myths

Tink About It

October, 2015

About Devil Worship, Flying Besoms and Such. Or Not?

Ever since I took my first steps on the pagan path I have been open about it. I’ve never really been in the broom closet. I don’t walk around brandishing it to everyone, but I don’t hide it. Being pagan is an integrated part of me; you can’t separate the witch from the woman, they’re one. I’ve never felt like hiding it, why should I? Of course I’ve had mixed reactions, but most of it was positive or neutral. People don’t have to like it, as long as they respect it. Nowadays people know more about modern witchcraft, thanks to the internet and media. They don’t always give the best explanation about it, but at least it’s known to more people. Years ago, before the internet started to become what it is today, I encountered much more prejudice. Not always meant in a malicious way, but often from simple ignorance.
So how do you explain paganism and witchcraft to non-pagans who don’t know anything about the lifestyle, the religion, the path? The misconceptions are a good starter point. I explain that witches don’t even believe in the devil, and how the pagan god became the christian devil. Or I start with the broom or besom and explain what that is really used for. Then it’s only a small step to what I do believe in. It depends on the person how I proceed. Are they really interested or just making conversation? The last one isn’t interested in an extensive explanation, the first might be. What is their background? If I know something about their religion for example, I try to build bridges, find comparisons. If I don’t know anything about them, I simply ask what they know or think about paganism. It’s never my goal to convince anyone, I just try to explain. I don’t proselytize, no need to convert anyone. If someone is interested and wants to learn, that’s fine of course. If the initiative is on their side I’m happy to help any way I can.

As I said before I’m open about my path. In real life and online. I’ve written about it on my blog and on social media. Sometimes informative (to explain a sabbat, or tools I use, etc. ) but often just sharing what I do. I share pics and stories about pagan meetings, about rituals, festivals, books I’ve read and the like. I show people the way I live and how paganism is part of that. That resulted in most people simply accepting it as it is. She is a witch, okay, move on. And that’s okay. If you’re not interested in that part of my life, no problem. If you have questions, please ask! Stupid questions don’t exist and I’m happy to explain what you want t know.
Of course I’ve encountered less positive reactions too. People that don’t understand it, or better yet don’t want to understand. People who judge and accuse without even knowing how it all works, based on falsehood and deception. People making fun of it, ridiculing. My reaction depends on who they are to me and how I feel at that particular moment. Some people aren’t even worth it to me to give a reaction. When it’s someone close to me, it hurts and I’ll try to explain what it means to me. Making fun of it depends on the way it is done. I sometimes make jokes about it too! If people respect my path in general, it’s okay to make a joke as they don’t mean to hurt me. Joking around is fun! Sometimes it’s done from sheer ignorance to save their face: “you’re a witch? Are you going to change me in a frog?” or something similar. I just smile and look the other way. I have a thick skin and if they need to ridicule me and my path it’s all about them and not so much about me…

Last year a dear friend asked my help in understanding the witches’ ways for a very different cause. She was writing a book in which the protagonists are witches. She wanted to know about things in general and ask some practical questions. Of course I was happy to oblige! Her name is Claudia Hall Christian and she has written several successful books. I got to know Claudia when I started blogging, before the social media era. We read each other’s blogs and I helped her before in promoting her books. This time I could do more to help her. I answered her questions and showed her the best sources about wicca, witchcraft and paganism in general. She also read stuff on my blog and my columns here in Pagan Pages. Of course I was not the only one she consulted. As always, her research was extensive and thorough.

 

Tink
The book is called ‘Suffer A Witch’ and will be launched on September 22nd. When you read this column, it will be available! Here’s a short synopsis:
“They call her “Em.” Em for Martha. Em for “Emogene Peres” the name she received in Boston less than a day after she’d been hanged in Salem Village in September 1692. Em and most of those hanged as Salem Witches were transformed into immortal witches only a few hours after they were deemed Salem Witches. Three hundred and twenty-two years later, they live, work, and love in modern day Boston, Massachusetts where Em runs a spiritual store called the Mystic Divine, just off the Boston Commons.
On the anniversary of the first hanging, June 10, 2014, Em learns that a young man and a team of ghost hunters have dedicated themselves to finding the crevice where the Salem Twenty’s bodies were stuffed after hanging. The problem is that Em and the rest of the Salem Twenty are making full use of those skeletons. What starts with a young man with big ideas brings the Salem Witches face to face with their demons.”

Claudia will also write a guest post on my blog. I’ll add the link at the end. She was kind enough to offer a copy of the book for a blog contest. So come on over and take your chance to win ‘Suffer A Witch’. We’ll also give you links to order the paperback or e-book. When you’ve read the book, Claudia and I would love to hear your feedback.
Sources & further reading:
http://storiesbyclaudia.com/ – stories by Claudia Hall Christian
http://tinkerbell-nl.blogspot.nl/2015/09/suffer-witch-by-claudia-hall-christian.html – Claudia’s guest post with contest on my blog

Myths and Legends: Journeys Through Time

April, 2011

Faeries

Tinkerbell was one. Thumbelina was rumored to be one. Amy Brown is famous for her drawings and art of them. Little girls love them. The Grimm Brothers wrote tales about them…well not exactly about them but tales within their realm. What or who are they? They’re fairies. More specifically…the fae or fair folk. Fairy is derivative of an old Middle English word, faierie also spelled fayerye, feirie, and feirie, which in itself is pulled from the the Old French language; faerie or in Modern French féerie. Originally this word meant, not the people but the land, activity, or characteristic of legendary people of folklore and romance. People like Hercules, Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde, Cassandra from Greek mythology, the Native American Thunderbirds….all of these people or beings would have at one point been considered fairies because their relam is that of folklore or magic. It’s a little interesting to note that the actual word goes all the way back to the Latin word fata.. which meant Fate. Literally when one spoke of the fae folk or fairies, they were speaking of what the three Fates, Atropos, Clotho and Lachesis had in mind. In short..to speak of the fae folk was the speak of chance and fate. Over time…the word fairy came to mean little people. Specifically…little mischievous, prank playing , enticing, magical little folks. Some were or are helpful. Some loathe mortals and want to do nothing but put an end to them. Beings like the Irish leprechaun, Scottish banshee, pixies, nixies, water sprites, everything and anything  magical or unusual were considered fairy or fae. Some legends separate the fae folk into two categories. Good fae folk….helpful beings kind of like Tinkerbell, the Lady of the Lake, the fairy god mothers from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty…beings like these often protected forests, knew how to protect mortals, were kind to mortals and would help if asked politely. Not so nice fae folk like kelpies, nixies, in some cases brownies…all these fae folk sought out to destroy mortals. Kelpies…they would often take the form of a beautiful horse in the water. The second somebody touched it…they became stuck to the Kelpie. The Kelpie would then drag the poor soul out into the water and drown them. Sometimes it was to feed…most often it was simply because they could.  Brownies were very rarely mean….or good. Mostly brownies were the helpful sort of fairy. They were the type that would clean your house at night, straighten things up, put an item thought to belong lost in the right spot for you to find. Pixies…pixies could go either way. Sometimes they were helpful, sometimes they used their beauty to lure men and women into traps. If they were in an especially mean mood..they would seduce their choosen victim to death. All in all…to play in the realm of fairies is to play with chance and fate. You may make it back to the mortal realm…or you may be stuck in the fairie’s realm forever. If you do make it back to the mortal realm..you may or may not be considered  a friend…able to return at will. For the most part…as with all magical creatures, the fae folk are apt to leave you alone… unless you wander into their realm….then they mess with you a little bit. How much depends on your reaction. If you’re polite..you have a better chance of being left alone. If you’re mean…well you’ll be dealt with accordingly.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairy

Myths and Legends: Journeys Through Time

June, 2010

Loki

loki-the-mischievious-god-himself

Mischief, jokes, puns, trickery, buffoonery, clownish, childish, foolish antics. All these words

and more are used to describe somebody who’s acting goofy or silly. These words also

describe the sort of actions that fall under the realm of the Trickster Gods.  In every

mythology there is at least one god, goddess or being that is considered a trickster.

For the Native Americans it was the Coyote and the Raven, for the Greeks it was Prometheus,

Hermes, Sisyphus and others, the Celtics had leprechauns, fairies, and beings of that nature.

The Norse pantheon however had Loki. In fact..mention the words Trickster God and the first

person most people name is Loki. Norse mythology was the mythos of the vikings. Beings

like Thor; god of thunder and lightning also wielded the hammer Mjollnir, Odin; ruler of the

universe and ruler of all the deities, Heimdall; creator of mankind and watcher of the Bifrost

Bridge, Asgard which was home of the gods, Valhalla home of the fallen warriors and

Valkryies who were the battle angels and ALWAYS female.  Loki however was a special

case. He’s considered a god but his origin is that of a frost giant. The giants and the gods

differed much like the Greek Titans and Gods. He starts out as a mischief causing, joke

pulling, prank loving misfit. Somebody that was good for entertainment….no so good

for when serious work needed to be done.  Although connected with fire and magic, Loki

is better known for his mischief, shape changing ability. He’s also known for fathering (in one

case mothering) with the giantess Angerboda; Hel the goddess of death, Fenrir the giant wolf

that would eventually kill and devour Odin at Ragnarok and Jourmungand the midgard

serpent. In the case of being a mother, Loki helped the Gods of Asgard out. The giant

Hrimthurs boasted that he could construct the walls around Asgard in a single winter and if he

finished he would gain the sun and moon as payment. He would also gain Odin’s wife Frigg

too. The god were sure they would lose so they chose not to accept Hrimthurs’ wager but Loki

was quite confident that Hrimthurs couldn’t finish in a single winter, so he goaded the gods

into accepting the bet. With his stallion Svadilfari, who was able to haul the heavy rocks

quickly, Hrimthurs was making good on his wager. Seeing this, the gods forced Loki to

sabotage the bet. Loki turned himself into a mare and led Svadilfari away into the forest.

Without his stallion, Hrimthurs lost the bet. As a  result of the forest frolick with Svadilfari,

Loki ended up prengant and gave birth to Sleipnir, an eight legged colt who would become

Odin’s magical steed.  Although Loki’s pranks and mischief were generally lighthearted, they

became darker as time went on. The darkest being when he became responsible for the

death of Balder.  Balder was the god of beauty and was loved by everyone and everything.

However it was foretold that he would die and that his death was one of the signs that

Ragnarok was coming.  To prevent this, Frigg went around to every animal, god, goddess,

creature, and plant making them promise to not harm Balder. The only plant she did not get

this promise from was mistletoe as she believed it to be too young to be held to such a

promise. Loki tricked Frigg into revealing the only thing that could kill Balder and upon

finding out, Loki coaxed the blind god Hod, into joining in a game of throwning things at

Balder. This was a favorite pastime of the deities as Balder could not be harmed. Loki handed

Hod a sprig of mistletoe and directed his aim. Hod threw the sprig as hard as he could and

everyone watched in horror as it pierced Balder who died instantly. For this crime Loki was

punished severly. He was bound by three rocks, one between his shoulders, another under

his loins and the last beneath his knees. A venomous snake was placed above his head and

dripped venom on him for eternity. His wife Sigyn, who  remained faithful to him despite his

fathering beings with the giantess Angerboda, lovingly collected the venom in a bowl so that

it would not drip upon Loki. However  when the bowl filled, she had to leave to empty it and

this left Loki unprotected. When the venom hit his bare skin, he would writhe about in pain

and cause earthquakes. Ragnarok was the end of days for the gods, the day they would go to

war and fight amongst themselves. When Loki’s chains broke and he was freed, it was he who

lead the giants into battle. Loki killed Heimdall but also died at Heimdall’s hand.  As much

fun as mischief and pranks are they can be taken too far. Not even Gods are immune to the

allure and excitement of pulling a prank on somebody or acting foolish, nor are they immune

to the consequences that come from causing such foolish acts.

http://www.timelessmyths.com/norse/aesir.html#Thor

http://www.pantheon.org/articles/l/loki.html

http://www.timelessmyths.com/norse/ragnarok.html#Balder

http://www.godchecker.com/pantheon/norse-mythology.php?deity=LOKI&ds=N

Shadows From The Past

April, 2009

Some Myths of Witchcraft

Before we can set out on the journey ahead, we must first set a foundation on which to build. Thus we shall define some concepts that are relevant.
–  Witch – A person who uses (being real or perceived) natural powers or forces to influence the order of things.

Witchcraft – The practices of a Witch

Magic(k) – The use of natural energy to achieves ends

Thus by the above definitions, magic and witches are connected and intertwined.
There are many common myths associated with witchcraft. We shall discuss some common myths in depth, and then analyze why they incorrect.

Myth: A witch uses supernatural powers.
A false myth. Since everything that exists is part of the natural order, everything is thus natural. So any power a witch claims to wield, is thus natural. While it may be argued that there are different levels or “planes” of the natural order, these “planes” are still natural and thus do not represent anything above (or below) the natural order.

Myth: Witchcraft is the oldest religion in the world.
A false myth. Witchcraft has only in the last century gained status as a religion, under the name of Wicca. Practices that may be considered witchcraft date back tens of thousands of years, but as an established, formalized religion, witchcraft is less than a century old.

Myth: Modern witches can trace their heritage back to the dawn of time.
False. Modern witchcraft or Wicca, can only trace its history back as far as the early 20th century. However, Wicca is largely INFLUENCED (and therefore not directly connected) by far older practices, being those of the Ancients (Greek, Rome, Celt, Egyptian, Ect.) It is important to remember that witchcraft in its modern form (as distinguised from older forms of belief that may be considered witchcraft) is largely eclectic, taking roots from many different sources, these from many different time periods, both older and more modern.

Myth: Witchcraft means “craft of the wise”
False. The word witch derives from the old English word wicca (prounounced witcha), which is a derivative of the word wiccian (prounounced witchan) which means ‘to cast a spell’. Thus the word has no connection to the old English witan that means ‘to know’.

There is an old saying that goes something like “to gain wisdom, one must let go of cherished allusions”. So remember, whether something is true or false, it does not keep it from having power. Like modern Wicca, whether it be a fabrication or a survival of an old religion, it still has power in the modern world. Learn from the old ways, but live in today.