April, 2014

Merry Meet

April, 2014

Beltane1

Welcome!  In this issue: 

 

Druid

 

Interview with Brendan Howlin – Urban Druid

 

Tarot

 

 

Book Review: The Complete Book of Tarot Spreads

 

 

11-29-12 Tarot Box.indd

 

Tarot Deck Review: The Golden Tarot

 

Hunter

 

Book Review: The Hunter Diaries Anthology by Serena Zane

 

Be sure to friend us on FaceBook & Twitter! 

Visit our Etsy Shop

 

pearl  cat

HAPPY READING!!

 

 

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Signposts

April, 2014

Mixed Marriages

I’ve been on a Pagan path for almost four years.  It has truly been an amazing experience so far – I’ve learned so much that I would not have studied and met people that I would not have met otherwise.  I’ve had experiences that have reshaped my outlook on life, my relationships, and the world in general.  I’ve gone through a lot and I’ve changed because of it.

This is all fine and well for me, but, for my wife, and our relationship, it has been a real challenge.  My wife is Christian (one of the good ones).  This has honestly been the hardest part of becoming Pagan.

It was especially difficult in the beginning.  It was really hard to describe what I was going through and what I was feeling.  It was next to impossible to explain what my beliefs were since I didn’t quite know myself.  I just knew something about this path was calling to me and it felt like the right direction to take.

Conversations are really tough.  I made a change that I felt called to make but it obviously wasn’t what she wanted.  Because we wanted to work this out without our children around our conversations usually started late at night and ended even later, usually with both of us tired and a more than a little frustrated.  Not a great combination.  But, as it turns out, we needed to have those talks (and still do).

I was very defensive when we first talked about it and, quite frankly, I was also selfish.  It was her problem, not mine, to understand and get used to the changes in me and what I now stood for.  I often hid from my own lack of understanding and pushed her away as she retreated.
My relationship with Paganism is not something my wife really understands.  She doesn’t feel called to it the way I do.   This is a hard balancing act – respecting her beliefs while practicing my own.  It’s just as hard for her.
It’s also hard for her because there isn’t really a good support system for the spouses of Pagan folk.  Finding someone in a similar situation is hard.  Most of the Pagans I know are either with another Pagan or someone without a religious affiliation.  Those I know in a mixed relationship are the opposite of us – the wife is Pagan and the husband is Christian.
As we move through this together I’ve found that open communication is critical to helping her understand what I’m learning and what I’m going through.  But I also have to listen.  It helps me to understand where she is on her path and how I can help her.  I try not to be as selfish and remember that her beliefs are just as sacred to her as mine are to me, even if I don’t follow her path.  In other words, she deserves from me what I’m asking of her.
The signpost for me is that although changes can happen quickly we have to take the time and effort to acclimate to them.  I’ve had to work on being more patient, allowing my wife to take in all that has changed in our lives, and work on my communication.  She tries to learn and understand more about my path and support me.  She wants to know where I am spiritually and truly wants me to be happy.  Things aren’t perfect between us but we’re closer than we have been – she even attends some Pagan events with me and I attend Christian events with her.
Life is interesting and we should embrace the things that make it so.  We each believe in something that is truly fantastic and amazing, even if that something is very different.

Anyone out there in a “mixed relationship”?  How do you cope with the differences without becoming little more than roommates?  Does your partner participate in your rituals?  Do you participate in theirs?

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MoonOwl Observations

April, 2014

Gwydion

    Gwydion is a Celtic God who is part of a triplicity of deities, each one the sons of the Goddess Don.  He is the nephew of Math, lord of the Welse kingdom of Gwynedd and his father was Beli. Some consider him to be a trickster, but he is very good at art, magick, and battle.

    This deity had a brother named Amaethon who stole a hound, deer and bird from Annwn, the lord of the otherworld. This caused the Battle of the Trees (Cad Guddeu). Gwydion and his brothers fought Annwn in this battle and Gwydion enchanted “elementary trees and sedges”to become warriors and to fight against Annwn’s forces.

    The Alder lead the attack, and the Aspen fell in battle. Heaven and earth trembled before the Oak, a “valiant door keeper against the enemy”. The Bluebells combined to cause a dismay, but the hero was the Holly. No enemy alongside Annwn could be vanquished unless they could guess his name. Gwyden guessed his name and said:

    “Sure-hoofed is my steed impelled by the spur;

    The high sprigs of alder on thy shield;

    Bran art thou called, of the glittering branches.”

    “Sure-hoofed is my steed in the day of battle;

    The high sprigs of alder on thy hand;

    Bran by the branch thou bearest

    Has Amataon the good prevailed.”

 

    This master of Magick and poetry was also the cunning protector of his sister Aranrhod’s unwanted child, Lleu Llaw Gyffes. When his brother Gilfaethwy fell in love with Math’s footholder, Goewen, he organized a battle to get Math away from her. He did this by swapping some phantom horses with pigs owned by Pryderi and coveted by Math. When Pryderi discovered that the horses were not real, he marched on Gwynedd. While Math was away at war. Gilfaethwy seduced Goewen who was dismissed from her post when Math returned. Gwydion tried to have his sister Aranhod take her place but she needed to be tested for virginity using Math’s magick. When this happened she produced a baby named Dylan. Gwydion collected a drop of blood in a handkerchief at the same time and put it in a chest which developed into another baby, Lleu. Gwydion had to trick his sister into giving her son a name and weapons, apparently the duties of a mother. And Gwydion raised this child as his own.

    But, Math was not pleased and needed to punish the two brothers. Gwydion and Gilfaethwy had deceived Math so he turned his nephews into a stag and deer for one year, into a boar and sow for the next and finally into a pair of wolves for the third before they could become themselves again.

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Goddesses of Sorcery

April, 2014

The Goddess Can Change the World

Recently I participated in the International Women’s week at Vanier College in Montreal. My talk was called “The Goddess Returns” and I spoke about a very important issue: how Goddess spirituality can decrease violence against women by empowering women.

My talk was held in a large classroom with fifty-plus young people expectantly waiting to see a Witch (maybe with a big pointy hat and black cat!) arrive to tell them about the Goddess.  I did not bring the hat and the cat but I did bring a lot of thought-provoking ideas! I started the talk by asking the students to imagine what God might look like. Then I talked about the different ways that God is perceived in the different main stream religions. I would like to share some of my talk with you.

The Goddess Returns

    When most people think of God, they think of a masculine figure or energy. They use the pronoun ‘he’. If you are a Christian or Jew and believe the Bible, specifically the Old Testament, you may read that man is made in God’s image. The King James Bible says in Genesis: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”  Most people forget the last bit: male AND female…..So what the bible alludes to the idea that God is both male and female. But Christians and Jews still think of God as “he”.

Islam teaches that no one is like Allah.  Quran verse 42:11 says that: Allah is the creator of the heavens and the earth and there is nothing like him. But they still refer to Allah as ‘he’. Some Muslims say that Allah is the same God that is worshipped by Abraham.

Buddhism does not believe in God in the same way, they believe in Buddha. Being human, the Buddha had a human body like any ordinary person. There is also nothing in the teachings of the Buddha that suggest how to find God or worship the god’s of India, (where he came from) although the Buddha himself was a theist (believed in gods), his teachings are non-theistic.

The Buddha was more concerned with the human condition: Birth, Sickness, Old age, and Death. The Buddhist path is about coming to a place of acceptance with these painful aspects of life, and not suffering through them.

The Buddha is not thought of as a god in Buddhism and is not prayed to. He is looked up to and respected as a great teacher.  He was a human being who found his perfection in Nirvana. Because of his Nirvana, the Buddha was perfectly moral, perfectly ethical, and ended his suffering forever.

Does that mean that every Buddhist in the world is an atheist?

No! A lot of Buddhists believe in God, a lot of Buddhists don’t believe in God… And a lot of Buddhists just don’t know. All three points of view are OK if you’re Buddhist because the end of suffering is more important than God in Buddhism. (1)  

Hinduism believes in one universal soul called Brahman that manifests into the world as many forms, mainly Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva, a triad of Gods. Goddesses can also be manifestations of Brahman.

    Wicca has a different view point and emphasis than Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. Wicca is a spiritually that comes from the British Isles and while it is a modern religion, has its roots in antiquity. So Wicca as we know it today all started in the 1950’s when a man called Gerald Gardner decided that Witchcraft should be brought out of the broom closet! Since then Wicca has become the fastest growing religion in North America today. I think one of the reasons is because the people of the world are ready to re-connect with the Divine Feminine, their Divine Mother, the Goddess.

The thread that runs through every Wiccan Tradition is the belief that God/Goddess is immanent: present within nature. Judeo-Abrahamic Religions believe God is transcendental (outside creation), Taoist religions (ex. Buddhism and Hinduism) believe that the world is “maya” (an illusion), but Wiccans believe that God/dess is immanent and the world is sacred. This means that we believe all life is Sacred including plants, animals, the planet and YOU!

The Students Meet the Goddess

    At this point in my talk I had the students close their eyes and relax. I invited the Goddess to enter the room and I felt her calming and gentle presence! The energy in the room had changed! I asked them to return to the picture of God they had imagined at the beginning of the talk and then to imagine a beautiful woman glowing with light standing beside the God image. Then I asked them to imagine this Divine Lady stepping forward and coming beside them, then to feel her putting her arm around them and holding them. I was surprised to see the deep peace and happiness on their faces!

    Sharing their experiences some of the students were shocked that they actually felt a warm arm around them. Some saw the God and Goddess as their parents. One boy said that his Goddess didn’t have a head! I think this is very significant because it shows how our modern society has removed the face of the goddess from our lives. It was a wonderful experience for me as a speaker and for the group.

Next I talked about the impact of Goddess Spirituality on the world.

What would happen if you believed that God was female?

If when I said the word God you not only saw a male figure but you saw the Great Mother standing beside Him how would that change you? If you as a woman realized that not only are you sacred but that you were actually made in the image of the Goddess would you feel empowered?

An empowered woman is not afraid to stand up for her rights. She is confident and strong. She raises her sons and daughters to respect others, because she does not have to prove to others that she is strong, she knows she is. If women were empowered perhaps the violence and inequality against women would change.

I would like to propose that Goddess spirituality empowers women and that the boys raised by empowered women grow up to be men who see women as equals and treat them with respect. This theory is backed up by many feminist studies and scholars. Since Wicca is the only religion in the world where the Goddess is seen as the main Deity, perhaps this is why it is growing so quickly, as people react against the gulf between genders.

Violence against women

The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women states that “violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women” and that “violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men“.

In North America, specifically in our beautiful city of Montreal, the inequality against women is not as evident as it may be in other countries. However all over the globe, violence and discrimination against women and girls violates their human rights and severely compromises young people’s sexual and reproductive health. Harmful practices, including female genital cutting/mutilation, femicide, gender-based violence, and early marriage, damage girls’ physical being and self-worth by reinforcing gender-based marginalization and inequality. Gender inequalities and biases pervade cultures worldwide, preventing women and girls from fully realizing their rights to reproductive health and equality. Even here one in four women has experienced violence related to sex and gender!

    Here are some very frightening statistics about violence against women. How can we change this? The only way is to change society from within each home and within each heart. Goddess spirituality and empowered women can do this! Let the Goddess return to the world!

Discrimination against women and girls often begins at conception, especially in parts of India and South Asia.

  • In parts of India and South Asia, there is a strong preference for having sons. Girls can be perceived as a financial burden for the family due to small income contributions and costly dowry demands.

  • In India, pre-natal sex selection and infanticide accounted for the pre-natal termination and death of half a million girls per year over the last 20 years.1

  • In the Republic of Korea, 30 percent of pregnancies identified as female fetuses were terminated. Contrastingly, over 90 percent of pregnancies identified as male fetuses resulted in normal birth.

  • According to China’s 2000 census, the ratio of newborn girls to boys was 100:119. The biological standard is 100:103.


The rate of femicide (murder of women and girls) has significantly escalated over the last few years. 

  • In Mexico, the high murder and disappearance rate of young women in Ciudad Juarez has received international attention for the last ten years, with an alarming recent resurgence.

  • In Guatemala, the number of femicides has risen steadily from 303 in 2001 to 722 in 2007, with the majority of the victims between ages 16 and 30. A U.N. report found that femicides are inadequately investigated in Guatemala.

  • Throughout the region, inadequate record-keeping around domestic violence and the victim’s relationship to the murderer results in a problem of underreporting of gender-based deaths.

In Canada hundreds of Aboriginal women go missing each year and these disappearances and deaths are seldom news! (See the work of Ann Marie Pierce).


“Dowry deaths” are responsible for the murders of thousands of women every year, especially in South Asia.

  • If a bride cannot meet the financial demand of her dowry, she is often subject to torture, harassment and death by the groom’s family.

  • UNFPA estimates that 5,000 women worldwide are burnt to death in murders disguised as ‘kitchen accidents’ each year because their dowry was considered insufficient.

  • In India and Pakistan, thousands of women are victims of dowry deaths.3 In India alone, there were almost 7,000 dowry deaths in 2005, with the majority of victims aged 15-34.


“Honor killings” continue to take place in Pakistan, Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, Yemen, Morocco and other Mediterranean and Gulf Countries 9

  • Honor killings occur when women are put to death for an act that is perceived as bringing shame to their families; this can mean killing as punishment for adultery or even for being the victim of rape.

  • In Pakistan nearly 500 women a year are the victims of honor killings.1

  • In a study of female deaths in Egypt, 47 percent of female rape victims were then killed because of the dishonor the rape was thought to bring to the family.

  • In 2002, 315 women and girls in Bangladesh endured another form of violence against women, acid attacks. In 2005, even after the introduction of more serious punishments for the crime, over 200 women were attacked.


Physical and sexual abuse of girls is a serious concern across all regions.

  • In Nigeria, a treatment center reported that 15 percent of female patients requiring treatment for sexually transmitted infections were under the age of five. An additional six percent were between the ages of six and fifteen.

  • In South Africa, one in four men report having had sex with a woman against her will by the time he was 18 years old.

  • Research conducted among young women in sub-saharan Africa found that partner violence and the fear of abuse stopped girls from saying “no” to sex and jeopardized condom use.

  • According to the Jamaica Reproductive Health Survey, approximately 20.3 percent of young women 15-19 years old report having been forced to have sexual intercourse at some point during their life. Overall, one-fifth of Jamaican women have experienced forced sexual intercourse.

  • A 2009 report released by the Colombian Inspector General’s Office showed that in Colombia, at least 27,000 women and girls experienced intimate partner violence last year – with 74 percent of these being “underage girls.”

  • In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 20 percent of young women experience intimate partner violence.15


Female genital cutting/mutilation (FGC/M) causes serious injury to millions of young women every year

  • FGC is the removal of all or part of the young woman’s genitalia for non-medical reasons. It is most prevalent in parts of West, East, and Northeast Africa, though also practiced in Asia, the Middle East and the immigrant populations of North America and Europe.

  • FGC/M is practiced for sociocultural and economic reasons. Family honor, the insurance of virginity until marriage, and social integration are often used as justifications for the procedure.

  • Between 100 and 140 million women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation worldwide and 3 million girls are at risk of the procedure each year in Africa.

  • A 2005 study found that in Egypt some 97 percent of women age 15-49 had undergone FGM. In Mali, 92 percent of women age 15-49 had undergone FGC/M in 2006; Burkina Faso, 77 percent; and North Sudan, 90 percent.18


Child marriage continues to put young girls at great risk for too-early pregnancy and other sexual and reproductive health issues.

  • In Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, more than 30 percent of young women between 15 and 19 are married.

  • In Nepal, 40 percent of girls are married by age 15.

  • In 2005, the Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey concluded that in Ethiopia 62 percent of young women aged 20-49 married before age 18.

  • Worldwide, approximately 14 million women and girls between the ages of 15 and 19 give birth each year.

  • Early pregnancy and childbirth have severe consequences for adolescent mothers including complications at birth, obstetric fistula and death, often linked to unsafe abortions.



Cross-Generational Sex Poses Numerous Risks to Young Women

  • Particularly in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, socioeconomic pressures force many unmarried 15-19 year old women to engage in sexual activity with a male partner at least 10 years her senior in exchange for material goods, money or higher social status.

  • Based on 2006 Demographic and Health Surveys, among young women ages 15-19, 21 percent in Nigeria, 7.5 percent in Lesotho, and 9.5 in Uganda reported they had recently engaged in high-risk sex with a partner 10 or more years their senior.

  • Girls and young women involved in cross-generational sex have a severely reduced capacity to negotiate condom use, putting them at high risk for HIV infection. As such, young women 15-24 years old are three times more likely to be infected with HIV than young men age 15-24.

References:

  1. Quote by Kusala Bhikshu, a well-known Buddhist monk, at a talk given at a high school in Los Angeles

  2. Further reading:

UN General Assembly, 61st Session. Secretary General’s Study on Violence Against Women. Accessed from http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/vaw/violenceagainstwomenstudydoc.pdf on January 28, 2010
UNFPA.
UNFPA State Of World Population 2005. Chapter 7. Accessed from http://www.unfpa.org/swp/2005/english/ch7/index.htm on January 28, 2010
Viachova A, Biason L, editors.
Women in an Insecure World. Geneva, September 2005. Accessed from http://www.dcaf.ch/women/pb_women_ex_sum.pdf on January 28, 2010
UNFPA.
Femicide. Accessed from http://74.125.155.132/search?q=cache:2zPSBS-54v8J:www.unfpa.org/16days/documents/pl_femicide_factsheet.doc+femicide&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=safari on August 20, 2009
NPR. “Juarez: A City on the Edge.” June 21, 2004. Accessed from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1966988 January 28, 2010
United Nations General Assembly.
Follow-Up to Country Recommendations: Guatemala. Accessed from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/11session/A.HRC.11.2.Add.7.pdf on January 28, 2010
United Nations Development Fund for Women. “Fact Sheet: Violence Against Women Worldwide.” Accessed from http://www.unifem.org/campaigns/sayno/docs/SayNOunite_FactSheet_VAWworldwide.pdf on January 28, 2010
Garcia-Moreno, Claudia. “Gender Inequality and Fire-Related Deaths in India.” The Lancet 2009; 373 (9671):1230-1231.
United Nations Development fund for Women. “Violence against women: Facts and Figures.” Accessed from http://www.unifem.org/attachments/gender_issues/violence_against_women/facts_figures_violence_against_women_2007.pdf on January 28, 2010
0Nazrullah M et al. “The epidemiological patterns of honour killing of women in Pakistan.” European Journal of Public Health. 2009. Accessed from http://eurpub.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/ckp021v1 on January 28, 2010.
BBC. “Fall in Bangladesh Acid Attacks.” 2009: April 25. Accessed from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/5133410.stm on January 28, 2010
Moore AM et al. “Coerced First Sex among Adolescent Girls in Sub-Saharan Africa: Prevalence and Context.”
African Journal of Reproductive Health, 2007. 11(3): 62-82. Accessed from http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=2367148 on January 28, 2010.
Thomas, T. “The Facts: Reproductive and Sexual Health in Jamaica.” Washington, DC: Advocates for Youth, 2006.
Procuradua General de la Nacion. “Procuraduría General de la Nación revela preocupante situación de violencia intrafamiliar y violencia sexual en Colombia.” Accessed from http://www.procuraduria.gov.co/html/noticias_2009/noticias_358.html on January 28, 2010
Varia, S. “Dating Violence Among Adolescents.” Advocates for Youth, Washington, DC , 2006. Accessed from http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=417&Itemid=177 on January 28, 2010
UNFPA. “Gender Equality: Calling for an End to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting.” Accessed from http://unfpa.org/gender/practices1.htm on January 28, 2010

PRB. “Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: Data and Trends.” 2008. Accessed from http://prb.org/Publications/Datasheets/2008/fgm2008.aspx on January 28, 2010
UNICEF. Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting. 2005. Accessed from http://www.unicef.org/publications/files/FGM-C_final_10_October.pdf on January 28, 2010
Jarallah, Yara. “Marriage Patterns in Palestine, Unlike Rest of MENA.” Washington, DC: Population Reference Bureau, 2008.
EGLDAM. “Old beyond Imaginings: Ethiopia and Harmful Traditional Practices,” 2003. Accessed from http://nctpe-fgm.net/downloads/obi.doc on August 1, 2009. 

UNFPA. “Gender Equality: Giving Special Attention to Girls and Adolescents.” Accessed from http://www.unfpa.org/gender/girls.htm  on January 28, 2010
USAID. “Cross Generational Sex: Risks and Opportunities.” Accessed from http://www.igwg.org/igwg_media/crossgensex.pdf on January 28, 2010.
Tostan, “Abandoning Female Genital Cutting.” Accessed from http://www.tostan.org/web/page/586/sectionid/547/pagelevel/3/interior.asp on January 28, 2010
USAID. Issue Brief: Preventing Child Marriage: Protecting Girls Health. 2009. Accessed from http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/global_health/pop/news/issue_briefs/prev_child_marriage.pdf on January 28, 2010
Population Reference Bureau. Combating Cross-Generational Sex in Uganda. 2009. Accessed from http://prb.org/articles/2009/crossgenerationalsex.aspx?p=1 on January 28, 2009

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Tarot Talk

April, 2014

This month, we will move back to the Major Arcana, and talk about the Justice card.  Since we haven’t talked about a Major Arcana card in a while, before we begin breaking down Justice, let’s define and describe some terms.  There are 22 Major Arcana cards in a Tarot deck, with numbers from 0 to 21; the Majors usually deal with broader and more far-reaching life experience issues, issues that are archetypes which are easy for us to identify with and connect with at some point in our lives.

 

An archetype (pronounced “ark eh type”) is a generic, idealized model of a person, a personality, a behavior, an object, or a concept that can be copied, patterned, or imitated, and which can be identified universally without the need for a common language. The term archetype often refers to one of two concepts:

 

A “stereotype”; in other words, a personality type observed multiple times, especially an oversimplification of a personality type; stereotypes can be positive or negative.  For instance, “girls make good cooks” is a stereotype.

 

An “epitome,” which is the embodiment of a particular personality type, especially as the “greatest” or “best” example of the particular personality type; epitomes can also be positive or negative.  For example, Venus is said to be the epitome of feminine beauty.

 

So basically, archetypes present personality traits that are common enough to be known by us all, through images (rather than words) that contain symbolism that connects with our subconscious in a universal manner.  Each of us can understand the symbolism of archetypes and connect with that symbolism because each of us has personally experienced (or will at some point in the future) these archetypes in some form, at some point in our lives.

 

Besides the symbolism in the image of the card, each Major Arcana card corresponds to a number, an archetype, an element, an astrological sign or planet, a Hebrew letter, and a Path on the Tree of Life joining two Sephiroth.  Let’s start breaking this one down; we’ve got a lot of work to do!

 

The traditional image on the Justice card is of a woman, sometimes wearing mail or armor, sometimes blindfolded, holding a sword in her right hand and a set of scales in her left hand.  A woman is imaged because a feminine image is often seen as being able to balance mercy with authority.  The armor she sometimes wears symbolizes self-imposed discipline, or the concept of restriction used as a tool of focus and awareness.  When the figure is blindfolded, we are being reminded that the Justice imposed by this card is equal for all.  When the figure is not blindfolded, we are being given an example of Divine Justice, which has full sight and awareness.  The sword held in the right hand (traditionally, the power hand) represents the authority to impose Justice, and to protect and uphold Justice and those being judged.  The scales held in the left hand (traditionally, the receptive hand) represent the weighing and measuring that are a part of the process of judging, and the creation of equilibrium that is the desired end result.

 

The Justice card is numbered 11 in most decks.  The Major Arcana cards settle into a basic cycle of 10 cards (remember, in the Minor Arcana, the Pip or numbered cards also run from Ace to Ten, one cycle of evolution of the suit), with each following cycle expanding on what was learned in the first cycle.  The number 11 reduces to 2, the number of balance, polarity, and the energy of “distance between,” a good description of the meanings of the Justice card!  The number 2 card of the Major Arcana is The High Priestess.  The image on this card is a female authority figure; sound familiar?  The High Priestess represents knowledge of the cause that is behind action and reaction.  The female authority figure of the Justice card weighs both cause and effect in her judgments; she takes the knowledge of The High Priestess to the next level, and manifests it.

 

In some decks, Justice is numbered 8, which also makes sense.  In the Tarot Minor Arcana, the number 8 represents a conscious and deliberate response to the pause and assessment of the 7 card.  That pause represented by the number 7 happens because the growth represented by cards Ace through 6 has begun to slow, and degeneration is approaching.  When Justice is in the number 8 position of the Major Arcana, it tells of the presence of the peak of energy within the first cycle of 10 cards (after meeting such primal characters as The Father, The Mother, The Priest and The Lovers), and warns us that degeneration is approaching and thus, we must weigh what has been done so far in order to effectively implement our decision as to what comes next.  We are asked to present a conscious and deliberate response to what has been presented to us to date.

 

The archetype of the Justice card is the Judge.  The Judge is the authoritative figure who acts as the giver and the enforcer of laws who reminds us that true fairness takes into account both everything and nothing.  This archetype has the vision to manage the fair distribution of power in whatever form that power takes.  A Judge is a natural mediator, is committed to living within the high standards of justice and wisdom, and always strives to prevent injustice and prejudice.  The Shadow Judge is manipulative, misuses authority, criticizes in a destructive or hurtful manner, and deliberately excludes compassion and mercy from the judgment process.

 

Justice corresponds with the element of Air, and thus is connected to actions, truth and clarity, the intent to manifest potential into reality, mental focus and spiritual guidance, and a striving to achieve balance between the mind and the heart.  Air is connected to the beliefs we have, and to the expressions of those beliefs.  Air is expansive and adaptive, able to base a final decision on the contributions of multiple information sources, and so can the Justice card.

 

In astrology, Justice corresponds with the sun sign of Libra.  This connection is a no-brainer because the traditional symbol of Libra is a set of scales.  Libras are usually very focused on the people around them, and how they interact with those people.  Libras are true team players, concerned with balance and cooperation, with fairness to everyone.  Libras always put their minds to good use, considering and balancing carefully before choosing a course that brings the highest good to all. Libra is a Cardinal Sign, ready to forge ahead with plans and attract effective supporters, engaging the world in a dynamic way. Because Libra is Cardinal Air, this sign initiates through new ideas, and by being a balancing force among people.

 

In the Hebrew alphabet, each letter is connected in some way to the creative forces in the universe. They express themselves on three levels: one level is archetypical and runs from the first to the ninth letter; the second level is one of manifestation and runs from the tenth to the eighteenth letter, and the third is a cosmic level and runs from the nineteenth to the twenty-second letter. The Justice card corresponds with the twelfth letter in the Hebrew alphabet, Lamed, the ox goad.  This letter tells of the process of training or teaching/learning, which can often be uncomfortable, and which usually requires a constant awareness of adjustment in order to maintain balance.  It tells of instruction through guidance (rather than through example), and it reminds us that sometimes a strong correction is in order if we veer too far to one direction or another.

 

On the Tree of Life, Justice represents Path 22 (one of the Paths exploring the qualities of higher spirituality), running between Tiphareth (the hub of the creation process where energies harmonize and focus to illuminate and clarify) and Geburah (the place where forms and structures are challenged or affirmed).  The 22nd Path connects the Pillar of Form and the Pillar of Balance, and it infuses abstract knowledge into the manifestation of power or authority.

 

We could say that Justice presents one version of balance, a dynamic balance that exists through the process of adjustment.  It tells us that we have a balanced intellect that allows us to deal with difficult decisions and bring about fair and equitable outcomes.  We are able to make adjustments in our life in order to create harmony through the balance between our Higher Self and our daily thought processes.  Justice can also indicate the presence of or potential for interactions within the legal or justice system, the police department, or any authority figure responsible for maintaining law and order.

 

The Llewellyn Welsh Justice card tells of remaining impartial and well-centered in order to bring about fair judgment.  The Legacy of the Divine Justice card reminds us that we each perceive what Justice means to us through our personal life experiences, and we must remember that those personal experiences could influence us in a non-objective manner.  The Thoth Tarot names this card “Adjustment,” because balance happens through dynamic adjustment; it also reminds us that the correction of an imbalance may require the imposition of law.  The Hermetic Tarot reminds us that good intentions must be infused with the use of strength or authority.  The Tarot of the Sephiroth recommends informed decision making, and tells us that we will reap the rewards or suffer the consequences of our decisions.

 

Justice in a reversed or ill-dignified position can indicate injustice, prejudice, or the unethical imposition of authority.  Intolerance or bias, or even false accusations, could be present within a situation.  A reversed Justice card could indicate weaknesses in the personality, such as deceitfulness, superficiality, or an inability to make decisions.

Next time, we will look at the Judgement card, and compare it with Justice in order to better understand the similarities between these two cards, and the differences.

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Tarot Deck Review: The Golden Tarot

April, 2014

11-29-12 Tarot Box.indd

The Golden Tarot is a recreation of the Visconti-Sforza Deck, one of the oldest complete Tarot decks still being used today.  This version of the Visconti-Sforza Deck presented by Race Point Publishing comes in a lovely display box made of sturdy cardboard, a perfect repository for the deck when not being used.  Inside the box are a purple satin reading cloth to be used as a base for card spreads, a hardcover, beautifully illustrated companion book (much-evolved from the standard paper LWB) written by Mary Packard, and a separate box holding the cards of the Golden Tarot.

 

This is a beautiful deck, and if you like history, tradition, art, and the pageantry of royalty and nobility, the Golden Tarot will be immensely satisfying to you.  The artwork on these cards uses styles and elements of composition from Renaissance era art to create images reminiscent of sumptuous Medieval tapestries or religious icons. The Golden Tarot has the rich look of old parchment, gold leaf, and the vibrant reds and blues that you would expect from a 15th century hand-painted deck, each card a masterpiece.

 

The cards are large, measuring 3 ¼ inches by 6 ½ inches, and thus the images are also large and easy to see, making the Golden Tarot a lovely deck for public readings.  The card stock is medium in thickness, enough to support the large cards without creating difficulties in shuffling or throwing of spreads, although the cards might not hold up well to constant use.  The images are bordered in gold, with an inner blue frame for the Major Arcana and Court Cards, and an inner red frame for the numbered or pip cards.  The image on the back of the cards is an intricate pattern echoing the style and the color palate of the card faces.

 

The original Visconti-Sforza Tarot was missing four cards, The Tower, The Devil, the Three of Swords, and the Knight of Coins.  In order for a modern version of this deck to be effective, replacement cards must be created.  The Golden Tarot replacement cards are well done, seeming to fit perfectly with the style and composition of Renaissance art as they offer effective symbolism of the individual cards themselves.

 

The companion book offers a story of the Tarot stretching from the original hand-painted one of a kind decks commissioned by upper class families, through the transformation of the purpose of the cards from games such as tarocchi and trionfi into tools of discovery used in alchemy, divination, counseling and enlightenment.  The book also offers an interesting biography of both the Visconti and Sforza families, and offers connections between specific family members and specific cards in the deck.  After the section on individual card descriptions, spread suggestions and sample readings are offered.

 

The individual card descriptions of the Major Arcana contain the traditional name of the card, a historic name of the card, the story and symbolism behind the image and the identity of the person in the image, along with upright and reversed meanings and a picture of the card being described.  The Minor Arcana cards use the suits of Cups, Swords, Coins and Batons, corresponding not only to the traditional elements of Water, Air, Earth and Fire, but also to the four classes of Medieval society: clergy, nobility, merchants and peasants.  The descriptions consist of upright and reversed meanings along with a picture of the card.  The descriptions for the Court Cards (Knave, Knight, Queen and King) include the story and symbolism behind the image, upright and reversed meanings, and a picture of the card.

The Golden Tarot might not work well for a beginner.  The cards do not have captions, numbers or identifying titles of any kind, and the pip cards show multiple images of the suit symbol, rather than scenes or illustrations that help with interpretation.  Without previous knowledge of the structure and symbolism of the Tarot, the novice would need to rely heavily on the companion book to identify the individual cards.  However, even a beginner would learn from this deck, as the cards are an accurate representation of early Tarot decks, and the companion book is filled with valuable information and lush, captivating images.

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Musings of a Massachusetts Witch

April, 2014

But Honey Look At This

 

In my opinion Facebook has become a place to find the most appalling things. Believe me, I put not only effort but also intention into my daily viewing of Facebook to ensure that I am screening what I am exposed to. I have limited my ‘friends’ to only those individuals that I truly communicate with on a regular basis whether that be in online or offline relationships but it seems that even then I am bombarded by status messages, comments, links, photos, and videos that I would rather have never read, clicked on, viewed or watched. It surprises me that even those individuals that I have ‘friended’ and who I consider a friend find these things interesting or amusing enough to share with not only me but those other individuals that they have also ‘friended’. Sometimes Facebook causes me to question my own choice of associations.

 

One such situation happened just this past month with a video that can be found on YouTube though I had been exposed to it through Facebook. The video featured a three-year-old boy named Mateo having an argument with Linda, his Mother over cupcakes. I would not have seen this video if it hadn’t been shared by a few of my Facebook ‘friends’ and it would have pleased me to have never viewed it. Unfortunately I cannot undo what has already been done. I did not find the video amusing as those ‘friends’ of mine did. In fact, I found it to be unnerving and disconcerting. The fact that others on Facebook and YouTube found it amusing and entertaining truly concerns me. And guess what? As of March 13, 2014 Ellen Degeneres invited Mother, Linda and son, Mateo onto her show. “She’d like to meet both of them.”

 

What does this say about our society and its views on parenting? That it’s perfectly acceptable to have your three-year-old son not only address you by your first name, which I find disrespectful, but to argue with you, the parent, over your responsibility to set rules and guidelines for him? He at three, doesn’t agree with your judgment so it’s again acceptable to allow him to argue with you talking over your words with the demands of:

 

“Linda, listen to me. OK, Linda, listen, listen, listen, Linda.”

 

Watching the video it is clear to see that the attitude, words, and mannerisms of this child is a reflection of someone else. He is clearly mimicking another adult as he or she argues with Linda. And what does that say about the relationships that this three-year-old is exposed to?

 

“But Linda, Honey, Honey, look at this … “

 

Doesn’t that sound like young Mateo is copying someone, perhaps his father? The squinted eyes and scrunched up face with his hands on his hips, to me that is not something a three-year-old naturally does. It’s mimicked behavior. Oh, but there’s more. Let’s address the idea of “pow pows”.

 

“You and Kevin don’t listen so I have to give both of you guys pow pows on your butt. … You don’t want me to hit Kevin or you don’t want me to spank you.”

 

So, not only do we have individuals watching this video and finding it amusing we have them believing the idea of “pow pows” is entertaining as well? Seriously? Well, not to me. I have two children of my own, a sixteen year old son and a twelve year old daughter and I never found it comfortable to spank, hit or give “pow pows” to them even when they were behaving in a way that I found frustrating to me or generally unacceptable. Trust me, when they were younger there were many times this occurred.

I have always felt that my children were just as special as I was. Just because they were younger didn’t mean they were less important or sacred. I believe in treating all children as the sacred manifestations of God Herself that they are and because of this it means that I teach by example. I speak to others with respect, I show others respect, I honor those who are my ‘elders’, and I am consistent with my words and actions. But, apparently, according to the number of hits this video has received and the invitation from Ellen Degeneres I am one of the few who hold this opinion.

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Musings of a Hereditary Witch

April, 2014

Witchy Wednesday™

Back in the 90’s, I was one of the first in my area to hold a Pagan/Witch discussion group. In the 60’s these were called ‘Salons’ and today we mostly know them as Meet & Greets. I created Witchy Wednesday at a time when there was a need for a safe place (I chose my home) for people to gather, meet other like minded people and hold intelligent discussions. This was a moderated group, all paths were welcome, but also a tolerance for other people’s beliefs was important.

We would meet on the second Wednesday of each month for a couple of hours in the evening. For the first hour we discussed a prearranged topic. Then we’d take a short break for those needing to stretch their legs. The last hour was open for Q & A. This second half was important for there was a diverse group of pagan paths attending.

There were the regular attendees: an Arch Druidess, an Asatru *Godi, a Heathen, an Irish pagan and a Mixed-Magic Magician. On occasion we had what was affectionately called The Pagan Debating Team, which consisted of the Arch Druidess on one side and the Asatru Godi on the other. One could learn much from listing to the two debate culture and history. None of this was ever done out of spite or ended in hurt feelings, it was just good passionate discussion.

Many people of varying paths attended Witchy Wednesday: Witches, First Peoples/Native Americans, Strega, Celtic, Norse, a Voodoo Priestess, Gypsies, a former Satanist, an elderly Catholic woman, Buddhist, Santeria, Polynesian, Shamans, some who put no label to their beliefs and those still searching. The most incredible thing about all these varied peoples and paths was that no one was proclaiming their path was older, better or that this is how it’s suppose to be done. For those couple of hours we were all a community of teachers and students.

After 10 years, Witchy Wednesday went on hiatus when my living situation changed causing me to find a monetary job. Today, I still run into people who had once attended the Witchy Wednesdays and who want to reminisce about what they learned, the fun they had and the friends they made.

I myself have been missing the Witchy Wednesday gatherings and feel that a 9 year hiatus is long enough. It’s time, once again, to create that safe space that Witchy Wednesday offered to all pagan paths to discuss, share, learn and laugh with other like minded people.

Will you be attending?

Blessings on Your Hearth & Home,
Elayne


*Godi: a Norse Priest or Chieftain (per my understanding)

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Tink About It

April, 2014

Moonchild

 

The moon is a fascinating subject. Magically of course, but also in a scientific way. I like to learn facts about the moon, but I’m also interested in moon lore, moon deities, etc.  I’d like to share some of my thoughts, facts and feelings about the moon.

 

It often surprises me that quite a few witches know lots about the magic moon part, but lack any (f)actual knowledge. There’s so much interesting stuff to explore! The NASA moon website can keep you busy for hours: facts, pictures, projects, special kids programs, etc. Or go to the Wikipedia moon portal and start from there.

Just some teasers, but in fact a miniscule tip of the iceberg:

  • The moon doesn’t affect the tides, it actually causes them. If there were no moon, we would have no tides. The tides arise due to the pull of the moon’s gravity.

  • The distance between the earth and the moon is not a fixed number. The  moon takes an elliptical path around the earth, so the distance varies from 363,104 km (225,622 mi) at perigee (closest) to 405,696 km (252,088 mi) at apogee (farthest). The moon is spiralling away from the earth at an average rate of 3.8 cm (1.5 inch) per year.

  • There is no water on the moon, but it still has ‘seas’. Galileo is responsible for that. He thought the dark, smooth areas were seas, and called them ‘maria’ (Latin for seas; ‘mare’ is the singular). For instance, the first Apollo landing occurred in Mare Tranquilitatis (the Sea of Tranquility). The ‘seas’ look flat from ancient lava flows. Of course we know now they aren’t seas, but the names stayed.

 

The full moon has something special to a lot of people. Some people say they sleep worse, others sleep better. Popular legend has it that the full moon brings out the worst in people: more violence, more suicides, more accidents, etc. The influence of the moon and behaviour has been called “The Lunar Effect” or “The Transylvania Effect.” The belief that the full moon causes mental disorders and strange behaviour was widespread throughout Europe in the middle ages. Even the word ‘lunacy’ meaning ‘insanity’ comes from the Latin word for moon. Well, some of those beliefs are true, some are false. I think it’s fun to explore info about this.

It seems to me a lot of full moon stuff comes from suggestion. I wonder how many people would still sleep poorly ‘because of the full moon’ when they don’t know the current moon phase.  I have kept a moon diary for quite some years. I wrote down the facts (distance to the moon, moon phase, time, etc.) and added how I felt and slept at that moment. I found out I was more influenced by the distance than the phase of the moon. I guess that’s not that difficult to explain. The phase doesn’t say a lot about the moon itself, it’s just the part that’s lit up by the sun. A dark moon may not be visible, but you can still feel the presence, especially when it’s closer than usual. It could be a nice experiment to find out just how much the moon really influences you. Nowadays I use apps on my smartphone to look up the phase and distance, for example Luna Solaria.

 

Some years ago I attended a workshop by Marian Green about moon magic. One of the things we did was looking up the moon phase under which we were born. You can look it up in a moon app like ‘Phases of the Moon’ by Universe Today. At my day of birth the moon was 97% full.  The description of people born on the gibbous to full moon is remarkably recognizable. ?

We also looked into our lunar sign. Someone cast my birth horoscope for me, so I knew my lunar sign is Aries. And again, the description fit me. As there is no day without night, the astrological portrait of a person drawn just by the means of his or her sun sign will be incomplete and partial. Knowing your moon sign can add to the greater picture.

I’ll add the links to find this out for yourself at the end.

 

Another issue about the moon is the gender. Most witches see the moon as feminine, but for example Asatru speaks of the moon as masculine. In languages we see the same: in French ‘la lune’ (f), in German ‘der Mond’ (m). In Hebrew the gender shifted. The older one that shows up in Genesis Yareyach ??? is masculine, the more poetic and later name l’vanah ???? is feminine. In my own language Dutch ‘de maan’ is f(m), so you can use both but feminine is used more often and considered better. I use it both without a real preference.  In a ritual setting with others I use whatever they are using and it’s fine by me. To be honest I don’t really care about the gender…

There are a lot of deities that are associated with the moon. They  can be either male or female, and are usually held to be of the opposite sex of the corresponding solar deity. In moon rituals I sometimes work with a deity, but most of the time I just personify the moon and  talk directly to him or her.

 

What does the moon mean to you? If you have any insights or interesting links: feel free to share!

Moon blessings, Tink

Links & sources:

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Spiritual Seeker

April, 2014

It is the middle of the Christian season of Lent, a time of growth and sacrifice. During this time, Christians meditate on the sacrifice that Christ will make at Easter, and honour it by making sacrifices of their own. Okay, but what does that have to do with Paganism? I bet some of you reading this don’t believe Christ ever existed. And if you do believe he was a real man, you probably think he was nothing more than a talented teacher and not the literal Son of God. However, at the same time, I think we can all learn something from him about sacrifice, selflessness, and making good decisions.

 

In decades and centuries past, people usually gave up rich food for Lent. We have Pancake Tuesday/Mardi Gras on the day before Lent starts (Ash Wednesday) as a way to use up eggs and butter. And we celebrate Easter with chocolate not because the goddess Eostre was a chocolatier, but because Easter Sunday is the day that observers of Lent can eat sweets and treats again. I’m giving up pop (e.g. soda, Coke, or whatever you call carbonated sugar beverages in your area) for Lent this year (although I’ve lapsed a couple of times), because I’ve come to believe a little bit of sacrifice builds character.

 

Take a minute to think about the world we live in today. If you live above the poverty line, I’m willing to bet that you have access to darn near everything you need and the vast majority of things you want without any real effort. Want to watch your favourite movie? Load up Netflix and enjoy. Did your favourite author just release a new book? Amazon will send it to your Kindle in a blink of an eye. I can get my favourite British cross stitch magazine on my iPad with a couple of clicks, weeks before it ends up in the bookstore. Not only that, things are so cheap right now! When I was a little girl, a new box of crayons was a big deal. Now, I can pop over to the dollar store and get my little guy a 24 box of genuine Crayola crayons for a whole $1.50. Between what I’ve bought him and gifts from classmates, at six he currently owns more crayons then I did during my entire childhood.

 

Why should we practice sacrifice in the middle of such abundance? I think that very abundance is the reason. How can we develop strong characters and the ability to deal with disappointment if we are always giving into to our desires? I’ll give you another example from my own life. This year I am crafting using only items that I already have in my stash, buying additional supplies only when I need something to finish a project or to fulfill an obligation. Normally, I buy not exactly everything I want when it comes to patterns or yarns, but pretty close. Denying myself this instant gratification is helping me to build my character, and even increasing my feelings of self-worth. Rather than getting fleeting pleasure from buying something new, I am getting lasting pleasure from finishing projects.

We certainly don’t need to be Christian to have a season of sacrifice. For those of you who walk the Wiccan path, the time between Samhain and Yule might make an ideal time to explore the idea of giving up something, of focusing inward, and of using up what you already have in abundance. If you walk another path, think about the liturgy of your faith, and focus on a time of year when your deity made some sort of sacrifice (big or small) and consider honouring it by doing something similar in your life. And, when you find yourself desiring a can of pop, a new book, or a night out at the movies, remember everything you already have and give thanks for the abundance.

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