Let’s Talk Witch – Touching the Earth

Touching the Earth

 

The moon glows mystically in the star-scattered sky as a lone figure moves down a deserted beach.

The figure stops, bends, and grasps a gray stick washed up on the shore by the restless sea. Pushing the stick’s blunt end into the wet sand, the figure sketches a symbol.

A wave crashes. The figure moves back, and just as the oncoming water sweeps over the symbol, a gust of wind rises, blowing back the tightly wrapped scarf. A woman’s face appears in the soft moonlight.

She smiles, confident that the spell has worked, and sits listening to the crashing music of the sea. Why did the woman go to the ocean that night? Why did she draw a symbol on the sand? And how did these simple acts constitute magic?

Natural magic— rather, the magic of nature— is an uncomplicated, direct branch of the magical arts, one derived from eons of experimentation by peoples scattered over the globe. It is perhaps a response to the limitless powers of nature, the power visible in the ever-changing seasons, the blossoming of a bud, the birth of young.

The ways of nature magic are almost universally intended to work with the forces and energies of nature to bring about necessary changes. Though the techniques may seem to be oversimplified, even juvenile, they are effective.

The woman described above performed an act of nature magic. She worked with the ocean, a timeless source of energy revered and worshipped for hundreds of thousands of years. To direct the energies of the sea, she used a symbol. Symbolism— the language of magic and the subconscious mind— is a sort of magical shorthand. Though the symbols and runes have powers in themselves, they also, in effect, direct energies to specific ends. In other words, they tell the magic what to do.

So this woman went to the ocean on a moonlit night to tap into oceanic energies and drew a symbol on the sand to focus powers. When the wave washed the symbol away, it released its own powers and, thusly, the magic had begun.

Though it may take several days for the fruits of the night’s work to appear, they will undoubtedly do so. Time and experience will have proved this.
Natural magic is direct and to the point. Despite what you may have heard, magic is nothing supernatural, unnatural, or even alien. It is in our own backyards, our homes; in the very essence of our beings. The forces of nature empower magic, not demons and imps, “Satan,” or fallen angels.

One of the greatest mysteries of magic is that there are no mysteries. Instead, the mysteries are constantly revealed around us. The study of a simple rose blossom, blade of grass, veined leaf, or whistle of wind through leafy trees will reveal as much, if not more, concerning the true nature of magic than will a hundred dusty Renaissance tomes.

Nature is the universe itself. Not only its powers but also its manifestations. Some of these manifestations, such as mirrors, are artificially produced, but they are linked with and tap into the powers of nature by their symbolism. In our increasingly mechanized age, many people are finding themselves isolated from the planet that sustains and supports their very lives.

Forgotten is the very real dependency we have on the earth. Many people unconsciously sever their natural connections with the earth. As a result, a time of great turmoil exists today on an individual and global level.

Earth magic can help to sort out, work through, and solve many of the minor crises and problems facing us as individuals today. True, earth magic is not a simple solution to the world’s problems, but it can bring order into our lives, and that’s a good start.
Earth Power: Techniques of Natural Magic
Scott Cunningham

WOTC Extra – The Magick of Everyday Things

WOTC Extra – The Magick of Everyday Things

 

Our notions of what traditionally constituted black, white, and gray were incorrect. The practitioners of ancient magick were not necessarily working on a specific ethical basis at all. What was once under the guise of “white” magick (like herbalism) is now being usurped by technology, science, and medicine. In many areas of daily life, we find ourselves turning to a reliable procedure and trusting in it, while we overlook the spiritual portion of the equation. For example, a dam might help direct a mighty river, but without putting a spiritual covenant in place with that river, the spirits of that place might break that dam. We can call our technology “good,” and we can call our magick “white,” but unless we honor all aspects of the equation to which we’re applying our power, we will fall short and feel that lingering resonance (kind of like an itch you can’t scratch).

Historical references aside, it would be naïve to say that evil does not exist. The law of balance requires that for there to be “good,” there must also be the proverbial “bad.” Today we say that a person who uses black magick or walks the left-hand path is considered to be working from a selfish or malevolent vantage point. In Lewis Spence’s Encyclopedia of the Occult we read:

To gain limitless power of god, demon, and man; for personal aggrandizement and glorification; to cheat, trick and mock; to gratify base appetites; to aid religious jealousies and bigotries; to satisfy public and private enmities; to further political intrigue; to encompass disease, calamity and death—these were the ends and aims of black magic.

For a person to exhibit this type of behavior externally in any realm of life, he or she would have to have that darkness as part of their makeup (the within) according to this concept. However, the question remains as to what is truly “black” and what’s required necessary to raise that kind of energy. Some practitioners, for example, categorize working with entropy (the tendency of an energy system toward inertness through the breakdown of organized structure and pattern) or chaos energies as “black.” It receives this designation because, superficially, this so-called magick has the opposite effect from white (destroying or decreasing instead of creating). Yet the forces of nature perform these same functions. This makes us ask: if a form of energy exists in nature, can we call it “black”? Nature’s pattern is eat or be eaten, which can seem very cruel. But, again, it is only illustrating balance. Some “black” magicians would reply that they, too, are illustrating the law of nature in becoming the predator instead of the prey, or in being protectively proactive (doing everything possible mundanely and magickally to safeguard that which they hold dear).

Since we are also animals, humans exhibit similar instincts. Yet, somehow we expect that our reasoning nature will suddenly take that instinct and put it neatly away like some toy that we’ve outgrown when we work magick. I’m not sure that’s a wholly reasonable expectation, let alone a truly healthy one. Instead, a holistic approach would be to balance helpful instincts with rational thought and spiritual guidance.

Let’s take this one step further, out of nature and into the divine realms. In the world’s mythologies, we see images of gods and goddesses that take revenge against those who harm their followers (or children). We also see gods and goddesses that destroy to create. Kali (the Hindu Creatrix/Destroyer) comes immediately to mind. If the external divine uses the energy of reversal or diminishing, can that truly be called “black,” or is it merely the universe’s checks and balances? These are not easy ethical questions to consider or answer, but an honest examination of two things may help us gain some perspective—namely, intent (the internal motivating source) and the situation (the externals).

Let’s say someone chooses to cast spells aimed specifically at exacting revenge because their family had been targeted by a person or a group. This would be considered gray magick, because it is a situation when an ill has been done and has not been balanced.

Now, the sender may not enjoy the feeling of that magick. There’s a natural lingering temptation to lash out with unbridled anger and lose all focus. However, if similar circumstances occurred again, many people would be hard pressed not to do likewise. We simply want to protect those we love. Also, it is possible that people would feel inaction on their part would dishonor a sense of inner sacredness, and that sometimes we are the hand of karma (just as anything in life’s network might be).

This is where the lines of black and white get blurred. You’re not alone in facing a struggle between personal and spiritual ethics, potential karmic repercussions, and the natural desire to act . . . to do something, anything, to return the situation to a more equitable equation. It’s part of human nature. If you find yourself in such a place consider the following advice:

Always step back and cool off. Any magickal working is going to go better when you’re thinking clearly.

Ask yourself if there is a mundane alternative that could fix things. You can often use the energy generated by a bad situation to turn things around in your favor.

Always make sure you know (beyond any doubt) the focus of the spell. Otherwise you could harm an innocent person.

Consider using a “universal clause” (like “for the greatest good” or “and it harm none”) so that no one on the edges of the situation gets harmed by the energy you’re creating.

Pattern your response to only visit like for like (no embellishing—think balance).

Continue personal efforts on the mundane level to rectify things and put your life in order. This gives the universe more opportunities to open doors, heal wounds, and provide closure.

For a good book that discusses this subject in more detail than this book’s space allows, try How to Be a Wicked Witch. Let’s talk a bit about action and inaction and situational ethics.

 

 

A Witch’s 10 Commandments: Magickal Guidelines for Everyday Life

Marian Singer

 

Your Daily Planet Tracker: Sun in Cancer, Jun 21, 2015 to Jul 22, 2015

 

 

 

Planet Tracker

Sun in Cancer

Jun 21, 2015 to Jul 22, 2015

 
Cancer is the sign of the Summer Solstice, the beginning of the warmest season of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the first water sign of the Zodiac, representing the forming of identity around home, family and personal experiences.

Cancer is associated with the Moon, planet of emotions and feelings. This reminds us of the deeply sensitive nature of this sign, a quality that enables Cancer to respond to the needs of others in a caring manner. But, it also can represent a highly subjective nature that finds it difficult to step back and see itself with detachment.

The Mother

Mother symbolizes the unifying force of family consciousness. She brings life to babies and is the center of domestic life. Cancer’s connection with the mother is clear through its role as a nurturer and protector. The passage of the Sun through this sign is a reminder to all of us to listen to our inner feelings and to respond to them in a constructive matter.

Holding onto the past, to relationships and useless objects are negative expressions of Cancer’s energy. Ideally, this sign connects us to a source of vitality that gives us the energy to move on, rather than cling to old, outmoded patterns.

Building Nests

Cancer builds nests. It gathers materials and people to give birth to new groups, companies and organizations. As the first sign of a season, it is cardinal (initiating) in nature. But, as a water sign, it bends to external forces, preferring to go around obstacles, rather than meeting them head on.

Although considered moody, the Crab can be very tenacious. It is guided by internal feelings, rather than external values. This provides a rich source of motivation, even when working alone. This reminds us that when we touch our core, we find an enormous river of personal energy to propel us forward in life.

The Tough Cancer

The sign Cancer has a reputation of being rather warm and fuzzy. While caring for others is certainly part of its make-up, there are those born under this sign who express themselves quite differently.

Cancer business giants John D. Rockefeller, Ross Perot and Richard Branson used their toughness and determination to build enormous commercial empires. Navy Seal turned pro wrestler Jesse Ventura used his will to become the governor of Minnesota.

Crabs can climb the ladder of success when their emotions are channeled into the present, rather than spent clinging to the past.

Famous Cancers

Cancer feeling expresses itself through the work of Meryl Streep, generally considered the greatest actress of our time. Tom Hanks, Kathy Bates, Tom Cruise, John Cusack and Harrison Ford are other prominent Cancer actors.

Sweet sounds come from Cancer singers Carly Simon, Linda Ronstadt and George Michael. Mike Meyers and Ringo Starr reflect the humor of this sign. July 1 is the birthday of Cancers Liv Tyler, Pamela Anderson and the late Princess Diana. The range of this sign is enormous, stretching all the way from diet guru Richard Simmons to the Dalai Lama.

 

@Tarot.com is a Daily Insight Group Site

A Pledge To Pagan Spirituality


Witchy Comments & Graphics

A Pledge To Pagan Spirituality

 

I am a Pagan and I dedicate Myself to channeling the Spiritual Energy of my Inner Self to help and to heal myself and others.

  • I know that I am a part of the Whole of Nature. May I grow in understanding of the Unity of all Nature. May I always walk in Balance.
  • May I always be mindful of the diversity of Nature as well as its Unity and may I always be tolerant of those whose race, appearance, sex, sexual preference, culture, and other ways differ from my own.
  • May I use the Force (psychic power) wisely and never use it for aggression nor for malevolent purposes. May I never direct it to curtail the free will of another.
  • May I always be mindful that I create my own reality and that I have the power within me to create positivity in my life.
  • May I always act in honorable ways: being honest with myself and others, keeping my word whenever I have given it, fulfilling all responsibilities and commitments I have taken on to the best of my ability.
  • May I always remember that whatever is sent out always returns magnified to the sender. May the Forces of Karma move swiftly to remind me of these spiritual commitments when I have begin to falter from them, and may I use this Karmic feedback to help myself grow and be more attuned to my Inner Pagan Spirit.
  • May I always remain strong and committed to my Spiritual ideals in the face of adversity and negativity. May the Force of my Inner Spirit ground out all malevolence directed my way and transform it into positivity. May my Inner Light shine so strongly that malevolent forces can not even approach my sphere of existence.
  • May I always grow in Inner Wisdom & Understanding. May I see every problem that I face as an opportunity to develop myself spiritually in solving it.
  • May I always act out of Love to all other beings on this Planet – to other humans, to plants, to animals, to minerals, to elementals, to spirits, and to other entities.
  • May I always be mindful that the Goddess and God in all their forms dwell within me and that this divinity is reflected through my own Inner Self, my Pagan Spirit.
  • May I always channel Love and Light from my being. May my Inner Spirit, rather than my ego self, guide all my thoughts, feelings, and actions.

So Mote It Be

The Craft (Witchcraft – NOT to be confused with Satanism. A true Witch has nothing to do with this, even though there are some Satanists who (unrightfully) call themselves “Witch”.) contains a large number of groups with bonds to each other, for the most part, which are looser than those you will find between Christian churches. Each has it’s own traditions, it’s own beliefs, it’s own pantheon, etc. So just WHAT is it that, overall, a Witch believes in? The American Council of Witches was formed to determine what it was that all Witches have in common, belief-wise. In the early 1970’s, a paper was released with their findings, and gives a good overall picture of it. The following is the text of that paper.

Basic Principles Of The Craft

  1. The first principle is that of love, and it is expressed in the ethic, “Do As You Will, So Long As You Harm None”
    1. love is not emotional in it’s essence, but is an attribute of the individual as expressed in relation to other beings;
    2. harming others can be by thought, word, or deed;
    3. it is to be understood the “none” includes oneself;
    4. the harm which is to be regarded as unethical is gratuitous harm; war, in general, is gratuitous harm, although it is ethical to defend oneself and one’s liberty when threatened by real and present danger, such as defense against invasion.
  2. The Witch must recognize and harmonize with the forces of the universe, in accord with the Law of Polarity: everything is dual; everything has two poles; everything has it’s opposite; for every action there is a reaction; all can be categorized as either active or reactive in relation to other things.
    1. Godhead is one unique and transcendent wholeness, beyond any limitations or expressions; thus, it is beyond our human capacity to understand and identify with this principle of Cosmic Oneness, except as It is revealed to us in terms of It’s attributes and operation.
    2. The most basic and meaningful attribute of the One that we, as humans, can relate to and understand, is that of polarity, of action and reaction; therefore Witches recognize the Oneness of the Divinity, but worship and relate to the Divine as the archetypal polarity of God and Goddess, the All-Father and the Great Mother of the universe. The Beings are as near as we can approach to the One within our human limitations of understanding and expression, though it is possible to experience the divine Oneness through the practices of the Mysteries.
    3. Harmony does not consist of the pretty and the nice, but the balanced, dynamic, poised cooperation and co-relation.
  3. The Witch must recognize, and operate within the framework of the Law of Cause and Effect; every action has it’s reaction, and every effect has it’s cause. All things occur according to this law; nothing in the universe can occur outside this law, though we may not always appreciate the relation between a given effect and it’s cause. Subsidiary to this is the Law of Three, which states that whatever goes forth must return threefold, whether of good or ill; for our actions affect more than people generally realize, and the resulting reactions are also part of the harvest.
  4. As Above, So Below. That which exists in the Macrocosm exists, on a smaller scale and to a lesser degree, in the Microcosm. The powers of the universe exist also in the human, though in general instance they lie dormant. The powers and abilities can be awakened and used if the proper techniques are practiced, and this is why initiates of the Mysteries are sworn to guard the secrets from the unworthy: Much harm can be done by those who have power without responsibility, both to others and to themselves according to the Laws of Cause and Effect and of Threefold Return.
    1. Since our philosophy teaches that the universe is the physical manifestation of the Divine, there can be nothing in the universe which does not partake of the nature of the Divine; hence, the powers and attributes of the Divine exist also in the manifest, though to much smaller degree.
    2. These powers can be awakened through the various techniques of the Mysteries, and, although they are only capable of small effects in and of themselves, it is possible to use them in order to draw upon the forces of the universe. Thus humanity can be the wielders of the power of the Gods, a channel for Godhead to act within It’s own manifestation. This, then, is further reason for the oath of secrecy.
    3. Since the universe is the body of the One, possessing the same attributes as the One, it’s Laws must be the principles through and by which the One operates. By reasoning from the known to the unknown, one can learn of the Divine, and thus of oneself. Thus the Craft is a natural religion, seeing in Nature the expression and revelation of Divinity.
  5. We know that everything in the universe is in movement or vibration and is a function of that vibration. Everything vibrates; all things rise and fall in a tidal system that reflects the motion inherent in the universe and also in the atom. Matter and energy are but two poles of one continuous phenomenon. Therefore the Witch celebrates, harmonizes with, and makes use of the tides of the universe and of life as expressed through the cycle of the seasons and the motion of the solar system. These ritual observances are the eight great Festivals of the Year, referred to as the Wheel of the Year. Further, the Witch works with the forces and tides of the Moon, for this body is the mediator of much energy to our planet Earth and thus to ourselves.
  6. Nothing is dead matter in the universe. All things exist, therefore all things live, though perhaps in a different manner from that which we are used to calling life. In view of this, the Witch knows that there is no true death, only change from one condition to another. The universe is the body of Godhead, and therefore possesses one transcendent consciousness; all things partake of the consciousness, in varying levels of trance/awareness.
    1. Because of this principle, all things are sacred to the Witch, for all partake of the one Life.
    2. Therefore the Witch is a natural ecologist, for Nature is part of us as we are a part of Nature.
  7. Astrology can be useful in marking and interpreting the flow and ebb of the tides of our solar system, and thus of making use of those tides; astrology should not be debased into mere fortune-telling.
  8. Throughout the development of the human race, civilizations have seen and worshipped many and various attributes of the Divine. These universal forces have been clothed in forms which were expressive to the worshipper of the attribute of the Godhead which they expressed. Use of these symbolic representations of the natural and divine forces of the universe, or god forms, is a potent method for contacting and utilizing the forces they represent. Thus the Gods are both natural and truly divine, and man-made in that the forms with which they are clothed are products of humanity’s striving to know the Godhead.
    1. In keeping with the Law of Polarity, these god-forms are brought into harmony by the one great Law which states: All Gods are one God. All Goddesses are one Goddess. There is one Initiator. This law is an expression of our understanding that all of the forces of the universe, by whatever ethnic god-form is chosen to clothe and relate to whichever force, can be resolved into the fundamental polarity of the Godhead, the Great Mother and the All-Father.
    2. It is the use of differing god forms, of differing ethnic sources or periods, which is the basis of many of the differences between the various Traditions of the Craft. Each Tradition uses the forms, and thus the names, which to that Tradition best express and awaken an understanding of the force represented, according to the areas of emphasis of the Tradition.
    3. Because we know that differing names or representations are but expressions of the same divine principles and forces, we require our members to swear that they will never mock the names by which another honors the Divine, even though those names be different from and seemingly less expressive than the names and god forms used by our Tradition (for to the members of another Tradition, using it’s names, ours may easily seem equally less expressive).
  9. A Witch refuses to allow her/himself to be corrupted by the great guilt neuroses which have been foisted on humanity in the name of the Divine, thus freeing the self of the slavery of the mind. The Witch expresses responsibility for her/his actions, and accepts the consequences of them; guilt is rejected as inhibiting to one’s self-actualization, and replaced by the efforts of the Witch to obey the teachings of harmlessness, responsibility for the consequences of one’s actions, and the goal of actualizing the full powers of the individual.
    1. We refuse to believe that a human being is born innately sinful, and recognize the concepts of sin and guilt are tremendously inhibiting to the human potential; the consequences of the Law of Cause and Effect, called karma by some, are not punishment, but the recurrences of situations and their effects because the individual as not gained the Wisdom needed to handle or avoid such situations.
    2. There is no heaven except that which we ourselves make of our life on Earth, and likewise there is no hell except the effects of our unwise actions. Death is not followed by punishment or reward, but by life and the continuing evolution of the human potential.
    3. One cannot damn the divine in oneself; one can, however, cut oneself off from it through the rejection of wisdom and a refusal to strive for self-realization. This cutting off does not lead to personal suffering in “hell”, for there is no Self to suffer if the tie to one’s own divinity has been severed; what remains is merely an empty shell, a “personality” or thought-form devoid of it’s ensouling Spark of the Divine Fire.
  10. We know of the existence of the life-force which ensouls all living things, that is, all that exists. We know that a spark of this Divine Fire is within each and every thing that exists, and that it does not die; only the form of it’s existence changes. We know that this spark of the life-force returns to manifestation again and again in order to fully realize and actualize it’s potential, evolving finally to the peak and essence of existence which is pure being. In this process of reincarnation each form returns in the same type of form, though it’s ever-increasing actualization may lead to higher levels of existence of that form. Man returns as man, cat as feline, mineral as mineral, each class of form evolving as the individual forms of that class evolve.
  11. This process of evolution through successive incarnations in manifest form works through the utilization of wisdom gained, the essence of the life-experience. This essence of experience, or Wisdom, is an attribute of the spark of life itself, one and inseparable (see 9a).
  12. We must care for the body, for it is the vehicle of the spark of life, the form by which we attain. Thus we must heal the body of it’s ills and keep it a tuned and perfected tool; so must we heal others (both physically and psychologically) as far as it is within our power to do so. However, we cannot interfere with the life of another, even to heal, except at their request or with their express permission; unless such non-interference would be inhibiting to our own, ethical existence and development – and even then the responsibilities and consequences must be understood and accepted. This, then, is one of the important reasons for the communal life the Witches under the guidance of the Priesthood: That the group may be guided by wisdom and experience, with the aid and support of one’s peers; and that one’s actions may be guided by the influence of the ethical life of the group as a whole.
  13. Harmony with, and utilization of, the great natural forces of the universe is called magick. By magick we speak, not of the supernatural, but of the superbly natural, but whose laws and applications are not as yet recognized by the scientific establishment. The Witch must strive to recognize these forces, learn their laws, attune her/himself to them, and make use of them. The Witch must also be aware that power corrupts when used only for the gains of the self, and therefore must strive to serve humanity: Either through the service in the Priesthood, or by example and effects of his/her life on others. The choice must be made in accord with the true nature of the Witch.

A Little About August Birth Symbols

August Babies

“Fairest of the months! Ripe summer’s queen, The hey-day of the year, With robes that gleam with sunny sheen, Sweet August doth appear.” —R. Combe Miller

Zodiac: Leo until August 22 and Virgo from August 23

Gemstone: Peridot
The gemstone is formed deep inside the earth and is brought to the surface by volcanoes. They are believed to contain healing powers that protect against nightmares and bring the wearer power and influence. Colors range from yellowish green to a greenish brown.

Flower: Gladiolus, Poppy
The gladiolus brings remembrance, calm, integrity and infatuation. Poppy is also a popular August flower: red means pleasure, white means consolation, and yellow brings wishes of wealth and success.

Tree: Cypress, Poplar, Cedar, Pine

FROM: http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/photo-gallery/birth-signs-symbols#09

August’s birth flower is gladiolus, or ‘sword lily.’ Gladiolus represents remembrance, calm, integrity, and infatuation. With gladiolus, the recipient’s heart is being “pierced with love.” The other August flower is the poppy. A red poppy signifies pleasure, a white poppy is given for consolation, and a yellow poppy wishes wealth and success.

FROM: http://www.almanac.com/content/birth-month-flowers-and-their-meanings#

August Birthstone – Peridot

Peridot, a symbol of vitality and is the gemstone for people born in August. The official name for peridot is olivine, and can be found in a wide spectrum of green from light-yellow to dark olive. The Egyptians were known to mine for the peridot on Saint John’s Island around 1500 BC. It was used to ward off night terrors and more specifically, when set in gold, would ward off evil. It has also been ground into a fine powder to treat asthma sufferers and used as a cure for thirst most experience during a fever. It has been said that its owner, when worn would have the power of invisibility, and that if a thief about to be hanged or beheaded might escape if one was held in their mouth. It can bring peace, protection and sleep. It has also been worn to calm anger by soothing ones nerves, expelling negative energy. They also can attract love.

The peridot has many symbolic purposes, one that it promises growth for the future and gives strength to individuals and those in relationships. Peridot is a brilliant young green and were first discovered in the black sands of Hawaii. Hawaiian legend states they were tears shed by the volcanic goddess, Pele. It is a connection to nature and Early Egyptians drank from cups made of peridot, believing they would be drawn closer to the goddess of nature, Isis.

The Egyptians also called it the “gem of the sun”, due to its brilliance that it would showcase in the desert sun. By miners, it is said that even in darkness, the peridot could be seen, and they would mark the location. They would then return in the daytime to retrieve them. Perhaps this is why the peridot is at times referred to as the “evening emerald”. Today, it is mined in Hawaii, the Congo, Arizona, Burma, Norway, Australia and Brazil.

August is a month in which for many is viewed as the end of the summer cycle. A time when some need to make plans and begin preparing for the cooler months of fall. It is a time of harvest and hard work. Our bodies are challenged with physical work and long hours. This is a time when one might need to search for strength from an outside source or symbol. During this month we are once again in touch with the earth and the significant seasonal shifts. The birthstones representing each month are meant to empower their owners with gifts specifically needed for each of these seasonal shifts. When the human condition falls short of spiritual or mental needs, these precious stones have been believed to gift their owners strength and endurance in many forms.

Other interesting facts about the August Birthstone of Peridot:

-They were discovered first in Egypt on a tiny island named Zabargard over four-thousand years ago

-In earlier times, Catholic Bishops would wear a peridot ring as a symbol of their purity

-In Medieval times, churches were obsessively adorned by them

-Considered a gift from Mother Nature

-They are created from the conditions of extreme heat from volcanoes

-The most abundant deposits are found in Burma.

-They have been recommended for gall bladder and liver illness

Other Symbols of August:

August Birth Flower:

The Poppy, more specifically the poppy native to the Mediterranean regions. These yield a source of opium, that in the ancient world would bring on sleep and ease pain when taken in smaller amounts. Poppies were associated with the god of sleep, Hypnos and Morpheus, the god of dreams by the Greeks.

August Birth Tree:

The Pine tree. It represents, immortality and longevity.

Famous People Born in August:

Charlize Theron- August 7, 1975

Robert De Niro- August 17, 1943

Audrey Tautou- August 9, 1976

Martin Sheen- August 3, 1940

Andy Warhol- August 6, 1928

Jack Black- August 28, 1969

– See more at: http://birthstonesbymonths.net/august-birthstone-peridot/#sthash.VeUaoXRo.dpuf

Being An Upside Down Witch – for those Living in the Southern Hemisphere

Goddess Pages
British spiritual magazine

Living in Australia – or anywhere in the southern hemisphere for that matter – can be a little confusing for a witch. All the books about magic print elemental correspondences that are back to front (the fire of the sun is certainly not in the south down here!), and list dates for the sabbats that bear no relation to the actual cycle of our seasons. I’ve met a surprising number of people from the US and UK who didn’t realise that our seasons are six months behind (or ahead, depending on how you look at it) the northern ones. Our Midsummer falls around December 20-23, when the north is blanketed in snow, while our winter solstice falls around June 20-23, the height of summer up there.
Perhaps long ago we may have followed the oft-printed dates and celebrated these rituals along with our northern friends, linking up psychically in December to celebrate Yule and welcome the birth of the sun god, even as here he was about to start fading as summer reached its peak, or doing autumn rituals of harvest and release while our land was quickening with the new growth of spring.
But I don’t know of a single southern witch who follows the northern model. At coven rituals, open celebrations and alone at home, groups and solitary practitioners follow our own seasonal cycle, because paganism and goddess worship are intimately attuned to the heartbeat of the planet and the seasons, and these festivals are prescribed by the movement of the earth in relation to the sun, not a fixed date on a modern calendar. The land, as the embodiment of the goddess, speaks to all of us, and the goddess path is about learning to hear this language of nature, to sense the movement and emotional shifts as the earth moves through its cycles, and feel the rhythm of its turning. And so a spring fertility festival will be marked in spring, when the planet is alive with new life and energy, regardless of what is happening on that day in the other hemisphere.
There has been mention in these pages that it is wrong to import “northern” festivals to the southern lands. But celebrating the beauty and bounty of nature and the dance of the seasons is not anyone’s exclusive right. Maybe people in the Celtic lands can feel historically possessive of the names themselves (Lughnasadh, Beltane), but they have no ownership of the winter solstice or the first day of spring, and this is what these festivals are.
The Wheel of the Year reflects the constant universal cycle of life, death and rebirth. Mythologically it is tied to the story of the god and goddess as she shifts from young lover to mother to crone, and he is born, grows in power, sacrifices himself then is reborn, but literally it refers to the changing seasons – the fertility and vibrant life force of summer, the balance and harvest of autumn, the introspection and endings (death) of winter, and the rebirth of spring. Being in the southern hemisphere doesn’t necessarily change this seasonal pattern, it merely shifts the dates. There are parts of Australia such as the Red Centre – and parts of the northern hemisphere too – where the seasons don’t play out in a standard, balanced rhythm through summer, autumn, winter and spring. Some places experience just two main seasons, wet and dry, yet even there the people living in harmony with the land are able to feel the earth as it surges with new life, grows, becomes ready for harvest then withdraws its energy within the earth again, and celebrate their own personal Wheel that reflects their reality.
But in much of the coastal region of the country, where around eighty per cent of the population is based, the seasons do follow a regular pattern, and many witches celebrate the traditional Wheel of the Year, moved forward six months to reflect their personal experience. Of course it can seem a little strange and out of whack sometimes, because the Christians hijacked so many of the magical sabbats and they have become such a part of western life. So how and when do we celebrate the turning points of the witches’ year Down Under, and how do we deal with the inconsistencies of modern festivities?

The Summer Solstice
As the western world gears up for Christmas and northern witches mark Yule, in the southern hemisphere we are celebrating the summer solstice. In 2008 this fell on December 21, and in 2009 it will fall on December 22. This is Midsummer Day, when the sun reaches its southernmost latitude before it turns and heads back towards the north. In some ways it would be easier to celebrate Yule during this festive season, as our northern hemisphere counterparts do, when everyone is feasting, exchanging gifts and acknowledging the birth of the son of God – or the sun god. But Down Under this is the longest, not shortest, day of the year. The sun is strong (some would say merciless), and the energy is fast and active. It’s a time of abundance, achievement and culmination. Despite the snow-covered decorations, men sweating in Santa suits and hot roast dinners – a legacy of our ancestors – on this day we absorb the solar energy, feast on luscious summer fruits, give thanks for the goals we’ve reached and revel in the strength and heat of the long day of sunshine and the power of the sun god.
Sometimes I go to the beach at dawn and watch the sun rise over the ocean, or climb the hill in the park near my house at sunset, farewelling it as it begins its journey back to northern parts, and its energy starts to wane from this day forward as it begins its descent into the dark half of the year. Sometimes I do a formal ritual with a group, or have a feast of celebration with my magical friends, wrapping pots of sunshiney flowers and summer herbs in gold and red velvet as gifts, and breathe in the scent of orange blossoms, lavender and rosemary. I celebrate Christmas with my family too, but I see no conflict here, as the modern version has little to do with the real Yule in intent or meaning, and I’m quite happy to honour the power of the summer solstice and then a few days later enjoy the spirit of giving of the festive season.

Lughnasadh
In the first week of February we celebrate Lughnasadh, the cross-quarter day that marks the end of summer and the first day of autumn, although where I live it will still be hot and fiery for some time to come. In the north it’s Imbolc, linked to fertility, love and Valentine’s Day, but down here it’s the opposite. The earth is still throbbing with life and energy, but it’s mature, fully ripened and almost over-abundant. This is the first harvest festival, and fruit picking becomes a popular form of employment for many travellers, with farms all over the country taking on seasonal workers. The grape harvest begins, to make the wine that is now internationally renowned, and an abundance of other delicious fruits and vegetables, as well as golden wheat and other cereal crops, are also picked at this time.
As well as a time of feasting and of thanksgiving for the life-giving properties of our crops, and recognition of the cycle of sowing and reaping, Lughnasadh is also about the symbolic things we grow and create in our life. It’s a day of harvesting the fruits of our labours and acknowledging our successes and what we’ve achieved in the past year. A month after New Year’s resolutions are made, it seems a good time to take stock. On this day I perform a ritual to celebrate and acknowledge the goals I’ve reached, making a list of all the things I’ve gained – the gifts I’ve been given, the new talents I’ve developed, the friends I’ve made, the experiences I’ve had, the healings I’ve received, the opportunities I’ve pursued – and giving thanks for it all. We may no longer be so connected to the creation and production of our food, as in days gone by, or believe that our prayers or sacrifices influence the success of the crops, but being grateful for what we have and giving thanks is still a beautiful way to live. I also try to pass on some of my good fortune so the energy of abundance continues and is strengthened, by giving time or money to a charity of some kind.

Autumn Equinox
Late March is another strange time for Down Under witches, because the stores are filled with chocolate bunnies and eggs in preparation for Easter, the Christian holiday based on the spring festival of Ostara, which northern hemisphere witches are marking now. While most of the world – both pagan and non-magical – celebrates rebirth, resurrection and new life with the fertility goddess Ostara’s symbols of eggs and hares, in Australia it’s the middle of autumn, a time of crisp, chilly mornings, pale blue skies and a world aflame with colour as the trees turn a hundred shades of red-orange-yellow-brown. Daylight savings ends, and from the autumn equinox onwards, which this year falls on March 20, the days start getting shorter and the weather cooler, but this day of equal light and dark is the moment of balance in nature and within – a time of harmony, joy and gentle calm. While I certainly eat my share of chocolate eggs at this time, acknowledging on some level the energy of Ostara, I also prepare a harvest feast of richly coloured fruits and root vegetables, golden grains and heavy warm breads, and start drying my herbs. I feel immense joy as I skip through the crackling autumn leaves and chart the turning of the seasons by the patterns of leaves on the trees. I give thanks for my metaphorical harvest, honouring my achievements, experiences and wisdom in a way that feels right to me, be it with a big celebration or a personal ritual of gratitude. It’s a time of balance – my world is poised between summer and winter, and day and night are in harmony, which is reflected in the earth’s energy and within me.

Samhain
In the first week of May we celebrate the cross-quarter day that marks the end of autumn and the beginning of the coldness and dark of winter. In the north it’s all hot, fertile love energy, with abundant blossoms, the hatching of birds, bees pollinating flowers and lovers leaping the Beltane fires. But in the southern hemisphere at this time it’s the opposite. It’s the start of winter, a season of introspection and darkness both metaphorically and literally. Traditionally this was the time to store food for the cold barren months ahead; symbolically it’s about rest and renewal, of preparing for what’s ahead and withdrawing a little to conserve your energy. While the grass becomes green and lush at this time with the onset of rain, many of the trees are stripped bare, and bitterly cold winds add to the starkness of the season. This is the time we start readying ourselves for the rebirth we’ll experience at Yule, a time of inner reflection and contemplation, of studying the Mysteries (of our tradition or our life), and scrying for answers and illumination. It’s also the night when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest, and we honour our ancestors and commune with the dead. Of course southern witches do find it hard to explain to people that we are celebrating “Halloween” at this time, but if you pay attention to the earth, to nature, to the seasons, it’s very clear that this is our Samhain.

The Winter Solstice
In late June we celebrate the winter solstice; this year it will fall on the 21st. This is our midwinter – the longest night and shortest day of the year, when the sun is as far north as it will get, making it midsummer in the northern hemisphere. Snow falls in some parts of Australia, and in others it’s cold and rainy. Even in the Red Centre, where winter is their dry season, nature is introspective at this time – the seeds are all closed up, waiting for the heat and rainfall of summer to explode into life. Winter, and this midpoint in particular, is a time to rest and reflect, to acknowledge sadness and loss – of dreams, of friendships, of parts of your self – and conserve your energy and life force.
Yet it’s a day of hope too, for the solstice is the turning point in this time of darkness, introspection and dreaming. Considered the dark night of the soul that gives birth to the creative spark, it marks the period when the dark half of the year relinquishes its hold to the light half. From this day forward the days slowly start to lengthen, the sun becomes stronger and the energy within and without increases and builds. On Midwinter’s Night Eve I light a candle to symbolise the sun and its activating energy, and list my dreams for the coming year. Sometimes I stay up all night to await the return of the light, other years I get up for the sunrise and toast the dawn and give thanks for this energetic reawakening. As the sun is reborn I open myself up to the promise of new growth and achievement, the energy of renewal and the rebirth of my own self and creativity.
I’m more inclined to refer to this festival as Winter Solstice rather than Yule, because the latter has connotations of Christmas, which is still six months away for us, yet many southern witches retain the traditional name, particularly in colder areas where open fires and Yule logs are more typical. Interestingly, there is now increasing recognition in Australia that Christmas is based on a winter tradition that involves magic, and many mainstream events are planned to coincide with our winter solstice. The Pagan Awareness Network holds Hollyfrost, an annual Midwinter retreat and ritual, and in the Blue Mountains the Winter Magic Festival is held on the day of the solstice and is open to everyone, regardless of beliefs. And the more touristy than magical Yulefest and Christmas in July are also celebrated around this time, in recognition that here Yule should not take place in December, in the heat of the Australian summer, but in the cool of winter.

Imbolc
In the first week of August, we in the southern hemisphere honour the cross-quarter day that marks the end of winter and the first day of spring. The earth starts to shake off the severity of the cold period and emerge back into the light. Some of our stunning wildflowers, like the delicate golden wattle, explode into glorious bloom, and it’s a time of hope, renewal and fresh starts after winter’s sluggishness. The sun starts to strengthen and the days grow longer, symbolising the return and renewal of the life force of the land and its people. Energetically it’s a time of awakening and new energy, and is the day we sow the seeds of what we want to achieve in the coming year. It’s also a time of purification and cleansing after the long dark of winter, when I feel motivated to physically clean my house and energetically clear my space, sweeping out old energy and thoughts so the new can thrive. Imbolc represents new beginnings, initiations and inspiration, and the budding plants, swooping baby birds and buzzing bees always fill me with vitality, passion and the impetus to start (or rededicate myself to) new projects.

The Spring Equinox
In the southern hemisphere, the spring or vernal equinox falls in late September – this year it’s on the 23rd. It’s a beautiful time of year, with bright blue skies and pale sunshine without the merciless heat of summer… perfect temperate weather. It’s one of only two times of the year when the length of day and night is equal, and on a personal level it’s a time of balance and harmony too, of union between the physical and spiritual as the balance of universal energies is reflected within. It’s also a time of growth and fertility, when crops are sown, the buds on the trees open, birds build nests and lay eggs and new life is celebrated. Energetically it’s also a very fertile time, as the seeds we sowed of our goals begin to sprout and gain momentum. Traditionally the spring equinox is tied up with rabbits, eggs and fertility goddesses, so it does feel a bit strange to be celebrating “Easter” at this time, but the beautifully blossoming and budding earth and the wild energy and vitality make it obvious that it’s the time for it. It’s a celebration of new life, hope, passion, growth and energy, the time of year that I meditate on my metaphorical fertility and my ability to manifest dreams into reality. In many ancient cultures, including the Romans whose calendar ours is based on, the spring equinox was the first day of the year, and the sense of new hope and optimism inherent in this day remains. It hasn’t always fallen around March/September 21 – our dating is a modern invention – and there are still countries where this is the first day of the year. The Ancient Roman year began on the spring equinox, the day they called Martius 1, which is March 21 in Gregorian terms. In the modern Iranian calendar, used in Iran and Afghanistan, each new year begins on the spring equinox as precisely determined by astronomical observations from Tehran and Kabul (making it the perfect solar calendar, because each calendar year corresponds exactly to the solar year, with no leap days necessary). The Baha’i calendar also begins on the spring equinox.
I got married on September 22 – our spring equinox – a few years ago, so we celebrate our anniversary on Ostara each year. Yet we ran away and wed in the northern hemisphere, which means where we were that day was actually the autumn equinox. Thus each year as we celebrate our anniversary at home, in the springtime, we also acknowledge the energy of autumn. I add a few autumn colours to my spring bouquet, and consider not only what seeds we want to plant for the next year of our relationship, but what we have harvested over the previous one. As Mabon and Ostara are the two days of the year when all is balanced, within and without, they are both good days to renew commitments or pledge a new one, be it a vow of love, magic, career or anything else. I feel like I incorporated the best of both worlds by making my wedding day span both festivals.

Beltane
In the southern hemisphere, the first week of November brings the cross-quarter day that marks the end of spring and the start of the heat and energy of summer, and the festival of love. It’s a time of lovers and spells to attract love, and celebrating the fertility of life, not just physically, but also of our dreams and ambitions. Symbolically this day marks the igniting of the fires of creativity and passion, of the fertility of our desires being made manifest, as the universe bursts with a raw energy and power that we can tap in to simply by breathing it in.
In the northern hemisphere Beltane falls around May Day, and while it has no relevance to us in terms of timing, I have been part of a coven ritual that involved a maypole dance, to represent the union of god and goddess at this point in the Wheel of the Seasonal Year. I’ve also leapt over the Beltane fires, although that was before I met my husband, when I jumped over it with friends as part of a personal ritual of purification and preparation, leaping out of my past, burning away the relationship issues that had kept my heart closed, and towards a future where love was possible (I met my partner two months later).
While I’ve been known to dress up as a vampire or a fairy and go to a Halloween party on October 31, privately or with coven members or witchie friends I’m celebrating the new blossoms and the vitality and fertility of Beltane at this time.

So, while it’s perhaps a little easier for northern hemisphere goddess worshippers to celebrate the cycle of the seasons, given that so many of them are actually woven into “normal” life, when you tune in to the earth and the rhythms of nature it is easy to know when it’s the right time to celebrate any of the old festivals. Because whether you live in the north, where they began, or the south, adding your own personal meaning to the traditional forms of celebration, the sabbats are still relevant to our lives. Even today, when we no longer live in harmony with the earth’s rhythms or agricultural cycles, modern pagans celebrate the Wheel of the Year as an honouring of nature and an acknowledgement of the continuing cycle of life, death and rebirth, both literally and symbolically. Becoming aware of the seasonal shifts and the patterns of nature wherever you live, and celebrating these ancient but still relevant festivals, is a simple way to tap in to the magic of the universe and harness it for your own growth. We may no longer grow our own grain or purify the fields with fire, but these celebrations still have power, particularly in the symbolic form – planting the seeds of our dreams in the metaphorical spring, watching them grow and manifest in the world before we give thanks for our literal harvest, then allowing the things that no longer serve us to die off or be released in our own personal winter, then starting all over again with new dreams as we celebrate our own rebirth.
I’ve spent a few sabbats in the northern hemisphere, leaping the Beltane fires in Glastonbury’s Chalice Well Gardens, sitting inside the Great Pyramid on the morning of the summer solstice, watching the sun set over the Hill of Tara at Lughnasadh, and the energy of each season is intense, real and tangible no matter which hemisphere I am in. Whenever I celebrate these magical turning points of our planet I feel so strongly a part of the earth, at one with nature and the universe. And so, regardless of which half of the world I’m in, I always acknowledge the opposite festival as well, in some small way. Perhaps this isn’t as important for those in the north, but for me it seems right to acknowledge the turning seasons all over the world, the beautiful, gracefully balanced dance of light and dark, heat and cold, day and night, that makes up this world that we are all a part of.
We are all connected to the earth, no matter where we live, and we need to learn how to (and accept that we can) follow the seasons of nature in our own unique way, based on the rising and setting of the sun in our own home town, the cycles of the moon as it crosses our part of the sky, and the very personal language of nature that is so different – and yet so similar –according to our own unique landscape.


Serene Conneeley is a healer, writer and witch who lives in Sydney, Australia. She is a reconnective healing practitioner and has studied magical and medicinal herbalism, reiki and many other healing modalities, as well as politics and journalism. Her first book, Seven Sacred Sites: Magical Journeys That Will Change Your Life, has just been published. Visit Goddess Pages magazine here.

The Nature of Our Ways

Egyptian Comments & Graphics

The Nature of Our Ways

• As often as possible, hold the rites in forests, by the seashore, on deserted mountaintops or near tranquil lakes. If this is impossible, a garden or some chamber shall suffice, if it is readied with fumes or flowers.

• Seek out wisdom in books, rare manuscripts and cryptic poems if you will, but seek it out also in simple stones and fragile herbs and in the cries of wild birds. Listen to the whisperings of the wind and the roar of water if you would discover magic, for it is here that the old secrets crets are preserved.

• Books contain words; trees contain energies and wisdom books ne’er dreamt of.

• Ever remember that the Old Ways are constantly revealing themselves. Therefore be as the river willow that bends and sways with the wind. That which remains changeless shall outlive its spirit, but that which evolves and grows will shine for centuries.

• There can be no monopoly on wisdom. Therefore share what you will of our ways with others who seek them, but hide mystic lore from the eyes of those who would destroy, for to do otherwise increases creases their destruction.

• Mock not the rituals or spells of another, for who can say yours are greater in power or wisdom?

• Ensure that your actions are honorable, for all that you do shall return to you three-fold, good or bane.

• Be wary of one who would dominate you, who would control and manipulate your workings and reverences. True reverence for the Goddess and God occurs within. Look with suspicion on any who would twist worship from you for their own gain and glory, but welcome those priestesses and priests who are suffused with love.

• Honor all living things, for we are of the bird, the fish, the bee. Destroy not life save it be to preserve your own.

• And this is the nature of our way.

Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner

Scott Cunningham

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – April 28

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – April 28

“Indians living close to nature and nature’s ruler are not living in darkness.”

–Walking Buffalo, STONEY

There are many Indian people who are living according to nature and according to ceremony and culture. They may not have a lot of material things, but that doesn’t mean they are not successful. What is success anyway? Can success be measured by material things? What is it we are really chasing anyway? The Elders say that what everyone really wants is to be happy and have a peaceful mind. Material things by themselves do not bring happiness and peace of mind. Only spiritual things bring happiness. When we live a spiritual life we will not have darkness. Instead, we will be happy.

Great Spirit, today, let me walk the Red Road.

If It Aint Broke, Don’t Fix It!

If It Aint Broke, Don’t Fix It!

Author: Dances With Puppydogs 

I was broken.

There was always something wrong with me. Different…. And all I ever wanted was to be normal. Oh, I could fake it, for a while. But it never “took”. The effort of maintaining the phony façade would drain my energy to the point where I couldn’t keep it up for long.

Why am I such a freak? Why can’t I think, talk, act, be like everyone else. I even looked like a freak!

The long sleeved, high-necked dresses, always in an ugly dark brown, or rusty black that I was forced to wear. ‘Old Lady’ colors, I thought of them. Hems nearly to my ankles. My odd curly red hair — along with the suspicious comments, “Where’d that red hair come from? Nobody else in the family has red hair!” Hey, banana curls look cute on a three year old, but a thirteen year old? Going to public school? My curls gave me some hellish moments, let me tell you!

To top it off, I was FAT! Humongously, hideously fat. Now, in the particular society wherein I was raised, it was ok, nay, required for a female to be fat. It made them better baby factories, so it was thought, limited their mobility…how fast can you run from a husband who’s beating the crap out of you if you weigh 300 pounds? And God liked fat females .

Yeah, you heard me. God. Don’t ask me how they came up with that one…something to do with the Songs of Solomon, I think…

Right now, you might be a little confused. You might be thinking, ‘Where were you raised? A third world country? The Dark Ages?’ Nope. And Nope. Try Southeast Missouri, USA. I was born in 1953, into a Christian cult right in the middle of the Bible Belt. Needless to say, I was one confused, mixed up little girl.

At home: I was stupid, sinful, evil, female, property, devil possessed (my epilepsy was proof of that) , ugly, too skinny, and there was that suspicious red hair. Maybe Mama had been stepping out and there was that redheaded neighbor across the street. After all, she was female. Born evil. Maybe Daddy hadn’t beaten all the sinfulness out of her, after all!

In the Real World: I was too quiet; I had fits (epilepsy) . I wore freakish clothes and banana curls. I was stupid, fat, ugly, loser, freak, cow, and the list goes on and on.

At home, I wore one mask. At school, another. Of the two, the one for home was more important. At school, I would only get clobbered. At home, I could be tortured and killed! Home was a very dangerous place. There Were Rules:

1. Never smile. Smiling meant you were making fun of Grandfather, which meant you were making fun of God, since Grandfather was holy and so close to Him that they were one and the same. Get this, Grandfather couldn’t sin! He was so holy, that he could do anything he wanted and it wasn’t a sin. Anything. Neat, huh?

2. Never frown. You should have joy in the Lord.

3. Never, Never, Never Get Angry if you were a female. It showed you had a rebellious nature. Men could get angry. Their anger was the righteous anger of the Lord.

Indeed, I was broken. I wasn’t “normal” and never could be. At school, I buried myself in books. No monkey bars or swings for me. At home where reading anything but the bible was a mortal sin (and even the bible wasn‘t necessary for women. After all, they had men to explain God‘s Will to them, usually with their fists.) , I hid as much as I could. The cornfields, the woods, became my refuge.

But getting back to normal. Definitions:

Normal: conforming to the usual standard, type, or custom. Nope, not me. No way, no how, would I be considered normal. And that’s all I wanted.

Broken: inoperative, malfunctioning, faulty, defective, out of order, broken-down, kaput (informal) , conked-out (informal) , worn-out, wrecked, had it, busted (US, informal) , bust (informal) Me: all of the above.

A normal family, a normal home, a normal appearance…to think and act in a normal fashion. And I couldn’t have or be any of that. I was deeply terrified by the future. I knew I wasn’t equipped to live out there in the real world. I was so ignorant. How would I live, how would I get a job? Who in his or her right mind would hire someone like me?

Yet, I knew I wouldn’t stay with my family. Anything would be better than that! As soon as I could, I’d get out. So. I got married. I was fifteen. So was hubby. Stupid, stupid me. Being married to a fifteen year old alcoholic, who took the pastor’s words “Men, chastise thy wives in the name of the Lord, lest their weak, sinful nature bring shame to thee and thy God!” to heart, that’s better, huh.

At least, at home I could flee to the fields and woods occasionally when the mask I wore became too much to bear. In my new role, with adult responsibilities, such escape was impossible. Two weeks later, I ran away. I had only the clothes on my back, and little bit of food I stole from the kitchen.

Interlude: When I was very young, I was taught that to be a good person, you had to be perfect at everything…especially if you were female. If God had a chosen people, so did the Devil and those were the women. You never got angry. You never protested, no matter how you were treated and you never, ever said no to a male. Let’s see, how’d my grandma put it? “You should be proud to serve (as in ‘be a servant to’) your little brother.”

Perfection in itself wasn’t enough. Everything had to be done perfectly the very first time you did it. Practicing was cheating. A truly godly person didn’t need to practice. God would guide her. If you had to practice something, it meant you weren’t close enough to God. You were a (gasp!) Sinner!

Monster Me

I looked inside myself and to my horror, found a monster living there. All the things you weren’t suppose to be, to do, to think, were right there inside me. That creature, that hideous inner thing that gibbered with unchecked fury, that couldn’t be me, …could it? No, huh-uh, no way!

Panic time, ladies!

What if I did or said something that would let everybody know that monstrous thing was inside me? What if other people could see who, or what I really was! What if I lost control of that fuming seething cesspit of rage and actually hurt someone, maybe even killed someone!

Why was I like this, so different from everyone else? It seemed so easy for them. Was I born evil, like my parents told me I was when they dragged me to church time after time to have the devil cast out of me, born to burn in hell, forever?

I wannabee a Witch!

I turned to Witchcraft because it seemed perfect for someone like me. Misunderstanding what it really was, having been fed on false notions of Witchcraft all my short life, and already doomed to hell, what did I have to lose?

So I was a secret witchwannabee, ready to embrace Evil, and kiss the Devil’s backside. The trouble was, that Ole Devil never appeared with his big black book and his pen dripping with blood to sign me up. I did my petty little black deeds and waited and waited and waited………being evil is almost as exhausting as being good. I wasn’t good at being bad!

If it aint broke, don’t fix it!

Imagine my shock when I finally stumbled across my first book on true Witchcraft. This was more like it! This I could do! Full speed ahead! The book gave me life. I absorbed its knowledge eagerly. I wasn’t evil! Or crazy. Or broken. My feelings, my thoughts weren’t bad. They were normal! Everybody had them! I didn’t need fixing. I wasn’t horrible monster, doomed to die in sin and forever burn in hell. As a famous Vulcan would have said, “Hell is not logical.”

And God wasn’t a monster, either! He was kind and loving and good. Most incredibly He was also a She! God/dess!

For the first time, everything made sense. The ideas, the ways of thinking, the beliefs and philosophies, I had always felt and thought like that! For the first time, I was at peace. I was Home.

So, armed with my tattered little yard sale book, I gathered my little bit of courage, and my mountain of desperation, and fled. I spent that summer hitching rides from strangers, crisscrossing this alien country, learning. I learned about Rescue Missions. About soup kitchens and dumpster diving. I learned about hidey-holes and best of all, I learned about cans.

Yup, good ole sody cans. Gather them up in a garbage bag and carry them over to the scrap yard and they’d pay you for them…with real money. I remember how excited I was when another homeless person told me about cans. Now I could have an income. I could buy food! I could buy a tent, a sleeping bag! Thank you, Goddess!

It took me several months to save up enough but that first night, snuggled up warm inside my bag, reading my book by flashlight, my cheap little tent was a palace. When it got colder, I bought a second bigger sleeping bag and stuffed the first one inside it. A small camp stove made out of a coffee can allowed me to cook my meals instead of having to eat out of cans.

I even managed to accumulate a small library of books. You could buy used paperback for a nickel or dime back then. I was in heaven!

While I was learning to live in the mundane world, I was also learning more about Witchcraft. I read. Everything remotely pertaining to magic, the Goddess, and a zillion other subjects.

My small camp in the woods brought me close to nature. I gladly sacrificed edibles to the raccoon family, and the lone coyote that visited me in the middle of the night, watching their antics in the moonlight.

When I slipped from Witch, to Wiccan, I don’t really remember. It occurred so naturally, like breathing.

I lived there until I was twenty-three. My books gave me an education. I got my GED at nineteen. I continued in my path, finally managing to get a real job and an apartment but I never forgot my tiny camp in the woods and the happiness I found there.

When I look back, I feel both pity and love for the small, confused, hurting girl that I was. My childhood was very painful, but it also gave me strength. The Mother was wise. That strength was what I needed to survive the ordeals that lay ahead.

My spiritual path continues to evolve. I left Wicca. I felt a need for more balance in my life. I follow the path of the Shadow Witch, now, but that’s a whole other story.

Blessings to All.

The Daily OM for May 9th – Experiencing Nature by Night

Experiencing Nature by Night
Moon Gardens

by Madisyn Taylor

A whole other world exists in the light of a moon-filled night that few of us even notice.

In the height of summertime’s heat, we drift outdoors at dusk to refresh ourselves in the temperate air of evening. Cricket song and the glow of fireflies come together with ever-lengthening shadows to create a natural symphony of overlapping sensations that invigorate the body and gladden the soul. As the sun sets, the vivid colors of most flowers and leaves fade, becoming a dull grey, but moon gardens provide us with a space to appreciate Mother Nature’s bounty long after the light of day has retreated. Designed to be enjoyed from dusk until the coming of the darkness, these gardens serve as a perfect complement to silvery moonlight, mild summer nights, and the spirit of rejuvenation.

Most plant life worships the sun, but a select few shrubs and flowers come into their own in luna’s glow. The silvery leaves of lamb’s ears and artemisia reflect the radiance of the moon, while the bright-white flowers adorning yucca and evening primrose seem to shimmer brilliantly in dusk’s gloom. Certain blossoms such as the moonflower and four o’clocks open only at night, releasing their sweet fragrances in spectacular displays of scent and beauty. While creating a moon garden, remember to take each human sense into account. We appreciate the ghostly beauty of nighttime nature best when we can sit comfortably until our eyes have adjusted to the surrounding darkness. Bamboo and thick grasses make a comforting sound when bandied about by gentle nighttime breezes.

Transforming a portion of your existing yard or patio into a moon garden is simple, and the pleasure you will derive from your nighttime retreat will become worth it once you start to enjoy it. Green spaces come alive at night when nocturnal blossoms release their perfume into the air and ethereally lovely and luminous foliage dances in the breeze. In a moon garden, relaxation is a simple matter of attuning yourself to the stillness of evening and seeing, for the first time, the myriad shades of beauty that can be found in the darkness.

 

Source:

The Daily OM

Elder’s Meditation of the Day April 28

Elder’s Meditation of the Day April 28

“Indians living close to nature and nature’s ruler are not living in darkness.”

–Walking Buffalo, STONEY

There are many Indian people who are living according to nature and according to ceremony and culture. They may not have a lot of material things, but that doesn’t mean they are not successful. What is success anyway? Can success be measured by material things? What is it we are really chasing anyway? The Elders say that what everyone really wants is to be happy and have a peaceful mind. Material things by themselves do not bring happiness and peace of mind. Only spiritual things bring happiness. When we live a spiritual life we will not have darkness. Instead, we will be happy.

Great Spirit, today, let me walk the Red Road.

Spell Ingredients: Add a Large Dose of Reality

Spell Ingredients: Add a Large Dose of Reality

Author: Solonius 

The first ingredient for any spell: A large dose of reality…. I mean, really, what do you expect? If all spells worked, wouldn’t humanity universally believe in witchcraft and magic and use it wholeheartedly? And to that extent wouldn’t worthy practitioners be a desired commodity? It is imperative for practitioners to separate their wishful and whimsical fantasies from serious study, contemplation, experimentation and application.

I believe that in order to further understand and define the super-natural, you first have to develop and have a thorough understanding of the natural. Any study of the Craft requires a greater amount of study into the realm of Laws of Nature and the Laws of Physics. After all, how can you define what is extra-ordinary, if you don’t even know the extent of what is ordinary?

The Laws of Physics are many, and the typical high-school student mostly understands the important ones. Opposites attract (by and large this only works for ions, kids, not people) , for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction, a body in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force, for any change in state the by-product or causation is heat, etc. How can better knowing these things help us in a greater understanding of our spell work? Because all these things deal with Energy, and what is the Universe constructed of? Anyone…? Yes, Energy. And what does spell work deal with, when you boil it all down (pun intended) ? That’s right, Energy! Or more accurately, the transfer of energy. This is the First Insight that any practitioner should grasp. EVERYTHING is energy.

The Second Insight that we should understand, because it deals with both types of laws, is that Nature abhors a vacuum. That can be observed as simply as watching a balloon deflate. What do you discover with these phenomena? That Nature seeks a balance. This holds true for the Laws of Life and the Laws of Physics. The Universe naturally seeks equilibrium. Whether this is between hot/cold, high pressure/low pressure, too many predators and not enough prey, the Law stays the same. In the end, Nature will follow its Laws. You do know, though, that there is a defined and empirical Order to Things. You might not understand it fully, but you can be assured that an order exists by observing the smallest things in nature. This is crucial: Be observant to Nature and learn from it. Nature, in all its complexity, is still a system of doing things the easiest and least energy wasting way. Contemplate that reality for a while.

Where does this energy come from? Good question. Is it physical energy, which means connected to our current plane of existence? If that is so, then you would not be able to contain it for the energy you are talking about on the physical plane is electrical in nature, and you would become walking atom bombs if you gathered the energy required to perform some spells. So it can’t be a physical energy type.

Is it spiritual energy (which obviously means it is energy collected from higher levels of existence) that you are able to gather and use? The usual consensus is “Yes, it is.” This leads to the next set of questions. Can energy from higher levels of existence cause effects on a lower level of existence? How can if affect the energy in a lower existence, if the two existences are not on the same sphere? Can the physical things you do on a lower plane of existence affect what happens on a higher plane of existence? Is your mentality the only link between what you perceive as the physical plane and planes above what you can perceive with your physical senses? What is the extent of ‘Reality’, does it encompass ALL spheres of existence as ONE reality? Nature abhors a vacuum, so if As Above – So Below is a Law of Nature, does this mean that the energies of a higher plane seek a balance with the energies of a lower plane?

It is said that in the higher planes all things are possible if you only imagine it so. I further postulate that you must not only imagine it so, it must become your perceived REALITY. You must learn to tap into the energies of the higher planes, and effect permanent changes there, before any changes can happen in the physical plane. I’ve often said that there is an ocean of difference between Understanding and Knowing. Understanding is intellectual; it is accepting truth without necessarily going through all the motions to prove it. Knowing is visceral; it deals more with proof from the physical senses perceiving something as true. Ergo, to make a change here, you have to Know that you have made a change in higher realms first.

I postulate the reason for this is the hypothesis of ‘trickle down economics’ if you’d like. What does this mean? It means that in order to build a hut on the physical plane, you must first build a mansion in the higher planes. More complexly, Nature (meaning all planes of existence) seeks a balance. Nature also does things the absolute least energy-wasting way. I perceive that Nature does not easily permit energy to flow across planes of existence, even if they are in the same ‘Reality’. With As Above – So Below, you can see through a simple diagram of two superimposed triangles (one point up, the other point down) that the equilibrium point is above here and now (the bottom point) , yet below the ultimate expression (the top point) . As you move down from the ultimate expression (the open V) , less and less energy is transferred. Therefore you must have a firm and knowing conviction of what you wish to accomplish and see a clear and precise picture of it occurring, before you can hope to realize it happening.

Ironically, you should also have a wonderfully developed sense of imagination up to the point of believing in what seems impossible. Only with an active imagination can you build that mansion up to the point of actualization in the higher planes. This seems contradictory, but I don’t feel that it is. Without a firm mental picture of what you require to exist, can you hope to achieve your goal? You have to build that mansion brick by brick, through much mental exactness and conviction. This requires a great deal of imagination as well as focus. The constructed mansion should then remain in that higher plane once you have completed it. It’s there; there is no doubt of its existence in your mind. Every time you visit the higher realms your mansion is there, gleaming with its glory. Make it Reality. Does this mean that a mansion will magically appear here and now for you in the material plane? Probably not, but the single minded effort it took to imagine it as reality in the higher plane, could translate into the required motivation and focus to achieve it in the here and now. Here is something else to consider: owning the mansion is secondary to the method of achieving it.

I’ve used the visualization of a mansion to put a face to a concept. However, it holds true for any endeavor. What you wish to have happen is secondary to HOW you achieve its happening. You build the mental picture (higher plane reality) while simultaneously going through with the steps required to achieve the same results. This multiple avenue approach enlists all your faculties to achieve what your desire is. The greater the amount of energies enlisted to achieve your desire, the more energy the universe aligns with the outcome. Remember: the method of how you achieve your goal is primary to the goal itself.

As an example: There is a twice-weekly fervent prayer on many lips throughout the land: “Please let me win the lottery!” However, if you never go out to purchase a lottery ticket, the effort placed into your prayer was wasted, wasn’t it? The same occurs with your Craft. Creating a spell to achieve the end result is short sighted. You still have to do the work to realize your goal. There really are no shortcuts. I don’t mean using some elaborate spell either. I mean elaborate mental visualization, coupled with following a plan to achieve the goal. Each reinforces the other, making the possibility of achievement vastly greater. Ground that visualization into what Laws Nature has already demonstrated. This lends conviction and credibility to the achievement of the goal.

What would be the required steps to achieve that goal without using any Craft? Incorporate those steps into the visualization with your spell. Bypass any flights of fantasy; they require too much energy to maintain. After all is it easier for your mind to accept flying to work on a broomstick, or driving your car? Your mind will default to what it Knows is possible, and will automatically call B.S. to what is not. Even a child imagining flying around the house on a broomstick Knows that they are just pretending. So why kid yourself? The more reality you incorporate into your Craft, the greater the results you will receive.

*On a side note: I don’t think of the planes of Reality as floors in a skyscraper, nor are they in some cardinal Direction. They don’t exist as pages in a book, where you can turn a page and have a new reality. I think of it as a condensing of energy from zero (conversely the most dense) to the ultimate amount of energy. They are all concurrent and here and now, superimposed upon what we can only perceive as the physical plane due to the limitations of our senses. This energy is limitless to infinity. For infinity is provable as far as we have observed. Outside the edge of the growing globe of galaxies expanding outward, is vacuum. Forever. You could hypothetically travel so far away that this entire globe of expanding physical energy seems like nothing more than a single spec of brilliant light. However, the theory of infinity breaks down if you require a starting point. As Above – So Below… Infinity must go in BOTH ‘directions’ forever, or the concept breaks down.

I thank you for your time in reading this. I hope it gave you some food for contemplation, and in some way helps you with more success on your path.

Regards,
Solonius

The Daily OM For April 1st – Physical Intuitiveness

Physical Intuitiveness
The Body Is Natural

by Madisyn Taylor

So much of the human experience is removed from nature that we forget we are products of the natural world.

So much of the human experience is removed from nature that we tend to forget that we are products of the natural world. At the moment of birth, we are perfectly attuned to nature. Our feelings are an authentic response to the stimulus we encounter. We interact with our environment viscerally, desiring only what is necessary for our survival. And, if we are lucky, we take in nourishment in the form of pure mother’s milk. As months and years pass, however, we discover the sights, sounds, and scents of the synthetic world. Though these often momentarily dazzle us, the dim memory of our naturalness remains. When we embrace the notion that human beings are inherently natural, bringing it to the forefront of our day-to-day experiences, we achieve a new level of wellness that boasts nature at its very core.

We innately understand that our bodies are not composed of plastics or man-made chemicals and that there is no legitimate reason to consume or expose ourselves bodily to such substances. This knowledge is reinforced each time we find ourselves energized by sweet, fresh air and warm sunlight or awed by the majesty of Mother Nature’s beauty. We feel the strength of our connection to nature when fresh food that is close to the earth sustains us more effectively than artificial supplements and when the pleasures of exercise outweigh the pains of exertion. The human body has been blessed with the same physical intuitiveness that all nonhuman living beings employ instinctively. But because our lives are no longer bound up in nature’s rhythms, we must actively seek to reconnect with this formerly innate skill. The process of rediscovering our place in the natural world can be exciting and inspiring, since nothing more is required of us than to delight in nature’s wonders, to derive nourishment from natural foods, and to drink deeply of all the wisdom that plants and animals have to share.

Your own naturalness will reveal itself to you when you look beyond your beliefs, your lifestyle choices, and the attitudes you hold. When these constructs are stripped away, you will see a body and mind that never gave up its relationship to the essence of the natural world from which consciousness sprang.

Source:
Daily OM

What Is A Druid, Anyway?

What Is A Druid, Anyway?

Author: Ellen Evert Hopman

There are many different Druid Orders and as is the case with most Pagan groupings, no two Druids will see things in exactly the same way.

To further confuse matters there is a different focus and feel to American Druid Orders and English ones. I can only speak for myself, as an American Druid of the  (Ord Na Darach Gile) .

History:

“Gaine daughter of pure Gumor,
nurse of mead-loving Mide,
surpassed all women though she was silent

she was learned and a seer and a chief Druid.”

(From The Metrical Dindsenchas, Gwynn translation, 1903)

There is plenty of evidence that women as well as men were Druids in ancient times. Druids presided at divinations and sacrifices and praised the Gods, but the primary task of all grades of Druids was to follow an intellectual path.

The Druids were the learned class of the ancient Celts, analogous to the Brahmins of India.

Both Hindu and Celtic culture are derived from the same proto-Indo-European roots. The caste system of the Hindus and the caste system of the Celts were essentially the same; both were fluid, that is one could move up or down the social ladder depending on skill and learning (it was only in the 10th century that Hinduism “froze” its caste system – a reaction to invaders from outside) .

The Druid was analogous to the Brahmin, the warrior to the Kshatria. There were the producer class of farmers and craftsmen and finally the slaves who were analogous to the Hindu untouchables. Among Druids there were specialists; it seems unlikely that every Druid was mistress of every Druidical function. Druids did not commit their knowledge to writing; important facts were memorized and passed down orally.

A Druid could be a Sencha, or historian for the tribe. They could be a Brehon, in which case they would have memorized volumes of Brehon Law making them eligible to be a lawyer, a judge, or an ambassador. A Druid could also be a Scelaige, or keeper of myths and epics. These myths were recited at important occasions like weddings and births, at the onset of a major journey or a battle.

The Cainte was a master of magical chants, invocations and curses. They could banish or bless with a song. The Cruitire was a harpist who knew the magical uses of music; she was mistress of the “three kinds of music:” laughing music (the sound of young men at play) , crying music (the sound of a woman in the travails of childbirth) , and sleeping music (the sound of which would put a person to sleep) .

The Druid might be a Liaig, a doctor who used surgery, herbs and magic to heal, or a Deoghbaire, a cupbearer who knew the properties of intoxicating and hallucinogenic substances.

Further specialties included the Faith, or diviner, the Bard, who was a popular poet and singer, and the highest grade of Druid, the Fili, a sacred poet and diviner whose words were prophetic.

Like Sorcerers, Druids performed feats of magic in the service of the king or queen and in the service of the tribe.

“Then Mogh Roith said to Ceann Mor: ‘Bring me my poison-stone, my hand-stone, my hundred-fighter, my destruction of my enemies.’

This was brought to him and he began to praise it, and he proceeded to put a venomous spell on it…”

(Forbhais Droma Damhghaire, Sean O’Duinn translation)

Druids were the teachers of the sons and daughters of the nobility. It was their task to hand down from generation to generation the knowledge of sacred animals, trees, plants, stones and all the details of the landscape, its history and how each feature got its name, as well as the tribal laws and precedents.

In contrast to village Cunningmen and Wisewomen (Witches) , who were counselors, midwives, magicians, herbalists, and veterinarians for their community, the Druids advised and worked closely with the nobility. A king or queen was a person from the warrior class who had spent their entire life learning the arts of defense and war, who was then elevated to the “Nemed” or sacred class by means of an elaborate ritual.

Druids were hereditary members of the Nemed class who had spent their lives learning the laws. A king or queen had to have a Druid advisor by their side at all times so that they could rule according to precedent. The stories of Arthur and Merlin are a good illustration of this relationship.

The justice of the king was so important that it would determine whether strong and good-looking children would be born to the people and if the weather, crops and animals would prosper.

There is evidence that the Druids supervised at human sacrifices. However, there is no evidence of the type of wholesale immolation in wicker cages reported by Julius Caesar. It is well to remember that Caesar was attempting to paint the Druids in a lurid light in order to get funding from Rome to continue his military campaigns and further his personal political ambitions. It seems likely that prisoners of war and criminals were dispatched in much the same way as we do it today, after judgment and sentencing.

The Druids were persecuted by the Romans and killed off in many Celtic areas.

However, the Romans never got to the extreme north of Caledonia (Scotland) nor did they invade Ireland. As a result Druids and their teachings persisted for many centuries. The Bards were able to continue to disseminate Druid teachings via story and song.

Who the Druids Were Not:

The Druids were not priests and priestesses of Atlantis, nor were they a lost tribe of Israel. Early English historians could not imagine that groups such as the Irish (whom they considered to be backward and inferior) could possibly have produced such a class of noble intellectuals and clergy.

The Druids did not build Stonehenge or the magnificent cairns of the Boyne Valley; Knowth, Dowth and Newgrange, which were built by pre-Indo-European, Bronze Age peoples. However, it is quite likely that the Druids used those monuments. In the case of the Irish structures, there is plenty of mythological evidence that the Iron Age Celts and their Druids revered these sites as sacred.

The Druids were not proto-Christians. They had their own system of ethics and deities that pre-dated Christianity.

Core Beliefs:

All of which brings us to the difficult question of what it means to be a Druid in the new millennium.

All modern Druids attempt to honor Celtic tradition. They also understand that there is no fully intact tradition of Druidism that stretches back to ancient times and that of necessity every Druid Order must create its own ritual form.

Some are happy to include recent speculations, such as the poetry of Robert Graves (inventor of the Celtic Tree Calendar) and others try to stick to more rigorously researched, scholastically verifiable sources.

It is more common to find practicing Christians among the English Orders. American Druid Orders, such as Whiteoak, Keltria, and ADF, place a larger emphasis on Pagan Celtic scholarship, seeing themselves as lore keepers for Pagan Celtic cultural, religion and magical tradition.

Irish Druidism is often concerned with the Forest Druid tradition, seeking to keep alive the ancient woods lore of the forest dwellers of the Elizabethan era and earlier.

As in the past, modern Druids tend to be intellectually curious, reading voraciously on subjects such as Celtic tribal law, history, philosophy, poetry, magic, religion, mythology, spirituality, traditional healing methods, music, archaeology and astronomy. They use these studies to create ceremonies that honor the Earth and the Celtic pantheon of Gods.

The Druids are not a male priesthood. There are a few popular authors and at least one old English Order that try to perpetuate that idea, but they are in the minority and do not represent the majority of Druids today. Druids are not among those who seek to exploit or ignore the Earth in Her time of need. They recognize that nature hangs in a delicate balance and that all life must be tended with care.

Druids do not ignore the needs of the people. As in ancient times they care for the welfare of the people, giving comfort in times of sickness and death, rejoicing in each other’s life passages and achievements, and seeking to advise, as best they can, the secular leaders of their towns, states and nations. They donate time and money to religious, cultural and humanitarian projects that capture their imaginations.

In short, Druidism is not a solitary path. The Druid is not isolated from her spiritual community, her town, her city, her nation or the world.

Ways of Worship:

Druids love nature and seek to know the land they live on intimately, observing seasonal and astronomical changes and animal behaviors as timing for festivals and as portents for the future.

Druids honor rivers, trees, mountains, green herbs, rocks, animals and every living thing. The Whiteoak Druids, for example, take an oath to protect “the Earth and Her creatures, ” making offerings to trees, stones, and to the local River Goddess of the Druid’s bioregion. Druids place an emphasis on praising the Gods and less of an emphasis on magic, using song, poetry, and crafts to express their love and kinship with their chosen deities. Druids make offerings to fire and water as a regular part of their rituals, in keeping with ancient Indo-European tradition.

Celtic Reconstructionist Druids, in keeping with tradition, work with the Three Worlds (Land, Sea and Sky) more than the Four Directions. Druids invoke and thank the ancestors, the Nature Spirits and the Gods in their rites. Druids are true polytheists, understanding each deity as a distinct individual with His or Her unique likes, dislikes, and spheres of influence. Among Druids it is considered somewhat rude to bring deities from different religions and cultures together in the same circle and every effort is made to work within genuine Celtic pantheons.

A Witch’s circle is a closed space, designed to hold and contain energy to build it into a “cone of power.” A Druid circle is a permeable affair; persons may walk in and out at will. Since part of the energy raising involves inviting the Nature Spirits to participate, Druids feel that there is no point in walling off the circle. Druid ceremonies are most often performed out of doors, ideally in the presence of living water, a fire, and a tree (or a pole or staff substitute) .

Modern Druids do not practice animal or human sacrifice, regarding hard work and artistic achievements as adequate offerings.

The major festivals of the Druids are: Samhain, the ritual end of the harvest season and great festival to honor the dead; Imbolc, a festival especially dedicated to the Goddess Brighid; Beltaine, the beginning of Summer and Lughnasad, the start of the harvest season and a festival dedicated to Lugh and His foster mother. These festivals are known as “Fire Festivals.”

Many Druids also celebrate the Equinoxes and Solstices and some meet at the full or new moons

____________________________________

Reading and Other References:

For a list of links to the major Druid Orders, book lists and service projects please see:
Sources:

Breatnach, Liam (translator) ; Uraicecht Na Riar, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, Dublin, 1987.

Hopman, Ellen Evert; A Druids Herbal, Destiny Books, Rochester, VT, 1995.

Kelly, Fergus; A Guide To Early Irish Law, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, Dublin, 1991.

Kelly, Fergus (translator) ; Audacht Morainn, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, Dublin, 1976.

Markale, Jean; The Druids, Celtic Priests of Nature, Inner Traditions, Rochester, VT, 1999.

Matthews, John; The Druid Source Book, Blanford Press, London, 1996.

Ellen Evert Hopman

Witchcraft – Chapter nine – Witchcraft Today

Witchcraft

Chapter nine – Witchcraft Today

by Ilil Arbel, Ph.D.

A thousand years ago or today, if you asked a witch why she practices the Craft, her answer would be universal: It accomplishes results.  However, the many “workbooks” and “spell books” on the market won’t necessarily teach you how to become a witch or to perform magic. Pursuing witchcraft without a coven, without ceremonies, without initiation does not generally work. At best, it will probably be self delusion; at worst, it can do some psychological damage. There are some witches who work alone. There are even courses one can take in big cities such as New York or San Francisco. But Witchcraft is more than just a few spells – it’s a religion. Without the tenets, the commitment, the depth of feeling for the earth – it’s just an imitation.

There is no doubt that magic still exists, and that it can be powerful. But how do you define it in a world such as ours?  If all the nonsense is dismissed, it means using some abnormal ability or a talent. The witch creates a change in circumstances – a change that would not have occurred naturally. Some people have psychic powers, just as others have a natural talent for painting or music. When trained, the powers are enhanced. When used in the correct manner, they are quite successful. Naturally, these powers can be used either for good or for evil. Those who use it for good tend to become witches. Those who use it to do harm call themselves Satanists or Devil Worshipers. There is always a choice.

As seen in previous chapters, all isolated societies have ceremonies, initiations, and some form of magic. Witches, the descendants of such people, have not lost the knowledge. Other organized religions tend to ignore the magical connection, with one exception – prayer. All religions claim that prayer accomplishes tangible results. What is prayer but an attempt to convince the supernatural to do what we want?

Most witches believe that the power is found inside their own bodies. This is the reason why some witches prefer to work in the nude – they feel that the clothes block the power’s release. Other witches work partially nude or dressed in loose robes. In today’s society, with its relaxed attitude toward the human body, nudity is not a problem. After all, the witches do not engage in any immoral activity during the ceremonies. But during the Middle Ages, or even the 18th century, people sometimes didn’t take off their clothing even to bathe. They wore special “bathing robes” for the purpose, so that they would not have to look at their own nude bodies!  It is easy to imagine the uproar when the nudity of the witches was discovered. Naturally the general population assumed the witches engaged in orgies.

In the East, it is commonly believed that each person generates a personal electromagnetic field. It is called the Aura. Many Westerners agree that the Aura exists, and some parapsychologists and physicians are currently investigating it. Many books about the subject are available, so there is no need to go into a discussion of the Aura here, but it does bring up an interesting point. Those who see the Aura, whether with the naked eye or with the new scientific apparatus, say that clothes do interfere with the observation of color and vibration of the Aura. Investigation, therefore, is always carried out in the nude. As it is possible that some of the magic is dependant on the Aura, it would be interesting if someone would conduct a combined study.

There is so much more that can, and should be done. Today’s New Age scene makes practicing Witchcraft easier than ever. There is a climate of greater tolerance to these matters, and other disciplines benefit as well – such as parapsychology, homeopathy, and the more serious research into the occult. Those disciplines are not at all alike, but there are occasional overlaps that are immensely interesting. One such connection is the subject of Out of Body Experience, or as parapsychologists usually refer to it – OBE.

OBE is the condition in which the person undergoes separation between body and soul. The body remains asleep or immobile, while the soul travels the world or even the universe. The condition has been observed by such different people as Tibetan monks, German mystics, and Medieval witches. No one really knows how it happens, or if something actually leaves the body. Some say it’s simply a vivid dream, or a hallucination. Others feel that one’s consciousness is able to “stretch” to any distance, but the soul has nothing to do with it. We don’t know.

Witches have always done it. They believe that it is a dangerous pursuit, best done only after strict training, and under a “buddy system,” like scuba diving. When the soul leaves the body, a shining “silver” cord seems to connect them to each other. The witches say that it may snap and the person could die, unless carefully watched by the “buddy.”

Many modern witches, and some researchers as well, tend to believe that this was the base for the legend of the flying witch. The Medieval witches were so certain they actually flew when they were out of body, that they confessed doing so to their tormentors, much like what they did when they had flying dreams induced by drugs.

There is a large selection of books about OBEs. Particularly good are those written by Robert Monroe, a modern American who had incredible experiences with OBEs and had established a research center devoted to it.

Of course it is just one example. A combination of many disciplines, including the understanding of religion and history, can do much to open our eyes to new possibilities. Fortunately, some witches are willing to talk and cooperate, and their help is important. One of them is Sybil Leek.

She is an extraordinary woman. A truly nice human being, and a warm and committed family person and friend. A successful journalist, mostly in Radio and Television, and a writer of the most interesting books. She leads a normal life in every way, but in addition is, and has been since early childhood, a practicing witch. She has made it her mission to educate the public about the difference between Wicca and Satanism. The reason is her fear of the merging of the two systems. So many covens are sprouting, without the benefit of the traditional training, that some, she feels, may be drawn to the dark side. She strongly objects to the practice of occult knowledge without the mental discipline. Dabbling with the powerful forces of the Occult without being able to fully control them can be dangerous to the practitioners as well as to the people around them.

In addition, she is also concerned about the split in Witchcraft that took place during the 20th century. There are two major systems. One is the old Celtic Tradition which she follows with her coven, Horsa, located in New Forest in England. The other was led by the late Gerald Gardner, and is stronger in another part of England and in the Isle of Man. Both systems are influential in America as well.

Many consider Gardner the father of the revival of Witchcraft in our time, though he disagreed. He always maintained that good friends, who were members of a coven,  introduced and initiated him to Witchcraft. Either way, he certainly did much for the followers of the Old Religion, and his books are outstanding for their accuracy and historical interest.

Since 1951, the year in which the last laws against Witchcraft were repealed in England, many covens, on both sides of the Atlantic, came out of hiding. During the years of secrecy, they grew in different directions, and some have little or no resemblance to original Witchcraft. While Sybil Leek objects to that, other people feel that it doesn’t matter. As long as the basic tenets are followed and no harm is ever done, there is no reason to prevent evolution in the Old Religion.

It is impossible to outline a religion based on thousands of years in one short chapter.  In addition, so much is private and never revealed by any real witch. But some basic knowledge of the Old Religion is necessary even in a historical review such as this book. It is particularly important to set the record right, because the student can be misled by the number of modern books that pretend to teach the actual ritual. Those books are fun and mostly harmless, but they are not the Old Religion.

To understand how the Old Religion is structured, let’s start with the description of the Beginning. It is based on the old Celtic tradition, but of course it goes back much further.

In the beginning, there was Energy. The Energy was a mixture of the sublime, the material and the etheric fire. The fire contained life and creative thoughts.

The Supreme Being used these to create vapor, which eventually condensed into water, earth and air. They combined with the fire and together created physical and spiritual life.

Intelligent beings came to life. Some were lower than humanity, such as animals and plants. Some were higher, such as angels and nature spirits. All slowly evolved over millions of years into more complex and diverse forms.

This happened, and will happen again, not only on earth but throughout the universe. The great energy, directed by the Supreme Being, allows growth and reincarnation for everything – from the smallest creature to a star system.

Since spirit is always present, thought is a form of matter. By sending out thought, one can build matter from energy. This is one way “magic” is done – the creation and manipulation of events and matter in ways which are different from the usual.

Reincarnation allows continuous education. Each life, in the thousands of bodies the spirit occupies, teaches and refines the spirit. It is slowly prepared for the final merging with the creative force, when it will bring back all the rich experience to enhance the source.

Nature is the body of this life force. We are all part of it, and hurting even a small section is doing damage to the whole. This is why the witches are the guardians of the earth. They seek to protect and heal it. Each blade of grass, snail, or elephant is as important to the witch as her own body. This is why Witchcraft and ecology have so much in common.

Witchcraft does not have a Bible, but it has a code. In other religions, most of the tenets are based on the difference between good and evil. In Witchcraft, most of the tenets are based on natural laws. They stress a balanced life, based on the understanding of the cyclical nature of the universe and the earth.

To the witches, good and evil are human ideas. The powers they follow are neutral – they can be used to heal or to destroy. By carefully staying with the rules, they avoid harming anything.

Witches seek the Absolute Good by trying to find and correct imperfection within themselves. They also try to transfer the idea of goodness to all that surrounds them. The goodness within is the spark from the Supreme Being.

Evil must be shunned. Association with evil slows the pursuit of the absolute good. However, since everything was created by the Supreme Being, there is no point in judging other people’s behavior. Each person is responsible for their own acts. So the witch will not curse or put a hex on anyone – it will only hurt her own Karma. The world is full of matters beyond one’s control, but by using reason, the witch can avoid the pitfalls and go successfully through each incarnation. She avoids blaming circumstances, gods, or other people for her misfortunes, and tries to learn something from difficult events.

Witches have no temples. They worship the Creative Force through nature. Representing it are the Goddess and the God. The Goddess takes precedence – it is a matriarchal religion – but the male principle, represented by the God, is greatly honored. He warms the Earth to bring the harvest, and therefore is identified with the sun. He is also the essence of the spirit within the woods, trees and water. The Goddess is the all-mother, the symbol of fertility. She also represents the moon and its cycles.

It is easier to worship and identify with these two Gods, because they are part of the Earth. The Supreme Being, who is above all else, is involved with the concerns of the entire universe, and therefore more remote.

Through meditation, a witch can be in touch with higher beings. They help her with the growth of her character and development of her life. But this should not grow into dependency. Each person is responsible for her or his own growth, so mediation and contact with those beings are limited. As the spirit evolves, higher vibrations are developed, and one becomes closer to the Supreme Being. This makes magic easier to achieve.

The clue for witchcraft is the ability of the witch to see, really see, the connections and relationships in the universe. Since the Creative Force of the Supreme Being made the universe, everything is connected. When the connections are perceived, they can be manipulated. The witch does exactly that. You can learn a hundred different incantations and magic brews, but unless you see the hidden unity between two things or events which seem to be far apart by time and space – you’ll accomplish nothing.

All this is organized into the tenets, which are as important to the witch as the Ten Commandments are to the follower of the Judeo-Christian traditions.

The tenets are not in order. They are all equally important and depend on each other. Following them is as essential to being a witch as the knowledge of magic or the celebration of the ceremonies. There are various versions, but for the greater part they are in agreement.

* The tenet of reincarnation. Each human being has three parts – the body, which is the earthly vehicle;  the mind, which is the reasoning part;  the spirit, which is the immortal part. The spirit inhabits many bodies until it has learned enough to return to the Supreme Being.

* The tenet of the balanced life. One must learn to live a life which is orderly, balanced and free of any excess. Body and mind must be healthy. One must work and support oneself. Relationships must be reasonably good. Lifelong education must be pursued. Duty to one’s family and community must be honored.

* The tenet of the harmony with the universe. One must realize the unified nature of the universe and one’s place in it. Harmony is essential for the successful life and the Karma.

* The tenet of tolerance. One must accept the fact that others have different opinions, and endure it without suffering or inflicting pain.

* The tenet of learning. Learning should not be limited to books. Practical as well as theoretical learning is essential, and it must be applied to everyday life. It is best to learn personally, from a mentor, and at one’s own pace. One should realize what one is best at, and learn to specialize.

* The tenet of trust. All love must be accompanied by trust. This means love of every kind, toward people, animals, nature or the universe. Without trust love is meaningless.

To practice Witchcraft, the witch needs a few tools. They are very much the same since the dawn of the Old Religion, and are basically simple.

  • A sword, used for forming magic circles.
  • A knife, used to guard against evil.
  • A white-handled knife, used for cutting herbs or heather for the broom with which the witches sweep the circles clean.
  • A wand – for small private rituals, such as praying to the Guardian Spirits.
  • The Pentacle, a five or six-pointed star, used as an amulet, and carried at all times.
  • A censer – a vessel for burning incense.
  • Four candlesticks to burn in honor of East, South, West, and North.
  • The scourge – a knotted rope, used as a symbol of power and of suffering.
  • The cords -symbolic of the binding quality of the power.

While many of the practices are unknown, some are no longer a secret. Since the witches believe that the original Wicca came from the East, the altar is placed in the east. In addition, the witches start from the east when forming the circle. The representatives of the God and Goddess generally stand in the east, too.

Prayers are made toward the north. In the old days, the witches believed that the North was the direction of Paradise. It was underground, in a hollow earth, and the northern lights shone from there.

A circle is purified. The priest and priestess, as representatives of the God and Goddess, bless cake and wine in a short ceremony. They place a cauldron in the middle of the circle, and spirit is poured in and ignited. Herbs and flowers are thrown in. The priestess and priest, standing in a pose that represents the magical pentacle, chant a prayer. Everyone dances around the cauldron. After that, there is a feast, including the blessed cake and wine.

The circle represents a sacred place between our world and the world of the gods. It is drawn with chalk or paint on the floor, or simply drawn as a mark on the carpet. Another symbolic circle is drawn in the air with a magical knife. The circumference of the circle is between nine and 11 feet, unless there is a reason for a larger circle, perhaps  to include a larger coven. The inside is blessed and purified, and is considered the gods’ domain. It contains the power inside it, and does not let it dissipate.

Obviously, this is a beautiful, nature oriented, peaceful religion. But if one is not stable and balanced, the control of magic can be psychologically damaging. An unlimited use of the power may lead to Satanism. The Satanist has little self control, as Satanism does not demand it. So he or she is always willing to promise instant, powerful results to those who seek their aid. Satanism, therefore, is tempting for the new student who is not always patient, and wants to see quick results. Also, it has drama and style, and is more exciting than the balanced, controlled way of the Wicca. It glorifies unlimited mental power and justifies any excess as the natural state of humanity.

For example, an important difference is the way the gods and spirits are treated. To the witch, everything depends on free will. Even the choice of obeying the Goddess and God is exactly that – a choice. The price for such liberty is that the Gods do not have to give the witches what they want, either. If asked, the Gods may answer the request, or they may decide otherwise. The witch does not expect the requests to be answered regularly. The favors certainly cannot be demanded, and they are never bartered. There is no such thing as a sacrifice, for instance. No witch ever thinks – God, if you do such and such for me, I’ll say twenty prayers. Or if you answer my request, I’ll give to my favorite charity. Also, the Gods are never blamed for any natural calamity, such as an earthquake, or a forest fire. Such things are part of the natural history of the planet, and if the witch suffers because of it, well, that’s the way the world is. The only prayer the witch would say could be something like: “Dear Mother Goddess, give your daughter the courage and the strength to bear this calamity.”  These are not the exact words – they are not available – but this is the gist of it.

The Satanist, on the other hand, feels the need for control. The entities he approaches, be it demons or the spirits of the dead, are conjured and commanded to do the magician’s bidding. If the spirit manages to release itself from the spell, it generally turns on the magicians and destroy them.

However, it must be understood that the power itself is the same whether used by the witch or by the Satanist. The energy is coming from the same source, and is neither good nor evil. It’s just there, available to those who can use it. The Satanist knows about the unity of the universe as well as the witch, and conducts his or her magic accordingly.

To put a curse on someone, there must be a link made between the man, the “medicine” or charm, and the magician. The magician will obtain a few fingernail clips, some hair, or at least some clothing of the victim and establishes the link. If such objects are not available, the magician tries to create an artificial link. He will hide a magical object in the victim’s house, or will create a wax image in his likeness. Occasionally,  the magician will create a psychic link by simply declaring the need for it. The energy of magic then goes through the link as if it were a channel.

While witches have no need to tamper with other religions, the Satanists must. There is no Satanism without Christianity. As seen in a previous chapter, Satan, or the devil, is a Catholic creation. There is no real Satanic bible, Satanic code, or Satanic tenet. All that exist are the reverse of those of the Catholic Church. So the Satanist ritual is a crude and unpleasant mockery of the Church. Mutilated crucifixes, the Lord’s Prayer read backwards, obscenities inserted into the Bible readings are some of the rituals.

These practices are mainly stupid and lacking in good taste. Unfortunately, Satanists engage in some other, much more dangerous activities. There is evidence of desecration of cemeteries, animal mutilation, and even, though rarely, ritualistic murders. While not everything is known about their cult, there is no doubt that the animal mutilation is a form of sacrifice. The desecration of cemeteries is done for the purpose of digging out the dead bodies. The Satanists need the bodies for practicing necromancy.

The power of the Satanists should not be underestimated. Like the witches, they have psychic powers, and a variety of physical and mental tools. There are incantations and magic words, which are really a way of setting vibrations in a certain way. They use wands, rings of power, various herbs, and knives. The clothing is specially designed, with embroidery of the names of the demons or other forces.

Aleister Crowley was an interesting modern Satanist, living between 1875 and 1947. Crowley studied the occult from a very young age, with a particular interest in the dark side of magic. Blood, torture, and mutilation fascinated him. He even neglected to get his Cambridge degree because of his involvement with magic. For a short while he was part of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn – an organization close in philosophy to Witchcraft. However, he was rather quickly expelled.

After that, Crowley completely dissociated himself from the Old Religion. It was much too tame for his taste, which leaned toward the dramatic. He called himself “The Great Beast” and his services were quite showy. He wore a wardrobe of incredible ritual garments, had an impressive collection of ceremonial swords and knives, and conducted the services on a huge altar, decorated with extremely tall, valuable antique candlesticks. The combination of the opulent surroundings, his magnificent voice, and his extremely dominant personality made him one of the most famous modern Satanists. For a long time Crowley had a large following.

Addiction to drugs and heavy drinking, however, destroyed his body as well as his mind. Still, he left books that may be of interest to the student of modern Witchcraft. Despite his many problems, Crowley was a very intelligent man and an interesting writer. His love of the theatrical, however, interfered with the accuracy of his writing. For example, he was blamed for practicing necromancy and human sacrifice, which in reality he never did. Not only he did not deny the activities, some people claim he actually started the rumors – to enhance his reputation as the “Great Beast.”  So one does not know how seriously to take some of his statements.

Another interesting Satanist is Anton LaVey. He is the founder of the Church of Satan, and the author of The Satanic Bible. As said above, it’s not really an official bible. It’s really just LaVey’s views. He maintains the traditional ideas, though, that Satanism is the reverse of Christianity. God, to him, represents evil, while Satan, who is good, will eventually triumph.

Interestingly, LaVey admits that he had never seen Satan. He feels Satan is a mirror image of humanity. While one can communicate with him, much like the way one communicates with God, Satan cannot be conjured or summoned any more than God can. The smaller demons and devils he considers mere dreams and hallucinations. This interesting approach got him many followers. Most of his success, though, he owes to his sense of drama, like Crowley, and his ability to manipulate people. His attitude to Witchcraft is clear. He despises witches and all they stand for, and considers them hypocrites. Obviously, Satanism has very little to do with Witchcraft, and is best avoided by the serious student. In addition, it has little to offer by comparison. A little instant gratification, sure, but not the depth of the Old Religion. It is a much younger religion, too, a mere few hundreds of years old, while the Old Religion had been here from the beginning.

In a religion this old, obviously there have been ongoing evolutions, and many branchings of the roads. It is good and even necessary that it should be so. But still, it is always important to maintain a balance, as the witches say. So we all benefit if the Old Religion is kept, at least by some, in its ancient and pure ways. As we are entering the twenty-first century, we do so with an ecosystem partially destroyed by our own lack of respect for nature. Perhaps it is time to learn from the ancient Guardians of the Earth. They can help us restore our planet to its former health and beauty. And then the sad eyes of the old Shape-Changer, the wise and innocent man/beast whose picture is so beautifully drawn on the dark walls of Stone Age caves, will no longer accuse us of the destruction of his beloved domain.

 

Resource:

Encyclopedia MYTHICA