Flashback 2011 – The Rise of Wicca and Neo–Paganism in the United States


Author: Govannon Thunderwolf

Wicca is becoming the fastest growing religion in the United States. This statement was something I was hearing and reading more and more. Being a member of the Pagan community, I didn’t really notice any of this growth happening. The more books and articles on the Internet that I read, the more I kept seeing this statement. The research into this declaration became my focus of interest. What fascinated me the most about this account was the fact that Wiccans and neo – Pagans do not go around with the specific intent of finding converts. In the teachings and ideas of Wicca and Paganism, the idea of looking for converts is not encouraged and is looked down upon. Anyone seeking converts into Wicca or Paganism is breaking a cardinal rule.

Even though Wicca is generally a female dominated religion, there are men involved as well. Wicca is a religion that recognizes women and men as equals, but it does put a slight emphasis on women and the Goddess. Female witches out number males two to one in the United States, according to the Covenant of the Goddess’s estimates. Covenant of the Goddess is one of the oldest and largest Wiccan groups in the United States. They also state that much of the recent growth in Wicca and neo – Paganism has been among women. (Sanders xiv)

Where would someone look to find followers of Wicca and Pagans? They can be found anywhere and everywhere. The actual number of Wiccan and Pagan followers in the United States changes constantly, but in 1999 Helen Berger, a sociologist who spent ten years as a member of the neo – Pagan community, estimated that there are between 150, 000 and 200, 000 Pagans in the United States. It is suspected that there are many more among the ranks of Pagans today. Berger’s census also found that California has the highest amount of Pagans living within its boundaries at 15.7 percent, followed by Massachusetts at 7.6 percent, and New York at 7.3 percent. (Sanders xiv)

While there were many contributors to the construct of Wicca since the 1890’s, there was one man, who in 1954 wrote and published Witchcraft Today, and that man was Gerald Gardner (1884 – 1964) . Even though Druidism, Witchcraft, and other forms of Paganism were originally oral traditions, their revival is attributed to written text. (Clifton 14 – 15)

Very little is known about Gerald Gardner except for what is public record. He was a civil servant for the United Kingdom, and spent most of his career in Britain’s Asian colonies before he retired and settled in southern England. Gardner was one of the many who thought it more prestigious to have learned the “craft”, a term used for Witchcraft, an elder of one’s own family. Gardner didn’t claim to have learned Wicca from an elder of his own family, but did claim to have learned it from elders with family ties that went way back many generations. For most people in the Pagan community, it was well know that Gardner was considered a bit of a pervert due to his tendency toward bondage and ritualized punishment. It came through in his writings and ideas of practice, but the resurgence of “the craft” is mainly attributed to him. The people of Britain have always made changes to religions to try and make them their own, but Wicca is the only religion that originated in the United Kingdom. (Clifton 14 – 15)

Wicca is generally a solitary religion and seventy percent of its followers are solitary, taking personal responsibility for their own religious practice, rather than following an authority figure. Without a strict set of beliefs, “each practitioner can add or subtract beliefs at will, ” this is a part of what makes Wicca so popular. (Sanders 5)

Now I will continue this paper on three main reasons that I found the most compelling reasons for people of all walks of life to be drawn to Wicca and Paganism, beginning with a concern for the Earth.

The fear of Global Warming and preserving what we now have for future generations is a major common concern among contemporary Pagans. Most of modern society has lost an important connection with nature. In some cases there is even a fear of nature. To be fearful of the natural world, in which we as human beings came from, just as all life has, is quite a cause for alarm. When the system of Wicca was originally developed, its focus was on fertility, just as the ancients were focused on fertility. As history has shown, fertility was a main concern for all people in ancient times.

Life was hard for our ancient ancestors and fertility of the land, animals, people, etc. was the only way for them to continue life and surviving. With human fertility becoming less of a concern in modern times because of improvements in science, the focus has now shifted to nature. This change is another way in which Wicca and Paganism can remain a positive religion. It is a religion that recognizes change and changes with it. If something can’t change with the times, it will get left behind and become history.

The American mainstream religions have done very little to foster concern for nature. Never, have I heard of any sermons given on how people should be encouraged to care for the environment, be good caretakers of nature, and preservation of natural resources. This again, leads many to view Paganism and Wicca more approvingly. (Sanders 22)

Paganism also acknowledges nature by following the cycles of the seasons and life. Pagans and Wiccans are encouraged to live their lives by looking to nature as their guide. They live in the here and now as opposed to living and planning for the end of life. Through this view of nature, Wiccans and Pagans acknowledge their connection to all life and the greater cosmos. Many mainstream religious writers believe that honoring nature is not enough for religion or life because it contains violence and brutality. (Harvey 187) This worldview on life and nature is the basis for Wiccans and Pagans to believe in no absolute good or evil. All things in nature are good and evil at the same time and therefore it applies to life as well.

The second reason for the attraction to Paganism and Wicca is empowerment for women. The Christian church has treated women like “second – class citizens” for much of its history. This treatment of women is also prevalent in much of the Western world as well. (Sanders 22) Many women have become quite discontent with the Christian church. When women have expressed an interest in becoming more involved in the church, they are usually directed to make coffee and teach Sunday school. With the concerns of equal rights coming more and more to the forefront in our society, how do the patriarchal religions expect women to remain subservient? (Sanders 22)

For the last several thousand years of patriarchal religions domination of the Western world, large numbers of women have been searching for a spiritual existence free from the patriarchal dogma. With Wicca’s emphasis on Goddess worship, it attracts those women who want to find a spiritual side to their feminism. (Adler 207 – 24)

The feminist views of women have been the main driving force pushing Wicca to be accepted as a religion. Not all Wiccan groups are feminist though. Most Pagans and Wiccans have a more moderate view of the feministic ideas. Feminist Wiccan groups have dropped a lot of common beliefs in the Pagan community in favor of an all female belief system. By doing such things as only recognizing the female deities and eliminating the male deities, they are alienating themselves from the rest of the Pagan and Wiccan community. (Adler 180 – 81)

Many women have become quite discontent with the Christian church. When women have expressed an interest in becoming more involved in the church, they are usually directed to make coffee and teach Sunday school. With the concerns of equal rights coming more and more to the forefront in our society, how do the patriarchal religions expect women to remain subservient? (Sanders 22)

One doesn’t need to look very hard to see the atrocities that have been committed against women in history by patriarchal societies. One common saying in modern Pagan communities that can be found imprinted on t – shirts and bumper stickers is, “Don’t forget the burning times.” This refers to the days of the infamous witch-hunts. Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Evildoers) published in 1486/87 by Jacob Spenger and Heinrich Krämer was the authoritative witch hunter’s manual. One key phrase from this manual that modern Pagan writers like to quote is: “All witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which in women is insatiable.” (Clifton 100) This “authoritative” work also stated that women were created from the bent rib of Adam, therefore women are “imperfect animals” if they are even animals at all. (Pearson 302)

In the Malleus Maleficarum, inquisitors, the ones who were authorized to verify involvement in witchcraft, were informed that guilty women would make sexual pacts with Satan. Therefore, after this pact was made, any event in the local community that disrupted the well being of the people was most certainly caused by a witch in their ranks. (Pearson 302 – 3)

When the inquisitors were in search of a “witch”, one could be found quite readily. More often than not, the accused was just a woman that someone had a grudge against. Many also speculated that these “witches” might have been highly learned women, such as early scientists. Because of the ridiculous information contained in the Malleus Maleficarum on how to proceed with the “trials” of the accused, there generally was “no mistake” of finding them guilty. Guilty women and a few men as well, were relatively few in the colonies of America. On the other hand, in Europe the numbers of the accused were astronomical. Imagine the amount of people that lost their lives due to the feelings of resentment of some sort or other, such as the amount of land they owned or a person’s general success. Many Wiccans and Pagans feel that the amount of people who were actually true witches during these “trials” was closer to none. (Gibson 112 – 18)

The final main reason that I would like to point out for the attraction of Wicca and Paganism is the attraction of the supernatural. While Pagans and Wiccans accept the belief in an unseen world, forces, and entities, many, if not all, Christian churches, in these modern times, ignore this belief. In many cases, a person could stir up quite a bit of trouble for themselves by stating a belief in an unseen world in the Christian church. (Sanders 23 – 26)

Reading ones future by using tarot cards and runes are very popular forms of divination among Pagans and Wiccans. There are many other popular forms of divination and occult sciences such as the use of crystals. Even though many of these beliefs forms were allowed by Christianity in their early years of development, now these systems have no place in Christianity. Many people have speculated when and why this shift occurred. Modern science has been trying to validate these occult sciences for quite some time now, but with limited success. The simple fact that the occult sciences are being tested gives valid support in their existence. (Handbook of Contemporary 425)

There are still many things in the world that can’t be explained by modern science. In the acknowledgement of this fact is where modern Pagans revel. It still gives room for belief in the ideas of fairies, mythical beings, and other such beliefs.

Discussions of the supernatural will quickly conjure up visions and ideas in relation to recent popular movies such as Harry Potter, The Seeker, Lord of the Rings, and many, many other movies. While these movies and books quickly catch the imagination, their similarities to actual supernatural occurrences are very, very limited. For the most part, these movies and books are purely fantasy. Even so, there have been some Christian based groups that are in opposition of these forms of entertainment. They believe that it sways people, especially children, to take an interest in Wicca and Paganism. (Handbook of New 459 – 60)

As Catherine Edwards Sanders, a Christian journalist, points out, “most Wiccans [and Pagans] have thought more seriously about spirituality and some of life’s big questions than many in the secular and even Christian cultures. They have not been content to skate through life seeking the gods of fashion, peer pressure, or materialism, reserving religion for weekends and special holidays.” (30)

Most Pagans and Wiccans actually view their lives as being interconnected with the rest of the world as a whole. They realize that there are, in fact, fewer events in their lives through this interconnection with the rest of the world.

With the impending end of the Mayan calendar in 2012, there have been many theories in reference to the end of the world. In fact, recently the “dooms day” movies have been coming out more and more frequently. One can only speculate that as 2012 draws nearer, the apocalyptic world movies and theories will by coming out at a frantic pace.

In the Wiccan and Pagan groups though, ideas of the world coming to an end are not so prevalent. Many think that the date of 12 December 2012 will be a beginning of a ‘New World Age.’ Many experts believe that this will be an age of peace and interconnection with the rest of the world and beyond for the next 5, 200 years. The experts are also saying that the ‘veil’ that separates our world from the spirit world will be lifted. The descendents of the Ancient Mayan’s say that we are already in the twenty – five year timeline of this change. (Rennison np.)

This information of the coming change according to the Mayan calendar is something that modern Pagans and Wiccans are looking forward to.

In conclusion, is there a rise in the Wicca and Pagan belief system? Given the research, the answer would definitely be a resounding yes. The movement is very broad and difficult to pin down, but it has been noticed. Many authors and professionals are calling on others to try and do research on the subject. With others taking an interest in the movement, maybe someone or maybe a group of individuals will come forward with some new views or theories on this movement. With these new views and theories we can only hope to find a definite reason for this shift.

Until then, there will be many I’m sure who will take on this daunting task. There are hundreds of theories already studied or in the process of being studied. I’m sure that there are many other ideas out there that have not yet been discussed or found in the public forum. With the case of the ancient Mayans, their descendants have said that there is plenty more information that they are in possession of, but have yet to let the rest of the world know about it. Whether there is more information yet to come remains to be seen.

I’m sure that there other ancient civilizations out there that have possessed knowledge or information, now lost. Unfortunately, just as these civilizations have disappeared, so has their immediate knowledge of this information. They did leave behind recordings of information that are in the processes of being deciphered and theories investigated. The only problem is that many individuals in the modern world have a very difficult time believing what the ancients were saying. This in turn leads to very different ideas in what is being told, many times the information is right there, but many misinterpret the information only because the obvious is just too difficult to comprehend.

 



Footnotes:
Works Cited:

Adler, Margot. Drawing Down the Moon Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America. New York: Penguin (Non-Classics) , 2006. Print.
Berger, Helen A., Evan A. Leach, and Leigh S. Shaffer. Voices from the Pagan Census A National Survey of Witches and Neo-Pagans in the United States (Studies in Comparative Religion) . New York: University of South Carolina, 2003. Print.
Clifton, Chas S. Her Hidden Children: the Rise of Wicca and Paganism in America. Lanham: AltaMira, 2006. Print.
Gibson, Marion H. Witchcraft Myths in American Culture. New York: Routledge, 2007. Print.
Handbook of New Age (Brill Handbooks on Contemporary Religion) . New York: Brill Academic, 2007. Print.
Handbook of Contemporary Paganism (Brill Handbooks on Contemporary Religion) . New York: Brill Academic, 2009. Print.
Harvey, Graham. Contemporary Paganism Listening People, Speaking Earth. New York: NYU, 2000. Print.
Pearson, Joanne. Belief Beyond Boundaries Wicca, Celtic Spirituality and the New Age (Religion Today-Tradition, Modernity and Change) . Grand Rapids: Ashgate, 2002. Print.
Sanders, Catherine. Wicca’s Charm Understanding the Spiritual Hunger Behind the Rise of Modern Witchcraft and Pagan Spirituality. Wheaton: Shaw, 2005. Print.
“Susan Rennison’s Website.” Susan Joy Rennison’s Website. Web. 18 Dec. 2009. .

Spell for Today – A Pet Blessing Spell

A Pet Blessing Spell

Spoken – As needed, perhaps even on a regular basis to bless and protect your fur-babies. No materials are required however you may want to anoint your pets forehead with some protection oil, this is optional.

Dog Blessing

Hecate, Dark Mother
In protecting this home
In your place as is right
Stands one of your own
In defending this house
And all creatures within
Your sacred beast
A true loyal friend.
Keep him from harm
As he guards all he loves
And watch over him
So below, as above.

-or-

Blessing For Dogs

Diana, Goddess of the Wind
Keeper of dogs both fierce and mild
Hold (name of pet) safely in your arms
And protect this creature from all harm
And should the day come that he/she roams
Guide him/her to the path back home
Bless (name of pet) with a joyful life
Free of hardship, stress and strife

Blessing For Cats

Bast of beauty and of grace,
Protectress of the feline race,
Shield (name of pet) from all hurt and harm
And keep him/her always safe and warm
Watch over (name of pet) from day to day
And guide him/her home, if he/she should stray
And grant him/her much happiness
and a good life free of strife and stress.

-or-

Cat Blessing

O great Goddess Bast, I ask
That you keep (name) at home
Safe from all mischief
And wanting to roam
Grant the contentment
Known to his/her race.
See that he’s/she’s happy
In this his/her rightful place

Deosil and Withershins

When casting, dancing or chanting in a circle for ritual purposes. Wiccans refer to the direction described as either “deosil” or “Withershins.”  When “deosil” (comes from the Irish Gaelic meaning, “turn to the right) is specified, this means clockwise, the direction in which the Sun apparently moves in the Northern Hemisphere, and in which circles are usually cast for positive magick. “Withershins” (or widdershins”) whose roots are embedded in the German words wider (“against”) and Sinn (‘sense’), means counterclockwise, and this is the banishing direction used for negative magick.

Sunny Days

Maximize the power of a spell cast during Leo’s reign by practicing it on a Sunday, the weekday whose dedication to the Lion’s planetary ruler remains enshrined in many modern European languages, including English.

Saturday, the Fourth of July


4th of July Comments

Saturday, the Fourth of July

 

Independence Day of the United States, also referred to as Fourth of July or July Fourth in the U.S., is a federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, by the Continental Congress declaring that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America, and no longer part of the British Empire.[1] Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. Independence Day is the National Day of the United States.

 

 

Wikipedia

 

 

Your Ancient Symbol Card for Mar. 2nd is Justice

Your Ancient Symbol Card for Today

Justice

Justice represents the expression of fairness without bias. Simply put, Justice embodies the notion that what is right is right and what is wrong is wrong. Justice denotes the need to remedy situations lacking equality for all. Depending on the circumstances, Justice may be asking us to curb our partiality, or conversely, Justice may indicate a time for you to demand fair treatment.

As a daily card, Justice suggest that we are part of a situation that is out of balance. If you have shown unwarranted bias towards others now is the time to make amends. On the other hand, if you have been the victim of bias, now is the time for you to demand fairer treatment.

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The Daily Motivator for February 27th – Moving forward

Moving forward

Live this day based on the way you can be, not on the way you have been. Live  this day focused on your best possibilities, not on your worst fears.

One big thing that makes life so amazing is the constant opportunity to move  forward. As you live this day, choose to make the most of that opportunity.

Whatever the situation may be, whoever may be to blame, your best option is  to move forward. No matter how the past has been, or what you have or do not  have, your best choice is to move forward.

There is something you can do right now that will make a positive difference  and move things forward. Find it and do it.

If you’re dismayed and don’t really feel like doing anything, what will  quickly help you feel much better is doing something to move forward. If you’re  not sure what to do, move forward just a little and you’ll soon see ways to move  forward even more powerfully.

There may be plenty of good reasons to give up, and yet there’s one even  better reason to keep moving forward. It will inject new substance and energy  into your life, and with that, there’s no limit to what you can achieve.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

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Wiccan Names and Meanings – The Importance of Choosing The Ideal Magickal Name

Wiccan Names and Meanings – The Importance of Choosing The Ideal Magickal Name

By

When becoming a member of the Wiccan religion, many people choose to adopt a  new name, usually referred to as a “Wiccan name” or “Magickal Name.” This is  done as a symbol of rebirth into a new life and typically represents an alter  ego of who the person wants to be. So significant is this process that Wiccan  names and their meanings become a solid foundation from which the rest of the  Wiccan experience is grown from.

Choosing a Wiccan name should not be done casually. The individual should  research names that have meanings he or she would like to live up to. So if the  person seeks to be strong, patient and wise, he should find names that represent  those characteristics. Oftentimes a simple baby name book can be a beneficial  tool.

Sometimes the best name is a combination of two other names. So if the  individual finds one name that means “strong” and another that means “cunning”,  combining the two names and rearranging the letters can provide a new unique  name that encompasses both qualities being sought.

And when talking about Wiccan names and meanings, one cannot leave out the  numerology aspect of the name. Using digit summing (reducing the value of all  the letters in the name by adding them together), a single number can be found  for every name. And that number has a meaning that can be relevant to the person  in creating or choosing the ideal name. By adding or removing a letter, you can  significantly change the meaning of a Wiccan name in a numerological sense (ie.  adding an “e” in Sarah to make the new name “Saraeh”).

Becoming a member of the Wiccan religion, like becoming a member of any  religion, is a life-altering decision that should be handled with seriousness  and thoughtfulness. Wiccan names and their meanings are the first step into this  lifestyle, and taking the time and effort at this critical point will build a  strong foundation to spiritually build on.

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Ravine Masters is the owner of http://www.More-Info-On.com  [http://www.more-info-on.com/witchcraft-love-spell-what-you-need-to-know/]

Ezine Articles

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WOTC Special Mini-Series Part 1 – Wheel of the Day

THE WHEEL OF THE DAY

NE – It is just before sunrise. You begin to wake. For a moment you may wonder what day it is or even feel confused about where you are. Your mind is still in an open slate.

EAST – During sunrise or a bit after you are preparing for the day. In your mind you begin to plan. What will you get done this day and how will you do it?

SE – It is mid morning now. As you begin to carry out your plans you demonstrate ‘who you are’ in this day. You choose if you are going to display a positive or negative attitude.

SOUTH – It is noon and early afternoon. You are occupied in the activities of your day. Now is when you carry out your responsibilities to your family and your community.

SW – As your afternoon continues you realize that you cannot get everything done that you planned. You decide what you will do tomorrow. It is a time for finding balance in your day.

WEST – It is evening, The sun goes down. The active part of your day is done. You sit back and evaluate your day considering what went well and what you would do differently next time.

NW – As you retire for the night you gradually let go of thoughts about the day. Your mind becomes more receptive. You may drift between sleep and wakefulness for a while.

NORTH – It is deep in the night now. You sleep and dreams bring renewal that prepare you for the coming dawn when you will begin to travel another wheel of another day.

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Daily Motivator for February 19th – See it as a blessing

See it as a blessing

Whatever it is, see it as a blessing. With many things that’s very difficult,  yet with everything it is extremely valuable.

When you can see it as a blessing, you can also see the positive  possibilities. When you choose to see it as a blessing, you connect yourself to  the power of abundance.

Whatever you see as a blessing brings you new ways to create value. You begin  to solve the problem, to heal the pain and to transcend the challenge.

That’s a whole lot more positive and powerful than feeling sorry for  yourself. It’s a whole lot smarter than ruining your day with anger and  resentment.

You are extremely fortunate to be exactly where you are. Open yourself up to  see that good fortune and you’ll find ways to make great, fulfilling use of it. 

Accept and embrace the blessings that come your way, whatever form they may  take. The more thankful and positive you are, the more those blessings will  benefit your whole world.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

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About Psychic Self Defense

About Psychic Self Defense

 

By Jonae  Fredericks, eHow Contributor

When we think of self defense, we think of the protection of our physical  bodies. But when we speak of psychic self defense, the focus is instead  on the harm another may inflict on our inner self. In short, psychic self  defense can best be defined as your “intuitive protection” against those who  wish to harm your mind or spirit. We all have the ability to transfer negative  energy, and psychic self defense helps to guard against the dark force that  motivates our enemies.

Identification

Our psychic self defense is gifted to us by our higher self. When something  just doesn’t feel right, or you suspect that someone is not being truthful and  cannot be trusted, you are receiving information from another level of your  being. Often ignored, these feelings or “vibes” are your intuition’s way of  telling you that you had better think twice about the situation. This intuition  is your psychic self defense. If heeded more often, you may be less apt to allow  the feelings of guilt, shame, hurt and self doubt that others bestow on you to  infect your mind and affect your  health.

 

Types

The world can be cruel, and psychic attacks can come in many forms. They  often are a result of the thoughts and actions of those in whom we place our  greatest faith and trust. Jealousy and envy in others can create dark emotions,  resulting in destructive behavior and thinking. Unaddressed, these  manifestations can maim and cripple our own sense of well being. Although you  may not at first suspect that a jealous person means to belittle or whittle down  your self esteem, eventually his dark thoughts can be picked up on by your inner  radar. An uneasiness or doubt that begins to arise when you are around this  person, or are thinking of him, is your psychic self defense kicking in. Recognizing it is to your advantage

Theories/Speculation

For those that practice psychic self defense, it is often believed that their  positive auras can counteract psychic attacks. Techniques such as aversion,  which entails forcing your mind to believe only in the positive and  extinguishing all negatives, will weaken any effect that verbal or mental  badgering will have on your psyche. It is also theorized that by developing your  precognitive warning system, you can intercept the harmful effects of psychic  attacks before they have the opportunity to strike. The precognitive warning  system means building up your positive aura through meditation and taking  control of your unconscious mind. By always keeping a clear head and maintaining  a constant awareness, you will project positive energy that will deflect  negative.

Misconceptions

Although the term “psychic” often conjures up thoughts of tarot cards and  fortunes, those associations are a drastic version of the psychic reality. It is  believed that everyone is born with an intuition, which some would say is a form  of psychic ability that can be developed. Taking time to meditate, exercise and  eat a balanced diet will help keep your body and your mind balanced. Being  aware, and listening when that little voice inside of your head speaks to you,  even when logic tells you otherwise, will help keep you safe. You can rely on  your own intuition, especially when it proves over time to be  correct.

Considerations

It is worthwhile to mention that psychic self defense is also a useful form  of protection against the  threats to our mental stability that can manifest in our own psyche. Our own  negative thoughts and worries can cause us to attract the very circumstances  that we fear. The theory of psychic self defense enlists the belief that  replacing worry with positive thoughts will steer the universe in a positive  direction, and finally bring you peace.
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Your Animal Spirit for February 19th – The Green Man

Your Animal Spirit for the Today

Green Man

Green Man peers out of the foliage to remind you that not all of life’s mysteries have logical solutions. Be open to magical opportunities, spirit allies, and unconventional paths. Get out into the wilderness, ground yourself in meditation, and listen for Green Man’s wisdom. You may just catch sight of him eyeing you in his leafy camouflage.

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‘THINK on THESE THINGS’ for February 18th

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

We all know that if it were not for the little kindnesses, the helping hands that we receive from those who touch our lives daily, we would fall more often and much harder. Yet, we must expect others to rush to our aid. It is then that we test the strength of our own self-reliance.

We should make every effort to be worthy of the concern and help of others. It is sharing all phases of life that makes living more than just an existence. But none of us can support others for long who have no will to use their self-reliance. It is said that God helps those who help themselves, but even God cannot help where help is refused.

Then, how much can we depend on ourselves? How would we react to the same situations we see other people experiencing daily? We, who depend so much on our external advantages to pull us through, cannot truthfully foretell our actions in a crisis. But we can have a reserve of faith and strength behind us so that when others reach our to lift us up, we will be worthy of their time spent in helping us to build our self-reliance.

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Available online! ‘Cherokee Feast of Days’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler.

Visit her web site to purchase the wonderful books by Joyce as gifts for yourself or for loved ones……and also for those who don’t have access to the Internet: http://www.hifler.com
Click Here to Buy her books at Amazon.com

Elder’s Meditation of the Day
By White Bison, Inc., an American Indian-owned nonprofit organization. Order their many products from their web site: http://www.whitebison.org

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Daily OM for February 18th – Open and Listening

Open and Listening
Respecting Wildlife

by Madisyn Taylor

When in nature we often forget we are moving into another realm, one that asks us to drop our baggage and surrender.

For better or worse, much of the world we experience is dominated and controlled by human beings. We spend our days in houses, cars, and buildings, and inside these structures, we are in control. We assert our wills and manipulate our environment. Within the context of the human world, this is natural. However, we often carry this attitude with us into the world of nature. We forget as we enter the forest, or sit on the edge of a pond, that we are moving into another realm, one that asks us to drop our baggage and surrender to a different sense of order and meaning.

When we move from our everyday world into the world of nature, we may not even notice at first. We might continue talking loudly into our cell phone or to a friend that is with us. We might walk quickly as if we are on a busy city street, our eyes downcast, our thoughts hectic and hurried. In the best case, if we are sensitive to our environment, we will soon notice that it has changed. We may hear ducks calling, or wind moving through the leaves on a tree. If we notice the shift, we will naturally shift as well. If we don’t, we may get all the way through a beautiful park without having lowered our voices. Next time you find yourself in the presence of wildlife—even if it’s just a duck pond in the midst of urban hustle—try to move into a receptive state of openness and listening, no matter how much or how little time you have. Allow yourself to be captivated and calmed by the energy of the wildlife that covers this earth. Teaching our children to be respectful of nature and to stop and observe is a gift they can always cherish

We preserve pockets of nature in our urban centers and large expanses of nature in our national parks because of the magic we feel in its presence. It reminds us of our smallness and calls us back to a deeper, quieter part of ourselves. When we honor nature by being respectful in its presence, we honor the mystery and wild beauty of our origin.

The Daily OM

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FOLK MEDICINE HEALING

FOLK MEDICINE HEALING

Folk medicine consists of traditional healing beliefs and methods used in
past cultures mostly by people deemed to have the healing power. As an part of a
culture’s knowledge and values, folk medicine is a system based on traditional
modes of conduct, of coping with sickness. Often sanctioned by the population’s
claims or religious beliefs, these popular practices are used to alleviate the
distress of disease and restore harmony in people who are emotionally or
physically ill, or both. Folk medicine’s lore is widely known among members of a
culture and is usually handed down from generation to generation by word of
mouth.

In general, the system is flexible, allowing the introduction of new ideas about
sickness and healing practices, many of them borrowed from classical and modern
medicine.

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HEALERS

To implement the various folk curing practices, most social groups have
established a hierarchy of healers–beginning with the individuals affected,
their immediate families and friends, knowledgeable herbalists, members of the
clergy, faith healers, and SHAMANS, or medicine men. Many are consulted because
of their empirical knowledge of roots and herbs possessing medicinal properties.
Others are considered endowed with healing gifts because of station or accidents
of birth. The belief that posthumous children have such talents is widely known
in the United States. In the European folk-medical tradition, seventh sons and
daughters are said to possess unusual curing powers; the same applies to twins.
Often spouses and children of known healers are automatically considered to have
similar gifts. As in primitive medicine, many people affected by ailments that
are considered minor and natural treat themselves, with the help of family
members. A vast array of easily available herbal preparations known to most
members of the culture is used to effect a cure. More difficult cases suspected
to be of a magico-religious nature are referred to local healers who are endowed
with special powers. These shamans stage a variety of ceremonies and employ many
of the techniques used in preliterate social groups.

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NAVAJOS

Native American folk medicine is popular in the less acculturated Indian
tribes. A notable example are the Navajos still living in their homeland.
Disease is considered a disruption of harmony caused either by external agents
such as lightning and winds, powerful animals and ghosts, and witchcraft, or by
the breaking of taboos. Three categories of folk healers are usually consulted:
first the herbalists, for symptomatic relief of minor ailments; if no
improvement is observed, then the hand trembler, or diviner, is called; finally,
the singer, or MEDICINE MAN, will carry out specific healing ceremonies
suggested by the hand trembler’s diagnosis. Ritual sweatbaths, drinking of
herbs, and elaborate sandpainting ceremonies characterize Navajo folk healing.

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HOT-COLD THEORY

The hot-cold theory of disease ranks among the most popular systems of
contemporary folk medicine in the United States. In health, the human body
displays a balanced blending of hot and cold qualities. Sickness will ensue
if an excess of hot or cold foodstuffs is ingested. The basic scheme was
introduced into Latin America by the Spanish during the 16th century. Reinforced
by native cultural values, it became firmly embedded in popular Latin healing
traditions. The hot-cold scheme is applied to foods, diseases, and remedies. The
terms hot and cold do not necessarily refer to the temperature of foods or
remedies. Qualities are assigned on the basis of origin, color, nutritional
value, physiological effects of the food or remedy, as well as therapeutical
action. Among New York Puerto Ricans, for example, bananas, coconuts, and sugar
cane are considered cold, whereas chocolate, garlic, alcoholic beverages, and
corn meal are hot. Cold-classified illnesses such are arthritis, colds, and
gastric complaints must be treated with hot foods and remedies. Their hot
counterparts –constipation, diarrhea, and intestinal cramps–require treatment
with cold substances.

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BLACK AMERICANS

The medical folklore of black Americans contains elements derived from popular
European and African beliefs, blended with religious elements belonging to
Christian Fundamentalism and West Indian voodoo. The world is seen as a
dangerous place, prompting individuals to constantly exert caution because
of the whims of nature, frequent divine punishment, and the threat of witchcraft
practiced by hostile humans. Individuals are urged to look out for themselves,
be distrustful, and avoid the wrath of God. Sickness is broadly divided into
“natural” and “unnatural.” The former comprises bodily conditions caused by
environmental forces as well as God’s punishment for sin. Unnatural illness
represents health problems caused by evil influences and witchcraft after the
loss of divine protection; the magical intrusion of “animals” into the body and
the placement of a certain hex play prominent roles in the causation of disease.

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MEXICAN-AMERICANS

Folk medicine is still popular among large groups of Mexican-Americans in New
Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, California, and especially in West Texas. Their
healing system, based on pre-Columbian indigenous lore, reflects a degree of
isolation and unwillingness to assimilate Anglo-Saxon culture. Moreover, the
inability of scientific medicine to offer relief for various categories of folk
illness further enhances the usefulness of these practices. Five types of folk
illness are most prominent: mal de ojo (evil eye), empacho (gastro-intestinal
blockage due to excessive food intake), susto (magically induced fright), caida
de la mollera (fallen fontanel, or opening in or between bones), and mal puesto
(sorcery). Prominent among Mexican-American folk healers is the curandero, a
type of shaman who uses white magic and herbs to effect cures. In the cosmic
struggle between good and evil, the curandero, using God-given powers, wards
against harmful spells and hexes. As in other folk systems, faith in the
curandero’s abilities is the essence of the healer’s continued success.

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FOLK MEDICINE TODAY

Folk medical systems, especially those ftinctionffig in a pluralistic society
comprising several distinct ethnic groups (as in the United States), govern
domestic healing activities to a great extent. Recently, the increasing
complexity, technicality, and cost of modem medicine have spurred renewed
attempts at self-medication and the use of herbal preparations, thus reviving
folk medical practices.

A number of folk remedies used *in the past are now manufactured as
pharmaceutical preparations prescribed by physicians. For example, rauwolfia is
an extract of the snakeroot plant, which was used for centuries in the Far East
for its calming effect. It is now prescribed by physicians to lower blood
pressure. Reserpine, a derivative of rauwolfia, has been used by psychiatrists
‘in treating severe mental disorders. Foxglove was first brewed by Indians to
treat dropsy, fluid in the legs caused by heart problems. This practice occurred
for hundreds of years before it was discovered that foxglove contributed the
active ingredients now known as digitalis. Today digitalis is commonly used to
stimulate weakened hearts.

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