Let’s Talk Witch – Personal Power

DRAGONS BOOK OF DREAMS

Personal Power

 

Personal power has a lot to do with having “presence.” We all know people who just seem to shine, and everyone looks at them when they enter a room. Movie stars, powerful politicians, and celebrities have it. However, you don’t need to be someone in the public eye to possess presence. In fact, your job or social position rarely has anything to do with it. Presence comes from within — from being present in the moment and in harmony with yourself. Some little kids have it. Some elderly people have it. You’ll meet people from all walks of life who don’t even realize they have it. In some instances, a person may be born with presence, but usually it’s something you cultivate and nurture over time, with the development of self-knowledge.

Remember the old adage, know thyself? To know yourself and to use what you learn requires an act of will. As you know already, your will is the crux of every visualization, manifestation, and spell you cast. You don’t simply say the words or use the right herbs. You don’t just go through the motions. You plunge into yourself, you delve deep to discover your true motives, needs, and desires. You bring that self-knowledge into your daily awareness. Then you commit to your path and trust the process.

 

The Modern Guide to Witchcraft: Your Complete Guide to Witches, Covens, and Spells

Skye Alexander

 

Temples, Covens and Groves – Oh, My!

TEMPLES, COVENS AND GROVES – OH MY!
by KHALED

There appears to be a fair amount of ongoing confusion as to what each of these is and what each of them should be doing, so let me stick my oar into it, too. But first, let’s play the definition game.

CIRCLE
Three or more people who gather together to work ritual or Craft. Some are ritual only, some worship only, but most do both. The following are all special cases of a Circle:

GROVE
Circle usually led by, and under the auspices of, a coven. Frequently eclectic in practice, Groves are commonly used as an introduction to the Craft as a whole but not necessarily to any given Tradition. Groves usually don’t initiate. May also be called a study group.

COVEN
Circle gathering at least once per month (with a majority gathering twice) for worship and/or magic. Membership tends to be stable with gradual personnel changes. Normally practicing within a single Tradition, Covens typically have strong group  rapport. Most train their members to whatever standard they use. Rites of passage (the “I” word) are the norm.

TEMPLE
Two or more Circles, generally at least one Coven (the Inner Circle) and a Grove (the Outer Circle), the latter being open to the public. Serves the public as a place to worship and/or learn about the Gods with advanced training for those seekers who meet the Temple’s standards. I’m on shakier ground here, never having run a Temple, but I see a Circle/Grove open to the general public as essential to the definition, while the strong affiliation to one or more covens
is a matter of observation (as is the relationship between Groves and Covens cited earlier.)

A fair number of practitioners do not distinguish among these terms (nor, for that matter, among Wicca, Paganism and New Age). Feel free to take issue with any of these definitions, but they are what I have in mind as I write this. Let’s take a closer look at what each of these is and how they tend to function within Neo-Paganism.

A Circle is a gathering of, preferably like-minded, individuals for purposes of magic and/or worship. None of those gathered need be of the same Tradition, nor even Initiate, though it makes for better results if at least some of them are. All Groves, Covens and Temples are therefore Circles. The reverse, however, isn’t always the case since many Circles do not also meet the criteria for a Grove, Coven or Temple.

A Grove, or Study Group, is a Circle of students learning the basics of Neo-Pagan (or Wiccan or any of the other subsets of Pagan) worship and Circle techniques. While normally under the tutelage of one or more Initiates, the members are not necessarily being trained towards Initiation in any particular Tradition, nor need the tutors be of the same Tradition(s) as the students (nor even of each other).Mystery religions, by their very nature, aren’t for everyone, nor is any given Mystery suitable for all Initiates. The Grove is a way for potential Initiates to take a good look at one or more Traditions while learning how to handle themselves in just about any basic Circle. If this isn’t for them, they can easily drop it. If it is, they can focus on the specific
Tradition (or family of Traditions) which seems to speak most clearly to them (assuming they were exposed to more than one). Similarly, the tutor(s) can teach general techniques to any serious Seeker without worrying about an implied commitment to Initiate someone unsuited to their particular Tradition.

Groves do not normally do Initiations (they’re done by the sponsoring Coven, if any), and tend to be oriented more towards teaching and worship than towards magical practice. They are also more likely to be fairly open to new members or even the general public than is the case with established Covens, while study groups, in my experience at least, are more likely to be invitation-only. The most effective Groves (or study groups, of course) are under the helpful eye, if not out-and-out sponsorship, of an established Coven or family of Covens.

A Coven, on the other hand, is a regularly meeting Circle, all of the same Tradition, at least some of whom are Initiates (and at least one of whom holds Initiatory power if the Coven is to survive or grow). Such a group tends to become very close (“closer than kin”) and is bound by the rules and styles (deliberately non-existent in some cases) of its Tradition, and by its own internal rules and customs. A member of a Coven is normally provided training and, when deemed ready, Initiation or Elevation by that Coven’s Priesthood/Elders.

There are also magical considerations which go into the making of a Coven which further differentiate it from a Grove/study group, but it isn’t my intention to go into them here. Suffice it to say that they are connected to the closeness and tend to enhance it. Because the bond is tight, and because a Coven generally intends to be around for a few decades, they’re kinda fussy about who joins. The wise Seeker is equally fussy about which, if any, Coven s/he eventually joins.
You’re not joining a social club here, you’re adopting, and being adopted into, an extended family. And this time round you have some control over who your kin will be!

Neo-Pagan Temples are a fairly new phenomena combining many of the characteristics of Covens and Groves. I think that the clearest description of just what they’re about comes from the (draft) Constitution of the proposed Victoria (B.C.) Temple:

a) To minister to the Pagan community by way of providing support, education, and sponsoring religious celebrations;

b) to establish and maintain a religious sanctuary and place of worship accessible to all who would worship the Goddess and the God;

c) to provide a seminary for the training of Wiccan clergy;

d) to provide accredited ordination for Wiccan clergy;

e) to provide accurate information about Witchcraft to all who would ask and to engage in dialogue with other religious groups with the purpose of furthering understanding and friendship between us; and

f) to do other charitable acts of goodwill as will benefit the community at large.

As stated in my definition of Temple above, I consider the provision of Neo-Pagan (not necessarily Wiccan) religious instruction and services to the general public to be essential, and provision of community services to the local Neo-Pagan population highly desirable. To be taken seriously in the wider world, we need to have our clergy recognized by our government(s), which in turn means that we need to be visibly providing training and ordination which meets
government accreditation criteria (which can vary significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction). Such accredited ordination is most easily adminitered through Temples.

To address a diatribe current on the Nets (computer Network Bulletin Boards: Ed.) so long as the governments we seek accreditation from think in Christian terms, then we will have to use Christian terms, carefully defined to earmark differences in usage, to describe ourselves to them. Sure, there’s some danger of picking up some inappropriate (to Wicca) ways of thinking along with those terms, but we’re more likely to import them with converts who were raised as
Christians. The solution to both problems is the same: clearly understood (by the tutors above all!) religious instruction. And if a Christian notion isn’t inappropriate, and if it’s truly useful, why shouldn’t we adopt it? Religious intolerance itself is inappropriate to Wiccan thought, and I think we should be clearer in condemning it.

So how does it all tie together? I think that the Neo-Pagan community needs a mix of solitaires, coveners and templers, along with significant variety among their Traditions, to remain intellectually and spiritually healthy. We also need umbrella organisations capable of meeting the needs of each of them, not only for credibility with governments and the general public, but to spread new (and not so new) ideas around the very community they should exist to serve. I’ll
talk more on what this umbrella organization should look like in a bit. For now, let’s get back to roles of the different types of Circle.

One of the things that fascinates about the Craft is our teaching that the Gods don’t need a Priesthood to run interference between Them and Their worshippers. Nor is this a new idea. Heroditus recorded with a certain amazement that Persians must call on a Magus to perform every little sacrifice, whereas among the Greeks of his time, anyone, including housewives and slaves, could sacrifice at any time, assuming they had the desire and the means. We have a
Priesthood because some people feel called to a deeper understanding and expression of their faith than is the case for many. And while They don’t need Initiated Priesthoods, humans find them very useful both as a source of  thoughtful religious instruction and as a ready source of warm bodies to stick with the administrivia of organizing group ritual.

Like sex, however, effective worship isn’t something that just comes naturally. It must be learnt, and practiced. Groves, festivals and Temples are all good places to learn the fundamentals, assuming you weren’t fortunate enough to learn them at home. They are also good places to socialize with people who think much the way you do, a deeply-seated human need we do well not to overlook. If your need runs deeper, you will find Priesthood there to talk to. If your needs prove more mystically oriented, they should be able to arrange contact with one or more Covens, who can in turn, if appropriate, Initiate you into whichever flavor of the Mysteries they practice.

Different Circle structures serve different needs. None is superior to the other except to the extent that it serves your needs better. For those of us simply seeking to express our religious feelings in sympathetic company, whichever form best serves that expression is all we’re likely to need. But those of us who feel called to serve the greater community will need all of them to achieve the mandate we have set ourselves.

To return to our model umbrella organization, to serve a significant majority of
the community it will have to address as many of the rather different needs of
solitaires, Covens and Temples as is feasible without stepping on the concerns
of any of them. To be effective, it has to have some standards, but it can’t
impose them from above without violating the sovereignty that all three segments
of the community value rather highly.

One of the difficulties with any ideal is that it manifests imperfectly, if
indeed it can be brought to manifestation at all. Rather than a discouragement,
however, I find that a challenge: to bring about the best fit possible between
reality and our ideal. Here then are my ideas on some of the attributes such an
organization can aim for. To start from the top, I think the stated purpose of
the organization should be to serve as a liaison between member clergy and the
Establishment, whether government or public. Why clergy? Because we don’t need
government approval simply to worship our Gods, especially if we’re doing so
discreetly and on private property.

It’s our institutions which need public recognition in order to be able to avail
themselves of public resources available to other, already recognized,
religions, not the worshippers themselves. And institutions effectively mean the
clergy. Note I don’t say Priesthood. It’s one of the earmarks of the Craft that
all Initiates are clergy, but in many of our Traditions, Priesthood requires a
deeper understanding of traditional lore and techniques.

The immediate needs such an organization should attempt to fulfill are essentially three:

1)   Establishment of a Seminary to provide the training necessary for government accreditation as a minister of religion for those who need or seek said accreditation. To achieve this it will be necessary to look into the minimal training expected by any intended licensing bodies and ensure that those standards are being met or exceeded by all graduates of said certification
program. This accreditation is to serve no other purpose within the organization: all of our members will be recognized by us as clergy, whether or not they seek further accreditation.

2)   To act as a public relations and information office on the Craft to the general public. If we exist, we will be used as an information source, so we might as well plan on it and do the job properly.

3)   To act as a Craft contact and social network to facilitate Pagan networking among members and non-members alike.

To expand upon the seminary somewhat, any member should be able to sit for an examination without taking the associated classes (a process known in Ontario as “challenge for credit”). If s/he passes, s/he is given the credit, if not, the associated courses must be taken before s/he may sit for another examination on that subject. In this way we can grant credit for existing knowledge without in any way compromising our standards. I think it would be a very bad idea to grant an exemption from this procedure to anyone.

Because very few of us are likely to be able to drop everything for a couple of years to travel to wherever we happen to establish the campus, one should be able to complete the courses necessary for certification by correspondence. Nor should the topics of instruction be limited for those required for accreditation with government.

Let’s also see to it that our ministers have a grounding in the philosophy of religion, comparative religion (especially comparative Pagan religion) and chaplaincy as well. Note too that I keep referring to the document as a Certificate, not a college degree. A university level of education, while great for the egos of graduates, is unnecessarily high to meet the needs of our Pagan laity – a Community College is much more appropriate. The stages of learning in a guildcraft are apprentice, journeyman and master, NOT baccalaureate, master and doctor! Mind, I have no objection to our Seminary offering college level courses, nor any other course or seminar it may choose to offer. I merely object to the insistence in some quarters that since most Christian ministers must hold graduate degrees, then by golly ours must too! Horsefeathers!

Our Organization then breaks down into a Seminary to provide internal education, and accreditation, to Pagan religious tutors; a PR office to provide external education, and referrals to the public; and one or more Festivals, and no doubt a periodical (e.g. a newsletter), to provide for contacts and networking both internal and external.

Further, I see our Organization as an ecclesia in the ancient Athenian sense of the term, and assembly of all those having the right to vote in our affairs. I don’t feel the ecclesia should either set or attempt to enforce any standards beyond those required for government accreditation and a minimal ethical standard for membership. I feel that member-ship should be restricted to ordained clergy within a Pagan tradition, nor should the ecclesia itself set any standard as to what does or does not constitute clergy (though I expect it may have to define criteria for determining what is or isn’t Pagan). All this because any other approach compromises the essential sovereignty of our Covens and Temples (for which purpose I see a solitary as a Coven of 1).

Since our membership is composed of clergy, not Covens and Temples, I favor one-person-one-vote. Certainly, groups with a large number of ordained members will thereby gain a larger number of votes in the ecclesia, why not? The ecclesia has no authority over individual members nor the organizations they may represent. Its most extreme power is to suspend the membership of persons found to be in violation of the ethical code, which code is set and policed by the members themselves. Or to appoint officers to manage the ecclesia’s property and affairs, which officers will be legally and constitutionally answerable to the membership.

On the topic of polity, I see the ecclesia/AGM as setting policy which is then administered and interpreted by the officers. The officers should have no power to set policy themselves. Our structure should be absolutely minimalist to avoid unpleasant takeover bids later. Any office or function which doesn’t need to be there, shouldn’t be there. If someone has grounds for an ethics complaint, an ad hoc committee should be assembled to look into it. If amends are made or the
objectionable behavior corrected, then the case should be dropped (i.e. the committee is focused on correcting unethical behavior, not punishing it).

On the subject of officers and their terms of office, I rather like the notion of electing them in alternate years for two- year terms. A one-year term is too hard on continuity. One possibility to avoid little fiefdoms is to provide each function with two officers, one senior and the other junior. Each year the senior officer retires, the junior officer becomes the senior and a new
junior officer is elected. Continuity is preserved, and each officer gains an assistant who has a year in which to learn the ropes. I think that barring the outgoing senior from seeking re-election as a junior would be wasteful of resources, myself, but it would certainly serve to break up fiefdoms even further, should the ecclesia happen to be particularly paranoid about them.

A not-so-little proposal, but the subject is an important one. This is only somewhat-baked, and I see the need as both real and immediate.

OIMELC – February 2

OIMELC – February 2

Down with Rosemary and so
Down with baies and mistletoe;
Down with Holly, live and all
Wherewith ys drest the Yuletide Hall;
That so the superstitious find No one least Branch there left behind;
For look, how many leaves there be
Neglected there, maids, trust to me,
So many goblins you shall see.
–Robert Herrick

Oimelc – Imbolc in the Saxon – marks the first stirring of life in the earth.
The Yule season originally ended at Oimelc. But with increasing organization and industrialization, increasing demands for labor and production, the holiday kept shrinking, first to the two weeks ending at Twelfth Night, then to a single week ending at New Year’s, then to a single day.

Oimelc begins a season of purification similar to that preceding Yule. It ends
at Ostara. No marriages, initiations or puberty rites should be celebrated
between Oimelc and Ostara.

The candles and torches at Oimelc signify the divine life-force awakening
dormant life to new growth.

THEMES

Growth of roots begin again. Bare branches begin to swell with leaf buds, and
growth appears at the tips of evergreen branches. The tools of agriculture are
being make ready for Spring.

Xian feasts of St. Brigid, and Celtic feast of Brigit, the maiden aspect of the
triple goddess and mother of Dagda. Her symbol is the white swan. A Roman feast of Bacchus and Ceres. The Lupercalia, a feast of Pan. The Nephelim or Titans, those offspring of human-divine unions said to have ruled Atlantis.

Grannus, a mysterious Celtic god whom the Romans identified with Apollo.

PURPOSE OF THE RITES

To awaken life in the Earth. Fire tires to strengthen the young Sun, to bring
the fertilizing, purifying, protective and vitalizing influence of fire to the
fields, orchards, domestic animals, and people. To drive away winter. To charm
candles for household use throughout the year.

FOLK CUSTOMS

The three functions of Oimelc – end of Yule, feast of candles or torches, and
beginning of a purificatory season – are divided by the Xian calendar among
Twelfth Night, Candlemas and Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras, Carnival). The customs of all three feasts are derived from Oimelc, with at most a thin Xian gloss.

Parades of giant figures (Titans?) in rural towns in France and at Mardi Gras
and Carnival celebrations. A figure representing the Spirit of Winter or Death,
sometime made of straw, sometimes resembling a snowman, is drowned, burnt or in once case, stuffed with fireworks and exploded. They symbol of Montreal’s Winter Carnival is the giant figure of Bonhomme di Neige (snowman).

Groundhog Day, Chinese New Year and St. Valentine’s Day customs.

The French provinces are so rich in Oimelc customs they cannot be listed here.
Refer to “The Golden Bough”.

Wassailing the trees: at midnight, carolers carry a bucket of ale, cider or
lamb’s wool in a torchlight procession through the orchards. The leader dips a
piece of toast in the drink and sedges it in the fork of each tree, with the
traditional cheer (variations exist) of: “Hats full, holes full, barrels full,
and the little heap under the stairs!”.

Who finds the bean in the Twelfth Night cake becomes king of the feast; who
finds the pea becomes queen – never mind the gender of the finders. Rag-bag
finery and gilt-paper crowns identify the king and queen. The rulers give
ridiculous orders to the guests, who must obey their every command. They are
waited on obsequiously, and everything they do is remarked and announced
admiringly and importantly: “The King drinks!”, “The Queen sneezes!” and
everyone politely imitates the ruler’s example.

SYMBOLIC DECORATIONS

Snowdrops are picked for vases, but otherwise no special decorative effects are
indicated. Go carnival, balloons and confetti.

SOCIAL ACTIVITIES

Parades, with showers of confetti, gala balls, masks, street dancing, mumming,
winter sports, ice and snow sculpture.

THE RITE

Dress in dark colors with much silver jewelry. Outdoors, after dark on the Even,
have the site arranged with a fire in the cauldron and the altar draped in
white, at the Northeast. The fire may be composed all or in part of Yule greens.

Go in a torchlight procession to the Circle. Include a stamping dance, possibly beating the ground with sticks, before the Invocation. The invocation may end with the calling of Hertha, a Teutonic goddess of the earth and the hearth. Call her name three times and at each call beat on the ground three times with the palms of both hands.

A figure representing Winter should be burned in the fire. Communion may consist of Sabbat Cakes or a Twelfth Night cake (there are many traditional recipes) and cider or wassail. A procession may leave the Circle for a time to wassail a nearby orchard. Couples may leap the bonfire. Supplies of candles brought by the coveners are blessed.

Boys puberty rites may be celebrated. These usually include mock plowing by the boys.

Close the Circle and go indoors for the feast.

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Oathbound

Oathbound

By , About.com

Definition: In modern Wicca and Paganism, when something is oathbound, it simply means that it is information which may not be revealed to people who have not been initiated into a particular tradition. What information is oathbound will vary from one tradition to the next. In Gardnerian Wicca, nearly everything is oathbound — which is why if you see someone sharing information about the practices of a Gardnerian coven, you should be suspicious; they’re either passing along information that is not Gardnerian, or they’re someone who has broken their oath of secrecy. In other traditions, some practices are oathbound but others are not. Typically, the more emphasis a tradition places on initiations and lineage, the more information will be considered oathbound. Wicca, in its original form, was considered a “mystery religion,” so there are some pieces of knowledge which are never meant to be shared with outsiders.

Examples:

When Willow was asked by a reporter about the practices of her coven, she was unable to reveal the information, because it was oathbound material.

The Law (Humor)

                                          THE LAW
by Rosemary Edgehill
The Law was made and ardane about a week from last Wednesday.
The  Law was made for the Wiccca,  in order that they should develop a
nice longhand style from copying it.

TheWicccashouldgive dueworshiptotheGodz, presumingthey
believe the Godz exist and aren’t just metaphors; and obey Their Will,
which the HPS of  the Coven will make up as she goes along, for it was
made   for the purpose of ego-tripping  and wild parties.  The worship
of the  Wiccca is good for the owners of Occult Supply Stores, for the
owners of  Occult Supply Stores love the money of the Wiccca.

Asa manlovetha womanusingthe missionaryposition, sothe
Wiccca should shaft their fellows  and other total strangers frequent-
ly.    And it  is necessary that the Magick  Circle which is the prin-
cipal difference between  a Wicccan rite and a frat  party be cast and
all  Wiccca properly  purified  to enter  it so  they  can drink  five
gallons of Ripple each  and not throw up.

TheHPSshallr/u/i/n/ rulehercovenasthe localrepresenta-
tive  of  the Goddess,  and choose whomever she is  sleeping with this
week to be her HP…or her Maiden.

Andremember that the Wiccca would have it that The God
Himself kissed her feet and gave  up the position of Ringmaster to her
because  of her arbitrariness  and autocracy, her  spite and unreason,
her  mysteriousness and ignorance: so the HP  is expected to go as far
away as possible and not even show up for Sabbats.

It is the greatest virtue of a HPS that she turn as many of her
Covenors into closet  Xtians as  possible, for the  true HPS  realizes
that anyone with the sense Goddess gave  a goose is not going to stick
around without having a death wish.
*       *       *       *       *
In  the Olden  Days when  Wiccca extended  far, we  were free  and had
reservations  in all the best restaurants.   But these days, we eat at
McDonald’s.

SO BE IT ARDANE, that nonebut the Wiccca shall ever be
invited to   dinner, for  people who ignore us  are many, and  if they
ever found out what we are really up to, they would giggle.

SO BE ITARDANE, that no Coven shall knowwhere the next Coven
bide, nor who its member be, save anybody who looks in Circle Newslet-
ter and the hit team we send out to sanction them.

SOBEITARDANE, thatnoone shalltellanyoneanything, least
of  all  thy fellows  in the  Craft, for  fear one  of you  will learn
something; because as it is truly writ: Gerald wrote it, I believe it,
that settles it.

Andif anybreakthese Laws,theywill havetostart theirown
Tradition and make up their own Grandmother.

Leteach HPSgovernherCoven asshedamn’well please,riding
rough-shod over the Covenors as long as they will stand for.

Butitmust berecognized thatsooner orlater theywill get
mad and  stop bringing the Ripple  to Coven meetings.   When this hap-
pens, it hath ever been the Old Law that the HPS will Elevate  them to
the Third Degree and kick them  out, and promise them the rest  of the
Book…someday.

Anyone ofanydegree ornonemay founda Coven,providedthey
think  they can get  away with it  and can create  a convincing Grand-
mother.

They mayraidother Covensformembers aslongas nooneknows
where to find them.

But splitting the Covenoft means new opportunities for
evading the consequences of your  actions, so the wise HPS  will think
of it first.

*       *       *       *       *

If you should keep  a Black Book, let it be in your own hand of write,
except for the parts you xerox out of Lady Sheba.  Or better yet, tell
everybody they’re not of a high enough degree to see it.

ProclaimyourWicccahoodloudly, andoften;youmaybe ableto
do a brisk trade in spells, psychic fairs, and talk  shows.  If nobody
believs you,  try holding a public skyclad circle.  If all else fails,
hire a  press agent and advertise  in the National Inquirer.   If they
try to  make you  talk of the  Brotherhood, lay  it on with  a trowel.
Ancient Atlantis is always good  for a five-minute spot on the  six o’
clock news.   Not all interviewers  are bad; some may  even flash your
business address on the screen for a few seconds.

*       *       *       *       *

To  avoid discovery, let your working  tools be ordinary stuff such as
any may have around the house: AR-15’s, Patton Tanks, Howitzers (let’s
see how  far we  can stretch  that First Amendment,  gang!).   Have no
names or signs on  anuything, and  remove the ones they came with,  as
otherwise this can lead to a charge of receiving stolen property.

LetthePentacles bemadeof waxunlesssomethingelse ismore
convenient.

Haveno sword, unlessyou are inthe SCA ora collector of
WWII memorabilia.

Writethe namesand signson agummed labelsothat itcan be
peeled off immediately afterwards; remember that not guilty by  reason
of insanity is not a valid defense in cases of this kind.

Everrememberthatyou aretheHiddenChildrenof theGoddess;
when you can take time out from Karma Dumping Runs, Psychic Vendettas,
Banishing each  other from the  Coven and discussing  how much fun  it
would be  to persecute  the Xtians, remember  never to do  anything to
disgrace Her.  Or Them, if that’s possible.

*       *       *       *       *

In the Olden Days, when we had Power, we could use the Art against any
who ill-treated us; but these days a whispering campaign works better.
Remember always  that there are a  lot of flaky people  out there, and
for this reason  it is best to give a fake  name and a Post Office Box
address.  Someone is always going to blame you for something.

SO BEIT ARDANE: HARMNONE, or atleast have agood alibi.
Never  break this law,  or people who  get burned along  with you will
come after you with baseball bats, and you will never be able to score
any decent hash again.

AnyHPSwho doessomethingyou don’tlikeyou canwalkout on,
but be sure to clout the Coven Book  on the way to the door and set up
in business for yourself (Learn Witchcraft From The Experts!).

Always accept money for use of the Art, but keep an eye on the
Gypsy Laws.  In some states, Barter works better.  All may use the Art
for their own advantage; remember, quick and dirty works best, and you
can lay  off Karma on the Coven.  If  that doesn’t work, try dead cats
in the mailbox.

*       *       *       *       *

‘Tis the Old Law and most important of all the Laws that no one may do
anything that will endanger any of the Craft.  Unless there’s money in
it, or it’s to someone  you think deserves it, and anyway,  “endanger”
is in the eye of the beholder.

In anydispute betweenthe Wiccca,no onemayinvoke anyLaw
but that  of the Craft.   However, you can break  into your opponent’s
home and mess  up his stuff.. after all, it says right here they can’t
go to the Police.

Neverbargain orhaggle whenyou buybythe Art;most Occult
Store owners  will just  throw you  out and  everyone else will  think
you’re a nut.

*       *       *       *       *

It is ever  the way  with men and  with women that  they are ruled  by
their glands.  At any moment  your HPS may run off and become  a Rosi-
crucian.   And the way of  Resignation is this: if  she doesn’t answer
her phone for two weeks and is  never home when you drive by, you  can
declare her  outcast from the Coven and take it over yourself, with as
many  as will have you.  But if  she comes back she will probably take
of the  Coven again,  or start  another one in  the same  building and
declare you Invalid, and there’s  not much you can do about  it. Learn
to live with anxiety.  Get everything in writing.

*       *       *       *       *

It hath  been found that  two people sitting  around with a  bottle of
Chianti   discussing Atlantean  Grandmothers will become  fond of each
other, if only  because of the Stockholm Syndrome.   Therefore, let it
be resolved that  a human being shall  be taught in the  Craft only by
another  human  being, and  screw  the  middle-class morality  of  the
nineteen-fifties.

*       *       *       *       *

And  the Curses  of the  Mighty Ones be  on all  who try  to take this
seriously,  or the Craft seriously,  or the Wiccca  seriously.  Caveat
Lector, and May The Force Be With You!

The Dumb Supper – A Feast With the Dead

The Dumb Supper – A Feast With the Dead

By

Speaking to the Dead:

Although traditionally a seance1 is a good way to communicate with those who have crossed into the spirit world, it’s also perfectly fine to talk to them at other times. You may find yourself walking into a room and suddenly reminded of someone you’ve lost, or catching a whiff of a familiar scent. For me personally, every February I find myself picking over birthday cards and thinking to myself how funny my grandfather would find this one or that one. I make a point of telling him about them, even though he died in 2002. You don’t need a fancy or formal ritual to speak to the dead. They hear you.

How Do We Know They’re Listening?:

In some spiritual paths, one may be viewed as crazy — or at the very least, a little bit daffy — if they speak to the dead. But think of the people you know who have lost a spouse, particularly one they were married to for a long time. Many of them will tell you they talk to their deceased loved one. We can ask them for assistance, for companionship, or just for them to hear our words. Chances are good that if you ask, your life will change significantly.

What Can We Say to Them?:

Ask anyone who’s lost a loved one, and there’s a good chance they have something they didn’t get to say. Whether it’s “I love you”, “I forgive you,” or just plain old, “I really miss you,” there’s nearly always something we wanted to say but never got around to. When you talk to the dead, share with them the things in your life that are important. Maybe you need to let Grandma know that you’re finally going to have that baby girl she’d been hoping for. Or perhaps you need to tell Cousin Joe you’re sorry you broke his iPod. Whatever it is, if it’s on your mind say it. Only then will you be able to move on.

An Altar to the Ancestors:

In many cultures, ancestor worship is an ancient practice. Although traditionally found more in African and Asian societies, more and more Pagans of European heritage are beginning to embrace this idea. After all, we all want to know where we came from. You can build an altar to honor your ancestors, featuring photos, heirlooms, and even a family tree sheet. Leave it up all year long, or set it out at Samhain. This is a good time to perform a ritual for Honoring the Ancestors.

Why on Samhain?:

Why hold a Dumb Supper on Samhain? Well, it’s traditionally known as the night when the veil between our world and the spirit world is at its most fragile. It’s the night when we know for sure the dead will hear us speak, and maybe even speak back. It’s a time of death and resurrection, of new beginnings and fond farewells.

Menus and Table Settings:

Your menu choices are up to you, but because it’s Samhain, you may wish to make the traditional Soul Cakes, as well as serving dishes with apples, late fall vegetables, and game if available. Set the table with a black cloth, black plates and cutlery, black napkins. Use candles as your only source of light — black if you can get them.

Realistically, not everyone has black dishware sitting around. In many traditions, it’s perfectly acceptable to use a combination of black and white, although black should be the predominant color.

Host/Hostess Duties:

When you’re hosting a Dumb Supper, clearly the point is that no one can speak — and that makes a host’s job very tricky. It means you have the responsibility of anticipating each guest’s needs without them communicating verbally. Depending on the size of your table, you may want to make sure each end has its own salt, pepper, butter, etc. Also, watch your guests to see if anyone needs a drink refill, an extra fork to replace the one they just dropped, or more napkins.

Other Samhain Rituals:

If the idea of a Dumb Supper doesn’t quite appeal to you — or if you know darn well that your family can’t be quiet for that long — you may want to try some of these other Samhain rituals:

 

The Dumb Supper:

In some Pagan and Wiccan traditions, it has become popular to hold a Dumb Supper in honor of the dead. In this case, the word “dumb” refers to being silent. The origins of this tradition have been fairly well debated — some claim it goes back to ancient cultures, others believe it’s a relatively new idea. Regardless, it’s one that’s observed by many people around the world.

When holding a Dumb Supper, there are a few simple guidelines to follow. First of all, make your dining area sacred, either by casting a circle, smudging, or some other method. Turn off phones and televisions, eliminating outside distractions.

Secondly, remember that this is a solemn and silent occasion, not a carnival. It’s a time of silence, as the name reminds us. You may wish to leave younger children out of this ceremony. Ask each adult guest to bring a note to the dinner. The note’s contents will be kept private, and should contain what they wish to say to their deceased friends or relatives.

Set a place at the table for each guest, and reserve the head of the table for the place of the Spirits. Although it’s nice to have a place setting for each individual you wish to honor, sometimes it’s just not feasible. Instead, use a tealight candle at the Spirit setting to represent each of the deceased. Shroud the Spirit chair in black or white cloth.

No one may speak from the time they enter the dining room. As each guest enters the room, they should take a moment to stop at the Spirit chair and offer a silent prayer to the dead. Once everyone is seated, join hands and take a moment to silently bless the meal. The host or hostess, who should be seated directly across from the Spirit chair, serves the meal to guests in order of age, from the oldest to youngest. No one should eat until all guests — including Spirit — are served.

When everyone has finished eating, each guest should get out the note to the dead that they brought. Go to the head of the table where Spirit sits, and find the candle for your deceased loved one. Focus on the note, and then burn it in the candle’s flame (you may wish to have a plate or small cauldron on hand to catch burning bits of paper) and then return to their seat. When everyone has had their turn, join hands once again and offer a silent prayer to the dead.

Everyone leaves the room in silence. Stop at the Spirit chair on your way out the door, and say goodbye one more time.

Solitary or Coven?

Solitary or Coven?

Author:   Silverwolf 

Solitary or Coven?

One of the key choices facing pagans is the decision to be a solitary or to join a coven. Obviously a third option is to do both: you can have a practice on your own and still work with most Covens, but for many the practical answer is one of the other.

As Pagans, we generally enjoy a great deal of freedom in the development of our own particular path, and one of the decisions we all face is whether we want to or even feel we need to work with others in our path.

A solitary path brings complete personal freedom and the ability to truly work on a path that fits with your own beliefs. On the other hand, a coven can bring collective knowledge and experience that you may never obtain on your own, as well as the energy that a group can tap into.

The nice thing about Paganism, however, is that most will agree that there is no right or wrong answer for us. If a Coven works for you, so be it. If the path of a solitary works for you, so be it. Of course, you cannot call yourself a member of an initiatory tradition if you are a solitary, but that’s o.k.

Part 1: “Alone but not lonely” – by Silverwolf

Why do people stay solitary Pagan practitioners? Of course it you wish to join one of the initiatory traditions then you have to join a coven. There are other traditions that do not require direct initiation, and you can be a solitary and still practice that path. Of course, most solitaries simply create their own path, which is why they decided to remain solitaries in the first place.

As a matter of terminology, some people refer to solitary practitioners as “solitaries” and some as “solitaires”. I use the former here, but there is nothing wrong with either.

The vast majority of Pagans do start out as a solitary of course. At what point to do you realize you are Pagan? This usually comes on slowly and often as an act of discovery.

You may have had some leanings towards Paganism, but you were not familiar with what exactly it was. Then you read a book, or talked to someone, or ran across a web site that described being Pagan and you realized that that was what you had been feeling already, but didn’t have a name for it. A coven member introduced some people directly to Paganism, but even there these people usually were Pagans in their beliefs already, they just didn’t realize it.

What level of commitment?

The decision to not join a coven usually comes from simply not having the opportunity to join a like-minded coven. Just because you want to join one doesn’t mean there is one nearby with similar beliefs or that they are interested in new members. In fact, it is really incorrect to say that some people decide *not* to join a coven – most simply never decide *to* join one.

Some people practicing solitary would prefer to join covens but simply have no opportunity. Some are simply not involved enough in their practice to want the regularity of coven life. Just like a Christian who only goes to church on Christmas, or even not at all, but still considers him/herself a Christian.

Many people hold Pagan beliefs, but not everyone feels the need to actually “practice” anything and of course there is nothing wrong with that. As part of deciding on a Pagan path that is right for us, the level of activity and involvement that we pick is also a personal decision we need to make. A coven may simply require more activity and involvement than some Pagans are willing to invest.

A variety of traditions to draw on

Being a solitary has both pros and cons. The benefit of being able to construct a tailored path that fits you also means that you do, in fact, have to create this path yourself. You will undoubtedly take inspiration from other works, but you will create the path yourself. Now that is not to say that you can’t get help. Instead of learning about one tradition, you will probably need to research and learn about many traditions in order to find the parts that you wish to incorporate. Of course, you can also simply create your practice by following your own instincts without basing your practice on any previous works. Personally, I enjoy learning about different religions and beliefs, so I view this as part of the growing process as opposed to a chore. But it is work, no mistake.

Community for Solitaries

Being a solitary does not mean that you are without others to help you. You can discuss history, philosophy, ritual, and other aspects with other pagans – solitaries and coven members alike. Their views may match your on some issues, and diverge on others. You ultimately need to pick the pieces you will incorporate into your own beliefs, but you can still discuss ideas and solicit comments and opinions. This is part of the key attraction of a solitary path for me – the ability to take the best of all worlds to construct a path that fits me perfectly, and one that can grow and evolve as I grow and evolve.

A solitary is, by definition, alone and this potentially means on missing out on the benefits of community. However, there are several options to get the benefits of community that come automatically with a coven. There are on-line communities where you can meet on neutral ground, the Unitarian Universalist church is quite Pagan-friendly and I am actively involved in the one near me. Of course, a UU church welcomes Pagans, and many of the practices are purely Pagan, but it stops short of the more religious aspects of Paganism. Still, it provides a great place to explore beliefs and to put social and ecological beliefs into action.

The Solitary Path

Would I ever join a coven? Perhaps – I have nothing against covens and I believe that covens are absolutely the right path for some. If I ever found one that I felt matched my own path closely enough, and that seemed supportive and still flexible, I would certainly consider it. I enjoy attending public rituals on occasion and wouldn’t mind having a group to participate with regularly in rituals more closely aligned with my own path.

Having others to help craft new directions and explore new aspects of my faith could be fun. Joining a coven is also not permanent, and if my coven and I moved in different directions later I could simply leave the coven. With the tight community that a Coven forms, however, this would not be a step taken lightly. But I feel no need to join a coven today, or even to try to seek one out. For now, I continue to explore my faith and my direct relationship with the deity.

Part 2: “Hold Me As I Spiral And Spin” – by Chicoryflower

There are so many solitary versus coven arguments available, so pointing out something novel is challenging. However, it’s the language we’re looking for. An opinion that seems hip in a way that we value.

So with that in mind, I’ll explain that I wasn’t looking to join a coven when I stumbled upon one that I adore.

I had two brushes with covens that left me feeling that coven life was not for me. I wanted to hone and caress my own sense of divinity, explore my own boundless spirituality and not be hemmed in by the conceptual spirituality of others at different stages in life, from different backgrounds, with different (not lesser or greater) emotional and intellectual needs.

I don’t want to sound like I felt it would be an inferior experience, far from it. But I worried that others might feel the need to explore avenues, which I was less interested in, and I might be attracted to areas that they didn’t wish to learn about.

When you “sign-up”, it may seem that the 101 classes are beneath you. You might feel like you’ve been forced off the 10-speed and back on to the tricycle, but this is another benefit of being in a coven. There are precious gems of information about the coven within those classes. Take your time, go to as many as have been assigned, or more, you won’t be sorry. By the end of a year, you’ll realize it was beneficial and a great value of time, effort and expense. You can ask questions, and they will be answered. You can’t get that out of a book!

Covens can meet a lot of needs, and the first one is that perfect love and perfect trust doesn’t exist within the larger community of witches, it can only exist in covens where that is part of the vows you take. Otherwise, it’s just down to you and your divinity to have 100% certainty that all is done with the best you have to offer.

When we meet in perfect love and perfect trust, this has a lot to do with recognizing the intrinsic divine in others. It’s an exercise that makes us better people, better witches, and better friends, everywhere else in our lives. When we love and trust in this way to recognize the divine within others, and we also stretch our own understanding of divinity.

While we don’t necessarily agree with others, often some thought or idea is planted in the back of our mind that later might bloom and we find that it has made our consciousness expand effortlessly.

Community is something that “churches got and pagans ain’t”, in many quarters. When pagans go out looking for a safe, secure, intelligent way to grow as Wiccans, there aren’t a lot of options. As Silverwolf pointed out, there are a limited number of fully hived High Priestesses willing to take on new dedicants. So it follows that of that small number, it’s just not likely that the perfect coven is necessarily going to be one of them.

To me, this seems the greatest reason for witches to drive that extra mile to be a part of a tradition with degrees. There might be a day when the world has plenty of good covens with excellent High Priestesses, but until then you will need to be willing to make a little extra effort.

However, a group doesn’t need a degreed High Priestess from an established tradition to create a culture of love, trust, and sharing among other witches. It is possible to take vows, create new traditions, share knowledge and become tomorrow’s elders in a new tradition.

Coveners can hold each other somewhat accountable to learn the ways completely, and in a way that is generally agreed upon by others. Almost every tradition recognizes that you may have a personal pagan path that doesn’t match everything perfectly, and when we hive, this becomes a part of the heritage of the tradition. This is the same way that your High Priestess’ personality, knowledge, and idiosyncrasies helped form and guide your learning experience.

Being a part of these rites of passage enriches the experience of a witch. We know what we’ve mastered, but it certainly helps to have a group of elders second the notion and reassure us. Having the benefit of being seen by others and having the reality reflected back to us helps us grow, embrace ourselves, confront our shadows, and ultimately be enriched.

To be perfectly honest, I’m a very new dedicant, but these were the points and counterpoints that helped to form my decision to join a coven. I met the High Priestess several months ago, and it took a few stops and starts to be sure that this was the path I wanted to take. At each return, when I pulled back to be sure this was what I wanted to do (and for other more personal reasons), I was greeted with warmth and welcoming. It was easy to follow my instincts as they all uniformly voiced approval.

Conclusion

Solitary or coven, solitary plus coven, solitary and later coven, coven and later solitary…how you pursue your spiritual path as a Pagan is a decision that you and you alone can make. There is no right or wrong, no good or bad, only what is right and good for you specifically.

One of the truly special things about being Pagan is that we do have this freedom to choose. This is s fundamental given and part of what distinguishes us from most other religions: we do not believe that someone else is wrong because they follow a different path.

We have not received any commandment from our Gods to convert others, and eternal pits of fire do not await those who decide on a different way. So make your choice based on where your heart leads you.

Look inside yourself to make these choices, and make sure that you are making them for all the right reasons. Others can help provide advice or insight, but only you can make the final decision. And if you change your mind later, that’s o.k.

— by Silverwolf and Chicoryflower

Mabon Comments & Graphics
Blessing, Consecration, and Procession of the Elements Now Begins

Four members of the coven who have been chosen beforehand now approach the
Priestess.  Each holds one of the following: an  incense burner, a candle, a vessel of water, and a vessel of salt.  Each in turn approaches the Priestess, recites their piece, receives her blessing, and then processes deosil around the perimeter of the circle while stopping to bow at each of the quarters.

(If you have any of these objects that you would like to be blessed, hold them to the computer screen at this time. Repeat what the member has to say to the High Priestess)

Besom Chant

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Besom Chant

“Besom, besom long and lithe
Made from ash and willow withe
Tied with thongs of willow bark
In running stream at moonset dark.
With a pentagram indighted
As the ritual fire is lighted;
Sweep ye circle, deosil,
Sweep out evil, sweep out ill,
Make the round of the ground
Where we do the Lady’s will.

Besom, besom, Lady’s broom
Sweep out darkness, sweep out doom
Rid ye Lady’s hallowed ground
Of demons, imps and Hell’s red hound;
Then set ye down on Her green earth
By running stream or Mistress’ hearth,
‘Till called once more on Sabbath night
To cleans once more the dancing site.”

———-
-I understand that this chant was written by Lady Tamara of the WCC.
(However, I have no evidence for this except hearsay, and the fact that
the WCC appears to use it, so I may be wrong.)
-I don’t have a published source for it – but it’s one of those things that
every Witch in town seems to have a copy of.
-There is absolutely NO reason to think of it as traditional Gardnerian or
Alexandrian. However, it’s an example of the kind of thing that finds its
way into a lot of BOSs, regardless of tradition. There appears to be no
equivalent to this in the “standard” BOS, and some people feel a need for
it, so a lot of people have added this chant to their BOS.

Diary of a High Priestess

Diary of a High Priestess

Author:   Ehstemai 
 
MONDAY:
Morning: Homeschool my children.

Afternoon: Maintaining website, responding to e-mail inquiries and voicemails. Most of my inquiries are the normal stuff. “I need a teacher, ” and “Please help!” Luckily I have a few form replies I use. “Thank you so much for contacting me. I’d love to chat with you some more and answer any questions that you have. First off, what all books have you read about Wicca? How long have you been practicing or interested in Wicca? How old are you? What town do you live in?” It’s all just a way to get some more information. Most of the people who e-mail me at first never reply to my question letter.

4:00 PM: Time to call coven members who’ve volunteered to get stuff done for the upcoming Pagan Pride Day. As expected, half of them have done nothing. I have to spend some time getting them motivated.

5:00 PM: Dinner

6:00 PM: Willow comes over for her weekly counseling session. Willow’s been battling with depression for months now and can sometimes be moody and sullen at coven events. The coven elders have “sentenced” her to 3 months of weekly counseling with Yours Truly.

7:00 PM: Time to call coven mentors. I try to call them at least once a week to see how their students are doing and if they’re noticing any problems. I also want to make sure they’re doing okay. Managing students can sometimes be very stressful and difficult, so I try to give them lots of support and encouragement, and to help out wherever I can.

Sure enough, Oakthorn is still having problems with his student, Amber. I was really hoping he could manage her, but after two months he’s making no real progress. Amber has some childhood issues—lots of anger toward her father who she feels abandoned her. Oakthorn is a middle-aged father of three, and I really hoped that he could be a good influence on her. Amber is becoming openly defiant towards Oakthorn—refusing to do her assignments, being openly disrespectful to him, and so forth. I know that Amber would not treat a female mentor like this (and our coven has no hard and fast rules about gender pairings) , but I really think she needs a male mentor so she can overcome these issues.

8:00 PM: Put my kids to bed.

9:00 PM: I need to call Amber to get her take on things. She immediately accused Oakthorn of “spreading lies” about her. After I got her calmed down, she told me that she feels Oakthorn is too demanding and strict with her. I’m strongly suspecting that he bears a resemblance in her mind to her father. She sounds like she’s been crying. I squeeze her in for a counseling session the earliest I can find the time—1:00 tomorrow while my kids are doing their independent work.

When I hang up with Amber, I call Galadriel. She’s a fellow High Priestess in the community that I’m a close friend with—our covens work together on PPD and some other large events. Sometimes another High Priestess is the only one who can understand. I ask her what she would do with my situation. She agrees that Amber’s behavior is a problem. Her coven is much more strict and closed than ours—she says that her coven wouldn’t allow Amber to remain. I explain that we’ve accepted Amber for Dedication, and so Amber is like a child to us. She says she thinks drastic action is called for. I agree. I’ll see if I can get the Council on chat this evening.

10:00 PM: Red Horn can’t chat tonight—he’s working third shift. We’ll do a Council chat tomorrow night. I get to work on paperwork. We’ve got that big PPD celebration coming up and I have to send out some PR requests and finish polishing press releases.

I update Willow’s file, Amber’s file, and Oakthorn’s file. I draft up a proposed itinerary for PPD—we’ll vote on it at our next Council meeting. I re-read the coven by-laws to see if there’s any wisdom there for me on the Oakthorn/Amber issue. It’s open to interpretation. At around midnight, I go to bed.

TUESDAY:
Morning: Homeschool my children.

1:00 PM: Counseling session with Amber. I mostly let her talk. I learned a lot from what she had to say. I think again that a lot of her problems with men are related to her relationship from her father. I’m still trying to dig to find out what was so bad about him. He was around her entire childhood and even into adulthood. She says that she was a tomboy until she hit puberty and then he stopped being so friendly to her, and she always felt the sting of that. I understand, but I can’t help but wonder what else is here. There’s something she’s not telling me.

3:00 PM: I want to do a rune spread on Amber. I keep getting this feeling that something more is going on here than I’m getting. The runes are inconclusive. I keep getting the “father figure” theme and the abandonment, but I already knew that. The runes aren’t giving me any new information. Oh, well. I’ll write down the reading, put it in her file, and maybe it’ll become clearer in time.

4:00 PM: I got an unexpected phone call from Sierra and her husband, Alex. Sierra’s doubled over in pain and feeling faint. I advise Alex to take her to the ER and call me as soon as they know what’s wrong. I go light a candle for Sierra.

5:00 PM: Dinner

6:00 PM: Another unexpected phone call, this time from Blue Stag. He tells me that his girlfriend (a non-practicing Christian) has been complaining to him about ghosts in her new apartment. I tell Blue Stag to let his girlfriend come over to his house and call me—I want to talk to her first.

6:30 PM: Blue Stag’s girlfriend, Susan, calls me from Blue Stag’s house. She tells me about doors opening and closing unexpectedly, cold spots, etc.–all the usual signs of a haunting. It doesn’t sound immediately dangerous, though. She indicates that she’s okay with spending the night with Blue Stag tonight, and I promise to go out and take a gander at it tomorrow afternoon. (I do wonder, however, how much of this apparent fear might be a subconscious desire to spend the night with Blue Stag? She may be a non-practicing Christian, but according to Blue Stag, she’s been using her religion as an excuse to not get too close to him. Maybe he’ll be smiling at class tomorrow!)

8:00 PM: Put my kids to bed.

9:00 PM: Council chat. It’s always nice to touch base with my Council Elders throughout the week. We go over the upcoming schedule and then I ask for input on the Amber/Oakthorn issue. After much debate and discussion (and frequent off-topic ramblings) , it is decided that she will be temporarily placed under my personal mentorship and be ordered to attend weekly counseling for one full quarter, at which time we’ll attempt to re-evaluate her progress. I get to bed early tonight, at about 11.

WEDNESDAY:
2 AM: The whole getting to bed early thing didn’t help me that much. Alex called with news from Sierra. She’s been admitted to the hospital with an inflamed gall bladder. Alex is frantic. I try to calm him down. They’ll be doing emergency surgery on Sierra tonight. I ask if Alex needs me down at the hospital tonight or if he’ll be able to manage. Thankfully, he says he’ll manage. He promises to call me if there are any other complications, and I promise to come check in on Sierra Wednesday afternoon. I fire off an e-mail to my Maiden who has no morning classes tomorrow and ask her to go out early in the morning for me. Then I drop back into bed.

Morning (when the sun is up) : Homeschool my kids.

1:00 PM: Go visit Sierra. She’s doing just fine. Alex is a bit sheepish about his freak-out last night. Sierra’s managing it like a trooper. My Maiden did stop by this morning.

3:00 PM: Call Amber to let her know what the Council has decided. She seems relieved to have me as her mentor. We’ll see how she feels about that in a month or so. There’s a reason my coven doesn’t usually let me be a direct mentor to younger candidates: I tend to be a slave driver. I go ahead and set up a counseling session for Amber on Tuesdays at 1:00 PM, indefinitely. I also call Oakthorn to tell him the news. He seems relieved.

4:00 PM: Galadriel calls me. She’s on a break from work and wanted to see how the Amber thing was going. I fill her in. She also wanted to tell me about a person they’ve had to kick out of their coven. Apparently an older woman named Phoebe has been causing problems in their coven. She’s been disrespectful to the elders, difficult to teach, a know-it-all, and a general pain in their butt. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when she brought marijuana to an open event—a clear violation of their coven by-laws.

I thank Galadriel for the heads-up. We don’t allow marijuana at ANY of our events, nor do we allow any of our coven members to use illicit drugs, so Phoebe wouldn’t be a good fit in our group.

5:00 PM: I went to see Susan’s new apartment. Sure enough, she’s got some very minor ghost activity. I do a sage smudging (although I hardly think it necessary—these ghosts are harmless) and then advise her to hand some religious artwork on her walls in the dining room. Blue Stag is smiling.

6:00 PM: Tonight’s class is one of my favorites. Every Wednesday night we teach a class. Dedicants (training for First-Degree Initiate) are on the first Wednesday of the month. Initiates (training for Second-Degree Witch) are on the second Wednesday of the month, and Witches (training for Third-Degree Priest/ess) are on the third Wednesday of the month. On the fourth Wednesday of the month, we hold our Coven Council meetings.

Tonight I get to do the “Experiencing the Goddess” class for my Dedicants. It’s one of my favorite classes to teach, although it is quite possibly the most challenging and exhausting class that I do. We begin with a review of their homework assignments and answering questions (as in every class) , but then we set up a mini-ritual and do a Goddess invocation in me. I’ll do the Charge of the Goddess and then spend as much time as they need answering their questions and talking with them as the Goddess.

It’s so much fun to see how their attitudes change with this class (and the Experiencing the God class that’s next month) ! They finally start to see the Goddess as a woman! But maintaining an invocation for 2-3 hours is kind of exhausting.

10:00 PM: The last student has finally left. I’m exhausted. I’m going straight to bed.

THURSDAY:
Today is a ritual day. We’re doing the Full Moon Esbat this evening, so I’m purposely taking it very easy today. Sierra’s out of the hospital and should recover nicely, although she (obviously) won’t be able to make ritual tonight. I get the coven phone calls starting at around 1:00 PM, and they don’t end until about 5:00 PM. The baby-sitter had a schedule conflict, so I have to spend the afternoon calling our alternate sitters to see if I can find someone to watch the little ones while we do ritual.

I field a few calls from Congregation members asking if they can come. “Sorry, but most Esbats are coven only. We look forward to seeing you at PPD, though!”

I do have one set of phone calls to make, and that’s the Congregational calls about tomorrow night’s social event. We’re doing a coven movie night, so I have to make sure everything is still set up and ready to go for the event.

Finally, everyone starts to arrive for the Esbat at about 6:00. It’s a good thing I spent the afternoon cooking. All our Esbats are potluck and yet only Blue Stag and Willow brought a dish. I’m surprised Willow brought a dish. She seems to be doing better tonight. Where the other coveners are able to enjoy this before-ritual time, I’m constantly answering questions. Finally, we get down to business. After we go over the purposes of the ritual and get everything set up, we have a nice, normal Full Moon Esbat.

Then everyone starts to eat. I have to watch everything to make sure everyone is playing nice. As soon as the food is gone and it’s obviously time to clean up our mess, everyone in the coven suddenly remembers how late it is and has to head home in a hurry. They all left at 10, but I’ll be down here until at least 11 cleaning everything up again.

FRIDAY:
Morning: Homeschool my kids.

Afternoon: Task the kids on cleaning the house to get ready for the Congregation social event. We have a lot more people at the Congregation events than the coven events, so the house has to be picked up and re-arranged a bit. Go pick up the movies from the video rental place. We’re doing a pagan movie night with “The Craft” (bad) and “Practical Magic” (not so bad) . I start getting the kitchen set up buffet-style. At least I don’t have to cook for Congregation events. Since our Congregation is more of an informal thing, they tend to help out a lot more than the coven does.

Evening: Movie night. A couple of the Congregation members stayed to help clean up, even though it was already midnight. Cool!

SATURDAY:
9:00 AM: Arrive at the library and begin setup for Wicca 101 class. We hold these once a month and everyone who is interested in Dedicating has to attend them. They’re also a good source for friends and family members of pagans. About once or twice a year, we also do the Wicca 101 for the local police department and Child Protective Services workers—that class is a little bit different and geared more towards law enforcement and CPS stuff, though. The room at the library is mostly set up. We get the PowerPoint slides up and set up the back table. Our back table has several 20-page booklets that go along with the class—we’re expecting 10 guests today, so the 20 booklets I had printed cost me about $20.00. We also have some “Recommended Reading” lists and some of our favorite Wiccan books that our students can look at during breaks.

10:00: We begin our first session of the Wicca 101 class. Although 10 RSVP’ed, only 5 showed up. Typical.

12:00 PM: We break for lunch. I always think it’s really cool that the students want to follow you to whatever fast food restaurant you’re having lunch at, but I must confess that sometimes I really would love the opportunity to get away from my students for an hour. Still, I can’t really turn them down.

1:00: We finish the class with our second session. Although we finish our presentation by about 3:00, we always reserve the room until 4. The question-and-answer period can be long sometimes. I always advise them to pick up a copy of the Recommended Reading list on their way out, and if they’re interested in joining the coven, to fill out an interest form (also on the back table) . I always beg them to fill out a survey and drop it into the collection basket, and I point out that while we do the class for free, we do spend a lot of our time and money making it happen and if they could possibly donate a few dollars to help us defray our cost, that would be great.

3:45: Now it’s time to rush through cleaning up our room. As expected, the collection basket contains 4 interest forms, 2 surveys, and only one dollar in donations. Why am I not surprised?

4:00: My High Priest and I go out for coffee and take along the interest forms and survey. We spend some time talking about how it went and what our impressions were of the students. I express my frustration with the fact that it seems like we work our butts off and nobody seems to care.

It’s not that I expect to get rich off of holding Wicca 101 classes, but when we spend almost six hours with five people and we do a good enough job that four of them want to join our coven, what does it say when only ONE of those people thought our time and presentation was worth a whole dollar?

He commiserates, but it’s not like we haven’t done this class a hundred times before, and this ALWAYS happens. One time we had a woman put a $20 into the collection basket—it was rare enough that we still remember that day.

6:00: I’m really down now. It’s not that I mind putting in the time and the money. I’ve spent probably 40 hours putting together just the Power Point for the Wicca 101 class. The booklets took me another 40 hours. Then I put out the advertising, arrange for the meeting place, field questions, and everything else.

When the day finally comes, my High Priest and I are doing setup and cleanup, PLUS teaching a 6-hour class. We do this every month, and every month it’s the same old thing. We have a lot of people that want to join the coven. We always get lots of positive surveys (only two negative surveys in three years of teaching these) . And yet nobody thinks that our time and energy is worth anything. I just feel like I’m getting taken advantage of.

GRRRRR! I’m going home to get into a hot bath. I’m way too flustered and upset now to do much else.

SUNDAY:
Today I’m feeling a lot better after my bath. Most weeks I might have Sunday off, but this is the week our coven does our volunteering with Galadriel’s coven to Adopt-A-Highway. It’s going to be a long, hot day. I dress warmly, comfortably, and practically, and then I stop by Sam’s to fill up my cooler with bottled water, juice, and trash bags. I’m even taking the kiddos out to help pick up the litter today.

Galadriel and I are the first ones there. She had the same idea I did and brought a cooler! We go ahead and get started while we wait on our covens.

Out of the twelve active coven members that I have and the fifty-something Congregation members, only 4 of my coveners showed up and 5 of my Congregation members. Galadriel has a full thirteen members, but only 5 of hers showed up.

My coveners are in BIG trouble. They knew this service project was mandatory. They are required to complete community service as a requirement of their degree training. I’m going to have to think up something nice and creative for them, but they WILL be making this up to me.

We finished up at about 3:00, and Galadriel and I went to get ice cream. I couldn’t believe what Galadriel told me—she’s stepping down from her coven! She hasn’t notified her coven yet but she plans to tell them next week. She told me that she’s just tired of running the coven and getting no appreciation. She’s going to move to her coven’s “Outer Circle”–their version of a Congregation.

I can’t believe it. Galadriel’s one of my dearest friends. She’s been leading her coven for six years, and she’s been a priestess for about fifteen! But as shocking as it is, I can most certainly see her point.

It’s hard to keep going on when nobody seems to care.

{Note: This is not an actual page from my datebook, but it’s pretty close! Names and identifying info have been changed.}