We Must Hide No Longer c. 2011

We Must Hide No Longer

Author: Ryan Smith

Welcome to America, the self-proclaimed land of the free and home of the brave. The country where, at least in theory, one can practice any faith one wishes and can fully exercise as the Founding Fathers put it the “freedom of conscience.”

The First Amendment, which starts with “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, ” while plain on its face has had a lot of footnotes attached to it over the years by the Christian supermajority. Freedom of religion as long as your faith is Abrahamic in origin. Freedom from persecution as long as you kneel before the Cross. Freedom to worship openly and unhindered only if your faith is one that was thrust on your ancestors by foreign missionaries who claimed to have their best interests at heart.

As a member of what is America’s Invisible Minority, I am no stranger to what happens to Pagans when one is ‘outed’. While I have not been physically assaulted or fired because of my faith I do know what it is for people to go oddly silent when I offer a blessing. I know what it is to be mocked as “insane” and/or labeled a “devil-worshiper”. And of course, I have heard the ever-popular chastisement of, “You’re going to Hell.” I’m fairly sure that anyone whom is not Christian reading this knows what I’m talking about. I’m also fairly sure most people reading this, if they personally have not been the victims of it, at least know someone who lost their job shortly after being outed for “personality issues” or because “didn’t quite work out” or because “we no longer have need of your services.”

Then we have the worst examples: Brandi Blackbear, who was suspended from school for fifteen days in Oklahoma due to accusations of witchcraft (1) . In 1999 Tempest Smith of Michigan who, after school administrators washed their hands of the ongoing harassment by Christian students at her school, hung herself rather than deal with it any longer in 2001 (2) .

Palmdale, California, the state that is seen by many and prided as the most forward-thinking in the country, in 2002 had a local Christian group invade a Pagan store and harass, browbeat, intimidate, and threaten patrons who were honoring Ostara. The best part was when the Sheriff’s Department refused to investigate because, oh by the way, a volunteer department chaplain was at the attack and helped organize it (3) .

2004 in South Carolina saw local prosecutors state that a man accused of murder did so because he was Wiccan (4) . There is of course the infamous case of the Wiccan Nevada National Guardsman denied a pentacle on his headstone by the US government (5) .

In 2007 an Army Chaplain, in spite of his stellar record as a soldier and Chaplain, was not only denied his request to serve as a Wiccan Chaplain but also removed from the Chaplain’s Corps (6) . I’m sure there are plenty of other incidents like these that are as bad, possibly worse, that have not been mentioned here.

So what, you may be wondering, is the point of all this? The point is simple: we as a diverse group of Earth-based faith traditions are routinely disrespected and disregarded by American society as a whole.

Now I know a lot of Pagans are likely thinking to themselves, “Why should we care what a bunch of superficial ‘sheeple’ think? We’re free spirits who dance to the beat of our own drums and don’t care what other people say about us!” There is a very serious problem with that kind of thinking.

In the United States of America today there are about 300 million people (7) . Of that 300 million it is estimated only 1.3 million are Pagans of some kind or another (8) . As much as our independent spirit and willingness to question convention is probably our greatest strength it cannot be ignored that we are a tiny minority in an overwhelmingly Christian nation.

What would happen if, for example, the good people at Operation Rescue who had regularly targeted Dr. Tiller’s clinic in Kansas for protest (9) were very directly confronted in the national media and asked if their accusations of him being a mass-murderer (10) were responsible in some fashion for his cold-blooded assassination inside his own church? You would have wall-to-wall coverage of pundits, preachers, and politicians tearing their hair out and wailing about “persecution.”

Now what happens if, say, a Druid Grove is accused of human sacrifice? First off you probably wouldn’t see any media attention given to such a story unless someone decides to go and actually do something about “those dangerous cultists.” You would probably also see outrage and condemnation on the web on Pagan blogs. And just like many other instances of persecution after we as a whole vow “Never Again” and some group or foundation takes up the incident as their championed cause, it sinks back into the morass of apathy.

Why does this happen? Are we not devoted enough to our own dignity? The answer is rather more elementary than Pagans being undeserving or incapable of organizing or any of the other excuses bandied about.

With only a small handful of real victories against our persecutors and attackers, any move to do something about it is already seen by many as doomed to fail. Too many Pagans give our independent nature and notorious difficulty in being organized in any meaningful fashion as cop-outs to really having an impact on society and improving our standing in it. It is, sadly, understandable why many would do so.

Who wants to exhaust their time, money, and energy fighting for a cause pre-determined in the minds of their colleagues as lost? Everyone wants to be the hero riding over the hill; no one wants to be the person who makes the glorious last stand for a greater moral victory. Far better, it would be argued, to think small.

Better to gain a seat on an Interfaith Council or use of a Unitarian Church than to run for public office. Better to make small, easy victories than to organize, mobilize, and take the fight to where it matters most: the public square. Better to cede the debate to people who do not understand us and in many cases are actively hostile to us.

To take such an approach is to sacrifice the future of our faith, of our community, and of the next generation of Pagans for the sake of questionable comfort and unsteady safety in the immediate present. As Ben Franklin once said, “He who would give up a little liberty for a little security will gain neither and lose both.”

We cannot continue to “wait and see” or “let our moment come” or “try not to upset people.” We upset a sizable fraction of the population simply by breathing; staying quiet and walking small will not change that. I see no reason why we, a community that wears our free spirits as a badge of honor and believe in the importance of personal responsibility, should be afraid of standing up for what we believe. Every other group striving for rights and dignity in American history has been told the same thing when they began their push.

If all the other groups had listened then we probably would still have slavery in the South, women as property of their husbands, and only those with land of their own having the right to vote. Discretion is said to be the better part of valor, but when discretion is forced by circumstance then it is no longer a guardrail against madness but a straightjacket for the soul.

So long as we allow inaction we will remain the Invisible Minority. So long as we act in reaction to fear Pagans will continue to be harassed, attacked, fired, and forgotten. The promise of the Declaration of Independence of, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” will remain unfulfilled for all of us. The effort will be long. It will be hard. Only a fool would promise that it would be easy. But America now is no longer the America where the Religious Right stood unchallenged in their agenda by the masses.

The time is now. We stand at a vital crossroads in history. With the power of the social conservatives, at least for now, broken and our numbers on the rise we must seize the moment and begin the long journey to respect and acceptance. In so doing we must remember, for all who join us in the cause, that we do not just do so for ourselves. We fight for each other, our fellow Kin regardless of Tradition.

Most importantly, we are fighting for the future. The future of our Traditions. The future of our community as a whole and the health, vitality, and success of our local communities in particular. Most vitally we are struggling for the next generation. We must take up the cause to demand respect and dignity and work long and hard now so that when the next generation comes of age they will not know the fear, uncertainty, loneliness, and hardship that many of us have been forced to live with.

We begin today so tomorrow we may openly stand on the mountaintops and in the public square with each other, our children, and our fellow Americans and have no fear anywhere in this nation, from Seattle to Atlanta, from San Francisco to San Antonio, from New York to New Orleans there will be no place where we must hide the truth of who we are for the sake of survival or propriety.

We must take up the cause of liberation. We can no longer let fear instilled by our attackers to keep us shoved into the shadows. We must stand up and get involved in our local communities. We need to actively participate in local, state, and federal politics whether or not it is directly Pagan related or not. To give us a voice in public offices, we need to cultivate, assist and support people to run for these offices including those within the existing two major parties.

We must aggressively dispel the lies perpetrated by our foes by coming out to the public where it is safe to do so as a Pagan, as a Druid, as a Witch, as a Heathen so they know we are not some mysterious dark cult but real people they know. We must do this for what are our natural rights as human beings of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness on our terms according to what we believe not what others say we must believe.

We have no time to wait, no time to allow our moment to come. Our time is here.

Every act we take, great or small, alone or in a group, which is one made for the good of our greater community is one worth doing. Every act no matter its impact is one more step on the road to victory.

We cannot wait for heroes to come riding down from on high to our rescue. We must answer the call and rise to the challenge that we all face.


1. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1568/is_9_32/ai_70461580/
2. http://community-2.webtv.net/FullMoonCircle/TempestSmith/
3. Rich Breault, “Wiccagate: What do Witches Grove protesters have to hide?, ” Valley Press, 2002-APR-8.
4. http://www.wistv.com/Global/story.asp?S=2347141 and nav=0RaPRIlo
5. http://archives.chicagotribune.com/2007/feb/08/news/chi-0702080027feb08
6. http://www.northcountrygazette.org/articles/2007/032907WitchTrials.html
7. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/US.html
8. http://religions.pewforum.org/pdf/affiliations-all-traditions.pdf
9. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/abortviolence/stories/tiller3.htm
10. http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/8967610531.html


Can There Be Witches That Are Also Christians?

This is a subject that has been hotly debated since Christianity first became an accepted religion and the debate I feel that will never have a definite answer.

Some people believe they can at least partially combine Christianity and Paganism usually by still thinking of Jesus as a  god or because many Christians already worship a triple god “the father, son, holy ghost or spirit” and saints to help them with certain things so jumping to a belief in a Triple Goddess and other goddesses isn’t that big of a jump. Many never call upon other gods than those they already believe in. Mostly the Christians that combine The Craft and Christianity are just bring the feminine divine back into their lives.

I have found over the years that the two were combined very early in the ancient history of religions. For example “In a way, Gnosticism is the best example of Hellenic Syncretism” ( see links below for more information). Another example of Christianity and Paganism crossing over is with two major holidays Easter and Ostara also Christmas and Yule. The early Christians trying to convert pagans purposely put the resurrection of Jesus close to Yule the Pagans celebration of the birth of Odin/the Oak King and the coming of the Maiden or spring time of year. So by putting Jesus birth in the wrong season, the Christians could use it to say something like . “See the son of our God is born now also.”

Let me interject here that it has been scientifically proven that the man known for the last 2056 years, give or take a year or two, as Jesus Christ or Jesus of Nazareth or by other names as well was born not born in the winter. There is a debate ongoing in the scientific community over which season and what exact year he was born. (Click the link below for more information) These are not the only holidays that Christians purposely used to convert pagans almost any Sabbat on the Wheel of the Year has a Christian holy day of some sort close to it or even on the same date. (Click on the link below for more information)

I have included a link for YouTube that presents the views of people who say they are Christian WItches.

Now my personal view is how can a person believe that there is a son of God that will cleanse them of all the wrongs they have done to others and/or themselves also believe in the Wicce Rede of “Do as ye will, lest it harm none.” and if you do harm someone with words and/or actions you need to take responsibility for the wrong and apologize or whatever to make what happened a thing of this past and most importantly forgive yourself. We as pagans do not ask a god or goddess to take away our wrongdoings to be free of them we free ourselves of the wrongs we have done. How can a person practice a religion that does not believe in a heaven or hell or satan when that is part of the core of Christianity? Part of the Christian dogma is the 10 commandments of which the first one is “Thou shall have no other God before me.” So does this mean a Christian Witch is breaking one of the main rules of Christianity if they use a different god and/or goddess for a spell and/or ritual? And if they do break the commandment do they ask the son, Jesus, of their one God to forgive them for doing so? Christians are also not supposed to worship idols (which if you go into some of the different denominations of the Christian churches you could see Jesus hanging dead from a cross and other statues of saints. Are they not all ready worshiping idols when they pray to them asking for their help with interceding with God to bring about something in their life? In my personal opinion and also from trying to meld Christianity and Paganism some may be able to justify what they are doing but I could not keep denying the feminine part of the dual nature of the Devine.

I have included in this post a link to a general search on how witches are talked about in all the Christian Bibles. Not one of them is a positive statement toward witchcraft. In fact, all of the passages condemn witchcraft in one way or another. So how can a Christian not follow the book that is supposed to be a guide in how they should live their lives? How can they practice Witchcraft when it is expressly forbidden by the commandments and other passages of the book their faith has been built on?

Some Information About Gnosticism

Some Views on When Jesus was Born

Pagan Holidays Used by Christian for Easier Convergence

Different views on Christians Witches

YouTube Videos on Christian Witches

Biblical View on Witches

I have tried to give you enough information to form your own opinion on whether or not a Christian can also be a Witch that practices Witchcraft. So I would like your viewpoint on whether a person can mix Christianity with Witchcraft/Paganism?

Lupercalia: Celebrate the Coming of Spring

Alpha & his family
Lupercalia: Celebrate the Coming of Spring

February was considered the final month of the Roman year, and on the 15th, citizens celebrated the festival of Lupercalia. Originally, this week-long party honored the god Faunus, who watched over shepherds in the hills. The festival also marked the coming of spring. Later on, it became a holiday honoring Romulus and Remus, the twins who founded Rome after being raised by a she-wolf in a cave. Eventually, Lupercalia became a multi-purpose event: it celebrated the fertility of not only the livestock but people as well.

To kick off the festivities, an order of priests gathered before the Lupercale on the Palatine hill, the sacred cave in which Romulus and Remus were nursed by their wolf-mother. The priests then sacrificed a dog for purification, and a pair of young male goats for fertility. The hides of the goats were cut into strips, dipped in blood, and taken around the streets of Rome. These bits of hide were touched to both fields and women as a way of encouraging fertility in the coming year. Girls and young women would line up on their route to receive lashes from these whips. There is a theory that this tradition may have survived in the form of certain ritual Easter Monday whippings.

After the priests concluded the fertility rites, young women placed their names in a jar. Men drew names in order to choose a partner for the rest of the celebrations — not unlike later customs of entering names in a Valentine lottery.

To the Romans, Lupercalia was a monumental event each year. When Mark Antony was the master of the Luperci College of Priests, he chose the festival of Lupercalia in 44 BC as the time to offer the crown to Julius Caesar.

By about the fifth century, however, Rome was beginning to move towards Christianity, and Pagan rites were frowned upon. Lupercalia was seen as something only the lower classes did, and eventually the festival ceased to be celebrated.



Patti Wigington, Paganism/Wicca Expert
Article published on & owned by About.com

Celebrating Other Spirituality, Folklore & Legends 365 Days a Year – Christmas Eve, Christmas, Yule

verliebte Vogelwelt

December 24 and 25

Christmas Eve, Christmas, Yule

It is generally accepted that the birth of Christ on December 24th is the invention of some overzealous authors who were trying to create some sort of symmetry between Paganism and Christianity. According to the late fourth-century Scriptor Syrus, it was the custom of the Pagans to celebrate the birthday of the sun on December 25, at which time they kindled lights in token of festivity. The Christians also participated in these solemnities and revelries. Accordingly, when the administrants of the church observed that the Christians had a preference for the festival, they took counsel and resolved that the true Nativity should be solemnized on that day.

The Pagan feast that was replaced by Christmas was of far older origins and may have been built upon the cult of Mithras, who, for the Persians, was the creator of the universe and manifestation of the Creative Logos, or Word. His birth on December 25 was witnessed by shepherds. After many deeds, he held a last supper with his disciples and then returned to heaven. Some believe that, had Christianity not taken hold when it did, Mithraism very well might have become the world religion.

For more that three centuries Christ Mass was a moveable feast, celebrated on the Epiphany (January 6), the day that, according to biblical account, Jesus manifested himself to the Magi. The Western date of December 25 was fixed to coincide with the Roman midwinter festival of the Kalends, which was preceded by seven days of tribute to their God of agriculture, Saturn.

Many of the Yuletide customs we observe today were common to various thanksgiving days and new year’s rites. For example, the hanging of greenery comes from an old ivy-worshiping worshiping cult dating back to the Dionysian revels in ancient Greece; mistletoe was valued-almost worshiped-by the Druids; ids; and gift exchange most likely generated with the Saturnalia. The Christmas tree was introduced by the Prince Albert of Saxony in 1844 and was an adaption of the Paradeisbaum(decorated tree of life) from the medieval drama of the Tannenbaum.

How Do Pagans React To Interfaith Relations?

How Do Pagans React To Interfaith Relations?

Author: Silver Faery 

How do interfaith relationships affect our lives? Is the struggle worth it in the end? How can we learn and grow from the people involved in this situation? Those are but a few of the questions that run through my mind.

My main view of an interfaith relationship is with my husband. He is a Satanist, and currently a member of the CoS; he is also in the United States Military, serving to protect our freedoms. He was Pagan when I met him, but over time decided to finally follow what felt right to him, and within the last two years took the path to get him into that area. He views himself as a “God, ” but still won’t deny that there isn’t something out there helping out and guiding. He just won’t worship them anymore. After being in Afghanistan once already, he learned that the Gods don’t really watch and – in his mind – care about humanity. Does this make him “evil” or “damned?” Well it depends on who you ask.

To me as long as he is loyal to his friends and family, truthful, and hard-working; as long as he will help those who he thinks deserves it, and is willing to fight for what he feels is right, I will support him. Though it does get comical at times:

Last year, we had taken our daughter to the park in town. On the way out I happened to notice him talking to a young teenage girl. I walked up beside him…in time to hear her ask him if he was Pagan. He stopped mid-sentence and said, “No, why do you ask?” She pointed to his Baphomet and said it was a Pentacle. He held it up for her to get a closer look. She then realized her mistake and stepped back like he would attack her! He then noticed me standing beside him, looked over and said, “But my wife is Pagan.” I wear a ring with a Pentacle on it, nothing too noticeable, but still there if you know what you are looking at. She didn’t see one around my neck. I showed her my ring. She smiled, and then looked shocked (for lack of a better word). We both get that a lot. She was Pagan; she had pulled her Pentacle out from under her shirt and was hoping to talk to him about Paganism. Obviously she had a lot to learn if she couldn’t understand why a Pagan would be married to someone like that! Then again, it seems to me a lot of people have to learn about Satanism before jumping to the wrong conclusions.

We have talked about how we are going to raise our children. My husband wants them to choose; I want to give them a “base” to compare other religions to. Both of us agree that in the end it will be the kids’ choice on what they want to be. Be it Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Pagan, or Satanist…we have the sources for all.

My group of friends is interesting as well. We are mostly Pagans, but we get Christians and have some good Christian friends that hang out with us as well as Atheists and Satanists. We are also one of the few (and I mean few) Gothic Groups in town. Which at times DOES not help our image any. We amazingly get along well: we all love similar types of music, most of us love to learn, and love to debate. We could care less about how a person was raised, what they believe in, as long as they don’t try to force it on anyone else around us. The Christians in our group are pretty opened-minded. They have no problems with us doing our rituals, just as we have no problems if they go to church. If anything, it makes for some interesting discussions. I have had them ask me questions, questions that most Christians can’t or won’t answer about Paganism. One actually asked me an interesting one. He asked if we could go to confession and get help from a Priest with us being Pagan. I told him no, we are not Catholic, so therefore we could not get help from that Christian denomination. He looked shocked that they would not help. This area is mainly conservative Catholic (which can be rather interesting at times).

I had a friend tell me that he was approached by “friends” when he first started to hang out with us…warning him that the Witches were out to take his soul and send him to Hell! He looked at them and said, “No, not really.” The guy didn’t get it. Finally our friend said, “Well I hang out with them because they are more Christian then you are and most of the people you know!” Something that we all took as an honor (especially from the friend it came from).

I had one friend tell me that his parents told him to stay away from us (after seeing one of us walking on the street). His reply was, “I am in my late 20’s and those are the friends that helped me out when I had to stop drinking! I will not stop being friends because they are Witches and on top of that Goth.” He was an alcoholic and was court-ordered to stop drinking; all of his other friends tried to slip alcohol into his drinks. We were the only ones that supported him, even though we all drink. Amazing how influence gets passed along and support gets remembered at the most interesting times.

We have to worry about people thinking we will curse them or even hex them. That’s a laugh, but there are times we use that to our advantage; it keeps them away from us. Probably not the best idea, but we get desperate at times. Do we ever do anything like that? Nope, but we aren’t going to tell them that. Because they wouldn’t believe us even if we did.

Dealing with Christians in general is interesting. If both sides are willing to listen and learn, you can learn wonderful things from each other. The problem arises when one or both sides don’t want to listen. I think the best time I have ever had in this town was when The Passion came out. For once I had people that were willing to listen and learn what Paganism was. Conversations were about different religions and what makes each one unique and how it improves your life! I just wish that it was like that always, not just because a movie came out…especially a movie that described one faith so strongly. And yes I did go and see it – on opening night actually! That was why I could understand where the people I was talking to were coming from. Just as I once in a while re-read the Bible and other Holy Books, again to keep that basic understanding. As well as why I am on Christian Forums, just as I am on Pagan. I think all religions are valid to the believers and that even though it is not for me, I should at least learn about it, just so I know where the other person is coming from. Being a true Christian is a way of life, just as being a Pagan is a way of life. It is much more than a religion or belief or path: it is what helps us decide on everything we say, do, and live. It should change as we learn and grow. Paganism is more fluid then Christianity ever will be, but if a person follows Christianity, you have to take into account that you might never get them to understand. And hopefully through your and all Pagans actions…you might one day get them to at least admit you are not a bad or evil person because of your beliefs.

Enough with Christianity! I know of some Pagans that are just as set in their ways. You know the Pagans that you run into in a chat room on-line. Those are the ones that call all other Pagans “fluffy-bunny” because they don’t agree with their views of what Wicca or Paganism is. The ones that, if you even think of correcting them, you are iggied on the spot. Those irk me to no end! Why? Because it’s Pagans like them that prove to Christians we are all idiots, just as unwilling to learn about them. It goes both ways people – you go into a room bashing Christianity or Paganism (depending on the main religion of the room) and you are going to get a fight and not find one person willing to listen to you. BUT if a person comes into a Pagan room that is Christian and asks a serious question and is willing to learn, DON’T chase them off; they might actually either help their local Pagans or become Pagan themselves. We don’t recruit, but if someone is interested, it would be in our favor to help them.

Celebrating Other Spirituality 365 Days A Year – Festival of Intium Aestatis/Death of Julian the Blessed

The Witch AltarJune 27th

Festival of Intium Aestatis/Death of Julian the Blessed


In ancient Rome, the festival of Intium Aestatis kicked of the beginning of Summer in honor of Aestas, the Goddess of Summer.

It was on this day in 363 c.e., that Julian “The Apostate” died from a fatal wound received in battle. Julian was name “The Apostate” by Christian writers because he reinstated the Pagan cults after Christianity had become the established religion of the Roman Empire.

Julian was brought up in Cappadocia and given a Christian tian education, but he had a passion for the classics and the old Gods. When Julian became emperor, he openly professed his Pagan beliefs and attempted to revive some of the older ideals and a tolerance for all religions. Unfortunately, his philosophy losophy did not sit well with the Christian bishops, who were politically influential at the time.

There was little support for Julian’s return to Paganism, despite his stand. Furthermore, many of the Roman officials disliked Julian’s efforts to improve the lot of the Jews in the Empire or his preparations for a long war with Persia. Julian set out with some 65,000 infantry and cavalry in March 363. He crossed the Syrian desert, capturing small cities along the way. He reached Ctesiphon in June, but it could not be breached. He ordered a tactical retreat up the Tigris. On June 26, he was wounded in a skirmish, and he died on June 27. It is very possible that his death was ordered ahead of time by disgruntled politicians and carried out by one of his own soliders.

Perfectionism And The Craft

Perfectionism And The Craft

Author: Phoenix Forestsong

The moon is high and heavy; its silvery light beams down, illuminating this sacred outdoor altar. The wind blows softly and lightly upon your face, bringing with it the moist fragrance of forest night. With you are members of your coven, all here to celebrate nature’s beauty and grace together as one. It’s nearly your time to speak, your lines have been memorized, your actions recited, and your will is strong.

It’s time.

As you approach the altar, assuming the masculine stance of the horned God, you begin to speak your lines, making a wide gesture with your hands as proscribed, and knock over the Lord’s candle. The flame sputters out, gold wax courses down the natural rock stone of the altar and your Coven’s Book of Shadows gets splattered.

Of course you feel horrible, and very horrified, but the family of your coven just laughs and passes it off. You’re still shaky, worried that you ruined the ceremony, and your performance is off a little, but you eventually recover and enjoy the evening.

The question is, did you actually ruin the ceremony?

The answer is, of course not! There is magick in laughter, and magick in mirth, as humans we are not perfect beings, in fact, even our Gods are not perfect beings, and this article has been written to accentuate that point.

Perfection in the Eyes of God

My background, and that of many modern-day Witches, is from Christianity. While I’d love to say that Christianity is a loving, caring, and forgiving religion, for me it was not the case. I was raised to know a God that demanded perfection from everything in his presence, including his people and their gifts. Because of the absolutism of Christianity, at least in some branches, “thou shalt not…”, “…the only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ…”, “…burn in a lake of fire…, ” etc. it tends to breed perfectionism in its followers. A God that demands perfect worshipers will breed perfect worshipers.

From early on I learned that God loves you, but if you ever break one of his rules it’s an eternity of punishment for you. As most sane people know, this type of attitude is not actually love, it is abuse through fear, and it was my childhood.

Of course, as I grew older, my understanding of the world changed, I became a new person, a deeper individual, a man who learns, studies, and thinks. Always though, as a Christian, I kept running to a god who never changed, who was as inflexible in his rules as he was in his heart. Do as I say, when I say, and how I say, and you can come spend your time worshiping me in heaven after you’ve denied your passions here on earth.

See where I’m going with this? Now, that’s not all of Christianity, but it is a big factor in Christianity for a lot of branches of that faith; the inflexible, omnipotent, omnipresent, perfect God. So, I came to learn that only the best, most perfect stuff went before God, and as a human I kept falling short, as we humans tend to do. Obviously I came to learn another path and I now follow my own Wiccan way. However, I brought along some of my old Christian baggage, and I feel that many other Witches do, or have as well.

Perfection Shmerfection

When I first truly devoted myself to my path, thus ending my relationship with Christianity, I brought along a lot of old baggage. For one thing, I did not attempt to do things for fear of failure. I did not want to present failure to my Gods, I did not want my Gods to see me in the light of failure, and I wanted to prove to be a worthy Witch. It may be something that we’ve all gone through, or it may be that I was just a bit off my rocker in the whole Spirituality department. Regardless, I let my fear of failure, my fear that my work would not be good, or good enough to interfere with my worship.

Of course as time passed I got over that stage and began to see things in a new, logical, and very real light. Even our Gods are not perfect. Do you work with the Greek pantheon? Do you worship with Zeus? Zeus may have been the Master of Mount Olympus and head of the Gods, but he wasn’t perfect by any means. How many children did Zeus father and how many were conceived under false pretense? Zeus’s fatal flaw is that he could not keep his godhood in his toga. Those who worship him know this and accept it as his flaw. Let’s look at another Divine Being.

Hera is sacred as the Goddess of Women and Marriage, yet she was not too kind to children. After Zeus fathered Athena without her, Hera bore Hephaestus without Zeus and, upon seeing his ugliness; she threw her newborn child from Mount Olympus. Hera…the role model for motherhood.

In another tale, Hera tries to prevent the birth of Heracles by tying the legs of Alcmene, his mother, into knots to prevent his birth. When Alcmene’s servant informed her that the child had already been born, she let go of Alcmene’s legs in surprise. With her legs free, Alcmene finished birth and Heracles was born. Hera, furious at being tricked, turned the servant into a weasel. Do we see Hera as a wonderful role model for all women to follow, or do we see Hera as she is, a Goddess, but a flawed Goddess.

Obviously there are many more examples of frailties and flaws from Gods of pantheons the world over. The primary difference is that as Pagans, we understand that perfection is an unattainable goal. It’s unnatural. We learn that it is not the end result that is important, rather it is the path we have to travel to get there that teaches us and causes us to grow as an individual that is the greater concern. In Witchcraft, there is no all-powerful perfect divine being that threatens the destruction of your immortal soul for not living up to his standards; there is only peace, patience, and understanding.

So…I’m Still Worthy?

I say this not to bash Christianity, rather, to point out that while some of us strive to be the best that we can be, sometimes we must look back and realize that we don’t have to prove ourselves to our Gods, rather, our Gods have to prove themselves to us first. It is not a sin to not believe in Aradia. She won’t hurl fiery bolts from the heavens if we displease her or don’t acknowledge her existence. It is a pact that we enter into with our Gods, a willful, thoughtful pact that goes both ways. If we are honest and work for the good, our Gods will work with us. We don’t work for them and they don’t work for us, we work together as one to accomplish a goal.

When we first began our journey, you too were probably unsure about whether these old Gods were real, so as a result we tested them. If they lived up to our expectations, we worked with them. If we did not get along with a certain deity, or felt uncomfortable with their energies, we no longer wasted our time on them.

When coming to Wicca from Christianity, there are several hang ups that occur to people, especially due to the perfectionism that is at the forefront of Christianity. We worry that a spell won’t work if the candle color is not correct, or maybe the candle is too orange instead of red. A spell may call for Dragon’s Blood incense, but you only have Lavender right now because you’re short on cash. Or perhaps a ritual calls for fresh vervain, but you only have sage. Our God’s don’t care. The Magick will still work as long as you believe it will.

Substitutions occur all of the time in the Craft, and there in no one right way to do anything. Every Witch has his or her own method of working spells, certain traits that they like to add to their spells, almost like a signature. I myself have replaced entire herbal components before because I did not understand them at the time. I replaced the herbal components with gemstones, which I did understand, and the spell still went off without a hitch with the results manifesting two weeks later.

To grow in the Craft, to self-actualize into the Witch that you truly know you can be, the first step is “don’t take yourself so seriously.” Laugh at your mistakes, enjoy your failures but learn from them, and celebrate life. The ultimate thanks that we as humans can give to the Universe is to enjoy the time we have while we are in this incarnation. To worry and fret over something not being ‘perfect’ is to waste the life that has been granted to us.

We should enjoy everyday, be thankful for the sunshine in our lives and even for the rain, for to know happiness one must also have known sadness. To know peace is to have known anger. To know deep love for another, one must have previously known heartache and pain.

There is no perfection in the Craft, our Gods are not perfect, we are not perfect, our tools are not perfect, even our magick is not perfect. There is nothing on the face of this planet that is whole, untouched, and perfect. Perfection is much like Plato’s forms, it cannot and does not exist in the real world, but as a concept…it’s perfect!

Blessed Be,

Phoenix Forestsong

Witchcraft – Chapter three – Under Early Christianity


Chapter three – Under Early Christianity

by Ilil Arbel, Ph.D.

As we begin to examine the relationship between the Old Religion and the Catholic Church, one thing must be clear. This book is not an attack on the Catholic Church. The Church, as we know it today, is a wonderful organization. It is charitable, supportive of many great institutions and a patron of learning. Naturally, no one can agree with everything the Church does or thinks. We are entitled to disagreement, which, in turn, boosts progress. However, while part of the historical clash of the religions is painful, it is not told as criticism of the Church today. Over many centuries, the Church evolved into the larger and richer organization we now know.

In addition, many of those responsible for the terror of the Witch Trials were more administrators than men of God. They wanted property and power. Much like some corrupt politicians, they thought that the end justified the means. On the other hand, some Christians truly believed in the influence of the Devil, believed it with all their hearts, and thought that by tormenting the body they saved the soul. It is difficult to understand, in our century, how deeply superstitious most Medieval people were, and how much the supernatural threatened their lives.  Many acted out of ignorance and terror.

In 906, Regino, abbot of Prum, wrote an interesting document. It became known as the Canon Episcopi. Few documents in history were so misunderstood; few caused so much violence.

Regino described the habits of some misguided women who believed in their own hallucinations and illusions. These women thought that the Pagan Goddess, Diana, flew them over great distances. At those faraway places, they worshiped her and her husband, the Devil. Regino, a compassionate man, made it clear that he believed the Devil himself was responsible. The Devil made the poor women think that what happened in their dreams really took place.

Sure, Regino was frustrated by the women’s stupidity – how could they think that any god could exist away from the one true faith, Christianity?  However, not for a moment did he believe in the flights, the Sabbaths, or anything else the women said they had done.

Until that time, the Church Fathers felt the same way, accepting Witchcraft as a stupid hoax. After all, how could an illiterate bunch of women have power over God’s world?  Nonsense!  Any good Christian, using the name of Jesus, could get rid of the tricks of a witch. St. Augustine, for example, heard that witches turned men into donkeys by feeding them magical cheese. He thought it was funny. To the people who told him the story, he said that such events must have been hallucinations or jokes.

Of course the Church did not approve of Witchcraft. The women who worshiped Diana were sinful Pagans who tried to cheat good Christians. But they were powerless. Only God had power over humanity.

If only they stuck to these views. If only there was no connection made between Witchcraft and Dualism. Dualism was a belief that gave real power to evil as represented by Satan. The horned God of the witches, as you will see later, looked very much like Satan. If this connection was not made, perhaps humanity would have been spared the carnage of the witch trials.

But the Church didn’t understand Regino and disagreed, eventually, even with its own early Fathers. The Church took Regino’s document and twisted the meaning around. For six centuries they read it as an admission that the women actually flew to worship at the Sabbaths.  Interestingly, Regino didn’t even mention Witchcraft in the document.  What he asked was that the clergy would preach that such ideas are false. A gentle man, all he wanted was to convince those women to desert Paganism and embrace Christianity. Poor Regino. Had he seen the tortured and murdered victims, he would have been horrified.

For in the early centuries of Christianity, Paganism was not suppressed; Christians and Pagans lived side by side.  They did it for so long, that Christians took over some of the Pagan gods, holy places and customs, in order to reconcile people to the new religion. Pope Gregory the Great, for instance, went as far as ordering the placement of Christian relics in Pagan shrines. He hoped that the people would gradually begin to think that the old god was a new saint. Pagan feast days were used for Christian holidays. Christmas, perhaps, is the most notable example.  In the Bible, the exact date of Christ’s birth is never mentioned. So they placed it right over an important pagan holiday.

Those gods that did not become Christian saints were turned into demons. However, many new converts to Christianity continued to worship them side by side with the new God. One Saxon king had a temple with two altars, one for Christ and one for the “Devils.”  If you look carefully at Christianity now, so much of the Pagan still remains – the dove, the lamb, the sacred fish symbol, the ever-burning fire, the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the Baptism – all were, once, Pagan symbols.

As far as the 12th century, priests complained that in Ireland, the people worshiped Pagan Deities. In England, even some monks were caught worshiping Diana in woodland shrines. This continued up to the 14th century. About the same time, the poet Petrarch, while visiting Colonge, saw women performing Pagan rituals. Old habits die hard, country people are conservative, and the transition was not as easy as the Church would have it.

A 6th century Portuguese monk, acting as a missionary, complained that the women worshiped their “devils” quite openly. The interesting thing here is that the monk believed in the existence of those devils. He said the woods, streams, rivers and meadows were full of the devils, and he saw them with his own eyes!

To entice the women to the new faith, churches were built over the old holy places. In the British Isles, they were built over the shrine of Astarte in Northumberland, of Diana in Bath, of Mithras in York. In Spain, they built them over sacred mounds. Still, the women did not accept them. The priests complained that the women brought their old habits into the new churches anyway – they sang, they danced, they performed strange rituals.

Many chieftains accepted the new faith because politically it was advantageous.  Some men followed. There was a good reason why the women stuck harder to Paganism —  the Church despised women. According to the Bible, women caused the Original Sin. The Church considered them weak, stupid, faithless, and hardly above beasts of burden. They had no rights, no protection, no dignity. In almost every way, they were slaves. The strong women of the Old Religion, the priestess, the Witch, the teacher, the healer, became the enemy of all that was sacred.  How could they accept Christianity?

Diana’s cult remained so widespread, that the Church viewed her as an arch rival. Eventually they started to refer to her as the “Queen of the Witches.”   Occasionally they attempted to include her in the Church, like so many of the saints. But they soon realized it was impossible. The Grand Inquisitor Torquemada, the most famous, or infamous, of them all, declared that Diana was the Devil.

Naturally, a secret religion that allowed a woman an important place, appealed not only to the hereditary witches, but to many converts as well. Recruits were never welcomed, though, as they were always potential spies. So the religion went underground almost totally and became a secret society. Many of the people that were later tortured and killed had no connection whatsoever to the Old Religion. The real followers knew, from long experience, how to hide.

This was a strange time. Many new sects came into being, and both Paganism and Christianity influenced all of them. To many people, Jesus himself was a magician. He exorcized demons. He healed the sick by “laying on of hands.”  He raised the dead and made predictions. He claimed Divine Origin and Virgin Birth. It is true that he never tried to prove himself, and claimed all his power came from God. He didn’t want to be thought of as a magician. But to the common people it mattered little.

To understand those times a little better, two sects should be examined – Gnostics and Kabbalists.The Gnostics were not really Christians, and the Church did not approve of them. They were people who wanted peace, mysticism, and a chance to think about the universe. Most of them lived in the wilderness. Unfortunately, the Church destroyed much of their writing with the usual thoroughness. That left us with only partial knowledge of their nature.

The Gnostics disliked the world. They did not believe God created it himself, as He was not interested in creating anything. He was totally removed from any matter, and existed in a realm which was beyond matter. A split in the Godhead had occurred at some point. This split they called The Fall, and it somehow created a demon, called the Demiurge. The Demiurge created the Universe. Some said he did it with the help of Sophia, the feminine side of God. The Demiurge also created six other demons, called Archons, to help him in his work.

To make matters worse, the Demiurge had completely forgotten about The Fall, and believed himself to be the only God. With the help of his Archons he created Man. Man, therefore, is created and trapped by a god who has deluded himself. In other words, God is crazy. Man’s only hope to escape to his true home and the true God is through  knowing the true state of affairs. The word Gnosis, which is what the name of the religion is based on, means Knowledge.

Naturally, the denial of the Christian God did not endear the Gnostics to the Church. And the Demiurge was admirably suitable for identification with Satan. Evil by nature, a fallen angel, self-deluded and cunning at the same time – what could be better?  Heresy!  Kill the Gnostics!

Now, you could ask, where is the connection to Witchcraft?  Gnosticism is a totally different religion, isn’t it?  It does not love the world; it despises nature and its beauty; the earth is a place to escape from rather than enjoy. Nothing in common, right?  Wrong. Religious teachings can always, but always, be twisted around to benefit someone.

This time of furious faith was the golden age of the magicians, and many of them had Gnostic influence. For example, take Simon Magus – a very successful magician.  Simon Magus may have been a native of Samaria. At any rate, he was working there during the time of the Crucifixion. His following, however, continued as far as the 4th century CE and spread far and wide.

Simon was impressed by the apostle Philip’s cures and exorcisms. He decided to be baptized, but saw Christianity more like a magical system than a new religion. He probably didn’t care much about the distinction, being of a practical rather than a spiritual nature. His intention was to buy the apostle’s secret of “laying on of hands” for healing. Very understandably, he thought it was a great magic trick.

Unfortunately, it offended the apostle Peter, who disliked Simon Magus immediately. On their first meeting, Peter rebuked Simon for trying to buy the apostles’ secret. Incidentally, this is where the word “simony” is derived from – buying and selling of priestly gifts or powers. Simon, who considered all of them professional magicians, could not see what was wrong in buying a perfectly good trade secret for a fair price. He probably thought Peter behaved like a pompous hypocrite, but being a particularly pleasant man, Simon took the rebuke with good grace.

Simon’s writings show a lot of female imagery. Paradise, for example, he described as the “womb.”  The imagery links him strongly to the Old Religion.  Unlike Jesus, he never objected when people called him a magician. After his death, his successor called himself Nenander, meaning Moon-man. Neander claimed to be the reincarnation of Simon himself. In later centuries, one of the great objections made against Simon Magus was his acceptance of women as equals. In true Wicca tradition, he viewed the power of the gods as shared between male and female.

He had a disciple, a Phoenician sorceress called Helen. With her he established a sort of trinity in which he was the Father and the Son, and she was the Holy Ghost. So in actuality, he adapted the new religion to his own views. He and Helen were worshiped, though, in front of statues of Zeus and Athena. So he certainly appealed to the Pagans as well.

Helen was worshiped in many forms by the followers, particularly as Sophia, the Gnostic Virgin of Light and wisdom. So here was a strong connection to Gnosticism. She was also claimed to be Mary, Mother of Jesus, and occasionally Mary Magdalene. It was all completely mixed.

Simon Magus, despite his bizarre activities, does not come across exactly like a charlatan. Rather, he operated like a Shaman. True, he did practice some necromancy and even said he had created a human being from thin air and a wandering soul. But these improbable tales were probably just plain advertising and increased business. And many people benefited from his healing.

His end is shrouded in mystery. The legend said he had a contest with the apostle Peter, in front of the Emperor Nero, who was an admirer of Simon. He proved his powers by flying at great height. Peter, supposedly calling on God, broke the spell and sent Simon down to his death. Considering the fact that the flight was probably staged with wires, and that Peter must have tampered with the mechanism, it is interesting that no one ever charged Peter for the murder of Simon Magus.

The second sect to be examined is The Kabbalah. There are many arguments as to when it started. The Kabbalah is Jewish mysticism. It is secret knowledge, forbidden to most people. To study it, you had to be a scholar, male, over forty years of age and married. Otherwise, you were never allowed to touch it. This patronizing attitude was justified by saying that it presented a danger to lesser beings – such as unmarried men or any women. It is available to anyone today, and is extremely interesting. Some good introductory books will be mentioned in the bibliography. For the student of Witchcraft, it is a valuable subject.

Some scholars say that one of the major books, the Zohar, was written in 1275 by the Spanish Kabbalist Moses de Leon. But it is obvious the date means only that it was written down on paper at that time. In oral tradition, it existed much earlier. Some sources believe the Kabbalah was practiced at the time of the early Gnostics. Others go back even further. There is no way to prove it, but the material gives the impression of extreme antiquity.

The similarity between Witchcraft and Kabbalah is astounding, and is often overlooked, mostly because researchers try to pin the origin of Kabbalah on Gnosticism. True, there is a great similarity between Gnosticism and Kabbalah. This is because Gnosticism, as well as Kabbalah, had much of their origin in the Old Religion, but the Old Religion existed thousands of years before either of them.

The format of The Kabbalah is misleadingly simple. The base is a diagram of the sacred tree of life;  it is made by ten circles joined by twenty-two lines. The ten circles are called Sephiroth in Hebrew. The word means “the emanations of God.”  Each soul undergoes a fall from the top circle, the Godhead, through the other circles, each representing a stage of creation, into our world and an earthly body. Then, the soul has to work on its climb back into the Godhead, using the astral body, or the body of light, as its vehicle. The creative Godhead is all pure thought. It is split in two, male and female, so the tree is represented by a female side and a male side, equal in power and necessary for the maintenance of the world.

Through various techniques of devotion, meditation, and concentration, it is possible to release the soul. Then, by using the tree of life, you can travel the universe through the twenty-two paths (those lines that connect the ten Sephiroth). Much can be learned that way.

Another great Kabbalistic similarity to Witchcraft is the “Gimatria.”   This is a system of conversion of words into numbers, and then back into other words of the same number. It sounds simple, but it allows the practitioner to use words of power. Particularly important are the forbidden names of various angels or even, at the ultimate, the unmentionable name of God. The use of language is extended to various formulas and the manipulation of words – very much like magic spells.

One such charm is open to anyone and is quite useful. It is not magic and has no true mystery. It deals directly with your subconscious and could enhance your success with various projects and goals. And yet it is so ancient that it goes back to the invention of writing itself – when the written word was power. Try it.

Take a peace of paper, and in the shortest possible way, write down a sentence that represents a goal. Let’s say  you want to be a professional artist some day, but have very little time to paint or draw, because of your school obligations, part-time job, social life, or sports. You regret that, because you know that to be an artist you must work at it. So write “I AM A GREAT ARTIST.”  Now cross out letters so that each letter appears only once. Here are the steps:

  • “I” is removed. You now have I AM A GREAT ARTST
  • “A” is removed. You now have I A M GRET RTST
  • “M” appears only once.  “G” appears only once. No need      to touch them.
  • “R” is removed. You now have I A M G R E T T S T
  • “T” is removed. You now have I A M G R E T S
  • “S” appears only one. No need to touch it.

After you do that, you will end with this bizarre word “IAMGRETS” which obviously is meaningless. Stare at the word very intently for a long time. Carry it with you. Stare at it often. It sinks, eventually, into your subconscious. You will find that in a few weeks you’ll be doing some unexpected things. Perhaps you will step into an art supplies store and buy those water colors you promised yourself last spring. Or maybe you’ll find yourself drawing caricatures of your teachers at class (not a good idea – beware of being caught). Or you will have an idea of sketching something as part of a school project, perhaps an experiment in biology, which suddenly looks much better when presented graphically. It works every time. This is a small example of Witchcraft at its practical best.

Well, it can’t be denied that Witchcraft does work. But the horror of the next few centuries was not based on practical little magic things like that.  Nor was it about the love of nature and its worship. It was about humanity’s relationship with a nonexistent entity who had many names.



Encyclopedia MYTHICA


Witchy Comments

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.

So Mote It Be.

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On Being Wiccan: Some Unsolicited Advice

On Being Wiccan: Some Unsolicited Advice

Author:   Kame   

I knew I wanted to write essays about my experience of being Wiccan. I wrote a few pithy pieces, full of well-turned phrases and stunningly cogent allusions. But that’s all just verbal masturbation. I threw them in the trash. In the end, I kept asking myself… what is the purpose of these essays? What wisdom (written with a roll of my eyes) do I have to impart? Sigh.

I lost twenty-five pounds last year. Yea, pat me on the back. I have another twenty-five to lose, but that’s another story. When strangers find out about my feat, the first thing they want to know is “What’s your secret?” “How did you do it?” I gave them all the same answer: “Eat less, exercise more.” That is how you lose weight. That’s all there is to it. It is that simple. But every time I told someone that, I could see the disappointment on his or her face. They wanted it to be some elaborate thing…so they could brag about how they were able to accomplish this enormous task if they succeeded or so that they could excuse themselves if they failed by saying it was just too hard.

First bit of unsolicited advice: Quit trying to make simple things complicated. Whatever you are attempting to do, boil it down to its simplest element and never lose sight of that core truth.

Second bit of unsolicited advice: tame the boob tube or anything else in your life that is distracting you. And before you think I’m one of those snooty ‘no TV’, cold turkey types, let me tell you I have a TV — two in fact. I’m an avid fan of Mad Men, Once Upon a Time, Ghost Hunter, etc.

When my youngest was a toddler, she went to daycare at the house of a childhood friend of mine. The TV in that house was always on and I would always end up being distracted by it so that I was unable to complete a conversation with my friend without staring off at it. She frequently remarked that I, the only one of her clients without a TV, was the only one who seemed distracted by it. Actually, we owned a TV then but I didn’t have the heart to break her illusion that we were goody-two-shoe, tree hugging, neo-hippie types. Something about her reaction bothered me for many years… some niggling need to understand why I was so distracted by the thing and others weren’t. To put it simply I don’t multi-task. Not in the way most people understand that term. If you look at the studies that have been done on multi-tasking, they all come to the same conclusion: if you multi-task, your brain does not divide its attention evenly between the tasks. Dividing your attention degrades your ability to concentrate on any one thing. I record everything I want to watch. I skip commercials entirely. When I sit down to watch TV, I watch TV and that is all I do. I like to think that the difference between me and those who leave the TV running all the time is that I, to paraphrase Thoreau, “live in this world, not on it.” So do one, and only one, thing at a time.

That brings me to my last bit of unsolicited advise in this essay and after this, I’ll tie everything back to Wicca. If you’ve made it this far, and the last paragraph bothered you, it’s probably because you are trapped in the ‘time paradox’. There is never enough time to get all the things you need to do done. You probably think you have to multi-task. If you didn’t, you would fall so far behind, even though you feel like you are running as fast as you can, that you would sink into a cartoony, circling, morass of never ending tasks. Get off the treadmill. You can do it. Go ahead; step off. Turn off every electronic device, close every book, close the door. Do this at a time when you can be alone. Sit down and do nothing. Clear your mind and just listen.

There is no clock ticking. All those things you need to do are illusions. They are the bars of the cage that keeps you from being who you really want to be, from doing what you really want to do. You are so busy doing all those things you think you are supposed to do that you don’t have time to figure out whether they are what you need to do to be the person you want to be. (See first bit of advise. Insert here.) Take the time, once a day, once a week, every once in a while, to reduce the clutter of your life down to its simplest elements and think about whether those elements are the building blocks for the person you want to be.

Easier said than done. The first four essays I started and threw out revolved around ritual and historical interpretations, poetry and being a Solitary Wiccan. When I followed the first of my own pieces of advice here and reduced them down to their simplest elements, I kept coming back to the idea of “foundation”. The strength of the ‘what’ part of your path will be constrained by the strength of your ‘how’. Without a balanced approach, you will never bring your practice to full-flower.

I grew up Presbyterian. On Sunday, we would get dressed in our best clothes, drive to the church, sit quietly while the preacher imparted biblical wisdom to us and then go home get changed and eat a big meal. That was our ritual. When it was over, the TV went back on and we went back to our normal life. There was a separation between religion and real life; though it was never spoken of, it was made clear by our actions. I tried to make a go of being a Christian many times. The last time was after my father’s death because I knew it had saddened him that I had left the church. I couldn’t make it work.

The last Christian church I attended had this thing called an ‘Alpha’ course. It was supposed to teach you how to become a ‘real’ Christian. I learned some time after taking the class that one of the couples who attended had been a ‘plant’. They were actually the church members who had brought the course to the Minister’s attention. They went undercover to be a catalyst, to show the newbies by their actions how real Christians behaved. I had a conversation with a friend in the church shortly after that discovery and their advice to me was to keep doing all the things I had been shown in the ‘Alpha’ class by the two fake newbies and eventually it would all make sense. In other words, you don’t need a foundation for your belief; you just need repetition to instill the behavior patterns and the belief will follow. I grew up following religion in that way. I knew where that path leads. That was my ‘Truffaut moment’.

In the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” Francois Truffaut played the scientist Claude Lacombe. In one scene, he taps out the tune they keep hearing everywhere the aliens have dropped clues and says, “Ecoute, ecoute. This means something. This is important.” Anytime I hear something that reads as ‘BS’, but I can’t quite put my finger on why, that’s a ‘Truffaut moment’.

I left that church and all of Christianity behind that day, for good. I went back to the basics. I knew I wanted spirituality in my life, not as a pantomime with costumes and props, but as something as important to me as my breathing. I read a lot stuff: Cunningham and Campbell, anthropology, history, and eastern religion. I think it was Margot Adler’s “Drawing Down The Moon” that made me realize Wiccan wasn’t something I was becoming, it was something I already was; something I had been all my life.

I have five or six Moleskin notebooks I keep. They are full of notes, lists, book titles, drawings; none of them in any particular order in any particular book (though I do habitually date my entries) . When the mood to write comes, I pick up whichever one of my Moleskins is closest and start writing. I’m not sure anyone else could make sense of them. But I can. They are my ‘memory ball’.

I remember seeing a great ball of knotted twine and cloth in the Native American Museum in Washington DC. In my own head, I call it a memory ball. I don’t remember if that was what the scholar who wrote the tag for it named the thing. I don’t remember what tribe it came from, or what era it covered or who made it. I only remember the idea of it:

The ball represented a person’s memories of their life. When events they felt were important occurred, they would take up the ball and add to it a knot or a bead, a bit of cloth to represent their memory of that event. Knot by knot, the ball would grow as they grew old. When they touched it, unwound it, they would have available to them a linear representation of their entire life.

My Moleskin notebooks are a representation of how I came to understand the Wiccan inside of me. If I feel lost or question why I believe what I believe, I open one of the Moleskins and leaf through until I find something that catches my attention… a thought I had, a fact I learned, a place I went that brought me closer to understanding my path and myself. Sometimes reading is enough. Sometimes I take that bit and do more research, more thinking. In some ways, these notebooks are my ‘Grimoire’, though there isn’t much about spells or ritual in them. They are the things I use to bring me back into balance.

One last bit of unsolicited advice: find yourself something like that, something that can bring you back into balance. Maybe it’s a walk in the woods, a soft prayer, a bit of meditation. Don’t hesitate to use it when your life feels scattered and stressed.

There is no secret to becoming a Wiccan, Pagan, Druid or whatever you choose to call yourself. You either are or you aren’t; without meaning to sound like Yoda, there is no ‘becoming’. The only destination before us is death. Everything else is just the path to that destination. Break it down. Make it simple. Build up from there. If you don’t have a foundation for your belief, it’s just a pantomime with costumes and a meal afterward. You deserve better than that.

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Your Ancient Symbol Card for February 27th is The Peacock

Your Ancient Symbol Card for Today

The Peacock

The iridescent emerald plumage and spectacular broad tail of The Peacock make it the ideal symbol of both justified pride and vanity. It denotes the right for one to be proud of themselves for being who they are and for letting others know. In short, its okay to strut a bit. At the same time The Peacock reminds us that while pride and high self esteem are essential components of a healthy psyche, becoming too full of one’s self makes us vain, and vanity is never attractive in anyone.

As a daily card, The Peacock is reminder that you are inherently valuable, and have a right to be proud of who you are as well as let others know you are proud of yourself. It is also a warning to not allow you pride and sense of self worth grow to such grand proportions that you become vain and conceited.

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Who Is A Real Witch Anyway?

Who Is A Real Witch Anyway?

Author:   Amergin Aradia   

It seems that the debate about who is and who is not a “real Witch” is coming to a head. Is this sect real as opposed to that sect? Are those in covens real Witches as opposed to solitaries’. And on and on it goes. It’s beginning to sound like the fight between factions of the Christian religion or between organized religions as a whole. That’s probably the way they began too.

This silly useless debate is pulling our community apart as well. The truth is, are any of us real Witches. And how do you define a real Witch? By whose standards and rules?

As an illustration of my point I’ll tell you my story. I have always known that I was a Witch, even before I really knew what that was. When I was very young (grade school) I had certain abilities and interests that other kids didn’t. I practiced raising energy, practiced ESP (as it was called then) , I astral projected, and I cast spells. I was drawn to the night, the moon and stars, and I identified with all things “magical.”

I wasn’t trained by anyone because there was no one to train me. I had to figure it out for myself and that was in the 1950’s so you know there were very few references to rely on even if I knew where to look. As I grew up I did what everyone else did then, got a job and tried to live what was considered a “normal” life, as unsatisfying as that was.

I maintained my interests and practices over the years as best I could, if only peripherally. There may have been one or two occult bookstores in the area but you really had to search them out and I only managed to get to one every so often and then only to browse because I didn’t know what I was looking for. You didn’t just walk up to someone and tell him or her you were a Witch and wanted to join a coven. And people didn’t come out of the woodwork to invite you to join one, even if you knew where to look.

So I dabbled, training myself the best way I could using instinct as my guide. At the time I would have loved to have found someone to train me and I would have loved to have found a coven to join so that I wouldn’t feel so alone. But they didn’t exactly advertise. And there was no Internet in those days to bring us all together.

So unless you were lucky, you were on your own. Like it or not.

Now that we have all these books, magazines, and web sites to fill in the gaps I find that my instincts did very well by me. Everything that I taught myself way back then is now being touted as the way to do it by the “experts.” I have since collected an entire library of books hoping to find information that would help me advance my practice but with the exception of a few interesting bits that I’ve added here and there, I have been disappointed.

I have also attended classes, open groves, and ceremonies, and while the people that I met were very nice it just didn’t feel right for me. I’ve also become very disillusioned with the influx of the newest brick and mortar shops. They seem to have become havens of self-help, yoga, meditation, and coffee and music.

And while I practice yoga and meditation myself I don’t want to go to my local Craft shop to pick up a yoga mat, balance ball, or a book by Dr. Phil. I want to pick up the tools for my ceremonies and spell crafting and, unfortunately, the kind of shop I want seems to be few and far between (except on line.) It feels as though the craft as I remember it is being homogenized and made so “acceptable” in the eyes of the general public that it is becoming useless to serious practitioners. But I digress here.

So to sum up this article, does it mean that I am not a real Witch because I had no one to “lead the way” or no coven to adopt me and teach me “their right way”? Quite frankly I think that makes me an even better real Witch because I had to figure it out for myself. And because of that my understanding and beliefs don’t quite fit into any prescribed dogma. So that is why I stay a solitary practitioner and that is why I have stepped back from the community as a whole.

But then I don’t look at being a Witch as a religion, with all of its implied rules and regulations and dogma. I look at being a Witch in the same way that the old village Witches looked at it. I revere the earth and heavens and do my best to respect and tread lightly on her.

I try to live a spiritual life without bowing to or begging the acceptance of any one archetypal being. I look at the Goddess and Gods as a representation on this plane of the source of all energy and power. I cast spells for my own benefit, and mine alone, as I don’t believe I have the right to manipulate anyone else’s life. And I believe that Karma will out eventually.

I believe that being a Witch is as simple as that. It’s in your heart, it’s in your soul, and it’s who YOU know you really are. Not because someone gives you permission to be one simply because you read and adhere to someone else’s views as written down and published. Or because you attend meetings once a week, or once a month, or even once a quarter.

But because YOU know you are. And whether you are solitary or a member of a group, no matter what that group represents, you are really on your own. You must practice, practice, practice, and hold that knowing in your own heart…alone.

That’s what makes you a “real Witch.”

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Celebrating Other Spirituality 365 Days a Year – Mesrop Ma tots

February 19 and 20

Mesrop Ma tots

This day celebrates the birth of Mesrop Ma tots, a missionary to the remoter parts of his native Armenia who, in order to provide his countrymen with books in their own language, invented a 36-letter alphabet (still used today with the addition of a few extra letters). He is also credited with inventing the 38-letter Georgian alphabet.

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A Little Humor for Your Day – ‘Your Getting Old When…’

Your Getting Old When. . .

You know you’re getting older when…
Everything that works hurts, and what doesn’t hurt doesn’t work.
You feel like the morning after, and you haven’t been anywhere.
Your little black book only contains names ending in M.D.
Your children are beginning to look middle-aged.
Your mind makes contracts your body can’t keep.
You look forward to a dull evening.
Your knees buckle and your belt won’t.
Your back goes out more than you do.
You sink your teeth into a steak, and they stay there.
You know all the answers, but nobody asks the questions.


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Your Ancient Symbol Card for Feb. 12th is The Protector

Your Ancient Symbol Card for Today
The Protector

The Protector represents the presence of a strong ally ready to assist you when your path is full of difficult challenges. The Protector is represented by the Archangel Michael: God’s warrior angel. Archangel Michael is in the writings of many religions including Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. While Michael is male, in the context of this Oracle, The Protector is not gender specific. Regardless of whether Your Protector is male or female they can have a powerful positive influence when you find yourself facing trying times.

As a daily card, The Protector denotes the immediate presence of a commanding ally working to put the balance of power in your favor. The protector is especially powerful at helping you get what you rightfully deserve and thwarting underhanded schemes aimed at keeping you down.

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