New

Gael Song

December, 2018

Midwinter and Christmas Spirit Magic

 

(Image from http://visitstonehenge.com/)

As nearly everyone knows, light seeds of what will manifest during the coming year, are sent by the spirit world down hur’s sword of light to the base of everyone’s spine on Midwinter dawn. I can usually feel a sizzling at the base of my spine that day, when I first step out of my little cottage into the daylight. But there’s much more that follows after, which no one at all seems to recognize. As a light healer, reading energies, it’s easy for me to see these. And so, this month, I want to write about what I’ve observed over many years. Those hurian light seeds of the year ahead settle down into the energetic soil of everyone’s womb (both men and women have inner female and male structures inside in light), where they remain for three days, while the Goddess decides the exact form and timing the new impulses of light will take over the year to come. The dark cosmic sea, keeper of all things unborn, floods every person’s abdomen as well. One could call it the unconscious, for it is.

Always, there’s one central thrust of growth for each person over the year to come, growth that will involve facing specific fears or outer challenges meant to build a brand new part of the self within. This new gift or talent is always divine, a small piece of each person’s self-of-light or highest destiny that will eventually emerge during everyone’s final lifetime on earth. This divine self was seeded into us at the very moment of our creation into light, long, long, ago, on the Creator Sun, the highest light structure in the seventh heaven, so say my druid guides. You could think of this new self-of-light that grows into fulness each year as each person’s own divine child of that cycle, too. That’s how my guides speak of it, anyway. Our own divine qualities always reflect the Creators, too, the White Tara and Oghama, Goddess and God.

So, after three days in the cosmic sea, the first structures of the year’s divine child emerge from everyone’s abdominal unconscious and move into each person’s high heart or thymus. The thymus is the inner child heart, where our divine children anchor in most strongly. This happens on Christmas dawn. This child within looks like an infant-of-light, and I find this time most magical, for I can always feel the soft loving-kindness essence of the divine children filling my spirit on that morning. Even amid the bustle of cooking for visiting relatives, I try to find a few moments of quiet to sense what this impulse of growth for the year ahead may bring for me. And this divine infant is one of twelve parts of our inner spirits that everyone has, all twelve with specific vibrations, regencies of the spirit, and directives in life. You could call these twelve parts of everyone’s spirit their personality, too. These twelve parts of our inner spirits exactly match the twelve gods and goddesses of the Creator Sun as well.

And always this emergence of the divine child inside everyone releases a bright beam of hope, a ray of clear diamond light. It will see that, during this first druid moon of the year, the Birch moon, some memory or long-cherished desire will be brought to each person’s attention. This is the first hint of what will manifest for each of us at the end of the coming year, something we’ve long wished for. And this promise of fulfillment stirs up desire from our depths to face and heal whatever fears may be in its way, so this dream will definitely come to be at the end of the year.

Over the year ahead then, this impulse get fleshed out as we push against the thorns and briars in our paths. On Imbolc, the little girl part of each person’s spirit emerges from this abdominal sea. On the Vernal Equinox, the toddler boy emerges. Then the feminine virgin on Bealtaine, the masculine virgin at Midsummer. The inner god and goddess are active during the Oak (May/June) and Apple (July/August) moons, not the solstice/equinox/cross-quarter-day festivals. The inner mother part of our spirits arises at Lughnasa, the inner father at the Autumnal Equinox, the feminine grandmother at Samhein, and finally, the inner grandfather at Midwinter. This is when our new divine part of self is finally complete, fully born into all twelve parts of our inner selves-of-light. It’s the realization of our sweet dream of the year before.

May your own divine child for the year to come be utterly miraculous, bringing an end to want, perhaps, a special destiny, a love like no other. I always hope for the beginning of real peace, unity between peoples, an end to war and privation in the places of most intense global suffering. But these are dreams that will take us all to achieve. For now, it’s enough to feel that sword of light and let it lead you all year long. Let’s walk this road together into the awakening of everyone’s divinity, all of us a shining star in our own personal areas of endeavor. May this season of magic be the very best you’ve ever had!

***

About the Author:

Jill Rose Frew, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, energy healer, workshop leader, and author. She will be opening a school teaching light healing and the Celtic path of enlightenment in 2019. For information, please see www.CelticHeaven.com

She is author of Guardians of the Celtic Way: The Path to arthurian Fulfillment (her name was Jill Kelly then), and Alba RebornAlba Reborn, Book One, RevisedAlba Reborn, Book Two, and Alba Reborn, Book Three.

Guardians of the Celtic Way: The Path to hurian Fulfillment on Amazon

MagickalArts

October, 2018

Remembering to Re-Member

I recently did a tarot reading for myself that resulted in the cards clearly relaying the message of re-membering and reassembling my present gifts to enhance the relationships I currently enjoy. Particularly the relationship I have with the various parts of my SELF.

This process is about the alchemy of strengthening existing relationships and creating new ones that offer opportunities for collaborative and creative sharing.  For most of us it is an easier task to attend to those relationships outside of ourselves. The hardest is facing and biding the space of dialogue between the various parts of our Inner Selves. This inner landscape can be frightening and aversion is the go-to when we should instead be diving in deeply.

This turning within to remember and reassemble those parts of self is the first act of collaborative self-relationship. When we claim our natural state of balance – the place where both our light and shadow natures intertwine and become as one source of strength, we begin the act of memory of our Divine potential. When we gather together those gifts of heart and mind and body and align them with our Soul’s purpose we begin the alchemy of reassembling what had been scattered and separated.

As that inner relationship is tended and nurtured we can begin to expand and extend the joy found in that process to infuse those outer relationships we hold so dear. And, the positive energy that flows from a mutual exchange of life lived in totality brings with it the shared experience and sweetness of grace for all that was freely given and all that was gratefully received.

This time of the year, in particular, offers the space of alignment and memorializing both the ancestors who have passed beyond the veils and the current relationships we have with our beloveds that should be cherished while still part of our corporeal experience. We are familiar with the admonition that in the event of a plane crash, the parent, should place the oxygen mask on them self first and then on the child. The reason being that they can be of no help to the child if passed out on the floor. Use this strategy for your process of gathering all of who and what you are together. Re-member to attend to the synthesis and unification of your self-awareness so that you may better commune with those who surround you.

This month I will use the gifts of the harvest, the chill in the air as the seasons change and the parting of the veils, allowing access to my ancestors to spend time reflecting on those parts of myself that have lain dormant and unloved. I will embrace them as my own and use them to build a stronger foundation upon which I may more generously give to those who live and commune with me. I will infuse all of my being with the memory of deep connection to all of life and the blessed quiet of unnecessary chatter that keeps me from being whole in all of my selves. What will you re-member?

***

About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She is the author of (click on book titles for more information):

 

The Inner Chamber Volume One

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the Spheres (Volume 2)

Qabalah

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths

Qabalah

 

A Year With Gaia

The Eternal Cord

 

Temple of the Sun and Moon

Luminous Devotions

 

The Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1)

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

 

The Elemental Year

Aligning the Parts of SELF

 

The Enchanted Gate

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

 

Sleeping with the Goddess

Nights of Devotion

 

A Weekly Reflection

Musings for the Year

 

Her books are available on Amazon or on this website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

 

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

7 Common Mistakes in Spiritualism New Ebook

April, 2012

7 Common Mistakes in Spiritualism

by Hally Rhiannon-Nammu


The Inspiration of the EBook:

“The inspiration is through being connected to the collective and through fulfilling my purpose on this path that this book has come to light.”

2012 is providing an avenue to increase the energetic vibration individually and collectively. However, due to its popularity the start of 2012 has brought about many mistakes, fallacies and falsities that are leading many into the darkness of a lowered vibration, not an increased vibration. The truth must be revealed to ensure that the collective vibration increases not decreases and for this to occur certain secrets must be told.

As a Spiritual Expert it is my duty to share how it really is and this is one step into ensuring that the connection of pure intent is shared and maintained. I have been provided with this gift to help, heal and educate. This EBook will help many gain their vibrational increase to enable their alignment and ascension. It is only with pure intent that it will continue to evolve.

About the EBook – 7 Common Mistakes in Spiritualism:

This is a beautiful book with 50 Pages, seven unique sections delivering answers and explanations behind the common mistakes and fallacies in Spiritualism.

This is such a huge topic with multiple layers and this EBook will provide the stepping stone insight into the simple truth that exists.

Hally utilised her connection to Source and her Spirit Guides to gain specific information and answers to information many have never been privy to.

Some of this includes:

  1. Spiritualism is Religious and Evil – the truth is revealed
  2. Spiritualism and Health Aren’t Related – what you need to know
  3. You must be a Hippy to be Spiritual – some secrets disclosed

For anyone that wants to know the secrets behind what Spiritualism really is, understand about 2012 on a personal level and why being completely aligned is the most beautiful and natural state to achieve, then this book is for you!

About Hally:

In addition to being a columnist on Pagan Pages, Hally Rhiannon-Nammu is passionate, driven and empathic psychic, spiritual healer and shaman with a thirst for knowledge; finding answers to never-ending questions on her journey to fulfil her ethereal purpose.

“For me my energetic development does not stand still and I go through energetic shifts regularly, constantly raising my vibrational level and my ability to read and connect to the universe. I know what I need to know in the moments that it is needed – which means, I know almost everything there is to know when it comes to the pure world of Spiritualism.”

To Get Your Copy:  http://www.creativebalance.com.au/7-common-mistakes-in-spiritualism/

To Contact Hally: hally@creativebalance.com.au

www.creativebalancehealing.com / www.creativebalance.com.au

A Walk on the Pagan Path

January, 2010

Merry Meet! I am new here at PaganPages.org and I am looking forward to this new experience. I feel an introduction is the best place to start. My name is Elizabeth Cusaac and my craft name is MeadowMoon. I was born in Florence, SC on January 18, 1977. I still live in South Carolina with my husband of 14 years and two sons, ages 13 and 8. We were fortunate enough to move to the country in 2006. This move brought about many positive changes in all of our lives. I began homeschooling my sons in 2008 which led me to work from home. As far as the spiritual changes in my life, the country can certainly bring one closer to nature. In addition to working from home with a local insurance company and homeschooling my sons, I am currently in college pursing my BS in Alternative Medicine, a case manager for a local paranormal group, a pagan podcaster, and who knows what else I will add to the list.

I have been a pagan for about 6 years. Being a pagan in the south can be quite interesting. Unfortunately, when I started out, I was completely alone and had no one to learn from so I depended heavily on books and the internet. I only studied for a short time before I had to put everything aside and mentally process what paganism was. I was raised Christian so there were many mental blocks I had to chip away at. With all the changes I have gone through over the past few years, I am back to learning at a more acceptable pace for myself. Part of this process involves my podcast “A Pagan in the Threshold” which can be found on iTunes and at www.meadowmoon.com. Before a listening audience, I have hit rewind and started at the very basics. I am currently learning Wicca. If I feel that Wicca is not what I really want to pursue, I will move onto a different path and start from scratch. I am trying to find what beliefs and practices work best for me and I invite everyone to come along for the ride.

I hope to do the same with this column. I would like to explore all I can involving paganism. I also enjoy different forms of divination that I would like to explore further. So basically, with this column, I will bring in many parts of what consists of my so called life. Whether I discuss the details of making magic in the kitchen or what the magical and healing properties of a certain herb is or tell you one of my paranormal experiences, we will no doubt have a lot to discuss. I would also like for you, the reader, to share with me your thoughts on any article I write. Many topics are found under the pagan umbrella and I look forward to learning from all of you as much as some of you may learn from me.

For my first article, I will share with you how I found myself on the pagan path. This is something I enjoy knowing about from my fellow pagans because everyone has their own unique story. As for me, I found paganism by accident. It was one of those being at the right place at the right time moments. A friend of mine was visiting from out of town. He mentioned to me that he had several books in the back seat of his car that I could have if I wanted them. When I agreed to look at them, he informed me that he was not sure if I would be interested in the type of books that they were but he knew I loved books. As I stood there waiting for him to drop the books in my arms, I started to see the word “witchcraft” and pictures of pentacles. I froze. There I stood holding books about devil worshipping. that went against everything I was ever taught as a Christian. I wondered, would I go straight to hell just by holding these books?

Curiosity got the better of me and off I went with the books, loading them into my car. Once I got home and relocated the books into my house, I just sat there staring at them. Was I putting my family at risk by merely having these books in my home? I didn’t know the answer but I was willing to take the risk apparently because I didn’t get rid of any of the books. I was not a practicing Christian, neither was anyone in my household, so maybe we would not be condemned….maybe. As a couple weeks went by, I finally found the courage to take one of the books off the stack and read it. I made sure no one would be able to see what I was reading so I waited for everyone to go to bed for the night.

As I started reading, I couldn’t stop. What was this strange thing called pagan? A God and Goddess, what in the world? I continued to read until everything became so clear that I almost broke down into tears. I WAS A PAGAN! How could this be? No matter what questions I continued to ask myself, there was no denying that though the information I was reading was strange, it made the gears in my head turn. Things that I often questioned about Christianity were now being answered. The days and weeks went by and I continued to digest all the information I had read either from the book or found on the internet. I knew for sure that I was a pagan and it also felt like I had been pagan most of my life. Everything that encompassed what a pagan was was exactly how I felt about things. I never knew there was a term for what I believed. Then I found myself in a weird place. I knew that being pagan did not involve worshipping of the devil, but what was I suppose to say to my friends and family. It didn’t take me long to realize that I just needed to keep my mouth shut and test the waters ever so gently. Over time, I told my children and husband, and then told some friends and coworkers. At this time, I feel good knowing that the people close to me in my life know, except for only one. Maybe one day I will be able to share this with her, then again, maybe not.

Feel free to share with me and the other readers how you stumbled onto the pagan path.

New To The Craft

August, 2009

The Ritual Connection

From time immemorial we have desired guidance from the God/dess, and sought ways in which we can connect with and honor those powers we hold in reverence.  Many in the mainstream find prayer or meditation to fulfill their needs in this area, or they attend services where they can participate to a limited extent in the ceremonies led by the priests of their congregation.  The purpose of such rituals is to enact symbolic events that the observers understand to hold a deeper meaning than the actions themselves.  Realization of that meaning on the mental, emotional, and spiritual levels unites the individual with the divine.  But while churches tend to leave most of the actions to the clerics and expect their constituents to connect passively, Wicca invites all of its members to participate directly in its ritual workings, whether solitary or as part of a coven.

If you are working as a solitary there is no one to direct the course of a ritual for you.  As a matter of fact it can be difficult to make a start as a beginner.  What do I do?  Am I doing this right?  These are common questions that pop up when working rituals on one’s own instead of in a group setting or coven.  Several good books will provide a basic outline for common sabbat or esbat ceremonies, but even then it can sometimes feel as if you are reading a script more than invoking a deity.  Yet part of the beauty of Wicca is that you do not have to follow a script!  Witches celebrate spontaneity, as is fitting for an earth-based spiritual practice.  Many Wiccans create their own rituals based solely on the inspiration of the moment and their setting.  It is the feeling and intent they put into their words that matters, not the phrases themselves.  Knowing this takes the stress out of solitary ritual – What do I do?  Do what you feel is right!  Am I doing this right?  If it feels right then yes!  That may sound a bit glib, but the point of the matter is to just let go and forget about making mistakes. It is next to impossible to connect to a deity if you are wound up with worry.

That being said, just as most Wiccans share a common language of symbols and tools, most also follow a general structure in their rituals to identify it as Wiccan.  While no part is mandatory to an individual, these steps would be part of most group rituals, and each part has its purpose and place.  An excellent book that explains the reasoning behind the stages of a Wiccan rite is The Elements of Ritual by Deborah Lipp.  Before adding or omitting any steps it would be wise to study each part to know how those changes might affect the overall working.

Typically the first stage involves purification of both the participant and the area where the ritual is to take place.  Purify in this sense is another way of saying clearing one’s head and getting in the right frame of mind to connect to the God/dess.  This can be as simple as a grounding and centering exercise or as elaborate as a perfumed bath.  Most practitioners find a routine specific to them that they can rely on to trigger the correct mental state.  Purifying the space is the act of setting an area apart from being just an ordinary room and clearing it of any negative energy in preparation for ritual.  A besom or broom, sprinkled salt water, and/or incense are common ways to accomplish this.  The area you are working in will be host to the temple you create while there, and should be an outer reflection of your inner centered state.

A Wiccan’s ritual temple is held within the magic circle.  Such a circle is formed by the will and imagination of the participant, forming a barrier against outside intrusions and also serving to concentrate any energy generated within.  Covens and traditional forms of Wicca have very specific methods for circle castings, with the High Priestess using her athame or sword to project a visualized blue-white flame while pacing the outlines of the circle in a clockwise direction.  The representations of each element upon the altar are often brought around the circle as well, always in a clockwise or deosil direction.  Once the circle is established many Wiccans “call the quarters”, which is to say they invoke the energies associated with each of the cardinal points.  All of these actions reinforce the equilibrium maintained within the sacred space that is necessary to connect to the higher spiritual planes.  In a sense the witch is projecting their centered state into the area around them and calling upon forces within or beyond themselves to bless the work they intend to do.

Now the way is prepared for the main purpose of the ritual, which is the invocation of the God/dess and any magical or ceremonial work to be done.  Invocations can be anything from spoken prayers to words uttered while in self-induced trance states.  To invoke deity is to ask for guidance and blessing.  What we feel we cannot accomplish or realize on our own we ask to be aided with.  We can also invoke the divine out of simple reverence and a desire to honor that which is greater than but also part of ourselves.  Acknowledging the God/dess in our rituals makes the work we do sacred and set apart from the everyday.  We call upon what is highest and best to witness our endeavors.  And each time we do we hope to bring a bit of that spirit into our awareness to enrich our lives as a whole.

If the occasion calls for any magical work or special observance (for instance if it is a sabbat or esbat) it is typically performed after the invocation.  When all practical work has been accomplished it is time to reverse the process and deconstruct the sacred space.  This serves to bring the witch back into a more ordinary consciousness.  First the participant should ground any left over raised energy.  Visualizations can be used, as can the tradition of Cakes and Ale.  Eating a bit of food helps bring your focus back to your body and the material plane.  Any deities invoked or energies called upon should be thanked for their aid and released.  This is not so much a dismissal as a courteous farewell.  If you invite someone in its rather rude to have them show themselves out!  Traditional Wiccan practice has a variety of ways of circle deconstruction, but in its basic form the energy used to create the circle is reabsorbed either into the witch or his/her athame for future use.  With that the ritual is complete!

With this basic outline a solitary Wiccan has a tool to create any custom ritual for their own purposes.  The heart of the ritual is the invocation and practical working, which is only limited by the imagination of the individual.  I have a simple candle ceremony I have worked into my sabbat rituals to honor the Goddess in her triple aspect of maiden-mother-crone.  On my altar I keep a white, a red, and a black candle, and at the appropriate point in the year when the Goddess’s phase changes I transfer the flame from one to the other.  This is done with a silent prayer of welcome for the new aspect that has arrived and I meditate for a bit to try to connect with the new energies.  Such an observance is not elaborate or accompanied by eloquent poetry, but it works for its purpose which is to help me connect with my deity.  This is the true function of all religious ritual.  It just takes a bit of experimentation to help the new witch find out what works for them.

Journal for the Month of July:

I’m reading two new books this month, Progressive Witchcraft by Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone, and Goddesses in Everywoman by Jean Shinoda Bolen.  The first is a very interesting read after having read A Witches’ Bible which was written by the Farrars a couple of decades ago.  It definitely reflects an evolution of Wicca and witchcraft over the decades, at least from one person’s perspective.  I am currently on a chapter that relates aspects of witchcraft to the Eastern chakra system.  I found it extremely interesting in that it draws parallels between the blue of the throat chakra and the blue flames visualized in traditional rituals and circle castings.  In my last ritual I connected each quarter call to the opening of the chakra connected to that element and was pleasantly surprised by the results.  It helped me connect my visualizations to the energy I was projecting, a stronger macrocosm-microcosm connection if you will.

The second book has been extremely interesting not just in learning more about classical goddess archetypes, but also more about myself.  The author makes a distinction between three classes of goddesses: the independent virgins, the vulnerable relationship-orientated wives/ mothers/daughters, and the transformative Aphrodite (in a class all her own).  Each of these archetypes is a potentiality in every woman, and the book goes into the challenges, strengths, and weaknesses of each in turn.  It’s given me a new perspective on the particulars of each goddess’ qualities and which I may chose to call on for a particular working.  It’s been a fascinating read and I highly recommend it to all.  Once I’m done with this one I’m moving on to her other book Gods in Everyman for some perspective on the guys!

Until next month, blessed be! )O(

New To the Craft

June, 2009

The Magic of Herbs

There has always been a natural association between the Craft and herbal work.  Before the advent of modern medicine, it was typically the village wisewoman or midwife whom people consulted when they were in need of cures for their ailments.  Witches learned the properties of the plants growing in their environments and put them to good use.  Brews and potions were used to extract the essence of each herb for consumption, while poultices could be created to apply to wounds or rashes.  Many modern Wiccans and witches draw on this tradition in their own practice, as a more earth-centered alternative to pharmaceuticals.

Of course as a magical tradition the Craft sees more in herbs than just their medicinal qualities.  The choosing of herbs for spells and magical work is based on the idea of “vibrational resonance.”  Most systems of magical correspondences are derived from similar theories.  Basically, all matter is acknowledged to vibrate at a particular rate specific to its composition.  An amethyst crystal would vibrate at a different frequency than, say, the petals of a sunflower.  If it seems strange to think of inanimate objects as vibrating, consider the amazing properties of quartz which allow it to be used as a time-keeping device in modern-day watches.  While unseen by our basic senses, the effects are indeed visible.  Resonance is the principle of harmony between different substances.  If two separate objects vibrate in a harmonious pattern, they can then be brought together to amplify their effects.  This is the basis of using certain stones, herbs, colors etc. when designing a spell.  If the different elements vibrate at similar rates, they enhance the working.  To use herbs in magic, one typically uses the dried or fresh forms to be burned with incense or within the cauldron.  Bundles of sage are one example and are burned to purify sacred space.  Small sachets can also be made to carry herbs with you for a specific purpose, much like a talisman.  There are many published books listing the properties of various herbs and to what purposes they are best suited.  My particular favorite is Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs.  These are wonderful guides, but it’s important not to discount one’s own intuition in choosing herbs for your purpose too.  After all, if it doesn’t feel right for what you are doing, you will just be working against your own intent.

Learning the uses of every herb out there could fill a lifetime.  Though it can seem tempting to skip the reading and dive right in, it is important to learn about each herb you use thoroughly before doing so.  This is especially so if you plan to use any herb medicinally.  “Natural” does not equal “harmless” as the existence of countless poisonous and toxic plants demonstrates.  A smart witch researches the herbs s/he plans to use and knows how to identify the plant, what parts are to be used, what it is suited for, and what it is not suited for.  A medical professional or licensed herbalist should be consulted if taking herbs internally to avoid interactions with medication.  Wicca calls for the utmost respect of Mother Earth and for all of nature, which includes our own bodies.  Learning the proper use of herbs in both healing and magic is a wonderful way to honor that commitment.

Journal for the Month of May:

Beltane was a wonderful day!  I had the opportunity to attend a local festival held in the park, complete with May Pole dances and a potluck feast!  I think I’m starting to feel less like an outsider as I attend public events.  When I’m at home reading I feel like I am only scratching the surface of the knowledge available, and that everyone else must be light years ahead of me.  But we all have to start somewhere, and it’s not like it’s a race.  Plus it’s hard to feel unwelcome when everyone I’ve met in a public setting is so open and friendly!  I think maybe we all share a sigh of relief knowing we are in a place with like-minded folks and we don’t have to put up the walls that we may have to in our daily lives.

I made the discovery of a Wiccan congregation in my area.  They offer classes and I’m seriously thinking of attending some to meet more folks.  I still plan to remain a solitary in practice if only because to me my spiritual and religious ideas are a very personal matter and I don’t necessarily think I want to pursue them with a group.  It’s hard to explain, but when I attune with the God or Goddess, I want it to be just me and them.  I want to talk to, study with, and meet others on these paths, but I think I’ll always practice on my own.  It’s all a personal choice and we all have different paths to walk in order to grow as we need to.

Until next month, blessed be! )O(

Role of a Mentor

May, 2009

The Accidental Teacher

After I wrote the last column, dreaming of a day when I could teach someone as I have been taught, it occurred to me that I have already done that.  I may not have conducted a class, lead a group or mentored someone, but I still have had teaching moments in which I helped another Pagan on their path or explained something about our ways to non Pagans.  On many occasions I have been an accidental teacher.

Soon after I started on this path, I noticed that some dictionaries included the word “devil” or “evil spirits” in their definition of the word witch.  I wrote to an organization called Pagan Educational Network when I found out they had embarked on a project to provide publishers of dictionaries and encyclopedias with accurate information on the meaning of the words “witch” and “Pagan”.  Even though they wrote back that the project had ended, I joined the group because they were involved in addressing misinformation.  This was the beginning of several years of me writing letters.

My pet project was the depiction of witches in the media. I would watch the TV listing and pore through magazines and newspapers for anything about witches, real or fictional.  At that time, witches were a popular theme in entertainment and we saw Sabrina and Charmed on TV and The Craft and Practical Magic at the movies.  (1) If a depiction struck me as particularly good or bad, I would write a letter praising, critiquing, or correcting depending on the situation.  The same reaction applied to news stories.  I was particularly pleased with a TV segment from Toledo where a high priestess talked about a dispute with neighbors over a backyard fire pit then answered questions from callers and an article in the Toledo Blade about two Pagan groups in nearby Ottawa County.  Someone from the Blade called to thank me for my comments and asked if I wanted my letter published as a letter to the editor.  Hopefully letters such as this encouraged the media to report on and depict us fairly and accurately.  Despite the growing acceptance of our ways, their were negative depictions.

I would of course point out the error of those who claimed we worshipped Satan or performed blood sacrifices.  I saw an article in a newspaper from Mississippi that matter of factly talked about African based Paganism, but next to it was an article that condemned Wicca as Satanic.  Undoubtedly the worst news story was in a weekly newspaper in suburban Toledo that used one of those “satanic cult experts” who Kerr Cuhulain used to write about in his column Exposing The Lies on www.witchvox.com as its source for information on Paganism.  It depicted our faith as a haven for psychotic teens bent on violence and destroying society.  I laughed at a quote from this supposed expert, “One minute they are rolling around on the ground naked, the next they are trying to kill someone,”  because a few weeks earlier on the spur of the moment during a late night Mabon ritual, I removed my clothes and lay skyclad on the dewy grass.  Killing someone was the last thing on my mind as I experienced spiritual bliss.  The letters I wrote to attack such lies at least let those responsible know we would not take it in silence.  I wrote to Pagan Educational Network as well so they could include my efforts in their newsletter so hopefully I inspired other Pagans.

I saw every letter I wrote as a learning experience both for the recipient and myself.  Also, I could be a voice for change.  Back in 1998, Camel cigarettes ran a magazine ad depicting three women around a table casting a revenge spell on the ex-boyfriend of one of them, with a poppet used as a pincushion and several books lying around, with the titles of two of them, both Pagan books, at least partially visible.  (2) I wrote a letter of protest joining about 5000 other Pagans which resulted in letters of apology from the company and the ad being pulled after only two weeks.  After a few years though, I became tired of letter writing and when I wrote to Nintendo complaining about a wicked witch in the game Banjo Kazooie, I knew I was taking this too seriously.  Who among us does not delight in the over the top portrayal of the Wicked Witch of the West by Margaret Hamilton in the Wizard of Oz?

Not all my letters were concerning entertainment and news.  Before I had internet access, I wanted to communicate with other Pagans in other places, so I did it the old fashioned way, exchanging handwritten letters with pen pals.  I placed an ad in Circle Network News (now Circle Magazine) describing what areas interested me at the time.  I received almost a dozen responses, replying to every one.  Most never wrote me back, but I corresponded with three of them for a while.  As with each Pagan friendship, it was both a matter of teaching and learning.

There was a woman in Mississippi who went by the name Silver with whom I exchanged letters with ideas and stories of experiences for about a year.  I don’t remember much of what we talked about but she told me that when she used internet access at the local library, she was told that Pagan websites were inappropriate.  I encouraged her to find another way, and she was able to go to an Atheist friend’s home to use his computer.  The longest running pen pal was Deb from Virginia with whom I corresponded for about two years.  Besides exchanging ideas, we also taped Pagan music for each other, introducing each other to new bands.  Kurt was a Californian with whom I exchanged letters for about a year and a half.  When I met him, he was in prison, so I heard firsthand the difficulties that Pagan prisoners face trying to hold ritual, celebrate sabbats, obtain books, tools and supplies and receive visits from high priests.  A lot of people are wary of contact with prisoners, but my experience was rewarding and he was eager to learn and make a fresh start in life.  Just to be safe, I used a PO box, but I did that with all my pen pals.  The last time he wrote me, he was on parole in a halfway house and excited about the future.  We had intelligent discussions and I want to share an excerpt from a letter I wrote him.

“Your letter raised some interesting points and certainly has me thinking.  One of the challenging things about being Pagan is that it requires one to think and examine personal beliefs in the light of reality and experience, rather than memorize the “party line”.  The points you touch upon remind me of those who ponder what relevance a “fertility religion” can have in a day when family planning is the norm.  The problem lies in a literal definition of the concepts of harvest and fertility.  As you explained, in the past, a sufficient harvest was essential to the survival of the tribe, as well as having children and both farm and hunted animals having young.  No amount of technology will ever negate the fact that we still depend on the Earth for survival and what we do to the Earth eventually returns to us.  In 1988, we saw crops wither and die in the fields when it didn’t rain for about ten weeks and a few years ago, fields along Lake Erie and the nearby Sandusky River were flooded by sudden heavy rains.  While it is true that nobody starved because of these events, as would have happened in the past, Mother Nature will always have the last word.  It could even be argued that the marinas, resorts, condos, and Cedar Point amusement park in this area are dependant on a good annual “crop” of tourists.”

I have sadly forgotten what I discussed with Pagans I met via the mail or online, but I remember one well.  Deb from Tennessee posted a message on a board saying that she had been told that a witch had to buy all their magickal tools before attempting ritual and spend a lot on them.  She was asking if this was true.  I posted a reply that this was not true as it was not necessary to have all tools up front and the price had nothing to do with their effectiveness.  My chalice was a glass goblet I bought one Yuletide at a fast food restaurant for 99 cents, my wand a stick from my yard, and I had several items that I found or had been given to me.  I summed it up by saying,  “Your tools are merely the means, props as it were; the magick is in you, not them.”  She thanked me for my help and we have remained in contact, although infrequently now, ever since.  She returned the favor by offering my son and I advice when he informed me he was gay, as she is a lesbian.  She also gave me a shoulder to cry on when my son passed away and when my first marriage fell apart.  Pay attention in your day to day life and I bet that you too will find that you are an accidental teacher.

Footnotes

(1) Rhymes With Rich http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,285482,00.html

(2) Pagan Passion http://www.metroactive.com/papers/metro/09.03.98/pagans-9835.html

New to the Craft

May, 2009

Concepts of Deity

As mentioned last month, divinity can often be a touchy subject.  Ask ten different people what their definition of the divine is and you are likely to get ten different answers.  Is there a God?  Is there a Goddess?  If so what are they like?  Every soul will ask these questions in their lifetime and either accept established doctrine or come to their own conclusions.  Spiritual growth is our quest for understanding of that which is greater than ourselves. And while we may arrive at ideas which are universal, the journey is, by necessity, personal.

Wicca is not a religion that promotes dogma or rigid notions on what deity is or is not.  Instead it offers a general framework of thought that most Wiccans share, but which is by no means written in stone.  Like any pagan path, the Craft embraces diversity.  The most fundamental concept is that of immanence.  In contrast to the monotheistic faiths, Wiccans do not consider their gods or goddesses to be “out there” somewhere.  Rather they are here, in the most immediate sense, and in all things including ourselves.  Transcendent deity is the common idea of a powerful figure in the clouds far removed and above humankind.  Immanent deity is also powerful, but it is not separate.  This is difficult to truly grasp because it is beyond the intellect alone.  One analogy is just as all cells of your body are part of you, we are all part of the divine.  Or to state it another way, we each have an inner God, Goddess, or Higher Self within us upon which we can call because we are part of the whole.  Deity is part of nature, or rather is nature, and as natural beings we are constantly in communion with it if we accept that it is so.

The next basic concept of Wiccan deity is that it is dual: there is a God and a Goddess.  There is wide variation and emphasis within the traditions here, but the basic model is that of complementary forces whose combination produces life as we know it.  Remembering that these are immanent forces, the God and Goddess are not a superhuman man and woman.  We may personify them as such in order to relate to them, but when we speak of Wiccan deities they are first and foremost the most primal of forces in nature.  Their interaction is necessary for life, time, and growth.  Without the light of the sun or the rain from the sky (the God) the seeds of the earth (the Goddess) would lie dormant and sterile.  Though we say God and Goddess there is no gender bias between them.  It would be just as accurate to envision deity as twins of the same sex, as many cultures have done, and arrive at the same ideas.  The important point is that they are dual in order to express their interaction.

Beyond the two teachings of immanence and duality there may be little in common for divinities between individuals in the Craft.  Everyone will attune to these greater forces in their own way and this is as it should be.  Many if not most Wiccans find that they connect with the pantheons of a particular culture.  The God and Goddess are seen as universal deities that can be personified and related to more easily as a particular god or goddess from ancient myth.   For instance, groups with a British Traditional focus may invoke the names of Aradia and Cernunnos.  Classical pantheons may choose Diana and Pan, or Demeter and Dionysus.  The list is endless.  It can also vary with the intent of a particular ritual or magical working.  Perhaps I may call on the Goddess as Brigid at the Imbolc sabbat, but as Venus if I am in need of a love spell.  All of these gods and goddesses are faces of the larger deity they personify and none are incorrect.  Meditation upon the greater forces of God and Goddess is the surest way to find your own connection and know what works for you.

Besides calling on specific deities it is also popular in Wicca to represent the deities according to the archetypes of the Horned God and Triple Goddess.  Both of these motifs were common in ancient mythologies as expressions of fertility and immortality, survival and continuation of life being vital preoccupations.  The Horned God rules the wild forests and the animals therein.  He is the king of all noble beasts who is born at midwinter of the Goddess, grows to maturity to become her partner/consort, and gives his life in the autumn so that life may continue.  His cycle follows the solar cycles and the harvest, and he is reborn each year as the child conceived by his union with the Goddess.  The Triple Goddess reflects the threefold face of maiden-mother-crone, also reflected in the lunar cycles/phases.  The Goddess does not die each year as does the God, but instead shows these aspects in turn as part of the yearly cycle.  She is the maiden in spring, the mother after her union with the God going into the summer, and the crone in the waning months of autumn.   As he is reborn she is also renewed and they are young together once again in the new year.  These patterns are mythological expressions of the cycles of nature that we experience, and their popularity in Wicca is understandable given that they aid us in our attunement with them.

Knowledge of the divine is a goal of any religion.  Wicca may acknowledge deity as an immanent duality, but that cannot answer the question of what the experience of divinity is.  If my deity is immanent, is it a force outside of me or just a higher part of me?  Does calling on the divine entail reaching outside to the universe or within myself?  Are their gods/goddesses/angels/fairies/etc in the world or are they my projections?  I make no claim to have any answers to these questions as I am still seeking answers myself.  And I have a feeling that the answers I arrive at can be different from yours, and we can both be right.  To a certain extent it doesn’t really matter.  Whether the forces we work with in Wicca are inside us or out in the world, we have the ability to harness them for ours and other’s betterment.  In that sense the God and Goddess are most definitely “real” because we can see their effects every day.  I like to think of them as forces I may never comprehend, but that I can work with when in need and learn from at all times.  My Goddess is not above me in judgment, but I sit at her feet in deference as a student to a wise teacher who would seek to learn great wisdom.  May she grant me the understanding that I may prove a worthy pupil.

Journal for the Month of April:

I am gearing up for Beltane at the end this month, and the flowers are finally starting to bloom!  This is truly a beautiful time of the year (excepting my allergies), and I am really aiming to stop and smell the roses so to speak.  Even in hard times there is so much beauty in nature that we can enjoy for free.  Sometimes I find it even more important to see these things when things are tough, because it helps me to remember that there is a greater world out there and maybe my problems aren’t as long-lasting as they feel at the moment.

Anyways, I should have more to report next month, I have a vacation coming up in which I plan to cram as much reading and meditation as possible.  I think I’ll throw a little bit of gardening in there too; my herb stocks are quite low!  Here’s wishing a merry Beltane to all!

Until next month, blessed be! )O(

Role of a Mentor

April, 2009

Like many others my age, the first witch I saw on TV was Samantha on the show Bewitched. But there was real life witch in my area whom I saw on TV several times. Jeffrey B. Cather RN, better known as Lady Circe of Toledo, OH, was respected by the media when they turned to her as the unofficial representative of the Pagan community. She was well spoken, knowledgeable and had an air of leadership about her. When I saw her on TV in the 70s and 80s, I was not yet studying the old ways, but it was in the back of my mind and the knowledge that such people existed kept the spark of my interest alive. When she passed away in 2004, I read she was a WW II veteran and since this was before the VA decision to add the pentacle as a symbol of belief, I’ve wondered if her headstone was ever changed.

Shortly after I was hired by the Postal Service in 1994, I saw a documentary called “Witches, Werewolves and Vampires.” It was more on the lighter side, but I was intrigued by what the Witches were saying about a magical nature centered religion which included a goddess. This was the moment I decided to see if what the Witches were saying was true and if this was something for me. Its funny how the words and attitudes of someone we never meet and who have no idea we exist can change our lives, so perhaps our words and attitudes can in turn affect people we will never meet and may not even know they exist.

I looked in the library in Port Clinton, OH where I was working at the time and found a book, the name of which I have long ago forgotten. It claimed to be about witchcraft, but with instructions to self initiate that included saying the Lord’s Prayer backwards three times at midnight and making a wand stuffed with a blood soaked cotton ball, it sounded weird even in my naiveté. Fortunately it disappeared never to return before I could check it out. Perhaps someone was keeping me from starting out with misinformation.

Eventually I found a few useful accurate books at the library and bought some at a bookstore in another town. But I yearned for contact with a like minded person, someone I could learn from, ask questions, and gain understanding. There was a woman on my mail route I wanted to talk with as she received metaphysical catalogs, had a stained glass pentacle on her door, stickers on her truck reading “witches heal” and “born again pagan” and had a banner in her window wishing “Blessed Samhain.” One day she was sweeping her sidewalk, so I stuck up a conversation, complimenting her on her Halloween decorations. She replied that it was important to her as she was a Witch. I replied that I was a newbie Wiccan and she offered to be of help.

I learned so much from Soraya. She explained the difference between Witch and Wiccan and elaborated on her path of Hedgewitchery. She was the first other Pagan I had met in person, so being a newbie, I tended at first to hang on her every word, something she discouraged. Instead, she encouraged me to listen to different views, try different things and see what worked for me. There was an author whom I idolized at the time, but my mentor had a rather negative opinion of her. I was able to step back and be objective about that author as well as any other. We were comfortable disagreeing agreeably and I never felt pressure to agree with or imitate her. I was a fan of the TV show Charmed and she thought it was stupid. She thought the movie The Craft insulted our religion but I could watch it over and over although I understood how those not familiar with our ways could get the wrong idea. Practical Magic was a movie we both enjoyed.

Soraya encouraged me to interact with other Pagans. She started a local meet and greet called Pagans in the Pub and invited me to come. I was too reluctant to do so and unfortunately after two meetings, it stopped due to lack of interest. She was a member of a Cleveland, OH based group and drove to their monthly meetings. We talked about me riding with her sometime but again I was reluctant. Considering the problems I have now finding the time to participate in Pagan groups, I wish I would have went.

I did manage to find other Pagans online and she pointed the way. She recommended the Witch’s Voice and a few other quality sites as well as setting up her own Pagan message board, Soraya’s Witch’s Tavern. I was one of the first members at her invitation and as I sat at the library internet computer pondering a user name, it came to me, Postalpagan, a name I still use 12 years later. It amused me when she said that some of the other members asked her if it was a reference to the term “going postal”, and she replied that I was her mail carrier. When someone asked her how she changed her hair color like one of the girls in The Craft did, she replied that she started by going to the drug store and buying a box of hair color. One Imbolic morning I knocked on her door because I had been feeling like I had way too much coffee since an early morning ritual. She went through a checklist of the steps of ritual and when she got to grounding and centering at the end, I realized my omission. Once I followed her advice to perform the missing step, I felt myself calm down. One thing she would not do was let me join her in ritual as she said she was strictly a solitary.

Her proudest moment during the time I knew her was the front page story on her in the local newspaper. She had called them about ten days earlier to point out the error in a Halloween article that claimed the Celtic god of the dead was Sam Hain and Samhain was named after him. After she replied yes to a newspaper staffer’s question if she was Pagan, she agreed to an interview at home. The article with a photo of her on her porch swing was published October 23, 1999 in the Port Clinton News Herald. It was spot on both in regards to her personally and our religion. Only one of my coworkers at the Post Office criticized her as eccentric and I defended her even though I was still in the broom closet. In spite of her fears, she did not receive any threatening phone calls or hate mail. I walked into the newspaper office to praise both the article and their willingness to be open minded. Sadly, I found out a few years later from another newspaper staffer, who was Pagan, that they received so many complaints that the editor decided that they would never run another piece on anything Pagan.

A little over two years later, I transferred to Clyde, OH and said goodbye to Soraya thanking her for her help which had meant so much. She encouraged me to keep learning and practicing as well as remaining active at the Tavern. But she soon closed the message board and I heard she moved to North Carolina. I saw her on the membership listing of Witchvox under that state for a while, then she disappeared and repeated web searches have found nothing. If perchance she is reading this, I would like to give her a big thank you for being my mentor and my dream is that someday I could be as helpful to a new Witch somewhere.

New To The Craft

March, 2009

The Moon & Lunar Cycles

Last month I explored the function of the sabbats in attuning oneself with the rhythms of nature with the solar cycle.  This month I will turn to the moon and the significance of its phases.  This luminous body both mystifies and haunts us in the inky darkness of the night sky.  When full it gleams as a brilliant silvery-white orb which dwarfs even the brightest star to seeming insignificance.  Month after month it comes and goes from our perspective, growing to full and once again waning back to darkness.  Yet it always returns as does the sun, and for that reason becomes another powerful symbol of immortality and rebirth.  The sun is vital to life and makes sustenance possible, but it cannot be there to light the way for us in the night and the darkest of times.  That is when we call to our closest companion of all the celestial bodies – the moon.

The moon orbits our planet hundreds of thousands of kilometers away.  It is sometimes mistakenly said to be about a quarter of the size of earth when in fact its diameter is about a quarter that of earth’s.  In terms of comparing two spheres the moon is much smaller than our planet.  We can usually only see it during the night when the sun isn’t overwhelming our view.  The moon does not produce its own light, but instead reflects the sunlight it receives.  The relative positions of the sun, moon and earth are what determine the amount of the moon’s surface that is visible to us, thus creating what we refer to as the “phases” of the moon.  For instance, when the bodies are aligned in the order sun-moon-earth we experience the new or dark moon.  This is because at night we are facing away from the sun and the moon does not appear anywhere in our sky.  When the alignment is sun-earth-moon we likewise see the full moon.  Waxing and waning phases are the transitions between these alignments as the moon rotates around the earth.  Sometimes when the alignment is just right we get what is called an eclipse, when one of the bodies blocks the light from the sun in a temporary but awe-inspiring phenomenon of nature.

Those in the Craft honor the cycles of the moon in several ways.  Just as the eight sabbats mark the solar year and aid us in attuning with the sun, the celebration of what is termed the esbat brings us into alignment with lunar forces.  Esbat traditions vary from group to group and even from individual to individual.  In a lot of ways it is mostly what you make of it.  Many witches choose to do magical workings, spells, and matters of practical concern.  Others hold a special ritual to mark the occasion.  Most select the full moon as the point of the esbat but there is no rule that says it can’t be held at the new moon or even multiple moon phases instead.  Whether focused on magic or simple observance, the purpose of the esbat is attunement with natural cycles via the moon.

The moon completes a full revolution every 29.5 days and therefore esbats are typically monthly affairs.  This is a natural connection for women whose own monthly cycles mimic this pattern.  Indeed, women in particular are frequently able to harness lunar energy and use it to great effect.  The period from new moon to full is referred to as the waxing phase, and is associated with increase and growth.  The waning phase is from full to new and is used for decrease or banishing of negative influences.  Both the full and new moon are times of great power and are culminations of the energies leading up to them.  To be in tune with the moon is to know at any one moment what the current phase and energies are.  Observing and learning the moon’s phases is one of the easiest and most immediate ways to connect with nature.  It is also interesting to note that when trying to begin a new habit or replace an old one people frequently recommend maintaining the activity for about one full moon cycle for the habit to take root.  Lunar cycles and humanity share an intimate connection with deep roots in our psyche.  As the tides rise and fall from the pull of the moon’s gravity, so do our spirits feel the allure of our silent companion, and sit enchanted beneath its pale light.

Journal for the Month of February:

As I write this the new moon has arrived, and it’s time for me to commit to new goals and eliminate useless clutter and stress.  I personally love observing the moon; maybe it’s leftover from picking out constellations in the night sky as a child.  There is something absolutely mesmerizing about it, and for me it has been much easier to connect with lunar cycles than solar ones.  I think that’s partially also because a year is so much longer and a day is just too quick.  A moon cycle is the perfect length of time to plan things, work on them, and bring positive change to any area of life.  For me this month it’s going to be getting on that pre-spring cleaning that so desperately needs to be done!

In this column and the last you may notice that I haven’t really delved into God or Goddess associations with the sun and moon in much depth (or at all).  Deity is such a broad and personal subject that I would rather save that for its own separate entry to give it justice.  These past couple of months I have been giving so much thought and meditation to what God/dess means to me.  I expect it will take me a lifetime to come up with any true answers, but I refuse to take it at face value and leave it at that.  The symbols and correspondences we work with point to deeper meanings that cannot be understood by grazing the surface.  Nor can they be understood using only the intellect.  I think that all of us who began a spiritual journey started it in order to come to more than just book knowledge – we want to experience deity.  We want to awaken the deepest levels of our consciousness and feel something.  Union with the divine.  Realizing our higher selves.  God.  Goddess.  What that something is we find hard to define in words, but we seek it nonetheless.  I am only taking the first steps in that journey, but I hope that one day it will come together.  And I hope that we may all find that which we seek.

Until next month, blessed be! )O(

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