CWABC Okanagan Temple of Mirth & Reverence

Temple of the Congregationalist Wiccan Association of British Columbia

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Blog for the CWABC Temple of Mirth & Reverence in Vernon, BC.  Will include articles on Wiccan thealogy, Paganism, magick, natural health, Pagan events in BC, and Temple events.  We hold eight Sabbat celebrations a year and several classes.  Our public rituals are by donation.

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Witches Amongst You

Posted by Sable Aradia on January 4, 2011 at 8:35 PM Comments comments (1)

Reprinted from Issues Magazine, July & August 2010 Edition:

 

On the evening of the Spring Equinox, I cleaned up my shop and removed all my store literature from the front table where you walk in. I placed the altar cloths, one with a sun and moon image against a blue background, one with the cycle of the moon and goddess symbols and a labyrinth on a blue background, over top of each other to create a pleasing scene. I set out two candleholders; one with the image of the Triple Goddess as Maiden, Mother and Crone, holding a white candle, and one with the God of the Woodland as Holly King and Oak King, holding a black candle. Between them we symbolize the balance of Sun and Moon, male and female, old and young, life and death. Balance and cycles are important in our faith, which we call Wicca.

 

I laid out the magickal tools; my hand-painted wood pentacle with the vine pattern on it, representing the element Earth; the red candle representing Fire; the brass incense burner representing Air; and my two white agate chalices, one filled with water and the other apple juice, that represent Water. I added our dish of salt and the offering bowl. I laid out my wand, made from a maple branch from a tree in the yard I grew up in that, magickally, had been struck by lightning twice, and my athame; my sacred black-handled, double-bladed knife, with which I cut nothing but air. Mine is unusual in that I made it myself, forging it from a strip of metal a couple of years ago at a workshop and beating it into shape, then carefully wrapping the twisty hilt in black suede to make it comfortable to grasp. Next to it I laid my husband’s athame, which is carved from jet. I added the silver offering plate, this time filled with chocolate eggs, and our Book of Shadows.

 

I welcomed the gathering of witches as they arrived. Among them were friends from Kelowna I hadn’t seen in a long time. I embraced them happily and started catching up on their lives. Two new witches I had never seen before also arrived from Kamloops, wearing beautiful velvet robes that one of them had made. I asked them if I could take a picture to sell them through my store! They laid out their potluck offerings on the glass counter where I keep the crystals. Erin, my husband and Priest, who is always so good at making new people feel comfortable, began to chat with them.

 

A family who’d had trouble finding us arrived; one of them asked where to put the potluck offering and I told them. The next thing I knew, they were gone! We debated on what had happened to them and decided they must not have known what Wicca meant when I advertised the event in the paper. We assumed a combination of things happened, including seeing the witches from Kamloops in robes.

 

I’m never sure why people react like that. I don’t see how what we do is any different from other earth-based spiritualities that are more commonly known and accepted. We take our roots from Celtic and Germanic “shamanic” customs and practices, women’s spirituality and empowerment, and other more modern forms of mysticism like the Kaballah. Why is this so scary?

 

I often get reactions from people when they find out that I define myself as a witch. I assume that people think our magick is the kind that harms others or interferes with their free will, but a real Witch would never do things like that. A real Witch believes in the Threefold Law, “That which you do shall be returned to you threefold.” Even if I were inclined to be manipulative or malignant, would I want that delivered back on myself three times worse?

When we realized the others weren’t coming back, we gathered in a circle around the table (now an altar) to begin the ceremony. As is our custom, I took the sacred broom, called a besom, and swept around the circle to banish negative energy while singing songs. Then my husband took his athame, and drew a circle around the group, as we visualized a beacon of white light that grew into a bubble to protect us from any negative energies.

 

Then we “Called the Quarters,” which is similar to honouring the directions in shamanism and Native paths. We started with the North, associated with Earth, and called on those energies, honouring them with salt. Next, we honoured and called upon the element of Air in the East by lighting incense. Then, we honoured/called upon Fire in the South by lighting the red candle. Lastly, we honoured/called upon Water in the West by sprinkling a little water. Then I called upon our Goddess; in this case, the Maiden of Spring, called by some Persephone, called by some Ishtar, Oester or Easter. We welcomed Her return to the world, and spring’s blooming! My husband called upon our God in the form of the Sun King, called by some as Lugh, Apollo, Osiris, Dionysus, or Jesus, bringing life from barrenness. We honoured Them as well by singing Beauty of the earth, White moon on the water, You are She Whom we find, At the end of desire. Horned God, Dancer on the Wheel, Born and died and born again, And we all are dancing with Him.

 

Then we engaged in what we call the “fellowship;” basically, socializing as part of the ritual. We munched on the potluck offerings as I chatted. One of the Kelowna witches (men and women have the same title) talked about how he was devoting most of his time to school, and it was paying off with excellent marks. I asked about an event coming up in Alberta that I’d never been to, and told them about the event we were doing in Cherryville on the Canada Day weekend.We were told of a young man with a brain tumour so we took a hematite ring and passed it around our circle, intoning “OM.” We did this to fill the ring with the healing vibration of the sacred word that associates with the Crown chakra. After we all touched it, we gave it to his mother, who proclaimed it was making her hands tingle!

 

After that, we blessed our food and drink and said to each other “May you never hunger,” and “may you never thirst,” as we acknowledged the Divine in each of us. After that, we thanked the Goddess and the God for Their presence and released the Quarters or closed the directions. Lastly, my husband cut open the circle with his athame, saying, “The circle is open, yet ever it remain a circle; merry meet, and merry part, and merry meet again!” We sang our traditional song and went our separate ways. As I left, I looked up at the rising half-moon, enjoying Her beauty.

 

Blessed be,

Sable

The Nature of Magick

Posted by Sable Aradia on January 4, 2011 at 8:33 PM Comments comments (0)

Reprinted from Issues Magazine, November, December & January 2011 Edition:

 

Aleister Crowley coined the use of the word “magick” with a “k” to differentiate it from the magic of illusion and slight-of-hand. As a practicing Witch, I believe that the most feared and misunderstood element of what we do is the practice of magick. We are taught in our culture that magick is somehow wrong, or that it is dangerous and mysterious and only the truly gifted can do it. But magick is really about self-empowerment. It is no different from the concepts of the Law of Attraction or Creative Visualization. The practice of magick differs only in that it uses a language of symbolism and metaphor to circumvent that little voice in the back of our minds that tells us that something will not work. It speaks in primal symbols to our subconscious mind, which then sets forces in motion to bring about our True Will. Aleister Crowley said that “magick is the Art and Science of causing change to occur in conformity with Will.” Dion Fortune said that “magick is the art of changing consciousness at Will.” And both are true! How do we go about doing this?

 

As shamans throughout the history of humankind, and modern channellers could tell you, the way to reach the Divine is through our subconscious. Only by achieving a trance state – “going within” – can we communicate directly with higher beings, or permit them to communicate through us. We must shut off the chatter of our conscious, waking mind and descend through the subconscious to, paradoxically perhaps, reach higher consciousness. This is the foundation of every mystical practice that has ever existed, and the model for the “Hero’s Journey” that Joseph Campbell wrote about. Freud’s model of consciousness discusses three levels of mind; the conscious mind or ego, the subconscious mind or id, and higher consciousness, called the superego. Feri Wicca refers to these respectively as “Talking Self,” “Younger Self,” and “Higher Self”. Talking Self cannot communicate directly with Higher Self. The only way to communicate with Higher Self is through Younger Self. Younger Self is, of course, the id. The id does not understand things in rational terms. It speaks only in the languages of symbol and emotion. As any psychologist can tell you, the subconscious also picks up everything it is ever told. It remembers everything. The problem is that it does not understand irony or context. This is why you should never tell your children that they are stupid, especially not over and over again. Even if you do not really mean that, your child’s subconscious mind will not be able to tell the difference! Furthermore, when things are repeated, they imprint themselves more firmly in our subconscious minds.

 

We pick up all kinds of things with our subconscious minds. In many cases this works to our advantage, taking the form of intuitive guidance, information that we just know, somehow. But it often works against us as well. Subconsciously, we take taller people more seriously and listen with more respect to men than women, no matter how enlightened we believe we are. This probably comes from being told that we would have more right to control over our lives “when we grow up,” and being admonished to “wait for our fathers to get home” when we made poor choices that required discipline.

 

One of the things that imprints on our subconscious through repetition is limitation. If someone tells us repeatedly that we are stupid, we can’t sing, or we are fat, we believe it. If we are told – or tell ourselves – that we do not have enough money to go to school, have no musical talent, or do not deserve to be loved, we believe it. And then, Younger Self takes the message to Higher Self, and Higher Self does what it thinks we want it to do – Higher Self makes it true! As the Hicks and Abraham tell us in the Law of Attraction, if we focus on our poverty, we remain poor. If we focus on our fatness, we can’t be thin. If we dwell constantly on how badly things are going for us, they continue to go badly. How do you change these beliefs if they are ingrained?

 

The first step is silencing Talking Self. We have to “go within.” We have to reach Younger Self, and make our Younger Self an ally in our work to change our lives. We accomplish this through the practice of meditation and of healing the inner child (yes, the “inner child” is our Younger Self!) through self-examination and conscious effort. It is said that the doors of Eleusis boasted the inscription, “Know Thyself.” We have to make our minds quiet for long enough to know what the subconscious is really saying. What do we really believe about ourselves and the world at our core? There are many ways to work towards this goal, from psychoanalysis to Soul Retrieval to Core Belief Engineering to Emotional Freedom Technique. They are all effective, and the more healing you do for your Younger Self (and the better you understand it) the better you will become at changing consciousness according to Will. In the meantime, we can work on communicating our desires to our Younger Self through the language that it speaks, which is the language of symbolism and metaphor.

 

Our id does not understand the word “heart.” But it does understand the feeling of love. It also understands what is meant by drawing a red heart symbol. It also understands smells, colours, and symbols. A Witch or magician learns how to speak this language (or trains our subconscious minds to understand this language) and communicates to it in this way. Wanting to bring more love into our lives, we would use Shakti Gawain’s principles of visualizing love, what it would feel like, look like, and so forth, as if it has already happened. Then we would perform an act, called a “spell,” to imprint symbols of love in our minds, to communicate to our Younger Self that this is what we would like Higher Self to manifest in our lives.

 

How do we do this? Well, have you ever done a guided meditation? Have you noticed that these are more effective the more senses you bring to bear? A well-planned spell uses all five senses. A pink candle could be used as a visual symbol – the colour pink is associated with love in our primal minds, and the flickering candlelight is effective both in that the light itself speaks to us of safety and warmth on a primal level, and the flickering induces the partial trance state of meditation that silences Talking Self and permits Higher Self and Younger Self to communicate. The smell of beeswax, or perhaps some sweet-smelling incense or root chakra stimulating essential oils (such as rose or patchouli) can be an olfactory trigger; very effective to the primitive brain. Perhaps an auditory trigger may also be helpful, such as romantic music, soft drumming, or a simple poem that asks for love in our lives. The act of lighting the candle, anointing it with the oil or lighting the incense, and speaking our poem that phrases our intent or playing our song, creates a kinaesthetic trigger. Perhaps we complete the process by eating cakes or honey, or drinking wine, invoking taste in ways that are associated with romance.

 

All of these things come together to tell our pre-literate, emotional subconscious minds that we wish to change our reality by bringing love into our lives. The subconscious mind then tells our superconsciousness – our Divine Connection, the part of ourselves that is Divine already and is connected to God as we understand it – that this is what we want. If we have made ourselves understood, our Divine part, Higher Self, then makes it happen. When we speak in this pre-verbal language to our subconscious mind, it is more difficult for Talking Self to ruin things by taking it apart with all the reasons why it won’t work. Talking Self’s justifications and excuses are completely circumvented, and thus, we cease to stand in our own way.

 

Quantum physics is in the process of proving that principles that magicians have known for millennia are actually true. One thing that the science of quantum physics has proven is that our perception affects reality. If you bombard atoms with light, electrons are knocked loose. If you measure them as particles, they register as particles. If you measure for energy, they register as energy. At the subatomic level, what we expect to find directly affects reality as we perceive it. And thus, both Dion Fortune and Aleister Crowley are proven to be correct.

 

Blessed be,

Sable

A Message from Gaia

Posted by Sable Aradia on January 4, 2011 at 8:32 PM Comments comments (0)

In the Psychic Development class that I am currently doing with Lois, we were directed to do an exercise in automatic writing. I haven't had any experience with automatic writing, so I asked for "the idiot's explanation" for how to do it. Lois' Guide explained it as "just like Drawing Down the Moon; you have to get yourself out of the way, and then instead of using your vocal apparatus, you use your hands." I had that eureka moment; that made perfect sense to me! "Yeah!" I thought to myself, "I can do that!"

 

We agreed that we would commune with Gaia, as an entity (Deity) that we all would be happy to work with (two Witches, a Shaman, and a Spiritualist.) We then did a meditation to focus our awareness, and understanding things from this perspective, I went within and found that connection fairly quickly. I then sat down in front of the computer, closed my eyes, and listened as Gaia dictated the following:

 

I weep for the wounding you cause to yourselves! I struggle to reach out to you. You do not know your own power; you are brilliant, perfect, passionate and free. The chains that bind you are the ones of your own making. They are illusions. They are only as real as you permit them to be. How can you not hear the cry of your brothers and sisters, with whom you share this earth? Why do you deny yourselves, and allow yourselves to live in fear? Reach beyond these things! You do not have to be taught how to feel the love/pain/passion of the creatures you share this place, this body of Mine, with. You just need to remember.

Take a moment now and reach out, reach like you did when you were a child. First, take your arms to the sky. Look into the sun and the clouds above you. Watch the clouds rolling past, gently shifting and changing. Do you remember what it was to feel you could touch the sky? Reach out with your arms, and your awareness, and then when you have floated through the clouds long enough to lose yourself in them, just do it! You can fly. Like the transformation of Arthur when he learned to be a Druid, you can transcend the limits of your physical form and soar with the birds, sail on the clouds, touch the Macrocosm that is the Star Goddess or Father Sky. Let your heart lift you into that free space. Here, there is no time and no space; there is only you and your heart.

And now, can you see the other hearts that share this space/time with you? When you realize that you are not constrained by matter, you know that you can do anything, be anything, connect to everything and all. You are luminous beings of light and stars and love. Release your limitations and inhibitions and just BE.

Now, look to My body beneath you. Do you see Me? No, you see lights, and cities, and fields, but where are My wild places where you can reach Me? Hidden in the street lights and the concrete and the smog. But My loves, I am still here. And now, some of you are beginning to awaken to that knowledge.

Sit very still, or lie still, with your body touching Mine. Lay on grass or rock or sand; do not lay on the floor. Stretch your arms out now and touch Me! I am real, and solid, and like you I have a body. Mine is just bigger, and slower. The cycles of your life are echoes in the cycles of My seasons. It’s just slower for Me. To My eyes, you are all flickering brief candles, passing in and out of the world like winking starlights. But you are part of My body, just like each organ and tissue that you have in your bodies. So understand, you are not a cancer or a blight, as some have said. You are meant to be here at this moment in time/space. You are like a baby growing in My womb, and you are taking over My resources and draining My energy, and you are growing faster than I am ready for, but you are just infants, zygotes, growing and changing and dividing and determining who you are.

All you have to do to complete this cycle is finish your growth, change, and Awaken! Stop resisting the birth pangs; you have no choice to be born. If you do not, both of us will die. Awaken, accept that change is necessary and that there will be growing pains, and know that I always love you and I am waiting to catch you in My arms, when your consciousness is awake enough to speak to Me at last.

 

I felt the need to share Gaia's message and so I'm posting it here. I will also be posting this on the new the Medium, the Witch, and the Shaman website, where you will also find Vicky's message from Gaia.

 

Blessed be,

Sable

The Need for Pagan Clergy

Posted by Sable Aradia on January 4, 2011 at 8:28 PM Comments comments (0)

This entry is slightly modified from a thread that I was responding to on Facebook, which began with a post from Juniper Jeni's lovely blog, Walking the Hedge: The Rambles and Wanderings of a Canadian Hedgewitch. Her rant/blog post was called "Regarding Pagan Clergy," posted October 15, 2010.

 

As someone who thinks of herself as "Pagan clergy," and who has that legal number that lets me marry people and whatnot, I see the role of "clergy" as being exactly like Juniper says: facilitators, organizers, and another role that wasn't mentioned: counsellors. Even Witches need someone to call when they are having a crisis in their lives to help them to find ways to communicate with their Gods (yes, though their own power, we are Pagans,) to support them in their happy and in their difficult times, and to be someone to talk to. As clergy, I have "solemnized" handfastings (ie. performed a ritual and signed a piece of paper so the government would say that this couple was, indeed, married,) counselled those who are struggling with life challenges, and created rituals of passage such as handfasting, Wiccaning, First Blood (never a happy occasion in my generation, but one that always should have been,) and death and wake rituals. That's my job; to be a balm and maybe a guide in times of difficulty or great change, and to help people find the Divine in those times so their spirits can transform and/or heal.

 

It isn't about power. It's about service. The danger comes in that others hold you to a higher standard of behaviour and try to make you their guru. I always try to discourage that because as most of the folks in my local community will cheerfully agree, I definitely haven't figured out the entire way through the path of enlightenment yet and I have LOTS of faults (that I am working on, in my own time and way, just like everyone else;) and if you let people put you on a pedestal, sooner or later you will fall off because you are NOT the Goddess (and I would like to point out that even our gods are not perfect) and you will screw it up, and people will see it. And the fact is that a lot of what we do is wearing on the spirit (if you have compassion,) takes time and long hours, and often you are more critiicized for your errors than congratulated for your successes, so many times, when someone tells you how great they think you are, you really do need to hear something positive. Some people, especially if they have never been empowered in their lives (and many of us find Paganism for exactly this reason) get balloon heads and develop arrogance. Others become completely burned out and give up.

 

All of this is much more difficult to fight against because there is no material living in the path of being Pagan clergy, so we somehow have to find the time (and money) to do this work around our jobs as well as our families. People *do* expect you to drop everything for them at the drop of a hat, and you really should, because people only call you when they really need you, just like the Crisis Line. The most effective Pagan clergy are the ones who are living on a pension, be it through retirement or disability. They have the time, and the luxury. Any "power" that comes through this is illusionary, especially since Pagans are naturally suspicious. There will be no mansions and grand cars for us; Pagans won't spend $20 for a workshop more often than not! Just ask Raymond Buckland, Janet Farrar and Starhawk how much money they've made off of their books and teaching. They'll tell you; they're all available on Facebook and they will talk to you, because they are Pagan clergy, not the Pope. I think you'll find that anyone floating along on "High Priestess' Disease" is a wannabe, and any actually influential and well-known Witch or Pagan is just following their Calling (otherwise known as your True Will.) The last Witch cult followed Alex Sanders, and even he wasn't making a million dollars.

 

I was listening to a radio program called "Tapestry" on CBC a couple of years ago now (while I was still working at the local taxi office) and there was an interview with a Buddhist nun who was describing her experiences of speaking with others and counselling them through crisis. I was struck keenly by how exactly the same our work was. Nowhere does it include telling people what to think or believe. Right now, my work includes getting a Samhain ritual and Witches' Ball ready that is a Pagan Pride fundraiser, getting started on the writings of three handfastings that are going to take place in the next year (working actively with the couples who are co-writers of the ceremonies) and getting up at stupid o'clock on Friday mornings to go with a local Witch to the hospital, where she is receiving some very difficult and painful regular treatment for an illness and she needs someone to come and hold her hand and talk with her while she waits. I do it because when my husband was in the ICU after a horrible car accident, I needed experienced Witches to talk to and hold my hand and help me communicate with my gods, with whom I was very angry at the time (and have since forgiven.) Even in an individualized, relatively dogmaless spirituality, I think that we need clergy.

 

Blessed be,

Sable

Magickal Planets

Posted by Sable Aradia on January 4, 2011 at 8:13 PM Comments comments (0)

The planets have been called upon for hundreds, even thousands of years, for their magickal properties. Some of this has come down to us through astrology, but some of it remains strictly the providence of magicians, Witches and other Will-workers. At the request of my students from the Wise Woman festival, I’d like to offer this brief article about some of those traditional associations and properties, so that you can call upon them in your magick and your everyday life!

 

The Sun (Sunday): Health, prosperity, leadership, success, protection, joy, ego, fathers, husbands. Metal – gold; Herbs – St. John’s Wort, saffron, chamomile, marigold, mistletoe, rosemary, chicory, High John the Conqueror; Scents – cedar, clove, cinnamon, frankincense, juniper, marigold, rosemary, rue.

 

The Moon (Monday): Emotions, intuition, healing, women’s mysteries, art & music, beauty, psychic abilities, subconscious, protection, spirituality, dreams, wives, mothers. Metal – silver; Herbs – white rose, birch, chickweed, cleavers, willow, yarrow, mugwort, wormwood; Scents – coconut, eucalyptus, gardenia, jasmine, lemon, lotus, myrrh, sandalwood, ylang ylang.

 

Mercury (Wednesday): Travel, learning, higher education, communication, expression, writing, healing, alchemy. Metals – mercury, electrum; Herbs – caraway, dill, fennel, hazel, spearmint, lemon balm, marjoram, parsley, lavender; Scents – bayberry, lavender, lemongrass, spearmint, clary sage.

 

Venus (Friday): Lovers, love, pleasure, desire, beauty, women, women’s health, hedonism. Metal – copper; Herbs – Elder, cypress, daisy, foxglove, ivy, violet, vervain, plantain, thyme, sorrel, rose, apple, strawberry, alder, tansy, marshmallow, primrose, evening primrose; Scents – African violet, apple, cherry, rose, jasmine, lilac, patchouli, vanilla, ylang ylang.

 

Earth: Money, health, home, safety, healing, strength. Metals – all; Herbs – Betony, dittany of Crete, moss, cedar, spruce, patchouli; Scents – Patchouli, niaouli, cypress, myrrh.

 

Mars (Tuesday): Physical energy, war, lust, victory, cutting & surgery, soldiers, strength, courage, law, accomplishing goals, men. Metal – iron; Herbs – basil, thistle, holly, pepper (all varieties); Scents – carnation, ginger, peppermint, pine, dragon’s blood.

 

Jupiter (Thursday): Religion, philosophy, expansion, luck, business, attracting more of what you have. Metal – tin; Herbs – milk thistle, agrimony, sage, balm, hyssop, borage, cinquefoil, nutmeg, oak; Scents – Sage, sandalwood, nutmeg, lime, anise, clove.

 

Saturn (Saturday): Structure, form, reality, limits, tests, obstacles, resistance, endings, hard work, real estate, karma, age, death, bones. Metal – lead; Herbs – Mullein, comfrey, nightshade, hemlock, henbane, hemp, knapweed, mandrake; Scents – Black orchid, iris, myrrh, black pepper, opium poppy, patchouli, violet.

 

Uranus: Astrology, technology, inventions, innovation, counselling, originality, sudden events. Metals – zinc, magnetite, uranium; Herbs – Allspice, clove, ginseng, linseed, nutmeg, lobelia, peppermint, pine, wormwood; Scents – Peppermint, clove, nutmeg, pine.

 

Neptune: Mysticism, music, imagination, dance, illusion, Dionysian pleasures (drugs, sex, alcohol, etc.), sleep. Metals – platinum, cobalt, neptunium; Herbs – Most drugs & poisons, belladonna, opium poppies, valerian, coffee, chamomile, coltsfoot; Scents – gardenia, opium, hemp, wine, honeysuckle.

 

Pluto: Investigation, the Underworld, insurance, wealth, loans, transformation, death. Metals – tungsten, bismuth, plutonium; Herbs – Galangal, pennyroyal, pomegranate, narcissus, musk; Scents – Galangal, musk, petitgrain.

 

Blessed be,

Sable

Missing the Mysteries?

Posted by Sable Aradia on January 4, 2011 at 8:11 PM Comments comments (0)

Reprinted from the Witchvox Website, May 28, 2006:

 

I believe this issue may be the most important one that the modern Pagan community faces. Our religion, our faith, is in a state of transition. We are growing – and rapidly – and there simply aren’t enough teachers around to meet the demand of students. But there are so many who seek the Pagan Path. How can we reconcile this?

A study of the history of the Craft explains many of the somewhat inexplicable views one currently finds on the topic and also warns of the pitfalls and offers answers. There are not many traditionally Initiated Gardnerians left in comparison to the number of Pagans who currently exist, but we’ve all encountered at least one; one who insisted the rest of us were wannabes and he was the real thing. Many Pagans of a variety of stripes claim superiority for one reason or another. Their tradition has been around longer, they are more historically accurate, or they have the Apostolic Succession. Why? Why does this happen, in a religion (or religions, if you will) which was originally formed in Victorian counterculture, founded by rebels, and which preaches freedom as a general rule?

 

Is the Pagan who learns her path from a book any less of a Pagan than one who was initiated into a Gardnerian lineage?

 

I was absolutely dumbfounded when I first met a Pagan who did not practice magick. I thought she was nuts. Magick, to me, was a basic principle of the Pagan way; the ability to enact change in our own lives through the power of our own Wills. How could a practicing Pagan not use magick?

 

But there is more than one branch of the Pagan tree, and for many, it is a matter of following an older path and finding solace in ancient gods and ways and the use of magick is not relevant to them. In that case, I say, what difference does it make whether or not those Pagans find teachers? If all you want to do is commune with the gods as you understand them, and follow an older culture’s ways, your library is likely a better teacher for the latter, and only we ourselves can truly know how much meaning and insight we glean in the former.

 

So, let’s consider only those paths for which magick is an important aspect, such as Wicca. What is magick, anyway? Why do we view it as part of our faith? What role does it have for us?

 

For many, Wicca is the name given to the faith – and Craft – of the Witches. That is, in my opinion, a legitimate view. Certainly that was the view of Gerald Gardner. Whatever you might think personally of Gardner, the Wiccan community, at any rate, is agreed on one thing. Either he is the man who invented Wicca as we currently understand it, or he is the man who revived it for the modern world. So I believe that his view is of particular importance.

 

It is interesting, for example, that many of the most vocal supporters of the theory that “only a Witch can make a Witch” trace their lineage back to Gardner, and believe that only those who descend from Gardner are real Witches or Wiccans. Gardner certainly didn’t think so. Gardner believed that Witches preserved elements of their ancient practices in folk magick and the lore of wise women and cunning men, mostly by handing the traditions down through families. He believed his own method and tradition to be an adaptation of what the hereditary Witches did and if you believe his testimony, you must accept that he was a rebel himself, and most of his initiates would not have been regarded as “real Witches” by the hereditary Witches, because they were not members of “Witch families.”

 

But Witch Wars have existed since the Craft began. Certainly the feud between Doreen Valiente and Gardner ought to illustrate that. Or, if you don’t believe that was the beginning of the Craft, the Witch Wars between cunning folk precede that famous feud. It’s interesting, too, that the issue that divided Valiente and Gardner was this very issue – how to deal with the rapid spread of the Craft, and whether or not it ought to remain the hidden path of the few, or whether as many as possible ought to be initiated and taught the ways.

 

But again, Gardner didn’t believe it should always remain hidden. Gardner believed that once, there had been many who had practiced the Old Ways. He believed the Witches to be the heirs to the Mystery traditions of the Ancient World, such as the Eleusinian Mysteries, and he believed that the traditions of Wiccan Initiation had descended directly from those Mysteries. He believed that Witches had been driven underground by desperation due to persecution and the Inquisition, and in the process, had lost much of their knowledge of the Old Ways. He even believed that there would come a time when once again, the Priestesses and Priests would come out of hiding, and again, there would be grand ceremonies to the Old Gods.

 

In the days of the Eleusinian Mysteries, almost every important Greek was an Initiate. However, not all of them were Initiates of the higher levels. The faith itself was widely practiced by even lay people. Only the truly dedicated became the Mysteries’ Priests.

 

The Eleusinian Mysteries were so popular that many similar traditions began, such as the Osiris Mysteries, the Cult of Isis and the Cult of Mithras. One can certainly see the reflections in Wiccan Initiation, which involves a symbolic death and rebirth!

 

So, what I have effectively said so far, in a nutshell, is that history supports the idea of a widespread study of Witchcraft and Paganism, and that one does not have to be traditionally trained or initiated to be considered a Wiccan or Pagan. And yes, I believe this.

 

But hold on.

 

Faith is faith. There are many Christians, for example, but only a very rare few are called to be ministers or priests. There are many Buddhists, but only a few become monks, and then bodhisattvas. There are many Jews, and few Rabbis.

 

Most Pagan faiths nowadays are Reconstructionists, who are re-creating ancient religions of different cultures. Most of those religions did not involve the widespread practice of magick, or indeed, any pursuit that might be called mystical or metaphysical. Only the Priesthood truly studied those sorts of things. In this case, does it matter if someone who calls himself Asatru has formal training? I don’t think it does. Magick is not necessary to the Asatru faith, though many Asatruar do choose to practice magick.

 

It is only in such traditions as Druidry (Druids were a class of Priests who served the Celtic people) and Wicca (where the whole religion as we currently understand it has made everyone a Priestess or Priest) that this really matters.

 

I think that to call oneself a Druid requires one to be trained in the mystical arts that the Druids practiced, and that does include forms of magick. Otherwise, you are a Celt. Nothing wrong with that, but you’re not a Druid, in my opinion.

 

In the same vein, I postulate that one does not need to practice magick or ecstatic trance to be a follower of the religion of Wicca, and therefore, a Wiccan, but one does require these things in order to be a Witch.

In a book called “The Jesus Mysteries,” the authors proposed a theory. They postulate that the tale of Jesus Christ was a Jewish Mystery tradition, inspired by the Eleusinian and Osiris Mysteries. They propose that the Gnostics, who study a Christian mysticism, are the heirs of what used to be a class of initiated priesthood of the Jesus tradition, while those who later went on to found Christianity as we currently understand it were lower-level Initiates, trying to establish the tradition to the best of their abilities after their connection to the original source of the Mysteries was lost.. They believe that after a couple of centuries of this, when the literal-minded Christians encountered the Gnostics again, they no longer recognized the founders of their faith for what they were, viewed them as blasphemers, and condemned them to the Inquisition.

 

It’s an interesting theory, and there isn’t a lot of data to support or refute it, but the comparison is obvious, and somewhat sobering.

 

Every religion began at some point with a dyed-in-the-wool mystical experience; a direct communication to the Divine. Every religion is either concerned with seeking more of that direct divine revelation, or of learning from the revelation of another.

 

Witches do not have prophets, because Witches are prophets. Through Drawing Down the Moon or Sun, Initiation, and other mystical practices, Witches communicate with the Divine on a regular basis, in many different forms. These are the experiences referred to as “The Mysteries.”

 

While I do believe that you can quite rightly be a Wiccan or a Pagan by attending a few public Sabbat rituals or reading a couple of books, only deeply dedicated solitaries, or Initiated Witches, continue to experience the Mysteries. The whole faith of Wicca is founded on those Mysteries, but unless you seek the practice of them yourself, you have to take someone else’s word for it. And according to anyone who has actually had the experience, it defies description in mere words.

 

So in this case, I say that since you must experience the Mysteries to truly understand them, a “Priesthood class” is definitely emerging. I also say that since traditionally Initiated Witches learn processes which create those necessary indescribable mystical experiences, directly from the hands of someone who has already experienced them, I must conclude that traditional Initiation through a lineage likely provides superior training than pursuing the same path without instruction.

 

However, I do not mean to say, exactly, that “only a Witch can make a Witch.” I do believe it is possible to experience Initiatory insights spontaneously, or to seek them out for oneself. Otherwise, Vision Quests would not be possible, and neither would transcendental meditation, and Mohammed never would have encountered the Archangel.

 

So one can, indeed, become a Witch without Apostolic Initiation, though it is fraught with many pitfalls and is more difficult and tedious. Also, just as Christian texts warn of “false prophets,” not everyone who claims to have had mystical insights really has. Some people are just looking for attention or followers. How do you really tell? Only those who share that level of Initiation can truly tell for sure.

 

I don’t believe this is going to give Initiated Witches more authority in the Pagan community. We are a religion of countercultural rebels, who believe that we are all Priestess and Priests which, in a sense, is true – only we know how we, personally, relate to the Divine.

 

At any rate, it is too late to cry over spilt milk; the cat is most definitely out of the bag. We will never again be a secretive religion of Initiated covens. We are a large faith now.

 

What does that mean to those of us who have been initiated into a tradition, or have had the Initiatory experiences? Well, for one thing, I think we should stop alienating the rest of the Pagan community by claiming superiority. If we want Wicca to lose its sense of the Mysteries, we’re certainly working very hard to encourage just that.

 

Perhaps we can take the role of "bodhisattvas," only ones that live in the world. Our religion teaches us to love this world and find mystical wisdom in it, not to transcend it, so I don’t believe we can live apart from it. But we must take the same attitude; we cannot force others to conform to our view of what Wicca and Paganism should be, but hope that the few who are called will come to us for teaching when they are ready, and we must therefore do the best we can to pass on what we’ve learned when we’re asked for it.

 

Further, we must not compromise those insights because someone doesn’t want to admit that they haven’t reached that level of insight yet, nor can we compromise the methods by which we learned them. The fact is that means that the practice and training of Witchcraft within Wicca will be the path of the few. But Paganism and Wicca may one day be the religion of the many.

 

* Note that again, "Witch" and "Wicca" are not synonymous. This article only refers to the practice of Witchcraft as Wiccans understand it. Folk, hereditary, and hedge witches all practice the Cunning Art in their own way.

Magick and the Power of Intent

Posted by Sable Aradia on January 4, 2011 at 8:10 PM Comments comments (0)

From Sable's upcoming book, The Eight Paths of Power: A Practical Guide to the Eightfold Way of Wiccan Magick:

 

“Intent” is the wellspring of all magick. I find that many people believe that they know what this means and how to do it, but in practice, forming clear and precise Intent, and willing it to happen, is not nearly as simple as it sounds. It takes training and effort and work! In order for your Intent to be effective, quite a few things must come together at once:

 

• You must be able to visualize, clearly and concisely, what you want, as if it has already happened;

 

• You must have sufficient focus to keep this clearly in your mind while performing the act of ritual that announces your Intent to the Universe; the elements we traditionally call “casting a spell”;

 

• You need to be able to induce just enough of an altered state of consciousness that your magickal act is happening on the astral plane as well as the physical one;

 

• You must have enough desire to see this fulfilled that you invest your Intent with passion and direction;

 

• You must have a clear enough idea of what you want that you will not get something else instead, or something related to what you were really after (harder than it sounds!);

 

• You must know yourself well enough to be able to trust your own motivations, so that you don’t end up accumulating “karmic debt” with the Threefold Law;

 

• You must trust that the Universe will fulfill your desire and not leave it an “opt out” option (more on this later);

 

• You must circumvent, or rewrite, any negative programming in your behaviour or beliefs that might cause you to undermine your own work;

 

• You must do the real world work to help give your Intent an opportunity to manifest itself. Not as basic as it initially seemed, is it? Most Witches practice and study for years to eventually achieve a state by which their Wills are effectively manifested. But, I am here to tell you that if you persist, eventually you will achieve a state where you are capable of simply wanting something with the power of Intent and it will come to you, and no spells, rituals or charms will be needed! Just be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it!

 

Blessed be,

Sable

The Charge of the Goddess: A Wiccan Ethic

Posted by Sable Aradia on January 4, 2011 at 7:57 PM Comments comments (0)

Reprinted from the website of "Witches & Pagans Magazine" by permission. Posted April 2, 2010:

 

It has been my experience that many people get involved in Wicca because they like the lack of rules. We don’t have a lot of “Thou shalt nots.” All we have is the Witch’s1 Rede, they say. But there are many unspoken rules of ethics that we think of as being essentially “Wiccan.” Why? Where do they come from?

 

The answer should be self-evident but often isn’t. What is the one piece of liturgy that Wiccans really have? The answer is the Charge of the Goddess.

 

Most modern Wiccans treat this prose as a lovely way to invoke the Goddess. It does work well that way. But consider the original meaning of the word “charge”. It is a command, a responsibility laid upon someone, an exhortation, a duty, an injunction, or being entrusted with someone’s care. It is a series of rules!

 

In order to illustrate this, and illustrate how this piece of liturgy defines our Wiccan ethics, the remainder of this article will be concerned with breaking down the Charge into its component elements and paraphrasing them in a less poetic fashion. I will present both Doreen Valiente’s version and Starhawk’s version, since both are utilized among different Wiccan traditions. Though there are other versions, these are the most commonly known. There are also some slight differences (some elements present in one version may not be present in the other,) and so these differences need to be addressed as well.

 

I. The Names of the Goddess

 

Valiente:

Listen to the words of the Great Mother;

she who of old was also called among men

Artemis, Astarte, Athene, Dione, Melusine,

Aphrodite, Cerridwen, Cybele, Arianrhod,

Isis, Dana, Bride and by many other names:

 

Starhawk:

Listen to the words of the Great Mother, Who of old was called Artemis, Astarte, Dione, Melusine, Aphrodite, Cerridwen, Diana, Arionrhod, Brigid, and by many other names:

 

The Goddess says, first and foremost, “Listen!” I don’t believe that this is merely a poetic way of beginning the charge; I believe She’s telling us to listen!

 

Many of the same Goddesses appear in both versions of the Charge. The goddesses common to both versions are: Artemis, Astarte, Dione, Melusine, Aphrodite, Cerridwen, Arianrhod (different spellings,) and Bride/Brighid. Just among these goddesses there is diversity: maidens, mothers, and crones. (The additions to this list probably reflects the taste of the authors.)

 

This list of goddesses included in both versions, have messages that the Lady (or at least, those inspired by Her to write this prose) wants us to pay attention to. We can also gather that we should accept a balance of forces – life and death; Maiden, Mother and Crone; intellect and passion; love and war.

 

In both cases, the Goddess is named “Great Mother ... and by many other names” and therein comes the Wiccan belief in the One Goddess being present in all goddesses. But it also acknowledges that these individual Goddesses are separate beings with their own individual areas of concern, otherwise why mention them separately at all?

 

By listing Them together, the authors are also asserting that all these goddesses are equally worthy of our respect. I would think that it would be important, then; if we follow a goddess Who is not mentioned in this passage of the Charge, we should make sure to include Her when we recite it.

 

II. Gathering Together

 

Valiente:

Whenever ye have need of anything,

once in the month, and better it be when the moon is full,

then shall ye assemble in some secret place

and adore the spirit of me,

who am Queen of all Witcheries.

 

Starhawk:

Whenever you have need of anything, once a month, and better it be when the moon is full, you shall assemble in some secret place and adore the spirit of Me Who is Queen of all the Wise.

 

Our Goddess is less demanding than some gods we know (who demands a gathering at least once a week!) but She still requires that we gather together. She continues, “Better it be when the moon is full.” Why?

 

Most Witches know that magick brought to fruition on the full moon has the power of the waxing moon behind it. Maybe it’s just because the Full Moon has always captured the imagination of humankind, and everything looks more magickal under Her light.

 

The Goddess also says, “You should gather in a secret place.” Once a month, She wants us to gather away from the public eye. I believe this is because much of a Witch’s work is mystical in nature and should be a personal, private thing, shared only to those who are willing to understand. I also believe that the Inner Work (the mysticism) is necessary before you can presume to do the Outer Work.

 

The Lady also says, “You shall adore Me, who is the Queen!” That means that we need to worship and respect Her, not demand things of Her like a servant. She’s bigger than us, and we need to keep that in mind. If She directs us to do something that we don’t understand, we just have to remember that She is the one who commands us. Note that She says “adore,” not “fear” — we don’t need to fear the Goddess. I believe that means that She also loves us, because love has to work in two directions in order to be real love. This is a very important distinction.

 

III. Sorcery & Magical Training

 

Valiente:

There shall ye assemble,

ye who are fain to learn all sorcery,

yet have not won its deepest secrets;

to these will I teach things that are yet unknown.

 

Starhawk:

Starhawk has no equivalent section.

 

Which Charge do you follow? This is the first really significant difference between these two charges: in Valiente's version, you are commanded to learn magick. If you choose to follow Starhawk’s Charge, there is no requirement to learn (or do) magick. So if you are someone who follows the Wiccan faith but you don’t practice magick, you shouldn’t follow Valiente’s Charge, because it is quite clear here that magickal training is expected. It also states that unless you have “won its deepest secrets” (and anyone who thinks they have is, in my opinion, suffering from High Priestess Disease,) you need to always keep learning.

 

IV. Freedom from oppression — and clothes (or maybe just bling).

 

Valiente:

And ye shall be free from slavery;

and as a sign that ye be really free,

ye shall be naked in your rites;

and ye shall dance, sing, feast,

make music and love,

all in my praise.

For mine is the ecstasy of the spirit,

and mine also is joy on earth;

for my law is love unto all beings.

 

Starhawk:

You shall be free from slavery, and as a sign that you be free you shall be naked in your rites.

Sing, feast, dance, make music and love, all in My Presence, for Mine is the ecstasy of the spirit and Mine also is joy on earth.

For My law is love is unto all beings.

 

Ah, some of my favorite verses!

 

The Goddess says, “You shall be free from slavery.” This is a good reason to believe that Wicca is a countercultural movement. In order to be free, we have to think for ourselves, and we should also abhor slavery and try to fight it.

 

She also commands that we shall “be naked in our rites.” At one time, all Wiccans took this to mean skyclad (clothes-free) practice, but most of us have since adopted ritual robes instead. I suppose the question is, what did She mean by “naked?” The obvious answer is, of course, “without clothing” but it can also mean unadorned. So what does that suggest about our custom of wearing cool Witch bling and fancy amber and jet necklaces? I think the idea is to remember that we are all equals before the Goddess.

 

Next, we are exhorted to “sing, feast, dance, make music and love, all in Her presence/praise.”

 

So, She wants us to make a joyous noise, to sample freely of the fruits of life, to offer up celebratory and joyful movement, to create art, and to love. No sitting on hard pews being quiet for us! She wants us to be noisy! She wants us to shout with joy! She wants us to love freely and without guilt!

 

This was a very important realization for me, because I tend to be a serious person by nature. To emphasize this message, She goes on to remind us that Hers is the “ecstasy of the spirit,” and “joy on earth;” meaning that She is the one who grants these things, and that is Her realm.

 

Last, the Lady announces that “Her law is love unto all beings.” That includes the jerk who cut you off in traffic, the miserable boss who is riding you for no good reason, the irritating cousin you would rather not admit that you know, that dog next door that won’t shut up at 3 a.m., mosquitoes and wasps and spiders and snakes and beetles too. All beings. Period.

 

V. Striving

 

Valiente:

Keep pure your highest ideal;

strive ever towards it;

let naught stop you or turn you aside.

 

Starhawk:

Starhawk writes no equivalent passage.

 

I think this passage doesn’t require much interpretation. The Goddess wants us to hold to our highest ideal (note that She said, “your highest ideal,” not “My highest ideal,”;) to always work to achieve it, and not to allow anyone to dissuade us from it or distract us from it. Those who are familiar with the work of Aleister Crowley’s work will recognize this as a clear command to focus on, and work consistently to achieve, our True Wills!

 

VI. Youth and Immortality

 

Valiente:

For mine is the secret door

which opens upon the Land of Youth,

and mine is the cup of the wine of life,

and the Cauldron of Cerridwen,

which is the Holy Grail of immortality.

 

Starhawk:

Mine is the secret that opens the door of youth, and Mine is the cup of wine of life that is the cauldron of Cerridwen, that is the holy grail of immortality.

 

There is a fine distinction here, again, that needs mentioning between the two Charges. Valiente refers to the “secret door which opens upon the Land of Youth,” and Starhawk refers to the “secret that opens the door of youth.” This distinction represents a difference between Gardnerian Wicca and Reclaiming Wicca. For the Gardnerians (Valiente’s tradition,) the Land of Youth is the Summerlands, where we go when we die and our beauty and youth is restored; the process of earning entry into the Summerlands is an occult mystery. For the Reclaiming Witches, the “fountain of youth” is a state that can be reached by anyone of any age through the Secrets of the Goddess. For Doreen Valiente, the Goddess asks us to seek the Summerlands through occult practice, while for Starhawk, the Goddess wants us to seek inner youth and bring that freshness to our everyday lives, regardless of our age.

 

Either interpretation fits into the rest of the passage, in which the Lady claims the mysteries of Life, Death, and Rebirth as Her own. “The cup of the wine of life” can be seen both as the joy of Life celebrated and as the Mother’s womb. The Cauldron of Cerridwen is the cauldron of transformation, in which we all are slain and reborn in a new form; the tomb that is also a womb. By claiming these mysteries, the Goddess tells us not to fear death, but to accept it as part of the process of life. She tells us to remember that all things come in cycles. She reminds us that no matter how difficult things are, this, too, shall pass.

 

VII: Life After Death

 

Valiente:

I am the Gracious Goddess,

who gives the gift of joy unto the heart of man.

Upon earth, I give the knowledge of the

spirit eternal;

and beyond death, I give peace and freedom

and reunion with those who have gone before.

 

Starhawk:

I give the knowledge of the spirit eternal, and beyond death I give peace and freedom and reunion with those that have gone before.

 

The Lady says, “If you’re in touch with My mysteries, then you should know that the spirit is eternal. When you die, I will give you peace, and freedom, and I will see that you are reunited with those you love whom you have lost.”

 

What form this reunion takes is up for debate in the Wiccan community. Some non-theist Wiccans believe that there is no life after death; others believe that we are all reunited in a collective race consciousness; while still others (myself among them) believe that our spirit continues and we get to hang out with the cool people we love and miss in a world very similar to this one. (Except that since it’s the Land of Youth, we all get to be at our physical prime again!)

 

VIII: The Mother of All Living

 

Valiente:

Nor do I demand aught in sacrifice;

for behold,

I am the Mother of all living,

and my love is poured out upon the earth.

 

Starhawk:

Nor do I demand aught of sacrifice, for behold, I am the Mother of all things and My love is poured out upon the earth.

 

So, our Goddess does not ask for us to sacrifice anything. I believe this also means that She doesn’t want any martyr complexes.

 

I think there is a difference, however, in that if we freely offer Her a sacrifice, She will be pleased to accept it. At every Esbat I offer Her the first portion of the wine and the feast; at every harvest, I offer Her the first portion of my carrots, grapes, pumpkins and so forth. I offer it freely in gratitude for what I have received. I feel She’s happy to have it and appreciates the offer. But, She doesn’t demand it!

 

She goes on to remind us that She is the Mother of all living things and She loves all of them. Note, too, that She makes sure to clarify by telling us that Her “love is poured out upon the earth,” that this includes plants and spirit-beings as well. I think this may be the seed of Pagan environmentalism, which accepts all living things as the Great Mother’s creation.

 

IX: The Star Goddess

 

Valiente:

Hear ye the words of the Star Goddess;

she in the dust of whose feet are the hosts of heaven,

and whose body encircles the Universe.

 

Starhawk:

Hear the words of the Star Goddess, the dust of Whose feet are the hosts of Heaven, whose body encircles the universe:

 

Who is the Star Goddess? Well, this is the Great Cosmic Goddess, of Whom all Goddesses are but a part. Either the dust of Her feet are the hosts of heaven (a.k.a. the gods,) or those hosts of heaven are in the dust of Her feet. I take that to mean that they are merely a part of Her greater whole. And since Her “body encircles the universe,” She encompasses all of us and we are contained within Her. I can’t help but make that “eat my dust!” connection as well. She is far beyond the hosts of heaven (the gods;) She leaves them in Her dust. So this is the Goddess of the gods that we are listening to now! I don’t know if I can effectively communicate in this short space how truly profound this statement is if you consider it. So, the Great Creatrix wants to tell us something. Maybe we should listen!

 

X. The Soul of Nature

 

Valiente:

I who am the beauty of the green earth,

and the white Moon among the stars,

and the mystery of the waters,

and the desire of the heart of man,

call unto thy soul.

Arise, and come unto me.

For I am the soul of nature, who gives life

to the universe.

From me all things proceed,

and unto me all things must return;

 

Starhawk:

I Who am the beauty of the green earth and the white moon among the stars and the mysteries of the waters, I call upon your soul to arise and come unto me. For I am the soul of nature that gives life to the universe. From Me all things proceed and unto Me they must return.

 

The Creatrix identifies Herself with the earth, the moon, and the mysterious waters. The earth, moon and waters all change; cycling through seasons, phases and tides. They have been here long before us and they will be here long after we are gone. They are cradles of life, but they also have phases of death and darkness, ebb and flow.

 

The first lesson here is to accept change and transformation, to appreciate the beauty in the world around us, and to spend time observing that world. The second lesson is that She wants us to look to the natural world for the sacred. She tells us that She is “the beauty of the green earth.” Again, Pagan environmentalism is reinforced. If the earth is sacred, and our Goddess is there, we must, must care for it and treat it with reverence and respect!

 

XI. The Rapture of the Infinite

 

Valiente:

and before my face, beloved of Gods and of men,

let thine innermost divine self be enfolded

in the rapture of the infinite.

 

Starhawk:

Starhawk again writes no equivalent.

 

Valiente’s Goddess tells us that in Her presence, we are loved by the Gods and by humanity. She reminds us that our innermost self is divine and she asks us to “be enfolded in the rapture of the infinite.” In this simple phrase She reminds us to appreciate that profound divine eternal mystery hinted at in the earth, moon and sky, and ocean, but She also encourages us to seek that mystical state of enlightenment that is impossible to describe if you have not experienced it; that state of religious ecstasy that some call nirvana, some call satori, and the Witches call “Drawing Down the Moon.”

 

XII. All Acts of Love & Pleasure

 

Valiente:

Let my worship be within the heart that rejoiceth;

for behold,

all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals.

 

Starhawk:

Let My worship be in the heart that rejoices,

for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are

My rituals.

 

The Goddess commands us to worship Her with joy, and explicitly endorses that one of the most sacred acts of ritual and worship that we can offer to the Lady is to celebrate love and pleasure. Sexuality becomes sacred! This is the foundation for why many Wiccans and Pagans do not constrain their relationships to heterosexual monogamy. What this section means, exactly, is much discussed in our community. Some more traditional Wiccans believe that the balance of male and female is preferred, but many others accept many alternate forms of sexuality. When you take this proclaimation together with the self-acceptance and appreciation of nakedness earlier in the Charge, it makes for a very liberating sexuality in which shame and embarrassment should never play a part. But take note: because sexuality is sacred anything that cheapens that experience insults an act which should remain sacred, and hence, is blasphemy.

 

XIII: Wiccan Virtues

 

Valiente:

And therefore let there be beauty and strength,

power and compassion, honour and humility,

mirth and reverence within you.

 

Starhawk:

Let there be beauty and strength, power and

compassion, honor and humility, mirth and

reverence within you.

 

This passage describes a set of Wiccan Virtues, and it is the most ethically explicit part of the Charge. Note it is a list of virtues, not of sins — we are exhorted to embody these virtues, not to avoid disobedience of a set of rules. Note the balance emphasized here; the Goddess wants beauty and strength, not beauty or strength; power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence. When Wiccans speak of finding balance, I think it is these qualities we are especially trying to balance within our own characters.

 

XIV: Finding the Goddess Within

 

Valiente:

And thou who thinkest to seek for me,

know thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not

unless thou knowest the mystery;

that if that which thou seekest

thee findest not within thee,

thou wilt never find it without thee.

 

Starhawk:

And you who seek to know Me, know that the

seeking and yearning will avail you not,

unless you know the Mystery: for if that

which you seek, you find not within yourself,

you will never find it without.

 

To me, this is the most profound passage in the Charge: the Goddess tells us not to waste time looking to others for our validation and for the mysteries that are Hers, but to look within. So for anyone looking for a great Wiccan guru to teach you how to find the Goddess; well, cut that out! A good Wiccan teacher will try to show you how to find those answers for yourself. The Goddess also reminds us that changing what is within changes what is without. If you want to change your world, change your perspective, and be the change you would see in the world. “As above, so below.”

 

XV: The Beginning and the End

 

Valiente:

For behold,

I have been with thee from the beginning;

and I am that which is attained

at the end of desire.

 

Starhawk:

For behold, I have been with you from the beginning, and I am That which is attained at

the end of desire.

 

In Her last statement, the Lady reminds us that She will be with us at the beginning and the end, and She has always been with us, and She is what we ultimately seek. For me, that’s a pretty comforting thought.

 

The Charge of the Goddess is a very profound ethical code as well as a statement of theology and cosmology. If you include it with the Witch’s Rede and the Threefold Law, Wicca is full of ethical direction! I hope this has helped to clarify some of it, and even if you don’t agree with my interpretations then I hope I have inspired you to give some extra thought to yours!

 

 

References:

www.dictionary.com

 

Starhawk, “The Charge of the Goddess,” from The Spiral Dance, 1975, 2010.

 

Valiente, Doreen, “The Charge of the Goddess,” from The Gardnerian Book of Shadows, reprinted at Sacred Texts http://www.sacred-texts.com/pag/gbos/index.htm, 1957, 2007.

 

 

1. Author’s Note: By habit and because it is traditional in our practice, I may use “Witch” and “Wiccan” interchangeably. However, it is my belief that the two are not necessarily synonymous. “Wicca” is the religion and “Witch” is the practice. I believe you can be a “Witch,” who practices the art of magick, and not be a “Wiccan” in your beliefs, and I know a few “Wiccans” who believe in the faith and ethics that do not practice magick and are therefore not “Witches.” This article concerns Wiccan belief, not the beliefs of all Witches, and I have tried to make that differentiation clear. For the record, I am a Witch who happens to embrace the Wiccan faith.

Auras

Posted by Sable Aradia on January 4, 2011 at 7:51 PM Comments comments (0)

An aura is the three-dimensional energy field that surrounds the bodies of all beings and things. The healthier you are, and/or the more you work to develop your healing abilities and your spirituality, the further the aura will extend out from your body. We don't really understand the nature of the aura. Some believe it is a separate "emotional body" that exists in the same space as our "physical body." Some believe it is a representation of our spirit, and others believe that it is a representation of our life-force. Probably it is all of the above and neither.

 

How to Read the Aura

 

Find a place where there isn't any harsh light. Focus on one part of your body, preferably your hand. Relax and concentrate on your hand lines. If you’re relaxed enough, you’ll first see a shade, either dark or light, surrounding your hand. Eventually you will notice a single colour on the edges of your peripheral vision, which is likely to be the predominent colour in your aura or a reflection of any powerful moods you may be experiencing while you do this exercise. With time you might be able to see several colours.

 

Auras can be seen physically, or sensed psychically. One way to see someone's aura is to have the subject stand in front of a white background. If you look at the person for a while you’ll see some sort of wavy lines of energies, and also maybe a couple of aura colours. Try the following exercise:

 

Stand in front of a mirror at a distance of about half a meter, with a wall of neutral colour some distance behind you. Alternatively, get a friend to stand about 1 meter away from you and 2 meters from a neutral wall. Dim the lights. Relax, and breathe deeply and evenly. Focus your eyes on the wall behind the head.

 

Gently sway your body from side to side (or tell your friend to if looking at someone else). As you stare past the outline of the head, you should be able to see an envelope of light - that's the aura! Keep trying if you are unsuccessful immediately. Like anything else, it takes practice.

 

Another thing to note is that not all of us sense things best with our eyes. Some of us are very tactile, others are auditory, and still others are olfactory. I "feel" auras, and subtle changes in them that indicate problems, much more easily than I "see" them. Others might "hear" vibration or ringing, something like a finger on a wine glass or a singing bowl. Others might "smell" pleasant or unpleasant odours that they associate with feelings and memories. None of these is superior to any other! Remember that in any case, this is your sixth sense that you are using to perceive the aura, and any effect, be it visual, auditory, or whatever, is your mind's interpretation of that sixth sense. Don't be discouraged if you find one method difficult; learn to work with the information you are receiving.

 

Common Aura Colours

 

The following is a list of aura colours that are associated with various physical, mental, emotional and spiritual states.

Red: The colour of strength, passion, impulsiveness and will.

Orange: colour of affection, kindness, and creativity. The muddier shades denote vanity, while golden orange represents self-control. Muddier colours may also indicate kidney or bowel troubles.

Yellow: Mental activity, optimism, perfectionism, responsibility, sometimes shyness.

Green: The colour of sympathy and reliability. The person may be an effective healer and is likely deeply concerned about the well-being of others. Dark shades of green however indicate one who is jealous or hesitant.

Blue: The colour of calm, and spiritual and material contentment. May sometimes represent a tendency to moodiness and depression.

Indigo/Violet: The colours of the seeker who has inborn psychic and intuitive abilities. Darker shades may show that the person often feels misjudged and misunderstood. May indicate heart or stomach trouble.

Black: The colour of self-protection. The person is good at ‘wearing masks’.

Pink: A compassionate person who is fond of the arts. Darker shades of pink may point to immaturity and irresponsibility.

White: Purity and honesty. A colour associated with spiritually evolved persons.

Silver: The person might be pregnant or is going to be soon! However, this is not always so. Seeing this may indicate a person who is allowing great creativity in their life. I often see shades of silver when one is Drawing Down the Moon.

Gold: I tend to see this colour when someone is Drawing Down the Sun. I suppose that's probably why it is associated with spiritual enlightenment and "God" energy.

 

Sometimes you experience the interplay of an outside energy field upon your aura. You can tell this is happening to you in the following circumstances:

 

• When you are around some people and you feel ‘drained’ and weak.

• When you feel there is someone staring at you intensely.

• When you have an instant liking or disliking for someone you’ve just met.

• When you sense someone’s presence before you saw this person.

 

Generally if you find it intrusive, there are methods of "psychic self-defense" that you can undertake to protect yourself. The simplest one is to cover your heart chakra. The typical method of doing this is to cross your arms across your chest, but this body language is sometimes interpreted as hostility so it may not be appropriate. You will sometimes see me protecting my heart chakra in the store by leaning on the counter with my hands on my chin and my arms in front of me. I find this creates a pose that implies that I am listening, without allowing the person I am speaking to to drain my energy. You may also find it helpful to protect your base chakra, which you can do by crossing your legs. Even crossing them at the ankles is helpful, and you can do that standing or sitting without most people taking offense.

 

Blessed be,

Sable

Cord Magick

Posted by Sable Aradia on January 4, 2011 at 7:51 PM Comments comments (0)

Cord Magick (knot magick) is simply doing magick by making knots in a cord!

 

When doing cord magick, it is important to choose the right color. Generally you use a red, white or black cord, but use whatever colour feels appropriate or suits the symbolism of your purpose. Most of the time you dispose of the cord once you are done with it because it order to use it again, you would have to untie the knots which could release the spell. I like to toss my cords (biodegradable) into rivers and streams, letting the running water release the bound energy.

 

The knots are done in the following manner:

 

1------6------4------7------3------8------5------9------2

 

In other words, you tie the first knot, at the very end of the cord, then go to the other end of the cord to tie the second knot, then the center for the third knot, between the first and third knots for the fourth knot, between the second and third knots for the fifth knot, and so on.

 

An example of a rune spoken while tying the knots:

 

By knot of one, this spell's begun

By knot of two, my words are true

By knot of three, it comes to be

By knot of four, power in store

By knot of five, this spell's alive

By knot of six, this spell is fixed

By knot of seven, the answer's given

By knot of eight, I meld with fate

By knot of nine, the thing is mine!

 

Blessed be,

Sable


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