The Origins of Halloween by Silver RavenWolf

Harvest Moon, velvet sky, pumpkins glowing, children laughing, costumes, candy, scary stories—just where did this autumn gaiety begin? Let’s look through those cobwebby corridors of time to unearth the exciting genealogy of the American Celebration we call Halloween!

Nothing is ever as simple as it seems—especially when dealing with history. Too often events and circumstances of our past were written or re-written by people who, for whatever reason, operated under an agenda, or simply wanted history to reflect how it should have been, rather than how it was. How, then, do we determine what is fact and what is fiction? In some cases, we can’t. In other situations, we dig.

The Celts

Many historians feel that the greatest strength in the Celtic people lies in their collective mythos. Wading through the romanticism to find unmodified information can prove a tricky endeavor. The earliest archaeological evidence we have of the Celts rest in France and Western Germany.  The Celtic people moved into Spain, Britain, and Switzerland between the fifth and first century BCE. They even ransacked Rome in 390 BCE.

The Celtic peoples celebrated four festivals called fire festivals–commonly know today as Samhain, Oimelc (Imbolc), Beltane, and Lughnasadh. Samhain (pronounced sow-in, sow rhymes with now) was the first and foremost a harvest festival relating to animal husbandry and preparations for the winter months. Fire is an element of cleaning, a vehicle of eradication, so it is not unlikely that fire would work itself into any type of religious celebration. Fire among the ancient peoples often represented an aspect of the divine.

What does the word Samhain mean? Well, we know what it doesn’t mean. There is no archeological or literary evidence of a Celtic god by the name of Samhain. This little slip of fact appears to have begum in the 1700s and continues in some misinformed publications today. The word Samhain actually means “summers end”.

So, where did this Lord of the Dead thing come in? Over time, Samhain took on a religious significance through ministrations of the Druids (the clergy of the Celt’s). Legends indicate that on Samhain all the hearth fires in Ireland were doused and then lit again from a central fire maintained by the Druids at Tlachtga. To the Celts, Samhain was a turning point from light into darkness, and it was thought that this break or fissure created easier access to their land of the dead, Tir nan Og.

The Druids

We need to know a little bit about the Druids to continue with our history of Halloween. The Druids were versed in all learning and were considered to have the gift of prophecy. They functioned as judge, ambassadors, healers, and religious leaders. The Druids first named the holiday Samhain.

 Feast of the Dead

As the Celtic religious system solidified so did the beliefs of the Celts concerning the dead—as has occurred in all religions, before and after the Celts. Since the turning points of the year were considered fissures in time and space, the Celts believe that the dead they loved so dearly could travel through time and space and return from Tir nan Og to visit them. The custom of leaving food at the table (the birth part of the treat part of trick-or-treat) was a gesture of welcome to the departed. From these visits came the belief that those who had gone beyond the land of the living could provide information on past or future events. This is how divination became associated with Samhain.

The Celts did not believe in devils or demons, but they did believe in the Fairy Folk, whom they thought inhabited the land of the dead (the land in-between). Fairies were thought to be resentful of humankind for taking over their land. Because time and space could be conquered on Samhain, fairies were said to roam countryside creating mischief and kidnapping a human or two now and then—just for fun, you understand.—except the humans never came back. Here then is the root of the scary stuff associated with Halloween. The mischief, of course, was caused by living humans, and accepted by the Celts as a psychological release before the onset of winter gloom—though I doubt they would explain it in those terms.

Is it odd, gross, or unusual that a group of people should set aside a day for the dead? Nope. Different cultures and religions have followed such a practice for centuries. Let’s get on our broom again and check out Rome and its contributions to Halloween.

 As the Celtic religious system solidified so did the beliefs of the Celts concerning the dead—as has occurred in all religions, before and after the Celts. Since the turning points of the year were considered fissures in time and space, the Celts believe that the dead they loved so dearly could travel through time and space and return from Tir nan Og to visit them. The custom of leaving food at the table (the birth part of the treat part of trick-or-treat) was a gesture of welcome to the departed. From these visits came the belief that those who had gone beyond the land of the living could provide information on past or future events. This is how divination became associated with Samhain.

The Celts did not believe in devils or demons, but they did believe in the Fairy Folk, whom they thought inhabited the land of the dead (the land in-between). Fairies were thought to be resentful of humankind for taking over their land. Because time and space could be conquered on Samhain, fairies were said to roam countryside creating mischief and kidnapping a human or two now and then—just for fun, you understand.—except the humans never came back. Here then is the root of the scary stuff associated with Halloween. The mischief, of course, was caused by living humans, and accepted by the Celts as a psychological release before the onset of winter gloom—though I doubt they would explain it in those terms.

Is it odd, gross, or unusual that a group of people should set aside a day for the dead? Nope. Different cultures and religions have followed such a practice for centuries. Let’s get on our broom again and check out Rome and its contributions to Halloween.

A Fly-BY of Ancient Rome

Rome had the habit of changing rulers as many times as you empty the lint trap in your dryer. Between 14 and 37 CE, Christianity had begun its rise in Rome. By 41 CE, Claudius had distinguished himself with the conquest of Britain. The Romans also had a harvest festival, so the Celts didn’t have much trouble blending the two holidays together after they came into contact with the Romans. It was around 314 CE when Constantine the Great declared the Roman Empire to be Christian, and the fate of Samhain and Druids was sealed.

 The Advent of Christianity

By the fourth and fifth centuries , Celtic Christianity had oozed into Ireland. St. Patrick has his hands full, and here is where the kettle starts to boil. At, first, the Pagans openly welcomed Christianity, but as Christianity filtered into the Celtic system, church officials had a few problems—mainly the Celtics didn’t want up their holidays or folk practices. The people were not willing to throw out traditions that were ingrained into their social structure. If you can’t get someone to completely change, what do you do? Compromise. And that’s exactly what happened. Samhain was changed to All Hollow’s Eve. To make the Pagan peoples adhere more closely to this new religion of Christianity, the clergy of the day taught the peasants that fairies were really demons and devils (remember, a concept totally unknown to Celtic belief or history) and their beloved dead were horrid ghosts and ghouls. The early Christian erroneously associated the Celtic land of the dead with the Christian concept of Hell.

To help the belief in Christianity along, Druids priestess were systematically murdered. Early Christians also taught the area peasants that their Lord of the Underworld was in fact Satan, which is ridiculous, as the two mythos don’t have anything in common. It appears that Christians misunderstood what the word Samhain meant: because the peasants use this celebration to honor the dead, Christians assumed that Samhain was the incorrect pronunciation of a Pagan deity in the Bible, recorded as Samuel, from the Semitic Sammael, meaning God of the under world.

The Witches

So far, we’ve talked about the land of the dead, how the early Christians managed to superimpose Satan onto Samhain, and how fairies got zapped into demons, but there has been no mention of Witches, commonly associated in our time with Halloween. Where did Witches come from?

During the Dark Ages, the Church sought to eradicate the Pagans and wise women from the countryside so that the church could amass both power and property. First, they had to devalue women because women kept the holy days, trained the children, and provided the cohesive socialization of the culture, thus women held the power to shape society. The church taught, among other things, that women had no souls. Once this teaching had occurred, it was only a small step to make them inhuman, and the Church was able to incite the superstitious populace.

The Celtic women were the strong hold of the family environment, and although the Celts accepted Christianity at first, they did not want to give up their family traditions or their lifestyle. The Church was not into free thinking—therefore anything that did not follow the church dictates was evil. Hence, the Witches (really the women) became evil. Since Samhain was a primary festival of the Celts and the Church had already determined that Samhain was evil, the association between Witches and Halloween was born.

All Saints’ Day / All Hallow’s EVE / Halloween

All Saints’ Day and All Hallow’s Eve (Halloween) were first introduced in the seventh century CE. All Saints’ Day was originally celebrated in the spring. The date was changed to November 1 to supplant Pagan beliefs because those pesky Pagans just refused to cough up their original Samhain. The day was to honor God and all his saints, known and unknown. All Saints’ Day later became Hallowmass, a mass to honor the dead. The Eve of All Hallow’s Day, October 31, became All Hallow’s Eve, which evolved into the word Hallowe’en. Although the church wished this time to be one of somber prayer and quite custom, the Celtics continued their customary bonfires and fortune telling.

All Souls’ Day is a bit different. This festival falls on November 2, a day to offer prayers and alms to assist the souls of those departed that manage to get stuck in purgatory, an in-between place that is neither heaven nor hell. Over the succeeding centuries, Halloween, like Christmas, picked up various customs and discarded others, depending on the complex socialization of the times and religious dictates.

Halloween Comes to America

Our first inkling of Halloween coming to America revolves not around a specific set of people (many indicate the Irish) but with William Penn’s motley collection of refugees from Europe. In 1663, Penn wrote a promotional tract about the Americans. As a result, fifty ships dropped the anchors in the Delaware River. They discharged persecuted souls from England, Ireland, Wales, and the Rhineland (now Germany). Collectively, the Germans and Irish shared Celtic heritage. Therefore many of the folk customs resonated together—including Halloween.

From 1684 through 1930, Halloween was more a time for tricking rather than for treating. Many of the tricks the German and Irish communities became universal, such as overturning outhouses, dismantling a wagon and putting it back together on top of a house or barn, and tying cows to church bells. The tricks often served as social function, such as mildly chastising a neighbor who exhibited antisocial behavior.

By 1910, several American manufactures were making or importing party products just for the American holiday Halloween. From noisemakers to costumes, a new holiday meant new business and an opportunity to make money.

The drawback to the new holiday came in the form of the “declared” Mischief Night, Goblin Night, or Devil’s night on October 30. Minor offenses, such as trying several garbage cans together and hanging them from a light pole, soaping windows with lard, and later, bars of hand soap, abounded. As the pranks grew to vandalism shopkeepers would bribe youngsters to ward off destruction of their property.

In an effort to stop the criminal behavior, the Boy Scouts, in conjunction with local town councils, cities, boroughs, instituted the custom of Trick-or-Treat night to help keep youngsters from naughty practices. By the 1930s the custom of trick-or-treating was well entrenched in our American culture. Halloween, like Christmas, became a holiday for children, and parents strove to make the holiday as much fun as possible for the enjoyment of their youngsters.

During he 1950s. ’60s, and ’70s our American Halloween stayed primarily the same, but in the ’70s and ’80s, with a recession coupled by a candy scare, groups and organizations once again sought to find appropriate avenues to make Halloween safe for America’s children. Halloween practices extended through the entire month of October. Haunted houses, parties, hay rides, plays, story hours, and numerous other events were held throughout the month.

In the mid-to-late 1990s certain sects of the Protestant Christian church declared war on Halloween. using the same erroneous propaganda cultivated hundreds of years ago. Other groups size Halloween for their own political agendas—hosting haunted houses showing aborted babies, drug addicts, and other modern day violent situations. This did not go over well, as the holiday had become an event primarily for children, not adult political issues. Radical Christian groups said that the holiday was Satanic—which, as we’ve seen from our research, is a bizarre and fantastic claim, based on misinformation, politicking, personal agendas and fear. With America’s policy of separation of church and state the battle for destroying Halloween in the United States is an uphill battle.

The original Samhain marked the the close of the agriculture season and functional third harvest festival. In America, Halloween has become the first holiday in our end-of-year rush for partied gaiety. Our Halloween functions as the opening of the three-month-long celebratory fest that includes Thanksgiving, Christmas, Yule, Kwanzaa, and Chanukkah, and ends with the popular American New Year.

As our children crave pumpkins with delightful chatter, adults find solace in a night when they can be whatever they want to be. We have little doubt about the joy this holiday bring to the American people. I am sure we will forever love the haunted house, the harvest Moon, the thrills and chills of a well-wrought tale—and, of course, the deliciously scary things that go EEEEK! in the night.

 Harvest Moon, velvet sky, pumpkins glowing, children laughing, costumes, candy, scary stories—just where did this autumn gaiety begin? Let’s look through those cobwebby corridors of time to unearth the exciting genealogy of the American Celebration we call Halloween!

Nothing is ever as simple as it seems—especially when dealing with history. Too often events and circumstances of our past were written or re-written by people who, for whatever reason, operated under an agenda, or simply wanted history to reflect how it should have been, rather than how it was. How, then, do we determine what is fact and what is fiction? In some cases, we can’t. In other situations, we dig.

Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook1999 Pages 24 to 29

History Cooperative – Countryside Festivals

Click here to read more about Countryside Festivals

As the Romans saw many natural thigns such as trees, rocks and other matters as possible hosts to spirits or bearers of some other religious significance, then the countryside bustled with spiritual hints by gods, ghosts and spirits. There was also not a thing which wasn’t somehow guarded by a deity.

Read More: Roman gods

There was gods who watched over fields, groves, orchards, vineyards, springs, woods and any other matter. Jupiter for example watched over oak trees which were sacred to him. As country life was inevitably connected to agriculture, which was at the whim of nature, religious life in the country therefore consisted primarily of appeasing he many gods around one, ensuring that they would guard the harvest and be merciful.

As the ancient calendar, before later changes by the Romans, began on waht is now 15 March, the first traditional festival of the country calendar was the liberalia on 17 March. It was held to honour Liber, the god of fertile crops and vineyards. (The liberalia was also the traditional date when a boy could become a man by being given his toga virilis.)

On 15 April came the fordicia in honour of the earth goddess Tellus. For this pregnant cows were slaughtered in sacrifice and in Rome animal fetuses were burnt on altars. The parilia festival which took place the week after the fordicia, saw sheep being herded and forced to jump across burning bales of straw, in order to be purified.

Another festival was that celebrating the goddess Ceres which took place on 19 April. Ceres was especially connected with agriculture, the harvest and, especially, grain. So her festival was no doubt of significance to farmers. There would be a ritual march around the boundaries of the land, the so called lustration, to purify it and to honour the goddess. In the earlier times of Rome the festival of Ceres would see faxes let loose with torches tied to their tails where later the grand arena of the Circus Maximus would stand.

After the festival of Ceres followed the vinalia rustica which was a wine feast to celebrate…

Reed Moon: Celtic Tree Calendar

To read more about the Celtic Reed Month by Sarah Wayt

The celebration of Samhain, now known as Halloween, occurs during the Reed Moon. To the Celts this month hailed the end of the year, a time to cull the livestock and to connect with ancestors. All around the world festivals that honour the dead are celebrated. During the Reed Moon, light a candle for loved ones who have died and you may receive a message from the spirit world.

Releasing old energy

The Reed Moon is a good time to use divination to gain insights into the year that has passed. Perform energy work that will release old energy, burn symbols of illness on your bonfire on November the 5th during your Guy Fawkes celebrations. Remember the Celtic year does not begin until the Winter Solstice so use this interval to dream, not to make plans for the future.

The haunting sound of reed

In the past, the reed was used to make swift-flying arrow shafts that slew both enemies and game. In this way the plant was linked to the season of death and sacrifice, in which trees shed their leaves and the energy of nature became more introspective. Many early musical instruments also used the reed to create a haunting sound that has been connected to rites for the dead and the summoning of spirits.

Wind instruments

Modern day wind instruments have developed the same principle used by original reed instruments. Whereby a current of air is vibrated to produce a melodic sound.

Other traditional uses for reed include thatching. Rooftops were thatched with reeds, and as the Celts withdrew into their homes for the winter they honoured the plant that gave them shelter, making the reed a symbol of royalty and protection.

Reed Moon energy…

[2021] Popular and Practical Samhain Rituals and Traditions

From WitchJournal.com

EVA MARIA  WHEEL OF THE YEAR

Beloved Samhain night is just around the corner. This time of the year is definitely the most magical and witchy of all other seasons. Below you can find information on Samhain Rituals, Traditions, and History. Are you going to try any of them?

What is Samhain?

 

Beltane of the Southern Hemisphere

Today, in the Pagan calendar, the north celebrate the coming of winter at Samhainn. And all the while the sun is peaking up from behind the lush vernal trees and dancing for us once more in the southern hemisphere, as we welcome Beltane on October 31st. Or as I like to refer to it Beltane of the underworld.

A pagan spiral formation in Faerie Glenn where everything is miniature and enchanted. Copyright Content Catnip 2010

Beltane is  the Gaelic seasonal festival historically held to mark the midpoint between the spring equinox & summer solstice (Là Bealltainn in Scottish Gaelic; Lá Bealtaine in Irish). Fire is the traditional means of marking this spring festival of optimism & return.

A famous Ossianic lament…

Click here to read more about Southern Hemisphere Beltane from ContentCatnip.com

Ostara – Sabbat Lore and Traditions

For more about Ostara

Date: September 20  – 23

Other Names: Spring Equinox, Lady Day, Alban Eiler (Druidic)

Pronunciations: uh-star-uh, oh-star-uh

As Spring reaches its midpoint, night and day stand in perfect balance, with light on the increase. The young Sun God now celebrates a hierogamy (sacred marriage) with the young Maiden Goddess, who conceives. In nine months, she will again become the Great Mother. It is a time of great fertility, new growth, and newborn animals.

The next full moon (a time of increased births) is called the Ostara and is sacred to Eostre the Saxon Lunar Goddess of fertility (from whence we get the word estrogen, whose two symbols were the egg and the rabbit.

The Christian religion adopted these emblems for Easter which is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox. The theme of the conception of the Goddess was adapted as the Feast of the Annunciation, occurring on the alternative fixed calendar date of March 25 Old Lady Day, the earlier date of the equinox. Lady Day may also refer to other goddesses (such as Venus and Aphrodite), many of whom have festivals celebrated at this time.

Herbs: Daffodil, Jonquils, Woodruff, Violet, Gorse, Olive, Peony, Iris, Narcissus and all spring flowers

Traditional Foods: Leafy green vegetables, Dairy foods, Nuts such as Pumpkin, Sunflower and Pine. Flower Dishes and Sprouts

Incense: Jasmine, Rose, Strawberry, Floral of any type

Stones: Jasper

Recipes

Ancient Celebrations for Today – OSTARA

For more about Ostara and the Wheel of The Year

Ostara marks the Spring Equinox, which happens between March 19 -23. Ostara is a pagan celebration of the German goddess Eostre and the origins of the Christian celebration of Easter. As the beginning of spring Ostara is a good time to literally and figuratively plant seeds for the future.

In modern day living Ostara is also good time to start taking action on the ideas and goals you started thinking about around Yule and Imbolc. What you plant during Ostara will be ready to be harvested during the coming summer months and the sabbats of Beltane, Litha and Lughnasadh.

Ostara is also a good time to freshen up your home and life. Take time to do some spring cleaning. Cleaning isn’t just limited to your home. Take some time to declutter and clean up areas where you spend a lot of time, like your car, your computer (delete those old emails!) or your work office.

Symbols Of Ostara

Colors:  Green, pink, blue

Foods:  Eggs, honey, sprouted greens, baked goods, asparagus

Stones:  Aquamarine, amethyst, rose quartz

Symbols:  Rabbits, eggs, spring flowers , lambs, clover, baskets

Flowers & Plants: clover, daffodils, crocus, tulips

Deities:   Isis, Estotre, Adonis

Ways To Celebrate Ostara…

Why Do Witches Ride Brooms? The History Behind the Legend

From pagan fertility rituals to hallucinogenic herbs, the story of witches and brooms is a wild ride.

The evil green-skinned witch flying on her magic broomstick may be a Halloween icon—and a well-worn stereotype. But the actual history behind how witches came to be associated with such an everyday household object is anything but dull.

It’s not clear exactly when the broom itself was first invented, but the act of sweeping goes back to ancient times, when people likely used bunches of thin sticks, reeds and other natural fibers to sweep aside dust or ash from a fire or hearth. As J. Bryan Lowder writes, this household task even shows up in the New Testament, which dates to the first and second centuries A.D.

The word broom comes from the actual plant, or shrub, that was used to make many early sweeping devices. It gradually replaced the Old English word besom, though both terms appear to have been used until at least the 18th century. From the beginning, brooms and besoms were associated primarily with women, and this ubiquitous household object became a powerful symbol of female domesticity.

Despite this, the first witch to confess to riding a broom or besom was a man: Guillaume Edelin. Edelin was a priest from Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris. He was arrested in 1453 and tried for witchcraft after publicly criticizing the church’s warnings about witches. His confession came under torture, and he eventually repented, but was still imprisoned for life.

To read the rest of this article please click here….

Little Pagan Acorns – Website for Pagan Children

[Not just for Pagan children that are homeschooled but for any Pagan child)

WHY PAGAN?

The world of homeschooling is dominated by Christians, and the majority of online resources are Bible-based. For someone who is Pagan, it gets pretty frustrating to find great printables that aren’t filled with Bible scriptures or Christian phrasing. So I wanted to create a resource for all of us who are parents and/or homeschoolers who are following other spiritual paths.

My purpose is to create pages that can be mixed in with other resources to add some Pagan terminology, ideals and history so that people can teach their children something that is uniquely Pagan.

I also intend to have selections of nature-based and generically “spiritual” material that could be used by folks who aren’t really Pagan but want an option away from the Christian materials as well.

I know that the term “Pagan” covers a huge range of faiths and beliefs, and I hope that I can properly respect them all here. My own path is more Wiccan and you’ll tend to see more material along that slant (lots of altars, Sabbats and pentacles!). I’d welcome any comments or suggestions from other beliefs so that I can accurately cover them. I apologize in advance if I have included anything that is inaccurate about other religions. Feel free to let me know.

So, welcome to Little Pagan Acorns and I hope that there is something here to help with your Pagan homeschooling and parenting!

Little Pagan Acorns – Website for Pagan Children

The History Of Modern Day Witchcraft In A Nutshell

The roots of Modern Day Witchcraft (like Wicca) have roots back to 25,000 BC. Female figurines, images, and pictures of been discovered throughout Europe… all supporting a theory of a “Great Mother Cult”.

Throughout the centuries there have been many attempts to put an end to worship of the Goddess… all in vain. Goddess worship has stood the test of time.

To read the rest of the article click here

Thoughts on Black Magick

Lady of the Abyss is has a way to teach us new things from the Spirit Plane by me reposting a post of hers done on October 2, 2111.

Thoughts on Black Magick by Sylvana SilverWitch

article

Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man; But will they come when you do call for them?
Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 2

Black magick, the black arts, the left hand path_ the words conjure a reaction, a chill, raise the hair on the nape of your neck. I invariably imagine zombies, the voodoo walking undead or secret virgin sacrifices. I think, too, of dolls with needles stuck in them for malicious revenge spells, of death, injury and illness.

First, let’s examine magick; what is it precisely? There are numerous interpretations, and each person you ask will have their own. My favorite definition of magick is that of S.L. MacGregor Mathers, one of the founding members of the Golden Dawn. He characterizes magick as: “The Science of the Control of the Secret Forces of Nature.” I do like to commune with those secret forces, and to fancy I might have some influence, however small, over them. Ha, ha, ha!

Another explication is from the famous old grimoire, The Lemegeton, or The Lessor Key of Solomon. It states: “Magick is the Highest, most Absolute, and Most Divine Knowledge of Natural Philosophy, advanced in its works and wonderful operations by a right understanding of the inward and occult virtue of things; so that true Agents being applied to proper Patients, strange and admirable effects will therefore be produced. Whence magicians are profound and diligent searchers into Nature; they, because of their skill, know how to anticipate an effect, the which to the vulgar shall seem to be a miracle.”

Old Uncle Al (Aleister Crowley, pronounced Cro-lee) had another one of the finest: “The Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.” This leaves a lot of room for doing what you please, but Uncle Al was especially big on free will anyway. I believe he would, even now, approve of black magick.

Another one of my favorites is that of a fellow, described by Doreen Valiente, who said in her book An ABC of Witchcraft: “Black magick can be defined as what the other fellow does!” Isn’t that the truth!? I have listened to this from a lot of people, who really can’t tell you what black magick would be – except a spell to kill someone – and I asked lots of people this question! They can’t describe it themselves, but it’s what “So and so” does! They know it when they see it!

When I sat down to compose this article I speculated, what would people want to apprehend about black magick? I would want to understand – what is it specifically? This is not always simple to define, the edges are blurred in some cases.

So, what actually is black magick? Is it all of these, or any of them? According to the Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft: “Magic is variously described as white, black and gray, but actually it has no color. Magic is neutral and amoral. It can be bent to good, evil or ambiguous purposes, depending on the intent of the practitioner.” “The distinction between white and black magic is fairly modern,” according to occultist A.E. Waite, “and depends upon sharp contrast between good and evil spirits.”

According to certain people, there is apparently no such thing as “black” magick. Other people have differing opinions, like The Modern Witch’s Spellbookby Sarah Lyddon Morrison has a whole section, along with the charms and talismans, love spells and potions, that describes black magick and its applications. It is complete with specific spells: “to torment, but not permanently injure,” or like “punishing a faithless lover,” or “to cause a lot of agony,” and “how to make a marriage unhappy.”

Wait, there’s more: “To maim and kill,” and detailed instructions on “how to dig up a coffin” to get your hands on some coffin nails (presumably for other weird spells). To Sarah’s credit, the chapter on black magick includes a segment about ethics and contains plenty of admonitions about what not to do, and how you should never render black magick in haste. It goes on to caution you about what happens if you’re not positively certain about your victim or whether they actually did what you think they did, or deserve the results your efforts.

So, I guess it’s okay with her, as long as you heed the instructions – this seems to be the theory of quite a few people outside the Northwest. Speaking of the Northwest, I have discovered that people here are inclined to be a bit more conservative (or politically correct), than they are ordinarily.

When I began in the Craft, it was much more permissible to use your art for advantage or protection or even for retribution: the sort of things that are, today, considered by many to be black magick. This whole thing about the politically correct manner in which to do magick, or whether it’s okay to work magick at all – positively annoys me! I say, “What variety of witch doesn’t practice magick?” I have known a number of them here in the Seattle area. Hmmmmmmm. Maybe that’s one of the distinctions between “Wiccans” and “Witches” – I am a Witch, with a capital “W.” I am not, however, a Wiccan, and that’s okay.

I remember when the domain of the witches was just that, the dark side. We were outside the edges of society anyway, and we knew we had power and we weren’t afraid to use it. People came frequently to implore me to work a spell for them: to bring back an errant lover, to get a particular job, to get back at a person who had harmed them. I usually sent them away with instructions on how to resolve the situation themselves, though in certain circumstances it was acceptable to do the spell for them. What happened? Why is it not okay anymore to exercise your power? Why has the Craft become so boringly P.C.?

“The driving force behind black magic is hunger for power.” So says Richard Cavendish in The Black Arts,one of the first books about magick that I bought when I was about sixteen, thinking that “this must be what it is.” Cavendish also says, “The magician sets out to conquer the universe. To succeed he must make himself master of everything in it – evil as well as good, cruelty as well as mercy, pain as well as pleasure.” This makes sense, right? According to almost everyone that I have talked to, those who have been in the Craft for over 10 years, they all started out in search of power. Or at least that’s what they thought at the time. Many began by practicing black magick and proceeded logically, after getting their butts kicked (proverbially or not), to the Craft as we now know it and what they ended up finding is their own power.

When I was younger, and did not know any better – I, too, believed any magick that would work was great. If you could get someone to do what you wanted or to fall in love with you, or whatever, you were a clever witch. It is much easier to do what is now referred to as black magick when you’re young; you frequently have a lot of emotion invested in it, so there’s no wonder a neophyte might be successful with it.

My personal definition of black magick, if there is such a thing, about which I am still ambiguous, is: working magick that is meant to hurt, harm or to cause the loss of free will or to hinder someone else or a situation. Further, it can be just pulling on someone’s energy without his or her permission, and knowledge. Sometimes this is not done maliciously or mean-spiritedly, for instance working love magick to get a specific person, or healing a person who maybe needs the rest that illness provides. So in my opinion, you should be very careful. It works – it works well so you better be very sure! There is so much negativity floating around in the atmosphere that it’s easy to gather that up and direct it without much effort or skill. Should you do it? I can’t tell you that, but I don’t recommend doing anything questionable unless you really know what you’re doing and are absolutely willing to suffer the consequences of the threefold law of return. Because the problem is, it will come back to you, and you should be ready to have your butt kicked by it.

In my class, I teach that there’s no color to magick, that it all just is and it’s a matter of the intent that creates the Karma. I do my best now to avoid situations that might get me into a position where I’d be inclined to have to use my magick in such a way. I also teach my students personal responsibility, and I practice it myself. I would hope that all grown-up witches would do the same. That is the secret, in my opinion. There are not many people willing to take responsibility for themselves and their actions. I have heard many people complain about this and that, and how they wish it would be different to accommodate them. I say stop complaining and do something for yourself! Use magick if you will and remember to be mindful of your intent!

For Your Viewing PLeasure

Today, dear Sisters, Brothers and Guest, I leave you with this video…

14. Witchcraft and Magic

Some may find this video does not explain the history in witchcraft in England. I present it to you to decide if you learn anything new about witchcraft or if you feel it is all lies.

Description of video: Early Modern England: Politics, Religion, and Society under the Tudors and Stuarts (HIST 251) In this lecture, Professor Wrightson discusses witchcraft and magic. He begins with the context of magic beliefs in this period, introducing the ‘cunning folk’ who had reputations as healers and were often consulted. He then considers the specific problem of witchcraft, the use of magic to do harm, and its identification by the late medieval church as a form of anti-Christian cult. He examines the distinctive nature of both witchcraft beliefs and the history of witchcraft prosecution in England (as compared with both Scotland and continental Europe), outlining the typical circumstances of a witchcraft accusation and what these might suggest about the rise and fall of concern with witchcraft. Finally he considers a number of unresolved problems in the history of witchcraft in England: the nature of the links between gender and witchcraft; the reasons behind the passage of the statutes defining witchcraft as a crime; and the exceptionally large number of trials conducted in the county of Essex. 00:00 – Chapter 1. Magic 08:56 – Chapter 2. Differences between Witchcraft in England and in Europe 19:26 – Chapter 3. Trials in England 35:05 – Chapter 4. Witchraft Statutes in Essex Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://open.yale.edu/courses This course was recorded in Fall 2009.

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Blessed be

The Celtic Oak Tree Month June 6th to July 7th

THE OAK

symbol of the life force

The oak (quercus) is one of the wonders of nature. Its splendid appearance perfectly reflects the essence of this tree. With its strong, deep roots, thickset trunk, and elegantly swaying branches and broad, spreading crown, the oak withstands the centuries. All kinds of Mosses live on it, cling planets twine upwards around it It bears this placidly and forms very hard wood through out its life

It grows best and reaches its fullest height in soil that is slightly damp and rich hummus, but it holds it own just as well on rocky ground. Its roots force their way inexorably through cracks to find water. In some places it may only grow into a shrub, but that doesn’t matter. The main thing is it lives and produces leaves.

Old oak trees–they can be 150 years old, sometimes twice that–may be hollow or rotten inside, quite dead on one side and growing well on the other. If cockchafers or caterpillars eat away the leaves in spring, new bright green leaves grow again in June and July. Not even a fallen oak will give up. Its wood survives for generations, living on as wine or brandy barrels, as a table or a railway sleeper, the pier of a bridge or a ship afloat.

Wherever the oak grows there is always plenty of light for everything that grows around it and is sheltered by it. Perhaps the oak trees remember their own youth, when they enjoyed and needed the protection and shade of other trees. They are often, for example, planted near lime trees until they are big enough. Then their ‘foster mothers’ are cut down. The oak does not forget that. It ‘knows’ that everything big and strong starts life as something small and weak. That is why it doesn’t matter when a gentle wind caresses its leaves. Nor does it howl when a storm tears at its branches. The oak always proclaims its wholehearted contentment with life. Who wouldn’t want that as their native tree?

If you were born on 21 March you may, no you must, liken yourself to an oak. For you are endowed with the same indestructible vitality and strength of purpose. You like a fresh wind in every relationship and your vitality bursts into flames at any opposition. Your body may not live to be a thousand years old, but your soul lives on in your children and in your work. And if even the slightest drop of Celtic blood flows through your veins, then you will fear neither death or devil. So what matters to you is not how long you live, but rather how intensively and meaningfully you fill time.

The Universe is God’s plaything. You very happily agree to join the game. You put failures behind you and will seize the first favorable opportunity to prove yourself in new enterprises.

Of course, you can’t help behaving like the farm lad who made a pact with the devil. ‘You can have my soul when this oak no longer has any leaves’, he said. The devil agreed, but he waited in vain. FOr many oaks keep their old leaves over the winter, until the new buds burst into leaf in the spring. Don’t you do the same thing? You prefer to cling to the old, well-tried methods until you have a clear understanding of the new, above all in ‘winter’ time. Or are you the sort of person that invests when the coffers are empty, and saves when they are over-flowing? Be careful these trick questions intended to provoke you. You like that, don’t you?

You may be quite different from the sketch I have given here. Each human being is unique individual. And not just people. Every oak tree is different, whether it is an English oak, a holm oak, a red oak, or a swamp oak; each one seizes a unique opportunity to become what it is.

The Celts associated the strength to be oneself, which is latent in every person, with the oak. The truly strong man is he who has travelled a lone way on the road to himself. Utterly dedicated, of his own free will he serves mankind, a cause, an art, responsible only to himself and the full of joy of the living. He sees himself as the living instrument of God’s power and does not lose himself in human reason, which thinks itself so dreadfully important.

Probably two or three thousand years ago there were relatively few people in whome the fire of the oak burned. But this is not the reason why the oak gives its name to only one day, like the beech, the olive tree, and the birch. On the contrary, this limitation of time should make it stand out from the ranks of other trees. It has been chosen to remind us, at the time of the vernal equinox on 21 March, that we should kindle a fire in ourselves that will allow us to find ourselves.

Native of the oak: Johann Sebastian Bach.

Gem Stone: The ruby, which express a love of life.

Number: 3

Motto: Moderation in all things.

The Celtic Tree Calendar Your Tree Signs and You  by MIchael Vescoli Copyright 1996 and for English 1999 Pages 30 – 35

 

Dragon Knowledge and Craft Project for Any Age

To show us your Paper-plate Dragon please send it as an attachment to covenlifescoven@gmai.com Please include only your first or pagan name. You have until Saturday, February 13th to email it to us to be included in the post.

The Witches Correspondences for Monday

Moon Vampire
The Witches Correspondences for Monday

Day: Monday ( Moon-day)

Planet: Moon

Colors: Silver and White and Grey

Crystals: Moonstone, Pearl, Aquamarine, Silver, Selenite

Aroma: Jasmine, Lemon, Sandalwood, Moon Oil, African violet, Honeysuckle, Myrtle, Willow, and Wormwood
Herb: Moonwort

The sacred day of the Moon, personified by such goddesses as Selene, Luna, Diana, and Artemis. The Moon is ruler of flow affecting the changeable aspects of people. If a full moon falls on a Monday, its powers are at their most potent.

Magical aspects: peace, sleep, healing, compassion, friendships, psychic awareness, purification, and fertility

Monday is ruled by the moon – an ancient symbol of mystery and peace. Monday is a special day for mothers as the cycle of the moon has long been associated with the female menstrual cycle. Those wishing to conceive a baby would be wise to try on a Monday as the magic of motherhood is strong and pregnancy is in the air.

This is the proper day of the week to perform spells and rituals involving agriculture, animals, female fertility, messages, reconciliation’s, theft, voyages, dreams, emotions, clairvoyance, home, family, medicine, cooking, personality, merchandising, psychic work, Faerie magic, and Goddess rituals.