Walking The Path As A Public Witch

Walking The Path As A Public Witch

Author:   Medea  

I am a ‘public Witch’. The phrase means different things to different people but generally it means I am one who has come ‘out of the broom closet’. That has come to mean different things to me as the years have gone by.

I never was really in the ‘broom closet’. From the time I was introduced to The Craft by way of The Tarot at age eighteen, I was very open about it. Sometimes the openness was just for ‘shock value’. Sometimes it was just to be ‘different’. More often than not my openness was just a part of my personality. Like a puppy, I gleefully and playfully was just ‘me’ all over the place.

Now, at the age of forty-seven (can I really be that old?) and High Priestess in my tradition, I am still open about it, yet in very different ways. I rarely go for ‘shock value’ anymore (there are, however, those occasions when I cannot seem to help myself) . I have been a professional Nurse for twenty plus years and have learned in some instances the less said, the better. This learned, of course, the hard way. In many, many areas of my life I am much more tolerant and not so quick to take offense. I cannot attribute this to age or wisdom, as in many ways I am very immature and like it that way. It is a by-product of the path in which I have chosen to walk. One of the many, many gifts I receive.

I no longer feel the need to flash a Pentacle ring or necklace every chance I get. Most jewelry associated with the Craft and my religion are worn in private or under my clothes, close to my heart, as they should be. Yet, if I choose to wear such things in public (or forget to take them off) I make no effort to hide them, give no explanations, and make no apologies. My car is no longer adorned with bumper stickers proclaiming me ‘Witch’ or ‘Happy Heathen’. I didn’t take them off, but simply quit feeling the need to replace them each time I had to replace a vehicle. Yet I would not refrain from putting one on my bumper if it caught my fancy.

These days when I find it necessary or appropriate to speak of the Divine in general company I am as apt to say ‘God’ as ‘Goddess’ or ‘The Gods’. I have seen that getting caught up in nomenclature or schematics lessons somehow the sacredness of what one speaks of. If I am asked what Church I go to (a common question here in the South) I tell them. I don’t use flowery or holier- than -thou phrases such as ‘Nature is my Church’.

I say I am Pagan, if need be I say I am ‘Witch’, but more than that, I say I am a person of faith. And in some eyes I see the flash of recognition and in others I see distrust and incomprehension. These things no longer bother me. I am not meant to crusade. Neither am I, or my life, meant to be perfect. I can lapse in my old ways from time to time without being ‘lost’. I can make mistakes.

These days my Pentacle hangs on the lamppost in my yard. It hangs there for protection of my home and property as well as a nod to The Craft. It matters not who sees it and who does not. My home is Pagan and I call it a Temple House. It is where our rituals are mostly held. Where our classes are held. Where I sit and work on my computer on things that are important to the Temple. It is filled with altars which range from very simple to elaborate. Like all things, they change as they should, and I understand one does not need the trappings of religion to walk one’s faith. The house is lived in. It is welcoming to The Gods and Spirits I call, to my blood family and my Temple family and to visitors who come and go. It is meant to be welcoming to visitors of all faith and I believe for the most part it is. It is a work in progress, like the Temple itself. Like all things which grow and change. Like me.

I returned to the place I was born and raised after a twenty-year hiatus. It is a rural area in the Wilds of Tennessee, deep in the Bible Belt. It is a wonderful and beautiful place and the people are wonderful and beautiful too. Yet suspicions and prejudices linger along side traditions that smack of the Old Religion. I am known as a Witch and there is no mistake I am ‘the Real Thing’. At first I was humored, seen as a local girl who went ‘Out West’ and got some very strange ideas. There is often surprise when it is learned I was first introduced to the Craft in good ol’ Nashville, Tennessee. But here in the Wilds, Nashville, too, is a long way and there are many strange ideas to be found there. Maybe not as strange as ‘Out West’, but still strange.

When the realization came that this is not a passing fad for me, and that not only did I practice what I believed but ‘preached’ what I practiced the attitudes began to change. Family members and childhood friends, some I loved dearly and had missed for a long time, began to avoid me. Their attempts to ‘save my soul’ fell on deaf ears, and I took offense to being prayed for in Churches that I would ‘find my way and be saved’. They could not convert me, could not understand when I asked ‘saved from what?’ or said ‘I’m already saved’. And so I became a lost cause and to some a threat. There is no brand of persecution as scorching as that of those we know and love. My invitations to my home were unanswered by some. It became clear there were homes in which I was no longer welcome.

The Goddess does not demand sacrifice though at times it may seem so. I eventually came to understand that in order to have the things I found important in my life there were some things that by nature had to go. There is always grief, but as all things it passes and is, if not understood, accepted.

There were those who came and went. And there are those who stayed. Rituals of one became rituals of two and then three and then as many as fifteen at any given time. Others want card readings or advice or a little magick to ‘help out a situation’. Sometimes they are open about it and do not care who knows or what is thought of their association with me. Sometimes they come on the sly. I have learned to recognize those who come for a reason, such as the Goddess may have, and those who want what I can give and firmly believe me to be going to a Christian hell. There are those who do not care what becomes of me, but care about what it is I can do. Sometimes I still grow angry, usually out of hurt from the fall of one who I may have at some point respected. Mostly I do what I feel to be right and it has become very easy.

Inevitably the question will come from somewhere: ‘How did you get into that?’ that, of course, being Paganism or Witchcraft and sometimes thinly veiled ‘in league with The Devil’. I no longer feel the need to explain how Christianity never ‘felt right’ for me, implying of course I was somehow superior to that particular belief. These days I usually shrug and say ‘Like anyone of faith, I was called to it.’ This leaves little to argue about.

In my tradition today we celebrate Lenaia at the time of Imbolc, yet like so many things, the lines are blurred and the messages are the same. This Imbolc season I find myself taking stock and reflecting on many things about my life and the Path I walk. They, this life and this path, have somewhere along the line become one and the same. Perhaps it is the knowledge of having achieved this very thing, without setting out to do so or even hoping that I could, which is causing me to reflect. Perhaps it is my age, and the realization that, though I am not so old, I have most certainly lived longer in this life than I am going to live. It could be the weathering of so many changes over the last several years, some devastating enough to make me question my faith. Having come to terms with myself I have accepted many things I thought I could not. I can do this; accept these things, because at some point I began to trust that my Gods know what they are doing.

In January of 2001, I performed a solitary ritual outside in the yard at the old house my brother and I shared, divorced siblings clinging together in the changes of life. This was many years after I had picked up my first Tarot deck and felt the power of Otherworlds and the promise of mysteries revealed in them. It was cold and the Full Winter Moon rose high in a dark and starless sky. The moon was the color of ecru and its light brightened and dimmed with my incantation and my song. I had felt and witnessed the Power of the presence of the Divine before. I had seen first hand the workings of magick. Yet this was different. It was as if I were tapped on the shoulder. I had the feeling that Someone had finally gotten my attention. She had been waiting patiently for me to notice She wanted my attention. The voice I heard on the Wind, though the night was Windless, was real even though I could not make out the words. It was as if there was one voice, no, a thousand voices, and though the words were unintelligible I knew they said ‘Follow Me’.

I did not call the God and Goddess by name then, a last holdout of my Pentecost upbringing. They were to me The Lord and Lady. Yet I knew there were names, many names, and I would come to know Them. Although I became a Priestess of Hekate, it was Diana, the Huntress Mother, who called to me that night. I now know Her feel and Her smell and I recognize Her voice. When I hear Her name mentioned I see in my mind’s eye the silver disk floating in the Winter Sky. I often thank Her for calling me.

It wasn’t long after that I held my first private Imbolc ritual, as I have ever since, as I will continue to do. The day was sunny, bright, and cold. The kind of day that often depressed me. With stick incense in hand (patchouli because that is all I had) and the instructions from Scott Cunningham’s ‘Wicca’ in my head I picked my way through the thickets behind our rental house. I found a clearing and sat down, my nose running and the frozen ground pressing against my too thin pants for the weather. I meditated in silence, one thing I was only beginning to get good at. I sat there a long while, sometimes registering the sound of small animals in the thickets. Somehow understanding the sounds of the animals were gifts. I then told the Gods the things I have told them many times since:

I am Your daughter and Your lover. I give myself to You in this life and in any others to come. Set my feet upon the path You wish for me. Teach me the things I need to know. Give me the strength to learn them. I honor You and I love You. So Mote it be.

I meant those words the day I said them. And many times after, even as I wondered how hard this life has to get. I mean them now. The Gods listened and they knew I meant them and they have granted me the very things I asked for.

I love this life. It is at times messy and ugly, often chaotic, and on occasion extremely painful. It is equally interesting, comforting, and fun. And so there is balance. And so I am very, very blessed.

I love being Pagan. It is a wonderful thing to know what one’s path is and to be allowed to walk it. The Buddhist say ‘do the dishes for the sake of doing the dishes’. The clean dishes are only a result of doing the dishes correctly and wholeheartedly. Clean dishes are not the goal, doing the task well is the goal, everything else is, well, gravy. They say the same about the journey we call life. The journey is the point, the destination only the result of taking the journey well and wholeheartedly. Take the journey for the sake of taking the journey, walk the path for the sake of walking the path. Every now and then cast your eyes to the top of the mountain for a moment, but only a moment, focus on your goal, reassess your progress, make the proper adjustments, and get back to the task at hand.

In giving true love for the sake of giving true love, I have been given the truest of love. In giving friendship for the sake of giving friendship, I have received friendship. In being faithful for the sake of being faithful, I am given faithfulness. In giving mercy and kindness and justice for the sake of giving mercy and kindness and justice, I have received mercy and kindness and justice far beyond that I ever expected. In teaching the things I know for the sake of teaching the things I know I have been taught. And such fine teachers I have.

I walk the Pagan Path and the Path of the Priestess (and yes, Witch) for many reasons but mainly because it is my journey, what is put before me to do. It is an awesome task, an honor, and a door to many fleeting moments of happiness, which add up to a joyful life when all is said and done. Sometimes this path of mine is walked on nothing but faith because all else seems to elude me. Yet that which eludes me becomes mine if it is meant to be, and though I question and rail against the way, I am committed.

Along the way I catch the most peaceful sunrises, beautiful sunsets, healing breezes, and mighty storms. I am taught humility; I am reprimanded, led gently back when astray, and kicked hard when I need it. I am loved unconditionally and I know this without a doubt. I neither fear Death nor look for it, waiting for the rewards that I think might be my due. My rewards are many, and they are now. I may at times dread the act of dying and wonder if I will be granted a merciful death or if suffering at the end of this life is part of my lesson and task. Yet I trust that I will have what is needed for me and what is in the end the best. And I will not make that journey alone.

Those who have gone before will welcome me. The Gods will guide me and the Lady Hekate will walk with me as She always has. Cunningham pointed out that there is a difference in believing in something and knowing something. Many of the things I thought I believed I have come to know. To know a thing to be true is to accept it without having to understand it. There are many things I do understand and many things I will someday understand. But knowing, that is something that is not given lightly. It cannot be earned or bought; it can only come from walking the journey and walking it with an open heart and a willing soul.

I am one of many who aid this Phoenix we call Paganism to rise. My voice is among the silent ones who roar their presence into this world in this time. Our books and our Temples were burned and like so many things, though the way could have been easier, it had to be. Our Temples stand in our hearts and in our souls, in our country homes, and our suburban yards, in our small apartments in sprawling cities. This wonderful thing we call the Internet weaves us together across many, many miles. We have new books with words from Powerful hearts. We have remnants from the past which survive and which are important yet unimportant and therefore kept in perspective. We have the new and the old in which to learn and to build from. Balance. As it should be.

I am parched with thirst, and perishing,
But drink of me, the ever-flowing spring on the right (where) there is a fair cypress.
Who are you? Where are you from?
I am a child of Earth and starry Heaven, but my race is of Heaven (alone)
— Orphic Lamella from Thessaly

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Walking The Path As A Public Witch

Walking The Path As A Public Witch

Author:   Medea 

I am a ‘public Witch’. The phrase means different things to different people but generally it means I am one who has come ‘out of the broom closet’. That has come to mean different things to me as the years have gone by.

I never was really in the ‘broom closet’. From the time I was introduced to The Craft by way of The Tarot at age eighteen, I was very open about it. Sometimes the openness was just for ‘shock value’. Sometimes it was just to be ‘different’. More often than not my openness was just a part of my personality. Like a puppy, I gleefully and playfully was just ‘me’ all over the place.

Now, at the age of forty-seven (can I really be that old?) and High Priestess in my tradition, I am still open about it, yet in very different ways. I rarely go for ‘shock value’ anymore (there are, however, those occasions when I cannot seem to help myself) . I have been a professional Nurse for twenty plus years and have learned in some instances the less said, the better. This learned, of course, the hard way. In many, many areas of my life I am much more tolerant and not so quick to take offense. I cannot attribute this to age or wisdom, as in many ways I am very immature and like it that way. It is a by-product of the path in which I have chosen to walk. One of the many, many gifts I receive.

I no longer feel the need to flash a Pentacle ring or necklace every chance I get. Most jewelry associated with the Craft and my religion are worn in private or under my clothes, close to my heart, as they should be. Yet, if I choose to wear such things in public (or forget to take them off) I make no effort to hide them, give no explanations, and make no apologies. My car is no longer adorned with bumper stickers proclaiming me ‘Witch’ or ‘Happy Heathen’. I didn’t take them off, but simply quit feeling the need to replace them each time I had to replace a vehicle. Yet I would not refrain from putting one on my bumper if it caught my fancy.

These days when I find it necessary or appropriate to speak of the Divine in general company I am as apt to say ‘God’ as ‘Goddess’ or ‘The Gods’. I have seen that getting caught up in nomenclature or schematics lessons somehow the sacredness of what one speaks of. If I am asked what Church I go to (a common question here in the South) I tell them. I don’t use flowery or holier- than -thou phrases such as ‘Nature is my Church’.

I say I am Pagan, if need be I say I am ‘Witch’, but more than that, I say I am a person of faith. And in some eyes I see the flash of recognition and in others I see distrust and incomprehension. These things no longer bother me. I am not meant to crusade. Neither am I, or my life, meant to be perfect. I can lapse in my old ways from time to time without being ‘lost’. I can make mistakes.

These days my Pentacle hangs on the lamppost in my yard. It hangs there for protection of my home and property as well as a nod to The Craft. It matters not who sees it and who does not. My home is Pagan and I call it a Temple House. It is where our rituals are mostly held. Where our classes are held. Where I sit and work on my computer on things that are important to the Temple. It is filled with altars which range from very simple to elaborate. Like all things, they change as they should, and I understand one does not need the trappings of religion to walk one’s faith. The house is lived in. It is welcoming to The Gods and Spirits I call, to my blood family and my Temple family and to visitors who come and go. It is meant to be welcoming to visitors of all faith and I believe for the most part it is. It is a work in progress, like the Temple itself. Like all things which grow and change. Like me.

I returned to the place I was born and raised after a twenty-year hiatus. It is a rural area in the Wilds of Tennessee, deep in the Bible Belt. It is a wonderful and beautiful place and the people are wonderful and beautiful too. Yet suspicions and prejudices linger along side traditions that smack of the Old Religion. I am known as a Witch and there is no mistake I am ‘the Real Thing’. At first I was humored, seen as a local girl who went ‘Out West’ and got some very strange ideas. There is often surprise when it is learned I was first introduced to the Craft in good ol’ Nashville, Tennessee. But here in the Wilds, Nashville, too, is a long way and there are many strange ideas to be found there. Maybe not as strange as ‘Out West’, but still strange.

When the realization came that this is not a passing fad for me, and that not only did I practice what I believed but ‘preached’ what I practiced the attitudes began to change. Family members and childhood friends, some I loved dearly and had missed for a long time, began to avoid me. Their attempts to ‘save my soul’ fell on deaf ears, and I took offense to being prayed for in Churches that I would ‘find my way and be saved’. They could not convert me, could not understand when I asked ‘saved from what?’ or said ‘I’m already saved’. And so I became a lost cause and to some a threat. There is no brand of persecution as scorching as that of those we know and love. My invitations to my home were unanswered by some. It became clear there were homes in which I was no longer welcome.

The Goddess does not demand sacrifice though at times it may seem so. I eventually came to understand that in order to have the things I found important in my life there were some things that by nature had to go. There is always grief, but as all things it passes and is, if not understood, accepted.

There were those who came and went. And there are those who stayed. Rituals of one became rituals of two and then three and then as many as fifteen at any given time. Others want card readings or advice or a little magick to ‘help out a situation’. Sometimes they are open about it and do not care who knows or what is thought of their association with me. Sometimes they come on the sly. I have learned to recognize those who come for a reason, such as the Goddess may have, and those who want what I can give and firmly believe me to be going to a Christian hell. There are those who do not care what becomes of me, but care about what it is I can do. Sometimes I still grow angry, usually out of hurt from the fall of one who I may have at some point respected. Mostly I do what I feel to be right and it has become very easy.

Inevitably the question will come from somewhere: ‘How did you get into that?’ that, of course, being Paganism or Witchcraft and sometimes thinly veiled ‘in league with The Devil’. I no longer feel the need to explain how Christianity never ‘felt right’ for me, implying of course I was somehow superior to that particular belief. These days I usually shrug and say ‘Like anyone of faith, I was called to it.’ This leaves little to argue about.

In my tradition today we celebrate Lenaia at the time of Imbolc, yet like so many things, the lines are blurred and the messages are the same. This Imbolc season I find myself taking stock and reflecting on many things about my life and the Path I walk. They, this life and this path, have somewhere along the line become one and the same. Perhaps it is the knowledge of having achieved this very thing, without setting out to do so or even hoping that I could, which is causing me to reflect. Perhaps it is my age, and the realization that, though I am not so old, I have most certainly lived longer in this life than I am going to live. It could be the weathering of so many changes over the last several years, some devastating enough to make me question my faith. Having come to terms with myself I have accepted many things I thought I could not. I can do this; accept these things, because at some point I began to trust that my Gods know what they are doing.

In January of 2001, I performed a solitary ritual outside in the yard at the old house my brother and I shared, divorced siblings clinging together in the changes of life. This was many years after I had picked up my first Tarot deck and felt the power of Otherworlds and the promise of mysteries revealed in them. It was cold and the Full Winter Moon rose high in a dark and starless sky. The moon was the color of ecru and its light brightened and dimmed with my incantation and my song. I had felt and witnessed the Power of the presence of the Divine before. I had seen first hand the workings of magick. Yet this was different. It was as if I were tapped on the shoulder. I had the feeling that Someone had finally gotten my attention. She had been waiting patiently for me to notice She wanted my attention. The voice I heard on the Wind, though the night was Windless, was real even though I could not make out the words. It was as if there was one voice, no, a thousand voices, and though the words were unintelligible I knew they said ‘Follow Me’.

I did not call the God and Goddess by name then, a last holdout of my Pentecost upbringing. They were to me The Lord and Lady. Yet I knew there were names, many names, and I would come to know Them. Although I became a Priestess of Hekate, it was Diana, the Huntress Mother, who called to me that night. I now know Her feel and Her smell and I recognize Her voice. When I hear Her name mentioned I see in my mind’s eye the silver disk floating in the Winter Sky. I often thank Her for calling me.

It wasn’t long after that I held my first private Imbolc ritual, as I have ever since, as I will continue to do. The day was sunny, bright, and cold. The kind of day that often depressed me. With stick incense in hand (patchouli because that is all I had) and the instructions from Scott Cunningham’s ‘Wicca’ in my head I picked my way through the thickets behind our rental house. I found a clearing and sat down, my nose running and the frozen ground pressing against my too thin pants for the weather. I meditated in silence, one thing I was only beginning to get good at. I sat there a long while, sometimes registering the sound of small animals in the thickets. Somehow understanding the sounds of the animals were gifts. I then told the Gods the things I have told them many times since:

I am Your daughter and Your lover. I give myself to You in this life and in any others to come. Set my feet upon the path You wish for me. Teach me the things I need to know. Give me the strength to learn them. I honor You and I love You. So Mote it be.

I meant those words the day I said them. And many times after, even as I wondered how hard this life has to get. I mean them now. The Gods listened and they knew I meant them and they have granted me the very things I asked for.

I love this life. It is at times messy and ugly, often chaotic, and on occasion extremely painful. It is equally interesting, comforting, and fun. And so there is balance. And so I am very, very blessed.

I love being Pagan. It is a wonderful thing to know what one’s path is and to be allowed to walk it. The Buddhist say ‘do the dishes for the sake of doing the dishes’. The clean dishes are only a result of doing the dishes correctly and wholeheartedly. Clean dishes are not the goal, doing the task well is the goal, everything else is, well, gravy. They say the same about the journey we call life. The journey is the point, the destination only the result of taking the journey well and wholeheartedly. Take the journey for the sake of taking the journey, walk the path for the sake of walking the path. Every now and then cast your eyes to the top of the mountain for a moment, but only a moment, focus on your goal, reassess your progress, make the proper adjustments, and get back to the task at hand.

In giving true love for the sake of giving true love, I have been given the truest of love. In giving friendship for the sake of giving friendship, I have received friendship. In being faithful for the sake of being faithful, I am given faithfulness. In giving mercy and kindness and justice for the sake of giving mercy and kindness and justice, I have received mercy and kindness and justice far beyond that I ever expected. In teaching the things I know for the sake of teaching the things I know I have been taught. And such fine teachers I have.

I walk the Pagan Path and the Path of the Priestess (and yes, Witch) for many reasons but mainly because it is my journey, what is put before me to do. It is an awesome task, an honor, and a door to many fleeting moments of happiness, which add up to a joyful life when all is said and done. Sometimes this path of mine is walked on nothing but faith because all else seems to elude me. Yet that which eludes me becomes mine if it is meant to be, and though I question and rail against the way, I am committed.

Along the way I catch the most peaceful sunrises, beautiful sunsets, healing breezes, and mighty storms. I am taught humility; I am reprimanded, led gently back when astray, and kicked hard when I need it. I am loved unconditionally and I know this without a doubt. I neither fear Death nor look for it, waiting for the rewards that I think might be my due. My rewards are many, and they are now. I may at times dread the act of dying and wonder if I will be granted a merciful death or if suffering at the end of this life is part of my lesson and task. Yet I trust that I will have what is needed for me and what is in the end the best. And I will not make that journey alone.

Those who have gone before will welcome me. The Gods will guide me and the Lady Hekate will walk with me as She always has. Cunningham pointed out that there is a difference in believing in something and knowing something. Many of the things I thought I believed I have come to know. To know a thing to be true is to accept it without having to understand it. There are many things I do understand and many things I will someday understand. But knowing, that is something that is not given lightly. It cannot be earned or bought; it can only come from walking the journey and walking it with an open heart and a willing soul.

I am one of many who aid this Phoenix we call Paganism to rise. My voice is among the silent ones who roar their presence into this world in this time. Our books and our Temples were burned and like so many things, though the way could have been easier, it had to be. Our Temples stand in our hearts and in our souls, in our country homes, and our suburban yards, in our small apartments in sprawling cities. This wonderful thing we call the Internet weaves us together across many, many miles. We have new books with words from Powerful hearts. We have remnants from the past which survive and which are important yet unimportant and therefore kept in perspective. We have the new and the old in which to learn and to build from. Balance. As it should be.

I am parched with thirst, and perishing,
But drink of me, the ever-flowing spring on the right (where) there is a fair cypress.
Who are you? Where are you from?
I am a child of Earth and starry Heaven, but my race is of Heaven (alone)
— Orphic Lamella from Thessaly

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Walking The Path As A Public Witch

Walking The Path As A Public Witch

Author:   Medea 

I am a ‘public Witch’. The phrase means different things to different people but generally it means I am one who has come ‘out of the broom closet’. That has come to mean different things to me as the years have gone by.

I never was really in the ‘broom closet’. From the time I was introduced to The Craft by way of The Tarot at age eighteen, I was very open about it. Sometimes the openness was just for ‘shock value’. Sometimes it was just to be ‘different’. More often than not my openness was just a part of my personality. Like a puppy, I gleefully and playfully was just ‘me’ all over the place.

Now, at the age of forty-seven (can I really be that old?) and High Priestess in my tradition, I am still open about it, yet in very different ways. I rarely go for ‘shock value’ anymore (there are, however, those occasions when I cannot seem to help myself) . I have been a professional Nurse for twenty plus years and have learned in some instances the less said, the better. This learned, of course, the hard way. In many, many areas of my life I am much more tolerant and not so quick to take offense. I cannot attribute this to age or wisdom, as in many ways I am very immature and like it that way. It is a by-product of the path in which I have chosen to walk. One of the many, many gifts I receive.

I no longer feel the need to flash a Pentacle ring or necklace every chance I get. Most jewelry associated with the Craft and my religion are worn in private or under my clothes, close to my heart, as they should be. Yet, if I choose to wear such things in public (or forget to take them off) I make no effort to hide them, give no explanations, and make no apologies. My car is no longer adorned with bumper stickers proclaiming me ‘Witch’ or ‘Happy Heathen’. I didn’t take them off, but simply quit feeling the need to replace them each time I had to replace a vehicle. Yet I would not refrain from putting one on my bumper if it caught my fancy.

These days when I find it necessary or appropriate to speak of the Divine in general company I am as apt to say ‘God’ as ‘Goddess’ or ‘The Gods’. I have seen that getting caught up in nomenclature or schematics lessons somehow the sacredness of what one speaks of. If I am asked what Church I go to (a common question here in the South) I tell them. I don’t use flowery or holier- than -thou phrases such as ‘Nature is my Church’.

I say I am Pagan, if need be I say I am ‘Witch’, but more than that, I say I am a person of faith. And in some eyes I see the flash of recognition and in others I see distrust and incomprehension. These things no longer bother me. I am not meant to crusade. Neither am I, or my life, meant to be perfect. I can lapse in my old ways from time to time without being ‘lost’. I can make mistakes.

These days my Pentacle hangs on the lamppost in my yard. It hangs there for protection of my home and property as well as a nod to The Craft. It matters not who sees it and who does not. My home is Pagan and I call it a Temple House. It is where our rituals are mostly held. Where our classes are held. Where I sit and work on my computer on things that are important to the Temple. It is filled with altars which range from very simple to elaborate. Like all things, they change as they should, and I understand one does not need the trappings of religion to walk one’s faith. The house is lived in. It is welcoming to The Gods and Spirits I call, to my blood family and my Temple family and to visitors who come and go. It is meant to be welcoming to visitors of all faith and I believe for the most part it is. It is a work in progress, like the Temple itself. Like all things which grow and change. Like me.

I returned to the place I was born and raised after a twenty-year hiatus. It is a rural area in the Wilds of Tennessee, deep in the Bible Belt. It is a wonderful and beautiful place and the people are wonderful and beautiful too. Yet suspicions and prejudices linger along side traditions that smack of the Old Religion. I am known as a Witch and there is no mistake I am ‘the Real Thing’. At first I was humored, seen as a local girl who went ‘Out West’ and got some very strange ideas. There is often surprise when it is learned I was first introduced to the Craft in good ol’ Nashville, Tennessee. But here in the Wilds, Nashville, too, is a long way and there are many strange ideas to be found there. Maybe not as strange as ‘Out West’, but still strange.

When the realization came that this is not a passing fad for me, and that not only did I practice what I believed but ‘preached’ what I practiced the attitudes began to change. Family members and childhood friends, some I loved dearly and had missed for a long time, began to avoid me. Their attempts to ‘save my soul’ fell on deaf ears, and I took offense to being prayed for in Churches that I would ‘find my way and be saved’. They could not convert me, could not understand when I asked ‘saved from what?’ or said ‘I’m already saved’. And so I became a lost cause and to some a threat. There is no brand of persecution as scorching as that of those we know and love. My invitations to my home were unanswered by some. It became clear there were homes in which I was no longer welcome.

The Goddess does not demand sacrifice though at times it may seem so. I eventually came to understand that in order to have the things I found important in my life there were some things that by nature had to go. There is always grief, but as all things it passes and is, if not understood, accepted.

There were those who came and went. And there are those who stayed. Rituals of one became rituals of two and then three and then as many as fifteen at any given time. Others want card readings or advice or a little magick to ‘help out a situation’. Sometimes they are open about it and do not care who knows or what is thought of their association with me. Sometimes they come on the sly. I have learned to recognize those who come for a reason, such as the Goddess may have, and those who want what I can give and firmly believe me to be going to a Christian hell. There are those who do not care what becomes of me, but care about what it is I can do. Sometimes I still grow angry, usually out of hurt from the fall of one who I may have at some point respected. Mostly I do what I feel to be right and it has become very easy.

Inevitably the question will come from somewhere: ‘How did you get into that?’ that, of course, being Paganism or Witchcraft and sometimes thinly veiled ‘in league with The Devil’. I no longer feel the need to explain how Christianity never ‘felt right’ for me, implying of course I was somehow superior to that particular belief. These days I usually shrug and say ‘Like anyone of faith, I was called to it.’ This leaves little to argue about.

In my tradition today we celebrate Lenaia at the time of Imbolc, yet like so many things, the lines are blurred and the messages are the same. This Imbolc season I find myself taking stock and reflecting on many things about my life and the Path I walk. They, this life and this path, have somewhere along the line become one and the same. Perhaps it is the knowledge of having achieved this very thing, without setting out to do so or even hoping that I could, which is causing me to reflect. Perhaps it is my age, and the realization that, though I am not so old, I have most certainly lived longer in this life than I am going to live. It could be the weathering of so many changes over the last several years, some devastating enough to make me question my faith. Having come to terms with myself I have accepted many things I thought I could not. I can do this; accept these things, because at some point I began to trust that my Gods know what they are doing.

In January of 2001, I performed a solitary ritual outside in the yard at the old house my brother and I shared, divorced siblings clinging together in the changes of life. This was many years after I had picked up my first Tarot deck and felt the power of Otherworlds and the promise of mysteries revealed in them. It was cold and the Full Winter Moon rose high in a dark and starless sky. The moon was the color of ecru and its light brightened and dimmed with my incantation and my song. I had felt and witnessed the Power of the presence of the Divine before. I had seen first hand the workings of magick. Yet this was different. It was as if I were tapped on the shoulder. I had the feeling that Someone had finally gotten my attention. She had been waiting patiently for me to notice She wanted my attention. The voice I heard on the Wind, though the night was Windless, was real even though I could not make out the words. It was as if there was one voice, no, a thousand voices, and though the words were unintelligible I knew they said ‘Follow Me’.

I did not call the God and Goddess by name then, a last holdout of my Pentecost upbringing. They were to me The Lord and Lady. Yet I knew there were names, many names, and I would come to know Them. Although I became a Priestess of Hekate, it was Diana, the Huntress Mother, who called to me that night. I now know Her feel and Her smell and I recognize Her voice. When I hear Her name mentioned I see in my mind’s eye the silver disk floating in the Winter Sky. I often thank Her for calling me.

It wasn’t long after that I held my first private Imbolc ritual, as I have ever since, as I will continue to do. The day was sunny, bright, and cold. The kind of day that often depressed me. With stick incense in hand (patchouli because that is all I had) and the instructions from Scott Cunningham’s ‘Wicca’ in my head I picked my way through the thickets behind our rental house. I found a clearing and sat down, my nose running and the frozen ground pressing against my too thin pants for the weather. I meditated in silence, one thing I was only beginning to get good at. I sat there a long while, sometimes registering the sound of small animals in the thickets. Somehow understanding the sounds of the animals were gifts. I then told the Gods the things I have told them many times since:

I am Your daughter and Your lover. I give myself to You in this life and in any others to come. Set my feet upon the path You wish for me. Teach me the things I need to know. Give me the strength to learn them. I honor You and I love You. So Mote it be.

I meant those words the day I said them. And many times after, even as I wondered how hard this life has to get. I mean them now. The Gods listened and they knew I meant them and they have granted me the very things I asked for.

I love this life. It is at times messy and ugly, often chaotic, and on occasion extremely painful. It is equally interesting, comforting, and fun. And so there is balance. And so I am very, very blessed.

I love being Pagan. It is a wonderful thing to know what one’s path is and to be allowed to walk it. The Buddhist say ‘do the dishes for the sake of doing the dishes’. The clean dishes are only a result of doing the dishes correctly and wholeheartedly. Clean dishes are not the goal, doing the task well is the goal, everything else is, well, gravy. They say the same about the journey we call life. The journey is the point, the destination only the result of taking the journey well and wholeheartedly. Take the journey for the sake of taking the journey, walk the path for the sake of walking the path. Every now and then cast your eyes to the top of the mountain for a moment, but only a moment, focus on your goal, reassess your progress, make the proper adjustments, and get back to the task at hand.

In giving true love for the sake of giving true love, I have been given the truest of love. In giving friendship for the sake of giving friendship, I have received friendship. In being faithful for the sake of being faithful, I am given faithfulness. In giving mercy and kindness and justice for the sake of giving mercy and kindness and justice, I have received mercy and kindness and justice far beyond that I ever expected. In teaching the things I know for the sake of teaching the things I know I have been taught. And such fine teachers I have.

I walk the Pagan Path and the Path of the Priestess (and yes, Witch) for many reasons but mainly because it is my journey, what is put before me to do. It is an awesome task, an honor, and a door to many fleeting moments of happiness, which add up to a joyful life when all is said and done. Sometimes this path of mine is walked on nothing but faith because all else seems to elude me. Yet that which eludes me becomes mine if it is meant to be, and though I question and rail against the way, I am committed.

Along the way I catch the most peaceful sunrises, beautiful sunsets, healing breezes, and mighty storms. I am taught humility; I am reprimanded, led gently back when astray, and kicked hard when I need it. I am loved unconditionally and I know this without a doubt. I neither fear Death nor look for it, waiting for the rewards that I think might be my due. My rewards are many, and they are now. I may at times dread the act of dying and wonder if I will be granted a merciful death or if suffering at the end of this life is part of my lesson and task. Yet I trust that I will have what is needed for me and what is in the end the best. And I will not make that journey alone.

Those who have gone before will welcome me. The Gods will guide me and the Lady Hekate will walk with me as She always has. Cunningham pointed out that there is a difference in believing in something and knowing something. Many of the things I thought I believed I have come to know. To know a thing to be true is to accept it without having to understand it. There are many things I do understand and many things I will someday understand. But knowing, that is something that is not given lightly. It cannot be earned or bought; it can only come from walking the journey and walking it with an open heart and a willing soul.

I am one of many who aid this Phoenix we call Paganism to rise. My voice is among the silent ones who roar their presence into this world in this time. Our books and our Temples were burned and like so many things, though the way could have been easier, it had to be. Our Temples stand in our hearts and in our souls, in our country homes, and our suburban yards, in our small apartments in sprawling cities. This wonderful thing we call the Internet weaves us together across many, many miles. We have new books with words from Powerful hearts. We have remnants from the past which survive and which are important yet unimportant and therefore kept in perspective. We have the new and the old in which to learn and to build from. Balance. As it should be.

I am parched with thirst, and perishing,
But drink of me, the ever-flowing spring on the right (where) there is a fair cypress.
Who are you? Where are you from?
I am a child of Earth and starry Heaven, but my race is of Heaven (alone)
— Orphic Lamella from Thessaly

When Walking The Path, Wear Shoes

When Walking The Path, Wear Shoes

Author: Charmed Boy

I have often asked myself, “Are there others like me?” I am what I like to call a “non- magical” Pagan. I don’t do spell work or ritual. I am just a humble servant of the Goddess. I have tried to cast spells and perform rituals but it never seems to work. I have come to the realization that there are many different types of Pagans out there. There are those of use who cast circles and spells and perform rituals. There are also those like myself who are contented to just be of service.

I began my journey in my sophomore year of high school. I had always known there was something or someone watching over me, I just hadn’t figured what that was yet. I began studying various religions such as Buddhism and Quabalah, which I am still interested in after all these years.

One day I was at the library with my father when I came across the New Age section. I looked at some of the titles and when I found a book on Wicca, I picked it up and started reading.

A friend from high school was also into Wicca. We started wearing black clothing and pentacles. My high school had its various groups. The jocks, the preps, the goths. We were the Witches. Or so we thought. We would meet at a friend’s house and try and cast spells. There is a line from one of my favorite “witchy” movies Practical Magic that applies here: “You can’t practice Witchcraft while looking down your nose at it.” That is, in a sense, what we were doing. We were teenagers. We didn’t know any better.

Later, I discovered Gaia. I was reading a book about various Greek Gods and Goddesses and when I came to the part about Gaia something inside me clicked. For those who don’t know (and I am sure there aren’t very many) , Gaia is the Greek Goddess of Earth. She is the creator of everything that exists in nature. The birds and the winds and the oceans. That is why she is called “Mother Earth”. I felt like I had found what I had been looking for.

I had been hearing a gentle voice in my head comforting me when things went wrong. No, I wasn’t turning into Norman Bates! I had no desire to run a motel or dress in woman’s clothes and chase anyone around with sharp butcher knives. I knew this loving, caring voice could be none other than the Goddess speaking to me.

After High School, I moved from Illinois to Arkansas with my parents. I was bummed because I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if there were any Pagans and Wiccans. I was entering part of the “Bible Belt”. To my amazement, I came across WitchVox.com. I noticed that an event called Pagan Pride Day was going on in Little Rock. I asked my dad if we could go. My father has been supportive of my choice of religion since I first talked with him about it.

On the day we went, I popped a Loreena McKennitt cd in the car’s cd player to get us in the mood. I had never been to an event like PPD and I didn’t know what to expect. The event was being held at a place called Burns Park. We didn’t know where to go, so we stopped at the visitors’ center to ask. The man behind the desk looked up at me when I asked him where the event was and said, “Are you one of them Witch people?” I laughed and said I was. He was smiling when he asked me so I knew he meant no harm.

We followed the directions until we came to a group of tents. We parked and walked across to the entrance. At this point, I was buzzing with excitement. There was the scent of patchouli in the air. We paid the entrance fee and looked around us. There were tents arranged in a circle. We walked around and looked at all the things people were selling. One woman was doing henna tattoos. My dad bought me my first pentacle. We came to a tent where two women were selling homemade perfume and body spray. This was where the patchouli scent was coming from.

I picked up a bottle and smelled it. It smelled like mint and patchouli. One of the women saw me holding the bottle and struck up a conversation with me. Little did I know she would become one of my best friends. She told me her name was Fran and she was the High Priestess of a coven. She held rituals and celebrated the holidays from the circle she had built in the back yard of her trailer. She invited me to attend the next holiday, which was Samhain. We e-mailed each other and on Samhain I went to her house with another friend. When I got there and saw the Circle she had built I was blown away. It was beautiful. The moment I took off my shoes and stepped inside the circle I felt its power and was at peace.

My friend was not Pagan and opted to observe. I had a lot of fun that night. I tasted mead for the first time. It is very good but very strong. Fran and I kept in touch through e-mail and by phone. I was able to attend the next PPD. When I got there Fran was talking with a friend of hers. She ran a tent with friends. When I went up to her to say hello, she didn’t recognize me at first. When I told her who I was she hugged me. We spent most of the day together. She made my father feel welcome. There was entertainment and belly dancing. After it was over and everyone began packing, I was walking to the car with my father when Fran called to me. She gave me a homemade besom her friend had made. A besom is a broom used to clear any negative energy from a room. I will never forget the gift she gave me as long as I live.

The last time I saw Fran was at the last PPD I went to. She was hosting a seminar on Egyptian Gods and Goddesses and history. After that, Fran and I lost touch. One day I decided to e-mail her just to see how she was. We hadn’t spoken for a while, but not because of any hostility between us; we were just busy. I received an e-mail from her husband informing me Fran had passed away. I was heartbroken.

I miss Fran a lot. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about her. She was a wonderful, courageous woman who loved to laugh and enjoyed the occasional dirty joke. I thank the Goddess every day for the privilege of having known her. One thing I took away from attending the rituals at Fran’s was the realization that spells casting and ritual isn’t for me. I am content with just serving the Goddess to the best of my abilities.

What do I hope you take from this article? Be content in your own skin. So you don’t cast spells. So you don’t do ritual. You are serving the God and or Goddess by praying and making offerings. They are spiritual Parents and They love us whether we choose to perform an elaborate ritual… or just to say a prayer and make an offering.

Also, cherish the time you have with your friends. You never know when they might not be there anymore.

Cast your eyes to the ocean. Cast your soul to the sea. When the dark night seems endless, please remember me.” — Loreena McKennitt

Good Morning, my dear friends! TGIF! The Weekend Is Almost Here!

Fantasy Images, Pics, Comments, Graphics
Good Morning, my dear, dear friends! Have I told you lately that I love you all. Yes, love, love, love! You are absolutely fabulous. Yesterday, I made the post about the blog seemingly a little quiet. Then I put up the post about showing me some love by telling me what you liked. YOU WENT WILD!!!! It was terrific. I don’t know how many of you hit that “Like” button, after a while I lost count. But it make me feel so loved and appreciated. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You don’t know what it means to me. I can never thank you enough. I have the best blog friends on the net!!!

Now I want to ask you a question, do you celebrate Easter with any of your family or friends? When my kids were little, we lead a double life. We wanted our children to experience all the opportunities they could. So we kept our Religion quiet. There was occasions that I did break the promise my husband and I made to each other. I would introduce small bits of magick into my childrens’ lives. Then when we would go on outings, they were totally amazed at me and my love for nature. I could tell my son was very receptive to everything I had to say and show them. My daughter, on the other hand, really wasn’t. I guess the main reason, I made the promise with my husband was because the way I was raised.  We would go to church on Sundays and then that night we would be at the cauldron doing Hillbilly magick. You talking about confusing a kid but it did and I was. You might wonder why my parents opted to live like that. It was because we live right smack dab in the Bible Belt. And Witchcraft wasn’t accepted as it is now. People still give me strange looks but they never say anything. They are openly polite and I am invited over to their houses to remove snakes from their garages. You can imagine what I tell them to do with their snakes, lol!

I am totally off the subject here, let’s see if we can get back on it now. I am just finding it harder and harder to do for the Holidays that I don’t celebrate. I don’t celebrate Christmas and I don’t celebrate Easter. After my children became old enough and I thought I wouldn’t confuse them. I told them what I was and how I believed. The first thing my daughter told me was I was going to hell! My son said, “Cool!” So I told them, they knew. When the holidays rolled around, I explained to them about Yule and told them, I celebrated IT. Then Easter rolled around, I told them about Ostara and I celebrated IT. My husband and I agreed (very much to my disliking, but to keep the peace) since they were raised Catholic, we would celebrate all the holidays. We still do celebrate all the holidays, even though the kids are married and gone now. They come over for Christmas not Yule. Mom and Dad get to celebrate that by themselves. They come over for Easter not Ostara, again we celebrate it by ourselves. I can guarantee you, this Easter they will all come over and expect a big feast and Easter baskets. But this year, I believe they are going to get surprised. I just ain’t in the mood for it. My son has two children of his own and I love them dearly. He married into a strict Bible-belt family. They made him mad about something before they ever got married and he told them, they better be nice because his mother is a witch! Can you imagine that? The dumbass! Yes, he is my son but he is still a dumbass. I taught him everything about witchcraft and I had hopes and still do that he may one day become a witch. He knew darn good and well, you never reveal a witch to anyone!  So after he married into their family, they don’t like for him or the grandkids to come around me. Needless to say, the grandkids’ birthday parties are a hoot! But back to the topic at hand, my son has turned into someone I don’t know anymore. We use to be so close and now it is like he doesn’t even want to be around me. My husband told me to go on and forget it. But it hurts and it hurts bad to think how close we use to be and now he is like this. Perhaps it is because of the hurt and pain, I feel the way I do. I don’t know. But I do know I ain’t in the mood for Easter this year. If I had my way about it, I would dig a hole and crawl in it and wait for their holidays to pass.

Am I the only witch that feels like this? Am I normal? Do you have similar problems within your family? Then I stop to think it is my fault because they way I raised them. I should have raised them in the Craft. When they got grown and out in the world, it would still have been the same. They would have met people who weren’t witches, fell in love and married them. I always raised my children to be strong, think for themselves and be able to stand on their own two feet. Never ask anyone for anything, be independent. My daughter is and I am very proud of her. She is now accepting of me. She knows witch or not, I am her mother and I love her more than life itself. When I talk to my son in private, I cry a lot. I know he is still my little boy inside. I know he misses me and he loves me very much. I know he is a grown man and he wants the world to see him as that. I guess in my mind, he is my baby and he shouldn’t be grown. It’s my fault, I raised him so strong-willed and independent. I guess I have a lot of pent-up feelings and perhaps that is why I don’t want to celebrate their holidays. Or perhaps I am strong-willed myself and ready to fight the world for my beliefs. I am worse than an old elephant, I never forget. I remember too much. I remember things said about my Religion. I am just tired of it. I am really tired of it from my in-laws. I told my husband I am fed up. I am a Witch and they are just going to have to deal with it. If they have brainwashed my son, then he is just going to have to deal with it. I am a Witch, I am going to practice my beliefs and I will not be forced to celebrate something I don’t.

Hmm, you know blogging is great therapy. I feel so much better now and my head is so much clearer. You all are great therapists. Now just don’t send me a bill, lol! Love ya! Thanks for listening!

When Walking The Path, Wear Shoes

When Walking The Path, Wear Shoes

Author: Charmed Boy

I have often asked myself, “Are there others like me?” I am what I like to call a “non- magical” Pagan. I don’t do spell work or ritual. I am just a humble servant of the Goddess. I have tried to cast spells and perform rituals but it never seems to work. I have come to the realization that there are many different types of Pagans out there. There are those of use who cast circles and spells and perform rituals. There are also those like myself who are contented to just be of service.

I began my journey in my sophomore year of high school. I had always known there was something or someone watching over me, I just hadn’t figured what that was yet. I began studying various religions such as Buddhism and Quabalah, which I am still interested in after all these years.

One day I was at the library with my father when I came across the New Age section. I looked at some of the titles and when I found a book on Wicca, I picked it up and started reading.

A friend from high school was also into Wicca. We started wearing black clothing and pentacles. My high school had its various groups. The jocks, the preps, the goths. We were the Witches. Or so we thought. We would meet at a friend’s house and try and cast spells. There is a line from one of my favorite “witchy” movies Practical Magic that applies here: “You can’t practice Witchcraft while looking down your nose at it.” That is, in a sense, what we were doing. We were teenagers. We didn’t know any better.

Later, I discovered Gaia. I was reading a book about various Greek Gods and Goddesses and when I came to the part about Gaia something inside me clicked. For those who don’t know (and I am sure there aren’t very many) , Gaia is the Greek Goddess of Earth. She is the creator of everything that exists in nature. The birds and the winds and the oceans. That is why she is called “Mother Earth”. I felt like I had found what I had been looking for.

I had been hearing a gentle voice in my head comforting me when things went wrong. No, I wasn’t turning into Norman Bates! I had no desire to run a motel or dress in woman’s clothes and chase anyone around with sharp butcher knives. I knew this loving, caring voice could be none other than the Goddess speaking to me.

After High School, I moved from Illinois to Arkansas with my parents. I was bummed because I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if there were any Pagans and Wiccans. I was entering part of the “Bible Belt”. To my amazement, I came across WitchVox.com. I noticed that an event called Pagan Pride Day was going on in Little Rock. I asked my dad if we could go. My father has been supportive of my choice of religion since I first talked with him about it.

On the day we went, I popped a Loreena McKennitt cd in the car’s cd player to get us in the mood. I had never been to an event like PPD and I didn’t know what to expect. The event was being held at a place called Burns Park. We didn’t know where to go, so we stopped at the visitors’ center to ask. The man behind the desk looked up at me when I asked him where the event was and said, “Are you one of them Witch people?” I laughed and said I was. He was smiling when he asked me so I knew he meant no harm.

We followed the directions until we came to a group of tents. We parked and walked across to the entrance. At this point, I was buzzing with excitement. There was the scent of patchouli in the air. We paid the entrance fee and looked around us. There were tents arranged in a circle. We walked around and looked at all the things people were selling. One woman was doing henna tattoos. My dad bought me my first pentacle. We came to a tent where two women were selling homemade perfume and body spray. This was where the patchouli scent was coming from.

I picked up a bottle and smelled it. It smelled like mint and patchouli. One of the women saw me holding the bottle and struck up a conversation with me. Little did I know she would become one of my best friends. She told me her name was Fran and she was the High Priestess of a coven. She held rituals and celebrated the holidays from the circle she had built in the back yard of her trailer. She invited me to attend the next holiday, which was Samhain. We e-mailed each other and on Samhain I went to her house with another friend. When I got there and saw the Circle she had built I was blown away. It was beautiful. The moment I took off my shoes and stepped inside the circle I felt its power and was at peace.

My friend was not Pagan and opted to observe. I had a lot of fun that night. I tasted mead for the first time. It is very good but very strong. Fran and I kept in touch through e-mail and by phone. I was able to attend the next PPD. When I got there Fran was talking with a friend of hers. She ran a tent with friends. When I went up to her to say hello, she didn’t recognize me at first. When I told her who I was she hugged me. We spent most of the day together. She made my father feel welcome. There was entertainment and belly dancing. After it was over and everyone began packing, I was walking to the car with my father when Fran called to me. She gave me a homemade besom her friend had made. A besom is a broom used to clear any negative energy from a room. I will never forget the gift she gave me as long as I live.

The last time I saw Fran was at the last PPD I went to. She was hosting a seminar on Egyptian Gods and Goddesses and history. After that, Fran and I lost touch. One day I decided to e-mail her just to see how she was. We hadn’t spoken for a while, but not because of any hostility between us; we were just busy. I received an e-mail from her husband informing me Fran had passed away. I was heartbroken.

I miss Fran a lot. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about her. She was a wonderful, courageous woman who loved to laugh and enjoyed the occasional dirty joke. I thank the Goddess every day for the privilege of having known her. One thing I took away from attending the rituals at Fran’s was the realization that spells casting and ritual isn’t for me. I am content with just serving the Goddess to the best of my abilities.

What do I hope you take from this article? Be content in your own skin. So you don’t cast spells. So you don’t do ritual. You are serving the God and or Goddess by praying and making offerings. They are spiritual Parents and They love us whether we choose to perform an elaborate ritual… or just to say a prayer and make an offering.

Also, cherish the time you have with your friends. You never know when they might not be there anymore.

Cast your eyes to the ocean. Cast your soul to the sea. When the dark night seems endless, please remember me.” — Loreena McKennitt

Walking The Path As A Public Witch

Walking The Path As A Public Witch

Author: Medea

I am a ‘public Witch’. The phrase means different things to different people but generally it means I am one who has come ‘out of the broom closet’. That has come to mean different things to me as the years have gone by.

I never was really in the ‘broom closet’. From the time I was introduced to The Craft by way of The Tarot at age eighteen, I was very open about it. Sometimes the openness was just for ‘shock value’. Sometimes it was just to be ‘different’. More often than not my openness was just a part of my personality. Like a puppy, I gleefully and playfully was just ‘me’ all over the place.

Now, at the age of forty-seven (can I really be that old?) and High Priestess in my tradition, I am still open about it, yet in very different ways. I rarely go for ‘shock value’ anymore (there are, however, those occasions when I cannot seem to help myself) . I have been a professional Nurse for twenty plus years and have learned in some instances the less said, the better. This learned, of course, the hard way. In many, many areas of my life I am much more tolerant and not so quick to take offense. I cannot attribute this to age or wisdom, as in many ways I am very immature and like it that way. It is a by-product of the path in which I have chosen to walk. One of the many, many gifts I receive.

I no longer feel the need to flash a Pentacle ring or necklace every chance I get. Most jewelry associated with the Craft and my religion are worn in private or under my clothes, close to my heart, as they should be. Yet, if I choose to wear such things in public (or forget to take them off) I make no effort to hide them, give no explanations, and make no apologies. My car is no longer adorned with bumper stickers proclaiming me ‘Witch’ or ‘Happy Heathen’. I didn’t take them off, but simply quit feeling the need to replace them each time I had to replace a vehicle. Yet I would not refrain from putting one on my bumper if it caught my fancy.

These days when I find it necessary or appropriate to speak of the Divine in general company I am as apt to say ‘God’ as ‘Goddess’ or ‘The Gods’. I have seen that getting caught up in nomenclature or schematics lessons somehow the sacredness of what one speaks of. If I am asked what Church I go to (a common question here in the South) I tell them. I don’t use flowery or holier- than -thou phrases such as ‘Nature is my Church’.

I say I am Pagan, if need be I say I am ‘Witch’, but more than that, I say I am a person of faith. And in some eyes I see the flash of recognition and in others I see distrust and incomprehension. These things no longer bother me. I am not meant to crusade. Neither am I, or my life, meant to be perfect. I can lapse in my old ways from time to time without being ‘lost’. I can make mistakes.

These days my Pentacle hangs on the lamppost in my yard. It hangs there for protection of my home and property as well as a nod to The Craft. It matters not who sees it and who does not. My home is Pagan and I call it a Temple House. It is where our rituals are mostly held. Where our classes are held. Where I sit and work on my computer on things that are important to the Temple. It is filled with altars which range from very simple to elaborate. Like all things, they change as they should, and I understand one does not need the trappings of religion to walk one’s faith. The house is lived in. It is welcoming to The Gods and Spirits I call, to my blood family and my Temple family and to visitors who come and go. It is meant to be welcoming to visitors of all faith and I believe for the most part it is. It is a work in progress, like the Temple itself. Like all things which grow and change. Like me.

I returned to the place I was born and raised after a twenty-year hiatus. It is a rural area in the Wilds of Tennessee, deep in the Bible Belt. It is a wonderful and beautiful place and the people are wonderful and beautiful too. Yet suspicions and prejudices linger along side traditions that smack of the Old Religion. I am known as a Witch and there is no mistake I am ‘the Real Thing’. At first I was humored, seen as a local girl who went ‘Out West’ and got some very strange ideas. There is often surprise when it is learned I was first introduced to the Craft in good ol’ Nashville, Tennessee. But here in the Wilds, Nashville, too, is a long way and there are many strange ideas to be found there. Maybe not as strange as ‘Out West’, but still strange.

When the realization came that this is not a passing fad for me, and that not only did I practice what I believed but ‘preached’ what I practiced the attitudes began to change. Family members and childhood friends, some I loved dearly and had missed for a long time, began to avoid me. Their attempts to ‘save my soul’ fell on deaf ears, and I took offense to being prayed for in Churches that I would ‘find my way and be saved’. They could not convert me, could not understand when I asked ‘saved from what?’ or said ‘I’m already saved’. And so I became a lost cause and to some a threat. There is no brand of persecution as scorching as that of those we know and love. My invitations to my home were unanswered by some. It became clear there were homes in which I was no longer welcome.

The Goddess does not demand sacrifice though at times it may seem so. I eventually came to understand that in order to have the things I found important in my life there were some things that by nature had to go. There is always grief, but as all things it passes and is, if not understood, accepted.

There were those who came and went. And there are those who stayed. Rituals of one became rituals of two and then three and then as many as fifteen at any given time. Others want card readings or advice or a little magick to ‘help out a situation’. Sometimes they are open about it and do not care who knows or what is thought of their association with me. Sometimes they come on the sly. I have learned to recognize those who come for a reason, such as the Goddess may have, and those who want what I can give and firmly believe me to be going to a Christian hell. There are those who do not care what becomes of me, but care about what it is I can do. Sometimes I still grow angry, usually out of hurt from the fall of one who I may have at some point respected. Mostly I do what I feel to be right and it has become very easy.

Inevitably the question will come from somewhere: ‘How did you get into that?’ that, of course, being Paganism or Witchcraft and sometimes thinly veiled ‘in league with The Devil’. I no longer feel the need to explain how Christianity never ‘felt right’ for me, implying of course I was somehow superior to that particular belief. These days I usually shrug and say ‘Like anyone of faith, I was called to it.’ This leaves little to argue about.

In my tradition today we celebrate Lenaia at the time of Imbolc, yet like so many things, the lines are blurred and the messages are the same. This Imbolc season I find myself taking stock and reflecting on many things about my life and the Path I walk. They, this life and this path, have somewhere along the line become one and the same. Perhaps it is the knowledge of having achieved this very thing, without setting out to do so or even hoping that I could, which is causing me to reflect. Perhaps it is my age, and the realization that, though I am not so old, I have most certainly lived longer in this life than I am going to live. It could be the weathering of so many changes over the last several years, some devastating enough to make me question my faith. Having come to terms with myself I have accepted many things I thought I could not. I can do this; accept these things, because at some point I began to trust that my Gods know what they are doing.

In January of 2001, I performed a solitary ritual outside in the yard at the old house my brother and I shared, divorced siblings clinging together in the changes of life. This was many years after I had picked up my first Tarot deck and felt the power of Otherworlds and the promise of mysteries revealed in them. It was cold and the Full Winter Moon rose high in a dark and starless sky. The moon was the color of ecru and its light brightened and dimmed with my incantation and my song. I had felt and witnessed the Power of the presence of the Divine before. I had seen first hand the workings of magick. Yet this was different. It was as if I were tapped on the shoulder. I had the feeling that Someone had finally gotten my attention. She had been waiting patiently for me to notice She wanted my attention. The voice I heard on the Wind, though the night was Windless, was real even though I could not make out the words. It was as if there was one voice, no, a thousand voices, and though the words were unintelligible I knew they said ‘Follow Me’.

I did not call the God and Goddess by name then, a last holdout of my Pentecost upbringing. They were to me The Lord and Lady. Yet I knew there were names, many names, and I would come to know Them. Although I became a Priestess of Hekate, it was Diana, the Huntress Mother, who called to me that night. I now know Her feel and Her smell and I recognize Her voice. When I hear Her name mentioned I see in my mind’s eye the silver disk floating in the Winter Sky. I often thank Her for calling me.

It wasn’t long after that I held my first private Imbolc ritual, as I have ever since, as I will continue to do. The day was sunny, bright, and cold. The kind of day that often depressed me. With stick incense in hand (patchouli because that is all I had) and the instructions from Scott Cunningham’s ‘Wicca’ in my head I picked my way through the thickets behind our rental house. I found a clearing and sat down, my nose running and the frozen ground pressing against my too thin pants for the weather. I meditated in silence, one thing I was only beginning to get good at. I sat there a long while, sometimes registering the sound of small animals in the thickets. Somehow understanding the sounds of the animals were gifts. I then told the Gods the things I have told them many times since:

I am Your daughter and Your lover. I give myself to You in this life and in any others to come. Set my feet upon the path You wish for me. Teach me the things I need to know. Give me the strength to learn them. I honor You and I love You. So Mote it be.

I meant those words the day I said them. And many times after, even as I wondered how hard this life has to get. I mean them now. The Gods listened and they knew I meant them and they have granted me the very things I asked for.

I love this life. It is at times messy and ugly, often chaotic, and on occasion extremely painful. It is equally interesting, comforting, and fun. And so there is balance. And so I am very, very blessed.

I love being Pagan. It is a wonderful thing to know what one’s path is and to be allowed to walk it. The Buddhist say ‘do the dishes for the sake of doing the dishes’. The clean dishes are only a result of doing the dishes correctly and wholeheartedly. Clean dishes are not the goal, doing the task well is the goal, everything else is, well, gravy. They say the same about the journey we call life. The journey is the point, the destination only the result of taking the journey well and wholeheartedly. Take the journey for the sake of taking the journey, walk the path for the sake of walking the path. Every now and then cast your eyes to the top of the mountain for a moment, but only a moment, focus on your goal, reassess your progress, make the proper adjustments, and get back to the task at hand.

In giving true love for the sake of giving true love, I have been given the truest of love. In giving friendship for the sake of giving friendship, I have received friendship. In being faithful for the sake of being faithful, I am given faithfulness. In giving mercy and kindness and justice for the sake of giving mercy and kindness and justice, I have received mercy and kindness and justice far beyond that I ever expected. In teaching the things I know for the sake of teaching the things I know I have been taught. And such fine teachers I have.

I walk the Pagan Path and the Path of the Priestess (and yes, Witch) for many reasons but mainly because it is my journey, what is put before me to do. It is an awesome task, an honor, and a door to many fleeting moments of happiness, which add up to a joyful life when all is said and done. Sometimes this path of mine is walked on nothing but faith because all else seems to elude me. Yet that which eludes me becomes mine if it is meant to be, and though I question and rail against the way, I am committed.

Along the way I catch the most peaceful sunrises, beautiful sunsets, healing breezes, and mighty storms. I am taught humility; I am reprimanded, led gently back when astray, and kicked hard when I need it. I am loved unconditionally and I know this without a doubt. I neither fear Death nor look for it, waiting for the rewards that I think might be my due. My rewards are many, and they are now. I may at times dread the act of dying and wonder if I will be granted a merciful death or if suffering at the end of this life is part of my lesson and task. Yet I trust that I will have what is needed for me and what is in the end the best. And I will not make that journey alone.

Those who have gone before will welcome me. The Gods will guide me and the Lady Hekate will walk with me as She always has. Cunningham pointed out that there is a difference in believing in something and knowing something. Many of the things I thought I believed I have come to know. To know a thing to be true is to accept it without having to understand it. There are many things I do understand and many things I will someday understand. But knowing, that is something that is not given lightly. It cannot be earned or bought; it can only come from walking the journey and walking it with an open heart and a willing soul.

I am one of many who aid this Phoenix we call Paganism to rise. My voice is among the silent ones who roar their presence into this world in this time. Our books and our Temples were burned and like so many things, though the way could have been easier, it had to be. Our Temples stand in our hearts and in our souls, in our country homes, and our suburban yards, in our small apartments in sprawling cities. This wonderful thing we call the Internet weaves us together across many, many miles. We have new books with words from Powerful hearts. We have remnants from the past which survive and which are important yet unimportant and therefore kept in perspective. We have the new and the old in which to learn and to build from. Balance. As it should be.

I am parched with thirst, and perishing,
But drink of me, the ever-flowing spring on the right (where) there is a fair cypress.
Who are you? Where are you from?
I am a child of Earth and starry Heaven, but my race is of Heaven (alone)
— Orphic Lamella from Thessaly

Why Do You Want To Be A Druid?

Why Do You Want To Be A Druid?

Author: Sencha the Druid

When I stepped into the Sacred Circle thirty years ago and dedicated myself to a lifetime of the study of Druidry, one of the first questions I was asked was, “Why do you want to be a Druid?”
Every year since that day, I have asked myself the same question. It has been interesting to watch how those answers have changed over the years.

Back then, I didn’t feel quite at home with my Christian upbringing. I was more comfortable with nature than I was with church. I grew up on a farm in rural South Carolina, and nature surrounded me. Most of my playmates were animals, not humans. I saw then that everything was connected, and that everything depends on everything else for survival. So my answer then was that I wanted to learn more about nature, and how to reconnect myself with it.

I still feel that way, but I would add more to it if I were asked the same question today. I would add what I have learned after fifty years of journeying on this planet.

What I have learned is that a lot of us have disconnected from nature. We go to work in shiny metal boxes, and sit in shiny metal cubicles without windows, and punch buttons on other shiny metal boxes. We eat our chemically-processed lunches from more shiny metal boxes, and eventually, if we live long enough, we go off to spend our last days in a box called a ‘Retirement Home.’ Then at the end of our lives, we get stuck in a shiny metal box and put in the ground to wait for eternity.

We take vacations and spend one or two weeks visiting places in shiny metal tubes. Some of us go to amusement parks where we spend our days riding in shiny metal boxes for recreation. Some of us might actually go out into the woods on camping or hiking trips during vacations, but our lives are still dictated by a tiny shiny metal box called a ‘clock.’ We have to be home on schedule, after all.

To me, Druidry is an escape from shiny metal things.

It’s easy to see that we have so far removed ourselves from nature that we forget that it is the source of all life. We forget that we didn’t create the web of life…we’re just strands in it. What we do to nature, we do to ourselves. When we take ourselves out of nature, we remove ourselves from the source that gave us birth.

That isolation from nature has become ingrained in our culture. Material goods have become the things that matter in life. We have gotten to the place now that we define ourselves more by what we own than by who we are. Our mainstream religious institutions seem to support those who are hell-bent on destroying the planet, as do our governments and our corporate culture. In other words, even our mainstream religious institutions serve to disconnect us from Mother Earth, our source, our spirit and our home.

So how do we solve this problem?

Many would say that the way to solve it would be to enact legislation that protects the environment. I believe that there may be a place for such legislation, but I have rarely seen change come willingly from a top-down mandate. I believe instead that the most effective way to foster change is for it to take place in a grassroots sense, from the bottom up.

Lao Tsu suggested that if you really want to change a society, you start with the family unit, and not with the Emperor. This is especially true in a democracy, where the will of the people rules…or should, anyway, in theory. If enough of the people become interested in taking care of the planet, then governments, corporations and religious institutions will have no choice but to accommodate us…especially if they hope to be re-elected under a majority-rules democracy.

I live in suburban South Carolina, a very conservative place. In my career as a Marriage and Family Therapist, I work a lot with teens and their families.

I have discovered that even here in the Bible Belt, the coming generation realizes that many of our institutions have lost their way. These youth are hungering for something more meaningful. The traditional “me first” conservative values of the present American way of life are not their values. Many of them have an intense interest in Pagan belief systems and Earth-centered spiritualities. They are also intensely interested in environmental activism and in equal justice for all. I think this is a good sign for the future…in spite of the fact that many of them ask me not to tell their fundamentalist Christian parents about their beliefs.

There’s an old story about the Goose who laid the Golden Egg. In this fairy tale, the goose gives a farmer one golden egg per day. But one day the farmer, in his greed, decides that he wants all the golden eggs at once. So the farmer kills the goose and cuts it open in order to get to all the eggs. But when he cuts open the goose, he finds nothing. So not only does he not have a huge pile of golden eggs, he has also killed the source of what golden eggs he could have gotten if he had been more patient and less greedy.

In our constant hunger for more and more material possessions, are we, in fact, killing the goose? How much longer can our planet provide for us if we continue to fail to live in a sustainable way?

That is why I want to be a Druid. That is why I continue to choose Druidry as my path and as my way of being in the world. Druidry teaches us that we are not separate from nature; that what we do to nature, we do to ourselves as well. As our traditional mainstream religious paths become increasingly anti-nature, followers of these religions will continue to fall away. I believe that deep down, at an almost instinctual level, we realize what we’re doing to our planet.

Many of the followers of mainstream religions will be seeking a spiritual path that allows them to honor both nature and the natural world. I believe that Druidry is one of those spiritual paths. I believe that Earth-friendly spiritual paths are the way of the future, if we are to have a future at all.

Church Envy

Church Envy

Author: Arion The Blue

I live in the Bible Belt, and it’s hard to throw a stick without hitting at least a couple of churches. Christians take their religion seriously, here, and in some rural parts of my state it isn’t unusual for the devout to attend church three or four days a week. Sometimes more than one. It seems like any two-bit preacher with a bible and a hat to pass can bootstrap himself into a successful storefront church dispensing the Gospel in neat, affordable, easy-to-swallow bite-sized pieces. Religion, at least Christianity, is an industry in the South as much as it is a spiritual exercise.

Of course I’m Pagan, and so I view these guys with a kind of amused tolerance. Watching a street corner preacher attract enough followers to justify a permanent building is a kind of rite of passage, here, and the lengths to which they’ll go to do that are impressive. Everything from culture-warfare to anti-homosexuality to tent revivals go towards that magical goal: giving the preacher a chance to quit his day-job.

I’m less amused when I see my Pagan coreligionists attempt to do the same thing. For more than twenty years I’ve been listening to a long line of self-appointed Pagan leaders decry our lack of organization and attempt to browbeat the members of this nascent religion into aping the forms and fashions of the dominant religion.

Once upon a time I might have agreed with them, back in my more militant youth. But with age and experience comes Wisdom, if you’ve the wit to realize it, and at this point in my life I feel that what these would-be Pagan bishops are actually suggesting is unhealthy for the development of our religion.

Don’t misunderstand me – the traditional Southern Christian church plays an important role in the community outside of its purely religious functions. In most rural communities churches act as a kind of tribe, a social safety network that looks after the parishioners’ many needs when no one else will. Churches here hold softball tournaments, bake sales, dances (except the Baptists) , concerts, yard sales, and all manner of other social function. People meet their future spouses at these events. When someone’s house burns down, it is the community church to which they turn for solace and support. And they have those big, impressive buildings . . .

When faced with that kind of organized alternative to your happy, whacky Pagan circle or coven, for a certain kind of Pagan a bad case of Church Envy begins to creep in. Maybe you mentioned to a Christian preacher that you, too, are clergy, and had him dismiss your faith and your spiritual vocation out of hand.

Maybe you tried to get your coven listed on the local Interfaith Council and were rejected because you aren’t a “real church” in their eyes. Maybe you just got asked one too many times “So what church do you attend” and were tired of explaining your religious philosophy to someone with no conception of anything but “Baptist or Methodist”. Or maybe you decided to devote your life to Paganism in a big way and simply believe you should get paid the same way that Christian preachers are paid for their work.

The fact of the matter is we aren’t Christians, and we don’t have churches, in the strictest sense. The idea of the church was Christianity’s answer to Paleo-Pagan temples, and the early Church certainly emphasized the church community over the adoration of a particular divinity. Those early churches were known as Meeting Houses, implying the community of believers gathering to hear the Word – and since the vast majority of the believers were illiterate, the only way they could participate in the community was to hear someone read to them.

Eventually the reader became a priest, and the function of the church became more similar to Pagan temples before they destroyed all of the Pagan temples. That position was supported by the contributions of the members, who were conveniently divinely mandated to bring 10% of their earnings to the priest for his maintenance and upkeep. That institutionalized the Christian priesthood and created a professional class of priests whose actual jobs varied from real community support to praying non-stop for the salvation of humanity. You probably know the rest of the story from there.

But there are fundamental differences between Christianity and Neo-Paganism, differences that make “churching up” a poor idea. Again, I’m not attempting to discourage Pagans of all sorts from gathering together however the spirits move them – good community is the bedrock of all successful religions, and it’s never more important than when you’re a minority religion. Indeed, our traditional feelings of oppression from the majority have long encouraged us to gather in small, intimate groups for our religious rituals and instruction – the covens and groves.

But does it necessarily follow that, in order for us to be successful, we parrot the organizational structure and paradigms of Christianity? I think not. Indeed, I believe we lose something very valuable in doing so.

The arguments for institutionalizing the Pagan clergy and leadership usually revolve around a few individuals who see these big churches around them and want to feel competitive. They claim to need manicured temples in which to hold handfastings and wiccanings and requiems. They make a big deal about the inconvenience of buying a lot of camping gear and driving across the country to meet up with fellow Pagans, preferring instead to do so in the luxury of a well-appointed temple with spacious parking and expensive landscaping. The simple coven or grove is not enough for them – not big enough, not organized enough, not impressive enough.

They want more.

They’ve got a bad case of Church Envy, and nothing less than full parity with the older, well-established, well-funded Christian churches will satisfy them.

Worse, they claim that only through Pagan churches can we find our place in the community and serve the greater community at large. Individual efforts, or the efforts of small groups, are disparaged as being pointless and selfish – only by gathering in great numbers, buying buildings, and passing the ubiquitous hat can we affect positive change in our community. They put our coreligionists in decidedly Christian terms: throngs of seekers begging for ministering, as if they were helpless sheep waiting to be spoon-fed their spiritual development by a small group of wise elders (in an air-conditioned facility with a break room and splendidly appointed clergy office, presumably) .

Why can’t we be more like churches, they whine, and why can’t we pay our leadership so that they can lead us properly, instead of mucking about with a day job?

These divinity-school wannabes devoutly want a paid gig, and who can blame them? Christian preachers only “work” one day a week – and Pagan festivals are much further apart. Considering our low population density in even the thickest urban jungles, one would be hard pressed to find 300-400 Pagans of any stripe to even join such an institution, much less subsidize the self-appointed leadership. They seem to have a long list of “services” they’re willing to provide for that fee, some of which have traditionally been performed gratis for the benefit of the Pagan community. Apparently planning a simple Beltaine ritual requires a salary and benefits, in their minds, and should be subsidized. Likewise instruction on tarot, spellcraft, and all the other aspects of our religion that have always been given freely by the Wise.

In their arguments they cite our “ineffectiveness”, without recognizing the basic truths about Paganism: we are not Christians, and our values, goals, and spiritual pursuits do not conform to the Abrahamic Faiths’ structure, physical and metaphysical. Why do we need manicured lawns and pristine buildings for our rituals, when the open sky and green grass serves the purpose so admirably? We are a Nature Religion, and retreating to indoor temples in our quest to commune with Nature is counterintuitive. Why must we pay someone to do our spellwork for us, when the focus of Wicca, Druidism, and the other Pagan traditions has always been on the spiritual development of the individual, guided at need by capable elders (without coin passing hands) ?

Why do some feel compelled to be “taken seriously” by Christian churches, when we all know that at best the recognition will be patronizing, and at worst stir up enmity among the ignorant? It is a hallmark of Wisdom to be true to our own selves, not clamor to be like the religion which most of us fled at first opportunity. Incorporating as a religious organization is simple, in most states, and many of us have done just that to satisfy certain legal or insurance requirements for rituals, take advantage of tax-exempt status, or have a useful paper organization available at need.

But does legal incorporation necessarily mandate that we get buildings, paid clergy, and institute tithing to cover these costs? I don’t believe so. Indeed, I believe that following down that path leads away from Wisdom, and unnecessarily eschews some of the very principals most of us came to Paganism to follow.

Paganism, from Wicca and Druidism onwards, has never been a pay-to-play, fee-for-service religion. It has been a religion about cultivating individual spiritual development, free from the structures and strictures of Christianity and the other Abrahamic faiths. Indeed calling us a “Faith” is itself a misnomer. Faith does not play a central role in our religion, Wisdom does. And compensating our leaders for that which they should be happily willing to give for free defies Wisdom and invites maliciousness into our ranks.

The issue isn’t a High Priestess misappropriating Church funds to buy a new car – it’s establishing an institutionalized clergy in the first place. Paganism is a religion of the clergy – we are all, in most traditions, priestesses and priests of the Old Gods. To choose a few among us to conduct rites on our behalf, or try to teach that which is best learned on our own, or to organize a major event that has traditionally been run on volunteer labor, and pay them for that purpose ignores and defames the essential role of the individual in our religion.

And that volunteerism is critical. While it won’t pay the light bill, buy land or a building, the moon and sun seem pretty reasonably priced, and the public parks and private gardens most of us have traditionally used are a real bargain. Considering it our Paganly duty to contribute towards these things for the benefit of others smacks too much of Jim and Tammy Faye Baker’s pathetic pleas for alms back in the 1980s. Insisting that solitaries and those who don’t care to contribute to the upkeep of a professional clergy are somehow undermining the Pagan religion and stifling its growth and development is disingenuous and hurtful. Most of the Pagans I know are solitaries, and they choose to be so often because they are hesitant about joining an “organized” religion.

If you want some land, get a job, go to work, earn some money and buy some – and if you’re public spirited enough, deed it outright to the non-profit religious organization of your choice. If you want a building, then start a PayPal fund and hold a bake sale. Win the lotto and buy a nemeton. Write and sell a book and donate the proceeds towards it. Have a yard sale. Solicit volunteer donations, perhaps, for a specific purpose. Plenty of us have done that time and again when there is need in the community.

If there really are throngs of eager seekers just begging to get out of our beautiful natural parks and into a majestic, air-conditioned and well-lighted temple, then they’ll be more than happy to fill your coffers full – but I’m not certain that the result would be, in fact, a Pagan one. Time, treasure and talent might be fitting offerings to the Goddess, but personal sacrifice is also demanded from time to time. If you aren’t willing to suffer, you aren’t willing to learn. If you want it so badly, you should find a way to pay for it yourself.

Some tout the great benefit to having a public temple and offering “free” classes and workshops, once they’ve been freed of the responsibility of working for a living. While I respect their dedication to the Craft, I have to wonder about the value of such “free services”. Once you make ministering to the Pagan community a job, then you begin to strip away the value of the pursuit of Wisdom as your vocation.

Everyone gets paid for their job, and once they’ve accepted that coin they’ve also accepted a whole host of other things that go along with having a job – including indifference, clock-watching, medical benefits, labor relations, and the lot.

But a true vocation for the priesthood should be pursued honorably and with a willingness to sacrifice. The efficacy of the ritual of someone who is paid to do it is, in my experience, considerably less than that done by someone who has, themselves, sacrificed their time and treasure (with no hope or expectation of reward or recompense) to perform it.

Pooling resources might make sense in specific instances, but the fact is we don’t have the same needs as other religions, the same values or the same philosophy – so paying for the privilege of “enjoying” the services of those religions seems like a hollow and cynical endeavor. It certainly doesn’t seem like a wise way to advance the Pagan cause. Since most of us provide these “services” to each other without money changing hands anyway, I can’t see this as progress towards anything but making us “Christianity Lite”.

When Pagans in my community are in need, word goes out and stuff gets done by those who take individual responsibility to do it. And that is what lies at the crux of this matter: Responsibility. Once we start paying for our clergy and these so-called clerical services, we cheapen the spirit of individual responsibility and sacrifice that called many of us to the groves and covens in the first place. Once we put a price-tag on such things as devotion, respect, instruction and service, we start down the dark and lonely road of abandoning our individual responsibility – and there are plenty of other churches out there that already offer that “service”.

“Lack of funding” isn’t an obstacle to getting things done; it’s merely a challenge of the moment. If the Gods so will something like a temple to be, then you can bet that the resources will magickally appear.

For those who walk in Wisdom, thus has it always been, and thus shall it always be.

Good Saturday Afternoon, dearies!

Well I know I am sort of running late, what can I say? A lot, lol! Just the moment I think my life is going to be normal, I get throwed another curve ball

My day started out this morning at 3:30 a.m. Why I woke up at that time I don’t know. But I woke up wide awake and ready to go. I made coffee, dried clothes, cleaned up the living room and after all that I cleaned me up. I actually sit down and put on makeup. Makeup is something that I seldom put on anymore. I wore it for years and when I quit wearing it, no one noticed at all. Which pissed me off thinking of all the time I wasted putting the stuff on! Anyway, when I am around my children they prefer their mother to wear makeup, especially the son. The daughter tells me I look better without it. I think both of them have come to realize, Mother don’t give a crap what they say. She is going to do what she darn well wants too. Back to this morning, I got all cleaned up where we could go to one of my grandchildren’s birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. If you are not familiar with “The Cheese” it is a pizza place with games. The party took place at 9;30 this morning. I am sorry at that time it makes me sick to my stomach to think of eating pizza. I got to thinking back and I never ate pizza early in the mornings even when I was a teenager. Anyway, we got up and drove 25 miles to the party. We were actually early for a change. My son was glad to see us. His oldest daughter was playing games when we came in and my son was following her around. So we met up with them and talked and followed the grandkid around. I know we have to look hilarious at times. But when we first got there, we ran in to my son’s father-in-law. We walked right by him and he didn’t bother to speak or nothing. He acted like we were invisible. Which don’t bother me because his is the backside of a donkey. My son’s lovely mother-in-law wasn’t there yet. She is one of those people you would just love to meet in a dark alley and of course, I have told her this. If it appears, I don’t like these people, you are right. I don’t. The bad blood started even before my son married their daughter. I thought I was the only one that she got under their skin so bad. I was wrong. I didn’t realize how the woman was till we went out one time for my son’s birthday. We went to a local restaurant for his birthday. We were seated at a large table. We were running late that day and my son was standing outside waiting on us. He told us he just needed to get some air. We went in and future daddy-in-law was turned watching a basketball game. He didn’t turn around and speak or nothing. I sit down and looked at my husband and he looked at me. We were both thinking how rude this man was. Then during the meal, my daughter’s boyfriend at the time was talking to me about changing out a transmission in a car. When my son tried to talk, his future mommy-in-law kept telling him to shut up.  Every time that boy opened his mouth, she told him to shut up, you don’t know what you are talking about, just shut up! My face got bright red and I stood up and knocked the chair in the floor. I leaned over on the table and was getting ready to shut her mouth and my daughter grabbed me.  My daughter told me, I needed to go to the bathroom with her.  We went to the bathroom and I think the whole restaurant heard me hit the towel holder. I busted two knuckles but I felt a hell of a lot better. So after staying in  the bathroom for about 15 minutes, I cooled off. When we got back, mommy-in-law didn’t open her mouth the rest of the time. A couple of weeks later, my son was out at their house. Something was said and I don’t know what it was but my son politely told them not to mess with him because his mother was a witch. I liked to have died. I told him you just don’t go around telling that to everyone. Why do you think I waited till you were in your 20’s before you found out? Well needless to say, I live in the Bible Belt and these people have enough religion for half the country. My son was married in a church that was not his religion he was brought up in.  He deserted his religion, his Path and almost his family. His wife doesn’t like for him to come out here at all. When he does he suddenly develops a backbone. I don’t know how he puts up with any of them. None of them want me around the grandkids. I have talked to my husband about it and he tells me to ignore them. That they are ignorant and you can’t combat it. But it is needless to say, they don’t like me and it don’t hurt my feelings one bit. Back to the birthday party, it went fine. Mommy-in-law and her sister held the baby the whole time, we were there. I finally ask out loud, if my son would get his daughter were I could see my grandchild. I got to kiss and love on the baby. The funny part is that see looks just exactly like my sister when she was little. She has the black hair and brown eyes, I love it. And of course, I keep telling them she looks just like her too. Evil ain’t I, lol!

So we left the party and on the way home, I got threw for a whirlwind. At one time, we bought my son a Ford Ranger. He got to working and bought himself a new truck. So we inherited the Ranger back. I would rotate driving  my Explorer one day and the next the truck. I had some kind of surgery, I don’t remember what but I know the truck had sat for about a month. My cousin told me that he had put a new battery on the truck. No problem, that truck will start on a dime. Yeah, right, lying crock of —-.  I was mad and I was hurting. The truck never got started and no one drove it. My lovely cousin wanted to know if I wanted to sell it. We agreed on a price and he came out here to get it. Well he liked to have never got it started. Then after he got it home, he gave me along list of things that was wrong with. I told him he should have known this stuff because he was the only mechanic that ever worked on it. The truck has never run right and half the time it just stays in the driveway of my cousin’s. Today my husband told me why the Ranger doesn’t run and do like a normal truck, he cursed it. WHAT? You did WHAT again? Then he asked me if I wanted to know why my little red jewel of a car was sitting in our driveway. This was my mindblower, he had cursed that car also. Well the sailor side of me came out. He said he didn’t want me to sell the truck and he sure in the heck didn’t want me buying that red thing. But the thought of him cursing his wife’s own car, I am still mulling this over. He knows how to curse that is for sure because he is a Druid. I am beginning to think a little on the dark side too. He mentioned cursing something a few weeks ago, told me how he would do it and everything. I just looked at him. It did bother me and give me a clue when he mentioned using blood in his cursing. When he told me this we were about 20 minutes away from the house. I kept quiet and kept praying let me get home without pulling this truck over and throwing his ass out. I got home and cleared my head some I have asked help from a higher  power to help set my mind on the right course to deal with this. I have never known of anyone to curse me or any of my things especially a family member???? It leaves you dumb-founded as to what to do. If he was a total stranger, I know what I would do.  He’s family. I took an oath a long time ago, I would never cast against another family member no matter what. I can take the curse off the car but the minute I do he will re-curse it. So what do you do but a binding spell on your own husband? What gets me, is my own husband going to cause me to go against my own ethics and morals? I never, ever harm or cast against a family member. I know one thing, he has gave me quite a bit to mull over.  I know posting in my group use to give me comfort and clear my head. It also cleared my head enough I could hear my higher power when she talked to me. So I am sure the blog will do the same for me. If you see me posting for the next 72 hours don’t think a thing about it. I am just clearing my mind and cooling off. Till then………

Lady A

P. S.

If you have any suggestion or have ever been in a similar circumstance, I would love to hear how you handled it and also your suggestions.