recognizable to us. We begin to think that perhaps those hallowed places were not so wonderful as we remember.

But they were, for in their time and that place it was as it should have been, happy and meaningful. They may have changed, but so have we.

A little of every place and every person goes with us in the building of even happier times. We have not lost anyone or anything but it is the combination of all that we have lived and learned that builds our character and teaches us the way of life.


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

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

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

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – August 24

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – August 24

“The mind’s eye changes the way we judge things.”

–Fools Crow, LAKOTA

“What you see is what you get.” Our head has inside it a movie projector that projects out from our foreheads and shines on a screen a picture of our true thoughts. This is our reality. We can only see what we project
(our beliefs). If we believe someone is a jerk, every time we see them we reflect our beliefs about what we think about that person and that is all we can see. Even if someone tells us this person is a kind, loving, caring, intelligent individual, we wouldn’t be able to see it. If we change our belief about them, that person will change and so will our judgment about that person.

My Creator, let me realize the power of choice. Let me see the advantages of changing my beliefs. Today, if I am judging my brother, let me change my beliefs to acceptance. If my thoughts are of anger, let me change them to love. Let my eyes only see you in everything and every person.

August 24 – Daily Feast

August 24 – Daily Feast

Never let another person tell you what to think and what to do. Start now to think things through and get ready for what you want. You have to be prosperous in your thinking long before you see the money. Your health must have the support of your mind and words before it can keep its good condition. You have to be lovable before anyone can love you. We think “instant” when it takes time. Remember the flower – first the bud and then the bloom, and all the steps that go in between. What do you want? See it now in your mind, and keep on seeing it so clearly that it becomes a treasure map. Enjoy looking at it and stop questioning whether it is going to work. It is your map – give it your attention.

~ We talk to Wakan Tanka and are sure he hears us. ~


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

The Daily Motivator for Aug. 24 – For the first time

For the first time

See the world for the first time today, fresh and new and full of hope. Marvel at the power of your own living spirit, as if you’ve never encountered it before.

Open yourself to the miracle that is your own existence in this moment. Let the truth that springs from every reality sink warmly into your soul.

Wake from the slumber of your past and feel the crisp breeze of awareness, as it heightens your senses and stirs your curiosity. Drink in the wonder of now as it flows through every step you take.

Delight in uncovering new ways to love what you’ve always loved. Realize that it is all good, and that you can make it more so.

Time is your friend and is coming to you now. This is your chance to show each moment your appreciation by filling it with your own special beauty.

Life is all in this moment, and really is as new and fresh and inspiring as you think it is. See the world for the first time today, and give all the joy you’ve been so eager to give.

— Ralph Marston
The Daily Motivator

Daily OM for August 24 – Fragments of the Self

Fragments of the Self
Meeting of the Minds

by Madisyn Taylor

We all have many aspects to ourselves – integrating these parts into wholeness is an important step in healing.

Sometimes it feels as if we have many different people living inside of us, expressing themselves in voices that seem distinct from one another. There is the inner child with its wants and needs, the angry voice that expresses its opinion and probably several more as well. With all these different parts of ourselves express differing desires and needs and opinions, we may begin to feel as if we have no clarity. It is difficult to know which voices to pay attention to and which ones to ignore or dismiss. Even if we manage to move forward amidst the confusion, doubts and concerns may linger in our psyches simply because they have not been fully expressed and examined. As a result, we may have trouble being at peace with the decisions we do make.

One way to handle this dilemma is to consciously make time for a meeting of the minds within our psyche. This can be done as a guided meditation or as a journaling exercise. In both we can summon the many fragments that make up the whole of who we are and give them each a chance to speak. This can be a helpful tool in the face of a decision we need to make, and it can also be a fruitful path to take in the interest of self-exploration and self-care. When we gather the many fragments of our psyche together, the health and power of the whole is greatly increased.

We can imagine a roundtable in which we gather all the various representatives of our being, allowing them to name themselves and giving them a chance to speak. We allow each one to weigh in, fully expressing the perspective they represent, and we listen without comment. As we listen, we may be amazed at the wisdom and energy stored in these fragments of our self. This gathering brings the fragmented pieces of our psyche into a closer relationship, enabling us to move forward as a unified whole. 


Daily OM

Mythology of a Southern Witch

Mythology of a Southern Witch

Author: Seba O’Kiley   

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable, I sound my barbaric YAWP over the roofs of the world. — Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

I am the Southern Kitchen Witch. I am the stuff of legends and myth, honeysuckle and red-clay dirt. In my small frame, I carry the histories of my people: Celt Irish, Cherokee and African heritages that manifest in small fires, fried okra and the tribal beat of a semi-tropic sunset. My people are both the backbone of a continental history and the brunt of a universal myth that hints at ignorance and simplicity. But history has lied to you before.

My grandmother lived along a country river, just under the Tennessee line, and cooled her milk in a stream. She renamed (or re-spelled) herself in the sixth grade, quit school to pick cotton and came right back to “learnin” out of a deep need to “better” herself and her people. Her own folks were farmers and builders, and from that heritage, she became a self-taught blueprint artist and landowner of her own right. Let’s be clear here: my people had goat stews and said “ain’t, ” spit “chaw” and put the evil eye on you if you weren’t right. Somewhere down the line, someone decided that this denoted ignorance. As my dear Grandma once told me: we talk slow so as you can understand us. There’s much to say between the lines.

You see, our cadence and diction have little to do with our intellect or spirit other than the sweet, syrupy transference for which it allows. We have spawned several Presidents, dealt harshly with our demons and even held down an army or two in defense of our historical architecture. I was the first in my line to earn a doctorate — not on account of my ancestor’s lack of intelligence, but rather their lack of new money and time away from the fields. There exist within me two voices: one down-home, countrified low-river gal and one highly educated, trans-atlantically published sharp academe. Pick one? Hell, naw. Like any goddess, I refuse fracture. I am all things and one, the tenacious echo of the Divine, myth personified. It is a subject that both “chaps my bum” and “intrigues my sensibilities, ” but both are me. I label myself Southern and Witch and Dr. and Mom. Today, these things are Seba. When I am gone? Myth.

But what of this earthly phenomenon? Why this primal need for naming, signification, legend and myth?

Recently, my (Pagan) students and I were waxing long in front of a fire on the subject of myth. It was probably the most exhausting lesson I have ever thrown down on a hearth (literally, fire and all) but was worth every deep breath and three cheap bottles of red. As a Hereditary, I cannot divulge much–but I can note the obvious. Lacanian theory speaks of the signifier and the signified, the psychological need (born of desire) to name that which is illusive, transitory and slippery. [1] As Pagans, I believe that this concept is not one that denotes weakness or ego, but rather is a critical tool in our endeavors to surpass the somewhat rigid boundaries of the physical realm. We, as humans, need this tool–and you can’t get it at Lowes. As careful as I am with Christian sensibilities, I will forge into territory that may or may not be offensive. However, there comes a time for truth-telling and unadulterated bravery, so here we go.

30, 000 years ago, a diminutive statue was formed by Paleolithic man. [2] Her name, given by her excavators, is “Venus of Willendorf.” While other, larger, statues have been found as far as Siberia, the diminutive stature of most Goddess images have been noted by scholars as intriguing. How could a people emblazon their Holy One in such a small frame? Ah, well. Most of my Christian friends would tell you that they understand their Higher Power as fantastic in size, looming large over their world (usually, not universe) and a bit reserved in His demeanor unless provoked. I have noticed, in my teachings of expatriate Christians, a certain sense of removal from their access to the Divine and have queried that this phenomenon is due, in part, to those early religious sanctions. “He” is all knowing, I remember hearing, easily angered and removed from His people by the hierarchy of a chosen half-human child and a ghost or two. “We” are in a state of terror from birth that there awaits a scathing hell into which we could be cast for loving the wrong flesh, saying the wrong words, or even wearing the wrong t-shirt. “God” is, to use an analogy, THE FORCE. One does not sit down and chat with THE FORCE. In effect, He is unsignifed–and for some of us humans, this breeds terror.

The problem for a large faction of us rebellious souls is our need for a bit more materiality–a little more personal, please, when our souls are on the line. Michel Foucault, a French theorist, wrote that the “rule of materiality that statements necessarily obey is therefore the order of the institution rather than of the spatio-temporal localization; it defines possibilities of reinscription and transcription, ” and this, my friends, is what myth exists to do. [3] In layman’s terms this means that: what has been named can be co-opted. What has been co-opted can be then reclaimed.

Once upon a time, as Merlin Stone points out in When God Was a Woman, there was a Female Divine. [4] A “barbaric yawp, ” as Walt Whitman would put it, sounded through peoples across continents long before Facebook and MTV. [5] She had names, so many they cannot be listed here, and held an interpersonal relationship with her subjects. Sure, there were priests and priestesses, medicine women and soothsayers, but these were the equivalent of wise ones whose purpose were to be the conduit, if you will, rather than the police of spirituality. Foucault’s “rule of materiality” applies neatly to ancient understandings of the Great Mother: so expansive, so omnipotent, she allowed herself to be signified in order that her subjects could better reach her, hear her, feel her. There was a time before myth and a place before ours that allowed for the human condition: fallible, faltering and in deep, abiding need for signification. Why was she depicted in such small form? Why, to carry her, my dear. You see, a goddess doesn’t need to impress you. You need to impress Her.

Then what of myth? Why have these amalgams, legends and analogies to reach the Great Divine? Ah. Because we are still in this physical realm. We are signifiers, storytellers, history builders and operate in linguistic patterns that our subconscious demands if it is to participate on a higher plane. Let me give you an example:

I create a lesson that explains why we need a “name” for our goddess.

I get confused looks, scuffling feet and scribbling pens.

I turn to an analogy, the cousin of myth (very Southern of me, yes?) that relies upon the movie Men in Black. [6] “The universe is on Orion’s bell.” How can something that, um, phantastmatically GRAND be so small? (See the Christian upbringing here?)

It’s simple, really. Why would “It” be removed from its subjects? The only thing small here, folks, is our mind. Women walk around every day with glorious, little microcosmic moon cycles in their core that wax and wane, go full and go black. Men, it’s been proven, have mini-cycles within the course of one day. We have always harbored the universe, grand and omnipotent and strange and beautiful, within us. Why would She mind a little signification? We are Her echo, after all, in bloody, breakable flesh.

I remember a movie from 1991 called The Butcher’s Wife. [7] Like any movie that has a reference to Pagan precepts, it did not do well at the box office. Yet, there was this moment, on a rooftop, when Demi Moore explains the existence of the human belly button as the scar of the separation of man from woman. It was riveting. Of course, it also was unscientific, ridiculously impossible and utterly born of myth. I sat and cried for an hour with a bottle of Jim Beam. You see, myth breaks my heart in a way that science does not. I have this theory that science is our own millennial mythology: provable, measurable, crystallized myth. Do I know it’s true? Why, yes. Am I primally torn at the fracture of science from its ontology? More. Touch me; I’m real. Cut me, I bleed. Love me . . . I’m legend. Prove that, I dare you. And take note: I’m 5’2 and 124 pounds, soaking wet. See?

I’m as small as a bell around a cat’s neck and still throb like a universe. I am signified.

Which brings us ’round to our original musings: why myth? Why signification?

I’ve always felt that it is the inherent right (or rite) of a soul to signify its own self, rather than exist as the victim of signification. We are untranslatable until we translate ourselves. I cannot imagine a Goddess in need of the same, for She is already, well, everything. Translating her is our need, not the other way around. Indeed, on this plane of existence, we crave myth as the signification of our heritage, of our transcendence and of our paths. Myth is our secret weapon, you see, the Orion’s bell around our neck that holds the universe.

And just for good measure and some final signification of all the myth that I embody:

Y’all know that thump in your core that smells like home and sounds like buffalo? Have you felt the way your soul heals right up when you eat butter smeared on homemade bread or nestle yourself under a worn quilt? Seen someone you love smile with the sun laying down on his or her face all gold and worn in the late afternoon? That’s the echo of the Divine. That’s Southern. And down here, we share myth like it’s homemade wine and signify you as kin.

Blessed Be,

Seba (aka Dr. PD)


1. I am particularly working with Lacanian theories of the signifier as it relates to psychoanalytic studies of desire. This theory was originally attributed to Saussure. See: Saussure, Ferdinand de. Course in General Linguistics (trans. Wade Baskin) . London: Fontana/Collins, 1974. Also see: Gates, Henry Louis. African American Literary Criticism, 1773 to 2000. ed. Hazel Arnett Ervin. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1999: 261.

2. I find it altogether fascinating that many, if not most, of found Paleolithic sculptures and drawings of the Goddess had tapered or nonexistent feet. While we, as humans, must “ground” in order to find balance, She is always already embedded in her earth.

3. Foucault, Michel. “The Order of Discourse, ” The Rhetorical Tradition: Readings from Classical Times to the Present 2nd Ed (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2001) , 1458.

4. Stone, Merlin. When God Was a Woman. Florida: Harcourt Brace and Company, 1976.

5. Whitman, Walt. “Song of Myself, ” Leaves of Grass. Philadelphia: David McKay, 1900.

6. Men in Black. Dir. Barry Sonnenfeld. Columbia Pictures, 1997. This particular line was misheard as “Orion’s Belt.”

7. The Butcher’s Wife. Dir. Terry Hughes. Paramount Pictures, 1991.

Mysticism’s Effect Upon The World

Mysticism’s Effect Upon The World

Author: Stewart Bitkoff  

Q: Is the completed person, one who has achieved God Consciousness, a God? This is what some traditions claim. Can you clarify this point?

Since I have heard of the world of Love,
I’ve spent my life, my heart
And my eyes this way.
I used to think that Love
And Beloved are different.
I know they are the same.
~ Rumi

First, we must discuss limitations on our discussion. The claims of different traditions have to be viewed from within that tradition. It is very difficult for an observer to understand or fully comprehend what is operating unless the observer has first hand experience; we operate under the assumption that all faiths are true at a certain level.

Also, it is very difficult to put into words a spiritual state, or a spiritual level that one has not yet attained. However, useful comparisons may be made. Last, we must take into account historical perspective. When each of the great faiths was initiated and when the title of ‘god’ was conferred, the term may have meant something a little different than what it means today in our monotheistic culture. Many cultures acknowledge the existence of spiritual entities that govern plants, forests, and mountains. In these traditions, there are different levels of ‘gods’ and ‘gods’ for natural phenomena.

With our strides in science and present focus upon exploration of self and religion, we are beginning to understand some of these miraculous ‘phenomena’ as extensions of natural laws. Interestingly enough, that is what the wise ones have always said concerning their ‘miracles.’

The outcome of all mystery traditions and human development systems is the completed person. In some traditions, these spiritually developed individuals are called Buddha, Sadhu, and enlightened one, servant of God, saint, witch, mystic, or heretic. Yet, what each of these people has in common is they have achieved a level of spiritual development, which in the context of their faith, is extraordinary. Along with this level of spiritual development are capacities that appear miraculous, simply because they are not understood. Yet, the person who uses these capacities, when questioned, describes them as extensions of natural laws, which they intuitively and purposefully direct to carry out higher functions.

Also, part of the confusion surrounding this issue comes about due to specific statements made by individuals who were deemed highly spiritually developed. Some of these statements were termed heretical and people were executed for making them.

Part of the mystical path, is a state, called annihilation. In this state, the worldly consciousness is annihilated or destroyed and the spirit is unified (unification occurs-another state) and briefly becomes one with Truth/God. In this state, should the person speak and sometimes the energy is so strong and joyous, they assert out loud, “I Am The Way.” Or “I Am The Truth.”

When this happens, it is not the person speaking, but the spirit or energy that is moving through them, asserting itself. This energy is the Logos, or Spirit of God; for this energy, or Light, is the binding force of the universe and is the Way and the Truth. It is suggested that Jesus, in part, was killed for making this statement. Similarly, a Muslim Saint, Al-Hallaj was disemboweled for making this claim.

From our perspective, that which is greater than the universe is different than that which enters it and is created. Although a part of God is in everyone, no matter how well advanced a spiritual entity; we are not the Creator or the same as the Creator.

Some traditions assert the Logos takes on a human form to carry out its mission. Perhaps, this is true and this is a wonderful event, however, is this the same as the Creator entering the world of forms? Each must come to a decision about this on their own, and, it is suggested, the event be viewed within the context of the specific faith asserting this.

Q: What is mysticism?

All creation is calling upon God. You cannot hear or see it on the outside, but the essence in everything is continuously remembering and calling upon God.
~ Sheik Muzaffer

Mysticism is the process by which one studies or learns about the mysteries or mystery traditions. Within each of the great faiths, there is an inner, hidden teaching that is transcendent and unifying. The reason this teaching is hidden is that in order to study it, a number of factors have to be in place. Until recently, these factors were not publicly stated or attempts made to have them publicly understood. In the past, the study of this material, if publicly known, often resulted in death.

When viewed from a distance, these criteria are applicable to any human endeavor. Let us suppose we wanted to take a class and learn about fly-fishing. We would have to find out what time the class was starting, where it was being held, and who was teaching the class and what preparations necessary. Was the class for beginners or more advanced students?

It is the same with mystical studies; however, in this endeavor one other factor is operating. This is termed sincerity and relates to the intention of the student. If the student wishes to align with Truth, not for individual gain, but for its own sake, these are the students who attain, and it is this sincerity the teacher calls to and recognizes in the student. Because of this inner condition, it is tradition, the teacher finds the student.

Throughout this writing, some of this alternative, or mysterious view of things, has been offered. Simply stated it is the natural process of spiritual/higher development and this added spiritual knowledge/capacity enables the best for everyone.

At various times, this view has been banned and its practitioners killed, because some felt this knowledge was a threat. Today, in our more open society this view is again being made public, is more accessible, and travelers continue to benefit.

Q: How can the mystical view help our modern world? No matter what you assert, how can this be the way it is meant to be; it’s a real mess out there.

When the paintings are hidden, you will see the Painter. O brother/sister, I will tell you the mystery of mysteries. Know, then, that painting and Painter are one! When your faith is made perfect, you will never see yourself, save in Him.

According to mystical tradition, this mystical or holistic view is the balancing factor. It is the missing ingredient and the pot of gold at rainbow’s end. This viewpoint balances the needs of the individual with the need of the larger society; it reconciles the differences in religious philosophy and the spiritual experience of the Light is unifying and life changing.

If you perceive the world as in a state of confusion, remember the following. That what you see before you is a stage in evolution; we are evolving into something higher. Each has a contribution to make; that is part of the journey. What will be your contribution? Remember each contribution is necessary for the completed work.

If you do not believe these claims, test them out yourself and, in time, the world will become a better place, one person at a time.

Contentment is putting aside of free will.
~ Junaid
Also by Dr. Bitkoff, A Commuter’s Guide to Enlightenment, Llewellyn, 2008 and Journey of Light: Trilogy, Authorhouse, 2004. These books are available on Amazon.Com or from publisher.

To contact author go to: http://www.stewartbitkoff.com or e-mail: goldpath@ptd.net.

My Earth, My Religion

My Earth, My Religion

Author: Chrysalys  

Though I still consider myself a novice, the Mother Earth has been the focal point of my spiritual and religious views since I can remember. I was raised in a small coal-mining town in rural southern WV where evidence of repeated acts of maliciousness were evident all around. Mining companies would take a beautiful mountainside and strip it of all the covering. The trees would be trucked away to sawmills to build more scabs upon her green skin. The rocks and soil were mutilated into mush that could easily be swept away from the scene. Great gaping holes lay uncovered in the forest splendor for all to see. Some of the wounds are still there thirty-five years later. Ponds filled with sludge from the mines dotted the landscape and in heavy rains would overflow or burst, killing not only the surrounding landscape but many human beings and animals as well. Seeing these things as a young child made a part of me dislike – even hate – progress and those who brought it. But life was only just beginning; there was much more treachery to see.

Eventually, government stepped in and required large mining companies to “make it pretty” once again. However, the once majestic views of the mountain ranges near my home were now spattered with the ever-growing menace that was society. Slowly I watched her elegant hardwoods and gracefully sloping mountains scab over with our culture’s ideas of progress. The effect was disheartening for a teenage girl seeking answers about the stirrings within. It would take 20 years to heal those scars on my soul.

I moved from my small town of less than 500 people to the large, booming metropolis of Baltimore at the age of 16. Alone and thinking that I knew everything there was to know, I started upon my search for who I really was and what life was all about. All that concrete was hard to take. The sky would look like rain for days or weeks before it would rain. The stars were hidden behind a canopy of smog and debris from the city. I was miserable here, but kept on looking for what it was that called to me. Every chance I got I went into the countryside near Baltimore. Every week there was less and less of that to go to. I felt trapped inside a concrete tomb, smothering from the lack of my beautiful sky.

I moved again, to the more suburban part of the county and then again to another county. Each move took me to “greener pastures” only to find those pastures consumed once again by progress. I became frantic at times wandering just how far humanity would take this. More and more houses. More and more cars. More and more concrete. The rainwater had nowhere to go. Streets flooded; homes were destroyed. Soon my little country town had become the city I had run from. So, I moved again…

This time we moved far out into the country (we thought) to the Eastern Panhandle of WV – the opposite end of the state where I grew up. It was lovely! Green fields with cattle, horses, gardens… These kind folks loved their countryside too and vowed to fight for it. And they have, but to no avail. The residents voted against changing the county regulations that would change zoning and make things easier for land developers from the big cities to come in and make paradise a parking lot. But the county government did it anyway. Soon, where once a 3,000-acre cattle farm, which spanned over 250 years, will be a series of housing developments, strip malls and concrete. My heart cries for her once again. How can we keep what is rightfully ours when our government doesn’t listen to the voices of it’s people? It is indeed a sad day for us all.

I try to allow for the majority who are ignorant of what they do; most are just mimicking what they have seen or heard. I suppose the most upsetting thing is having someone you know desecrate her by polluting the water, the land or the air. I have lost many who called themselves friends by standing my ground in her defense. I suppose I shall lose more before my time here is done.

As time has passed, I have come to terms (to a degree) with humanity’s progress in the world. Petitioning for understanding is a daily task for it is difficult for this 40-ish Pagan to digest. Even picking a flower or pruning a tree is a religious task for I do not want to harm any of the creatures that dwell here. The utmost care is taken in the garden, the yard, the roads… they are my temple. I feel most at home in a field or forest rather than inside a building. When I see someone littering or perhaps come upon a space that has been strewn with debris I pray that the ones who do these things will come to know the pain and disgrace that they have caused in hopes that someday these things will no longer come to pass. I often wander if perhaps some of my own misfortune is not but the law of three returning to me what I have sent. No intention of harm is sent, only the love that I have for the Mother. But I will not stop petitioning. Better that I suffer a little misfortune now and again than to have my temple destroyed.

But who am I to point a finger? I am but one of her many children who mourn all the atrocities which befall her each and every day. If there were to be only one day in which all of the bad things would stop, only one day in which no business, person, company or corporation, no government, no country could do anything to hurt my beautiful, precious Mother Earth, what would become of progress? Would the world as we know it end? Sounds like paradise to me.

Bubble, Bubble, toil and trouble… .

Blessings & Peace,

Teresa Dawn

Purification in All of Its Forms

Purification in All of Its Forms

Author: Taylor Ellwood  

I had to laugh when I saw what Witchvox’s latest topic was…purification. I laughed because over Imbolc I’ve been involved in a highly unusual purification ritual. So the timing was naturally appropriate for writing an article about purification. A disclaimer to those who read this article: My approach to purification may sound bizarre, but please be open-minded enough to realize that it works for me. It may not work for you, but it works for me.

Let me tell you that purification comes in all forms and approaches for magick. There is purification that is done daily and there is purification that is done for special occasions. There are extreme forms of purification and there are forms of purification that are simple and yet nonetheless do the job. What is purification? Purification is the grounding of yourself, as well as the protection you make for yourself on your spiritual and physical levels. It is the closure you create when you finish a ritual and disperse the energies you work and it is also the affirmation of your own energy.

Does purification really make you pure? Purification purges you of energy that is not your own energy, so in a sense it purifies you. I think though that purification is more of an affirmation of your identity, a way of grounding your identity back into reality. Consider that when we do magick, we do ritual; we create around ourselves a different space, a different way of thinking. The purification is necessary to ground you back into yourself, ground you back into reality.

Of course the energy that is purified from you has to go somewhere else. And it does. The energy you work with goes back to where it is from. Now whether that energy is a godform, or elemental energy, or something else, it still has a place it returns to. The point of ritual is to create interaction. The point of purification is to return everything where it belongs.

But what if purification is used for more than just a ritual where you invoke a godform? For instance what if you’re purifying yourself, and doing so not to disperse energy, but actually to deal with an issue or emotion that comes from you? Or to purge yourself of your own energy for the purpose of cleaning house, so that you can achieve a different perspective of yourself and the connections you have with others?

Purification is different then. Purification is the means by which you begin the process of facing yourself, begin the ritual to change yourself and grow from the situation you are in. And purification, when it occurs like this, can take an unusual approach.

I mentioned earlier in the essay that’d I’d been doing a purification ritual earlier this week. My purification ritual lasted for two days and involved, among other things, willingly poisoning myself to stimulate a state of near death. Now no doubt you read this and you think he’s crazy…that isn’t purification…but it is. Purification is any process, which allows you to establish closure and move on from a situation. I’ll come back to this in a bit.

How often should you do purification? It really depends on you. I do purification every day when I get up, exercise and then meditate. I start my purification by first calling the Reiki energy to me. After that I do a Chinese energy induction ritual, followed by some Tibetan techniques and then finally lie down in the corpse pose and use pranayamic breathing, focusing on calling up the energy within me so that when it comes and pushes the other energy, the energy of everything else away from me, allowing me to establish and center myself. I do this every day if I can, though occasionally my work schedule will interfere. I know the days I don’t purify myself I don’t feel as focused.

But let’s get back to the ritual I mentioned. I’d said I’d intentionally poisoned myself. There is a magickal tradition called the path of poison. One of the ideas behind it is that purification can be achieved through the poisoning of the self, and the consequential purging of the self. Now if you think about it, this actually makes sense. The reason it makes sense is simple. When you get sick what does your body do? It sweats the toxins out. Sometimes you get sick because of the build up of toxins over time. Your body sweats the toxins out and purifies you in an effort. Now apply this to yourself on a spiritual level. Sometimes we need to sweat our spiritual toxins out. The path of poison is one way to do this.

I rarely use the path of poison, but sometimes it is useful. For this ritual I did not actually take any physical poison, but I nonetheless induced a state of near death in my physical body through what I call inner alchemy. Inner alchemy is the ability to manipulate your physiology. This can be done. Read John Lilly’s Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer, if you don’t believe me. Also check out Hereward Carrington and Sylvan Muldoon’s book The Art of Astral Projection, which has in it an exercise that teaches you how to control your heart beat rate. If you can learn how to control your heart beat rate, why not be able to learn how to alter your physiology?

For my purification I did just that, poisoning my body, expunging out of it both the physical and spiritual toxins that needed to be ejected. And then from there I continued my ritual. The ritual was a death-rebirth ritual. The idea was to create a state of near death, to experience as it were, the ending of a life, and then the rebirth of that life, after a period of time. For those actually interested in learning more about the ritual check out my livejournal, which provides some of the details for the ritual. Read the posts from February 1st through the 3rd. Go to http://www.livejournal.com/users/teriel/. Now I realize that the ritual sounds extreme, but bear in mind that it worked for me, and gave me the purification I needed.

The purpose of the ritual was to cleanse myself of my own energy, to attain a state of zero, of being everything and nothing, for a little while, to gain some perspective on myself and situations I was facing. I wanted to establish equilibrium in my life and I felt this ritual was the best way to do it. So I poisoned myself and then two days later I brought my essence, my energy back into being. And I felt purified in a number of ways. I felt that I had purged my body of toxins, because although I poisoned myself, my body now had an urgent need to clear out what was affecting it. I felt purified energetically and perceptively. I was able to view my situations from a completely different perspective because the state of mind I was in for two days was essentially one that had nothing to do with my personality of Taylor and all of its hang ups, but rather was one that was objective, clinical, and removed enough to provide perspective. And finally when the rebirth occurred, that is the essence of my energy, my personality was reabsorbed into me I had those perspectives as well as a renewed appreciation for life. Admittedly it was extreme, but not as extreme as some cultural purifications go.

What I know ultimately in the end is that purification comes through all kinds of methods. Look at any culture and you will find some method of purification. Some methods are even more extreme than mine, but all of them work.

Taylor Ellwood

Purification and Harmony

Purification and Harmony

Author: RuneWolf 

To be honest, I gave up on purification, per se, quite a few years ago.

Now, I didn’t just wake up one morning and say to myself, “Self, we aren’t going to do that whole purification thingy anymore.” Rather, my whole concept of what constituted purity changed, over the course of time, as a result of the evolution of my personal life philosophy and spirituality.

What actually occurred was a shift in my thinking from dualistic to monistic thinking. It is in dualistic thinking that we find polarized and incompatible concepts such as pure and impure. These concepts are, for most people, very binary: you are either pure or you are impure, there are no shades of gray. Same goes for an object, a physical location, etc. Hence we have rituals in many religions and cultures, to purify everything from our bodies to our foods, our living and working spaces, our tools, our objects of worship, our thoughts, feelings and emotions and so on.

Having been raised in dualistic thinking, I naturally brought a lot of that baggage to Paganism with me, notwithstanding years of exposure to Taoist philosophy, which is fairly – although not purely – monist in its approach. (Taoist internal alchemy deals quite a bit with the “purification” of the physical and energetic bodies, to achieve full potential, health and long life.) In my early Pagan practice, I performed elaborate rituals to purify everything from my mind to my athamé, seeking through that purification to become somehow more “worthy” of communion with Deity. This is, of course, an obvious holdover from my Christian upbringing, wherein one must be “pure and without sin” in order to be loved and accepted by God.

Over the years, however, my philosophy and my beliefs have changed a fair bit. While I now recognize that physical and spiritual pollutants do exist, and often cannot be ignored for obvious reasons of physical and spiritual health, I’m more concerned with harmony than purity.

Energy is energy: It is neither good nor evil, white nor black, mine nor yours. It simply is. “Positive energy” and “negative energy” are simply two ways of describing different frequencies, if you will, of energy. In the case of electricity, “positive” and “negative” are simply descriptions of the direction in which electrons flow. The electrons themselves remain, simply, electrons. And “flow” is, in this context, a synonym for harmony. We often hear the same case made regarding magick: There is no “black” or “white” magick; there is only the intent behind the use of the basic technology and energy. Indeed, careless application of helpful magick can have very harmful consequences for the user and/or the recipient.

I have lead and participated in rituals wherein great lengths were taken to “banish all negativity” from the ritual space, the tools and the celebrants. But what would that really have accomplished? In a religion where the “balance of Nature” is sacred, isn’t a “positive only” environment a bit, well, unbalanced? And I’m not talking about one or two rituals in a brief period of time – like many of us, I did this consistently for years.

Until one day, as it so often happens, someone brought my attention to what I was really doing. I’m not sure, in retrospect, if that individual was an author, an email correspondent, or even someone in the Pagan community – it might well have been an outsider commenting, objectively, on our practices and beliefs. Whatever the case, when it was pointed out to me in that fashion, I had one of those “V-8” moments. (By the way, be very careful when slapping yourself in the forehead whilst holding a ritual blade…)

It was a true moment of clarity in which I realized that my practice and my philosophy were not in congruence. I professed to believe in the fundamental interconnectedness of Everything, and yet sought in my rituals to exclude, to cut myself off from, a sizable chunk of Everything.

And yet, I cannot simply open myself up to and blithely accept all of the physical, emotional and spiritual energy that comes my way, just as I cannot consume just any old solid or liquid that is placed in front of me. Some of those substances may harmonize with my physical being, whilst some may not, with extremely serious consequences. In the Dune books, the Bene Gesserit “witches” are said to have the ability to alter ingested poisons to nullify their effects. I have yet to develop that ability, and won’t be holding my breath until I do so. However, I do have the ability to do something of the sort with energy that is directed at me, whether by other individuals or the environment itself.

At the most basic level, I have some skill at dealing with negative physical energy directed at me: I can (hopefully) redirect or deflect a physical attack, or get out of the way of a falling or hurtling object. Failing the above, I can roll with the punch or break-fall, to dissipate the energy. In each of these instances, what I am really doing is harmonizing my physical energy with the incoming energy. To simply accept that energy as it is might well be disastrous, and the same might be said of resisting it directly, i.e. meeting the incoming energy with equal energy of an “opposite polarity.”

The same concepts apply to emotional energy: I can meet anger with anger and the energy remains polarized, or I can attempt to meet anger with compassion, and encourage harmonization. I can choose to react to dysfunctional behavior, or I can deflect it with detachment and love.

So when I find myself full of “negative spiritual energy,” what I am really saying is that I am full of dissonant energies that have accumulated from many sources. I can attempt to “purify” (i.e. rid) myself of these energies, but if all energy is basically the same, am I not expending energy to get rid of energy? What sense does that make? And what do I use as the baseline for determining what “dissonant” or “impure” is? My own “personal” spiritual energy? What if I’m having a really bad day? What if I am physically, emotionally or mentally ill? Do I really want to use my personal baseline to judge what is good for me and what is not? Might I not then end up “purifying” myself of energies that I really need, but that only feel “negative” because they aren’t in harmony with my unhealthy baseline? (Now you know why the topic reads as it does…)

Rather than attempting to purify myself of dissonant energies, I now attempt to substitute the process of harmonizing those energies within myself, my tools and my sacred space. To be blunt, if I am getting ready to curse somebody (hopefully someone who actually deserves it), I want my self, my tools and my ritual space filled with pure hate and/or anger, so that I may make the most “productive” use of that particular frequency of energy. In my current martial arts practice, we focus a lot on harnessing the fear, anger and hatred that are evoked in us by an unprovoked assault – we consciously and purposefully grab onto that pure “negative” energy, and use it to fuel our defense and counterattack.

To use another martial arts analogy (RuneWolf? Martial arts analogy? Say it ain’t so…), it takes more energy and less skill to block a punch than to redirect it, whereas it takes somewhat more skill, but significantly less energy, to deflect or redirect an attack. This is one of the fundamental reasons why people, on the whole, advance faster in arts such as karate than in those like aikido. It is my experience, and my contention, that it takes more energy and less skill to banish unwanted energies than to harmonize existing energies into a homogenous construct, and that in banishing such energies, to whatever degree we are successful, we are really depriving ourselves of the true harmony inherent in the multiverse.

Again, my practice does not ignore the existence and effects of physical, emotional and spiritual contaminants. But, on the whole, physical impurities tend to be more problematic, and at the same time easier to deal with. One cannot “harmonize” with rotten food – it’s a lost cause. Nor can one really “harmonize” with contaminated drinking water. The water is fine as it is – it feels no need or desire to change. But we must change it, i.e. filter or chemically alter it, in order to make use of it. But the odds are higher that I will suffer immediate and drastic consequence from rotten food or impure water than I will from anger, spite and bitter words. And yet, over time, even those can have serious repercussions if not addressed.

When I have the chance, I use seawater in my rituals. Does it need to be “purified?” It is the blood of the Great Mother – whether it is laden with industrial contaminants or not, it is what She gave to me when I filled that container. Would it not be arrogant of me to believe that I can somehow make it better by my nattering formulas? And yet, even if it were the purest of ocean waters from the Abyssal Plain itself, I still couldn’t drink it without getting sick. So how pure is it really?

Makes your head hurt, doesn’t it?

Another aspect of ritual purification that I am not discounting is that of “setting the mood.” As with so many of the things we do before and during ritual, acts of purification can enhance and help to precipitate our entry into “ritual consciousness.” Whether these acts actually result in any “real” purification of our physical, emotional or spiritual selves or environments is perhaps not as important as the fact that they promote that particular shift in consciousness. I would as soon be covered in manure, and in the right state of consciousness, than pristine and still walking in this world alone.

There is, perhaps, a continuum here that is worth looking at. Perhaps those who come to Paganism with a little baggage do indeed need to go through a period of “purification,” so that they may feel as if they have in fact and finally set that baggage down. Having gone through that process, perhaps they may come to recognize that not everything that is uncomfortable or unsightly needs to be thrown away out of hand, and that, perhaps, they can even go back through those old bags, and see if there is anything there that can be adapted to their new life. And if they can, indeed, reclaim elements of their past that they thought they could never live in harmony with, what then of the future?


Purification: What is it? How Does it Work?

Purification: What is it? How Does it Work?

Author: B. T. Newberg  

Many Pagans use purification rites before entering rituals or sacred spaces. A magician may asperge herself with an herbal mixture before entering the magick circle. A shaman may dive into a cold spring before journeying to meet the spirits. A Wiccan may fast before initiation. What is the point of such purification? How does purification work? What are some obstacles to purity? What are the implications of holding views of objective purity? These are the questions I’ll engage in this essay.

What is the Point?

First, what is the point of purification? Purification aims to make ready: the magician is readied to enter the circle, the shaman to meet the spirits, and the Wiccan to undergo initiation. In a word, my concept of purity is readiness. The function of a purification rite is to make yourself or something ready for what is about to happen next. Since Pagan experience often includes some very intimate, mystical, or even divine communications, we want to do everything we can to make sure we’re ready if and when such things arise. Even run-of-the-mill ritual experiences are sacred, and we want to be paying attention. Purification rites help us become ready.

The state contrary to purity is un-readiness. You may be distracted, overly hopeful, in a fault-finding mood, or just plain bored. In all cases, you are unable or unwilling to fully embrace what is about to happen (whatever that may be). Once, when I was a teen, my parents took me on a hay-ride. All I could think was how lame it was to be stuck with my parents when I could be riding with my friends. That is a good example of non-purity. I was not ready to accept the simple pleasure of bouncing in a horse-drawn cart filled with hay. My preconceived notions were too strong. A ritual is like this hay-ride: you have to be open to how it goes, not stuck on how you’d rather have it. Another time, more recently, I was driving with a friend. My friend began telling me of a sensitive episode in his love life, but I interrupted him to point out a funny billboard. I was not ready to hear his delicate story. A ritual is similar: you have to lay aside the distractions in order to be fully absorbed in the intimacy of the moment.

Purity is being open to and ready for whatever happens. The drummer who listens to his band-mates and adds to their rhythms, without forcing the others to adjust to his beat, is pure. The Witch who uses a formula to call in the guardians of the East, but who allows the unique mood of the moment to fill up her otherwise rote words, is also pure. The shaman who asks her power animal what she can do for Mother Earth, and is neither disappointed by a fairly mundane task nor doubtful of a grandiose one, is pure as well.

All these examples imply a special readiness of mind and heart. Very few of us are able to consistently embody this readiness in our daily lives. Distraction, irritation, boredom, and other annoyances get the best of us. That is why we need something to help us let it all go when we approach ritual. Purification does this for us. It helps us get ready.

How does it Work?

How does a purification rite bring about readiness? There are two ways to think about how it works: as an objective but intangible phenomenon, or as a subjective, psychological phenomenon. If we take as our example a simple sage smudge preceding ritual, the former view sees the sage as doing all the work: no matter where your mind is during the smudge, in some mysterious way you still get clean. The latter view sees the sage as a mere reminder for you to open your mind and heart to the ritual. According to this view, the purification is in vain if you can’t let your mundane worries go.

My opinion is that the objective element plays a part, but the subjective is vital. I’ll return to the objective aspect in a bit, but first I want to focus on the subjective: tools such as sage or saltwater help to purify, but they alone do not purify. What it takes is a certain state of mind, or state of heart. It takes openness. Before entering the circle, the Witch must open herself to what is going to happen when she steps inside it, which may be quite other than what she expects. Without this subjective aspect of opening, the purification will not work.

There is a great diversity of methods used by Pagans for purification, ranging from the traditional (sage smudge, saltwater bath) to the innovative (immersing yourself in booming music, humming your favorite song). This diversity suggests that one’s internal focus is more crucial to the purification than the particular tool or method used. When a purification rite works, it may be because you used the right method, but it is most certainly also because you focused your consciousness to the task.

Focusing consciousness is not always easy. Purity helps a lot, and two great obstacles to purity, in its subjective aspect, are hang-ups and preconceived notions. Hang-ups are lingering irritations. Before a ritual, you may have worries about tomorrow’s interview, annoyances about what so-and-so said to you at work today, or compulsions to compose grocery lists in your head. If you don’t “purify” yourself of these, they may distract you and spoil the ritual. Preconceived notions may also spoil it, but they work in a different way. Preconceived notions are prejudices about what is supposed to happen during the ritual, or the way in which the ritual must be done. If the ritual departs from your expectations via mistake, innovation, or chance occurrence, you may be disappointed. Let’s say, for example, that the candle of the South blows out in the middle of a ritual. It may have been that the Goddess or the spirits intervened to teach a lesson or just to say hello, but you will not recognize any such marvel if you are too stuck in your preconceived notion that the candle must remain lit. To take another example, let’s say you attend a ritual lead by someone you’ve not worked with before. To your dismay, you find that this person reads liturgy with an awful, ceremonious, pseudo-British accent. You just can’t get over it, and the whole ritual is spoiled for you. Your preconceived notion of how liturgy should be read has kept you from enjoying the ritual. Who knows…perhaps higher powers lead you to this person in order to teach you to lighten up? Had you been ready for anything, would your experience have been different? Between hang-ups and preconceived notions, considerable obstacles to readiness exist. Fortunately, we have purification rites to address them.

The Objective Aspect: Cleanliness or Cooties?

Many Pagans insist that tools or methods have magickal energies of their own. Different herbs, for example, each have peculiarities which work better for this or that magickal purpose. Sage has long been recognized as an excellent purifier. These properties would seem to be objective, independent of the psychological state we take to them. Some things are inherently purifying. The flip-side of this view is that some things are inherently polluting. Kaldera and Schwartztein in The Urban Primitive, for example, insist that cities are more polluting than natural areas.

The problem with thinking in terms of inherently polluting things is that we end up looking like elementary school boys afraid of getting cooties from girls. If a thing can be objectively purifying or polluting, a whole Pandora’s Box of messy questions is opened. For example, where does the human body fit into the scheme of things? In many forms of Paganism, especially Witchcraft and Goddess religion, the body is very important. Can the body be inherently, objectively pure or impure? Throughout history many societies have built elaborate customs around cultivating bodily purity and avoiding impurity. In some cultures, a woman’s body is impure while menstruating. In old India, a caste system designated a whole segment of the population untouchable. Does the idea of objectively purifying or polluting things lead in this direction? Is this estimation of objective purity unfair? I don’t have the answer to this one. I only raise the question as a potential problem.

One thing I will say, however, is that impure things don’t have to be absolutely impure. For example, a shaman told me a story about an energy extraction ritual she observed in Tibet. A Tibetan shaman removed a handful of icky, black, impure energy from a patient, then immediately ran to the nearest crossroads and left it there. Why did he leave it at the crossroads? Because in the Tibetan view, crossroads are home to spirits for whom the energies which poison us are nourishing. The old adage applies: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.


In sum, purification is the making ready of mind, body, and spirit for what is about to happen. There are obstacles to this readiness, including hang-ups, preconceived notions, and perhaps even inherently polluting things. Purification rites help us to wash away or let go of these obstacles. In this way, we get ready to enter a magick circle, meet the spirits, or just take on life with an open heart and mind. Some things may be inherently better purifiers than other things, but there are potential problems with this view.

As a final note, I wonder what would be the most powerful purifier of all? If purity is an open mind and heart, I would have to say that the most powerful purifier of all must be laughter. Not giggling or snickering, but good, hearty, full-bellied laughter. After a good laugh, what are you not open to? From hang-ups, preconceived notions, stress, distractions, or general cantankerousness, I can think of no better liberator than laughter.

A Little Humor for Your Day – 13 Commandments

13 Commandments

  1. Thou shall not turn thy ex into a frog
  2. Thou shall not meddle in the affairs of dragons, thou are crunchy and taste good with ketchup
  3. Thou shall not laugh at nekked snow sprites
  4. Thou shall not get drunk with thy Goddess’s wine
  5. Thou shall not sacrifice thy little sister
  6. Thou shall not go running around proclaiming thy witchhood if thy are in times of burning.
  7. Thou shall not question the word of thy High Priestess – She is God
  8. Thou shall not laugh at being nekked at coven – thou shall be killed
  9. Thou shall not commit to signing anything that declares any single person as thy lord and savior
  10. Thou shall not invoke thy Watchtowers only to say “never mind”
  11. Thou shall not burn enough candles to burn thy house down
  12. Thou shall not have the magickal name “Sir Stinky Fartsalot”
  13. Thou shall not call coven only for laughs



Author: Willow Blackthorn

Website: Pagan Library

Astronomy Picture of the Day – Dione, Rings, Shadows, Saturn

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2015 August 24


Dione, Rings, Shadows, Saturn
Image Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA


Explanation: What’s happening in this strange juxtaposition of moon and planet? First and foremost, Saturn’s moon Dione was captured here in a dramatic panorama by the robotic Cassini spacecraft currently orbiting the giant planet. The bright and cratered moon itself spans about 1100-km, with the large multi-ringed crater Evander visible on the lower right. Since the rings of Saturn are seen here nearly edge-on, they are directly visible only as a thin horizontal line that passes behind Dione. Arcing across the bottom of the image, however, are shadows of Saturn’s rings, showing some of the rich texture that could not be seen directly. In the background, few cloud features are visible on Saturn. The featured image was taken during the last planned flyby of Dione by Cassini, as the spacecraft is scheduled to dive into Saturn’s atmosphere during 2017.