What Do You Believe?

What Do You Believe?

Author: Hamish

As a working solitary for many years, the question of belief simply never arose. I knew what I sensed in the greater world, and I knew that Paganism, or Wicca or what have you, was compatible with my science- based view of creation. My solitary status actually allowed me to go my merry way, taking what I wanted for personal practice and simply throwing out what didn’t fit or what clearly needed hands-on training. Seriously, being solitary has its joys. You are able to create a path that satisfies your desire to reach out to Divinity in a valid and highly personal way.

And then I joined a Tradition.

I am, by nature, a late bloomer. After fifteen years of exploring Paganism as a belief system, ten where I actually self identified as Pagan, I finally joined a coven. Please understand that I am in no way disparaging solitary practice. To the contrary, being Solitary allowed me to come to terms with my past experiences, and saved me from myself on more occasions than I care to recall. Solitary is a path that should be recognized by the Pagan community for the staunchly independent and varied road that it is, and is nurtured by my coven and the very hard work of my HPs and HP. I believe that devotion to any type of earth-centered religion is uniquely suited to solitary work, and that solitary practice is every bit as valid as that of a group. That said, the challenge of defining belief is a difference that has drawn the line pretty solidly (for me) between my solitary and group practice.

I was raised Episcopalian. Within that tradition, no one ever asked me if I believed in God. No one asked what I thought God looked like, or where I thought He lived; it was assumed that the answer would be what I had been clearly taught from the time I could sit up in church. In my experience, the thought process never really entered in to it; it is a system based on faith. You are told what to believe, and if you don’t buy into the basic dogma, you leave. Fair enough, I say. There are millions of people who take what they need from this system of worship, and that is fine. But if you seek balance, and find it in one of the various forms of Paganism, what then? Until someone looks you in the eye and actually asks you what you believe, do you really think about it?

There are many Solitaries who adopt a specific pantheon and drill deeply into their belief of what they are doing and why. I was not one of those. I looked at the Gods and Goddesses as mythological archetypes that served to link me to certain energies—and that was it. Now here I am, standing in circle with a group of people whose intelligences I greatly respect, and am asked to not only talk to Deity, but to see and feel Their presence in the room.

Now I believe that Pagans are skeptics by nature. This is one of the things that are endemic of this path. We do not take everything at face value; we test, scrutinize and question the authorities that seek to lead us, hence the “herding cats” analogy. Regardless of the fabulous teachers and friends that I have made along this path, sensing (specific pantheon) Goddess and Gods in circle is still not easy for me. It is, in fact, one of the hardest things for me to come to terms with. This is not to say that I have not experienced great ritual where mind-blowing energy is produced. On the contrary, I have been moved to tears on more than one occasion. But what of the actual presence of deity, of an actual God or Goddess standing right there, smack in front of you and all of your fellow seekers? This was one of the first big belief issues that I dealt with (and am still dealing with) when I joined a group.

I am what my big- city husband refers to as a ‘carrot cruncher.’ I was born and raised in the sticks, on a farm and deeply nestled within the bosom of small town America. My point of reference comes from that backdrop—I believe in nature spirits, I believe in the power of spell work and I most certainly believe that the true essence of God/ess is tied to nature, albeit a much larger natural world than my non-Pagan friends acknowledge. I freely believe in the presence of unseen personalities, and unseen intelligences imbedded in all fibers of life.

I also believe in the existence of many forms of life of which I am only afforded brief glimpses, or whose presences I most certainly take on faith. But do I believe in the conscious presence of mythical personalities called in circle, personalities that have been assigned characteristics in much the same way as many popular literary characters of our time? This is where skeptical me is on full alert, front and center. This is hard, this skeptical me that will not allow ideas to be validated until I have tested, tasted, smelled, touched and retested.

Clearly a cumbersome task.

As a child, belief rides hand-in-hand with trust; as an adult it rides with proof. So how does one find proof of something as intangible as God/ess? Answer: you seek out the proof that you need to either make it acceptable, or to throw it out. For me, that means introspection, meditation and real work to keep my mind open and available to accept different ideas. Journaling helps as well, because you need a standard to compare your impressions. And that is what I did, and continue to do. I am talking about the archetypical characters that many consider their patrons, not God/dess as a universal force, but as a personal being with very specific personality traits.
So where has this gotten me? I’ll tell you a little story.

I started studying Hecate, as the Dark Goddess appeals to me on many different levels. I bought the books, meditated on Her symbolism and read as many writings as I could get a hold of. Nothing appeared to me; no feeling of closeness with the Goddess and no signs in nature presented themselves to me, no proof appeared. And then one night I was seriously stressed out. You know what I’m talking about, a night when everything from work to money to whether my plants were healthy were weighing on my mind to the point where I was making myself physically ill. I tossed and turned until around 3am, when I sat up in bed and decided I would try to reach out to Her one more time. So I did, and darn it if I did not see, in my mind’s eye, a woman, face ever-changing (I had the sense that it changed, strangely, from faces that I had never seen before to friends, to movie stars, all different races, all different ages) — and before I could say anything, She reached out and grabbed my stress, which felt like a black, goopy ball of something right around my solar plexus, and pulled it out of my chest. As I watched open mouthed, She shoved that nasty, goopy glob of muck into Her mouth and swallowed.

I felt immediate relief mixed with a touch of shock and a dab of disgust. She then instructed me to allow whatever black goop was left in my body to leak out, down my spine and into the Earth, and to be careful not to let a drop remain, or it would grow back. I did what I was told while She licked Her fingers clean. She then invited me to call on Her any time that I have something as delicious to feed Her with, and She disappeared before I could even say thank you. But thank Her I did, as the next morning I woke up to renewed vigor, and although my problems had not disappeared, I felt fully capable, healthy and able to deal with whatever needed dealing with.

So, does this erase all of my skepticism? Does it allow me to fully accept the various God/dess forms called upon in ritual? The short answer is: not exactly. I feel that this allowed me to take another step toward better understanding. It has brought the question that was set before me, through interaction with my coven-mates, toward another thread of questioning. You may be rolling your eyes at this point, but I have found that every experience opens up a different road of inquiry-a different pathway full of questions, answers and wonder.

There are those who have been on this path for a very long time, and those who have just started. The one thing that they should have in common is curiosity for the unknown, a mind that is open enough to explore concepts that are foreign to them, and to accept the ways of all positive paths as valid, regardless of individual beliefs and practices. This does, of course, assume that those practices are healthy and add to individual growth. Keeping an open mind does not negate the responsibility of all to scrutinize and decide what is believable and positive, and what is not.

This is the only way, in my opinion, that we are able to remain a true, pure form of spirituality and not just another brand of political dogma. For my part, I will do the same, and hopefully will acquire a clearer understanding, regardless of my final conclusions. Belief is not something that comes easy for me, and skepticism is part of who I am, but this should not be anyone’s excuse for remaining in the dark.

For now I ask you to keep seeking, keep testing, and keep the wonder of the unknown alive. I will leave you with the words of a famous skeptic:

“The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what is true.” —Carl Sagan, 1995

Brightest Blessings,
Hamish

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.

Religion: From A Witch’s Perspective

Religion: From A Witch’s Perspective

Author: Crick

Have you ever wondered why humans are so scared to face life and the spiritual lessons that are in waiting for each of us? I ask this because since the dawning of humankind we have created religions. Religion in all reality is a subterfuge and a distraction from the individual pursuit of spirituality.

A state of spirituality is a journey of the individual. It does not require the presence of the many such as is found within a religion. This applies whether a religion is one of the so-called organized religions, pagan, or one of the myriad other religions created by humans.

A religion comes into existence by the hand of a human, generally a man or group of men. A concept of Deity and the mysteries of life are created and then transformed into a specific dogma or set of beliefs. The only problem with this approach is that it is predicated upon the narrow precepts of one or even a few select humans.

This is fine, if such beliefs were confined to the originators of such beliefs. For each individual is entitled to the beliefs that define their personal existence in regards to Deity and the mysteries that comprise this existence of life.

But when such personal opinions are then extended to the masses, the concept of individualism becomes mired in the tentacles of censorship that goes by the label of dogma. When this occurs, the concept of individuality is lost.

Another concern with such an approach is that those opinions that form the basis for religions are based upon select human perspectives and are not the direct offering of Deity. Of course there will be those humans who will insist that their perception of Deity was the driving force that has inspired the particular religion that they themselves subscribe to.

However with literally thousands of divergent concepts of deity that has been proffered since the beginning of humankind, who is actually right and just as importantly, who is wrong? Is there such delineation when it comes to spirituality and/or religion? Does one person have to be right in order for all others to be wrong?

As individuals, each seeking their own definition and thus understanding of deity, this self-imposed quandary goes away. For as individuals, the belief in deity and the search for a comprehensive understanding of the mysteries of life become a personal pursuit and as such, do not require the approval of any other human being on earth.

Paganism was at one time a path that actually encouraged individual seeking and thus a personal sense of understanding. And in many ways it still is to this very day. However the specter of religion and the pressure of peer acceptance as defined by the few have stretched its tentacles into paganism as well. This modern attempt at conversion is commonly referred to as neo paganism. In essence, there is an attempt by some of these modern converts to turn paganism, which once defined individual spirituality, into a religion which follows the same parameters as the so called organized religions.

Why is this being attempted when it is blatantly obvious that organized religions and paganism are diametrically opposed in their approach to the concepts of deity and the mysteries of life?

The most obvious reason for this forced perception of dogma is the entrance of the many who formerly subscribed to an established religious pattern of acceptance in regards to their spiritual journey. However there may be a deeper reason for such an imposition of foreign values when discussing the parameters of paganism.

For instance why does humankind even need the anonymity of a concept known as religion where one can comfortably become a faceless member of a pre-conceived set of beliefs (dogma) ? And as already noted, said set of beliefs, which in every man-made religion on earth is defined by a select few.

Could it be because there is a segment of society who is apathetic about their spiritual beliefs? Could such folks be personally insecure of what they may encounter if they were to actually seek out their own answers to spirituality? Does this observation offend you?

If so, perhaps there is a gem of truth here that you may want to explore within your Inner self. When a select person or group of persons places the concept of deity and the mysteries of life into an imposition such as religious dogma, there is in effect a barricade to any real spiritual growth. The individual loses the gift of self-identity because they are pressured into a specific set of beliefs (dogma) , which limits any further exploration of the many possibilities that are inherent in un-fettered spirituality.

Many man-made religions have mechanisms in place that are designed to ensure that their members do not stray outside of the accepted parameters of belief has dictated by the few. Where is the freedom of the individual in such a setting? And where within the tenets of paganism do such man-made impositions apply?

These same man-made religions also have mechanisms in place to cast out those who dare to seek out the truths of life as they apply to their personal seeking and yet are outside of the accepted dogma of the particular religion that one is subscribing to.

In my personal opinion such an approach has absolutely nothing to do with any real concept of paganism. And so the push to “convert” paganism into the parameters of organized religion is somewhat troubling and may border on hypocrisy.

There is a common saying that “trying to get pagans to come together is like herding cats”. I personally hope that such an analogy retains some iota of truth as paganism wends its way into the consciousness of modern practitioners. Once those who follow the path of paganism lose the inherent right to live as individuals and once members of paganism lose the drive to seek out Inner truths, which are not restrained by the masses that blindly follow the lead of the few, then it is no longer a true spiritual path. Rather it becomes nothing more than an extension of the mind numbing control of religion.

And those who describe themselves as pagans, in all reality become nothing more than faceless minions of yet another man-made religion.

Today’s Affirmation, Thought & Meditation for Thursday, February 16th

Thursday, Thirsty Thursday Pictures, Images, Comments, Graphics

Today’s Affirmation for February 16th

I have a body but am not my body. I have a mind but I am not my mind. I have thoughts but I am not my thought.

 

Today’s Thought for February 16th

“If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?”

Dogen (1200 – 1253)

 

Today’s Meditation for February 16th

Restore Truth

Our ability to perceive truth is often distorted by our beliefs. To raise awareness of your beliefs, meditate on a recent situation. Try to identify the beliefs that led to your actions. Now cast your mind back to your early years to learn the origins of these beliefs – perhaps in the messages given by parents a teachers. The greater your awareness of distorting beliefs, the more you will be able to perceive the truth.

In a similar way, meditate on the actions of a colleague or partner to gain greater understanding of their behavior.

Stress Is Not What You Think

Stress Is Not What You Think

  • Ed and Deb Shapiro

Ironically, the holiday season can be the most stressful time of the year. Imagine you are trying to squeeze some toothpaste out of a tube but you have forgotten to take the top off. What happens? Deb actually did this in one of her most unaware moments and the toothpaste soon found another way out through the bottom of the tube and got all over her. It will force a hole in the side or wherever is the weakest point.

Now imagine that the tube of toothpaste is you, under pressure and beginning to experience psychological or emotional stress. But you don’t take your lid off, as it were, by recognizing what is happening and making time to relax or deal with your inner conflicts.

So what happens to the mental or emotional stress building up inside? In her book, Your Body Speaks Your Mind, Deb shows how eventually it has to find a way out and if it can’t come out through the top, as it were, by being expressed and resolved, it will come out somewhere else, whether through your digestion, nerves, immune system, behavior, or sleep patterns. Repressed or ignored stress can manifest as depression, addiction, or anxiety; projected outwards it can become hostility, aggression, prejudice or fear.

We have built into our physiology a fight-or-flight response that enables us to respond to danger if, for instance, we are on the front line of a battle or facing a large bear. The battle may be with your teenage son and bears tend to come in a variety shapes and sizes, such as impatient and angry holiday shoppers. Seemingly unimportant events can even cause a stress reaction, as the brain is unable to tell the difference between real and imagined threats: if you focus on your concern about what might happen it plays as much havoc with your hormones and chemical balance as it does in a real situation.

Recent studies show–as if we didn’t know–that job dissatisfaction, moving house, divorce, and financial difficulties are at the top of the list of known stressors. But we all respond differently to circumstances: a divorce may be a big stressor for one but it may be a welcome relief to another. The difference lies in our response, for although we may have little or no control over the circumstances we are dealing with, we do have control over our reaction to them.

In other words, the cause of stress is not as much the external circumstances, such as having too many demands and not enough time to fill them, as it is our perception of the circumstances as being overwhelming; and our perception of our ability to cope, as when you feel stretched beyond what you perceive yourself to be capable of.

What you believe will color your every thought, word and action. As cell biologist Bruce Lipton says in his book, The Biology of Belief, “Our responses to environmental stimuli are indeed controlled by perceptions, but not all of our learned perceptions are accurate. Not all snakes are dangerous! Yes, perception “controls” biology, but… these perceptions can be true or false. Therefore, we would be more accurate to refer to these controlling perceptions as beliefs. Beliefs control biology!”

In other words, believing that it is your work, family or lifestyle that is causing you stress and that if you could only change these in some way then you would be fine, is seeing the situation from the wrong perspective. It is the belief that it is something out there that is causing the stress. And, although changing the circumstances certainly may help, invariably, no matter what you do, it is a change within your belief system and perception of yourself that will make the biggest difference.

Try It Yourself

If you find yourself feeling stressed, take 10 minutes to breathe more deeply. Most people who are tense breathe short, shallow breaths into the upper part of their chest. If you take slower breaths and deepen your breathing into your belly, the stress will dissolve.

Then find an affirmation that works for you to shift perceptions and belief patterns and to reinforce your strengths, such as: “My mind is at ease and I am capable of doing everything,” or “With every breath I am more relaxed and flowing through my day with ease.”

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.

The Glamorous Occult

The Glamorous Occult

Author: Aegar Geihl

The Occult is a fascinating and stimulating area of study- for those who can handle it, and it opens up doors to new and enlightening experiences. This all is very interesting and is certain to attract a large amount of attention from teens, but do they know what they are getting into? With this article I hope to instill a bit of primer knowledge to many curious teens before they embark on a path they aren’t ready for.

I remember when I was first interested in the Occult. I Googled my brains out as I tried to find suitable information. For someone without an initial knowledge in the Occult that was very difficult. I ended up embarking on my first face-to-face encounter with Magick, only to find myself disappointed in the results of the event. It wasn’t until I matured both spiritually and physically that I realized what the cause of that night was. I was misinformed and completely unaware of the reality of these powers. This is my encouragement to provide an outline for those interested:

1. Take time to think about why you are interested in Wicca, Asatru, or whatever is tickling your fascination. Are you into it for the black cat, medieval garb, and fancy title? If so, then please rethink your decision as it might save your dignity (or your sanity) . If you are interested in the Occult for the lessons you may learn, whether good or bad then you may be on the right path.

2. It’s definitely not all fun and games, and anyone who tells you otherwise are most likely in it for the fancy title. You must remember that by contacting deities, spirits, etc. you are in the presence of something divine. They are not “cool” characters from a fantasy story. They are very real, and very in tune to you and your environment.

3. You will have to work very hard, especially if you are uneducated in the Occult. You will have to read everything you can on the path you are interested in, but if you have a true interest in it this will be your favorite thing to do.

4. It does not happen overnight. All of this will take time, and you will need to allow yourself time to breath. You have plenty of life left and all the time you need to learn what you want. If you make hasty decisions you will find yourself getting no results, or something much worse.

5. Always keep yourself protected. This is simple and should be one of the first things you learn about. Every time you open yourself up to the divine you are very vulnerable. Your aura will absorb negativity, as will your ritual space. You can keep your space clean of negativity by burning Rue (an herb) , and putting salt on the four corners of the room and your bed. These are two simple and effective ways to keep yourself safe.

Concerning Teachers:

1. Really get to know the individual in question. Are they knowledgeable in what they study? Do they show a deep care for their students? Do you feel comfortable around them?

2. Ask questions! If a teacher is legitimate they will have not dispute you asking simple questions such as “Who was your teacher?”. That one is a very good question to ask, and will show you their true colors almost immediately.

3. Don’t jump into this relationship, and yes it is a relationship. You and your teacher will be around each other a lot and should be very close.

It is important to remember that with all spirituality comes fraud. There are many people out there who deem themselves “High Priest Lizard Breath”, and claim they are the masters of all elements. Obviously this is exaggerated but don’t think it doesn’t happen. This is why I think it is so important to not be afraid to ask questions. It is you that will be getting to know this person and it is also up to you to question their authenticity. You wouldn’t give you social security number out to a total stranger would you?

The Internet is a great tool to meet people, learn about things, and even connect with groups, but you must remember that just like you these people are behind a computer screen. You do not know these people and to trust anyone without formal meeting/bonding can wind up very badly. This is why I find that commonsense is the number one rule. If you are always paying careful attention to your surroundings and others you will be less likely to run into some major problems along your path.

Rules for Approaching Gods:

In many traditions a pantheon of Gods is revered and is the center of the tradition’s practice. It is mandatory that you always approach them with respect. Remember being told to always say “Please” and “Thank you”? This does not apply solely in the physical plane and you should approach the gods in the same manner you would treat a very special guest to your home.

Be sure to remember that you are sincere and serious about everything you ask/say when in their presence. They are the divine, and are obviously not here to tell you how pretty your hair looks or how good you are at basketball. As long as you keep the commonsense rule with you at all times you will have little to no trouble with the Gods (or other entities) .

If you happen to live in a family that is not fond of your new found interests/ beliefs then you may find it necessary to keep your beliefs secret. This is perfectly okay, but be sure to remember that your beliefs may differ but you should respect them and their beliefs as you would your own. This will undoubtedly gain their trust in your responsibility and will help you avoid future problems.

I hope this article was helpful and I wish you the best of luck on your endeavors.

 

Life’s A Bitch And Then You Die…Again?!?

Life’s A Bitch And Then You Die…Again?!?

Author: Reni

It’s true: life can be hard and cruel.

An intelligent person might wonder why anyone would ever want to go around again—perhaps for endless lifetimes. Ouch!

You’d think the hard facts of our birth and death alone would tend to deter most energy Beings from ever wanting a body again. Of course, there are rewards . . .

But in order to answer the why of reincarnation we must first answer the wherefore:

Is there such a thing and how does it work?

Answer these questions and you have answered the eternal question: The Secret of Life.

Know now, from the beginning, that the answer comes down to belief.

Yet, some beliefs are better than others. Or put another way, we can’t say for certain what the meaning of life is but we can get a pretty good idea what it is not.

We start by applying reason, that glorious/terrible faculty that, above all else, sets us apart from all Creation. Without reason one belief is no better or worse than any other. As Pagans and Wiccans we know that just isn’t true, at least not for us.

First, I believe it’s rational and reasonable to assume, for the moment, the probability that there is a purpose for our existence and the existence of the worlds around us.

Science does not generally share this view. Science dictates that reason forbids anything not provable by science, that spiritual beliefs of any kind are not reasonable. This mandates a mechanistic existence that blinks out like a light bulb when it’s over—man and woman the same DNA as the worms that eat us in the end.

However, if this were the case I wouldn’t be sitting here writing to you at all but at best, locked in a life and death struggle with another bacteria or hostile slime mold. Probably wouldn’t exist at all. None of us.

Okay, so what about the Theory of Evolution?

You know, take an infinite number of monkeys and an infinite number of typewriters and one of them will come up with the complete works of Shakespeare.

Doesn’t Evolution prove that the biggest baddest meanest microorganism gets to pass on its genes and that’s the real reason why we’re here? Isn’t that what the law of the jungle is all about? And as such isn’t it logical that this truth is the only truth worth knowing and that the only reason we’ve banded together as clever monkeys is to further the advancement of our genes at the expense of all others? That’s what science teaches.

And in that case, isn’t reincarnation or an afterlife in any form is just wishful thinking?

Fact is, though evolution is generally correct it has its problems. I’m not saying that the earth is 7318 years old (in 2005) as the Bible (Septuagint) would have it and that the devil plants fossils in the ground to fool the gullible. But there just hasn’t—by science’s own admission—been enough time for random mutation and natural selection to produce the miracle that is you and I and the world we live in. Essentially, we don’t actually have an infinite number of typewriting monkeys; not by a long shot.

Nor is any explanation forthcoming for why we would even care if we passed on our genes. Procreation is often the biggest burden an organism can undertake. If you doubt this you probably haven’t tried to raise a teenager.

Without a burning need to pass on its genes an organism could not, would not evolve.

What would likely happen if a bunch of inorganic chemicals started reproducing for some unlikely reason is that the primitive life forms that resulted—having the basic need to consume other life forms for fuel—would have the earth’s first and last donnybrook until the one remaining starved to death.

Evolution requires both a mechanism to play itself out—natural selection—and a driving force, without which we go nowhere. It’s like having the means to produce a boat or a car but no earthly reason to go anywhere. Why build it? Why build us?

Okay then, have we at least given ourselves some room to reason that doesn’t fly in the face of the truths of the physical sciences? If not, I suggest reading Richard Dawkins wonderful books, The Ancestors Tale and Climbing Mount Improbable. Dawkins is a brilliant Social Biologist who holds to the mechanistic model of life, the one that precludes an afterlife in any form. Evolution is the whole truth with no need for any other power to make it happen. See if he makes his case for you.

If, on the other hand, you are ready to move onward and upward let’s consider that the life that is you and I carries an esoteric spark of some kind—if only as an irresistible drive to transcend the needs of the individual organism. That’s what’s needed.

Perhaps there may even be a plan at work, though what that plan is remains to be seen, even to whether or not it can really be a plan in the strict sense of the word if there is no specific Creator acknowledged, since some belief systems do and some systems don’t have a God/dess in charge—not even a Sacred “IT”. Though I find that impossible to imagine—like trying to think of Nothing.

Therefore, Whatever is out there pulling the strings may or may not be sentient—in the way we perceive but something unimaginably powerful nonetheless. Something that may even require a higher order of Being than all of us Twenty-First Century humanoids could muster with our combined reason to comprehend.

All we can assume at this point is that we don’t have the answers, and probably never will. Perhaps even if there is or is not something positively absolutely definitely going on behind the Cosmic Scenes—or Not.

About the only thing we can say for sure is that we can’t say anything for sure.

. . . The mind wobbles…

Just the same, we’ve reasoned together this far and come up with one fact: science does not have all the answers. That’s the part to remember.

It’s also worth remembering, that neither do we.

In that vein let’s take a look at the other side of the Mobius strip: The Divine Spark.

But let’s skip over lightly the information that’s already out there. Namely, that the vast majority of religions do or did at one time believe in reincarnation, though the eastern philosophies speak of “Metamorphosis”, in that life can emerge anew in any living form, up or down the evolutionary ladder. While we tend to think of climbing only in an upwards direction, which may well be true considering the general direction of Evolution, from the elegant simplicity of the helium atom to all of this around us both, you and I this minute having evolved out of pure Energy—truly awesome! Just a couple of quick ideas:

Jesus most likely presumed reincarnation, as did the Kabalists. Starting with Matthew 22:23 Jesus debates the Sadducees (who deny the immortality of the soul) with the Pharisees who held the majority opinion, that of reincarnation. It’s a Pharisee who asks Jesus if he is Elijah come again. In addition, the Apostles continued to preach the immortality and rebirth of the soul for nearly four hundred years.

Then Emperor Constantine, after his conversion to Christianity (and his subsequent conversion of Christianity to a predator religion Jesus would not recognize) abandoned the concept of reincarnation (Google: “Emperor+Constantine”).

Constantine did this when he instigated the “heaven or hell” model that Pagans so soundly disagree with. The problem was that once Constantine insisted that he was the “voice of god” and that they had better do what he said or burn in hell he had to abolish reincarnation. You can’t very well be burning in hell and show up alive again.

So we’ve seen that science cannot even start to disprove reincarnation and that the majority of peoples throughout all time before that believed in reincarnation. Unfortunately, that doesn’t prove reincarnation exists or why. We’d be done now if it did.

Nor does it prove anything that actor John Ford and historical martyr Jane Evans, to name just two of many, had highly credible past life regressions.

But let me tell of my personal experiences with past life regressions. They aren’t as flashy as John Ford’s but credible in a different way. One I wouldn’t have guessed at the onset.

It started when I took a class in Parapsychology at Northeastern. Our group proposed to test reincarnation using hypnosis and a subject that was informed that she had other lives. I was to do the hypnosis.

First we took the subject to the head of the Psych Dept. to provide tests and evaluation as to how likely it was that she would fabricate past lives. He assured me that it was not in her nature to consciously lie.

At first I found it hard to induce a trance in her. Then she showed me how wrong I could be about people—an important lesson to learn young—and dived down like she had been pulled under by a dark wave of sleep.

I turned on the tape recorder and cast her further back and down, back to her past lives.

She started to tell me what was going on in front of her and to mention every item in a ratty back yard of undetermined origin. He was sitting on a mud wall watching a bug (yes, “he;” people can apparently change sex in past lives). I won’t tell you all he said (unless you’re an insomniac and want to be bored to sleep). Just that he described every little detail in real time. When I would prompt him to tell what else was happening he would turn his head in a new direction and describe something equally mundane.

Finally I got him to fast forward to something important that was happening. I didn’t have all day to waste looking at someone else’s idea of beautiful.

Turns out the only important thing that ever happened to this person after he was born was his death. Even that was boring: an infected wound. I was tempted to regress her even further to see if being totally boring was maybe a trend or if she had been shot out of a cannon three times daily in one life, or something, and wanted things to be very, very quiet for a few lives.

So he died and his soul floated up towards the ceiling with a woman crying and praying below in the light of four candles at the head and foot of his little death bed—never made it out of childhood.

Up he goes, through the ceiling and into the night. Cut! New Scene.

But instead of arriving in the lifetime we share she’s giving birth in a clump of brush in some Asian country, probably hundreds of years ago still. This is where I get off, I thought. What chance does an ancient Asian woman have of being fulfilled in her lifetime? Unless her idea of fulfillment is giving birth in the rough.

But what impressed me most was not what she had to say. The words were simple, those a child would use—I would have expected that. What got me was the one-to-one time frame. Every minute of her telling was a minute of her living the past life (and a minute of mine unfortunately). I doubt in my wildest dream as a writer I could capture every detail of a scene I wasn’t actually looking at without once tripping up. I don’t know any who can (or would want to).

For instance, planting a new scrubby cactus where one had already been described. I found myself believing her. And that’s something I hardly did in those days (question everything!) along with my usual impatience.

I still question everything but I’ve learned that the journey requires much patience as well.

The next and last experience was with a dear friend of mine who always went into a heavy death fixation every year after Christmas.

One day I hypnotized her into a past life. I thought that maybe if she realized she’d be back she wouldn’t fear going so much.

This kind of backfired because her last life had an unpleasant end. But what I hadn’t expected was catching something between her lives. I had known this woman for years but had never heard her speak in such a serene voice full of confidence and grace. It was definitely her . . . but perfected. Wow!

And when I brought her back to the present, she no longer feared death in the slightest—despite the nasty death she had discovered for herself the time before.

Did I somehow use hypnosis to con her? If I did, her new attitude gave her the welcome addition of three more months to enjoy every winter of her life. Nor was her apprehension of a terrible death to come true.

Years later she died instantly, painlessly, totally unexpectedly—if horribly—as I watched the World Trade Towers burn and crumble. No trace was ever found but I hope to see her again someday.

Anyway, that’s it. Two of my personal experiences and a synopsis of what’s available online and in books. All the evidence is anecdotal, of course.

It’s up to you: does it ring truer than the ‘evolution just happened’ theory of science that makes life out to be nothing more than animated chemicals? Or the “life is a test” dogma of the Christian faiths, that makes us begging sinners on our knees? Or whether the clues point more towards a divine explanation? I won’t hold you to it.

But if you’re still with me it’s a good time to see what we can learn from popular religions and which ones make the most sense. Again, there is a great deal of theology and doctrine available everywhere since the dawn of recorded history (and beyond) so we won’t go into details here.

Basically, what all the beliefs in reincarnation have in common is that they all believe that our true selves are energy Beings, without physical existence, that leave the body to find a new home upon our deaths.

Wiccans and Pagans generally believe that there is a rest stop on the cycle of life and death called the Summerlands where we go to await our next life.

The Summerlands are where we’re on sabbatical, out to pasture (but not permanently). We are only there to rest and visit with our friends and family (and cherished animal pals) that have passed before us and to be on hand to welcome new arrivals. Often, the first thing we feel after death—not as a physical sensation but as an emotion—is the loving comfort of someone we’ve lost, a mother, a father, a wife, or a child—often more than one lost lover all at once—holding us in their astral arms, until we are no longer afraid—especially if our death had been a bumpy ride.

The first thing we “see” after our death is the parting of the gray rain clouds of the mortal world opening on a silver-blue ocean. Then, far off in the distance, the white cliffs shining in the sunlight. Above the shoreline green, green grass and rolling hills lay beneath us. Here we come to rest; here we will find our loved ones standing near an orchard in full bloom, petals falling like pure white snow.

Then we may “walk” arm and arm down the lane of whatever our personal heaven feels like and more loved ones come and greet us. And everybody is arriving and embracing, laughing and crying, cheering. It has been a long haul but we’re finally here, in Summerlands. Joy!

From this point on I can only give you my personal vision of Summerlands. You will probably have a different scenario in mind.

First you smell it, the green everywhere, the new mown hay. But not really smell or see as you did with your old body. Now you are the essence of green, its truest nature beyond spectral radiation exciting optic nerves. I am one with green! And one with the Beings of my kith and kin at the same time (if time had meaning in the Summerlands). It’s as if we’re leaves in the forest when the wind blows warm from the south, rustling ever so softly, knowing it all in the only way possible: Pure Universal Unity.

Suddenly, everything becomes crystal clear; it all makes sense—finally! And now we are the soft breeze as it swirls through the starry night, caressing every living thing with our life. Yes, we are life, all life, a part and the whole all at once. Not the flesh but the life within.

And here, in Summerlands, we get the ultimate do-over with the very person we may have clashed with when we were flesh. Yes, it was, after all, the flesh that had blinded us to who we really are and who we are to each other always. We should have known better. Ah, but there’s always next time—perhaps up a rung or two on that old evolutionary ladder—evolving towards what/where/who we cannot say from our vantage point here today. We know only where we came from, not where we are heading.

Perhaps we had an unsuccessful life and we end up a rung or two down. It’s a possibility.

But my personal belief is that judging solely by the direction of our evolution we must generally evolve to a higher order Slime mold doesn’t get to be president in one lifetime (well, sometimes). We have to keep living over and over again until we get our existence and the existence of our fellow beings to where we’re going. Some say we are reborn until our souls are purified. But I believe we are doing the best we can for who we are so far. There’s nothing impure about it. True transcendence is in the journey as well as the destination.

Finally, we’re ready to take another crack at it—Life—to have a body again, to feel instead of just remembering it all, the joy and the pain.

Not only is rebirth irresistible it’s the only game in town. There’s only so much you can learn from remembering the past. You have to get mortal to transcend.

And that’s the answer. I warned you, it’s speculative and highly personal.

We live more than one life to refine the process, in one way or another, time and time again.

We are on the path to we know not where, only that it’s somehow the Will of Creation—if only ipso facto.

If you doubt this, check in with your own heart. We know emotionally when we are headed in the right direction, though we are often lost in the convolutions of our mind.

The proof is that in looking back it’s easy to see that if we had listened to that little song in our heart we would have been much better off. When we are on the right path we feel it. When we are off track we feel bad, somehow, even if what we are doing is something we want.

In that way, happiness tells us we are doing the Divine Will of the Universe.

Why then would anyone what to live more than one life? Again, it comes down to the personal:

Why would you want to live even once? (Always presuming you have a choice)

What makes you happy?

Only you can answer that, and only for yourself.

So, may it be.



Footnotes:
P.S. My muse wants me to tell you that She wrote this . . . with my hand.

Religion: From A Witch’s Perspective

Religion: From A Witch’s Perspective

Author: Crick

Have you ever wondered why humans are so scared to face life and the spiritual lessons that are in waiting for each of us? I ask this because since the dawning of humankind we have created religions. Religion in all reality is a subterfuge and a distraction from the individual pursuit of spirituality.

A state of spirituality is a journey of the individual. It does not require the presence of the many such as is found within a religion. This applies whether a religion is one of the so-called organized religions, pagan, or one of the myriad other religions created by humans.

A religion comes into existence by the hand of a human, generally a man or group of men. A concept of Deity and the mysteries of life are created and then transformed into a specific dogma or set of beliefs. The only problem with this approach is that it is predicated upon the narrow precepts of one or even a few select humans.

This is fine, if such beliefs were confined to the originators of such beliefs. For each individual is entitled to the beliefs that define their personal existence in regards to Deity and the mysteries that comprise this existence of life.

But when such personal opinions are then extended to the masses, the concept of individualism becomes mired in the tentacles of censorship that goes by the label of dogma. When this occurs, the concept of individuality is lost.

Another concern with such an approach is that those opinions that form the basis for religions are based upon select human perspectives and are not the direct offering of Deity. Of course there will be those humans who will insist that their perception of Deity was the driving force that has inspired the particular religion that they themselves subscribe to.

However with literally thousands of divergent concepts of deity that has been proffered since the beginning of humankind, who is actually right and just as importantly, who is wrong? Is there such delineation when it comes to spirituality and/or religion? Does one person have to be right in order for all others to be wrong?

As individuals, each seeking their own definition and thus understanding of deity, this self-imposed quandary goes away. For as individuals, the belief in deity and the search for a comprehensive understanding of the mysteries of life become a personal pursuit and as such, do not require the approval of any other human being on earth.

Paganism was at one time a path that actually encouraged individual seeking and thus a personal sense of understanding. And in many ways it still is to this very day. However the specter of religion and the pressure of peer acceptance as defined by the few have stretched its tentacles into paganism as well. This modern attempt at conversion is commonly referred to as neo paganism. In essence, there is an attempt by some of these modern converts to turn paganism, which once defined individual spirituality, into a religion which follows the same parameters as the so called organized religions.

Why is this being attempted when it is blatantly obvious that organized religions and paganism are diametrically opposed in their approach to the concepts of deity and the mysteries of life?

The most obvious reason for this forced perception of dogma is the entrance of the many who formerly subscribed to an established religious pattern of acceptance in regards to their spiritual journey. However there may be a deeper reason for such an imposition of foreign values when discussing the parameters of paganism.

For instance why does humankind even need the anonymity of a concept known as religion where one can comfortably become a faceless member of a pre-conceived set of beliefs (dogma) ? And as already noted, said set of beliefs, which in every man-made religion on earth is defined by a select few.

Could it be because there is a segment of society who is apathetic about their spiritual beliefs? Could such folks be personally insecure of what they may encounter if they were to actually seek out their own answers to spirituality? Does this observation offend you?

If so, perhaps there is a gem of truth here that you may want to explore within your Inner self. When a select person or group of persons places the concept of deity and the mysteries of life into an imposition such as religious dogma, there is in effect a barricade to any real spiritual growth. The individual loses the gift of self-identity because they are pressured into a specific set of beliefs (dogma) , which limits any further exploration of the many possibilities that are inherent in un-fettered spirituality.

Many man-made religions have mechanisms in place that are designed to ensure that their members do not stray outside of the accepted parameters of belief has dictated by the few. Where is the freedom of the individual in such a setting? And where within the tenets of paganism do such man-made impositions apply?

These same man-made religions also have mechanisms in place to cast out those who dare to seek out the truths of life as they apply to their personal seeking and yet are outside of the accepted dogma of the particular religion that one is subscribing to.

In my personal opinion such an approach has absolutely nothing to do with any real concept of paganism. And so the push to “convert” paganism into the parameters of organized religion is somewhat troubling and may border on hypocrisy.

There is a common saying that “trying to get pagans to come together is like herding cats”. I personally hope that such an analogy retains some iota of truth as paganism wends its way into the consciousness of modern practitioners. Once those who follow the path of paganism lose the inherent right to live as individuals and once members of paganism lose the drive to seek out Inner truths, which are not restrained by the masses that blindly follow the lead of the few, then it is no longer a true spiritual path. Rather it becomes nothing more than an extension of the mind numbing control of religion.

And those who describe themselves as pagans, in all reality become nothing more than faceless minions of yet another man-made religion.

Being Spiritually Centered (And Tips On How To Get There)

Being Spiritually Centered (And Tips On How To Get There)

Author: Michael ‘Blackthorn’ Furie

Witches are taught that life is an intricate web of interconnected forces; that we are all one and that each piece of the microcosm can influence the whole. We are also taught to think for ourselves (a bit of an oxymoron, I know) and that every living being has its own destiny and right to exist. Furthermore, we are told that everyone should be able to believe whatever they choose and that all beliefs have validity even if only for their respective adherents, since one’s perceptions can influence their reality. This I believe is a true but potentially dangerous teaching if not framed in the proper context.

Most of us are taught how to “ground and center” in the moment as part of proper preparation for ritual or at least as a stress relieving technique however, an increasing number of us haven’t been given instruction in the necessity of, or the way to becoming, spiritually centered beings. I have known several people in my life (some Pagan, some not) that struggle with a feeling of spiritual emptiness and unrelenting frustration. They feel abandoned by the universe and whatever concept of Deity they hold dear. They don’t understand why so much of their life is filled with chaos. They feel continual conflict, both in the outside world and within themselves. I myself have suffered from this ailment and have struggled to find answers as to why. I have come to identify a reason for this chaos and conflict: a lack of being spiritually centered.

Being spiritually centered is a powerful tool that we have to truly embrace who we are as people and how we approach life. If you study spiritual gurus or masters of any faith, one key factor keeps presenting itself; they practice what they preach. In other words, they live their lives according to a set of clearly defined beliefs that they adhere to without exception. They leave no room for inner conflict or hypocrisy.

Psychologists have identified a state known as cognitive dissonance, which is defined by the American Psychological Association as: a state of despair that is induced when a person holds two contradictory beliefs, or when a belief is incongruent with an action that the person had chosen freely to perform. Because this situation produces feelings of discomfort, the individual strives to change one of the beliefs or behaviors in order to avoid being inconsistent. Hypocrisy is a special case of cognitive dissonance, produced when a person freely chooses to promote a behavior that they do not themselves practice.

I believe cognitive dissonance to be one of the greatest social ills faced in human society. When people feel driven to hold a belief because it was instilled in them as a child but they personally feel that the belief is either too restrictive or wholly invalid, a frustration and dissatisfaction with life builds within the mind. We’ve seen the results of unrelenting cognitive dissonance on a societal scale many times in the past.

When a group (let’s say the Puritans, for example) feels compelled to hold personally restrictive beliefs that are too difficult for even themselves to comply with, they then feel a gnawing sense of inadequacy, guilt and despair, now known as cognitive dissonance. This would then result in a large number of spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically unfulfilled people which, (I guess) is fine if that is their free choice.

If however, another group of people is nearby that practice a different set of beliefs (let’s say Native Americans, Pagans, Less restrictive Christians, well anybody really…) and those people appear happier and more fulfilled than the former group, the inner conflict only grows. To ease this conflict they have only three possible courses of action: isolate themselves away from the less restrictive people and continue in their ways, change their own restrictive beliefs and live a more relaxed life, or persecute those that live more freely than they, in order to reinforce their own sense of values and ease some of their secret feelings of inadequacy.

Sadly, this last choice seems to be the one that is most often chosen. Far too many people throughout history (in my opinion) have mistaken the sense of power felt when they convert people to their beliefs for true spirituality and religious fulfillment. Instead of becoming spiritually centered themselves, they choose to force their values on others; attempting to stamp out other belief systems in the hope that this will reinforce and ‘prove’ the supremacy and truth of their own beliefs to themselves.

This is why at the beginning of this article I stated that I believe that the fact that everyone’s beliefs are valid on at least some level because a person’s perceptions can influence reality, can be a dangerous teaching. If a person believes that inner conflict and a feeling of spiritual emptiness are ‘the way it must be’ then, they are living in needless misery and becoming potentially dangerous to those around them that do not share in their narrow outlook.

With all that being said, I shall (finally!) come to the point of this article and discuss becoming spiritually centered. In order to be spiritually centered, you must know who you are. You must have ‘found yourself’ as they say, and you must be comfortable in your own skin. This requires a process of evaluation and conscious acknowledgment of how you think and what you believe. The first step in this process is to ask yourself what you believe. Take a notebook and write down everything that you believe. No, seriously! Make the list as complete as possible; write down your entire Spiritual, cultural, political, and personal beliefs, both positive and negative.

After this list is complete, consider each item and determine whether you hold this belief because you truly believe it or, merely because someone else told you to believe it. Now, consider each item and decide whether or not you want to continue to hold that belief. Those beliefs you no longer desire to keep should be crossed out on your list. It is vital that a truly Spiritual person be free of clouded judgment and the weight of other people’s beliefs.

To hold any belief only because someone else claimed it as fact is a giving up of personal control to that person. A belief should only be held if, upon personal examination and experimentation, you find that it truly speaks to you and enriches your life.

Any shame or fear-based beliefs must be thoroughly examined. Truly determine whether or not any guilt, shame, fear or doubt is based on genuine wrongs that you may have committed or rather, based on unfair labels and projections placed upon you by others. This no doubt, will be an emotional journey but I assure you it is definitely worthwhile. Depending on the nature and severity of any emotional issues, therapy may be required to properly resolve them. In that case, I would highly recommend it but use your best judgment. Just remember that we are all human and prone to mistakes. One of the great challenges in life is to learn from and grow beyond, our mistakes. Let go of shame and fear.

The next step is, create a new revised list (I’m big on lists) of your personal beliefs and scan this list for any conflicting beliefs that you still hold. As I previously mentioned, hypocrisy is just another form of cognitive dissonance and will continue to keep you away from your centered self. Remember, there is a difference in being able to see both points of view in an argument and never being able to give a singular personal opinion on anything because you don’t feel able to take a definitive stance on any issue. The latter results from continuing to hold conflicting beliefs that keep you bound in shame and guilt and blur the lines so that you can’t find personal truth.

When you are centered, you are able to speak your truth with a clear and proud voice because you know deep within your heart that it is your truth and you will be unwilling to abandon it.

Once all your beliefs align, there is only one more step in becoming centered…actually living according to those beliefs. Remember that it is just as important to ‘do’ as it is to understand and feel. There are three aspects to our personalities: thinking, willing, and feeling. We need to utilize all three as equally as possible in order to live fully. Thinking and (hopefully) feeling have been involved in the process so far, but never forget the power of the human will. It is connected to the fire element and is that special spark that is only gained through actual experience; contemplation, evaluation, intellectual understanding and emotional connection are only parts of the process.

To be complete, we too must practice what we preach.

Blessed Be.

The Power of Affirmations

The Power of Affirmations

Reversing Ours Fears and Negativity

From Gail Bell,

Affirmations are words or phrases which are said over and over to AFFIRM a single thought about yourself or other people. This is the way you have formed negative and positive programming through out your lifetime, saying things to yourself, about yourself, over and over. After thoughts are repeated, they soon become a BELIEF, and then we think this belief is our reality. In this way we form fears of poverty, health, weight and relationships and the emotions connected with these beliefs can even become our comfort zone, no matter how negative they might be.

Since we created these beliefs we can also change them. This is where real freedom comes from. Focused affirmations are a great way to start your new tomorrows. When you feel tension, stress, or any type of anxiety, an affirmation which makes you feel good is where you need to go. My favorite is: I AM POWERFUL. It makes me feel so good! However, for the affirmations to work you must not only say something which makes you feel better you have to FEEL the words. So, say whatever makes you feel good, then see yourself in a happy scenario doing or being your desire. See it, feel it, even taste it! The more emotion you have the faster you will draw it to you. Here are some affirmations you might use, but the best ones are ones you make up yourself:

  • I AM POWERFUL
  • MONEY (LOVE, GOOD HEALTH, PERFECT WEIGHT, ETC.) COMES TO ME EASILY AND EFFORTLESSLY
  • I AM ALWAYS BALANCED AND CENTERED
  • I AM IN PERFECT HEALTH
  • I GIVE AND RECEIVE LOVE ALL THE TIME
  • I AM JOYFUL
  • I LOOK AND FEEL WONDERFUL If it takes saying them over and over a thousand things a day, then do it. If you say an affirmation when you are feeling really down, and you don’t think it’s doing anything for you, just keep on. Every time you say something positive you will bit by bit feel better. A little bit of feeling better is better than lots of feeling depressed.

    Go for it, and live in Love, Peace and Joy

    About this Contributor: Gail Bell is a powerful healer who is a graduate of the Silva Mind Control Method and Transcendental Meditation. From her many studies, she quickly realized most methods for inner peace were too complex, and she soon began to discover easy to use methods for everyday life. Throughout her journey, she has guided and enhanced the lives of many individuals as a personal counselor.

Where Faeries Tread

Where Faeries Tread

Author: Priest Christopher Aldridge

I think it’s a shame that we live in a society that makes fun of adults who believe in Faeries or who tell of an encounter they have had with them. I am a Wizard, A Hellenist and a practitioner of Witchcraft, and most who know me know that I believe in Faeries and other magickal creatures very strongly.

Now I won’t try to force my beliefs on others, but I do wish people would stop trying to label believers like me as “delusional.” If I don’t try to force my beliefs on you, don’t try to force yours on me, or anyone else for that matter. To assume that someone is “stupid, ” “crazy, ” or “delusional, ” because they don’t believe the same as you, is arrogant. It’s all right to have debates, but don’t be disrespectful.

I think that people who do not believe in Faeries have this fallacy that because they have not experienced proof, that no one else could possibly have, and therefore Faeries cannot exist. They compare their experiences to that of all people. But the fact of the matter is that there are countless sightings by adults from all over the world who have had encounters with Faeries and little folk.

The people I have talked to who have encountered Faeries are, like myself, perfectly sane. One such website where you will find many Faerie sightings is: http://www.fairygardens.com/sightings/adult4.html

However, I cannot really blame the average individual for thinking that belief in Faeries is silly or insane for someone who is an adult. After all, our society has conditioned people to certain beliefs. As humans, we tend to establish our own laws in regards to what is possible and impossible. We do this while not realizing that we did not create this universe, nor do we control it, we are but a part of it. We should not be so quick to assume that we know what is possible and impossible when we are but a link in this chain of life.

I am 25 years old, and unfortunately, some people have made fun of me for believing in Faeries, and I’m sure they even believe that I am insane or delusional. I do know other Pagans and Witches who don’t think I’m crazy for believing though, and some people have even commended me for having the courage to basically broadcast my beliefs in the Fae. The bottom line is that I am not ashamed of my beliefs. Of course, Faeries are but one part of my belief system, but I hold that belief strongly.

Many people don’t believe in Faeries because they have never seen or encountered them, which I can understand, because some people are just the type who only believes what they see. So why would people who believe in the Fae be labeled as insane or delusional for believing in something they have seen? I think that we have certainly discovered that just because you can’t see something, does not mean it’s not there. But many people have seen Faeries. There are several books published on Faeries, including how to communicate and work with them.

Throughout history, many cultures have believed in and even feared Faeries. They took the belief in the Fae and the honor and appeasement of the little folk very seriously.
You will find that there are different beliefs held by different individuals as to who or what Faeries actually are. If you’re like me, you believe that Faeries are literal beings, real magickal creatures that are either individuals on their own, or are reincarnations of the dead. I believe that they can travel to our realm and interact with humans if they choose. And I believe they have great magickal powers and abilities.

While some believe that they live on the Astral Plane, I do not believe that that is the only realm they inhabit. To me, Faeries can be guardians of certain places and things in nature and friends to humans who respect them.

Every spring and summer, I keep a Faerie garden outside my home to welcome good Faeries and their good energies into my life. Even when the garden dies in the winter, I do not remove it. Now of course I do not and would never place the Faeries on the same level or above the Gods and Goddesses, but I do believe in respecting the Fae. But I do not worship them. You can show respect without worshipping.

I also hold the belief that the Fae are but not limited to reincarnations of the dead. I think that humans can reincarnate to the Faery Realm. I believe that Faeries can also be the creations of the Gods and Goddesses as well. I also happen to hold the belief that Faeries can also be nature spirits, as in spirits of nature herself. Such as woodland Faeries, water Faeries, air Faeries, etc.

I am very careful to not offend the Faeries. I have read about times when people have paid dearly for greatly offending or angering a Faery. Now there are many types of Faeries, and probably depending on who you talk you, some would advise you to not contact certain Faeries due to their nature towards humans, that’s why when I call on them I make sure to call on the good Faeries who have only good intentions.

And then I think some people, unlike me, believe that Faeries are archetypal, symbolizations and personifications of natural things and magickal and unknown things or places in nature. Some may even believe that the names of some Faeries are the keys to unlocking universal energies, such as Faery energy. And that may very well be so.

Keep in mind that there are different kinds of Faeries. Faeries are not only little people with wings that we commonly conjure up when we think of the Fae. But there are, in fact, many types of Faeries. Some are friendly to humans; some are absolutely not. I would say that I think one of my favorite types of Faeries are the Gnomes.

Gnomes are dwarfs and Faeries. They tend to live deep within forests. Legend has it that they live under old oak trees, and are known to be helpful to humans and animals. They are also guardians of the gardens. They can also protect you and are intelligent beings. The common depiction of the Gnome that is short little people with pointy hats, many believe that that depiction is actually correct.

To me, the Gnomes are very charming and lovable. I know people who have seen Faeries and some tell spectacular tales as to their encounters, and sightings continue to come in from all over the world. I would say that one of the most spectacular stories of a Faerie encounter has come from Herbie Brennan, who is a very successful author from Ireland. His video where he tells about his experiences can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EclmR01xSds

I also constructed a Faery Garden Blog a long time ago to post Faery encounters from people I know or anyone who is willing to send one in to me. There are not many there, but the ones that are will be charming and interesting to you, I think. http://www.chrisfaerygarden.blogspot.com

Will we as the human race not even consider the possibility that Faeries exist? Is it so insane to believe in something that so many people have seen? At the least, we should stop ridiculing people who do believe in the Fae. We should always keep an open mind. And if you believe, don’t be afraid to express it.

Hail the Olympians!
And may everyone be blessed!

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.

Reincarnation Relaxes the Soul

We are all reincarnating at different rates. This is why some people are truly wonderful and some are, well, not. Those who seem incredibly sensitive and loving are probably way ahead of the prickly, spiteful people in the reincarnation process.

When you meet lovely, kind, and caring people it is probable that they have reincarnated many times. Their endless incarnation has raised their spirits’ vibration, so they automatically show patience and strive to do everything right in their lives. People who are mean, selfish and egotistic probably haven’t reincarnated as much. That isn’t to say that these people are wicked, they simply haven’t learned all their lessons yet. Think of them as bratty, adolescents and the sympathetic, ones as the grandparents of the reincarnation process–regardless of their age!

Witches Never Die, They Just Get Recycled

What is this life about and why are we here? Is there an afterlife? I get asked these questions a lot, especially by  teenage-witches who are curious to know the purpose of life and death. I usually answer by saying that a belief in an afterlife is a personal thing to each and every one of us, so you need to explore as many options as possible and then listen for your soul to find the truth for yourself.

Most witches throughout the world have a deep belief in reincarnation and the afterlife.  Common sense tells us that living a life again of approximately eighty years and then just disappearing forever would be pointless. What could we possibly learn from that? Nothing-and so the modern-day witch tends to think along the same lines as many other religions and faiths, taking comfort in believing that our spirit lives on after we die.

Imagine that your body is an automobile and it transports your spirit around for the duration of your life. Just like an automobile, your body occasionally breaks down and need repairing.A little tune-up every now and again will keep it in peak performing condition, and of course you’ll need to put the  right gas in the engine in the form of healthy good.  But no matter how good a caretaker you are the body that is your vehicle you are, the body that is your vehicle which can’t possibly last forever. Once it takes its last drive your soul steps right out of it and after a little rest with your loved ones in spirit, gets back into another vehicle. This is the crux of reincarnation your soul gets a new car to drive around the Earth in again, so to speak.