The Matter Of Faith

The Matter Of Faith

Author:   RuneWolf   

Faith, simply put, is trust.

Some Pagans have a negative reaction to the entire concept of faith, because it has become synonymous in our culture with one particular brand of faith: Christian. But I submit that, whether one is Christian or Pagan or whatever, faith is the root and foundation of any serious spiritual life. Christian faith and Pagan faith may differ radically, but I believe that faith itself, that is to say trust, is indispensable in any genuine relationship with the Divine, however we may understand It. If I have no trust in my Goddess and my God, then I am simply going through the motions of being a Witch, and I might as well just declare myself an atheist and get it over with.

From my experience as a nominal Christian in my youth, and from my observations since then, it seems that Christian faith is an almost fanatical trust that God or Jesus will deliver the faithful from the tribulations of this life, and secure that person a place in Paradise in the afterlife. Pagan faith, on the other hand – at least as I practice it – is an implicit trust that my Goddess and my God will always help me to find within myself the resources to deal with the trials of life. A large part of my spiritual life as a Witch is spent opening myself to the various ways in which the Divine communicates with me in the course of my daily life, so that when a crisis does occur, the lines of communication are already open.

These two types of faith may be labeled “passive” and “active, ” and objectively neither is really superior to the other. I do, however, have my personal opinions and preferences.

Faced with a crisis, a Christian will tend to pray and “put things in God’s hand, ” trusting that their Lord will set things right. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as most negative situations are beyond our human control anyway, and the more we meddle, trying to “fix” things, the worse the situation gets, and the more stressful it becomes. “Getting out of our own way” by turning the matter over to a spiritual power, and trusting that the situation will work out, may indeed be the best course of action, and in this situation, faith becomes the psychic buffer that allows someone to let circumstances run their course without living in constant anxiety. Using their version of prayer and having deep faith in their Lord and Savior, the Christian is effectively working magic, if one defines magic as “changing consciousness at will.”

Speaking solely for myself, I believe that this type of faith ultimately disempowers the individual. Like a child who never escapes the apron strings, the practitioner of passive faith learns nothing from the challenges of life, and can only meet each new challenge as the last was met, with passivity and an abdication of responsibility.

Active faith, on the other hand, encourages – even demands – that the individual take responsibility and take action, even if that action is taking no action at all. This last may seem a bit paradoxical, but it is really an important and subtle point. A practitioner of passive faith may take no action by default – the matter has been turned over to God, and there is no further need for personal action. Indeed, continuing to struggle after invoking Divine intercession could be seen as a denial of faith. The practitioner of active faith, on the other hand, may elect to take no action, but only after appropriate contemplation of the situation, and due consultation with the Gods. In this context, taking no action becomes a choice, perhaps just one among many.

There is a Jewish proverb that says: “Pray as if everything depends on God, act as if everything depends on you.” I think this is a beautiful and concise definition of active faith, one that is both eminently mystical and logically practical, and it is the manner in which I strive to live my life as a Witch.

One important function of faith, in the spiritual or religious sense, is indeed to satisfy deep psychological needs. My faith, my trust, that my Goddess and God are always with me helps me to feel secure, appreciated and loved unconditionally, often in the face of insecurity, rejection and hatred. My Deities do not eliminate the negative circumstances willy-nilly. Rather, They provide the guidance whereby I find within myself the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual resources to deal with those negative circumstances. I do not hide behind Them, but I know They are “watching my back.”

For many people, Pagan and non-Pagan, this sense of “Divine parenting” is all that is required of faith. Many people can accept it and practice it simply because it is a tenet of their chosen religion, and it is so effective in their lives that they never find the need to go deeper.

For some of us, however, the matter of faith runs much deeper, into realms that are difficult to address via the cumbersome medium of the spoken or written word, and the linchpin of this difference is often the “spiritual experience.”

I have heard it said that there is a difference between “faith” and “belief.” One is said to have faith when one trusts in something that cannot be or has not been proven. One believes in something that one has directly experienced. Today, the words are synonymous to me, largely because I have been fortunate enough to have had two powerful “spiritual experiences” in my Pagan life. Members of 12 Step fellowships often refer to these as “burning bushes;” the immediate and undeniable manifestation of Divine presence in our ordinary reality. Before the first such event, I had “faith” in the Gods because that was what a good Pagan was “supposed” to do. Actually, it was simply a matter of fitting the spiritual beliefs that I had developed on my own into the Pagan context. But still, I took it “on faith” that the Gods were real, as I had not yet had direct experience of Them. After my first spiritual experience, I believed in the Gods the same way I believed in my ’92 Taurus, for They were suddenly just as “real” and just as “present” in my life.

Faith and belief have their own logic, if one can call it that, and it is certainly fractal in nature. I think, at times, we grasp that logic in a brief and tentative manner. Ultimately, however, it eludes examination and defeats definition. Nor is it necessary, for me at least, to know “how” or “why” it works. It is enough that I have faith, belief and trust in my Deities. These, along with willingness, are the doors through which They enter my life, that we may dance together.

In Their Service…

RuneWolf

PAGANISTIC POEM PAGANISTIC POEM

Moon & Witch Comments & Graphics

PAGANISTIC POEM

By Daniel Edmonds

Go ahead and talk about us, as we seem to make you doubt,
Because God has condemned us by what we can’t live without.
Preach at us when we draw near just like all Christians do.
But don’t come running back to us when spirits walk on through.
 
We freeze your conversations when we pass you on the street,
If only we saw your true God, oh wouldn’t that be sweet
We may well be exploited by your taunts forevermore
But we will not be swayed from the things we most adore.
 
We endured with admiration of our gods through burning days
And salvaged what we could from our true Karmic Phrase
To say what we believe is wrong, you really have some nerve
We deserve some freedom from the one you claim to serve.
 
Say that we are sinners, as we have no common sense?
As if we’d copy what you do at our own self-expense!
You look up at your “true” god to receive his holy smile,
It doesn’t mean that we agree, or will change our pagan style.
 
You can laugh at our starvation, and our divining games,
But know that when we rest at last, our time will come again
You’ve picked up quite the story, likely brainwashed from the womb,
What happened to love thy neighbor – you’ve been corrupted, but by whom

 

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Deity of the Day – Janus, God of New Beginnings

Witchy Comments & Graphics
Deity of the Day – Janus, God of New Beginnings

In the mythology of ancient Rome, Janus was the god of new beginnings. He was associated with doors and gates, and the first steps of a journey. The month of January — of course, falling at the beginning of the new year — is named in his honor. He is often invoked together with Jupiter, and is considered a high-ranking god.

In many portrayals, Janus is depicted as having two faces, looking in opposite directions. In one legend,  bestows upon him the ability to see both the past and the future. In the early days of Rome, city founder Romulus and his men kidnapped the women of Sabine, and the men of Sabine attacked Rome in retaliation. The daughter of a city guard betrayed her fellow Romans and allowed the Sabines into the city. When they attempted to climb the Capitolian Hill, Janus made a hot spring erupt, forcing the Sabines to retreat.

In the city of Rome, a temple known as the Ianus geminus was erected in Janus’ honor and consecrated in 260 b.c.e. after the Battle of Mylae. During periods of war, the gates were left open and sacrifices were held inside, along with auguries to predict the results of military actions. It is said that the gates of the temple were only closed in times of peace, which didn’t happen very often for the Romans. In fact, it was later claimed by Christian clerics that the gates of the Ianus geminus first closed at the moment that Jesus was born.

Because of his ability to see both back and forward, Janus is associated with powers of prophecy, in addition to gates and doors. He is sometimes connected with the sun and moon, in his aspect as a dual-headed god.

What Does It Mean To Be A Pagan In Today’s World?

What Does It Mean To Be A Pagan In Today’s World?

Author:   Brid’s Closet   
 
What does it mean to be a Pagan in today’s world?

I was sitting by my desk, thinking about topics for classes at my store. Many topics come to mind, but nothing seemed to “jump” out at me. I brought up this subject to a good friend of mine (who is not pagan), and she brought up this topic.

What does it mean to be Pagan? A “card carrying” PAGAN?

Many people are still very quiet about their choices in life, even to how they practice their religion or their form of spirituality. Many friends of mine are still in the “closet” about being a Pagan or being Wiccan. That is their choice, but not mine. I have the wonderful opportunity to be open about whatever it is that I do because I own my own business.

My sons also have choice as far as to what they believe. My oldest was degreed by me, because that was his choice, and I am proud of him because of that. My middle son considers himself to be agnostic (like his dad), but still is always looking. My youngest is still not sure as of yet. He takes in a lot, asks a lot of questions and is processing what he receives. They are fine young men, all of whom I am fiercely protective and proud of.

Some keywords that come into my mind are “love, strength, happiness, comfort, inner confidence empowerment, and honor”. Being a Pagan has helped to see that I have the ability to make a change in my own life, whether it is on a magical level or a mundane one.

A lot of people come into my store asking very similar questions, but what I do most of the time is to explain what I am not:

I am not a Satanist (the term “Satan” doesn’t exist in the pagan world.)
I don’t work or believe in the devil.

I don’t walk around in black clothes all the time (though it is fun sometimes!)

I don’t sacrifice animals…or use them in any rituals (my dog does like to run in and out of circle sometimes!)

I don’t bash other Pagan traditions.

I am not evil, nor is my spirituality evil.

I don’t run round naked, except in the privacy of my own room (maybe!)

I don’t have sex with others in ritual.

I don’t insult or blast other religions. People have done that for far too long in history to Pagans. I won’t do that to others!

Nope…don’t do the orgy thingy either!

What I do….hmmm…

I do honor Mother Earth. I see the earth as a living and breathing organism.

I do believe that all animals have a soul, and should be treated and loved as we expect to be loved ourselves.

I do try to live as “chemical free” as possible. This means that no chemicals or bug killers are applied to my lawn. 2 of my animals eat the grass on my lawn if the weather permits. No bleached flour, raw sugar, recycled paper. A friend of mine raises organically raised chickens, so I have organic eggs!

I keep as many trees as possible on the land that I am blessed to live on. Trees block the sun and keep your home cooler!

I do honor other people’s religions and their chosen paths.

I go love the Goddess and the God, as I would honor my own parents.
I try to use cosmetic products that are cruelty free.

I do try to grow my own herbs and vegetables when possible.

I recycle my paper, bottles, plastic and cans.

I do a full moon ritual once a month and celebrate the 8 holidays in the wheel of the year.

I guess I could just go on and on!

Once, a person came in and asked me why I was insulting myself by using the words “HEATHEN”, “PAGAN”, and “WITCH” to describe myself! In his teachings, he was taught that these words were an insult. He was shocked that I was proud of these terms!

The word “PAGAN” actually means “country dweller” or “civilian” or “peasant”.
1: Definition: Refers to any of the pre-Christian, (usually) polytheistic religions, or those who practice them. Wicca is one Pagan religion, as is Asatru, Santeria, Voodoo, or Shamanism.

The term “HEATHEN” is old English for Germanic paganism.
2: Definition: Among non-Pagans, the term ‘heathen’ just means anyone who is non-Christian. But Pagans use the term to refer specifically to those who follow a Norse or Germanic path.

A WITCH was known as a “wise” person, an herbalist, a midwife or a medicine person. (I’m an Alexandrian Witch!)
3: Definition: A witch is someone who practices witchcraft (either male or female), regardless of their religious standing. Not necessarily the same thing as a Wiccan (someone who follows the religion of Wicca)

These are words that I have come to embrace and be proud of. These words open up conversation and dialog, so that others will learn, understand and appreciate. Sometimes people appreciate the information that is given, other times, they don’t.

As a Pagan, I’ve raised 3 fantastic sons, have a “metaphysical” store that I share with my best friend, counsel people, rehabilitate birds, rescued a dog, a chinchilla and a bunny (who think they own my home!), teach classes, train special needs people (personal training) and in love with the most remarkable man.

What does it mean to be a “PAGAN”?

It means being a mom, a lover, a caregiver, councilor, herbalist, a cook, storeowner, and a woman dealing with today’s modern world who practices a very old way of worship.

Bernadette Montana is a very eclectic 3rd degree Alexandrian Priestess, a pipe carrier in the Sun Bear Native American Tribe, professional Tarot reader, a mom to 3 sons, one dog, 2 parrots, a bunny and a chinchilla and owns a metaphysical store named Brid’s Closet in Orange County, New York. Bernadette@bridscloset.com

Thanks to Terri Paajanen who posted the definitions of Pagan, Heathen, and Witch on the About website!

___________________________________

Footnotes:
Terri Paajanen who posted the definitions of PAGAN, HEATHEN, and WITCH on the About website!

 

Let’s Talk Witch – Pagan symbols for Yule Tree

Let’s Talk Witch – Pagan symbols for Yule Tree

Besides Holly berries and leaves, apples, winter birds, fairies,
lights, snowflakes, candles, stags, suns, moons, gingerbreadmen,
mistletoe, acorns, bayberry and cranberry garlands, wreaths, Father
Winters, Santas, and many more? Even the Christ child in the Nativity
set has a Pagan equivalent, although most neo-Pagans I know refuse to
decorate with anything reminding them of a Christian Nativity.

Quite literally, this holiday more than most was lifted from the old
Pagan European holiday, and there is very little that isn’t
appropriate to both Christian and neo-Pagan celebrations of it.

Mirrored Glass Globes to Amaterasu? Balls etched with Holly leaves, candles, wreaths and birds abound in the stores. If you start now, you
can have clove covered pomanders ready for the tree to assure a nice
spicy smell. Have fun, and take another look at the decorations in the
stores.

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.

Good Friday Morning, Brothers & Sisters of the Craft!

Life is full of noise and bustle

Rush and hurry, run and hustle

People ‘round me with demands

Open mouths with open hands

Lend me now a quiet place

A moment’s peace, a silent place

Time to think and time to plan

A quiet, peaceful, restful span

I ask the Gods to grant me peace

A brief time for the noise to cease

An hour or two out of my life

Free from hurry, free from strife

Peace and quiet for my soul

A restful place to make me whole

Grant me now this time and place

So I might live my life with grace

So Mote It Be

Divorce with Grace

Divorce with Grace
A Life-Altering Decision

by Madisyn Taylor

If you are divorcing, look to your inner heart for guidance and surround yourself with loving friends.

Like the act of marriage that binds two people together, divorce is the result of a life-altering decision. It is the dissolving of a relationship that we believed would last our whole lives. We may not even be able to articulate how we got to this place, yet we may also feel we have no choice but to sever this tie. Whatever we feel, we need the support of the friends and family who will stand by us no matter what we decide. At some point, we may need to be challenged to look deeper inside ourselves as we make this very important decision, but what we need most of all is unconditional love and loyalty.

Divorce is a process that, once in motion, becomes difficult to stop, and this can be painful if we find ourselves having second thoughts. We may feel that we should do more to save the marriage, or we may wonder if there is something about ourselves that we could fix or change instead of going through with this painful separation. On the other hand, we may be seeing in hindsight that our marriage was truly only meant to last for a short time so that we could learn something we needed to know. Whatever the case, we need friends who will allow us to linger in confusion when we don’t have the answers and who will support us whether we find ways to reconcile and stay married or whether we walk away.

Of course, the most essential ally we have lives inside our hearts and speaks to us from within. We can trust this inner guide to help us choose people who will support us in kind and loving ways as we navigate the rough terrain of confusion and loss. Sometimes all we can do is look to the horizon, remembering that we will get through this time, and no matter what happens we will once again feel whole.

The Daily OM

Celebrating Spirituality 365 Days A Year – Celebration of the Goddess of Reason

magick89

November 10th

Martinmas Eve, Celebration of the Goddess of Reason

The old Pagan festival of Nincnevin, later Martinmas Eve, honored the Goddess Diana and her entourage. At Martinmas, the Germans celebrate this time by feasting on wild geese and then using the breast bone of the last goose to predict the weather for the coming months. It is believed that if the breast bone be fair and clear when the flesh has been eaten off it, the weather will be cold and full of hard frosts. However, if the breast bone is dark then the winter will be full of rain, snow, and sleet but warmer overall.

During the French Revolution, this day was celebrated with a parade through the streets of Paris. A young woman was chosen to represent the Goddess, and led the processional to the cathedral of Notre Dame, considered a center of learning, whereupon she was presented with a crown of oak leaves. It was hoped that the festivities would make the people aware of the importance of learning.

 

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!

 

Acceptance: Not Just Tolerance

Acceptance: Not Just Tolerance

Author:   Aliana Soulfire   

I have been a witch (in-progress, really) for six years. My parents were “Christians” or like to think they were, at any rate. But at just barely sixteen I found something new, something that called to my soul. And that was paganism, and magick.

At the beginning of December 2006, I was married in a handfasting-type ceremony I wrote myself. My mother was displeased when she first heard this, but I stood my ground. It was a ceremony I could feel connected to, one in which I could actually feel like I was making a binding between two souls, not just repeating lines. But I digress.

This is about acceptance. Please do not misunderstand me. By acceptance I do not mean that you have to worship everything. I mean, maybe we, as in the world, should accept the fact that maybe the gods for each different religion actually exist. Doesn’t mean we all have to pay respects to each one. Just means they are out there.

Most people, on every side, think I’m a lunatic for saying such things. But really, acknowledging that Allah exists doesn’t make you a Muslim. Acknowledging the Christians’ god is the same.

Saying that Isis, Diana, Ra, The God or Goddess, or any one of them is real doesn’t mean you’re going to have to start burning incense and saying spells to the midnight moon.

What if they all exist, and we just quietly and peacefully choose to worship who we will?

There are flaws to any religion, regardless of who thinks what. There are zealots, too. The Muslim terrorists. The Christians who forced their religion on so many cultures from the past. And the modern Witches/Pagans/Wiccans bad-mouthing Christians constantly.

So what if their God exists? Should it bother you?

If you know in your heart that Diana watches over you, or that your spells work, great! If not, maybe you should study up on lots of different paths and find one that speaks to you.

The anger and hatred we have spread over the world because of religious differences is causing pain everywhere.

I personally think tolerance is just a nicer way to be condescending to another person or people. Seriously, look at what ‘tolerate’ means: to put up with. Now that doesn’t even sound nice. If someone tells another person his/her god doesn’t exist or that he/she is going to hell, it’s more than likely that person is the one who is insecure in his/her own beliefs. But I’m sure most people who read this will disagree.

Look at this country; we can’t even have a war protest that is peaceful. It hurts that we can’t seem to see a different way of life. Look to our future. What do we want our children to believe? That violence is the only way to succeed?

Let go of all the grudges you hold. We have to teach our children that peace is attainable, and the more we teach that, the more the idea will take hold in their hearts. I want this world to be a better place for my kids, when I finally have them. And I still have the hope that it can be.

But it requires effort. Lots of effort, a ton of open-mindedness, and a heart big enough to never give up. Peace is real, and it doesn’t take having a war to gain it. There will be bad people in the world, no matter what we do. Don’t hate everyone else just because of them. Don’t judge based on the worst people or actions of that society.

Seriously, though, there is nothing wrong about having faith in a specific god or group of gods. It shouldn’t matter. We should all respect the difference, of course, but please, don’t fight over faiths or paths.

Just picture this: Our children are all grown, and they didn’t have to suffer through what a lot of us did. On the television there is news of a tenth annual Paths Festival, where people from every religion can go to study, meet others, learn, and enjoy being together. The energy in the air is vibrant, full of life, tranquility, and happiness. You walk out the door wearing your cross or pentacle, or Star of David; you wear it with pride, instead of leaving it at home in fear.

While, of course, there would still be fighting over something, at least that would be one less thing we’d try to battle over. Life will never be springtime forever. As humans, we are obsessed about differences in everyone else. Celebrate those differences. Celebrate life. If we do that, it may help.

Look at our past and present for proof that we need to change. The Middle East has been torn by war with its own people for centuries. Christians killed in the name of god. Jews have had a horrible history of being oppressed by many different peoples. And today in our society, the Middle East is still in conflict.

In America, this country of the “free”, you are looked on with suspicion if you have a Quran, or worship Allah. You are “weird” or a “devil-worshipper” if you wear a pentacle. You are strange or bad for being different than the ruling powers.

What is the good of this free country if we deny those who seek that freedom? We are supposed to welcome people with open arms, not look down on them, or wrongly accuse them.

We have sauntered right off the path our forefathers tried to lay down for us. Thomas Jefferson, a man who owned a Quran, freed his slaves and above all, believed in freedom for the masses. He is what Americans today should be. Open-minded, accepting.

Our American Muslims should not have to live in fear of being thought a terrorist. Our Pagans should not fear Christians denouncing them. Our Christians should not focus on converting the whole country. That was not the original purpose.

Someday everyone will understand what I mean. A better way to peace. A better life for our children. They should be able to bring Qurans, Bibles, or their Book of Shadows to school with them. They should not fear rejection for being themselves, for following their hearts.

No one should ever have to fear that. Least of all, our future.

For The Beginner – Witchcraft 101 – Lesson 3

Lesson 3

The 8 Sabbats

Samhain/Halloween October 31 or first full Moon in Scorpio. Ancestor night. Feast of the Dead. Halloween. Pronounced “sow-en” or “sow-un”.  This is the last day of the Pagan year. The new year begins November 1. This is the day when the veil between this world and the spirit world is thinnest. Communication with the dead is easiest and spirits are most common.  Also an excellent night for divination. Feasts and parties are held in remembrance of those who have died. This is a time for resolving problems.

Ways of celebrating Samhain can be the traditional giving of candy to trick-or-treaters, divining, or placing out cookies and cakes for the spirits. Leave doors and windows open as it is thought to allow the dead to pass through the house without getting confused and lost inside.

Samhain (pronounced SOW-EN) literally  means “summer’s end.” Today, Samhain falls on October 31st and most know it as  Halloween. Halloween, from “hallowed eve” (meaning “sacred night”) is one of the  most important and sacred holidays of the pagan year. Traditionally, Samhain  begins at sundown on October 31st and runs through a set of 2 days,: Oct 31st  and November 1st. The days between Samhain and Yule are considered the “Time  which is no time.” Depending on your traditions, the new year can begin at  Samhain or at Yule. This time between the worlds has been considered very  magickal and dangerous. it is a time when the veil that separates the world of  the living and the world of the dead is at its thinnest. It is for this reason  that many consider this to be a time that does not exist on our earthly realm.     Samhain is also called the “Feast of the Dead.” During this  time, the dead can return to visit their loved ones and the gates to faery  kingdoms are opened. It is traditional to leave cakes, honey, milk and cider  outside for the fey. If they are not given gifts of food, they will play tricks  on those who are not generous. most pagans set a place at the dinner table for  their dead ancestor.     Samhain is also known as the “Last Harvest.” Originally  celebrated when the Sun reached 15 degrees Scorpio, Samhain was the last day  that crops were harvested. Animals were slaughtered on this day giving the name  of the full moon in October the “blood moon” and much of the harvest and meat  was dried and preserved and stored away for the coming winter months. Samhain is  a time of feasting and of celebrating the harvest and the gifts of the earth.     Samhain is also a time for divination. it is easier to  commune with spirits, both human and non-human and it is a very powerful time  for divination, especially for divining the outcome of the winter months to  come.     The tradition of trick-or-treating originated in and is  unique to the United States. Children dress in costume and go from door to door  asking for treats. This tradition may stem from an ancient tradition of  traveling door-to-door asking donations of food for the Halloween town feast. It  may also come from the tradition of leaving sweets on the porch for the faery  folk to prevent them from doing harm during the year.     Even jack-o-lanterns come from old Irish traditions. The word  jack-o-lantern comes from the old Irish tale “Jack of the Lantern.” As the story  goes, there was an evil old man named Jack who, upon death, was neither allowed  into heaven or hell and was cursed to roam the earth with only a candle in a  turnip to light his way through the night. Irish children carved and carried  lanterns of turnips, a symbol of the harvest, over the moor sides on Samhain  night. Pumpkins were not used until settlers arrived in America and discovered  squashes along with other harvest symbols such as corn and turkey.     Most importantly, Samhain is a time to spend with family,  both living and deceased. It is a time to think about our own mortality. Altars  are set up as shrines to the dead and are decorated with skulls, skeletons and  other symbols of death flanking pictures and belongings of our deceased and  candles. It is also traditional to light a special candle for the new year and  allow it to burn throughout the night.

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Yule/Winter Solstice December 21 or Winter Solstice. Alban Arthuan. Festival of lights. The first day of winter and the longest day of the year.  This day is celebrated as the death and birth of the Sun God – the Divine Child. The full moon after Yule is considered the most powerful of the whole year. Yule is the celebration of the death of the Holly king and the rebirth and renewed reign of the Oak king.

We celebrate Yule nearly exactly as you would Christmas. When the  pagans of old were taken over by Christian rule, the Christians found it  impossible to convert the pagans. They eventually allowed the pagan peoples to  keep their holidays as long as they did them in the name of their Lord, Jesus  Christ. This is why Christians celebrate the birth of their lord on this night,  even though (even stated in the bible for those bible thumpers out there) Christ  was born in the spring with the lambs. The Yule log, made of oak, is burned as  sacrifice of the old dead Holly king. This day is a light festival, with as many lights on the tree  and altar as possible to celebrate the coming of the new child. Mistletoe is  hung because in the ancient days couples would play out their trial marriages on  this day. ceremonies were held beneath Oak trees strung with garlands of  mistletoe.

Yule is known to Pagans as the “Time of  Great Darkness.” The nights grow long and the days grow short and the Sun before  Yule seems to wither and die. Yule marks the coldest, darkest and harshest part  of the year. Yule is always celebrated on the Winter Solstice. The Christian  holiday Christmas was adapted from the ancient pagan tradition of celebrating  the coming of the newborn Sun/Son to light the world. In the Pagan traditions he  is born unto the Mother Goddess and in the Christian religions he is born to the  Mother Mary.

“The first written record for this  holiday’s occurrence on December 25th was in 354 AD in Rome when one scholar  wrote: ‘It was customary for Pagans to celebrate the birth of the Sun…when the  doctors of the church perceived that the Christians had a leaning to this  festival, they took counsel and resolved that the true Nativity should be  solemnized on that day.'” (From “You Call it Christmas, We Call it Yule” by Peg  Aloi – Witches’ Voice writer)

Pagans celebrate Yule by blessing their  crop plants and animals. A common Yule practice is Wassailing. Apples from the  fall harvest are made into a cider known as wassail. To ensure the fertility of  their apple trees for the coming years, bits of cider-soaked bread were placed  in the branches of the trees and libations of cider were poured over their  roots. Later in history, guns were fired up through the branches to ward off  evil spirits. In the same way, cider was often poured on livestock to ensure  their fertility and good health for the next year.     Kissing under the mistletoe also stems from ancient Celtic  traditions. The Winter Solstice was a time for marriage ceremonies. There was  feasting and games and couples who wished to marry would come together at this  time. Mistletoe was considered a very sacred plant and was thought to grow  between the worlds symbolically because it grew on trees and not out of the  ground. It was considered especially lucky when mistletoe grew on oaks because  oaks have antibiotic properties which prevent fungi from growing on them.  Mistletoe on oak was a symbol of harmony in unity and became an important symbol  for marriage. Garlands of mistletoe were strung between trees and couples would  dance or pass under the boughs and kiss, thus sealing their marriage for 1 year  and 1 day. After this time if they no longer wished to be married, they could go  their separate ways. This began the modern tradition of kissing under the  mistletoe.     Holly is used in Yule decorations to symbolize the Holly King  who dies at Yule to make way for the Oak King. The Yule log stems from this  tradition. Some say that the log should be oak, some say ash and others say  holly. Burning the Yule log symbolizes the sacrificial death of the Holly King  and the reign of the Oak King over the second half of the year. The Yule log is  decorated with paper decorations and plants such as holly, mistletoe, and  evergreen sprigs. Red ribbons and tinsel are tied to the top of the  log  before it is burned in the fire. The Yule log must be lit on the first try and  must remain burning for 12 hours for good luck. a piece of the log is saved to  use to light the next year’s fire.     There are many ideas on where Christmas trees originally came  from. Some say that the practice originated in ancient Egypt. Others say that it  stems from ancient tree-worshiping practices. Today many Pagans refuse to cut  down trees and use fake trees instead. Those who still cut down trees every year  say that you must cut your own instead of buying one and afterward, the tree  should be burned.     During this night, the longest night of the year, Pagans  light as many candles as can be found both to symbolically wait out the death of  the Lord and to celebrate the coming of new light. At no other time of the year  is light more sacred. Many believe that it is taboo to extinguish any flame or  to travel at Yuletide.     Feasting has always been a Yule tradition. These meals  celebrate the harvest that was gathered in the autumn and to celebrate the  passing of winter. It is the time when the days begin to grow longer as the Lord  grows stronger and climbs further and further up the sky. Tables, altars, and  Yule trees are covered in lights and candles. As many lights as possible lie  strewn about in anticipation of the birth of the new child Sun King from the  womb of the Mother.

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Imbolc/Imbolg/Candlemas February 1 or the first full moon in Aquarius. Brigantia, Imbolc, Candlemas.

The time of cleansing and newborn lambs. The name is from “oimelc” or “sheep’s milk”. The word has also been know to mean “in the belly.” Festival of the maiden, in preparation of growth and renewal. Time of spring cleansing.  Festival of the goddess Brigit, whose breath gave life to the dead.

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Ostara/Spring Equinox March 21. Ostara, Aeostar, Easter. Spring Equinox. The first day of spring. Time when light and dark are in perfect balance, yet the light is growing stronger. Sowing time in the North. New beginnings.

Ways of celebrating are dying beautiful eggs and leaving them in the forests and the gardens for the spirits and little people. Leave dyed eggs in the fields to promote fertility of crops and abundance. You can also celebrate by allowing the children to find the eggs and then going back and leaving the most beautifully dyed eggs for the nature spirits. This is also another Pagan holiday turned Christian. One must wonder, after all, what dyed eggs and fertility bunnies have to do with Christ’s resurrection. This is also a time for lovers to get together. Celebration often involves lovemaking.

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Beltane/Mayday May 1 or first full moon in Taurus. May Day. Lady Day. A fertility festival with nature enchantments. Powers of elves and fairies are growing and will peak at the Summer Solstice. A time of great magic, it is good for divination and for establishing a woodland or guardian shrine.

Ways of celebrating are building shrines to nature spirits. This is the time to honor the house guardians. Leave small gifts of honey cakes, wine and sweets for the little people.

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Midsummer/Summer Solstice June 22. Alban Heruin. The first day of Summer. This is a time of dedication to your religion. The sun casts three rays to light the world.

Celebration includes dedication ceremonies, giving of thanks and the lighting of yellow candles.

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Lughnassadh/Lammas August 1 or the first Full Moon of Leo. Lunasa. This is the turning point of the year. The waning God and waxing Goddess.

Celebration includes harvest festivals and spell work for good fortune and abundance.

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Mabon/Autumnal Equinox September 21, Alban Elved. First day of autumn. The balance of light and dark. Time of long rest after labor and completion of the harvest. A time of thanksgiving.

Celebration includes quiet feasting, and meditation and reincarnation in preparation for Samhain.

The Esbats Esbats are the full and new moons of every month. Certain spell work is done during different phases of the moon.

-Spells for invoking or drawing things toward yourself are done on the Waxing (getting larger) moon. -Spells for banishing or repelling things away from you are done on the Waning (getting smaller) moon. -The full moon is the most powerful moon. Most spells are done during the full moon. Spell work is often for banishing unwanted influences, protection magic, and divination. Planning, releasing and working backwards in time are done on the full moon as well. Spells for renewal and new beginnings are done during the new moon, as well as personal growth, healing, and the blessing of a new project or venture. -A blue moon is a month that contains more than one full moon.

There are thirteen full moons during the month:

January – Wolf Moon February – Storm Moon March – Chaste Moon April – Seed Moon May – Hare Moon June – Dyad (pair) Moon July – Mead Moon August – Wyrt (green plant) Moon September – Barley Moon October – Blood Moon November – Snow Moon December – Oak Moon (variable) – Blue Moon

The Pentacle

The pentacle, or pentagram, is the most revered and most popular sign of the craft. It is similar to the Cross or Crucifix of the Christian religions. This symbol has nothing to do with the devil or with evil.  Devil worshippers use this symbol inverted as a symbol of Satan, but it has  nothing to do with the devil in our religion. Devil worshippers use this symbol  because it was once a popular Christian symbol used to signify the five wounds  of Christ. It was abandoned early in history but can still be found in much of  the art and architecture of old churches and monasteries. This, for its  protection and Christian meaning, was the symbol carried on sir Gawain’s shield.

In witchcraft the pentagram and pentacle represent the five  elements and are symbols not only of the religion, but also as a sigil of protection and unification. The elements are Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit. This is not to be confused with the Holy Spirit of the Christian religion. The spirit is the energy vibration attributed to each and every thing. People have them as well as animals, stones, trees, planets, moons, stars, even the universe. It is often used for protection and is included on most amulets and talismans. It can be drawn in certain ways to promote specific results in spell work.

The banishing (getting rid of something – i.e.: negativity,  evil, etc.) pentagram is drawn starting at the bottom left-hand point going up to the top, down to the bottom right-hand corner and so on. This pentacle is drawn this way in all rituals involving banishing. It is also drawn over doors and windows to prevent evil from entering a space.

The invoking (bringing something toward you – i.e.: money,  luck, etc.)  pentagram is drawn starting at the top corner, down to the bottom left hand corner, up to the top right hand corner and so on. The invoking pentacle is drawn in this way when you want to draw something toward you or to gain something. This pentacle heightens power and aids in invocative spell work.

The pentacle is also representative of the five points on the human body. The circle is considered feminine and is indicative of the womb and the points represent the male member. Sometimes the inverted pentacle is used to signify the God and the upright pentacle is used to represent the goddess. This method is not often used, however, as it has very evil connotations in other religions. In many other pagan religions, the pentacle was the symbol of the earth or the earth-womb and is often used to signify the earth. It is also used to represent the God and Goddess at each point. The top three points represent the aspects of the goddess: Maiden, Mother and Crone. The bottom two are the aspects of the god: Oak King – light, and the Holly King – dark. It also represents the 5 stages of     life: birth, Maiden, Mother, Crone, death. The Wiccan kiss, or the five-fold kiss is used in ritual and is represented by the pentacle: feet, knees, womb, heart and lips.

The All – Gods and Goddesses Witches do not worship any single God or Goddess. Witches believe in the balance and equality of all things. The All is sometimes referred to as the Wiccan deity. The All is just that. It represents  everything of everything. It is all that is and is not. The All is divided into two “categories” which are masculine and feminine. All gods are of the masculine division and all Goddesses are of the  feminine division. Think of it as the yin and the yang. Dark an light, good an  evil, male and female. Though there are two parts, they are always together,  always the same and yet different, and always co-existing in harmony.

The God and Goddess do not really play a part in my religion as I choose to work with spirits and elements. It is hard and rather unnerving for me to envision gods who look and act like people (which seems also highly unlikely to me). If you choose to incorporate them into your religion then you will wish to know the following:

The God: Lord of the underworld (not hell), the sun, life itself, passion, male aspects. Fire and Air elementals. He is worshipped in rituals for passion, fertility, meditation and all other fire and air rituals.

The Goddess: Mate and Mother of the lord. (yes, it sounds strange, doesn’t it?) She gives birth to the new lord in the winter and when the male aspect grows older in the spring, becomes her lover. She is motherhood, femininity, water, earth, the moon, the night,  love and caring, nurturing, and also a warrioress and fierce protector.

List of Gods and Goddesses -by Silver Ravenwolf

GODDESSES:

Aphrodite: Greek; Goddess of passionate, sexual love. Aphrodite will assist you in pulling loving energy toward yourself.

Aradia: Italian; Queen of the Witches, daughter of Diana. Aradia is an extremely powerful entity and a protectress of Witches in general.

Arianrhod: Welsh; Goddess of the stars and reincarnation. Call on Arianrhod to help with past life memories and difficulties as well as for contacting the Star People.

Artemis: Greek; Goddess of the Moon.

Astarte: Greek; Fertility Goddess. Whether you wish to bear children or have a magnificent garden, Astarte will assist in your desire.

Athena: Greek; Warrior Goddess and Protectress and Goddess of wisdom. Someone giving you a rough time at work? Call on Athena to help you.

Atlas: holds the world up on his shoulders: symbol  of strength

Atropos: Goddess of Death

Bast: Egyptian; Goddess of Protection and Cats. Bast is great for vehicle travel as well as walking down a dark alley. Call on her essence in the form of a giant panther to see you through to your destination.

Brigid: Celtic; Warrior Goddess and Protectress. Brigid is also a Triple Goddess. She is strong and wise. Call on her to help protect your children in a rough situation.

Ceres: Roman; Goddess of the Harvest.

Cerridwen: Welsh; Moon and Harvest Goddess, also associated with the Dark Mother aspect of the Crone.

Demeter: Greek; Earth Mother archetype. Excellent Goddess where birthing or small children are involved. Goddess of the harvest

Diana: Roman; Moon Goddess and Goddess of the Hunt. Diana is many faceted. She is a seductress (as she enchanted her brother Lucifer to beget Aradia in the form of a cat) as well as a mother figure for witches.

Dryads: Greek feminine spirits of the trees.

Flora: Roman; Goddess of Spring and Birth. For beautiful flower, babies and all bounties of Earth Mother.

Fortuna: Roman; Goddess of Fate.

Freya: Scandinavian; Moon Goddess and wife/lover of Odin. Also commander of the Valkyries.

Gaia: mother earth; goddess of the earth

Hades: God of the underworld

Hathor: Egyptian; Protectress of Women in business. A Hathor’s Mirror is very important for the Witch. Hathor was cunning as well as beautiful.

Hecate: Greek; Goddess as in Crone or Dark Mother.

Hera: Greek;  Goddess of marriage and childbirth. If handfasting or some type of commitment is the issue, Hera is the Goddess to seek. Just remember that she has a vindictive side.

Hestia: Greek; Goddess of home and hearth. Building a house, remodeling or apartment hunting. Safety in the home and the family unit.

Inanna: Sumerian; Goddess representation of the Mother.

Isis: Egyptian; represents the Complete Goddess or the Triple Goddess connotation in one being.

Kali: Hindu; Creative/Destructive Goddess. Protectress of abused women. Kali-Ma should be called if a woman is in fear of physical danger. Her power is truly awesome.

Lilith: Hebrew; Adam’s first wife and said to be turned into a demoness; however, if ou have ever read any of Zecharia Sitchin’s work, you may change your mind. In my opinion, Lilith was a Star Woman bred with Adam. This would make her a goddess of Higher Intelligence o a representation of the Star People.

Maat: Egyptian; Goddess of Justice and Divine Order. Maat is the true balance of any situation. She plays no favorites and will dispense justice to all parties involved. Be sure your own slate is clean in the situation before you call her.

Morgan: Celtic; Goddess of Water and magic. Morgan was said to be married to Merlin. It was from him that she learned her magic. She was also doubled with the Lady of the Lake.

Muses: Greek; Goddesses of Inspiration who vary in number depending upon the pantheon used.

Nephtys: Egyptian; Goddess of Surprises, Sisters and Midwives.

Norns: Celtic; the three sisters of the Wyrd. Responsible for weaving fate – past, present and future.

Nuit: Egyptian; Sky Mother. Often seen depicted in a circular fashion cradling the stars.

Persephone: Greek; Goddess of the Underworld as well as Harvest. Daughter of Demeter.

Selene: Greek; Goddess of the Moon and Solutions. Appeal to Selene to bring a logical answer to any problem.

Valkyries: Scandinavian; women warriors who carried the souls of men slain in battle to heaven.

Venus: Roman; Goddess of Love and Romance.

Vesta: Roman; Goddess of Fire.

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GODS

Achilles: Great warrior

Adonis: Greek; consort of Aphrodite. Also another name for “Lord.” In Phoenician his counterpart is Astarte. A vegetation god. Roman counterpart is Venus.

Anubis: Egyptian; guardian of Isis. Jackal-headed God of Protection, death and the underworld. Call on him to protect both home and person.

Apollo: Greek and Roman; twin brother of Artemis. God of the Sun, Light and the Arts.

Apsu: Babylonian; his mate is Tiamat.

Cernunnos: Celtic; Horned God and consort of the Lady. Also Kernunnos. Lord of the wild, spirit, animals and plants; nature in general.

Cronus: god of time

Erebus: personification of darkness

Eros: Greek; God of Romance and passionate love.

Hephestus: blacksmith of the Greek gods

Horus: Egyptian; Head of a Falcon and body of a man. God of the all-seeing eye and healing.

Hymen: Greek; God of Marriage and Commitment. His counterpart is Dionysus.

Lucifer: Italian; Soulmate and Brother of Diana. Father of Aradia. God of the Sun and Light.

Mithra: Persian; Sun God and bringer of Light. A soldier’s God.

Neptune: Poseidon: god of the sea

Nyx: god of night

Odin: Scandinavian; counterpart of Freya. This is the God who hung on the Tree of Yggdrasil to obtain second sight. His familiars are the Raven and the Wolf. In his youth he is depicted as a terrible God, in his old age as a God of Wisdom and psychic sight.

Osiris: Egyptian; counterpart of Isis. Over-all God form including vegetation and after-life.

Pan: Greek; God of Nature and the woods, laughter and passion. Also music and personal abandon.

Poseidon: Greek; God of the Sea. His familiars are dolphins and horses.

Ptah: Egyptian; Expert craftsman and designer. God of creative enterprise with the hands.

Shiva: Hindu; consort of Kali. God of the universal cycle of birth-death-rebirth. Shiva can be both kind and terrible.

Thor: Scandinavian; God of Sky and Thunder. A kindly God of the common people, including farmers and sailors.

Thoth: Egyptian; God of Reincarnation. Also a Moon God and favorable to science and wisdom.

Uranus: god of the sky

Zeus: supreme ruler and father of the gods

Magical Names There are many kinds of witches and many different beliefs on the Craft name. Some will tell you that you must be given your name by an accomplished witch after a year and a day of study. I believe, as do others, that you only need to choose a name that you like. It should be a name that you feel comfortable with. A Craft name can be changed at any time (because you change as well) and many witches will change their names a number of times before they settle on one for life.  You do not have to choose a craft name, but many witches choose one for their working. It is a symbol of rebirth and using a craft name allows you to step out of your “real” self so that the pressures of daily life can be left behind you when you are performing magic and rituals. There is also a numerological method of determining if your name is right for you. Though I do not use this method, many will swear by it. Begin by adding the digits of your birth date:

May 10, 1980 = 5+1+0+1+9+8+0=24=2+4= 6

in the above case, your astrological number would be 6. Then you would take your name and refer it to a numerological chart as follows:

1          2            3            4            5            6            7        

A         B            C            D            E            F            G

J           K           L           M            N           O            P

S         T            U            V            W           X           Y

 

8         9

H        I

Q        R

Z

Take your craft name and determine the number of each letter. Then add them together as you did your birth date.

AmberSkyfire = 1+4+2+5+9+1+2+7+6+9+9+5 = 60 = 6+0 = 6

If both of the numbers from your name and your birth date match, then your name is said to be right for you.

Lady Pixie  Moondrip’s Guide to Magickal Names – go ahead, have a laugh

Witchcrafted

Solitary or Coven?

Solitary or Coven?

Author:   Silverwolf 

Solitary or Coven?

One of the key choices facing pagans is the decision to be a solitary or to join a coven. Obviously a third option is to do both: you can have a practice on your own and still work with most Covens, but for many the practical answer is one of the other.

As Pagans, we generally enjoy a great deal of freedom in the development of our own particular path, and one of the decisions we all face is whether we want to or even feel we need to work with others in our path.

A solitary path brings complete personal freedom and the ability to truly work on a path that fits with your own beliefs. On the other hand, a coven can bring collective knowledge and experience that you may never obtain on your own, as well as the energy that a group can tap into.

The nice thing about Paganism, however, is that most will agree that there is no right or wrong answer for us. If a Coven works for you, so be it. If the path of a solitary works for you, so be it. Of course, you cannot call yourself a member of an initiatory tradition if you are a solitary, but that’s o.k.

Part 1: “Alone but not lonely” – by Silverwolf

Why do people stay solitary Pagan practitioners? Of course it you wish to join one of the initiatory traditions then you have to join a coven. There are other traditions that do not require direct initiation, and you can be a solitary and still practice that path. Of course, most solitaries simply create their own path, which is why they decided to remain solitaries in the first place.

As a matter of terminology, some people refer to solitary practitioners as “solitaries” and some as “solitaires”. I use the former here, but there is nothing wrong with either.

The vast majority of Pagans do start out as a solitary of course. At what point to do you realize you are Pagan? This usually comes on slowly and often as an act of discovery.

You may have had some leanings towards Paganism, but you were not familiar with what exactly it was. Then you read a book, or talked to someone, or ran across a web site that described being Pagan and you realized that that was what you had been feeling already, but didn’t have a name for it. A coven member introduced some people directly to Paganism, but even there these people usually were Pagans in their beliefs already, they just didn’t realize it.

What level of commitment?

The decision to not join a coven usually comes from simply not having the opportunity to join a like-minded coven. Just because you want to join one doesn’t mean there is one nearby with similar beliefs or that they are interested in new members. In fact, it is really incorrect to say that some people decide *not* to join a coven – most simply never decide *to* join one.

Some people practicing solitary would prefer to join covens but simply have no opportunity. Some are simply not involved enough in their practice to want the regularity of coven life. Just like a Christian who only goes to church on Christmas, or even not at all, but still considers him/herself a Christian.

Many people hold Pagan beliefs, but not everyone feels the need to actually “practice” anything and of course there is nothing wrong with that. As part of deciding on a Pagan path that is right for us, the level of activity and involvement that we pick is also a personal decision we need to make. A coven may simply require more activity and involvement than some Pagans are willing to invest.

A variety of traditions to draw on

Being a solitary has both pros and cons. The benefit of being able to construct a tailored path that fits you also means that you do, in fact, have to create this path yourself. You will undoubtedly take inspiration from other works, but you will create the path yourself. Now that is not to say that you can’t get help. Instead of learning about one tradition, you will probably need to research and learn about many traditions in order to find the parts that you wish to incorporate. Of course, you can also simply create your practice by following your own instincts without basing your practice on any previous works. Personally, I enjoy learning about different religions and beliefs, so I view this as part of the growing process as opposed to a chore. But it is work, no mistake.

Community for Solitaries

Being a solitary does not mean that you are without others to help you. You can discuss history, philosophy, ritual, and other aspects with other pagans – solitaries and coven members alike. Their views may match your on some issues, and diverge on others. You ultimately need to pick the pieces you will incorporate into your own beliefs, but you can still discuss ideas and solicit comments and opinions. This is part of the key attraction of a solitary path for me – the ability to take the best of all worlds to construct a path that fits me perfectly, and one that can grow and evolve as I grow and evolve.

A solitary is, by definition, alone and this potentially means on missing out on the benefits of community. However, there are several options to get the benefits of community that come automatically with a coven. There are on-line communities where you can meet on neutral ground, the Unitarian Universalist church is quite Pagan-friendly and I am actively involved in the one near me. Of course, a UU church welcomes Pagans, and many of the practices are purely Pagan, but it stops short of the more religious aspects of Paganism. Still, it provides a great place to explore beliefs and to put social and ecological beliefs into action.

The Solitary Path

Would I ever join a coven? Perhaps – I have nothing against covens and I believe that covens are absolutely the right path for some. If I ever found one that I felt matched my own path closely enough, and that seemed supportive and still flexible, I would certainly consider it. I enjoy attending public rituals on occasion and wouldn’t mind having a group to participate with regularly in rituals more closely aligned with my own path.

Having others to help craft new directions and explore new aspects of my faith could be fun. Joining a coven is also not permanent, and if my coven and I moved in different directions later I could simply leave the coven. With the tight community that a Coven forms, however, this would not be a step taken lightly. But I feel no need to join a coven today, or even to try to seek one out. For now, I continue to explore my faith and my direct relationship with the deity.

Part 2: “Hold Me As I Spiral And Spin” – by Chicoryflower

There are so many solitary versus coven arguments available, so pointing out something novel is challenging. However, it’s the language we’re looking for. An opinion that seems hip in a way that we value.

So with that in mind, I’ll explain that I wasn’t looking to join a coven when I stumbled upon one that I adore.

I had two brushes with covens that left me feeling that coven life was not for me. I wanted to hone and caress my own sense of divinity, explore my own boundless spirituality and not be hemmed in by the conceptual spirituality of others at different stages in life, from different backgrounds, with different (not lesser or greater) emotional and intellectual needs.

I don’t want to sound like I felt it would be an inferior experience, far from it. But I worried that others might feel the need to explore avenues, which I was less interested in, and I might be attracted to areas that they didn’t wish to learn about.

When you “sign-up”, it may seem that the 101 classes are beneath you. You might feel like you’ve been forced off the 10-speed and back on to the tricycle, but this is another benefit of being in a coven. There are precious gems of information about the coven within those classes. Take your time, go to as many as have been assigned, or more, you won’t be sorry. By the end of a year, you’ll realize it was beneficial and a great value of time, effort and expense. You can ask questions, and they will be answered. You can’t get that out of a book!

Covens can meet a lot of needs, and the first one is that perfect love and perfect trust doesn’t exist within the larger community of witches, it can only exist in covens where that is part of the vows you take. Otherwise, it’s just down to you and your divinity to have 100% certainty that all is done with the best you have to offer.

When we meet in perfect love and perfect trust, this has a lot to do with recognizing the intrinsic divine in others. It’s an exercise that makes us better people, better witches, and better friends, everywhere else in our lives. When we love and trust in this way to recognize the divine within others, and we also stretch our own understanding of divinity.

While we don’t necessarily agree with others, often some thought or idea is planted in the back of our mind that later might bloom and we find that it has made our consciousness expand effortlessly.

Community is something that “churches got and pagans ain’t”, in many quarters. When pagans go out looking for a safe, secure, intelligent way to grow as Wiccans, there aren’t a lot of options. As Silverwolf pointed out, there are a limited number of fully hived High Priestesses willing to take on new dedicants. So it follows that of that small number, it’s just not likely that the perfect coven is necessarily going to be one of them.

To me, this seems the greatest reason for witches to drive that extra mile to be a part of a tradition with degrees. There might be a day when the world has plenty of good covens with excellent High Priestesses, but until then you will need to be willing to make a little extra effort.

However, a group doesn’t need a degreed High Priestess from an established tradition to create a culture of love, trust, and sharing among other witches. It is possible to take vows, create new traditions, share knowledge and become tomorrow’s elders in a new tradition.

Coveners can hold each other somewhat accountable to learn the ways completely, and in a way that is generally agreed upon by others. Almost every tradition recognizes that you may have a personal pagan path that doesn’t match everything perfectly, and when we hive, this becomes a part of the heritage of the tradition. This is the same way that your High Priestess’ personality, knowledge, and idiosyncrasies helped form and guide your learning experience.

Being a part of these rites of passage enriches the experience of a witch. We know what we’ve mastered, but it certainly helps to have a group of elders second the notion and reassure us. Having the benefit of being seen by others and having the reality reflected back to us helps us grow, embrace ourselves, confront our shadows, and ultimately be enriched.

To be perfectly honest, I’m a very new dedicant, but these were the points and counterpoints that helped to form my decision to join a coven. I met the High Priestess several months ago, and it took a few stops and starts to be sure that this was the path I wanted to take. At each return, when I pulled back to be sure this was what I wanted to do (and for other more personal reasons), I was greeted with warmth and welcoming. It was easy to follow my instincts as they all uniformly voiced approval.

Conclusion

Solitary or coven, solitary plus coven, solitary and later coven, coven and later solitary…how you pursue your spiritual path as a Pagan is a decision that you and you alone can make. There is no right or wrong, no good or bad, only what is right and good for you specifically.

One of the truly special things about being Pagan is that we do have this freedom to choose. This is s fundamental given and part of what distinguishes us from most other religions: we do not believe that someone else is wrong because they follow a different path.

We have not received any commandment from our Gods to convert others, and eternal pits of fire do not await those who decide on a different way. So make your choice based on where your heart leads you.

Look inside yourself to make these choices, and make sure that you are making them for all the right reasons. Others can help provide advice or insight, but only you can make the final decision. And if you change your mind later, that’s o.k.

— by Silverwolf and Chicoryflower

Today's I Ching Hexagram for Aug. 22nd is 53: A Steady Pace

53: A Steady Pace

Thursday, Aug 22nd, 2013

hexagram09

 

 

Like an ancient old-growth forest — where the subtle play of light, texture and shadows is the product of a process measured in centuries and inches — most things of lasting value develop gradually, at their own pace. The ability to learn from experience — one of humanity’s greatest capacities — implies constant yet gradual progress. The combination of stillness within and determination without are the essence of this dynamic. Good things sometimes sprout quickly; the truly delightful take much longer.

The principle of gradual development applies also to human relationships. For love and marriage or any important partnership to endure, progress must be slow but steady: slow enough to allow for the bonds to knit properly; steady enough to keep moving in the right direction.

You can’t expect to have everything all at once. Development must be allowed to take its proper course and allotted time; events must neither be rushed nor manipulated, but allowed to unfold naturally. In this way, you will come to enjoy long-lasting relationships and achieve success.

Let's Talk Witch – The Importance of Ritual

Pentagram Book of Shadows

 

The Importance of Ritual

Because we spend so little time living in synchronicity with nature, we are also removed from rituals that help us understand and live in rhythm with the ebb and flow, the little and big “deaths” that occur in our lives.

Much of our uneasiness with endings comes from our distrust in natural processes. Having rituals that acknowledge and celebrate the earth’s natural processes can go a long way to easing our discomfort and having us fully appreciate the paradox of endings.

Many articles could be devoted to ways in which we can celebrate endings through ritual, but for now. I will simply say that any ritual that celebrates the seasons, elements or natural processes will help us to grow more deeply aware of the inherent beauty of endings. Consider that the sunniest day of the year wouldn’t stand out if every day were just as sunny. Similarly the bloom of a rose is special because we know its beauty cannot last forever. This sentiment is echoed in the words of a well-respected educator about dealing with grief in our modern secular society.

It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth–and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up–that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had (Elisabeth Kubler-Ross).

Cultivating a deep appreciation of every moment–every pleasure we experience–can be a path that helps us embrace life’s endings. Remaining conscious that only moment that the only moment that truly “exists” is the moment in which we currently live helps us appreciate that the passage of time, experiences, and our lives is simply an integral aspect of life itself.

Many of us are comfortable with a form of prayer or meditation that involves giving thanks. One way of becoming more comfortable with endings is to incorporate your awareness of the passage of time in these prayers. “Thank you for this beautiful day; this day that exists only in this moment and will, with the arrival of another moment, be gone forever. Fill my heart with deep appreciation for the fleeting nature of life and all the gifts it brings.”

 

Reference:

Embracing Endings
By Harmony Usher