Wishing A Very Blessed Thursday to All My Brothers & Sisters Of The Craft!

Blessed Be Comments
Bless this gathering of Witches
Brought together this day
In the name of the Goddess and the God
To dedicate themselves to each other
And to the Old Way that led them here.
 
Bless this gathering of Witches
That we might work together in harmony
Learning and growing together
As we follow the Wheel of the Year
And bask in the glory of this Day.
 
May the Earth grant us all strength
May the Air grant us wisdom
May the Fire grant us passion
May the Water grant us all flexibility
So that we might work together for the good of All.
 
Bless this gathering of Witches
Brought together this Day
In the name of the Goddess and the God
To dedicate us to each other.
 
Bless us, O Goddess and God,
And bless the WOTC, all our
Brothers and Sister of The Craft
and all who enter our site.
 

So Mote It Be.

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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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Solitary Spirituality

Solitary Spirituality

Author:   Jessica Marie Baumgartner   

Being a solitary Witch does not mean that you have to do everything alone. I myself have been a member of a coven and practiced on my own as well, finding that not everyone is meant to perform rituals and works of magic with others. Sure, sometimes it is nice to be joined with others of your own faith. But being a part of a coven is not for everyone.

I found my path about ten years ago. A friend in high school introduced paganism to me. Mind you, this was also during a time when the movie “The Craft” had already gained cult status and being a witch became somewhat of a trend. My sister and a friend of ours also became interested and we dedicated ourselves as a coven before I knew it. For a few weeks the four of us were so close that we enjoyed practicing meditations, working with our energies, and celebrating midsummer nearly every day. Things seemed so great; I had finally found my calling and felt that the world was at peace with itself. Unfortunately that would not last long.

Our high priestess, my friend who introduced this faith to me, had her own agenda. That’s not to say that she meant any harm, and I will always be connected to her through the bonds of friendship. But the power this young high priestess felt over the rest of my coven mates and me seemed to overcome her better judgment. She began playing us against each other, praising me for my strength with the elements, only to use that as a way to make one of the other coven mates feel powerless. Then this same high priestess would turn around and favor my sister in a way that brought me down. It wasn’t long before the three of us realized what was happening. So instead of turning against each other, we started distancing ourselves from our leader.

The coven was eventually disbanded; we were young and had much to learn. It was a true experience, but since then I have not felt the need to join another coven. Nor do I think that I will ever want to again. Our high priestess has, to my knowledge, stopped practicing altogether, along with our other friend who has completely withdrawn from her beliefs. My sister and I witnessed quite a few people go through the fad of enjoying the ‘benefits’ of becoming a Witch, and when they realized that there is so much more to Paganism than just doing spell work and wearing the color black, they moved on. But Wicca was so much more to me, as it has been for many others. I became enamored with its teachings, and immersed myself in as many books, articles, and shops that I could find.

My sister has always been very encouraging and still holds her beliefs, but she is not as active in her faith as she used to be. We have sometimes celebrated the Sabbaths together, but I was often on my own. Luckily, the years have been kind to me. My connection to the Gods has only grown stronger as I have worked very hard to maintain a balance between living a healthy natural life and finding my place in society. A challenging task at times, but I always say that this is the best time to be a witch.

I am now married with a daughter of my own, and though I still consider myself a solitary witch, the wheel of the year is quite a beacon of light in our home. Celebrating the holidays reminds me that love is the main ingredient in any faith. And the Gods sure have graced my family with plenty of love. We highly enjoy our festivities with our shy lion head rabbit Penny, our scaly fish Einstein, our two fluffy cats, Smokey and Tortoro, as well as our sweet dog Willow. I feel more at ease performing ritual with my family, including these beautiful creatures, than I ever did in a coven.

Some days I enjoy my meditations and rituals alone, whereas there are others where my husband and daughter join in. We are linked through our beliefs like many people, but my husband is a Taoist so his participation is based more on ideals than ritual. Not being a part of a coven has had a very positive effect on me. I have the freedom to focus on my own journey, while not feeling too self-centered. I take my faith very seriously while trying to know how to loosen up and enjoy my beliefs. Finding many solitary guides has made this possible. There is a multitude of books, magazines, and online sources that give me the information I need as well as offering a sense a community.

Being lonely is not part of being a solitary witch because true Pagans are very personable. There is nothing more I love to do than speak with others about faith, as long as I am speaking with someone who is respectful. I live to enjoy life, knowing that the gods are always around me. If I do feel the need for a little Witchy interaction from time to time, there is always the “Pagan Picnic”, classes I can take at my New Age Shop and “the Witches Ball”. Our annual Renaissance Festival has quite a few Pagan elements included as well. Having the opportunity to attend these events allows me to be social enough with other people of my own faith without having to worry about the demands of being part of a coven.

Some Wiccans prefer those coven/group bonds, and that is understandable. Words cannot express the kind of link that one has to the other members of their coven. But many of us are perfectly happy to have the freedom of practicing our beliefs on our own. After all, everyone has their own path to take and being a solitary Witch is full of freedom, happiness, and adventure.

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Let’s Talk Witch – Getting Started On Your Spiritual Education Path

 Let’s Talk Witch – Getting Started On Your Spiritual Education Path

Any spiritual practice requires research and study. Witchcraft is no different than any other path. Here is some basic info, words of caution, and suggestions for reading and starting your research.

How Can I Learn More? If you are one of the many people looking for information on how to become a witch, there are a few things you should ask yourself first.

1. What is your reason for wanting to be a Witch? If your reason is simply so you can cast a spell, it’s the wrong reason and you might find more information if you look for Spellcraft, than Witchcraft. If your reasons are truly from an interest in the faith or you feel drawn to the Craft as a religion, then you maybe on the right path. But you should learn more and make an informed decision.

2. Are you willing to live by the spiritual laws as a way of life? If you are, or if you’re not sure, do a lot of research on your own and find out as much as you can about the path you’ve chosen.

3. How Do I Get Started? Read, learn and read a lot more. Do your own research, and not just from magikal books or reference manuals. Through studying history, other religions and how they all inter-relate and interact. I have a favorite saying for this type of education: “Books can give you knowledge. But only your own personal experiences give you wisdom to decide your own path.”

Words of Warning.

Don’t take one persons word or teachings as the only truth or as the only way on this or any spiritual path. No one person has all the answers for you. Only you know what rings true within your own heart and soul.

When it comes time for you to chose a mentor, be very cautious. There are a lot of novice people claiming to be a High Priest or Priestess. The best advice I could give is find someone who can prove they have practiced the path for several years (my standard is 10 years or more).

Don’t just take their word for it. Find someone who is willing to answer your questions without charging you money.

Taking a class and paying for an instructors time is NOT the same thing as finding a “spiritual teacher”. (Classes are wonderful for making new friends and learning in a group.)

What you should really be looking for is a mentor or guide, not a person who thinks they have the right to tell you what to do or believe.

Lastly, always question!

Question everything you are told and everything you read.

Research other material to validate what you are being told or what you read in a book.

Make sure that a book is supported by other books and by history itself.

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Practice Scrying Makes Perfect

Practice Scrying Makes Perfect

Like all forms of divination, constant usage will bring better results. It may be slow going, so the following practice may help.

You will need a candle, preferably white, in a candle holder, a table, chair and most of all, a quiet place where you will not be disturbed for a while.

Prepare the candle as above. Make sure that you are not disturbed by closing or licking the door, drawing the blinds, or whatever is necessary for your peace of mind. If quiet music is appropriate, put on a tape of CD, making sure that it will not finish before you do. You may want incense although if you dress the candle with a fragrant oil, the smoke from incense will not distract you.

Light the candle then extinguish all lights. Draw a circle or image of a circle of protection around you and the table. Sit in the chair facing the candle. Make sure that you are in a comfortable position. Center and ground. When you feel ready, look at the candle flame. Observe the various colorings and shading in the flame. Notice the shape of the flame, how the bottom is wide and round and tapers up. See the round indentation near the wick, and the wavering tip where the got gasses move up and out.

Now look at the center of the flame while allowing your vision to broaden to see the halo, the aura, the corona around the flame. You may at this time see and feel the clouding from the sides of your vision moving in and blocking out everything else you could see in the room. There will be just blackness with the candle in the center. There is no reason for fear. Be assured that in surrendering your self at this time, will not make you vulnerable. You have the power to stop the exercise at any time. When you feel absolutely comfortable, continue.

Watch the aura of the candle glow. Use your mind to move the aura from smaller to larger. Increase the size of the aura as you make the candle flame get taller. Change the brightness of the flame from bright to dim and back again. Notice the color of the flame and change it. Make it into a rose color and gradually turn it into a blue flame and finally into gold.

After you have played with the flame for a while, sit back, relax, close your eyes if you need to. When you are ready, get up, take up the circle, mentally or physically. Turn on the lights and walk around. You may find that you are hungry or thirsty now. Satisfy this urge. Psychic work take up quite a bit of energy.

This exercise may not be completely successful the first time you do it, but it can be done on a regular basis to increase your abilities.

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The Witches Magick for Jan. 31st – Ouija Board Magick

Ouija Board Magick

You will need:

1 Ouija Board

1 Candle (preferably white)

Incense ingredients for burning, incense sticks or aromatic oil for burners (optional)

Always have 2 or more people present for best results (it is not recommended for beginners to use the board alone)

Pen and paper

Conditions for a successful séance

Only have people present who are serious and respectful. If the board is used without care or in a joking manner, this can attract unwanted and potentially dangerous negative energies and spirits.

Do NOT drink alcohol or use any mind altering drugs including marijuana!

Clear your mind of all negative thoughts or distractions. Your mind must be clean and clear.

Anybody having any psychosis or psychological disorders or persons who are nervous, anxious or have addictive tendencies must not use the board.

Never ask questions relating to your own death or death of another person.

Keep your posture straight and do not cross your legs under the table.

Make sure you visually protect yourself and have faith that you are protected. Imagine a white light surrounding you and your friends. It is always a good idea to make an affirmation before you begin. For example, “With the power of the elements, spirit guides, angels and higher self, I and the users of this board are protected from all negative spirits, entities, energies and influences.” This is what I personally use, but you should say something that resonates personally to yourself.

One person should be the main person to ask any spirits to come forward and talk. This same person should be the one to close the board down at the end too (see “closing down the board”). Everyone should lightly place their fingertips on the planchette. The main person should start by asking for protection against any negative influences (by visualising a light around you and the participants and asking your spirit guides and higher self or angels to protect you and that you are only willing to communicate with spirits for your/our highest good).

Then ask if there are any spirits that would like to come forward and speak. Something along the lines of “Are there any spirits in the room that would like to speak to us. Please communicate with us by using the board only. When you are ready please move the planchette to YES or move it in circles”. It is safer if you ensure that the spirits only communicate through the board – make it certain that you are in control of the board and either ignore any other spiritual activity in the room (knocks, bangs, tapping, lights etc) or ask the spirit to either use the board or leave.

When you receive contact through the board ensure that you thank the spirit that has come forward (it is very important that you remain at all times with utmost respect and gratitude). When receiving an answer to your question, each letter must be clearly visible in the hole of the planchette – if it is between letters, ask the spirit to reconfirm the letter and it should move to the correct one. ALL fingers (2-4 fingers per person) must remain on the planchette at all times.

It can take up to 15-20 minutes before any spirit will come forward to talk. Remain calm, keep your fingers on the planchette and clear your minds apart from focusing on the planchette. If nothing happens then slowly move the planchette yourselves in large circles around the board a few times, then pause and wait – usually the spirit will take over from here. If you still have no luck after about 45 minutes then close down the board and try it another evening.

Suggestions to ask

Asking the name of the spirit is always a good question to start with.

Occasionally spirits cannot or do not wish to answer certain questions so respect their silence and do not ask the same question over and over again. Ask once, once again to confirm and that is all.

Ask if the spirit is a good spirit. If the planchette goes to NO, it is advisable to close down the board and wait at least half an hour before attempting to make contact again.

You can ask any general questions about your own life, for example:
How can I live better?
What am I doing wrong?
Am I in the right job?
What can I do to improve my life/situation etc?

Note: Take the answers like you would anything else that somebody tells you (alive or dead). Do not revolve your life around answers you may receive as they may be inaccurate.

Closing down the board

This is extremely important! The board MUST be closed down properly at the end of each and every séance. Start by thanking the spirits for coming forward and talking with you. Wish them peace and say Goodbye. The spirit should move the planchette to GOODBYE and you may pack up the board.

If the spirit does not move the planchette to GOODBYE, then tell the spirit that you are saying goodbye and that you ask they do the same. If the spirit STILL refuses to leave, then you must move the planchette to GOODBYE and in a stern strong voice say GOODBYE and LEAVE out loud. Remove your fingers from the planchette. If you feel that is not enough you can also slam the planchette down on a hard surface (obviously take care not to break it!) or pass it through a candle flame if it is not made of flammable material.

Source:

Sandy Cristel – Traditional Healing & Craft

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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

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What Witchcraft Means To Me

What Witchcraft Means To Me

Author:   allisjames 

So what does witchcraft mean to me? Wow. What a question. Is there an easy answer? No! Witchcraft is beautiful and complicated, mysterious and wonderful. For some it is all about the gods and goddess; for others it is about spell-work and ceremony; and for the rest it is just the flavor-of-the-month religion or practice.

Is Witchcraft a religion, or is it a practice? Is Witchcraft different then Wicca?

Wicca, we know, came into being somewhere between the 1930’s and the 1950’s via Gerard B. Gardner. Yet history blooms with stories of witches, brooms, black cats, and spell-work. People were burned as witches in both England and America. The monotheistic religions had a hard time with anyone who believed in other gods other then their own. Apparently, Jesus dying on a Roman stake was not good enough for the Western church – more blood had to be spelled.

But every society seems to have had some kind of equivalent to the witch. They may have been called Shamans, witch doctors, gypsies, maybe even grandmother herself. Whoever the healers were in society – the psychic, the spiritualist, the herbalists- you had the makings of a witch. And witches were not exactly liked by the church.

Gerard Gardner brought witchcraft back to mainstream society after the last laws banning witchcraft were repelled in England in the 1950’s. He reintroduced ‘The Craft’ to the world with his book ‘Witchcraft Today;’ a book published in 1954.

My initial introduction to the Craft was through a 1960’s TV show called ‘Bewitched, ’ a comedy about an American witch who married a mortal man. Throughout the show we were introduced to covens, rituals, magic, wands, warlocks, Sabbats, and spell-work. Even though a lot of the show was based on false premises (witches being immortal) , the show was on-point with true witchcraft in many ways.

In the 1980’s I came across a book by Erica Jong called ‘Witches.’ This was a coffee table sized book loaded with text, pictures, and poetry explaining Witchcraft. I devoured this book like no other. Erica Jong crafted a very fitting tribute book to a religion she never claimed to be party too. But her involvement in the neo-pagan life style is evident from reading her books and interviews. Erica’s views on sexuality and religion are very close to my own views.

To put it bluntly – I was drawn in.

In 2004 I became a member of Unity Church of Fredericksburg, VA, USA. This church was strong on the Father/Mother God concept, the unity of all things, meditation/yoga, and the divine in all of us. By 2005 I was examining, via the Internet, Wicca or Witchcraft. I started taking a course on Witchcraft through http://www.magickaschool.com. I was also hobnobbing with different witches in the local area where I lived. I did complete one course on the Introduction to Witchcraft through magickaschool.com, and still have a little ways to go on course number two. I am also involved somewhat in the Northern Virginia Witches and Pagans Meetup Group.

After a year of being homeless, I find myself once again drawn to the magick and mystery of this Path. I am reading books on the subject, meditating more, and enjoying the outdoors more. I especially enjoy watching the moon at night going through its many phases. Currently I am reading books by Raymond Buckland and Deborah Lipp. I am also learning The Hidden Path divination cards by Raven Grimassi and Stephanie Taylor, with artwork by Mickie Mueller.

As a pagan/witch/wiccan I am no longer restrained by the shallowness and limitations of the Christian Church. I will put down no religion, but my calling seems to be more metaphysical then revelation based. I believe strongly in the line from the movie ‘Inherit the Wind’ where the defense attorney, played by Spencer Tracey, said regarding the Bible – “The Bible is a good book, but it’s not the only book.”

The path of Witchcraft is an inward path and a mystical path. In a way all spiritually minded people are witches – we all believe in some divine being, we live by some code of law, we believe in the concept of magic/miracles, and we all reach for inner transformation.

I am a Witch because I can be nothing other then a Witch. I can’t twiddle my nose like Samantha in Bewitched and cause magick to happen. It doesn’t work that way. And it’s not about that anyway. Witchcraft is about inner transformation, empowerment, magic, and ultimately LOVE. We love, not by judging and condemning, but by understanding and appreciation. All life is sacred because all life comes from a divine source. That should be the heart and soul of any religious path.

Witchcraft satisfies an inner hunger like nothing else. It is a lifelong study and practice that draws me closer to the god/goddess, keeps me open for all sorts of possibilities, and makes me a channel for light and magick. I feel more at home in this vast universe, and more appreciative of life in general. As I celebrate the Sabbats and esbats, I also celebrate the seasons and learn to adapt to each one. No matter what season, I can follow the moon as it waxes and wanes through each of its cycles.

My spiritual journey began with my introduction and acceptance of the Christian path. But even then I knew there had to be more. And there was: Buddhism, Hinduism, Shamanism, Voodoo, The Golden Dawn, Freemasonry, Gnosticism, and Cabbala, as well as the historical evidence of goddess worship spanning way back into the Old Testament periods.

Witchcraft, in one form or another, has always been here. I embrace it with open arms freely and in sound mind and body. The more I read and study the Craft, the more I am drawn into it. Coming out of the sixties, Witchcraft appeals to me because of its Nature based emphasis, its emphasis on the sacred in everything, its openness to change and its encouragement to grow on whatever Path you are on. Somehow, the idea of celebrating the Goddess out in the openness of nature – singing, chanting, dancing, (skyclad or not) , under an open sky, or under a full moon, appeals to me. Celebrating Nature, and not just theological dogma’s, is what worship is all about.

When I see the full moon in the sky now, I feel like I am walking on sacred ground. The earth is my Cathedral and the Divine is everywhere. I don’t have to worry whether I am theologically sound, or politically correct – it is just me, the goddess, and Mother Nature creating energy and magick through each season, through each rising sun, and through each phase of the moon.

What does it mean to be a Witch? Everything!

So mote it be.

___________________________________

Footnotes:
My personal journey from Christianity to Witchcraft.

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Animals, Nature, and the Craft

Animals, Nature, and the Craft

Author:   Flame warped mind 

I love animals — not all of them mind you, little bugs, spiders, bees, and rodents still freak me — but I respect each for what they are. Respect. It’s a big part of being Pagan. Ants and spiders are just as important as cows and elephants, each being distinctly different from the next.

‘Witches only love their black cats! They sacrifice everything else to the Devil!’

Really? I don’t like cats at all, and I’ve never sacrificed anything to the devil. I’m just far too busy trying to gather what understanding I can from the animal kingdom to worry about sacrificing to a being I don’t believe exists. “What we have here is failure to communicate.” –Cool Hand Luke.

For as long people outside the Craft have known about any form of earth based spirituality and the people involved in such practice (whom we will refer to as Pagan for the remainder of this piece) , there have been misconceptions involving animals and the Craft. An animal spiritually tied to a person practicing witchcraft (often called a familiar) , was and still is often thought of as a demon in animal form sent to assist in spells against and bewitchment of the God-fearing public. This theory is both prejudicial and nonsensical, not just to the person but also to the animal involved as well. During the Witch Hunts, animals were routinely sentenced and executed for witchcraft along with their masters. This practice went so far that in medieval Europe cats were massacred based on the theory that all cats were Witches’ familiars.

Oftentimes people assume that all Pagans have cat familiars (as though it were a requirement) and while cats have been a part of Pagan society since before the Pyramids were built, they are not by any means spiritual requirements for practicing Pagans.

Another old (incorrect) theory, which has become common knowledge is that Pagans routinely sacrifice animals to appease the devil, a demon, or a god or goddess. The vast majority of Pagans love and respect animals as much, if not more so, than the average person because of an inherent desire to be close to nature. Some pagans forgo all meats in order to avoid the feeling of having caused the death of an animal. The confusion here lies in the difference between “animal sacrifice” and an animal that was hunted to be eaten. Sometimes a ritual item or personal belonging fulfills this function. Sometimes the sacrifice is the worshiper’s dinner. Ask a deity bound pagan, a bought offering is rarely as desirable as an offering strived for.

In my home we have several animals. If at any time animals are used in my practice, the cat is the absolute last choice for a spiritual partner I would seek out. For me, there is only one choice of animal to partner myself with spiritually, ball pythons. Don’t run away screaming just yet.

Snakes are amazingly beautiful creatures contrary to their poor reputation. Captive bred snakes are wonderful animals to work with. The temperament is different between wild (aggressive) to captive bred (calm) snakes. You can have an animal very close to its naturally occurring instinct, (usually) without the aggressive nature. I have three beautiful ball pythons all of which have been involved with some ritual or another. One of their biggest strengths in a ritual is how predicable they are. Dogs, cats, rodents, arachnids, lizards, all have a tendency to be unpredictable, and occasionally volatile. Dogs bark and fight. Cats don’t do what their pets (owners) tell them. Arachnids are entirely unpredictable and easily injured in my estimation. Lizards have a tendency to run away or get into obnoxious places when no ones looking. They’re all too impatient for my taste.

A snake will sit still until they smell food, get too cold/hot, or get curious enough to slowly wander off. They don’t make noise, and, for the most part, don’t resist where they are placed. Best of all, when there is an occasion where they get aggressive/defensive, the posturing and hissing gives those around ample warning as to the change in demeanor. If this occurs, it is normally during a very active part of the ritual; snakes don’t like things being moved past their heads quickly. (At this point most other species of animals are retired from the rites anyway.) Also as long as the surrounding temperature is amiable, they can be placed in a bag, which is then tied up, to prevent wandering and to bolster the animal’s sense of security. I’ll bet your dog wouldn’t let you do that!

When humans allow themselves to be as close to nature as animals, our instincts take over. Some of the most powerful and well-balanced magical workings I have ever witnessed involved Pagans reverting to base instinct. Powerful and pure, Nature is instinct. Nature is not always civilized and pleasant; oftentimes it is harsh, cruel, and gory. The more “civilized” humans become, the more we forget how powerful instinct can be. Animals are the epitome of instinct, and so it is wise to sit back, watch, and learn from the varying multitudes our scaly, slimy, furry, feathered, chitinous, brethren encompass. Even though their speech is limited to sounds that mean nothing to humans, they each have something to say. There is always something new to learn, an untapped facet of primal knowledge… if only we know where to look.

Some of the smallest animals often teach us the most valuable lessons. The ants learned long ago that to cooperate is to survive; infighting only leads to ruin. Salmon show that life is an uphill battle, but anything worth doing should receive our full effort. A snake could have easily inspired Theodore Roosevelt when he said, “speak softly, but carry a big stick.” These are but a few of the lessons that nature offers those willing to listen.

So sit back, shut up, watch and learn, and above all remember nature is “natural”. It’s not good or evil. It’s not right or wrong. It is spectacular and beautiful, bountiful, and calm and at the same time, nature is savage, bloody, vicious, and violent… a self-sustaining balance at its finest.

______________________________________

Footnotes:
Cool Hand Luke
Theodore Roosevelt

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How To Make a Priapic Wand for Imbolc

How To Make a Priapic Wand

By

Priapus was a god of fertility, and was always depicted with an erect phallus. In some traditions of Paganism and Wicca, a Priapic wand — phallus-like in appearance — is made, and used in ritual to bring forth the new growth of spring. You can easily make one out of a few outside supplies and some bells. This is a simple project for children as well, and they can go outside at Imbolc and shake the bells at the ground and the trees, calling for spring’s return.

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 30 minutes

Here’s How:

  1. First, you’ll need the following items:

    • A stick
    • An acorn
    • Craft glue (hot glue works fine as well)
    • Ribbons or yarn in brown, green, yellow, and gold
    • Small bells (get little jingle bells at your local craft store)

    Strip the bark from the stick, and create a small notch on one end. Glue the acorn to the end of the stick.

    When the glue is dry, wrap the stick in the ribbons or yarn beginning at the acorn — leave extra ribbon at the end to hang down like streamers. Tie the bells on to the end of the streamers.

  2. Use the wand by going outside around the time of Imbolc. Explain to children that the wand symbolizes the god of the forest, or whatever fertility god exists in your tradition. Show them how to shake the bells, pointing the wand at the ground and trees, in order to wake the sleeping plants within the earth. If you like, they can say an incantation as they do so, like:

    Wake, wake, plants in the earth, spring is a time of light and rebirth. Hear, hear this magical sound, and grow, grow, out of the ground.

What You Need

  • A stick
  • An acorn
  • Ribbons or yarn
  • Small jingly bells

 

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Magical Thinking Or Magickal Living?

Magical Thinking Or Magickal Living?

Author:   Stifyn Emrys 

Do you believe in the tooth fairy?

Father Christmas?

Or yourself?

Children live in a world of magic and wonder, where knights rescue fair maidens from fire-breathing dragons, where witches command the elements with an incantation or a flick of the wrist. And we believe that somehow, somewhere we should be able to do the same.

We believe we should be able to keep mommy and daddy from fighting so much. That it’s within our power to stop our alcoholic uncle from drinking. That if only we could harness these magical powers, we could bring back the devoted puppy who played fetch for endless hours in our back yard and knew just when to wake us up with a playful kiss when it was time for school.

If only …

When I was 8 years old, that puppy – a Shetland sheepdog named Frisky – was hit by a car in front of our house. Mom told me she was dead, and no amount of wishing or hoping could bring her back. I shouldn’t have let it happen in the first place. I shouldn’t have allowed her to get out of the house and now, worse still, I couldn’t bring her back. I remember calling her name again and again, but she simply wouldn’t come.

And I was convinced that it was all my fault.

Now, years later, I realize that it wasn’t. The world doesn’t revolve around me, and I don’t have the power to bring back Frisky with a wave of a magic wand. I’m simply not that powerful. But at the time, it was natural to believe that I was. “Magical thinking” is a psychological term that characterizes a certain stage of our childhood development (around the late preschool age) during which we believe we have control over our environment. We haven’t yet developed the capacity to differentiate between causation and coincidence, so we bemoan the fact that Daddy got sick because we threw a tantrum and refused to eat our peas.

As we mature, we leave that stage, but it can be tempting to return – especially if our lives are out of control. Our parents divorce, or Daddy hits Mommy, or we are sent away to school. We grow older, and we yearn for a simpler time, when the world wasn’t so complicated and (we imagine) there was magic at our fingertips. In individual terms, we seek a return to the playful innocence of youth; in a historical sense, we long for a golden age or Camelot, where magical forces were at work to ensure that all was right with the world.

But did such a world ever really exist? Was it ever really that easy? Or was it simply that we, as children, just weren’t ready yet to confront the harsh reality of life beyond our parents’ protection?

Magical thinking can be very seductive. And Pagans who fall prey to it, pass it on to their own children, taunting them with the promise that they can somehow control their environment through spellwork, visualization or mere force of will. If we do so as parents, we do our children – and ourselves – no favors. Have you ever tested a teenager’s will? It’s pretty strong already. Even without magical powers, teens are very much a force to be reckoned with.

But we fan the flames of this magical thinking with entertainment and literature that offers the illusion of control. We glamorize Witchcraft as a pop culture phenomenon on the level of the Backstreet Boys or Brittany. Teen Witches can use spellwork to achieve good grades – never mind cracking a book or studying for a test. And what about those so-called Witches on “Charmed”? That Book of Shadows works more like Aladdin’s lamp than a compendium of spiritual insight.

Pagans are hardly the only ones who indulge in such fancies. Christians cling tenaciously to such illusions as a virgin birth and a bodily resurrection, hoping by the force of their will to overcome their fears of sex and mortality. The greater the fear, the more severe the distress, the greater the temptation to seek shelter in that golden age that never was, in that Garden of Eden we never planted. People are afraid of death, of sexuality, of abandonment, of violence. So they hide behind a cloak of magic.

When we present the Craft as something out of “Bewitched” or “Charmed,” we dishonor our children as well as our tradition. (This is not to denigrate those series, which have value if viewed for what they are – pure entertainment.) The Craft is not something that can be mastered like a computer game or worn like a pentacle necklace or garb at a Ren Faire. To be a Witch, the word’s origins themselves tell us, is to be a “wise one.” And wisdom is not a commodity cheaply purchased or easily won. It comes, most often, with experience and trial. Do we therefore bestow this title too lightly? Do we forget that the wise women of the village were most often the crones, who had learned by hard experience to shed the cloak of magical thinking and walk spiritually skyclad in humility and oneness with their source?

The lesson they had learned was simply this: That to combat the temptation of magical thinking, we must move toward the practice of magickal living. What we must, in my view, accept is that the Craft is not about bending the environment to suit our will. That’s the kind of thinking that has produced global warming, rampant pollution, widespread starvation and mass extinctions. It is instead about honoring that same environment and coming to terms with it – and with our own true selves.

If we place ourselves at odds with our surroundings by seeking to control them, we isolate ourselves from the true source of all magick. Where then will be our power? If we, in our arrogance, declare war on Mother Earth, how can we prevail? Indeed, why should we wish to? It is only when we bring ourselves into harmony with the greater whole that we can achieve the truly wondrous. It is only when we connect with the source that we can transcend the narrow bounds of ego and step beyond the constraints of childhood fancy. No longer do we seek to control the source.

We manifest it.

We spend such energy tilting at windmills that we forget to ride the wind. We seek to compel the impossible, we deny the inevitable … but we dare not abide the unthinkable: That we are the magick we have spent our lives pursuing. We are the very change we strive in vain to manifest.

Father Christmas was your own dear father, placing gifts beneath the tree at midnight. The tooth fairy was your loving mother, who cared enough to leave a dime beneath your pillow. They were magick in these moments – and no less so if at other times they quarreled. If they lashed out at you in anger. If they left you when you needed them. If they divorced.

Magick is reality, affirmed in any moment.

We can’t mend our parents’ broken marriage.

Force an alcoholic to stop drinking.

Or a bigot to stop hating.

Or an army to stop killing.

We can’t bring a beloved pet back from the grave.

We can’t wave a wand and conjure up a happy ending.

Not by wishing or willing it.

But we can know our true selves, and be our true selves – secure in the knowledge that this, in itself, is enough. We won’t be able to foresee what wonders will be born of this; but wonders rich and bounteous are sure to manifest. The choice is ours alone to make: We can isolate ourselves in magical thinking …

Or we can empower ourselves through magickal living.

That, in my view is what it means to be a Witch.

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Supportive Practices of the Craft

Supportive Practices of the Craft

Author: Iain Quicksilver

In addition to the practices of witchcraft usually discussed, such as divination and herb lore, there are practices, which support a witch’s overall efforts. The following seven sections describe practices I have found useful for tuning up my Craft practice and keeping it properly focused.

1: Cycles

Witches follow cycles in everything they do, out of respect for their overall balance of health. They don’t work all year, and then try to relax through a brief vacation; witches take little mini-vacations all the time. They sometimes appear to be laid back and lazy, but they respond well in a crisis, and they somehow get their tasks done.

A witch aims at discovering her own biorhythms, so as to work with, rather than against, her natural energy cycle. But in practice there are usually compromises to be made with work and other factors. Her actual daily schedule may be set somewhat askew to her biorhythms, but a witch will adapt to it and arrange for periods of rest between work to attend to quarters other than South / Will / Fire. There are knowledge and skills to acquire, and emotions and the circle and the practice of inner and/or outer stillness to attend to. And there is a little goofing off, daytime rest, which is essential; just watch the animals.

Starting with the Sun cycle and making allowances for work, etc., a witch reserves the earlier parts of the day for practical affairs. She will not work on taxes, for instance, into the evening hours, but will start earlier in the season and devote some weekend daytime hours to the chore. Evening is for going within, withdrawing to one’s own hearth and communing with ancestors and familiar spirits.

2: Directions

It isn’t on any list of witch tools, but a compass is important to the modern witch so she can orient her life and work to the four directions. Witchcraft is always done in a physical context. Pagans are highly aware of their immediate environment and traffic with spirits of the field, yard, stream, the most prominent local tree, as well as with household spirits. The key to contacting household spirits lies in feelings.

When you first move into a new house or apartment, it feels cold and uninviting, especially if it hasn’t been lived in for a while. Not much later, it fits you comfortably like a suit of old clothes; and if, in addition, it is alive with saged boundaries and household shrines, you feel liked by the house as well as liking it yourself. This is a boundary perception, which we are taught to ignore or treat as a subjective matter, but if instead we address the good feelings and express our appreciation for the atmosphere of our dwelling, we break that boundary and begin to recover ancient pagan perception.

In the same way, outdoor sprites can be contacted through greater sensitivity to one’s feelings without discounting them from habit.

Upon awakening in the morning, when a witch is ready to start the day, it is a good practice to take out the compass and address the four quarters. One begins in the North, opening oneself to calming energy. Then to the East, holding in mind briefly what needs to be known or learned today. Then to the South, deciding the first tasks. Then to the West, expanding awareness according to one’s ways. Then seal to the North, stilling the mind and body once again. The witch is now ready to face the day.

3: Expanding Awareness

One way of expanding awareness when silently addressing the West is to relax and wait for something in your peripheral awareness to stand out and beckon your attention. It might be the reflection of something in a window, or the shadow of a tree or the spaces in its foliage. Whatever it is, when it gets your attention, continue to view it peripherally. You are in touch with its mana, or magical energy, and can use it throughout the day when you call it to mind. The image in your memory should be peripheral, not central, i.e. the way it looked when it got your attention. This can also be done with things heard peripherally. These are some of my ways.

4: Conserving Magical Energy

There is a kind of energy or power that the modern world has forgotten, though the memory of it is preserved in folk tales and myths. Indigenous peoples are well aware of it and live their lives with reference to it. While the immediate environment abounds in it, and we take it in all the time, we do not notice it because we squander it in habitual ways, habits that have been with us from early childhood. The ancient Latins called it numen, and the Mongolians, hiimori. It is always personal, taking on the features of the person holding it.

It is only by conserving this energy that the witch becomes ready to do magic, both in the circle and life. We don’t realize that everything takes energy, even unconscious ignoring of things in our environment, such as shadows, eyeglass frames, or background sounds. When we expand our attention to include such things, we gain the energy that was used in keeping them in the background of our attention, the penumbra or half-shadow. This energy is always exponentially higher than the small amount required to expand the attention.

The energy takes four forms for witches, associated with the four ancient elements. The energy of Air makes us learn and understand new things that hadn’t occurred to us before. In everyday life, it also manifests in any new knowledge or understanding.

The energy of Fire boosts the will and lets us accomplish tasks in life that seemed too big to tackle. In order to bring changes into our physical lives, we have to both give up some things, at least temporarily, and adopt other things or actions that further the goal. In the Craft, habits or actions that squander magical energy have to be sacrificed, and then the freed energy finds new outlets on its own.

The energy of Water attracts us to the unknown, and gives us the daring to escape the current limitations of our lives. This is the energy of initiation, which expands and transforms our awareness and can give our lives a whole new basis.

The energy of Earth is cloaked in silence. Witches seek inner and outer stillness, quite as much as Zen monks or Hindu yogis do. This stillness is deep, and the deeper the witch descends into it, the more he or she is transformed and the greater the magical energy that results. It is pursued gradually and at first in little things, like learning to sit still and not scratch, or refraining from certain topics in conversation.

Not that the witch is inactive, quite the contrary; Earth, the North, is also the place of our physicality, and the witch exercises regularly, and takes care of business through Fire and the South. Stillness refers instead to the enormous amount of energy we waste in fidgeting and performing other small, unnecessary actions, both mental and physical: for instance, compulsively repeating past conversations in one’s mind or rehearsing conversations to come in some hypothetical future event (for all thoughts of the future are hypothetical) .

The witch sums up a past event and plans for the future, but these are finite acts that come to an end, instead of repeating over and over and wearing on the nerves. The energy to be had by restricting such habits cannot be anticipated in advance. Out of stillness comes new understanding, closing the circle of practice towards Air and the East.

Thus the witch pursues the four powers of the magus: to know, to will, to dare, to keep silence. But there is a fifth power that results from the balanced development of the four: to go. The witch is saving energy for his or her definitive journey, the flight to the True Sabbat, fellowship and celebration with the ancestors, spirits, and deities in the other world. Folklore depicts it as a joyous occasion, and colors it with the pleasures and longings of the time when the tales were spun. Some tried to cut corners and get there more quickly through the use of the witch’s flying ointment. The actual flight may or may not follow traditional lines.

One may not literally fly up the chimney and then meet the Wild Hunt in the sky and fly to a rath or burg and descend therein through a tunnel into the Otherworld. The journey may parallel many of these features, nonetheless; and there are preliminary journeys to be made that go partway there.

The flight to the True Sabbat is a milestone on the way to the witch’s ultimate journey to the Sun, when he or she acquires a body of light that can materialize at will, so that further incarnations here in middle Earth are no longer needed. This transformation seals the work of the Craft and completes the vows made at initiation; thenceforth one does other work, perhaps as a guardian elemental, paying back for the help received along the way on this side by paying forward.

5: The Familiar

Witches traditionally kept a cat, sometimes a horse, as a familiar. The witch’s astral journeys were made in company with the spirit of the familiar.

The best information I have found on this practice is in Timothy Knab’s A War of Witches, a factual account of an anthropologist’s investigation, some twenty plus years later, of a battle with brujos and brujas in the highlands of central Mexico. In the course of his investigation, he is inducted into Toltec brujeria by one of the survivors and makes a journey to Tlalocan, the Toltec Underworld.

Tlaloc, the Lord of the Underworld, keeps animal spirits called naguals in his corrals. He gives a nagual to each human at birth. The nagual could perhaps be thought of as the link, within each of us, to other animals, inherited though latent from the prehistoric past. But it is a real spirit and to be a brujo one must find one’s nagual. Afterwards, an experienced brujo, through many journeys to Tlalocan, may have acquired a number of naguals, keeping them in fetish objects like puma’s claws, or in a special gourd.

The human soul is called the tonal. It has two halves. One faces towards the Sun and stands guard over the body when the dark lower half, the shadow, goes on journeys down the world pillar to the underworlds. The shadow is so called, both because it lies below our daily awareness and faces towards the nether regions, and because it follows its nagual into the depths as the latter’s shadow.

If the nagual is a cat spirit, the shadow takes on the semblance of a cat spirit. This is done for protection from hungry denizens of the deep, who prize the heart blood of a tonal but will let a nagual go by.

The discipline Knab goes through in becoming a brujo is well worth the reading. But to return to our own practice, preparation for a liaison with a cat familiar’s spirit, besides the obvious step of getting a cat, would seem to involve re-molding one’s own psyche closer to that of a feline. We do this unconsciously when we sit in company with a cat and enjoy its utter relaxation. Cats are content to go from moment to moment doing whatever they are doing, even if it is only resting.

We, however, often have a habit of doubting whether we are making best use of our time, or regretting we are not elsewhere doing other things. Cats, apparently, have no such qualms. The daily practice of witchcraft in fact promotes a calm mind fully given to the moment. Apparently cultivation of inner stillness connects us with the animal, pre-rational mind, so that we can enjoy shuttling between two minds, as the occasion permits.

This is only an example of how the witch models him or herself on a cat familiar. Whether or not one goes on journeys with the cat, cultivating a close relationship with one will draw the witch closer to his or her own inner, pre-rational mind, through which he or she can call up power from the Deep in circle.

6: The Patron Deity

It isn’t incumbent upon pagans to have a special relationship with a single deity, but it can be a rewarding experience. The pagan will continue to honor the other deities and spirits, of course, and may enter into a similar relationship with another later on. Suppililiumas, the king of the Hittites, was singularly devoted to his goddess, and as we know, his subject Abraham devoted his wandering life to his family god, the later Yahweh.

All gods stand ready to teach by sharing their consciousness, and by helping the devotee to practice the disciplines that lead to that awareness. Pagans will generally choose a patron deity (male or female) on the basis of temperamental preferences, though they may be influenced by a dream or vision. The relationship can be devotional or more like a friendship. In the latter case the deity is like an older mentor or senior partner. In late heathen times, Thor was popular with people seeking this latter relation.

In the Craft, the Lord and the Lady serve as patrons. The Lord is the year-god, who has waxing and waning aspects, and these replace each other at the solstices. Because the outgoing aspect dies and is reborn six months later, the Lord (sometimes called the Lad) is more of a demigod, and is not quite up to the Lady’s level. Witches and warlocks alike tend to relate to the Lord as a tutor or preceptor, and to the Lady devotionally.

The continental Celtic god Cernunnos is associated by modern witches with the year-god. He is known only from artifacts and only by the description given him by Greek traders in antiquity on the Ister or Danube river – the horned or antlered one (we do not know his Celtic name) . Cernunnos teaches witches the way to deal skillfully with both the outer and inner life.

The Oak King or waxing year aspect teaches, by example, how to deal with the outer world joyfully and fruitfully. The Holly King or waning aspect is the psycho pomp or soul-guide in Craft initiation, and also provides fellowship with ancestors at Samhain, October 31st.

On the Gundestrup cauldron, found in a peat bog in Denmark, Cernunnos is the central carved figure. He has two antlers, wears a torque or neck-ring signifying wealth, and holds another in his right hand, as bestower of wealth. His left hand grasps a ram-headed snake by the neck, an Underworld animal linked with healing and sacrifice.

It often happens that a pagan already pursues some discipline designed to conserve magical energy, and chooses an appropriate god or goddess, asking him or her to be the patron of that practice. If the god is willing, he or she will help, first of all, by reminding the devotee to practice whatever part of the askesis is appropriate for the present situation.

The devotee thanks his or her patron for these reminders, knowing from experience that practice would be slacker without them. As the partnership goes on, the world will start to take on the colors peculiar to that deity’s consciousness and personality, and will cause subtle changes in the personality of the devotee as well.

The patron deity also teaches in dreams and guides the devotee in waking life by means of signs and omens, often peculiar coincidences that seem mysteriously significant.

The Lady nurtures and feeds witches as well as all her children on the earth, and also teaches those who prefer to relate to a female divinity. The discipline taught by the Lady involves cleansing the emotions of their verbal accretions. The devotee learns to feel without thinking or analyzing or labeling the feeling. In this way, the witch or warlock draws closer to the animals, who have naked feelings unclothed in thoughts. The askesis of the Lady is especially suitable for couples.

7: Inventory

Supportive practices of witchcraft aim at optimizing the free flow of energy through the life of a witch.

A cluttered life is full of energy knots that trap old, stale energy called `miasma’ by the ancients. The first phase of a spell, purification, is designed to unravel one or more of these knots, so that an increase in the flow of magical energy renders the flow palpable. The energy must be felt to be directed, and as some of it is flowing all the time (however feebly) , the rate of flow must be increased for it to be felt. It can then be directed to a chosen purpose in the consecration phase, and, in the final phase, charged with all the force the witch can command through expanded awareness.

But if the witch’s life is full of energy knots, untying one or two of them by purification may not result in a very strong flow of energy. For a stronger flow, the witch must gradually remove clutter from his/her life so that energy knots are few and easily unraveled.

Clutter comes in many forms. There is mental and emotional clutter; the clutter of always being too busy because of over-commitment; the memory-clutter of too many unfinished projects; and the material clutter found in the home: over-stuffed closets, garages, basements, storage sheds, etc. This section is about material clutter.

By learning and applying the principles of feng shui, we can facilitate a free flow of the energy the Chinese call ch’i throughout the home; but before putting feng shui into practice, we must face and do something about the mountains of clutter tucked away in corners, closets, cupboards and other hiding places. We may think that if our accumulations are out of sight they will be out of mind as well, but the deeper, pre-rational mind we share with the animals keeps tabs on every least thimble.

When the writer Aldous Huxley’s house in California burned down, he remarked on how clean it felt to be free of so many possessions. This was a drastic example of what we can achieve in a smaller degree through the practice of inventory.

The deep mind keeps a file on every item we own, and these files must be closed and cleared away if the witch is to use the filing function for fulfilling oaths and following threads of self-discipline. Accordingly, at regular intervals a witch will go through some of his or her clutter, putting things together that belong together, and getting rid of items no longer needed. A good rule of thumb to follow is to keep what one can use (sentiment counts as a use) and put the rest where it is likely to do the most good. In this we see an illustration of the balance of the Craft, which aims at getting maximum enjoyment and effectiveness from possessions without getting bogged down in being possessed by them.

Putting things you don’t need where they will do the most good may mean giving things away; but be careful doing this, as you may lose friends if they feel you are dumping stuff on them. And above all, never tell anyone you are following the rule of inventory, as gifts should at least appear to be made from a feeling of friendship.

Closing accounts with past unfinished business, either by abandoning old projects or by completing them, leads to a greater integration with one’s past selves, and can clear a channel through memory, and far memory, for the witch to travel in the inner journey down to the Summerland.

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1. For numen see Rose, H.J. in the bibliography.

2. For hiimori see Sangerel, both references, in the bibliography.

3. For the folklore of the Sabbat, see Jackson in the bibliography.

4. On the journey to the Sun, see Grimassi, p. 219, in the bibliography, also Nikhilananda, vol. II, p. 158.

5. See Knab in the bibliography.

6. See Gurney in the bibliography. More recently, a royal charter of King Suppliliumas has been found, authorizing a mercantile expedition to Byblos on the ancient Lebanese coast. Abraham may have been in it.

7. See Davidson (I) in the bibliography.

8. For the significance of Cernunnos in modern witchcraft, see Farrar in the bibliography.

9. See Davidson (II) in the bibliography.

____________________________________

Footnotes:
Bibliography:

Davidson, H.R. (I) , Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, London, Penguin Books, 1990.

__________ (II) , Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe, Syracuse, NY, Syracuse
University Press, 1988.

Farrar, Janet and Stewart, Eight Sabbats for Witches, Custer, WA, Phoenix Publishing, 1988.

Grimassi, Raven, Ways of the Strega, St. Paul, MN, Llwellyn Publications, 1995.

Gurney, O.R., The Hittites, London, Penguin Books, 1952.

Jackson, Nigel, Call of the Horned Piper,

Knab, Timothy J., A War of Witches, Boulder, CO, Westview Press, 1995.

Nikhilananda, Swami, translator, The Upanishads, in 4 vols. New York, Ramakrishna-
Vivekananda Center, 1975. Prasna Upanishad is in Vol. 2.

Rose, H.J., Religion in Greece and Rome, New York, Harper Torchbooks, 1959.

Sarangerel (I) , Chosen by the Spirits, Rochester, VT, Destiny Books, 2001.

_______ (II) , Riding Windhorses, Rochester, VT, Destiny Books, 2000.

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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

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Let’s Talk Witch – Dianism in a Nutshell

Witchy Comments & Graphics
Let’s Talk Witch – Dianism in a Nutshell

Recently, I got back in touch with my teacher after nearly two years and dropped a couple of bombshells on her: I had changed gender identity and had come together with two other women to form a Dianic coven. When the initial shock wore off, Rita sent me a complete run of Protean Synthesis and a solicitation for this article.

Several years ago I subscribed to several stereotypes regarding “those peculiar Dianics”. They were theologically unbalanced, they hated men, they denied that men had souls, they were all lesbians, they couldn’t spell (in the orthographic sense; no one has yet accused Dianics of inability to work magick), etc. etc. When I came together with my coven sisters, I realized that these notions were at most partially true and some cases were patently false.

I believe there are only three valid generalizations that can be made about Dianics:

We are all feminists.

We all look to the Goddess(es) far more than to the God(s).

We are all eclectics.

Note well that there are plenty of non-Dianic feminist Witches, non-Dianic eclectics, and non-Dianics who are primarily Goddess-oriented. There are also doubtless a good many feminist, Goddess-oriented eclectics who do not choose to call themselves Dianic. In my own case I use the “If it quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck” argument, as well as the fact that my HPS learned the Craft as a Dianic and runs Dianic rituals.

Some of the stereotypical generalizations I can dismiss out of hand. I don’t know of a single Dianic who denies that men have souls. Even Z Budapest doesn’t believe that piece of tripe anymore! It is true that Dianism is particularly attractive to separatists, and many separatists actually hate men. Many Dianics are lesbians. Some misspell words like “woman”, women”, “egalitarian”, and “holistic” on purpose. Not all fit these, however, and I think that Z Budapest in her younger, or spiritual bomb-throwing, days represents an extreme and a small minority. There are a number of males involved in Dianism, and some of those are men [NB: I use the terms “man” and “woman” to indicate gender identity, that is, how one’s heart, mind, and/or soul are configured. I use “male” and “female” to indicate physical sex, that is, how one’s plumbing is configured. I hope this dispels confusion.].

Thealogical and magickal imbalance is not so easily dismissed and needs to be addressed further, as that is the most valid objection that thoughtful Witches have to Dianism. The apparent imbalance comes from the Dianic emphasis on Goddess-worship, often to the complete exclusion of God-worship. This upsets many Witches’ sense of polarity balance. The resolution of this apparent imbalance lies in the consideration of other polarities than sexual and/or gender as the primary polarity. There are indeed many other polarities to consider: true-false, life-death, dark-light, rational-mystical, creation-destruction, order-chaos, and good-evil, to name but a few. One problem with the masculine-feminine polarity is that there is a strong tendency to express all other polarities in terms of it. The Chinese were particularly fond of this, and mapped everything they liked into the yang side, and everything they disliked or feared into the yin side, the patriarchal no-accounts!

One thing I have discovered is that if you look hard enough, you can find goddesses to fit both ends of most polarities. Some even occupy both ends simultaneously. Inanna, my matron goddess, is a good case in point. She is the Sumerian goddess of love, war, wisdom (which she won in a drinking bout!), adventure, the heavens, the earth, and even of death (in the guise of her dark aspect, Ereshkigal). A very busy lady indeed is Inanna. At this point it becomes largely a matter of personal preference rather than of polarity, whether one chooses a god or a goddess to occupy a particular place in a ritual.

No Dianic I know of denies the existence of the God. Indeed, He gets mentioned as the consort of the Goddess with some frequency in Z Budapest’s HOLY BOOK OF WOMEN’S MYSTERIES, which is close a thing as there is to a Dianic version of the Gardnerian Book of Shadows. He is there, and sometimes we will invoke Him, when it is appropriate. He makes His own path, and we follow our own, and when they cross naturally we honor Him and do not avoid Him. We also do not force the paths to cross simply to lend an artificial balance to a ritual where none is really needed.

Now that I have spilled good deal of ink over what Dianismis not, I should now say a few words about what it is: a movement of feminist, eclectic, Goddess-oriented Witches.

Feminism: This covers a vast multitude of virtues and sins. I do not think the stereotypical radical lesbian separatist is as common as is believed. Moderate to liberal feminism is probably far more common, even among Dianics. Certainly my own coven contains no separatists! There are too many nice men out there, even though surveys have shown that 70% or more of all men are potential rapists. The nice ones are found among those who are not in that repulsive majority; you just have to look to find them. One of the places you might find such nice men is in Dianic covens! Some are mixed groups, at least some of those of the branch founded by Morgan McFarland. My own is something of a mixed up group, I suppose. While we do not currently have any men in the coven, two of the three of us were born male and still have original-equipment plumbing. The Goddess and our HPS accept us unreservedly as women

Eclecticism: If there is one dictum of Z Budapest’s that bears repeating to everyone in the Craft, and which gets followed by many, it is “When in doubt, invent.” Dianics tend toward creative ritual, drawing from any and all possible sources. I have yet to see a Dianic equivalent of the Gardnerian Book of Shadows, nor do I ever hope to see one.

Goddess Orientation: I’ve discussed this at some length while talking about polarity. There are some wags who have said that Dianics are nothing but matriarchal monotheists. I tell you three times: The Dianic Goddess is NOT Jehovah in drag! The Dianic Goddess is NOT Jehovah in drag! The Dianic Goddess is NOT Jehovah in drag! A much closer analogy would be that Dianics have taken the Classical pantheon and reclaimed most of the roles. This, too, is oversimplifying, but it is not nearly as wide of the mark as the usual criticism. At some point I may write up a long exegesis on the Dianic Goddess, but not here. My own personal involvement with Her comes from a great feeling of comfort I do not find elsewhere. She feels right. I have a great deal of difficulty accepting known rapists (most of the Olympian males are this, especially Zeus, Hades, and Pan!) into my personal pantheon. I also feel a personal vocation from the Mother; it is rather incongruous to me to embrace a male deity wholeheartedly when the Goddess comes to me and calls me Her daughter. This goes doubled, redoubled, in pentacles, and vulnerable for lovers of women.

I hope this little discussion of Dianism-in-a-Nutshell has proved enlightening to you. It is not a path for everyone, but it is a valid path for some, and in considering it I hope that you can now ignore the garbage that has been put forth in the past as “data” regarding it.

 
Transferred Over from Old WOTC on YUKU
Author Is Unknown To Me
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Thank The Goddess It Is Thursday, Terrific, Fabulous Thursday!


Good Morning my dear brothers & sisters of The Craft! How is each and everyone of you doing? I hope super. Since I am getting an early start today, I have two things I want to discuss with you. One is happy and the other pisses me to the bone.

First the happy one, I got the poll results about wanting a raffle for a shopping spree in the store. Guess What? It was a yes. You want a chance at a $50.00 shopping spree in our little store, fabulous. I will make up the golden ticket tonight and tomorrow the raffle will start. The golden ticket is symbolic that you won. Don’t worry if you lose it, we will have your name and keep up with the amount you have left to spend. I should add there will be no tax added to this $50.00 so it all goes toward merchandise. All there is left to say is “Good Luck!”

Now for the thing that pisses me to the bottom…….If you will remember yesterday, the Deity of the Day was Ishtar. Her description was exactly this:

Deity of the Day – Ishtar

Ishtar

Dual-aspected Assyro-Babylonian Goddess. She is a warrior Goddess but also the Goddess of Love. She is the patroness and protector of prostitutes (sacred prostitution formed part of her worship) and when she descended to the earthly plane, she was almost always in the company of “courtesans, harlots and strumpets”. If a working girl or exotic dancer is in trouble, she can call on Ishtar for protection and Ishtar will provide it in her warrior Goddess form. As Goddess of Love and voluptuousness, Ishtar can help you if you wish to attract a lover or increase your sexual attractiveness. Beware though, she does have an irritable, violently passionate side to Her Nature.

This was reblogged on another site with this comment made about this Deity….

“Sounds like a Goddess that could REALLY benefit a “Seductress” Eh?  HA!  Geesh”

I guess this clown thought it was funny but I don’t. All of our Goddesses, Gods, and Deities are very sacred to us. To make fun or even a slight remark like this is blasphemy as far as I am concerned. There is one thing I can say about our Gods, Goddesses and Deities, they overlook no one. Whether you are a common prostitute or a drug dealer, they see your potential for good. And they are there to pull you out of your slump and give you new hope and guidance for a better life.

I know my Goddesses, Gods and Deities are real. I feel them constantly, they are everywhere. I have a very high respect and regards for them. I would never, ever say anything even in jest against them. And I pity the person that would. It only shows their ignorance and the lack of respect for other religions.

I have never bashed another Religion on this site and I never will. I keep hoping for a better day when we can all respect each other, their lifestyles and their Religions. But it seems that day is still a long way off.

I know it is only one Deity so why make a big deal about it. Simple, it starts with one then leads to two, then three and so on. After a while it is our entire Religion, do you want that? I know I don’t. We have worked to hard to allow this to happen. Whether it is one Deity or our entire Religion in question, we must stand up against those who are so ignorant as to make fun or ridicule us in anyway.

We must always stand up for ourselves and our Religion, if we don’t no one will. Remember that. Remember how far we have came and remember we will let no one put us down again, EVER!

*As far as this site goes that made the remark about Ishtar, I will be contacting WordPress today in regards to Religious Bashing. All of the sites that have been accused of religious bashing has been closed down and no longer exist on WordPress.*

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