‘THINK on THESE THINGS’ for November 19th

By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

In this day of emphasis on right connections with the right people, in the right places, at the right time, we must have truly extraordinary qualities to become successes on our own.

They who have worked hard and achieved success often carry a double burden by wrongful accusations of being privileged characters. Perhaps some to whom doors automatically open because of right connections seem to be privileged characters, but they, like dictators, have a limited existence.

Having connections may help us on the ladder of life, but it will never keep those rungs steady beneath our feet. Only our own greatness keeps us tall, sun-crowned. We must have something to give, something to offer before we can expect to be truly privileged characters. And then, we will have earned the right to our privileges. We are somewhat like God, blamed for much we don’t do and seldom given credit for the good we have done.

Whatever the future, the world still needs citizens like those J.G. Holland wrote about nearly a century ago: “God give us men. The times demand strong minds, great hearts, true faith, and willing hands…..Tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog, in public duty and in private thinking!”


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 – November 19

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – November 19

“Indians chase the vision, white men chase the dollar.”

–John (Fire) Lame Deer, ROSEBUD LAKOTA

Since the beginning of time, Indian people have been blessed with the ability and knowledge of the vision. The vision determines our future. The concept is, we move toward and become that which we think about. We have known that all visions are about the Great Spirit. They should include God’s will in every area of our lives. We should have visions about our people, about healthy relationships, about helping others, about being happy, about being educated. Each day we should renew our vision. We should ask the Creator to give us a vision of what He wants us to be and where He wants us to go in our lives. We should be the seekers of vision.

Great Spirit, give me a vision to follow today. Let me do Your will.

November 19 – Daily Feast

November 19 – Daily Feast

It is lovely to think of you when leaves and grasses are all shades of chrysanthemums and sunshine is golden through the autumn haze. It is soothing to remember you when all is quiet in the midnight hour, when it is velvet or bathed in silver. It is comforting to know your faith overcomes your fears, that peace permeates your whole existence. You are aware that nothing equals the peace that passes all understanding. It is with gratitude I know you are wise beyond human comprehension – and kind, even when there is reason not to be. You are the Great Spirit, the endless, loving Presence that blesses us in every hour.

~ The Creator ordained that people should live to an old age. ~


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

The Daily Motivator for November 19th – The beauty of now

The beauty of now

by Ralph Marston

Life is lived with what you have, not with empty wishes for more. Be pushed forward by your ambition for what can be, while you derive full benefit from what already is.

If you’re constantly focused on what you want to have someday, you’ll miss out on the goodness and value already available to you. Honor your vision for the future by acting on it today, where you are, with what you have.

Enjoy each moment for what it is, without being obsessed about what it might someday get you. Appreciate the beauty that’s already here and now, and find inspiration in that beauty, here and now.

Every desire you have for the future points to an inner value that you can express today. Let those good values flow out into the world with your words and actions now.

As great as your ambition may be, you already have enough for right now. Make full use of what you now have, to do great things today.

The more you value what you already have, the more you’ll be able to do with it. See the beauty and value of right now, right here, and live it fully.

© 2015 Ralph S. Marston, Jr.
From The Daily Motivator website at http://greatday.com/motivate/151119.html

The Daily OM for November 19th – Riding the Wave of Life

Riding the Wave of Life
Staying Afloat

by Madisyn Taylor

While riding the wave of life you must also practice stillness so you can flow with, rather than resist the wave’s motion.

Our lives are continually in motion, buoyed by the wave that is the universe’s flow. As the wave rises and falls, we are carried forward, through life’s high and low points. The universe’s flow may take us to a place in life where we would rather not be. As tempting as it can be to fight the direction and size of this wave that propels us, riding the wave is intended to make life easier. When you ride the wave, your life can evolve naturally and with minimal effort. Riding the wave, however, is not a passive experience. It is an active process that requires you to be attentive, centered, and awake. You must also practice stillness so you can flow with, rather than resist the wave’s motion.

Because life is dynamic and always changing, it is when we try to make the wave stand still or resist its direction that we are likely to get pulled under by its weight. If you try to move against the wave, you may feel as if you are trapped by it and have no control over your destiny. When you reach a low point while riding the wave and find your feet touching bottom, remember to stay standing so that you can leap forward along with the wave the next time it rises. Trying to resist life’s flow is a losing proposition and costly because you waste energy.

Riding the wave allows you to move forward without expending too much of your own efforts. When you ride the wave, you are carried by it and your head can “stay above water” as you go wherever it takes you. It can be difficult to trust the universe and let go of the urge to fight life’s flow, and you may find it easier to ride the wave if you can stay calm and relaxed. Riding the wave will always take you where you need to go.


The Daily OM

The Apathy and Altar Ego of our Kind

The Apathy and Altar Ego of our Kind

Author: ShadowDarkFyre

The question I find myself asking is “Why is it that our kind seems to be apathetic?” While many of us are enthusiastic in our apparent “renaissance”, just as many simply don’t believe, or find it hard to. This is a quandary I find I face every day as I look upon the world today. And that’s honestly not the only problem I see in the community these days.

For more than sixteen years I’ve been what I term “magickfolk”. During eight of those years I’ve been active, working through the Domain and Realms. Some of you have been here with me just as long or longer. And even if you haven’t, I know you see what I see sometimes. We’re in an odd time. And in this odd time, it seems, there are groups of us who are cliquish. Some are even xenophobic. And those of us who donnae’ belong to a group are afraid to because of how we were treated in the past… even though the groups they hoped for are just there within reach.

The sad thing is that we seem to be dooming ourselves to being alone in our community. There are groups who are elitist, others who are cliquish and still others who take the nature of what we are and get it severely backwards, causing more harm than good. This is an ugly truth, but a truth all the same.

We should be able to believe enough in our collective selves to stand against this tide of apathy and loss of hope and belief. We are magickfolk. We come from the impossible. We are the impossible. This should be nothing for us.

Yet we shoot ourselves in the proverbial collective foot. And we keep doing that when we keep being judgmental of each other. Case in point: I just finished reading an article by one Bronwen Forbes titled How Pagan Is Pagan Enough? That is a prime example of what I’m talking about. Frankly, it saddens me. We should know better.

To those of you groups who make it that difficult for the rest of us to connect and come together, here’s a thought: Lower your nose a couple miles.

A Christian rock band by the name of Petra that did a song called Altar Ego. One lyric goes, “And you look both ways before you pray, just to see who’s watching you today.” As a Christian Mystick (another story for another time, folks; suffice it to say, I’m magickfolk) , I’m used to seeing this rather counterproductive attitude among those of the Religious Right. What I’m not used to is seeing it among us. We’re supposed to be an example of being better and more open than this. Like many of us who see this, I have to ask:

What is wrong with us?

This community is not served by attitudes of elitism and cliquishness. It only harms us. Instead of being picky, or worrying about whether or not one’s attire fits your idea of what is pagan or magickal enough, take the risk and the burn of time to open your doors and your hearts to help teach and educate those of our community. And to realize that it’s not what you wear or look like that determines how magickal you are, but what you hold in your heart and carry in your soul.

We’ve been hiding behind doors for too long. This attitude I hear of and see evidence of isn’t helping us as a whole. All it’s doing is hurting us.

For those of you who have worked for years to help knit the magickal community together, I applaud you, for I know from experience it isn’t easy. Don’t give up hope in finding our own and reaching out to them. Don’t give up hope in helping to make our community stronger, and in bringing people together who want and need this community.

They’re out there. It just takes patience and faith. And as spread out as we are as a movement/community, they’re alone without those of our kind out there to show them the way. When they find us, it’s a relief to them that they’re not alone. So don’t close your doors ever. Don’t ever turn out the light at the door or in the window. They need to find their ways home, and we have to be their candlebrights in the window. Keep your lanterns on.

To those of you who are seeking: We’re out there. We’re here. Whether it’s the Domain, or others like Circle Sanctuary, or the local community that orbits around your nearest metaphysical/magick shop. I know it’s hard to believe that you’re not alone, or that you won’t always be turned away. It’s hard to believe. It’s hard to hold on. But you’re not alone.

Just walk a little farther, look around another corner, and step through another door. You’ll find us. Like Motel 6, we’ll always keep the lights on for you. Don’t give up. You’re not lost. You’re almost home.

We’re a community, ladies and gentlemen. A unique community. Whether we be mysticks, Christians alternates, druids, Pagans, witches, Wiccans, Buddhists, Taoists, Shintoists, spiritualists, or any number of those who have mixed beliefs, what we have in common is our belief in magick, mysticism, and the spirit, however we might perceive it.

Again: We. Are. A Community. Perhaps we should start acting like it a little more, and not think so much on that which doesnae’ matter. As Misty-Eve of A Word To The Wise would say, … “it’s something to think about.”

As we say among my fellow Domani, I wish you Good Dreaming and Blessed Be.



Bronwen Forbes – “How Pagan Is Pagan Enough?”

The Answers You Seek

The Answers You Seek

Author: Lady Wolfwind

My daughter tells me that the answers that I seek are in the Bible. Oh, if she only knew. She doesn’t know me very well. I laugh to myself. I don’t seek any answers. I am at total peace within myself. I know that the answers will be revealed to me when I am ready. The more you chase after them, the least likely you are to find them at all.

True, at one point in my life I ran here and there. I was never satisfied. I was always reading and questioning everything. Surely, the great knowledge that I seek must be in a book somewhere. I was impatient and surrounded by chaotic thoughts. Caught up in the mundane world where money mattered above all else.

I don’t know when it changed. A few years ago. I’m not sure why. Some inner voice was whispering, nagging me. I wouldn’t ever listen. If I listened I knew I would have to take a different road, one no one else understood. I would stand out, I would not fit in. Long ago these were important things to me.

One day something changed. A new thought appeared. I had read and studied most of the world’s major religions. None of them appealed to me. What did appeal to me? Something I had heard long ago. A distant memory of quiet words spoken. “Follow your heart, for it will never deceive you. You are one of the few who has been chosen to walk with me.”

It seems like forever that I ignored that voice. That beautiful musical voice that one day would show me a path so magical that it seems an injustice that more people cannot hear. I now understand all that She had to tell me. To be quiet and listen. That all is not silent. The Universe speaks volumes to your soul. That I was born to be different; to march to a different beat and it is okay. That I have a purpose here on Earth to do Her work. To stop asking the questions and chasing answers.

The answers that I seek are on the wind. They are in the raindrops and the stars shining at night. Departed ancestors who deserve to be honored whisper them to me. They are heard in my children’s laughter and felt in my cat’s soft breath. They are all around me. I had to be still to hear. They’ve always been there.

When I first set foot on my path I was overwhelmed and could not learn enough. I read everything I could find, I researched terms and tried to find groups to join. I wanted to buy everything I thought I needed. I still wasn’t paying attention. Soon I learned to meditate, to open and heal my chakras, yoga. I learned and I practiced how to be still. Then I began to hear.

I am now a solitary and a very happy one at that. I don’t need all those fancy tools. Our ancestors and fellow wise women did not buy their tools. They didn’t gather together in secrecy. Most were loners who loved nature and knew how to use it to make the lives of everyone better. There is no chaos within me. I do not seek answers. The Bible, which my daughter speaks of, holds no interest to me. I feel that she is the one who has been blinded by false leaders and it saddens me.

Witches of old were wise women and men who knew the value of the silence. Great secrets are not written in books. They are not shared with just anybody. The witches of yesteryear listened and learned and healed. It was a mistake to forsake them, to bury them in history, to make them creatures to be feared. The true witches know the secrets and know how to keep them and who to share them with. The true witches are full of love for the world and all of the creatures in it. Witches do not need manmade laws to control their actions. We have a strong moral code within us that makes it impossible to hurt what we view as divine.

My daughter made a last ditch effort to convert me. It was a mistake. It made me think deeper. It made me realize how peaceful I was compared to others. She does not see the happiness in me. I sat and thought and really understood who I had become since I took the Goddess’s hand and began to walk with her. I am happy, I am wise and I am powerful. I am beautiful and I see beauty in everything around me.

I’m not so sure that her Bible will teach her any of this. Her words were filled with anger and disdain. Words that a child should never say to their mother. I had to step back and think about all that she had said. Were her words true? If so, I had made some terrible errors in my life. I talked to others who know me best, who have been with me for years. No, they didn’t understand what she was talking about or where this anger came from. It had been an attack that was unprovoked.

I listened and chose to write back. Why does it matter so much which path that I follow? Is this what she learns in her church? I chose not to send the letter. It is my belief to never do anything preceded by strong emotions. This is my child; I will not use words to hurt her. My answer is silence.

I say a blessing for her and her family. I shield my two younger children and myself. If anything, her mistake was to ingrain in the two younger ones the realization that Christianity may not be all that it is said to be. They asked me how her god could create such anger and pain. Didn’t her Bible teach her to love and honor her ancestors? Deep questions that I need to take the time to answer.

I suppose things will be a little different this full moon. We will need to send positive energy out to my daughter and her family. We will need to talk about forgiveness. We will need to discuss anger and pain and how it can be a bad thing as well as a good thing if dealt with properly. We will need to address how to deal with it properly and learn not to become consumed by it. I’ll need to teach them what happens when these emotions take control of your mind, how it will destroy you and those around you. How you cannot hear the Goddess speak to you if your mind is full of hate and not tolerance for others and their beliefs.

This morning I smile to myself. No, the answers I seek are not in the Bible. From what I can tell the answers my daughter seeks are not in the Bible either. All of this has confirmed that I am treading the right path, gently guiding the others who follow me. The Goddess has shown me how difficult life can become, even between a mother and daughter. I’m sure in time this will all heal. I know that I will forgive her, just not yet. I am human and first I must deal with the hurt.

It will be interesting to see what lesson comes from this situation and who was meant to learn it. I suppose there will be something for each of us. The question is, who will listen?

Tears of a Witch

Tears of a Witch

Author: Crick 

As I wander through the beloved woods, ever so grounded and connected to Spirit, I begin to think of the fear of witchcraft. Such a fear was started by a religious belief system seeking power and control over others. And through the last two centuries this baseless fear has resonated like a war drum through generations of folks. Folks who dared to walk a path that began with the dawn of humankind have lost their homes, their belongings and in many a case, their very lives.

And so I pause beside a woodland stream, as I wonder why.

Are we not all seekers of the light? Do we not all seek the answers to the Great Mysteries within our own beliefs? Are not all beliefs systems, whether religious and/or spiritual simply a possibility to achieving one’s afterlife goals?

For no religion and/or spiritual path has a definitive answer to what our chosen Deity has in mind as far as the Grand scheme of things. As I watch the rivulets of water wash over this streambed strewn with multi-colored pebbles, I think of how generations of folks have come and gone, much like how each rivulet passes down stream. And yet such misguided beliefs have remained in place like the pebbles cascaded across the bed of this secluded stream. Unmoved though a new generation of water sweeps over them.

And then I begin to think that if we do not have the answers, why one would want to be locked into a strict dogma that filters out any new and fresh ideas about spiritual ascension. Seeking answers to such a grand mystery is an on going process. Choosing to be stagnant in one’s spiritual progression leads me to think that perhaps such a belief system it’s not about spiritual growth to begin with.

And so why the hate mongering and the overwhelming fear?

If one is secure within their beliefs, shouldn’t there be a tendency to at least listen to others even if one chooses not to accept what one hears from others. This is known as communication. But when there is no such open communication, it leads me to wonder from where the insecurities that have spanned so many decades are originating.

For as a witch, I offer no harm to anyone unless it is in self-defense. I seek not to convince others of my beliefs; for such beliefs are a mark of my individuality and are constantly undergoing changes as new revelations becomes available.

Does such institutional fear come from the knowledge that a witch connects with Mother Earth as a way of life? I would ask why those who carry such fear in their hearts do not themselves utilize such a rich resource of knowledge. For such knowledge is there for all.

Witches are chastised and have even been put to death for connecting with the spirit realm, and I wonder why. Do we not all have a spirit within us and will we not all revert to spirit when our time in this realm comes to a close? What is there to fear?

Witches are disavowed for drawing upon the energy that is all about us and manifesting this energy into a tangible result. Do not all religions and/or spiritual beliefs follow similar patterns though they may use different words and actions to initiate such workings? Is not such a divine gift available openly and freely to all who seek such inherent abilities? Does Deity select but one belief system and cater to just those thoughts? Or does Deity transcend such narrow parameters and in fact respond to all who seek regardless of which path they follow?

So why manifest such lies and unfounded hatred?

As this stream in the middle of the woods flows over the bed of pebbles, does it really care if some pebbles are red, or brown, or black? Or does it just want to be free to follow its destiny without a barrier created by humans. Are humans any less worthy of such a freedom within their beliefs?

As I think these thoughts, tears run down my cheeks. As a witch I seek to stay connected with the old ways. Ways that have served humankind for so long. Ways that open doors to those places that are now shrouded in the mists of ignorance. Ways that allow me to utilize introspection in an effort to see my own faults and thus gives me the strength to address them in a positive manner. Are such practices so terrible that they deserve the scorn of so many who do not attempt to try and understand?

As a witch, I too walk about in a state of fear. A fear based upon the realities of our society. There is the fear that I may lose my means of employment, if my spiritual path comes to light. This is an established fear that has come to pass at one point in my life. There is the fear that bodily harm could come to me and my loved ones by those who blindly wallow in ignorance, simply because I choose to believe as an individual. This is yet another bitter experience that has raised its ugly head at one point in my life. And once again, I have to ask why.

Why can we not all accept the fact that we are seekers on the path of life? And as it is with such travelers, no one person has all of the answers.

As I stand here on this cold autumn morning and watch this small stream flow by, I know within my heart that in time this stream will wear down the pebbles that it flows over. And that in time new pebbles will take their place.

As a witch and as a human, I can only hope that such a transition will take place in the river of life and that the fear and the ignorance will in time be worn down as well. I desire that which I wish for others, the right to follow my path without obstructions being placed before me by other humans.

I seek to not judge others nor do I seek to be judged.

Tantra For Witches

Tantra For Witches

Author: Dylan Greenley

In our universe, male and female join together to create new life. Likewise, particles of positive and negative electrical charge are necessary to form matter. And just like electricity, magnetism, that other fundamental conduit of energy and enabler of life, is reliant on the interplay of apparently opposite forces. The power and alchemy inherent in the union of opposites is central to many spiritual traditions– even those that themselves appear “opposites” at first glance, having developed half a world away from each other. Here we’ll explore the ways that European, particularly Celtic, Paganism, aligns with the Tantric wisdom of India.

In modern times, there has existed a certain fascination with the concept of East-meets-West. Indeed, this notion is a perfect analog to the broader theme of this article. The East-West cultural interplay of course first grew when technologies such as steamships and then airplanes enabled long distances to be traveled easily. It then exploded with the social revolution of the 1960s. Ever since, Western bookshelves and thinking, especially in the spiritual communities, have received a large heaping of influence from Eastern traditions.

Nonetheless, when people in the United States and Europe today hear the word “Pagan, ” they generally think first of the Celtic-Teutonic-Norse traditions and their offshoots. Perhaps shamanism, particularly the practices of Native Americans, also comes to mind. However, the rich and colorful traditions of India can just as easily fit under that broad umbrella category of “Pagan.” You may be familiar with the scholarship that presents links between the Celtic and Hindu cultures by means of language and migratory patterns. It certainly makes sense, but to delve into the historical theories is beyond the scope of the present article.

Today, we’re here to explore how the Tantric ideas about human sexuality and energy relate to the modern Witch. Like the term Pagan, Tantra is not a religion per se, but rather a spiritual tradition, a means to encounter the mysteries. For anyone comfortable with appropriating a slightly different take on familiar ideas into the practice of their Craft, Tantra has much to offer.

Though popular culture may lead people to believe otherwise, Tantra is in no way exclusively about sex. The word itself broadly relates to a body of traditions and teachings that come from India, much the same way that “yoga” actually denotes a lot more than the stretches/poses we may commonly think of.

Some feel that the term “Tantra” is actually the invention of Western scholars. Regardless of its origins, it is most often equated with the English word, “weaving.” This is quite fitting, for whether a practitioner of Tantra is focusing on the sexual aspects or not, there is a “weaving” of inner energies that takes place, balancing and harmonizing a person’s inner feminine and masculine. The Tantric practices also have as their goal a “weaving” of our humanity with Divine energies. As we harmonize ourselves internally through spiritual practices, we harmonize with the Universe.

Being that we’re only taking a cursory look at Tantra as it relates to Witchcraft, it helps to keep the focus on sexuality, purely because it presents a clear lens through which to understand the broader goals of Tantra.

Within the varied ideas and practices of Witchcraft, a general view of human sexuality emerges that corresponds well with this Tantric idea of “weaving.” Many are attracted to the Craft because of the emphasis placed on balancing masculine and feminine, God and Goddess. The full and holistic acknowledgement of life’s polarities and the appreciation of their mutual influence is everywhere. The Wheel of the Year and its sabbats of course reflects the cycles of light and dark, and the different ways in which masculine and feminine manifest in different parts of the year. The Wiccan Great Rite comes to mind as well. Whether literal or figurative, the intention of that ritual is to fully harness the universal power created as male and female merge. Tantra teaches the respect necessary to approach and enjoy our partner, as well as ourselves, as an aspect of the Goddess or God.

Tantra is very focused on the movement of energy through bodily centers as a means to calibrate and optimize a person’s health and consciousness. In all aspects of Tantra, one will also find an emphasis on ritual, something that will again be familiar to many Western pagans. The sanctity of certain actions and objects focuses the intention and attention of the practitioners, and imbue them with a greater capacity to experience the unknowns that lie outside the realm of human reason. Chanting, meditation, music, and candles all factor in to Tantric rituals. Even the presence of a magical dagger to ward off evil, called a phurpa, is reminiscent of the Wiccan athame. In fact, some speculate that Gerald Gardner’s interest in ceremonial knives and daggers of Eastern cultures was behind the athame’s placement in the rituals of Wicca.

Many may be familiar with the Indian concept of the chakras, the energy centers that are placed along the center column of the human body. Each chakra resonates with different aspects of consciousness. The word “chakra” itself means “wheel, ” again echoing the Witch’s honoring life’s cyclical nature. The chakras in the center of the body (seven in total) are in actuality the major chakras–according to the Indian traditions, there are many other smaller energy centers throughout the human body. Also, it should be noted that many spiritual traditions, including parts of what’s called the New Age movement, teach that other chakras exist in our energy fields that extend beyond the physical body.

As a quick review, the seven major bodily chakras are lined up vertically, starting at the base of the spine and reaching to the top of the head. The first and lowest chakra resonates with primal ideas of survival and our place in the world. The second chakra, a couple of inches below the navel, relates to creativity and sexuality. Next up is the solar plexus chakra, which has to do with will and personal power. Then there is the heart, which connects the lower and upper chakras and of course opens up the transcendental connection to all of life through Love. Then there is the throat chakra, which relates to communication and self-expression. Above that is the third eye, which relates to intuition. The final major bodily chakra at the crown of the head is our connection to Divine source and the higher realms. Interestingly, each of these chakras relates to a gland in the body.

Specific to Tantric sexuality, raising the vital sexual energy from the lower chakras upwards through the body, and then cycling them around, is of prime importance. This is done in order that all of the chakras may be opened and properly flowing with the vital life energy. This is very much akin to raising the intent and energy prior to and during a magickal rite. All of us possess the life force itself; sexuality, and the new life that may result from intercourse, are just the most obvious ways that the life force expresses through human beings. When we see an athlete in their prime, a powerful dancer, or a performer who draws in audiences with their “animal magnetism, ” these are simply different ways we have of recognizing the vital life force in another.

During lovemaking or anything else that awakens this vital force, Tantra teaches that awareness is the key to unlocking power. Indeed, Tantra teaches us to live presently at all times. That idea of “being present” is repeated so often in certain spiritual traditions that it may sometimes lose its potency. People’s eyes may glaze over when they hear yet another teacher or book speak of “being present.” However, when we remember that living Tantrically, or presently, allows us to “make love to life, ” savoring the richness of all sensations and experiences… well, that sounds a lot more enticing, and something we’d be more motivated to practice!

Even for the couple who are at ease with one another and themselves, the holistic circulation of life force energy around the body during lovemaking may not come naturally. Of course on a biological level, sexual union is focused on the lower chakra areas. Those more primal instincts often hold the most sway during sexual experiences. What Tantra teaches is that through full body awareness, open breathing, attention to our partner, and yes, conscious use of intent and will, that we can learn to circulate that energy around our entire bodies. For men, we often hear half-baked explanations or jokes about learning Tantra in order to “last longer.” While this may be a side benefit, it’s actually missing the point.

Just as in the ways of the Craft, transmutation of energy is the name of the game. As is balance. If we equate the chakras to different aspects of our personality, it becomes clear that some chakras are usually stronger than others. No one is born with perfect balance. Some people will have their upper chakras open and thus have strong intuition and spirituality, but may have a hard time paying the bills. Likewise, others may be able to create financial prosperity for themselves, but carry around a heavy heart. Obviously, these examples are very basic and not nuanced, but they shed light on this idea of balance. Everyone’s life path can be seen as an opportunity to redress the imbalances that they were born into for a particular incarnation.

Just as Witchcraft allows individual people to better balance themselves as a microcosm that’s part of the macrocosm, Tantra does so in its own ways. When it comes to the sacred sexuality practices, you can visualize the vital life force, or kundalini, moving up through the ckakras, cleansing and clearing any that are not functioning optimally. If you feel tension and “blockages” in any physical area of your body, this corresponds with the emotional, non-physical as well. Such pain is often resistance to your fully expressing the natural self. The snaking energy that Tantric practice awakens in your being acts as a tonic for your chakra centers. As you clarify your energy in this way, you grow in you personal sense of ease, flow, and feeling of “rightness” with yourself in your body and in this world.

A wonderful outlook that binds both Tantra and Witchcraft is that everyone has the power and the right to get in touch with and develop their own vital force. In turn, this life force in each person is a localized expression and extension of the Divine




The Dark Side

The Dark Side

Author: RuneWolf 

“If you only knew the power of the Dark Side.”
D. Vader
Dark Side, Inc.

Would that I walked a spiritual path as clear-cut and uncomplicated as that which Mr. Lucas appears to show us in the Star Wars sagas. It would simplify things immensely if the Craft really were divided into Light and Dark, and all one had to do was choose which one to follow.

But things just aren’t that simple in the Way of the Witch and, I suspect, Mr. Lucas’ message isn’t that simple either. I think a bit more thought and intuition went into the crafting of the Star Wars mythology than we might expect, considering all the flashy special effects.

Now, I haven’t read any of the Star Wars books, so I’m probably lacking considerable depth in the mythology as a whole. Those of you who have that depth, please bear with me. I can only address what I have seen in the films.

In the course of the films, we are told that the Force is an energy field which interpenetrates and binds together everything in the galaxy. We are further told that this Force is divided into good and evil, the Light Side and the Dark Side, and that the Light Side is difficult to master, whereas the Dark Side has an insidious allure because it is the easier path. The Light Side is to be pursued by our heroes, whilst the Dark Side is to be avoided like the plague.

An interesting mix of archetypal images. The Force, as we first meet it, would seem to closely parallel the Tao of early Chinese philosophy. The division into mutually antagonistic opposites, however, smacks of Western Dualism.

But only if we take these definitions on face value.

We repeatedly hear about “the Dark Side of the Force, ” and how people “turn to the Dark Side” because it appears easier and more powerful. But why is this? If the Dark Side is in fact easier, more seductive and ultimately more powerful, then why isn’t the galaxy already overrun by Darksiders?

We don’t really see any difference between the powers of the Light Siders and those of the Dark Siders. Okay, neither Obi-Wan nor Qui-Gon Jinn ever threw lightening bolts, but you always got the feeling they could if they wanted to/needed to. Aside from this, both sides seem to have pretty much the same abilities.

So what separates the Light Side from the Dark Side? I think Lucas’ message is a bit more subtle than Good vs. Evil with mankind caught in the middle. We are told that Vader “turned to the Dark Side of the Force.” But if the Force really is analogous to the Tao, then the Force is everything, including oneself. So in saying one has “turned to the Dark Side of the Force, ” we are in a very real way saying that one has turned to the Dark Side of oneself.

This, I think, is Lucas’ real message, and it is where the spirituality of the fictional Jedis parallels the very real spirituality of contemporary Pagans.

The real and important difference between the Light Side and the Dark Side of the Force, the only difference that really matters, has nothing to do with the Force itself. It has to do with the nature of the individual, and whether that nature is inclined to the ethical or unethical use of power.

I wasn’t part of the Craft when Star Wars came out, but I have to wonder: Was there really all that much talk about the Light Side and the Dark Side of the Craft before Star Wars? Even before I chose to walk the Way of the Witch, I knew something about Wicca and neoPaganism, and I heard early on that there was no such thing as a “Good Witch” or a “Bad Witch, ” that what mattered was how one used one’s powers. Star Wars has certainly had an impact on our contemporary culture and mythology, and I do wonder how much it has colored our perception of our own spirituality, especially with so many new Pagans coming from the “Star Wars generation.”

Before we go any further, let’s look, for a moment, at what I call “Dark.” Admittedly, there are magickal Paths that are inherently Dark – some forms of Ceremonial Magick and Satanism, to name two. With apologies to those who are more tolerant than I, I don’t consider either of the above to come under the rubric of Paganism, and I think that, for the Satanists at least, the feeling is mutual.

But even within “Pagandom Proper” there are Paths that make use of Dark symbolism and imagery, and which connect primarily with the Darker aspects of Deity. My own Patron is Scathach, the Shadowy One, She Who Strikes Fear. Not the “Lightest” of Goddesses, to be sure.

And yet, I have seen Her dance, laugh, heal and comfort. So She is not “all Dark, ” and this is a crucial point in Pagan spirituality – we don’t see anything or anyone, mortal or otherwise, as a manifestation or personification of pure Good or pure Evil, totally Light or totally Dark. We recognize that there are infinite shades of gray, and that within the Light is a little Dark, and within the Dark a little Light.

So what we have is not a choice between dualistic Realms of Light and Dark. What we have is access to a Universal Power, and the burden of how we choose to use that Power. This is a good deal more problematic than just signing up for the Light Side or the Dark Side. Its not something that we can just “sleepwalk” through; it requires thought, consideration, self-examination and, ultimately, self-knowledge. Without these, it is too easy to make the wrong choices.

As Pagans, we do not have the luxury of simplistic, formulaic ethical scripts. Even the much- vaunted “Harm None” comes into question, given the right circumstances. If I cast a binding spell on a known child molester, am I doing him harm? Am I on the Dark Side? If I do not bind him, and he harms another child, have I contributed to that harm through my own non-action? Personally, I know what my choice would be, and I would gladly accept the consequences of the Law of Threefold Return. But I pose these questions to illustrate that if there is a Dark Side, then it resides within each of us, and that it manifests in the way we use our power.

Nor is this crux the sole province of Pagans. We all know people, from public figures to close friends, who have “turned to the Dark Side” a time or two in their lives. What this really means, in keeping with Lucas’ mythology, is that the person took the “easy way out;” they took the money to look the other way, they lied to avoid consequences, they took their anger out on innocent bystanders, they cheated or stole or backstabbed or any of a thousand other things. They had the power, in that moment, to do the right thing – we all do. But, for whatever reason, they made the wrong choice. We all do, every now and then.

Believe me, I’m not holding the moral high ground. I’ve done enough harm in my life to last me through several incarnations. And I’m bound to do more harm before I leave this one. I try not to, but I’m human, and I have a whole raft of “human weaknesses” that are wide open to the lure of the Dark Side. A dozen – a hundred! – times a day, I am presented with the choice to use my “power” for Good or Ill. And when I say “power, ” I’m not talking about anything as grandiose as the Force. Our power is often nothing more and nothing less than the opportunity to smile or to frown at a complete stranger. I can’t say I always choose to smile.

No, I don’t believe in a nefarious, mysterious – even glamorous – Dark Side to the Craft. But I do believe in personal integrity and responsibility. I believe in the Wyrd of Right Action, and in the redressing of any wrongs that I commit, whether I intended that harm or not. It isn’t an easy path, and sometimes I wish it were written out in “Ten Easy Commandments or Less.” But that isn’t the case on the Path I have chosen. So I work to keep myself open to Divine guidance, to learn from my mistakes and to earnestly try to make the right choices in any given moment.

In Their Service…


The Importance of Pre-Ritual Preparations

The Importance of Pre-Ritual Preparations

Author: Colleen Criswell

Most, if not all of us, who perform rituals and spell work, lead busy and eventful lives. During the day we go to work or school, we run errands, do housework, take care of our families, take care of our pets, deal with our responsibilities that we have in life. We all have stresses, worries, anxieties, regrets, angers, disappointments, frustrations, sorrows that we face. We have our excitements, joys, pleasures, passions, involvements, hopes, dreams, and wishes. All of these different emotions and energies that surround us in our day-to-day lives.

At the same time, we are all on our own personal spiritual paths. We have taken upon ourselves to open our minds and gain more knowledge of our chosen religion and belief and faith system. In our practices with rituals and spell casting, we have a knowledge and understanding of the energies we are raising and sending out, however life does go on and with it are the natural ups and downs that we face with our responsibilities as functioning human beings living in the world today.

How is it that we can deal with a balance of these energies? How do we manage working with positive energies and focusing on our ritual energies when we have had a stressful or bad or even a wonderful and exciting day?

How is it we can separate and have a nice balance of our personal energy with our magickal energy we are working with?

Remember, none of these things have to be done at all. But by even just doing one thing suggested here, you may find that your spell and ritual work is more potent because of the little extra boost that these suggestions can add to your experience.

At the school we hold rituals online for every Sabbat and every Esbat. We also hold other rituals that your fellow students create for class projects. These rituals are usually done in the evening, and where time zone issues can be a factor, there are things that can be done to help ease your self from “Muggle” life to “Magickal” life.

As always, you know when each ritual the school is holding will be, normally, a month in advance. This means you have plenty of time to get the materials you need for the ritual. By immediately gathering things that you need for a ritual ahead of time, you are taking away a lot of the stress and anxiety of being unprepared for the ritual. It also gives you time to charge any new tools you may need or find suitable substitutions for items that are on the list that you do not have.

Waiting to the last minute will have you scrambling around to find what you need. You may find you do not have an important element for the ritual or a suitable substitution. You may be working with tools that have an energy that may not be compatible with the work you are doing. This may hinder the desired result.

So, you have all the items you need. So what, you come home from work, get dinner, put the kids to bed, walk the dog, set up and do the ritual, right? Sure you could do that. But what about the stress that you had from the workday? The fact you burnt the chicken? You son just dumped baby powder all over the rug? You have a test or a presentation to give tomorrow? You are out of toothpaste?

All of these things effect you, effect your emotions, your energy, and in essence your ability to concentrate on your ritual and the magick you are working on. No, it won’t make these things go away, but if you do some pre-ritual preparation it can help you adjust from those stresses and allow them to be put aside for the time being.

This way we can focus on what it is that we are doing.

There are a number of different ways you can make this transition, the thing is you have to take the time to do it, make the known effort and possibly make adjustments to your schedule. I do understand that due to time limitations and schedules and things that need to be done in every day life may cause obstacles for you.

You might feel that you are unable to do these things. The rituals run at 8pm EST, but you live in California, so that makes the ritual start at 5pm PST. You get home at 4:45. You have to fix something to eat for the family or check the kids’ homework first or a million other things.

List out what it is that you normally do when you get home. Is it possible to make any adjustments to these things? A typical ritual runs one hour. So, if you get home at 4:30, your ritual begins at 5:00, it is easy to estimate that it will conclude at 6:00 or around there.

Can you adjust your schedule so that you check the homework a little bit later? Is it possible that someone else will be willing to make dinner for the family that night or is it possible to create the meal the day before so it just needs a few minutes to heat up? Is it possible to get off work a little early that day? We are talking about something that we do once or twice a month.

Is it a lot to ask for one hour from your families to pursue this?

Many people share computer space with other members of the family, so you may not be able to use your computer desk as a permanent personal and sacred space. If this is the case, since you know when the ritual is going to be, gather your tools the night before the ritual to make sure you have every thing you need.

If you can have them set up the night the before and you know they will be undisturbed, by all means get your space ready and set up. This makes it one less thing you need to worry about. If you cannot have it set up the night before, then bring your tools into the room where you will be having it.

It is good to keep them in a container so that people know that this is for something specific and not to move or mess with it. Keep it in the area where you will be having the ritual. Now, as you know when we have the online rituals I ask that you join the room no later than fifteen minutes before the actual ritual begins. Just because you are logged into the chat room does not mean you have to be sitting at your computer.

So when you get home, set up your space, log into the chat room. I usually open the chat room an hour before the ritual is to take place. You now have your tools set up.

Ready to start the ritual? No, not yet.

One aspect of pre ritual preparation that we hear of a lot, but many do not incorporate is the pre-ritual bath. Now many people might say, especially if they are the ones getting home at 4:30 and only have 30 minutes or less before the ritual, I am not going to spend the time to draw a bath!

Then there are people who do not have bathtubs or simply do not like to take baths. One thing that you can do is a ritual shower. Another argument is “But I took a bath or shower this morning, do I really need to take another one?”

Now why is it that ritual baths and rituals showers are important before a ritual? What purpose do these activities accomplish? What all is involved in a ritual bath or shower?

When we hear these words, the images that usually pop into mind are, for a bath a long relaxing lounge in bubbles with maybe some candles maybe some music playing. A shower is usually considered something quick, cleansing your body fast and efficient. A ritual bath and ritual shower are not about physically cleaning yourself.

The purpose of a ritual bath or shower is to remove negative energy from you and to put you in the proper mindset before a ritual. Now this can also be done simply by using sage incense to smudge yourself, however where this is a fast and simple quick fix, it may not be enough.

The element of water is in tune with our emotions. It can be an amplifier for your emotions and it can be soothing to them as well. After a long day where maybe you had a rough day at the office, maybe you got a nasty call from a bill collector, you daughter’s teacher called you and she is failing math, your sister’s water just broke and is off to have her first child, you have a hot date tomorrow night. All of these things are running in your mind. With all of this built up energy, how might it affect your magickal work?

Taking a bath or a shower is relaxing. Allowing the water to carry some of that excess energy away from your system. When you add other elements to it, you can purify and cleanse your energies to prepare you to do what magickal work that you have planned.

For a bath, I would recommend adding salt to the water. You can use something as simple as table salt or use sea salt. However, for this type of thing I would not suggest bath salts that are commercially made or bath beads or bubbles. To purify, just water and salt is all you need. If you feel that your energy needs a positive or protective boost I would add a 1/4 to a 1/2 a cup of apple cider vinegar. This helps cleanse and balance the aura. You would put these elements into the bath as you are running the water to help disperse the energies.

Next, think of the type of ritual you will be doing. What sort of energies are you going to be working with? Check your correspondence charts for proper oils, stones, incense, even music that might help aid in the energies you are planning on raising.

For instance, if we are doing a ritual to help increase your psychic abilities, I know that lavender and amethyst both help aid in this. I also know that the color purple promotes strengthening your psychic abilities. So, for my bath I would light some purple candles, light some lavender incense, put some amethyst stones into the bath water, and then once my bath is completely ready I would drop in a few drops of lavender essential oil. I would then soak for no less than ten minutes. Allowing myself to relax. Breathing in the scents, absorbing the energies, meditating on opening my Third Eye Chakra.

This can also be done for a shower. If you can close the drain, do so. Gathering the water in the bottom as you shower. Again place the salt, vinegar, oil, stones that you are going to use to aide you in the energy that you need to bring in. Also, get a washcloth, and create a bundle. In the bundle put the salt and some of the essential oil that you are planning on using, and then using the base of the bundle you have created scrub yourself. Focusing on the energies you are removing and on the energies you are bringing in.

Now we have finished with our bath or shower and have dried off. Next what is it we should be wearing? Depending on your personal tradition, you might choose to practice skyclad. However, there are times when skyclad may not be appropriate.

Having ritual wear is not mandatory, however it is a way you can prepare yourself for what it is you are going to do. Our clothes that we wear from day to day also attract energies. Also, remember, colors have specific energies as well.

When you are doing magickal work it is good to make sure that all the energies you are working with are in sync. Taking the time to wear something special for your ritual work also puts you in a more relaxed and proper state of mind. Removing the “Muggle” clothing, as it were, into your ritual robes is a ritual all unto itself.

I have created not only my ritual robes, but I also have specific jewelry that I wear only for ritual work. I also have created slippers for my ritual work. Many of us may like to go around barefoot, but there are times when we may need the protection. Deciding on ritual wear doesn’t have to be extravagant. If you can afford a bulky medieval costume and feel comfortable with it, then by all means wear it, or if you find a simple cotton nightdress that you like, then by all means use that.

One thing I will mention about ritual wear, proper care and storage is important. Our ritual wear is part of our magickal tools. Just as your athame or wand or incense, it is to be respected and cared for. Also, just as you would with any ritual tool, you should charge it with energy and consecrate it. We will discuss more on ritual wear in another discussion.

When putting on your ritual wear, don’t just throw it on, take your time and focus on each item you are putting on, and what it represents to you. Feel your own transformation from the busy executive or housewife into a practitioner of magick.

Now you are ready to sit down and perform your ritual.

Now, before I end, please note, that these are not the only ways of preparing yourself before a ritual. When you understand the different correspondences, the different vibrations that certain colors, scents, stones, foods and music give off, you can incorporate it all in your entire day.

Wear colors that promote the energy that you are going to be raising during the day, even if it is just one item in the color. Wear a scent that will draw the energies to you. Wear or carry gems or stones.

If you do daily devotions, focus on the deities that will help you create that energy. Also, your whole day can reflect the energy you are going to be raising that evening. If you can find ways that are appropriate, do it, try it.

One of my favorite things, as I am a Kitchen Witch is to eat foods that might be known to assist with the energy I am planning on working with. I usually plan a menu for a special dinner around it, but also I do start in the morning with breakfast and through out the day I try to think of what the energy is I am going to work with and what things I can eat that will add to it.

This is why I make you create so many charts here at the school. When you understand your correspondence charts; know the colors, numbers, symbols, herbs, foods, drinks, teas, deities, times of the day, when you have this information, why not use it to your advantage?

Now let me give you an example of a day of preparation for me that I would do. Keep in mind I am a stay at home mom, so I do know that what I do may not work with your own personal schedule, I am just giving you an idea to help you come up with your own plan.

Lets go back to the example I gave before, on a ritual for increasing your psychic abilities. Things I might do to prepare during the day would be:

I know that purple is a color that I associate with psychic awareness. So, I would wear my purple shirt or add a purple scarf to my clothes, or even wear purple underwear.

I know that the Third Eye Chakra is used when working with your psychic abilities. So during the day I would do meditations and exercises that I know help open and balance the Third Eye Chakra.

I know that the number 7 is associated with psychic energy, so maybe during the day I would do things in 7’s or possibly I would have a snack of 7 slices of apple.

Speaking of foods, I know that dandelion leaves, grapes, olives, lavender, beans, cheese, eggs, tea, anise, cloves, marigold, onion, peppermint, yarrow, cinnamon, poppy, saffron, thyme, celery, rosemary, chamomile, corn, lettuce, among other things can help promote psychic abilities. So I can choose recipes and plan my meals using some of these items.

I know amethyst is a gem associated with divination and psychic abilities. So I would wear jewelry that has this stone in it.

I know that the runic symbol Laguz; the planetary symbols of the Moon, Neptune and Pluto; symbols of the Dark moon, spirals in the Deosil direction, representations of the Moon, the ocean, the pentacle, the rainbow, the scales, spirals, the Waning Crescent Moon, and the wind also help with this purpose.

I can put these images on the candles I will be using for my ritual, when I put on my scent, maybe draw the pattern, visualize the symbols during meditation, carve them into the food, trace the pattern as you stir something, or how about a snack? Take a piece of bread, and using a squeezable bottle of grape jelly draw the pattern onto the bread?

I know that lavender is associated with this, so I would possibly burn lavender incense during the day, or put a little lavender EO on my wrist. Maybe pick some fresh lavender and bring it into the home.

Prepare my ritual space in advance.

Create a special meal for my family that uses the ingredients, numbers, and symbols that I know will help enhance my psychic abilities.

Take time during the day for reflection and meditate on Selene and Pan or other deities who are associated with divination and psychic abilities.

Research psychic abilities and new forms of divination.

Take a pre ritual bath with salt, lavender oil, amethyst crystals, lavender incense and purple candles.

Turn on some soothing New Age music

Dress myself in my ritual wear

Perform my ritual

When you put your mind set into what it is you are planning on raising, energy wise, you will find that not only does it add to your entire experience, it transforms the entire day into a magickal day. Our magick doesn’t have to be only on Sabbats or Esbats. Our magick doesn’t have to only be practiced at the main altar you have set up. Magick can be done all day, every day. These tips and ideas don’t have to be only done pre-ritual. You can incorporate these things into just about any part of your life. It is simply deciding to take the effort to do so.

So, to recap:

Have your items in advance. Make sure your tools are ready for your work before the ritual is to take place.

Try to give yourself time to prepare yourself for your ritual.

Take a pre-ritual bath or shower to help balance your energies and use tools to help increase the energies you are going to be working with.

Put on your ritual wear.

During your day, incorporate the elements or theme of the ritual into what you wear, what you eat, and what you do.

Even if you just take the time to do one little extra thing, you will very likely notice the difference in your magickal work. If you start doing this in your everyday life, you may find it a bit more magickal.

A Little Humor for Your Day – Types of Pagans

Types of Pagans


Now for those of you who are new, and have never encountered persons calling themselves pagans, witches, goddess-worshippers, here’s how to tell us apart–with a healthy bit of tongue in one’s cheek.

Is this the first time you’ve seen this many pagans together? Well, you’re in for a deflowering, young earth-worshipper, and you’ve come to the right place. However, you should realize that there are many, many types of pagans. In the old day’s, we old farts just had to keep making the rounds until we either found a group that wouldn’t kick us out or founded our own clique. But now, progress has brought us many different flavors to choose from.

1. Bright-Eyed Novice:
You just read this cool book about a religion where there’s a Goddess and a God, and they meet outside in nature, instead of some scary old building. They think sex is GOOD not evil, and you want to know where to sign up.

Distinguishing Signs:
Mispronounces god/dess names, has to think a moment about which is deosil and which is widdershins. Has a shiny new athame (rhymes with “A-frame”.)

2. Grand Old Wo/Man:
Actually remembers Woodstock (the first one.) Will tell you about the time they dropped acid with Kerry Wendell Thornley – or maybe it was Robert Anton Wilson. Anyway, it was somebody with three names. Or was it three people with one name?

Distinguishing Signs:
Luxuriant gray locks, listens very intently, knows dish about people you’ve only read about.

3. Tree Hugging Nature Sprite:
Most prized possession: one of Judi Barry’s old tree spikes. Simultaneously believes in universal love for humanity and returning the planet to a pristine, uncorrupted state. Apt to remove clothes and fondle the shrubbery at a moment’s notice. Can discuss compost in great detail.

Distinguishing Signs:
No meat, no fragrance, no leather, no plastic, no smoke, no drugs, no eco-exploitive products, no animal tested cosmetics, no TV, no car, but very tolerant.

4. Anal Retentive Ceremonialist:
Book collection actually holds up the ceiling in places. Is studying Greek, Latin and Hebrew all at once. Does “workings” instead of “rituals”. All twenty volumes of their magical diaries are all in Enochian.

Distinguishing Signs:
Won’t go anywhere without a book. Is constantly aware of which direction is east. Dresses according to planetary conditions, or whatever was on sale at Wal-Mart.

5. Womyncentric Gynocrat
A man’s shadow crossed her altar once and she spent three weeks purifying it. She’ll have no wands in her chalice, thank you. No boys allowed in her full-moon club. Can hold forth for hours on the magical properties of menstrual blood.

Distinguishing Signs:
Tiny axes or curved knives, just right for amputating a penis, are a favored symbol and often hang conveniently from her body parts. When a man approaches she rolls her eyes and stops talking.

6. Sexy Pagan Nymph:
Oh, they’re so nice! All that warm, round, sex-positive flesh — and you can actually carry on a conversation with them between orgasms… pant, drool…

Distinguishing Signs:
Cute. Horny. Displays prominent cleavage. Will recite love poetry to you under a full moon. Likes to do it outdoors. Often destitute. All too few of them.

7. Corporate Closet Witch:
“Hey, boss — I’d like to take February 2nd as a personal day…” Has an entire chapter of their Book Of Shadows concerned with spells for purifying the workplace. Doesn’t mind working on Christmas, especially if there’s overtime involved. Quit being overtly Pagan at work since being canned by that born-again boss, but still refuses to say “Merry Christmas.”

Distinguishing Signs:
Can assume a properly smiley work persona at the drop of a hat. Constantly glances around the room anxiously looking for co-workers and their spies. Non-distinctive style of dress, no conspicuous tattoos.

8. Childe Of Kaos:
Can name seventeen industrial goth bands without pausing to think. Knows what a Prince Albert is. Personally feels that if no panicky headlines appear the day after you do a ritual, you screwed up. Painted on their jacket, engraved in their flesh and/or boldly displayed as jewelry is an emblem which resembles a combination of corporate logo and arcane symbol. If you don’t know what it means, they’ll think you’re a dweeb.

Distinguishing Signs:
Easy to picture as an alternative musician or bike messenger, difficult to visualize as a school teacher or research assistant, impossible to imagine as a TV news anchor or bank officer. Always wears black leather, even when sleeping.

9. Pagan Celebrity:
At conventions, stays on the hotel floor that requires a special key for elevator access. Lurks around knots of conversation eavesdropping in order to see if their name is being mentioned. Arrives in helicopter especially for rituals. Starts every sentence with “I”. If you ask them how it’s going, they hand you a press release.

Distinguishing Signs:
Always has plenty of books to autograph and will personally sell them to you at a slight discount from cover price. Never seen unaccompanied by beefy amazonian bodyguards and doe-eyed hangers-on. Seems vaguely afraid of anyone they don’t already know.

10. Scary Devil Worshipper:
Would never been caught dead skyclad. Rarely smiles, except in a snide, knowing way which insinuates you are an ignorant peasant worthy of conquest. Secretly enjoys Rush Limbaugh and read The Bell Curve with smug satisfaction. Fascinated with Nazis. Probably has never hurt a fly, but they want you to think they’re capable of vast destruction.

Distinguishing Signs:
Lots of black and red. Men like goatees, women favor heavy black eye liner. At least one inverted pentagram somewhere on their person. If you see several of them getting tanked in a bar, it would be wise to stay far away.

11. Crowley-In-A-Past-Life:
Every magical gathering has at least one of these, along with several variants along the lines of Gerald Gardner, Tituba, Morgan LeFey, or somebody who was Atlantean royalty. Many of them were abducted by aliens recently, and have disturbing dreams rich with arcane symbolism that they will tell you all about, in great detail.

Distinguishing Signs:
Look for the intense gleam in the eyes, the backpack rattling with various psychiatric medications, and the garments that were clearly designed and tailored on another planet.

12. Ravin’ Pagan:
Young and psychedelic. Can dance non-stop all night. Refuses to do boring Eurocentric rituals and prefers deities from sunny climes with lots of interesting local plants. Can say “Ayahuasca” ten times real fast and deliver long quotes from Terrence McKenna.

Distinguishing Signs:
Dresses in color combinations that hurt the eyes unless you’ve taken ecstasy. Bloodshot eyes, blissful smile, never goes anywhere without ritual drum.

13. Faerie Queen:
Is he a she? Is she a he? Are they a couple, or are those two a couple or are all four of them a quadruple? If getting answers to these questions could disturb you, best stay away. If, on the other hand, these kind of questions seem overly judgmental, you might have a real good time…

Distinguishing Signs:
When you look at this person, does every sex act you’ve ever experienced in your life seem hopelessly vanilla? If so, congratulations — you’ve found a Faerie!

14. High Episcopagan:
Do their rituals have a script, a choreographer, a stage manager, an orchestra with chorus and last at least three hours? It’s a High Episcopagan! They can memorize pages and pages of Olde English, have more ritual garbs than most people have socks, and consider their main pagan influences to be Gerald Gardner, Judy Garland and Busby Berkeley.

Distinguishing Signs:
Book of Shadows exceeds five volumes. Knows every note of “Carmina Burana”. Don’t ask them about that 18th century seed pearl trim on their ritual hat unless you’ve got an hour to spare.

15. Fundamentapagan:
If it’s in a book, it must be true. If it’s in an old book, it must really be true. If it’s in an old book that was handed down from an oral tradition of people who couldn’t read, then it must really be way true. Gnashes their teeth if anyone shows up at a circle wearing a watch, glasses, or other mechanical assistance. Believes that anyone who lives in a city, eats meat or has a regular job dare not call themselves a pagan.

Distinguishing Signs:
Has hissy fits when somebody brings up the old “Crowley ghosted Gardner’s books” argument. Goes around correcting everyone’s gaelic/old norse/latin/babylonian.

16. Dances With Bunny Rabbits:
Uses animal symbolism to express nearly all opinions and feelings. Charter member of PETA. Thinks meat eaters should be publicly executed. Has many, many, many pets. Has a spirit animal. Personally owns 927 models, pictures, and other depictions of their spirit animal.

Distinguishing Signs:
Not counting the pagan his/herself, how many animals can you see when looking at them? If the count surpasses five (including critters found on tattoos, jewelry, garments and undies), you’ve found a worshipper of beasties.

17. Priest/ess of Political Correctness:
Analyzes everything they read or hear for sexist-racist-homophobic-imperialist-Eurocentric content without paying attention to what is actually being said. Believes in personal liberty — everyone has the right to be overbearing, dogmatic and holier-than-thou, not just the Christian Right. Incredibly boring yet annoyingly self-righteous all at the same time.

Distinguishing Signs:
Beady hyper-alert little eyes are constantly in motion, waiting for someone to do or say something bad. Has loud and attention attracting hissy fits when confronted with everyday things such as advertising or corporate franchises. Rudimentary sense of humor is rarely activated.

18. Our Lady Of Intense Suffering:
Is constantly persecuted. You’re probably persecuting her right now, you just don’t realize it. Became a Pagan because she decided it was that most persecuted religion of all. Can’t enjoy anything because it would be selfish to have any fun when so many are suffering.

Distinguishing Signs:
Tales of woe. Even less of a sense of humor than #17. Bristles when anyone says the words “masochist” or “whining”.

19. I Am Not Spock (at the moment):
Knows at least three filks about Cthulhu and at least forty Star Trek jokes. Has found a clever way to create simple furniture from stacks of science fiction paperbacks. Can name ninety different kinds of space ship.

Distinguishing Signs:
Two fisted drinking style. Probably still lives with parents. Many cryptic buttons, badges, patches and other insignia. Too smart for their own good.

20. Het-Case:
Insist that they aren’t homophobic; they just believe that Paganism is about a goddess and a god and they do it and what could be more obvious than that? It just doesn’t “work right” if you try any other way! Are secretly afraid that gays and/or lesbians are dying to jump their tender hetro bones.

Distinguishing Signs:
Living spaces abound with depictions of satyrs with enormous genitals and huge-breasted, doe-eyed goddesses. Long manicured nails and wreaths of flowers (on females only — men have big, bushy beards instead.)

21. Norse Code:
Heroic and vikingly, these pagans often get into trouble with festival organizers and park rangers due to their fondness for running around with a huge battle-ax in one hand and a full mead horn in the other. They throw the best parties, but if you’re a wimp, you’re expressly not invited.

Distinguishing Signs:
Look for the large, foreboding, biker-like persons wearing runes, with many pounds of amber dangling from their necks.

22. Pentacles, Inc:
Pagans have disposable income too, right? So how come they aren’t buying my hand forged Venus of Willendorf necklaces — they come in silver and gold, and each one has a genuine cubic zirconium belly button. Would you like a reading? Will that be Visa or Master Card?

Distinguishing Signs:
Has business cards featuring little embossed pentagrams. You’ve never seen so much Egyptian god/dess jewelry on a human being in your whole life. Rarely leaves the dealer’s room and can’t believe there are so many jewelry sellers present.

23. Monster Truck Pagan:
Can grow their own food, build their own house, sew their own clothes, home school their children and brew their own organic hooch. Are looking forward to the bleak, post-apocalyptic world postulated by the environmentalists as they can’t wait to run amok through the country, worshipping ancient gods, blowing up strip malls and rutting on the divider line of every interstate.

Distinguishing Signs:
Resourceful, clever and very well versed in the U. S. Constitution. Eats meat with visible twitches of pleasure. is aware that primitive religions have nothing to do with crystals, Atlantis or unicorns. Can assume a properly smiley work persona at the drop of a hat. Constantly glances around the room anxiously looking for co-workers and their spies. Non-distinctive hair, no conspicuous tattoos.
… You may be a monster-truck pagan if your anointing oil is 30 weight.
… You may be a monster truck pagan if cakes & wine means tailgate party.
… You may be a monster truck pagan if Autumn is the Burning Time.


The Cauldron

Astronomy Picture of the Day – Centaurus A

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 November 19

Centaurus A
Processing & Copyright: Robert Gendler, Roberto Colombari
Image Data: Hubble Space Telescope, European Southern Observatory

Explanation: What’s the closest active galaxy to planet Earth? That would be Centaurus A, only 11 million light-years distant. Spanning over 60,000 light-years, the peculiar elliptical galaxy is also known as NGC 5128. Forged in a collision of two otherwise normal galaxies, Centaurus A’s fantastic jumble of young blue star clusters, pinkish star forming regions, and imposing dark dust lanes are seen here in remarkable detail. The colorful galaxy portrait is a composite of image data from space- and ground-based telescopes large and small. Near the galaxy’s center, left over cosmic debris is steadily being consumed by a central black hole with a billion times the mass of the Sun. As in other active galaxies, that process generates the radio, X-ray, and gamma-ray energy radiated by Centaurus A.