Your Animal Spirit for Feb. 9th is The Cardinal

Your Animal Spirit for Today

Cardinal   
Wake up! Cardinal is chirping at you—bringing a message of personal power. Stop shrinking from your destiny. Stop pretending that you are less than. If you are unsure of your path, ask Cardinal to fly with you—it’s certain he will help you focus, gain clarity, formulate a plan, become self-assured, and step out into the world with the confidence befitting a person of your power.

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Daily Feng Shui News for Jan. 27th – The Theme is World Peace

‘Vietnam Peace Day.’ ‘International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.’ ‘Auschwitz Liberation Day.’ Sensing a theme today? Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with us. Whenever you can today, stop for a brief moment and say the following prayer from author and angel archeologist JoAnn Cornug. This prayer appeals to Angel Labbiel, who is said to carry peace in one hand and truth in the other as he resolves conflicts and soothes savage souls. ‘Labbiel, Labbiel, Labbiel. I call forth truth and peace in my world now and continuously.’ I’ll call it forth for all of you too. Peace.

By Ellen Whitehurst for Astrology.com

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Your Charm For December 11th is The Tau Cross

 Your Charm For Today

The Tau Cross 

Today’s Meaning:

 A journey that you or someone close to you must make will have a positive influence on this aspect. This trip may be over a great distance.

General Description:

This charm was worn by the ancients to protect the wearer against disease and snake bites. The Jews used it as an amulet for epilepsy and erysipelas. It is still used in Ireland as a talisman against sickness. The Tau is one of the most ancient crosses and the forerunner of the Latin Cross. Moses used the Tau Cross with the brazen serpent attached, to save the Children of Israel in the wilderness from the attacks of the fiery serpents. The Cross has always been the symbol of life eternal. It was this mark, the Tau Cross, that was placed upon the foreheads of those exempted from Divine wrath in Jerusalem.

Those Pretty, Sexy Witches

Those Pretty, Sexy Witches

Author: Sia@FullCircle

It is known as The Season of the Witch, a time when hefty bags of candy appear on shelves, skeletons come out of dark closets to dance among us, and that ugly, green-faced hag stalks the store aisles, frightening little children and annoying real Witches no end. For many years now, both in response to that Hag, and for my own amusement, I have collected items that portray her opposite. As a result, I have dozens of pretty, sexy, positive Witch figures, toys, trinkets, and images in my collection. Some of these pieces feature young women and little girls, while others depict sweet-faced older gals. The elders are often shown hugging cats or puppies or they carry books, flowers or tiny bags of chocolate. For those in the know, that pretty much says it all.

Finding Positive Witch Figures

When I began collecting twenty years ago it was easiest to find such images in vintage postcards published before 1925 or in copies of pin-up posters from the 1950’s and 60’s. Modern representations were much harder to find. After years of asking for “pretty witches” in stores, and getting odd looks, and after much searching, I began to find what I was after. (1) This was long before the collectible fantasy sculptures you see now were available, and before those pretty fantasy witch outfits for young girls and women could be found in on-line catalogs and the Halloween stores. These days, you can walk into any collectibles store and find sculptures of charming, pretty, sexy, witchy women. During Halloween you can even find these types of items in drug stores. Many of the sexy ones are a bit outré, that’s true. This has often been the case.

The Witch as Sex Toy

One way to remove power from a female image is to make it too cute, too busty, too Marilyn Monroe-ish, and so turn Her into a sex toy. That has been going on for a very long time. There are many provocative and in some cases, charming witch images in art, photography and advertising. To see some of these check out the Sexy Witch Blog by Red Witch (the link is below) . Please Note: This contains very Adult Content, folks – Do not watch this site at work.

Taming the Sexy Witch

Because the young witch is seen as sexy and alluring she has power over those who desire her. That makes her dangerous. So our culture sought to tame her and keep her power for it’s own use. Examples of this can be seen in the 1958 film “Bell, Book and Candle” and in the television series “Bewitched”. As a girl growing up I could never figure out why someone with Samantha’s life experience, talent, and wit would be happy living a boring, subservient life with a dim witted dullard like Darrin. (Being ten at the time, I did not realize that “Bewitched”, “I Dream of Jeannie” and shows like it were a cultural backlash in response to the early Women’s Movement, portraying women with power as besotted handmaidens to rather nervous males) . At least the television version of Samantha (as played by Elizabeth Montgomery) was powerful, subversive and smart, unlike her later counterpart in the film remake of that name. (A link to an insightful review of the remake is noted below.)

Finding the Center

The pendulum swings and swings again. The characters of Willow (from the TV show Buffy The Vampire Slayer) , Hermione (from the Harry Potter series) , Tiffany (from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series) along with many of their sister witches in fiction are antidotes to the negative, exploitative or simply silly image of the witch. More positive portraits will come in time.

Crone or Hag?

Whenever we work with the Crone image, we confront our own fears about death, aging and the unknown. As Pagans know, the Crone can be both our ally, and our teacher. But how do we define a Crone? I believe the woman of the Elderflower Festival in California (www.elderflower.org) have done this rather well. They note that the Crone “has often developed a deeper awareness of her own mortality, either through her own brush with death or through facilitating the passage of another. She is shifting from an external focus to a more introspective state. She experiences a sense of urgency to get on with the real business of her life, and she has begun to shed the old in order to pursue what has now emerged as her life purpose.”

This is a figure to be honored, not feared, so it is not surprising that some Pagans find the classic Halloween caricature of the Crone to be deeply offensive. Others shrug it off with a smile. What seems ominous, to me, is the way in which the use of this green-faced creature in modern day culture mirrors the historical periods of Pagan and Witch persecution. During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, western patriarchal culture, fueled by the fear of women, (especially older, independent women) promoted a monster known as the Witch.

Frequent crop failures, famines, global weather changes (known to us as the Little Ice Age) as well as injustice, poverty, constant warfare, religious scandals, torture, imprisonment without trial, abuse of power, and political unrest haunted those times. The vicious, vengeful, envious Witch figure was used by those in power to blame ‘the other” for their problems. During this period, professional Witch Finders were paid for every witch they found. How’s that for incentive? Any money, property and animals owned by these witches (mostly older, usually widow women) enriched the town and the church after their deaths. This made the Witch business a very profitable one for all concerned.

Bashing Witches is Good Business.

Just as Jerry Falwell tried to blame feminists, gays, lesbians and Pagans for 9/11 in order to raise his TV ratings, so too did Church and State powers once blame women, Jews, and lepers for the Black Plague. As the Germans used the Jews as scapegoats in Hitler’s day, so did Medieval and Renaissance cultures in the West use non-Christians, cats and old women as the focus for the fear and blame felt by those who suffered because of their greed, corruption and incompetence. When we Pagans say “Never again the Burning Times” we mean that we will not allow ignorance or any Powers That Currently Be to scapegoat or harm our people again.

The Origins of the Green-faced Hag

As far as I can tell, the green colored skin dates from the character of The Wicked Witch of the West as portrayed by Margaret Hamilton in the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz”. (See link to Wikipedia entry below, which shows her portrayal in the movie compared to the original illustrations for the book) . As the Wikipedia entry notes, “In the classic movie The Wizard of Oz, the Wicked Witch, played by actress Margaret Hamilton, was stooped, green-skinned, and dressed entirely in black. In many people’s minds, this representation of The Wicked Witch has become an archetype for human wickedness.”

Advertisers and toy makers picked up on this version and the classic Hag persona, (which featured wrinkles, a long nose, a wart or two, claw like hands, and a pointy chin) added on the green skin. The green colored skin makes the Halloween Witch seem even less human, and more demonic, than before. It is now a standard feature of this image.

I should note here that there is another, far sadder potential origin of this image. This was pointed out by a writer named Angel in 1999 in the form of a prose poem which has been seen at many a Pagan newsgroup since it first appeared. To read it, visit the Endnotes section of this article, and click on “She Returns: The Halloween Witch”

She Who Changes

Can a pretty Witch figure do anything to change people’s hearts and minds? You never know. But keep an eye out for pretty Witches this season and see how many more of them you see now, than you ever saw before. I would argue that the image is changing, as more and more of us come out of the broom closet in positive ways. We change the image, and the image changes the way people see us, as well. When you think about it, the process is…magical.

Uppity Older Women

Most cultures realize that elders, assuming they have paid attention to life’s many lessons, know a bit more then their younger counterparts. Some cultures fear that knowledge, some honor it and use it. Suzanne Braun Lavine, in an prescient article for Ms. Magazine some years back, (see link below) quoted Gloria Steinem’s famous saying that that older women tend to get more radical, not less, as they age. She also quotes Gerda Lerner’s observation that “Such a critical mass of older women with a tradition of rebellion and independence and a way of making a living has not occurred before in history.”

Yea, verily. That fact is only beginning to be noted and we’re going to hear more about older women changing this culture. This is why the old woman in the conical hat with the black cat in her arms can make me smile. I know her true power. Her headgear has long been associated with medieval noblewomen and mystics and outsiders in general (2) ; groups viewed as threats because of their learning and their frequent refusal to toe the dogmatic party line.

Patriarchal culture made these women into such an out-sized caricature so they could mock them and assure that others who might listen to their wisdom would shun them in fear. But in mocking these old ladies (old ladies back then being anyone over the age of 35) , they have unwittingly brought Her down to us through history. Now we can restore that “old” woman to her rightful place, that of experienced, well traveled, thoughtful Elder.

This is not the wizened, frail Crone of yesteryear. Older women today are independent, sexual beings and they have means. They are also powerful Healers, learned Advocates, courageous Guardians, effective Organizers, and a clear-eyed, questioning Seers. As the saying goes, “Everything She touches, changes.”

There are millions of us now, and we are standing up, changing things, and demanding to be heard. And, by the way, we vote.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Sia

Links:

Sexy Witch Blog:

Article by Levine for Ms. Magazine:

Pagan Myths Debunked: Where Do You Think That Pointy Hat Came From, Anyway? by Lillith Veritas:

Review of Bewitched Remake by James Bowman

The Wicked Witch of the West:

Another Theory for the Green-faced Witch
She Returns: The Halloween Witch

Endnotes:

(1) Feminists, Pagans, store owners, and collectors were a bit ahead of a coming trend back in the early 90’s and were, perhaps, a small influence on that trend. This is what Malcolm Glaswall in his book “The Tipping Point” calls The Law of the Few, which contends that before widespread popularity can be attained, a few key types of people must champion an idea, concept, or product before it can reach the tipping point. Glaswell describes these key types as Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen. If individuals representing all three of these groups endorse and advocate a new idea, it is much more likely that it will tip into exponential success.

(2) Excerpt from Pagan Myths Debunked: Where Do You Think That Pointy Hat Came From Anyway? By Lillity Veritas (a link to the full article is above)

“There is another, commonly held belief that the pointed hat originated with another persecuted group in Europe, the Jews. While Jews did wear pointed headgear, most scholars now believe these hats were not a likely source for the witch’s pointed hat. After all, pointed hats were fairly common throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

This fact leads us to the source I find to be most believable, and most mundane, for the Pointy Hat Look. During the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, commoners in Wales and England often wore pointed hats. As fashions changed, the last to retain the old styles were the rural and peasant folk, who were considered “backward” by higher society and were usually the ones accused of heresy and witchcraft. Much as we today have stereotypes of the sort of student who might commit violence at a high school, so did the medieval people have their ideas of what sort of person might be a witch.

Along these lines, Gary Jensen, a professor of sociology at Vanderbilt University, postulates a connection between the persecution of Quakers in America and the stereotypical appearance of witches in our folklore. Quakers did wear pointed hats, and the negative image of witches wearing conical hats in America became common about the same time anti-Quaker sentiment was at a peak. Quakers were thought by some to consort with demons and practice black magic, things also associated with the early American view of witches. Once again, an easily recognized symbol of an oppressed minority may have become generalized to a group equated with them.

In the final analysis, it’s likely that more than one of these issues came into play to ingrain the pointy hat into the mainstream idea of what a witch looks like. After all, the ideas that stick most firmly in the mind are the ones repeated from different sources, and many things in history can’t be traced to a single root cause or moment.”

Celebrating Other Spirituality 365 Days A Year – Rosh Hashana

magick21

September 17th

Rosh Hashana

Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, is a time of new beginnings. On this day, the best clothes were worn and “Good Year” greetings are exchanged. Originally this was a one-day festival and the Fast of Trumpets, at which the shofar was sounded. For the Jewish community this is a time of judgment, repentance, soul-searching, and also of augury for the coming year. This is an entirely public festival, in contrast to the domestic nature of most Jewish holidays. In earlier times, a ritual cleansing was enacted by casting one’s sins into the waters. Today, when possible, Orthodox Jews still assemble near the water for this rite.

Your Charm for August 31 is The Tau Cross

Your Charm for Today

Today’s Meaning:   

A journey that you or someone close to you must make will have a positive influence on this aspect. This trip may be over a great distance.

General Description:

This charm was worn by the ancients to protect the wearer against disease and snake bites. The Jews used it as an amulet for epilepsy and erysipelas. It is still used in Ireland as a talisman against sickness. The Tau is one of the most ancient crosses and the forerunner of the Latin Cross. Moses used the Tau Cross with the brazen serpent attached, to save the Children of Israel in the wilderness from the attacks of the fiery serpents. The Cross has always been the symbol of life eternal. It was this mark, the Tau Cross, that was placed upon the foreheads of those exempted from Divine wrath in Jerusalem.

13 Questions You Should Be Able To Answer After Your Year & A Day Learning Period

13 Questions You Should Be Able To Answer After Your Year & A Day Learning Period

 

Below you will find 13 questions that you should be able to answer at the end of your initial study period. Also are included are answers, not necessarily the right answer, but answers to make you think.  The answers are also provided because you have learned so much and perhaps some of the things you might have forgotten. Either way, the answers are just examples and to be used a thought provoking.

 

1. define and describe a pagan. 

“For  the pagan and primitive peoples whom Jews and  Christians  alike
have  always  reviled as idolaters, the moving air, the  fire  on  the
hearth, the rhythm of the seasons, the bird on the wing, the  markings
and  movements  of  the beasts, the  streaming  waters,  the  circling
stars  … all these, and the works of man’s own hand, are alive  with
an intelligible presence.  They are symbolic doorways that invite  the
imagination through to high experience.”
Theodore  Roszak

“It  is necessary to treat the animals well, and to regard all  things
as if they were living beings who hear and understand.”
Johan  Turi,
MITTALUS SAMID BIRRA

In  historic times a pagan would have been any number of peoples  wor-
shiping  nature gods.  This worship seems to have been based  in  pre-
historic forms of religion including shamanism with a pedigree of it’s
oldest  forms  echoing  back more than 30,000  years.   Because  these
religions  were based mostly in tribal cultures emphasizing  tradition
rather  than  sophistication, the sources tend to  be  entirely  oral.
Verbatim  memorization, while it’s possessors survive, tends to  be  a
more exact method of transmitting data than holy texts which can  (and
have been) altered or completely changed.

With the complete suppression of the tradition, however, knowledge  of
paganism  has faded to a faint glimmering of references  and  supposi-
tion.   In modern times a pagan would tend to be someone  feeling  the
lack  of  purity,  lack of originality, lack of  rootedness,  lack  of
foundation  in over-theologized religions whose original  message  has
been overgrown and altered to suit priestly interests, whose  leaders’
preachment  is motivated often by self-interest and whose  ‘qualifica-
tions’  are primarily glandular and (sick) psychological  rather  than
illumination.

The pagans I have met are, in general, more sensitive than normal  and
‘feel’ the world directly, in contrast to this miasmatic culture which
submerges us in ‘safe’ anonymity, relegating us a guaranteed role as a
consumer  unit.  The religions that fail to give us more dignity  than
that,  that fail to foment rebellion against such an insult  naturally
lose  those  more sensitive people.  They fail to grant us a  path  of
rejoining  to ourself.  A pagan seeks this and it is the very lack  of
structure which allows the freedom of thought and feeling and practice
that attracts so many people that have been ‘lost’ by other religions.
In  our ‘culture’ traditions regarding the manner of living are  rele-
gated  to the ‘ignorant’ past and lost.  Responding to this  need  the
neo-pagan  will  try to re-create a life-enhancing  religion  open  to
individual experience based on whatever gleanings of the ancient forms
are left.  Given enough intelligent application and sufficient politi-
cal  freedom,  a reasonable facsimile, true in spirit and  similar  in
some  forms will evolve.  Truly, much of what was lost  was  priceless
and  will never be recovered, but also a great much of what  was  lost
had decayed beyond recovering so that the last people to suffer  under
these  benighted  superstitions that had once  been  vital  religions,
probably were better off without.  We have the opportunity to rebuild,
to renew with vitality, to recover what was good that is still  known.
People  being what they are, divergence seems to be the rule,  yet  we
live in a ‘global village’ and cross-reference and cross-fertilization
is inevitable.  It is the talent of wicca to seek that which works and
as we relearn what can create a life that is true to the heart we will
share.   Given the degree of computer interconnection in our  society,
it  would not be surprising that techniques rediscovered in one  place
would  be known world wide within a season, just by word of  computer.
It  is a time for hard work for what we do now will be what those  who
come after will have to build on.  The freedom of choice and  associa-
tion and abundance of sources almost guarantees that bull in the  name
of  the gods will quickly get trashed.  It is a time for  honesty  and
genius.

A pagan is a being in a state of  becoming.

2.  Define and describe a witch.

I would say that a witch is someone belonging to a coven and  worship-
ing  nature gods.  A witch may have special knowledge and  powers  re-
garding herbal lore, magic, divination, magical flight, separation  of
the  body and soul, love philters, amulets,  exorcism,  trance-medium-
ship, hypnosis, communion with god/dess’, communication with  spirits,
drawing down the Moon, invocation of good and exorcism of evil  influ-
ences, and more, perhaps.  The means of producing these results may be
in the traditional circle, guided by a priest and priestess, by chant-
ing, drum-beating, dancing, ritual invocation and supplication.

These  powers have been supposed to be special wild or inherited  tal-
ents  to  do  evil by intention alone (1) but I feel  they  are,  when
possessed, no more or less than the natural power of life, consciously
directed.   This power is automatically controlled daily  without  our
conscious  direction or realization.  As our digestion or  circulation
function  without  express thought, the life power is utilized  at  an
even more basic level to create our life and world.  Expressed  uncon-
sciously  for whim or feat, self-destruction or in creativity,  it  is
not  without us but a part of us, a part of every living cell.   Thus,
not  only  is it a very legal power to us, but to miss  to  direct  it
consciously would be like missing the oars in a rowboat, the doors  of
a  house.  Some people brag that they never read the  directions  sup-
plied in the package.  To avoid discovering the ‘directions’  supplied
with  life would seem to be to miss most of the glory of being  alive.
(1)  Witches were and are supposed to be entirely evil and opposed  in
every action to the expression of life.  (Surely such a creature would
self-destruct!)  This is an expression of the ‘alien’ theory which has
been used by many (ignorant) cultures to explain the presence of  evil
and imperfection in a world that is ‘supposed’ to be perfect.  It is a
terrifying  theory but apparently people would rather be scared  silly
than  say,  “I made a mistake” or “What seems evil to us is  just  the
natural  working of life.”  The appellation of ‘witch’ has been  given
to Huns, Jews, heretics, and recently to men by some feminists.

3.  Are you one of the above or both?
4.  If so, say what and why. 

I  am myself.  I am what I do.  I have avoided labels for  myself  and
would not start sticking them onto myself based on the attendance of a
few functions.  Precisely, I have not been accepted as an initiate, an
essential step in a tradition oriented to group membership.  I am  not
a pagan in the sense that, outside of weekly circles, I do not worship
any god or goddess.

5.  What do you see as positive in paganism?

I have always felt good in the circle.  I have said it previously that
I am happy to be here.  But in thinking how to answer this question  I
have  found  some answers that have much  reinforced  these  feelings.
What is here in paganism is unique and precious.

Here  there is the encouragement of individuality and also  a  strong,
positive  and unique group identity; this is very rare, especially  in
our society.

Here  there  is  spiritual expression within a  true  construction  of
religion  and including respect for the need for personal  freedom  of
expression; this is very rare in any society.

Here  there is tradition in a society that has eschewed  tradition  in
favor of the new, especially new products; yet what is the meaning  of
products which have no context?

Here there is honor to each sex in a society that is very divisive and
competitive and generally derisive of everyone especially women.  Here
there is a celebration of life in a society that seems to have forgot-
ten  where it came from and remains; which if it recognizes nature  as
valuable converts it into a prepackaged commodity.  Indeed, the  value
of nature is a matter of constant debate, a debate that is  inevitably
won by those who see value only in dollar signs.

Here there is a group of intelligent people large enough to be  inter-
esting  yet small enough that each is important, whether one  attends,
who  one  is and especially if one participates in  helping,  each  is
important.   All these things are RARE in our society;  their  conver-
gence here is unique and precious.

6.  What do you see as negative in paganism. 

I don’t know.  I haven’t had any problems so far.  The need for secre-
cy is inconvenient in some respects particularly at work and with some
friends  who,  I am certain, will never be able to  grasp  the  notion
correctly.   But then secrets can be kind of fun, too.  I  have  found
the  essential  facts  of paganism not directly accessible  but  I  am
beginning to understand that it is a fairly large subject.  (Added  15
June ’89)  A certain lack of focus.  It is understandable since  there
is no central authority to impose goals.  Yet is should be possible to
agree on basic needs and goals and though there would be no  overseer,
a  kind  of competition based on comparison of  results  (apparent  in
fests, perhaps).  To achieve this, however, we need to understand what
is  needed and why.  Still there does seem to be a good deal  of  work
being done in different places.  The quality and amount of information
is expanding every year.

7.  What is your concept of death?

An incomprehensible, insensible condition concluding our actions  here
on earth.  A period of summation and consolidation; having shed to the
earth  the accumulation of errors and age in the body, one is  reborn,
washed  clean in the blood of the new life.  I particularly  like  the
idea  that it might be something like Scrooge’s Christmas Eve;  seeing
and understanding the events of one’s life, then the regrets of  unex-
pressed love would be the motive impelling the soul to rebirth.

But then I don’t really know.  It might be nothing.

8.   What  do the following words bring to your mind:  god,  goddess,
priest, priestess. 

God, Goddess, ineffable, incomprehensible being beyond our concept  of
good  or  evil.  The notion of sex in gods is our  convention  to  aid
philosophical  discussion and to assist in forming an emotional  rela-
tionship.   (added 15 June ’89)  “Maybe something more, rooted in  our
nature.”, Daniel’s comment.

Priest, priestess: persons who have made a commitment to further their
religion  by their personal effort.  Being ordained or  initiated  and
all that.  The sexual distinction is trivial, relatively speaking,  of
course.   The essential act is that of spiritual guidance and this  is
more a matter of training and talent.

9.  What are the privileges and obligations of a teacher?

To  share knowledge, to have one’s expressions listened to,  to  enjoy
the  responses of one’s students.  To be responsible in what  and  how
things  are  taught.  To admit freely areas of one’s doubt  or  little
knowledge  to be clear in expression and patient in  explanation.   To

respect and respond to the students efforts as the teacher’s purpose.

10.  What are the privileges and responsibilities of a student?

To  share  knowledge, to enjoy the attendance of a  teacher  to  one’s
education.   To work actively toward the development of  one’s  educa-
tion, to respect the teacher and cooperate and trust, within reason.
The teacher’s responsibilities are greater.

11.  What do you seek from Wicca?

A  personal path and some help along the way.  Friends that don’t  say
things like “You don’t believe THAT, do you?”

12.   Are  you more attracted to the religious or  practical  side  of
Wicca?

I can’t say.  My conception of any sincerely religious person is  that
he  tries to express his convictions into his life.  To me,  it  seems
that  the  most potent form of prayer is in work.  Or  like  Gurdjieff
said,  “Work as if everything depends on work.  Pray as if  everything
depends on prayer.”  It seems to me the lack of practical work  leaves
a  religion without a skeleton, the rest of the tissue has nothing  to
hang  on.  I would say that the practical side, including much of  the
wisdom teachings, should not be separated from the religious except as
a convention to facilitate teaching.

13.  Are there any areas of this framework that you particularly  wish
to study.  What  and why.

I’m not sure.  Right now I’m just taking it all in in any order  what-
ever.  I would like to understand the philosophical framework better.                                            Moon lore has happily occupied me this last  year
and  promises  to  be a long-continuing interest.  The  laws  and  the
social framework of wicca are also very intriguing.  My idea now about
ritual work is that it is possibly best as a form of self-therapy,  at
least  in the beginning, since all of us come to this  very  demanding
subject  full  of  flaws enough to trip us up  constantly  unless  our
personal peculiarities can be pinned down and dealt with.

Today’s I Ching Hexagram for Oct. 17 – 43: Determination

43: Determination

Personal resolution points to a breakthrough, but decisive action is required. As long as you diligently hold your ground and ward off negative tendencies and influences, the good will prevail.

The persistence of negativity, which is that which opposes the good, is a constant in human affairs. Just when it is thought to have been eradicated, up it will pop again, sprouting through some crack in the pavement of civilized society. Evil need not take dramatic or extravagant forms, such as those exhibited in Nazi Germany. Garden-variety lies and deceit are much more common and persistent, but should be rooted out just as diligently. One must be determined to not accidentally feed negativity — either in one’s social or professional life, or in one’s own soul. In either case, definite rules must be followed for the struggle to succeed.

The first rule: do not compromise with evil. Destructive or exploitive actions must be identified openly for what they are, and discredited. The second: one cannot successfully resist negativity on its own terms. New, positive alternatives that lead away from the source of the problem are generally more successful, and appropriate than trying to counter negativity with raw power. The third rule: the means used to counter negativity must be consistent with the end to be achieved. One cannot stop the spreading of lies by spreading more of them

Cult Characteristics: Is Wicca a Cult or a Genuine Religion?

Cult Characteristics: Is Wicca a Cult or a Genuine Religion?

Author: Rev. Mirado Crow

Is Wicca a cult or is it a genuine religion? Many Wiccans have asked me this, and on many occasions, I just want to tell them to do their research on what a cult actually is. But since I really don’t see myself doing that, I have instead provided the following information.

One of the most devastating experiences someone could face is to realize that a loved one is involved in a cult. So many family members, friends, co workers or other people may tell you that Wicca is a cult and that Christianity (or whatever religion they believe in) is the only genuine or “True Religion”. They will try to ‘save’ you from a self-defeating dark force known as the ‘Devil’ or ‘Satan’. The birth/origin of Satan is up to interpretation, but can be traced back to the Christian misinterpretation of the pagan Horned God. Since this belief sprang out of the area of the Mediterranean, perhaps it derived from the worship of the God, Pan, or Cernnunos, The Horned God of The Field, Rebirth and Fertility. Some of the imagery and descriptions of the devil is almost identical to that of the Horned God.

The claim of Satan or ‘Devil’ worship made by the some Christian doctrines about our faith is something I dismiss easily with a smile on my face. The actual word, Satan, is not a real name for a spirit but a Hebrew term meaning “adversary”. So if you happen to be called, a “Satan”, they are actually correct ala their doctrinal terminology because Witchcraft, and all sorts of Paganism, are considered as the “adversaries” to Christianity.

The Christian story of Lucifer however, is a misrepresentation because we also see him in the Roman Pantheon the later being his true Pantheon. Lucifer is, in the Roman Pantheon, the brother of the Goddess Diana [1] (Goddess of Witches) , and the “Bearer of Light”. Lucifer, in Christian mythology was considered — as he was in some stories in Roman mythology — the ‘morning star’ and the term is referred to within the Bible. ‘Lucifer, son of the morning’ is translated into Hebrew as “Helel ben Shakhar”, which then translates to ‘Day-star, son of the Dawn’. Though the morning star is the planet Venus (as it is the ‘star’ you would still see in the morning despite the rising of the sun) , the Greeks, Romans, Jews, and Arabs identified the morning star as male. In Latin, Lucifer means “Light Bearer”, and in Greek, the morning star was called, “Phosphoros”, also meaning “Light Bearer”. So how Lucifer was translated later into meaning “devil” is a complete invention of the early Christian Church.

The observation of the morning star, and it’s defiance of the sun was the basis for the influence of the Christian story of how the Seraphim Lucifer defied Yahweh, and for that, must be punished. Another story of how Lucifer fell from grace in Christian lore was for his pride and lust when he refused to worship Adam because he thought only his maker deserved worship. (Though in the story, it was not Lucifer’s lust, but his angel’s of who were lusting for the feeling of a family life that caused them to also fall, and the destruction of mankind with the Great Flood as told in the story of Noah and the Ark [i].) That may have been derived from the story of the “Epic of Gilgamesh”, and possibly the story of the “Lost City of Atlantis”, both of which are tales [written long before the story of Noah] of a Great Flood. It wasn’t until St. Jerome mistranslated ‘Lucifer’ that it became interchangeable with ‘Devil’ [2].

When someone hears the word “cult”, one could automatically think “devil worship” though to the trained mind, this may not be the case. In order for a group to be known as a cult in today’s world, it would usually employ some forms of manipulation. Though groups of believers and worshippers were known as cults in ancient times, the term has evolved with the times. Cults in today’s world are those whose groups will insinuate their ‘personality’ into your everyday life, taking away from your personal spiritual and social growth.

Cult – Formal religious veneration…great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book) , especially: such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad.” [3]

One of the ways I refute anyone in a crusade against Wicca, should that person claim Wicca is a cult, is by providing the actual definition of the word, “cult”. With observation, you will notice and realize that Wicca is actually not a cult but a genuine religion, and that all the major religions of today’s world could be accused of being cults because they idolize purported historical persons or supposed ‘saviors’. Christianity worships Jesus (someone they claim to be an actual person, and some denominations go the further route to worship Mary) , Islam idolize Mohammed, Buddhism idolizes Siddhârtha Gautama (also known as Buddha or the Supreme Buddha) , and Hinduism idolizes His Divine Grace (a person within the highest office of the religion) . …and many more cults are out there, claiming to be genuine religions.

Paganism, though a group of religions based on ancient worship, do not worship or idolize people; they work toward the divine and the many aspects thereof. They do however, give respect to those of a higher office, because they have given of themselves to the Craft, to better the communities understanding of ancient worship and how it can improve the wellbeing of the world and the society of today and tomorrow.

Lore Twisting: The first mark of a cult is its manipulation of lore. It’s religious lore (and those of other religions) is twisted to fit that group’s interpretation. Private interpretations are forbidden because the leader is, of course, the only one who is able to understand the Divine properly. The teachings distort the historic and obvious truths of other beliefs to not only fit their own gains, but to make that other faith appear to be influenced by evil or bogus.

Historical Manipulation: This appears when the group has forged historical documentation for induction within doctrinal belief. There is very little regard for historical accuracy or fact, except what will benefit the group’s claim and attempt to disprove others. Though many of the documentations/declaration might be proven to be untrue or historical forgeries (and therefore mere hearsay) , cult members must hold to the belief that what the cult says is true is indeed true and dismiss any proof to the contrary.

Suppressive Manipulation: Almost all cults will definitely try to suppress other ways of life or beliefs. If you are not what they expect you to be, your rights are suppressed and you are not trusted throughout that community until you conform to their standards.

Mental Manipulation:: Many times cults manipulate people’s minds. There is basically no respect for individual thought and individual interpretation is sometimes preached against. Cultists claim that spiritual and mental development can “ONLY” be achieved if you are within their group or worship their pantheon. Education is usually directed away from anything that may challenge their doctrinal teachings, and the convert is bombarded with the cult’s doctrine and literature. The cult calls for its members to convert others to its doctrine, and have them to abandon their old way of life (or family) , and depend on the cult’s way of living.

Finally, cults are really fond of manipulating reality. They foster an exclusive “us/them” mentality in which ‘society’ and old associates are all out to get them. Everyone outside of the group is an evil person who must be shunned and/or punished. I have listened to many Christians tell me “If it’s not in the Bible, then it’s not real.”

You can see that Wicca, and all sorts of Paganism, are not cults because they do NOT fall under the categories mentioned, or the dictionary definition above. Many of the major religions of today’s world have fought to suppress ways that did not conform to their own. In November of 2008, an organized voter block of religious advocates helped to pass Proposition 8 in California, which prohibits same sex marriage. (Happily this has since been reversed.) And in Africa, Witch Hunts still go on, along with major hate crimes against others of different faith groups (non-Christian) spearheaded by various Christian sects [even ministers and priests]. In 2010, many people were accused of witchcraft, and either jailed or killed there. Organizations from within the United States sometimes funded these groups.

So when you encounter accusations of being a member of a cult, as a Wiccan remember that Wicca is NOT a cult by definition. Wicca is a genuine religion by practicality and actuality in every aspect of definable definition. Wicca’s goal is to reach toward the Divine, and does not worship any one person or persons but rather has facilitators by which individual spiritual growth may freely be reached.


Footnotes:
[1] Which the rumors of Witches being in League withthe Christian Devil is probably derived from. The relationship between Lucifer and Diana is possibly how the Christians link Witchcraft to their Spiritual villain. Which the rumors of Witches being in League with the Christian Devil is probably derived from. The relationship between Lucifer and Diana is possibly how the Christians link Witchcraft to their Spiritual villain.

[2] Helel ben Shakhar, translated into latin would be, “Lux ferre”; which means, “Light-Bearer”, and another rendering of this translation is, “Lucis fer” which is, “To carry Light”. This is the translation he used to link the God of Light to the Christian villain ‘Devil’.

[3] Merriam Webster’s Deluxe Dictionary; Tenth Collegiate® Edition (1998) see Cult Pg. 441

Endnotes:

[i] More on the Origins of Satan can be found in “The Black Arts: A Concise History of Witchcraft, Demonology, Astrology, Alchemy, and Other Mystical Practices Throughout The Ages” by Richard Cavendish Pg. 269

The Meaning of the Number 1

One primarily deasl with strong will, positivity, pure energy. The number One reflects new beginnings, and purity. The symbolic meaning of number One is further clarified when we understand One represents both kinds of action: physical and mental. This combined with Ones urgency for new beginnings, we begin to see Ones recurring in our lives indicates a time to exert our natural forces, take action, and start a new venture. One encourages us our action will be rewarded in kind.

 

Spiritual Meaning of Numbers