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August, 2009

Welcome to the August Issue of PaganPages

August, 2009

Merry Meet Everyone!!
We hope the summer heat doesn’t have everyone down. Take some time to sit in the air conditioning or in front of the fan and have a good read!!

In this Issue:

Crafting-Wiccan-Traditions1

A Review of Raven Grimassi’s book Crafting Wiccan Traditions

A New Column Reaching Reiki with ReikiAwakening.com’s Alice Langholt”

lori11

Lori Baratta shares her work with our Readers.


August Monthly horoscope 2009 for Leo and Virgo (22 July – 22 September) by Michele Burke

leo

Leo’s at this time you are you are at your most charming. You are a smooth talker. Your compliments will flow freely. All month you will feel like you are on top of the world and everyone will see it in your glow. Romance will be found in the least expected place. So be on the lookout for love.

virgo

Virgo’s your criticizing nature may become an issue in the month of August. Your cool insight will lead you to economic gain. Even though you generally are bashful when it comes to love, a new romance will be awaiting you later in the month but be careful not to let your emotions carry you away, stick it out and you will be rewarded.

Self Blessing

By Rev. Bella Mahri

Blessed be my mind
that I may know you.

Blessed be my ears
that I may always hear your music.

Blessed be my eyes
that I may see your beauty.

Blessed be my nose
that I may smell your essence.

Blessed be my lips and tongue
that I may speak of your ways.

Blessed be my heart
that I may be faithful in your works.

Blessed be my loins,
that I may create life as you brought forth the universe.

Blessed be my hips and knees,
that bend to help a being of nature.

Blessed be my feet,
that I may ever walk in your ways.

Bless me, Mother Goddess,
now and forevermore.
Blessed Be!

Rev. Bella Mahri: I am an ordained Circle Sanctuary minister (PSG 2008), HPS for 16 years of the Lady of the Sacred Grove and Stone Circle (LSGSC). I have be in the craft for almost 45 years.  I am a priestess of Bast.  We sponsor the Earth Spiritual Education Center (ESE Center) to communicate with the Pagan and Mundane community.

Vampire Folklore

August, 2009

Most people are very much acquainted with Bram Stoker’s Dracula but are unaware of other important literary vampires that preceded him.  These literary vampires include Lord Ruthven, Varney, and Carmilla.  In this series, these vampires and their respective authors will be introduced and show how these lesser known characters greatly impacted both Bram Stoker and other authors such as Anne Rice.

Dr. John Polidori was originally hired as a medical advisor to the infamous Lord Byron.  Polidori was to be his travelling companion as well.  However, his greater mission was to chronicle Byron’s journeys because he was commissioned to do so from Byron’s publisher.  One would figure such an arrangement would be perfect, but the two quarreled from the very beginning (Masters 199).  It was during one of these argumentative travels that Polidori gathered inspiration for his upcoming work.  Byron and Polidori happened to be in the company of Claire Clairmont, Mary Godwin, and Percy Shelley, and they all decided to fabricate ghost stories one evening.  Polidori’s attempt failed of course, while Mary Godwin achieved success with her story becoming the legendary Frankenstein.  During this story-telling session, Polidori managed to take notes as instructed by Byron’s publisher (Melton 480).  It was from these notes that the first vampire story came to be published in English (Guiley 229).

Polidori examined his notes from the evening of storytelling and using pieces from the story that Lord Byron told about a Greek and his travelling companion, created ”The Vampyre”.  In addition to using Byron’s initial ideas, Polidori decide to mock him as well with his choice of name for the main character.  The vampire’s name was Lord Ruthven which was the name chosen by Byron’s former lover to ridicule Byron in a novel titled, Glenarvon.  The character himself could be described as cold and aristocratic individual whose deadly hue attracted the ladies much like Lord Byron (Gregory 26).  The story remained unpublished for quite some time until 1819 when Polidori sold it, and it appeared in the New Monthly Magazine.  Unfortunately, Polidori initially did not receive credit for the work.  The magazine implied that Byron was the author, and it was due to this mistake that the novella achieved instant success.  Although Polidori eventually laid claim to the work, the recognition did not do him much good.  His troubled life and gambling losses caused him to commit suicide in 1821 (Guiley 230).  He would never realize how much of an impact his work would be to the aristocratic and sexy vampire cult that continued throughout the rest of the nineteenth century and beyond (Mascetti 189).

To better grasp how “The Vampyre” impacted future vampiric writings and how it mirrored the relationship between Polidori and Byron, one must better understand the character Lord Ruthven.    Lord Ruthven is an English vampire living in London.  He frequents the many various parties held by the upper crust of society.    He spends his summers in Greece so he may be alone.  In regards to his personality, he is cool by nature (Mascetti 154).  He is charismatic but can be sadistic when it comes to not caring about the misfortunes of others.  He is a gambler and a seducer of women.  He is a master manipulator in how he uses his money to taint those who simply want assistance.  One could reasonably argue that Lord Ruthven is the epitome of a psychic vampire by the way he causes others to lose their vitality, health, and most importantly, their respectability (Guiley 185).  In the story, all of these traits are displayed in how he treats his traveling companion, Aubrey.  Throughout the tale, Lord Ruthven constantly destroys Aubrey’s life by killing his loved ones, which include a lady friend and his sister.  He manipulates Aubrey into taking an oath for a year and a day.  The oath does not allow Aubrey to discuss the matter of the Lord’s death after the pair was attacked by bandits.  When the Lord reappears and seeks Aubrey’s sister’s hand in marriage, Aubrey can do nothing to stop it or his sister’s death that quickly follows.  In the end, Aubrey suffers a nervous breakdown while Lord Ruthven continues his life of leisure and deceit (Melton 528).

Next month…meet Varney

***To those in the vampire community:  I am looking for individuals who are interested in a case study/survey to be conducted by yours truly.  If you are interested in participating in this activity, please email me at [email protected]  The results will be published as an article in Paganpages!***

Works Cited


Gregory, Constantine.  The Vampire Watcher’s Handbook:  A Guide For Slayers.  New York:  St. Martin’s Griffin, 2003.

Guiley, Rosemary Ellen.  The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters.  New York:  Checkmark Books, 2005.

Mascetti, Manuela.  Vampire:  The Complete Guide to the World of the Undead.  New York:  Penguin Books, 1992.

Masters, Anthony.  The Natural History of the Vampire.  London:  Rupert Hart-Davis    Ltd, 1972.

Melton, J. Gordon.  The Vampire Book.  Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1994.

Goddess Cards

August, 2009

DEMETER ~ THE FIERCE MOTHER

Demeter-Non-Watermarked

I have always loved Demeter, the Greek goddess of agriculture. Normally, I celebrate her at Harvest. This year, I have reasons for thinking of her earlier…

August is the height of late summer.  That is why, in the central image of this painting, we see Demeter, a gloriously fruitful goddess, bearing golden sheaves of wheat against a background of blazing summer skies, poppies, and flowing rivers. Everything symbolizes the fertility and abundance she showers on a hungry world. How beautiful she is!

In her left hand, however, she bears a torch. And vignettes that tell a less sunny story surround her. It is that story that has earned her second title, The Fierce Mother. That is the story I tell today.

Demeter, provider and mother figure for the whole world, had only one child, a daughter named Persephone. This lovely girl was her pride and joy. While busy with her great task of making the Earth fruitful, Demeter took satisfaction in knowing that her ceaseless labors of love allowed her precious child to be carefree. Persephone could, and did, spend her days dancing in the meadows with her friends, gathering flowers that her mother had nurtured and brought to the peak of perfection. She led an idyllic life!

Persephone

Then one day, the unthinkable happened. Hades, the lonely King of the Underworld, kidnapped Persephone and took her to his dark kingdom. There, he raped her, and forced her to marry him. All with the collusion of Zeus, King of the Gods, Persephone’s father, and Demeter’s brother!

Demeter was devastated. Taking a torch in her hand, she searched tirelessly for her lost child in every nook and cranny of the Earth. But nobody could tell her where Persephone had gone. She sank into a grief so profound that she abandoned her care for the world. Crops failed. Animals died. Blasted by famine, drought and winter, people died as well. Their cries for help to Mother Demeter went unanswered.

When Demeter finally discovered that Hades had stolen Persephone, she was outraged and demanded that Zeus force Hades to return her.  Conditions on Earth had become so dire that Zeus had to take action.

He ordered Hades to restore Persephone to her mother. But Hades claimed the unhappy girl had just broken her fast by eating seven seeds of a pomegranate – a symbol of marriage in the ancient world. As his wife, she was obliged to remain with him forever.

Zeus made a canny compromise. Persephone would spend 8 months of every year with her mother on Earth. She would return to the Underworld with her husband for only 4 months – after harvest!

Demeter had to be content with this partial victory. Her delight at her reunion with Persephone was great. Soon, Earth bloomed again. A bumper harvest made thanksgiving celebrations more joyful than ever. When Persephone returned to Hades, winter came back with a vengeance. But the Greeks lived in hope. They knew that when she returned, Demeter’s blessing would be restored. They celebrated that…

I honor the great Goddess of Abundance and Fertility. But I am inspired by her example as Fierce Mother.

What mother has not had the experience of having to go look for their child? Of fighting to retrieve them from some danger? It may begin early with a terrifying, momentary loss of a youngster in a grocery store. As they grow older, and life becomes complex, the losses may become more challenging.

I know mothers who have fought fiercely to extricate a lost child from the grip of an addiction. Others have sought to rescue a beloved child from depression, a painful marriage or loss of a partner, financial losses, or eating disorders. At the moment, I, and my family, are facing a life-threatening illness in a cherished son.

At such times, the model of Demeter, Goddess of Agriculture and Abundance, and Fierce Mother, is good to remember.

Demeter refused to abandon the quest to restore her daughter to Life. Her persistence succeeded. Persephone WAS returned to Earth, though she was not the same carefree child she was before her descent into Underworld.

Both mother and daughter were transformed by their experience of loss. Persephone grew up. Demeter discovered untapped resources of strength as well as abundant provision.

But that is a story for another day…

For now, have a blessed August.

Anne Baird, Designer/Owner of GODDESS CARDS, is a self-taught artist who has been painting and writing since childhood. Her chosen media for her unique line of greeting cards is watercolor, with touches of gouache, ink and colored pencil.

Her GODDESS CARD line grew from a birthday card she created for her daughter, Amanda, in 2001. Amanda was disheartened at being a curvaceous beauty in the Land of Thin. (Los Angeles.) That seminal card declaring, “You’re a GODDESS, not a nymph!” evolved into a long line of love notes and affirmations for ALL women. At over 125 cards, the line is steadily growing.

Anne is inspired by the archetypal Legendary Goddesses, who have so much to teach today’s women. Her greatest inspiration however, comes from the Goddesses of Today, who write her with wonderful suggestions and thoughts that expand her consciousness and card line.

She is launching an E-Goddess Card website soon, where the Goddess on the Go can send Goddess “e-cards”, enriched with music and stories, at the click of a mouse. (A virtual mouse.)

New Moon Ethics – Musings on the Morals of Paganism

August, 2009

ABRACADABRA!

Well hello again my fellow pagans. Summer has greeted us finally, and, as is normal in many a pagan life, the magic of life is awake and stirring. With the celebrations and sacred rituals of Beltane, Summer Solstice, Lugnasadh and much more, summer is without a doubt an eventful time of year. In light of this integral part of pagan way, I felt that the topic of magic was an interesting one for this article.

Many people, upon hearing the word pagan, immediately reflect upon thoughts of magic. Why is that? Yes magic is an integral part of pagan life, but the magic that people view related to those who use it is sometimes a far cry from what it really is. With all of the flying around on broomsticks and turning people into toads, we have our work cut out for us! However, much of the tales of magic is far from the truth and sadly often misunderstood.

I was having a discussion with a woman a few weeks ago who spoke to me about a girl who believed that magic was simply a form of power. While magic itself can be very powerful, it is not used as a funnel for ones personal power, or at least, it shouldn’t be. The majority of pagans hold a belief of magic being something much more sacred and special than just a lead to personal power. It is a connection between you and the mother goddess, evident in the mystical as well as the mundane. But more on that in a little bit. For now lets focus on a few facts.

Wikipedia describes magic as being documented as early as the fourteenth century in Greek  and old French culture. In a generalized statement, magic is defined as the workings of someone to achieve a certain outcome. Scholars have tried to define it, scientists have tried to find answers explaining it, and many people have viewed it as a benevolent force not to be toyed with. Magic leaves many people in awe, both good and bad, because there is something within magic that cannot be put into words, much as the relationship between a person and their divine. To read more on what wikipedia describes as magic, follow this link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_(paranormal)

Two words that always pop into a persons mind when they think of magic is the all famous Abracadabra and Hocus Pocus. But why are these two phrases so internationally known and related to magic itself? In days of old, as it is told by dictionary.com, abracadabra was a magical word that was not spoken but worn as an amulet around the neck to protect the wearer from disease or trouble. It was arranged in the shape of a pyramid. Now Abracadabra has taken on the meaning of gibberish, or unintelligible talk, often believed to be a word used in incantations.

Hocus Pocus is defined as a phrase used to describe trickery or deception. It also takes on the interesting meaning of a jugglers trick, or sleight of hand.

Now that we have the meaning of those two words put to sleep, lets talk about the Hollywood style magic. We all have been reading on magic since young children. Cinderella had a fairy godmother who transformed a pumpkin into a carriage, mice into horse, and even conjured up glass slippers. Snow white had to fight the forces of Maleficent,  an evil sorceress who would stop at nothing to have the girl destroyed. Other depictions of magic lay within movies such as Hocus Pocus, Practical Magic, The mists of Avalon, and so many more. A great addition to add mystique to a movie, without a doubt. But what is “real” magic?

When  confronted with the question, what is magic, a moment to collect our thoughts is normally called for. Although we use it, know what it means to us, describing it can often be a much more difficult task. I think one of the simplest and yet most descriptive quotes on magic is Lord Byrons saying, “The power of thought, the magic of the mind!” This quote can often be found through any search engine, such as google. This quote points out one very powerful point, that magic is within the power of one persons individual thoughts. You cannot recreate one persons magic exactly the same, because each individual has their own connection the nature, to the mother goddess, or to their own divine. Their thoughts focus around the needs in their life, giving magic a very personal characteristic. Magic, for many a pagan, is the mundane, and the mundane is magical.

When watching  sunset, or listening to the gulls sing their song, or even watching flowers bloom, this is all magical. Life is magic. Watching our children play in the summer sun, learning to swim for the first time, this is magic. And when the need arises and we must perform magic to attain the greater good, this is a personal magic. It is much like a prayer is to many people, powerful thought, strong emotions and energy which are channeled at the specific need of the person, and a release of that energy. I would like to leave you with a poem that I found, beautiful and relevant to our discussion.

There’s Magic in the Telling

There’s magic in the telling
Watch your secrets closely
There’s magic in the telling
Choose your words carefully
There’s magic in the telling

Don’t crush the hopes and dreams of others
For they all hold a piece of you
Live life through rose-colored glasses
Seeing beyond what you see or do
There’s magic in the telling
What’s your magic telling about you?

Do you sit on mountains high
Or walk through valleys low?
Is there time enough for the song of birds
Or doing time on a sentence of what’s been sowed?
Do you feel the love of kin
Or backstabbing knives in your skin?
Does your money grow on trees
Or always begging on your knees?
There’s magic in the telling

See yourself upon the throne, spreading joy across the land
Share hope with others, allowing each to do all they can
Build castles in the sand together
Cheering as the ocean washes them away
Know there is time enough to build together on another day
Watch the nature of creatures for they have so much to tell
The wisdom of the ages has been passed down to you as well

You see there is magic in the telling
A story of power, love and might
There’s magic in the telling
Create beauty out of light
There’s magic in the telling
Stop thinking yee be so small
There’s magic in the telling
Know inside your words that you can have it all

Written by Priscilla Parham

This poem spoke to me because it is honest and simple, yet it speaks of life in various stages. Magic is life, within our own words, actions, thoughts and emotions. So, fellow pagans and faithful readers, lets gather our broomsticks and fly into the rest of the summer!

Most fervent blessings until we speak again,

Naiyeetu

If you are looking for advice on pagan matters write to Naiyeetu at [email protected]

The Indigo Child

August, 2009

In last month’s column The Indigo Child I announced that this column will be a place where parents of Indigo Children as well as Indigo adults will be able to come for advice and or ask questions about the world of the Indigo and if need be connected with services in your area.

Well there has been several replies since last month so there is nothing further to do than to just jump right into it and start answering questions.

Question #1

Blades Kiss wrote:  Do indigo’s seem to suffer from chronic pain illnesses?? I have talked with many many other people who are indigo who have fibro, rsd etc…

Michele: In answer to your question it has been my experience that Indigo’s do suffer from a lot of pain but the origins of this pain comes from a more soulful area of the psyche many times linked to the caring of others burdens whether in this life or past lives.

Blades Kiss wrote: Any suggestions on how else I could help my children or even myself to embrace our gifts better?

Michele
: Parenting an Indigo child is one of the most fulfilling things a parent can ever have the opportunity of doing with his or her child. However if you are having problems understanding what is going on then I would suggest that you check out Metagifted.org it is an online group of individuals who deal with Indigo children every day.

Question #2

Krystyna Chandra wrote: I have believed for a couple of years now that I am an indigo adult but have found it difficult to find other indigos or to find counsel on how to deal with my frustrations and utilize my gifts. I have been / am a practicing witch for almost half of my life and even within my spiritual community I have trouble finding guidance. I think I’ve been doing ok since I figured out what my issue was, the first time I read a list of indigo traits I bust into tears because I “Just Knew”. Are there any outlets – books, websites, anything? That you can recommend to aid me on my journey?

Michele: Again like I have said many times before the first thing any indigo adult must do is find someone who knows what they are going through to talk to and the best way to do that is to find a support group such as Metagifted.org.

Question #3

Crone Witch/Joyce wrote: I’m not sure if this falls with being an Indigo… but most of the Witches I know or have known, have been plagued with back/hip/leg pains…to the point (in my case), where it feels as if my hip has been dislocated or broken.. Just hurts to even move. Just makes me wonder what WE deal with, that manifests in our backs, legs and hips… is it from “carrying” others, and if so, how do we go about “putting them down” and letting them carry themselves? Any ideas? And some of my happiest, “lose myself” time is alone in the gardens… I go out to water something that should take just a few minutes, and when I come back into the house, I see that a few HOURS have passed. For this and the pain, and some other reasons I’ll not take space up to go into, here and now, I believe I’m Indigo, at least in some senses… as is my grandson….as was MY grandmother… and the “skipped” generation thing, as to be “inherited” doesn’t apply here, I was adopted at birth. Can Indigo be a product of environment, as well as heredity?

Michele
: In answer to your question regarding pain you hit the mail on the head I am of the belief that the pain we Indigo’s carry is from as you said is from the carrying of others. In order to alleviate this pain one needs to focus on the white light of healing with means you have already spoke of (your Garden), when you are in your garden you are putting yourself in tune with nature and are no longer focusing on the pain. Now as for whether or not being Indigo is hereditary or a product of nature (environment) I believe that being blessed with being an Indigo is something we are born with and the reason it looks as if your gift may have came from your environment has nothing to do with your environment per say but more because you were pre-destined to be with your adopted family because of a past life experience in which you where related to your adopted family most likely your adopted grandmother was your mother in a past life.

In closing I hope these answers have and will be of help to each of you and eagerly await answering more reader’s questions next month.

Bountiful Blessings

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(

Meandering through the Past

August, 2009

Tools of the Trad, The Wand

Back say in the 1600’s those who practiced witchcraft didn’t have the local metaphysical shop to run down to for purchasing their needs. The tools of the trade, were found in the way they were first intended, first by need, then by intuition.

Often a practitioner could be found walking amongst the trees of a forest, just enjoying the sun filtering it’s way through the leaves above. Maybe the witch is thinking about how lonely they feel. Maybe the thoughts running through their minds were about how to heal a particularly bad cold, or some other need stealing their attention.

Often these thoughts would guide them directly to the object which would fulfill their need or desire. We will begin this series on The Tools of the Trade with Wands in the “Olden Days”.

As said practitioner walked through that forest, their sight might be drawn to a stick laying on the forest floor. This witch, would not break off a piece of a living tree unless their intuition guided them to do so. If that were the case, the witch would quiet their mind, lay their palms against the roughened skin of the tree, and ask the spirit living within the tree, if they might remove the branch.

The same would occur for a stick laying on the ground. Before just removing it from the forest floor, the witch would offer a prayer and ask the Earth and forest if they might take the stick. If they felt within themselves, that it would be okay to take the stick, they would do so, and usually offer something in return to thank the spirit of the tree or the Earth.

Even today, with metaphysical and Craft stores popping up not only in the local neighborhood, but online as well, we can still use this tired and true method to find our own wands. Take that walk out into a local forest. Feel the trees, the sun, and the Earth underneath you. Listen for any feelings or even voices that might be guiding to in one particular direction or another. See what you can find, offer thanks, and cherish what the Earth has given.

Reaching Reiki

August, 2009

Reaching Reiki with ReikiAwakening.com’s Alice Langholt

Hello there! I’m honored to have been asked to write the Reiki column for PaganPages.org! I’d like to use this first column to introduce myself and talk about what Reiki is and why I do it.

First, let me say that the strongest reason that I’m a huge Reiki advocate is that I am a regular person. That is to say, I did not have any special abilities growing up, and I wasn’t born with intuition or anything beyond wishing to be special. When I learned Reiki, things changed for me completely. Learning Reiki gave me access to spiritual energy, not only for myself, but for helping others heal and feel better. In fact, the most powerful part of this for me is distance healing. I now teach Reiki to people like me, average regular non-intuitive people, and watch their world open as mine did. I also teach Reiki to those who are already gifted with intuitive abilities and want to learn this method of directing these abilities for healing. But I’m ahead of myself.

You may be wondering what Reiki is. Here’s the skinny: Reiki is a Japanese-originated method for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes physical and emotional healing. Reiki treatments are given by a light hands-on touch, or remotely via distance, and follow the idea that an unseen “life force energy” flows through us and is what enables us to be alive. When stress and other emotional factors drain our life force energy, we are more likely to get sick or feel exhausted. With thriving life force energy, we are more capable of being emotionally balanced and healthy. Reiki works in complement to all other medical or therapeutic techniques to relieve side effects and promote healing.

The word “Reiki” is a combination of two Japanese words – Rei, meaning “Spiritually guided,” and Ki which is “life force energy”. So Reiki translates to “spiritually guided life force energy.”

Distance healing is tangibly felt by the recipient as strongly as hands-on healing is. Generally speaking, Reiki feels warm, soothing, tingly, relaxing, positive, releases emotional blocks, and relieves pain.

Reiki treats the whole person including body, emotions, mind and spirit, and brings relaxation and feelings of peace, security and comfort. Many have reported accelerated healing after Reiki treatments. Reiki is available to anyone, and can easily be learned by anyone. It does not require intense study or psychic ability. In fact, Reiki helps one get in touch with one’s intuition. Learning Reiki completely opened my intuition! Besides giving and teaching Reiki, I now do channeled readings and mentor intuitive development. This world opened to me because I had the opportunity to connect with my intuition through learning and practicing Reiki.

The ability to channel Reiki energy is transferred to a student during an “attunement” given by a Reiki master, immediately enabling the student to access the unlimited supply of “life force energy” for its many physical and emotional benefits. Reiki can be taught in person or via distance. I have learned and now teach Reiki both ways, with equal effectiveness.

Although Reiki is spiritual in nature, it is not a religion. It has no commandments or requirements for worship, and Reiki works whether one believes in it or not. Reiki’s spiritual aspects and tangible results often give people a spiritual connection that their religion may not. I can certainly attest to that experience. I grew up wishing to be connected with some spiritual energy outside myself, and when I learned Reiki, it happened.

So, thank you for reading my opening column. In future posts, I plan to talk about Reiki-related topics, amazing Reiki stories, and answer questions. That reminds me, if you have any questions you would like to see answered about Reiki, or you’d like more information about how you can experience and learn Reiki healing, please email me: [email protected] and/or come to my website: reikiawakening.com. Namaste.

Pagan Theology

August, 2009

Pagan Theology Short:  Pagan Finances

Past surveys of Pagans say that we work mostly in the computer, education, and “helping” professions.  Thus the economy may not be impacting us as much as it is others.  However the question of how our religion relates to the economy, and economic difficulties, is an interesting one.  The Christian religion has it relatively easy, the manual they were given from the Jewish tribe has a lot of passages that repute to tell them how to build wealth, and go about asking their god for wealth.  We are in a slightly different situation, with little or no guidance about practical matters in any historical document, unless cattle raids count.  We have to rely on our own ability to think things through.

So what role does the Pagan religion have to say about our personal finances [1]?

Based on my past ramblings I’d say that we should look to three elements of our religion for inspiration and assistance in matters of money:  community, the Gods and Goddesses, and magical practices.

It is important to realize that I’m talking about only a religious perspective on finances.  There are serious, concrete, things you can do to affect your financial situation, and you should be doing those first [2].  All the magic in the world will not get you a job if you don’t look, and feeling better about your relationship with the Gods and Goddesses won’t stop a foreclosure.  In fact if you find yourself in trouble, or don’t want to get in trouble in the first place, I’d suggest checking out the financial advice of someone who has a practical, no nonsense, approach to personal money management.  A guy who says stuff that makes sense to me is Dave Ramsey [3].

Using the three concepts of community, deity, and magic, we can construct some things to do as Pagans if we find ourselves without a job, or facing financial hardship.

Stay in your circle.  One of the most important things religion provides is the support and spiritual nourishment that comes from community.  Note that I said “spiritual” nourishment: the best way to lose friends and alienate people just when you need them most is to exploit your circle relationships for money or financial support.  Instead look to your circle for the emotional and spiritual support that you need, that you would need in any time of trouble.  Ritual gives you a chance to bring your troubles into the sacred space and speak them to the community.  The collective support of the community, and the Gods and Goddesses, in circle can give you spiritual hope and strength.  Use that as a way to refresh the well of your spirit that is most certainly being drained by the worries and needs of everyday life.    Circle is a refuge, a refuge you need now more than ever.

Remember the circle.  As Pagans we celebrate the eternal cycle of seasons, creation and death, warmth and cold, abundance and depravation.  We know that the Goddess gives and takes depending on the season of the year, as well as the season of our lives.  If you are in trouble, it is the time of winter and the Lady has taken what is hers.  But you also know that life is a wheel, and it will turn eventually.  What seems bleakest now will be the source of rebirth in the future.  Of course this does not mean that you should sit back and wait, on the contrary, it means you should work hard tilling the ground and planting the seeds, with the confidence that eventually the spring will arrive and reward your hard work.

Read the stories.  We have few texts that provide us with direct guidance, we wouldn’t really be Pagans if we did.  What we do have are stories that have come down to us about the Gods and Goddesses, their challenges, and how they overcame them.  Whether through bravery, or trickery (if you’re Irish), the stories describe how the ancients thought about things like initiative, honor, and taking care of business.   In addition to providing inspiration, they are free [4], and in reading them you are learning more about your religion (and taking your mind off of your troubles).

Go to the well.  Wells connect the world of the living with the world of the Gods and Goddesses.  The Lady of the well provides water, water that nourishes, soothes, and refreshes.   Leaving small offerings at holy wells is a way of giving our attention and love back to the Lady.  Drawing waters from the Lord and Lady, through ritual, meditation, or merely being out and about in the natural world, are a way of drawing their love back into us.  The power of the Lord and Lady to sooth, calm, and center us should not be underestimated. When we are worried, upset, or concerned their power is a tool that can be used to remind ourselves of our place in the world, and the beauty of that place.  The Lord and Lady are greater that what we are now, as we too are greater than what we are now.  Knowing that you are more than your circumstances can help when you are only worried about what is going on right now.

Do the right magic.  Ah, I suspect that most people’s first inclination when confronted with financial difficulties is to do some sort of wealth or money spell.  Silly rabbit.   Direct wealth spells are like playing the lottery, maybe something random will happen and deposit a large sum in your lap, but maybe not.  More like maybe not.  Instead of playing the lottery another way of getting wealth is to work for it.  Do things to improve yourself, reposition yourself in the market, and work to create something that others might want to have (like your labor).  In those cases spells can be much more effective in framing the problem, and in helping your change yourself in ways that might attract wealth.

Creating a spell that will have a practical effect on your current situation is, in itself, a useful exercise.  First you have to understand exactly what “your current situation” is.  Are you unemployed?  Are you simply unhappy in your job?  Don’t have enough income coming in to meet the bills?  Are you over extended on credit?  Specifying exactly what is wrong, what you want to focus on, is a first start at actually thinking through your problems. The second step is to think through your objectives, assets, and options with respect to the problem.

If you need a job, what is the best way to find one?  Not what you are doing now, but the absolute best way?  What do you need to start down that path?  Perhaps increasing your network would be the best way to find that job, so how might you do that?  Find other people with similar skills?  Where do they hang out?  How might you approach them?  Do you need courage and some social skills to help you when you do meet them?

As you go through the process of thinking about your problem, what your objectives for that problem are, and how you might break down the process of achieving those objectives, you will discover things that you need, opportunities that have to happen, or traits that you lack or require reinforcing.   At that point you have found the focus for your magical working.  The courage to meet and befriend new people?  That is something that a magical working can help with.  Need a new skill or to refine existing skills?  A magical working to clarify how you do that, or to give you confidence to start working on your skills, would be very likely to work.

Of course following up on the problem, working as hard to make your task happen in the real world as you expect the spell to be working in the spiritual world, is essential.  Spells only help on the margins, they only make it easier for you, they don’t do it for you.

Even if the magic fails, as it often does, thinking through the problem, and working hard to make it happen, most likely will make whatever you are doing work out anyway.

If you find yourself in financial trouble nothing magical or religious can fix the simple equation of what you take in must exceed what you spend.  Nor can it make money out of nothing.  But what our religion can do is give you comfort, help you become stronger, and provide you with a community of caring fellow Pagans so you don’t have to face trouble alone.  And, maybe, with the right magic, some careful thought, and some hard work, the circle will turn sooner rather than later and your spring will be as joyous as the winter has been hard.

[1]  I am not a financial adviser, I am not giving you specific financial advice here, if you do something I suggest and it does not work out you have only yourself to blame for not finding someone who knows what they’re talking about and doing what they say instead of what I say.  Again, I am not a financial advisor or giving financial advice so if you are really in trouble seek help from a trained, licensed, financial advisor.

[2] Things like getting your income up, paying off debts, behaving responsibly in your personal relationships and saving money are simple things that will do a heck of a lot more for your bottom line than anything I’m going to say about religion.

[3]  http://www.daveramsey.com He comes at it from a Christian perspective. But if you ignore that you will find his basic advice about getting rid of debt and behaving responsibly is about the best path to building wealth there is for regular schlubs.

[4]  There are lots of translations available on the Internets, just look around.

Let’s Spell it Out

August, 2009

Odin’s Ordeal

Odin, like the Greek Zeus, is the principle deity of the Norse pantheon.  Spelled Odin, Odinn, Odhin, Othin or Odhinn; his name is derived from Old Norse meaning “wind” and “spirit”.  One of his nicknames is “Thundur” which means “one who thunders” or “the stretched one”.  Odin received this title after what we now call “Odin’s Ordeal” where, according to the Edda, he hung himself from the Tree of the World for nine days and nights.

The World Tree, also called Yggdrasil, is where Odin sacrificed himself in an initiatory manner to gain the knowledge of the Runes.  For nine long days and nights, hungry, thirsty and in tremendous pain, he stared into the abyss after piercing himself with his own lance and sacrificing one of his own eyes.

The number nine is considered the most sacred in the Norse concept of numerology.  Odin’s nine nights hanging from the World Tree also coincides with the nine nights it takes the human soul to travel to the Underworld.  The Celts, who found the number three to be significant, felt that the power of three times three to be the most powerful as it multiplies to the sum of nine.  Just like Odin did when he sacrificed himself, the Norse saw how the number nine always “gives itself to itself”.  Take a look:

1 X 9 = 9

2 X 9 = 18 and 1 + 8 = 9

3 X 9 = 27 and 2 + 7 = 9

4 X 9 = 36 and 3 + 6 = 9

5 X 9 = 45 and 4 + 5 = 9

6 X 9 = 54 and 5 + 4 = 9

7 X 9 = 63 and 6 + 3 = 9

8 X 9 = 72 and 7 + 2 = 9

9 X 9 = 81 and 8 + 1 = 9

Odin’s passion for the knowledge of the Runes is what led himself to self-sacrifice and therefore brought the Runes to mankind.  This sacred event is commemorated from August 17th, the first day hanging from Yggdrasil, to August 25th, when Odin spied the Runes and with the last of his energy, fell from the World Tree screaming and seized them.

The Spell

This spell is designed to be as simple as possible.  You won’t need to make a run to the New Age Store for supplies, but you will need a few things:

Supplies:

* Something to work your spell for.  Pick something that you need or want or desire.  Perhaps you need a new job or a promotion at your current place of employment.  Maybe you need a new car or to be able to fix the vehicle that you already have.  Whatever it is that you need, you will be working towards it for nine nights in a row.  The happy new is that you will not have to go through the same ordeal that Odin experienced!
* 9 candles; color and size of your choice (you might want to try tea-lights as they are inexpensive and do not burn very long so you don’t have to worry about leaving them unattended or relighting them)
* Peace, quiet and time (you will need time each night to meditate undisturbed).  Also, try to perform this spell and meditate at the same time each night for maximum results.

On August 17th, light the first candle and say nine times:

“By the power of 9 times 1, on this night my spell’s begun.”

Take nine deep breaths and meditate on the things that you need to start to change to meet your goal.  If you need to, keep a notebook next to you to jot down any ideas that pop up.

On August 18th light the second candle and say nine times:

“By the power of 9 times 2, on this night I change my view.”

Take nine deep breaths and meditate on how you can re-program your thought processes to bring about the change that you desire.  What have you been doing that has impeded your won growth?  What can you do to get out of your won way?  Again, have a pen and notebook handy just in case you need to make yourself a spiritual “to do” list.

On August 19th light the third candle and say nine times:

“By the power of 9 times 3, one this night I am set free.”

Take nine deep breaths and meditate on how you are throwing away all of your old concepts and you are opening yourself to the positive changes to come.

On August 20th light the fourth candle and say nine times:

“By the power of 9 times 4, one this night I open the door.”

Take nine deep breaths and meditate on the fact that you have closed one door and you are ready to open a new one.  Open the door, and learn what is on the other side that will aid you in your spell-working.

On August 21st light the fifth candle and say nine times:

“By the power of 9 times 5, on this night I come alive.”

Take nine deep breaths and meditate on how you are like a seed that has grown into a plant that is now blossoming and will bear fruit.  Water yourself…give yourself fertilizer…feel the warmth of the life-giving sun…and watch yourself grow!

On August 22nd light the sixth candle and say nine times:

“By the power of 9 times 6, I stay vigil for mental tricks.”

Take nine deep breaths and mediate on how you may sabotage yourself.  We all hate change, and sometimes we can set bear-traps to step into to impede our own progress.  Find ways to keep yourself on track in spite of any roadblocks that may come your way.

On August 23rd light the seventh candle and say nine times:

“By the power of 9 times 7, I call in the power of Earth and Heaven.”

Take nine deep breaths and meditate on the power of Mother Earth and Father Sky.  Ask Them for Their help.  Ask Them for their wisdom and guidance.  You are Their child and They want to help you.  However you see Them, have a “family meeting” as to how you can obtain your goal.

On August 24th light the eighth candle and say nine times:

“By the power of 9 times 8, I call in the power of the ladies of Fate.”

Take nine deep breaths and meditate on the Norns, the three women that tend to Yggdrasil; who represent the past, present and future.  Or, you could tap into the Fates, their Greek counterparts.  Either will work.  Chat with them about what in your past has lead to where you are today.  Ask them what you are doing today that will lead you to tomorrow.  Finally, ask them what you can do tomorrow that will bring about your desire in the future.

On August 25th light the last candle and say nine times:

“By the power of 9 times 9, what I’ve worked for is now mine.”

Take nine deep breaths and meditate on the final outcome of your desire; what you’ve been working towards for the last eight nights.  Set a date; make a deadline if you can.  If you need to, use a calendar and a fire-engine red marker and make a big circle.   See the image firmly in your mind.  See how your life will change for the better after you have obtained your goal; how will it affect your environment?, your friends and family? or your day-to-day life?  Take the time to set these images in your mind like cement or concrete.

Finally, say your thanks nine times to the Universe and go about making things happen!

Sources:

* Book of Runes by Ralph H. Blum
* Lammas: Celebrating the Fruits of the First Harvest by Anna Franklin and Paul Mason
* Northern Magic: Rune Mysteries and Shamanism by Edred Thorsson
* Pagan Book of Days by Nigel Jackson
* Rune Mysteries by Silver RavenWolf and Nigel Jackson

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