Celebrating Other Spirituality 365 Days A Year – Miracle at Lourdes

February 11th

Miracle at Lourdes (France)

It was on this day in 1858 that the famous apparition of Our Lady at Lourdes was seen by a poor peasant girl, Bernadatte. This was the last manifestation at the gorto which had been known for many centuries as the shrine of the Goddess.

Born Marie Bernarde Soubrious, Bernadatte (1844 – 1879) suffered from asthma, poverty, and a lack of education. At the age of 14, on February 11, Bernadatte experienced a vision of the Virgin Mary while collecting firewood on the bank of the River Gave near Lourdes. During the next six months, she saw a series of 18 visions in which  the Lady identified herself as “the Immaculate Conception” and told Bernadatte to drink from a nearby spring. The Lady also instructed Bernadatte to erect a chapel on the site. Since that time, the spring has produced 27,000 gallons of water each week and has been the site of countless miracles of healing.

 

Magickal Activity

Healing Bath

Items needed:

One white candle

Fresh mint

Fresh lavender

Light the candle and place it next to the tub so the water will reflect its light. As you fill the tub with water, add the mint and lavender leaves. Just before you step into the tub, stir the water with your hand as you chant:

“Elements and herbs lend your power,
Bring me healing from this hour.”
 

Soak in the tub for 15 minutes. At the end of this time, stand in the tub and let the water out. As the water drains from the tub, visualize all your ailments (or problems) leaving your body and flowing away with the water.

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Celebrating Other Spirituality 365 Days A Year – January 15th

Celebrating Other Spirituality 365 Days A Year

 

January 15th

According to The Perpetual Almanack of Folklore by Charles Kightly, from the Markham County Contentments (1615), this day was reserved for taking care of one’s hounds. It seems that when the hounds were done with the hunt, one was to immediately wash the animal’s feet in hot butter and beer, beef broth, or a brew of mallows and nettles. Once properly cleansed, the hounds were to be allowed to rest before the fire for several hours. When the hounds were rested and refreshed they would be rousted and turned out to find their own housing.

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Let’s Talk Witch – How to Explain Your Beliefs

Let’s Talk Witch – How to Explain Your Beliefs

When describing your beliefs to someone, it’s not always necessary to explain everything. It’s best to start with your personal beliefs, and then to segue into a longer explanation. It also helps to make connections between Neo-Pagan practices and the practices of other religions. Finally, you should be prepared to allay fears people have about magic and those wild Pagan orgies.

Share the Basics

When first explaining your beliefs, stick to a skeleton of your basic belief system. For a coworker, it’s enough to say something like, “I follow a nature religion.” You can answer further questions if you want to, but try to steer clear of talk about working skyclad. With friends, you can explain your beliefs a little more deeply. It’s okay to mention the deities you follow, your holiday celebrations, or anything else that seems appropriate. Your friend may or may not ask questions. If she does, then explain further. For example, if you’re asked if you believe in God, you can answer that you believe in a god and goddess. If you are asked if you worship Satan, you can explain that Satan is a Christian construct and that you don’t worship anything that could be construed as evil.

Answer the Questions

Family members and people you have a romantic connection to will ask the most questions. Work slowly, starting from the basics. Allow the person time to digest your answers and then think of new questions. You might want to invite them to attend a ritual with you, or send them a copy of a ritual so they can see what it’s like.

You will most likely be asked if you still celebrate the holidays of your original faith. Many Pagans choose to celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday and share the day with family and friends, just as they did before, but without the trip to church. Most Jewish Pagans find that their traditions work very well with Neo-Paganism and are able to honor both the Jewish and Pagan holidays. You can also explain that you honor the cycles of the sun and earth, or adhere to a holiday calendar that predates Christianity. You can point out that many of these celebrations continue in the regions where they originated.

Some Christians don’t know that Christ’s actual birth date is unknown. Christmas was first moved to December 25 in the fourth century, and was later set by Pope Gregory. The new date coincided with Pagan celebrations of Saturnalia, the winter solstice, and the birth of the sun god Mithras.

If you are asked specifically what you do, then give a very basic rundown of an average ritual. You will most likely be asked if you use magic. If you do use magic, you can explain that you don’t practice black magic or sacrifice animals during your rituals (unless you’re Santerían). Magic can be likened to prayer because both are tools for asking the gods for help.

The tools, especially ritual knives, usually arouse the most curiosity. Explain as much of it as you feel comfortable with. For example, you could explain that your athame is a symbol of the element of fire because steel is forged from fire. You don’t need to get into its relation to male energy and the symbolic Great Rite unless you already explained Beltane.

Make Connections Between Religions

When explaining your faith, it also helps to make connections to more familiar religions and holidays. For example, you can liken the goddess to Mary, mother of Jesus Christ, whom many Pagans honor as a goddess. When asked about Yule, explain that you celebrate the return of the light in the form of the sun god, spelled Sun. You can point out that the Christmas tree, holiday wreaths, and decorations are all pre-Christian practices.

If you use other practices, such as shamanic journeying or meditation, compare your practices to those of Native Americans or Buddhists. Other practices, like wearing a Celtic Cross pendant or hanging a Witch Ball in your window for protection, can be related to the folk traditions of Europe and the British Isles.

Allay Fears

When people hear the words heathen, Pagan, and Witch, all sorts of scary images are conjured up. Your family members may worry that you’ve joined a cult or gone off the deep end. You should clarify that you are not a sorcerer or the Wicked Witch of the West. You should explain that Pagans have no single leader, you’re not required to give all your money to anyone, and there is no strict dogma, so it would be difficult for you to be a member of a Pagan cult.

 

If a friend or family member insists on trying to “save” you, gently but firmly explain that you believe differently, but you appreciate the concern. You might want to give him a copy of a beginner’s book on your chosen path or direct him to an explanatory Web site.

Once you’ve explained your personal beliefs, your friends and family members may be less worried but might still have a few concerns. You may be asked if you have orgies in the forest. Even if you do, that might not be the right thing to tell your mom. You might be asked if you hex people. Again answer with a simple “no,” unless you want to get into a long conversation about magical ethics.

The most common fear is that you’ll become a different person. Reassure them that you are the same person you always were, and you just have a different religion. Chances are you had Pagan leanings before you made the conversion, and once they recognize that, they will be better able to accept your religious choices.

 

Source:

“The Everything Paganism Book
How to Explain Your Beliefs
by Selene Silverwind
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Celebrating Spirituality 365 Days A Year – Sada, Tonantzin, Our Lady of Guadalupe

December 12th

Sada, Tonantzin, Our Lady of Guadalupe

Annually on this day in Iran, huge bonfires are ignited as the sun sets to exemplify how the power of light can overcome the power of darkness. As the fires burn, the evil influences that linger among the shadows of darkness are dispelled, thus allowing people to over come obstacles and reach their fullest potential in the seasons to come.

It was on the hill of Tepeyac, just north of Mexico City, in 1531, that an Indian named Juan Diego saw an apparition he believed to be the Virgin Mary. The vision instructed him to have a church built on the spot, which had formerly been the cult-site of the Aztec Mother Goddess Tonantzin. At the time, the bishop disbelieved him, until the Virgin appeared for a third time and miraculously produced roses that Juan Diego presented to the bishop. As he did the portrait of the Virgin appeared on Juan’s cloak. The shrine was bult and is still a famous place of pilgrimage.

December 9 – Daily Feast

December 9 – Daily Feast

When the first snowflakes catch on leafless trees and crisp cold wind sweeps our faces, we know winter is in earnest. It turns the bright green canes of the wild rose to gray and sprinkles hickory nuts and walnuts on the path to the woods. The entire landscape seems to be one color – but the variation is so subtle and low-key that it takes a little while to see the green lichen and the misty blue haze that hangs over the tiny stream. Life sometimes appears to be at a standstill, and nothing is beautiful – no color, no shape, no hope. But if we refocus, if we are sincere and we use wisdom, we will move toward a new spring, just as does the season.

~ Whatever the fate of other Indians, the Iroquois might still have been a nations. ~

WA-O-WO-WA-NO-ONK – CAYUA CHIEF

‘A Cherokee Feast of Days, Volume II’ by Joyce Sequichie Hifler

The Goddess, The Maiden

The Goddess, The Maiden

 

The second aspect of the Goddess is that of Mother. As previously stated among her names by which she is called are the Great Mother and Mother Nature which signifies her worshippers believe her to be the Mother, creator and life-giver to all of nature and to every thing within.

This at first may seem confusing to many within the Christian Age where the Father God is claimed to be the creator. What many are not aware of, but more are becoming so, is that the world passed through a matriarchal age before the present patriarchal one. There is ample archaeological, historical and anthropological evidence of this. The previously mentioned findings of numerous female figurines and drawings in many locations supports the fact that during such ancient times the female was very honored. The depictions self-fertilization and women giving birth states the Goddess has been very honored for motherhood.

Seas, fountains, ponds and wells were always thought as feminine symbols in archaic religions. Such passages connecting to subterranean water-passages were often thought as leading to the underground womb. Currently science partly substantiates these archaic beliefs. It is known that hugh quantities of microscopic plants and animal live close to the ocean surface. Upon this sea life’s death its shell remains settle to the ocean floor, and when studied through accumulations of sediment core samples, which represent millions of years of sea life, they provide a continuous history of the earth’s environmental stages. To this extent the ocean, which seems to contain the beginning stages of life, may be thought as the Mother’s womb. “And water, like love, was (is) essential to the life-forces of fertility and creativity, without which the psychic world as well as the material world would become an arid desert, the waste land.”

This idea of the Goddess or maternal womb is embedded in history. It was and is symbolized by the ceremonial bowl. When used in the Egyptian temples as the temple basin it was called the shi. In Biblical times it became the brass sea in Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 7:23-26). Such bowls or vassals were used for illustrations, baptisms and various purification ceremonies. Although the Christians often fail to disclose that the holy water fount still symbolizes the womb. This symbolically is true since the water is to bestow blessings or grace upon the one which it is sprinkled upon, or who sprinkles it upon himself, and this grace supposedly comes from Jesus Christ who came from the womb of Mary.

Although, in the ancient maternal temples this womb-vessel was very much respected for its inherent fertile power. Its holy waters were revered as they were considered spiritual representing the birth-giving energy of the Goddess.

Throughout the history of Goddess worship, witchcraft, and currently in Neo-pagan witchcraft the cauldon has been a feminine symbol associated with the womb of the Mother Goddess.

All Christian sects have not thought of God as just masculine. This is especially true of the Gnostics. It is in the Apocryphon of John one sees the apostle John grieving after the crucifixion. John was in a “great grief” during which he experienced a mystical vision of the Trinity:

the [heavens were opened and the whole] creation [which   is] under heaven shone and [the world] trembled. [And I   was afraid, and I] saw in the light…a likeness with multiple   forms…and the likeness had three forms.

To John’s question of the vision came this answer: “He said to me, ‘John, Jo[h]n, why do you doubt, and why are you afraid?…I am the one who [is with you] always. I [am the Father]; I am the Mother; I am the Son.'”

To many this description of the Trinity is shocking, but it need not be. What so many forget, or do not realized is that the New Testament was written in Greek; whereas, the Old Testament was written in Hebrew. The Hebrew word meaning spirit is ruah having a feminine gender, but the Greek word for spirit is pneuma having a neuter gender. Thus the Greek language, or to be more specific a change in language when writing the New Testament, virtually made the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, asexual. It also, when accepted by the orthodox Christian Church, eliminated any femininity concept of God. Also Mary is held to have remained a virgin by Catholics and some Christians because Matthew in his gospel used the Greek word parthenos, meaning “virgin,” instead of almah when referring to the virgin birth of Jesus. But, the Gnostics did not adhere to the orthodox teaching. Possibly one reason was that many of the Gnostic leaders, particularly Simon Magus, were of Greek or Samaritan heritage, and within these heritages polytheism and feminine deities were known and accepted, also they knew Hebrew. Therefore they kept the feminine meaning of the Holy Spirit which remained in their sacred writings and interpretations.

In The Sacred Book one reads:

…(She is)…the image of the invisible, virginal, perfect spirit…  She became   the Mother of everything, for she existed before them all, the mother-father  [matropater]…

In the Gospel to the Hebrews, Jesus speaks of “my Mother, the Spirit.” Again, in the Gospel of Thomas “Jesus contrasts his earthly parents, Mary and Joseph, with his divine Father–the Father of Truth–and his divine Mother, the Holy Spirit.” And, in the Gospel of Philip, “whoever becomes a Christian gains ‘both father and mother’ for the Spirit (rurah) is ‘Mother of many.'”

In a writing attributed to Simon Magus it states:

Grant Paradise to be the womb; for Scripture teaches us that this is     a true assumption when it says, “I am He that formed thee in thy mother’s     womb” (Isaiah 44:2)…Moses…using the allegory had declared Paradise  to   be the womb…and Eden, the placenta…

“The river that flows forth from Eden symbolizes the navel, which nourishes the fetus. Simon claims that the Exodus consequently, signifies the passage out of the womb and the ‘the crossing of the Red Sea refers to the blood.'” Sethian gnostics explain that:

heaven and earth have a shape similar to the womb …and if…anyone  wants   to investigate this, let him carefully examine the pregnant womb of any  living   creature, and he will discover an image of the heavens and the earth.

In scriptural writings we find standing at the foot of the cross at the time of the crucifixion three Marys: the Virgin Mary, the dearly beloved Mary Magdalene, and a more shadowy or mysterious Mary. “The Coptic ‘Gospel of Mary’ said they were all one. Even as late as the Renaissance, a trinitarian Mary appeared in the Speculum beatae Mariae as Queen of Heaven (Virgin), Queen of Earth (mother), and Queen of Hell (Crone).”

Within modern culture these roles of Goddess and Mother are seen to be reemerging. While the psychanalyst Sigmund Freud down played the emergence devotion to the Goddess as infantile desires to be reunited with the mother, his theory was challenged by C.J. Jung who described this emergence devotion as “a potent force of the unconscious.”

Jung theorized that “the feminine principle as a universal archetype, a primordial, instinctual pattern of behavior deeply imprinted on the human psyche, brought the Goddess once more into popular imagination.”

The basis of Jung’s theory rested on religious symbolism extending from prehistoric to current times. His archetypical concept is that it is not “an inherited idea, but an inherited mode of psychic functioning, corresponding to that inborn ‘way’ according to which the chick emerges from the egg; the bird builds its nest;…and eels find their way to the Bermudas.”

The biological evidence of Jung’s archetypical concept indicates the psychological meaning. Although the psychological meaning cannot always be as objectively demonstrated as the biological one, it often is as important or even more important than the biological one. It lies deep within the levels of personalities, and can elicit responses not possible by mere abstract thinking. These responses energize and deeply effect persons. “Jung believed all religions rest on archetypical foundations.”

This does not necessarily mean that all or every religion originated from an archetype, but rather the archetype on which most, if not all, religions were and are based is the deep felt (italics are the author’s) need within the people for their particular religion. This need is what brought forth the religion. There are various views on the causes this need arouse, but “Jungians have espoused the Mother Goddess as an archetype, a loadstone in the collective consciousness of both men and women to be minded of psychological wholeness.”

Many men have expressed the need to return to the Goddess, indicating that this is not only a woman’s search or desire. “English therapist John Rowan believes that every man in Western culture also needs this vital connection to the vital female principle in nature and urges men to turn to the Goddess. In this way men will be able to relate to human women on more equal terms, not fearful of resentful of female power. Perhaps this is how it was in prehistoric times when men and women coexisted peacefully under the hegemony of the Goddess.”

To many men in Neo-paganism and witchcraft sexism seems absurd and trifling. If all men were honest they would admit that they would not be here if it were not for their biological mothers. Sexism immediately disappears when this fact is agreed to. All human beings are sexual, and sexuality propagated, although at times it would seem the Christian Church would have liked to dismiss this fact completely. But, the fact cannot be dismissed because, again, according to Jung this biological fact is also imprinted as the archetypes of anima and animus upon the human unconscious. They represent the feminine side of man and the masculine side of woman. As behavioral regulators they as most important; for with out them men and women could not coexist. When the two unconscious elements are balanced harmony exists, but when there is an unbalanced over masculinity or femininity is exerted.

Most people admit we currently live in troubled, if not, perilous times. Both our species and planet are endanger of extinction. Our customary religions and governments seem stifled if not helpless to solve all of the enormous problems which confront us. Perhaps many are feeling the urgent need to cry for help to the Good and Divine Mother asking her to please clean up her children’s mess, or wipe up their split milk before it’s too late.

The Goddess, The Virgin

The Goddess, The Virgin

The Virgin is the first aspect of the Goddess that dates back to Grecian times. “Holy Virgin” was a title for temple prostitutes, a duty of the priestesses of Ishtar, Asherah, or Aphrodite. The title itself did not mean virginity, but it simply meant “unmarried.” The functions of these “holy virgins” was to give forth the Mother’s grace and love by sexual worship; to heal; to prophecy; to perform sacred dances; to wail for the dead; and to become Brides of God.

The Semites, and parthenioi by the Greeks called children born of such virgins bathur. Both terms mean virgin-born. According to the Protoevangelium, the Virgin Mary was a kadesha and perhaps was married to a member of the priesthood known as the “fathers of the gods.”

There is an analogy between Mary’s impregnation and that of Persephone’s. The latter, in her virgin guise, sat in a holy cave and began weaving the great tapestry of the universe, when Zeus, appearing as a phallic serpent, impregnated her with the savior Dionysus. Mary sat in a temple and began to spin a blood-red thread, representing Life in the tapestry of fate. The angel Gabriel came to Mary, telling her that the spirit of the Lord would over shadow her and she would be with child. (Luke 1:28-31) This child was Jesus Christ, who many call savior.

In the Hebrew Gospels the name Mary is designated by almah which means “young woman.” The reason that Mary is held to have remained a virgin by Catholics and some Christians is because Matthew in his gospel used the Greek word parthenos, meaning “virgin,” instead of almah when referring to the virgin birth of Jesus. Also almah was derived from Persian Al-Mah, the unmated Moon goddess. Another cognate of this term was the Latin alma, “living soul of the world,” which is essentially identical to the Greek psyche, and the Sanskrit shakti. So the ancient Holy Virgins, or temple-harlots, were “soul-teachers” or “soul- mothers.” Thus comes the term alma mater.

October 2 – Daily Feast

October 2 – Daily Feast

Sweet fragrance of the land, herbs and roots and medicines long lost to the general populace, are nonetheless as present as they always have been. We have been so taken with miracle cures, these things have been put away as folklore and not dependable. The simple people at one time had no other alternative – so runs the present-day popular notion. Hard-fought battles over who is to pay for the miracle medicines – and we are grateful for most of them – may turn a venturesome soul back to the soil and back to those things that heal a mind and body without being asked for proof of insurance. But one other thing far too ignored is the power of prayer. No Indian is remiss in blessing his body and soul and spirit because he knows they work together. His prayer is not now and again but regular and potent.

~ The lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans too. ~

LUTHER STANDING BEAR – LAKOTA

‘A Cherokee Feast of Days, Volume II’ by Joyce Sequichie Hifler

Good Tuesday Morning! May The Goddess' Love Shine Down On All!

Mystic Goddess who  the night

Lend your wisdom to my sight

Fiery God who lights the days

Guide me in your ancient ways

 

Earth and water, Fire and air

Come and lend your powers here

As we gather the circle ’round

Guard us on this holy ground

 

Salt and censor, scourge and knife

Aid us in our magic rite

Stay with us when we must part

Keep the Craft ‘live in our hearts

So Mote It Be

Why We Should Agree to Disagree

Why We Should Agree to Disagree

Author: Elevander

I was wandering around on the Internet the other day and came across an article on Wicca and Christianity. As I began to read it, I felt as though someone had punched me physically in the stomach, such was the hatred and vehemence behind the words.

A large portion of it was dedicated to emphasizing how, according to the Bible, Witches are Satanists, heretics and sinners, i.e. children of the devil. We do not follow their texts and their God and so we are painted as being evil and wrong.

The author dismisses emails he had received from Wiccans informing him that we do not believe or have a place for a devil in our faith and pointing him towards websites such as witchvox.com for a clearer view of our faith, by stating that just because we do not acknowledge Satan does not mean that it is not he who leads us.

It is an example of the shining white of the Christian God; if we do not worship him then we must be completely dark and led by Satan. It is a comfort to me that the Lord and Lady are both light, dark and shades of grey, and so nothing I experience will ever be a mystery to them but rather a part of them.

Instead of becoming angry at the intolerance in the words, I found myself considering the similarities between the two faiths, rather than the differences. Wiccans believe that the divine is represented by both male and female, the God and Goddess who were created by The One.

A popular school of thought is that all Goddesses are one; different aspects of the female divine that can be found in every pantheon, the same applies to the God and the male divine. This could be interpreted as there being one God.

The concept of a Goddess places the first stumbling block, and yet Christianity does have a female figurehead in the form of the Virgin Mother (notably Catholicism in which Mary can be revered even more than Jesus, especially by the women).

Ignoring the inherent dehumanization of her title, Mary the Virgin Mother does provide a female influence even if her importance in relation to the Christian God is generally iniquitous within the texts and their followers.

It may be suggested that, similar to the Triple Goddess, the Christian God is considered to have three aspects, which make up the Holy Trinity; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, although Christians have said that this is not the case and that the three are One together, rather than being three separate aspects of the One.

This is rather confusing as they are mentioned separately by name in the new testament and yet the old testament uses the term ‘God/Lord’ throughout, suggesting that the two options are synonymous like the Goddess, whose three aspects can be spoken to separately or as one; but all are the Goddess.

I see more similarities on a moral level, the Bible containing parables and passages about the way you should treat your fellow man.

The Bible contains the story of Moses and the 10 commandments – the Christian ‘laws’ if you will, such as “Thou shalt not steal…commit murder…adultery, etc.

We Wiccans have one law ‘An’ it harm none, do as thou wilt’. It seems to me that this encompasses the 10 commandments and more besides, but without all the negative commands such as ‘Put to death any woman who practices magic’ (Exodus 22:18).

Are the two faiths really all that different?

I mean obviously there are differences in outlook as Wiccans do not seek to recruit others or disparage their paths as each person’s path is their own, but surely it is how people behave towards each other that is most important, not the fine details of exactly what they believe?

A point was made that Wiccans have no place or need for forgiveness within our faith and so no concept of sin. I personally believe this to be untrue, anything which goes against the Rede is wrong and therefore could be considered a ‘sin’, it is just that we do not need to ask forgiveness from a perfect God, but rather seek understanding and forgiveness from a divine that is both darkness and light and therefore a divine that understands.

As we are a part of the divine, we must also be able to forgive ourselves our mistakes and make conscious efforts to learn from them, so that they may not repeat themselves.

I suppose a concise way of looking at it would be that Wiccans try to make up for our mistakes while we are alive, and so learn lessons, rather than pay for them and be punished once we have died.

Perhaps what I will say next will seem simplistic, but if everyone made the effort to see common areas rather than differences we may all be better off and happier in ourselves.

Even if this means placing importance on different (and possibly more constructive) parts of the Bible teachings such as “Love thy neighbor as thy brother”, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” and “Judge not, lest ye be judged” (‘Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to ye again’ Ibid 7:1-2).

There are more cultures, faiths and origins in today’s society than we can count and yet intolerance and prejudice has not been diminished.

With the growing unrest and suspicion due to the ongoing wars and the media panic over terrorism where everyone is a potential enemy, tolerance needs all the help it can get – even if it means that those who walk in peace must agree to disagree in order to concentrate on the wider issues.

Footnotes:
– Christians Don’t Understand Wicca? David J Stewart

– The Holy Bible