Your Ancient Symbol Card for Feb. 14th is The Tree

Your Ancient Symbol Card for Today

 

The Tree                       

 The Tree symbolizes spiritual health and growth. The healthy tree is rooted in a rich, nurturing medium, has a strong trunk from which leaf laden branches fan out to capture the sun’s energy. The Tree represents a healthy spirit entrenched in experience and strengthened by wisdom. It is a spirit that is happy with itself, but continues reaching to become even wiser, more complete, happier, stronger. While The Tree represents a strong and independent spirit, it is also a life-force that owes much of its strength and growth to being surrounded by other healthy spirits.

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Morals of a Witch

Morals of a Witch

Witchcraft is often understood to be evil, demoralizing, and immoral because it  goes against the beliefs of the catholic church. This is due mostly to a  misunderstanding of the modern use of the term “witch.” In earlier times,  witchcraft was essentially the term used for “devil worship.” Witches of old  were said to be in league with the devil. They hurt people, traveled to  gatherings where they engaged in evil spell-casting, demoralizing acts, and  Satan worship. At the same time, there were wisepeople in villages. These people  were the healers, the midwives, and the elders who knew things which might be  considered witchery today. These people were not, at the time, considered or  even called witches. Today, for some reason, these people have chosen to take on  the name of witchcraft. Even in medieval times, people engaged in witchery.  These things included charms to predict love or the weather, good luck charms,  and psychic sight (gifts of the angels). For example, people knew charms that  were used in prediction such as limericks and poems. These went something like:  “cat’s paw upon the water, first sigh of storm-king’s daughter.” This limerick  means that if you see a cat place its paw in water, then there will be a storm.  These are sometimes called “old wives’ tales.” Other superstitions are: walking  under a ladder is bad luck and smashing a mirror is 7 years bad luck. Magical  charms were and are also used: four-leaf clovers, found pennies, locks of hair,  horseshoes when turned upside down, and lucky and unlucky numbers. These things  were never considered witchcraft the way we use it in witchcraft today.
Many Christians are beginning to understand the differences between what is  now called witchcraft and the old word witchcraft which was used for “devil  worship.” No one is really sure why the healers of today have chosen this once  derogatory term to describe themselves. Likely, it has stemmed from small groups  of adolescents forming “covens.” Early Wiccans were not called witches.
Today, witches are known for their good deeds. Witches believe in eternal  learning. Witches believe in truth and truth telling. We are always trying to  help those around us and find ways to better ourselves. Witches also follow many  of the traditional views of Christianity. We believe in harming no living being.  We believe in fidelity (loyalty), we love our families and raise our children to  have good moral standards. We do not believe in forming cults or any other  harmful or mind-controlling groups. We stand against killing and oppression of  all kinds. We believe in the freedom to love who we choose to love. We believe  in self-sacrifice for the good of others. We believe in charity.

Source:
Witch Crafted

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THE PHYSICS AND ETHICS OF MAGICK

              THE PHYSICS AND ETHICS OF MAGICK

What we truly and earnestly aspire to be, that in some sense, we are. The mere
aspiration, by changing the frame of mind, for the moment realizes itself
– Anna Jameson

Magick has always been part of Witchcraft. From the dawn of humanity it has been
a tool used to help alter the forces which shape our lives. Today’s Pagans have
reclaimed this viewpoint; we are not merely helpless masses of flesh, void of
any personal power, groveling at the mercy of the fates.
The precise content of our spells has changed over the centuries, but not
the methods, and certainly not human need. It is interesting to note that the
magickal desires found in weathered grimoires are the same desires we have
today, principally: love, security, health, and fertility.

What Magick Is and How It Works

Our detractors try to tell us, and anyone else who will listen, that magick is
inherently evil; that it utilizes “unnatural” or evil forces in order to work.
They believe that mere humans cannot naturally possess any power of their own;
therefore it must be obtained from some supernatural source and, they
illogically rationalize, any force that would aid human desire must therefore be
wicked and ask a perverse allegiance in return. This source was personified as
(need I say it?) their Satan, or anti-God.
It is this inherent power, one with which we are all born, that is the
force behind successful magick. Often we may combine this personal energy with
that of nature (by using herbs, stones, etc., as our catalyst and focal point),
or with that of the elemental world (by aligning our inherent power with that of
faeries, elementals, or of the elements themselves), or by working in tandem
with the creative power of Gods and Goddesses. But no matter how many of these
combinations we try, we, the practicing magickians, are the ultimate source of
magickal power.
Belief in magick as part of religious practice was an accepted part of
everyday ancient Pagan life, and flourished for many, many centuries before
Satan became an accepted theological construct of Christianity nearly two
thousand years ago. For the old Witches, magick was not viewed as an operation
of supernatural forces since, logically, nothing supernatural could exist.
Whether one believed the universe was created by a sentient deity, or wished to
believe that it exploded into existence of its own accord, the fact remained
that certain natural laws operated from which no deviation could occur. Cats
don’t sprout antlers overnight, autumn does not suddenly appear to follow
winter, and a maple tree doesn’t become an elm at will. Everything has its place
in the time/space continuum – including magick.
Magick has long been understood by its practitioners to be no more than
the manipulation of natural forces not yet understood by either science or
psychology. To create a spell we teach ourselves to sense and “see” these
energies, and invest them with our own energies in order to bend them to our
will. On the physical plane we can see this same concept used in the martial art
known as Judo. Through Judo one is taught to take advantage of the natural
energy and momentum of one’s opponent, making it possible for a ninety-pound
woman to toss a two hundred-pound man over her head. The natural energy that
makes this feat possible is there, waiting to be harnessed and directed to
release itself to the desired outcome.
Look around you. Right now. Put down this book and note all the items in
the place you are in at this moment. Note all those modern miracles of
technology you take for granted that would have gotten you hanged for being in
league with the Devil only two hundred years ago: your car, your television,
your CD player, radios, electric lights, even a simple ballpoint pen. All of
these things would have been seen as manifestations of magick by virtually
everyone, and as a sign of the presence of evil by more than just a few. But for
those who understand – or pretend to understand – the factual scientific
principles on which these items work, they are not “magickal” at all. They are
simply things which operate through natural scientific principles.
It is highly likely that the magick of today will be the science of
tomorrow, that eventually we will discover what it is about the energy of the
trained magickal mind that can manifest wishes and desires. As scientists and
psychologists continue to study the evolving human mind, they may unlock the
secrets of creation from a single directed thought. This conceptual hinge upon
which all magick is hung may be seen as being overly simplified, but it is the
basis of all spellwork. Everything that exists – everything – had to first begin
as a single thought, and somehow those thoughts had to be directed, both on the
mental and on the physical planes, in order to manifest as reality. (Even Judeo-
Christian mysticism teaches that we are merely thought-forms in the mind of
God and, when he ceases to think about us, we will perish.)

Five basic ingredients are needed for any successful spell.

1. The desire or need for something
2. An emotional investment in the outcome of the spell
3. The knowledge to work the spell
4. The belief that it exists on the mental/astral planes
5. The ability to keep silent

Without desire and need there can be no spark of the imagination that
fires the emotions to drive the spells. Without magickal knowledge a Witch has
no idea of what to do to make the magick. Without belief that focused thoughts
create a reality that can be brought into the physical world, there is no magick
at all.

Keeping silent about magickal work is another very old belief. It may have
stemmed partly from fear of discovery by the Witch hunters. On another level
there is an old adage that energy divided is energy lost. In other words, the
more you speak to others of your work, the more energy you lose, energy which
could otherwise be channeled into your desired outcome. You may also find
yourself talking to someone who does not believe in the power of magick, or has
some vested interest in your failure, perhaps jealousy or a need to “prove” the
unworkability of magick. Such people can do great damage to your magick by their counter-energy. Never mind that they do not believe in what you are doing. We all have the power to project energy, and their mental output can work against you.

Those who do not understand the principles of magic fear the mysterious
source of the manifestation more than the manifestation itself. If we look again
to the natural laws of the universe for answers, we find there is really no
mystery. All of us were taught the basic law of physics in junior high science
which states:

MATTER CAN BE NEITHER CREATED NOR DESTROYED, IT CAN ONLY CHANGE FORM.

Unlike television Witches, such as the ever-popular Samantha Stephens, we
cannot wiggle our noses and create something from nothing. In order to manifest a house on a vacant lot we do not – and cannot – create matter. Rather, we set up energy patterns that draw the energy to us and shape it into the form we want to see. This would involve consorting with a good contractor rather than with demons. The language that has evolved around magick over the centuries also tells us that it is not an instantaneous event, but a process of building piece-by-piece. Various mythologies tell of Goddesses of magick who are spinners and
weavers, creating their reality step-by-step as a seamstress embroiders a
tapestry. With her patience and persistence a rich picture is born, and it is no
accident that we have adopted the words spinning, weaving, casting, working,
crafting, and creating to describe our spellwork. There is no rule anywhere in Paganism to tell us how much or how little magick we must weave, or even that we have to make magick at all. If you are not sure about its working principles, or feel that you are not ready for magick in your life, then don’t do it. If you continue to follow a Pagan path the time will eventually come when you win find yourself casting a spell as easily as you call upon your deities.Once you decide to create a spell to meet a need, begin constructing it by following these twenty-four steps:

1. Clearly understand and define your magickal goal. Write it down or state it
out loud to help form it solidly in your mind. By doing this you begin to invest
the spell and the desired outcome with your emotions and energy. If you have
more than one need, you may wish to spread them out. You can work more than one spell at a “session,” but doing so will dissipate and scatter your energies,
leaving less for each spell. If you feel you must do multiple spells, limit them
to three and try to relate them in some way, so that the energy you raise
remains as focused as possible.

2. Be sure of the ethics of your hoped-for outcome. Approach the spell from
all angles to satisfy yourself that you are not violating anyone else’s free
will or being manipulative. Many Witches like to do a divination first, to be
doubly sure that their spell will not have any unforeseen ramifications. If the
results of the divination are negative, try rethinking your intent to see if you
can circumvent the problem. Then do another divination and see what comes up.

3. If you wish to use a specific element as a focus for your magick, decide
which one is most appropriate and collect items to represent that energy.

4. Plan how you will visualize your goal and believe in what you see. The powers
of the mind are only just now beginning to be explored by science. We have all
heard stories of terminal patients who have healed themselves, and of faith
healers who use belief to manifest miracle cures. Visualization uses that power
to form mental pictures that are invested with personal energy and emotion. It
is the soul that breathes life into all magick, and the soul that is the most
important element in its outcome. The moment you start visualizing the
resolution of a magickal need is the moment you begin to create the changes in
your deep mind necessary for the magick to manifest.

5. If you are working with advanced natural magick you will need to prepare a
long-range plan in accordance with the above guidelines. This will entail
checking moon phases, laying in enough supplies for the duration of the spell,
and planning how the energy can be sustained through each day.

6. Gather candles, stones, or whatever else you intend to use as a catalyst for
your focus or to direct the energy you will raise. Empower those items with your
personal energy by projecting into them the energy of your goal. Keep in mind
that these tools, including your cherished ritual tools, have no power in and of
themselves. The power is not in the tools, but inside the Witch trained to use
them. Without you, they are useless. They merely provide a way to focus your
energy and a means for directing it towards its goal.

7. Decide upon your “words of power,” the words or chants you will use to help
focus and raise energy. You may write them out, or simply remember key phrases you wish to use as you improvise. Some Witches like to create simple poems so they will be easier to remember.

8. If you wish to use a special deity or mythic figure in your magick, decide on
which one or ones, and on how you will evoke, invoke, and/or honor them. You may wish to write out special prayers or blessings and memorize them.

9. Decide when you want to do the spell. This can be any time you personally
need the magick, at the time when your coven regularly meets, or you may wish to take into consideration moon phases and/or other astrological influences. If
your life is as busy as most people’s today, you may have to choose the only
night when you will be free and alone. The timing is much less important than
the energy you bring to the spell.

10. At the appropriate time, gather what you will be using and go to the place
where you will perform the spell. This can be at your altar, indoors or
outdoors, at your coven meeting site, or anywhere else that feels appropriate,
comfortable, and private.

11. Cast your circle and, if you like, call the quarters, or do as you would
when opening any other ritual. If you are using advanced magickal techniques you win definitely need to employ these visualizations to be effective.

12. Your magick is now beginning in earnest. Invite whatever elementals,
faeries, spirits, or deities you wish to have present as you work. They should
always be welcome, but they are not necessary for spellwork.

13. Clear your mind and begin visualizing your goal. This is probably the most
important step in the spell-casting process and you should invest the mental
image with as much energy as you can muster. Recall your need and make your
emotional connection with it as deep as you can, on as many levels as possible.

14. Raise energy within yourself and pour it into the magickal object(s) in
whatever way feels right to you. This can be done as a mental projection,
through dance or song, or intense visualization.

15. Do whatever physical actions your spell requires. Some need no special
actions, but many require some basic movement, even if it is only lighting a
candle. Use your words of power, light your candles, bury your herbs, mentally
charge your stones, and/or raise your cone of power.

16. Take advantage of natural phenomena that can help you raise energy. A storm, for instance, is an excellent source of energy that any Witch can draw upon to help feed a spell. Allow yourself to become part of the storm and feel yourself psychically drawing on its vast stores of energy as you seek to raise your own energies or cone of power.

17. When you feel you have put as much energy into the spell as you possibly
can, send the energy out to do your will. You can visualize this as a cone of
power being sent out, or use any other mental image you like. Body language
helps, too. Relax, throw up your arms, raise a tool, kneel, send out a cone of
power, or do whatever else makes you feel the energy go forth. Be sure to direct
it out from you visually as well.

18. You should finish your spell with words such as the traditional “So Mote It
Be.’ Mote is an obsolete word for “must’ The phrase is synonymous with “Amen,”
“So It Is,” and “It is Done” It is a statement of completion and an affirmation
that you know your magick is successful. All magick is worked from the point of
view that the desired goal is already manifest – it will not come to be, but IT
IS. Always phrase your magickal desires in the present tense; for example, “I
have love in my life now,” or, “My bins are now paid in full.’ Talking of magick
happening in the future will keep it forever in the future, always just out of
reach.

19. Meditate briefly on your goal. Again, visualize it as already manifest.
Smile, breathe a sigh of relief, and know the magick is already at work for you.

20. Thank and dismiss all faeries, spirits, and deities who have come to witness
or aid in your magick.

21. Ground your excess energy into the earth and open your circle. Excess
energy, raised during your spell work but not fully sent away from you when you
sent it to do its job, lingers on and around you, The best way to ground this
excess is to place your hands palms down on the earth, into a bowl of soil, or
on the floor of your home. Physically and psychically feel the excess energy
draining out of you. Know that it is being absorbed and dispersed into mother
earth.

22. If you have ritualized your spell, dismiss your quarters or do whatever
other endings your rituals traditionally require. If you are working your magick
with a coven this is standard practice.

23. Record your spell in your Magickal Diary or Book of Shadows with the date,
time, weather conditions, and any astrological data you wish to include. This
will be useful later when you have done enough spells to look for patterns. For
example, you may see that your most efficacious spells were done on Sundays or
when it was cloudy or snowing, or when you had faeries present, worked with a
particular deity, burned green candles, or when the moon was full. Everyone has
different affinities. These patterns will help you pick the best times for your
spell work.

24. Back up your desire on the physical plane. This is a must. For example, if
you have done a spell for healing don’t avoid seeing your doctor. You will need
all the help at your disposal to overcome your illness, and magick and medical
science make great partners.

Until you achieve your magickal goal you should spend some time each day
focusing on it by dearly visualizing it as a fait accompli. These added boosts
of daily energy can often mean the difference between success and failure.
                      ————————————

**This is an excerpt from Lady of the Night – A Handbook of Moon Magick &
Rituals by Edain McCoy, 1995. If you like this information, please buy a copy of
this book. It will make a great addition to your book collection. ISBN 1-56718-
660-2

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Let’s Talk Witch – How to Explain Your Beliefs

Let’s Talk Witch – How to Explain Your Beliefs

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

Share the Basics

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

Answer the Questions

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

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

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

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

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

Make Connections Between Religions

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

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

Allay Fears

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

 

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

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

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

 

Source:

“The Everything Paganism Book
How to Explain Your Beliefs
by Selene Silverwind
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Herb of the Day – Mandrake

Herb of the Day

Mandrake

Botanical: Atropa mandragora
Family: N.O. Solanaceae

—Synonyms—Mandragora. Satan’s Apple.
—Part Used—Herb.
—Habitat—The Mandrake, the object of so many strange superstitions, is a native of Southern Europe and the Levant, but will grow here in gardens if given a warm situation, though otherwise it may not survive severe winters. It was cultivated in England in 1562 by Turner, the author of the

Niewe Herball.

The name Mandragora is derived from two Greek words implying ‘hurtful to cattle. ‘ The Arabs call it ‘Satan’s apple.’

—Description—It has a large, brown root, somewhat like a parsnip, running 3 or 4 feet deep into the ground, sometimes single and sometimes divided into two or three branches. Immediately from the crown of the root arise several large, dark-green leaves, which at first stand erect, but when grown to full size a foot or more in length and 4 or 5 inches in width – spread open and lie upon the ground. They are sharp pointed at the apex and of a foetid odour. From among these leaves spring the flowers, each on a separate foot-stalk, 3 or 4 inches high. They are somewhat of the shape and size of a primrose, the corolla bell-shaped, cut into five spreading segments, of a whitish colour, somewhat tinged with purple. They are succeeded by a smooth, round fruit, about as large as a small apple, of a deep yellow colour when ripe, full of pulp and with a strong, apple-like scent.

—Medicinal Action and Uses—The leaves are quite harmless and cooling, and have been used for ointments and other external application. Boiled in milk and used as a poultice, they were employed by Boerhaave as an application to indolent ulcers.

The fresh root operates very powerfully as an emetic and purgative. The dried bark of the root was used also as a rough emetic.

Mandrake was much used by the Ancients, who considered it an anodyne and soporific. In large doses it is said to excite delirium and madness. They used it for procuring rest and sleep in continued pain, also in melancholy, convulsions, rheumatic pains and scrofulous tumours. They mostly employed the bark of the root, either expressing the juice or infusing it in wine or water. The root finely scraped into a pulp and mixed with brandy was said to be efficacious in chronic rheumatism.

Mandrake was used in Pliny’s days as an anaesthetic for operations, a piece of the root being given to the patient to chew before undergoing the operation. In small doses it was employed by the Ancients in maniacal cases.

A tincture is used in homoeopathy to-day, made from the fresh plant.

Among the old Anglo-Saxon herbals both Mandrake and periwinkle are endowed with mysterious powers against demoniacal possession. At the end of a description of the Mandrake in the Herbarium of Apuleius there is this prescription:

‘For witlessness, that is devil sickness or demoniacal possession, take from the body of this said wort mandrake by the weight of three pennies, administer to drink in warm water as he may find most convenient – soon he will be healed.’Bartholomew gives the old Mandrake legend in full, though he adds: ‘It is so feynd of churles others of wytches.’ He also refers to its use as an anaesthetic:’the rind thereof medled with wine . . . gene to them to drink that shall be cut in their body, for they should slepe and not fele the sore knitting.’

Bartholomew gives two other beliefs about the Mandrake which are not found in any other English Herbal – namely, that while uprooting it the digger must beware of contrary winds, and that he must go on digging for it uptil sunset.

In the Grete Herball (printed by Peter Treveris in 1526) we find the first avowal of disbelief in the supposed powers of the Mandrake. Gerard also pours scorn on the Mandrake legend.

‘There have been,’ he says, ‘many ridiculous tales brought up of this plant, whether of old wives or runnegate surgeons or phisick mongers, I know not, all which dreames and old wives tales you shall from henceforth cast out your bookes of memorie.’

Parkinson says that if ivory is boiled with Mandrake root for six hours, the ivory will become so soft ‘that it will take what form or impression you will give it.’

Josephus says that the Mandrake – which he calls Baaras – has but one virtue, that of expelling demons from sick persons, as the demons cannot bear either its smell or its presence. He even relates that it was certain death to touch this plant, except under certain circumstances which he details. (Wars of the Jews, book vii, cap. vi.)

The roots of the Mandrake are very nearly allied to Belladonna, both in external appearance and in structure. The plant is by modern botanists assigned to the same genus, though formerly was known as Mandragora officinalis, with varieties M. vernalis and M. autumnalis. According to Southall (Organic Materia Medica, 8th edition, revised by Ernest Mann, 1915), the root:
‘contains a mydriatic alkaloid, Mandragorine (Cl7H27O3N), which in spite of the name and formula which have been assigned to it, is probably identical with atropine or hyoscyamine.’

The roots of Mandrake were supposed to bear a resemblance to the human form, on account of their habit of forking into two and shooting on each side. In the old Herbals we find them frequently figured as a male with a long beard, and a female with a very bushy head of hair. Many weird superstitions collected round the Mandrake root. As an amulet, it was once placed on mantelpieces to avert misfortune and to bringprosperity and happiness to the house. Bryony roots were often cut into fancy shapes and passed off as Mandrake, being even trained to grow in moulds till they assumed the desired forms. In Henry VIII’s time quaint little images made from Bryony roots, cut into the figure of a man, with grains of millet inserted into the face as eyes, fetched high prices. They were known as puppettes or mammettes, and were accredited with magical powers. Italian ladies were known to pay as much as thirty golden ducats for similar artificial Mandrakes.

Turner alludes to these ‘puppettes and mammettes,’ and says, ‘they are so trimmed of crafty thieves to mock the poor people withal and to rob them both of their wit and their money.’ But he adds:
‘Of the apples of mandrake, if a man smell of them they will make him sleep and also if they be eaten. But they that smell to muche of the apples become dumb . . . this herb diverse ways taken is very jeopardous for a man and may kill hym if he eat it or drink it out of measure and have no remedy from it…. If mandragora be taken out of measure, by and by sleep ensued and a great lousing of the strengthen with a forgetfulness.’

The plant was fabled to grow under the gallows of murderers, and it was believed to be death to dig up the root, which was said to utter a shriek and terrible groans on being dug up, which none might hear and live. It was held, therefore, that he who would take up a plant of Mandrake should tie a dog to it for that purpose, who drawing it out would certainly perish, as the man would have done, had he attempted to dig it up in the ordinary manner.

There are many allusions to the Mandrake in ancient writers. From the earliest times a notion prevailed in the East that the Mandrake will remove sterility, and there is a reference to this belief in Genesis xxx. 14.

—Cultivation—Mandrake can be propagated by seeds, sown upon a bed of light earth, soon after they are ripe, when they are more sure to come up than if the sowing is left to the spring.

When the plants come up in the spring, they must be kept well watered through the summer and kept free from weeds. At the end of August they should be taken up carefully and transplanted where they are to remain. The soil should be light and deep, as the roots run far down – if too wet, they will rot in winter, if too near chalk or gravel, they will make little progress. Where the soil is good and they are not disturbed, these plants will grow to a large size in a few years, and will produce great quantities of flowers and fruit.

Culpepper tells us the Mandrake is governed by Mercury. The fruit has been accounted poisonous, but without cause…. The root formerly was supposed to have the human form, but it really resembles a carrot or parsnip.

 

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – October 24

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – October 24

“We create that bad among ourselves. We create it; then we try to call it devil, Satan, or evil. But man creates it. There is no devil. Man creates the devil.”

–Wallace Black Elk, LAKOTA

Inside every human being are the laws and codes by which we should live. These laws and codes are communicated to us through a little voice. When we are still, this voice guides us. If we choose to live out of harmony, our lives become filled with anger, hate, selfishness, dishonesty, etc. When these things appear in our lives, we give up accountability and blame it on something or someone else. If we want to live in harmony, we need to pray our way back to living the principles the Creator gave us.

Grandfather, today let me walk with the principles.

Condensed Version of Wicca

CONDENSED VERSION OF WICCA

We believe that the ultimate godhead is unknowable.  This doesn’t make for a good working relationship with the diety, however.  So, we break it down into a Goddess and a God.  Different Wiccans worship different Gods/Goddesses.  We can utilize *any* pantheon.  Some worship Pan/Diana, some Cernnunos/Aradia, Isis/Osiris, and many others.

We see our Goddess as being Triple Aspected — Maiden, Mother, and Crone, and she is reflected in the phases of the Moon — Waxing, Full and Waning.  We see the God as the Lord of Nature, and he is reflected in the seasonal changes.  Like Jesus Christ, he dies for the land and the people, and is reborn.

In general, we believe in reincarnation and karma.  What you call Heaven, we call the Summerlands.  We don’t believe that Hell exists (or Satan either.)  We believe that there should be balance in all things – when the balance is disturbed, that’s when ‘evil’ occurs.  Fire, for example is not ‘evil’.  It could be considered such when it  becomes out of balance, as in a forest fire, or house fire.  Controlled fire is a useful tool.  Anger is not ‘evil’, but when unbridled can’t help but lead to negative things.  When properly expressed and balanced with constructive working to correct that which invoked the anger – it, too, can be a useful tool.

We regard the Earth as our Mother, and try to have respect for Her by not polluting her and try to live in harmony with Her and Her ways.

Women reflect the Goddess, Men reflect the God, so the Wicca have a Priestess and Priest to ‘run’ the religious services.  We call our services circles.

This was sort of an “Reader’s Digest Condensed Version” of Wicca.

Pagans: Loved, Yet Misunderstood

Pagans: Loved, Yet Misunderstood

Author:   Davina Sullivan 

“We are loved, yet misunderstood.”

Within the last few months, I have recently explained to my friends and family that I am a Pagan, and more than proud to say so. I have been asked so many questions sense then, it’s unbelievable. However, I’m glad that they asked because I’ve realized that many people in general has such a high misunderstanding, that we Pagan’s are judged unfairly. I have the opportunity to be able to help others understand and not judge us based on the word of others.

I was raised in a Baptist family, therefore, a great many of my relatives were upset, confused, hurt, or a combination of all three. My mother particularly, believed that being a Pagan was the devil’s way of tricking us into worshipping him, specifically because of the pentagram. I calmly explained to her that yes, the five-point star originated from the Pagan religion. After, that same star also became the Star of Bethlehem, which represents Jesus’ birth and carnation in the Christian religion. The bible explains this in the book of Matthews in chapter two. Lastly, Satanists took the five-point star and turned it upside down to claim as their own.

The image of the devil was the most difficult questions to answer. Even though I had explained that the image of Satan also originated from a Greek God, the Horned God named Pan. He has horns as well as hooves and carries a flute. That is where Satan’s image originated. Many didn’t want to hear my explanations or did not believe it to be so. Of course, everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. I only talk of the questions that people ask.

Another explanation that was quite interesting to give was the use of magic. I was asked questions such as, “How do you do magic?” “Why do you think magic is real?” “Don’t you think that God is the only one that can bring magic?” There was one question that I found very surprising, which was, “Will you teach me to do magic?”

When I was asked how to do magic, I simply explained that magic is just channeling what is already there. You are working as one with the elements of the earth to bring the God’s and Goddesses into your heart and soul to walk together into the Divine. This also brought questions about. However, I truly believe that no one can answer what the Divine is but you, and only when you feel it.

Those that has asked me why I believe magic to be real, this was the easiest explanation of all. Every time I answer this question, I smile and reply, “Because I’ve felt it. I’ve been there. I’ve become one with magic and have become one with The Divine.” Some are confused at this point, but the answer to this specific question is something only you can answer for yourself.

Many were respectful, many horrified at my response to God being the only one that can bring magic into my life. I respect those that live by the bible and God’s word. Though, I truly feel the connection with the Pagan God’s and Goddesses. My personal Goddess, Isis, has brought a light and a great sense of fulfillment into my life. I call upon her often and the magic that I have done and experienced is unexplainable. For someone who does not believe magic to be true, it will sound like nonsense to them. Until they experience magic for themselves and can answer that same question for me, there is nothing that I could say to them about working with Earth Mother to do magic.

There was one person and one person only who asked me to teach her magic. She is a very good friend of mine. I explained a few basics of my religion, and explained to her that being a witch and learning of magic by doing your own personal studies and research is the first step. Being a witch is something to be taken very seriously and to understand every aspect of everything or any spell before attempting to actually performing one. I also explained that I have seen those dabble in black magic, and that is something that will bring you sorrow and pain in the long run. ‘An ye’ harm none, do as ye’ will.’ I most defiantly expressed how important it is to keep the Three Fold Law in mind.

The purpose for me writing this paper is to express to anyone that is willing to listen that you should always be proud of who and what you are. It has taken me 24 years to find my path because it is sometimes difficult to step away from what you are so accustomed to and be able to search for your true self.

Religion, regardless of what it may be is a big part of every one person’s life. To lie and hide from your self is the most painful lie that anyone could tell. To be a witch is hard, it is difficult, it can be stressful and it can seem almost impossible to be accepted by society at times. In today’s world, yes, we need to be in society in some way, shape or form. Just remember, we are no better, nor are we any worse than any other person that may walk this glorious earth. Paganism is rejected by many, but accepted and loved by so many more. We have support and family to help us through these times.

Today, we have the wonderful world of technology! Take advantage of it. Witchvox.com is only the start. Wiccantogether.com is a lot like a myspace.com page for Wiccans. There’s plenty of ways on the Internet, not to mention the people around you that you have no idea are even there to help you.

I cannot express enough how strongly I believe that there are many that are afraid to be their true selves because of societies opinions of our religion. Be strong, stand tall, and be proud of who you are. Please, help, love and support those who need us.

In conclusion, we are loved, yet misunderstood. This is not our fault; this is our pride. I’m more than willing to help those who are misunderstood to understand. No matter the outcome may be, I am who I am. I’m being true to myself, and that is what is most important in my opinion.

Faith

Autumn Comments & Graphics

Faith is the dark moon

Unseen in the night

We know it is present

Yet long for the light

Faith is the wind

That whispers around us

We cannot touch it

And must take it on trust

Faith is the soft voice

Of the Goddess of Old

Who warms us in the Winter

And wards off the cold

Let my heart feel the warmth

Let my soul hear her voice

Let me find faith in the darkness

And my spirit rejoice once again!

A Short History Of Witchcraft

A Short History Of Witchcraft

 

Witchcraft has been part of the folklore of many societies for centuries. Witchcraft has also come to refer to a set of beliefs and practices of a religion. Its followers call it Wicca, the Craft, the Wisecraft, or the Old Religion. Many people, particularly conservative Christians, do not consider Witchcraft a religion as they understand the term.

Belief in witchcraft exists around the world and varies from culture to culture. Historically, people have associated witchcraft with evil and usually have regarded a witch as someone who uses magic to harm others, by causing accidents, illnesses, bad luck, and even death. Some societies believe that witches also use magic for good, performing such actions as casting spells for love, health, and wealth. People around the world continue to practice witchcraft for good or harm.
Unlike those who practice witchcraft for harm, the followers of Wicca believe in practicing magic only for beneficial purposes. They worship a deity with male and female aspects, but some traditions emphasize the female, or Goddess, side of the deity.

The term witch comes from the Old English word wicca, which is derived from the Germanic root wic, meaning to bend or to turn. By using magic, a witch can change or bend events. Today, the word witch can be applied to a man or a woman. In the past, male witches were also called warlocks and wizards.

Witches also are said to be able to fly. They may fly under their own power, ride tools such as brooms or rakes, or ride magical animals. This is not true, while there are spells and rituals involving brooms, we do not fly on them.

Some witches have great knowledge of how to make herbal potions and charms. A potion is a drink that causes a desired effect in a person’s health or behavior. A charm is a magical incantation (word or phrase), or amulet that helps to bring about the desired effect.
The practice of Wicca–Witchcraft as a religion flourishes primarily in English-speaking countries. Wicca has no central authority. Its followers, some call themselves Witches, are loosely organized in groups called covens. Some covens are made up of only women or only men, and other covens are mixed. Many Witches do not join a coven but practice alone as solitaries.

The practice of Wicca is controversial, primarily because many Christians find the idea of a religion based on witchcraft objectionable. Some Christians associate any form of witchcraft with the worship of Satan. This, however, would be difficult, as Wicca does not acknowledge the existence of a “Satan”. Satan and the Devil are Judeo-Christian inventions. Others fear that Wicca might be tied to modern cults. This is not true. Wicca is a religion, legally recognized as such.
The U.S. Army, with the publication of the Army pamphlet 165-13, A Handbook for Chaplin’s, recognizes Witchcraft as a religion.

Wicca includes pagan, folk, and magical rites. Its primary sources are Babylonian, Celtic, Egyptian, ancient Greek, Roman, and Sumerian mythologies and rites, but also borrows from other religions and mythologies, including Buddhism, Hinduism, and the rites of American Indians. Essentially, Wicca is a religion that celebrates the natural world and the seasonal cycles. It acknowledges the Goddess as the feminine side of a deity called God. Witches worship both Goddess and God in various personifications, including ancient gods and goddesses.

Rites are tied to the cycles of the moon, which is the symbol of the power of the Goddess, and to the seasons of the year. Religious holidays are called sabbats. There are four major sabbats: Imbolc (February 1), Beltane (April 30), Lugnasadh or Lammas (July 31), and Samhain (October 31).

Most Witches practice in secrecy. Some do so because they believe that is the tradition. Others do so because they wish to avoid persecution. Because of secrecy, it is difficult to estimate how many people practice Witchcraft as a religion.

Modern Witches practice magic, both for spell casting and as a path of spiritual growth. Magic for spiritual growth is called high magic and is aimed at connecting a person to God or Goddess on a soul level. They follow the Wiccan Rede, which is similar to the Golden Rule, “An’ it harm none, do what ye will.” Witches also believe in the Threefold Law of Karma, which holds that magic returns to the sender magnified three times. Thus, Witches say, evil magic only hurts the sender.

Witchcraft has existed since humans first banded together in groups. Prehistoric art depicts magical rites to ensure successful hunting. Western beliefs about witchcraft grew out of the mythologies and folklore of ancient peoples, especially the Greeks and Romans. Roman law made distinctions between good magic and harmful magic, and harmful magic was punishable by law.
When Christianity began to spread, the distinctions vanished. Witchcraft came to be linked with worship of the Devil.

In Europe, beginning in about the 700’s CE, witchcraft was increasingly associated with heresy (rejection of church teachings). The Christian church began a long campaign to stamp out heresy. Beginning in the 1000’s CE, religious leaders sentenced heretics to death by burning.
The Inquisition, which began about 1230 CE, was an effort by the church to seek out and punish heretics and force them to change their beliefs. Eventually, the secular (non religious) courts as well as all Christian churches were involved in the persecution of witches. Especially after the 1500’s, most people accused of witchcraft came to trial in secular courts. They were charged with human sacrifice and with worshiping the Devil in horrible rites. Most historians doubt that worship of the Devil was ever widespread, if indeed it even took place. But stories about it created a mood of fear and anxiety.

The witch hunt reached its peak in Europe during the late 1500’s and early 1600’s. Many victims, who were mostly women, were falsely accused of witchcraft. Many accused witches were tortured until they confessed. Then they faced imprisonment, banishment, or execution.
In the American Colonies, a small number of accused witches were persecuted in New England from the mid-1600’s to the early 1700’s. Some were banished and others were executed.

The most famous American witch hunt began in 1692 in Salem, Mass. There, a group of village girls became fascinated with the occult, but their games got out of hand. They began to act strangely, uttering weird sounds and screaming. Suspicions that witches were responsible for the girls’ behavior led to the arrest of three women. More arrests followed, and mass trials were held.
About 150 people were imprisoned on witchcraft charges. Nineteen men and women were convicted and hanged as witches. A man who refused to plead either innocent or guilty to the witchcraft charge was pressed to death with large stones. Today, historians agree that all the victims were falsely accused. The girls pretended to be possessed. Their reasons are unclear, though they may have been seeking attention.

There are also several factors that could have contributed to the general mass hysteria of the Salem Witch Hunts. One interesting factor could have been ergot in rye.
The Puritans made bread with rye, and ergot may have been the culprit in causing lots of the strange behavior exhibited by the witnesses and the accusers. Ergot is a plant disease that is caused by the fungus Claviceps purpurea. Ergot thrives in a cold winter followed by a wet spring. The victims of ergot might suffer paranoia and hallucinations, twitches and spasms, cardiovascular trouble, and stillborn children. Ergot also seriously weakens the immune system. Its victims can appear bewitched when they’re actually stoned.

Another factor that may have contributed to the witch hunts was general distrust and suspicion. In the time leading up to the witch hunts, Salem was splitting into two distinct areas. Salem Village, which was composed of the farmers and original setters, and Salem Town, made up of newcomers, merchants, and people who were more prosperous. These two groups did not like each other in general. The merchants were capitalistic, and this was no approved of by the other Puritans who wanted to create a society of purity and Christian rule.
The witchcraft scare lasted about a year. In 1693, the people still in jail on witchcraft charges were freed. (In 1711, the Massachusetts colonial legislature made payments to the families of the witch hunt victims.)

By the late 17th century, the witchcraft was well underground, as it was illegal to be a Witch, as well as against the Cannons of the church. It wasn’t until 1951 that the last of these laws was repealed, and modern witchcraft surfaced with Gerald Gardener, that all of Witchcraft was able to resurface, in it’s many forms.

Now there are many Covens out in the open and many many more still in hiding and who practice solitary, fearing a resurgence of the persecutions. In the 1960’s Raymond Buckland, Sybil Leek, Gavin, Yvonne Frost followed in Gardner’s footsteps, then more and more Covens came out into the open.

Witchcraft has come a long way, yet, sadly, even though there are laws today which protect an individual’s right to practice a personal religion such as witchcraft, there are those who still feel threatened by imaginary untruths about it.

Reference:

Wicca’s One Universe