‘THINK on THESE THINGS’ for May 15th

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

So much has been written about happiness – the way to it, the reasons for it, the symbols of it – and still people search for that very special something that will assure happiness forever after. Of all the recipes for lasting happiness, we finally have to mix our own. But the one thing everyone has in common is the need for a little bit more. We have this and this, for which we are very thankful, but always the need is extended to that little bit more.

Happiness is like any other part of our lives, we must use wisdom in seeking it. We too often rush headlong into something that seems to be instant happiness, all the time telling ourselves we can right the wrong at a later time. But happiness doesn’t remain happiness for very long when it has such strings attached.

In order to be rightly happy we concentrate on getting, but it is giving that we find most necessary to mix into every recipe. To some, happiness will always be elusive, never quite settling anywhere, never quite revealing itself, for they have yet to learn that happiness has the wings of angels, the breath of God, and the love of man, all hidden within Him.

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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

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day – May 15

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – May 15

“We must have respect and understanding for women and all female life on this Earth which bears the sacred gift of life.”

–Traditional Circle of Elders. ONONDAGA

At a gathering of Native Elders we were told that many men of today had lost their ability to look at the Woman in a sacred way. They said we were only looking at Her in a physical sense and had lost the ability to look at Her sacredness. They said the Woman has a powerful position in the Unseen World. She has the special ability to bring forth life. They told us to start showing Her respect and to look upon her in a sacred manner. We must start this today.

Grandfather, show me how to see in a sacred way.

May 15 – Daily Feast

May 15 – Daily Feast

The earth is but a reflection of heaven, but the world is a reflection of unhappier places. The two are at odds and no one seems to know why – or even care. The earth recoups when it experiences calamity. But the world slides away from reality with great pain and tears. It feeds its inhabitants with toxins and ugliness and tells them these are food and entertainment. Wake up, Children; wake up to reality. Rise out of the ashes and renew. It is your individual right.

~ The place to make a treaty is in the heart of their country, where we can dictate the terms; not they in our country. ~

MAJOR F. N. DODGE

“A Cherokee Feast of Days, Volume II” by Joyce Sequichie Hifler

The Daily Motivator for May 15th – Now is golden

Now is golden

Now is golden, with great value available to be created. Direct your focus and your energy into what you can do with now.

Right now there are possibilities and resources you can tap into. Now, there is the opportunity to make things happen and to make a difference.

Don’t compromise the value of now by using it to obsess over past events that cannot be changed. Don’t give up the chance to be effective right now by worrying about what might happen in the future.

This is the time you can use to take action. This is the time you can use to move your world in a positive direction.

This moment right now is worth whatever you wish to put into it. Yet if you fail to make use of now while it is here, it quickly becomes worthless and irretrievable to you.

Now is golden, so grab its value by taking positive, effective action. Now is yours, so live it well.

— Ralph Marston

Source:
The Daily Motivator

The Daily OM for May 15th – Performing Daily Ceremony

Performing Daily Ceremony
Nourishing and Cleansing

by Madisyn Taylor

Having daily ritual or ceremony in our lives is very important to keep us connected to what really matters.

When we perform or participate in rituals and ceremonies, we enter into a state of mind that is different from mundane consciousness. Ranging in significance from bedtime stories to weddings, ceremonies and rituals are acknowledgments that an event or period of time has special meaning. As a result, they can have the effect of drawing us into the moment, inviting us to pay closer attention and tune into the subtle energies that are always present but that often go unrecognized. In addition, as we perform the same actions we have performed before and will perform again, we immerse ourselves in a river of continuity that extends back into the past and forward into the future.

Many of us have distanced ourselves from rituals that may have seemed too constricting or too attached to an organized religion we have chosen not to follow. However, we can reclaim the practices of ceremony and ritual to good effect, imbuing them with our new consciousness, and we do not have to wait for a big event to do it. We can engage in daily practices that include ritual and ceremony, reminding ourselves throughout the day of the sacredness of this life.
In fact, if we look closely, we will see that our days are already made up of rituals, from the time we wake up to the time we retire. So we do not need to change anything except our perspective to imbue our day with an air of ceremony.

Most of our daily rituals revolve around nourishing and cleansing, both of which have always been sacred acts. With this in mind, we may pause before each meal, close our eyes, and say a silent thank you to the universe that provides. If we want to get more elaborate, we can light candles or bless our food. Similarly, as we wash ourselves in the morning and evening, we can choose to see the grace in this act of cleansing and purification as we release what has past and prepare ourselves for the new. We can be as simple or as complex as we like, so long as our attitude is one of reverence for this sacred moment in this sacred life.

 

Source:
The Daily OM

Respecting and Honoring Yourself – and Your Religious Choices

Respecting and Honoring Yourself – and Your Religious Choices

Author: nasionnaich

How many of you have ever used religious rituals that are not your own? I have, and now that I have learned why I should not have, I deeply regret having used them. Oh, I don’t mean rituals that are a part of the culture of a place you are visiting, so you feel “obligated” to participate out of respect towards your host. I mean rituals that you have decided to incorporate into your own “brand” of religious belief and/or spirituality. You know, taking bits and pieces of something and using them in a way that “fits your style” — without proper instruction on the meaning behind the ritual (as well as where, when and how to do it) .

For more than 20 years, I have been learning about the various aspects of various religions, and trying to find my own particular Spiritual Path. I have never deliberately intended to be disrespectful towards any religion or spirituality — I have always had good intentions as my motive for learning. Well, I may have been disrespectful anyway, no matter the reason for doing it, no matter the “good intentions”.

A little history on one part of the subject may be in order — specifically, Native American Indian religious and spiritual rituals — as a way of actually illustrating what I intend to convey. I apologize in advance if any of it seems “disjointed” or “rambling”; I am not at all used to this essay-writing thing (I always had problems writing essays when I was in school, too) , so please, bear with me. (Just so you know, I am a “Native American”, I was born in “America” – but I am not a Native American Indian. Yes, there is a difference.)

Back when the Europeans first came to the Western Hemisphere, they found a number of very distinct Cultures and Peoples with rich traditions of their own, including complex religions and a deeply ingrained spirituality, which permeated the entire social structure of each region. Of course, being the “Good Christians” they were, those Europeans felt bound by their Duty towards their Church to change or eradicate what they didn’t like or understand. And they made no real efforts to truly understand what they didn’t like.

The Christian missionaries were usually the first to “study” the Native American Indian rituals, and they promptly decided that the rituals were “Satanic” in nature — most after having “studied” those rituals for less than one year. Fast-forward more than 500 years, and most Christian churches still have no true understanding of what the rituals really mean. (I place much of the blame on the Christian missionaries and anthropologists, who tend to “interpret” things strictly according to their Christian up-bringing…never mind what they actually see or are told.)

But there are many non-Christian groups (and individual Christians) who have realized that “Satan” has nothing to do with the Native American Indian rituals and spirituality, and have been working towards a full acceptance of the “Native American Church” — a loose conglomeration of religious practices and beliefs which happen to share a common set of central beliefs, but followers of which never called themselves a “church” prior to the 20th Century.

These “hippies”, as they were once known in the 1960s and 1970s, as a means of “promoting” Native American Indian spirituality decided on their own to selectively “adopt” Native American Indian religious and spiritual rituals, rarely fully understanding the meanings and the social importance of those rituals in what are very specific settings.

They learned the rituals from reading what the Christian missionaries and anthropologists wrote. I did, too, to a large extent. Later, I found how wrong many of those descriptions really are.

The Sun Dance, for example, is done only at certain times during the Summer months, and it is to help the men of the community know what it is like to give birth — they endure a great amount of pain and privation which most “White Men” can only imagine; it has little, if anything, to do with any so-called “sun worship”.

And the Sweat Lodge Ceremonies are for the Purification of those who are about to begin – or have recently completed – specific socially and spiritually important tasks — it isn’t just another fraternally-organized steam bath where you can get stoned out of your mind.

The Vision Quest is not what most people seem to think it is, either. These and other rituals have been taken up in a willy-nilly fashion by neo-Pagan and New Age groups and individuals (the “hippies” previously mentioned) because of some perceived need to “preserve” them, or because they “like” the rituals. Or much worse, out of a misguided attempt to “honor” Native American Indians.

They do not bother to truly consider how wrong it can be to do so, not thinking about how their own ancestors’ religious beliefs and rituals were corrupted by the very same piece-meal picking and choosing of whatever happened to be “popular” (or “pleasing”) at the time, nor how those rituals were wrongly “interpreted” by others. I doubt very much that the Druids of Ancient Ireland, for example, would have been pleased with a Roman follower of Jupiter “adopting” Druidic practices with no real thought to the actual meaning of those practices.

But the Native American Indians who still practice their religion are expected to accept the corruption and bastardization of their rituals, all in the name of “preserving” and “honoring” them.

As an example, I saw a photo of a “Burning Man” attendee wearing a “Native American spirit mask”, and at first didn’t think much of it — until I noticed that he was naked from the waist up (the photo was cropped just above his waist, so I have no idea what he was wearing below the waist – but I can guess) .

For one thing — and this is extremely important — the People who happen to use that style of mask do not go naked during their public rituals, not even from the waist up, so that was a huge tip-off that if the man was “honoring” the “Native American Church”, he either never received the instruction needed, or ignored what instruction he may have received and in either case was being extremely disrespectful…no matter what “good intentions” he may have had.

If there is no instruction concerning the rituals, they should not be used; there is no “But, I’m honoring such-and-such religion and/or group”. And, as any Judge will tell you concerning another subject: Ignorance is not an excuse, because there are many ways to obtain the necessary knowledge and instruction.

Native American Indian rituals are a sacred thing to the practitioners and Teachers of the Native American Indian religion, and they should be treated with the exact same respect, as you would demand of anyone towards your own religion. I have heard from many Pagans and Wiccans — as well as read here on WitchVox — that before anyone decides to use or take part in any ritual, those people should be instructed in the proper methods, times and places to do those rituals. And there are many Pagan and Wiccan rituals that are to be conducted only by Ordained Priests and Priestesses, not by just anyone who feels like using them.

Yet, again, there are many neo-Pagans and New Agers who feel it is somehow OK for anyone who wishes to just “adopt” whatever rituals they want, from wherever they want, and without having first gone through the necessary instruction on how, where and when to properly conduct those rituals….

Some religions may be OK with that, but most are not. It took me more than 20 years to fully realize this simple truth as it concerns the “Native American Church”, but if I had actually bothered to think about it when I began my “spiritual journey” (which, I admit, is still not completed) , I would have come to the same realization after first learning how truly Sacred certain rituals are to most religious groups.

So, why was it wrong to use certain rituals in my own “brand” of spirituality? Because I did not know what those rituals truly mean, which was because I had not received any real instruction as to how, when and where to use them. I was not authorized to use those rituals because I did not receive instruction from someone who was authorized to give that instruction.

I had no true respect for myself, because I had no true respect for my religious/spiritual choices.

Now that I have spent more than 20 years learning about and teaching myself the various aspects of “religion”, Native American Indian religion and spirituality included, I can only hope to help others in their own journeys towards a true Spiritual Awareness and respect for (and towards) themselves, as well as religious beliefs and practices they may someday wish to “adopt” (if not actually live by) .

We all want others to show some measure of respect towards our religious choices, and it is my opinion that the first step towards that is to truly respect other religions by making an honest attempt, doing everything within our means, to understand the rituals before we “adopt” any part of them.

Very few out-spoken Wiccans and Pagans, after all, would simply stand by and watch a “Fluffy-bunny” neo-Pagan or New Ager improperly conduct a Purification Ritual to cleanse their laptop computer — using a plastic drinking straw as a “wand”. (Hey, we all know what is meant by “Fluffy-bunny”) I don’t really understand why the improper use of Native American Indian rituals would — or should be allowed.

We gain respect for ourselves by respecting others, and we respect others by showing respect for and towards their religions by understanding the rituals involved in those religions.

So, I ask again, in all seriousness: How many of you have ever used religious rituals that are not your own?

–nasionnaich

Solitary or Tradition: The Right To Be Called Wiccan

Solitary or Tradition: The Right To Be Called Wiccan

Author: Ryan Hatcher

I have read many articles in which the authors state that those who follow traditions are true Wiccans and that solitaries cannot abide under the label ‘Wiccan’. However, Wicca, and most pagan branches had to have been created from somewhere and someone had to have created these branches, be it Gardner, Sanders, Buckland, an ancient Druid or an ancient Native American Shaman.

These ideas must have been created in the minds of these individuals, and with the more modern individuals, the pooling of ideas from other sources would have been a great start, (as with Gardner, pooling the rituals of Dorothy Clutterbuck’s coven, with those relayed by Alistair Crowley, as well as some of Crowley’s Thelema practice and procedures and techniques portrayed in the Greater Key of Solomon).

I’m all for traditions, and I agree that being taught by an experienced individual is far better and more beneficial than being self-taught, but I do strongly feel that solitary eclectic practice is just as valid and creditable as traditional practice.

If a witch is self-taught, they must research and study as much as possible and as thoroughly as possible, checking and double checking things through as many sources as the individual has available.

From then, the Solitary Witch will be able to make an educated evaluation on how to practice, and will then be able to decide which areas of their new spirituality they wish to master, ‘student of many master of none’ need not apply if the student has researched thoroughly, and is then selective of the areas they study and therefore master them.

I fully understand that mixing traditions can damage the authenticity of the traditions that are mixed. However, if individuals are still drawn to these traditions then they will be kept alive and authentic and a mystery by those who are oath bound to them.

It is easy enough to say that in order to be a true Wiccan, you need to join a traditional coven, but not every person has a traditional coven available to him or her. Does this mean that they can never become a true Wiccan and must search for another path, though it would not feel right to them? Of course not! If there is no other option, then the path of the solitary may be the way to go.

As a solitary though, eclecticism my not be necessary. There are some traditional texts available to the public, for example Janet and Stewart Farrar have made the practices of the Alexandrian tradition widely available in their many books (I have A Witches’ Bible open in front of me as I write this), also the Gardnerian Book of Shadows has become available, whether in extracts or in its entirety.

This searching for traditions to become part of has become easier due to the birth of the internet. But, how does one become par of a tradition without being part of a coven? The simple answer is Self-Initiation.

Some may seem shocked or appalled at this idea, but Doreen Valiente herself endorses it, in a sense anyway, in that she published a self-initiation rite in her book Witchcraft for Tomorrow and other tips that can be applied to a solitary practitioner as do The Farrars in their book A Witches’ Bible (p.244) , whom follow the Alexandrian tradition. They themselves have said, “We no longer believe, at this stage of the Craft’s history, that it should be inflexible. Moreover, insistence on it is unrealistic; a large section of today’s Craft (and by no means necessarily an inferior section) either is self-initiated or stems from people who were self-initiated.” This was stated in the mid 80s, and we now are in 2008, nearly 28 years from that point, so why is there still such conflict between solitaries and traditionalists? Therefore, those who seek tradition, yet cannot find a nearby coven, self-initiation into that tradition is an available option.

But what of eclectic witches? Many individuals have a thirst for knowledge, and they may find being restricted to the ritual structure of a specific tradition is stifling and doesn’t allow for growth in knowledge and experience of the wider world of Witchcraft. And so, such a solitary witch seeks out as much information and knowledge on practicing their beliefs and then develops their own structure.

But I have to ask, how is this process any different to the development of the older ‘more valid’ traditions? In essence, the eclectic practitioner, providing they don’t change them, is able to keep the traditional techniques authentic, so long as they acknowledge the tradition that they came from. Sadly however, it is a natural process to adapt the pieces to fit the puzzle so the traditional procedures will become changed.

Who’s to say that in the future there won’t be an eclectic tradition, that is open to people from all magickal backgrounds and traditions that won’t discriminate against other traditions or paths of paganism, a tradition that will truly see every path, solitary, traditional, every path, as equal in the eyes of divinity, with none being superior to others, and with no sense of inferiority of fear of not being a valid, accredited Witch or Wiccan.

Therefore, I put forward that Solitary practitioners, and eclectic practitioners have as much right to be classed as Wiccan if they wish to be, so long as they truly believe in their hearts the ideals of Wicca as a religion.

As the late — and most definitely great — Doreen Valiente, the woman who helped Gerald Gardner give birth to the beautiful religion of Wicca, said in Witchcraft for Tomorrow (p.22): “You have a right to be a pagan if you want to be….So do not let anyone browbeat you out of it” and I agree with the Farrars who say that this presumably includes “pedantically minded pagans”.

Brightest Blessings to all

**) O (**

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Footnotes:
A Witches’ Bible – Janet and Stewart Farrar
Witchcraft for Tomorrow – Doreen Valiente

The Magick and Power of Words

The Magick and Power of Words

Author: Luna

As I’m currently writing this, it’s Christmas. We’ve passed the Winter Solstice (and the supposed end of the world—guess the Mayans didn’t know everything, no offense to them) and are moving through the parade of winter holidays. And I’ve noted something about these winter holidays—regardless of tradition or religion, these holidays center around two things. These two things are reflection and togetherness. We reflect on the year we’ve experienced, both in terms of happenings within and happenings without, and contemplate how they will affect the year to come. With regards to togetherness, we take this time to come together as family, friends, colleagues and lovers. By so doing, we remind ourselves of how much we cherish their company, no matter our differences, and wish nothing but peace and love for the rest of world.

So, should you care to oblige me, I’m going to combine these two things—to reflect on togetherness, with regards to the current state of the world.

Let’s face it: the world is going through some hard times. The true state of affairs is probably more serious than my words can convey, but this is what I see around me. We’re doing what we can to get through these times, make the future brighter for ourselves as well as future generations. We’re trying, but there are a number of things holding us back. Some of these we may overcome quickly, while others will take more time. But, with regards to the spirit of these holidays, there is one aspect of our problems as the human race that has come to the forefront of my mind. It’s the fact that, for whatever reason, conflict drives us apart around the world.

Let’s take the political situation within the United States of America for example. I live here in the US, so it makes the example much more personal and easier to relate as I’m more aware of it that the political situation of other areas of the world. I want it to be noted that this isn’t because I don’t think other political conflicts in other areas of the world aren’t important. On the contrary, I wish I knew more of what goes on outside the small part of the world where I live. But I feel this will serve as a great example, as most of us will likely be aware of the political happenings of the United States.

Okay, let’s dive in headfirst, shall we?

In the United States, there has always been a political system that has allowed for multiple political parties to exist, voicing their opinions and concerns as well as pressing forward on issues that concern them. It’s one of the things I appreciate about our government, regardless of how I feel about the actions we take as a nation (or as people of a nation) . However, in recent years especially, two parties, the well-known Republican and Democratic parties, have barged to the forefront of the political scene and began a storm of relentless arguing and bickering over various issues. And I include both arguing and bickering in that statement because they’ve both happened. There have been times where they’ve engaged in polite, rational and respectful discussion. And there have been other times where they’ve just gone at each other simply because one side hates the other’s guts. It’s come to the point these days where people on either side (not everyone, but some people) are not willing to hear the other side out simply because it’s the other side and, in their minds, it’s trying to destroy the fabric of our country.

On the one hand, the Democratic party sees the Republicans as stubborn and delusional, trying to hold onto an America that no longer exists and not only failing to comprehend the situations at hand but refusing to compromise where necessary. On the other hand, the Republicans see the Democrats as trying to impose new and foreign values on America, using the wrong methods to fix our economic problems and trying to drive us down the proverbial drain. Now, this obviously isn’t the case for every Democrat or every Republican. I know there are multiple exceptions to these stereotypes. But these trends in both parties have emerged strongly in recent years, particularly during our elections, and these more radical voices have many times drowned out more moderate voices that would be willing to sit down and discuss the issues in a more respectful manner. There is a common theme to each side: not everyone on one side is always willing to hear the other side out on what it has to say.

So what drove me to think about this? Well, it was two things, both of them easily found on TV or the Internet. The first was the 2008 animated film, “Horton Hears a Who, ” based on the well-known Dr. Seuss story. Sour Kangaroo’s refusal to believe Horton drove the population of the Jungle of Nool to madness, and their actions nearly caused the destruction of Whoville. And yet, once the situation became clear and the Whos became heard by those that only saw their speck of a world, Horton didn’t reject Kangaroo. He made amends with the offer of a cookie, possibly knowing that she had better intentions when she first began to move against him.

The second was yet another episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (Hey, pony stuff has been popping up all over the Internet—if it’s finally ready to be discussed here on the Witches’ Voice, I’m willing to be the first to talk about it) . In fact, it was the thirteenth episode of season two, named after the ponies’ own winter holiday, “Hearth’s Warming Eve.” Within the episode, the main characters put on a production of their nation’s beginning. Within that production, a disagreement between the three tribes (the pegasi, the unicorns and the Earth ponies) spiraled into all out conflict that drove them further apart. It also caused beings called Windigos to feed off their hatred, driving their world further and further towards a world-ending blizzard (yeah, that kind of stuff shows up in a kid’s show) . And yet three ponies, one from each of the tribes, came together and realized not only their seemingly inevitable fate but also that each bore no hatred towards the other two. As one of them put it, “No matter what happens, we’re all ponies.” And at that moment, a magic flame born of their friendship burned the Windigos to death and began to thaw the world and the rest of the ponies, both in body and in spirit. Their new respect for each other and banding together of all three tribes led to the founding of Equestria… at least, according to the pageant.

So both the movie and the episode got me thinking about our situation. Perhaps it’s time we all (or at least as many of us as are willing) take a moment in our conflicts and say to each other, “Hey, I know we don’t see eye to eye, but I know we both have the best intentions. I want to understand why you take the position you do, and I’m willing to listen to what you have to say. If you want to hear me out, I am more than willing to share with you why I think the way I do. Let’s resolve our conflict peacefully and come to a better understanding.” If you think about it, our world could definitely use more of that. Too often, I see arguments flare up and conflicts spiral out of control because neither side is willing to understand the other, and I think we can all agree that simply taking the time to listen respectfully and with intent to understand will mend many of the fences in our world.

Will it happen overnight? Of course not. Discussion like this will take time, and not everyone will want to participate in this initially. It may take a while for this to really take hold. Will we reach universal peace and harmony between all peoples through this? I have no idea. If we do, it likely won’t be in my lifetime (and I’m 23 years old) . But I know this is the right path for us, and it is due in part to this very community.

Yes, I’m talking about the Witches’ Voice, and the Pagans and others who make this possible. I include both those who share their words every week and those who merely stop by every so often to read what essays are up on the home page. The fact that you are even taking time to read my essay (which I’m grateful for) is a sign that we are willing to take the time to listen to someone else’s words. And I really mean this, especially to the many of you who’ve read my essays this last year and who’ve even contacted me via email to share your thoughts.

When I first came to this site, I was just a college student studying Wicca on her own, not even sure if I’d be able to find others to befriend and learn from, much less considering what impact my essays would have on your lives. And here we are, a year later. I’ve gotten the chance to share my thoughts with so many of you without fear of being laughed at or rejected, and I’ve gotten the chance to hear from many of you. Many of you have given me suggestions, others of you have simply praised my words, and still others of you have extended a friendly hand (metaphorically speaking) and asked me for friendship and guidance. I want you all to know that, even though I haven’t been able to get back to you all, I’m thinking of you constantly and the fact that you’ve taken the time to at least glance at what I have to say. It’s more than I could’ve ever hoped for, and I thank the God and Goddess for this blessing. It’s meant more to me than I’m sure you all know.

But let’s take this willingness to listen and consider another’s words, thoughts and positions beyond the Witches’ Voice to other areas of our lives. Let’s sit down with our friends and families, with our lovers and colleagues, and even with those we might not like. Let’s take the time to hear them out on what they have to say and help them understand our own positions and peaceful, rational and respectful manner. I know we can do it. You want to know how I know this? Because I’ve seen us as a community. The Pagans, Witches, Wiccans and others who make up this community are a testament to the power of understanding, and I only have to see the total read count on one article on this site to know that.

The late Scott Cunningham said, “Mock not the rituals and spells of another, for who can say yours are greater in power or wisdom?” I’d like to add the words of another to this statement, for words are just as important as spells and rituals, regardless of the time of year. Please consider what I’ve said here and how you can apply it to situations in your own life. It will take time, perhaps many lifetimes, but I know that every little step will help. The world isn’t over just yet, and we’re still here. Let’s work towards a brighter future, where, anywhere in the world, one can share their thoughts with the knowledge that what they say will be respected and could even spark a thoughtful discussion.

And to all of you, I wish a holiday season full of the brightest blessings and brighter futures.

 

___________________________________________

Footnotes:
“Horton Hears a Who, ” 2008, directed by Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino, starring Jim Carey and Steve Carrell.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Season 2, Episode 13. “Hearth’s Warming Eve.” First aired December 17, 2011.

The Importance of Daily Magical Practice

The Importance of Daily Magical Practice

Author: Taylor Ellwood

One attitude that I find to be odd in some magical practitioners is the attitude that you don’t need to do a daily practice of magic. It seems that instead you just cast your spell and sigil whenever you really need it and the rest of the time magic is put to the wayside until needed again. This approach has always puzzled me, mainly because it treats magic as a tool, much like a shovel. I’ll grant that you don’t need to use a shovel everyday of your life (unless you work at a job where it’s an essential tool). Also a shovel is used for a specific set of jobs and won’t fit every circumstance in your life.

Perhaps that’s the case with magic as well. Perhaps for some people it really is just a tool and only applies to when they need it. The rest of the time magic goes into the shed, until it’s needed again. But I think such an approach ignores some realities of magic that sometimes are glossed over in favor of obtaining results first and asking questions later. Some of these realities are practical, while others fit into the spiritual aspect of magic, but all of these realities are important and shouldn’t be taken for granted.

The first reality involves the practical application of magic, not just to a situation, but also to life. Magic is a process, not a result. Even the results that are obtained in magic end up feeding into the process of magic. You get a result for situation and that situation is resolved, but what about the impact of that magic on your life, on the relationships you have with other people, events, your environment, or your job?

These factors and many others are impacted every time magic is done, even if that impact isn’t overt. And the result of that impact is that inevitably magic draws you back into the process because some other situation needs to be addressed or explained or mediated or dealt with and magic can provide an answer.

The second reality is a spiritual reality. For many people magic is a form of spirituality, a way of meaningfully connecting with each other and also with forces large and small, seen and unseen. Such an interaction isn’t one that can just be discarded when you don’t need it.

I was recently reminded of this when I did a ritual to help me locate work in Portland. The spirits informed me they’d be happy to help me out, but that they also felt really neglected, because I hadn’t done any of the usual rituals I’d usually do with them. I prayed each day, but there hadn’t been a major ritual done just for them, with nothing being received on my end, other than the satisfaction of having connected with these beings that I identify as meaningful in my life.

I could easily provide excuses, including my current living arrangements, but the truth is that I had to acknowledge that spiritually I felt a bit devoid lately with my magical practice. Actually doing the ritual to get their help to find a job helped a lot in connecting with them, but it was easy to perceive why they felt used, because that ritual was about a purpose and goal, but it wasn’t a celebration of the bond between us. The spiritual component of my magical workings had been ignored and magic, at least for a short while, had been more of a tool and result and less of a process and spirituality for me. I’d taken the connections I had for granted, even with daily prayer. Fortunately for me this could be rectified with rituals and a willingness to recognize the importance of those spirits in my life.

We all stumble from time to time on the path of our individual spiritualities. In stumbling we are forced to look at where we are going and actually cultivate an awareness of what’s important right now, as opposed to what’s far ahead. That cultivation can take many forms, but one of the most notable ways to manage it is to actually hold yourself to a daily practice of magic.

Now I know some people will say, “But I don’t have the discipline to do that” or “You don’t really need to do a daily practice to make magic work.” Sadly, I must disagree with these statements, for these are the kind of statements that most often engender an approach to magic that is primarily results based and only sees magic as a tool to be put aside when it isn’t needed.

I also believe that just as muscles atrophy without use or exercise, so can a person’s ability and talent to work magic fade if s/he doesn’t maintain a consistent practice. Without regular practice you can’t build your relationship with magic or test the limits of what you can do. And while there’s always the possibility that daily practice leads to a plateau, where nothing new seems to happen, varying your routine, or more importantly just sticking it out and doing the work will inevitably attract change in your life (sometimes much more than you want).

On the other hand, if you do incorporate a daily practice into your life it will allow you to flex those magical muscles. In turn this will increase your ability to handle magic and even allow you to build reserves of energy that you can draw on when you really need them. My daily practice mentally and spiritually refreshes me. I always feel more energized after meditation and other exercises I do.

Make no mistake though, daily practice is work. It involves making time each day to do that work, not just when it’s convenient for you. There are days where I don’t want to wake up at five thirty in the morning to do my daily exercises, but I know when I don’t do those exercises I always feel less centered and focused. The result is found in the work, in my choice to renew my spiritual commitment to magic, myself, and the spirits I work with everyday. The result is the process, and so I’m not obsessed with getting to the end of the journey. There is no end, but the journey itself is a multitude of beginnings and endings, which my daily practice connects me to.

To really appreciate the impact of magic in your life, make the time to incorporate it into your life. Walk with magic everyday in your heat and mind and be open to all of its manifestations. But don’t treat it like a tool to be cast aside when the need is no longer apparent. While you might get the results you want now, you may find at a later time that just when you need something to happen it won’t, because you don’t understand what you’re working with. And that brings me to my final point.

A daily practice allows you to experience magic, and through that experience come to understand the dynamics that inform how magic works. When you understand the dynamics, then you know that what you’re working with isn’t a tool. The dynamic involves living magic and your daily practice is just a tiny fraction what it means to live magic. But living magic will bring you experiences that you might otherwise miss out on.

So open yourself to cultivating a daily practice and from there let that show you how to manifest magic into your life.

Why Magic Works: The Key Component

Why Magic Works: The Key Component

Author: Scott A. Johnson

So here we are, Witches, Wiccans, Pagans, and the like, with one tie that binds us: Magick. Whether you perform rituals aimed at a particular set of Gods or practice as a “Kitchen Witch, ” Magick is one of those parts of the Craft that seems at once to be the most wonderful, and most maligned, aspect of our lifestyle. The most often-asked question, in many forms, is simply “does it work?”

Don’t believe me? Join one of the thousands of online communities and lurk for a while. You’ll find post after post from fluff-bunnies and new practitioners alike that ask for “spells that really work” and whether or not we really believe all this hooey is real. While some generously send along simple recipes for successful spells along and others scoff at the doubters, there are two things that must, in all cases, be addressed.

First, Magick does work. Second, the primary ingredient for it to work is pretty universal.

No, I’m not going to tell you the one Magickal herb that makes everything suddenly have amazing powers. It doesn’t exist.

I’m talking about a single ingredient that can exist in every person, no matter his or her religion, creed, race, sexual preference, or hairstyle: Belief, or faith, if you will.

Let’s look at the person who asks spells that really work. Typically, these people are asking for something that can prove to them that Magick is real. Give this person any spell, and charm, or any ancient wisdom, and chances are it won’t work. Why? Because they initially do not believe it will work. More to the point, they believe it won’t, therefore it doesn’t.

My personal best spells are useless in the hands of a person who doesn’t believe in them, or Magick, because it is my belief in them, my faith if you will, that makes them work. When I speak the words “My will be done, so mote it be, ” I truly believe that what I will shall come to past because it must be so.

There are no hard and fast rules that state that any single word is the only way to get any given desired result. If there were, we wouldn’t have so many solitaries and covens that create their own rituals. Their rituals work for them because they believe in them. They have faith in them.

But why does that make such a difference?

To answer that, we have to take a look at what’s going on in the process of spell casting. At its most base level, almost all spells deal with the manipulation of energy. Whether it’s shielding, influencing, or empowering, we as Witches are dealing with energy. Every Pagan will tell you that we draw energy, release energy, ground energy, etcetera, etcetera. We pull it from the four elements, from the deities, from ourselves. We put ourselves into altered trance states to raise more energy. Many times, people don’t consider that energy other than from where it comes or for where it’s headed. But consider that energy for a moment.

The human body, as well as all living things, gives off an energy field. Scientists have proven that this field expands and contracts, intensifies and wanes, in accordance to several factors, the largest one being emotion. There is a marked, measurable difference in the energy sphere that a person emits when he or she is happy as opposed to when he or she is sad.

One of the most powerful influences on that energy field is simply defined as faith or belief. The stronger the faith, the more powerful the energy that comes out of a person’s body. It stands to reason, then, that if a person truly believes in something, their energy in working with it will be high. For example, in medicine, there is the “placebo” test, in which half the test subjects are given a sugar pill in place of some new experimental wonder drug without knowing. In every case of placebo, there are at least a few subjects that have the desired effects of the drug, simply because they believed they were taking the real thing.

Take also into account the “faith healing” phenomenon. Thermal cameras and electro-meters have recorded marked rises in the energy pouring out of the healers (and I’m talking the real faith healers, here…Not the charlatans) when they use their faith.

It isn’t coincidence, nor is it superstitious mumbo-jumbo; it’s science.

Now, take this into your own rituals and spell-casting. When you cast, are you constantly muttering, “I hope this works?” In the back of your mind, does a nagging voice tell you that you’re being stupid and living in a fantasy world? If so, you’re not going to get results. If you find a spell online and begin to enact it, all the while doubting it and saying “I hope this works, ” though somewhere inside you know it won’t, then guess what. It won’t.

You may have raised power, you may have all the crystals, candles, and bells in the world, but if you doubt your abilities, if you doubt your own intent, and if you do not have faith in your Craft, you will not have the desired effects. Just as faith projects powerful energy, doubt creates a block inside that won’t let that energy come out. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You do not believe it will work, so it doesn’t, that sort of thing.

When you perform a ritual or cast a spell, you have to commit yourself to it, mind, body and spirit. You have to believe to your core that it will work and that your will alone can influence the world around you. You cannot go into a ritual with half a faith. If half is all you have to offer, maybe you should practice more before deciding if the Craft is really what you believe.

If it is to be your faith, embrace it, follow it, and live it in your everyday life, but most importantly, believe in yourself and what you are doing. It doesn’t matter whether you practice in a coven or by yourself, skyclad or clothed, or even the trappings of the ritual. Without your own belief and faith, none of the above matters.

Believe in the words “so mote it be.” Because you will it, so must it be, and that is true Magick.