“THINK on THESE THINGS”
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler
If you could remake your personal world, how would you want it? Very few can answer that question immediately. Many cannot answer after a great deal of consideration. Maybe we are drifters to a degree. There seems to be a certain amount of apprehension and fear about saying, or even thinking of what we want out of life. It may be that we feel some of it isn’t right to want, or that maybe we are asking more than should be our share.
Money is probably the first thing that most people think about, because of what they could do for themselves and for others. But what of health and peace and love? Without these all the fame and money in the world would be entirely meaningless. Without a spiritual foundation to one’s life, all our desires are built on sand. Without knowing where we’re going, we are drifters.
To know what we want with good is the first and most important step. As Carlyle wrote, “The man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder – a waif, a nothing. Have a purpose in life, and, having it, throw such strength of mind and muscle into your work as God has given you.”
Tennyson wrote these beautiful words: “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of. What are men better than sheep or goats, that nourish a blind life within the brain, if, knowing God, they lift no hands of prayer both for themselves and those who call them friends!”
What on this earth could we possibly have of good that has not come from the Almighty? What inroads are made into disease and sickness, what light has focused more understandingly on mental illness and weaknesses, without having been revealed through something greater than we are?
And indeed, to what can we contribute the smallest or the greatest amounts of success, the love we share, the true joys, the peace, and our very breath. How presumptuous of us to believe we own one thing of lasting value that does not come from God.
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 – October 1
“So don’t be afraid. What we left behind, leave it back there. Try to do some good. Let’s try to take a step, try to think something good.”
–Wallace Black Elk, LAKOTA
Every day is a new day. Sometimes we make mistakes. We do not need to carry these mistakes along with us. Take the lessons and leave the mistakes behind. Look forward to today. Today we can do something good. Today we can have good thoughts. Today we can think kind, uplifting thoughts about ourselves. Today I will think good about …
My Creator, today I ask You to direct my thoughts.
October 1 – Daily Feast
Duna Na Dee’
When the future historian writes the history of the red man of the forest and the prairie, the name of our great departed Sioux Chief, Sitting Bull, will appear among the noble characters.
What person does not hope for a spiritual experience that will connect him with the inevitable source of all good? What person does not hope for a touch to open his stoney heart to understand his own potential? Who has not fallen prey to a mountain of misinformation and to the belief that there is no justice in the world? While the world of events whirls and spins and shocks the rural soul, the sophisticated person of broader experience says that is the way it is, and they is why we act the way we do. But that very opinion propels a person headlong into the whirring teeth of absolute destruction. Who will hit the button? Who will stop this swift descent? It is a personal responsibility, a very personal responsibility, and who can do it?
~ You can dictate your terms. I am your prisoner, and must submit, but I am still a man, the same as you. ~
BLACK HAWK – SAC
‘A Cherokee Feast of Days, Volume II’ by Joyce Sequichie Hifler
Excerpt of The Daily Motivator message for
Thursday, October 1, 2015
A day well lived
In the past, you’ve experienced the pain of being disappointed in yourself. Take this chance to remind yourself not to create that kind of pain again.
Today you have the opportunity to avoid the painful disappointment that comes when you’ve let yourself down. Today you can fill your moments with meaningful efforts, and end the day knowing you’ve done your best.
Instead of spending this day in ways you’ll regret, you can invest its hours in activities that will satisfy and fulfill you. Instead of wasting your time, energy and resources, you can make it all count for something meaningful and valuable.
Read the full message at http://greatday.com/motivate/151001.html
Living a Life of Grace
When we accept that we always exist in a state of grace, we are able to live our lives more graciously.
Grace exists inside of all of us and around us. It is our inner beauty that radiates outward, touching everyone we meet. It is that unseen hand that comes from the divine, raising us up when we most need it. To be able to live in a state of grace is not based on worthiness, nor is it earned through good deeds, ritual, or sacrifice. Rather it is an unearned favor, freely bestowed and available to all, that is inherent to our birthright. All we must do is open our eyes to its presence and we will find and experience grace everywhere.
Grace is in the rain bringing relief to drought-ridden farms, and the unexpected lead for the perfect job opportunity that comes from a stranger. Grace is what happens to someone when they miraculously escape injury; it is even the simple events that happen to us that we call “good luck,” like when we don’t get a parking ticket after are meter has expired. Grace resides in the love between two people, the gift or check that comes unexpectedly in the mail, the cozy comforts that make up a home, and in the acts of forgiveness we bestow upon others. It is grace that moves us to go out of our way to help a stranger. In music, a grace note is the pause between notes that is so important to the pacing of a song. Grace is the state we are in when we are doing nothing but just being who we are.
When we accept that we always exist in a state of grace, we are able to live our lives more graciously. Knowing we are graced gives us hope, makes us more generous, and allows us to trust that we are taken care of even when we are going through difficult times. Grace is our benevolence of heart, and our generosity of spirit. Grace is unconditional love and the beauty that is our humanity. When we know that we are blessed with grace, we can’t help but want to live our lives in harmony.
Forging Your Own Path: My Journey
Author: Bear Stormcrowe
Ever since I was a wee lad, I knew that I had a special relationship with Mother Earth and the elements around me. I always had this magnetic attraction to all things mystical, offbeat, and natural. I remember quite well the times I used to ‘trick’ my parents into buying trees from the Arbor Day Foundation in order to plant them as an homage to Mother Gaia. I would sit outside and plant them, whispering softly to the planet; “Here you go. Thank you for giving us what you give us.”
When my family finally got the Internet, I remember sneaking onto my computer at night; silently hoping the dial-up connection sounds wouldn’t stir my family. It was there that my journey began. I searched earth-based religions high and low…and I came to the realization: I’m a Witch.
I had always been more mature than others of my age group, and since my epiphany I’ve referred to myself as a Natural Witch. I began seriously pursuing the Well-Worn Path soon after that epiphany and started my path as a solitary practitioner in full force. At the time, I was still green on the subject of Witchcraft, even though I was naturally inclined to it; So, I began researching books from the library and following their paths and their beliefs but something didn’t feel quite right. In any religion, a personal means of practicing helps you get that more personal connection with your deity. In my case, it was multiple deities but namely, Lugh and Danu. It was then I realized that I could forge my own path…my own solitary journey.
Since beginning my own personal journey, following the rules of the Wicca, and showing reverence to my amazing deities, I found my connection and my own personal practice. When it came to Sabbats I followed a loosely based outline but added my own flair in the mix, it all worked just the same if not better because all of my mind, body, and spirit were put into my craft. I came “out of the broom closet”, so to speak, to my friends in high school—then to my friends and professors in college.
After much networking and a twist of fate I owe all to the God and Goddess, I met a woman who is now my fiancée and a group of friends with whom I created a small active coven. They were all well seasoned in the Craft already but I found myself answering their questions with a knowledge I had no idea was hiding deep within me. The advice and techniques I offered proved a success and I realized that I had an even deeper calling: High Priestdom. After meeting and discussing the future of the coven, they all agreed unanimously that they felt I would take the high priest position and honor it well.
So, what’s the point of this story? You ask. In my personal experience I’ve found that crafting your own spells and following the path that your heart and soul vibrates well with yields better results. In my case, a closer connection to the deities I’ve aligned myself with.
How do you find your own path? The simplest way to do it is follow your heart. However, if you are unsure of what your heart is telling you here are some simple techniques that have helped me when the answers my heart had given didn’t really satisfy my spirit.
Meditation: Simple two-step meditation works wonders.
The First Step is to open sacred space. This is the brief equivalent of casting a circle. How I open sacred space is by grounding and centering me then I say:
“By the Grace and Power of the Great Ones, Within and Without, I allow love to enter this space, but keep evil and ill intent out.”
Your sacred space is now open. Feel free to change the invocation of positive energies to something of your liking.
The Second Step is to clear your mind of all things but your question at hand. This takes a lot of practice so do this on a day that has been relatively uneventful if at all possible. Clearing your mind and focusing on your own path and what fits just right for your individual Witchiness should yield some result the first few times you try it.
Scrying: Using a scrying mirror or bowl is another way to get some answers. Be prepared to look deep into the mirror/bowl for some time. As with most divination arts, symbols are left to the diviner to interpret so have a notebook and writing utensil (or computer for those tech-savvy Witches) to record the symbols for interpretation after the scrying session. It’s been my experience to wait until the end of the session to interpret symbols and messages because if you take your focus to one symbol, you may miss other important ones. Once you’ve finished scrying, interpret symbols, make connections, and have fun with it.
To end this article, I’d like to say that if you follow a set path founded by someone else and you feel at home in that path, then by all means continue on the path you are most comfortable with. You may get things from different paths in order to forge your own way. That is perfectly acceptable. It’s all what feels right to each individual witch.
I write this article in the light of Lugh and Danu and with love to all of my fellow Pagans and Earth-Children. May bright blessing and prosperity come your way and as always—Blessed Be.
-Adam Osborne (Sacred Magick)
Eclectic Pagan, High Priest, and Lightworker.
Lessons Learned from Self-Teaching and from Teaching Others
Author: Trey Justice
I’m writing this article in response to the current topic of teaching and learning in our community. I have always been and still consider myself a solitary Wiccan. Despite my solitary status, I have participated in group teaching/lessons, group ritual, group exercise, and a few years ago, taught a person new to Wicca and helped guide her on her own solitary path. I am currently a member of a Wiccan/Pagan study group.
I have learned a few lessons from my experiences and am sharing them to, at the very least, make at least one person’s spiritual path a little easier. I’ll start with lessons I learned for myself and then discuss lessons I’ve learned from teaching others. I think that lessons from both can be equally applied to both situations.
Lessons from Self-Teaching
1. Read a lot. Read as many books as you can get your hands on. Read books from different publishers. Read different authors. Try to find books written in the beginning of the Witchcraft revival. Try reading a mixture of several books BEFORE beginning any type of magickal or ritual work. No matter how experienced you are, you can always still learn and it’s just waiting for you to get involved!
2. Learn and understand history and geography. In my case, the preference was for northern Europe before and during early Christianity. This will help you later with mythology, the history of the Craft, and God/Goddess studies.
3. Learn to meditate and visualize. Practice! Continue to practice even long after “you’ve got it”.
4. Question yourself and examine your motivations/knowledge. Always.
5. Keep an open mind and eye to other religions. They all contribute to your understanding of your path and yourself.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself or others unpopular questions or questions that will cause doubt or confusion in your understanding of Wicca. You need to examine the path you’re on from as many angles as possible. This can only be done by examination and searching.
7. Don’t be afraid of admitting you’re wrong or ignorant on a topic. There’s no shame in admitting that you don’t know everything. Accept all information from as many sources as possible. In time, you will be experienced enough to sort out what is right, what is wrong, and what is just plain crap.
8. Be honest with yourself and your intentions long before thinking of self-dedication or self initiation. You should have a very solid understanding of Wicca, Witchcraft, Paganism, and Magick before embarking on your path as a “full fledged” Witch.
9. When choosing books, always try to find those done by actual scholars and historians. Anyone can write a book. Not anyone can write a book with decent material AND sources for information. Go for academics, not fluff to make you feel good.
10. Try to study early Christianity as much as possible. This will shed light on information about the history of Witchcraft, Paganism, and how things came to be. Medieval history and Roman history are good sources that offer insight into Celtic and Teutonic history/paganism as well.
11. When conducting ritual or casting magick, start out small. Focus on the basics and essentials. You can always build up on that at your leisure. And of course, remember the Wiccan Rede and Three Fold Law.
12. There’s no such thing as a stupid question.
13. I do recommend finding and meeting other Witches and Pagans. I’m not necessarily talking about teacher/student relationships. It’s good to meet others because it will reaffirm that, at the very least, you’re not alone, and by talking to others, you learn automatically and will gain new insights into the path that you’ve chosen. It’s always good to make new friends as well.
Lessons from Teaching Others
1. My first biggest lesson was to examine myself as to WHY I wanted to teach, and in turn, I had to deal with the responsibility of teaching someone else. I didn’t want to teach for glory, ego, reputation, fame, money, sex, etc. I wanted to give something back to the community for all that I have learned; I wanted to contribute to the greater whole, I wanted to give to and strengthen our community. I still forced myself to examine my intentions as to what I knew, why I thought I could be a teacher, and what I would be getting out of this. You need to ask yourself some hard questions before even beginning to teach. At first glance, you might have good intentions, but if your ultimate goal in teaching another is for selfish reasons, you probably shouldn’t be teaching. Remember the Three Fold Law and Wiccan Rede. Teaching from a wrong reason/desire/position on your part is just wrong.
2. It’s very important to know yourself and to know what it is that you actually know. It’s very important to know what it is you can actually offer someone as a teacher. I began teaching AFTER several years of self-study (tons of books AND discussions with others), group study, group/individual ritual, and personal experiences on the path. I would not have been in a position to teach prior to all of that and I recognized that in myself.
Don’t think that reading one or two books or “dabbling” in ritual is sufficient. You have to have mastered the fundamentals (core beliefs and concepts) long ago. Ritual should be easy and natural for you. You have to use critical thinking skills to rationally understand, explain, teach, and defend your beliefs and knowledge. You need to get out in the Pagan world before taking the mantle of “teacher”. If you don’t have the credentials- and I’m not talking about a degree system or prior coven initiation- you shouldn’t be teaching.
Remember, your student must leave the training better educated and equipped to walk on their path than what they were before the training began. Teaching is designed to IMPROVE someone’s knowledge, skills, and abilities.
3. Another lesson that I mentioned earlier was responsibility. You have to be responsible enough to honestly examine yourself and what you have to offer. If you don’t have what is needed to give another, then be responsible and don’t give. It’s also important to be responsible in the knowledge that you give. Don’t just mention the Wiccan Rede and Three Fold Law in two sentences and then walk away from the topic forever. You are responsible for explaining, in its entirety, the topics that you are teaching. Don’t give them lip service. You have to examine them, you have to examine them with your student, and you have to discuss the ramifications of what you’ve gone over. No matter the topic, you must thoroughly understand it and then present it with all angles for the student. One of the greater failures in a teacher is to “under teach” a topic and leave the student still ignorant of what was taught. You’re supposed to teach, not to confuse, or create ignorance.
Look at it this way: you are taking it upon yourself to help someone who wishes to walk the path of the Lord and Lady. If you don’t do a good, thorough job of teaching that person, have you caused more harm than good in the end? Have you helped someone truly understand and appreciate the God and Goddess? Have you helped the community by releasing someone who is ignorant of the path into that very community, or the “outside” community? Be responsible in your preparation and execution of teaching. Your student and community deserve nothing less.
4. This might sound stupid or redundant, but my student and I agreed up front on what our relationship was and what it would not be. Learning, living, and practicing on the path of the Lord and Lady with someone else forms a close, personal relationship. I wanted to make it clear that romantic love, sex, and relationships were NOT a part of what we were doing. I was the teacher, she was the student. In time we became close friends, but that relationship should be clearly defined up front and should be adhered to. I gave her personal references if she wanted to “check up on me” before the teaching began.
5. My student and I agreed on the length of time the entire teaching would take place — we used the traditional year and a day for our training period. We agreed to meet at least once a week and agreed to religiously (pardon the pun) stick to our schedule. Nothing kills the teaching/learning experience more than excessive absenteeism. Regular sessions reinforce what was learned before and keep the topic “fresh” in our minds. Make a regular schedule and keep to it. That’s not to say that you can change days for special events (ritual, Sabbats, etc.) but you must maintain a regular habit of teaching and learning.
6. Before I began to teach, I had to examine and determine what to teach and when. This included which books to use, and I had my student get the same books. I created a syllabus of topics and general dates. I listed the books that we would use to learn.
I broke the overall training topics into: General Information (an introduction if you will); Construction of a Book of Shadows (this BoS was constructed by the student and expanded throughout the entire training cycle); History of Wicca/Witchcraft (included were geography and northern European history); Core Beliefs; Laws/Rules (including discussions of morality and other issues relating to the Wiccan Rede, Three Fold Law, etc.); Cycle of Life (the Sabbats/Esbats); Meditation/Visualization; Goddess Studies; God Studies; Celtic Mythology; Norse/Teutonic Mythology; Magick; Ritual; and a Final Test. I also broke the topics/aspects/subjects up into smaller sub-topics. This way, I could thoroughly go over and teach each one in detail.
By breaking up the entirety of what I would teach into smaller portions, we were better able to both teach and learn by focusing on the subject at hand. It’s easier to digest a little here and there without throwing it all together in some vast melting pot. There’s a lot to Wicca. You can’t teach or learn it all in one day. You wouldn’t be fair or honest to yourself if you did.
7. Throughout the entire training cycle, I had tests for reviewing what was learned to ensure that we weren’t leaving a topic under examined or incompletely explained. I also ended up going over each Sabbat in detail prior to the actual Sabbat. I gave a copy of the syllabus to the student and we made every effort to stick to is as much as possible.
8. At the beginning of each training session, we would go over questions my student had from the previous session. This included questions that came up through self-study on her part. I would answer questions throughout the session (I encourage them!) and would answer questions at the end of the session. Demand that your student asks questions.
9. Personally, go over your training materials and subject in detail days before the class/session begins. Go over the material again right before class. You should have your act together before actually teaching. There’s no shame in having to refresh yourself on something that you are already very familiar with. Be as prepared as possible; your student deserves no less.
10. I focused on the academics before the practice. It was important to get the essentials fully understood before conducting magick and ritual. For me, this is because I see Wicca as a religion, not just “another method” of conducting magick. Our mind, heart, and soul must be in the right place before creating spells and playing with energy. My opinion, but I kept to it.
11. I had my student write essays, write out answers to questions, conduct exercises, and actually conduct ritual on her own. I used the building block technique, in that we started out with the core concepts and worked our way up the cycle piece by piece. We rehearsed ritual often and I routinely tested her on magick/ritual tools. I gave both scheduled and non-scheduled tests to find out what material had been learned sufficiently and what wasn’t still understood.
12. Near the end of the entire training cycle, we began to attend group ritual in order to expose my student to that aspect of the path and to introduce her to the community at large. It was important for my student to be exposed to others and their thoughts/ideas, as opposed to only getting information from me. I routinely told her that I was one person with my own opinions and that she should meet and talk with others to complement her education.
13. I taught my student about my experiences as a solitary and taught her my lessons in self-study. I encouraged my student to continue her studies on her own in addition to what I was teaching. I also encouraged my student to meet with others and talk to them about the path.
14. I learned more of the path that I walk by teaching. That lesson shouldn’t have been such a big surprise, but it was. By having to explain and teach Wicca, I have learned of it from an angle that was previously denied to me. I am very thankful of the experience for being able to appreciate and understand my path in more detail.
Hopefully, the lessons I learned will be of help to you in the future. Blessed Be.
The People You Meet on the Pagan Path
There are always people who leave a mark along our path in our Pagan path. Those people who supported us and who taught us things that, probably, we wouldn’t have learned in any other way. These people are essential and must not be forgotten. After all, no matter how many books we write, how many thesis are made and researches done, there is always space to learn and embrace knowledge that we get through experience and by the teaching of others. That is what I’ll be talking about today.
The solitary path is a path that is often chosen, especially in today’s society in which most Pagan practitioners live in the big metropolis and cities, and where finding a coven is getting harder and harder. These good covens hide themselves more often than you think. And, if covens do ‘go public’, much of the time, they aren’t that big of a thing or there is a high chance that they are not what the practitioners are looking for. Good covens are hard to find. Not only due to their shortage but also because it’s complicated for a solitary to fit their eclectic costumes and already acquired traditions in a group that is as well defined as a coven. It ends up being complicated. Additionally, today’s individualism and our consumer and technological society oft results in isolation from the community around us (in favor of a virtual community) which may lead to a disconnection.
These factors plus the routine and daily busy life of the metropolis leads to shortage of time.
As you can see, there are numerous factors that may stop a solitary practitioner from joining a coven. There is, also, the possibility of the practitioner himself/herself not wanting to join a coven (like my case, for example) .
Don’t judge me wrong, I believe that life in a coven can be amazing and very enriching and, if possible, I recommend the experience if you are so inclined, since all paths teach us something. But, in this article, I’m focusing more on the solitary side of the Pagan practice.
For a solitary, magickal practice requires a routine by which the seeker learns things by himself/herself. We must alone search for authors, read books, research sources, etc. It ends up being our daily lives, so, after a couple of years, it becomes second nature. We know that author X is good and author Y is not that good. We prefer the works of X and not of Z. And so on.
However when we do meet someone who may be able to help us, such as someone with more experience, it’s always great. And, my advice is to take that opportunity. You can share what you know with that person and that person will share her knowledge with you. You can have arguments about a certain theory and, by debating it, reach a common and satisfactory answer. You can read books and discuss opinions on the subject or go to public events and find more people to talk to and learn from or teach.
With the help of others, our path only gets richer. It is still a solitary path and ours in the practical terms, since it is created and followed by us alone, but we always learn a lot interacting with others.
Throughout the years, I’ve met several people (not only online but also in person) who have taught me so much and helped me grow. I’m no longer that girl who thought that Wicca was all fairies and pink and that all other Pagan paths were a simple minority. Today, I have a clear notion of what Paganism is, of Wicca and of several different pagan paths, not only when talking about Neo-Paganism, but also pre-Christian beliefs.
I’m not saying that everyone whom you will meet will teach you something good for you to use in your daily path. But they will teach you something. They might, at least, teach you not to follow their path (if they are one of those crazy nut-heads that go around or a scammer) . Everyone has something to teach you and you must, along your path, learn everything you can from people, whether they are Pagan or not (Yes, even followers of other religions have a lot to teach you, especially when it comes to respecting other people’s beliefs) .
But of course, be careful. Don’t try everything people tell you to try. There are a lot of people who are amazing and who will teach you things that will last for a lifetime but there are also may be people with bad intentions who only want to harm you, scam you or worse. Trust me, I’ve seen people whose only interest in helping others was to gain money or fame or just use that “wanting to help” as a way of scamming them. Always be careful and always be very alert during any conversation. Think for yourself and, if necessary, ask for the opinion of someone older or with more knowledge than you, in whom you trust. .
Life has a lot to teach us and there are so many things to try and learn from. Don’t keep yourself entirely locked away from the world by not socializing, by not meeting other pagans. At first it can be hard to see so many points of views. Some you might even think “What is this?” but that will also teach you to respect others. There is so much you can learn by meeting and by talking to other pagans.
Find some events in your area or, if you are going on vacation to somewhere, search if there are any pagan gathering nearby and plan a visit. Or find an online forum and join up, meet some people and learn new things.
My simple conclusion: Socialize. Talk to people, enter social networks of Paganism, sign into forums and meet people. Learn with them and discover new worlds filled with knowledge. Who knows? You might even find a coven that will be your future family. You never know what plans the Gods have in store for us.
Live life to the fullest; know the world and live your religion.
The Path of Wisdom
As I walk along an unexplored trail through the forest, I take notice that there are no obstructions in my way. There are no brambles waiting to snag me with their thorns. There are no fallen trees to stumble over. There is no wayward stream forcing me to forage across. There is only the solitude of the woods and the associated sounds of woodland life.
Above me in the branches of an old Elm tree are a couple of birds that are singing a morning duet. It is a song about joy and the happiness of life. Could this be a romantic tryst? Up ahead of me a King snake goes slithering quietly across the path. He emanates an indifference to his surroundings as he ponders solitary thoughts. Alas, a creature of stealth and mystery that one is.
In the creek that runs parallel to the path, are shiny black salamanders, gleefully enjoying the gentle currents of cool water. It glides over them, while they undulate like strands of dark grass beneath the surface of the shallow stream. Their thoughts may be minute but their existence is in tune with their surroundings.
As I pass an old Oak tree, I can see the tracks of a raccoon leading to a well-used hole situated in the base of the tree. Without a doubt, this young denizen is nestled deep within the trunk of this abiding oak, lost in a deep slumber. For a moment I wonder what it may be that she is dreaming of.
Suddenly I hear the splash of a small fish as it propels itself out of its natural environment into a momentary altered state of experience. Much like a human who has astral projected for the first time. I wonder if there is a change in its sense of reality as it briefly goes from one element to another. Or is it a fleeting experience that passes by un-noticed?
These thoughts lead me to think of my spiritual path which unlike this forest trail is fraught with obstacles placed by fellow humans. For unlike the many denizens of this quiet forest, humans do not adapt well to the environment in which they live. For as long as I can remember I have walked my personal path as an individual and yet many have been the obstacles placed before me by others who have stumbled across my path. The light glows before them but their eyes remain tightly closed.
Spiritual growth is the unique experience of each who walks such a trail and yet many are those who would insist otherwise. The mysteries of life are an experience that is related to the lessons each individual person requires to move forth. And yet there are many who will posture and claim to know the answers that are hidden from them within the mists. Fear of such unknowns spawns a false sense of arrogance and thus limits the ability to truly experience and thus find the understanding that is there for us all.
A spiritual path requires the freedom of mind and heart and the willpower and desire to achieve it. Empty words cast forth from a mass of humanity, is akin to a lonely sigh on a secluded mountaintop. No one truly hears it for there is none about to listen. For those who speak little but listen much, indeed, they will hear the whisper of wisdom as it goes quietly by like a soft springtime breeze. And yet there are many who would gladly lend their voices to the maddening din of transparent experiences, egos rising like a flock of geese, thus offering naught but another obstacle to one’s spiritual path.
We are each as different as the blades of grass that make up a vast field. Perhaps the sage approach is to listen as we each have a unique tale to tell. Though we may each walk a spiritual path our footfalls will not be exactly identical, each step along the path an experience within itself. But rather then live in synchronicity with each other, each of us striving to attain an awareness and understanding of our purpose in life, we would rather place obstacles one before the other.
And woe, are our bitter fruits, given to us by those who would choose to take shortcuts along the path of life. Such folks as these are the loudest of all who seek to place obstacles before others. And little do they care to be listening as the lessons of life present themselves to each of us whom walk this path. For such folks are spiritually apathetic and as such they continually seek the shortest route.
But as I walk along this unexplored path through the forest, I realize the parallels inherent between this woodland trail and my spiritual path. Knowing not where the shortcuts may lead, would I not prefer to follow the trail in its entirety and thus have the opportunity to absorb the experience of life as a whole?
Would I personally want to chance on missing out on important lessons that may advance my understanding of life and thus my spiritual growth by taking shortcuts? And would I choose to hide my lack of such knowledge gained through such an experience by being loud and boastful and eager to set obstacles before others who may be walking beside me? Or would I choose to be silent and let the sounds of this forest and in essence of life, make their presence known to me?
Alas, if I am to be true to the tenets of being an individual who is walking the path of life, then I can only answer for myself. I cannot pretend to be able to answer for others, for though their life experiences may be similar, they are still unique to that traveler. And the only way for me to learn from the experiences of others is to be silent and willing to listen.
Balancing one’s ego is a difficult task, but then the ego is attached to the earthbound soul and once freed from the path of humanity, it is left behind as the spirit sheds such obstacles and flies freely back home. And so as we travel our spiritual path, each individual must decide which is more important, the short-lived desires of the mundane human existence or the long-term goal of spiritual growth.
And so as I walk the last remaining yards of this forest path free of any obstacles, I know that within my heart I will continue to bypass and overcome the obstacles that my fellow humans will surely present me on the path of humanity.
The Motivations Of The Pagan Mind
Author: Arachne Priestess
Does anyone else, besides myself, ever wonder what motivates the Wiccan/Pagan mind and heart to cross over to a whole different belief system, despite upbringing, religious indoctrination, and prejudice?
In so doing, they are consciously choosing to completely rewriting their own way of thinking, their morals, their beliefs, and their senses of right and wrong. For there can be no doubt, that when one crosses over the threshold from a monotheistic religion to Paganism, one is stepping into a new world of individualism and reconstructed ideas the likes of which most Christians can not begin to fathom or even imagine.
What is the motivation and driving need of one single person out of a multitude, who walk through their lives in a torpid state of blind and unquestioning faithfulness, to see beyond the confines pressed upon them by their respective religions, cultures and societies and ultimately step over the threshold onto a completely new path?
In asking such questions, first we must examine who most Pagan/Wiccans are. What are their backgrounds? What are their experiences? And from there we can assess what truly motivates Pagans to turn away from all they know and embrace a belief system of magic and polytheism, looked upon by most of the world through the eyes of stigma and prejudice.
Who are we (and yes, this does include me)?
On the surface, we are normal, average people who go about our lives, like most everyone else. Very few of us go about our daily lives dressed in ritual garb, brandishing wands, and casting spells. Instead we are reserved, dressing as our society mandates and adhering to society’s rules, all while wearing small pieces of jewelry that identify ourselves like pentagrams, pentacles, and triquetras. And only in the privacy of our homes, our covens, and our computers do we open our true selves up to the world.
But as I said, that is only on the surface. And beneath the surface is where we must journey. So here is where this article gets uncomfortable for some.
For most Pagans, and I have met a plethora of them, there is a catalyst, of sorts, which awakens them out of the torpid state of complacency within the neat little box monotheistic religions has placed them in. It is often times, something very unpleasant such as abuse, violence, rape to name but a few. And within those violent moments an epiphany is realized, that they have no control over their own lives and that they have no identity or sense of self. So to start over with a strong anchor, they need something based in the idea of the individual. Often times this is what draws neglected and rebellious teens, abused women, and other types of minorities into this belief system.
Unlike cults, which draw in those who are in an in between place and searching for an anchor and are based solely on the needs and desires of a central Christ-like figure, Paganism is about personal relationships with deity (however one chooses to define it), focused on the individual’s own spiritual growth through education, ritual and choice without a centralized bureaucratic hierarchy defining beliefs and laying down doctrine.
Within its sphere of communities one can choose to be solitary or join a coven. And one is almost always assured of tolerance of their beliefs, no matter how much they differ from others, because there is no right and wrong path in Paganism.
But I digress, even with all of these benefits, what would systematically cause a person to turn away from the religions of their parents, which have been instilled in them since early childhood?
What would make a person consciously choose to face a wrath of prejudice ingrained in those who adhere to the Christian faith since birth, by their own leaders, their parents, and the media alike?
Why would one choose to be shunned by a society that demands total conformity?
And like a circle, we arrive again at the catalyst that invokes the need for expression of the individual. Need, that’s an interesting word isn’t it? It isn’t a desire or a want. It is a need, an almost desperate need for expression shouting to be heard.
It screams constantly for those who choose to ignore it, beating down the defensive walls we erect as we attempt to conform. And when the floodgates open, as they always do, that expression will not be suppressed. Because ultimately, it’s not a choice. When you awaken there is no turning back.
And when you are chosen and you truly become a Pagan, a Witch, a Shaman, etc., it is not a choice to be embraced or discarded at will.
It is a driving need that will burn a path through any and all obstacles: prejudice, ostracization, religious intolerance, and outright hatred. For it is not just a label we wear around our necks in the form of a pentacle, saying ‘Hello, I’m Wiccan’.
In leaving behind all that once was and rewriting all that we are, it becomes our identities, who we are inside and out. It colors our perceptions and the way we view the world. It affects how we interact with others and the way others view us. It becomes a central focus within our individual lives, threading its way through all of the aspects of that life, from the foods we choose to eat to the way we raise our children.
It is all encompassing as it beckons us forward upon a strange, unique and beautiful path filled with magic, reverence, gods and goddesses, and the search for our true selves outside the warm and comforting box of conformity which our world has placed us in.
For you see, we are the inquisitive seekers and the introspective dreamers, individuals born and reshaped out of a world full of hatred and animosity into a world of mystery and new frontiers.
So, have you learned what motivates the Pagan/Wiccan mind?
In writing this, it has given me a greater introspective insight into myself and my perception of the world around me.
And it’s helped me understand why I always come home to my personal Pagan Heathen belief system, through bouts of depression, episodes of ‘your gonna burn in hell’, and being ostracized by family and friends alike: I am a Pagan at heart.
How about you?
Author: Jessica Marie Baumgartner
Being a solitary Witch does not mean that you have to do everything alone. I myself have been a member of a coven and practiced on my own as well, finding that not everyone is meant to perform rituals and works of magic with others. Sure, sometimes it is nice to be joined with others of your own faith. But being a part of a coven is not for everyone.
I found my path about ten years ago. A friend in high school introduced paganism to me. Mind you, this was also during a time when the movie “The Craft” had already gained cult status and being a witch became somewhat of a trend. My sister and a friend of ours also became interested and we dedicated ourselves as a coven before I knew it. For a few weeks the four of us were so close that we enjoyed practicing meditations, working with our energies, and celebrating midsummer nearly every day. Things seemed so great; I had finally found my calling and felt that the world was at peace with itself. Unfortunately that would not last long.
Our high priestess, my friend who introduced this faith to me, had her own agenda. That’s not to say that she meant any harm, and I will always be connected to her through the bonds of friendship. But the power this young high priestess felt over the rest of my coven mates and me seemed to overcome her better judgment. She began playing us against each other, praising me for my strength with the elements, only to use that as a way to make one of the other coven mates feel powerless. Then this same high priestess would turn around and favor my sister in a way that brought me down. It wasn’t long before the three of us realized what was happening. So instead of turning against each other, we started distancing ourselves from our leader.
The coven was eventually disbanded; we were young and had much to learn. It was a true experience, but since then I have not felt the need to join another coven. Nor do I think that I will ever want to again. Our high priestess has, to my knowledge, stopped practicing altogether, along with our other friend who has completely withdrawn from her beliefs. My sister and I witnessed quite a few people go through the fad of enjoying the ‘benefits’ of becoming a Witch, and when they realized that there is so much more to Paganism than just doing spell work and wearing the color black, they moved on. But Wicca was so much more to me, as it has been for many others. I became enamored with its teachings, and immersed myself in as many books, articles, and shops that I could find.
My sister has always been very encouraging and still holds her beliefs, but she is not as active in her faith as she used to be. We have sometimes celebrated the Sabbaths together, but I was often on my own. Luckily, the years have been kind to me. My connection to the Gods has only grown stronger as I have worked very hard to maintain a balance between living a healthy natural life and finding my place in society. A challenging task at times, but I always say that this is the best time to be a witch.
I am now married with a daughter of my own, and though I still consider myself a solitary witch, the wheel of the year is quite a beacon of light in our home. Celebrating the holidays reminds me that love is the main ingredient in any faith. And the Gods sure have graced my family with plenty of love. We highly enjoy our festivities with our shy lion head rabbit Penny, our scaly fish Einstein, our two fluffy cats, Smokey and Tortoro, as well as our sweet dog Willow. I feel more at ease performing ritual with my family, including these beautiful creatures, than I ever did in a coven.
Some days I enjoy my meditations and rituals alone, whereas there are others where my husband and daughter join in. We are linked through our beliefs like many people, but my husband is a Taoist so his participation is based more on ideals than ritual. Not being a part of a coven has had a very positive effect on me. I have the freedom to focus on my own journey, while not feeling too self-centered. I take my faith very seriously while trying to know how to loosen up and enjoy my beliefs. Finding many solitary guides has made this possible. There is a multitude of books, magazines, and online sources that give me the information I need as well as offering a sense a community.
Being lonely is not part of being a solitary witch because true Pagans are very personable. There is nothing more I love to do than speak with others about faith, as long as I am speaking with someone who is respectful. I live to enjoy life, knowing that the gods are always around me. If I do feel the need for a little Witchy interaction from time to time, there is always the “Pagan Picnic”, classes I can take at my New Age Shop and “the Witches Ball”. Our annual Renaissance Festival has quite a few Pagan elements included as well. Having the opportunity to attend these events allows me to be social enough with other people of my own faith without having to worry about the demands of being part of a coven.
Some Wiccans prefer those coven/group bonds, and that is understandable. Words cannot express the kind of link that one has to the other members of their coven. But many of us are perfectly happy to have the freedom of practicing our beliefs on our own. After all, everyone has their own path to take and being a solitary Witch is full of freedom, happiness, and adventure.
The Twelve Days Of Halloween
On the first day of Halloween, my true love gave to me AN OWL IN A DEAD TREE!
On the second day of Halloween, my true love gave to me 2 TRICK-OR-TREATERS; AND AN OWL IN A DEAD TREE!
On the third day of Halloween, my true love gave to me 3 BLACK CATS; 2 TRICK- OR-TREATERS; AND AN OWL IN A DEAD TREE!
On the fourth day of Halloween, my true love gave to me 4 SKELETONS; 3 BLACK CATS; 2 TRICK-OR-TREATERS; AND AN OWL IN A DEAD TREE!
On the fifth day of Halloween, my true love gave to me 5 SCAREY SPOOKS! 4 SKELETONS; 3 BLACK CATS; 2 TRICK-OR-TREATERS; AND AN OWL IN A DEAD TREE!
On the sixth day of Halloween, my true love gave to me 6 GOBLINS GOBBLING; 5 SCAREY SPOOKS! 4 SKELETONS; 3 BLACK CATS; 2 TRICK-OR-TREATERS; AND AN OWL IN A DEAD TREE!
On the seventh day of Halloween, my true love gave to me 7 PUMPKINS GLOWING; 6 GOBLINS GOBBLING; 5 SCAREY SPOOKS! 4 SKELETONS; 3 BLACK CATS; 2 TRICK-OR- TREATERS; AND AN OWL IN A DEAD TREE!
On the eighth day of Halloween, my true love gave to me 8 MONSTERS SHRIEKING; 7 PUMPKINS GLOWING; 6 GOBLINS GOBBLING; 5 SCAREY SPOOKS! 4 SKELETONS; 3 BLACK CATS; 2 TRICK-OR-TREATERS; AND AN OWL IN A DEAD TREE!
On the ninth day of Halloween, my true love gave to me 9 GHOSTS A–BOOING; 8 MONSTERS SHRIEKING; 7 PUMPKINS GLOWING; 6 GOBLINS GOBBLING; 5 SCAREY SPOOKS! 4 SKELETONS; 3 BLACK CATS; 2 TRICK-OR-TREATERS; AND AN OWL IN A DEAD TREE!
On the tenth day of Halloween, my true love gave to me 10 GHOULS A-GROANING; 9 GHOSTS A–BOOING; 8 MONSTERS SHRIEKING; 7 PUMPKINS GLOWING; 6 GOBLINS GOBBLING; 5 SCAREY SPOOKS! 4 SKELETONS; 3 BLACK CATS; 2 TRICK-OR-TREATERS; AND AN OWL IN A DEAD TREE!
On the eleventh day of Halloween, my true love gave to me 11 MASKS A-LEERING; 10 GHOULS A-GROANING; 9 GHOSTS A–BOOING; 8 MONSTERS SHRIEKING; 7 PUMPKINS GLOWING; 6 GOBLINS GOBBLING; 5 SCAREY SPOOKS! 4 SKELETONS; 3 BLACK CATS; 2 TRICK-OR-TREATERS; AND AN OWL IN A DEAD TREE!
On the twelfth day of Halloween, my true love gave to me 12 BATS A-FLYING. 11 MASKS A-LEERING; 10 GHOULS A-GROANING; 9 GHOSTS A–BOOING; 8 MONSTERS SHRIEKING; 7 PUMPKINS GLOWING; 6 GOBLINS GOBBLING; 5 SCAREY SPOOKS! 4 SKELETONS; 3 BLACK CATS; 2 TRICK-OR-TREATERS; AND AN OWL IN A DEAD TREE!
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 October 1
Explanation: This stunning panorama in southern skies was recorded on the colorful night of September 27/28 from Carngegie Las Campanas Observatory. A diffuse glow and dark rifts of the central Milky Way hang over domes of the twin 6.5 meter Magellan telescopes. But most eye-catching is the deep red glow of the Moon. Immersed in Earth’s shadow during the much anticipated perigee-total-lunar eclipse, the Moon’s surface reflects the light of sunsets and sunrises scattered and refracted into the planet’s cone-shaped umbra. Along with the dramatic hue of the eclipsed Moon, other colors of that night captured by the sensitive digital camera include the red and green shades of atmospheric airglow. Viewers can also spot the Andromeda Galaxy below the Moon, seen as a tiny smudge through the reddish airglow and lights along the horizon. The Magellanic Clouds, satellite galaxies of the Milky Way, join in at the far left of the full panorama frame.