Magick is All Around Us

Magick is All Around Us

Author: Luna 

Sometimes I get my inspirations from the simplest things. Sometimes it’s just a walk in the woods, and sometimes it’s the time of year or the holiday. Other times, it’s from interacting with a variety of people or animals, from playing with my dogs to working with native Chinese people. This time, inspiration came from somewhere I wasn’t expecting: one of the emails you guys have been sending me (thank you, thank you, thank you, by the way) .

A few weeks before writing this, I got an email from someone with a question I wasn’t quite expecting. The writer asked, “Do you think I can do magic with all this reality around me?” I have to admit that I’ve never been asked a question like that before. And, for a little while, I was confused as to how to respond to it. But then it came to me: perhaps the person who emailed me was having trouble sensing the magick in his everyday life and the forces he wanted to work with. This was something that I struggled with back when I first came to Wicca and that has taken practice for me to become good at. Not only that, but for many people coming to Wicca from a paradigm that sees magick as a thing of fantasy, this can be a really difficult barrier to overcome. So let’s talk about it a bit, shall we?

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about this dilemma is the two different spellings that get used: magic and magick. With just the addition of a simple letter, we can change the meaning of what we would’ve thought of before as just one thing: a force of fantasy capable of creating great change and wonder but that is impossible to achieve in real life.

Now, you guys may or may not have noticed this, but in my essays for the Witches’ Voice, I tend to prefer the spelling with a k, and there is a reason for this. The main reason for this is to maintain a bit of separation between the magick I work with in my life and the magic I’m used to in role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons and video games. When I first came to Wicca, I didn’t know that there could be one letter that could, for some of us, differentiate between two completely different concepts. And let me tell you, if you think I’m talking crazy again: I’m pretty sure throwing fireballs and a simple prosperity spell don’t fall under the same paradigm. That’s just my take on it. But I hope the explanation helps a little.

The next problem we come to in dealing with this barrier has to do with where we come from in terms of religion. I think I speak for a lot of us who came from either a Judeo-Christian background or from another religion that doesn’t see magick the same way that much of the Neopagan or at least the Wiccan community does. I know that for me, when I grew up, I didn’t think of magick in the same way. When I was younger, Harry Potter and The Wizard of Oz provided my definitions of Witchcraft and magic. To my young mind, the only kind of magic I knew existed in fiction and wasn’t possible in real life.

Not only that, but growing up originally in the Christian faith, magic and religion didn’t mix. And I’m sure that, in some areas where you might live (and this is based only on my experience) , magick and Witchcraft are seen in a very different light. I’ve heard about so much about a number of Fundamentalists and some other sects of Christianity who denounce Wiccans and others as being in league with the devil or some such nonsense. Most if not all of us have at least heard of the Salem Witch Trials and other occurrences from what has been called the Burning Times. Now, even though I’ve left my Christian roots somewhat behind, I have a great respect for Christianity and many of its adherents. I have no problem with Christianity as a whole. It’s just some people who become very extreme and hateful about what I choose to believe and practice. I know it’s not always Christians who say these things, but it’s mainly what comes to mind. And I’m sure it’s what comes to mind for some of you, who came to Wicca or another Pagan path from a similar background to mine. And coming from a background and religious paradigm that sees magic as non-existent or confined to fiction (and those who claim to work as, at best, perhaps slightly delusional and, at worst, evil people) , accepting magick into the way one perceives reality can be rather challenging. Believe me when I say that I’ve been there and done that.
(I really hope I’m not confusing any newcomers with the whole magic/magick thing at this point…)

What’s important to keep in mind is that magick doesn’t work the same as how we’ve seen it in books, movies, video games, etc. Magick in reality is much more subtle; you don’t see people throwing fireballs at each other or calling down lightning from the sky because things don’t work that way. In fact, I like to think of how magick works in our world (as opposed to Harry Potter, great though the series is) as something akin to the wonders of a cup of tea. Why a cup of tea, you ask? Well, it may not seem like it’s doing much, but there is a certain calming power about it when you feel distressed (or, in the case of raspberry leaf tea, really helps out with bad and painful—uh, that might be TMI) . That, and it reminds me of something my dad said when I came out of the broom closet to him. While it was obvious (as many of you know from reading my essays) that my dad would see magick as being impossible, he is more than willing to admit the wonders of cup of tea has when I’m having a nuclear meltdown. I must admit that a part of me giggled inside, thinking, “Uh, Dad? That can be magick too.”

It’s often in the little things that we wouldn’t think of as magick or wouldn’t tend to notice. I often find that the magick I sense in the world always gives me a little tingle of excitement or is tied to an emotion. It could be the calming feeling that comes when watching the waves as they drift in and out with the tide. It could be the smell of a rose or any flower. It could be the sun shining down on you on a nice day (or in the midst of a ton of snow) . It could be that feeling you have when you’re with the one you love, that tender moment when you kiss. For me, this magick I sense often comes when I’m swimming, usually in a lake or in the ocean (chlorinated pool water doesn’t cut it for this type of experience, too many chemicals) . For some reason, whenever I get farther out into the water or even when I’m in open water with only a boat nearby, I feel this surge of energy and giddiness. One thing to try is to really pay attention to those feelings and sensations. At least from my experience, they can definitely be magickal.

The last barrier I wan to talk about in talking about magick in one’s life is visualization. Some of us come to Wicca or another Pagan path with a lack of practice in visualization. Now, I talked about this in my “The Importance of Basic Techniques” essay way back when, but visualization is an essential to magickal workings as well as other aspects of a Pagan faith. For many who come to Wicca or another path from a background that doesn’t see magick as part of reality, sometimes a lack of visualization skills can impact their first attempts to work with magick. Believe me, that was I a few years ago when I was first starting out. However, with some practice, I’ve found that this is the easiest barrier to overcome, especially once the importance of this technique has been explained properly. I’ve received an email in response to that essay that thanked me for clearing up why it was so important, as the sender had merely been told to practice these techniques without any explanation as to why it mattered (I really do enjoy some of the responses I get) .

So, thinking back to “The Importance of Basic Techniques” and my evening with Max, I want you to try this exercise, if you care to oblige me (you don’t have to) . Go ahead and hold your hands a little ways apart from each other and try to feel a ball of energy between them. Nothing yet? Now try it again but try to clearly picture the ball in your mind. It doesn’t matter is how big the ball is, but I want you to actively visualize it. Picture a ball forming between your hands. It can be any color you like and can take on any aspect. Are you seeing a difference? Even if you don’t see anything (which may not happen; it didn’t for me before) , you can probably feel something keeping your hands from coming together. Visualization definitely makes a difference in that exercise.

I’m going to leave you with a few resources that really address some of the questions about magick and visualization for those who are still having trouble. The first one is, of course, the “Wicca First Degree” videos from user MagickTV on YouTube. I mentioned them back when I talked about basic techniques, but I want to give it another mention and a recommendation to check out the rest of the series as well. In particular, the exercises they give in addition to the main lessons are extremely helpful when working on visualization. Along with that, I’ve got a bit of reading material for you as well. The two main books I want to recommend are “The Inner Temple of Witchcraft” by Christopher Penczack and “Natural Witchery: Intuitive, Personal and Practical Magick” by Ellen Dugan. These two books place a lot of emphasis on visualization and psychic/magickal development for the beginner, and they’ve been a big help to me.

So, in conclusion, is it hard to sense magick in our everyday lives? For some of us, it can be, especially when we take our first few tentative steps down our chosen paths. Is it there, part of the reality around us? Of course it is, even if we don’t always notice it. And, to answer the question posed to me by a curious reader, can you work magick with all this reality around us? Yes, you can. It may be difficult at times, and you may find that some techniques may not work as well for you. But so long as you keep an open mind and an open heart, and as long as the work is meaningful to you, I personally see no reason why you can’t.

Magick is everywhere around us, part of the reality we live. And, for my part at least, it’s one of the things that makes life and spirituality truly special for any young Pagan, Wiccan or Witch.

_______________________________________________

Footnotes:
“You Don’t Always Need Magick” by Luna
http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usmn and c=words and id=15186

“The Importance of Basic Techniques” by Luna
http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usmn and c=words and id=15057

Magick is All Around Us

Magick is All Around Us

Author:   Luna   

Sometimes I get my inspirations from the simplest things. Sometimes it’s just a walk in the woods, and sometimes it’s the time of year or the holiday. Other times, it’s from interacting with a variety of people or animals, from playing with my dogs to working with native Chinese people. This time, inspiration came from somewhere I wasn’t expecting: one of the emails you guys have been sending me (thank you, thank you, thank you, by the way) .

A few weeks before writing this, I got an email from someone with a question I wasn’t quite expecting. The writer asked, “Do you think I can do magic with all this reality around me?” I have to admit that I’ve never been asked a question like that before. And, for a little while, I was confused as to how to respond to it. But then it came to me: perhaps the person who emailed me was having trouble sensing the magick in his everyday life and the forces he wanted to work with. This was something that I struggled with back when I first came to Wicca and that has taken practice for me to become good at. Not only that, but for many people coming to Wicca from a paradigm that sees magick as a thing of fantasy, this can be a really difficult barrier to overcome. So let’s talk about it a bit, shall we?

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about this dilemma is the two different spellings that get used: magic and magick. With just the addition of a simple letter, we can change the meaning of what we would’ve thought of before as just one thing: a force of fantasy capable of creating great change and wonder but that is impossible to achieve in real life.

Now, you guys may or may not have noticed this, but in my essays for the Witches’ Voice, I tend to prefer the spelling with a k, and there is a reason for this. The main reason for this is to maintain a bit of separation between the magick I work with in my life and the magic I’m used to in role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons and video games. When I first came to Wicca, I didn’t know that there could be one letter that could, for some of us, differentiate between two completely different concepts. And let me tell you, if you think I’m talking crazy again: I’m pretty sure throwing fireballs and a simple prosperity spell don’t fall under the same paradigm. That’s just my take on it. But I hope the explanation helps a little.

The next problem we come to in dealing with this barrier has to do with where we come from in terms of religion. I think I speak for a lot of us who came from either a Judeo-Christian background or from another religion that doesn’t see magick the same way that much of the Neopagan or at least the Wiccan community does. I know that for me, when I grew up, I didn’t think of magick in the same way. When I was younger, Harry Potter and The Wizard of Oz provided my definitions of Witchcraft and magic. To my young mind, the only kind of magic I knew existed in fiction and wasn’t possible in real life.

Not only that, but growing up originally in the Christian faith, magic and religion didn’t mix. And I’m sure that, in some areas where you might live (and this is based only on my experience) , magick and Witchcraft are seen in a very different light. I’ve heard about so much about a number of Fundamentalists and some other sects of Christianity who denounce Wiccans and others as being in league with the devil or some such nonsense. Most if not all of us have at least heard of the Salem Witch Trials and other occurrences from what has been called the Burning Times. Now, even though I’ve left my Christian roots somewhat behind, I have a great respect for Christianity and many of its adherents. I have no problem with Christianity as a whole. It’s just some people who become very extreme and hateful about what I choose to believe and practice. I know it’s not always Christians who say these things, but it’s mainly what comes to mind. And I’m sure it’s what comes to mind for some of you, who came to Wicca or another Pagan path from a similar background to mine. And coming from a background and religious paradigm that sees magic as non-existent or confined to fiction (and those who claim to work as, at best, perhaps slightly delusional and, at worst, evil people) , accepting magick into the way one perceives reality can be rather challenging. Believe me when I say that I’ve been there and done that.
(I really hope I’m not confusing any newcomers with the whole magic/magick thing at this point…)

What’s important to keep in mind is that magick doesn’t work the same as how we’ve seen it in books, movies, video games, etc. Magick in reality is much more subtle; you don’t see people throwing fireballs at each other or calling down lightning from the sky because things don’t work that way. In fact, I like to think of how magick works in our world (as opposed to Harry Potter, great though the series is) as something akin to the wonders of a cup of tea. Why a cup of tea, you ask? Well, it may not seem like it’s doing much, but there is a certain calming power about it when you feel distressed (or, in the case of raspberry leaf tea, really helps out with bad and painful—uh, that might be TMI) . That, and it reminds me of something my dad said when I came out of the broom closet to him. While it was obvious (as many of you know from reading my essays) that my dad would see magick as being impossible, he is more than willing to admit the wonders of cup of tea has when I’m having a nuclear meltdown. I must admit that a part of me giggled inside, thinking, “Uh, Dad? That can be magick too.”

It’s often in the little things that we wouldn’t think of as magick or wouldn’t tend to notice. I often find that the magick I sense in the world always gives me a little tingle of excitement or is tied to an emotion. It could be the calming feeling that comes when watching the waves as they drift in and out with the tide. It could be the smell of a rose or any flower. It could be the sun shining down on you on a nice day (or in the midst of a ton of snow) . It could be that feeling you have when you’re with the one you love, that tender moment when you kiss. For me, this magick I sense often comes when I’m swimming, usually in a lake or in the ocean (chlorinated pool water doesn’t cut it for this type of experience, too many chemicals) . For some reason, whenever I get farther out into the water or even when I’m in open water with only a boat nearby, I feel this surge of energy and giddiness. One thing to try is to really pay attention to those feelings and sensations. At least from my experience, they can definitely be magickal.

The last barrier I wan to talk about in talking about magick in one’s life is visualization. Some of us come to Wicca or another Pagan path with a lack of practice in visualization. Now, I talked about this in my “The Importance of Basic Techniques” essay way back when, but visualization is an essential to magickal workings as well as other aspects of a Pagan faith. For many who come to Wicca or another path from a background that doesn’t see magick as part of reality, sometimes a lack of visualization skills can impact their first attempts to work with magick. Believe me, that was I a few years ago when I was first starting out. However, with some practice, I’ve found that this is the easiest barrier to overcome, especially once the importance of this technique has been explained properly. I’ve received an email in response to that essay that thanked me for clearing up why it was so important, as the sender had merely been told to practice these techniques without any explanation as to why it mattered (I really do enjoy some of the responses I get) .

So, thinking back to “The Importance of Basic Techniques” and my evening with Max, I want you to try this exercise, if you care to oblige me (you don’t have to) . Go ahead and hold your hands a little ways apart from each other and try to feel a ball of energy between them. Nothing yet? Now try it again but try to clearly picture the ball in your mind. It doesn’t matter is how big the ball is, but I want you to actively visualize it. Picture a ball forming between your hands. It can be any color you like and can take on any aspect. Are you seeing a difference? Even if you don’t see anything (which may not happen; it didn’t for me before) , you can probably feel something keeping your hands from coming together. Visualization definitely makes a difference in that exercise.

I’m going to leave you with a few resources that really address some of the questions about magick and visualization for those who are still having trouble. The first one is, of course, the “Wicca First Degree” videos from user MagickTV on YouTube. I mentioned them back when I talked about basic techniques, but I want to give it another mention and a recommendation to check out the rest of the series as well. In particular, the exercises they give in addition to the main lessons are extremely helpful when working on visualization. Along with that, I’ve got a bit of reading material for you as well. The two main books I want to recommend are “The Inner Temple of Witchcraft” by Christopher Penczack and “Natural Witchery: Intuitive, Personal and Practical Magick” by Ellen Dugan. These two books place a lot of emphasis on visualization and psychic/magickal development for the beginner, and they’ve been a big help to me.

So, in conclusion, is it hard to sense magick in our everyday lives? For some of us, it can be, especially when we take our first few tentative steps down our chosen paths. Is it there, part of the reality around us? Of course it is, even if we don’t always notice it. And, to answer the question posed to me by a curious reader, can you work magick with all this reality around us? Yes, you can. It may be difficult at times, and you may find that some techniques may not work as well for you. But so long as you keep an open mind and an open heart, and as long as the work is meaningful to you, I personally see no reason why you can’t.

Magick is everywhere around us, part of the reality we live. And, for my part at least, it’s one of the things that makes life and spirituality truly special for any young Pagan, Wiccan or Witch.

____________________________

Footnotes:
“You Don’t Always Need Magick” by Luna
http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usmn and c=words and id=15186

“The Importance of Basic Techniques” by Luna
http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usmn and c=words and id=15057

The Deities of the Witch

The Deities of the Witch.

copywrite (c) 1996 White Circle Enterprises All rights reserved.

**Notice** This document may be distributed freely so long as it is not altered, edited, or changed in any way from its original form. A copy of this document in its true original form may be gotten from our home page.

Please e-mail any critique or questions to me if you cannot find me on the IRC at #Witchcraft_102… flames will be ignored.

The Deities of the Witch

I strongly encourage the individual to research as much as possible about any and all forms of divinity. There are a multitude of books available in libraries and book stores which can provide vast quanities of information. I personally believe that the belief systems of the witch have spent far too long ‘in the broom closet’, if you will, and that it is time for people to start not only asking questions, but getting answers about the Craft. Ignorance breeds fear and fear breeds violence. I, for one, refuse to return to ‘The Burning Times’ when thousands upon thousands of people (Witches and non-witches alike) were murdered of their beliefs or because of false accusation. There is a button which I have seen which reads, “No more witch hunts: We resist!” Well, this is my form of resistance: informing anyone who wants to ask questions. (Unfortunately, I do not know the name of the author of that phrase. If anyone can prove ownership to me (i.e. a copy of a copywrite certificate) I will gladly give him/her credit.) The most wonderful things about the Pagan religeons are the vast diversities between the individual viewpoints and the tolerance with which these viewpoints are accepted. Two witches may live next door to each other for years and celebrate the holidays together and even attend the social gatherings of one another’s group but they may worship totally different gods/goddesses. To witches, IT DOES NOT MATTER what god(s)/goddess(es) you worship so long as your heart and soul are in it! 🙂 Generally speaking, witches worship a god who is seen as the father of all creation and a goddess who is seen as the mother of the same. To my students, I also teach the concept of The Unknowable: the force which is everything that The God and Goddess are, plus everything that They are not.

The Deities

The Deities are the forms in which we as limited beings can try to do the impossible, namely to comprehend the infinite. In reality, there is but one Great Force which dictates the ways of the universe. The Taoists call this The Tao (The Way). Judeo-christians call it YHWH, Jehovah, God, etc. Muslims call it Allah. Because we are finite beings and we are trying to understand the infinite, we divide the Great Is into terms with which we are familiar and comfortable. I am most comfortable with a God and a Goddess whom I refer to as “The Lord and The Lady” or “The Bright Ones”.

The Lady

The Lady is the more tender and nurturing side of The Way. She is the one who works in mysterious and beautiful ways. She gives women their sense of intuition and knowledge in the subtle ways of turning big, strong men into jelly. She is crafty but honest, incredibly wise and appealingly dinghy, she is as soft as a mother’s kiss and as firm as her wooden spoon. She has a razor sharp wit which can leave you bleeding, but laughing at yourself for being stupid enough to cut yourself with it. She has no desire for any but Her husband but still plays Her teasing games with Him. She is the more subtle disciplinarian. She often gives one a warning in the form of ‘a funny feeling’ or premonition. She is what each woman should strive to be.

The Lord

The Lord is the more firm side of The Way. He is the one who provides honor, courage, loyalty, and sustenance to the men who seek to be like Him. He is the hunter who provides for the home. He works hard and plays fairly. He has no desire for any other woman but His wife and will rain His wrath upon those who try to interfere with a happy marriage. He is brutally honest. When He speaks The Truth it often leaves people dazed or in tears when their own lies are dispersed. He enjoys games of strategy and physical exercise. He is the more forceful disciplinarian. His wrath is slow in coming and well earned when received. Often when one has received a strong ‘karmic backlash’ one can look back and see several warnings and minor punishments which had been ignored. The God knows the dangerous effects of His temper and keeps it under control. He is what each man should strive to be.

The traits of The Lord and The Lady above are not mutually exclusive. For instance, The Lord is often crafty but The Lady is usually more so. Conversely, The Lady also speaks The Truth but she usually does so in a less shocking manner. These two are married in a holy union which, like all marriages based upon love, friendship, honesty, and loyalty cannot be dissolved. They are the father and the mother of the universe. It is through their combined efforts that we get The Way of the universe. Their system of punishment and reward is what is often referred to as karma.

The Unknowable or The “Is” The Unknowable is exactly that: unknowable. It is everything that The Bright Ones are plus everything that they are not. It is both masculine and feminine and neither, all at exactly the same time. It is the Universe and all things that are, were, could have been, may be, and will never be. As I said, It is unknowable… because it Is everything.

What A Blessed Tuesday It Is! Good Morning dear family!

Witchy Cat Graphics & Comments
Good morning my sweets! How are you doing today? I am sorry for running late but I have been goofing off look at other witchcraft sites. You know you have to keep up with the competition, lol!

 

We have several replies to the question of the day yesterday. Where is everybody else at? The question was……If you could go back in history and change any event from happening what would it be? We have some excellent answers and great discussion openers. Check it out here….https://witchesofthecraft.com/2013/08/12/question-of-the-day-please-participate-if-you-like/

 

I know my answer was to stop Booth from shooting Lincoln. Everybody else agreed that they wouldn’t change a thing. Simply because our mistakes and past make us who we are today. I agree with them. But if you thought what you did would benefit mankind and make this world a better place would you then?

 

I have to stop and think about the Burning Times. I cry every time I think about what our ancestors went through. Would I have loved to stop it? Would I like to have prevented it? Yes, I would. But deep down, I know preventing the Burning Times would have been wrong. Sounds funny coming from me doesn’t it. If it wasn’t for our ancestors and knowing what they went through, I don’t believe we would hold our Religion as dear as we do. I don’t believe we would be the fighters we are. The Burning Times made us who we are, as terrible as that might sound. Sadly, it had to happen. I know just thinking about it makes me angry and upset. But it has burned into my soul that I can never let my ancestors die in vain. NEVER! None of us can.

 

Witchcraft is now more widely accepted. The truth is getting out about what we are really about. We have a long way to go still but I am sure we will eventually get there. Our ancestors died for something they believed very precious and that was our Religion. We can never let our Religion or their memory fall by the wayside. We must continue the fight. It won’t be easy because it never is. But one day we will be able to say we put Witchcraft back into its’ rightful place in mainstream Religion.

 

Remember dear family, the fight goes on. But it is the good fight we are fighting and  we have the Goddess on our side.

Good Blessed Monday Morning to you, my dear, dear friends!

Good Morning my dearest of friends! As you have probably figured out by now, there is no telling what you are going to find on this blog, lol! I am probably one of the most moody witches you will ever meet in your life. I can start out on one subject or interest and in a bat of an eye, change to another. My daughter says there is a syndrome for that, lol! I just tell her, my mind races at 90 miles a minute and it does. There is so much I want to do, so much I want to tell. I could to the realization early in life, that life is very precious. What little time we have here, we must accomplish all that we can.

As most of you probably have gathered by now, I love the Goddess very much. I also love our Ancestors very much. I admire them. I am eternally thankful to them. I cannot begin to imagine what they must have endured. Think back for a moment….We are now in the 1600’s. It is a beautiful Spring day. You are outside in the woods with your husband. Lovingly embracing, walking hand in hand looking for berries and nuts. Your daughter comes running down the path screaming, “Mother, Mother, the Lord, deacons & constable from the church are here!” You and your husband are discussing what they want. You pick up your pace. You can see them standing in your wooded front yard. You greet them and before you can say another word, the constable and deacons are putting you in irons. You hear the Lord proclaim, “There are accusations against you that you are Witches!” You gasp, “What?” You are not allowed to say anything in your defense. You are put on a wagon, carted off to town, with your crying 14 year old daughter following as far as she can.

I admit some of the details might not be quite accurate (like there being a Lord present). But yet it is a dramatic scene to imagine. It would be even more dramatic to live. You piss a neighbor off. The neighbor goes to the Church and accuses you of Witchcraft. The Church was more than eager to bring you in. You know why? 100% of the time, you would be convicted as a Witch. The Church has a lot to gain by your conviction. Your land, your property, your home, your money, everything you had went to the Church. Now if that wasn’t reason enough to make sure the innocent people and our Ancestors were found guilty, I don’t know what was. Some of the punishments dished out were pathetic, absolutely pathetic. The one we were discussing the other night, was were the person was taken to the pond. Then the person was thrown into the pond. If the person floated, she/he was a Witch. If they drowned, they were innocent. Then after the person that floated survived that, they were taken and burned. Make a lot of sense doesn’t it? Either way you are very much dead. But our Ancestors were extra ordinary individuals. They were committed to our Religion enough to die for it. Others, thankfully when underground to preserve our Religion. Witchcraft was passed on by word of mouth, from one generation to the next. Each generation was told what our great Ancestors had done to make sure our Religion lived on.

Today, we do not take time to thank our Ancestors for all they have done for us. For all they sacrificed and in all case, given their lives for us to have. We take our Religion for granted. It is here but we don’t stop to realize what it took for it to get here.

Doing my research this morning, I ran across a poem that was written during the Burning Times. I would like to share it with you now.

Burning Times

The songs are sung to rouse our anger of martyred Witches gone to the fires, But what is served by righteous singing, if all we do is stew in our ire? Nine million dead in four hundred years; More in that time simply died of disease. Why do we dwell on long past dead When we are alive in times like these?

(chorus)

Rise up, Witches, throw off your masks And cease crying guilt for ancient crimes. Earth and all Her children need us For ALL face now the Burning Times.

In the face of that hostile power, how did the old knowledge stay alive? How have we still a Craft to practice? Our ancestors knew how to fight and survive! How do we honour our blessed dead? Slavery threatens us all but few. We must teach their cunning ways — EVERYONE needs the skills they knew!

(chorus 2)

Rise up, Witches, gather your strength, And let your power spread and climb; Earth and all Her children need us For ALL face now the Burning Times.

I will not cast off Science’s works — Witches all forces to Will can bend; I’ll not accuse for war and waste some patriarchy of faceless men. Men do not cast the only votes; Women alone do not demonstrate. Rather than shut out half the race, Who if not we will change that state?

(chorus 2)

I will not blame a Father’s Church — blame and guilt are their tools, not mine, And even in the shuls and churches, allies there will I seek, and find! I will not answer hate with fear, Nor with a smug, cheek-turning love. I will not answer hate with rage; By strength alone will I not be moved!

(chorus 2)

I will not hide in my sacred grove — the fact’ries and cities yet ring me about; I will not climb my ivory tower — the real world exists tho’ I shut it out. I will not work for Church nor State Who serve themselves while they serve us lies, Nor only for my Witchen kin, But for the family of all alive!

(chorus 2)

So if rebellion means to fight a State lost sight of why it was built, If heresy’s to reject a Church that rules with force or fear or guilt, Then let us all be rebels proud, And shameless heretics by creed — A tyrant’s hand subjects the Earth, More heretic rebels are what She needs!

(chorus 2)

Did it ever occur to the writers of your antique laws that the Craft might actually be WELCOMED by a great number of people? That there might actually be more of us than of those who wish us ill?  That the only reason those who fear us are so active nowadays is because they see us becoming more and more welcomed by more people?  As I say in another song,

 “When folk in sorrow turn away/

From paths that lead to misery/

And seek  new ways for wholeness’ sake/

Then waiting, ready shall we be.”

All I can say is, I’m Goddess-glad I’m not in your tradition.

Amen to that! I am glad I’m not in your Tradition!

Honor Our Pagan Bards

Honor Our Pagan Bards

article

by Bronwynn Forrest Torgerson

I never felt the lack of a bard until the day a circle died. Across a room, 75 people clasped hands and stared at one another, uncertain how to end the wobbling, awkward affair. A roomful of pagan strangers had assembled to celebrate community diversity and had drawn lots to see which factions would write the circle casting, energy raising and declaration of intent.

No one knows what happened to the group who fumbled the ball at the end, but after a century’s pause, one lone voice reverted to the old “Isis, Astarte, Diana” chant. Somewhere in a distant glade, I heard the Goddess groan, “Oh for Persephone’s sake — reruns again!” She snatched up the remote and promptly changed the channel. A bard could have saved the day and fixed that fiasco with one chord.

When Leslie Fish, famous at pagan gatherings and filking cons (where old songs are given new lyrics), left the price tag of California and came to call the desert home, I had no idea what a jewel had landed in Arizona’s lap. The lady bard and her guitar graced many a circle, asking naught but applause and a drop to wet the whistle in exchange for her magick. Not ungratefully, but unthinkingly, few offered more. Only in my later Midwest and Northwest times, when I spoke her name and was treated to dropped jaws and intakes of awestruck breath, did I begin to have a clue.

Upon researching the role of bards throughout the ages, it becomes clear that this is a hallowed guest. The Celtic bardic tradition dates to ancient times but was most prominent in medieval and postmedieval Wales and Ireland. Many bards were resident in wealthy homes; others were itinerant. They were particularly important in Wales, where bards were often noble, and where bardic guilds were formed to set standards for writing and reciting. Repeatedly outlawed by the English, as politically inciting, the institution gradually died out.

In Ireland, the training of a bard lasted 12 years, with students undergoing a rigorous curriculum. In the initial years, the student progressed from “principle beginner” to “poet’s attendant.” By his eleventh year, he was termed “a noble stream,” because “a stream of pleasing praise issues from him, and a stream of wealth to him.” Once a bard had mastered 350 stories, he was considered a master and entitled to receive a gold branch with bells attached. When the bard strode into the hall, all were alerted to become silent and summon the help of the inner realms to inspire his poem, song or story.

The body of a bard was inviolate, even in history’s most treacherous times. As the bearer of news, bards roamed at will throughout the far reaches of the kingdom with reports of invasions and death, births and coronations, scandal, triumph and deceit. Bards were deemed to be prophets and emissaries of the Divine, able to bless and curse with a stanza of three lines. Because of the level of autonomy and impunity granted to bards, they often became the voice of the people, whose tongues had to remain silent to keep lives, lands and families together.

Do we as pagans perceive them as filling those same roles today? Yes, indeed! Leslie Fish’s most famous magickal trilogy of songs, formulated specifically to end a prolonged drought, brought down a deluge from the skies. Beginning with a tune called “Out on Thunderbird Road,” which acknowledged the dry, parched ground, she then shifted into a more up-tempo, beseeching number which musically pleaded, “More, more, more… we need more!” Her rousing finale is a hymn to Thor, entitled “White Man’s Rain Chant,” which exhorts the god to “draw the drops of the sky together, break the back of burning wither.” Works like the weather charm it is! Yet, the lady bard can curse as well as cure. No one has ever heard Leslie, an impressive, steely eyed figure with coal-black hair and a knife in her boot, launch into a chorus of “The Oathbreaker Song” without a shuddered sigh of relief that the words weren’t intended for them!

As for historians, we are fortunate as pagans to have such standards to incorporate into our rituals as “The Burning Times,” best arranged by Todd Alan and The Quest. The changing values and chafing repression of our society is brought to the musical fore by Gaia Consort, whose anthem, “Cry Freedom” on their new CD Silent Voices is a reaction to the Bush administration’s faith-based initiative. Hence the razor-edged line, “They try to hold us back with reins of holy smoke, but I am here to say we will not bear the yoke!” In his CD liner notes, Gaia Consort member Christopher Bingham writes that he feels many pagans are in a state of complacency, with their noses stuck too far into their Tarot cards to perceive what is happening in the world around them. Someone needs to sound the wake-up call; enter the bard.

At those circles blessed with a bard, rituals flow, segues are apparent, and some kick-butt energy gets raised. Bards have an innate knack for weaving people together. At a Yule celebration in Bellingham, Washington, I fretted as the talking stick was passed and the full spectrum from serious believers to scoffers and gawkers became apparent. Then our friend Dougal picked up his guitar and passed out lyrics to a Dar Williams song, “The Christians and the Pagans,” about “finding peace and common ground the best that they were able.” Suddenly his strings were not the only thing in tune. As one body, hands reached for red taper candles and lit the wishing wreath. Common good and camaraderie prevailed.

Is there a blessing for a guesting bard? None that I have ever come across; therefore, one needs to be created. One might propose the following festive inclusion. Prior to the bard’s entry into the hall, two garlanded, gaily adorned sweepers come with sprigs of laurel, rosemary and pine (honor, remembrance and renewal) signaling the people that “Music comes! The heart string hums! The good bard comes!”

Enter a third attendant with sistrum or cluster of bells, who announces, “Hark, they ring! Rejoice and sing! Each shining thing the good bard brings! He/She comes!”

A low, draped table should be set aside, near the comfortable seat of honor to which the bard is led. As the preliminary feast begins, food is brought to the bard first by one who says, “Play for us, and touch our souls. Be sustenance, uplift, console. As your music feeds our spirits, may this meal lend strength to your body, good bard.”

Drink is next poured for the bard, with this blessing: “We bless each note that from you pours. Your tales are ours, our love is yours.”

As the last song is sung and the music fades, a purse is given to the bard that each in attendance has had occasion to grace with what monetary gifts may be made. The gifting words spoken are “With gold and silver and precious things, an offering for your blessed strings. As every chord rang bold and true, good bard, we praise and honor you!”

Let us, as pagans, restore our bards to the esteemed position that from antiquity has been theirs. No longer an ill-paid afterthought, but our voice, our magick and our hearts.