May, 2006

The Door to the Beyond: Mental Health and Paganism

May, 2006

Introduction


     Merry Meet, my name is Moss Bliss. I have been an Initiated Wiccan since 1983, the middle part of my spiritual trek. (The Third Movement, so to speak, is developing as I learn to integrate all spirituality into one through my studies in Kashmir Shaivism, adding a couple thousand years’ worth of written works to my pagan beliefs.)

     I have also been considered "weird", "sick", "disturbed", etc. since about the age of three (due to a period of sexual abuse by my uncle and brother, which my mother has begun to accept recently). I went from doctor to doctor, my parents trying to find some medical excuse for what was "wrong" with me.

     Many of you will recognize this pattern; some of you will identify with it. Most of you won’t even bother to ask the question, "What has that got to do with paganism?"

     The answer, unasked or no, is that many of us don’t feel like we fit in to the "normal" society, especially with all the negative judgments we receive from whatever church to which our parents caused us to attend. You start looking around. You find other churches, which is almost safe for you, but they don’t fit any better, just more strangely. In the 1960s and 70s, there didn’t seem to be any other options, so you either stopped going to church or stopped believing (whether you continued to attend or not). My own path to Wicca culminated in 1982.

     But that’s not the whole story, is it? Even though you find a group of people who accept you as being "different", even if they’re the same kind of "different", you are still being judged by the people around you. In my time, I was diagnosed as some form of "mentally ill" long before I found the Goddess (or rather, before She found me), and paraded through legions of social workers, therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists before learning how to ritualize – both to rid myself of the "bad" and to celebrate the "good" (and learn what the heck the rest of it was and how to deal with it). Guilt and shame are not effective tools for healing these issues.

     By the time I was 12, I was on Mysoline (primodone), an anti-convulsant. Another doctor put me on Valium. The medications started to add up. One neurologist said I was "borderline epileptic", but if any doctor had bothered to read a medical journal I could easily have been labeled "ADD" and put on Ritalin. These drugs made others think I was "better", but they only made me feel like I was about 2 feet underwater, scratching for the surface.

     It wasn’t until I was 31 that I was given a psychiatric label – "mild cyclothymic disorder" – and placed on lithium (carbonate). That was the first ANYTHING I had been given that made me actually feel better.

     And when I was 48, my kidneys failed from too much lithium. The carbonate form is such that the effective level and the toxic level are so close as to keep the doctors monitoring your kidneys, but unable to tell anything until you’re in great danger.

     My doctors began what I call the "Medication Guinea Pig Dance", changing me from one drug to another, using drugs that were toxic only to my liver to give my kidneys a break. I have taken just about every psych drug on the market. None of them felt as good as lithium, all of them had "side" effects that made me hurt again. All the doctors repeatedly told me there were no alternatives, and these drugs would "cure" me.

     In mid-2003 I was directed to the ALT-therapies4bipolar Yahoogroup, and learned that there were natural alternatives. By early November 2003 I was entirely off all medications and felt better than ever. My doctor told me that they would no longer treat me or meet with me, until such time, as he cheerfully predicted, that I relapsed and needed their drugs again.

     As that prediction has not been fulfilled, I thank Goddess for showing me the nutritional deficiencies I had and what I can do to help myself heal.

At the present time, I am functioning as Owner of ALT-therapies4bipolar and am also a Moderator of Bi-Polar_Pagans Yahoogroup, and am also a co-founder of the Asheville Radical Mental Health Collective. I also have training as a leader in Recovery, Inc., which provides a number of helpful tools in keeping one from making one’s symptoms worse (or preventing them in the first place), and have been a group leader in NAMI CARE.

     It is my opinion that all cases of "mental illness" are caused by nutritional deficiencies coupled with traumatic experiences. If you take care of the nutritional aspects, you will be much better equipped to deal with putting your brain back together. I do believe in talk therapy, although I know there are probably as many good therapists as bad ones, and there are always other ways to work things out if you know where to look. I have also learned that at least 90% of the diagnoses themselves are based on politics, to allow doctors to sell you drugs – and that a lot of people are afraid to hear that. My opinion should not be taken as Law, and I support everyone who tries to heal from or control their "disease" regardless of the method they choose to employ.

     Just as in religion, there is no One True Right and Only Way to heal from "mental illness". I hope to provide information on some of the easier ones to find and use. Most of my information applies mainly to "bipolar disorder", although I have known it to work equally well in cases of schizophrenia, PTSD, "unipolar" depression, and even multiple personality disorder (or whatever the "in" term to use may be).

     A good High Priestess will help, as much as a bad one may hurt. I have known both – those who understand, and those who refuse to even talk to you because they are afraid of you (or your diagnosis).

     That should be enough for an introductory article. If you are curious as to some of the methods I employ, you are welcome to visit my website, Hippo Haven, http://moss.witchesgathering.com, or join one of the groups mentioned above. Write me at [email protected] if you would like more information or an invitation. If you need a hint, the magic words for you may be, as for me, "fish oil".

Bright Blessings

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The Darker Side of Things

May, 2006



This month, I am posting more spells on the darker side. Sometimes it is what is needed in our lives. One thing I like to tell witches: You dont have to practice all magick, but learn as much as possible as you never know when you will need it.




THE KARMIC CURSE OF PAIN


This curse shall be layed on the victim while burning an image of the victim in the flame of a black candle or while burning a black image candle inscribed with their name and containing personal affects of theIrs. If possible,do this in a graveyad at midnite under a waning moon.

As the candle or image burns, say:

"There has been unfaireness done unto to me.

I ask that vengenace be brought down upon my tormentor.

I envoke the karmic forces of the universe.

I conjure them to do my bidding.

There shall be fear & guilt.

There shall be submission and compliance.

I point the law of karma against thee,

unto thee it shall be brought forth with much speed.

Retribution be the cost for my anger and pain.

You are now cursed by me,

To feel what thou has wrought upon me one hundred fold.

Let thee feel no relief from your guilt & pain until I let it be so!

Throw the remains of the candle at the front door of your tormentor and do not look back.



**source unknown**




The Caracious Curse


(this is scary so do not attempt it alone or unexperienced.)

Take two black candles and two white and set them at your altar in this

pattern:

b w b w

wand or athame

cast the circle and call upon the death crone and the hunter.

Use your own words to call them to the circle, as they are there, when you

can feel their presence light the white candles and concentrate on what

the person you are trying to hex has done wrong to you. You may like to

sing about it or just run it through in your head. Then light the black

candles and think of or sing about what that person looks like and their

personality. Then sit in your circle and think about your hurts caused by

them, whatever you do, do not lie or exaggerate. Then grasp your athame or

wand and use the tip to extinguish the black candles with

"You are gone from
no more will you hurt her/him

You have deserved of this

You are gone from her/his life,

Crone and Hunter have seen

You are gone from
no more hurt will you cause her."




**source unknown*







Bats Blood



*One of the black arts oils which creates discord, tension and havoc

wherever it is used.

*Sprinkle on enemies, but NOT on yourself.*

*Use it to anoint parchment paper on which evil pacts or wicked desires

have been inscribed.*

*A black Voodoo doll, labeled with a foe’s name, and sprinkled with

this oil will almost surely cause distress.*

* Place the doll at the enemy’s doorway so that it will be discovered

as he enters or leaves the house or apartment.*



4oz herbal base



1/2 oz Magnolia



2dr. Peppermint



Color: murky red


***


author bio:

I am an ordained minister and have taken the title of priestess rather than minister, as I feel rev. or minister is too christian. I consider myself LHP, a pagan dark witch. I have been practicing for approximately 8 years. Being LHP, I tend to gravitate towards the dark gods and goddesses. I consider Hecate my mother, Ariadne my sister and Lilith my best friend. I find the gods that I feel closest to Lucifer and Cernunnosand am now being told that Anubis is calling. And for some reason, I have been chosen also as a lightworker. Now, try mixing that with the LHP. lol But, there it is. People come to me for help all the time and I feel like I need to help them. I am a 39 yr. old widow, mom of two and gramma of three. I read anything on paganism and witchcraft that I can get my hands on, to continue learning. I have a tendency to dress hippy, gothic, witchy and happily mix it all up. I read tarot, wolf and faerie cards. I’m intuitive and psychic and have had visions since I was a child.



Owner of [email protected]

One of the facilitators of South Suburban Pagan Association,

Tarot reader/Intuitive

Email:

[email protected]

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The Darker Side of the Higher Ones

May, 2006

Sekhmet

(Sakhmet, Sachmet, Sekhet)



-*Powerful one*-

-*Sun Goddess*-

-*Destroyer*-

-*Mistress of Dread*-

-*Lady of Pestilence*-

-*Avenger of Wrongs*-

-*Scarlet Lady*-

-*One Before Whom Evil Trembles-*

-*The Lady of Slaughter*-

-*Lady of Flame*-

-*Goddess of Healing*-

-*Defender of Ma’at*-







Sekhmet is depicted as a lion-headed woman with the sun disk and uraeus serpent headdress. Although she is connected with Bast, she has no relationship with the cat goddess. They are two distinct goddesses in their own rights – the Egyptians did not claim they were siblings of any kind. Bast and Sekhmet were an example of Egyptian duality – Sekhmet was a goddess of Upper Egypt, Bast of Lower Egypt (just like the pharaoh was of Upper or Lower Egypt)… and they were linked together by geography, not by legend. However , another source says that Bast and Sekhmet (Hathor) are sisters , goddesses of war, and therefore one ruled over the upper and the other the lower kingdom of Egypt.



In Tibet she is known as Senge Dong-ma, lion-headed dakini, "Guardian of the Secret Tantric Teachings". She is called Simhavaktra, in India where she also has a male reflection in the lion-headed incarnation of Vishnu, Narasimha. Pure shakti, she is doubtless a close relative to lion-mounted Durga, "Keeper of the Flame". Indeed, another Egyptian title for Sekhmet is Nesert, the flame. In the ancient Near East she was called Anat, Ashtoreth and Astarte.



The lion headed goddess Sekhmet is thought to be a member of the Memphis triad. She was the wife of Ptah and the mother of Nefertem. She is the war goddess of Upper Egypt and retribution and said to pierce her enemies with fire- her breath being the hot desert wind as her body took on the glare of the destructive force of the sun. However being the mother of Nefertem, who is a healing god, she also has the power to take ailments away.


She came into being when Hathor was sent to earth by Ra to take vengeance on mankind. She was the one who slaughtered mankind and drank their blood.



The story goes that Ra, creator of the world, was ruler over all lands for thousands of years. He set rules into place and the people were happy and praised him for his goodness. But, since he made himself as man, he became old and his body withered. Soon the men would jeer and make fun of Ra. He became angered and gathered the gods and goddesses together in secret to plot his revenge on mankind for their disobedience of his laws and the evil that had entered the race. Ra’s mother Nun said: "My son Ra, the god greater than he who made him and mightier than those whom he has created, turn your mighty Eye upon them and send destruction upon them in the form of your daughter, the goddess Sekhmet." "Send against them the glance of your Eye in the form Sekhmet!" cried all the other gods and goddesses, bowing before Ra until their foreheads touched the ground.



So at the terrible glance from the Eye of Ra his daughter Sekhmet came into being, the fiercest of all goddesses. Like a lion she rushed upon her prey, and her chief delight was slaughter, and her pleasure was their blood. So into Upper and Lower Egypt she went to slay those who had scorned and disobeyed him. All whom she saw she slew, rejoicing in slaughter and the taste of blood.



Ra looked out over the land and saw what Sekhmet had done. He called to her, saying: "Come, my daughter, and tell me how you have obeyed my commands."

Sekhmet answered with the terrible voice of a lioness as she tears her prey: "By the life which you have given me, I have indeed done vengeance on mankind, and my heart rejoices."



But soon after, Ra began to pity mankind. However, no one cold stop Sekhmet! For it was determined that she was to stop slaying by her own accord.



So Ra became cunning and commanded his army of swift messengers who were able to outrun Sekhmet with the speed of "storm winds" . He then commanded them to go into the island of Elephantine and collect red ochre . So the messengers ran and collected the ochre from the island and brought it back toRa. Then he commanded "Mingle the red ochre of Elephantine with the barley-beer. " It was done, so that the beer gleamed red in the moonlight like blood.



"Now take it to the place where Sekhmet proposes to slay men when the sun rises," said Ra. So during the night the jars of beer were taken and poured out over the fields so that the ground was covered to about nine inches .When day came Sekhmet came also, licking her lips at the thought of the men whom she would slay. She found the place flooded and no one in sight; but she saw the beer which was the colour of blood, and she thought it was the blood of those whom she had slain.



Then she laughed with joy, stooped and drank.Until she becane to drunk to kill . She stumbled to where Ra was waiting and he said: "You come in peace, sweet one." And her name was changed to Hathor, and her nature was changed also to the sweetness of love and the strength of desire. And henceforth Hathor struck men and women only with the great power of love.

Afterword she became known as Sekhmet Hathor. But later Sekhmet and Hathor were split up as two separate deities both haveing claim to the "Eye of Ra" because they were so vastly different.


Her cult center was in Memphis, before the New Kingdom’s seat of power was shifted to Thebes.



In order to soothe Sekhmet’s wrath, her priesthood felt compelled to perform a ritual before a different statue of her on each day of the year, leading to it being estimated that over seven hundred statues of Sekhmet once stood in the funerary temple of Amenhotep III, on the west bank of the Nile. It was said that her priests protected her statues from theft or vandalism by coating them with Anthrax! Sekhmet was also seen as a bringer of disease, to be prayed to so as to cure such ills by placating her.



The name "Sekhmet" literally became synonymous with doctors and surgeons during the Middle Kingdom. In antiquity, many of Sekhmet’s priests were often considered to be on the same level as physicians.



Tame lions were kept in temples dedicated to Sekhmet at Leontopolis.

To pacify Sekhmet further, festivals were celebrated at the end of battle, so that there would be no more destruction. On such occasions, people danced and played music to soothe the wildness of the goddess, and drank great quantities of beer.



There is a modern day Temple built to honor Sekhmet in Nevada! www.sekhmettemple.com




A Hymn of Sekhmet says:

Mine is a heart of carnelian, crimson as murder on a holy day.

Mine is a heart of corneal, the gnarled roots of a dogwood and the bursting of flowers.

I am the broken wax seal on my lover’s letters.

I am the phoenix, the fiery sun, consuming and resuming myself.

I will what I will.

Mine is a heart of carnelian, blood red as the crest of a phoenix



An Invocation to Sekhmet

"The Powerful, powerful in her existence, She that impurity fears.

The one who’s face is beautiful, remarkable of image, who thrusts back sadness.

The solar feminine disc, radiant, rejuvenating, illuminating the country.

The Mistress of the sky, appearing in her sanctuary.

Sekhmet, powerful against the enemies, inspiring terror in the rebels.

The Mistress of Iunet, entering into her chapel, whirling and dancing in her temple."

(translated into English by Kerry Wisner, 1999-2000, from the French text "Dendera – I Traduction" by S. Cauville)



Sekhmet Incense Recipe

by Eloise Coquio

This is a rich red incense that smells spicy and immediately conjures an impression of heat and fiery sunlight. It is a pungent smell that echoes the strength and power of Sekhmet.

3 parts Frankincense.

1.5 parts dragon’s blood.

1 part each of copal, juniper, cinnamon, benzoin and red sandalwood.

3/4 parts clove

Few drops each of frankincense and orange oil.






links used:
www.touregypt.net/godsofegypt/sekhmet2.htm

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sekhmet

www.tatooheaven.com/Sekhmet.html



**Special thanks to Joan, and Lilith who are members of the yahoo group Witches_of_the_Dark. They provided me with some of the site links that I used in this article.



***



author bio:



Michelle is a member of the yahoo group Witches_of_the_dark.

She was a Pentecostal christian for 15 years and and for the last 3 has been following an eclectic pagan path based on Egyptian and oriental beliefs from her past lives. Comments, questions can be sent to her at [email protected]

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THE COST OF WAR…….AND FAMILIES

May, 2006

This Is a hard article to write, specifically because right now I’m dealing with my own pain and hardship back home and may wind up on emergency leave soon enough. I guess writing is a good release and this is a good vent for me. Pain makes you question why we are really here and is the reason we’re here really worth all the pain it brings. I’ve seen war tear apart families time and time again and it got so bad the Army had to focus a whole program on why and then they made a band-aid to fix the problem. At last count we were at 2700 or so Soldiers we’ve lost due to this war due to enemy actions, some to accidents and friendly fire. To me friendly fire would be the worst way to go, and to have your spouse know it was our own weapons that took their spouses life. In one case the Army tried to cover up the cause of death due to embarrassment and investigation showed it was friendly fire and then to top it all off, there were war protesters at her husband’s funeral calling out, “Baby-killer” etc. Now I believe in Freedom of Speech but come on people show some respect, there’s a time and a place and a Soldiers memorial is definitely not the time or place. On that note, another topic near and dear to my heart is the Pagan headstone campaign. We have Pagan Soldiers at war dying, and when it comes to burial, there family is denied the Pentacle on the Soldier’s headstone. As of this writing, the Veterans Administration has not approved the Pentacle for Pagan headstones although they say they are “working on it”. There are currently, and have been 32 approved symbols for several years one of which is Atheist. It’s a symbol of our beliefs for crying out loud so I really don’t see what the issue is but apparently someone thinks there is one. There really are Pagan Soldiers and the mainstream religions aren’t the only faith-groups fighting for our religious freedoms so this is a big pet-peeve of mine. If I die in combat I would expect to have the Pentacle on my headstone, write to your congressman or woman if you would like to get involved with this. To me, our spouses and other family members have things as bad if not worse then we as Soldiers do. You go from a family, to one parent raising the kids, paying the bills etc. You also have the pregnant family members whose spouses miss the birth. You have agencies and businesses who hassle our family members or refuse to help them because the primary account holder or head of house isn’t present but is indeed at war. Often they won’t even accept the Power of Attorney we leave behind to allow our spouses to handle business. Oh, and they don’t even want to hear my spouse is at war, as they just don’t care. I had one Soldier who had an Arab calling and threatening his family while he was here. How the Arab got his families phone number and bank account information is anyone’s guess but the Army moved his family to safety, point being, these are just some of the things our families go through while we are deployed. Me, well currently my wife’s life is endangered by a life-threatening pregnancy and will soon have to go through surgery to save her but we will lose the babies. My day was distressed and time stopped, I talked to her on the phone and we reassured each-other and the war went on. I will push for a chapter out of the Army upon our return in November or hopefully sooner, as the more I look and think about all the traumas and hardships we go through as military families, the more I know its not worth it. This isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way, we’ll just say this incident was the icing on the cake. You know, the best movie on war I’ve seen has to be “We Were Soldiers” as it’s the only war movie out there that shows the price of war on families. Well worth the watch. In closing, next time you see a military family whose spouse is deployed, please pat them on the back and give them an encouraging word and thank them for service to their country like you do us Soldiers, they’ve earned it. Bright- Blessings.

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The Ancient Greek Festival of Thargelia

May, 2006



The Thargelia was a festival celebrated in ancient Greece every spring. It occurred on the 6th and 7th days of the month Thargelion. The name of the month actually takes its name from this festival. (1) As the ancient calendar was a luni-solar calendar, and our modern one is a solar calendar, the dates will not remain constant from year to year. Thus, this year Thargelia will begin at sundown on May 3rd and continue until sundown on the 5th.



The festival lasted for two days, and it had two separate components to it. The first day is sacred to Artemis, as the 6th of the month was universally regarded as the day sacred to her. (2) A rather interesting purification ritual took place on this first day. The details, however, vary by location. In Athens, two unattractive men were chosen to be the pharmakoi; one represented the women and one represented the men of the city. Each wore a necklace of strung figs and was chased from the city. In Abdera only one person was chosen. He was treated to an elaborate feast, but then forced to walk the circumference of the city. Following that, the citizens threw stones at him until he ran out of the city walls.(3) We read of a similar event in the poetry of Hipponax, who wrote in the 6th century BC. He says that one ugly man is chosen to be the pharmakos. He also is given a grand meal of figs, cheese and barley broth. Afterwards he is chased from the city while the citizens whip him with sea onions and sea branches. He is also struck seven times on his “membrum virile.”(4)



Nilsson explains that the pharmakos was the person “on whom the sins and the impurity of the people were loaded and who was then expelled or destroyed.” He also comments that other scholars believe that he represented the vegetation spirit of the old year, which must be ritually expelled (or in some cases killed) in order to allow for the new one. (5) While this is an attractive idea, it is one that I do not think can be justified. Nilsson gives no mention of who his “other scholars” are, and the only place in which this is mentioned is in Frazer’s The Golden Bough, a work which unfortunately seems to contain as much fiction as it does fact. He does present an interesting argument in regards to the example from Hipponax, and his reasoning is thus: The purpose of beating the scapegoat with sea onions was not meant for harming him. If the people simply wanted to cause him injury, they could use just about anything. Sea onions were used in ancient times to rid evil influences from a person or place. A similar ritual is seen in Arkadia after unsuccessful hunting parties; a statue of Pan is also beaten with sea onions, not to harm the god, but to serve as a means of purification for whatever ill influence has come over the god (and thus prevented a good hunt). Coming back to our Thargelia scapegoat, since his genitals are specifically singled out as the place to hit him, Frazer concludes that this act must represent the purification of the reproductive forces. Since it is not a fertility festival for humans or livestock, but rather a harvest festival, then the pharmakos must represent the vegetation god. (6)



Most contemporary scholars, however, would not make the leap that Frazer does; instead they see it (as do I) as a means of magically purifying the city. The classicist Robert Parker says “The scapegoat ritual has therefore sometimes been seen as a magical protection for the new year’s ripening produce at a perilous time.”(7) This sentiment is echoed by other classicists as well: “At a crucial junction of the year, the expulsion of a member of society cleanses the town and prepares for the new harvest.” (8)



After having rid the city of any ill influences on the first day of the festival, the second day begins with a joyous attitude. It follows the basic structure of any other Hellenic festival. First, there was a procession, which included children who carried the eiresione, an olive branch decorated with woolen fillets, bread, fruits, small flasks of honey, and some with oil. (9) The children would sing while carrying this: “The Eiresione brings figs and fat bread, honey in pots, and oil to rub down, a cup of strong wine so you go drunk to bed.”(10) As they moved through the city, they would collect offerings along the way. Once arriving at the temple, the offering of the first fruits of the grain harvest would begin. From the surviving texts we learn that the offering was of two types: a boiled stew of grains and seasonal vegetables, or the loaf of grain bread called the thargelos. It is from the name of the loaf that the festival takes its name. This loaf was also called eueteria, meaning “good year.”(11)



There would also be libations, hymns, much feasting and other activities during the celebration. Singing competitions were especially popular, in which 50 men from the 10 tribes of Athens participated. (12) All of these were done in honor of Apollo, god of purification.



As an idea for modern-day worshippers, Campbell suggests that an effigy be used as the pharmakos. A fig necklace can be placed around the effigy, and it can be carried and deposited far from the site where the first fruits offering will be held the following day. (12) The celebration on the second day could resemble the ancient practices as closely as possible.



Practitioners of Hellenismos (ancient Greek paganism) will be celebrating this most auspicious holiday around the globe. My hope in writing this piece is that you will celebrate this spring festival with us!





Endnotes:



  1. For more information on the ancient Greek calendar, please see the following website: http://www.hellenion.org/calendar.pdf

  2. The 6th of every month is sacred to Artemis because she was born on the 6th.

  3. Burkert, Walter, Greek Religion, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1985, p. 82

  4. ibid.

  5. Nilsson, Martin, Greek Folk Religion, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1972, p. 27

  6. Frazer, Sir James Geroge, The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion (abridged edition), MacMillen, New York, 1971, pp. 671-2

  7. Parker, Robert, Miasma: Pollution and Purification in Early Greek Religion, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1983, p. 25

  8. Price, Simon & Kearns, Emily (eds.), The Oxford Dictionary of Classical Myth and Religion, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2003, p. 542

  9. Plutarch, Theseus, 22

  10. Iliad 16.605

  11. Nilsson, p. 29

  12. Adkins, Lesley & Adkins, Roy, Handbook to Life in Ancient Greece, Facts on File, New York, 1997, p. 263

  13. Campbell, Drew, Old Stones, New Temples: Ancient Greek Paganism Reborn, Xlibris Corporation, 2000, p. 290




***


author bio:


Gitana is a Hellenic Reconstructionist, and member of Hellenion. http://www.hellenion.org She is an active member of the Hellenic pagan community, hosts many rituals, and writes numerous articles on the topic of Hellenic paganism. They are available on her website: http://persephones.250free.com

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Tarot Talk

May, 2006

INTERPRETING THE CARDS


The Tarot’s meanings can be personal and subjective to each of us in accordance with our unique experiences and views of the world. For this reason there are no immutable or absolute definitions that can be applied to the cards. The cards mean what our intuition and experience tell us they mean, and this can differ from person to person. As you study the cards do not be afraid to allow your inner voice to suggest nuances of meaning.


When examining the Tarot, you’ll notice that the titles, illustrations, and symbols of certain cards seem to openly convey their meaning, while the informative clues for other cards may appear more allusive at first glance. When you encounter a card that you may not easily understand, take the extra time needed to recognize its energies.


In subsequent articles we will examine some of the more commonly accepted card meanings in great detail. For now, simply acquaint yourself with the Major Arcana and begin to explore their surface meanings.


SURFACE MEANINGS


(0) The Fool: Entering a new phase, starting an adventure, living in the moment, being new and innocent, taking a risk.


(1) The Magician: Experiencing movement through willpower, understanding your intentions, focusing your energy, having singleness of purpose, utilizing your creative power.


(2) The High Priestess: Being passive, employing your intuition, experiencing spiritual enlightenment, sensing the secret and hidden, having esoteric insight.


(3) The Empress: Showing maternal instinct, enjoying prosperity, experiencing growth and fertility, focusing on the senses, feeling connected to the earth.


(4) The Emperor: Using masculine power, creating order out of chaos, enjoying security, dealing with authority, leading or being led.


(5) The Hierophant: Established codes of behavior or belief, learning or teaching, honoring ritual and ceremony, participating in an organized group, giving or receiving wise counsel.


(6) The Lovers: Participating in a partnership or affiliation, experiencing physical passion and desire, confronting your own beliefs, staying true to yourself, making important moral decisions.


(7) The Chariot: Winning a victory through will, desiring to achieve, experiencing bold confidence, mastering and curbing impulses, having a clear purpose.


(8) Strength: Showing preservation and endurance, exhibiting calm tolerance, feeling sympathy toward others, using gentle force, having mental and moral fortitude.


(9) The Hermit: Following a personal quest, accepting or giving wise advice, spending time alone, engaging in self examination and discovery, withdrawing from the world.


(10) The Wheel of Fortune: Experiencing fate, discovering opportunities through new developments, undergoing rapid change, standing at a crossroad, coming full circle.


(11) Justice: Confronting equitable or impartial treatment, being accountable, choosing rightly, recognizing the results of your actions, restoring balance.


(12) The Hanged Man: Pausing to reflect, experiencing a change of mind or circumstances, letting go, voluntarily losing, giving up control.


(13) Death: Completing a chapter, experiencing crucial and profound change, entering the start of a new cycle, eradicating the unnecessary, enduring an inevitable ending.


(14) Temperance: Avoiding excess, achieving a harmonious balance, blending forces together, finding peace through compromise, experiencing good health.


(15) The Devil: Being lured or enticed, experiencing unhealthy attachments, focusing too much on the physical, being unaware, feeling tied down against your will.


(16) The Tower: Experiencing havoc, facing annihilation, enduring painful alteration, undergoing a shocking catastrophe, having an emotional outburst.


(17)The Star: Having faith in the future, finding motivation, experiencing renewal, having a sense of belief, enjoying peace of mind.


(18) The Moon: Feeling apprehension, confronting the unfamiliar, seeing what is not there, having troubled imaginings and thoughts, becoming confused.


(19) The Sun: Attaining a new level of insight, having your day in the sun, becoming radiantly energized, feeling invigorated, experiencing a sense of confidence.


(20) Judgment: Judging or being judged, forgiving yourself or others, reaching a higher level of being, becoming transformed, making a fresh start.


(21) The World: Realizing your goals, coming to a journeys end, experiencing success, feeling satisfied, reaching a conclusion.


THEMES


Each Major Arcana card seems to follow a particular theme. Simply knowing a card’s basic theme can help you explore the many other avenues of expression that a card can adopt in a reading. Take the time to study the following themes and adapt them to your own understanding of the Tarot.


Fool: Beginnings

Magician: Will

High Priestess: Intuition

Empress: Creation

Emperor: Authority

Hierophant: Spiritual/Academic Teaching/Learning

Lovers: Relationships

Chariot: Control

Strength: Inner Strength

Hermit: Introspection

Wheel of Fortune: Change

Justice: Balance

Hanged Man: Sacrifice

Death: Endings

Temperance: Blending

Devil: Bondage

Tower: Destruction

Star: Guidance

Moon: Illusion

Sun: Realization

Judgment: Rebirth

World: Completion


It was a pleasure to once again share with you the wonders of the Tarot. Next week, we’ll take an upclose and personal look at the ‘Fool’ card. Until then, may the Tarot be with you!

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Talking with Guides or Spirits

May, 2006

Something asked of me by a student of mine got me to thinking. He asked "if you clearly hear a guide, are you really hearing anyone, or merely what you want to hear?" That was a wonderful thought, and I hope this brief jotting of my learnings will help others in their communications. I’m going to share some of my experiences in speaking to my guide, Set, and others including my soul/spirit brothers who have already passed over in this life. My soul/spirit brothers are not yet guides for they are still on the path of enlightenment and shall be reborn again. They share lives with my mate and I in the flesh every life. We are linked and learn together. One passed 2 years ago, and one a month ago. They have business at "home" to do that called them back, I’ve sense found out. At any rate, I only speak of them to mark the difference in my speaking to the ‘guides or to spirits on our level who have passed over. I’m in no way a natural medium, so the only ordinary spirits I can speak with are my spirit brothers.



Of course there are many ways to talk to those in the other realm/astral, and I, like most, have a few that work best for me. I do it in 3 ways.


1. trance channeling, which I do rarely with my guides, Set and Cernunnos.


2. By way of personal links which I have to my spirit brothers as we are soul linked. Of course this form is only used with them, but mediums probably hear spirits in close to the same way.


3. By meditating and astral projecting out of my body to go to them and chat. All 3 ways yield the same results in the way that the actual messages come across to me.


When I get a message from them, how do I know that it isn’t something in my own mind that I simply want or need to hear? This is something that indeed should be asked of anyone who does anything along these lines, for I’m sure it has happened to many in that way. Sometimes, in fact, when I first started doing this sort of thing, I’d actually have my sister go and ask Set things due to my fear that I was too emotionally involved to properly hear him. I’ve learned that if I’m not perfectly calm and centered that it is harder to receive most messages. Or if they are received, they can be misunderstood. If one then does need to know something right away, and does not feel they are in the proper state to understand or receive, they should send someone else to do it, if they’re lucky enough to have someone else round who can do the same type of work. I’m blessed to have my sister who is a natural medium. When I am in the proper state, however, which is most of the time, how then do I know the message is right or even real?


When I receive such messages(the right and real ones) they are not as thoughts from me. I think inside my own head every moment of every day, thus know very well how it feels. When Set, or one of my spirit brothers gives me a thought or message, they use concepts rather than words. I can get a whole idea or message in perhaps 2 seconds or less where as if it were my own thought, it would come in the form of words and take me longer to work through or process. Also many of the messages I’ve gotten from my guides or spirit brothers have been things that totally shocked or stunned me. If I were giving these messages to myself, they’d tend to go along with the way I see things already. I’d not go about stunning myself. I don’t even think I could.



Another good question that most channelers should ask themselves is this:

How do I know that my guide is who he or she says they are?

My sister had that experience, actually, where someone came to her in a dream pretending to be Set. She said the energy was dark like Sets, and so almost fooled her, but it wasn’t quite right. So she looked "under" and saw another layer. She didn’t know who was pretending to be Set, but the important thing was that it was not Set. She then shut out the entity by shielding herself and telling them that she knew they were not Set. That worked, as they no longer had their illusion of power over her. Always remember that any result is all about our intent.



Now I must touch upon the clarity of ghosts, spirits, or guides when we are speaking to them. Each ghost, spirit, or guide, no matter what level they are on are much like us in the fact that they all communicate differently. My sister, for example, would have presented this information to you in a different way than I would. You may understand hers more or less than you understand mine. If you communicate in the way she does, you’d understand her better, and likewise for me. So therefore it is in the interaction and compatibility of the 2 who are talking be they mortal and mortal, guide and guide, spirit and mortal, ghost and medium, guide and mortal, or so on.


In my experiences I’ve found my guide, set the most clear to communicate with. My sister believes this to be because he does a lot of work on the lower level of astral, so is therefore closer to earth and easier to hear. I believe it is because he is strong, clear and concise when he wishes to be heard. I suppose we both have the right of it.


When I meditate and come upon my sister’s guide, Ra I’ve heard him rather well, though never as clearly as Set, so that lends to my theory of their own strength being at least part of it as Ra is obviously quite strong. They, like people, as I said, have their own unique style of getting something across. Sometimes when I wish to see one of them in meditation, they don’t show. They could be busy. They could know that I don’t really NEED to talk to them. They could want me to figure "IT" what ever it may be, out for myself. It could be all or none of these.



At any rate, those have been some of my experiences, and I hope it may help someone in their work or at least lend an interesting perspective.

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Stone Writing’s May

May, 2006





The image above is a painting by Belenus. It depicts the Venus of Willendorf and is entitled: Primordial Venus




Primordial Venus


Venus was the Roman goddess of love and beauty and worshiped originally as a goddess of fertility, both of the human and nature varieties. Her name has been assigned to the small prehistoric figurines that have been found throughout Europe, from western France, to western Russia. They are, essentially, small Paleolithic figurines of women. The age of the Venus figurines covers a time span from 27,000 years ago, to 20,000 years ago. The Venus figurines have been found in many forms, carved in stone, ivory and wood, and also crafted of clay.


One such figurine is the Venus of Willendorf, carved from limestone, and covered with a thick layer of red ochre when found. The figurine was unearthed in Austria, in the township of Willendorf on the left bank of the Danube in 1908.


The entirely preserved figurine is 4 3/8 inches tall and shows a fleshy woman with substantial hips, an ample belly and full breasts. A comparatively big head rests upon small shoulders. The legs are formed naturally, but shortened. The upper arms are close to the sides with the lower arms and hands resting on the breasts; the face is not detailed; and the feet have little detail. On the inclined head is designed a complicated hairstyle made of parallel curls extending to the neck known as cornrows. She is considered an idealization of the female figure.


Due to the fact that infant mortality was very high, it was extremely important to have many children for survival. This would imply that the figurine was probably a fertility symbol. Her genital area appears to have been deliberately emphasized with the labia of the vulva carefully detailed and made clearly visible with the absence of pubic hair. This, combined with her large breasts and the roundness of her stomach, suggests that the purpose of the sculpture is female procreativity and nurture.


The elaborate detail of the hair also indicates great significance. The ancient sculptor would have had to spend considerable time on the hair which is not typical for other statues dating from that time. In prehistoric times healthy hair would have been significant because of its protection from harsh solar radiation. Healthy hair also meant that the person had a diet rich in protein which signified that they were good at hunting and gathering food, both useful traits for survival of the offspring.


Some suggest that her corpulence would represent high status in a hunter-gatherer society, and that beside her obvious fertility she could be an emblem of security and success.


It is interesting to note that the statue’s feet are not shaped in a way which would allow it to stand on its own. This would imply that it was meant to be held, rather than simply looked at. This would form a tactile connection as well as visual one.


For many, the Venus of Willendorf represents the first primordial Mother Goddess, a goddess or female spirit representing the earth as the giver of life; the embodiment of the female principle of fertility. She is also referred to as Gaia, the earth mother. The following is an excerpt from the ancient Greek Homeric Hymns:



“To Earth The Mother Of All


I will sing of well-founded Earth, mother of all, eldest of all beings. She feeds all creatures that are in the world, all that go upon the goodly land, and all that are in the paths of the seas, and all that fly: all these are fed of her store. Through you, O queen, men are blessed in their children and blessed in their harvests, and to you it belongs to give means of life to mortal men and to take it away. Happy is the man whom you delight to honor! He has all things abundantly: his fruitful land is laden with corn, his pastures are covered with cattle, and his house is filled with good things. Such men rule orderly in their cities of fair women: great riches and wealth follow them: their sons exult with ever fresh delight, and their daughters with flower laden hands play and skip merrily over the soft flowers of the field. Thus it is with those whom you honor O holy goddess, bountiful spirit.


Hail, Mother of the gods, wife of starry Heaven; freely bestow upon me for this my song substance that cheers the heart! And now I will remember you and another song also.”



Whether the small statues represent Mother Goddess, Earth Mother, or other embodiments of womanhood, what we can agree on is that the Venus figurines represent a reverence of the female form and all that it entails.



***


author bio:


Stone Writings May 2006

This page and all its contents are copyright by www.mysticguides.com.

All Rights Reserved.


Belenus is a pagan artist who loves to travel, photograph, paint, and write. He believes that nature is the greatest gift mankind can share.


To see more of his works visit:

www.mysticguides.com

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Peace and Bullies

May, 2006

Peace and Bullies




PEACE will come when people live


In friendship, side by side,


And cherish understanding


More than hatred, greed and pride.


PEACE will come when people see


All people as the same,


And no one has to live in fear,


In ignorance, or shame.



PEACE will come when people


Who are needy can reach out


For shelter, food, or love,


And no one has to do without.



PEACE will come when people


Learn to listen and to care


About the rights and dignity


Of people everywhere.



PEACE will come when love and trust


And kindness know rebirth,


And on that day all people


Will rejoice in peace on earth.



~By Amanda Bradley~



This is a very beautiful poem. But, it’s missing one little thing… Peace will come when we learn to deal with the bullies in our school playgrounds, our work places, our communities and all the other little places that they grow up and fester and gain power over others, till they erupt into major violence, and war or it’s community equivalent is the only thing that will take them down.


If we could find them in the schools and heal them while they were young… only then would peace have a chance. If we could learn to stand up to bullies in our homes, in our communities, in all the places that people gather, then we could disempower them, show their actions for what they are, and perhaps peace could have a chance.


If we could learn to speak up for ourselves, for those we see being put down and belittled, for the little slights that add up to large harms over time.


If we could learn to encourage dreams, and the work that goes into making those dreams real, then perhaps peace might have a chance.


As long as we remain silent, as long as we allow others to be belittled, bullied, harassed and abused, as long as we keep to ourselves, fervently glad that it’s them and not us, then peace will have no chance.


As long as we ignore or rationalize away the little things that would clue us in, if we were paying attention… then those things will come back to haunt us, and peace will have no chance.


As long as we wear our masks for public use, and treat the masks that others wear as though it were reality, then peace will have no chance.


As long as we ignore the quiet bullies, the ones that manipulate and undermine in the background, encouraging others to do their dirty work, then peace will have no chance.


The causes of crime, violence, war … all are clearly visible in the nearest school yard, in that house down the street where the children are being abused and you do nothing, in our workplaces where co-workers are intimidated, and we say nothing, because it’s not "us", it’s not our business, and we can’t afford to lose our jobs. And as long we, we as individuals, as a people, as a community, as a country, allow, nay, even encourage the bullies to prosper by our silence… peace will have no chance.


***


author bio:


Florence and her HP David lead WMT-TwinPaths

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Pagan Culture Never Died

May, 2006

     Pagan culture never died. It changed, was hidden, became hushed — but never died. We can look around and see that many of the Old ways are still part of everyday life. Here’s a few examples. What others can you see in your own surroundings?

     

     A personal favorite is the candle-magic ritual we do once a year, celebrating one’s incarnation with the chant "Happy Birthday to you." A wish is made, the candles blown out and gifts given. This custom dates back to worship of Artemis, Greek Goddess of the Moon. On Her day, cakes were baked in the shape of a crescent moon and decorated with candles. If worshippers could blow out the candles in a single breath, the Goddess would look upon them with favor. Whether ancient Greek myth, or a modern-day spell, the way we celebrate our birthday is truly magic!      

     

     "AH-CHOO!!!" Bless you. (If you lived during the time of Tiberius Caesar, you may need it.) Ancient Rome circa 150 a.d. was stricken with a deadly disease, which the first symptom was sneezing. People, including Caesar, believed that the more blessing you received from others, the more likely you would be to survive.

     

     Perhaps today’s common courtesy was yesterday’s healing spell? The myth of Prometheus includes him sneezing, having caught cold from stealing the fire of the Gods. (And we know what happened to him.)      Perhaps the richest remnant of Pagan culture still survives in the wedding ceremony! Terms like "giving your hand in marriage" and "tying the knot" certainly refer to handfasting. It doesn’t take a Celtic scholar to recognize the word "Bride" as an Old name for the Goddess. And Groom? In matriarchal life, the man came to work in the wife’s family’s home. A groom is a term used to describe a laborer who cares for the horses. The term husband, meaning "bound to the house" or house-bound, also dates back to such customs. The word matrimony refers to the custom of inheritances being passed down through maternal blood lines. "Matri" means mother; "mony" or monium, means money. But, in ancient Germany, carrying the bride over the threshold welcomes her into the groom’s family, since his ancestors were once buried below the home!

     

     The wedding cake was baked by the couple, as a symbol of the ingredients of their lives coming together as one. A form of sympathetic magic? And the kiss at the altar? In times of Old, the union was consummated right there in front of witnesses. Even today, a marriage can often be considered legally void if never consummated. The term honeymoon refers to the lunar cycle immediately following the wedding. For the full lunar cycle, the couple ate honey each day, believing it to be a sweet aphrodisiac! (Some couples still use honey in their bedroom revelry, but in a different way…) June weddings are still a fashion, perhaps dating back to the days where a festive Beltane celebration (late April/early May) resulted in conception! (June weddings are rooted in Spring fever.) Brides, not grooms, were also showered with wheat, so that they could bear children like wheat brings bread.      

     

     The wedding ring placed on the third finger was believed to be a direct connection to the heart. This was even called the Medical Finger, which doctors used to stir medicines. If poison were present, the doctor’s heart would skip a beat! But of all places to wear wedding jewelry, the ring is likely related to handfasting. Why not a wedding necklace, brooch or tiara? Also, the action of the finger penetrating the circular ring is not all that different from other Pagan symbols of union. Likewise, wearing and throwing the "garter" seems not so distant.      

     

     Giving flowers to a loved one? Flowers are brightly colored, heavily scented reproductive organs! An agricultural society might see this. So might our deeply rooted animal instincts which relate color and scent to the courting rituals of nearly every species, including homosapien!      

     

     Knock on wood? This probably dates back to the Druids. Opening an umbrella indoors? Umbrella comes from the Latin word for shade. The device was used as a parasol ("stop the sun") before it was used as protection from rain. Not opening it indoors showed respect for the realm of the solar deities. Tie a string on your finger to remember something? (Sounds like cord magic to me.) I wonder why sailors put so much skill into the knots they tied over the centuries? Fishermen and fisherwomen, even today, have special words they say when throwing their lines into the water.      

     

     Naming things seems rich in magic. Look at the names of farms, race horses, and even pets. Notice that boats are referred to as She, probably linked back to She of the Sea. (Probably no accident when they named the greatest ship "The Queen Mary.") Even the Greek and Latin languages that descended from Pagan Europe assign gender to every person, place, or thing. Perhaps all things were linked to a God or a Goddess. Days of the week, months of the year — some are still named after the Old Ones. Friday the 13th? (Can you get more linked to Goddess worship than that?) Perhaps it was fairly new beliefs, from cultures who did not worship the Goddess or note her lunar cycles, which gave Friday the 13th an unlucky connotation.

     

     We can go over hundreds of holiday customs which date back to Pagan roots. We can find Pagan traces in many practices of the newer religions. But more importantly, we can make our own new traditions every day. We are catalysts of the future, not mere conduits to the past! We are the Ancestors of tomorrow. See the magic in everyday events, like knotting your neck tie, leashing your pet, or even fastening your seat belt. Feel the sacred union when you share any event with a loved one, whether sharing a hamper or sharing a bath. Feel the sudden release of stored up energy as you uncork that special old bottle of wine, or open that priceless photo album. See all cycles as magic; use the monthly rent payment as a blessing for the home.

     

     Doing so is the difference between a culture which has never died — and a culture which is truly brought to life!


For further reading: "Superstitions" by Peter Lorie. Simon and Schuster, New York. 1992.


***


author bio:


Link (Anthony)

6538 Collins Avenue,

#255 Miami Beach, FL 33141

USA

[email protected]


People often ask me why I chose the name Link. One important lesson for me this time around is to understand how all things "interconnect" — like noodles in the same cosmic broth. (Okay, I also wanted a really simple name that would not raise eye-brows in a mundane setting. Something like RunningBuffaloMoonFeather just doesn’t fit me…)


Most of my writing focuses on how ordinary parts of everyday life can be sacred and magical. Being ordinary makes them no less special! I try to erase the lines that separate spirituality from the rest of life. I don’t spend too much time in elaborate ritual, but rather see nearly every action as a magical event, from slicing an apple to licking an envelope. I often encourage readers to not blindly follow traditional spoon-fed teachings, but to discover what feels right for themselves, and for the moment. The most important Book we could ever find is written deep within ourselves, and within nature — and every day we turn a new page!


I grew up in a small suburban NJ town, the youngest child of two hard-working parents. I survived 12 years of Catholic school, which helped shape my "everyday" spiritual views (With the nuns of Saint Mary’s School, everything was a religious experience – from lunch to recess to taking tests and doing homework.) While I shed much of what I learned there, I think a few things stuck.


I began learning about alternative religion, divination and magic in the mid-1970’s, but did not really become active in the Craft until 1993 (what I call reaching "Spiritual Puberty"). My first teacher was a dear friend and neighbor, a Gardnerian 3rd Degree, who was killed in a car accident in 1984. (Great guy, lousy driver…) In 1993 I became a member of a small Tradition with only a few members spread out around the US. This gave me the opportunity to spend time with/learn from elders well-recognized in the Community. I have also been a member of Covenant of the Goddess, Pagan Federation International, Earth Spirit, Circle Network, Free Spirit Alliance, Pagan Federation International and ADF. I am legally certified as clergy with both Covenant of the Goddess and ULC (for whatever that means). My work has been published in many places throughout the US, plus Canada, England, Ireland, Holland and Australia.


Jobwise, I have worked for/with large international telecommunications companies since 1984. (Again, a lesson in how things connect…) I hold a bachelors degree in Communications/Journalism, and a masters degree in business and government policy. I moved from New Jersey to Miami Beach, Florida on August 1, 2001 and enjoy Miami’s internationally diverse culture, with a Latin spice!


Fun? I enjoy good food and good wine, bad humor, camping, gardening, traveling, almost anything Brazilian, the Ocean, SciFi, and sleeping late at least once a week.

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