Walking The Path As A Public Witch

Walking The Path As A Public Witch

Author:   Medea 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advertisements

Walking The Path As A Public Witch

Walking The Path As A Public Witch

Author: Medea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merry Meet On This Glorious Thursday That The Goddess Has Given Us!

il_fullxfull_277487690

You know you can know a person for years (like I have Lady A) and truly not know them.  I had always wondered why she had an actual broom closet, full of brooms. I thought they all pertained to magick. HA! Was I wrong…..

There is one for cleansing……

One for casting a circle…..

One for handfasting…..

and

One for….

wiccan_1010_wwg

CLEANING!!!

Do We Need To Defend Our Faith?

Do We Need To Defend Our Faith?

Author:   Disciple of Oghma 

I have been reading a lot of articles lately discussing the Christian path and its concerns and relations with the Pagan paths. I agree with the heart and the courage I see exemplified in these people who are demanding that we should all “step out of our Broom Closet”. But I am inclined to disagree with those sentiments on a few points. People might get the impression that we are in denial of our faiths because we are not louder than the Christians. But most of us aren’t even in the Broom Closet. And isn’t being loud and arrogant about our faith too negative a face to put forward to the world at large?

I am Pagan and I am very open about it. People either accept me and move on or they fight with me. After three years my wife still refuses to accept I’m pagan and occasionally asks if I have ‘prayed about my decisions’. I wish it weren’t so but she’d rather believe I am directionless and apathetic than I am grounded, at peace, and happy without her god.

I don’t rub my pentagram in people’s faces but I don’t hide it either. As far as our relationship with Christianity…well, we are not a threat to them. The true single most potent threat to Christianity is apathy. If they intend to continue in their tradition they must stop resisting growth and ignoring the changing needs of their people.

Paganism and Christianity have coexisted for thousands of years. There were periods of time where Christianity considered us merely woodland weirdoes who were not of sound mind but mostly harmless. Yes, there were periods when they have gone to bloody war with us. But those times are over. So remember them if you will, but, I believe we have it in us to move on and stop belaboring it. (Honestly, were any of us here today living during the Burning Times? Okay, let’s move on please.)

Wicca is a modern attempt to resuscitate a bygone path of nature reverence and self-discovery. Christianity is a path of self-denial and conformity. The two are oxymoronic and unable to be meshed. The basis of the Wiccan faith is an adherence to the ‘rede’ (which is basically an admonishment to respect others and yourself) and likewise to an absolute freedom within which to figure out your impressions of the world and your place in it. Christianity, on the other hand, has a story with a beginning and an end and its followers are merely disciplining themselves to be worthy of the ‘right end’.

Questions like ” Where do people go when they die” and “What if you are wrong” do not really matter as challenges to the Pagan faiths. Everyone’s worldview is defined by his/her own perspective. My answers to those questions suit me fine but may not work for you… as will likely be the case in reverse.

I viewed my relationship with the aforementioned Jehovah and came to terms with it and left that path. What if I am wrong? I honestly don’t care. If I am wrong I would rather be in a hell separated from Jehovah than spend eternity sucking up to him while I disagree with him in my heart and feel like I am prostituting myself for his favor. That is my answer.

Where do people go when they die? Well since no one has done so and returned to tell me about the experience, I sit quietly, enjoy my life and await that great adventure. I am at peace with not knowing. Some of the greatest things in life are ‘unknown’ until they are revealed by time. As one of my favorite authors put it, ” What awaits me in death? I do not presume to know. I am curious yet I do not hasten toward it to know. I expect that Death, like the other stages of Life, will be on time; enriching; and full of both tears and joy.” (-jk Rowling) The important thing is not defining Absolute Truth as much as finding peace and contentment, living life in productivity, and interacting and experiencing the world while we are here.

Now as far as changing the Christian mindset, well… it’s not going to happen. They are people who are raised from birth in a belief they are trapped in a prison built by their own hand and god, the Infinitely Patient One, is just trying to save them from their nasty blind selves.

And as for finding ‘our voice’, we actually have. Never before in history has our beliefs so permeated media, books, and youth. We are peaceably gaining a foothold in the battle for the young minds. If indeed we all stood up in public and demanded we be counted, some would think the Beast had risen and — if a violent and charismatic enough leader rose up — you may have another Burning Times (Worst Case Scenario) .

Best Case Scenario? They would just lament over the rise of ‘demonic worship’ [Interesting side note: According to Zoroastrianism, a demon is ANY spirit whom has never inhabited a corporeal form. Under that system just about every religion would be worshipping ‘demons’.] and declare that these are indeed the ‘Last Days’.

I myself was swayed by a quiet intelligent young man whom turned out to be a Celtic pagan. Those were the traits that led me to review my own beliefs.

I believe that Christians will NEVER accept us. They are taught to fear and loathe us. Thus I do not believe that we should demand consideration from them. I think we should ignore their distain and live our lives and simply share with any interested ear our beliefs and our freedom, peace, and joy.

We are more prevalent today. Take heart! We ARE standing up and we ARE getting noticed. Don’t lose courage in the face of ignorance and propaganda. The youth of today pay attention and they aren’t stupid. They see the witch is just a normal person. They comprehend the difference between what they are told and what they see. And I believe that the religious hatred will die slowly the same way racism is dying.

I appreciate your vigor and courage. I am proud to stand with you. For I am a pagan! And I see no reason to apologize.

“Pagans Worship The Ground you Walk On”.

“Pagans Worship The Ground You Walk On”

Author:   Forest

This was the bumper sticker that I read on an old station wagon earlier today on my way to work which got me to smiling (and at 6 in the morning, that can be awfully hard to accomplish).

The car was sitting quietly in its spot beside my place of work, and I went to take a closer look at the sticker, smiling as I read what it said. I loved that bumper sticker; it brightened my day.

What surprised me though, wasn’t the fact that it could put a smile on my face at 6 in the morning, but the sheer horror as to the fact that someone had keyed “Witch Bit**” into the side of the car.

I mean come on, what is wrong with people nowadays? Are they so against our faith that they must do that in order to make themselves feel better? It’s ludicrous is what I think, but you can never be too sure.

I thought about it for a moment and I realized that almost every movie with witches in it has the phrase “Witch Bit**”. The whole thing must’ve started out with a movie like “The Witches of East Wick”, or “Practical Magic” or something along the lines of this. The phrase can be heard almost anytime someone wants to make a rude remark to a pagan person.

Honestly, the word has come to be a household name for people who are not of the old way.

I felt like crap as I walked into work, and saw who it was who must’ve owned the car. You see, apparently, she couldn’t get the car out of the theater parking lot because someone had slashed her tires and keyed that obscene remark on the side of her car. So, instead of feeling an ounce of sympathy, my boss told her that since she had the entire night to move her car and didn’t, that her car was being impounded.

The woman looked really strong; she must’ve seen a lot in her life, and she looked to be about 60 years old. Though, through all of this, you could tell that she was on the verge of crying.

I asked for a leave of absence so that I could take the woman home, and luckily, I got it. Her car was about to be towed, and/or impounded, and I didn’t think that she would be able to handle the fact that my boss was about to make her pay money for something that wasn’t her fault.

People aren’t very surprising. A lot of us have the same kind of arrogant personality going around and making people feel like fools.

You’ve seen some of those people, witches included, who say some stuff like, “Psh, I’ll make acid rain come down over his head while he’s sleeping, I have the power.”

I mean, we can be arrogant just like anyone else. When you go around parading something that some people really don’t care for, you’re begging for something bad to happen to you.

The same thing happens to those boys and girls who flaunt about how they’re homosexual. I mean, I understand about being open about it, but to hit on every guy or girl and dress like a girl/guy, that’s just pushing it, I mean, I’m bi, but I couldn’t really understand why some of them did it until recently.

Yea, the world’s screwed up, and these people know this, yet they flaunt themselves around like they’re a lamb on the spit. I’m sorry, but when they say that they’re victims, they’re absolutely right.

But they knew that it would eventually happen, so that’s what made me start pondering about the world.

Humans are a proud race. I mean, some of us are ill-willed and weak-minded, but in the end, we all pretty much stand up for what we believe in. We all have the power to delve into our memories and conjure up something that can fuel our onward path. All you have to do is believe ,right?

I love people when I think that these people chose to flaunt their religion, while knowing that by doing so, they might get in a little bit of trouble along the way. These people are truly my heroes. They stand up for their beliefs, they stand up for our religion, and these people are healing the earth in doing so.

Some of us are (using the melancholy term) “In the Broom Closet”. Well, it’s time to come out, because the world isn’t as terrible as you think it is. Sure, there are rough spots on the way, but then again, you have fellow pagans all around you who will help you along the way.

We all need to take a stand. We need to hear the voices of the people who were shamed because we were to weak to stand up for them when we were hiding in the shadows.

We all have it in us. I mean, we’re pagan, we’ve been here longer than anybody. Our souls have prospered the Earth. It’s time that we needed a batch of good karma, so why not make it ourselves?

I mean, we are witches, right?

I’m just putting this article out here for something for you to ponder on. You don’t need to respond, but hopefully some people can understand what it’s like to be these people, the ones who are ashamed, the ones who get beat up, broken down, and downright miserable.

We all need help once in awhile, so lets give some right now, just think about it ok?

If you understand what it feels like, then why let it happen to other people? We all need to understand that when you’re broken down and crying in the dirt, you’re not just at rock bottom; you’re rock bottom under 8 feet of mud and concrete, and you can’t get out without some help.

Just think about it.

Your Home as Your Temple

Your Home as Your Temple
image
Author: Kestryl Angell

When you are seeking to make your life a magickal one in every sense of the word and every place you can, the first place to look at in your external environment to be influenced is your home. Therefore, let’s look at how the rooms of the home equate to the “rooms” of our internal landscape and parts of our own life’s expression to others and to our selves.

This practice will help us to recognize not only where we feel most comfortable, but also where we need the most work as well in tuning into our own personal expressions and needs.

Interestingly, you will find that sacred symbolism within your home/temple exists…wherever you put it!

Your yard is the first impression that people see of how you live. It doesn’t have to be “fancy” or professionally landscaped to make a good impression of someone who cares about the home they have worked so hard to gain.

A neatly manicured lawn and trimmed hedges simply shows you care enough to give the neighbors something pleasant to glance across as they drive through the neighborhood.

It is often, as well, a good first step toward making good neighbors you can rely on in emergencies, and can also therefore be a “good will ambassador” of sorts that lets people know you community minded. It is Earth to the Home.

Your foyer and living room, usually the first rooms to be entered in the home, are your own personal “first impression” to the world. This is where you can show yourself to either be a well-organized, homey sort of person or whatever sort of person you are. It is the “face” you show most of the world, usually, though on a more intimate front than say your office space would be.

If your home only has a living room then it is also often the place where you relax and enjoy your family and friends. If you have a home that also has a den, then the living room is often a more formal view on the world, where the den is kept for family and friends time. It is Air to the Home, and often an Earthy grounding influence as well. Coming home should always be a “breathe of fresh air.”

The kitchen is the hearth and heart of the home. It is where you feed yourself and those you love and where you place the basic foundation blocks of how you nourish yourself and those you love most.

A well-organized and tidy kitchen shows a caring heart and one that extends easily past its own needs. Someone whose kitchen is nearly always untidy and unkempt can usually be seen to have rather slovenly in other areas of life that pertain to the heart-such as selfishness, a disregard for solid boundaries or laziness.

Along this same line of thinking, those that keep a barren kitchen and only tend to bring in fast food or refuse to cook for themselves are those that expect their physical and emotional needs for nourishment of all kinds to come from other sources than their own work and instead, wait for it to be satisfied by those around them. It is the Fire of the Home, in the nurturing sense.

Your bathroom is where you clean up the messes in life. It is where we improve on what nature gave us by taking care of our hair, nails, body’s various needs and forms of cleansing and where we soak away the world’s worries and stress. As well, it can be a part of our healing process as well in times when things like flu keep us close to the “porcelain god.” It is the Watery Chalice and Cauldron of the Home.

Your bedroom is both a place of peaceful rest, of relationship’s harmony and intimacy to be shared and a place to heal body, mind and heart. The bedroom is the retreat of the home and should be treated with the most protective instinct, for it is where we reveal our most intimate selves. It is as sacred in its way as our temple space itself, if you are lucky enough to have a home that bears its own temple space and often, when in smaller living quarters, people choose to keep their altars active in their bedroom as a first instinct, for this is where they feel most comfortable being naked in every sense of the word.

Often, therefore, you will see the bedroom as a mix of the heart and spirit of the home. It is where our dreams begin and, for many, where the planning stages of the best things in life begin.

The closets in your home are those little nooks and crannies within yourself that you “stash” things. When company is coming, when family is too close to something intimate in your life, when you feel you don’t have appropriate time to “clean properly, ” the closets are where we toss all those things we plan to “get around to later.”

Therefore, if you’re one of those people that packrats everything into their closets and only cleans them out about once a year-if that-then likely you are one that has trouble letting go of things in life. It can also indicate someone that feels they have things to hide, or someone that feels they won’t be fully accepted if those closets fall onto the head of someone that happens across them.

Likewise, those with stuffed closets and disorganized hidey-holes tend to be ones that leave issues and tasks unfinished or only roughly so. They may start projects well but have trouble finishing them and can even perhaps be this way in relationship to others.

In any part of the home temple, the places where things tend to collect, remain disorganized and cluttered, these are often reflections to us of places on our internal landscape that need work. As well, if you are one that finds you feel disorganized all the time on an inside plane, mentally, emotionally or spiritually, you will often manifest moments where keeping your home in a state of clean tidiness will help you retain your sanity.

Taken to the extreme, however, a person that is a complete anal retentive when it comes to cleanliness around the home and can’t stand even the slightest signs that their home is occupied by actual human beings…these folk tend to have serious issues with self control and control their environments in order to feel more stable on a personal level.

The home should most definitely be cared for as well or better than you would treat any other sacred tool on your altar. It should be cleansed and blessed when you first rent or buy it and should be cleaned regularly, with the cycles of the moon and with intent on all levels pointed toward imbuing it as a safe haven in which to love, live, grow, heal and manifest your life.

That is not to say that it should be kept like a museum or architectural wonder, but simply that it should be cared for with the same Love and Pride you feel at being a child of the Gods.

Even within each room, I have learned that many witches keep small “altars” pointed toward specific purposes set in each room. What do you think “witchy knickknacks” are for?!

For instance, protection filters and grounding influences set in crystals and other items in the front room as you enter the house so that any negativity picked up from our travels throughout life outside our home does not influence the peaceful serenity within it.

Another example is to have healing magicks quietly setup within the little corners of the kitchen and bathrooms of the home to see to it that all things created, entering and leaving the body are as wholesome to our health and overall purpose as they can be.

My own children, once taught that the kitchen is one of the places where a Mother puts Love into her family, they would often ask in that child’s manner, “Mom, did you put the Love in?”

The answer, of course, was “Always, baby. Always! That goes in even before and with every ingredient in the pot!”

This is most definitely the case if, with every pot or pan that comes into your home, you take an extra few moments to cleanse it with intent, charge it even as you would wine and cakes in circle space, and see to it that all things entering the pot and the collective product of the ingredients is filled with loving, healthful intent and energy.

How much extra time does this take to a meal? The answer is…as much or as little as you choose to put into it, but these are the little everyday “religious experiences” that can truly attune and more strongly align a witch within his or her everyday home and family environment. But at the very least, you will find some very basic guidelines I use given below.

Feel free to use or adjust them as you may to your own space, likes and dislikes, needs and wants, because this is not a hard and fast “ritual.” This is a set of guidelines for living magickally and helping to assist your self into a more centered frame of baseline for living in a well and balanced way.

Setting the protective Circle outside the home is as simple as casting circle at the borders of your yard. You simply create the sacred space with a doorway and filters provided for well-meaning assistants and spiritual guides, as well as your human guests, family and friends. This is something that should be taken down, the yard cleansed and smudged and the Circle re-erected at least once a month, preferably during the three days influence on and on either side of the new/dark moon.

At this time, it is also good to make certain at the preparation celebrations for the dark months holidays-Fall Equinox, Samhein and Yuletide celebrations-that any charms made for the protection of the home are taken down, taken apart, their essential herbal pieces burned and/or buried near running water so that all the negatives they’ve absorbed can be taken back into the mother’s womb to be reborn as something positive in the future.

A great family activity is the making of these charms and the picking up, throughout the year, the little magickal pieces of wortcunning that go into these charms. Herbs, flowers, charms, beads, ribbons, colored threads, bits of bright cloth, shells, leaves, bits of ivy…anything that you feel works best for your needs. Kids can begin with the door to their bedrooms as their first work at learning to keep the good in and the bad out.

For children that have nightmares, this can be a very empowering exercise, if they are taught about the herbs and pieces of their charm as they build it and ask the Gods to use its power to protect him or her.

When washing your windows, see to it that a small amount of cider vinegar is in your solution to cleanse away the negative viewpoints, both from you and toward you and your home. Likewise with floors to see to it that anything trodden in upon the feet of those you love-especially unwitting younglings that often forget to wipe their feet at the door and rarely realize what they’ve been walking in until its too late-be it physically or spiritually.

Smudge the home whenever there has been stress in the house, for it only takes a moment to open a window or door for a brief few minutes, ask some air in to cleanse the thoughts and bring peaceful flow to the home again, and assisting whatever may be tempted to get “sticky” in the home toward a more positive end than remaining to stress your world.

I smudge my home at least once per week…more when the week has been rough and the world has been tough to handle. Many Native American women smudge their family’s feet nearly every time they come in from a day of work. Again, the practice can be taken to whatever degree you find most useful and comforting.

Every day, in a home blessed regularly and cleansed with intent regularly, you will find it far easier to wake up grateful for your life and happy with the space it takes place in. If there are things you don’t like or that you wish to change, then apply yourself and the magick and make it happen! But always be grateful for each stage on the path to that dream home or that dream life.

When you bring your pride in ownership into your life more fully, you show the Universe that you care deeply for the fruits of blessing it has already gifted your life with and if you do not take care of it…likewise you show the Universe that you don’t give a really good damn what the Gods present to you.

This kind of uncaring slovenliness can often bring a reaction from the Universe that you don’t want.

For after all, do you keep giving gifts to someone that consistently abuses, neglects, tosses aside and breaks the gifts you spend your hard earned energy to buy or make for them? Of course not, it’s wasteful and rather silly.

Likewise, the Gods do not take kindly to having the gifts They bestow looked upon as “spoils of war” to be used and abused “any damn way we want to!”

Like the hardship of quitting any bad habit, making our lazy human selves get up out of that chair and tidy our home after a long week is sometimes a difficult task. But even the task of cleaning and ordering the home becomes a dancing ritual if you make it so.

Have FUN with it; fill your home with laughter and joy as you clean-put on a comedy DVD! But however you need to do it, light the incense, perhaps a candle or two and get to work!

The rewards are definitely worth it!!!

One Pagan Steps Out of the Broom Closet

One Pagan Steps Out of the Broom Closet

by L. Lisa Harris

In days past, stepping out of the broom closet meant sitting at the dinner table and blurting out, “Mom, I’m a witch,” then waiting for her to accept the fact and ask you questions, or faint dead away. She might tell you it was a phase you were going though or refuse to talk to you for a period of time. As a general rule, if it wasn’t accepted, it never left the dinner table. It just wouldn’t do to air the family’s dirty laundry to the neighbors (what would they think?).

Today, it could still be as simple as telling a trusted co-worker that you go to circle, instead of church, or explaining to a potential significant other why there is 7-inch dagger on a small table next to your bed. You might even be lucky enough to be outed by your 9-year-old child, who in an argument with a neighborhood kid yells, “Yeah, well, my mom’s a witch, and I’m going to go get her right now.”

However, with the advent of the Internet, one’s “witchiness” (along with anything else of interest) can be world news in a matter of seconds, as I quickly learned. The speed at which such information can travel and how far it can get can be quite surprising, even for one who is “out of the broom closet.” You can give in an interview to the local paper, and the next thing you know, you’re getting e-mail from Australia.

My adventure in pagan PR and world news began early last winter when I received a phone call from Steve Maynard of the Tacoma News Tribune advising me that he was planning to do a feature story on the Earth Centered Spirituality Group at the Unitarian Universalist (UU) Church in Tacoma, which I have facilitated for the past two and a half years. Steve covers religion for the paper and was slowly but surely making progress with his editor in getting earth-centered events covered on the religion page. We both knew he had a long way to go before he would be permitted to treat our group as the paper did other religious groups when, last Easter season, his editor would not allow him to use the word “pagan” when he was describing a UU church service in which elders read children stories of how four traditions (pagan, Hebrew, Christian and Unitarian) celebrated the Easter season.

I was expecting his feature story to be on the religion page, as we were just beginning to get calendar space in the Saturday edition in that section. Imagine my surprise when he told me that it was going to be the cover for the “Sound Life” magazine section and that there was also going to be a photo layout. He was even going to use the words “pagan” and “witch.” For a moment, I couldn’t believe it. All the months of pestering him and sending press releases and information had paid off. We were going to be taken seriously. We were going to have a chance to let Western Washington know what we were and what we weren’t. I was elated.

But on the drive home from work, I asked myself, “What was I thinking?” A nice little column on the religion page was one thing, but to be on the magazine cover of a Sunday edition was another matter. I have been “out” with my family and friends for 13 years and even wear a triple moon pentacle at work, where I have no problem educating those who would malign others’ religion out of ignorance. But when I thought about the conservative Christian parents of the girls I coach in softball and volleyball on the South Hill of Puyallup reading in the Sunday paper about their coach being a witch, something in my stomach did a double back-flip with a twist. I had visions of girls being pulled from the team by parents who didn’t want them corrupted by that “tool of Satan,” other kids not being allowed to play with my daughter and picketers throwing rocks in front of the church. Steve and I had been working towards this for almost a year and a half, so it was no small matter that I found myself reconsidering the wisdom of the situation.

Most witches I know would meditate or cast a circle and ask the Goddess for guidance when dealing with an important situation like this. My goddess never waits for me to do that. I’ve learned to deal with it. She likes to slip into the passenger seat of my car when I’m trying to drive home at the end of a busy day or corner me when I’m in the bathroom and can’t get up and leave because my pants are around my ankles. This time she chose the car, and she really let me have it. “You’re the one that wanted to be a warrior. Now you’re given a chance to battle ignorance and you’re afraid? Don’t be a wimp! Get out there and act like a priestess, not a weenie!” I don’t recommend dedicating yourself to the Morrigane unless you’re the type of person who can stand up to a drill sergeant without flinching. Of course, as I remember it, I didn’t have a lot of say in the matter. She chose me.

About the time I was feeling completely unworthy, my cell phone rang. It was my daughter letting me know that she was home from school. “Honey, how would you feel if the next article about me was in a bigger paper than the last one?” I asked.

“Um, okay, why?” she replied, her mouth overly full of partially chewed banana. I explained that it would be a front page spread and my picture was likely to be in it. More chewing, and another “Um, okay” followed the sound of the fridge being rummaged through. I asked her what her friends would think if they saw the article, and she assured me that her friends don’t read anything other than the horoscopes, music reviews and comics.

“How would you feel if one of your friends wouldn’t hang out with you anymore because your mom’s a witch?”

“I don’t think that would happen,” she said.

“But what if it did?” I pushed.

She swallowed the rest of her banana, which I’m sure was not properly chewed, and in her best exasperated-adolescent voice said, “Well, that wouldn’t make them very good friends, now, would it? Can I go over to Morgan’s?” So much for the girl being traumatized by it. That was one excuse gone. I reminded her to chew with her mouth closed and take smaller bites, then hung up the phone.

The next call came in right on schedule, from Hubby, who was on his break at work. “Hi, honey, how would you feel if all the guys in the break room at work read in the paper that I’m a witch?” I asked, thinking that there was no point in beating around the bush since he only had 10 minutes to talk.

His response was immediate and enthusiastic, “Cool!” he said. “When will it come out? I’d love for some of those dumb, right-wing conservative jerks I argue politics with to see it, so that I can yank their chain.” When he found out it would be in the Sunday edition, he was extremely disappointed he wouldn’t be there at work to watch the looks on his co-workers’ faces when they read it. It would have been amusing, since I used to work in the same place and know all of them. Great, Hubby wasn’t going to be an excuse either. I was going to have to go through with it.

The next step was to set up interviews and photo opportunities. The interviews weren’t going to be a problem. I’d been talking to Steve for over a year and a half and had sent him volumes of information. How much was there that he could possibly ask? I found out that there was plenty. It seemed that the more information I gave him, the more questions he had. He found that the more people he talked to and the more research he did, the more disagreement on basic issues he found. After a month of spending my lunch hours, breaks and time after work talking to Steve, I still couldn’t come up with answers to some questions other than, “Well, if you ask 30 people that question, you’ll likely get 30 different answers.”

I could hear him shaking his head on the other end of the phone line, but he kept with it. He interviewed Ph.D.s, ministers, theologians, authors and other high priestesses in the local community. He attended Tarot classes and rune workshops that we put on in order to get a better understanding of what our group does and interviewed several people at those classes to get a feel for the local community.

The photo editor wanted to photograph a ritual. “We don’t allow photographers at our rituals,” I explained. When I offered to set something up with people who didn’t mind being photographed, he told me that at the paper they “don’t like things that are staged.” “Great!” I muttered to myself. I already had a Brigid ritual to write, a class on the runes to put together and lines to memorize for a Candlemas ritual that another group was putting on. I knew that the only way the layout was going to work would be to put on a real working with participants who didn’t mind being photographed. I made the offer of a special ritual, with a real working, and once he was convinced it wouldn’t be “staged” and I had his agreement the photographer would not disrupt the flow of the ritual, the date was set. I put out a call to the local pagan e-mail lists for volunteers who didn’t mind being photographed.

Getting the volunteers was much easier than I had imagined, and I was rather pleased with how things were working out. The difficult part, I discovered, was going to be finding a ritual that wouldn’t expose material that many in the pagan community would consider “inappropriate” for public use or that would offend or exclude anyone. I soon discovered that what some considered “outer court” material, suitable for any public occasion, others considered “oath-bound.” I was also faced with the fact that just because something is published and sitting on a shelf at Borders doesn’t mean that it isn’t considered oath-bound by one tradition or another. I suddenly had to worry about being pagan politically correct.

Then there were the personal preferences of those who were going to be in the circle. My Wiccan friends didn’t want a Wiccan ritual “performed” for the media. Some of the pagans didn’t want to be confused with witches, the neo-pagans didn’t want to be confused with “New Agers,” my Brit-trad friends didn’t want to be mistakenly identified as Unitarians, and some of the Unitarians didn’t want to be labeled at all. I had 17 ritualists with 17 different ideas of what would and wouldn’t be appropriate.

As I sat at my computer, staring out the window at the woods out back, I thought to myself, “If my close friends and those who trust me to present paganism to the media are this fired up, what about all the pagans who are going to read this in the paper and had no say in the matter? What are they going to think?” Suddenly I went from feeling like a champion of those who suffer religious oppression to feeling like someone not worthy of the task. I had lost count of the number of people who thought that no reporter could be trusted and that I was making a huge mistake. But I had been talking to Steve for a long time. I knew him. I knew what he wanted to accomplish and trusted him to do right by us. I thought I was doing a good thing, and it seemed that it just ticked everyone off. Visions of angry pagans wanting my hide were added to the already scary ones of crosses burning on my lawn or windows being broken at the church by those who fear us. More doubt filled my mind. I tried to brush it away as quickly as I could. I really wasn’t up for a bathroom visit from a ticked-off goddess. I was starting to get a headache.

Two glasses of wine later, I had decided that we would use only published material, to which I would make some changes so that no tradition’s sacred material would be exposed to the media. The ritual would be a working for community understanding, which seemed fitting for a media event. I scanned my bookshelves, literally sagging under the weight of what my hubby considers my “excessive” book collection, hoping that something would present itself.

I noticed my old dog-eared copy of The Spiral Dance sticking out a bit farther than the other books on the shelf. “Starhawk! She knows how to deal with the public and fight for the cause. I don’t really think she’d mind if I borrowed a few things,” I told myself. I found a ritual written by Alan Acacia titled “A Circle for Healing During Struggle,” which fit in perfectly with what we were planning. I modified it to be less priestess-centered and to have the quarters read their parts themselves. I picked out some nice invocations to the God and Goddess, and soon I had a basic ritual ready to go.

The ritual was beautiful, so beautiful in fact that I forgave my friend Dana without even giving her a hard time for calling me a “circle Nazi” in rehearsal. Everyone showed up in festive clothing and colorful robes. People who came to sit and watch but didn’t want to risk being “outed” by being in the circle were drawn in; they just couldn’t stay out. The quarter callers performed their parts perfectly, the candles all stayed lit, and our sound and lighting person hit every musical cue. We passed a small cauldron, which was later lit, around the room, so that each person in turn could hold it and speak aloud what they hoped to accomplish with the ritual. Everyone was so eloquent and sincere and came up with such wonderful, positive wishes that the reporter was frantic trying to copy them all down. We danced a spiral to raise energy, and everyone in that room could feel a strong, palpable force, even the photographer. We had been asked prior to the ritual to send healing energy to a critically ill girl who was on a respirator in a children’s hospital, so we added that to our ritual working and sent it all flying out of the circle in a powerful stream of golden light. Afterwards, everyone in the circle had a look on his or her face as if they had just had amazing sex. I’d call that good energy.

At 4 a.m. on February 8, after weeks of worries and what ifs, I drove down the hill to the mini-mart to get a copy of the paper. I took a deep breath, readying myself in case it wasn’t really there or my trust in the reporter had been misplaced. On the cover of the “Sound Life” section was a full color picture of the ritualists with their outstretched arms, adorned with rings, bracelets and colorful robes, sending healing energy to the ill girl, and the headline “Pagans at Peace.” The light bouncing off of the sanctuary wall in the background looked just like a ball of gold light being tossed out to the universe. There were pictures of the rune workshop and flaming cauldrons. I must say it was possibly the best article I have ever seen on paganism in the mainstream press. Steve had even quoted Christian clergy to explain what attracts seekers to witchcraft and paganism. Yes, there were some things left out, and a couple of people didn’t think that the press should have made it sound like all pagans share a common set of beliefs. All I could do was say, “Well done, Steve. Thank you.”

There were no picketers in front of the UU church that morning. No threatening messages had been left on the answering machine there or at home. Everyone in the church was excited about the article, and some new people even showed up because of it. A friend who works in a local hospital arrived at work to find the article pinned to the bulletin board and a request for pagan clergy posted. The hospital staff had taken notice of the article section that spoke of pagan hospital patients not having access to clergy services. Now there is a group in Pierce County putting together a program to get pagan clergy registered with local hospitals.

The article made it around the globe in a few hours, thanks to the Internet mailings lists and bulletin boards. It made at least two appearances in the “Wren’s Nest” section of The Witches Voice Web site, and I received congratulations from Circle Sanctuary. Soon I started receiving e-mail messages from all over the world. One told me how the article came at a perfect time to show to a judge in a child custody battle in which the mother’s Wiccan religion was being used against her. Another letter told of a case where a young girl was missing and the local media had blamed it on the fact that she had visited a Web site on Wicca. The story went out on the Howard-Scripps News Service and was reprinted in several other newspapers, sparking a whole new batch of letters, all with similar stories and gratitude to Steve for portraying us in a positive light, not just as a media curiosity at Halloween, as many newspapers do.

When it was apparent that nothing bad was going to happen because of the article, I was almost disappointed. I wasn’t going to have to do battle against ignorance or have an exciting and dangerous story to tell in Widdershins. I came to realize, though, that I did have a story to tell. It isn’t about confrontation or hate. It is about battling my own fear and self-doubt. It is a story of a group of people who came together, regardless of personal risk, to accomplish a goal for the greater community. It is the story of a little girl who got off of a respirator and is back home with her family, who incidentally are not pagan.

“Pagans Worship The Ground You Walk On”

“Pagans Worship The Ground You Walk On”
image
Author: Forest


This was the bumper sticker that I read on an old station wagon earlier today on my way to work which got me to smiling (and at 6 in the morning, that can be awfully hard to accomplish).

The car was sitting quietly in its spot beside my place of work, and I went to take a closer look at the sticker, smiling as I read what it said. I loved that bumper sticker; it brightened my day.

What surprised me though, wasn’t the fact that it could put a smile on my face at 6 in the morning, but the sheer horror as to the fact that someone had keyed “Witch Bit**” into the side of the car.

I mean come on, what is wrong with people nowadays? Are they so against our faith that they must do that in order to make themselves feel better? It’s ludicrous is what I think, but you can never be too sure.

I thought about it for a moment and I realized that almost every movie with witches in it has the phrase “Witch Bit**”. The whole thing must’ve started out with a movie like “The Witches of East Wick”, or “Practical Magic” or something along the lines of this. The phrase can be heard almost anytime someone wants to make a rude remark to a pagan person.

Honestly, the word has come to be a household name for people who are not of the old way.

I felt like crap as I walked into work, and saw who it was who must’ve owned the car. You see, apparently, she couldn’t get the car out of the theater parking lot because someone had slashed her tires and keyed that obscene remark on the side of her car. So, instead of feeling an ounce of sympathy, my boss told her that since she had the entire night to move her car and didn’t, that her car was being impounded.

The woman looked really strong; she must’ve seen a lot in her life, and she looked to be about 60 years old. Though, through all of this, you could tell that she was on the verge of crying.

I asked for a leave of absence so that I could take the woman home, and luckily, I got it. Her car was about to be towed, and/or impounded, and I didn’t think that she would be able to handle the fact that my boss was about to make her pay money for something that wasn’t her fault.

People aren’t very surprising. A lot of us have the same kind of arrogant personality going around and making people feel like fools.

You’ve seen some of those people, witches included, who say some stuff like, “Psh, I’ll make acid rain come down over his head while he’s sleeping, I have the power.”

I mean, we can be arrogant just like anyone else. When you go around parading something that some people really don’t care for, you’re begging for something bad to happen to you.

The same thing happens to those boys and girls who flaunt about how they’re homosexual. I mean, I understand about being open about it, but to hit on every guy or girl and dress like a girl/guy, that’s just pushing it, I mean, I’m bi, but I couldn’t really understand why some of them did it until recently.

Yea, the world’s screwed up, and these people know this, yet they flaunt themselves around like they’re a lamb on the spit. I’m sorry, but when they say that they’re victims, they’re absolutely right.

But they knew that it would eventually happen, so that’s what made me start pondering about the world.

Humans are a proud race. I mean, some of us are ill-willed and weak-minded, but in the end, we all pretty much stand up for what we believe in. We all have the power to delve into our memories and conjure up something that can fuel our onward path. All you have to do is believe ,right?

I love people when I think that these people chose to flaunt their religion, while knowing that by doing so, they might get in a little bit of trouble along the way. These people are truly my heroes. They stand up for their beliefs, they stand up for our religion, and these people are healing the earth in doing so.

Some of us are (using the melancholy term) “In the Broom Closet”. Well, it’s time to come out, because the world isn’t as terrible as you think it is. Sure, there are rough spots on the way, but then again, you have fellow pagans all around you who will help you along the way.

We all need to take a stand. We need to hear the voices of the people who were shamed because we were to weak to stand up for them when we were hiding in the shadows.

We all have it in us. I mean, we’re pagan, we’ve been here longer than anybody. Our souls have prospered the Earth. It’s time that we needed a batch of good karma, so why not make it ourselves?

I mean, we are witches, right?

I’m just putting this article out here for something for you to ponder on. You don’t need to respond, but hopefully some people can understand what it’s like to be these people, the ones who are ashamed, the ones who get beat up, broken down, and downright miserable.

We all need help once in awhile, so lets give some right now, just think about it ok?

If you understand what it feels like, then why let it happen to other people? We all need to understand that when you’re broken down and crying in the dirt, you’re not just at rock bottom; you’re rock bottom under 8 feet of mud and concrete, and you can’t get out without some help.

Just think about it.

In case you are wondering, what the heck happened to me……

Hello Images, Pics, Comments, Photos, Graphics
Good afternoon, my luvs! I must apologize for abruptly leaving the site while I was posting. I meant to say something to you this morning, in case this happened. But I didn’t. I don’t know if you have been watching the News or not. We have had some awful weather come through here recently. I know on the News it has been reported about the poor little town of Harrisburg, Ill., being tore all to pieces. It has a category 2 tornado hit during the early morning hours of Wednesday. Thirteen people were killed and I believe amongst them was one child. The child was throwed from the house and probably didn’t even know what happened. I know his parents are heartbroken but thankfully he didn’t suffer. They started picking up what was left of their lives yesterday. This little town is about 75 miles from me. Our local News station is collecting goods to take to Harrisburg, Sunday.

Closer to home, we have a main road which is a straight shot to Paducah. It is nice and paved and if you are in a hurry you can do about 100 mph, no problem. I know I have done it, lol! But that is another story. Anyway, the officials kept telling everyone to stay off this main road. Do not go on it, they kept repeating and repeating. Well come to find out today, a category 3 tornado had hit down there. The spot it hit was about three or four miles awa from our house. They said the winds were blowing 125 mph. I remember my hubby came in here and asked me, if I want to be awake when I got blowed away. When I got up, the house was a’rockin’ and the siding sound like it was just being peeled off (thank the Goddess it wasn’t though). After that morning wake-up call, things calmed down and I went back to sleep.

Today, started out as a beautiful day. I went to the mailbox this morning and it was already 65 degrees here. The Weather people had mentioned something about storms but I didn’t think a thing about it. So when I sit down to post, I had it in the back of my head that I might need to tell you if I disappeared, what was going on. But genius decided not to and of course, we had one super cell storm come through after another. When the first one hit, I just quit. I started shutting the computer down as fast as I could, unplugged it from the cable and the electricity, grabbed Kiki and headed to the closet. Razzy and Stinker were stuck up my butt, so they followed right behind me. We were all in the closet. I was about to burn up. Kiki, Razzy and Stinker all piled up on top of me. I just gathered my arms around all of them and held them. My husband had grabbed his laptop and he had it on the local radar. I got to listen to him give weather reports for about two hours. I know the wind was up and it sounded horrible.  I remember hearing the hail hit the house and then I heard a loud roar. It was a tornado going over the house. I thought it was time to kiss my ass good-bye.  But it seemed like it took forever for it to go over. We were extremely blessed nothing major was damaged. My husband said he felt the house move. Hell, I was scared to death and I had three critters who had their claws stuck in me so deep, I thought I was going to need stitches. When we finally did come out, I was never so glad to see the sun shining in my life. We walked around outside. The roof on the shed is missing and we have shingles gone, all the drain pipes are ripped off, and the patio furniture, who knows where it is!

See you thought I was out having a great time didn’t ya’? Instead, I was in the broom closet getting ready to find out if brooms can really fly, lol! I wanted to let you know that I wasn’t skipping out on my responsibilities. I have calmed down and I am going to do a little posting to relax me.

Before I go, I would like to ask a favor of you. Please keep the people of Illinois and Kentucky in your thoughts and prayers (especially Harrisburg). I would deeply appreciate it. Hopefully we can get back to normal tomorrow.

Luv & Hugs,

Lady A

My Pentacle Is Bigger Than Yours!

My Pentacle Is Bigger Than Yours!

Author: Devon, The Maid Of Epona

I’ve been a practicing solitary witch for a little more than ten years. I have just recently decided to wear my pentacle openly.

Does that mean I’m out of the broom closet? Heavens no! I like to describe myself as having one foot in and the other out of the proverbial broom closet. I believe this to be the smart way to be, living where I live. Hey! Pennsylvania isn’t California!

I’m not a militant pagan although I do have a serious warrior’s streak. But being a warrior also means picking and choosing your fights. I work in the small animal business in one job and in the horse business in the other.

When working in the horse business, keeping your mouth shut about what faith you are, especially if it is an alternative faith that is greatly misunderstood by others, is the wiser way to go.

If I were to be open to everyone about my faith, it would have a detrimental effect on my career. People in the horse business would immediately assume that I was one of those “tree hugging, wackos” and I suddenly wouldn’t get hired or be able to buy or sell horses because gossip runs rampant in stables and sometimes is taken to be truer than the Bible! I also deal with many of the Amish community and I hide my pentacle out of deference to their beliefs.

So I pick and choose when and where to display my symbol of faith openly. I have also made an agreement with myself that, when I wear my pentacle openly, and someone questions my faith, then I must answer truthfully and intelligently.

I tell them that my pentacle stands for the four elements and the element of spirit. I tell them that it is a symbol of wholeness and balance, not of negativity and hatred. And its meaning cannot be twisted by reversing its direction, at least not in my eyes!

The first day I wore my pentacle, I walked about with a heightened sense of awareness, waiting for everybody to judge me. I guess I was expecting the whole world to gasp, point their fingers and declare me a witch in that tone of voice that meant nothing good. The actual reaction of people was much more subdued and confused.

Instead, the only question I had to deal with was, “I didn’t know you’re Jewish!”

Do you know how hard it is not to roll your eyes at someone and exclaim, “What? Can’t you count”?

I took a real risk this past Christmas. My husband had given me two gifts I picked out from our favorite knife catalog; an unusual knife and a pentacle decorated with red gems that I thought was pretty. So what it wasn’t silver!

Well pictures in catalogs can be deceiving!

I thought the pentacle to be modestly sized and the knife to be around the size of a Bowie knife. Well the truth was things were reversed.

The knife was the size of a pocketknife. The pentacle was big. REALLY BIG!

Try a pentacle with some serious attitude and lots of bling to the red gems on it. There was no mistaking it when I chose to wear out. It just reeled you in. Ooooh boy!

Then I decided to wear it out and obvious to a family function. Hey! It was a Christmas gift from my hubby that I still really liked in spite of the size. I wanted to show off my sparkly!

Now, not all of my family knows my religious denomination but most are aware. My parents are a blessing from the Goddess! They approve as long as I don’t go around trying to convert everybody. My brother and sister know and are open minded enough to not make a big deal about such things. My cousins even know and are cool with it.

My uncle? Well, lets just say his religious views scare me! He attends an ultra conservative church that has several ministers, several auditorium sized rooms for worship and boasts an attendance of several thousand people.

I was told to never tell my uncle what religion I was.

He was coming to the party as well.

I probably should NOT have worn the pentacle. But I did.

I also chose to disguise it with my new fashion statement, which was to wear cowboy clothes. You see, in the western horse show world, they have this design that is called a Texas star. It’s like a sheriff’s badge. Hmmm. Guess what? That’s a pentacle!

So I immediately went out and got my western show attire decorated in “Texas Stars”. I’ve got them on my hat and even my horse’s saddle and bridle sport little “pentacles”. No, I won’t wear ten million pentacles on myself but I’ll completely festoon my poor, long suffering horse with them!

Anyway, I showed up at the party with my hunka, big, new pentacle and my “Texas Star” hat. And my uncle showed up later. He looked directly at my new pentacle and then me and my newly dyed, black hair.

And then he asked if I’d had any of the steamed shrimp he brought.

I felt like I had had the rug pulled out from under me. I tried not to laugh my relief.

The pentacle was a big hit though.

Two people asked about it and my religious persuasion. I found out that they also were open-minded and we had a lovely evening chatting about esoteric things. Those conversations would have probably never happened if I hadn’t been daring enough to chance wearing it out.

But the real point of the matter is this: A pentacle, or a cross, or a Jewish star, or whatever symbol you choose to wear is nothing but a piece of jewelry unless the belief is behind it to make it more.

Those Wiccans that chose not to wear a pentacle or any other symbol of faith, does that make them any less of a Wiccan? No.

Sometimes I wear my pentacle and sometimes I wear my favorite jade horse pendant. They are both symbols of faith in my opinion and are as important to me as the cross is to someone else.

But I am not a Wiccan because I choose to wear a pentacle. I am Wiccan because that is what language my heart sings.

And no one can change what you feel in your heart. You can only choose whether or not to speak it.

Do you wear your pentacle on your skin or in your heart?