Ask These Questions Before You Cast

Ask these questions before you cast a spell:

1) Have I done everything I can to resolve the situation without magic?
Try all the mundane methods of attaining your goals before resorting to spellcraft. If you want a job, send out your resume before you break out the green candles and patchouly. If you want to meet someone special, try reading the personals or signing up for an adult ed class before you reach for the aphrodisiacs. If you’re having conflict with someone at work, try talking to them about the problem before you go looking up binding spells. As one experienced witch put it to me, “this way, you can be sure that your intentions are pure.”
2) Will this spell harm another, or bend someone’s will to mine?
Witches do not cast spells meant to harm someone else. Nor do they cast spells on other people without their permission, no matter how honorable their intentions. There’s a good reason for this: harmful and meddlesome spells have a nasty tendency to backfire on the people who cast them.
When you’re watching someone close to you suffering, it can be hard to consider the situation objectively. One reader asked me about spells to help alleviate anger. When I dug deeper, it turned out that spellcraft was entirely inappropriate. If possible, discuss the matter with another trusted pagan friend. 
3) Am I prepared to accept the consequences of this spell, whatever they might be?
Think long and hard about this one. As I’ve said before, you may cast a spell with the best of intentions, but end up with unexpected consequences. Meditate a bit on it before you decide to cast the spell. Talk to other witches and see if there isn’t a better solution.
Either way, your spell has a better chance of success if you fully “own” it, and anything that results from it. The best way to avoid unforseen consequences is to follow the guidelines set out above — and, most importantly, to cast the spell with love in your heart. Making magick is a powerful and transformative experience. In the midst of the spell, you become the subject, and you become the result. Make sure that what you’re asking for is something you’d like to become.
Remember, the most powerful tool a witch has is their mind. As we can only perceive reality, we can bend it by changing states of consciousness. The universe is like a web, we can change the strands, and we can even break them with our magick. Be careful of what you do. Before every magickal working ask yourself:
‘Do I dare disturb the fragile energies of the universe?’
A spell cast on someone without their permission can be considered as manipulative magick. Even when the best of thoughts are at heart, you must tell them your intentions, or deal with the consequences. Sometimes it isn’t possbile to tell someone you want to cast a healing spell on them,so outweight the benefits to the negative consequences.
A spell which bends will or binds it to yours is completely WRONG. Do not perform them unless absolutely necessary, and by that I only mean bindings and transformations, and if you have no other alternatives, banishings. If you are under some sort of physcial attack, for example abuse, rape or harassment, see the police immediately, do not attempt to bend their will through a spell.
A spell cast to harm someone is just as wrong as bending their will, if not more so. Do not cast a spell to cause ill to a convited murderer, a friend who has gosspped about you, no matter what the magnitude. If it is a felony or illegal under law, get the law enforcers involed. Remember you human rights, and theirs also.
A spell which is personal gain is OK *AS LONG AS* you do not demand too much. Be careful for what you    ask for, you just might get it.

Who Was Doreen Valiente?

Who Was Doreen Valiente?

By , About.com

If Gerald Gardner is the father of the modern witchcraft movement, then certainly Doreen Valiente is the mother of many traditions. Like Gardner, Doreen Valiente was born in England. Although not much is known about her early years, her website (maintained by her estate) verifies that she was born Doreen Edith Dominy in London in 1922. As a teen, Doreen lived in the New Forest area, and it is believed that this is when she began experimenting with magic.

When she was thirty, Doreen was introduced to Gerald Gardner. By this time, she had been married twice – her first husband died at sea, her second was Casimiro Valiente – and in 1953, she was initiated into the New Forest coven of witches. Over the next several years, Doreen worked with Gardner in expanding and developing his Book of Shadows, which he claimed was based on ancient documents passed down through the ages. Unfortunately, much of what Gardner had at the time was fragmented and disorganized.

Doreen Valiente took on the task of re-organizing Gardner’s work, and more importantly, putting into a practical and usable form. In addition to finishing things up, she added her poetic gifts to the process, and the end result was a collection of rituals and ceremonies which are both beautiful and workable – and the foundation for much of modern Wicca, some sixty years later. For a brief period, Gardner and Doreen parted ways – this is often attributed to Gardner’s love of speaking publicly about witchcraft to the press, while Doreen felt coven business should remain private. However, there is also speculation that some of the rift was caused when Doreen questioned the authenticity of Gardner’s claims about the age of some of the items they were working with. At any rate, they later reconciled and worked together once more. In the 1960s, Doreen moved away from Gardnerian Wicca and was initiated into a traditional British witchcraft coven.

Doreen may well be best known for her incredibly evocative poetry, much of which has found its way into the lexicon of modern ritual format, both for Wiccans and other Pagans. Her Charge of the Goddess is a powerful call to invoke the Divine within us. The Wiccan Rede is often attributed to Doreen as well. Although the Rede is typically summarized in brief as An it harm none, do what ye will, there is actually quite a bit more to the original work. Doreen’s poem entitled The Wiccan Rede can be read in its entirety here: The Wiccan Rede.

Near the end of her life, Doreen was concerned about the many misconceptions about modern witchcraft, as well as the wide distortions of original teachings. She became patron of the Centre for Pagan Studies, described as “offering a facility for learned research and a non commercial environment.” She passed away in 1999.

Which Witch? Philosophical and Psychological Roots of Wicca

Which Witch? Philosophical and Psychological Roots of Wicca

Author:   Radko Vacek   

Here is the background story for the jackpot question! English folklore is a treasury of tales. Two of these are so old that they probably helped Jeoffrey Chaucer as a little boy (c. 1350) to develop his imagination to write The Canterbury Tales. Both folktales involve Witches. The one involves a Witch getting melted by water, which was incorporated into The Wizard of Oz. The second actually involves a Witch getting EATEN, by a little boy! Which Witch is she? For the jackpot, name that Witch! Tick-tick-tick- time’s up! Did you win? Check* at the end of this article!

I really did it this time! Here I am supposed to be a writer, and I make my entry as a game show host! Am I guilty of foolishness, rightly convicted to rejection?

No! I was guilty, but I CHOOSE to make myself innocent through the power of Witchcraft! As Witches, we can choose to do that, contrary to what Christians say. They say that the human condition is a coin which has the following two sides: 1) no matter what we ever do, never can we by our powers alone redeem our sins, and 2) no matter what we did, our souls can be saved, if we accept the love of God.

I say that whatever I did is irrelevant with respect to my status now, because I can choose to do this: to develop and use my power to magically transform my nature from weakness to strength, including in the moral sense from guilt to innocence. According to Christians, we are doomed to be sinners by our powerless nature, whereas we can exercise our power of choice to magically empower ourselves.

I agree with Christians up to this point: human nature strongly tends to be evil. The ideas of many prominent philosophers and writers over the ages were summarized by Dr. Sigmund Freud, in this statement in his book Civilization and Its Discontents: “Man is a savage beast”. First of all, man is an animal; it is impossible for any animal to ‘harm none’. No animal can make its own nutrients, as do plants in cooperation with the sun. All animals are in competition with one another to kill other life in order to sustain their own lives. Even so-called harmless hares are not, because they compete to kill plants to survive. Plants, although different from animals, are forms of life nonetheless.

In us, this harmfulness is especially pronounced through the powers of our human brains. The more powerful, the more dangerous, and this is especially important to us, empowered through choosing Witchcraft! We have a moral obligation to the world to abide 100% under ALL circumstances to the ideal of the Wiccan Rede, meaning always to avoid harming to the utmost limits of our capacities.

The vileness of our species is not limited to adults. In fact, it often is more pronounced in children. Many people love to sentimentally depict little children as little angels. Is that ever a joke! Generally, it is lucky that they don’t have the power coming with being big. In order to keep them under control, sometimes you must play the part of the wicked Witch of the West. How fascinating to note that Margaret Hamilton, who played her, started out teaching kindergarten! I bet she got practice for her most famous role with the little devils, nipping those horns at the buds. Young children have not developed their consciences enough to where they can nip those points themselves.

As we move on into our later childhoods and beyond, the conscience is nurtured into a more potent force, so that it starts to hurt our self-esteem to recognize ourselves as evil. This does not necessarily at all mean that we stop doing bad deeds. Our brains also grow, to where we can rationalize our bad deeds in order to keep feeling good about ourselves, even as we act cruelly. For instance, many Christians love to rationalize their cruelty to animals by saying, “They don’t have souls, ” even though in their Bible, Proverbs 12: 10, cruelty to animals is condemned as wicked. Lest I be accused of picking on Christians, we Witches are great at rationalizing our cruelty, making brilliant excuses for working black magic on those we judge worth “the best!”

Never do I have the right, being just human myself, to execute judgment on another person, “to play God, ” as they say. I think that we are okay in working a spell to petition our grievances about others, and ourselves too, to the Higher Powers, but for their judgment, not ours! The domain of the REAL Witch always has been healing, never malpractice on perceived enemies. If we do, then we disgrace our calling no less than Nazi doctors.

So that I am not accused of advocating standards that I myself could not keep, I have experienced such temptations, and for a while, I did yield to them. I have had quite some stresses over the past twenty-two years, and have blamed certain perceived enemies and a side of myself, and I have hated them, and them in me, for it. An important lesson in psychology is that, when I point my finger at others, my four remaining ones are pointing back at me. That is, the things I hate in others probably also are things that I hate in myself. I have yielded to temptation in starting to hex in order to destroy those enemies and that hated side of myself. I am thankful that I have since grown into a real Witch, one strong enough to stop myself from playing judge. I have not forgotten, but now I leave the matter to Divine Judgment regarding others and myself. We become real Witches when we realize that we do not have the right to destroy. The Wiccan Rede is not an afterthought; it is at the very heart of real Witchcraft.

Besides rationalizing, unconsciously lying, how else do grown-ups remedy guilt? Christians believe that, although we all are doomed to be sinners, we can become saved sinners. As a Witch, I believe that I am not doomed to stay wicked, no matter what I may have done. I have magical powers to develop, and, beyond regenerating things physically, among the most noble uses of these powers is rehabilitating myself morally, so that I can look myself in the mirror and have self-respect without self-deception.

One of the worst side effects of Christianity is to deny rehabilitation as a serious possibility. Even though Jesus taught us to forgive one another, in practice Christian society has become unforgiving. Christians have corrupted the premise that we are morally powerless into a prejudice that people do not have the power to rehabilitate. There is an attitude of, “Once a crook, always one, ” very much in effect everywhere. In fact, all it takes to be off the list of candidates is having changed jobs a lot when you were younger, even being unemployed for more than six months! How merciful! People are judged by their resumes, what they have done in the past, without regard for what they may have made of themselves through learning from experience. I define Error as the best teacher. Show me the person who never made errors and I will show you someone who has not learned much, and is among my prime suspects for the fool! Christians say we are sinners for being imperfect, and I say no one gets wise by being perfect. They call them sinners, but I call a few of them sages, the real Witches.

This topic of real Witches as ones exercising their magical powers to perfect their imperfections leads into another essential point. Beginners, I do suspect, see Witchcraft as a means to bend the surrounding world to their wills. However, much of the Craft, and often the most effective working, is directed toward changing the inner reality of the world made largely out of our own perceptions.

Let us embark on an active way of knowing what makes the Witch a Witch.

Why not start this in a light vein, or may I say, a light paw? In my poem, Meeeow! posted on Witchvox, the speaker, a Witch, declares, “No matter what you think I am, I know I am the cat, for how my light paws go.” The witch has changed her very being, from human to feline, by most thoroughly playing the part of the cat. This is not much a matter of the objective truth of what the Witch is, but much more of the subjective reality of how she is perceived to be. As far as all the other cats experience her, “I am one too, to all the other cats, for what I do.” Her acts determine their and our perceptions, which determine the reality of the subjective world, in which we all also live. In fact, more of what we know as the world arises from experiencing our own, personal, inner reality than from experiencing whatever the truths of the surrounding, outside world may be.

This brings to mind, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a well-known short story by James Thurber. The author described the world in which his character lived, consisting of a reality only vaguely corresponding to the truth of the outer world, largely made by Mr. Mitty himself out of his own perceptions. We all could be a.k.a. Walter Mitty, because we all live in our private worlds made largely out of the reality of our own unique perceptions. We can make sense out of seemingly nonsensical behavior, if we understand the reality of perceptions underlying it.

I have come to value the redeeming graces of the cat – magical, graceful, redeemed by beauty – more than ever before, because now dogs no longer scare them out of my field of experience. Canine-oriented parents raised me, and until three years ago, always I had dogs, mostly more than one at a time. Up until the end of 2009, I used to walk a pack of four dogs, a feat for which I was well known but hardly always lauded. Whatever other people might have thought I was, to my dogs I was one of them, “top dog” of the pack. It was not a matter of the truth of what I was, but rather the reality of what I was perceived to be. The truth versus the reality – that is the distinction at the heart of understanding the working of magic and the nature of a Witch.

I propose that at least two-thirds of magic happens in the minds of perceivers. There is this common misunderstanding that when something is in your mind, it is “just in your mind”, meaning it is not real. Nothing can be further from the truth! The magic happening in your mind is among the most potent, energy-efficient, and moral magic that can be. Below follows my rationale for my statement:

Suppose that you are discontent with your limited material possessions. If you are a typical disciple of the Craft, then you will work some form of spell for prosperity or better employment. A better working, however, would treat the discontent. Why? Because really the problem is much more that your discontent is causing you to perceive your material possessions as inadequate, rather than that your material possessions are truly inadequate and cause you to feel discontent. The following maxim makes quite some sense: treasure what you have and you have treasure. Objectively, you may have little, but if you are satisfied with it, then you are subjectively richer than someone among the richest, yet who is not satisfied and always wants more. Therefore, it is better to work the magic between your ears, turning your discontented mind into a contented one.

Besides, it usually takes less energy to magically transform your mind than to bend the whole, wide world out there to suit your desire! This also is more moral; because it often is unfair to impose on the world in order fulfill your own selfish wishes. The world has its own legitimate pursuits for which that extra energy is needed; so do not hog it for yourself! The following story clarifies this:

Once upon a time, a boy was born with very sensitive eyes. Every time he went outside, he would feel nearly blinded by the daylight, which was very painful to his eyes. He decided to invoke the god Hyperion, to beg his cooperation in a spell to dull the intensity of sunshine when he was outside. The spelled worked and he gave his utmost gratitude to “The One Above”. Really though, the sunshine was just as bright as ever. Hyperion knew that the trees and all other living things welcomed the brightness of sunshine after winter, and that their survival depended on it. The spell was granted between the boy’s ears, so that his mind would better tolerate the sunshine. But the result was exactly the same as far as the boy could tell, and this way both he and the world were left contented.

As I have written, the distinction between the truth and the reality is at the heart of understanding the working of magic and the nature of a Witch. In terms of the example I just gave, the truth of the brightness of sunshine stayed the same, but the reality of the world as the boy perceived it changed, and this clearly was the easier, far kinder magical solution. What does this tell us about the nature of the Witch?

The competent Witch has the wisdom and the ethics to choose the better solution. It is forgotten that the name ‘Witch’ shares its roots with the word ‘wisdom’. The real Witch discerns that, at least sometimes, the better solution may not even be the magical one, and that the moral solution typically is the more efficient one as well.

I may be ready to give a tentative definition of the Witch: A Witch is a person with a deep knowledge of the objective truths and the subjective realities of the world, acquired through CHOOSING to interact, not only physically, but also metaphysically, that is, magically, with the things of the world.

Why would the real Witch sometimes not choose a magical solution? Consider the example of a student who wants to be a doctor, but is not making the grades. Should she work a spell to do so? She could, but very few medical students have worked spells to get into and through school. When I was in graduate school working toward an M.A. in psychology, my academic advisor asked me how many hours of sleep I got each night. I answered eight. Dr. Benjamin Luck told me, “If you ever go on for your doctorate, you will have to learn to get by on less than eight hours of sleep. When I was working on mine, I was lucky if I got five.” His advice also would make a fine solution for the would-be medical student in my example. Diligence sometimes beats spells in solving problems!

On the other hand, there are times when one type of magic may be the best solution after all. All the diligence may not work without the prerequisite aptitude. For instance, medical students are very diligent, but doctors also have I.Q.s averaging about 130, in the top 2% of the population. If someone’s intelligence is only average, the M.D. is most likely an unrealistic goal. In similar cases, the magical transformation between the ears, meaning changing perception, often is the best solution.

I have heard many young adults who like animals say they want to be veterinarians. The D.V.M. often is even harder than the M.D. to accomplish. It is obvious that most of these young people will not meet the requirements. Why not try going the vet. tech. route? That may not be so easy either, but usually it is much more realistic! They need to work the magic of turning their fantasies into realistic goals. As I wrote before, this is a very real magic. It is not necessary to be a “big shot” in order to feel fulfilled; this feeling of fulfillment, rather than egotistical pride, is the goal of much worthwhile magic.

Is it possible to raise I.Q. magically? Yours yes, mine no! I am hopeless! But are you sure you want to be a genius? A quote of Sir Henry Maximilian Beerhohm advises us, “I have known no man of genius who had not to pay, in some affliction or defect, either physical or spiritual, for what the gods had given him.” He himself was an ingenious writer, so I bet he knew what he was talking about. Before you sign your name in the blood of magical commitment, be sure to read the fine print!

This leads to a common misunderstanding of the nature of Witchcraft, the idea that magic is a way to make major changes with minimal investment. It is the misconception that, by using a few affordable supplies, you can bend the whole world to grant your wishes. This is a lottery-ticket type of fantasy.

All Witches should remember one of the most essential laws ever: the Law of Conservation. Although it is taught in physics, it is equally essential to metaphysics, and applies every bit as much here and now as it does in a chemistry lab. In lay terms its essential meaning is that we cannot get something for nothing. We should only expect to get out of the world, what we put into it.

Yes, the Witch accepts that the world has enough degrees of freedom to allow magical transformations to be, but still, no real Witch is foolish enough to expect extraordinary magic, that which bends the whole world, without extraordinary discipline. Every beginner would love to have the powers of a Witch Doctor. They forget that Witch Doctors typically have endured prerequisite ordeals, which could easily have been fatal, in order to acquire their world-bending powers. Yes, some problems do require Herculean power to solve, but perhaps most magical solutions involve the mental magic of changing our perceived reality, much easier on us and, as I have stated, probably fairer to the surrounding world.

The choice is yours as the aspiring Witch. Neither choice is inherently better. The easier way, although maybe not heroic, often is more realistic, and life is, after all, hard enough without making it harder. On the other hand, the harder way, although earned at great cost, may well be heroic, and there is a satisfaction in reaching “the seemingly unreachable star” not to be gained any other way. Novice Witch, CHOOSE your values and pursue your way!

The verb ‘to choose’ is highlighted because our strong endorsement of choosing is largely what sets us apart from Christians. They believe none of us has the choice to transcend our sinful nature, just to let it be redeemed through accepting Divine Love. Let us turn our attention to the Witch defined in terms of being someone who chooses to believe in a certain way. I do not think one can choose to be an atheist and stay consistent with being a Witch. There is a religious component that naturally goes together with the Craft, with the practice and the theology being like two sides of one coin.

Here is a tentative, expanded version of my definition: A Witch is a person with a deep knowledge of the objective truths and the subjective realities of the world, acquired through CHOOSING to interact, not only physically, but also metaphysically, that is, magically, with the things of the world. An essential part of the subjective reality of the Witch arises from CHOOSING to revere Higher Powers operating in nature, and to realize the divine, magical potentials in oneself.

We do well in asking, does the Witch need to be defined in any theological context at all? In the Oxford definition, the Devil is implied; the word ‘evil’ is contained in ‘Devil’, the personification of evil. In my tentative definition, I have referred to Higher Powers and divine potentials. Can we find a new, secular definition of Witch, as illustrated by the series Bewitched? The Witches there, I am fairly sure, never were portrayed as practicing a religion, nor, as far as I know, were there ever any allusions made to religion.

Nonetheless, at a subliminal level, it was the overturning of the conservative, tyrannical stance toward being a Witch, and more generally being somehow different, which gave that series its charm. In fact, the story-line of the series would have failed as comedy without religion subliminally supporting it. It was comical mainly because of Darrin playing nearly a parody of a minister saying, thou shalt not do it, while Samantha always ended up wiggling her nose anyway. The main point was that she did it without tragic results, without getting struck by lightning for doing it. She could be seen as practicing a religion of liberalism, obviously without the scripts explicitly making this point. Her behavior can be seen as reflecting an underlying, liberal philosophy of seeing the God of Genesis as Mr. Liberal, with the right to CHOOSE as his first and finest gift to her and to all of us. Therefore, I do not think that Witches as magically empowered persons can be divorced from the deity empowering them.

The verb ‘to CHOOSE’ is in caps throughout for an essential reason. All people, when they say that they do some action, really mean that they choose to do it, but this fact is kept implicit, and therefore done nearly automatically and just semiconsciously. The distinction of the Witch is making the choice explicitly, choosing deliberately. By doing so, she considerably extends her power to choose, and indirectly to change her inner reality and the outside world as well. By making herself aware that she is choosing to do anything, not limited to magic, she gains more and more control over her faculty of choice and more refinement in exercising this power to choose.

No, I am not guilty of sexism for using the feminine pronoun. Witchcraft continues to be associated with femininity, but males too have the feminine inner reality of their anima, according to the great psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung.

Have I been guilty of wasting your time with this article? If so, I apologize. We can assume that I think it was worth writing, but regarding whether or not it was worth your reading, only you are smart enough to be the judge! I accept your judgment!

*Are you a winner as well? The answer to the QUESTION is: The SandWich!

P.S. If you are a winner, congratulations! Just to let you know, at last I have picked a magical name: The SandWich. I find it in good taste. I hope you do too!

A Little Humor for Your Day – The Wiccan Redact

The Wiccan Redact

Bide the Wiccan Laws we must,
So we don’t end up as newts, we trust.
Cast the Circle thrice about,
To keep Mormon missionaries out.
Let the spell be spake in rhyme,
To make it silly every time.

Soft of eye and light of touch,
Don’t speak with your mouth full, listen much.
Deosil go by the blue moon,
You saw me standing alone,
By the Witches’ Rune.

Widdershins go by ,
Up in the sky,
Cause I ain’t had no love’n since January February June or July.
By the light of the silvery moon,
I’d like to spoon,
To my honey I’ll croon,
Loves tune.

Heed the North wind’s mighty gale,
for then’s the after Christmas sale.
When the wind comes from the South,
go on vacation for thy health.
When the wind blows from the Southwest,
hiding in the basement’s best.
When the wind blows from the East,
fart thou to the west.

Nine woods in the  go,
Have your caddie carry slow.
Elder be the Lady’s tree,
Spray it down with DDT.
When the Wheel begins to turn,
Let leaves in the yard begin to burn.
When the Wheel has turned to Yule,
Light the furnace and burn some fuel

Heed ye flower, bush and tree,
For some might poison ivy be.
Where the rippling waters go,
portage round or leaks you’ll know.
When ye have a true need,
charge it not lest thy finances bleed.
With a fool no season spend,
Lest ye see yourself in him.

Merry meet and merry part,
Light in the loafers and gay the heart.
When misfortune is anew,
Make sure insurance premiums are not overdue.

Mind the Threefold Law you should,
Mercy is not known by earth water and wood.
Twelve words the Wiccan Redact fulfill:
And it harm none but thee and God, do what ye will.

Laugh-A-Day for Nov. 9th – Redneck Pagan Giggles

Redneck Pagan Giggles

1.  Does your Ceremonial Garb consist of cutoffs and a tube top?

2  Do you think “Family Tradition” is a dating club?

3.  Have you reached 3rd degree, but not 3rd grade?

4.  Is your coven’s secret names for the God and Goddess “Cooter” and
“SweetCheeks”?

5.  Does your ceremonial Chalice say “Budweiser” on it?  (2 pts if it says
“Pabst”)

6. Do you consider chewing tobacco a sacred herb?

7.  Does your circle dance include the words “dosey-do”?

8.  Is your altar pentacle a photo of John Wayne’s star on the Hollywood Walk
of Fame?

9.  Did your coven choose its High Priest at a belching contest?

10.  Did your coven choose its High Priestess at a wet t-shirt contest?

11.  Does your anointing oil smell like “Old Spice”?

12.  Have you ever refilled your chalice from a keg?

13. Does your outdoor circle have defunct washing machines for quarter altars?

14. Do you do your cakes and ale with a can of Pabst and Little Debbies?

15. Does your Pantheon include Yukon Jack, Jim Beam and St. Pauli Girl?

16. Does your ritual music include Johnny Cash singing “Ring of Fire”?

17. Do you think the Wiccan Rede is good for making twig furniture?

18.  Do you believe that the Pentagram is a Western Union message to 5 people?

19.  Does your altar cloth say “Holiday Inn” or “Howard Johnson’s”?

20. Does your Goddess picture say “Miss September” at the bottom?

21. Does your God statue look a little too much like Elvis Presley?

22.  Have you ever written a spell on the back of a Denny’s menu?

23.  Have you ever canceled a coven meeting to watch Pay-per-View wrestling on TV?

24.  Have you ever called the National Enquirer because you raised a potato that looked like the Willendorf Goddess?

25.  Have you EVER cast a love spell on livestock?

For The Beginner – Witchcraft 101 – Lesson 1

Introduction to Witchcraft

Let me begin by saying that most of those who reach this page looking for answers will not find what they believe they will. For those looking for “Hogwarts” or a Harry Potter world, this is not it. The Harry Potter books are fictional stories written by an author who had a good idea. Nothing in those books is real. Flying on broomsticks, waving sparkly wands around and changing things in the blink of an eye are all part of a fantasy that does not exist in this world. If you have come here with pre-conceived notions based on things you have seen on “Charmed,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “The Craft,” or any other work of fiction, I have sad news for you. Real magic isn’t nearly as dramatic or showy. Being a witch is a way of life. There is real magic in the world and there are real witches. You probably know a few. Unfortunately, they don’t spend their spare time locked up in their castle tower changing themselves into animals, zapping people with curses, turning their eyes and hair different colors, running around with demons, or just generally messing with the whole space-time continuum. There is plenty of good news, however. You will be happy to learn that yes, fairies are real and so are dragons. You probably will never have the rare treat of meeting one, but it’s nice to know that they exist. There are plenty of spells to learn and enchantments to make, but you won’t be seeing any sparkles or make candles light on their own. There is a myriad of potions to brew, but none of them will turn you into a toad or bring you back from the dead. Fantasy is unfortunately much more appealing that the truth.

Who can be a Witch?
The word “witch” is used for both male and female practitioners of magic. Male witches are NOT called warlocks. I have no idea who coined that term, but it is very insulting to call someone a “warlock.” Not just anyone can be a witch. Indeed, it takes a very special kind of person. Witchcraft is the study and use of magic and this magic comes from the Earth. Magic does not help anyone who has no respect for it, so it is important that you respect the “powers that be” at all times. This is not a game and spells should not be flung about like they are in some popular television shows I refuse to mention here. Power comes from years of experience. The more you practice, the better you will get.
Going along with the whole idea of respect, it is important that you determine how much respect you have for the Earth before undergoing any type of magical work. It is not wise to bite the hand that feeds you, so to speak. People who go on to become great witches are those with a very deep-seated love and respect for the Earth and all of her inhabitants. If you have a strange connection to plants, and animals, and growing things makes you happy, you may very well be looking in the right place. If you are in love with nature then you might just find yourself at peace within the magical world. I advise that you take concern over environmental problems, look into living a healthy natural lifestyle, and give service to our Mother Earth if you decide to undertake these lessons that have been outlined here.

What is Wicca?

Contrary to popular belief, Wicca is not evil. Wiccans do not follow the devil. Wiccans do not even believe in the devil. Wicca is a nature oriented religion which centers around a single deity (known as the All) which encompasses all things in the universe and without. This All is divided into two equal halves much the same way as the universe is divided into two halves. There is light and dark, male and female, good and evil, etc. These are often evident in the two deities called the Lord and the Lady. Each represents a perfect and equal half and complement each other much like the yin and the yang. The Lord is a father figure. He represents animals, the soul, fathering, passion and the wild. He is symbolized by the color gold, air, fire, and by the Sun. The Lady or Goddess represents the earth mother, motherhood, nurturing, femininity, and that which we can touch. She is symbolized by water, earth and the moon. Wiccans believe in honoring their deities and in living in harmony with nature and the universe. Witches sometimes practice in groups of up to thirteen called covens. Covens are used to bring different people of a faith together so that they may learn from each other’s experiences. Witches can also work alone. They are called solitaries. Wiccans are generally considered witches because they practice the art of magic. Not al witches, however, are Wiccans. Wicca is a religion and witchcraft is simply the practice of the magical arts.

Because Wiccans worship nature, their holidays coincide with significant days of the year. All of the four seasons are celebrated as well as four other holidays which fall between each. All of the eight holidays are spaced at exactly the same number of days apart and do not always fall on the same day each year. Most of these holidays coincide with Christian holidays such as Christmas (Yule) and Easter (Ostara). These holidays are called the Sabbats or Sabbaths. Witches also may or may not celebrate what are called Esbats. Esbats are specific lunar dates that are of major importance. These are the new moons and the full moons. There are 13 full moons during the year, each representing one month. Thus, the pagan calendar has thirteen months and not twelve. Most today represent these lost days in the thirteenth month to leap year. These holidays are meant to celebrate the earth and her cycles of nature.

Wiccans follow one basic fundamental rule: “harm none.” The Wiccan Rede or “Law” states: “Abide the Wiccan law ye must, in perfect love and perfect trust. Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill: ‘An’ it harm none, do what ye will.’ And ever mind the rule of three: what ye send out comes back to thee. Follow this with mind and heart, and merry meet and merry part.” The main goal of Wicca is to harm none. Wiccans base their lives on self discipline and helping others. Most spells are done for healing, love, friendship and to help others. You will not find Wiccan spells for harming others or spells which are destructive in any way.

Wicca is a recognized religion worldwide and is protected by the United States Constitution. Contrary to popular belief, Wicca is not an ancient religion. Some of the ideas and rituals follow what is believed to have been practiced by the early Nordic tribes, but the religion was founded in the early 1960’s and was at the time considered a “New Age Religion.” Many unseasoned Wiccans will often refer to their following as “The Olde Ways.” This is often the result of misinformation from other witches either on the internet or in books who claim that they follow ancient traditions. Some will even claim that their beliefs were handed down from century to century and guarded against Christians and others who might seek to waylay witches and traditional witchcraft. Unfortunately, virtually no information has survived to this day and we must rely on skepticism to learn how ancient peoples worshiped.

Morals
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.

The Wiccan Rede (short form)
The Rede is the closest thing in Wicca to being a law. The rede is a testament to what we stand for. The short form is as follows:

Abide the Wiccan law ye must
In perfect love and perfect trust.
Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill:
“An’ it harm none, do as ye will.”
And ever mind the rule of three:
What ye send out comes back to thee.
Follow this with mind and heart
And merry ye meet and merry ye part.

In essence, the law is to love and trust the Craft. Do what you will, as long as you harm no one, no matter how evil they may seem. Fate will take care of them and it is no concern of yours. Never do harm to others. Whatever you do to or for others will come back to you threefold. If you curse or harm someone, you will receive bad luck thrice as bad as you have made it for them. If you help others, it will also come back to you threefold. You can call this Karma if you like.

The Full Wiccan Rede
Bide within the Law ye should
To keep unwelcome spirits out.
To bind the spell well every time
Let the spell be spake in rhyme.

For tread the Circle thrice about
In perfect love and perfect trust.
Live ye must and let to live
Fairly take and fairly give.

Light of eye, and soft of touch
Speak you little, listen much.
Honour the Old Ones in deed and name
Let love and light be our guides again.

Deosil go by the waxing moon
Chanting out the Wiccan Rune.
Widdershins go by the waning moon
Chanting out the Baneful Rune.

When the Lady’s moon is new
Kiss the hand to her times two.
When the moon ridesat Her peak
Then your heart’s desire seek.

Heed the Northwinds mighty gale
Lock the door and trim the sail.
When the wind blows form the East
Expect the new and set the feast.

When the wind comes from the South
Love will kiss you on the mouth.
When the wind whispers form the West
All hearts will find peace and rest.

Nine woods in the Cauldron go
Burn them fast and burn them slow.
Birch in the fire goes
To represent what the Lady knows.

Oak in the forest towers with might
In the fire it brings the God’s insight.
Rowan is a tree of power
Causing life and magick to flower.

Willows at the waterside stand
Ready to help us to the summerland.
Hawthorn is burned to puify
And to draw faerie to your eye.

Hazel – the tree of wisdom and learning –
Adds it’s strength to the bright fire burning.
White are the flowers of the Apple tree
That brings us fruits of fertility.

Grapes grow upon the vine
Giving us both joy and wine.
Fir does mark the evergreen
To represent immortality seen.

Elder is the Lady’s tree
Burn it not or cursed you’ll be.
Four times the Major Sabbats mark
In the light and in the dark.

As the old year starts to wane
The new begin; it’s now Samhain.
When the time for Imblolc shows
watch for flowers through the snows.

When the wheel begins to turn
Soon the Beltane fires will burn.
As the wheel turns to Lammas night
Power is brought to magick rite.

Four times the Minor Sabbats fall
Use the Sun to mark them all.
When the wheel has turned to Yule
Light the log The Horned One rule.

In the spring, when night equals day
Time for Ostara to come our way.
When the sun has reached it’s hight
Time for Oak and Holly fight.

Harvesting comes to one and all
When the Autumn Equinox does fall.
Heed the flower, bush and tree
By the lady Blessed you’ll be.

Where the rippling waters go
Cast a stone, the truth you’ll know.
When you have and hold a need
Harken not to others greed

With a fool no season spend
Or be counted as his friend.
Merry Meet and Merry Part
Bright the cheeks and warm the heart.

Mind the Three-fold Law you should
Three times bad and three times good.
When misfortune is enow
Wear the star upon your brow

Be true in love this you must do
Unless your love be false to you
Eight words the Rede fulfil
“An it harm none, do as ye will”

The Witches Rune
Darksome night and shining Moon
East then South then West then North
Harken to the Witchs’ Rune
Here we come to call thee forth.

Earth and Water, Air and Fire
Wand and Pentacle and Cup and Sword
Work ye unto our desire
And harken ye unto our word.

Cords and Censer, Scourge and knife
Power of the Witch’s blade
Waken all ye into life
And come ye as the charm is made.

Queen of Heaven, Queen of Hell
Horned Hunter of the night
Lend you power unto our spell
And work our will by Magick rite.

By all the powers of land and sea
By all the might of the Moon and Sun
As we do will so mote it be
Chant the spell and it Be done.

Eko, eko Azarak
Eko, eko Zamilak
Eko, eko Cernunnos

Eko, eko Aradia.

The Witches Creed
Hear now the words of the witches,
The secrets we hid in the night,
When dark was our destiny’s pathway,
That now we bring forth into light,
Mysterious water and fire,
The earth and the wide-ranging air,
By hidden quintessence we know them,
And will and keep silent and dare.
The birth and rebirth of all nature,
The passing of winter and spring,
We share with the life universal,
Rejoice in the magical ring.
Four times in the year the Great Sabbatt,
Returns, and the witches are seen.
At Lammas and Candlemas dancing,
In May Eve and Hallowe’en.
When day-time and night-time are equal,
When sun is at greatest and least,
Thriteen silver moons in a year are,
Thirteen is the coven’s array,
Thirteen times the Esbet make merry,
For each golden year and a day.
The power that was passed down the age,
Each time between woman and man,
Each century unto the other,
Ere time and the ages began,
When drawn is the magickal circle,
By sword or athame of power,
It’s compas between the two worlds lies,
In land of the shades for that hour,
This world has no right then to know it,
The world beyond will tell naught,
The oldest of Gods are invoked there,
The Great Work of magick is wrought,
For the two are mystical pillars,
That stand at the gate of the shrine,
And two are the powers of nature,
The forms and forces divine,
The dark and light in succession,
The opposites each unto each,
Shown forth as a Goddess and a God;
Of this our ancestors teach.
By night he’s the wild wind’s rider,
The Horn’d One, the Lord of the Shades,
By day he’ sthe King of the Woodland,
The dweller in green forest glades.
She is youthful or old as she pleases,
She sails the tan cloud in her barque,
The bright silver lady of Midnight,
The crone who weaces spells in the dark,
Immortal and ever-renenwing,
With power to free or to bind,
So drink the good wine to the old Gods,
And dance and make love in their praise,
Till Elephants fair land shall receive us,
In peace at the end of our days,
And Do What ye Will be the challenge,
So be it Love that harms none,
For this is the only commandment,
My Magic of old, be it done!

The 13 Goals of a Witch
1. Know yourself
2. Know your craft
3. Learn
4. Apply knowledge with wisdom
5. Achieve balance
6. Keep your words in good order
7. Keep your thoughts in good order
8. Celebrate Life
9. Attune with the cycles of the earth
10. Breath and eat correctly
11. exercise the body
12. Meditate
13. Honor the Goddess and the God

The Charge of the Goddess
Listen to the words of the Great Mother, who of old was called Artemis, Astarte, Athene, Dione, Melusine, Aphrodite, Cerridwen, Diana, Arianrhod, Isis, Brighde, Freyja, Frigg, and by many other names:
“Whenever ye have need of anything, once in the month, and better it be when the moon is full, then shall ye assemble in some secret place and adore the spirit of me who am Queen of all witches. There shall ye assemble, ye who are fane to learn all sorcery yet have not won its deepest secrets; to these will I teach things that are as yet unknown. And ye shall be free from slavery; and as a sign that ye be really free, ye shall be naked in your rites; and ye shall dance, sing, feast, make music, and love all in my praise. For mine is the ecstasy of the spirit, and mine also is the joy of the earth, for my law is love unto all beings.”

“Keep pure your highest ideal; strive ever toward it, let naught stop you or turn you aside; for mine is the secret door which opens upon the door of youth, and mine is the cup of the wine of life, and the cauldron of Cerridwen, which is the Holy Grail of Immortality. I am the gracious Goddess, who gives the gift of joy unto the heart of man. Upon earth, I give the gift of knowledge of the spirit eternal; and beyond death, I give peace and freedom, and reunion with those who have gone before. Nor do I demand sacrifice; for behold, I am the Mother of all living and my love is poured out upon the earth.”

“Hear ye the words of the Star Goddess; she is the dust of whose feet are the hosts of heaven, whose body encircles the universe. I am the beauty of the green earth, and the white moon among the stars, and the mystery of the water ,and the desire of the heart of man. Call into thy soul: arise and come unto me; for I am the soul of nature who gives life to the universe. From me all things proceed and unto me all things must return and before my face, beloved of Gods and of men, let thine innermost divine self be enfolded in the raptures of the infinite. Let my worship be within the heart that rejoices; behold, all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals. And therefore let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within thee.”

“And thou who thinkest to seek from me know thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not, unless thou knowest the mystery ; that if that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee. For behold, I have been with thee from the beginning; and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.”

The Charge of the God
Listen to the word of the Great Father, who of old was called Osiris, Adonis, Zeus, Thor, Pan, Cernunnos, Heren, Lugh, and by many other names:

“My law is harmony with all things. Mine is the secret that opens the gates of life and mine is the dish of salt of the earth that is the body of Cernunnos that is the eternal circle of rebirth. I give the knowledege of life everlasting, and beyond death I give the promise of regeneration and renewal. I am the sacrifice, the father of all things, and my protection blankets the earth.”

“Hear the words of the dancing God, the music of whose laughter stirs the winds, whose voice calls the season.”

“I who am the Lord of the Hunt and the Power of Light, sun among the clouds and the secret of the flame, I call upon your bodies to arise and come unto me. For I am the flesh of the earth and all its beings. Through me all things must die and with me are reborn. Let my worship be in the body that sings, for behold, all acts of willing sacrifice are my rituals. Let there be desire and fear, anger and weakness, joy and peace, awe and longing within you. For these too are part of the mysteries found within yourself, within me, all beginnings have endings, and all endings have beginnings.”

The Four Powers of the Magus (magician)
TO KNOW – noscere – air – to know what you are doing
TO DARE – audere – water – to dare to practice the Craft
TO WILL – velle – fire – to will the power
TO BE SILENT – tacere – earth – to keep silent about what you are doing

To Know – noscere – air – to know what you are doing. Witchcraft is rarely dangerous, but when you do not know what you are doing, what you do can turn out wrong. Know the difference between good and bad. Know what you are doing and what is your intent. Know who might get hurt. Think long and hard about your words and your actions before you fling them, unheeded, into the world.
To Dare – audere – water – to dare to practice the Craft. Never be afraid of what you are. If you are not afraid of your religion, you have a freedom within it. No one should ever try to make you afraid of your god(s) or goddess(es). Your power comes from you and you should not fear that which comes from your body because it is a part of you.
To Will – velle – fire – to will the power. Magick is all power that comes from the mind. This power comes from your strength in believing and willing something to happen. If you do not believe it will happen, then it will not. Your strength is your will and your willpower. Nothing is so strong as the human mind.
To Be Silent – tacere – earth – to keep silent about what you are doing. Magick is not something that is used to make you popular or to scare or impress others. Magick, like lovemaking, is a very personal, very private act and anything said about it makes it less sacred. It is the sacredness of the act that gives it its power. The more you talk about what you have done, the less power it has. Do not discuss your spells with others until after you have cast it and gotten the effect. Also whatch who you tell. Not all eyes and ears are as understanding as yours.

Witchcrafted

Spell Casting: The Witches’ Craft

Spell Casting: The Witches’ Craft

Author: Jason Miller (Inominandum)

The Greeks made a distinction between theurgy and thaumaturgy. Theurgy literally means “God working” and refers to spiritual work that leads one into illumination or gnosis. Thaumaturgy means, “wonder working” and refers to the conjuration of spirits, casting of spells, blessing, cursing, curing and harming through practical magick. The balance between these two aspects of the craft has been an issue since the emergence of Wicca in the 1950’s. Does spell casting overshadow religion? This debate has been heating up in online groups and blogs recently due to a story on beliefnet.com by Carl McColman entitled Is Wicca Under a Spell, which deals with both sides of the issue. Many people in the Pagan community that I have spoken with feel that magick and sorcery do the religious aspects of Wicca no good and should be downplayed. Some I have spoken to have no interest in spell-casting at all, or perhaps don’t even believe in practical magick, and thus see this aspect of the craft as an obstacle to Wicca taking its place as a major Western religion. I would like to take this opportunity to present the opposing argument.

What often gets overlooked is that Wicca and Witchcraft are not the same thing. The terms are often used interchangeably but Witchcraft is a craft that can be, but isn’t necessarily, part of a religion. Wicca is most definitely a religion. While not all Wiccan traditions stem by lineage from Gerald Gardner, by and large they use a constellation of terms and beliefs that were first put in place by him and those that came after, thus we can say that we can trace Wicca more or less back to him. Witchcraft is a larger area than this. Isaac Bonewits once provided a breakdown of the types of Witches in America, which can help put this into perspective:

10% Neo-Pagan – Revivalist traditions, including Wicca.
70% Neo-Classical – Those who practice folk magick with mixed Christian and Pagan roots without regard to Witchcraft as a religion.
1-2% Classical village healers who practice completely non-religious folk magick.
1-2% Neo-Gothic – Practitioners of Satanism which is based on the Gothic Witchcraft of the Witch Hysteria Era.
1-2% Family Trads.
1-2% Immigrant Traditions: Pow-wow etc.
10% Practitioners of Vodou, Santeria, etc.

For example one of my ancestors was allegedly a “water witch” who told people where to dig wells. While in Venice I was offered a charm to obtain by a Witch. In both of these cases the Witch in question was a devout Christian. According to this breakdown Neo-Paganism and Wicca account for only %10 of American Witches but even within that scope there are many Witchcraft traditions that make it very clear that they are not Wiccan: The Feri Tradition, The Clan of Tubal Cain and the Cultus Sabbati all represent traditions of the craft that have non-Gardnerian roots, and do not fall under the umbrella of Wicca.

I have an enormous respect for Wicca but I am a Witch, not a Wiccan. I object when the terms are used interchangeably and when Wicca attempts to speak for all Witchcraft. I got involved with the craft during the mid 80’s in North Jersey, just outside of Manhattan. Paul Huson’s Mastering Witchcraft, Herman Slater’s Magickal Formularies, and the little spell books from Original Publications had much more of an influence on my Witchcraft than Scott Cunningham or Ray Buckland. This is not to say that I am not religious: I am. But I learned to use practical magick at an early age and was successful at it. I have traveled all over the world to learn traditional magickal techniques: from New Orleans, to Europe, to Nepal. Today I do magick professionally and consider traditional techniques of spell-working to be just as important as religious and spiritual traditions.

I would argue spell-casting is just as sacred as Wicca and Neo-Paganism and far more ancient and widespread a tradition. So where McColman asks the question: “As publishers produce more books about casting spells, is the spiritual message of Witchcraft getting lost?” I ask the opposite: Is the popular influence of Wicca and Neo-Paganism negatively impacting the tradition of spell casting, or if you will, the Witches’ Craft?

I think it is, on a number of levels. I will give just three examples:

Ethics:

The Wiccan Rede provides a very strong ethical principle for Witches to follow. As such, any mention of curses, jinxes, or harmful magick is frowned upon by the Pagan press. Some take this even further and extend it to spells that influence another’s will or reverse a curse back upon its sender. Very often in modern books I read “A REAL WITCH would never do harmful or coercive magick…” While I can applaud the good intent of these writers, and understand that authors are trying to paint a picture of Wicca that is acceptable to mainstream America, the fact is that this type of magick IS part of a “REAL” Witch’s repertoire. From the lead curse tablets of Greece, to the Gospel of Aradia, to more modern Witches like Sibyl Leek and Andrew Chumbley, cursing and coercion have always been a part of the Craft.

When my teacher taught me my first pieces of harmful magick, I was surprised. I had no interest in harming anyone but she told me, “You have to learn how to harm, in order to learn how to heal. The power comes hand-in-hand.” Apart from that lesson, life has taught me that a curse can be justified, and that in rare instances it can be down right compassionate. It is the use of knowledge that determines whether it is good or evil, not the knowledge itself.

To my mind allowing Wicca’s religious stance to determine what gets printed about traditional Witchcraft is wrong and pollutes the baraka of an ancient art. For instance Paul Huson’s book Mastering Witchcraft is one of the only early books of the craft that deals with the subject of vengeance and attack, and was given a horrible reputation in the Pagan community because of it. I have been to stores that refused to even carry it. One that did felt the need to put disclaimers all over it stating that it was “Not Real Witchcraft.” The book didn’t endorse vengeance and attack. It merely tried to present the full scope of the art it claimed to teach. In doing so, it put the preceding chapter on counter-magic and protection into great context. If anything, the craft teaches personal responsibility. Why then can we not trust readers to make their own ethical decisions about the craft?

Materia:

In the aforementioned article on beliefnet.com, Gardnerian Priestess Judy Harrow, author of Spiritual Mentoring, was quoted as saying:

“I remember once a man solemnly informing me that if a spell calls for, say, blue candles, and the candles are whi

te candles dipped in blue instead of being blue all the way through, the spell will fail or maybe even backfire… People who believe that (magic) power is in ‘the stuff’ will not be able to access the power if ‘the stuff’ is not handy.”

A proficient Witch learns to substitute items that can’t be gotten in time. We also learn the magics of breath, gaze, gesture and incantation that can be cast without materials of any type whatsoever. While I agree that not all the power is in “the stuff, ” there certainly is quite a bit more than many modern writers would have you think. Many modern books make the case that “it’s all in your mind” and that the materials are just props with no real power of their own. This to me is disrespectful to the Witches and sorcerers that painstakingly wrote down formularies and philtres over the centuries. If this was really the case, why bother getting the ingredients right at all? Why not just write down “Devils Shoe Strings” on nine pieces of paper and use them instead of the herb? Try it and see what kind of results you get. Having lived in Nepal and worked with various Ngakpas (sorcerers) and Jankris (shaman) , I can tell you that they take their ingredients very seriously. I can say the same about the Bokors and Root Doctors of New Orleans.

Flying ointment made from mugwort in a carrier oil may be safer, but it is not just as good as one made from hemlock, belladonna, and other baneful herbs carefully mixed and applied. A stone with a hole drilled in it will not work as well as a real hagstone formed by running water. A twig from the backyard will not provide as good a basis for an influence charm as a whole High John root. These things have a tradition that goes back hundred of years and should not be cast aside so easily.

Psychological Reductionism:

Australian sociologist Douglas Ezzy was quoted in the beliefnet.com article regarding the effect of spells themselves:

“In his paper ‘New Age Witchcraft? Popular spell books and the re-enchantment of everyday life, Ezzy notes that spell books ‘encourage individuals to take control of their lives through self-exploration and self-affirmation. Furthermore, ‘performing magical spells functions as a way of re-discovering the enchanted and mysterious aspects of life.’”

McColman further interprets this:

“In other words, spells are more than just magical recipes for getting your own way; they are miniature rituals designed to foster a sense of mystery and wonder (what Ezzy calls ‘enchantment’) in everyday life, and to evoke a positive sense of power and hope in the spell-caster’s life. Even if casting a spell doesn’t make you rich or win you love, it could give you hope that such blessings really are possible in your life.

There are many Pagans and Wiccans that have no interest, belief in, or talent for spell-casting. That’s okay. I don’t believe that Witchcraft was ever meant to be a widespread practice. It may be elitist of me to suggest it, but I don’t think that everyone can cast an effective spell. Some can, some can’t. What we have today however are people drawn to the purely religious and spiritual aspects of Neo-Paganism and mistaking it for Witchcraft. They need to find a way to explain the place of spell-casting in a modern world, so its gets explained away in psycho-babble.

Many teachers today will explain that spells don’t actually offer outer change, only inner change. A spell to help you get a job will perhaps build your confidence but not affect the mind of the interviewer. The claim is that the magick is providing mystery, wonder, and self-affirmation. These are all good things, but it is clear that Witches throughout history did not feel this way about their craft, and neither do I!

I and many others know from experience that a well placed and executed spell can alter future events, affect the mind and spirit of a target or a client, and generally deliver the goods that are traditionally attributed to the craft. The effectiveness of this depends on the ability of the practitioner, knowledge of the art, and skillful application of that power and knowledge. Some people have a talent for practical magic. Some do not. Not so long ago, if you didn’t have a gift or calling for Witchcraft, you would not have been drawn to it. Now that it has become a popular subculture and religion, I wonder if people that don’t have much talent for spell work feel the need to write it off? To be clear I don’t think that you need to practice spellcraft to be a Pagan, or even a Wiccan, but that doesn’t mean we should reduce the classical art of Witchcraft to therapeutic drama.

McColman quotes writer Laura LaVoie as saying: “One of my fears with the spell books is that they send the wrong message to those looking for answers on how to be Pagan.” I have heard her fear echoed often in the Pagan community but very few consider the other side of the coin: Neo-Pagans can sometimes send the wrong message to those that just want to practice Witchcraft.

It’s pretty easy to tell whether a book is religious or is a collection of spells. I find it difficult to believe that someone looking to get a start in a new religion would pick up an Encyclopedia of Spells. On the other hand I do know of many people who came to a spiritual path, Wiccan or otherwise, through a desire to cast spells that opened up deeper questions.

I have what I consider to be a very rigorous and serious spiritual practice. I also am a professional Occultist who does readings and magick for pay. If Wicca doesn’t want to be confused with spell-casting, then they should stop using the term Witchcraft and Wicca interchangeably. Wicca represents one tradition of Witchcraft, not the whole practice.

There is room for both spells and Spirit. Keep the spell books coming! Keep the Pagan books coming! Keep the Wiccan books coming! Let them all get better researched and lead people deeper into the mysteries, from whatever angle of approach they choose.

May the Blessing, Cursing, and Cunning Be!


Footnotes: McColman, Carl, Is Wicca Under A Spell?”, beliefnet.com, 2005.

Wiccan and Witchcraft – Questions and Answers

Wiccan and Witchcraft – Questions and Answers

Author:   Gentle Deer Lion Tamer  

This is a compilation of questions that I have been asked over the past few years, and my answers to each. I hope that this provides a better and clearer understanding about Witches, Wicca, Witchcraft, Pagans and The Craft, and helps eliminate some of the misconceptions that are floating around rampantly.

Q. Are Wicca and Witchcraft the same thing?

A. Some say yes, and some say no. I suppose the only way to navigate this question safely is to point out what some may consider the main differences. In general, Wiccans feel free to review different belief systems, such as Celtic, Norse, Essene, Gnosis, or Shamanism, along with many other Paths, and then blend together any points that “feel” right into their own personal path. Pure Witchcraft on the other hand, may focus a little more tightly on using Magick and ritual to work with the elemental and spiritual forces in nature. Regardless, I feel the differences are slight in that Wicca and Witchcraft both work to achieve balance and harmony within nature and one’s self.

Personally, I follow a predominately Celtic Shamanic Wiccan path. As time passes, I find myself increasingly drawing upon the wisdom and beliefs of other spiritual paths as my knowledge and understanding of them increases. So, when asked I’ll tell you I’m a Witch, I also consider myself a Wiccan and Shaman because I utilize and blend aspects of them all.

On the other hand, some that I know have the same belief concepts as I do, on many levels, yet call themselves Christian and even Muslim among other various Paths, and would not ever call themselves witches.

Q. Who do Witches Worship?

A. There is a single power defined as the One or All, which is composed of everything it has ever created. This supreme energy force does not rule over the Universe, it IS the Universe. Since most find it difficult to talk to or call upon a faceless mass of Divine energy, this supreme power is personified into male and female aspects as the Goddess and God. This simply makes the concept easier for the human mind to comprehend and relate to. Some take this concept a step further and use actual names, like Astarte, Isis, Odin, Pan, Diana, Cernunnos, etc., when invoking the Goddess and God. In the end, it is a personal preference and what a Witch uses depends on what “feels” right for them individually.

Q. How do Witches view Christianity? Are Witches Anti-Christian?

A. Not necessarily. Witchcraft, overall, is very tolerant of other religious views, and does not engage itself in criticizing the beliefs of other people, providing that their beliefs do not violate the basic tenant of “Harm None.” Witches do object to religions that attempt to suppress the religious beliefs of others, or every human’s right to seek spirituality in their own way. This is why there is a slight rub between Wiccans, Pagans, Witches, and some Christians. Many of them feel they have exclusive rights to the Divine. We also have a strong disdain for those who use religion as an excuse to commit mass genocide. The “Burning Times” are a clear historical example of one religious group attempting to exert its philosophies and beliefs upon others using extreme measures.

Perhaps an over simplified way of describing our view is this: Imagine a beautiful meadow in the forest, and there are many paths leading to this meadow. It really does not matter which path you take to get there, the important thing is that you get there without harming anyone or anything along the way.

Q. Can I follow the path of Wicca or Witchcraft and be a Christian too?

A. Again, some say yes, and others maintain that they are completely separate religions. I believe that if one looks closely at the true teachings of Jesus with an open heart, you will find some stark commonalities. (In reality, in my personal opinion, Jesus was an excellent example of a true Pagan.) It is only when one takes literally the sometimes-frail misinterpretations of those who misunderstood the intent or used the teachings to suit their own political agendas that one see’s wide differences.

As a solitary you are free to choose any path you desire, or any blend that “feels” right to you. The important thing is to not allow a name or word to become a stumbling block. It is the intent of your actions, thoughts and spirituality that matters in the end. I incorporate Native American traditions/healings/ceremonies within what I do at a spiritual and healing level. Ultimately you must do what “feels” right to you…

Q. The Wiccan Rede says “An it harm none, do as ye will.” Does that mean a Witch can do anything they want and its okay if they justify the action to themselves?

A. An excellent question indeed! And the answer is no… The whole premise of our belief system is based on living in harmony with all things that exist. This includes, but is not limited to the earth, trees, rivers, lakes, oceans, air, and all of earth’s creatures, as well as other people without regard to race, color, religion, or sexual orientation.

My interpretation of the Rede tells me that the creative force of the universe has given me an inner voice, or “conscience, ” which tells me what is right or wrong. It is also this consciousness that connects me to the Divine. By listening to this inner voice, (Perhaps I should clarify here. No I do not hear voices, it is more like something I feel) I try to analyze my impulses and feelings to ensure they are not driven by greed, lust, envy, prejudice or anger. If they are, I try to put them in perspective or discard them all together. I then use common sense and judgment in my actions and accept full responsibility for them. This is not always easy to do, but I try. By keeping these ideals of right and wrong foremost in my mind, as well as seeking to obtain harmony and balance with nature and all living things, I am able to do my best at following the Rede as I go through my day.

This is not to say that Witches are perfect, never do anything wrong, or make mistakes. We are still human. We are aware of, or try to be aware of the karmic return of our actions, and are very careful not to send out negative energy in thought or deed.

Yes, sometimes a Witch will focus an energy form toward someone who needs a psychic zap. This is only done however when a person is consistently doing something very wrong within society and causing a lot of harm to others. If and when a Witch does zap someone, they do so with the full knowledge that it will eventually return to them and there will be a price to pay according to the Law of Three. There are times when we simply must make a personal sacrifice for the good of the whole and shoulder this weight.

When confronted with this type of situation, I prefer to bring this person to the attention of the Goddess, asking her that justice be done according to her will. In this way I am not focusing negative energy towards the individual and therefore am less likely to suffer karmic repercussions.

Q. If Wicca and Witchcraft are not evil, why do you wear black robes?

A. This is another baseless superstition and Witches wear clothing and robes of every color. Black is the combination of all colors and all vibrational rates of light on the material plane. It is known that black is a very good conductor of energy, therefore wearing black simply helps Witches absorb natural energy to increase the power of their thought forms. Some Witches wear nothing at all (skyclad) when performing ritual.)

Q. Okay, so if Wicca and Witchcraft are not evil, why do you hold rituals and ceremonies at night hidden in the woods?

A. This practice has its history in a couple of different things, none of which have anything to do with evil… In the old world, especially within the Celtic tribes, the day followed an entirely different schedule than it does in modern times. The new day for them actually began at sunset. This is also why most observances of holidays were celebrated on the evening before the actual calendar day. The second reason is that survival had an entirely different meaning during those times. Almost without exception, everyone spent their daylight hours tending the crops, their herds, or engaged in their trade. All daylight hours were vitally important simply for survival reasons.

Okay, so that takes care of why we observed our rites at night during ancient times, and many of the reasons are the same in today’s times. For one, most of us are busy working all day earning a living, so the evening is the only time we have to seek spiritual communion. Secondly, Wicca and Witchcraft are still largely misunderstood religions and we are still persecuted for our beliefs. Another reason that is important for me, and possibly for others as well is that I feel a special closeness to the Goddess and God at night. Yes I can, and do, enjoy the mountains and meadows during the daylight, or a sunrise and sunset, but I am truly more aware of the heavens and the great expanse of the Universe at night, so it just makes sense for me.

Q. What form does the practice of Witchcraft take?

A. The form and context vary from group to group, and between each ritual, and may run the gamut from elaborate ceremony to spontaneous ritual to simple meditation.

Q. How do you see the Goddess and God?

A. Wiccans believe that there are female/male aspects to the One or All and without the union and balance of these two aspects, nothing can exist. Read the answer to question number two for more on this.

Q. Do all Witches practice their religion the same way?

A. Yes and no. Wicca is a highly individualistic religion. Moreover, the number of different sects within the Craft may give the impression that no two groups practice the same way. Though practices may vary, most traditions have many similarities, such as the working of magick and a respect for nature. Most Witches find enough common ground for mutual support and productive networking throughout the Craft community.

Q. Is Witchcraft a cult?

A. No. Cults are groups that trade a sense of salvation and belonging for the ability to think for oneself. They indulge in extravagant homage or adoration (Webster’s Dictionary) , usually of an earthly leader of some sort. If you know a real Witch, you’ll quickly come to find the term “Cult” could not apply to us. Most Wiccans, Witches and Pagans come to the Craft individually through reading and communing with nature. They often will remain solitary in their beliefs but other will also find like-minded people to celebrate seasonal cycles or monthly moons with. Witches are extremely individualistic, self-sufficient and defend the right of free will without hesitation.

Q. Do Witches have a bible?

A. No. A bible is supposedly the word of a deity revealed through a prophet. Witchcraft is a Pagan folk-religion of personal experience. Witchcraft in the old times was much the same as the beliefs of the Essenes, Gnostics, Druids, and many other religions. The teachings were passed along by spoken word through long periods of one-on-one instruction with an Elder of the Craft. This approach was taken because the power and knowledge could be misused in the wrong hands. Therefore, by using only the spoken word, the old masters could ensure those who wished to follow the path had a true understanding and their hearts were in the right place as their knowledge of the mysteries grew. Unfortunately, when the medieval church began its attempts to convert and eliminate rival belief systems, the teachers were either killed outright or went underground resulting in much of the ancient knowledge being lost.

Q. If Witches don’t have a bible, what do you use?

A. Most modern Witches keep a Book of Shadows, (BOS) or Grimoire, which is more like an individual’s workbook, journal, or diary, meaningful to the person who keeps it. This book contains rituals, discoveries, spells, poetry, herb lore, etc. Covens almost always keep a similar group book. I am not exactly sure how the name “Book of Shadows” came to be, but I would assume that this also ties into the Burning Times when the church set out to eliminate all texts along with the followers of the old ways. The writings that existed were more than likely were taken into the shadows and hidden with the survivors.

Q. The word Tradition is used quite often. What is the exact meaning of this?

A. Here the word Tradition relates to the beliefs of a specific geographical region such as Celtic, Germanic, Norse, Gardenarian, Alexandrian, Dianic, etc., and is sometimes broken down into further subsets. Essentially it is much the same as the variety of denominations seen within Christianity, such as Methodist, Mormon or Catholic.

Q. Do Witches cast spells?

A. Some do and some don’t. Spellwork should never be the focus of following this path and those who seek our ways only for this purpose are very misguided. A spell is a ritual formula, or series of steps, to direct psychic energy to accomplish a desired end. This energy is drawn from the Earth with the aid of elementals, concentrated and sent out into the world to achieve a positive goal. Since Witchcraft teaches that whatever one sends out is returned threefold, Witches are very careful to never send out harmful energy carelessly. The Christian word for this is “Prayer”. The only real difference is that Witches also invoke the aid of spirit guides, familiars or other elemental energies to add strength to the process as well as using ritual tools.

Q. Do Witches worship the devil?

A. No. Satan, or the Devil, has absolutely no place in Wicca or Witchcraft. The worship of Satan is the practice of profaning Christian symbolism and is thus a Christian heresy, rather than a Pagan religion. The Goddess and God of the Witches are in no way connected to Satanic practices. Satan, or the Devil, does not belong to our pantheon of Gods and Goddesses. Satan, or the Devil, is a Christian creation.

Q. Are Witches only women?

A. No, although women do seem to predominate in the Craft overall. In fact, some traditions have only women practitioners, just as others have only men. A male Witch is simply called a Witch, never a warlock and it is considered an insult to call a male Witch “Warlock”. The word “Warlock” actually means “oath breaker”. Some traditions of Wicca separate between female/male. The word “Wicce” pronounced (Wik-kay) designates a female Witch and “Wicca” pronounced (Wik-kah) designates a male Witch.

Q. How do Witches view Sex?

A. Sex is part of nature and sacred to the Deities and Witches. Just like everyone else, we think it’s wonderful. The Great Rite at Beltane is a symbolic representation of the union between the Goddess and God resulting in the creation of all that exists. Very few, if any, traditions engage in sex as a part of group rites and there are no orgies during ritual. Many couples that have chosen each other, and jointly follow the path, do use sex magick in their private rites and rituals, however. It is a deeply intimate sharing of body, spirit and soul, which bonds them together, closer than anything else can.

Q. What is the purpose of performing ceremonies Skyclad?

A. The term skyclad means “Clad only by the sky”. Not all Witches perform rituals skyclad, but there are those who believe that the absence of clothing allows energy to transfer to and from them more freely. Many simply feel closer to the Goddess and God while in their natural form without the bindings of human technology, insecurities or socially retarded inhibitions regarding the human form. Many wear a robe or some other clothing made of natural materials while participating in group activities and go skyclad only when observing rites alone or with their mate. Regardless, going skyclad during ritual is in no way a sexual act, it is a deeply spiritual one for those who “choose” to do so.

Q. Is Witchcraft a religion?

A. Yes, Witchcraft is a nature based religion and it has been recognized as such in the United States and Canada. In the U.S., Wicca has full recognition as a religion and is granted all rights as such under the Constitution. The American Heritage Dictionary defines religion as “a belief in and reverence for a supernatural power recognized as the creator and governor of the universe”. So yes, it does qualify as such. Our definition differs slightly in that to us, the Creator of the universe IS the universe. Witchcraft, or Wicca, is not something that can be followed once in a while or when it is convenient or we need or want something. It is a dedication made to nature, the deities and yourself. It is a way of life, and as such we are mindful of the balance between ourselves and all things within the universe at all times.

Q. How do Witches view death?

A. Many Witches believe in reincarnation and the Summerland. After passing over, Summerland is where the spirit awaits to be returned into a new physical form. We do not believe in an absolute Heaven or Hell where the spirit spends eternity as reward or punishment for ones earthly actions.

Q. How can someone find out more about Witchcraft?

A. Ours is not a missionary religion, and we never try to make converts. We feel that if this path is right for you, you will find your way to it. We are, however, becoming more visual and vocal in an attempt to educate and dispel myths and superstitions about the Craft. You need not worry about a Witch knocking on your door and wanting to come in and share passages from their BOS. For those who are interested there are many excellent books available in libraries and online. Some Witches also teach classes or facilitate discussion groups. In this way, people may make contact with a like-minded Coven, form their own groups or share thoughts and beliefs with others. There are also a growing number of superb craft sites on the Internet, periodicals, and national and regional festivals through which a seeker can make contact with the larger Craft community.

Wicca v Witchcraft

Wicca v Witchcraft

Author:   Irishdize   

What are some of the differences between a Witch and a Wiccan?

Wiccans believe in and worship deities, usually a male and female God or a God and Goddess. Most Witches either worship only the Goddess or see the Goddess as a personification of nature, as I do. Wicca is one religion with laws, such as the Wiccan rede and the law of three. The rede says ‘an it harm none, do what ye will’. While I think it’s a wonderful law that covers just about everything you could ever wonder about, I don’t and cannot follow it. I simply instead do the best I can, given my circumstances. I don’t believe in ‘the law of three’ either which is whatever I send out ‘will come back to me times three’. I certainly believe in the law of Return, but it doesn’t work in quite the same way. Whatever I send out does return, but right away and is usually the exact same lesson reversed back at me. As you might surmise, I am not Wiccan.

Another key difference is that Wiccans will generally take gods and goddesses from mythology and call upon them for certain help, such as calling Aphrodite when they are doing a love spell. I simply do not need to use mythological deities to make my magic work; Magic is using natural energies that exist within me and around me in Nature to bring about change. In fact, one can believe that God doesn’t exist and still work Magic. Wiccans have a Wheel of the Year that they celebrate. There are eight holidays — starting on Oct 31st ‘Samhain’ or the Witches New Years. Their holiday structure has four high holy days and four low days as well as 13 Moons, some full and some new, when Magic is usually worked or divination is usually done.

I have random ritual days wherein I will spend the entire day or night in ritual, reading, contemplating, spirit dancing, or just connecting to the trees, rocks, the grass, whatever I feel like doing. Sometimes I will watch spiritually uplifting movies or listen to Native American music. Sometimes, I will just sleep or do readings by dice and Tarot. It’s all unplanned and very spontaneous whereas in Wicca, it’s usually planned down to the letter. Spells are written out before they are performed, as are rituals and of course, as I said, they know what day is a ritual day and what not. Most Wiccans I have encountered believe that their strongest magic can only happen on Full and New Moons. I disagree completely. Magic comes from within; it doesn’t matter what day or night one performs it and it doesn’t matter how well written your spell is or what tools you have (if you even have any tools) .

Most Wiccans have many tools and an Athame to direct energy or cast the circle. This is done for many reasons I am told: to create sacred space, to have a protective barrier against negative energies, lurking spirits or unexpected Visitors (human or animal) or to keep the magic within the circle until they are ready to send it out to do its purpose.

Witches like myself generally see no reason for a circle. Nature is holy; The Universe is Divine. There is no place in Nature that is not sacred already to us, so if the circle is being drawn for that reason, it isn’t needed. The energies that are around us at all times are both positive and negative, and while you can definitely put a mental shield up to protect yourself against such energies that cause you stress or harm, an imaginary circle isn’t needed. but by all means if you feel a need for it, who am I to say you shouldn’t do it?

Lurking spirits aren’t relevant to me as I don’t believe in spirits or ghosts and let me tell you something honestly, I have NEVER cast a circle in ritual while doing magic and never had my spells backfire or had any negative response. Sure, I’ve had spells that didn’t work because I didn’t put the right amount of effort into them but that had nothing to do with not casting an invisible circle or because I didn’t make the backyard sacred enough. As far as unexpected visitors or animals, my cat is just as sacred as the tree is so I am not worried about his energies affecting my work.

Many other tools that a Wiccan might have are cauldrons, mortar and pestle, wands, specific colored candles, incense, specific books by well respected authors, etc. I use only the following: Incense, Oils, Sage, Candles and Dice. I use Tarot Cards on occasion for personal insight, not to read the future. I do believe that you have to use specific colors to achieve certain goals but at the same time I KNOW that this isn’t true, I have used a yellow candle, for example, to bring money into my life and it worked because ultimately the candle is just a tool, Magic comes from within me and around me but I NEED what I NEED at the moment and candle colors represents some inner need, so I embrace that at the moment.

Books are of my own choosing. I read what I am drawn to read. A lot of the times, the books on my shelves are devotionals from different religions or books on Wicca (because that’s all I can find) . I have heard from several Wiccans that we should not read books written by certain authors. Let me tell you, read whatever feels right to you, whatever you are drawn to. Don’t worry about what another person thinks about you or your path. Maybe you need to read something in that book to teach you a lesson?

Of course, we Shadak Witches also have 108 Books of Shadak that we draw inspiration and wisdom from. These books have been handwritten or typed out by modern-day Witches with computers and are leather bound. These books are filled with the thoughts, ideas and opinions of our family members as well as instructions, rules and rule changes, counsel decisions and more and are to be read alongside any other books of our choosing.

Most Wiccans I have met believe in the Summerlands or life after death, ghosts, and angels. I’ve even heard some Wiccans speak of demons, which are from the Christian religion. I suspect these are Wiccans who were raised around Christianity.

I believe that when a person dies, their energy is reabsorbed back into Nature, back into the Goddess. I don’t believe in a traditional afterlife, so no Summerlands, no angels, no ghosts, no demons. I don’t believe in Jesus either -shocking, huh?

My altar is very simple, as well. I have two altars at the moment because I am living in my own apartment and then, part time, with my boyfriend. Both altars are just flat wooden tables. Both have candles on them, incense, oils, sage, some dice, Tarot Cards, books, flowers in a vase. Nothing elaborate; no statues, no athames, no pictures of the lord and lady, no pentacles…though I do wear a pentacle necklace and a pentacle ring, Both to me represent that I am Pagan, that I believe in the 4 elements and spirit and the six senses.

Most Wiccans have a year-and a-day of study. They can start out a bright-eyed bushy-tailed young teen ager and a year later become a High Priestess who doesn’t even know how to read tarot cards!

In Witchcraft, there either is no degree system at all — because progress is marked personally by how much we have learned or how much we have experienced — or there is a personal degree system such as the one that I follow which takes many YEARS to get through until you can become a High Priest. There are six levels within each degree in the system I follow and you earn a level by reading certain books and doing what you are supposed to do in the books. You do a simplistic ritual to see if you have earned a level. The die is instrumental in determining this.

Wiccans care very much about the rede and law of three. They don’t hurt people willy-nilly. But in The Tradition of Witchcraft I was raised in, we must wait for certain changes to happen. We must wait for the doors to open. This means that if I want to go to college, I must read The Books, cast the dice and wait for that door to open, Wiccans may just apply and attend school, not thinking about whether or not this is their intended path, whether or not they have taken a slot that someone else was supposed to have, etc. After all, what rule is there to follow other than the rede?

As far as sex, the body, life on Earth, we have similar views. Sex is sacred to most Wiccans and Witches and whatever someone does, as long as there isn’t harm, is all right. I’m gay and that’s perfectly accepted in both paths. The body is Holy.

Many Wiccans I have encountered tell me that Wicca is the religion and Witchcraft is just Magic. Magic is Magic, folks. You can be a Witch and NEVER practice Magic. There are many Traditions out there called Witchcraft and these people consider this to be their religion or spiritual path, as I do! If someone asked me what my religion was, I would say I am a Unitarian Universalist and a Solitary Eclectic Witch. I might also say that I am a Shadak Witch because Shadakism is the name of the tradition that I was raised in, It would depend on how much time I wanted to invest in explaining myself to the person I was talking with.

Magic is such a small part of being a Witch. I think I have been a Witch for 29 years and have done only about 50 spells in that entire time. Most of what I do is worship Nature, cook, garden, read, contemplate, dance, chant, cleanse, clean, watch TV, listen to music, have sex, walk in the woods, swim and cast dice, which are all parts of being a Witch. You should embrace your spiritual life as well as your ‘mundane’ life.

‘Blessed Be’ is usually a Wiccan saying, much like Merry Meet or Merry Part. Most Witches won’t say this when you meet them. It’s one good way to tell if the person you are speaking with is a Witch or a Wiccan… but some Witches will use the term if they are speaking with someone else who uses it. For example, my sister is Wiccan and will often end our conversations with “Blessed Be!” and out of respect I will also say it.

So, out of respect for the Wiccans who chose to read this, I say, “Blessed Be”!

Spell Casting: The Witches’ Craft

Spell Casting: The Witches’ Craft

Author: Jason Miller (Inominandum) 

The Greeks made a distinction between theurgy and thaumaturgy. Theurgy literally means “God working” and refers to spiritual work that leads one into illumination or gnosis. Thaumaturgy means, “wonder working” and refers to the conjuration of spirits, casting of spells, blessing, cursing, curing and harming through practical magick. The balance between these two aspects of the craft has been an issue since the emergence of Wicca in the 1950’s. Does spell casting overshadow religion? This debate has been heating up in online groups and blogs recently due to a story on beliefnet.com by Carl McColman entitled Is Wicca Under a Spell, which deals with both sides of the issue. Many people in the Pagan community that I have spoken with feel that magick and sorcery do the religious aspects of Wicca no good and should be downplayed. Some I have spoken to have no interest in spell-casting at all, or perhaps don’t even believe in practical magick, and thus see this aspect of the craft as an obstacle to Wicca taking its place as a major Western religion. I would like to take this opportunity to present the opposing argument.

What often gets overlooked is that Wicca and Witchcraft are not the same thing. The terms are often used interchangeably but Witchcraft is a craft that can be, but isn’t necessarily, part of a religion. Wicca is most definitely a religion. While not all Wiccan traditions stem by lineage from Gerald Gardner, by and large they use a constellation of terms and beliefs that were first put in place by him and those that came after, thus we can say that we can trace Wicca more or less back to him. Witchcraft is a larger area than this. Isaac Bonewits once provided a breakdown of the types of Witches in America, which can help put this into perspective:

10% Neo-Pagan – Revivalist traditions, including Wicca.
70% Neo-Classical – Those who practice folk magick with mixed Christian and Pagan roots without regard to Witchcraft as a religion.
1-2% Classical village healers who practice completely non-religious folk magick.
1-2% Neo-Gothic – Practitioners of Satanism which is based on the Gothic Witchcraft of the Witch Hysteria Era.
1-2% Family Trads.
1-2% Immigrant Traditions: Pow-wow etc.
10% Practitioners of Vodou, Santeria, etc.

For example one of my ancestors was allegedly a “water witch” who told people where to dig wells. While in Venice I was offered a charm to obtain by a Witch. In both of these cases the Witch in question was a devout Christian. According to this breakdown Neo-Paganism and Wicca account for only %10 of American Witches but even within that scope there are many Witchcraft traditions that make it very clear that they are not Wiccan: The Feri Tradition, The Clan of Tubal Cain and the Cultus Sabbati all represent traditions of the craft that have non-Gardnerian roots, and do not fall under the umbrella of Wicca.

I have an enormous respect for Wicca but I am a Witch, not a Wiccan. I object when the terms are used interchangeably and when Wicca attempts to speak for all Witchcraft. I got involved with the craft during the mid 80’s in North Jersey, just outside of Manhattan. Paul Huson’s Mastering Witchcraft, Herman Slater’s Magickal Formularies, and the little spell books from Original Publications had much more of an influence on my Witchcraft than Scott Cunningham or Ray Buckland. This is not to say that I am not religious: I am. But I learned to use practical magick at an early age and was successful at it. I have traveled all over the world to learn traditional magickal techniques: from New Orleans, to Europe, to Nepal. Today I do magick professionally and consider traditional techniques of spell-working to be just as important as religious and spiritual traditions.

I would argue spell-casting is just as sacred as Wicca and Neo-Paganism and far more ancient and widespread a tradition. So where McColman asks the question: “As publishers produce more books about casting spells, is the spiritual message of Witchcraft getting lost?” I ask the opposite: Is the popular influence of Wicca and Neo-Paganism negatively impacting the tradition of spell casting, or if you will, the Witches’ Craft?

I think it is, on a number of levels. I will give just three examples:

Ethics:

The Wiccan Rede provides a very strong ethical principle for Witches to follow. As such, any mention of curses, jinxes, or harmful magick is frowned upon by the Pagan press. Some take this even further and extend it to spells that influence another’s will or reverse a curse back upon its sender. Very often in modern books I read “A REAL WITCH would never do harmful or coercive magick…” While I can applaud the good intent of these writers, and understand that authors are trying to paint a picture of Wicca that is acceptable to mainstream America, the fact is that this type of magick IS part of a “REAL” Witch’s repertoire. From the lead curse tablets of Greece, to the Gospel of Aradia, to more modern Witches like Sibyl Leek and Andrew Chumbley, cursing and coercion have always been a part of the Craft.

When my teacher taught me my first pieces of harmful magick, I was surprised. I had no interest in harming anyone but she told me, “You have to learn how to harm, in order to learn how to heal. The power comes hand-in-hand.” Apart from that lesson, life has taught me that a curse can be justified, and that in rare instances it can be down right compassionate. It is the use of knowledge that determines whether it is good or evil, not the knowledge itself.

To my mind allowing Wicca’s religious stance to determine what gets printed about traditional Witchcraft is wrong and pollutes the baraka of an ancient art. For instance Paul Huson’s book Mastering Witchcraft is one of the only early books of the craft that deals with the subject of vengeance and attack, and was given a horrible reputation in the Pagan community because of it. I have been to stores that refused to even carry it. One that did felt the need to put disclaimers all over it stating that it was “Not Real Witchcraft.” The book didn’t endorse vengeance and attack. It merely tried to present the full scope of the art it claimed to teach. In doing so, it put the preceding chapter on counter-magic and protection into great context. If anything, the craft teaches personal responsibility. Why then can we not trust readers to make their own ethical decisions about the craft?

Materia:

In the aforementioned article on beliefnet.com, Gardnerian Priestess Judy Harrow, author of Spiritual Mentoring, was quoted as saying:

“I remember once a man solemnly informing me that if a spell calls for, say, blue candles, and the candles are whi

te candles dipped in blue instead of being blue all the way through, the spell will fail or maybe even backfire… People who believe that (magic) power is in ‘the stuff’ will not be able to access the power if ‘the stuff’ is not handy.”

A proficient Witch learns to substitute items that can’t be gotten in time. We also learn the magics of breath, gaze, gesture and incantation that can be cast without materials of any type whatsoever. While I agree that not all the power is in “the stuff, ” there certainly is quite a bit more than many modern writers would have you think. Many modern books make the case that “it’s all in your mind” and that the materials are just props with no real power of their own. This to me is disrespectful to the Witches and sorcerers that painstakingly wrote down formularies and philtres over the centuries. If this was really the case, why bother getting the ingredients right at all? Why not just write down “Devils Shoe Strings” on nine pieces of paper and use them instead of the herb? Try it and see what kind of results you get. Having lived in Nepal and worked with various Ngakpas (sorcerers) and Jankris (shaman) , I can tell you that they take their ingredients very seriously. I can say the same about the Bokors and Root Doctors of New Orleans.

Flying ointment made from mugwort in a carrier oil may be safer, but it is not just as good as one made from hemlock, belladonna, and other baneful herbs carefully mixed and applied. A stone with a hole drilled in it will not work as well as a real hagstone formed by running water. A twig from the backyard will not provide as good a basis for an influence charm as a whole High John root. These things have a tradition that goes back hundred of years and should not be cast aside so easily.

Psychological Reductionism:

Australian sociologist Douglas Ezzy was quoted in the beliefnet.com article regarding the effect of spells themselves:

“In his paper ‘New Age Witchcraft? Popular spell books and the re-enchantment of everyday life, Ezzy notes that spell books ‘encourage individuals to take control of their lives through self-exploration and self-affirmation. Furthermore, ‘performing magical spells functions as a way of re-discovering the enchanted and mysterious aspects of life.’”

McColman further interprets this:

“In other words, spells are more than just magical recipes for getting your own way; they are miniature rituals designed to foster a sense of mystery and wonder (what Ezzy calls ‘enchantment’) in everyday life, and to evoke a positive sense of power and hope in the spell-caster’s life. Even if casting a spell doesn’t make you rich or win you love, it could give you hope that such blessings really are possible in your life.

There are many Pagans and Wiccans that have no interest, belief in, or talent for spell-casting. That’s okay. I don’t believe that Witchcraft was ever meant to be a widespread practice. It may be elitist of me to suggest it, but I don’t think that everyone can cast an effective spell. Some can, some can’t. What we have today however are people drawn to the purely religious and spiritual aspects of Neo-Paganism and mistaking it for Witchcraft. They need to find a way to explain the place of spell-casting in a modern world, so its gets explained away in psycho-babble.

Many teachers today will explain that spells don’t actually offer outer change, only inner change. A spell to help you get a job will perhaps build your confidence but not affect the mind of the interviewer. The claim is that the magick is providing mystery, wonder, and self-affirmation. These are all good things, but it is clear that Witches throughout history did not feel this way about their craft, and neither do I!

I and many others know from experience that a well placed and executed spell can alter future events, affect the mind and spirit of a target or a client, and generally deliver the goods that are traditionally attributed to the craft. The effectiveness of this depends on the ability of the practitioner, knowledge of the art, and skillful application of that power and knowledge. Some people have a talent for practical magic. Some do not. Not so long ago, if you didn’t have a gift or calling for Witchcraft, you would not have been drawn to it. Now that it has become a popular subculture and religion, I wonder if people that don’t have much talent for spell work feel the need to write it off? To be clear I don’t think that you need to practice spellcraft to be a Pagan, or even a Wiccan, but that doesn’t mean we should reduce the classical art of Witchcraft to therapeutic drama.

McColman quotes writer Laura LaVoie as saying: “One of my fears with the spell books is that they send the wrong message to those looking for answers on how to be Pagan.” I have heard her fear echoed often in the Pagan community but very few consider the other side of the coin: Neo-Pagans can sometimes send the wrong message to those that just want to practice Witchcraft.

It’s pretty easy to tell whether a book is religious or is a collection of spells. I find it difficult to believe that someone looking to get a start in a new religion would pick up an Encyclopedia of Spells. On the other hand I do know of many people who came to a spiritual path, Wiccan or otherwise, through a desire to cast spells that opened up deeper questions.

I have what I consider to be a very rigorous and serious spiritual practice. I also am a professional Occultist who does readings and magick for pay. If Wicca doesn’t want to be confused with spell-casting, then they should stop using the term Witchcraft and Wicca interchangeably. Wicca represents one tradition of Witchcraft, not the whole practice.

There is room for both spells and Spirit. Keep the spell books coming! Keep the Pagan books coming! Keep the Wiccan books coming! Let them all get better researched and lead people deeper into the mysteries, from whatever angle of approach they choose.

May the Blessing, Cursing, and Cunning Be!


Footnotes: McColman, Carl, Is Wicca Under A Spell?”, beliefnet.com, 2005.

Wicca v Witchcraft

Wicca v Witchcraft

Author: Irishdize

What are some of the differences between a Witch and a Wiccan?

Wiccans believe in and worship deities, usually a male and female God or a God and Goddess. Most Witches either worship only the Goddess or see the Goddess as a personification of nature, as I do. Wicca is one religion with laws, such as the Wiccan rede and the law of three. The rede says ‘an it harm none, do what ye will’. While I think it’s a wonderful law that covers just about everything you could ever wonder about, I don’t and cannot follow it. I simply instead do the best I can, given my circumstances. I don’t believe in ‘the law of three’ either which is whatever I send out ‘will come back to me times three’. I certainly believe in the law of Return, but it doesn’t work in quite the same way. Whatever I send out does return, but right away and is usually the exact same lesson reversed back at me. As you might surmise, I am not Wiccan.

Another key difference is that Wiccans will generally take gods and goddesses from mythology and call upon them for certain help, such as calling Aphrodite when they are doing a love spell. I simply do not need to use mythological deities to make my magic work; Magic is using natural energies that exist within me and around me in Nature to bring about change. In fact, one can believe that God doesn’t exist and still work Magic. Wiccans have a Wheel of the Year that they celebrate. There are eight holidays — starting on Oct 31st ‘Samhain’ or the Witches New Years. Their holiday structure has four high holy days and four low days as well as 13 Moons, some full and some new, when Magic is usually worked or divination is usually done.

I have random ritual days wherein I will spend the entire day or night in ritual, reading, contemplating, spirit dancing, or just connecting to the trees, rocks, the grass, whatever I feel like doing. Sometimes I will watch spiritually uplifting movies or listen to Native American music. Sometimes, I will just sleep or do readings by dice and Tarot. It’s all unplanned and very spontaneous whereas in Wicca, it’s usually planned down to the letter. Spells are written out before they are performed, as are rituals and of course, as I said, they know what day is a ritual day and what not. Most Wiccans I have encountered believe that their strongest magic can only happen on Full and New Moons. I disagree completely. Magic comes from within; it doesn’t matter what day or night one performs it and it doesn’t matter how well written your spell is or what tools you have (if you even have any tools) .

Most Wiccans have many tools and an Athame to direct energy or cast the circle. This is done for many reasons I am told: to create sacred space, to have a protective barrier against negative energies, lurking spirits or unexpected Visitors (human or animal) or to keep the magic within the circle until they are ready to send it out to do its purpose.

Witches like myself generally see no reason for a circle. Nature is holy; The Universe is Divine. There is no place in Nature that is not sacred already to us, so if the circle is being drawn for that reason, it isn’t needed. The energies that are around us at all times are both positive and negative, and while you can definitely put a mental shield up to protect yourself against such energies that cause you stress or harm, an imaginary circle isn’t needed. but by all means if you feel a need for it, who am I to say you shouldn’t do it?

Lurking spirits aren’t relevant to me as I don’t believe in spirits or ghosts and let me tell you something honestly, I have NEVER cast a circle in ritual while doing magic and never had my spells backfire or had any negative response. Sure, I’ve had spells that didn’t work because I didn’t put the right amount of effort into them but that had nothing to do with not casting an invisible circle or because I didn’t make the backyard sacred enough. As far as unexpected visitors or animals, my cat is just as sacred as the tree is so I am not worried about his energies affecting my work.

Many other tools that a Wiccan might have are cauldrons, mortar and pestle, wands, specific colored candles, incense, specific books by well respected authors, etc. I use only the following: Incense, Oils, Sage, Candles and Dice. I use Tarot Cards on occasion for personal insight, not to read the future. I do believe that you have to use specific colors to achieve certain goals but at the same time I KNOW that this isn’t true, I have used a yellow candle, for example, to bring money into my life and it worked because ultimately the candle is just a tool, Magic comes from within me and around me but I NEED what I NEED at the moment and candle colors represents some inner need, so I embrace that at the moment.

Books are of my own choosing. I read what I am drawn to read. A lot of the times, the books on my shelves are devotionals from different religions or books on Wicca (because that’s all I can find) . I have heard from several Wiccans that we should not read books written by certain authors. Let me tell you, read whatever feels right to you, whatever you are drawn to. Don’t worry about what another person thinks about you or your path. Maybe you need to read something in that book to teach you a lesson?

Of course, we Shadak Witches also have 108 Books of Shadak that we draw inspiration and wisdom from. These books have been handwritten or typed out by modern-day Witches with computers and are leather bound. These books are filled with the thoughts, ideas and opinions of our family members as well as instructions, rules and rule changes, counsel decisions and more and are to be read alongside any other books of our choosing.

Most Wiccans I have met believe in the Summerlands or life after death, ghosts, and angels. I’ve even heard some Wiccans speak of demons, which are from the Christian religion. I suspect these are Wiccans who were raised around Christianity.

I believe that when a person dies, their energy is reabsorbed back into Nature, back into the Goddess. I don’t believe in a traditional afterlife, so no Summerlands, no angels, no ghosts, no demons. I don’t believe in Jesus either -shocking, huh?

My altar is very simple, as well. I have two altars at the moment because I am living in my own apartment and then, part time, with my boyfriend. Both altars are just flat wooden tables. Both have candles on them, incense, oils, sage, some dice, Tarot Cards, books, flowers in a vase. Nothing elaborate; no statues, no athames, no pictures of the lord and lady, no pentacles…though I do wear a pentacle necklace and a pentacle ring, Both to me represent that I am Pagan, that I believe in the 4 elements and spirit and the six senses.

Most Wiccans have a year-and a-day of study. They can start out a bright-eyed bushy-tailed young teen ager and a year later become a High Priestess who doesn’t even know how to read tarot cards!

In Witchcraft, there either is no degree system at all — because progress is marked personally by how much we have learned or how much we have experienced — or there is a personal degree system such as the one that I follow which takes many YEARS to get through until you can become a High Priest. There are six levels within each degree in the system I follow and you earn a level by reading certain books and doing what you are supposed to do in the books. You do a simplistic ritual to see if you have earned a level. The die is instrumental in determining this.

Wiccans care very much about the rede and law of three. They don’t hurt people willy-nilly. But in The Tradition of Witchcraft I was raised in, we must wait for certain changes to happen. We must wait for the doors to open. This means that if I want to go to college, I must read The Books, cast the dice and wait for that door to open, Wiccans may just apply and attend school, not thinking about whether or not this is their intended path, whether or not they have taken a slot that someone else was supposed to have, etc. After all, what rule is there to follow other than the rede?

As far as sex, the body, life on Earth, we have similar views. Sex is sacred to most Wiccans and Witches and whatever someone does, as long as there isn’t harm, is all right. I’m gay and that’s perfectly accepted in both paths. The body is Holy.

Many Wiccans I have encountered tell me that Wicca is the religion and Witchcraft is just Magic. Magic is Magic, folks. You can be a Witch and NEVER practice Magic. There are many Traditions out there called Witchcraft and these people consider this to be their religion or spiritual path, as I do! If someone asked me what my religion was, I would say I am a Unitarian Universalist and a Solitary Eclectic Witch. I might also say that I am a Shadak Witch because Shadakism is the name of the tradition that I was raised in, It would depend on how much time I wanted to invest in explaining myself to the person I was talking with.

Magic is such a small part of being a Witch. I think I have been a Witch for 29 years and have done only about 50 spells in that entire time. Most of what I do is worship Nature, cook, garden, read, contemplate, dance, chant, cleanse, clean, watch TV, listen to music, have sex, walk in the woods, swim and cast dice, which are all parts of being a Witch. You should embrace your spiritual life as well as your ‘mundane’ life.

‘Blessed Be’ is usually a Wiccan saying, much like Merry Meet or Merry Part. Most Witches won’t say this when you meet them. It’s one good way to tell if the person you are speaking with is a Witch or a Wiccan… but some Witches will use the term if they are speaking with someone else who uses it. For example, my sister is Wiccan and will often end our conversations with “Blessed Be!” and out of respect I will also say it.

So, out of respect for the Wiccans who chose to read this, I say, “Blessed Be”!

Esbats and Sabbats – The Holy Days of Witchcraft

Esbats and Sabbats – The Holy Days of Witchcraft

By

Every religion has its own days of power, reverence and  celebration. Wicca is no different in this regard. The holidays that Wiccans  celebrate are referred to as Sabbats, or the Eight High Holy days. They occur  approximately every six weeks, and denote the changing of the seasons. The sun,  as a representation of the God, is revered during a sabbat, and the ceremony for  a particular holiday is often performed at high noon. The other type of holy day  that is more familiar to most people is the Esbat. The Esbat is a monthly  occurrence that generally coincides with the moon being full. It is the night  when witches gather to perform ritual and magickal workings for the coming  month.

This article will detail all of these holy days and  hopefully shed a little light on what witches do throughout the year to honor  their Deities.

The Esbat
As stated  above, the Esbat is a ceremony that coincides with the cycles of the moon.  Generally, the day that it is done occurs when the moon is full, though this is  not necessary. The full moon is significant because witches firmly believe that  the power of magickal workings wax and wane with the phases of the moon. When  the moon is waxing, or becoming fuller, it is good to perform rites that are  drawing things to you or increasing positive influences in general. When the  moon is waning, or diminishing, it is good for banishing influences that are no  longer wanted, or getting rid of negativity. Yet when the moon is full, the  magickal workings are at their peak, and it is good for nearly any rite that a  witch may wish to perform. The new moon, or dark moon, occurs when the moon is  not visible at all. During this time, the rites that are performed are either  for extreme protection rites or negative magicks.

On whatever day the esbat is performed, it is done in the  evening or at night. The reason behind this is that these rites are meant to be  working with the Goddess, who represented by the moon.

The actual process of performing the esbat can be summed  up very concisely. The witch or coven will gather at a designated ritual space.  There, they will cast a circle, and perform rites that will raise their magickal  and psychic power, and then direct that power at their desired goal. Since there  are so many variables as to what a witch or group of witches may wish to direct  their energy, it is difficult to offer up an example of what these rites may  entail.

However, one of the things that is a common theme among  esbats is that it is a time for connecting and communing with Deity. This is  often done by the reciting of The Wiccan Rede and The Charge of the Goddess  while in circle. Afterwards, time may be spent in either meditation or  performing acts of divination with tarot cards, runes or other means. This is  followed by a communion of cakes and wine, where the gathered witches will  celebrate their coming together and catch up on the previous month and make  plans for the coming one. Then the ritual circle is opened, the leftover cakes  and wine are offered up to Nature, and the witches will go their separate  ways.

The Eight High Holy Days
There are eight major holidays that Wiccans celebrate:
Samhain (pronounce saw-vin or sow-en)  – Yule – Candlemas – Ostara – Beltane – Midsummer –  Lammas – and Mabon

Each of the Holy Days represents a different turning of  the seasons, and a different phase of life. The common representation of these  phases is the God, though many practitioners incorporate an aspect of the  Goddess in some fashion as well. They are primarily Sun festivals, and, unlike  esbats, the rituals are often performed when the sun is at its highest in the  sky.

Sabbats are usually large gatherings where entire families  will come together and celebrate with food and drink in addition to the  religious rites.

Samhain
Samhain is  probably the most recognizable of all of the Wiccan Sabbats. It falls on October  31st and signifies the ending of one cycle of the year. While many view it as  the beginning of the next yearly cycle, that does not actually occur until Yule  in December.

The main symbolism behind this holiday is death and  honoring loved ones that have passed on. It is commonly thought that on this  night, the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest, and witches take  advantage of this opportunity to communicate with their family and friends who  have passed on.

Samhain is also the last harvest festival of the year, and  the last opportunity for the coven and their families to come together to share  their resources before digging in for the winter. The period of time between  Samhain and Yule is spent contemplating plans for the coming year and  remembering the year that has passed.

Yule
Yule is  generally thought to coincide with the Christian holiday of Christmas. This is  not precisely so. Yule actually falls on the day of the winter solstice, which  generally falls on or around December 21st.

The significance of this holiday is that of rebirth. This  is the day where the days begin to grow longer, and the sun is making a  comeback. The general representation of this is of Holly King, a Dark God,  passing and being replaced by the Oak King, or Sun God. Though the sabbat that  signifies the beginning of the year may vary from tradition to tradition, this  is the one that is most popular in signifying the beginning of the year.

All of the sabbats represent a phase of life, and Yule  falls into the fertility category. This is a time of conception, where the  beginnings of life begin to stir. When covens and families come together on this  holiday, plans begin to be made for the coming year, as well as preparations for  the coming spring.

Candlemas
Candlemas  is also known by the name of Imbolc. It is well and truly the first fertility  festival of springtime. The specific date that this day falls on varies from  tradition to tradition, but it can be anywhere from January 31st to February  2nd. At this time, we are beginning to see the very first signs of spring, and  the renewal of life.

The festivities for Candlemas all center on clearing out  the old and making way for the new. The Maiden aspect of the Goddess is honored  at this time, as are any Gods and Goddesses that relate to love and fertility.  This holiday is considered an especially auspicious time for a new marriage or  relationship.

One of the traditional symbols of Candlemas is the plough.  They are often decorated and incorporated into the festivities. Another  tradition for the holiday is to create a besom, a simple broom constructed of  twigs or straw, and use it to ritually cleanse the home. It is then placed near  the front, symbolizing sweeping out the old and welcoming the new.

Ostara
Also called  Eostar, this High Holy Day falls on the spring equinox, on or near March 21st.  This is the second of the three fertility festivals. Springtime is coming on  full force at this time, and planting for the year’s crops is well underway. New  spring growth can be seen everywhere, and the Gods are petitioned for luck with  the crops and the home.

Two of the traditional symbols for this holiday are the  egg and the rabbit. The egg is an emblem of new life and new growth, and it is  incorporated into many ritual workings and festivities at this time. The rabbit,  known for its prolific mating habits, is also a symbol of growth and abundance.  Both also symbolize change. The Christian faith has fully adopted both of these  symbols into their celebrations that occur at near the same time.

Beltane
Also know as  May Day, this Holy Day falls on May first. It is the last of the fertility  festivals for the year, and with it comes unabashed sexuality for many  traditions. The May Pole is one symbol of this holiday that is found throughout  many traditions. It is a tall pole set in the ground, symbolizing the Sun God  uniting with Earth. It is decorated with long ribbons and fresh flowers, and, of  course, maidens traditionally dance around the pole.

One of the traditional May Day activities for this holiday  is to secretly leave baskets of flowers and goodies at the doors of your  neighbors.

Generally, this is a holiday that celebrates and revels in  the return of the sun.

Midsummer
This Holy  Day celebrates the God, represented by the sun in all of his glory. It is  celebrated on the summer solstice, when the longest day of the year takes place.  Midsummer is neither a fertility festival nor a harvest festival. In this way,  it is similar to Yule. On this day, rites often center on protection for the  home and family for the coming year, rites of divination, and celebrating the  abundance of The Oak King in his prime of life.

For those who work with faerie energy in their rites,  Midsummer is an ideal time to commune with them. It is a common tradition for  witches to go out in the twilight and look for faerie folk in stands of oak, ash  and thorn trees.

Lammas
Another name  for this holiday is Lughnassadh. It occurs on August 1st, and it is the first of  the three harvest sabbats celebrated by witches. Attention turns now to harvest  the crops and gardens, and preparations begin for the coming winter. The days  are beginning to grow shorter, and the Sun God begins to lose his strength as  the days grow shorter.

As this is the time of year when we first begin to reap  the bounties of harvest, it is often a holiday accompanied with feasting and  celebration. Decorations and dollies are often made from dried ears of corn, and  used in rites and to decorate the home.

Mabon
Mabon is the  primary harvest festival, counterpoint to Ostara, and it occurs on the Autumnal  Equinox. On this day, witches pay homage to retreating daylight, and prepare for  the coming winter. This holiday symbolizes the God in old age and readying for  his impending death and rebirth.

Though this holiday is a little more somber than the rest  of them, it is also one where Wiccans are sure to give thanks for what they have  received throughout the past year. It is a popular time of year for witches and  pagans to give back to their communities, and generally share their bountiful  harvests.

With so many holidays to celebrate, Wiccans always have  something to look forward to in their faith. As the seasons come and go, witches  around the world celebrate the wheel of the year. Though traditions and names  may be a little different from place to place, they are all basically the same  at heart.  Thanks for reading, and, as  always: Blessed Be!!

The Ethics Of Magick

The Ethics Of Magick

Author:   Frances [a WitchVox Sponsor] 

Some people are of the belief that when it comes to the practice of magick that anything goes. Magick is after all, simply that – magick. It is not caught up in ethics or morals. While this is correct, magick is actually shaped by the inner beliefs, ethics and morals of the person who uses it.

In all orthodox religions there are certain laws and regulations of how a follower of that faith should conduct themselves – in Christianity, for example, there are the Ten Commandments. In many Pagan traditions, however, it is believed that there is actually little need for such dogma as each person is ultimately responsible for their actions. Such responsibility can be overwhelming for someone new to Paganism, especially if they come from a more orthodox background, so they find the need to create boundaries in the form of guidelines. Within Wiccan belief there are a number of guidelines such as the Wiccan Rede and the Threefold Law of Return which are designed to help the newcomer understand the essence of that belief.

The Wiccan Rede is a beautiful piece of poetry whose author is believed to have been the late Doreen Valiente. Within this poem many aspects of Wiccan beliefs and practices are outlined, such as the seasonal wheel of the year, honoring the Goddess and the God, and sacred trees to name a few. The poem ends with eight specific words that many Wiccans consider to be the main guideline as to how they are to live their lives: “If it harms none, do what you will.” Some critics of Wicca see this as an indication for followers to do anything they wish. However, when the statement is given due thought, its true meaning is understood – that as long as your actions do not harm anyone, then you are free to live your life as you please. Some Wiccans take this statement further, relating the “none” to animals and the environment as well.

The Wiccan Rede is a version of the Golden Rule, which can be found in most other religions, the earliest dating back to Confucianism, where a 6th century BCE statement, “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others,” can be found. Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity and even Sikhism also have variations of the Golden Rule.

The second ethical guideline which many Wiccans follow is that of the Threefold Law of Return, where it is believed that every deed done will return to the doer three times greater. This means that a good deed will return three times stronger, but so will any bad deed that is performed.

Many Wiccans also hold either a belief in the Eastern philosophy of Karma, or the Universal Law of Cause and Effect, where every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Karma is often viewed on a more personal level, that the deeds of one’s life are counteracted in the next life, while the Law of Cause and Effect can be viewed on a more global scale. A good example of the latter is seen in our environment. People in the past have done what they like without concern or respect for the environment or the creatures that live in it. The effects of this lack of regard and respect are the depletion of the ozone layer, rising salt levels due to large scale land clearing, droughts and floods brought on by erratic temperature fluctuations, and so on, that are witnessed today.

Taking Responsibility For Your Actions

As not every person who uses magick follows a Wiccan path and therefore is not necessarily guided by the Wiccan Rede, magick itself does tend to have its own guidelines. What some people do not realize when they first desire to perform magick is that magick is based on energy. When you cast a spell, you are sending out energy. The Universe magnifies this energy and returns it to you. Therefore it is vitally important that, before a person performs any form of magickal act, they are fully aware of the energy exchange and are prepared to take full responsibility for their actions. In magick there is no such thing as coincidences – everything happens for a reason, and when you perform a spell you are creating the reason.

Taking responsibility means being honest with yourself about what you are doing and why. You also need to be able to acknowledge your mistakes and their consequences. Mistakes are often the greatest lessons we can learn in life. To learn from your mistakes, you must closely examine what went wrong and to find a way to rectify the error. However, mistakes when performing magick can have dire consequences, especially if your energy is directed at a particular person.

Magick should never be done on a whim. Before you perform any form of magickal rite you need to look careful at the reasons why you want to use magick to obtain something. You also need to be very clear about what you want to achieve. Some people find it useful to consult one form of divination or another, such as runes or the tarot, prior to casting a spell or magickal rite to determine all possible outcomes. Only when you are sure about what you are doing, should you perform magick.

Due to the amount of “spell books” around it is understandable why some people are of the view that magick is an easy and safe means to get whatever they want. However this is a misconception, for magick is not all that safe if you do not know what you are doing. Things can happen that you did not intend. Those readers who have seen the movie The Craft will be able to relate to the dangers of casting love spells – in the movie, the victim of such a spell became obsessed with the caster of the spell to the stage where he was stalking her. There are also numerous stories about people who have cast money spells and while they did end up with a monetary sum, this was obtained through some kind of personal disaster or upheaval, such as an insurance claim or even a death. Therefore it is vitally important to be very careful about what you ask for, because, as the saying goes, you could very well receive it, but not necessarily through the means you had anticipated.

Magick is serious business and should never be taken lightly. It can be dangerous for those who are unprepared and there are consequences if it is used carelessly or with malicious intent. However, if you abide by a few simple guidelines (such as the Wiccan Rede), take the time to properly understand what you are doing and use it responsibly, magick can help you can achieve positive and rewarding changes in your life.

Laugh-A-Day: Redneck Pagan Giggles

Redneck Pagan Giggles

1.  Does your Ceremonial Garb consist of cutoffs and a tube top?

2  Do you think “Family Tradition” is a dating club?

3.  Have you reached 3rd degree, but not 3rd grade?

4.  Is your coven’s secret names for the God and Goddess “Cooter” and”Sweet Cheeks”?

5.  Does your ceremonial Chalice say “Budweiser” on it?  (2 pts if it says “Pabst”)

6. Do you consider chewing tobacco a sacred herb?

7.  Does your circle dance include the words “dosey-do”?

8.  Is your altar pentacle a photo of John Wayne’s star on the Hollywood Walk
of Fame?

9.  Did your coven choose its High Priest at a belching contest?

10.  Did your coven choose its High Priestess at a wet t-shirt contest?

11.  Does your anointing oil smell like “Old Spice”?

12.  Have you ever refilled your chalice from a keg?

13. Does your outdoor circle have defunct washing machines for quarter altars?

14. Do you do your cakes and ale with a can of Pabst and Little Debbies?

15. Does your Pantheon include Yukon Jack, Jim Beam and St. Pauli Girl?

16. Does your ritual music include Johnny Cash singing “Ring of Fire”?

17. Do you think the Wiccan Rede is good for making twig furniture?

18.  Do you believe that the Pentagram is a Western Union message to 5 people?

19.  Does your altar cloth say “Holiday Inn” or “Howard Johnson’s”?

20. Does your Goddess picture say “Miss September” at the bottom?

21. Does your God statue look a little too much like Elvis Presley?

22.  Have you ever written a spell on the back of a Denny’s menu?

23.  Have you ever canceled a coven meeting to watch Pay-per-View wrestling on TV?

24.  Have you ever called the National Enquirer because you raised a potato that looked like the Willendorf Goddess?

25.  Have you EVER cast a love spell on livestock?

A Little Humor For Your Day – Signs That You May Be A Bubba Wiccan

Signs That You May Be A Bubba Wiccan

 

You might be practicing Bubba Wicca if …

You are out in the woods and the Horned God appears to you and it takes you more than 30 seconds to put down your deer rifle.

You’ve ever duct-taped an outhouse and called it a sweat lodge.

You run out of candles and then get the emergency flares out of your trunk.

Your altar is made from the hood of an old Chevy pick-up.

You begin your Circle by calling for quarters to be placed in the beer fund jar.

You enter a skyclad circle with the words, In Perfect Love and Perfect Lust.

You close a circle with the words “Hot damn, let’s party!”

You get most of your spiritual wisdom about the cycles of nature from Bill Dance bass fishing shows.

You watch NASCAR for its karmic revelation.

Your ritual robes are made of weatherproof camouflage.

Your revel fire causes the smokejumpers to fly in. The only herb you use has to be planted in the middle of nowhere.

You think “The Reclaiming Collective” is a great name for a used automobile parts business. Before you can use your ritual cauldron, you have to wash out the bones from your fish stew.

Turok’s Cabana