“THINK on THESE THINGS” for June 17th

“THINK on THESE THINGS”
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

Leave yourself a choice. It is a sorry state of affairs when a person’s life becomes so regimented that it is impossible to make even one change in plans. There is a story about a gentleman who kept a record in minute detail of his living and every cent he earned so that he could make a trip abroad. The record keeping became such an obsession that when he could make the trip he took along crackers to keep from eating in the dining room aboard ship. The journey was nearly over before he discovered the price of his meals was included in the fare.

How much do we miss by refusing to accept the bounty of choices? “If only” and “I wish” are so over used. We bind ourselves daily by refusing to recognize the volume of opportunities open to each of us. All of life is not free, but there is much available for our personal selection.

Dr. William S. Sadler wrote of a woman who was so orderly and systematic in her living that she inquired of her minister how to go about dying since she had never done it before. Living in a systematic world is possible, but there are limits to what we can prepare for and about which to be orderly. Daily we meet and settle many small emergencies, and some not so small. And it is our developed ability to meet these things successfully and on the spur of the moment that makes a well-rounded individual.

But the steady, uniform methods of doing things do not necessarily mean a person is ready to meet every situation in life. In fact, such living often makes change practically impossible when change is sorely needed.

Order is heaven’s first law. But order means first things first. A place for everything and everything in its place. Then, if we’ve learned how to live, we never have to worry about the art of dying gracefully.

___________________________________

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 – June 17

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – June 17

“Your power comes from the songs.”

–Ethel Wilson, COWICHAN

If you do not know any of the songs, ask an Elder to teach you. Get yourself a drum. When you sing a song and play the drum, you’ll be surprised how your mind, body, and spirit will react. Everything becomes calm and joyful. Our bodies love the songs. The songs allow us to touch the hand of the Creator. When we sing and touch the Great Spirit’s hand, He gives us power. Songs are another way to pray.

My Grandfather, teach me a song today.

June 17 – Daily Feast

June 17 – Daily Feast

Pressure destroys some people and helps others rally to do their best. One seeks peace and order and another heads toward noise and chaos. A little of both keeps us on our toes, but it means we have to have good judgment. Peace is necessary – even under pressure. Like the rhythm of the sea, we rise to high tide and relax back to calm. No different from inhaling and exhaling, we are created to keep the balance.

~ I am much indebted to the Father of us all – Him who made us and placed us on this earth. ~

PETALESHARO – PAWNEE PRINCIPAL CHIEF

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

The Daily Motivator for June 17th – Following your advice

Following your advice

If you knew someone in your own situation, what advice would you give that person? What course of action, what priorities, what strategies would you suggest?

Think about that, and then think about this. Are you, right now, following your own advice?

It’s easy to know what to do when you’re not the person who has to do it. When you actually have to implement the advice, things get complicated and uncomfortable.

Yet good advice is good advice. And you are well positioned to give yourself good advice.

Yes, it will involve some real work to do what you know must be done. Fortunately, as difficult as it may be, you can absolutely do that work and follow the advice you yourself would offer.

So go ahead, be brutally honest and give yourself the advice you need to hear. Then take it to heart, put it into action, and make the progress you know you can make.

— Ralph Marston

Source:
The Daily Motivator

The Daily OM for June 17th – Completion

Completion
The Road to New Beginnings

by Madisyn Taylor

The period of completion, rather than being just an act of finality, is also one of transition.

Life is a collage of beginnings and endings that run together like still-wet paint. Yet before we can begin any new phase in life, we must sometimes first achieve closure to the current stage we are in. That’s because many of life’s experiences call for closure. Often, we cannot see the significance of an event or importance of a lesson until we have reached closure. Or, we may have completed a certain phase in life or path of learning and want to honor that ending. It is this sense of completion that frees us to open the door to new beginnings. Closure serves to tie up or sever loose ends, quiets the mind even when questions have been left unanswered, signifies the end of an experience, and acknowledges that a change has taken place.

The period of completion, rather than being just an act of finality, is also one of transition. When we seek closure, what we really want is an understanding of what has happened and an opportunity to derive what lessons we can from an experience. Without closure, there is no resolution and we are left to grieve, relive old memories to the point of frustration, or remain forever connected to people from our past. A sense of completion regarding a situation may also result when we accept that we have done our best. If you can’t officially achieve closure with someone, you can create completion by participating in a closure ritual. Write a farewell letter to that person and then burn your note during a ceremony. This ritual allows you to consciously honor and appreciate what has taken place between you and release the experience so you can move forward.

Closure can help you let go of feelings of anger or uncertainty regarding your past even as you honor your experience – whether good or bad – as a necessary step on your life’s path. Closure allows you to emotionally lay to rest issues and feelings that may be weighing down your spirit. When you create closure, you affirm that you have done what was needed, are wiser because of your experience, and are ready for whatever life wants to bring you next.

 

Source:

The Daily OM

Warning Signs In Prospective Covens

Warning Signs In Prospective Covens

Red Flags to Watch Out For

So you think you’ve found a group or coven that might be the right group for you. Great! Ideally, a coven will allow you to attend a few open meetings, in which you can observe the goings-on and meet all the members, without intruding upon the secrecy of any oathbound ceremonies or rites. After attending a series of open meetings – usually three, but that varies from group to group – members of the coven will vote on whether or not membership should be offered to you.

Remember, though, there are a few things you should watch out for in any prospective group.

  1. Members that don’t seem to get along with each other. If you have a group of eight people, and four of them are snarking at one another constantly, it may not be a coven you want to be a part of. They may be offering you membership in hopes that you’ll take sides, and you’ll find yourself caught in the middle of a squabble that existed before you even came along. Stay away.
  2. Covens whose ideas strike you as silly or foolish. You want to be part of a coven, but if you think worshiping a pink sparkly dragon or wearing Star Trek uniforms to Sabbats is goofy, then don’t join covens that have those requirements. If you don’t genuinely believe in the coven’s principles, it’s not the right group for you, and both you and the other members will gain nothing from your membership. Likewise, if the group’s requirements include things that make you uncomfortable, like ritual nudity, then this may not be the group for you. Find one that more closely aligns with your existing beliefs and comfort level.
  3. Leaders who are on a power trip. If the High Priestess (HPs) or High Priest (HP) is the only one who knows all the secrets, and is the only one who will EVER be privileged enough to know all the secrets, then they’re on a power trip. These are the people who like to boss coven members around, they don’t let any one member have too much information, and the coven is for their own personal gain. Don’t bother joining, because you’ll be as miserable as everyone else.
  4. Leaders who clearly don’t know what they’re doing. When you ask your prospective coven’s High Priestess how long she’s been Wiccan, and she tells you “three months,” it’s time to bail out. There’s no set time on learning, but someone who’s only been studying for a little while simply does not have the experience to lead a coven or teach others. Use your best judgment here. Keep in mind there’s nothing wrong with being a newbie and leading a study group or informal get-together, but someone who has only a short period of experience is probably not qualified to do all of the other things that coven leadership demands.
  5. Covens that actively seek teens as members. Few reputable covens will accept anyone under the age of 18 as a member unless the teen’s parent is a member of the coven – and even then, it’s iffy. This is for a variety of reasons. Some covens practice skyclad – nude – and it’s completely inappropriate to have naked adults in front of someone else’s child.

    Also, a coven that accepted minors would be setting themselves up for huge legal liabilities in that the teaching of religion is the job of a child’s parents – it would be the equivalent of a Christian minister preaching to your child without your permission.

    In the event that a coven member has a child that is part of the group, the minor may still be excluded from some parts of coven practice, particularly those that include ritual nudity. Having a parent in the group is generally the only time it is acceptable to have a minor practicing with adults.

    6. Covens that demand that you have sex as part of your initiation. There are people out there who use coven leadership as an excuse for deviant or predatory behavior, and the fact is that if there’s any kind of sexual initiation involved, you may want to reconsider this group. People who say you’ve got to participate in sex with the HP or HPs (or both) in order to be a member may well be looking for their own gratification, not your spiritual growth.

    Yes, many Pagan religions are fertility religions, but there is an imbalance of power between a High Priest/ess and an newbie that makes sexual initiation a subtle form of coercion.

    That having been said – it’s not uncommon for some covens to work skyclad, which is not sexual in nature. It is also not unheard of for a couple within a coven to perform a sexual act as part of a ritual; however, it is usually an established couple (people who are in a relationship with one another already) and the act is nearly always performed in private, rather than in full view of the rest of the membership. You do not have to let ANYONE violate you sexually to be Wiccan or Pagan. Anyone who tells you differently is not interested in helping you learn, they’re just trying to get into your pants. Move on.

    7. Covens that demand you give up your money, family and friends. While it’s fine to contribute a love offering to a coven’s petty cash fund, if the High Priest expects you to give him your monthly paycheck, look elsewhere. No reputable coven will encourage you to forsake your loved ones, or tell you that the coven comes before any and all other obligations. A group that does this is not a coven, it is a cult. Stay away.

    8. Groups that ask you to break the law or cause harm to others. A Wiccan coven is not Fight Club – you do not have to blow up a building, beat someone up, or steal stuff to get in. Any group that requires its members to participate in illegal activities – and this includes drug use – is not a coven focused on spiritual growth. Any coven that demands animal sacrifice from its members is probably not a group you want to become involved in (bear in mind that some traditions of Santeria and Vodoun do include ritual sacrifice, but this is a rare exception and it is usually performed only by high-ranking members of the tradition, such as members of the priesthood).

    Certainly, the decision as to whether or not you are willing participate in negative behavior to be part of such a coven is entirely up to you, but understand that once you become involved in this kind of group, you risk arrest and possible jail time.

 

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How to Find a Coven In Your Area

How to Find a Coven

Looking for a Pagan coven or group? Awesome! Here are some ways you can find one.

First of all, you need to understand that there are many different types of groups. You’re not going to fit in with every one of them, and you’re not going to feel comfortable in every one of them. They’re not all going to feel comfortable with you. That’s part of life, and it’s part of the seeking process. Some groups may have a dynamic that just doesn’t work for you – if you’re a male Wiccan on a Celtic path, then an all-female Greek Reconstructionist group is not the place for you.

How do you find a coven in your area? We all have fantasies of being out and about, probably at the local Ren Faire or Ye Local Olde Witchy Shoppe, and we bump into a wise-looking soul with a giant pentacle around her neck, who promptly invites us to join her coven of the Ancient Ones.

It’s not going to happen.

However, what you can and should do is network with other Pagans. Get out to the places they congregate – bookstores, psychic fairs, SCA events, coffee shops, Yoga classes – and meet some people.

Eventually someone may mention to you that they are part of a coven, and if they feel you would be a good fit, they might eventually get around to asking their High Priestess (HPs) if they can invite you to an open meeting.

Because many Pagans and Wiccans are still “in the broom closet”, most covens, temples or groves do not advertise their presence. Networking is the key here — and you may have to spend some time making it known that you’re looking for a group to join. This process is often referred to as “seeking,” and after spreading the word that you’re a Seeker, you may be approached by a local group.

You can also meet fellow Pagans and Wiccans through networking websites, such as Witchvox or Yahoo Groups – but be sure to read the Internet Safety Precautions article for information about meeting someone in person that you’ve gotten in touch with online.

Tips:

Some covens are limited to males or females only, others are specifically for gay Pagans, and some are for families and married couples and exclude single members. A coven you’re interested in may already have what they consider their ideal number – sometimes thirteen but frequently less – and they may tell you to wait until someone leaves before you can join. Accept this, and move on. Don’t take it personally. Ideally, you’ll be able to find a coven in which you can get along with all the existing members, and you won’t have a clash of personalities or philosophies.

Also, realize that a coven is like a small family. Many Wiccans are closer to their coven-mates than they are to their own siblings. Just because you’ve found a coven doesn’t necessarily mean you are guaranteed acceptance. Coven membership is a two-way street. Wiccan covens do not actively recruit new members, and no matter how uber-witchy you think you may be, if one member of the coven has a problem with you – justified or not – it could keep you from becoming a member. Take the time to ask questions when appropriate, and you can make an informed decision in the event that membership is offered to you.

 

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5 Tips for Solitary Pagans

5 Tips for Solitary Pagans

In many modern Pagan belief systems, there are far more people who practice as solitaries than there are people who have joined covens or established traditions. Why is this? It’s partly because most people who want to learn about Paganism develop the interest long before they meet a coven or trad that they’re interested in joining. It’s also because even if you decide you want to be part of a coven or group, it’s not always easy to find one.

Wiccan covens and Pagan groups don’t exactly have a listing in the Yellow Pages, so you may have five covens right up the street from you, and you’d never know it.

Certainly, practicing as a solitary can have its rewards. After all, you can make your own guidelines and follow your own set of ethics. Worship can be done at your convenience, rather than according to a schedule dictated by others. As a solitary, you’re really under no obligation to anyone but yourself and your gods. Many people spend their entire lives practicing as solitaries, and never feel a need to join a coven or group.

Occasionally, you may find some drawbacks to practicing as a solitary Pagan or Wiccan. You might sometimes feel alone, like you have no one to network with or share ideas with. You may at some point feel like you’ve stagnated — it’s hard to figure out what the next step is if you don’t have someone to compare notes. Sometimes, it’s nice to just get feedback from like-minded people — someone who can help you when you’re wondering about what to do.

If you’ve decided to practice as a solitary — either temporarily, or in the long-term — here are some tips on how to have a successful experience:

  1. Try to establish a daily routine. It’s easy to let your studies go by the wayside if you’re all by yourself, so establishing a daily routine will help you keep on task. Whether your routine includes meditation, reading, ritual work, or whatever, try to do something each day that helps you work towards achieving your spiritual studies.
  2. Write things down. Many people choose to keep a Book of Shadows, or BOS, to chronicle their magical studies. This is important for a variety of reasons. First, it allows you to document what you’ve tried and done, as well as what works and doesn’t work for you. Secondly, by writing down your rituals, prayers, or spellwork, you’re laying the foundation for your tradition. You can go back and repeat things that you find to be useful later one. Finally, it’s important to keep track of what you do magically and spiritually because as people, we evolve. The person you are now is not the same person you were ten years ago, and it’s healthy for us to be able to look back and see where we were, and how far we’ve come.
  3. Get out and meet people. Just because you’ve chosen to practice as a solitary doesn’t mean you should never come into contact with other Pagans or Wiccans. Most metropolitan areas — and a lot of smaller communities — have informal Pagan groups that get together regularly. This offers solitaries a chance to network and chat with each other, without having to form specific organized groups. Take advantage of resources like Witchvox and Meetup to see what’s in your area. If there’s nothing around you, consider starting a study group of your own for like-minded folks.
  4. Ask questions. Let’s face it, we all need to start somewhere. If your read or hear something and you want to know more about it, ask. If something isn’t clear, or contradicts something you’ve already read, ask. Don’t accept everything at face value, and remember that just because one person had a particular experience doesn’t mean that you’ll have an identical experience. Also, keep in mind that just because you read something in a book doesn’t necessarily mean it’s valid — learn to ask whether a resource is worth using or not. Don’t be afraid to be a skeptic sometimes.
  5. Don’t ever stop learning. Ask other people in the Pagan community — either online, or in real life — for recommendations about books and other resources. If you read a book that you enjoy, check the back for a bibliography and see what other books that author suggests. Remember that learning can take place by reading, but it can also develop from personal experience, and from speaking with other people involved in Paganism.

 

 

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Covens vs. Solitary Practice

Covens vs. Solitary Practice

It’s an argument that comes up frequently in the Pagan community, particularly among those who identify as Wiccans. There’s one school of thought that says “only a witch can make a witch,” which means you must be initiated and part of a coven — typically a lineaged one — before you can claim to be Wiccan, Pagan, or any other variety thereof. There’s another camp that says anyone can be a witch or Pagan, and what matters more than initiation and coven connections is what’s in your heart and soul.

Will people ever agree on these things?

It’s pretty unlikely.

However, as you begin your studies of Wicca and other forms of Paganism, you may at some point be offered the opportunity to join a group. You may also find that you really prefer working alone. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of covens vs. solitary practice, so that when the time comes for you to make a decision, you can do so with some knowledge under your belt.

Working as a Solitary

 

Many people begin their Pagan studies by working as a solitary. This happens for a number of reasons, but the most common one is that quite simply, most people develop an interest in Paganism long before they meet a coven they’re interested in joining. There are benefits to working alone, to be sure, but it also has its drawbacks.

Advantages

  • You can make your own rules, and follow your own set of ethics
  • You can worship at your convenience, rather than following a schedule involving several people
  • You’re free to work with anyone you like, even if they’re a member of another traditions
  • You’re not under any obligation to anyone but yourself and your deities

Disadvantages

  • You may find yourself eventually limited in the type and quantity of knowledge you obtain
  • It’s often hard for solitaries to network with other Pagans and Wiccans
  • Sometimes, it’s just nice to hang out with other people that believe as you do
  • If you’re looking to grow and learn spiritually, you may feel at some point you’d like a mentor or teacher, which you don’t have as a solitary

Working In a Group

 

Many Pagans and Wiccans find that they enjoy group practice. There is a certain energy that can be experienced in a group that you just don’t experience as a solitary practitioner, and there are plenty of benefits to being in a coven. On the other hand, when you work with a coven or group, there’s a whole new set of dynamics involved, which can create its own set of problems.

Advantages

  • Working in a group gives you the benefit of learning from people who may have more experience and knowledge than you
  • When you’re part of a group, you have more opportunities to network and meet others in the greater Pagan community
  • Coven work typically is more structured and formal, and rituals are usually more elaborate, which some people find beneficial to their studies
  • A coven usually has a pre-determined course of study, so rather than just randomly reading books, you’ll find yourself following specific lesson plans as you move towards various degrees of initiation

Disadvantages

  • Coven work typically has to be scheduled ahead of time, making sure everyone is available
  • If someone is on a power trip, a coven has the potential to be a miserable experience for everyone else involved
  • When you’re part of a coven, there are numerous relationships going on, so there can be issues if one person decides to cause problems
  • If you join an existing coven, chances are good that they’re already set in their ways, and may not be willing to make accommodations to meet your needs

Whether or not you decide to practice as a solitary or as part of a coven is a personal decision. Covens can be hard to find in some areas, but it is possible to do – just be aware that you may have to make some effort and put some work into the process. If you choose instead to be a solitary practitioner, there is nothing wrong with that either. Regardless, choose the path that is the right one for you.

 

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Practicing as a Solitary Pagan

Practicing as a Solitary Pagan

Many contemporary Wiccans and other Pagans find that rather than joining a group, they prefer practicing as a solitary. The reasons for this as are as varied as those who walk the path – some may find that they work better by themselves, while others who wish to join a coven may be limited by geography or family and job obligations. Regardless, there are a number of things to keep in mind if you’re considering – or have already found your way to – a path as a solitary Wiccan or Pagan.
Covens vs. Solitaries

For some people, it’s hard to make the decision to practice as a solitary. For others, it’s a no-brainer. Both methods have their benefits, and you can always change your mind if you find that one isn’t working for you. Some of the advantages of practicing as a solitary Pagan include setting your own schedule, working at your own pace, and not having to deal with the dynamics of coven relationships. The downside, of course, is that you’re working alone, and at some point, you may find yourself wishing you had someone to tell you where to go and what to do next in order to expand your knowledge.
How Do I Practice?

The first thing many people wonder is “How do I practice as a solitary?” After all, you’ve got no one to suggest rituals and practice to you, no one to ask if you don’t understand. So what do you do? One of the best things to do to develop as successful practice as a solitary Pagan is to form a routine – doing things the same way each time is really the foundation of ritual, and is a good habit to get into.

Also, try networking – attending public Pagan events may be just the thing for someone who wants to meet other Pagans and Wiccans, but doesn’t want (or need) the commitment of joining an established group. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. There are plenty of people out there, both in your “real world” life and on the Internet. You’re always welcome to visit the About Pagan/Wiccan forums if you’ve got something you’d like to ask about, or if you just want to communicate with some new people.
Eclectic Practice

If you’ve decided that practicing as a solitary Pagan is the right path for you, you may find you work best not with a structured system of belief and practice, but by developing things on your own. This is fine – many people create and enhance their own traditions, taking what they need from other, established traditions, and blending it together to create a brand new system of belief. Eclectic Wicca is an all-purpose term applied to NeoWiccan traditions that don’t fit into any specific definitive category. Many solitary Wiccans follow an eclectic path, but there are also covens that consider themselves eclectic. A coven or individual may use the term “eclectic” for a variety of reasons.
Self Dedication

One of the benchmarks for many people involved in the Pagan community is the initiation ritual – it’s a ceremony that marks us as belonging to something, as being part of a community, a coven, or some fellowship that we have not known before. It’s also, in many cases, a time to formally declare ourselves to the gods of our traditions. By the very definition of the word, however, one cannot self-initiate, because “initiate” is something that must include two people. Many solitaries find instead that a self-dedication ritual fills that need perfectly – it’s a way of making a commitment to one’s spiritual growth, to the deities we honor, and to learning and finding our way.
Never Stop Learning

If you’re practicing as a solitary Pagan, it’s easy to fall into the trap of “I’ve read all my books.” Don’t ever stop learning – once you’ve read all your books, go find some new ones. Borrow them from the library, buy them (used if you prefer), or check them out online from reputable sources like Sacred Texts or Project Gutenberg. If there’s a particular subject you’re interested in, read about it. Keep expanding your knowledge base, and you’ll be able to continue and grow spiritually.
Celebrating with Ritual

When it comes to celebrating rituals, the ceremonies on this site are typically designed so that they can be adapted either for a group celebration or a solitary ritual. Browse the listings for the various Sabbat rituals, find the rite you want to perform, and tweak it to meet your needs. Once you feel comfortable with ritual practice, try writing your own! Planning and Creating a Ritual.

 

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