Your Ancient Symbol Card for June 29th is Solitude

Your Ancient Symbol Card for Today

Solitude

Solitude is represented by a single person standing at the end of a boardwalk staring out at a vast, empty panorama. They are truly alone, but may not feel loneliness. They are at a place in their life where the need to withdraw from the our secular world is strong, because their focus should be on their inner self, their morality, and their dreams. The view before them is empty, but it is a canvas on which they may paint their future–a future restricted only by the size of their imagination and courage. For them Solitude is a choice. They chose to take the walkway that distances them from the rest of us. It is also a choice that can be undone. Just as they chose to take a path that leads them away from us, they may choose to turn around and come back at anytime.

As a daily card, Solitude suggest a period in which you need to distance yourself from those around you and explore your inner-self, what is driving your day to day life and decide if you are really on the life path that is best for you. This is a time to revitalize your spirit, and draw your dreams for the future.

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – January 9

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – January 9

“So, with the Native way, it’s not whether people find out about what you’ve done or not… that’s not nearly as strong as having your source of morality within you, having your morality arise out of an inner perception of what is wrong, ridiculous, or shameful. You are your own judge.”

 

–Eunice Baumann-Nelson, Ph.D., PENOBSCOT

Inside each of us is a voice. It is a quiet voice. It is a guiding voice. If we listen for it, it will guide us, and help us avoid disaster. It is especially active when we are afraid, when we are in doubt, when we are scared, when we need help, and when we get angry. If we are excited emotionally, it is hard to hear this voice. If we are angry, it’s hard to hear this voice because it is usually quiet. The best thing we can do is to practice getting quiet. If we don’t get quiet, there is another voice called the judge. It tells us to attack or say bad things to other people or to judge ourselves. This voice is loud and usually gets us into trouble.

Creator, Great Mystery, help me listen for the quiet voice. Let me know this voice of Yours. Your ways are gentle. Guide me with this voice. Thank you.

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Walking in a Wiccan Wonderland

Walking in a Wiccan Wonderland

Author:   Janice Van Cleve   

The market is full of all kinds of books on Wicca. They speak of Sabbats and spells, recipes and charms, and a few even go so far as to address correspondences and history. Yet rarely do they really investigate the deeper religion and mindset of Wicca. It is important, therefore, to touch if ever so briefly, on some basic concepts that underpin walking in a Wiccan Wonderland.

The human species, by its inherent nature, seems to have a proclivity for creating religions. There is something about consciousness that wants to connect to the realm of the spirit. Some say that our consciousness remembers a prior existence in a spiritual realm. Others say that our essence is spirit and our consciousness yearns to be freed from its temporary attachment to a material body. Still others say that our consciousness is aware of a spiritual plane beyond the material and that it seeks connection to it. Whatever is the impulse for creating religions, they generally fall into two groups: the supernatural and the natural.

Supernatural religions reach beyond the natural world and fabricate nonsense (literally not of the senses) , which cannot be reached by either sensory or rational means. Supernatural religions are faith based religions because the doctrines they propose often fly in the face of what our senses and reason tell us. The only way one can follow a supernatural religion is by making a leap of faith to believe in things that cannot be proven by natural means. Supernatural religions often propose a deity and a moral code of behavior. They often attempt to encompass the whole universe to answer questions such as creation, the meaning of life, and life after death and base their beliefs on a sacred scripture.

Natural religions, on the other hand, remain solidly rooted in the natural world and they are informed completely by the senses and by mental analysis. Natural religions are experience based because they depend on individual and group experiences. For this reason they are often lacking in doctrines, rigid moral codes, and answers to ineffable questions. Practices and concepts that are similar or held in common are most often based upon mutual agreement rather than upon strict hierarchical demands by some authority.

Natural religions by and large tolerate diversity because they see diversity all around them in nature and they understand that each person’s experience of nature is different. Supernatural religions, on the other hand, generally do not tolerate diversity because faith in one belief is by definition “one size fits all”. It is for this reason that supernatural religions are driven to proselytize or persecute while natural religions live and let live.

The caveat should be made here that assigning specific religions totally to either the supernatural or the natural category from their beginnings to the present day would be stretching the point. Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans, and a host of other religions and philosophies have displayed aspects of both categories through history, sometimes even simultaneously. However, as a generalization, understanding these two groupings is a helpful heuristic is finding the Wiccan Wonderland.

Wicca is a branch of Western European Paganism, which is a natural religion. The word “Wicca” is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning wisdom. Wiccans or witches (both come from the same root) are the wise ones. They study and explore and experience nature to develop their knowledge. They may specialize in herb lore, astrology, spells, counseling, science, philosophy, or any other branch of knowledge. That is why Wicca is sometimes called “The Craft.” It is a learned body of knowledge and skills.

Wiccans do not “believe” in their religion. They work at it and learn it until they know it. The more obscure questions of creation, the meaning of life, etc., are well outside the Wiccan experience and they are generally content to leave them there and not to offer any hypotheses about them.

One part, therefore, of walking in a Wiccan Wonderland is the constant thirst for knowledge. For this reason Wiccans are not called “the chosen people”, “the elect”, or “the saved”. Rather they are called “seekers” because they continue to seek for knowledge and to perfect their skills. Some find satisfaction in accumulating this knowledge for its own sake or in teaching it; but for many Wiccans, the purpose of knowledge and skills is to use them.

Knowledge helps us make informed choices. Living by choice is a significant part of walking in a Wiccan Wonderland. It is amazing how many things over which we really have a choice once we think about it.

For example: Nobody makes us happy or makes us sad. These reactions are how we choose to respond to a situation. Likewise we don’t have to go to this meeting or that party, eat up all our food, or send a card for a birthday or buy a gift. We can choose not to do these things. All the social rules of etiquette and manners, as well as ethics and morals, are culturally learned behaviors. A Wiccan’s only guide, besides her own experience, is the Wiccan Law, which is variously expressed as “And ye harm none, do what ye will.”

This does not, to be sure, give Wiccans free license to run riot. Choice bears consequences. We are free to choose not to go in to the office, but the boss is then empowered by our choice to fire us. We are free to drive over the speed limit, but the officer is then empowered by our choice to pull us over. We learn from our mistakes and add the knowledge gained to our experience. Of course we don’t have to reinvent the wheel by learning everything from personal experience. More often than not, we choose to go along with laws, manners, and other culturally learned behaviors because these are usually the result of the learned experience of others or they make rational sense.

As children parents and peers, pastors and professors condition us, to follow a whole laundry list of rules. Later as we grow up and are exposed to a broader set of experiences, we begin to question some of the things we were taught and we begin to make up our own minds. When we decide that something we were taught is not true or no longer serves us, we intentionally get rid of it.

Conversely, when we figure out something new that does seem to serve us, we intentionally adopt it. By the same token, when a Wiccan finds a practical application of Wicca in her life that suits her needs, she dumps old mindsets and habits that get in the way and adopts the new application.

One of the basic new applications made by Wiccans is the rearrangement of time. Time is an artificial construct. Hours, days, and months are completely arbitrary. The natural structure of time is the seasons. So another part of walking in a Wiccan Wonderland is structuring our lives around the seasonal calendar.

This is a tough one because schools, jobs, and modern social institutions are formed around measuring time by clocks and Gregorian calendars. But let’s think about it. The most holy Christian holiday is Easter but Roman and Orthodox Catholics celebrate it on two different days. The Jews have Yom Kippur, Hanukkah, Passover and a whole host of other holidays that the mainstream does not. Professions have their own calendars, too.

Politicians follow three seasons of the year – legislating, blaming, and fund raising. Accountants have four seasons, which correspond to their quarterly reports. If all these people can rearrange time according to their needs, certainly Wiccans can organize their time around the eight Sabbats of the year.

If a Wiccan seriously applies the eight Sabbats to her daily life, she goes a long way toward walking in a Wiccan Wonderland. The eight Sabbats occur in the natural world. We feel the quickening of spring at Candlemas and we see the daffodils at Spring Equinox. We know the warming of Beltane in our hearts and all around us. We experience the long light of Summer Solstice, the late summer flowers at Lammas, and the falling leaves at Autumn Equinox. At Samhain we feel the nip and chill of winter and at Winter Solstice we rest in quiet peace – to the degree we can escape the commercial madness artificially created by the American material culture around us.

The natural seasons reflect the accomplishment of our wills – our intentions. We set our intentions each year at Candlemas. Through the year, we grow in our enjoyment of life, our appreciation of new sensations, filling our seeking with new knowledge, and intentionally pursuing our goals. Then in autumn we take stock, fulfill our debts, forgive our injuries, and look back in satisfaction at what we accomplished even if we did not complete all the grand plans we made.

Then at Samhain we release it all. We die. We surrender to the inevitable ending of all things. We close the book. We put away the score sheet. That tally is done. We empty ourselves and become completely free. In winter we lie in quiet and peace, carrying no baggage from the past nor imposing any requirements on the future. We don’t have to. We know – as opposed to having faith – we know as Wiccans that we will be reborn and that new possibilities and opportunities await us when Candlemas comes round again. We know that we will grow in the Craft from new knowledge and new skills.

Christians speak of new life, new zest, and new possibilities when they are “born again” – and they only get born again once! We Pagans get to do it every year!

Wiccans bring home this cycle of the year with daily prayer. Daily prayer is key to walking in a Wiccan Wonderland. We begin by grounding and centering ourselves in alignment with the four elementals – Air, Fire, Water, and Earth – and their corresponding directions – East, South, West, and North. This in itself is a powerful renewing and rewarding practice. It is a statement that we are here and we know where we are. It is a statement that we intentionally take a position in the spiritual realm and in that position we claim access to the forces of spirit that operate there.

After grounding and centering, it is useful to express first gratitude for the blessings and accomplishments appropriate to that direction. For example, I am a writer. I thank the East for any writing I accomplished the day before, for ideas that popped into my head, for emails that I wrote, letters to the editor or to legislatures that I sent. In the South, I express gratitude for the instances in which I showed courage, where I stood my ground, or for journeys I made safely. In the West, I am thankful for friends and relationships, for a date the night before, and for nice things people have said to me. In the North, I am thankful for healing of the various aches and pains that my aging body seems to acquire in increasing frequency, for money that has come to me, and for the material things that provide me comfort and enjoyment. Many of these thank you’s are for things I asked for in prayers the day before. After thanking, I ask for things I want this day. Asking – receiving – thanking is a daily loop that helps me remain conscious of the spirit realm while I am working in this material realm. This daily loop also replicates in a micro way the macro pattern of the seasons.

In conclusion, walking in a Wiccan Wonderland can be summarized as living intentionally, full in the knowledge of who we are, of what we want, of what we’re doing, and of what is happening around us. Walking in a Wiccan Wonderland is making conscious choices and taking full responsibility for them. It is a land of ever renewing seasons – ever knowing, ever growing, ever changing, ever lasting.

Blessed Be!

Your Ancient Symbol Card for Nov. 20th is Evil

Your Ancient Symbol Card for Today

Evil

At its extreme Evil indicates a life force that embodies pure malevolence.  Fortunately Evil in the extreme is very rare. Generally Evil suggests actions taken that challenge our morality and without regard to the harm that may be done to others. The appearance of Evil signifies a time in which someone is acting out of rage, selfishness, ignorance, or, sadly, sating a mean spirit.

As a daily card Evil is a warning that you or your group are the focus of someone’s malice. This is time for you to be very wary of the motives of those who haven’t earned your trust. It is likely you have something they want and they are willing to go to extremes to take it from you.

Morality and Spell-craft

Morality and Spell-craft

Author: Solonius

As adult thinking human beings, we all follow a certain set of moral guidelines that we have learned from our ancestors, or which were indoctrinated into us throughout our upbringing. We call this idea of what we would, or would not do, our conscience. Our angel and devil are sitting there on our shoulders, arguing over the idea of selflessness and selfishness. This argument leads us into a personal conflict. We have to come to a justification of why we wish to do a thing. When that thing contradicts what we know to be right, or what society tells us is right, we become morally conflicted.

So the question is where do our basest levels of morality lie? There is a base level of what we would or would not do; from there our higher morals are built in increasing complexity. To find out where we stand, think on the following topics: At a base level, there is my life (or the lives of my loved ones) first, and everyone else’s second. If the choice was between my or my loved ones lives against any other’s life, I choose mine and my loved ones. I’m sure everyone else would view that choice in the same way.

If you have spent your life building up a home, property and future prosperity, then others come along who haven’t done those things and just want to take what you have built, for themselves, you’d fight and kill to keep what you had made for yourself. What right does anyone else have to come and take what you have made away from you? So is it morally right to fight to keep what you have made, or to fight for you and your loved ones lives? One group of people is very prosperous through their own efforts, and another group is not. Is it morally right for those less prosperous to demand a portion of the wealth of the more prosperous? Is it morally right for one group to force their concepts upon others? Where do we draw the line of right verses wrong?

My right might be your wrong. I don’t wish to force another to follow my concept of right; however others wish to force me to follow their concept of right. Who is morally correct? You are given a choice: One child can live or be put to death, but that death will result in a cure for AIDS. Would you sacrifice that one child for the greater good? If not, then possibly millions will suffer and die as opposed to one. If you chose the child to live, then you believe that individual good is more important than group good. If you choose the child to die, then you view the society as more important than the individual. So therefore it is morally okay for someone to come and take away what you have through your own efforts, and give your abundance to those who do not contribute.

These morality questions are all the same. There is no moral difference between any of these situations. On one hand, there is individual good, and on the other, there is group good (with the group being viewed as an individual entity) . These morality questions can also be viewed as situational. Or we rationalize that a moral good is universal to all, when in fact, we are just rationalizing that good for all from the aspect that ‘our group’ is the ‘all’ that matters.

In order to be at peace with ourselves, our internal moral compasses should all be aligned in the same direction. We need to honestly look at our own morality and decide where it lies and in which direction it points. That is who we are on our basest level. From there we can move upward morally, consistently, because you shouldn’t believe one thing this way and another thing contradictorily that way.

So what does this all have to do with the Pagan etc. community? The Rede instructs: “And it harm none, do what you will.” That ‘will’ should have a healthy dose of morality applied to it before devoting any energy to ‘doing what you will’. [As a side note, I feel that many confuse the word ‘will’ with ‘what you want’. Will, in this instance, is using the force of your gathered and focused WILL (purposeful directed energy) to implement your desires.] All the above leads down to this: When you spell-craft, are you doing so from a morally correct position?

It is often said what you put out comes back to you three-fold. This is to give you caution, to pause, and to really think about what you are trying to accomplish for yourself or others. As adult thinking human beings, we must acknowledge our culpability in the actions we take, to admit to ourselves our true purpose. Only then, without inner conflict, can we fully enact our desires. Conflicted morality leads to conflicted emotions, which lead to conflicted energies.

How can you effectively enact your WILL if you think you are doing something against your moral fiber? If your thoughts are scattered how can you direct your distracted energy? And this is just with our OWN desires, what of the desires of others who wish us to enact something on their behalf? You can see how difficult this becomes without a moral underpinning?

Prior to performing any spell work, you should do an honest self-assessment. Will what I wish to put into action cause harm to others? If harm is possible, is it justified? As an example: if you help out a friend by performing a spell that they get a promotion at work, is the person who is currently holding that position ineffectual, and therefore not as deserving of the position as well as your hard working friend? That person could be fired, that is harmful to them personally, financially, and their family’s well-being could be in jeopardy because of them getting fired. You were doing something good for your friend, but your actions could cause harm to more than you think. See how morally sticky this can get without thoroughly thinking something through before beginning?

Why not do the same thing, but more expansively? Perform your spell that the Boss gets promoted, and in the vacuum of the vacant position your friend is chosen to fill it. Who loses there? Not a lot of moral conflict to overcome in the second situation, you can therefore direct the energy to accomplish your desire with more focus and positive emotion.

Above I asked, ‘is it justified?’ Justice is the means of society to enforce the laws or moral standards of that society. Your friends car gets bashed by a hit and run driver. You perform a spell that the culprit is discovered and gets thrown in jail for reckless driving. Not a lot of conflict there because of the ‘wrong’ done. However, you should not go wishing for more harm to befall the hit and run driver. That driver was rushing an injured family member to the ER (hey, you don’t know) . While the hit and run was unfortunate, and they couldn’t take the time to get your friends license plate number, they definitely had more urgent worries. It would be morally wrong to wish more harm to someone who intended none. Why not wish that the culprit be discovered, and that JUSTICE be served. Simply leave the details for the universe to work out. As you can see this requires LESS detail, and leaves you morally un-conflicted as well.

We could play these scenarios out all day, but at the heart of the matter is using your morality to keep yourself out of conflict when preparing for spell work. In order to lessen undesired consequences, practice honesty with yourself and admit your true reasons for doing what you WILL.

The Rede Does Not Say “Harm None”

The Rede Does Not Say “Harm None”

Author: Praxiteles

I have always been puzzled over the general notion that the Wiccan Rede can be reduced to “harm none”, but it wasn’t until recently that the significance of this dawned on me. Ethics and morality in Western culture are almost always the ethics of denial, restriction, and rules, instead of the ethics of opportunity.

Think of the 10 Commandments: thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not commit adultery; keep holy the Sabbath, honor thy mother and father. They define a negative space you simply shall not enter, and a positive space you simply must occupy. In the realm of morality, we’re just not used to positive ethics, to the ethics of opportunity. So it’s not surprising that what most people seem to take away from the Rede is the negative component, “harm none”. Yet, in my opinion, this reduction of the Rede misses the whole point, and does great damage to its essential nature!

If we move things from the realm of morality into another realm, this will become clearer. Suppose that your lover says to you “My darling, just as long as there isn’t any bondage-discipline or sado-masochism, we can make love in whatever way the mood and inspiration comes to us! We can let our imaginations and passions run free and enjoy each other!”

Suppose that he or she says this to you, and then you start talking about how you both must ensure that nothing that you do will lead to BDSM, and start going on about how important it is to consider the smallest implications of every action in your lovemaking, and whether or not it might not someday lead to BDSM. Wouldn’t that be missing the whole point? Wouldn’t you be focusing in exactly the wrong area? The whole point of mentioning the negative space was to say that everything else was the positive space—such a large space, such room for growth and flowering! That was the point, not the other!

Or suppose that a mother says to her children: “My dears, you can play and run and do whatever you want, and wear whatever clothes you want, so long as you stay on our property between the road and the stream.” And suppose that one child sits down and draws a map and focuses intently on the road and stream, and then walks around noting the boundary lines and continually talks to the other children about how they must not cross these boundaries. Yet, the other children are busy making up fun games to play, running around, climbing trees, and enjoying themselves.

The thought of the boundary only enters their minds when they come to the road or the stream during a game, and they take some care to turn aside the path of their running, or chose another place to hide. Wouldn’t you think those children were the ones who had gotten the real message intended by the mother? Further, wouldn’t it simply be wrong to say that the mother had told the children “never leave our property; never cross the road or the stream”?

Because, that is not what she said. Essentially she said if you don’t leave the property then you can do whatever you want and wear whatever you want. Perhaps, if questioned, she would say that if the children have on long pants and their good boots and if they don’t run, they could go across the stream.

Getting back to the Rede, it says: An it harm none, do as ye will. Clearly this is not logically equivalent to “harm none”. If we invert it, it says “An it cause harm, don’t will it”—and does not say “an it cause harm, don’t do it.” Thus, in some Traditions, the Rede is amended to read “An it harm none, do as ye will. An it cause harm, do as ye must.” The issue is whether the harm is willed or not, not whether it is done or not.

In my opinion, the part of the Rede that people should be focused on is “do as ye will”. The Rede defines a huge, wonderful, wide-open space in which each of us can figure out what our beings aspire to do, to be. As long as we aren’t harming others or ourselves, we can feel confident that we can aspire towards the flowering and revelation of our True Will.

This is the important part of the Rede, and not the bit about “harm none.” And I find it incredible that so much attention is given to the issue of “harm none”. I’ve seen endless discussion about whether it is even possible to live without harming others, evening bringing plants and bacteria into the term “others.” Some try to elevate it to an ideal, unattainable, but the direction to be followed, like the Buddhist notion of saving all sentient beings. Others use it as the reason they aren’t Wiccan. Such a stupid idea! Obviously one can’t live without harming others!

All of these positions are tangential, because the Rede doesn’t say that we must live without harming anyone or anything. The Rede says that we can do what we will if it isn’t harming anyone. If it is harming someone, then we can’t just do whatever we will—other factors and consideration enter the equation then. What those are, each of us must decide for him or herself. Even here, the Rede offers no rules. Even here, the Rede is of a very different character than the 10 Commandments and general Western morality.

Some people want to be told what to do and what not to do, what to think as good, and what to think as bad or evil. They want rules and regulations—commandments. They believe that without these, no social order is possible. Yet increasingly in this day and age we can see that that assumption is unfounded, and increasingly there are people who want to figure out a way to arrange society and ethics to allow for as much freedom of expression and being as possible; to use ethical formulations to protect and support freedom, instead of to deny and restrict it. And, in my opinion, these people are essentially following the Wiccan Rede, whether they know it or not.

Far from being a liability, I find the Wiccan Rede to be a wonderful asset. It clears away so much muck from morality, and redefines the entire realm in a positive way. Understanding it in a negative way undoes much of the greatness of the Rede. So in my opinion, people should stop reducing the Rede to “harm none” and start trying to have more fun in life!