Inspirational Thought for 4/1

 “Life is worth living! Don’t let anything take your joy from you. Take nothing for granted, keep family close, and respect the people you love the most. We can’t redo yesterday, just gotta live for today and not make any moment a regret.”
Written in 2011 by Rachel Woodard — California

My Pentacle Is Bigger Than Yours!

My Pentacle Is Bigger Than Yours!

Author: Devon, The Maid Of Epona

I’ve been a practicing solitary witch for a little more than ten years. I have just recently decided to wear my pentacle openly.

Does that mean I’m out of the broom closet? Heavens no! I like to describe myself as having one foot in and the other out of the proverbial broom closet. I believe this to be the smart way to be, living where I live. Hey! Pennsylvania isn’t California!

I’m not a militant pagan although I do have a serious warrior’s streak. But being a warrior also means picking and choosing your fights. I work in the small animal business in one job and in the horse business in the other.

When working in the horse business, keeping your mouth shut about what faith you are, especially if it is an alternative faith that is greatly misunderstood by others, is the wiser way to go.

If I were to be open to everyone about my faith, it would have a detrimental effect on my career. People in the horse business would immediately assume that I was one of those “tree hugging, wackos” and I suddenly wouldn’t get hired or be able to buy or sell horses because gossip runs rampant in stables and sometimes is taken to be truer than the Bible! I also deal with many of the Amish community and I hide my pentacle out of deference to their beliefs.

So I pick and choose when and where to display my symbol of faith openly. I have also made an agreement with myself that, when I wear my pentacle openly, and someone questions my faith, then I must answer truthfully and intelligently.

I tell them that my pentacle stands for the four elements and the element of spirit. I tell them that it is a symbol of wholeness and balance, not of negativity and hatred. And its meaning cannot be twisted by reversing its direction, at least not in my eyes!

The first day I wore my pentacle, I walked about with a heightened sense of awareness, waiting for everybody to judge me. I guess I was expecting the whole world to gasp, point their fingers and declare me a witch in that tone of voice that meant nothing good. The actual reaction of people was much more subdued and confused.

Instead, the only question I had to deal with was, “I didn’t know you’re Jewish!”

Do you know how hard it is not to roll your eyes at someone and exclaim, “What? Can’t you count”?

I took a real risk this past Christmas. My husband had given me two gifts I picked out from our favorite knife catalog; an unusual knife and a pentacle decorated with red gems that I thought was pretty. So what it wasn’t silver!

Well pictures in catalogs can be deceiving!

I thought the pentacle to be modestly sized and the knife to be around the size of a Bowie knife. Well the truth was things were reversed.

The knife was the size of a pocketknife. The pentacle was big. REALLY BIG!

Try a pentacle with some serious attitude and lots of bling to the red gems on it. There was no mistaking it when I chose to wear out. It just reeled you in. Ooooh boy!

Then I decided to wear it out and obvious to a family function. Hey! It was a Christmas gift from my hubby that I still really liked in spite of the size. I wanted to show off my sparkly!

Now, not all of my family knows my religious denomination but most are aware. My parents are a blessing from the Goddess! They approve as long as I don’t go around trying to convert everybody. My brother and sister know and are open minded enough to not make a big deal about such things. My cousins even know and are cool with it.

My uncle? Well, lets just say his religious views scare me! He attends an ultra conservative church that has several ministers, several auditorium sized rooms for worship and boasts an attendance of several thousand people.

I was told to never tell my uncle what religion I was.

He was coming to the party as well.

I probably should NOT have worn the pentacle. But I did.

I also chose to disguise it with my new fashion statement, which was to wear cowboy clothes. You see, in the western horse show world, they have this design that is called a Texas star. It’s like a sheriff’s badge. Hmmm. Guess what? That’s a pentacle!

So I immediately went out and got my western show attire decorated in “Texas Stars”. I’ve got them on my hat and even my horse’s saddle and bridle sport little “pentacles”. No, I won’t wear ten million pentacles on myself but I’ll completely festoon my poor, long suffering horse with them!

Anyway, I showed up at the party with my hunka, big, new pentacle and my “Texas Star” hat. And my uncle showed up later. He looked directly at my new pentacle and then me and my newly dyed, black hair.

And then he asked if I’d had any of the steamed shrimp he brought.

I felt like I had had the rug pulled out from under me. I tried not to laugh my relief.

The pentacle was a big hit though.

Two people asked about it and my religious persuasion. I found out that they also were open-minded and we had a lovely evening chatting about esoteric things. Those conversations would have probably never happened if I hadn’t been daring enough to chance wearing it out.

But the real point of the matter is this: A pentacle, or a cross, or a Jewish star, or whatever symbol you choose to wear is nothing but a piece of jewelry unless the belief is behind it to make it more.

Those Wiccans that chose not to wear a pentacle or any other symbol of faith, does that make them any less of a Wiccan? No.

Sometimes I wear my pentacle and sometimes I wear my favorite jade horse pendant. They are both symbols of faith in my opinion and are as important to me as the cross is to someone else.

But I am not a Wiccan because I choose to wear a pentacle. I am Wiccan because that is what language my heart sings.

And no one can change what you feel in your heart. You can only choose whether or not to speak it.

Do you wear your pentacle on your skin or in your heart?

Devon, the Maid of Epona

Grasping Witchcraft

Grasping Witchcraft

Author: Charmed By The Moon

I know the title is a bit misleading as Witchcraft isn’t something we can physically hold. In fact, it’s more of something we can embrace and become. I’m referring more to the idea of getting a hold on it, seeing it, understanding it and living it.

I’ve been on this road for so long but haven’t made the true connection to the facts and ideas that are Witchcraft. There is so much to learn and so much to do and so much to envelop, it can often feel like a horse running down the road and I’m trying to get a rope on it to bring it back in again. It gets away from me sometimes. It becomes too big for me to truly grasp and hold close to me.

Some would say, “Well faith isn’t something you can capture; it is a free moving spirit of the Universe knowing no bounds, limits, or time”.

I agree to a point.

How do Christians and Jewish and Muslim people get a hold of their religion? I believe in some cases it is indoctrinated into them at birth and they have spent years studying and applying what they learn through weekly ritual, holidays etc. They have parents and family and friends in the same realms and it becomes a part of their life.

They have many years of preparation and teaching to reach the important milestones of their particular faith. There are huge parties and gatherings of celebration, families bonding and loving, and a strong sense of community.

That’s fine and wonderful if you are of a major Belief System but what about us? Or should I say me?

What about the Witchcraft of today and how it is still perceived by our peers?

There is no building to belong to, no sense of community really. No one wants to hear how you just made a second initiation and chose a new name. No one wants to know what crystals you bought for ritual. No one cares about the books and discoveries you are making.

Point is unless you have friends and family in the know, you don’t have any real support or ways to learn and certainly no one to celebrate with that might matter to you.

I do have a partner in my life and for that I am grateful and he too is on the same road as I but he knows about as much as I do. We can share moments and lessons but we still need more, still need direction so I set it as my personal goal to gain enlightenment on a different level at least for myself.

That leaves us on fact-finding missions. It leaves us open to strangers in our Belief System to guide us. (Some of which I have to say based on personal experience are total flakes!) Or, we meet people whom ‘don’t owe us anything’ and they choose not to teach what they have learned or even help to get us started. Fine. They have the right.

Next we have books by 1, 000 authors at least! Some writers and practitioners are on the same page, others are more complex, more don’t make any sense, some are so busy saying “this is the only way” and how do they really know? Books are great but there is no real way to ask a book a question! No way to talk to the author directly so it leaves many an unanswered query. So then we move to the online world and there is no real way to know if the person on the other end is real or not, what their motivations are, what they represent and where do they get their information. I suppose you can find a local coven and hope they accept you if your willing to do the work. Again these are strangers and you are in a vulnerable state as it is and for some insecure people they can fall into a terrible way.

It can be such a lonely world and very disheartening. There had to be a better way and I think I may have found it! I had to put some trust in someone I didn’t know and I am pleasantly surprised to say the least.

I paid for my classes. I exchanged money for knowledge.

Granted it isn’t a lot but there is a personal responsibility to each person and we carry it out. I know there are many people who are telling me that I shouldn’t have to pay. I can find information everywhere and yes, I have indeed found info. I’ve found so much I can’t organize it all and I don’t know how to manage one particular sect of Witchcraft.

I’m overwhelmed. I need direction, accountability, projects, motivation, detail, organization and even coaching.

That’s it!

I needed a Witch Coach! I needed someone to break it down and give me a starting point.

So, after a 2-year search and investigation I did come across one woman. She teaches many classes in person as well as correspondence and her style completely resonates with me, and I like her! I like the way she thinks. I like how she isn’t all about props and deliverance as much as common sense and developing natural ability. I got a cool little lesson book with projects, ritual ideas, reading material, supplies to buy, etc. and a nice note saying to me “Welcome” and a few other things.

I loved it. Granted I’ve not had a conversation with her yet and I will soon but I still felt like someone was at least a nice person and to the point. Anyone can say welcome to the group but I picked up a sincere feeling.

Upon receiving my materials I set out to start by doing the first lesson and I am still doing them day-by-day.

I feel good and I feel like I might actually one day grasp the element of being a Witch. I know I am one. I always knew but didn’t know how to get it off the ground.

It isn’t a race to ensue one’s faith; it is a journey of mind, body and spirit and it is meant to be as such. I want to taste it in my breath, feel it in my soul, and wake everyday knowing I am special and I know what many others do not know but seek.

No one can become anything over night. it takes study and determination and a natural love of what your doing. It takes wanting it more than you’ve wanted anything and not giving up because it becomes hard. In reality if we don’t learn how to do things right, we can cause more harm than good.

In all the information I’ve gathered in four years I couldn’t differentiate what was bogus and what was truth and then who deemed it to be truthful? I discovered I have to find my own truth in what makes sense to me and what calls to me.

I found it, finally.

~KB

Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time

Author: Crick

Once upon a time, folks lived in small villages and clans, which were scattered about the land. During these times folks came to rely on each other. The trading of skills was a commonplace occurrence. Common respect for each other was as natural as the sun rising and setting.

The search for spirituality was done as individuals and, on occasion, in group settings. The village “witch” or cunning woman was especially important to the village. Her knowledge of herbal healing and her connection to the spirits was an honorable pursuit. At this time in our history, these folks were known as pagans.

Deity was known by many different names and represented many different aspects of life. The values and forms of worship were as varied as the sands on a beach. Freedom of religion was a true representation of life and not the hypocritical standards that we endure in today’s society.

Pagans around the world embraced Deity as it affected their particular lives and situations. There was no “one standard fits all”, for pagans were individuals, and such a constrictive standard simply would not suffice to meet the needs of such folks.

This is not to say that there were no acts of aggression and such. The need for hunting grounds, material needs, and human nature, made such events an integral part of our existence. But then this treatise is about religion and spiritual aspects and not about all of the elements that effect society in general.

The belief in Devas, Faeries, Undines, Spirits and what have you were as common as one taking a breath. The connection to Mother Earth was a deeply held and natural belief. For from her, humankind received their sustenance. She was revered in daily life and not taken for granted. Our respect and love for Her knew no bounds.

And then came along so called “organized religions”.

In my personal opinion, religion is a man made concept designed for the sole purpose of controlling others. Over the ages many folks were forced into religious beliefs through such methods as fear, repression, peer pressure and other such means. One’s individuality was forsaken in support of such religious tenets as set forth by the leaders of such religions. Everyone was expected to fall in line and to believe in a set dogma.

Those who retained their pagan beliefs were repressed, shamed, outcast by the new “mores” of society and in many cases, exterminated.

And now we come to today’s society.

Mother Earth is crying out in pain and misery. Society embarks on a daily mission to destroy her and her beauty. Common respect for each other has all but evaporated. Our world has turned into a dangerous madhouse where violence is so prevalent that we don’t even twitch an eye at the numerous and daily atrocities that take place each day in the name of religion, politics or lack of meaningful human character.

Religious/Spiritual freedom is a sham, a lie that is told to hide the hypocrisy of our time. The oldest forms of spirituality are treated with disdain. The “newest beliefs” called religion are trying to convince everyone that their way is the only way.

What happened to individuality and the true freedom to choose one’s own path? In my personal opinion the only right religion/spiritual path is the one that works for the individual. And yet everyone is expected to be a part of this religion or that.

A faceless soul who is discouraged from thinking for him/herself or from seeking out the truths that applies to each person. Those who seek out the old ways of spirituality are subjected to ridicule, falsehoods and outright condemnation by today’s organized religions.

A great deal of time, better used else wise is spent in trying to convince the masses of organized religion that we are in fact seekers of a valid path. These actions play right into the hands of such folks because it validates their condemnation of those who would call themselves pagan.

If one is to be a pagan and in essence, an individual, and then such acceptance by others is in all reality, unnecessary.

Being a pagan requires one to walk on one’s own two feet and to seek out those beliefs that enforce one’s sense of self. No one else in the entire world has the right to tell someone else what he or she should believe. Nor does anyone have the inherent right to tell someone else that the path they have chosen is wrong. And yet this occurs on a daily basis.

What does this say about our society today?

And pagans are not so altruistic either. In many cases we try to emulate our pagan ancestors in belief and customs. But is this really possible?

We live in a world that is vastly different from our ancestors. Our needs and societal values are entirely different. If we wish to truly live a pagan lifestyle that is authentic, then we need to adapt ancient spiritual beliefs to the society that we live in today.

The past is gone; we need to focus on the requirements of today. This is not to say that the power of Deity is in any way diminished. If anything, we need that connection far more today then our ancestors did, simply because of the potential that we now have of destroying everything we know as life.

Our ancestors did not have to endure the artificial concepts that we accept as life today. One of the primary tenets of being a pagan in my opinion should be to become real again. In essence to re-connect with Mother Earth and all She represents.

Another thing that I have noticed is that all around the world, folks claim to be masters of this mystic art or that.

Such a facade adds to the ammunition of those insecure folks who would deride paganism as simply a passing fad or even worse as an undesirable charade by fringe elements. Regardless of how many years or how many experiences one may have within the confines of paganism, we are all students of life.

In my opinion there are no masters per se. Only Deity is entitled to such a lofty description. Such claims are generally just fodder for one’s unbridled ego. By harnessing our ego we give ourselves a chance to grow spiritually. For ego is the stumbling block that so many of us encounter but are unable to step past.

We talk about the Great Mysteries, well, again in my personal opinion, the ability to see past one’s ego is one of these sought after mysteries.

And so in closing and in view of the ultra-sensitive and insecure society that we live in today, I proffer the following disclaimer:

The views presented here are my own and not substantiated by anything other then my personal views and experiences. Nor is there any attempt to defame any specific individual and/or religious/spiritual beliefs. But rather this is a general view of the world as I personally see it today…

Can a Christian Practice Magick?

Can a Christian Practice Magick?

Author: Belenus

 For many years, I struggled with a personal conflict. You see, my Christian upbringing didn’t seem to fit in with what I call my “mystic callings, ” that is, my other path of mystery and magick. I kept my magikal pursuits separate from my religious activities. I began my magickal journey more than twenty years ago by studying astrology, because the notion of predicting the future and getting a better handle on my own personality and relationships with others appealed to me. I must admit that my romantic urges were a major driving force in all this investigation and revelation, as were my materialistic ambitions.

So, although I didn’t keep my Astrological studies from my close friends and family, I didn’t advertise it to those in my religious community. When I did divulge to a very select few, it was with a real sense of insecurity and fear that I was being negatively judged. When my Mystic interests branched out into the areas of Magick and Paganism, I did indeed keep it almost exclusively to myself, as I felt that this was even more off the beaten path and frowned upon by society in general and particularly so by my Christian family and community.

Now I am both a mage and a Christian, and I do not feel particularly conflicted about it. Just a fleeting guilt feeling now and again, usually brought about by some external reminder that there are Christians who do indeed condemn such activities. That even sounds funny in the same sentence, you know, Christian and condemning? And although I don’t go shouting my Magickal activities off roof tops, I am comfortable within myself that I am on the right path for me, and have integrated Magick into the other areas of my life, including my religion. I feel actually compelled to follow this duel path and even though I see some inconsistencies, I am confident that this is my calling for now.

I go to Catholic Mass and see many of its rituals and methods to be similar to Magickal rituals and methods. For example, the burning of incense in the Mass parallels Magickal rituals that use incense as a way to carry intentions to higher forces, be they Gods or Goddesses or what ever. The Catholic Mass is full of symbolism and what some would call Magic. Symbols are also a large component in Wicca, Paganism and are used in working Magick. Chanting and singing are other examples of techniques used in both Christian and Pagan rituals and rites.

One major difference I see between Christian prayers and working Magick is that with prayer, a person asks for something and then passively waits and hopes that it is answered in a way that satisfies a need. This is quite different from the Magician who inserts her or his own power and will into the work. Rather than hoping for something to change, the Magician “wills” the change to come about.

I feel that as a Christian Mystic, I have an advantage in many ways. I get to combine both prayer and magick in my rituals. Intuition dictates that with this combination, I should have even better results. I am not too concerned with this for now though. I am just answering the two callings I have in a way that helps me thrive spiritually. I use rituals that incorporate both some standard Wiccan magickal tools, such as a wand and an athame, but also include prayer and a chalice filled with blessed, Holy water from my local parish.

I like to think that I am the kind of person who accepts people from all walks of life and faith, or even no faith. This is not always easy in a world that has people of different faiths and paths, drawing lines and grabbing at power and control, but I think I do it as well as just about anybody. The key has been to nurture an open mind and often examine myself and my motives. Over time, this has lead to a level of self-awareness that allows me to be true to self, and at the same time, let others be as they are.

I remember a small event that took place several years ago, which let me know I was making progress. I realized as I watched a political debate on the television that I wasn’t getting angry with the commentator who was espousing what I felt was the wrong side of the argument. I told my wife that in the past, I would have turned off the T.V. in anger and disgust, unable to handle emotionally my own internal conflict that watching the show produced.

Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t too long ago that the very sight of a Pentagram made me cringe. In case you don’t know, the sight of a Pentagram can send shivers down the spine of many Christians who don’t know better; that it is not a symbol of evil, but of things that are life affirming and good. I look back on this now, and chuckle at my own built in sense of prejudice, especially now, knowing that much of what the Christians practice, borrow from Pagan traditions.

I personally believe that most religions have it wrong in the sense that they tend to foster a kind of ‘us and them’ attitude among their members. I believe, as did Gandhi and many others, that the idea of being separate from each other and even with the natural world is an illusion. We are all one and need to start acting that way. I look at it such that each being is like an individual cell that is part of a greater living being, and when one of us is deprived, sick or in trouble, we are all effected.

The Catholic Church systematically adopted many of the old ways and gave them a new twist, in order to bring more souls into the Christian fold. I think that after some analysis, one will find more similarities between Paganism and Christianity than differences.

I’ve recently begun investigating Hoodoo traditions and have learned how they are interrelated with the Catholic Church. I am excited to follow that path farther to see where it takes me. It is interesting to me that each Catholic Saint is attributed with special powers to help those who petition them with prayer requests. How is this different from one Wiccan praying to Odin and another praying to Diana?

I subscribe to the tenet that all Gods are one God, and that Love is the highest law. But, while I am here on this good earth, I expect that struggle and conflict, whether from external sources, or from internal issues, will always be a part of life for me, just less so as the years go by.

Your Daily Influences for April 1

Your Daily Influences
April 1, 2011 
 

Tarot Influence

Rune Influence


Charm Influence
Knight of Swords
Youth and bravado. Sometimes a dominating personality, but honest and courageous. Misfortune may be coming or passing.
Ansuz
Ansuz represents mankind’s spiritual connection to God and the universe. It is often referred to as the “God Rune.” This Rune embodies reason, truth and justice. It denotes the coming of knowledge and true counsel from a higher authority.
Cancer the Crab
This aspect of your life will be strongly influenced by a person who is emotional, loving, intuitive, imaginative, shrewd, cautious, protective and sympathetic. This could be an elder you look up too.
Your Daily Influences represent events and challenges the current day will present for you. They may represent opportunities you should be ready to seize. Or they may forewarn you of problems you may be able to avoid or lessen. Generally it is best to use them as tips to help you manage your day and nothing more.

Your Charm for 4/1

Your Charm for Today
 
 

The Axe Head
 
Today’s Meaning:
As an axe comes to a complete stop when it hits the tree so you have grown motionless. You now must draw back, step away from this quadrant of your life and begin again. Set a new path into motion.General Description:
This Chinese incised jade Axe head was suspended round the neck, and worn as an amulet to protect the wearer from illness, accidents, and injuries, also as a charm against witchcraft. The Chinese had great faith in the supposed medicinal powers of jade, which was recommended and prescribed by their physicians. The Axe head was always considered to be an emblem of strength and pwer among primitive races; even today small axe heads are still regarded as effective talismans against disease in many countries, and great faith is placed in their supposed supernatural powers of healing.