One last reminder……..

Don’t forget to check out “Raffle for a Cause.” Lady A has picked out three fantastic Book of Shadows for this Raffle. When you win the raffle, you get to pick the one you want. I have already found the one I want but someone (Lady A) said it wouldn’t be fair for employees or volunteers to enter the auction. I guess she is right 😦 . I hope ever who win the raffle enjoys their BOS and think of me every time you use it, lol!

You can check the Raffle out by following the link below:

http://witchesofthecraft.com/raffle-for-a-cause/

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First Steps into Paganism for Teens and Adults

First Steps into Paganism for Teens and Adults

Author: AwenSpirit

Well, it was rough for me, too. I grew up Catholic, but I didn’t “feel” right with staying Catholic or sharing its beliefs. We all reach that point in our life when we want to answer these questions: “Who am I?” “What am I doing here?” “What is my purpose in life”, and so on. For most of us, it is in the ‘critical period’, if you will, of psychological and physical development – stage 5 of (famous psychologist) Erik Erikkson’s 8 stages of life, or ‘the teenage years
. This is the period in our lives when we either “make it” or “break it”, and hopefully, most of us will make it.

Many teens experiment in the Occult, to see if it is ‘to their liking’ which is perfectly acceptable, as well as necessary, as long as they don’t misuse the Power. Some eventually figure out the hard way of Karma, or do stupid things with Ouija boards (intentionally summoning evil forces) , and it comes back to bite them. Believe me, there was TOO much of that in my high school.

A few teens do some honest searching for knowledge and answers to the above questions and this article is mainly pointed at them, but also to adults searching for an Earth religion. I felt the same way as they might now. I admit, I was hesitant. It is really hard to give up something that you were raised with. It is hard to let go of that hurt, and I fully understand. I was apprehensive, taking steps to achieve what I wanted. I did not decide to practice ‘full-blown’ Witchcraft then and there – you can’t at first.

You need to take time to slow down and study, study, study. I cannot stress that importance enough. Go to a nearby Barnes-and-Noble, buy some intro-books to the Craft, and begin your search. Look up different branches of Paganism online, and see what appeals to you. For some people, this study takes years before they become comfortable, which is understandable if you were raised to beLIEve that anything related to the Occult is (somehow) “evil” and “dark”.

I started my study into Paganism in middle school (it was really a Catholic school, but I kept my mouth shut for fear of oppression) – it wasn’t until only recently that I initiated myself into my own Path, Celtic Shamanism. The Craft speaks to everyone in a different way; you may choose to be Eclectic, a British Traditional practitioner, Celtic, etc. The possibilities are endless because, as a solitary practitioner, YOU choose what Path YOU want to take, and YOU can take what appeals to you of other branches and combine it. I know of a coven in the southern US (near the Appalachians) that combined the Native American spirituality with Celtic – you could do the same.

Realize though, that you can also join a coven, but you have to follow their tradition to be a part of the coven, and if you already Dedicated yourself to the Craft as a solitary practitioner, they may make you undergo their own Year-and-a-Day.

It is customary to learn the Craft under a seasoned Elder, but it is not necessary. If you want to be solitary (I, for instance, am solitary) and have no way to contact an Elder of the Craft you’re seeking, let your intuition be your guide, and always remember that you are not alone – the God and Goddess watch over you, as do your spirit guides. Once you know what you want to do, the next step comes – commitment. You must commit yourself to learning under a Year-and-a-Day of spiritual practice. I highly recommend Timothy Roderick’s Wicca – A Year And A Day in the Craft of the Wise, which will walk you through each day of practice until your Initiation (I call it ‘Dedication’ because you initiate yourself to practice the Craft for the 366 days and then dedicate yourself to the Craft afterwards) .

You can “modify” your own Year-and-a-Day of spiritual practice, because the Craft opens to people in different ways. Sometimes we cannot purchase necessary items in these 366 days of study, and we adapt to the situation. No Elder will teach in the same way, just as books teach in different ways, just as we must LEARN in different ways.

When you finally Dedicate yourself to the Craft (or fully initiate yourself) , you have committed your life to the Craft. If you feel, during the 366 days of study, that this just isn’t for you, talk to people who are Witches, Shamans, Wiccans, or other practicing Pagans about it. Realize that the Craft is not for everyone – this is partially why you must undergo 366 days of spiritual practice, so you know more about the ‘hands-on’ of the Occult.

If you ‘jump-in’ and do not attempt the 366 days, you will crash-and-burn because you will not know at all what you are doing. Now, if you feel that the Craft isn’t right for you during the 366 days, and you have talked it over with a practitioner of the Craft, you can step away and be done – no hard feelings.

The God and Goddess offer love and knowledge – not grudges or punishment. Wicca, Witchcraft, Shamanism, and all the other branches of Paganism are a great way to start, though.

Blessed are Thy Feet which bring Thee on Thy Path ) O ( ) O ) O (

Footnotes:
Here is a list of books that I feel are extremely helpful to beginners interested in the Craft:
‘Wicca – A Year And a Day in the Craft of the Wise’ by Timothy Roderick
‘Celtic Magic’ by DJ Conway
‘Magical Herbalism’ by Scott Cunningham

These next few books focus on in-depth practicing of the Craft (during 366 days) :
‘By Oak, Ash, and Thorn’ by DJ Conway
‘Druid Power’ by Amber Wolfe

‘Crystal Healing’ by Luc Bourgault
‘How to Heal with Color’; ‘How to Develop and Use Psychic Touch’; ‘How to See and Read the Aura’; ‘Enchantment of the Faerie Realm’; ‘How to Meet and Work with Spirit Guides’, ALL by Ted Andrews (You may also wish to check out his other books.) .

 

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Paganism

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Paganism

Author:   Crick 

As folks begin to re-discover their interest in paganism, there are certain fallacies that are being put forth that do not contribute in a meaningful way to the true nature of paganism. We, as a community that is based upon many divergent beliefs, would be wise to avoid these pitfalls as we move forward. Please keep in mind that we are all individuals and as such we are entitled to our personal opinions even if it does not agree with others’ opinions.

Fallacy: The pentagram is the symbol of one particular group of pagans.

The truth is that the pentagram has been in use by various groups, both pagan and Christian, since Uruk IV circa 3500 BCE in ancient Mesopotamia where the general interpretation appeared to be “heavenly body.” By the cuneiform period circa 2600 BCE the pentagram or symbol “UB” came to mean “region, ” “heavenly quarter” or “direction”.

Venus is equated with the Sumerian Goddess, Ishtar (Inanna) whose symbol is an eight or sixteen point star.

In association with the Hebrews, the five-point symbol was ascribed to Truth and to the five books of the Pentateuch.

In Ancient Greece, it was called the Pentalpha.

Pythagorians considered it an emblem of perfection or the symbol of the human being. The Pythagoreans used it as a sign of recognition and they called the Pentagram “Hugieia” which is usually translated “Health, ” but can also translate as “Soundness or Wholeness”, and in a more general way, any “Divine Blessing”. Hugieia (Hygeia) is the Greek Goddess of Health, who is called Salus by the ancient Romans.

The pentagram was also associated with the golden ratio (which it includes) , and the dodecahedron, the fifth Platonic solid, which has twelve pentagonal faces and was considered by Plato to be a symbol of the heavens.

The Pentagram has been found everywhere from Egyptian statues to Gaulish coins. In fact, the Greeks, Aryans, and Etruscans (circa 400 BCE) shared a coin bearing a pentagram and the characters “PENSU” (Etruscan for five) .

It is noted that the texts of Solomon from the Mediaeval period gave great importance to the pentagram, under the name “Solomon’s Seal.”

It is documented that the first English mention of a pentagram appears in the legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Stanzas 27-28 (1380 CE) . Gawain, who is traditionally the Celtic sun-hero, carries a shield “shining gules, With the Pentagle in pure gold depicted thereon”.

“It is a symbol which Solomon conceived once
To betoken holy truth, by its intrinsic right,
For it is a figure which has five points,
And each line overlaps and is locked with another;
And it is endless everywhere, and the English call it,
In all the land, I hear, the Endless Knot.”

And yet with the exception of Eliphas Levi who was associated with Catholicism, the Pentagram has never had any established definition or translation in regards to evil or any other negative connotation.

It was Eliphas Lévi who made the claim, with no justification or established historical precedent, that the pentagram with one point upward represents the good principle and one downward, the principals of evil. Eliphas Levi had trained for the Roman Catholic priesthood and was a prolific writer on Freemasonry magical associations. And as such his motives are somewhat questionable.

In fact, the five-pointed star is also defined as a symbol of Christ, “the bright and morning star”: and, inverted with one point down, it represents the descent of Christ, which represents his Incarnation. Lo and behold, there is a huge inverted five-pointed star on the steeple of the “Marktkirche”, or Market Church in fourteenth century Hanover, Germany and there are the numerous inverted stars that surround a statue of Mary and the Christ Child in Chartres Cathedral circa 1150 C.E.

The early Christians attributed the pentagram to the Five Stigmata of Christ and/or the doctrine of the Trinity plus that of the two natures of Christ.

It can also be seen on gravestones in the Claustro da Lavagem in the Convento at Tomar, Portugal, the monastery of Ravna, Bulgaria and the Church of All Saints at Kilham, Humberside, Yorkshire, England, which incorporates the symbol on the columns which support the Norman doorway. It is indented on the gateposts of the churchyard of S. Peter’s, Walworth, England, built in 1824 CE.

And yet in spite of thousands of years of the Pentagram being seen as a symbol of health and many other positive aspects, the Pentagram is now held forth by a few so called organized religions as being a symbol of a dark foreboding and evil.

However the pentagram is not the exclusive domain of any one pagan group and should not be presented as such as it now often is. Paganism is far too diverse to be represented by anyone group.

It is one thing to establish a religion/spiritual path that is often a mishmash of beliefs from other religious belief systems. But for such religions who were formed after the fact to engage in such blatant distortions doesn’t do much to contribute to the understanding and acceptance that these same religions claim as tenets of their own beliefs.

Until the members of such religions find the will and inner strength to empower the truth, there will always be such institutional hypocrisies. And as such these misnomers will continue to belie and disrupt any real effort at understanding and good will towards others.

Fallacy: The mystical arts are primarily a religion.

To my mind, when one takes the mystical arts which to my mind is constantly evolving and is limitless in its definition and understanding and places it within the parameters of religious dogma, then one is in effect limiting their personal spiritual growth and ability to develop within the concept of true mystical arts.

I understand that such limitations work well for some folks and that is what it is. However such a concept does not work for those who are solitaire, follow the path of shamanism, Voudon, Asatru, Nordic, Witchcraft or what have you. Such folks follow a spiritual path and not a religion. And so there needs to be more of an acceptance of such a reality.

Far too often there are attempts by those who desire to turn the mystical arts into a religion to downplay the beliefs of others or to elevate themselves above all others. Such behavior is detrimental to any attempts at creating a true pagan community and thus is a pitfall to be avoided.

Fallacy: Everyone who follows a pagan path is in effect a Neo Pagan and attempting to re-construct an ancient pagan belief.

This is simply not true and does nothing more than to play into the hands of those who would like to be seen as the pagan standard and whom often falsely claim to represent all pagans.

This misnomer may apply to those primarily of European descent who now desire to follow a pagan path from ancient Europe. But the reality is that there are in fact folks from such descent who have always been pagan. Though the organized religions did their utmost best to eradicate pagan beliefs, there were some families who did not succumb to such attempts.

To paint everyone who follows a European based pagan belief with such a broad brush is self-serving and in fact stereotyping. There are also many folks around the world who have always been pagan such as the Eskimos, Australian Bushman, Siberian Shamans, the many indigenous tribes located all around the world and so forth.

To deny the pagan heritage of such folks is arrogant and elitist to say the least. It also deprives us of a rich and valuable source of experiences that far exceed many of the modern day pagan paths. Do we really want to establish a pagan community based on such deceptive behavior?

And so as we move forward, we should keep in mind that it is human nature to put forth fallacies that are self-serving to one’s particular group. But if we are in fact going to avoid the missteps of prior belief systems, then we should be aware of the pitfalls that are waiting for the unwary.

Paganism is not about any one particular group. We are far too diverse for such a self-serving fallacy. And so moving forward, we should show common respect for all of our divergent beliefs… for we are Pagans…

Alas, All Barrels Have Their Bad Apples

Alas, All Barrels Have Their Bad Apples

Author:   Ginger Strivelli   

It is sad but true; all barrels have their bad apples hidden within.

The Pagan community is not immune to ignorant and/or immoral idiots who call themselves one of us, and then go on to be the worse kind of bad example, spewing bad PR and worse damage in the wake of their stupid if not outright evil behavior.

The problem is, most people do not judge all Muslims by the “bad example” of Osama Bin Laden, or all Christians by the bad example of David Koresh, nor all New Agers by the bad example of the Heaven’s Gate cult. Nonetheless, it seems painfully clear that too often too many people still judge all Pagans and Witches and Wiccans and Druids and other Earth Religionists by the crimes of our few bad apples. Admittedly we’ve had some real rotten-to-the-core ones…and will sadly continue to in the future, most likely. We are open and accepting and loving people and we tend to embrace everyone, even those we shouldn’t. In our inclusive accepting ways we sadly include and accept those who we should not to start with. However, once those bad apples have been pointed out to us, we should stop including and accepting them! That seems simple, but often it is not so clear to Pagan leaders, clergy and communities when faced with a situation where one within their circle surprisingly turns out to be a bad apple.

How can we as a community distance ourselves from these types of bad examples? It is a question we ask each other often. A question we are forced to address way too often when such situations arise where someone within our local Pagan Circles turns out to be an idiot, mentally ill, or actually evil. Woefully, we tend to have some people who call themselves “Pagan” who fit all three categories. Perplexingly, some of our fellow Pagans will balk at denouncing these people…they will urge us to be “understanding” or “forgiving” or “tolerant.” The fact is some things, some people, some behaviors and some crimes are just wrong and not understandable, forgivable, or tolerable. That is a hard lesson: For some of us who have fought long and hard for tolerance and acceptance to realize that everything is not tolerable and acceptable! Some things are just wrong. There is still a line between right and wrong. Just because you are trying to be progressive and open-minded and tolerant doesn’t mean you can just not draw that line between right and wrong…you must draw it somewhere. Even if you draw that line at a different place than the (in your view) narrow-minded greater community, you still must draw the line somewhere!

We in the Pagan community try so hard to be open-minded, we often get so open-minded our brains start to fall out. It is a hard lesson for us to face that we can’t and shouldn’t blindly accept everything and anything, just because we preach acceptance and tolerance of our faith.

An ancient and honorable faith like Witchcraft, Paganism, Druidism, Shamanism, or modern variations thereof, like Wiccans and such, should naturally be accepted; a religion is not intolerable. However, some things, some behaviors, some people are intolerable, and we should stop preaching acceptance when we are faced with such stupidity and/or evilness. Those things do not deserve acceptance. People who practice such behaviors should not be “accepted” or “understood.” They should not be excused with the wand of “tolerance.” They should be exposed, exiled, and executed in some extreme cases with the Athame of Lady Justice and Lady Karma instead. We real Pagans should not feel obligated to explain or excuse or expunge such behaviors and crimes. We should stand up and loudly and proudly be intolerant in such cases!

The Pagan community’s bad apples range from just the misguided and stupid bruised-apple types to those who are evil mutations of nature and are rotten-to-the-core types… and none of them should be protected or covered up for by the legitimate Pagan community, just because they call themselves one of “us.” That does not make them one of us; it does not make them representative of our religion or our community. However if we stand behind these bad apple bad examples, and “accept” them and embrace them and forgive them, then we should not be surprised when our whole community gets judged by their bad example. What is the greater community to think if we ourselves allow and foster such fools and monsters amongst us? Naturally they will think us all as ignorant and immoral as our fosterlings.

The phrase goes, “One bad apple spoils the barrel;” that is why a good farmer doesn’t let any bad apples stay in any barrel. We as Pagan clergy and leaders need to listen to the wisdom of that farmer. We need to kick such bad apples out of our barrels as soon as we know they are bad. That doesn’t make us “intolerant” or not “accepting;” that makes us a religious group with a code of honor and morals that we hold ourselves to. It is shocking that many of our Pagan clergy and Pagan group leaders hesitate to show this bit of wise leadership. In their defense, often they are trying to be all-accepting and all-inclusive, for they fear being seen as un-PC. Or perhaps they have just become so open-minded their brains are falling out.

Pagans need to encourage their leaders to set limits on what is acceptable and tolerable and what is not. We need to start drawing that line between right and wrong somewhere, instead of just arguing that everyone else has it drawn too conservatively so we are going to erase it altogether. The line is there for a good reason, so when people go over it, we know to stop associating with them and to punish them or see that the greater community punishes them before they cause any more harm to others around them.

We preach, “And ye harm none.” But perhaps we should add, “And ye let no one else do harm either.”

A Witch in the Closet

A Witch in the Closet

Author:   AntiHusband 

Every soul has a destiny. Throughout history we have heard and seen how life was before we were even a thought in two consenting adults. Our ancestors are keys to our past; they unlock secrets, bring about good fortune and sometimes crown us royalty. Finding out who you are is what everyone really wants. They want to know why they are who they are and how they got there. We all started somewhere; either from a far away country or perhaps we never left our roots. If you were to go back in time, where would you go? Who do you want to see? Even if you could never change events, you might at least get a little insight to your destiny and learn how better to make the most of your life. Past lives have always fascinated me…wondering if you were someone else in a past life. How exciting and yet kind of freaky? Of course. That is the beauty of life.

My heritage is mostly that of English and Scottish. I can try to go back and see if there is any royalty or that maybe a famous celebrity or great leader is on my history tree. Probably is. But that is not going to make me a princess or give me an “in” at the Golden Globes. There is some ancestry that interests me more and I am still investigating. I found a name that struck a sensory and it had everything to do with witches in Europe. Wow…I felt the back of my neck hairs rise up, not scary or terrifying, but intrigued and curious. You see, throughout my life, I have always felt that I am different — not in a morbid or bad way — in a way that I can only describe as meant for something and very in tune with my surroundings.

I think I will start with what I can remember from when I was a kid. First of all, I was not brought up a witch. I was brought up Presbyterian, not a bad Christian religion. I lived in southern California at the time and this meant lots of banquets, parties, celebrations and people with money donating to the church. My grandma Jones was a devote Christian, Elder, treasurer and very active for a 96 year-old. It was awesome, watching my grandma sing in church (I can still hear her voice singing hymns) ; I was in the kids’ church, mostly lots of playing and snacks. I did enjoy going to church with my grandma. Somehow, I knew I was making a memory every time and to this day I treasure those memories.

Fast forward to 1977, my friend and I would go into the garage and play zombies with our Barbies: we would pretend we could resurrect them. I can remember one night we had a sleepover with three other of my friends. We had an Ouija board, (a 70’s Ouija board was a big deal) . We asked it all kinds of questions (boyfriends, school, future husbands) but one question I did ask made a lasting impression on me: “Are you here?” The answer was a sharp “Yes”, which seems like a normal question that could be asked except… I meant, are spirits HERE. We did a lot of Ouija board stuff; it was different and fun.

I spent a weekend with my friend in Escondido, California. I think I was about 12; we took a trip to the library and checked out as many witch books, spells, and magic books as we could carry. We went home and read every one of them. My friend was really good at ESP (Extra Sensory Perception) . She could read the number on the card every time. Whenever her mom left, we would call another two friends and do fun “magic” stuff. I can recall one time we had about five of us and we were going to do “Light as a feather, Stiff as a Board”. We lit candles, incense and began to chant to the “Goddesses” to lift our friend off the ground. We repeated this chant over and over and with each girl placing two fingers under our friend. We kept chanting, until we were standing and one of us opened our eyes, we realized we were still holding her with our two fingers and virtually no weight was bearing down on us. We almost dropped her!

On another of our escapades, we all went into the bathroom, turned off the lights and looked into the mirror. We chanted “Bloody Mary” three times over and over until a shadow appeared next to my friend. Okay that was pretty scary…That happened only once, but definitely left an impression.

Throughout all my childhood adventures, it seemed that we were having fun being different. When I was 13 a few of us ventured into a huge sewer tunnel looking for whatever…. well, we found whatever; a box of skeleton bones! Scary but fun! My dad didn’t think so. Police came out and investigated…Yes, seems like it was a missing person. Never followed up on it, but I did like the skull; it was interesting.

My fascination with witchcraft books never really stopped. I just got busy doing other things (having kids, school, and work) . My closet was turned into a ritual room filled with pictures of loved ones who had passed, my animals’ pictures were in there as well. I wrote up little sayings or blessings to keep them safe. Items that I found mostly in nature were kept and stored: branches, rocks, pinecones and even a bird skeleton. Nature was also close to me and still is very much. I was making ritual circles before I even knew what they were. (Funny, sometimes my spells work and sometimes they are a little off. I stopped writing for a while because it startled me that IT actually happened like I wrote it.)

Anyway, I thought church was fun and it was great that it made people happy and “born again”. But sometimes I felt like it wasn’t a place for me. This bothered me because this was a place to pray and feel comfortable. I can’t explain it. One day, I happened upon something on the computer about Wicca, covens and how these groups had a strong belief in Gods and Goddesses and Mother Nature. I couldn’t stop reading. Suddenly I wanted to know more about Wicca and witches and the connection they made!

The more I read, the more I realized I had a lot in common with witchcraft and Wicca. All of the things I had been doing since I was a kid now made just made sense. This was not a coincidence. I found what I have been missing in religion and today I am relaxed and comfortable in my beliefs. These rituals and blessings came naturally to me. My friend, who is a numerologist, noticed a mark on my palm. I knew it was there, but really I thought it was just cute that it was shaped like star (pentagram) . My hand pentagram has meaning and a purpose for me. I am on a journey to find my place in this world and when I do, I have a strong feeling that it will be one that makes a huge impact on mankind. I know this sounds kind of ‘way out there’ but it is what I feel.

The many realms of the non-evident s are facets of many beliefs and those who can see beyond what is physical can open doors that they never knew were there. I am reading “Witches’ Book of the Dead” by Christian Day. It seems intimidating at first because you think it might me something about evil things and voodoo; not true. It actually touches on how different forms of mediums can reach the dead and communicate with them. The book gives you confidence on how to keep positive and protected when initiating a ritual; I haven’t actually done the rituals in the book yet, because I like to read it through. The book really touches home with me on dreams and spirits. I can relate to dreaming of the dead and communicating in my subconscious, especially when I sleep.

I am actually more aware of how I interpret the dreams I have and who was in my dream, and most of all if it was my grandma, mom or my son. I always get to physically touch or hug them. Their words are very clear and it is sometimes just catching up or I get to see their world and how they are doing. Once in awhile, I will dream about someone I never meant and he/she will give me updates on themselves. I keep them in my memory until something triggers it — usually a word, article or someone random talking about a loved one who passed on — and then bam! I know why I had the connection. Past lives, spirits and connections with objects are overwhelmingly a passion for me.

One of the things that always freak out my friends and husband is the fact that I can close my eyes and see numbers or words like a photograph. If someone asks for a phone number, I suddenly see a number and repeat it 97% of the time correctly. I was really good in spelling bees when I was younger. Recently, I have heard voices (I know, the ‘voices’ thing!) , but they are usually simple and very clear. I hear these whether awake or asleep.

One night I was sound asleep and out of the blue came “Mom!” I awoke and answered “What?” No one else was awake or talking in his/her sleep. Turns out, my son in Oregon was dreaming about me and his brothers and sister (we all really miss each other) and he was upset. I told him I heard him and he was not really surprised (because my first born son and I have a strong kinetic connection) but he was more interested that I had somehow manifested myself in his dream.

The ‘supernatural’ comes natural to me, spirits and entities are mostly just trying to connect, as we all do, and they make communications with those who are open-minded and curious. They exist, but not on the level that we are. Spirits can see, hear, and feel. They see us like they used to. If we are not aware of them, we just go about our regular day doing what we do and never know that a spirit is standing right next to us. There are actually many people who have sensory perception, but they shrug it off, and all those subtle hints and clues, they tune out.

Like I said before, I am on a journey. I go about my daily routine but I do so as a witch, one that is listening with all eyes and ears. Being a witch and a Wiccan has really given me a new sense of well-being. I like to grow fresh veggies and am really big on herbs; I have known the benefit of herbs since I was young and (little known fact: I have had all my kids at home and I used herbs in pregnancy and during labor) I I never thought to have my kids in a hospital.

Witches always seem to get a bad rap. In the 1600’s, the Salem witches were the “healers”, the people locals would go in the middle of the night to get the spell or help they needed to fix their woes and problems. Somehow, the witches became the enemy after that and they were blamed for any bad thing that happened to the townsfolk. They were tried and hanged. Every woman who even looked suspicious was hanged and their friends and/or family as well. Ever wonder if you could go back in time and challenge that one-sided thinking? I do.

Finding other people like me was hard at first but I now belong to a coven and some have some forward to ask curious questions. I am always happy to help them find their way. My rituals and blessings are pretty much done in solitude and without other eyes (although my eight year old is very interested and she attends rituals to watch within the safety of the protection circle) . I have some awesome antique tools I am collecting to keep on my altar. My current quest to find an authentic cauldron is tiresome, but fun. Making wands with the correct wood and crystals is one of my gifts (I don’t buy them straight out) . It makes it more personal and so the spell will have a stronger power.

My Wicca studies are primarily done quietly and in private because if I were to do my rituals in my living room or even outside, I have no protection, no hiding fence to seclude myself and I really don’t know my neighbors, other than the fact that every Sunday most of them take off to church. So, for right now, I will restrain from redecorating my living room and hanging my broom on my patio wall. I have a room downstairs that is dedicated to my witchcraft and blessings.

In the winter, which it is now (January) I hunker down and watch the cold. The snow outside is still and the sky is dark and the only birds I hear are the Ravens flying around looking for food. They become increasingly bolder the colder the weather gets. Mother Nature is dormant and the re-birthing will soon begin with the cycle all over again. This is when I focus on my studies and try to learn more about how to be a better witch and hone my strengths and skills. It gives me empowerment and strength to know I am different from other people, I have always been keen to the smallest things and objects around me and I really do appreciate being able to sense the spirits in this world.

In the spring and summer, it is really beautiful and the daylight lasts all day here in Alaska. I get to make plans for my garden and when the snow melts I will find all kinds of rocks, sticks and things Mother Nature has hidden from the elements. I have actually made two wands from Birch; they turned out really nice! Feathers from Ravens and other birds are very rampant, especially near the bird sanctuary a few miles away. My garden consists of cooking herbs, magical herbs, and some, which are poisonous as well. I also have a veggie garden that is pretty big. My favorite ‘witch thing’ to do is make a circle of elements around a tree, complete with special rocks and candles. It is always in a safe secret area and is pretty inconspicuous, even if a stranger walked into my backyard. The herbs are recycled into dried herbs and tinctures that I share with my close friends and we get together and make dandelion wine, mead and rhubarb wine. Being a person who also happens to be a witch is actually the most beneficial thing to me in my quest for spiritual oneness.

I see shadows and hear voices very clearly in the night. I dream about happenings, not just random dreams, dreams that are repeated and are very clear. I am typing right now and it is clear that there is a spirit right behind me. (I have been doing this before I ever came out of my “witches closet”.)

As life goes on, I became more in tune with myself. I started small rituals, mostly to help me find my keys or see if a new love was in store for me. Every time, I would feel like I wasn’t alone. These were never negative spirits and shadows but I believe they are spirits who are there to protect me and guide me and even help me find my keys.

In many ways, my beliefs can only be shared with my coven friends and my Wicca friends. I am still living in my closet. On the plus side, my rituals and blessings (even the simple ones) are assisting me in being aware and “seeing” entities around me. They are there and I live with them, or they live with me.

There is so much to learn and understand, because spirits and shadows (that what I call ghosts) are all around us. This planet is one of many that can sustain life, both living and spiritual. Someday, humans will travel far into the solar system, even further than we are now and maybe discover another planet much like this one. Spirits exist; bodies die and souls are freed. The voice in your head that keeps you safe and that “feeling” you have is real. Our world is full of the living and the “living” spirits, some related to you and some not. They are there watching you and protecting you.

In conclusion, we, as humans, are given many opportunities to “see”, but only the open-minded are able to see. Witches have been around longer than Christianity. Wiccans can be seen as nature loving, earth conscious people with special gifts that they can use. They are given the gifts to teach to other “open-minded” people. I am proud to say that I am Wiccan and a witch and I have never felt so empowered as I do right now.

A Shocking Lack of Protection

A Shocking Lack of Protection

Author:   LoneWolfTarot   

The other day I was having a conversation with an older woman who has been studying Witchcraft for the last several years. In the course of our conversation I asked her what kind of shields and protection the tradition she was learning teaches to their novices. To my shock and dismay, her reply was, “None.” She seemed genuinely confused as to why anything like that would ever be taught.

Unnerved, I started to do some research on my own into the books and information that is available on the general market about protection in magick and about the dangers of magick as well as the good. What I found has shaken me; there seems to be little information of any practical nature. What psychic shields I found were basic “bubble shields” with little explanation of any of the dangers involved in magick. It seems to me that in an effort to distance ourselves from being labeled as evil, we have attempted to fill and teach nothing but an “all is white light and nothing bad can ever happen” mentality.

This strikes me as irresponsible on the part of Pagan teachers and authors, as well as downright dangerous for potential practitioners of the Craft. While I can understand and empathize with the desire to view the world as a Utopian paradise where nothing can ever go wrong and evil does not exist, the world simply isn’t there yet. Magick is a tool and as any tool it can be dangerous and deadly in the hands of those who would, either by accident or intent, misuse it.

While we should always look to the light, it does not behoove us to forget that the darkness exists as well. No beginning practitioner should be unaware of the dangers that come with the misuse of magick, and of the ways to recognize and combat those misuses. Leaving them in the dark on this subject not only leaves them open to falling prey to numerous forms of psychic and magickal attack, but also can leave them with their power stolen and corrupted by those who walk the darker paths of magick.

No one likes to admit that there are those who would abuse and malign their teachings, but not wanting to admit it will not make them go away. While the basic “bubble shield” is a good shield to start with there are many other shields that are useful and sometimes more appropriate as well, for example the shield of roses.

The shield of roses is an absorption shield and is an excellent shield for any situation where you know that you will be around upset people. All people when they are angry or upset give off bursts of psychic energy; think back to any time you have ever had to face a really angry person. Have you ever noticed that when the situation is over you are weak, tired and upset yourself? This is because the person was launching a psychic attack on you; not a purposeful one, but when we are angry we tend to want to strike out and for those with no psychic training but some psychic gift, their energy will often act on their inner desire and attack for them. This shield will allow you to absorb those attacks and ground them out around you so that they never actually touch you themselves.

To begin this shield, visualize at your feet, growing out of the ground, a bunch of rose vines. Slowly the vines begin to wrap themselves around your legs and climb up your lower body, chest and arms, completely wrapping you up in vines. See them covering your head as well so that you are totally enclosed in a protective shield of vines. Then pause for a moment and feel the vines’ connection to the earth. Feel how they are rooted in the ground beneath you. Now imagine that the vines suddenly burst into bloom, covering you totally in roses, bright red roses from head to toe. Feel how these roses draw in outside energy and send that energy into the vines, the vines then transfering the energy into the earth itself, grounding it out so that it cannot harm you.

Now, a note on the maintenance of this shield: Any time that you check on the shield all the roses should be healthy and in bloom. If you are under any kind of psychic attack you may notice that the roses will absorb the power thrown at you and then wither or close, leaving you vulnerable in that spot. The shield again is your creation; simply noticing those spots and willing them back will cause the roses to reopen or re-grow. Be sure to do the visualization once or twice a day and to check on the roses on a regular basis: The more you practice with this shield the better you will be at maintaining it in an attack. Don’t be upset if the first time you run across an upset person your shield absorbs the blows and then collapses; the more practice you gain the better you will get at it, and even at first when you are still learning it you will notice a definite difference when dealing with upset people and other similar attacks.

In the case of an actual purposeful psychic attack, if the attacker can figure out what kind of shield you are using they will try to disable it in one of two main ways. One, by throwing more power at you then the shield can absorb, causing it to collapse in on itself and leaving you defenseless. And two, by attacking the roots of the vines themselves where they connect to the earth, causing the power absorbed by the roses to back up instead of flowing into the earth which would again cause the shield to collapse in on itself. This section of your shield where the vines connect to the earth is called the “shunt” and it should be noted that the shunt will always be the most vulnerable part of any shield. Practice the rose shield for a couple weeks until you are confident in your ability to maintain this shield all day long.

Another good thing for beginning practitioners to keep in mind is to always trust your instincts. If someone is offering to teach you magick, or is promising you something that sounds too good to be true…it most likely is. If a teacher makes you nervous for no reason that you can figure out, or is asking you to do something that doesn’t feel right to you, then do not do it. It might be that that teacher is asking you to do something that would lead you down the darker paths or could hurt you, or it might be that what the teacher is offering is perfectly good but you are just not ready for it yet.

Always practice your shields and always remember to take all information with a grain of salt. We are all students, and no one has the right to tell you what is right for you except for you. On a side note, I would like to add that while true purposeful psychic attack is rare, it is still something that you should be prepared for. A fire may be rare as well, but you still want to have a good evacuation plan and a fire extinguisher handy.

A Coven of Solitaries

A Coven of Solitaries

Author:   Lady Abigail   

Over the last year since we began Ravensgrove Coven here in Florida, I have received hundreds of emails asking how it works and how is it possible to have a Coven of Solitary Witches. I am Lady Abigail, High Priestess of Ravensgrove Coven and how it works is with perfect love and perfect trust and some gentle patience given by all.

First and foremost we are each Solitary Witches in our own right with our own traditions, beliefs and Deities. We do not seek permission at any time from anyone to practice or work our Craft individually or together. We simply share with and commit ourselves to those we call family within the Ravensgrove Coven.

There are many Witches who are self-dedicated and self-initiated. There are more Solitary Witches now than ever within the Craft. We are Witches proud of our diversity, personal independence and strength. Nevertheless we don’t always have a voice in our magickal society. While we Solitaries are a valid and legitimate spiritual group within many differing paths, we also face a few unique dilemmas. We have trouble finding others of like mind and heart with whom to share our faith. We normally spend Sabbats and Esbats on your own. We have a hard time finding others to converse with who have experience or who could help us with rituals, spells and magick.

For good or bad most of our knowledge and information comes from books or the Internet; although these are excellent places for finding information, they are not always accurate. Sifting through the truth and someone’s perceptions of the truth can be difficult at best. Many times this information will push us toward a belief within the Craft that is not completely our own. I have met some who have found themselves choosing Deities because of books or the Internet rather than seeking their own.

Ravensgrove Coven is made up of Solitary Witches. Each member brings their own unique skills and understanding into this new and eclectic gathering of Witches. A Coven consisting of a group of Solitary Witches with differing beliefs may sound like new territory. The idea of Solitary Witches coming together and having their own Coven, being a part of the whole yet still independent, sounds unusual to most.

On the contrary; this is not a new concept, but a very old one. If you consider those who were Witches in the Old World or harken to my great-grandmother’s time, each and every one was a Solitary Witch with her or his own beliefs. They had families, homes and lives. They were the healers, the teachers, and the wise men and women others would turn to in times of trouble. They came together without controversy whenever needed, to work magick, ritual and worship.

How can such a proposal work, Witches being both Solitaires and Coveners? Extremely well… This allows each member their personal freedoms within the Craft and yet they are all a part of a working, learning and growing Coven.

In truth, we are each individuals; our practices and beliefs are equally individual. We are all following our own personal spiritual and magickal path. Ravensgrove Coven is a gathering of like-minded souls who come together to meet, talk, study and work. However, at the same time, we all strive to be open-minded and accepting of each of our personal differences.

This is not always easy, being an eclectic combination of many different traditions. Within a Coven of Solitary Witches, most of whom have worked alone and independently – sometimes for years – it can at times be difficult. It’s not always easy to put aside one’s personal feelings and not eclipse another’s individual needs. If any one person within the group becomes rigid in their personal desires for how things should take place, someone else will feel their needs are unimportant. So a balance is always necessary. Learning what each individual Covener needs within rituals, magick and gatherings will bring the balanced blending needed. This is sometimes made easier when we remember we are each distinct Solitary Witches who independently work as we think best for ourselves. Even so, within a Coven of Solitaries everyone must be accepting and respectful of the requests and desires of all within the group.

A Coven of Solitaries should be a collective management; each member should learn, take part, and lead a meeting, ritual or work, as they feel comfortable. This will assure no problems in the personality area (ego) or someone feeling they are doing it all – both common problems within Covens.

When running the gathering, you should operate the Coven by the guidelines set within the group. There are “rules of consideration” when it comes to traditions and Witchcraft (be it Wicca, Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Celtic, Cajun, etc). Your Coven should have its on traditions. Commonly all Covens honor the Deities, the Gods or the Lord and Lady, in some fashion. The calling of the watchtowers or elements, casting circles and so forth are also common.

Having a good group of Coveners who share the foundation is an important requirement and is the cornerstone on which the Coven ensures progress. Members must feel comfortable with each other, as the interrelated energy of the whole circle is paramount in the success of any ritual or magickal work.

We have found that a Round Table is the perfect time to discuss things and works best when scheduled apart from the rituals, gatherings and work. This is the time for Coven business and a time to set forth plans for the rituals, meetings and gatherings. The Round Table is a time to discuss needs and work out problems that may arise. It is also the time for preparation of what work needs doing, who brings what when and where, who’s doing what and who cleans up afterwards.

For those wishing to begin such a Coven of Solitaries you must make sure you have the heart, background and degree of study to complete such a task. Personally I don’t believe just anyone should start a Coven. It is a lot of hard, constant work and you must be ready to give up a part of yourself to the Coven and its members.

Then you will need to find others that are also seeking to be a part of a Solitary Coven, with the understanding that they will not be giving up their own personal identity within the Craft. This can be done by contacting local metaphysical shops, book stores, and even online. Remember, this is a new concept so be ready to answer questions on what your goals are for this new group. Do be careful what personal information you give out about yourself to others – phone numbers, emails and so on. Unfortunately, there are a lot of nuts out there. It is a good idea to have each person interested in joining the Coven answer some questions that you feel would give insight into their personal beliefs within the Craft.

Set a time and date for the first meeting of those interested. It would be best if this could be a public place like a coffee house, library or book store. This is only a time to get to meet people and get to know them. See who you feel comfortable with, who seems open to others and accepting of everyone’s ideas. This is not the time to discuss details, just an overlay of plans. Once you get a feel for others you will be able to see how you want to go forward.

Finally one extremely important point to remember as you begin a new group or Coven: STORMS ARE NORMAL. Once your Coven moves past the “NEW” stage, you will find there will be a few bumps along the road; you will have members come and go for various reasons and you will have to make some adjustments. All this is normal when a new group of any kind is forming.

You will have to help members see that no one should assume the responsibility for what happens or for any little problems that may arise. All groups experience disappointments, setbacks, and some level of conflict occasionally. Especially in the beginning.

When groups come together for the first time, they are starting the step of forming. While forming, you know very little about each other, about common beliefs and hopes for the Coven that may have drawn everyone together. Everyone is on their best behavior, a little on eggshells because there is so much you don’t know about each other.

As you become more familiar with each other, you become more comfortable. Individual differences emerge, sometimes in contrast with your own Solitary practices. As a group, you will find you sometimes make assumptions with regard to each other’s beliefs and sensitivity.

As a fledgling group with little experience with each other and with untested agreements on dealing with conflicts, differences can boil quickly and tend to take their own course at times.

In distinguishing your Coven’s path you must work to resolve problems as you stumble through the storm. This storming is a natural occurrence in every group. It’s a passage that helps the group to come together to validate common beliefs and to determine new agreements in dealing with challenges as they arise.

This storming or growing results in the “personality of the Coven” emerging as group members put their individual preferences secondary to the greater vision for the Coven’s personality. But remember that you are different spirits with different personalities.

Once a problem arises you work to resolve it. But more importantly, you grow with new agreements and understanding on how to deal with such issues next time they arise. The coming together and new agreements allow the Coven to move forward, to be strengthened and to center on its true vision.

It’s the common vision that will keep you all together. It’s the diversity within the group that will make it strong and will enable you to achieve a greater vision than any of you could ever hope to attain! You are again Solitary Witches working within a single group, a Coven.

When the storms come, don’t quit. Don’t assume blame. Recognize the storms for what they are – storms. Don’t forget the feelings of excitement and great expectations you all had when you first came together…

May all those that walk along this path find truth and light.

Lady Abigail

Fun Quiz of the Day: What Your Favorite Color Says About You?

Your Favorite Color: What it Says About You

Whether we’re a vibrant Orange, or a peaceful Blue, our color preferences are  a key to understanding our personalities. Find out what this color expert has to  say about your favorite color. What does it reveal about who you really are?

White: Symbolic of purity, innocence and naivete, white has  strong connotations of youth and purity. If you are an older person, your  preference for white could indicate a desire for perfection and impossible  ideals, maybe an attempt to recapture lost youth and freshness. It may also  symbolize a desire for simplicity or the simple  life.

Red: The color of strength, health, and vitality, Red is  often the color chosen by someone outgoing, aggressive, vigorous and  impulsive—or someone who would like to be! It goes with an ambitious nature but  those who choose it can be abrupt at times, determined to get all they can out  of life, quick to judge people and take sides. Red people are usually optimistic  and can’t stand monotony; they are rather restless and not at all introspective,  so they may be unaware of their own shortcomings. They find it hard to be  objective and may blame others for any mishaps. Quiet people with a preference  for red may feel the need for the warmth, strength and  life-giving qualities of the color, or they blanket their true feelings under a  sober exterior. Red is usually chosen by people with open and uncomplicated  natures, with a zest for life.

Maroon: Harsh experience has probably matured the Maroon  person into someone likable and generous. It is often a favorite color of  someone who has been battered by life but has come through. It indicates a  well-disciplined Red personality—one who has had difficult experiences and has  not come through unmarked but who has grown and matured in the process.

Pink: This color embodies the gentler qualities of Red,  symbolizing love and affection without passion. Women who prefer Pink tend to be  maternal. Pink desires protection, special treatment and a sheltered life. Pink  people require affection and like to feel loved and secure, perhaps wanting to  appear delicate and fragile. Pink people tend to be charming and gentle, if a  trifle indefinite.

Orange: This color of luxury and pleasure appeals to the  flamboyant and fun-loving person who likes a lively social round. Orange people  may be inclined to dramatize a bit, and people notice them, but they are  generally good-natured and popular. They can be a little fickle and vacillating,  but on the whole they try hard to be agreeable. Orange is the color of youth,  strength, fearlessness, curiosity and restlessness.

Yellow: The color of happiness, wisdom and imagination,  Yellow is chosen by the mentally adventurous, searching for novelty and  self-fulfillment. Yellow usually goes with a sunny and shrewd personality, with  a good business head and a strong sense of humor. It is the color of  intellectuality and all things to do with the mind. Yellow  folks are usually clear and precise thinkers who have a good opinion of their  own mental capacities and who have lofty ideals. They may at times tend to shun  responsibility, preferring freedom of thought and action.

Green: The color of harmony and balance, Green symbolizes  hope, renewal and peace, and is usually liked by the gentle and sincere. Greens  are generally frank, community-minded people, fairly sociable but preferring  peace at any price. Green people can be too self-effacing, modest and patient,  so they may get exploited by others. They are usually refined, civilized and  reputable.

Blue: Soft, soothing, compassionate and caring, Blue is the  color of deliberation and introspection, conservatism and duty. Patient,  persevering, conscientious, sensitive and self-controlled, Blues like to be  admired for their steady character and wisdom. They are faithful, but are often  worriers with somewhat inflexible beliefs and can be too cautious, and  suspicious of flamboyant behavior.

Blue-Green: Exacting, discriminating, poised and attractive,  the Blue-Green person tends to be sensitive, intellectual and refined,  persevering and stable if rather detached. Blue-Greens have excellent taste, and  are usually courteous and charming, capable but often refusing help or  guidance.

Turquoise: Complex, imaginative and original, Turquoise  people drive themselves hard and may be in a state of turmoil under their  outwardly cool exterior.

Lavender: This is often chosen by a person who lives “on a  higher plane,” who never notices anything sordid and who is always impeccably  and beautifully dressed. Lavender people may be on a continual quest for culture  and the refined things of life, high and noble causes but without the necessity  of getting their hands dirty. A Lavender person is usually creative, charming,  witty and civilized.

Purple: Purples are highly individual, fastidious, witty and  sensitive, with a strong desire to be unique and different. Temperamental,  expansive and artistic, a Purple person may become aloof and sarcastic when  misunderstood. If you chose Purple, you tend to be unconventional, tolerant and  dignified, likely to achieve positions of authority.

Brown: A Brown person has stamina and patience, tending to  be very solid and substantial, conscientious, dependable, steady and  conservative. Browns are not impulsive, and may be inarticulate and tactless but  they love responsibility and are reliable and kindly. If you chose Brown, watch  out for a tendency to be obstinate and inflexible.

Gray: The color of caution and compromise, diligent Grays  search for composure and peace and often work hard without reward. Older Grays  like life to run on an even keel with few ups and downs. Young Grays may be  withdrawing from life and suppressing their personalities. Grays often have good  business ability and tend to work too much.

Black: Dignified and impressive without being showy, Black  people want to give the appearance of mystery, but their preference may also  indicate a suppression of desires and worldly aims, suggesting hidden depths and  inner longings.

 

A Little Humor for Your Day – 12 Step Program of Recovery for Web Addicts

12 Step Program Of Recovery For Web Addicts

1) I will have a cup of coffee in the morning and read my PAPER newspaper like I used to, before the Web.
2) I will eat breakfast with a knife and fork and not with one hand typing.
3) I will get dressed before noon.
4) I will make an attempt to clean the house, wash clothes, and plan dinner before even thinking of the Web.
5) I will sit down and write a letter to those unfortunate few friends and family that are Web-deprived.
6) I will call someone on the phone who I cannot contact via the Web.
7) I will read a book… if I still remember how.
8 ) I will listen to those around me about their needs and stop telling them to turn the TV down so I can hear the music on the Web.
9) I will not be tempted during TV commercials to check for email.
10) I will try and get out of the house at least once a week, if it is necessary or not.
11) I will remember that my bank is not forgiving if I forget to balance my checkbook because I was too busy on the Web.
12) Last, but not least, I will remember that I must go to bed sometime… and the Web will always be there tomorrow!