Cloud Scrying

Cloud Scrying

Most of us watch clouds images at one time or another.  It is as if we are guided to look up and watch the patterns unfold at a given time.  Fluffy cumulous clouds bring messages, which sometimes seem to tell an unfolding story.  While flying on an airplane, it is fun to watch the clouds from above as if celestial art. You may receive telepathic messages while watching cloud images, coming from a spirit guide.

Throughout history symbols of political or religious importance have been seen in the clouds. In A.D. 312 when Emperor Constantine was marching against the army of Maxentius at Rome, both he and his entire army saw a shining cross of light amid the clouds.  It was said the cross contained the Greek words “By This Conquer”. Later that  night Christ appeared to Constantine in his dreams bearing a cross in his hand ordering Constantine to have a military standard made in the same image. Under this standard his outnumbered army was victorious. Down through history entire military battles have been witnessed in the clouds.

Source:
Crystalinks.com

How Much Yule Do You Put into Christmas?

How Much Yule Do You Put into Christmas?

Author:   Stazya   

This is a difficult topic. I didn’t think it would be until I started. In fact, I thought it would take about two paragraphs to describe how I celebrate Yule by myself and then participate in Christmas with the rest of my family. Until now, that’s the way it’s been – separate.

And lonely.

I remember last year vividly – I shut the bedroom door, laid out a full altar, substituted a small piece of pine incense for my Yule Log since we had no fireplace, and sang of my wishes in a hushed voice, trying to drown myself in the raised volume of the television. I did this not because I was hiding from my husband in the next room, but because I didn’t want to “disturb”e; him with my ritual. A week later, we were in Danvers, MA sitting in the Congregational church with his family and as I watched the minister light his candles and listened to his words, She leaned over and whispered in my ear. “You’ve been here before.” It clicked later, but at first I didn’t pay attention.

A year later and my life is as it should be – completely different. I still close the bedroom door for private rituals, but every now and then, I include my husband. He is definitely Christian, but he’s very tolerant and curious about everything I do. He helped me bless our seeds at Ostara. He attended an open festival at Beltane. He even sat with me to experiment with the open door ritual (Thank you Wren). And this summer, I managed to tell my mother and my best friend that I am a witch.

So now, as the days get darker, and the trees become bare, I am thinking ahead to the holidays. Suddenly, I am confused. Before, there was no question – I had to hide my beliefs. I had to keep to myself. This year though, I somehow have to figure out how much Yule to put into Christmas.

We flip-flop each season between my husband’s family, and mine. This year we will spend the holidays with mine. The only time my immediate family thinks of the birth of Christ on Christmas is if they happen to catch the Little Drummer Boy on TV. It’s never really been about religion with us – just food and family. Oh yeah, and presents. So my problem is not that I’m stomping on a holy cradle, but rather that I may actually inject something of a religious nature into the hors d’oeuvres and stuffing. I’ll be stomping on our traditions, which I’ve always thought to be a bigger offense.

For example, there’s the Christmas card tradition. Among us, cards are an obligation of sorts. You find the funniest one with Santa being farted on by Rudolph, or the sweetest one with puffy sparrows playing in bright red ribbon – but you never take the card that sends blessings to anyone. You receive these cards and then display them on your wall, or in the window, or on the front door. Really anywhere they’ll be seen by lots of people. I’ve always liked this tradition – it’s the one time my mailbox fills up with something other than bills. And yet, my principles tell me it’s a waste. All that paper, all those trees, sacrificed for vanity. So, what do I do?

Do I call everyone and say I don’t want to send cards anymore because we’re decimating Mother Earth? Do I tell them not to send me any? Do I tell everyone to only use recycled paper? Is it really my place to tell anyone anything at all?

And what of the Christmas feast? No one bows their head at my family’s table. I am the first. To make matters worse, I won’t be thanking God for the bounty before us. That would be acceptable to them, if uncomfortable. But I can just see the looks on their faces when I mutter my thanks to Mr. Turkey and the asparagus. At least I won’t have to mourn the passing of an evergreen. My mother’s tree is fake.

I start to think about my Yule rituals and wonder if they’d let me give out presents au natural. Or perhaps I can find some nice pine and sage incense to cleanse my mother’s house with and still be able to convince her she does not smell marijuana. And maybe she’ll allow me to light the front room with votives, being careful not to damage the fine finish of her furniture. Instead of presents, we’ll exchange wishes and burn them in my cauldron. Maybe I can gather my whole family into a circle, weaving it in and out of the sectional sofa and invoke the Goddess into our presence. Or we can gather together all the used pots and pans to drum and chant the evening away in merry camaraderie. Or maybe I’ll make one suggestion of a living wreath of flowers and seeds to wrap around the tree and endure the laughter and disdain the entire evening once I’ve stained the white carpet with cranberries.

Maybe I won’t do anything at all.

But then I remember Her voice in my ear and the warmth of Her breath on my cheek and I know what my answer is.

Tradition.

I know historically what Yule is all about. I know the story of the sun God’s return. But I also know that historical context doesn’t necessarily mean anything to us. We no longer sit huddled in sod huts with what’s left of our flock trying to keep warm. That the days are shorter now means we turn on the lights a little earlier. Why adhere to something when it’s meaningless? Why does my family still celebrate Christmas, even though Christ is no longer a part of it?

Because for them it isn’t about religion anymore. It isn’t even about presents or trees or cards. It’s about being together because we only see each other a few times a year now. It’s about coming together and reaffirming our faith in each other. It’s about touching base with the love that for some reason still exists, regardless of space and time.

How much Yule do I put into Christmas? The same amount I always have. I’ll bake nut tree pear bread for the family, and maybe an apple pie. We’ll all sit at the table and reminisce about the past year – catch up on each other’s lives. We’ll talk briefly about Dad and try to remember his corny jokes or some stray moment when you knew just how much he loved each one of us. After dinner, some of us will go for a walk and take in the beauty of the stark trees and icicle-laden eves. And when we’ve gotten our second wind, some of us will pile into the car and drive the neighborhoods to ooh and ah over this year’s most inspired displays. We’ll exchange tokens of love and admiration, and before we disperse, each will bless the other with love and happiness until we meet again.

If that isn’t a Pagan evening what is?

And what of next year when I find myself back in the Congregational church, surrounded by my husband’s family? Well, I will admire the four candles on the altar and the Christmas flowers that adorn the stage. I will listen with rapt attention as my mother-in-law lends her beautiful voice to the choir and her faith shines on her face. I will hold my husband’s soft, warm hand and watch the snow fall silently. I will bask in the warmth of the moment and listen to Her whispering in my ear again, but this time I will pay attention.

I was never alone.

Stazya

Bio: Stazya is one of the luckiest Pagans alive. She has an understanding, if skeptical, family and a husband who loves her. She receives daily snuffles from her dog, Igor, and provides a pleasantly warm lap for her cat, Potato. In her spare time, she is a writer and an editor in desperate need of actual work (Show me a writer who isn’t!). She keeps one leg in the closet, one finger in the cookie jar and her nose out of most peoples’ business. It’s all about balance. Blessings to all and to all a joyful turn of the Wheel.

Let’s Talk Witch – Christmas and Yule Customs

The “Let’s Talk Witch” is a little longer than most. I don’t know about most of you but when the mainstream Religious holidays roll around, I have to stop and shake my head.  For our Religion to have been so hated, what in the hell would the rest of the religions did without us? I can see all the similarities between our Religion and their religions. But we didn’t come up with those practices or beliefs they stole from us, they did. We are nothing but Evil, we have never had a good idea even come in our head.

I know the older I get it makes me angry. I just want to climb to the highest mountain and scream, “TELL THE TRUTH WOULD YOU, YOU DAMN THIEVES!” Wouldn’t do any good but it would make me feel much better. I have leaders of other faiths write me and want to know, “why are so many people turning to Witchcraft?” Perhaps they are finally learning the truth and coming to the realization of what they have been really following for so many years.

The following article is one of my favorites. It drives this point home and then some, I hope you enjoy it.

Christmas and Yule Customs
by Rick Hayward

Now that Christmas is fast approaching and the year has once more come full circle, most of us will soon be busy adorning the house with brightly coloured decorations, a Christmas tree and all the other paraphernalia that goes to create a festive atmosphere.

Holly and mistletoe will almost certainly be included in our decorations as evergreens have been used in the winter festivities from very ancient times and definitely long before Christianity appeared on the scene.

What Christians celebrate as the birthday of Christ is really something that was superimposed on to a much earlier pagan festival–that which celebrated the Winter Solstice or the time when the Sun reaches its lowest point south and is reborn at the beginning of a new cycle of seasons.

In Northern Europe and Scandinavia it was noted by the early Christian scholar, Bede, that the heathens began the year on December 25th which they called Mother’s Night in honour of the great Earth Mother. Their celebrations were held in order to ensure fertility and abundance during the coming year, and these included much feasting, burning of lamps, lighting of great fires (the Yule fires) and exchanges of gifts.

The Romans, too, held their great celebrations–Saturnalia– from December 17th to 25th and it was the latter date which they honoured as the birthday of the Unconquered Sun. The Saturnalia was characterised by much merry-making, sometimes going to riotous extremes, with masters and slaves temporarily exchanging roles. The use of evergreens to decorate the streets and houses was also very much in evidence at this great winter festival.

That we now celebrate the birth of Christ at the same time is largely due to the early Church Fathers who found it was much easier to win converts to the faith by making Christ’s birthday coincide with an already long established pagan festival. In fact, it wasn’t until the 4th century that Pope Julius I finally established the 25th as the official birthday of Christ; earlier Christians differed widely as to this date– some choosing September 29th, while others held that January 6th or March 29th were the correct dates.

As we have seen, the pagan element in Christmas lives on in the festival at the Winter Solstice. But these elements are also very much alive in our use of evergreens as decorations at this time of year.

Like most evergreens, the holly and mistletoe have long been held to symbolize eternal life, regeneration and rebirth.

Holly, with its bright red berries and dark spiky foliage, has been revered from ancient times as a symbol of life everlasting. It was associated with strength and masculinity and was considered useful in the treatment of various ailments which were seen to lower the vital spirits.

In old England, a decoction of holly leaves was considered a cure for worms; but most of all this prickly evergreen was looked upon as a luck bringer–particularly in rural areas where a bunch of holly hung in the cow shed or stable was thought to favour the animals if placed there on Christmas Eve. Many people used to take a piece of holly from the church decorations at Christmas as a charm against bad luck in the coming year. Holly was also considered a very protective tree which, if planted outside the house, was believed to avert lightning, fire and the evil spells of witches.

An old holly spell describes how to know one’s future spouse. At midnight on a Friday, nine holly leaves must be plucked and tied with nine knots in a three-cornered cloth. This is then placed under the pillow and, provided silence is observed from the time of plucking until dawn the next day, your future spouse will come to you in your dreams.

In certain areas of Wales, it was thought extremely unlucky to bring holly into the house before December 24th and if you did so there would be family quarrels and domestic upheavals. You would also be inviting disaster if you burned green holly or squashed the red berries.

Turning now to mistletoe, it seems that this is by far the most mystical of the plants associated with Christmas and has, from very ancient times, been treated as magical or sacred. It is often included in modern Christmas decorations simply for the fun of kissing beneath it and, though this seems to be a peculiarly English custom, it probably harks back to the mistletoe’s association with fertility.

The real reason why mistletoe is now associated with Christmas is very much a carry-over from ancient practices, when it was considered as somehow belonging to the gods. The Roman historian, Pliny, gives an early account of how the Druids would hold a very solemn ceremony at the Winter Solstice when the mistletoe had to be gathered, for the Druids looked upon this unusual plant, which has no roots in the earth, as being of divine origin or produced by lightning. Mistletoe which grew on the oak was considered especially potent in magical virtues, for it was the oak that the Druids held as sacred to the gods.

At the Winter Solstice, the Druids would lead a procession into the forest and, on finding the sacred plant growing on an oak, the chief priest, dressed all in white, would climb the tree and cut the mistletoe with a knife or sickle made of gold. The mistletoe was not allowed to touch the ground and was therefore caught in a white linen cloth.

On securing the sacred mistletoe, the Druids would then carry it to their temple where it would be laid beneath the altar stone for three days. Early on the fourth day, which would correspond to our Christmas Day, it was taken out, chopped into pieces and handed out among the worshippers. The berries were used by the priests to heal various diseases.

Mistletoe was considered something of a universal panacea, as can be gleaned from the ancient Celtic word for it–uile, which literally translated means ‘all-healer’. A widespread belief was that mistletoe could cure anything from headaches to epilepsy; and indeed modern research has shown that the drug guipsine which is used in the treatment of nervous illnesses and high blood pressure is contained in mistletoe.

Until quite recently the rural folk of Sweden and Switzerland believed that the mistletoe could only be picked at certain times and in a special way if its full potency as healer and protector was to be secured. The Sun must be in Sagittarius (close to the Winter Solstice) and the Moon must be on the wane and, following ancient practices, the mistletoe must not be just picked but shot or knocked down and caught before reaching the ground.

Not only was mistletoe looked upon as a healer of all ills, but if hung around the house was believed to protect the home against fire and other hazards. As the mistletoe was supposed to have been produced by lightning, it had the power to protect the home against thunder bolts by a kind of sympathetic magic.

Of great importance, however, was the power of mistletoe to protect against witchcraft and sorcery. This is evident in an old superstition which holds that a sprig of mistletoe placed beneath the pillow will avert nightmares (once considered to be the product of evil demons).

In the north of England, it used to be the practice of farmers to give mistletoe to the first cow that calved after New Year’s Day. This was believed to ensure health to the stock and a good milk yield throughout the year. Underlying this old belief is the fear of witches or mischievous fairy folk who could play havoc with dairy produce, so here mistletoe was used as a counter magic against such evil influences. In Sweden, too, a bunch of this magical plant hung from the living room ceiling or in the stable or cow-shed was thought to render trolls powerless to work mischief.

With such a tremendous array of myth, magic and folklore associated with it, reaching far back into the pagan past, it is understandable that even today this favourite Christmas plant is forbidden in many churches. Yet even the holly and the ivy, much celebrated in a popular carol of that title, were once revered as sacred and magical by our pre-Christian ancestors.

In view of what has been said, one could speculate that even if Christianity had never emerged it is more than likely that we would still be getting ready for the late-December festivities, putting up decorations, including holly and mistletoe, in order to celebrate the rebirth of the Sun, the great giver and sustainer of all earthly life.

Calendar of the Sun for December 17th

Calendar of the Sun

17 Yulmonath

Saturnalia Day 1: Day of Saturn

Colors: Black and Brown
Element: Earth
Altar: Upon cloth of black place a clock, a sundial, coins, a bowl of earth from the garden, farm tools, eight brown candles, a cup of strong tea, and the figure of a seated man, wrapped in chains.
Offerings: Discipline something in your life.
Daily Meal: Fasting till after Hesperis.

Invocation to Saturn

Hail to the Lord of Discipline,
Saturn bound in chains.
Hail to the Old Man of Time
With your fearsome sickle,
Lord of the Hourglass, the Sundial,
All that places restrictions on the bright,
The beautiful, the free and easy.
Hail Lord of Rules, Patron of Farmers
Who must live by the unrelenting cycle of the year,
Sowing and reaping whether they will or no.
Many fear you, Old Grandfather
Who insists that your grandchildren
Eat their vegetables and remain polite at table.
Great Sensei of the Dojo of Hard Knocks,
We know that you want us to succeed,
But the world outside is a hard place
Filled with troubles, and you will not
Turn us out without making certain we are ready,
Even if that means a hard testing
Over and over, until you are certain of us.
You have learned to live in chains
And learned that boundaries are a valuable thing.
Hail Lord of Limitations! Teach us,
Your unworthy and foolish students,
How to discipline our unruly souls,
And how to appreciate your gift of knowing our limits.

Chant: Saturnus Saturnus Accidia

(The tea is passed around, and each names the limits on them, consensual or no, and thanks Saturn. The rest of the tea is poured out as a libation.)

[Pagan Book of Hours]

Similarities Between Christian Sacraments and Pagan Rites

Similarities Between Christian Sacraments and Pagan Rites

Author:   Angelique Soleil   

Magick was first spelled with a “k” by Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) to differentiate between religious magick, and the stunts and illusions performed by stage magicians. Crowley was the leader of a cult called Ordo Templi Orientis, but is better known for his time with The Golden Dawn. Crowley says, “Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.” (The Sidereus Foundation)

There is another part to this definition that will have to be added in to make a usable definition for this article. Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will and the Will of Deity. Since we are talking about religious magick here, there must be some sense of a divine being in our working definition. There are practitioners of magick who believe that magick comes from within, not from a deity. In this case, I would say that their “deity” is the life energy within themselves. Deity comes in many forms.

I would first like to pause and make it clear from the start that there are many movies out there about Pagan rites (The Craft, a movie about 4 teenage girls that dabble in magick comes to mind first) that are highly inaccurate. Since that movie came out, I can’t count how many people I’ve had approach me asking if I’ll help the “call the quarters.” Movies like that make real practicing Pagans look bad. When you think of magick, don’t think of movies or TV. Remember that those are not real.

I used to sit in church and feel inspired. When I was young, I saw the magick of God in the church in the faces of the people around me. I felt it in the air around me. I was a child then, so naturally I felt bored, but I can still recall feeling something there. I won’t deny that there is some kind of magick involved with the church experience, even if people don’t want to call it that.

I haven’t been to church in fourteen years. As I grew older and kept returning to church, week after week, year after year, I felt the magick slipping away. I knew it was time to move on. I needed to find magick again. I took my Bible and my thirst for spiritual fulfillment, and walked away.

Since it had been so long, I had almost forgotten about the magick of the church. But when I take a step back, I can’t help but see that there is magick on both sides. It’s easy to see that Pagans have magick in their spells, blessings, coming of age rites, and Sabbats, because Pagans will openly call it Magick. The Christians, however, simply choose to call their Magick by different names: prayer, Communion, Baptism, holidays, and other holy sacraments. All of these involve some kind of ritual and divine power, whether from within, or from an outside source.

As I study the differences between the Christian world and the Pagan world, I see that Christians and Pagans will debate and battle about this topic, and there are some from both religions on each side. Many Christians argue that magick is wrong, immoral, and satanic. Many Pagans say that Christians use magick too, to try and put both religions on a more equal base. Some will say that magick comes in many forms. Some Pagans will even say that Christians do not use magick, and to say that prayer is the same as a spell is an insult to both religions.

I have a friend who is a very strict Christian, and whenever something went wrong, or she felt scared, she would pray. In her prayer, she would put her hands together, with clasped fingers, bow her head, and close her eyes ask God to help her, or guide her. She would begin with a phrase such as “Dear Heavenly Father, ” or “Dear Jesus, ” speak her wishes, and then end with “in Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.” It is systematic, ritualistic, and it is used to request something of a higher power. Is it magick?

Marina Patelos, a member of the Greek Orthodox church in Albany, NY, says “for your average person a ‘Hail Mary’ or an ‘Our Father’ wouldn’t count [as magick] because most people just say the words and never really stop to look at what they’re actually saying. But if someone’s praying for, say, their mother not to die of cancer, then yeah, that could count.”

Shirley Oscamp-Colletti, a United Methodist Minister who has been with the Church of the Wild Wood for the past 10 years, says that prayer is a form of magick “If I use your definition. Prayer is a form of connection with an inner or outer deity. Prayer connects with God; some say it is to accomplish a goal. I say it’s more to open yourself to possibilities. The highest form of prayer is to focus on a person and allow the divine light to that person, so the goal is to bring the divine light into that person or situation, not that you want a certain thing to happen.”

I used to find a lot of magick in Communion when I was finally considered mature enough to take it. There was no real class or preparation for it at the Calvary Baptist Church in Springfield, Vermont, but when a person reached the age of 12 they were expected to sit through a whole service instead of attending junior service in another room, and were offered Communion.

The lights in the church were dim, I remember, but sunlight shined brilliantly through the stained glass windows on either side of the room. Each window depicted a different Bible story in symbols and color choices. They were the most beautiful things about the church. Small clear plastic cups that resembled test tubes filled with grape juice would be waiting in circular holders on the backs of the pews next to the hymnal pockets. The pastor would speak the same words ever communion service as bowls of bread were passed around the church and people took a piece out for themselves.

“And Christ said, ‘take, eat. This is my body, ’” the Pastor would say, and everyone in the church would eat their piece of bread. The same pattern was followed with the grape juice, and then everyone would gather in a circle around the pews and sing. It seemed like God was there at those moments when we all held hands and sung together.

I have learned that the little Protestant church that I grew up in was a little different from other churches. Some use wafers instead of bread, and drink wine instead of grape juice. Some churches see this as a symbolic ritual, and some others see it as literal. “According to the Greek Orthodox Church, ” says Patelos, “the bread and wine are transubstantiated into the body and blood of Christ.” This means that “The Holy Spirit” changes the food into the blood and body of Christ. “[This] happens at the part of the blessing where he (the priest) holds up the chalice of wine and says ‘this is the blood of Christ’, in Greek, and then holds up the bread and says ‘this is the body of Christ’ and crumbles it into the wine, ” says Patelos. This sounds like a magickal transformation to me. “Although most of the people at my church would sh*t a brick if someone suggested that, yeah, I would [call it magickal, ]” Patelos says.

Colletti says that Communion is symbolic. “The other interesting things about this in the Methodist church, we don’t use wine. Methodists have been involved in the prohibition movement.” They do this out of respect for those who can’t drink. “We didn’t want them to not take Communion, ” she said.

”I do Communion very informally, ” Colletti continued. “If you’ve been to church there are words in the Hymnal that you’re supposed to read, but I speak more from the heart because I feel that is what the meal is supposed to be a time for people to come and share a simple meal together. My Communion is very earthy. When people in my church come up, they give hugs to me and the person that helps me serve, so it’s a very connective thing, and I like that. People come up out of the pews. I also often will tie it back to Jesus eating with his disciples and the meals that he shared and that’s when people let their hair down and get close to each other. Part of what Communion is about is to break down the barrier.”

“There are two sacraments, ” Colletti says, “[and] the other is Baptism. It’s initiation. The Baptism sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an outward and spiritual grace, so it’s kind of enacting something that’s already happened, which that might be where one of the difference is. When you’re talking about Magick you’re creating magick to make something happen, where as Christian magick, if you want to call it that, is an expression of what has already happened, rather than asking the divine to do something for us, and that’s Methodist through Shirley’s eyes. Catholics [say that] if you don’t have a baby baptized it’s bad. We believe babies are a part of God. Basically showing it’s bringing someone into the Christian church. It’s dying and being brought back to life in the traditional sense.”

Baptism is when a person chooses to accept God, and they are dunked in water to show that they trust God, and to represent dying and being reborn. Catholics do not completely submerge a baby when they baptize him/her; they only pour water over the baby’s forehead.

Catholics aren’t the only ones who baptize babies. “Our kids get completely dunked, ” says Patelos. “For Orthodox it’s Baptism, Chrismation, first Communion and Confirmation all in one go. After you go through that, you’re entitled to all the Rights in the Church.”

The way I see it, Baptism is very much like a cleansing in Paganism. Water washes away negativity and cleanses both physically and spiritually. This cleansing can be used for tools, as well as for initiation. There are many different ways a Pagan can use water to cleanse. Sometimes different oils or herbs can be mixed in, as with the Orthodox Baptism to add blessing properties. Often salt will be added to the water, which makes it holy because salt is part of the earth. Another common additive is rose oil for both its blessing and cleansing properties. A tool that will be used for magickal rituals can be dunked into a goblet of water and left in the moonlight overnight to be cleansed. Some initiations use this water and its additives to draw a pentacle on the forehead of an initiate. Many rituals will vary from tradition to tradition, making it impossible to cover all of them.

Pagans have their form of prayer in spells. I will reiterate that spells will vary in many traditions. Some will be the simple lighting of a candle and wishing. Some will involve chanting or poetry. Some will involve knives, wands, pentacles, circles of candles of every color shape and size, robes, and a script. It just depends on who you’re working with. I prefer the simpler rituals.

I take a candle of the appropriate color (different colors mean different things) , carve what I want down the side with my athame (ritual knife) , such as “good health, ” or “confidence, ” carve the first and last initials of the person who is to receive these things on the bottom, cover the candle with ashes, and light it, letting it burn all the way down. I will frequently sit in front of my altar (usually a table decorated with a cloth, statues of Pagan gods and goddesses, candles, and ritual tools, such as that athame) and think on this act and its results, but I usually do not incorporate words into the spell. I can’t remember where I picked it up, but it is the one spell that has worked for me consistently for the last dozen years.

“I feel that a prayer works the opposite way, ” says Salgamma, in her article “Magick Vs. Prayer” for The Pagan Library, an online Pagan journal. “The prayer is a request to effect a change in the ambient energy and invoke God. This change in energy is slower because it is ‘diluted’ in the surrounding energy and depends solely on faith (‘I believe it will happen, so it will’) .”

I have read of a Wiccan ceremony that may somewhat equate to communion. In the “Cakes and Ale” (Or “Cakes and Wine”) ceremony the bread represents the body of The God, and the wine (red) represents the blood of the Virgin Goddess. The cake does not have to be cake. It can be bread or something else as long as it has been blessed for the purpose of this ritual. Wine can be replaced with juice if necessary. This is a ritual to give thanks to the God and Goddess. After a poem of thanks is recited, all who participate partake of these symbolic food items, and leave what is left as an offering to the deities.

It seems to me that the Sacraments that I’ve covered above all have a Pagan equivalent. Baptism is a cleansing; Communion and the Cakes and Ale Ceremony are symbolic of taking in deity (deities) ; and a prayer is a spell. I have participated in most of these rituals (save the cakes and ale, but I’ve done similar things as well) at various times in my life, and I will say that there is something magickal about all of them.

Aeromancy

Aeromancy


A form of divination of foretelling future events by observing atmospheric phenomena such as when a death of a great man is foretold by the appearance of a comet.


Francois la Tour Blanche stated that aeromancy is the art of fortune-telling by spectres which are made to appear in the air, or the representation by the aid of demons which are projected on the clouds as if by a magic lantern. “As for the thunder and lightening,” he added, “these are concerned with the
auguries, and the aspect of the sky and of the planets belong to the science of astrology.”


Within Christianity an act of aeromancy might be thought of as the phenomena of the star over Bethlehem when Christ was born.

Wishing You A Very Blessed Monday, Dear Brothers & Sisters of the Craft!

TO BE A WITCH

To be a witch is to love and be loved.
To be a witch is to know everything, and nothing at all.
To be a witch is to move amongst the stars while staying on earth.
To be a witch is to change the world around you, and yourself.
To be a witch is to share and give, while receiving all the while.
To be a witch is to dance and sing, and hold hands with the universe.
To be a witch is to honor the gods, and yourself.
To be a witch is to be magick, not just perform it.
To be a witch is to be honorable, or nothing at all.
To be a witch is to accept others who are not.
To be a witch is to know what you feel is right and good.
To be a witch is to harm none.
To be a witch is to know the ways of old.
To be a witch is to see beyond the barriers.
To be a witch is to follow the moon.
To be a witch is to be one with the gods.
To be a witch is to study and to learn.
To be a witch is to be the teacher and the student.
To be a witch is to acknowledge the truth.
To be a witch is to live with the earth, not just on it.
To be a witch is to be truly free!

 

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – October 24

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – October 24

“We create that bad among ourselves. We create it; then we try to call it devil, Satan, or evil. But man creates it. There is no devil. Man creates the devil.”

–Wallace Black Elk, LAKOTA

Inside every human being are the laws and codes by which we should live. These laws and codes are communicated to us through a little voice. When we are still, this voice guides us. If we choose to live out of harmony, our lives become filled with anger, hate, selfishness, dishonesty, etc. When these things appear in our lives, we give up accountability and blame it on something or someone else. If we want to live in harmony, we need to pray our way back to living the principles the Creator gave us.

Grandfather, today let me walk with the principles.

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – October 14

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – October 14

“Each soul must meet the morning sun, the new sweet earth and the Great Silence alone!”

–Ohiyesa (Dr. Charles A. Eastman), SANTEE SIOUX

The most important thing we can do during the course of the day is pray in the morning. There is a special time in the morning that has great power. This is the exact time the sun is rising. During the rising of the sun, everything on the Earth is waking up. Animals, plants, birds and humans will be blessed at the rising of the sun. This is a special time to help us prepare for the day. During this time we ask the Creator to bless our day. We ask Him to guide us, to protect us and to give us courage to overcome the day’s obstacles. Doing this everyday will give us knowledge of God’s will for us.

Grandfather, Grandmother, guide my path. Let my thinking be guided by You.

A Witch’s Calling

A Witch’s Calling

Author:   Moon magik  

From the moment we are born into this learning experience called life, most of us have our spiritual paths chosen for us. If your parents are Catholic, you’re going to be Catholic. If your parents are Baptist, you’re definitely going to be Baptist. Children have no choice to their own beliefs, because their parents require them to follow family tradition. We then grow up doing the same thing to our own children. There are very few people that grow up and just decide after 20 or 30 years that they do not believe what they were raised to believe. There are also some that grow up with absolutely no spirituality in their lives at all.

My mother and father were divorced just 8 months after I was born. My father raised me, because my mother was young and irresponsible and he wanted me to grow up in a good environment. During the first seven years of my life, we lived with my grandparents. My grandparents were Lutheran, so naturally my father was Lutheran as well. There was a Lutheran church conveniently located just a few houses down from our home.

I knew from a very young age that I did not belong in a Lutheran Church. Most Witches’ have a calling to the old ways and earth traditions at some point in their lives. I hated bible study and had no interest in learning about Christ. I didn’t know anything about Witchcraft, or have a clue that I would one day find myself casting spells in a circle on my bedroom floor. I just simply didn’t care for church. It wasn’t until I was about 11 years old when I started having dreams that I was magical.

It began sporadically and then eventually became an every night dream. In my dream I was standing in the middle of the woods during the peak of fall season. I was spinning in circles and dancing around trees. Every time I had the dream, I notice I had a wooden stick in my hand. I now realize the wooden stick was my wand. I went to the library one morning to check out a book on Diana Ross, because I had a book report for school due on the following Monday.

When I sat down at the table in the library there was one small paperback book left behind by what I’m assuming was a lazy citizen. The book was about Witchcraft. I was extremely intrigued, so I decided to check it out and bring it home to read.

When my father saw the book, he was very unsure whether he wanted to allow me to read it or not. I used my charm and wit to persuade him, plus he was the biggest push over ever. The strange thing is, my father told me just a few days ago, that a few years before I checked out that book, I was scolded for drawing pentacles on my bedroom door. He said he couldn’t figure out where I got the idea to draw pentacles. He said he would have not been so freaked out by the action if the drawings were only stars without circles around them. He understands a bit more now that I am 27 and he knows about my spiritual practices.

As I grew older my dreams became more vivid and lucid. I started having dreams of things before they would occur. My first prophetic dream was about my mother. In my dream, the doctor called me on the telephone and told me that my mom was going to die, because she had a tumor in her stomach. About two weeks later my mother had to go to the doctors, because her premenstrual cycle would not end. The doctors ran some test and then found that she had a large mass, the size of a baseball growing in her uterus. They advised her that she needed surgery immediately to get the mass out. My mother called me on the telephone afterwards to talk to me. She was astonished how similar my dream was to her situation.

The second dream was even scarier. I was blind. The only thing I could do was listen to the sounds that were around me. I heard screaming and arguing and then a blast of gunshots so close like the gun was going off next to my ear. The next morning I went to work and received a phone call from my mother in the middle of the day, which was very uncommon. When I answered, she was frantically crying. She proceeded to tell me that one of my closest friends was shot in the head in the middle of the night.

She explained to me that he was still alive, but he was in a coma and the doctors said we should come in and say our goodbyes, because they did not expect him to live through the day. We all gathered at the hospital for which turned out to be a week while he struggled to survive on life support. Finally, he woke up from the coma.

He could not speak, because he had a trachea tube in his throat, so none of us knew if he could hear us or not. A bandage covered his eyes, so we did not know if he could see us. The bullet in his head traveled back down the path in which it entered and actually fell out into the bandage that was wrapped around his head. The doctors did not have to perform any surgery because of that. Unfortunately once the bandage was removed we found out that he was blind.

I have accepted the fact that I am not a psychic. I cannot read tarot cards. I cannot read runes or tea leaves or make use of any other divining tool. The only thing that I have is my dreams. Therefore, I call myself a dream witch. I love witchcraft. I love the freedom of being solitary eclectic and choosing beliefs that make me feel comfortable.

I love the art and beauty of casting a circle and uniting myself with the Lord and the Lady to mold the energies of the universe for my intentions. I love herb magick and candle magick. I love every aspect of earth traditions and wish that more people would discover the beauty and mysticism that surrounds it.

I wish more people would give their children the knowledge and independence to explore different beliefs to decide what or whom they want to worship. Children continue to be lead into their predecessor’s political, social and religious views. I am not saying that I want everyone to follow the path of the ancient traditions; I am just concerned with the limited freedom we give in a country founded on freedom.

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Paganism

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Paganism

Author:   Crick   

As folks begin to re-discover their interest in paganism, there are certain fallacies that are being put forth that do not contribute in a meaningful way to the true nature of paganism. We, as a community that is based upon many divergent beliefs, would be wise to avoid these pitfalls as we move forward. Please keep in mind that we are all individuals and as such we are entitled to our personal opinions even if it does not agree with others’ opinions.

Fallacy: The pentagram is the symbol of one particular group of pagans.

The truth is that the pentagram has been in use by various groups, both pagan and Christian, since Uruk IV circa 3500 BCE in ancient Mesopotamia where the general interpretation appeared to be “heavenly body.” By the cuneiform period circa 2600 BCE the pentagram or symbol “UB” came to mean “region, ” “heavenly quarter” or “direction”.

Venus is equated with the Sumerian Goddess, Ishtar (Inanna) whose symbol is an eight or sixteen point star.

In association with the Hebrews, the five-point symbol was ascribed to Truth and to the five books of the Pentateuch.

In Ancient Greece, it was called the Pentalpha.

Pythagorians considered it an emblem of perfection or the symbol of the human being. The Pythagoreans used it as a sign of recognition and they called the Pentagram “Hugieia” which is usually translated “Health, ” but can also translate as “Soundness or Wholeness”, and in a more general way, any “Divine Blessing”. Hugieia (Hygeia) is the Greek Goddess of Health, who is called Salus by the ancient Romans.

The pentagram was also associated with the golden ratio (which it includes) , and the dodecahedron, the fifth Platonic solid, which has twelve pentagonal faces and was considered by Plato to be a symbol of the heavens.

The Pentagram has been found everywhere from Egyptian statues to Gaulish coins. In fact, the Greeks, Aryans, and Etruscans (circa 400 BCE) shared a coin bearing a pentagram and the characters “PENSU” (Etruscan for five) .

It is noted that the texts of Solomon from the Mediaeval period gave great importance to the pentagram, under the name “Solomon’s Seal.”

It is documented that the first English mention of a pentagram appears in the legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Stanzas 27-28 (1380 CE) . Gawain, who is traditionally the Celtic sun-hero, carries a shield “shining gules, With the Pentagle in pure gold depicted thereon”.

“It is a symbol which Solomon conceived once
To betoken holy truth, by its intrinsic right,
For it is a figure which has five points,
And each line overlaps and is locked with another;
And it is endless everywhere, and the English call it,
In all the land, I hear, the Endless Knot.”

And yet with the exception of Eliphas Levi who was associated with Catholicism, the Pentagram has never had any established definition or translation in regards to evil or any other negative connotation.

It was Eliphas Lévi who made the claim, with no justification or established historical precedent, that the pentagram with one point upward represents the good principle and one downward, the principals of evil. Eliphas Levi had trained for the Roman Catholic priesthood and was a prolific writer on Freemasonry magical associations. And as such his motives are somewhat questionable.

In fact, the five-pointed star is also defined as a symbol of Christ, “the bright and morning star”: and, inverted with one point down, it represents the descent of Christ, which represents his Incarnation. Lo and behold, there is a huge inverted five-pointed star on the steeple of the “Marktkirche”, or Market Church in fourteenth century Hanover, Germany and there are the numerous inverted stars that surround a statue of Mary and the Christ Child in Chartres Cathedral circa 1150 C.E.

The early Christians attributed the pentagram to the Five Stigmata of Christ and/or the doctrine of the Trinity plus that of the two natures of Christ.

It can also be seen on gravestones in the Claustro da Lavagem in the Convento at Tomar, Portugal, the monastery of Ravna, Bulgaria and the Church of All Saints at Kilham, Humberside, Yorkshire, England, which incorporates the symbol on the columns which support the Norman doorway. It is indented on the gateposts of the churchyard of S. Peter’s, Walworth, England, built in 1824 CE.

And yet in spite of thousands of years of the Pentagram being seen as a symbol of health and many other positive aspects, the Pentagram is now held forth by a few so called organized religions as being a symbol of a dark foreboding and evil.

However the pentagram is not the exclusive domain of any one pagan group and should not be presented as such as it now often is. Paganism is far too diverse to be represented by anyone group.

It is one thing to establish a religion/spiritual path that is often a mishmash of beliefs from other religious belief systems. But for such religions who were formed after the fact to engage in such blatant distortions doesn’t do much to contribute to the understanding and acceptance that these same religions claim as tenets of their own beliefs.

Until the members of such religions find the will and inner strength to empower the truth, there will always be such institutional hypocrisies. And as such these misnomers will continue to belie and disrupt any real effort at understanding and good will towards others.

Fallacy: The mystical arts are primarily a religion.

To my mind, when one takes the mystical arts which to my mind is constantly evolving and is limitless in its definition and understanding and places it within the parameters of religious dogma, then one is in effect limiting their personal spiritual growth and ability to develop within the concept of true mystical arts.

I understand that such limitations work well for some folks and that is what it is. However such a concept does not work for those who are solitaire, follow the path of shamanism, Voudon, Asatru, Nordic, Witchcraft or what have you. Such folks follow a spiritual path and not a religion. And so there needs to be more of an acceptance of such a reality.

Far too often there are attempts by those who desire to turn the mystical arts into a religion to downplay the beliefs of others or to elevate themselves above all others. Such behavior is detrimental to any attempts at creating a true pagan community and thus is a pitfall to be avoided.

Fallacy: Everyone who follows a pagan path is in effect a Neo Pagan and attempting to re-construct an ancient pagan belief.

This is simply not true and does nothing more than to play into the hands of those who would like to be seen as the pagan standard and whom often falsely claim to represent all pagans.

This misnomer may apply to those primarily of European descent who now desire to follow a pagan path from ancient Europe. But the reality is that there are in fact folks from such descent who have always been pagan. Though the organized religions did their utmost best to eradicate pagan beliefs, there were some families who did not succumb to such attempts.

To paint everyone who follows a European based pagan belief with such a broad brush is self-serving and in fact stereotyping. There are also many folks around the world who have always been pagan such as the Eskimos, Australian Bushman, Siberian Shamans, the many indigenous tribes located all around the world and so forth.

To deny the pagan heritage of such folks is arrogant and elitist to say the least. It also deprives us of a rich and valuable source of experiences that far exceed many of the modern day pagan paths. Do we really want to establish a pagan community based on such deceptive behavior?

And so as we move forward, we should keep in mind that it is human nature to put forth fallacies that are self-serving to one’s particular group. But if we are in fact going to avoid the missteps of prior belief systems, then we should be aware of the pitfalls that are waiting for the unwary.

Paganism is not about any one particular group. We are far too diverse for such a self-serving fallacy. And so moving forward, we should show common respect for all of our divergent beliefs… for we are Pagans…

Your Ancient Symbol Card for October 3rd is The Phoenix

Your Ancient Symbol Card for Today

The Phoenix

The mythical, endearing Phoenix has long been a symbol of rebirth, renewal, and coming full circle. Tired in both body and spirit the aged Phoenix combust into flames and from its ashes is reborn. The Phoenix does not indicate change so much as it does renewal and revitalization. It denotes the completion of a cycle and beginning anew.

As a daily card, The Phoenix suggest you are at a place where some aspects of your life have reached the end of a cycle. Your energies may be weakened from use and stretched over too many arenas to be as effective as they once were. As a result, now may be a good time for you to take a step back and allow yourself time to revitalize both your physical and spiritual self.

Mabon Comments & Graphics
The High Priest Faces  West:

Guardians of the watchtower of the west, we do summon, stir, and
call thee up to protect us in our rite.  Come forth from the rainbow hued
morning dew that covers the fields, and is soon to be frost.  Asperge us with
your diadems and water our deepest roots that we may find peace of mind.  So
mote it be!

Faith

Autumn Comments & Graphics

Faith is the dark moon

Unseen in the night

We know it is present

Yet long for the light

Faith is the wind

That whispers around us

We cannot touch it

And must take it on trust

Faith is the soft voice

Of the Goddess of Old

Who warms us in the Winter

And wards off the cold

Let my heart feel the warmth

Let my soul hear her voice

Let me find faith in the darkness

And my spirit rejoice once again!

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Paganism

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Paganism

Author:   Crick 

As folks begin to re-discover their interest in paganism, there are certain fallacies that are being put forth that do not contribute in a meaningful way to the true nature of paganism. We, as a community that is based upon many divergent beliefs, would be wise to avoid these pitfalls as we move forward. Please keep in mind that we are all individuals and as such we are entitled to our personal opinions even if it does not agree with others’ opinions.

Fallacy: The pentagram is the symbol of one particular group of pagans.

The truth is that the pentagram has been in use by various groups, both pagan and Christian, since Uruk IV circa 3500 BCE in ancient Mesopotamia where the general interpretation appeared to be “heavenly body.” By the cuneiform period circa 2600 BCE the pentagram or symbol “UB” came to mean “region, ” “heavenly quarter” or “direction”.

Venus is equated with the Sumerian Goddess, Ishtar (Inanna) whose symbol is an eight or sixteen point star.

In association with the Hebrews, the five-point symbol was ascribed to Truth and to the five books of the Pentateuch.

In Ancient Greece, it was called the Pentalpha.

Pythagorians considered it an emblem of perfection or the symbol of the human being. The Pythagoreans used it as a sign of recognition and they called the Pentagram “Hugieia” which is usually translated “Health, ” but can also translate as “Soundness or Wholeness”, and in a more general way, any “Divine Blessing”. Hugieia (Hygeia) is the Greek Goddess of Health, who is called Salus by the ancient Romans.

The pentagram was also associated with the golden ratio (which it includes) , and the dodecahedron, the fifth Platonic solid, which has twelve pentagonal faces and was considered by Plato to be a symbol of the heavens.

The Pentagram has been found everywhere from Egyptian statues to Gaulish coins. In fact, the Greeks, Aryans, and Etruscans (circa 400 BCE) shared a coin bearing a pentagram and the characters “PENSU” (Etruscan for five) .

It is noted that the texts of Solomon from the Mediaeval period gave great importance to the pentagram, under the name “Solomon’s Seal.”

It is documented that the first English mention of a pentagram appears in the legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Stanzas 27-28 (1380 CE) . Gawain, who is traditionally the Celtic sun-hero, carries a shield “shining gules, With the Pentagle in pure gold depicted thereon”.

“It is a symbol which Solomon conceived once
To betoken holy truth, by its intrinsic right,
For it is a figure which has five points,
And each line overlaps and is locked with another;
And it is endless everywhere, and the English call it,
In all the land, I hear, the Endless Knot.”

And yet with the exception of Eliphas Levi who was associated with Catholicism, the Pentagram has never had any established definition or translation in regards to evil or any other negative connotation.

It was Eliphas Lévi who made the claim, with no justification or established historical precedent, that the pentagram with one point upward represents the good principle and one downward, the principals of evil. Eliphas Levi had trained for the Roman Catholic priesthood and was a prolific writer on Freemasonry magical associations. And as such his motives are somewhat questionable.

In fact, the five-pointed star is also defined as a symbol of Christ, “the bright and morning star”: and, inverted with one point down, it represents the descent of Christ, which represents his Incarnation. Lo and behold, there is a huge inverted five-pointed star on the steeple of the “Marktkirche”, or Market Church in fourteenth century Hanover, Germany and there are the numerous inverted stars that surround a statue of Mary and the Christ Child in Chartres Cathedral circa 1150 C.E.

The early Christians attributed the pentagram to the Five Stigmata of Christ and/or the doctrine of the Trinity plus that of the two natures of Christ.

It can also be seen on gravestones in the Claustro da Lavagem in the Convento at Tomar, Portugal, the monastery of Ravna, Bulgaria and the Church of All Saints at Kilham, Humberside, Yorkshire, England, which incorporates the symbol on the columns which support the Norman doorway. It is indented on the gateposts of the churchyard of S. Peter’s, Walworth, England, built in 1824 CE.

And yet in spite of thousands of years of the Pentagram being seen as a symbol of health and many other positive aspects, the Pentagram is now held forth by a few so called organized religions as being a symbol of a dark foreboding and evil.

However the pentagram is not the exclusive domain of any one pagan group and should not be presented as such as it now often is. Paganism is far too diverse to be represented by anyone group.

It is one thing to establish a religion/spiritual path that is often a mishmash of beliefs from other religious belief systems. But for such religions who were formed after the fact to engage in such blatant distortions doesn’t do much to contribute to the understanding and acceptance that these same religions claim as tenets of their own beliefs.

Until the members of such religions find the will and inner strength to empower the truth, there will always be such institutional hypocrisies. And as such these misnomers will continue to belie and disrupt any real effort at understanding and good will towards others.

Fallacy: The mystical arts are primarily a religion.

To my mind, when one takes the mystical arts which to my mind is constantly evolving and is limitless in its definition and understanding and places it within the parameters of religious dogma, then one is in effect limiting their personal spiritual growth and ability to develop within the concept of true mystical arts.

I understand that such limitations work well for some folks and that is what it is. However such a concept does not work for those who are solitaire, follow the path of shamanism, Voudon, Asatru, Nordic, Witchcraft or what have you. Such folks follow a spiritual path and not a religion. And so there needs to be more of an acceptance of such a reality.

Far too often there are attempts by those who desire to turn the mystical arts into a religion to downplay the beliefs of others or to elevate themselves above all others. Such behavior is detrimental to any attempts at creating a true pagan community and thus is a pitfall to be avoided.

Fallacy: Everyone who follows a pagan path is in effect a Neo Pagan and attempting to re-construct an ancient pagan belief.

This is simply not true and does nothing more than to play into the hands of those who would like to be seen as the pagan standard and whom often falsely claim to represent all pagans.

This misnomer may apply to those primarily of European descent who now desire to follow a pagan path from ancient Europe. But the reality is that there are in fact folks from such descent who have always been pagan. Though the organized religions did their utmost best to eradicate pagan beliefs, there were some families who did not succumb to such attempts.

To paint everyone who follows a European based pagan belief with such a broad brush is self-serving and in fact stereotyping. There are also many folks around the world who have always been pagan such as the Eskimos, Australian Bushman, Siberian Shamans, the many indigenous tribes located all around the world and so forth.

To deny the pagan heritage of such folks is arrogant and elitist to say the least. It also deprives us of a rich and valuable source of experiences that far exceed many of the modern day pagan paths. Do we really want to establish a pagan community based on such deceptive behavior?

And so as we move forward, we should keep in mind that it is human nature to put forth fallacies that are self-serving to one’s particular group. But if we are in fact going to avoid the missteps of prior belief systems, then we should be aware of the pitfalls that are waiting for the unwary.

Paganism is not about any one particular group. We are far too diverse for such a self-serving fallacy. And so moving forward, we should show common respect for all of our divergent beliefs… for we are Pagans…