A Quick Up-Date

I wanted to let you know our progress on our ISP bill. Well, you see it is like this………….

I believe we are actually going to be around for a little bit longer. Yes, you heard me right! We have a few more days to go and with all my heart, I know we are going to make it. As of today, we are only $150.00 away from paying that bill. It is unbelievable, simply unbelievable! I have been so far down in the dumps it hasn’t even been funny. We faced $600 and $700 dollar light bills this winter. I don’t know how we paid them.  but they got paid. Then the server bill hit, it actually knocked the wind out of me. I was at my wits end, I  had no earthly idea how we were going to pay it. I had made my mind up it was hopeless. I hope you know I actually hate to ask any of you for money, that is the truth. But you were the only hope I had left.

Thank the Goddess for all the wonderful family I have here. My spirit is now renewed and I feel like we can conquer the world. As you know I have no body, all my family has  passed over. It is a horrible feeling to be in a bind and just yourself.  No one in the mundane world would understand how important this is. But to us, we realize how important our mission is. We have to have a strong hold and the WOTC has to be it. I know our message is getting out. How do I know? I have Baptist preachers contacting me wanting to know what is going on. What are we doing? I have radio and TV people contacting me about shows and interviews. We have sparkled the flame, now we have  to set the world on fire. I believe the Goddess has not only called me but all of you to spread Her message throughout the world. Our time has finally come, people are leaving mainstream religions looking for something different. They want to get back to the basics of religion. They want to return to the ways of their Ancestors when times were much simpler. Nothing complicated, nothing full of lies, just a beautiful and natural religion. A religion that has a very loving God and Goddess at its head. It is of the utmost importance that we are there to meet their needs. Bring them into our Religion and show them the way they seek. That is our mission, all of ours mission.

I have spoke to the Goddess so much in the past few days, She has probably gotten ear plugs by now. I know for one thing, She answers our prayers, She is loving mother and She cares for Her children. For those who have not heard about our Divine Mother and our Religion, we must now spread the word to them. The WOTC will stand strong in it commitment to spreading the truth about our Religion.

I want to personally thank everyone of you who have contributed so far. I will be saying a personal blessing for each of you. I know we aren’t out of the woods yet but I do see a light at the end of the tunnel. We only have $150.00 to go. We have to meet this challenge so we can continue our mission. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount, any amount is appreciated. I am so very grateful for each and everyone of you. You are my family, the only family I have. I love you very dearly, I want you to always know that.

Now let’s preserve the WOTC and set this world on fire for our Goddess!

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‘THINK on THESE THINGS’

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

Henry David Thoreau, whose cry was “Simplify! Simplify!” went to great measures to prove to himself, and perhaps to society, that life could be lived in the most simple manner and at the least expense. With only a few dollars he managed to provide for himself the things of absolute necessity for quite a long period of time.

Not many of us would care to exist on the absolute necessities. We have become too much accustomed to easier living. Things that were once thought of as luxuries are now considered necessities. And yet, with all of this, life is anything but simple. We seem to have the ability to complicate the best laid plans and find ourselves shadow boxing.

Like many of the trite old adages, “Life is what we make it,” is so true. By our own minds we accept of reject, by ignoring or by searching out the causes of shadows and removing the cause. It is whatever we elect to do about our individual lives that makes the difference. But we shall make great strides when we recognize the supreme excellence in all things of simplicity.

We don’t need to worry about doing without the necessary things in life – if we have a grateful heart. A grateful heart is not just remembering to write a few words to someone who has done a kindness, or saying thank you graciously and at the right moment. A grateful heart is the feeling of great blessing which precedes that thank you note and that verbal expression.

A grateful heart is one that always known the fullness of that rich feeling of first being grateful without cause. And then, all other gratitude and its expression comes naturally.

Perhaps true gratitude is a grateful thoughts toward heaven that I should be chosen to fill this spot, do this work, and have been given the strength to do it.

It was Romaine, the English theologian, who said, “Gratitude to God makes even a tempered blessing a taste of heaven.” We can have so much more heaven with a grateful heart.

______________________________________________

Available online! ‘Cherokee Feast of Days’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler.

Visit her web site to purchase the wonderful books by Joyce as gifts for yourself or for loved ones……and also for those who don’t have access to the Internet: http://www.hifler.com
Click Here to Buy her books at Amazon.com

Elder’s Meditation of the Day
By White Bison, Inc., an American Indian-owned nonprofit organization. Order their many products from their web site:
http://www.whitebison.org

Elder’s Meditation of the Day May 6

Elder’s Meditation of the Day May 6

“We must remember that the heart of our religion is alive and that each person has the ability within to awaken and walk in a sacred manner.”

—- Thomas Yellowtail, CROW

The Native Spirituality is full of life. When we seek it we become alive. Even if we have gone astray and have conducted ourselves in a bad way, we can look within and have a new awakening to life. Maybe we have drunk too much alcohol; maybe we have cheated on our spouse; maybe we have done things that make us feel guilty and ashamed. If we look outside ourselves, we will not find life; if we look inside, we will find life. Anytime we choose to change our lives, we only need to look inside. How do we do this? Take some sage and light it, close your eyes and say to the Great Spirit, I’m tired, I need your help. Please help me change.

Great Spirit, I know you exist inside of myself. Let me awaken to your teachings.

May 6 – Daily Feast

May 6 – Daily Feast

When we let down our guard, habit is waiting to reclaim its territory. It seems innocent and it is so familiar that we seldom suspect what teeth it has! Once we decide to change something, we can’t expect to do it in one great sweep. What has taken us over by such tiny degrees must be edged out the same way. The fact that we are taking small steps does not minimize a very great commitment. Little by little, we reform our habits, making sure we leave no void for any other bad habit to fill. If we have, a ne lo at nv, made an effort or tried to change and failed, it is probably because we tried to do it along or denied the need to change. The Cherokees believes he needs, a u na li go sv, a help or a partnership, to give him support. It may be another, v da di lv quo at nv, a special or blessed person that is grounded in the Galun lati.

~ I am tired of talk that comes to nothing. ~

CHIEF JOSEPH

‘A Cherokee Feast of Days’, by Joyce Sequichie Hifler

Daily Motivator for May 6th – Not always

Not always

Things will not always go the way you had hoped they would. Do your best anyway, give your best, live your best and be your best.

People will not always act the way you think they should. Give them your love, respect and understanding anyway, for it is the best choice going forward.

The past and the present are not always to your liking. Even so, especially so, the future is always yours to create.

The people and conditions around you will not always be supportive, but you don’t have to let them drag you down. You can choose to move forward, no matter what others may or may not choose.

Life might just give you a big, valuable break, but don’t count on it. Make it your business to give yourself an endless series of positive breaks, and anything else you get will be a bonus.

Though things may not always go your way, life can always be good and fulfilling. Because you can always choose, with your thoughts, your attitude and your actions, to make it that way.

— Ralph Marston
The Daily Motivator

The Daily OM for May 6th – As the Earth Allows the Rain

As the Earth Allows the Rain
Sitting With Feelings

by Madisyn Taylor

Taking the time now to sit with your feelings and acknowledge them will save you much distress down the road.

It can take great courage to really sit with our feelings, allowing ourselves to surrender to their powerful energies. All too often we set our feelings aside, thinking we will deal with them later. If we don’t deal with them, we end up storing them in our minds and bodies and this is when anxiety and other health issues can arise. Denying what our bodies want to feel can lead to trouble now or down the line, which is why being in the thick of our feelings, no matter how scary it seems, is really the best thing we can do for ourselves.

One of the reasons we tend to hide or push aside our feelings is that we live in a culture that has not traditionally supported emotional awareness. However, as the connection between mind and body–our emotions and our physical health– becomes clearer, awareness of the importance of feeling our feelings has grown. There are many books, classes, workshops and retreats that can help us on our way to emotional intelligence. We can also trust in our own ability to process what comes up when it comes up. If sadness arises, we can notice its presence and welcome it, noting where in our bodies we feel it, and allowing ourselves to express it through tears or a quiet turning inward.

When we simply allow ourselves to fully feel our feelings as they come, we tend to let them go easily. This is all we are required to do; our feelings simply want to be felt. We often complicate the situation by applying mental energy in the form of analysis, when all we really need is to allow, as the earth allows the rain to fall upon it. As the rain falls, the earth responds in a multitude of ways, sometimes emptying out to form a great canyon, sometimes soaking it up to nourish an infinitude of plants. In the same way, the deeper purpose of our feelings is to transform the terrain of our inner world, sometimes creating space for more feelings to flow, sometimes providing sustenance for growth. All we need to do is allow the process by relaxing, opening, and receiving the bounty of our emotions.

Source:

The Daily OM

Learning To Live Your Own Life

Learning To Live Your Own Life

Author: Lady Wolfwind 

It’s a beautiful Saturday morning. The sun is shining brightly through my windows as I sit here typing, sipping my coffee with my cat curled on my lap listening to him purr quietly. In my soul I am grateful for these moments when I feel completely at peace. I’ve begun to feel these moments more often lately. I’ve also found time to cook and garden and sew. I’ve found the time to play with my children and listen to music and laugh.

Finding this time has not come easily. It’s been a long hard road. It’s taken a lot of deep soul searching and asking tough questions that a lot of the time I really didn’t want to hear the answers to. There’s also been a lot of heartache that came from tough decisions I had to make to be true to myself.

For most of my life I have been plagued by this little nagging feeling inside me, telling me that I am not doing what I’m supposed to be doing, not living the life that I was put on this planet to live. I also just ignored it, keeping on with my life, not understanding what this feeling was trying to tell me.

I’ve always known that I felt different than other people and I also knew that I didn’t accept all that they told me. I couldn’t comprehend why so many people did the same things over and over, believing that their efforts would somehow become something different in the end. So many people that I interact with are not truly happy or satisfied by the life that they live. They seem to be well-adjusted, successful people. I began to wonder if they had this little nagging feeling within themselves as well. Could it be that they just ignore it as I do? Do they drown it out with alcohol? Do they quiet it with all the noise and chaos surrounding them?

The most intense part of my journey began about ten years ago when I finally gave in to myself and admitted that I was a witch. That was the first life changing decision that I made. In my mind I can only equate it to surrendering. It felt as if I had let all of the pretenses of the life I was trying to uphold just fall away. It felt as if I had been struggling to the point that I could not struggle any longer and I had just let go, only to fall into a peaceful bliss that I hadn’t believed was truly there. From that point on, my life began to change.

I’ve done a lot of deep thinking in regards to this also. I’ve always been a student of psychology, so any profound changes in any one’s life gets my wheels to turning, even changes in my own. Over the years, I’ve read numerous books. Not just books on witchcraft and paganism, but on Buddhism, philosophy, psychology, Christianity, you name it. I’ve taken beliefs that I find make sense, turn them over in my mind and have come up with my own set of operating standards for my own life. Any decisions that I make are strictly thought through and need to adhere to these beliefs, and the fact that I have to be true to who I am and how I want to live my life.

I don’t have any illusions that sometimes this is a tough road, but one that I must stay focused on so that I do not lose sight of who I am and where my path is leading me.

Through my practice, I have learned that there are some people who walk this path with me. Some of them are there for a short time, to teach me something or I them. Parting is never easy, but I have grown to understand that they have their own paths to walk and somehow they must learn to be true to themselves as well. I’ve learned that I cannot force them to stay with me; I’ve just learned to let them go. The ones that have been hardest to let go have been my children. Some of them have had some real problems in their lives that they have tried to solve in entirely the wrong ways. They don’t want any advice from me. Most of the time they just don’t want to hear what I have to say. I used to take it personally. I’ve learned that it is all part of their own growing process. It doesn’t make it hurt any less.

Others are with me for the long haul. There haven’t been very many of them. I can count them on one hand. These are the ones that accept me for who I am and allow me to grow spiritually, supporting me all the way. They are the ones who lift me up when I’m feeling down, tell me that I’m beautiful just the way I am and love me every minute of every day.

In the past ten years, I’ve observed and rearranged every aspect of my entire life and learned to be me, not the world’s vision of me. It’s been tumultuous at times. I can’t say that if I’d know ten years ago, when I surrendered to the acknowledgement of my beliefs, that I would’ve been so eager to continue. I am grateful that I did. I don’t believe that if I hadn’t worked so hard, I wouldn’t have these moments of overwhelming peace, of stillness in my soul. It shows, not only on the inside, but the outside as well. I look younger and I smile often. I have a patience and kindness that extends to all living beings. I believe that true beauty comes from within. It radiates from deep in your soul and shows on your face and in your body language. It shows in a presence of grace that surrounds you, a quietness that radiates from you, even in tough situations.

If there was one thought that changed my life more than any, it would be this: We are born into this world and as we grow, listen, read and experience, we quickly lose sight of who we were put here to be. We develop a notion in our minds of how things are “supposed” to be. Then we try to live up to these suppositions, never questioning why we believe them or if they even benefit our own growth. We have ideas that life is supposed to be like this, and we should act like that. We should dress like this, work at this type of job, live in this type of house, behave a certain way, buy a certain type of house, wake up, go to work, and watch TV. Ask yourself, who said life was “supposed” to be anything. Question where you got your beliefs and determine if there is a better way for you to believe. You may surprise yourself.

My answers were quite simple. This life is mine and I was put here to live it. I was put here to live and love and to help as many people as I can. I was not put here to judge others or to try to convert them to my path or way of thinking. I was put here to respect the fact that we’re all different and entitled to believe what we want. If I cannot get along with you because of this, I will separate myself from you. This rarely happens.

You will find, though, through this line of self questioning and changing that there will be certain times in which you will see others struggling. Most times they will be people whom you love very deeply and want only the best for. My greatest pain comes from watching these people struggle against their own minds. I’ve tried to explain my life philosophy to them and most times they just look at me like I’ve got two heads. They can’t believe that it can be so simple. I don’t believe that life was meant to be so hard. Even if they don’t understand my words, they cannot deny the peace that surrounds my self, my life and my family. They can’t deny the existence of the smile on my face most of the time. It saddens me to watch them walk on, trying to figure it out for themselves. Everyone seems to think there’s some big secret they’re supposed to find.

The secret is that there is no secret. It is just that simple.

But, today is a beautiful Saturday morning. I’m going to finish my coffee, pet my cat and wish everyone the greatest love. I have a garden to attend to and plans for a wonderful barbecue with friends and family. Oh yes, and lots of laughter and smiles.

Just remember, life is a journey and it’s meant to be lived.

Love to all my fellow witches,

Lady Wolfwind

Making Your Life Magical

Making Your Life Magical

Author: Wulfcempa 

Most Wiccans and witches – and many other pagans – practice some form of “magic” (often spelled “magick” to distinguish it from stage illusions) . Magick is a topic at which most modern westerners would likely scoff, and doubtless this attitude throws into question the credibility of those who claim to practice it.

We do not believe in the “supernatural“. All that exists that is part of this universe, is part of nature itself and is therefore “natural”. If intrusions from other universes or realities happen in this one, then that too is part of its natural processes. In other words, everything – everything – can be rationally and scientifically explained; we just don’t know all of those explanations yet.

We accept that there are many things about this universe that we not only cannot explain in concrete terms, but things of which we’re not even aware. Bear in mind that there was a time that germs, bacteria, and viruses were all completely unknown to humanity; a microscopic world of living creatures has surrounded us for as long as we’ve been on this planet and we only recently learned of it.

Scientists have never actually seen an atom, and many modern physicists feel confident that evidence indicates such incredible things as multiple universes. We’ve learned so much, but that which we still do not know boggles the mind while thrilling the imagination.

As I have said many times, being a witch or a pagan is more about what we do than what we believe. Whether it’s a magickal activity or a religious ritual, we engage in time-honored rites that – for whatever reason – just seem to work for us. It’s a bit like exercise; one need not understand advanced kinetics and physiology in order to benefit from a brisk, daily walk. Nor does one need to understand ritual and magick in order to reap its benefits; those who do it regularly will experience mental and spiritual gains.

But this post isn’t about magick; it’s about life.

I have an Egyptian-themed altar/shrine at home, and among the items on it is a statue of Thoth. In Egyptian mythology, Thoth was – among other things – a god of writing, magick, and science. I’m not sure what initially drew me to him, but my attachment is long-standing and strong enough that I made an altar for him and the goddess Bast.

By day, I’m a computer programmer. I write, using computer languages, things like this:

begin
select responder, recipient_role
into v_emp_user_name, v_recipient_role
from temp_notifications
where message_type = itemtype
and user_key = v_requisition_no
and notification_id = history_record.notification_id;
exception
when no_data_found then
v_emp_user_name := null;
v_recipient_role := null;
result := ‘COMPLETE:N’;
end;

…and when these words are “executed”, they result in the taking place of literal, real-world actions.

Remember Arthur C. Clarke’s famous statement, “any sufficiently-advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic“? It is easy to see the parallels between what I do by day and the concepts of magick. I use special languages full of words that have power, and yet I must order these words properly for them to have the desired effect. Sometimes they definitely backfire! But most of the time, I get the desired results.

Over time, I began to think of Thoth as having a modern role in addition to those normally attributed to him: the “patron saint” of computer programmers! But then, more recently, I made another connection. If what we pagans call “magick” isn’t supernatural, and if what computer programmers do is so similar to the methods of magickal practices… what, then, separates the two? Is it merely the fact that we humans have a scientific understanding of computer processing?

If modern magickal workings were to be defined scientifically tomorrow, would we put a new name on those activities and cease to call them “magick”?

I’m fond of blurring lines. A line that we’re forced to cross is no different from a line that holds us back; true freedom happens when there are no lines. And true magick happens all around us, every day.

Aleister Crowley defined magick as “the art and science of causing change in conformity with will”. We all do this, every day. For instance, when I sat down to write this post, it was something that I chose – to share my thoughts – and because my will to do this was strong enough, I made the time and put forth the effort. It is art (writing) and science (grammar, spelling, word processors and the Internet) , it is change (because this document didn’t exist before I wrote it) and it was my will.

Am I trying to diminish the practice of magick? Of course not. Instead, I am suggesting that we bring magick into our everyday lives… where it belongs. Learning to see the “magick” in the things that we choose to do means seeing those things in a whole new light… because when we realize that those elements that make up an act of magick exist in so many of our daily actions, we begin to see ways that even the mundane can be made special.

In many eastern philosophies, adherents are taught the value of living in each and every moment:

“As you practice Zen in your life, you will see that living in the present moment is like living heaven on earth. Even though we can all deal with this one moment right in front of us, we rarely live in this one moment right in front of us. We don’t know how. We have been conditioned since our early childhoods to live in the future or the past.” -Everything.com, Zen: Living in the Moment

Seeing ordinary actions as magickal is one way of helping us to live more consciously and building in us the habit of “living in the moment”. Yet it works in the other direction, as well… for as people who have studied the ways of “magick”, we are already trained in the skills necessary to embrace a magickal life.

This is convergence; when the ordinary and the magical become one in a person’s life, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The ordinary takes on new vibrancy, and those energies, which are normally reserved for our rituals suddenly, work their way into our everyday lives.

___________________________________

Footnotes:
http://www.everything.com/zen-philosophy-living-in-moment/

Magick is All Around Us

Magick is All Around Us

Author: Luna 

Sometimes I get my inspirations from the simplest things. Sometimes it’s just a walk in the woods, and sometimes it’s the time of year or the holiday. Other times, it’s from interacting with a variety of people or animals, from playing with my dogs to working with native Chinese people. This time, inspiration came from somewhere I wasn’t expecting: one of the emails you guys have been sending me (thank you, thank you, thank you, by the way) .

A few weeks before writing this, I got an email from someone with a question I wasn’t quite expecting. The writer asked, “Do you think I can do magic with all this reality around me?” I have to admit that I’ve never been asked a question like that before. And, for a little while, I was confused as to how to respond to it. But then it came to me: perhaps the person who emailed me was having trouble sensing the magick in his everyday life and the forces he wanted to work with. This was something that I struggled with back when I first came to Wicca and that has taken practice for me to become good at. Not only that, but for many people coming to Wicca from a paradigm that sees magick as a thing of fantasy, this can be a really difficult barrier to overcome. So let’s talk about it a bit, shall we?

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about this dilemma is the two different spellings that get used: magic and magick. With just the addition of a simple letter, we can change the meaning of what we would’ve thought of before as just one thing: a force of fantasy capable of creating great change and wonder but that is impossible to achieve in real life.

Now, you guys may or may not have noticed this, but in my essays for the Witches’ Voice, I tend to prefer the spelling with a k, and there is a reason for this. The main reason for this is to maintain a bit of separation between the magick I work with in my life and the magic I’m used to in role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons and video games. When I first came to Wicca, I didn’t know that there could be one letter that could, for some of us, differentiate between two completely different concepts. And let me tell you, if you think I’m talking crazy again: I’m pretty sure throwing fireballs and a simple prosperity spell don’t fall under the same paradigm. That’s just my take on it. But I hope the explanation helps a little.

The next problem we come to in dealing with this barrier has to do with where we come from in terms of religion. I think I speak for a lot of us who came from either a Judeo-Christian background or from another religion that doesn’t see magick the same way that much of the Neopagan or at least the Wiccan community does. I know that for me, when I grew up, I didn’t think of magick in the same way. When I was younger, Harry Potter and The Wizard of Oz provided my definitions of Witchcraft and magic. To my young mind, the only kind of magic I knew existed in fiction and wasn’t possible in real life.

Not only that, but growing up originally in the Christian faith, magic and religion didn’t mix. And I’m sure that, in some areas where you might live (and this is based only on my experience) , magick and Witchcraft are seen in a very different light. I’ve heard about so much about a number of Fundamentalists and some other sects of Christianity who denounce Wiccans and others as being in league with the devil or some such nonsense. Most if not all of us have at least heard of the Salem Witch Trials and other occurrences from what has been called the Burning Times. Now, even though I’ve left my Christian roots somewhat behind, I have a great respect for Christianity and many of its adherents. I have no problem with Christianity as a whole. It’s just some people who become very extreme and hateful about what I choose to believe and practice. I know it’s not always Christians who say these things, but it’s mainly what comes to mind. And I’m sure it’s what comes to mind for some of you, who came to Wicca or another Pagan path from a similar background to mine. And coming from a background and religious paradigm that sees magic as non-existent or confined to fiction (and those who claim to work as, at best, perhaps slightly delusional and, at worst, evil people) , accepting magick into the way one perceives reality can be rather challenging. Believe me when I say that I’ve been there and done that.
(I really hope I’m not confusing any newcomers with the whole magic/magick thing at this point…)

What’s important to keep in mind is that magick doesn’t work the same as how we’ve seen it in books, movies, video games, etc. Magick in reality is much more subtle; you don’t see people throwing fireballs at each other or calling down lightning from the sky because things don’t work that way. In fact, I like to think of how magick works in our world (as opposed to Harry Potter, great though the series is) as something akin to the wonders of a cup of tea. Why a cup of tea, you ask? Well, it may not seem like it’s doing much, but there is a certain calming power about it when you feel distressed (or, in the case of raspberry leaf tea, really helps out with bad and painful—uh, that might be TMI) . That, and it reminds me of something my dad said when I came out of the broom closet to him. While it was obvious (as many of you know from reading my essays) that my dad would see magick as being impossible, he is more than willing to admit the wonders of cup of tea has when I’m having a nuclear meltdown. I must admit that a part of me giggled inside, thinking, “Uh, Dad? That can be magick too.”

It’s often in the little things that we wouldn’t think of as magick or wouldn’t tend to notice. I often find that the magick I sense in the world always gives me a little tingle of excitement or is tied to an emotion. It could be the calming feeling that comes when watching the waves as they drift in and out with the tide. It could be the smell of a rose or any flower. It could be the sun shining down on you on a nice day (or in the midst of a ton of snow) . It could be that feeling you have when you’re with the one you love, that tender moment when you kiss. For me, this magick I sense often comes when I’m swimming, usually in a lake or in the ocean (chlorinated pool water doesn’t cut it for this type of experience, too many chemicals) . For some reason, whenever I get farther out into the water or even when I’m in open water with only a boat nearby, I feel this surge of energy and giddiness. One thing to try is to really pay attention to those feelings and sensations. At least from my experience, they can definitely be magickal.

The last barrier I wan to talk about in talking about magick in one’s life is visualization. Some of us come to Wicca or another Pagan path with a lack of practice in visualization. Now, I talked about this in my “The Importance of Basic Techniques” essay way back when, but visualization is an essential to magickal workings as well as other aspects of a Pagan faith. For many who come to Wicca or another path from a background that doesn’t see magick as part of reality, sometimes a lack of visualization skills can impact their first attempts to work with magick. Believe me, that was I a few years ago when I was first starting out. However, with some practice, I’ve found that this is the easiest barrier to overcome, especially once the importance of this technique has been explained properly. I’ve received an email in response to that essay that thanked me for clearing up why it was so important, as the sender had merely been told to practice these techniques without any explanation as to why it mattered (I really do enjoy some of the responses I get) .

So, thinking back to “The Importance of Basic Techniques” and my evening with Max, I want you to try this exercise, if you care to oblige me (you don’t have to) . Go ahead and hold your hands a little ways apart from each other and try to feel a ball of energy between them. Nothing yet? Now try it again but try to clearly picture the ball in your mind. It doesn’t matter is how big the ball is, but I want you to actively visualize it. Picture a ball forming between your hands. It can be any color you like and can take on any aspect. Are you seeing a difference? Even if you don’t see anything (which may not happen; it didn’t for me before) , you can probably feel something keeping your hands from coming together. Visualization definitely makes a difference in that exercise.

I’m going to leave you with a few resources that really address some of the questions about magick and visualization for those who are still having trouble. The first one is, of course, the “Wicca First Degree” videos from user MagickTV on YouTube. I mentioned them back when I talked about basic techniques, but I want to give it another mention and a recommendation to check out the rest of the series as well. In particular, the exercises they give in addition to the main lessons are extremely helpful when working on visualization. Along with that, I’ve got a bit of reading material for you as well. The two main books I want to recommend are “The Inner Temple of Witchcraft” by Christopher Penczack and “Natural Witchery: Intuitive, Personal and Practical Magick” by Ellen Dugan. These two books place a lot of emphasis on visualization and psychic/magickal development for the beginner, and they’ve been a big help to me.

So, in conclusion, is it hard to sense magick in our everyday lives? For some of us, it can be, especially when we take our first few tentative steps down our chosen paths. Is it there, part of the reality around us? Of course it is, even if we don’t always notice it. And, to answer the question posed to me by a curious reader, can you work magick with all this reality around us? Yes, you can. It may be difficult at times, and you may find that some techniques may not work as well for you. But so long as you keep an open mind and an open heart, and as long as the work is meaningful to you, I personally see no reason why you can’t.

Magick is everywhere around us, part of the reality we live. And, for my part at least, it’s one of the things that makes life and spirituality truly special for any young Pagan, Wiccan or Witch.

_______________________________________________

Footnotes:
“You Don’t Always Need Magick” by Luna
http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usmn and c=words and id=15186

“The Importance of Basic Techniques” by Luna
http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usmn and c=words and id=15057

Pride and Paganism in the 21st Century

Pride and Paganism in the 21st Century

Author: Melanie Marquis 

As one of the fastest growing and multi-faceted religions in America, Paganism has lately enjoyed more understanding and awareness from the mainstream community. Today, more Pagans than ever before choose to openly express their beliefs and practices. But what led to these changes?

I talked to many of today’s most notable Witches and Pagans, those who have been legends for decades, and those on the cutting edge of the modern Craft, to find out where the magical community stands today in terms of openness, expression, and public understanding, and to shed some light on how we got here.

“Hiding one’s magickal inclinations can be detrimental, ” says Raven Digitalis, Neopagan Priest, Gothic DJ, and author of Goth Craft (Llewellyn 2007) and Shadow Magick Compendium (Llewellyn Sept. 2008).

“It can be mysterious to a point, and perhaps manageable if someone only dabbles in charmery or kitchen witchery, but for someone who lives the magickal lifestyle, hiding and denying this part of one’s constitution can reinforce ideas of shame and insecurity, which builds up and can become suffocating over time. I have never hidden my beliefs, practices, or lifestyles; I simply see no need to do so unless the self-protective necessity is absolutely dire, which is the case for a handful of individuals.”

Considering that handful used to be a gigantic armload or two, we’ve come a long way.

Gwinevere Rain, college student and author of Llewellyn titles Spellcraft for Teens, Moonbeams and Shooting Stars, and Confessions of a Teenage Witch, is the founder and Editor of Copper Moon, http://www.copper-moon.com, an ezine for Wiccan and Pagan young adults. “I think that my generation and those younger than myself are more open about being Wiccan, ” she says. “I hope that ‘staying in the broom closet’ is a fading custom, but I guess, only time will tell.”

Early Pagan leaders like Circle Sanctuary’s Reverend Selena Fox, who organized one of the U.S.’s first officially recognized Wiccan churches, and spearheaded the ultimately successful effort to get the U.S. military to recognize the Pentacle as a religious symbol that can be used on military graves, have been catalysts in the evolution of modern Paganism, speaking out about their beliefs in a time when doing so entailed a lot more risk and a greater amount of boldness and bravery than it generally does today. They’ve witnessed firsthand how Paganism has transformed over the years, and they offer insight into the forces behind that change.

“Since its revival in the mid-20th century, ” says the Reverend Selena Fox, “Paganism has grown in size, scope, diversity, maturity, and visibility. The quest for equal rights for Pagans in the USA and in some other countries has had many successes through the years due to the combined efforts of those of many traditions.”

Carl “Llewellyn” Weschcke, current Chairman of Llewellyn Worldwide, the U.S.’s largest and oldest New Age/Occult/Magick publishing house, has been a major force in educating our communities about Paganism for decades, through the countless books published by his company, and also through his own willingness to be a Pagan in the public eye in the 1960’s and 1970’s, his magical and metaphysical practices and beliefs being the focus of media attention for many years. Commenting on the changes he’s seen regarding the Pagan community, Carl points out that even the word “Pagan” has much different connotations today than it did in the past:

“People may challenge our beliefs, ” he says, “but there is far more respect today for ‘alternative spirituality’ than 50 years ago, and when we use the word ‘Pagan’ today, most people know what we’re talking about. The basic change is that “Pagan” no longer means just ‘non-Christian, ’ or worse, ‘anti-Christian, ’ but is more often recognized as “alternative spirituality.” Paganism shares very little with Indian or Japanese Buddhism, for example, as non-Christian religions. On the other hand, Japanese Shinto does compare comfortably with European and American Paganism.

As a further point, ” he says, “modern Paganism is much more than Celtic spirituality and more and more is inclusive of Nordic, Germanic, Spanish, Italian, Greek, and on to Egyptian and African Spiritism, to Mayan and Afro-Caribbean, and native American traditions. “Paganism” has become a word for Earth-based spirituality – with nurturance of Nature and non-human life, visible and invisible, as key principles. Not all non-Christian religions share that with Paganism.”

“There are obviously several factors at work, ” says Ray Buckland, who is known as The Father of American Wicca due to his enormous role in introducing Witchcraft to the U.S. “Number one is probably the education that people of today have, both in general and specifically regarding paganism. They are more inclined to think for themselves and to take an interest in and express that interest regardless of what others may think or say. With the knowledge of what paganism – and especially Neo-Paganism – is, there is not the fear of being branded as a tool of Satan! There seems to be more of a thirst for knowledge these days, than in earlier generations. All of this, in turn, has led to the openness of mass media to previously occult subjects that, in turn, have led to more seeking and enquiring about what is presented.

“In the past there has always been a general fear about this whole field; that fear due to ignorance as to what was involved. It is by examining and learning all about a subject that such fear is erased. With today’s Internet access, among other things, there is the ability for anyone to research anything. In the “early days” of Neo-Paganism, Wicca, and the like, a few “pioneers” set out to straighten misconceptions and to show what was really believed and practiced. I think that started the ball rolling and today, with computer access so readily available, the ball (of enlightenment) is now traveling at very high speed!”

Brian Ewing, Membership Coordinator of the Pagan Pride Project that organizes large public gatherings, reports that their events are growing in popularity, with tens of thousands participating in activities each year around the world. Like Ray Buckland, he also credits the Internet with helping to facilitate some of that growth. The Pagan Pride Project’s website at http://www.paganpride.org serves as a source of information and a means of communication for people interested in the project.

“The Internet and email lists greatly facilitated the growth of the Project, ” he says. “Being able to connect quickly, despite living in different cities, and finding out about each other’s plans and existing events, helped us band together.

“The Internet also helps us advertise our events more widely, and for less money, than was possible in the past. In this way, we attract more people to our events. I also believe that Pagan events, including our own, are growing rapidly because our religion is now growing rapidly. We reached some kind of critical point, when there was enough practicing Pagans that they wanted to hold larger events where they could practice and worship together.

“Lastly, Pagan Pride events, and probably other events, were partly galvanized by the election of George W. Bush, and the fear that a neo-conservative administration would adversely affect our movement. I remember in 1999 George W. Bush and Congressman Bob Barr were both making some pretty negative comments about Paganism. People responded to that by writing to newspaper opinion sections and starting events such as Pagan Pride Days.”

Thriving and ready to take action, it seems that today’s Pagan community has undergone a lot of positive changes in recent years. Of course, not all the changes are seen as positive.

Flash Silvermoon, creator of The Wise Woman’s Tarot, a matriarchal Tarot deck, describes some of the negative changes she’s seen in the Pagan movement.

“One of the main differences that I see in the changes within and without this movement if you will is the fact that most of the movers and shakers in the early 70’s were powerful women, and most specifically, the Dianic branch of Wicca.

“This rising tide of Women’s Spirituality blended a Goddess centered Spirituality with Feminism, which is really humanism when you get down to it. The Womanspirit Movement swept through the country like wildfire, creating a more fluid and anarchistic style of Goddess Worship than some of the more traditional Wiccans.

“One of the problems that I have seen with the new mixed Pagan groups is that most are not at all really reverent of the Goddess or women. The talk is there but the walk is not, and most of the Pagan fests that I have attended bear the same old world sexist practices of male domination and sexual objectification of women. I realize that this can’t be totally true of all the new pagan groups but it sure seems to predominate. Even the women in some of these groups can tend to be very hierarchical.”

However, the Pagan faiths still generally enjoy a reputation of equality and respect for both sexes. Copper Moon’s Gwinevere Rain explains, “I was first attracted to Wicca because it was very empowering. It showed women being equal to men; additionally, the idea of magick was so appealing to me. The religion represented everything I wanted: to be equal, empowered, and spiritually comforted.”

So where do Wicca and the other branches of Paganism stand today? Have we really moved past a need for secrecy and concealment?

“I have had mail from guys in prisons who are openly allowed to practice their craft, ” says Ly de Angeles, outspoken environmentalist, screenwriter, and Australian author of Tarot Theory and Practice (Llewellyn 2007) and the collaborative work, Pagan Visions of a Sustainable Future (Llewellyn 2008). “I have also had a long connection with another guy who is in the US army, and I am very aware that Wicca (not Witchcraft) is a recognized religion and yet … the open expression of Paganism is still seen as fluff and twaddle by most; a bunch of very evil people by others.”

Gwinevere Rain agrees that negative and false stereotypes still exist. “I hope that the stereotypes about Wiccans and Witches are changing, ” she says. “It used to be that people’s vision of a witch was a green old hag; now that that has subsided, other images are at the forefront of people’s minds. It seems that one of the persistent false stereotypes is of real witches seeking to hurt people by casting hexes and curses.”

Because of such myths, some Pagans are deterred from expressing their beliefs openly. Christopher Penczak, teacher of magick and author of the popular Temple of Witchcraft series published by Llewellyn Worldwide, explains, “I think we are blessed to live in a time and place where more Pagans feel comfortable being out of the broom closet. While it’s important to be grateful for great strides we have taken in the recent decades, it’s also important to remember that not all Pagans and Witches have the same freedom, both across the world, and even in more conservative areas of the United States. Thankfully, most of us can live openly if we desire, and I think most pagans who can do so safely, do live an open life.”

When I asked Carl “Llewellyn” Weschcke if he feels that Pagans today are more open about expressing our beliefs, he also pointed out that where we are has a lot to do with it. “The best I can do for a short answer is to presume that today most of us are relatively comfortable in speaking about being Pagan in most selective social environments, ” he explains. “In other words, we can’t be particularly comfortable as Pagans at a Baptist convention, but we are comfortable doing so in our family and familiar social environment.”

The Pagan Pride Project’s Brian Ewing states, “The rapid growth of Pagan events, including Pagan Pride Days and many others, has allowed people to reveal their practices in public. But there are still many Pagans who practice in private, because there are occasional, but very real, instances of discrimination in the workplace or among neighbors.”

Brian reports that their events have been fairly well received by the public. He recounts only one protestor that he’s personally seen, at an event in Los Angeles. The protestor simply held a sign that read “Jesus Saves” on one side, and something about “You’re going to Hell” on the other side.

Raven Digitalis, who likes to host community worship circles in his hometown of Missoula, Missouri, reports that his gatherings have not attracted serious protest. “We are getting quite an outer circle going on! We have even performed some circles in the yard, ” he says.

“Living on a busy street, many cars have witnessed this; the reactions have been varied. Most people in this case simply drive by and look strangely, while others stop their cars to watch. It hasn’t escalated beyond that, luckily, though nearly all of our circles are now held in private places because the ‘public’ energetic exchange should only be reserved for certain times, places, and intentions.”

Tierro, lead guitarist and producer of the international Pagan tribal psychedelic rock band Kan’Nal, recalls an incident where his band encountered “polite” discrimination:

“Kan’Nal was booked to play a high end ‘Captain Planet’ fund raiser in Atlanta last year. The booking agent delicately requested that we not do anything ‘Pagan Like’ on stage in fear of offending the guests. We all laughed as if of course we would behave, but never said we would not… As far as I am concerned, the act of being born is a pagan act; it proves our equality and connection to the animals, plants, and the mysteries of the universe. To breathe is a pagan act, for we breathe together with the trees, fish, birds and bees. To experience joy, love, sorrow and loss is a pagan act, for all these emotions are reflected in the animal and plant kingdoms. So to show up and rock out a Kan’Nal set … well that alone is definitely a pagan act.”

So what is it about our religion that stirs our passions to the point that we want to speak out about it, wave our wands in the face of dissent and proclaim our magical faith to a world that, despite an increase in public awareness of what Paganism truly is, still couldn’t hardly care less? Says Christopher Penczak, “The more witches we have out and open, the more it becomes ‘normal’.”

Raven Digitalis expresses a similar sentiment. “It shatters commonly-held notions for a person to see a ‘Witch’ looking and behaving like a (relatively) ordinary person, ” says Raven. “When people learn about the validity of the modern Craft, it brings a modern and more realistic context to an antiquated stereotype. People see us operating and functioning and being progressive in our own lives, and not choosing to hide ourselves (and not having many adverse responses as a result), which can encourage others to do the same.”

Gwinevere Rain first started writing about Paganism when she was 14 years old, publishing articles in Cauldrons and Broomsticks. “I wanted to show others that young Wiccans can be as serious about religion as adults, ” says Gwinevere. “At the time there were many stereotypes about young practitioners just practicing Wicca to be ‘cool.’ I wanted to help counteract this misconception. For me, it’s worth being open or ‘out of the broom closet’ because Wicca is a part of who I am. I don’t want to hide a significant part of myself.”

Of course, not everyone wants to be open about his or her Pagan faith. Says Gwinevere, “It is important to do what is best for yourself and not succumb to any pressure within the magical community. Just remember that everyone moves at their own pace and you may not be ready to become an outspoken figure of this beautiful religion.”

Christopher Penczak stresses that the individual’s chosen path should be respected: “We should respect our sisters and brothers who wish to be secretive, as the spiritual path is a personal, and sometimes secretive, path. We cannot decide to out someone who wishes to remain private.”

Raven Digitalis emphasizes that the ways we express our beliefs to others should be appropriate for the person we are talking to. Says Raven, “There is always a balance. I believe that people should be communicated and interacted with based on their own levels of understanding. Whereas it might be appropriate to call oneself a ‘Witch’ to someone familiar with magick, it might be better to call oneself a ‘Wiccan’ or ‘Pagan’ or even ‘Earth-honoring Healer’ to someone else, who instead understands the definition of that vocabulary.”

So, what does the future hold for Paganism? How can we publicly express our beliefs in a way that ensures the well-being and growth of our community? “One of the best ways of showing Wiccan/Witch pride is to be a good person, ” says Gwinevere Rain. “Society will catch up with us if we make a collective effort to be kind, healthy, and smart people.”

Ly de Angeles also says that responsible actions are key. Ly explains, “The open expression of Paganism and magical beliefs, in my opinion, needs to be backed with very real and credible behavior, as I have seen way too much hubris and listened to way too much jargon and sheer wankery. I apologize to those who are not that way (and you are many) but the rest really need to look to what you wish to achieve for the greater community of Paganism in the future. Education and knowledge in diverse areas is the key. Acting on that is a way through. I suggest we enter the sciences, politics, the education system, as well as the Green movement.” She also shares a warning: “I am disturbed by the rising tide of radical right-wing fundamentalism, in the USA in particular, and suggest it may be very necessary for openly expressed Pagans to watch their constitutional backs in the future. This is not paranoia but prophecy, darling.”

The Wise Woman’s Tarot creator Flash Silvermoon comments that respect for women is integral. “To my thinking, ” she says, ”one earns their position through study, dedication and commitment, and if one truly loves and worships the Goddess, then women must be more empowered and respected as Her surrogate.”

Raven Digitalis is hopeful about the future of modern Paganism. Says Raven, “I think Neopaganism is becoming more and more personal and personalized every day. As more and more people are drawn to the ways of magick, self-empowerment, and mysticism, personalizing one’s own beliefs and practices will serve to allow the Pagan movement to grow and establish itself with much fuel and dedication behind it.”

The Reverend Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary puts it in a way that resonates throughout the heart of Paganism: “It is important that Pagans of many paths and places continue to find ways to work together in our quest for freedom and in bringing more health and balance to the greater Circle of Nature of which we are all part.”